4 years ago

Sony Z Ultra Google Play edition unboxing and hands-on


The Sony Z Ultra loses the Xperia tag, but gains the 'Google experience'

A big phone or a small tablet? Neither? Both? It's the same Z Ultra we've seen before, with a little more Google in it. Big, bold, and waterproof, it's one we all were surprised to see when Google announced it

For fans of big phones — or small tablets with a phone on board — there is a lot to like here. As we saw with previous Google Play experience devices, you have Google's version of Android, with a few essential OEM customizations added on top. Additions like the X-Reality display software are great additions, and the combination makes for the best experience.

You've got everything Google as well. The Google applications we're used to seeing — minus the AOSP Gallery app, which has been fully replaced with Photos — including things like Google Earth and Google Currents are on board. The same goes for Google Wallet and the tap and pay function. The back of the Z Ultra says Sony, but you'll know you're holding a Google device in your hands.

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4 years ago

The best free Android racing games


Do you have the need for speed, but would rather not dole out the cash to get it? We get it - cars are expensive, and why pay for a game when you don’t have to? We’ve combed through Google Play for some of the best-looking white-knuckled racing games on Android that are completely free, barring the odd prompt for in-app purchases. These freemium racing games are all really good and offer a little something for everyone.

Pull on up to the starting line, and check out these outstanding free racing games for Android.

4 years ago

Android Device Manager app launches on Google Play


Like the web interface, the new app lets you remotely track and lock down your other Android devices

Google has launched a new Android app allowing users of the Android Device Manager feature to remotely track, ring, lock down or wipe their other devices. Not to be confused with the Google Play Services feature that launched a few months ago, the ADM app duplicates the functionality of the web interface, meaning you can track or control one phone or tablet using another — provided you've first enabled this feature in the Google Settings app.

If you've not yet set up remote locate or remote wipe on your target handset, you can send a notification to it through the Android Device Manager app on the second device. (Fun fact: select the device you're using the app on and it marks its location as "in your hand.")

To get started, grab the new Android Device Manager app from Google Play at the link above.

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4 years ago

Stock Android 'Gallery' app is no more on the new Google Play edition devices


GPe Sony Z Ultra and LG G Pad 8.3 ditch 'Gallery' in favor of G+ 'Photos' app

We suspected it was coming ever since we powered on the Nexus 5 to find both "Gallery" and "Photos" occupying the app drawer. And now the inevitable has come to pass — the stock Android "Gallery" app has been phased out in the new Google Play edition Sony Z Ultra and LG G Pad 8.3, having been completely replaced by the new Google+-based Photos app.

It's a curious move given that the Nexus 5 shipped with a new Gallery app just over a month ago, and that Google highlighted a bunch of new editing features in that app as part of the 4.4 release. That said, the writing was clearly on the wall when Nexus Camera app was integrated with "Photos," not "Gallery" in the recent Android 4.4.1 update. The move also raises the possibility that future Nexus devices will follow this lead, though precedent suggests that "Gallery" will remain on devices that currently have it.

The elimination of "Gallery" means the new Google Play edition devices will have to make do without the comprehensive photo editing features found in the app. "Photos" offers some editing options, such as filters and frames, but nothing as full-featured as its rival. We're willing to bet these capabilities — including exposure, contrast and curves sliders, among many others — will be patched into "Photos" at some point in the near future, completing the transition from Gallery to Photos.

In any case, it's another example of the expanding reach of Google+ across all the various Google properties. And that could be seen as a good or a bad thing depending on your opinion of Google's social network.

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4 years ago

A sneak peek at #CESlive!


We're knee-deep in planning for our #CESlive coverage next month in Las Vegas, but we found a few minutes this week to catch up with John and Cali from Geek Beat and chat about what's in store.

It's going to be insanely awesome. Check it out.

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4 years ago

Nexus wireless charger now available in the UK


New Nexus-branded Qi charger selling for £34.99

Alongside that new white Nexus 7, UK buyers can today pick up the official Nexus wireless charger, priced at £34.99 and shipping in 1-2 business days. It operates using the Qi (pronounced "chee") wireless charging standard and is designed to work with the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (2013) and Nexus 5 — though if you've got other Qi-supporting gadgets they should work too.

Here's what our own Phil Nickinson had to say after a brief time with the inductive charging plate —

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4 years ago

Qualcomm Toq now available on Amazon for $349


If you've got an Amazon gift card burning a hole in your virtual pocket, now might be a good time to take a look at the Qualcomm Toq smartwatch. It's now available on Amazon for the same price as you'll get it from Qualcomm — $349.

Still no sign of the white model, but if you've just got to have the black version, Amazon Prime can have it at your door as soon as tomorrow. 

via Smartwatch Fans

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4 years ago

Twitter's Android app is now nearly unusable: Try these instead


Tired of ever-changing layouts and the important features not being where you want them? Try these Twitter Android alternatives.

Twitter's been experimenting on us, its users, for some time now with its official Android app. But the latest update might just have sealed the deal for many. We don't necessarily want to call it an abomination, but pretty clearly Twitter's all about expanding your timelines — thus the moving of the "discover" and "activity" tabs front and center — rather than showing you the information that you want, when you want it, where you want it.

It's kind of a mess, and it only appears to have gotten worse over time.

So now's a good time to take a look at a few of our favorite alternatives.

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4 years ago

White Nexus 7 now on sale in the UK


Available in Wifi + 32GB version only, priced £239.99

The new white Nexus 7, announced yesterday for the UK, U.S. and Japan, is now available for Brits to buy. The tablet appeared on the UK Google Play Store yesterday along with a "coming soon" notice, but now it's on sale at the regular price of £239.99 for the Wifi-only version with 32GB of storage. As is the case in the U.S., that's the only white Nexus 7 available at the moment — so if you want LTE connectivity or the cheaper 16GB storage option you're limited to the traditional black version.

White Nexus 7s ordered today in the UK are due to ship within 1-2 working days, with free ground shipping being offered "for a limited time."

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4 years ago

Google Translate updated with nine new languages


Additions including Somali, Zulu and Punjabi bring total supported languages to 80

Google has updated Translate service with support for nine new languages from Africa, Asia and Oceania, bringing the total number of supported languages up to 80. The new additions include Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Somali, Zulu, Mongolian, Nepali, Punjabi and Maori, with more than 200 million native speakers between them. In the case of Maori, spoken by just 160 thousand people, the addition is the result of a volunteer effort by native speakers of the language.

The new languages are available now through Google Translate on the web and on mobile, including the Android app in the Play Store.

Source: Google Translate blog

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4 years ago

ASUS announces the Padfone Mini convertible phone + tablet


4.3-inch mid-range phone turns into a 7-inch mid-range tablet

As widely anticipated, ASUS has today announced the latest addition to its Padfone line of convertible Android devices, the Padfone Mini. Like other Padfone products, the Padfone Mini comes in two parts — a 4.3-inch phone and a 7-inch tablet dock — meaning you can slot the former into the latter. This lets you use a single data plan for both tablet and phone mode, and charge the phone while it's docked in the tablet.

Unlike previous Padfones, the Padfone Mini is aimed squarely at the mid-range market. It's got a quad-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon 400 CPU with 1GB of RAM and a qHD (960x540) display on the phone, which expands to 1280x800 on the tablet. There's microSD expandability in addition to the 16GB of built-in storage, as well as a 1500mAh battery in the phone and a 2200mAh bank in the tablet. For your imaging needs there's an 8-megapixel camera with burst mode and ASUS' PixelMaster tech for boosting brightness in dark scenes.

And on the software side, the Padfone Mini runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and ASUS' own software customizations.

So the specs aren't earth-shattering, but given the price point of NT$11,990 ($405) that's not entirely surprising. The Padfone Mini is due to go on sale in China, Russia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia, according to Engdget, with no word on any Western release plans.

Source: Engadget

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4 years ago

Angry Birds Go now available on Google Play


Kart racer from Rovio launches today

Mobile gaming giant Rovio has launched its latest title on Android and iOS today. Anry Birds Go is a free "kart" racer based in the Angry Birds universe, featuring feathered friends from the popular artillery shooter. If you've played Mario Kart or any similar titles you'll know what to expect here — fast-paced 3D racing with a focus on power-ups and weapons, featuring familiar characters (birds and pigs, in this case.) There's a variety of game modes to choose from besides a straight-up race to the finish, including Time Boom, Fruit Splat, Champion Chase and Mega Match.

Naturally you can also upgrade your vehicles by earning points in-game or buying them through in-app purchases — and you can add more characters to the game by capturing Rovio "Telepod" toys with your devie's camera. The base game itself, however, is completely free, and it's available now at the Google Play link above.

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4 years ago

Buy a Nexus 7 and Chromecast from Google Play, get a $35 credit for content


Free shipping for both thrown in as a bonus

Just in case you were looking for yet another reason to pick up a Nexus 7 and Chromecast, Google Play is running another deal on the devices. If you buy both at the same time, you'll be offered $35 in Google Play credit to spend on apps, books, movies and whatever other digital content tickles your fancy. Further, you'll get free shipping on the order as well.

This follows a $25 Google Play credit previously offered for picking up just the Nexus 7, but is more beautifully timed with the recent announcement of 10 new apps coming to Chromecast. If you planned on picking up both devices this holiday season, now's probably a better time than any to do so from Google Play.

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4 years ago

Google Play Books updated, brings performance tweaks and uploading from your phone or tablet


PDF and ePub files can be shared to Google Play Books using the Android intents system

Google Play Books is getting a nifty little update. The app has the same look and feel, but performance tweaks and new sharing features make for a worthwhile upgrade.

For starters, things have been tweaked to make your books — both your own uploads and Google Play purchases — open faster. If you've ever had to sit through the spinning cursor while the app looks for your bookmark, you'll appreciate this. Also included are improvements to your highlights and notes, the ability to dismiss recommendations, and a lower brightness setting for low-light reading. All good stuff.

But the best new feature, and one plenty have been wanting, is the ability to upload your own ePub and PDF files right from your phone or tablet. Using the standard Android intents system, selecting a compatible file gives the choice to send it to Google Play Books. Once uploaded, it will be available for reading at your leisure. 

As usual, this is a slow rollout so it may take several days before you get an update notification. If you understand the risks, you'll likely find the file at the usual locations.

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4 years ago

AT&T CEO knows device subsidies are going the way of the dodo


Higher data usage and new markets expected to increase profits going forward

AT&T knows that it can't keep providing subsidized devices to customers forever. Speaking at an investor conference in New York, CEO of AT&T Randall Stephenson explained that with smartphone adoption at 75 percent and rising, the cost of offering devices on subsidies just isn't financially viable. Just as we've all seen, carriers in the U.S. have been offering handsets for little or no money on-contract to drive smartphone adoption rates, but now with so many people buying expensive phones it's starting to take a toll.

New "Mobile Share Value" plans that give you a $15 break in your monthly bill for bringing your device or keeping one past two years is the first indication of this realization, but so are AT&T's increased prepaid efforts. Between its own GoPhone brand that has increased data allowances at reduced prices and acquisitions of other prepaid brands like Leap, AT&T plans to continue moving down market with smartphones to increase its subscriber base.

The nation's second-largest carrier doesn't intend to just lower rates and take a cut in profits, however. Stephenson explained that a decrease in the standard monthly price of having AT&T service will be made up in the long run with higher data usage on tiered plans, as well as moves into new markets like home automation and automobiles. Not to mention its new device financing plan, AT&T NEXT, which lets customers buy new phones without a subsidy.

Source: CNET

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