4 years ago

Let Nest be Nest ... (And Motorola be Motorola, and Aviate be Aviate)


Companies get bought and sold all the time, with and without our approval (or lack of expertise).

It's easy to be a skeptic. Skepticism is safe. It's a warm blanket of knowing that if shit indeed happens (and it will, from time to time), then you were right, it went bad, and you can tell everyone so. And if you're wrong and the world doesn't end, well, that's fine, too. Because who doesn't love a happy ending? Skepticism is a win-win for the skeptic, and a bore for the optimist.

And this quickly rang true Monday when Google announced it was buying Nest for $3.2 billion. Obvious jokes were obvious. Watch a 30-second ad before adjusting the temperature. Join Google+ to turn on your heat. Funny, but obvious. And not really helpful.

And it's almost like Google can't drop $3.2 billion without everyone becoming an expert on what it all means, hashed out in mere hours. Google bought Nest for the data. (Duh.) It bought Nest because Android@Home never got off the ground. (Again, duh.) Google bought Nest because it wants to know everything it possibly can about you. (No kidding?) And probably it bought Nest because there are ridiculously smart people working there.

So why is that a problem?

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4 years ago

'Blackphone' aims to be a secure Android experience


Preorders for joint venture between Geeksphone and Silent Circle to begin at Mobile World Congress

Coming next month at Mobile World Congress, we should get a look at the "Blackphone," a joint venture between Geeksphone (you know them as being an early CyanogenMod supporter) and Silent Circle. BlackPhone aims to give a traditional Android experience that "prioritizes the user's privacy and control, without any hooks to carriers or vendors."

Specific details are slim at this point, but Blackphone promises "revolutionary communications" with secure phone calls and texts, file sharing and video chat. 

It's calling its version of Android (and we don't yet know the base platform) "PrivatOS" and is headed up by Phil Zimmermann, who created the PGP standard of encryption widely used in e-mail. Other co-founding execs include Geeksphone's Javier Aguera and Rodrigo Wilva-Ramos, PGP's Jon Callas and ex-Navy SEAL and founder and fomer CEO of SOC Mike Janke.

More: Blackphone

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4 years ago

SwiftKey Beta updated with new emoji layout


Performance and memory issues also addressed

SwiftKey has pushed a rather large update to their beta track today. Besides the under-the-hood changes that always come with any beta software, the emoji keyboard UI has been completely revamped, with gestures to switch tabs, a backspace bar, and layout changes. The full change log:

  • Secondary characters on the top letter row modified when number row is enabled
  • Redesigned emoji UI including new space and backspace bar, swipe gestures to switch emoji tab and changes to how the layout works under the hood
  • Fixed performance issues when switching between tabs
  • Emoji now appear larger
  • Fixed issue where emoji still predicted even when disabled
  • General memory problems fixed
  • Fixed issue where Ice theme used extra RAM
  • Fixed keyboard freezes
  • Fixed issues when syncing
  • Fixed problem with Trending Phrases not updating
  • Fixed incorrect vibration feedback when scrolling

You can read what SwiftKey has to say and grab the apk file at the link below.

Source: SwiftKey. Thanks everyone who sent this in!

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4 years ago

AT&T's HTC One X+ has an Android 4.2.2 OTA on the way


And everyone knows ahead of time this will be its last update

In an unfortunate flow of events, HTC has just confirmed that the last update for the AT&T variant of the HTC One X+ is on its way to users. After independently confirming to users that the One X and One X+ will not move beyond Android 4.2.2, HTC has just explained that that very update has passed testing and will be hitting AT&T users' devices later this week.

Android 4.2.2 with Sense 5 customizations will be a solid improvement to a device that went on sale back in October of 2012, but it will always come bittersweet knowing ahead of time that it will be the last software update that handset will ever see.

If you're using an HTC One X+ on AT&T, be sure to keep an eye on your device for an update in the coming days.

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4 years ago

Chrome OS adds new window switching, shows which tabs are casting and making noise


Never be confused as to which of your 30 tabs is making a racket

The latest build of Chrome OS (in the stable channel) is bringing a whole grouping of new features to all Chrome devices, save for the Chromebook Pixel (for now). First up is a new window switching feature, which can be accessed with a tap of the overview mode button (F5) or a swipe down with three fingers on the trackpad. Just like Mac users have come to expect with Mission Control, you'll see a zoomed-out view of all open windows on your machine.

Further, build 32.0.1700.95 integrates the newest features that were brought to the Chrome browser for other platforms as well. That means you'll now be notified at the right edge of a tab if content on that page is being displayed on a Chromecast, if it is accessing the speakers or has control of your webcam. You will also see a more stern malware warning on potentially compromised sites, and can help manage another user's Chrome install with a new "Supervised Users" feature.

We're quite enjoying the new window switching feature, especially as we often find ourselves browsing in full-screen mode even when we have multiple windows available. You can catch a couple screenshots of the new features in action after the break.

Source: Chrome Releases; Google Chrome Blog

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4 years ago

My Verizon Mobile app updated with new splash screen, bug fixes, and a trio of new permissions


New permissions are a bit troubling, and no explanation is given

You may love the My Verizon Mobile app because it's an easy way to manage the data you're using. Or you may hate the My Verizon Mobile app because it's bloatware that sucks precious resources away that could be better spent elsewhere. Either way, it got updated today.

The list of changes include a new splash screen and some bug fixes. No big deal, and it's the sort of thing we see every day. Also included, but not mentioned, are three new permissions that seem to be a bit out of place for what the app does. Specifically, we're talking about permission to send and receive SMS messages, initiate Bluetooth pairing, and retrieve a list of all the apps running on the phone.

We can think of plenty of good, legitimate reasons to have these permissions in this sort of app. Like sending messages to Verizon with questions and comments, right from the app. Or to check what apps are running and give you a recommendation of things to do that might save battery. The problem is, this app doesn't do any of those things on our Droid Maxx but still needs those permissions. And we can't think of any good reason for this app to need a Bluetooth connection. 

The problem is easy for the end-user to solve, thankfully. If you're the casual type, just deny the update and even disable the app in your device settings if you like. Done. If you're a more power-user type you can use something like "app ops" to kill permissions you don't want the app to have, at the risk of breaking things. But that's just a Band-Aid.

It's great that Android tells us the permissions an app has before we install it. It's the best way to do things, and we hope that never changes. But you would hope they could do a better job explaining what they all mean. These scary line items do no service to developers or users alike.

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4 years ago

Nexus Wireless Charger now available in 4 new countries


Get your fancy magnetized charger in more places globally

Google's second-generation wireless charger is now available in a handful of new countries. As announced by the Google Play Twitter account, folks in Australia, India, Japan and Korea can get their hands on the Qi-compatible charger that also packs magnets to keep your Nexus 5 stable during the charging process.

Pricing and shipping costs will of course vary across countries (it's $49.99 in the U.S.), but we're never going to turn down expanded availability of accessories from Google Play. Hit the Play Store link above if you're in one of the above countries and want to get your hands on the first-party charger.

Source: @GooglePlay

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4 years ago

Nest co-founder discusses Google's future in the connected home


OK Google, turn on my air conditioner

Nest co-founder Matt Rogers was on the stage at CNET's SmartHome Panel at CES last week, and he had a little bit to say about Google and how things may play out as things push to a connected home.

The timing is interesting, of course, as Google just acquired Nest and their smart controls, and we imagine they have plenty of other smart ideas lined up for Google to make happen.

Could this be the beginning of Google Now in your house? Maybe. Rogers seems to think it is, and we certainly can't argue with someone in his position. There will be privacy concerns, and there will be safety concerns, and there will be all sorts of other pitfalls. But when it all gets sorted — and it will — the connected home working with your Internet of things will probably be worth it. 

Source: CNET

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4 years ago

Sony Xperia Z1s first impressions


Sony and T-Mobile have paired to bring another great phone to the U.S. market

Sony was firing on all cylinders last week at CES, and one of its most impressive new products already is available here in the United States. Meet the Xperia Z1s, the North American answer to Sony’s Xperia Z1 flagship and T-Mobile’s exclusive follow up to last summer’s Xperia Z. It’s available now online (coming to stores next Monday) for $22 per month or $528 outright.

We’ve spent the past few days with the device and before we break it down piece by piece in a full in-depth review,  a few of our first impressions can be found after the break.

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4 years ago

Nexus 7 Sleeve now available in red on Google Play


Same case, louder color option

Google Play is again expanding its Nexus accessory ranks with a new color of the Nexus 7 Sleeve. Now sitting alongside the black, grey and yellow options is a new bright red version adorned with the same subtle "Nexus" branding and black accent stitching. The sleeve offers a good bit of protection for either generation of the Nexus 7 as well.

We're starting to see a trend for all of Google's new accessories hitting these bright and bold colors, and while not everyone will gravitate towards them (black is still an option, of course) it is certainly a good way to add a little personality to your device while protecting it.

The Nexus 7 Sleeve will still set you back a cool $29.99 plus shipping, and is currently in-stock and ready to ship.

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4 years ago

Xbox Music for Android now more useable, finally adds offline access


Microsoft has finally made Xbox Music a more viable option for Android users, with offline access finally added in todays update. While the folks up at Redmond said from the word go offline music would always become a feature, eventually, it's taken four months to get it. 

Offline music access is a big deal to folks on strict data plans, and as such the necessity to stream everything may have turned more than a few away. The bigger question perhaps is; now it's here, are you tempted back to Xbox Music? Grab the latest update from the Play Store link above. 

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4 years ago

Moto G Google Play edition now on sale for $179


Same great phone at a budget price, with a slightly different take on software

In yet another quiet release, Google has just put up the Moto G Google Play edition for sale at $179 for the 8GB model. That mirrors the price that Motorola has been selling it directly, but this version will follow in the footsteps of other GPe devices with a slightly different software experience. The differences will likely be a bit more subtle on the Moto G considering that Motorola's current offering is barely changed from Google's take on the software.

The hardware specs seem identical to what we've seen in the current Moto G, as they should be. And although the device is unlocked and listed as being compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, it's worth mentioning that the spec sheet does not show 1700MHz (AWS) support for HSPA+ — that means T-Mobile customers in markets that have not been refarmed to 1900MHz will be sitting on EDGE with this one.

If you're looking for more storage you'll be able to option up to 16GB for $199, and both versions are listed in the Play Store as in-stock and shipping in 1-2 business days.

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4 years ago

AT&T's Galaxy S4 Active getting Android 4.3 update today


772MB of downloading gets you to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and all the goodness that goes with

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is finally getting some love from AT&T today, as the I537UCUBML2 update — that'd be Android 4.3 — is currently rolling out over-the-air.

We don't currently have a list of the changes (the update itself isn't "official" just yet) and the update just started pushing so there's not a lot of customer feedback for now. What we do know is that 4.3 is bigger than 4.2, therefore the laws of smartphone physics say it must be better.

If you have an S4 Active from AT&T, be sure to check for your update. Discuss in the S4 Active forums!

Thanks, Trey!

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4 years ago

Seidio accessories keep your Android phone protected, and keep you going!


BIG Thanks to Seidio for sponsoring our #CESlive coverage at CES 2014!

CES 2014 has come to an end, as has our #CESlive coverage for the year. It was an amazing week (and a busy one to boot!), with 70 guests taking to our stage over 4 days.

One of our big sponsors for the year was Seidio, a company we were extremely excited to have come onboard. Like Mobile Nations, Seidio has been around since the beginning of the smartphone era, going back to 2002. Over the years they've always made a great selection of cases, charging docks and extended batteries for popular smartphones on all platforms.

Be sure to hit up the video above for a video walkthrough of Seidio's booth at CES 2014. Derek from Seidio walks us through some of the different products they had on display, including the new OBEX case for the Galaxy Note 3 which is tough and waterproof yet great for everyday use. 

For more info and to buy, you can visit seidioonline.com, or view our selection of Seidio accessories at ShopAndroid.com.

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4 years ago

Smartwatch Fans Android app now available!


Good news, everyone! Our latest and greatest Mobile Nations site — that'd be Smartwatch Fans — now has its own Android app! This one's done in the same vein as our official Android Central app, so you'll be right at home. All the latest news, reviews, videos and podcasts are there. Plus you've got access to the forums, and can comment on stories. (Be sure to log in!)

And, of course, the app is free to use, and free of advertisements. Download it now at the link above!

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