Friday, April 25, 2014

Huawei Ascend P7 Leaked, Offers A 5 inch 1080p Display And 13 MP Camera

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Reputed leakster @evleaks is at it again, doing what he does best – providing us juicy bits on upcoming goodies in the Android world. In the latest snoop, the leakster has tweeted about the next iteration to Huawei’s Ascend P6, unoriginally named the Huawei Ascend P7. The Chinese manufacturer Huawei has been trying to make its mark in the premium devices niche, however it has been outsold so far by the incumbent Xiaomi. However, it seems the competition amongst the Chinese manufacturers is heating up. If what @evleaks tells us is true, then Huawei has set its sights on giving users a major upgrade vis-à-vis their last years’ offering – the Ascend P6.

In terms of specifications, the Huawei Ascend P7 appears to carry decent specs, as expected of a 2014 flagship. Comparing it to last years’ Huawei Ascend P6, the P7 carries an upgrade in almost all hardware components. The screen size has been bumped from 4.7 inches on the P6 to 5 inches on the P7, while the display resolution has also gone up to 1080p full-HD. The processor has seen a bump from 1.5 GHz to a quad-core Kirin 910T processor clocked at 1.8 GHz, with an ample 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage which is expandable thanks to the in-built MicroSD card slot. The cameras have seen a major bump up, the primary camera has been bumped up to 13 mega pixels (MP) from 8 MP on the P6, whereas the secondary video call and ‘selfie’ camera has gone up to a respectable 8 MP from 5 MP. The battery has not been forgotten and sees a bump up from 2000 mAh to 2500 mAh. The best aspect however, is all of this gets packaged in a sub-7 mm thick body, which would definitely make the Ascend P7 a sleek and stylish device.

Even @evleaks is of the opinion that in terms of looks, the Ascend P7 seems like a slightly bigger Huawei Ascend P6, though the leakster has not given us any leaked image of the device. Though, as of yet, there is no launch date available for the P7, though we can expect more leaks to come in within the next couple of months and the device could be launched somewhere in July 2014, after all that was the time-frame when last year the Ascend P6 was launched. All in all, let’s wait and watch.

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Samsung Building a New Factory for Flexible Displays, Galaxy S6 and Note 5 Expected to Have Them

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It’s never to early to hype beast a new smartphone right? This time we’re looking at a report about the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy Note 5. Yep, we don’t even have the Galaxy Note 4 announced yet and we have rumors for the Galaxy Note 5. We’ve been hearing for a while that Samsung was working on some flexible displays, in fact they kind of put one in the Galaxy Round last year, that never made it out of Korea. Between Samsung and LG, these two OEMs have been working on flexible displays for a few years now, and competing to see who’d be first. Now there are reports floating around that Samsung is building a new factory or plant to manufacture these flexible displays. It’s known as the A3 plant and should open later this year. Which means it won’t be available for the Galaxy Note 4, but perhaps for the Galaxy Note 5. As well as the Galaxy S6.

Up until now, Samsung had been delaying investments in this plant, which is only for flexible displays. But that has changed recently. Now with their competitors looking to work on flexible displays, Samsung has decided to invest in the A3 plant again and get it up to speed for manufacturing flexible displays. Obviously, it’ll take a few months to get this factory up to speed, so we’re looking at it being available in the fall to make displays for upcoming devices.

Other sources are stating that Samsung needs this factory up and running as soon as possible as both their flagships in 2015 are going to have flexible displays. Which means they need to get start manufacturing them pretty soon. Since those are both very popular devices for Samsung. It’ll be interesting to see how the flexible displays work on the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy Note 5 next year. We’ve already seen plenty of concepts and even patents about them.

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A Closer Look at: The Galaxy S5 Camera

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Galaxy S5 AH 02.-23

Vodafone UK have kindly sent me a Galaxy S5 – in fancy Copper Gold no less – and I’ve been using it for the last week or so. As someone who is pretty keen on photography, how good a smartphone’s camera performs is important to me. I might own a Nexus 5 day-to-day, but I’m a realist. I cannot and will not expect any smartphone camera to be excellent in low light, take super-detailed shots all the time or replace my beloved Fuji. I found out as much when review the HTC One (M8) and now, I’m going to take a closer look on what Samsung has done with the camera on the Galaxy S5. Specifically, I’ll be focusing on how easy it to use, what features the camera software has and how the overall shooting experience is, with some shooting results as well.

With a little help my little friend here, we can see that the default shooting screen of the Galaxy S5 isn’t all that bad at all. You can touch to focus on different parts of the scene, and you can quickly take a photo at a moment’s notice by hitting the shutter key. Accessing your advanced controls is pretty simple here, as is swapping to the video camera. It’s a more simplified approach to camera software we’ve seen from Samsung over the years, at least at first glance, anyway.

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Mercifully, the mode menu doesn’t really have too many confusing options to it, and the majority of users will find these settings simple to choose from. Where things get a little out of hand however, is the overwhelming choice that appears as soon as you hit the gear to open up the settings menu. So many choices appear out of nowhere that it’s genuinely difficult to know where to start. Of course, someone like myself who is used to dealing with manual settings will know what to change and why, but a lot of these settings will put off the average user.

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Thankfully, this menu can be customized to your liking, but it’s difficult to deal with at first and does feel a little like over kill, options like “audio zoom” don’t really serve much purpose. Having said that, it is very nice to see Samsung offer so many options, as those that really like to experiment with their mobile shots will be able to get the most out of them thanks to all of these settings. This menu also allows you to tailor the shooting experience to how you like it.

Selective Focus

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HTC have their DuoCamera and uFocus on the new HTC One and so, Samsung have Selective Focus in the Galaxy S5. What essentially aims to create the same sort of effect that the two camera sensors on the M8 does, Selective Focus is pretty straight forward. You’re given a prompt when you first switch to this mode, and then all you need to do is to tap a subject relatively close to you when shooting. You’ll have to stay still, while the camera gathers the data and puts it all together, but the end result isn’t as impressive as Samsung would have you believe, but it does indeed work.

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Speaking of effects and editing things, the Galaxy S5 has a decent photo editor built in, as well as some cool real time effects that you can use to take funky shots. You can take a look at these effects and more in the gallery below.

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Camera Samples

Below are some simple, non-scientific camera samples to get an idea at what the Galaxy S5 is capable of. I’d say that overall, the camera on the Galaxy S5 is more than capable in most situations and the software allows for simple shooting without anything getting in your way, but also allows for tighter control with a myriad of settings and modes. Those looking to express themselves can do so with effects and edits after you’ve taken your shots and the selective focus feature is a novel edition, even if it isn’t as good as HTC’s implementation.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

IFTTT App now Available on Android

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For those that haven’t heard of IFTTT, it basically stands for If This Then That. It’s an easy way to automate your internet life. I actually use IFTTT for both my own social accounts and Android Headlines accounts. There are all kinds of channels here including being able to tweet out the weather in the morning. Or tweet the score of a game for a specific team. Or the way we use it for Android Headlines, whenever something new hits our feed, it publishes it on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. It’s a really great service that works really, really well.

With the IFTTT app for Android, you can do more than just automate your Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and other profiles. But you can also automate your device. Which is pretty cool, and means the limits are endless, essentially. You can automate your phone to connect or disconnect from any WiFi network, update your wallpaper, send a SMS, and so many other things. It’s a lot like tasker, but for some people it may be even easier to use than tasker.

As far as the UI goes, it does look a lot like the iOS app which was released earlier this month. Hopefully that changes, because if there’s one thing we hate more than having apps developed for iOS first, is a port of their iOS app on Android. Like Instagram. But right now the UI does work pretty well for the app, so I don’t have too many complaints, yet. That might change later on. The app is available on Google Play today, for free.

Are any of you going to take the IFTTT App for Android for a spin? Be sure to let us know what you think in the comments down below, if you do take it for a spin today.

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PlayOn Brings a Chomecast Compatibility, a Slew of New Content, DVR Functionality and More in Latest Update

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Everybody’s favorite $35 media-streaming dongle, the Google Chromecast, has been gaining a great deal of steam as of late. Since Google opened the floodgates to allow open development for the device a short while back, the added functionality and convenience of use has arguably made the Chromecast an invaluable part of many consumers’ daily entertainment experience, myself included. After today’s announcement from PlayOn — a service that allows users to stream their favorite shows, movies and personal media files from their PC to their TV, smartphone or tablet — Chromecast is about to get more awesome than it already was.

The folks at MediaMall Technologies, the company behind PlayOn, have inked a huge deal that will bring over 100 channels, DVR capability and a uniform mobile interface to browse channels and content to Chromecast users. While the press release does not contain a full list of the channels that will be included, it does mention a few really big name networks like ABC, CBS, Comedy Central and Hulu — and you won’t even need a Hulu Plus subscription. If you’d like to get in on the action, head over to the PlayOn Chromecast page for more information. Subscription prices are extremely fair at $29.99/year or $59.99/lifetime. In most cases, the lifetime package will cost you less than a monthly cable or satellite subscription.

“Chromecast is a great, inexpensive device for cord cutters but is somewhat limited in its content and casting capabilities,” said Jeff Lawrence, CEO, MediaMall Technologies. “PlayOn gives Chromecast users a universal interface for TV-watching and vastly expands the list of available channels, and with very little fuss, it also brings a full-screen cross-browser web casting experience that users can’t get with the Chromecast alone.”

As an early Chromecast adopter, I can’t imagine life without it. I don’t pay a monthly cable bill. All I need is an Internet connection, a computer and a Chromecast (along with the help of a few really good apps) and I can watch whatever I want, whenever I want. And since I’m already paying for Internet regardless, it’s a win/win situation for me. As more and more people add the Chromecast to their personal tech collections, you have to wonder if cable companies are starting to sweat over this game-changing device, especially now that so many app developers are starting to put out such awesome apps that play friendly with the device.

Will you be signing up for a PlayOn subscription? It sounds pretty tempting to me, but we’d love to know what you think. Drop us a comment in the thread below!

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Glass Now Available for All – That Have $1500 To Throw at it

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Last week, Google made Glass available for one day only to everyone in the US. Well they actually sold out of Glass on that day. However, today, the Glass shop is now open to everyone in the US. So if you’re in the US and have been wanting to get your hands on Glass, now is the time. It’s still the Explorer edition and it is available to everyone. However it does still cost $1500. Your $1500 gets you Glass, a case for Glass, a charging cable, a mono earbud, and a choice of shades to go with your Glass. It is still quite expensive, and everyone thought that when Glass was made available to everyone that it would be much cheaper. We were thinking around $500 or lower. But it appears that is not the case, at least not yet.

It’s also important to remember that this is the same Glass that Explorers have been using for the past year or so. Which means the only thing new here is the ability to buy it without an invite. There is a new version of Glass coming out at some point, but as of right now, we are unaware of when that might be, unfortunately. However, Google will likely let you upgrade for free as they did with the Explorers. They were able to send in their Glass for the second generation hardware at no charge. Which was a really nice thing to have done. Google has also been replacing Explorers’ Glass when they break or something else happens to them, which is also pretty nice.

So now that Glass is available to everyone, who’s going to throw $1500 at Google for some Glass? Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you do decide to order Glass and let us know how you like it as well.

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Redesigned Dialer for Android 4.4.3 Leaks Out

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Screenshot 2014-04-24 12.16.38

Here we go. More leaks about the next version of Android. Although this isn’t Android 4.5 with Moonshine, that we’ve been hearing about. Instead it’s the next point-release for KitKat which is Android 4.4.3. According to an user on XDA, this is the new dialer on Android 4.4.3. This update was actually slated to be released last week, but that didn’t happen for whatever reason. We also expected it to be mostly bug fixes and not a whole lot of new features or even redesigns. But it looks like Google thought differently.

Looking at the screenshot above, it appears to be a bit more colorful. As the names that don’t have pictures get a colored background. You still have the search bar up top, and the dialer button at the bottom. So there’s not a huge difference here. But it does look a bit nicer. Maybe this is part of the redesign we are hearing about coming at Google I/O with the next major version of Android? It certainly is plausible. It looks a bit like the leaked screenshot that the Nexus account on Twitter posted the other day, but not quite the same. As it was a different page in the app that the Nexus account posted. We’ll have to wait until the update comes out to be for sure. But according to this user, he is on Android 4.4.3. Which means we should be getting this new dialer any day now, as the update is ready to be pushed out. Or at least we were told it was.

You can see from the screenshots, that this was taken from a Nexus 5 running on Android 4.4.3, which the XDA user says is one of his friends. Either way, we should find out shortly if this is in Android 4.4.3 or not, and what other goodies Google has packed in there for us.

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Verizon Wireless adds 549k New Subscribers and Rakes in $21 Billion in Revenue in Q1 2014

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Verizon’s Q1 results are now out and available. There’s really not much here in the way of surprises. It’s basically the same as every other quarter. Verizon rakes in a ton of cash and adds a ton of new customers. For the first quarter, Verizon actually brought in $30 billion in revenue as a whole, but Verizon Wireless account for $21 billion of that. As most of you probably know, Verizon is also an ISP, offering internet and TV in some parts of the country. The $21 billion in revenue for Verizon Wireless is a 7% increase over Q1 2013. Verizon’s profit margin in wireless is 35%, which is also an increase over last year which had a 32.9% profit margin. Part of the reason for the jump is Verizon’s buyout from Vodafone, buying their 45% stake in Verizon Wireless back for a mere $130 billion. Which that deal finalized last quarter.

Additionally, that increase in profit and profit margin is also due to the new customers they’ve added. Verizon added 549,000 total new customers, and 539,000 of those were postpaid, while the remaining 10,000 were all prepaid – which is actually surprising to me. AT&T did beat them out in adding more customers, which is probably due to them dropping prices on their plans to attempt to compete with T-Mobile. But Verizon did beat them out in revenue and profit, which is where it really counts. Also, Verizon is still the largest carrier. Right now they are sitting at 97.3 million customers – that’s more than double what T-Mobile and Sprint have as of Q4 2013, since their Q1 results aren’t out yet. Of those 97.3 million customers, about 72% of them are on smartphones. That’s a big chunk, and still a pretty big chunk of people left on feature phones. Which is also pretty surprising.

So Verizon continues to drive in tons of money keeping their shareholders happy. It’s going to be interesting to see how T-Mobile and Sprint’s numbers compare, since we’ve already seen AT&T’s numbers yesterday.

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Lenovo’s Yoga 10 HD+ Tablet Now Available for Pre-Order at $369

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Back at Mobile World Congress in February, Lenovo showed off a new Yoga tablet that they were going to be selling soon. Their Yoga line of Android and Windows devices have done pretty well. I reviewed the Yoga 8 and 10 running on Android 4.2.2 at the time, and I was really impressed with them. Build quality was right up there with HTC, and the battery life was amazing. Pretty much unmatched by any other tablet out there. Now Lenovo is back with a newer version of the Yoga 10, with beefier specs and a pretty good price tag as well. It’s cheaper than the Nexus 10 was at launch, which is kinda crazy.

The Lenovo Yoga 10 HD+ sports a 10.1-inch 1920×1200 display (likely IPS but not confirmed), Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 powering it, compared to the MediaTek chip they’ve been using before, 2GB of RAM and a 9000mAh battery inside. Which Lenovo is saying we’ll get 18 hours of battery life out of this thing. I’m going to believe that, as they said about 12 from the Yoga 8 last year and it more than delivered on that promise. The Yoga 10 HD+ also has the built-in stand for watching movies and videos, as well as laying it down to type an email. Once more, it’s one of the only tablets around with front-facing speakers. While they aren’t as good as HTC’s front-facing Speakers and Boomsound, they are still pretty darn good.

This tablet is available for pre-order now and shipping out in a few weeks. Right now it’s only available from Lenovo, but we should see it landing in other retailers soon like Best Buy, Amazon, and many others. How many of our readers are tempted to get the Lenovo Yoga 10 HD+ as their next tablet? There’s not many 10-inch tablets around right now, and this one might be one of the better tablets out there. Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition Receiving Android 4.4.2 KitKat

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For those of you with the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, you’ve probably noticed you received an update overnight. Well that’s Kitkat on your Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. Which is great to see. It brings this tablet up to speed with Samsung’s other tablets like the Galaxy TabPRO and the Galaxy NotePRO tablets. The update is about 550MB in size, so it’s quite large, so if you have an LTE or 3G model, you’ll want to be sure you’re on WiFi before you download this update.

So what can you expect in this update? Well all the KitKat goodies like immersive mode, cloud printing and much more. Users who have already installed the update are noticing some graphical changes as well. But users are not seeing the new version of Touchwiz, which isn’t really a surprise. You probably won’t see the version of Touchwiz that’s on the Samsung Galaxy S5 on the Galaxy Note 3, or even the Galaxy Note 10.1. Simply because Samsung doesn’t want to bring huge change to their current customers. And they’ve never done it in the past, so why start now?

Right now it appears that the update is only hitting those in the US with the WiFi version, but we should see it hitting other versions rather soon. So far we’ve heard no reports about bugs in this update, so hopefully it doesn’t get pulled. If you’re looking to pull down the update. Simply jump into Settings > About Tablet > Software Updates > Check for Updates, and you should be able to pull it down. If not, you may have to wait for it to be pushed out to your device.

How many of our readers out there are sporting the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition? Have any of you gotten the update to Android 4.4.2 yet? Be sure to let us know in the comments down below.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 Root Bounty Nears $4,000 Payout

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Whilst the Touchwiz software on the Samsung Galaxy S5 is leagues ahead of the previous iterations, it still isn’t fancied by some in the Android community who would rather have a more stock feel to their phones software and UI. Perhaps the other case is just that ROM flashers just love the ability to root and customize, and really just want that open compatibility and have no issues or qualms with the Samsung UI in the first place. Whatever the case may be, users on Verizon(and AT&T) who now own and use the Galaxy S5 are reportedly itching to get their hands on a workable process to get the Galaxy S5 rooted so that they can play and tinker like they’re used to.

So far there isn’t any sort of root method available for the Verizon Wireless(and presumably AT&T) model of the device, and people aren’t keen on waiting any longer than they have to to get root access on the phone. In this sort of situation we usually see users take to the development community to ask for assistance in achieving this goal of root for a designated device, but if you thought that developers work in this case goes unnoticed or unrewarded, you’d be mistaken. Just like with plenty of other devices that users have been eager to get root onto, an assortment of Verizon Galaxy S5 owners have carried their cause to XDA and the community of developers at the forum, with a bounty payout for whoever is the first person to achieve root access on the device. Currently the bounty payout is sitting at $3,780, with most of that being directed in from Verizon users and totaling $3,590 of the pledges. Whilst $190 of the pledges are from people who use the device on AT&T.

So it seems that most of the people interested in rooting and are willing to pledge towards the bounty are Verizon subscribers, but there are a select few AT&T Galaxy S5 owners out there in the community that are looking to help advance the end goal here which is to open up the device capabilities through root. There is a simple list of rules to follow when and if someone wants to compete for the bounty. Obviously you have to be the first to discover and post the root method, but past that the root exploit also has to work, and you have to provide full documented proof via photos with step by step instructions on how to complete the root. After someone follows your instructions and confirms that the method works, you can collect your bounty. Feel like you’ve got what it takes to provide the users with what they want? head over to the XDA thread and get yourself acquainted, then get to work.

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