Thursday, April 17, 2014

Verizon Launches the LG Lucid 3, Free on Contract or $300 Off Contract

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Prior to the Optimus G, LG was really only known for their low-end and mid-range devices. Part of that was because of all the mid-range devices they were putting out on Verizon, for example the Lucid and Spectrum line of devices. Last year, I reviewed the LG Lucid 2, and was quite impressed with that device. Now Verizon and LG are at it again, launching the LG Lucid 3 today. The LG Lucid 3 is on sale for free on contract or $300 full price. As far as specs go, we’re looking at a 4.7-inch qHD display (that’s 960×540 in case you’ve forgotten), 8GB of internal storage, 5MP camera on the back, and it’s running Android 4.4.2. It also has a 2440mAh battery inside which is pretty large for this device. As a comparison, the HTC One has a 2600mAh battery with a bigger display, more pixels and a faster processor. So you should be able to get some pretty decent battery life out of this one. The LG Lucid 2 had a 2400mAh battery last year, with the same size display, and it got amazing battery life, in my testing.

The LG Lucid 3 is available from Verizon’s site right now and should be hitting retail stores in the next few days if they aren’t there already. It’s a pretty decent mid-range device. If the Verizon Moto G had LTE connectivity, I’d recommend that over the Lucid 3. But given the fact that the Lucid 3 has LTE and a larger battery, I’ll have to recommend it to Verizon users. LG has really done well in the battery department lately. The LG G2, and G Flex both had amazing battery life. And I’d expect the same from the Lucid 3. Especially considering the specs on this one.

How many of our readers are going to run out and grab the LG Lucid 3 from Verizon? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

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Deal: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 32GB for $349

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Today, Amazon has the original Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet available for just $349. Which many will think that’s the normal price since the new Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition is priced at $550. However it seems Samsung is still selling the Galaxy Note 10.1 for a pretty hefty price at this point. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 features Android 4.1, a 720p display, a quad-core 1.4GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of on-board storage along with a microSD card slot, 5MP shooter on the back and a 1.9MP shooter on the front. Additionally this is one of the last tablets to have front-facing speakers. I have no idea why no one will put front-facing speakers on a tablet anymore, it makes so much sense. But I’m sure they have their reasons.

You can pick one up today for $349.99, while the 16GB version is going for $399. How many of you are grabbing one?

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (32GB, Deep Grey)

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Press Render of LG L65 Makes Twitter Appearance

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L65-AH Like a lot of OEMs LG is paying a lot of attention to emerging markets, by launching budget friendly devices. For LG, this lineup is called the L Series. Now we have a new, unannounced addition to the L series called the L65.

LG’s L series has had quite a bit of focus lately. So far, we know about the LG L80, L70 and L40. These devices were shown off at Mobile World Congress and they were not wowing many people. Though these devices are supposed to be low-end devices, so wow factors shouldn’t be expected. So for those in emerging markets, these devices would be great options. Or if you are in a more developed market, but in need of a cheaper device, the L series are worth a look. That said, the LG L65 was not seen at MWC, instead @evleaksES has leaked the device on Twitter.

The tweet didn’t say much, as always, but a picture is worth a thousand words as they say. Along with the press render of the LG L65, the Tweet had a bit of info on the specs. According to the leak, there will be a 1.2 GHz X2 processor, along with a 4.3-inch display and a 5MP camera. That is usually enough to tell what the device will feature. In true @evleaks fashion, there is no release date or pricing info included. We also have yet to hear from LG on this device, so it remains a leak rather than an official device.

At MWC we weren’t too sure about US availability of any of the L series devices. Though, @evleaks had also tweeted out recently that the LG L70 is headed to Metro PCS. This device is assumed to be one step above the L65. We have seen the L70 priced at between $250 and $160 between Europe and China. So it is safe to say that the L65 will be a bit cheaper than that. Though the L70 may be headed to Metro PCS, that doesn’t confirm that the L65 will be following suit. We will just have to wait and see. In the meantime, let us know, are you interested in these lower end devices? Are you more interested in the high-end stuff? Maybe you are still waiting for LG to announce the LG G3. Speak up down below or on our Google+ page.

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Amazon and Samsung Team Up; to Offer Users Up to 12 Free Books a Year in Custom Kindle Store

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AH Samsung Galaxy S5 01.18

Samsung has been making friends all over the place these last couple of years and as a result, Samsung Galaxy device owners can get exclusive access to all sorts of things. For instance, owning a Galaxy device will get you lots of freebies and there are some interesting Samsung-only services. We recently saw the launch of Milk Music, exclusively for Samsung users and now, they’re partnering with Amazon. The online giant has partnered with the South Korean smartphone manufacturer to create an exclusive version of its Kindle store for Samsung Galaxy devices. With no word yet on what Samsung is going to be calling it, the service is launching in the coming weeks.

This exclusive Kindle store will offer Samsung users up to 12 free books a year, allowing them to choose from four “prominent” titles specifically chosen for Galaxy users every month. Samsung is steadily building up its own portfolio of exclusive content for its smartphones and tablets. Of course, these services all hinge on somebody else’s efforts, but it’s nice to see these services being offered for Samsung device owners. There’s already a “Samsung Books” apps, so we’re not sure if this new service will simply slot in, or if Samsung will be calling it something else entirely, but we’re pretty certain that Amazon won’t be giving Samsung the amount of control they’d like.

With hardware and specs becoming extremely similar, it’s services and apps that manufacturers are moving to compete with. HTC is pushing their camera software and features, meanwhile Samsung is pushing exclusive partnerships and Motorola is championing simple software design that just works. No matter how much Google wants to take back a little control from Android, Samsung and co will continue to differentiate themselves when it comes to software and features such as content offerings like this.

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Latest HTC Nexus Concept Looks Like a Lot Like the HTC One

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There has been a steady rumor every year that HTC will make the next Nexus device, and it hasn’t happened yet. Have you thought about what it would look like? Greg Ives showed off his concept on Google Plus. LG is most likely not making the next Nexus, because they made the last two handsets. The concept by Ives shows what an HTC Nexus could look like, inspired by the HTC One. I would love for HTC to make the next Nexus, mostly because I have been a sucker for HTC design, but love the Nexus program because you get a decent device with stock Android all at a great price for an unlocked handset. HTC making a Nexus handset would be the best of both worlds, it would be nicely designed, and be sold at a good price unlocked with stock Android.

In Greg’s concept it looks to be heavily based on the design of the HTC One, with the all-aluminum body, and BoomSound speakers. He also has moved the camera down farther for some reason I’m not aware of. The thing the concept can’t show us is the inside on the device, I just want to know what it would have under the hood, but I have to keep in mind this is just a concept device not an actual handset to be released. A nice touch I notice in the concept he included is the leaked icons from Project Hera that we have talked about earlier.

Android 5 Concept2

We want to know what you guys think, who should make the next Nexus handset? HTC, maybe Sony, or maybe even Motorola, since they will no longer own them. I would love to see a Nexus from any of these three companies. Any of these companies would have great things to add to the Nexus program, and would be great looking devices. Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.

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Alleged Screenshot Of The OnePlus One Homescreen Pops Up

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We could be getting a first look at what to expect from Oneplus and their very first ever device the Oneplus One, with this alleged leaked screenshot of the phones homescreen, which showed up on Weibo a few days ago. The screenshot shows off a little bit of what the UI should look like along with that to expect from the icons and the stock time and date widget that you can see hanging out at the top of the screen. The icons draw the attention more than anything else of course, with their surprisingly non-android like design. Just taking a quick glance at the homescreen here i’m reminded of Xiaomi’s popular Miui ROM, which actually takes heavy accents and styling from iOS. These icons here look more flat than stock android icons and are definitely different than anything we have come to expect from Cyanogenmod in the past, but the flat style shouldn’t surprise anyone as that is the current popular trend we’ve been seeing when it comes to icon design.

The UI itself is actually a modified version of the normal Cyanogenmod that most other phone can acquire through download and self install, as this version that is shipping with the Oneplus One is called Cyanogenmod 11S. The device as you can probably gather will be running on the Kit Kat based version of CM, but it will have quite a different style to it with elements meant just for the Oneplus One, at least at this point in time. From the looks of things, the UI will still of course be sporting the white color themed icons up top, but there is a clear lack of presence of the status bar which is good to see, We’re not sure if this means that the status bar will be transparent like with other kit kat devices, or if it is just non existent altogether. There also doesn’t seem to be any navigation panel down at the bottom, or any navigation buttons at all for that matter. It’s possible that this part of the screenshot was cut off, or perhaps the team at Cyanogen Inc. is going to be implementing other means of accessing your app drawer and other tasks that would be handled by the navigation keys. Perhaps gestures like in Nova Prime? We’re only speculating here, but we won’t have to wait long as we’re due to find out more details on the 25th of this month when Oneplus has said they will announce the phone.


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Google Expands +Post Ads to Include More Pages, Adds Two New Features

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Back in December, Google launched its +Post ads service, which allows companies to take public posts from their Google+ pages and turn them into ads that are shown on sites that belong to the Google Display Network. The idea is to make ads that are more engaging, as +Post ads give users the chance to reply to the ads they see using their own Google+ profile. The search giant launched the service with a beta test that included only a limited number of advertisers, but today the company has announced that it will be expanding +Post ads to include all pages that meet a threshold of 1,000 followers.

That isn’t the only requirement, as advertisers will also have to be using content that’s relevant to their audience and need to opt-in to shared endorsements, but bringing that threshold to 1,000 is certainly the biggest. This, we imagine, will open up the floodgates in a sense, since that’s a pretty low threshold for companies that are already popular. In a post on the Inside Adwords blog, Google discussed the success some entities, including Toyata, prAna, and even the European Parliament had with +Post ads, so we’ll probably see a rather noticeable uptick in the number of companies using +Post ads shortly.

Opening up +Post ads to more pages is just one slice of the pie, however, with Google also launching two new features for the service. The first concerns Hangouts on Air, which can now be advertised across the Internet. Hangouts on Air will be promoted with +Post ads, allowing users to do things like RSVP to the Hangout or view a recording after the Hangout has already aired. It seems like a pretty handy set of features for those companies that like to advertise through Hangouts, though it probably isn’t going to apply to everyone using +Post ads.

The next feature, on the other hand, probably will: automatic ad promotion. Using this feature, pages can choose to automatically promote their most recent Google+ post. Pages using automatic promotion only pay when people engage with the content being advertised, but Google was a little vague when it comes to what, precisely, that means. In any case, it sounds like +Post ads just got a lot better for the pages that use them, though users might not be too happy about the influx of ads that could potentially follow this announcement.

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Deconstruction Of The Google Camera APK Reveals More Possible New Capture Modes

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Screenshot (601)

Google’s new camera app seems to hold a bit more than what we can actually see by using the app. We already know that the updated Google Camera holds support for boosted photospheres up to 50 MP, and the addition of a larger more simple to use capture button accompanies the brand new looking UI. Among those changes though is also the addition of a new image mode, called lens blur, which seeks to give you a shallow depth of field effect to your pictures. While this is the only new mode that is accessible at the moment, it doesn’t seem like it will be the only one available in the future. This is sort of hinted at in the google+ post from the Nexus G+ profile about the Google camera update, in which they mention new and exciting capture modes. They used the word modes which implies plural, yet there was only one new mode they went into detail about, and only that one is what we see.

Upon inspection of the APK when Android Police did a teardown, they found that the google camera app seems to be set up for the addition of what looks like three more capture modes, although since this is just code within the APK there isn’t really any idea of when we can expect these modes to show up for use. The new modes that are listed in the code strings are Time Lapse, Wide Angle, and Advanced Camera. Wide Angle and Time Lapse are pretty self explanatory, and as AP points out Wide Angle would most likely point to the capability to shoot the photo with a 16:9 angle, while Time Lapse would basically let you capture photos over an extended lapse of time intervals possibly up to 24 hours. Advance Camera mode doesn’t really have much to go off of, but there is code that mentions stuff like white balance effects. There’s also bits about different scene settings that we could be seeing made available soon like action, sunset, party and others.

There also seems to be code within the apk that sounds like the ability to use photospheres as live wallpapers, as well as an assortment of video effects like snapping photos while video is recording. This was already previously a feature within the camera app, although it’s not there now as a usable feature after the Google Camera update this morning. Other video effects appear to be in the code like silly faces, and the capability to replace the video background. Another string of code points to the possibility of using the phones camera flash as a flashlight, called torch mode, which is something plenty of us are already familiar with as a standalone app. There definitely seems like a lot of stuff to get excited about in upcoming updates for the Google Camera app, it’s just a matter of time.

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Toggle Manual Exposure On/Off In The New Google Camera

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The New Google Camera has just hit the play store which brought a list of changes to the stock camera app for users that were already on it, and brings a whole bunch of new things to people that didn’t have the stock camera app prior to today, among them a new Lens Blur mode and the ability to create photosphere images for non-nexus devices. One of the things that appeared to have gone missing is the manual exposure feature, when in fact it was just sort of hidden within the settings. If you like to mess with the exposure for your shots, you can still do so, but now have the ability to toggle manual exposure on or off.

To get to this toggle switch, all you have to do is open the Google Camera, then swipe in from the left edge towards the center, to bring up your list of varied camera modes. Once you do this, the settings button will appear in the top right corner of the UI, and you’ll want to tap that to enter the settings menu. Once inside settings, not only will you find the resolution and quality configurations-which contains the toggles for the low and high quality lens blur effect mode-but you’ll also see the advanced settings menu, which is where you want to go.

Enter advanced settings and you’ll find the one lonely option of toggling on or off manual exposure, which will allow you to let in more light for your shots, or block more light out. Now that you’ve turned the toggle on, if you go back to the camera viewfinder, the menu button-three dots in the top right corner-you should see the manual exposure feature all the way at the bottom just below the grid option. That’s all there is to it. The feature is easy to get to so if you decide you’ll never really end up using it and would rather just end up turning it off, you can go back to advanced settings within the regular settings menu and toggle the switch back to off to get rid of it. We wonder why Google decided to turn this into a feature that the user could turn on or off, as the setting for the exposure was always automatically set to zero and seemed to manage the exposure on its own already.

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Google Is No Longer Accepting Glass Explorers At This Time

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If you didn’t grab a set of Google Glass yesterday there is nothing to worry about as it won’t be anyone’s last opportunity to do so. You cannot however go and purchase Glass at the time as the ability for anyone in the U.S. to snatch a pair was only a one day things and well… that was yesterday. You can still sign up for potential future opportunities though and will receive any upcoming notifications that Google sends out about the updates to Glass if you do. Since Google Glass was available for the first time to anyone in the general public(U.S. only of course as stated above)without having the need for an invite, there were plenty of people grabbing their very own pair. While there is still likely plenty of units at Google’s disposal, at least one of the colors ended up out of stock yesterday which was the Cotton color.

Now that the buying option is closed, for now there is no more opportunity to purchase Glass until Google gives the go ahead, which could be through more invites into the Explorer program down the road. There are rumors that we might see some more of Google Glass at the annual Google Developers Conference this year in June, but who knows if they plan to just show off some more of what it can do or merely bring it up in conversation. It could also not come up at all. There is plenty of Good and Bad about Google Glass from the public’s perspective, so now that many people got an opportunity to pick up a pair of their own, we suspect that a lot of that negative attention could die down compared to when it was only available through invites.

With yesterdays Glass for anyone campaign a success, this means that Google Glass will end up in many more hands and there will be even more that it can do in the future. We hope to see lots more cool apps pop up and can’t wait to see where things go with the wearable tech in the near future, as it’s already going through some exciting changes.

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Vivo Xshot Allegedly Appears In Leaked Image

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Yesterday we saw some image leaks via Weibo that outted the possibility of the Vivo Xshot smartphone carrying a Sony manufactured camera with Exmor RS technology inside. These teasers were posted on the Vivo Weibo account. Today it seems that some random person has uploaded an image and leaked it out to the web of what the Vivo Xshot looks like. The image leak doesn’t appear to have come from Weibo themselves, so it’s a safe bet it really is a leak. This shouldn’t be too surprising as we see leaked images of devices like this on Weibo often.

The image displays the phone from the back, which is pretty bare except for the Vivo branding and the camera near the top, which sits in the center with the dual LED flash just to the left of it. This is supposedly the very first legitimate image of the Vivo Xshot that has leaked where we actually get to see the form factor of the phone. You can see what looks to probably be the power button on the side near the top, but on the bottom there is another button that looks like the round dedicated camera button that was teased in yesterdays photos along with the information about the Sony camera tech inside the device. The idea of a dedicated camera key is always nice, and ensures a quick access to the camera no matter where you are on your device or what you’re doing with it.

Whether or not this actually is the Vivo Xshot in all its glory is unconfirmed, it doesn’t look too bad if it is though. The Xshot is expected to be a fairly high end device just like their last release, the Vivo Xplay3s, except this one will most likely have a tighter focus on giving a better camera experience from the sounds of things. The image appears to support the phone having metal edges surrounding the device as displayed in the teaser image as well, but we won’t know for sure until Vivo themselves gives a few more details and displays the phone.


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