Tuesday, October 8, 2013

First Look at Samsung Note 3 and Galaxy Gear

The third generation of the Samsung Galaxy Note - the Note 3, and together with the cool Samsung Galaxy Gear, was launched just a few days ago here in Malaysia. I was invited together with many others who were excited to see what's Samsung's latest offering. It was a grand launch and packed with many different media held at Sunway Convention Centre.

The event started off with many different videos. I wish I could've videoed them all but unfortunately my Galaxy S4 was not charged fully. Silly me. Anyway, by watching the intro videos on both the Note 3 and the Gear, I was very excited to play around with both products. The event was opened by Kwon Jae-Hoon, MD of Samsung Malaysia Electronics. Then Product Marketing's Luke Au did a presentation on the new features of Note 3, followed by a presentation by Product Marketing's Go Ben Lee, on the Galaxy Gear. There was a lot of information to digest, so here I break it down for you.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

How to record your screen on Android 4.4 KitKat

There's a new feature that came with Android 4.4 KitKat – screen recording – and some of us appear to be more excited about it than others. The prospect of a non-laggy, native recording with decent quality appeals to us on more than a professional level, and it's something many have been looking for in the years past. Unfortunately, the only option one had was to rely on apps that only worked every now and then (and on a very limited number of devices), and even the rooted, paid versions supported restrictively low frame rate.

We've been testing the new built-in feature ever since we got our hands on an early build of Android 4.4 KitKat, and we're bringing you this guide so that you can realize the full potential of Google's new OS, should you wish to do so. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Motorola patents neck tattoo that acts as a microphone and lie detector

Back in the dark days of March 2012, we told you about Nokia's patent application for a removable ferromagnetic ink tattoo that would send you haptic feedback whenever your phone receives a call. Different callers could be tied to different vibration patterns so that you could tell who is calling without having to look at your phone. Now, Motorola has received a patent for a similar, but functionally different idea.

Motorola's idea is to place a skin tattoo sticker on your neck to be used as a microphone, sending signals to your Motorola Moto X or the latest version of the Motorola DROID. The microphone would be able to send a clearer sound to your handset as it would eliminate background noise. The tattoo would come with its own transceiver, antenna, microphone and signal processor. For some reason not explained, the tattoo would also come with a screen even though the placement of the sticker would preclude you from looking at it.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The CIA pays AT&T for international call data

Earlier today, we heard about AT&T partnering with Lookout Mobile in order to bring better security to your smartphone. Unfortunately, that will only keep you safe from things like malware, and losing your device, and can't really help protect you from the snooping of the U.S. government. A new report is actually saying that AT&T doesn't try to protect you there, and may even sell call data to the CIA.

Government officials have told the New York Times that AT&T is receiving more than $10 million per year in order to supply the CIA with international call data, including data on calls made by Americans. This is not a situation where AT&T is compelled to comply, but a voluntary contract between the carrier and the CIA. However, this isn't a deal to get any and all data from AT&T, but more targeted data.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

T-Mobile now allows MMS messaging to Google Voice users

It has been an extremely long and slow road for Google Voice. Google first launched Google Voice about three and a half years ago in March 2009, and since then has been constantly working with carriers to add support for MMS as well as bringing Voice to international markets. Well, today Voice is getting a bit closer on the MMS front with better support from T-Mobile.

As yet, the only way for a Google Voice user to receive an MMS was if it were sent by a Sprint user. Supposedly, if a Sprint user were to send an MMS to a Google Voice user, it would be routed to Gmail. Of course, in practice it hasn't always work that well. Today, a Google employee, Alex Wiesen, has said that the same support is coming to messages originating from T-Mobile users. The Google+ post said:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Google Keyboard gets update to 2.0; app brings a little KitKat to your phone

Android users not rockin' the Nexus 5 might be feeling a little jealousy about not having the latest and greatest Android OS build on their phone. On the other hand, if you own, say, the HTC One,you know that you're going to get that confectionery OS build on your device, so any jealousy should be short-lived. In addition, Android 4.4 was said to be designed to work on low memory models,including those with just 512MB of RAM. That compares with the 2GB to 3GB of RAM found on today's high-end Android devices. In theory, this means that older Android phones could receive the Android 4.4 update. But the ultimate decision about which phones will be updated lies with the carriers and most won't want to spend the money to test the new Android build on phones that are on the way out.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Verizon coming to Moto Maker on November 11th, and setting up multiple device releases

We've been getting more and more info on the expansion of Motorola's Moto Maker customization software to other carriers beyond AT&T. Word has always put the end of AT&T's exclusivity in this month, and recent reports have put T-Mobile possibly getting added as soon as tomorrow (November 8th), and Sprint on November 11th. Now, we're hearing that Verizon may also be getting into Moto Maker on the 11th as well. Given that both Sprint and Verizon are set to get in on the Moto Maker software on the 11th, it seems reasonable that the rumors about T-Mobile may have been off, and the 11th could be the universal date for ending Moto Maker exclusivity. 

The news about Verizon is coming from sources for Droid Life, and those same sources had more info on various releases on Verizon. According to the sources, the white version of the LG G2 will hit Verizon on October 14th; the HTC One max will launch on or around November 21st; and, the white versions of the DROID Ultra and DROID mini will be released November 22nd. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

BlackBerry interim CEO Chen gets $85 million of restricted stock and $1 million base salary

On Monday, Fairfax Financial pulled out of its $9 a share purchase of BlackBerry. The company's largest shareholder not only couldn't find financing for its bid, it also felt that this was not the time to invest in an LBO. The deal was scrapped and instead, Fairfax said that it would lead a $1 billion investment in the beleaguered manufacturer. BlackBerry will sell convertible debt, and Fairfax itself will take down $250 million of the paper.

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal listed the names of the other investors in the Canadian company, as listed in a regulatory filing made by Fairfax. For example, Ontario-based Canso Investment Counsel Ltd bought the biggest slice of the debt, $300 million. Other names in the group include Toronto firms Mackenzie Financial Corp. and Brookfield Asset Management Inc. Other investors include Markel Corp.out of Virginia, and Qatar Holding LLC.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Nvidia CEO calls Android the most "versatile" OS in history

Jen-Hsun Huang is a co-founder, president and CEO of Nvidia which means that the executive wears quite a few hats at the chip manufacturer. One hat is that of an Android fan. During Nvidia's conference call on Thursday following the release of its third quarter numbers, Huang had some positive words to say about Google's open source OS.

"Android is the most disruptive operating system that we've seen in a few decades, in a couple of decades," said Huang. He also called it the most "versatile" operating system ever seen, noting how it connects to the cloud and can also come out of the box full of apps making it useful from the moment you first boot up an Android powered device. The versatility comes from Android's ability to drive more than just smartphones. Huang notes how the OS can also be found on tablets, gaming systems, set-top boxes and all-in-one PCs.

Friday, July 5, 2013

iPad Air costs Apple $274 to make, has fatter profit margin than the iPad 4

Research firm IHS iSupply has torn down the new Apple iPad Air, providing valuable insight into the components cost breakdown. Its full report is not due until a few weeks from now, but for the time being it lets us know that the iPad Air starts off at $274 for Apple. This makes it actually cheaper to produce than the previous generation, despite the ultra thin and light machined aluminum design.

The most expensive part is, naturally, the 9.7" 2048 x 1536 pixels display package, which is now 20% thinner than before, with brighter and more efficient LED lighting, reducing the amount of sources from 84 to 36, thus contributing to one of the most compact tablet designs out there. This screen is said to cost $90 for the display, and $43 for the integrated touchscreen part, making for a grand total of $133 - the most expensive part in the tablet.

Monday, June 24, 2013

HTC's Q4 forecast shows that the company is still bleeding money

The story of HTC is really beginning to scare us a bit, due to the parallels our minds instinctively draw. A company of zero repute in the distant 1997, HTC became one of the biggest (contract) manufacturers in the world, but today, it's on its way to a post a second consecutive disappointing showing in Q4. In its 16 year history, HTC has only ever posted a loss once before.

These news come directly from HTC's financial forecasts for Q4. According to the Taiwanese maker, their revenue is projected to be between $1.4 and $1.5 billion. That's below analysts' estimated average of about $1.8 billion, a number compiled by Bloomberg. It would, therefore, appear that HTC's efforts in cutting expenses, enlisting some marketing help, along with the latest entries to its portfolio are unable to drive demand for the company's wares. HTC's sale of its 25% (about $860 million, pre-tax) share in Beats Electronics, also appears incapable of stemming the tide of losses the company is making. Multiple sources have already reported that the Taiwanese manufacturer is working on a new portfolio of lower-end devices for the Chinese market that it hopes will rejuvenate its finances, but these are probably still a few months off.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

T-Mobile adds 1 million new customers in Q3

T-Mobile's innovations paid off with 1 million new customers added to its rolls during the third quarter. That continues the trend seen in the previous quarter when it added 678,000 new subscribers to its T-Mobile and MetroPCS brands. CEO John Legere, who has been a breath of fresh air in the industry with his brash attitude and actions, said during a conference call on Tuesday that T-Mobile alone had added more new phone customers than the rest of the industry combined. 

With the introduction of new plans that eliminated subsidized equipment pricing, smashing the old 24 month phone upgrade cycle, and eliminating international roaming charges in over 100 countries, T-Mobile has done more to shake up the industry in a matter of months than any other carrier ever. Legere has even made T-Mobile fans forget all about Carly, the operator's longtime spokeswoman who has apparently gone the way of two-year contracts.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Nexus 5 teardown marks nice 8/10 repairability score, just don't drop it face down

Google's Nexus 5 has received the teardown treatment by iFixit we've been awaiting for with bated breath to see what makes it tick, and some interesting observations have popped up.

First off, despite the sealed unibody design, it receives a repairability score of 8/10, due to the minimum use of adhesive and the modular components that aren't tough to replace, including the 2300 mAh battery. On top of that, the destroyers found the Nexus 5 relatively easy to pry open, with the back cover holding on a few plastic clips and some bottom adhesive. The back has wireless charging coils integrated indeed, as well as NFC connectivity.

The worst piece of news from the teardown - the whole screen assembly is glued together, and it won't be a very cheap replacement if you drop your Nexus 5 face down to a nefarious surface, so we'd advise to put a protector on, but other than that the whole teardown was smooth sailing.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Qualcomm to introduce new Snapdragon chips and Adreno 400 series in early 2014

Qualcomm is expected to unveil its new generation of Snapdragon mobile system chips and along with them the Adreno 400 graphical chips, according to chip-focused website Fudzilla. Qualcomm is usually making its unveiling at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in mid-January in Las Vegas. 

There aren’t many details about the upcoming 2014 Snapdragon chips, but the Adreno 400 graphical chip that is said to be getting ready for the limelight won't have a compute part and will not support OpenCL.

In 2014, Qualcomm might have tougher competitors in both CPU and GPU. Nvidia’s Tegra 5 with Logan chip has already shown impressive capabilities that the Adreno series will have to try and match. PowerVR’s 6-series graphics (used in the new iPhone 5s and iPads) are another strong player and ARM has also just unveiled its Mali 700 GPU. Vivante is also making a mobile graphics chip design. With all this, competition will definitely be heated next year.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Best Nexus 5 cases and covers

Case manufacturers didn't wait for the official Nexus 5 announcement to pull the trigger on their tailored covers, inducing hilariously snarky comments over at the Amazon review crowd.

Now that the handset is in the shops, with one of the best value-for-money propositions in the Android world, we are rounding up some of the more notable cases and covers for its protection, aesthetics, handling enhancements, or just plain old showing off. 

Take a peak at what's currently poised to hit the market for your Nexus 5 in the slideshow below. We'll be updating the list periodically as currently many big names are still dragging their feet with their Nexus 5-tailored wrappers, but an influx of more cases shouldn't be far behind amidst a global rollout.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

AT&T activates 200% more Apple iPads during launch weekend

Led by the new Apple iPad Air, AT&T activated 200% more iPads over this past launch weekend than it activated last year. Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility, said that part of the reason for the surge in activations was the attractive pricing of the carrier's Mobile Share plan, which allows tablets to be added to an existing account for $10 per month.

The executive also pointed out that the operator was offering the new iPad for $0 down with its AT&T NEXT plan. With NEXT, customers pay for a device monthly, and after 12 months, you can trade it in for a new phone or tablet. Despite the increase in activations, there are probably still quite a few AT&T customers waiting for the Apple iPad mini with Retina display. Demand has been building for the sequel to the 7.9 inch iPad mini, but Apple has delayed the release of the tablet. The Cupertino based tech giant has had trouble obtaining enough Retina display panels as it attempts to build enough tablets to catch up with what almost certainly will be pent-up demand for the device.

"iPad activations on AT&T increased more than 200 percent over the past three days compared to last year's launch weekend, driven by consumer excitement around the new iPad Air and the popularity of AT&T Mobile Share, which lets customers add an iPad to their existing data plan for just $10 a month. We also saw strong demand for AT&T Next, which offers customers an iPad for $0 down."-Ralph de la Vega, president, CEO, AT&T Mobility

Monday, April 29, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S5, Note 4 and other 2014 flagships rumored to get 16 MP OIS cameras

Remember that 16 MP optically stabilized mobile camera (OIS) module Samsung was rumored to prep for the S5 not long ago? Well, according to Korean media this same piece of equipment will find its way into all of Samsung's premium phones next year.

This, naturally, includes the upcoming Galaxy S5 and Note 4, so what can we expect from the cameras on those devices? According to the same publication two weeks ago, Sony and Samsung's LSI division itself, are fighting to be the suppliers of 16 MP camera module for the Galaxy S5.

Sony has established itself as the go-to company for mobile camera sensors, around which manufacturers build their own modules, providing them with the optical image stabilization suspension in some cases, and the likes. Its sensors can be found in all the current top handsets like the LG G2, Nexus 5, iPhone 5S, and even Samsung's Galaxy S4 and Note 3.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

LG spokesperson: "A global announcement for G Flex is in the works"

The LG G Flex may have been the second phone with a curved screen to be announced (second to the Galaxy Round), but it might become the first curved phone to hit the global market. While nothing specific is announced just yet, an LG spokesperson has confirmed for us that a global announcement for the LG G Flex is indeed "in the works."

Announced shortly after Samsung's Galaxy Round, the LG G Flex has been getting a bit more of the spotlight compared to its Samsung rival, due to its arguably more attractive curve along the horizontal axis, as well as "self-healing" back panel, which is said to automatically get rid of scratches, should you give it a few minutes. In addition, the LG G Flex also sports a curved battery - a first in the industry. The handset also impresses with its larger-than-life 6" display, the 720 x 1280 pixel resolution of which, however, will not provide perfect pixel density at this size. The Snapdragon 800 chipset powering the curvy phablet, though, is absolutely cutting-edge.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Android Quick Start Guide for KitKat found in Google Play Books

Whether you have a Nexus 5 enroute, own a Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10or you're looking for some light reading, here's a suggestion. You can download from Google Play Books the Android Quick Start Guide for Android 4.4. And no, this will not be turned into a major motion picture starring Hugh Jackman. The guide includes 53 pages of information that you can read over your Android phone or tablet.

Even if you plan on being somewhere else without internet connectivity, you can download the guide now and read it offline. Reading the reviews from Google Play Books, it seems like the guide is blocked in a number of foreign countries. However, reading the reviews from the Google Play Store, it seems that many are having difficulties loading the book on to their device.

If you do get to download the freebie, the chapters include Welcome to Android, Essentials, Use the keyboard, Try some apps, Settings and Accessories.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Update to Google Now for iOS adds new cards, notifications and more

Google Search for iOS has received an update. One of the new features allows iPhone users to commence a search using the app by uttering "OK Google." There's an interesting scene for you to consider. Someone is walking on the street, iPhone in hand, saying, "OK Google." That person might end up being Baker Act'd (Google it) by a concerned bystander.

Other changes include a series of new cards for Google Now including flight updates, event tickets, reservations for a rental car, and information about public transit. Notifications and Reminders have been added to the app, which now has a revamped homepage and improvements to the UI. And if you're rocking some other Google app on your iPhone, you can take advantage of the one touch sign in.

Google Now is a useful tool that gives you information you want to know, when you need to know it. Traffic information, stock prices, sports scores and all of the information you receive from Google Now appears on the screen without you having to ask for it. Along with the search function on the app, information is always close at hand.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Canadian government reportedly blocks Lenovo bid for BlackBerry

A published report out of Canada on Tuesday says that Chinese tech company Lenovo was seriously considering making a bid for BlackBerry, but the Canadian government rejected the idea due to national security concerns. The Canadian government had previously been in touch with BlackBerry and told the beleaguered  manufacturer that it would not allow a Chinese firm to purchase a company involved in the infrastructure of the country's telecommunication network.

Because the Canadian government had made its position clear, BlackBerry never submitted any proposal to Ottawa that involved a Lenovo purchase of the company. BlackBerry operates a secure network that handles encrypted communications for the government and businesses, and there was concern that the Chinese government would be able to infiltrate the network using Lenovo as a front.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

HTC breakaway company Kazam announces its first 7 Android phones

Earlier this year, a number of former HTC executives decided to start up their own smartphone manufacturing company, called Kazam. The idea was to offer “stunning design, robust hardware, and intuitive technology, underpinned with improved customer service.” Now, the company has announced its first seven smartphones, all of which run Android.

None of the devices appear to be "top tier" by any measurement, but the high-end offerings from Kazam (which are low-end by most standards) will carry the Thunder name. The Kazam Thunder Q4.5 will offer a 4.5-inch display with a 854×480 resolution, a 1.3GHz quad-core SoC, 1GB of RAM, an 8MP rear camera, and just 4GB of storage, although it will offer expandable storage via a microSD card slot. There will also be a Thunder Q5.0 in the future, but the specs haven't been announced on that yet. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

T-Mobile customers to get Moto Maker access on Friday?

On Monday night, we showed you a leaked internal document from Sprint that showed  that the nation's third largest carrier would be giving its customers access to the Moto Maker website starting on Monday, November 11th. AT&T, of course, currently has an exclusive on the Moto Maker site which allows potential purchasers of the Motorola Moto X to customize the device.

Today, a tweet from Nobel Leak Prize winner evleaks revealed that T-Mobile customers will have access to the Moto Maker site starting on Friday. That includes the million new customers T-Mobile added to its rolls in the third quarter. Verizon subscribers are expected to eventually be able to use the Moto Maker site, possibly in time for the holidays. That leaves U.S. Cellular and it is unknown whether that carrier will join the others who are able to offer customized Moto X units to their customers.

Yesterday, evleaks tweeted a picture of the four wooden back panels that  have been delayed, saying that they will eventually be offered to Moto X buyers through the Moto Maker website.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Windows Phone picks up market share in Q3 while iOS and Android are flat

According to research firm Canalys, Windows Phone picked up some market share in the third quarter while iOS and Android remained flat. Shipments of Windows Phone flavored handsets rose a stunning 185% to 9.2 million units globally in the third quarter. That allowed Microsoft's mobile OS to own 4% of the global smartphone market for the three months through September. Windows Phone is gaining momentum on the strength of Nokia's low-priced models like the Nokia Lumia 520 and Nokia Lumia 521. Additionally, Nokia has been outfitting its top-shelf models with cameras that take clear pictures in low-light conditions.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

HTC One in U.K. gets Android 4.3, Sense 5.5

A tweet from HTC's U.K. division (see, others at HTC besides HTC Americas president Jason Mackenzie know how to use Twitter) says that the HTC One has started to receive the OTA update that brings Android 4.3 and Sense 5.5 to the phone, in the region. According to the tweet, if you live in the U.K., you should take your HTC One, and go to Settings > About > Software updates. This might not be necessary if the phone is already showing the notification that it received the update OTA.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Your Google+ profile picture will soon be matched with your phone number

Sometime early next year, Google will start matching verified phoned numbers with Google+ profile pictures. What does this mean for you? Well, once Google verifies your phone number, anytime you call someone, they will see your Google+ profile picture on their incoming call screen. And of course, when someone calls you, you will see their image on your screen. That comes in handy if you haven't added someone to you contacts list, but you remember the face.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

BlackBerry CEO Chen says more thought is needed before deciding to switch to Android

New BlackBerry CEO John Chen has some pretty important decisions to make, and he refuses to make them without taking the time to think about the implications of his actions. No decision is more important than deciding whether or not BlackBerry should continue to support BlackBerry 10. The ink wasn't even dry on the headlines announcing the failure of the Fairfax Financial buyout when Android fans started calling on the Canadian manufacturer to adopt Google's open source OS.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Motorola DROID update found on non-soak testers' phones

Earlier on Tuesday, we told you that those Motorola DROID Ultra, Motorola DROID Maxx and Motorola DROID Mini owners who had agreed to participate in the upcoming soak test, would receive their update sometime on Tuesday. The update contains improvements to the camera including speedier focusing, more consistent exposure, improved white balance and HDR improvements. Most people who buy a Motorola DROID model don't make the purchase for the camera, but this update does offer some big improvements to the rear snapper. The update also includes the Google Drive promotion that gives you 50GB of extra cloud storage on top of the 15GB that you already get for free.