Phandroid » Featured Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Fri, 18 Apr 2014 00:28:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Phan Favs: The best weather app for Android [RESULTS] Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:52:34 +0000 phan fav 1 weather

Exactly one week ago we posted the first part of a new feature called Phan Favs. This feature is all about asking you, the readers, about your favorite apps and games. To start things out we asked you about your favorite weather apps for Android. A lot of you came out and showed your support for your favorite apps. We received well over 250 votes spread out across dozens of apps. One app came out on top as the clear winner. Here are your top picks for best weather apps.

1. 1Weather


It’s very fitting that the app with “1″ in its name is the #1 pick. 1Weather claims to be the “most loved weather app on Google Play,” and that certainly showed in your voting. This app is the perfect combination of design and data. Most weather apps sacrifice to have just one or the other, but 1Weather provides powerful information in a beautiful package. Another plus for 1Weather is tablet support, live weather forecasts and backgrounds, and so much more. 1Weather is available for free from Google Play.

2. WeatherBug


Coming in at #2 is an app that has been around for a long time, but keeps on kicking. WeatherBug has a focus on helping you “Know Before.” With this app you can access the world’s largest network of weather and lightning sensors for the most accurate forecasts, and the fastest alerts. “Spark Alerts” can even turn your phone into a lightning detector. Download WeatherBug and always know when the weather is about to turn bad. It’s available for free from Google Play.

3. Yahoo Weather


One of the newest entries you selected is Yahoo Weather. This is one of the prettiest weather apps you’ll ever find. It’s minimal in design with simple data and full screen photos. It may seem overly simple, but there is hardcore data in this app too. You get access to radar maps, wind and pressure, daily, hourly, and weekly forecasts, and much  more. If you’re looking for a stylish weather app this is an excellent choice. It’s available for free from Google Play.

4. Google Now

google now

Why download a weather app when your phone can tell you the forecast right out of the box? That’s what a lot of you said with your choice of Google Now. This feature comes in the Google Search app that is compatible with most of the newer Android devices. It will tell you the weather of your current location with a handy card and can be ever-present in your notification shade. Google Now can also recite the weather back to you if you ask. Download Google Search for free from the Play Store.

5. Weather Underground


The last app in our Top 5 is Weather Underground. This app is described as “community powered weather.” What does that mean? On top of the regular weather services and airports, this app uses 3,000+ personal weather stations report the most localized weather conditions. That data powers radar maps, forecasts, hazards reports, and so much more. If you like helping to crowd source data this is a great weather app to use. Like all the other apps on this list, it’s available for free from Google Play.


The Top 10 selections can be seen in the chart above. Thanks to everyone who helped vote to make this list. Next week we will be back with another Phan Favs. Do you like the winners of this week? Did your favorite app make the Top 5? Let us know in the comments if you agree with your fellow readers!

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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. iPhone 5s Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:29:38 +0000 gs5-iphone5s-hero

Launched late last week, the Galaxy S5 has been making the rounds from one reviewer’s desk to another. The Android-powered smartphone has quickly made a name for itself, garnering a mixed reception and leaving some buyers on the fence. Many in the market for a new smartphone will consider the S5 alongside Apple’s latest (albeit now over half a year old), the iPhone 5s. Is either device worth jumping platforms? What’s the better overall buy? We attempt to wade our way through the matter. Read on for the full comparison.

Design and Build

Once similar enough to fuel patent disputes in courts throughout the world, the design and build of the latest Galaxy S is now one of the biggest differences between the device and its Apple counterpart. For starters, Samsung’s handset is larger, as is needed to accommodate the phone’s 5.1-inch display.

The Galaxy S5 measures 5.59″ x 2.85″ x 0.32″ while the iPhone 5s comes in at 4.87” x 2.31” x 0.30”. Given the varying screen sizes, perhaps the most relevant point of comparison is device thickness. If thinner is better, the iPhone wins with a profile 0.02” thinner than the S5.


In terms of device aesthetics and design, both the iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S5 are intrinsically linked to the smartphone models that preceded them. For the latest iPhone flagship, Apple chose to change very little about the design first introduced with the iPhone 5. Likewise, while size changes slightly and other aesthetic aspects see some refinement — a dimpled backplate, for instance — the Galaxy S5 is not a drastic departure from the design of the Galaxy S4.

Comparing the two, the iPhone definitely holds a more premium feel, utilizing aircraft grade aluminum and glass to deliver a sleek and clean look. Samsung continues to rely upon a polycarbonate plastic for their Galaxy handset, which tends to give the device a slightly cheaper look and feel than the iPhone. Of course, we can’t talk about design without mentioning the GS5’s IP67 spec, meaning it can be submerged full underwater and continue functioning. It’s an awesome feature, but not enough to give the device the edge in this category.

Verdict: iPhone 5s


Samsung has once again increased the screen size of their Galaxy flagship, moving to a 5.1-inch, 1080p Super AMOLED display. The iPhone 5s is considerably smaller, retaining the 4-inch display of the iPhone 5 with no significant changes, including a resolution of 1136 x 640 pixels.

The display of the iPhone 5s, while boasting its “Retina” pixel density of 326 ppi, is still sub-HD. It’s arguable, however, if the lower resolution is much of a downgrade or even noticeable on the smaller display size. The larger display of the Galaxy S5, however, manages to cram about one hundred more pixels per inch, providing a density of 432 ppi.

Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays are known for their rich color saturation and strong contrast. While many users prefer the vibrant display technology, it’s color profile isn’t always true to life. Apple’s Retina display, while slightly more neutral in color and contrast, is seen as providing more realistic image reproduction.

Ultimately, both displays look pretty great, though the iPhone 5s, utilizing a display that hasn’t changed much over two device generations, is starting to show its age in this area. While personal preference will dictate which looks best on a user-by-user basis, few will argue the superiority of Samsung’s display on a technical level.

Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S5

Processor and Hardware

While Android device manufacturers often cite clock speed and processor core configurations as a main part of device marketing, Apple has taken a slightly different approach, choosing instead to let the device’s performance speak for itself. That is not to say the Cupertino-based company has made no strides in this area with the iPhone 5s. All other elements aside, the most recent Apple flagship can boast one thing the Galaxy S5 cannot: 64-bit processing.

While this is the only tech spec Apple has made a point to mention, device teardowns reveal that the A7 chip found in the iPhone 5s features a dual-core processing suite clocked at 1.3GHz. Samsung’s device features the 32-bit quad-core Snapdragon 801, no slouch by any means at 2.5GHz.

If you continue such a hardware comparison on paper, the Galaxy S5 bests the iPhone 5s in many areas. RAM? 2GB in the S5 compared to the 1GB found in the 5s. Expandable storage via MicroSD? The S5 has it; the iPhone does not. An IP67 certification for resistance to dust and water? That, again, is a Galaxy S5 feature not found in its Apple counterpart. The Galaxy S5 even features a built-in heart rate monitor.

But for all the discrepancies in device configuration, there is an intangible element that keeps the iPhone 5s much closer to the Galaxy S5 in terms of device performance. Whereas Samsung seems content to bog down their powerful handset with a dose of heavy-handed software, the iPhone sees a hardware/software compliment designed from the ground up to work in tandem. The result? The iPhone 5s, in many ways, feels just as fast and responsive as the Galaxy S5, if not more.

And let’s not forget that 64-bit processing. While it is arguable whether or not the desktop-grade architecture is really an advantage at this point in time given the lack of software supporting it (the overwhelming majority of apps and games are designed for 32-bit systems), it does future-proof the iPhone 5s to a degree. Smartphones will inevitably move over to 64-bit as the standard, and when the time comes the iPhone will be ready. The only question is whether or not the iPhone 5s will still be a relevant device when 64-bit reaches critical mass.

Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S5

Software and Apps


When it comes to the software that runs on the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5s, we might as well be comparing oranges to, uh, apples. What you get with Samsung’s TouchWiz-infused build of Android KitKat is a far cry from the simplified implementation of iOS 7. And that’s the main difference here: the Galaxy S5 is a device that is crammed full of device-specific software enhancements while the iPhone 5s is not. You get Kids Mode, Private Mode, Download Booster, Ultra Power Saving Mode, advanced multitasking, health monitoring apps, and much more.

We say this with the caveat that, in this case, more isn’t necessarily better. As mentioned briefly above, Samsung’s software at times stymies device performance. When it isn’t mucking things up, it can make for a steep learning curve (especially for newer Android users). While iOS 7 is lacking in many of these bells and whistles, many will find its clean interface accommodating and easy to get the hang of. The S5 is what power users might consider a dream phone, but it won’t be that way for everyone.


As for apps, the gap has closed substantially over the past several years between Android and iOS. The Google Play Store boasts some 700,000 apps while Apple’s App Store holds over 1 million. That is still a significant margin, but rest assured that most major services are available across platforms, and most new apps that launch exclusively in one marketplace or the other have a tendency to find their way to other operating systems (though it might be a few months).

Verdict: Draw

Fingerprint Scanner and Heart Rate Monitor


Though not the first to introduce a fingerprint scanner to a smartphone, Apple’s inclusion of Touch ID on the iPhone 5s no doubt sparked their biggest competitor to mimic the feature in the Galaxy S5. Both implementation allow users to secure their device using a scanner embedded in their respective home buttons. Apple’s version also allows for the authorization of app purchases from the App Store. Samsung takes things a step farther, allowing users to utilize fingerprint authentication for third-party apps like PayPal.

While both methods have shown that they are susceptible to hacking via some rather involved methods (a physical recreation of a fingerprint must be made), Apple’s Touch ID is considered the more secure of the two. Apple implements additional security features such as the need to enter a PIN-type passcode if a device is rebooted, regardless of whether fingerprint authentication is enabled. The Galaxy S5 seems to lack these additional security layers.

This shouldn’t make or break the decision to go with either device, however. Fingerprint authentication is merely an option, and it still needs some refining if it is going to catch on. Not all will opt to use it. Companies like Apple and Samsung have big plans for the future of the technology, however, and it could soon become an integral part of our smartphones. In this regard, Apple has a leg up.

One technology the two handsets do not share is a built-in heart rate monitor. The Galaxy S5 is one of the first smartphones to include this feature, and it works adequately (and has a cool red light to go along with it), but it’s hard to say whether or not this is a must-have feature. A nice bonus, but it doesn’t set the Gs5 apart by much.

Verdict: iPhone 5s


The iPhone has long been known for housing one of the best cameras to feature in a smartphone, and the iPhone 5s is no exception. Since it launched last September it has continued to be the benchmark for what a smartphone camera should be. It’s still pretty great, but the Galaxy S5 might just do one better.

The hardware spec suggests that the Samsung-made device should have the upper hand. The Galaxy S5 sports a 13MP camera while the iPhone 5s holds steady at 8MP. Both are perfectly adequate in well lit situations both indoors and out, and you’d be hard pressed to spot any major differences. The real separation comes when taking the cameras into less than ideal lighting conditions.

20140417_130932 20140417_13095020140417_13102120140417_131104

The Samsung Galaxy S5 (above) shines in this area, while the iPhone 5s (below) leaves a little to be desired. The Galaxy manages to capture more light to compensate for dark areas, while the iPhone fails to do its best work in the same conditions. Color representation remains pretty even in all conditions for the Galaxy S5. Colors look muted on photos taken with the iPhone in darker conditions.

Photo Apr 17, 13 09 13Photo Apr 17, 13 10 04Photo Apr 17, 13 10 14Photo Apr 17, 13 10 58

As for video, this area was harder to judge. You’d be hard-pressed to identify which camera was doing the shooting without being told. Both do a decent enough job, though colors begin to wash out in brighter conditions regardless of the device used. We give a slight nod to the iPhone for video, but it’s hardly a wide margin.


Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S5



Many will be quick to point to the Galaxy S5’s 2800mAh battery as evidence that it is the far superior handset when it comes to battery life, but as with other factors the true judgement can only take place after comparing the two in real-world settings. Yes, the GS5 features a much larger battery. It also features a much more power hungry hardware compliment. That big, bright display and quad-core processor need to get their juice from somewhere, right?

Still, the Galaxy S5 excels in terms of battery, getting at least a day of uptime during standard use. Power users might need to charge a bit more frequently, however. Samsung’s official claims are 21 hours of talk time, 11 hours of video playback, and 10 hours of LTE web browsing.

Likewise, the iPhone 5s also performs adequately and should get most users through a full day of use. Apple promises 10 hours of talk time, 10 hours of LTE web browsing, and 10 hours of video playback.

In our real world tests, we found nothing to disprove either manufacturers claims. In some cases the batteries over performed, in others the battery fell just shy. One place, however, where Samsung holds a clear advantage is the GS5’s Ultra Power Saving Mode. This feature switches the Galaxy S5’s power management system to provide juice to only the essential elements needed to keep the phone running. It strips away greater smartphone functionality, but can add an additional 24 hours of standby time to a battery already drained to 10 percent capacity.

Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S5


The Samsung Galaxy S5 emerges as a clear victor in many areas of comparison, but the scrappy iPhone 5s held its own in most respects. Let’s recap how the two phones fared in this head-to-head comparison:

  • Design: iPhone 5s
  • Display: Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Hardware: Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Software: Draw
  • Fingerprint Scanner: iPhone 5s
  • Camera: Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Battery: Samsung Galaxy S5

Which is the right phone for you?

We can spend all day giving you our opinions on the matter, and we hope they help making an informed decision easier, but ultimately the device you buy comes down to personal preference. Do you favor a big, beautiful display above all things? Go with the Galaxy S5. Is an intuitive interface and access to apps a priority? Then the iPhone 5s is a no brainer.

In our opinion you probably can’t go wrong with either, but we’re interested in hearing what you, our readers, have to say on the matter. Let us know in the poll below!

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Samsung Galaxy S5 Review Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:16:56 +0000 Samsung’s flagship line of Galaxy smartphones has enjoyed a level of success paralleled only by Apple’s iPhone, and the latest of these devices – the Samsung Galaxy S5 – just launched.

The tech world has come to expect excellence from the Galaxy S series, but has Samsung created another device that wows or simply one that keeps pace? And perhaps most importantly, should you spend your hard-earned money on the Galaxy S5, go for a competitor, or wait for the next big thing? Find out in our full review below.

Galaxy S5 Hardware & Design

The Galaxy S5 is packed full of hardware upgrades that the untrained eye wouldn’t likely spot at first glance. The fingerprint sensor baked into the home button. The heart rate monitor paired with the flash. The added charger door ensuring water resistant status. All brand new.

Bigger screen. Bigger battery. Bigger camera. Bigger processor. All stuffed into a device that’s unnoticeably bigger than its predecessor- a mere handful of millimeters larger and only a few grams heavier. You’ll read reviews labeling the Galaxy S5 as “iterative” and “evolutionary not revolutionary” – which may be true – but when you consider these improvements in context, relative to the maturity of the smartphone market, I’d argue that what Samsung has accomplished with the S5 is incredibly impressive.

Galaxy S5 Battery Cover

The biggest visual change with the Galaxy S5 is found on the rear, where Samsung has opted for the dimpled faux leather a la the Galaxy Note 3 rather than the glossy shell of the Galaxy S4. It’s an improvement, but it also continues Samsung’s infatuation with plastic (like it or not), though credit them with a step in the right direction.

The 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display is full HD (1920 x 1080) and absolutely gorgeous, offering the most vibrant colors of any smartphone on the market. Some might complain it has too much contrast and looks artificial – a matter of opinion with which I disagree but can appreciate – and to accommodate this viewpoint Samsung allows users to adjust screen saturation in the Display settings. The clarity, quality, and viewing angles of the screen make it a real joy to use day-in and day-out. 

Samsung Galaxy S5 Screen

The S5 layout matches the S4 in almost every way, with volume buttons on the left side, power button on the right side, MicroUSB 3.0 charging port on the bottom, and 3.5mm headset jack and IR blaster on the top. The home button now doubles as a fingerprint scanner and is flanked by two capacitive buttons: multi-tasking on the left and back button on the right.

You can hold down the multi-tasking button to pull up any screen’s menu, hold down the home button for Google Now, and optionally set a double tap of the Home button for S Voice – all very convenient.

An ear piece at the top rests above the Samsung logo, to the left of which you’ll find an LED light and to the right of which you’ll find a couple ambient light sensors and a front facing 2MP camera.

Flip over the S5 and you’ll see the huge and very capable 16MP camera at the top. Just below it is a recessed groove that houses a flash for the camera and an all-new heart rate monitor. A tiny speaker grill at the bottom left of the back adds more audio power.

Galaxy S5 Battery

Pop open the back cover for access to the 2,800 mAh battery, SIM card slot, and MicroSD slot (up to 128GB in addition to the 16GB or 32GB of onboard storage). The S5 is amply powered by a 2.5GHz quadcore processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 801), Adreno 330 graphics unit, and 2GB of RAM.

On the surface the total package may seem rather unremarkable: we’ve grown familiar with the Galaxy S design standards and Samsung has decided not to stray from a formula that’s consistently yielded results. Samsung should be careful to not let familiarity become fatigue, though. And as tech enthusiasts we should realize that our clamoring for “the next big thing” can be a distraction from what matters here and now.

Samsung has not only improved every nook and cranny of an already fantastic phone, they’ve also added completely new hardware features, done so without increasing size, and made it available at the same price. On paper it’s difficult to ask for much more, so long as in practice everything performs as you’d expect. But does it?

Let’s start with the three newest features: weatherproofing, finger print scanner, and heart rate monitor.

Weatherproofing and Water Resistance

Samsung won’t make the mistake of telling you the Galaxy S5 is waterproof, but for all intents and purposes, the Galaxy S5 is waterproof. The technical classification of Samsung’s weatherproofing is IP67 certification which Samsung describes as, “resistant to sweat, rain, liquids, sand and dust, so your phone is protected for any activity and situation.”

Galaxy S5 in Toilet

The technology has been around for years but few manufacturers have made it a staple of their flagship phones: bravo to Samsung for including this on the S5. Weatherproofing adds immediate and tangible value by acting as an insurance policy: water damage ranks up there with lost phones, stolen phones, and cracked screens for top reasons smartphones require replacement.

We don’t suggest you go swimming with the S5, but if you drop it in the toilet, use it in the rain, or even take it with you in the shower you shouldn’t have any problem. Just make sure the back cover is snapped on around the entire circumference of the phone and the charging door is closed… it doesn’t perfectly seal every time you take it on and off so a little paranoia will go a long way.

Close S5 Battery Case Completely

The battery door is a tad annoying to open and close at every charging pitstop – a wireless charging solution would have provided an elegant alternative – but the minor inconvenience is well worth the added value.

In years past manufacturers were happy to collect on your clumsiness, but hopefully the most popular smartphone manufacturer weatherproofing their most popular device will help the practice become as commonplace as WiFi and Bluetooth. This might be downplayed as a minor upgrade from the S4, but in the grand scheme of things, weatherproofing makes a world of difference.

Finger Sensor

There are two ways you can look at Samsung’s addition of a finger sensor for fingerprint scanning in the Galaxy S5:

  1. A “me too” feature that follows in Apple’s footsteps, erasing one selling point potentially swaying consumers towards the iPhone 5S over the Galaxy S5.
  2. A response to the increased exposure that the topics of privacy and data security are attracting in the court of public opinion.

Galaxy S5 Fingerprint Reader

I’ll be honest: Samsung’s fingerprint scanner isn’t as good as Apple’s. Not even close. But whereas Apple’s core functionality is focused on letting you unlock your phone, Samsung has left the door open for developers to integrate finger scanning functionality in their apps through Samsung Accounts. Two examples: use your fingerprint to make immediate payments with Paypal or gain access to locked files on your phone that you’ve set as private.

Unfortunately the Samsung finger scanning experience has two key drawbacks. First, you’ve got to slide your finger over the home button with such precision that it requires two hands. Second, the delay between registering a successful fingerprint and actually unlocking your device is too long to make it efficient.

It’s undoubtedly a cool feature and one I would consider using at the application specific level, but not quite ready for primetime for the most frequently accessed activity on your phone: unlocking it. Still, this could prove a smart move by Samsung if for nothing more than acting as an iPhone stopgap.

Heart Rate Monitor and S Health

If the finger sensor is meant to go tit-for-tat with Apple then Samsung’s Heart Rate Monitor can be considered a display of oneupmanship. Found in a recessed groove below the camera and sitting next to the flash, the Heart Rate Monitor might seem like a completely random addition, but it ties in well with Samsung’s push towards offering lifestyle solutions, especially in health and fitness.

Galaxy S5 Heart Rate Monitor

How many people care about monitoring their heart rate? Fitness fiends might enjoy the added ability, but it’s also likely they’ve got a separate wearable – perhaps even one of Samsung’s own Gears  Smartwatches – that accomplishes the same task more accurately.

The Heart Rate Monitor suffers in much of the same way as the Finger Scanner: if you don’t get your finger positioned just right it’ll frustratingly feed you with an error message and ask you to try again. And again.

galaxy-s5-s-healthS Health as a lifestyle initiative is starting to look very promising. Grouped with the Gear smartwatches and the heart rate monitor, Samsung is putting together a nice little suite of health and fitness solutions that work together like a cohesive brand. I’m eager to see continued development of S Health, both from a hardware and software standpoint.

While I point out these faults, I won’t blame Samsung for trying to innovate: they’ve added three brand new features to the Galaxy S5 with weatherproofing, finger scanning, and heart rate monitoring without increasing the size or cost of the device. None are particularly ground breaking, but all three are welcome additions you can choose to embrace or ignore without consequence thanks to Samsung’s seamless integration.

Galaxy S5 Software

The Galaxy S5 runs on Android 4.4 KitKat with an updated version of TouchWiz that offers a mixed bag experience of both pleasant surprises and letdowns.

For starters, the home screen and app drawer share the same wallpaper and look almost identical. The lack of a transparent overlay or relative sense of orientation is annoying at best and could be a real headache for Android beginners.

Galaxy S5 Home Screen vs App Drawer

That problem is compounded by a huge number of pre-installed apps including duplicates from Samsung and Google, each trying to be the one stop shop that owns the user experience. You can easily uninstall apps in bulk and hide those where removal is not allowed, but the clusterbomb of confusion created by this unorganized landfill of icons is somewhat ridiculous and easily preventable. Instead, users will want to spend several minutes removing stuff when they first get their phone, including apps piled on by your carrier.

Samsung tries to accomplish too much and it translates into a scattered user experience. In some places though, such as the camera UI, Samsung successfully narrows their focus, and the result is a refined UI that’s a breath of fresh air in a too often overwhelming environment.

My Magazine

Aggregated content experiences seem to be all the rage these days and Samsung has returned with their own solution – My Magazine – which has been stripped down to a Flipboard skeleton. Occupying the far left home screen, you can fill it up with your choice of news topics and social networks which will then populate an always-updating feed.

Galaxy S5 My Magazine

Unfortunately there are a few glaring oddities: Facebook is missing, topical selection is too broad, and most news links abruptly pass you to the Flipboard app rather than existing in a self contained My Magazine ecosystem. With the greatly limited scope of customization and inability to uninstall Flipboard, you’re probably best off removing it (Home Screen > Menu > Home Screen Settings > Uncheck My Magazine).

Samsung is criticized often for going overboard with TouchWiz and perhaps this was an attempt to pull back, simplify the concept, and let Flipboard run the show. If so, they missed the mark. The result is a lackluster offering that should have been scrapped completely.

Settings & Features Overload

Samsung has given the settings area of the Galaxy S5 a nice looking facelift, making square icons circular, flattening images, and relying more on muted colors and pastels. Not only do these look better, they also better match the direction Google is taking Android (consider the circular profile icons in Google+ for example). The only problem is that in some ways they look out of place with the rest of TouchWiz and Android 4.4.

Galaxy S5 Quick Settings

Samsung has had a usable and helpful quick settings tray for as long as I can remember. Pull down notifications with one finger and you’ll see a side scrolling list of icons at the top for quickly toggling on and off. Just below it is an adjustable screen brightness widget that you’ll use frequently. Pull down the notifications with 2 fingers and you’ll be treated to a full menu of quick settings that essentially fill the page. Both of these areas are easily customizable for adding, removing, and re-ordering settings.

One level deeper into the settings and you’ve hit Android Inception, washed up on the shores of Samsung’s subconscious. The Galaxy S5′s main settings menu has 37 top level categories, all with their own list of specific settings and options, most of which have an additional sub-list of sub-settings and sub-options from which to choose. And then, of course, there’s the settings for the settings page.

Samsung Android Inception

There is one saving grace here: Samsung puts a search icon front and center, allowing you to search all of your phone’s settings for relevant keywords. This can sometimes ease the pain but it doesn’t alleviate the problem.

Samsung is clearly doing some housekeeping of their own and rethinking the strategy of attempting to control their entire Android ecosystem through Touchwiz. Added value features and settings that Samsung once touted are now buried in the options, most likely because Samsung leadership knows they aren’t being used but parting with proprietary technology can be emotionally challenging.

Samsung should cut their losses on features like Air browse, Palm swipe, Air view, and Easy Mode, focusing instead on more meaningful initiatives that all users would want. It would have the added benefit of allowing Samsung to consolidate their settings, make their devices easier to use, and perfect some really great ideas that currently seem half baked.

That’s not to say Samsung doesn’t have some really great settings and features that we’d be sad to see go. Here are some to which you should pay particular attention:

  • Smart Remote – control your TV and home entertainment system with this app thanks to the S5′s IR Blaster. This is a fully featured solution that’s far from a gimmick. Spend a few minutes setting it up and your TV-watching experience is greatly improved.
  • Power Saving Mode – quickly jump into either moderate or extreme power saving modes that will shut down or alter phone activity to conserve battery life, including changing your display to black and white. Works great!
  • Blocking Mode – prevent notifications and alerts during certain hours and allow certain contacts to bypass the block
  • Toolbox – a floating chat-heads style menu that hovers over all screens to give you instant access for up to 5 apps from anywhere in your phone. Defaults to camera, voice recorder, notepad, and calculator which makes a lot of sense. This can get annoying but also be very helpful.
  • Active Call – similarly, if you’re browsing your phone while actively on a call, Samsung will show a hover icon of the current contact on top of your active screen, allowing you to easily jump back into the call

Other ideas, like Private Mode, sound good in theory but aren’t executed with enough clarity to make them shine on the S5, perhaps even causing a distraction to the existence and execution of other opportunities.

One small example is comparing Samsung’s text to speech engine with Google’s…

Why even offer this as an option? Could the resources used here have been better allocated elsewhere? Samsung is trying awfully hard to maintain their lead and continue their dominance in the Android universe, but I think at times TouchWiz on the Galaxy S5 proves their ambition is getting the best of both them and their customers.

Let’s be clear: the S5 user experience isn’t bad and on the contrary is quite enjoyable, but as the Galaxy S5 Camera UI revamp goes to show, simplifying, refining, and focusing your approach can go a long way to improving a technology experience. More is not always better.

Galaxy S5 Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a 16MP camera and 2MP front-facing camera, an improvement from the S4′s 13MP/2MP combination. Technically speaking, you probably wouldn’t notice the 3 megapixel difference between the two generations unless you were printing a poster sized image or zoomed in to focus on a specific portion of the image.

The photo quality of the S5 is on par with the S4: it performs great in daytime with ample light, similarly reliable with macro pictures, but really struggles when lighting and conditions aren’t optimal and the flash can produce washed out results.

galaxy-s5-zoom-out galaxy-s5-woodys-1 galaxy-s5-the-warehouse galaxy-s5-pirate-band galaxy-s5-phil-on-water-taxi galaxy-s5-oriole-bird-on-dugout galaxy-s5-oriole-bird-on-dugout-2 galaxy-s5-markakis galaxy-s5-lowlight-pickles galaxy-s5-flowers-2 galaxy-s5-flowers-1 galaxy-s5-donkey galaxy-s5-domino-sugar-night2 galaxy-s5-domino-sugar-night galaxy-s5-android-robots galaxy-s5-android-robots-flash

The real upgrade with the S5 camera is in the software and features. The camera UI is an absolute breath of fresh air: simple, intuitive, enjoyable, and easy to find what exactly what you want. The main layout has consistency with the shutter buttons, primary modes, and gallery link on the right and more specific camera options on the left.


Samsung prioritizes three specific camera toggles:

  • Rear vs. Front camera toggle
  • Selective focus on/off which can provide the DSLR blurred background effect
  • HDR (High Definition Richtones) which converts awkward washed out lighting into rich, vibrant colors


Want to jump into more settings? No problem, the bottom left gear pops open a big menu that lets you fine tune further including options for:

  • Picture size – ranging from 6MP to 16MP and 3 different aspect ratios
  • Video Size – up to UHD 3840 x 2160
  • Recording Mode – normal, slow motion, fast motion, smooth motion, etc…
  • Burst Shot Toggle
  • Picture Stabilization Toggle
  • Face Detection Toggle
  • ISO
  • Tap screen to take pics
  • Audio zoom
  • Effects
  • Flash Toggle
  • Timer


Samsung’s selective focus option is neat when it works (see below), but it’s bit problematic. Your subject has to be a certain distance and ratio from you and the background, and if you’re not, the picture will snap but selective focus won’t activate- this happened to me more often than not. It also takes several seconds to take the picture and process, making candid photos even more difficult. I hope Samsung will continue developing this feature – it’s fun when it works but doesn’t seem ready for prime time just yet.

selectivefocusall Selectivefocusclose.jpg

HDR on the other hand is excellent and can make a world of difference. When in HDR mode the camera preview shown on the S5 screen actively displays your HDR effects in real-time, letting you know exactly how it will look and preventing the guessing game that cameras so often like to play. Its position in the primary options is well deserved and I think its success can partially be attributed to the S5′s quick focus and shutter times. Another nice HDR option: recording HDR video.

Video on the S5 lines up with photos: excellent under the right conditions but obstacles such as dimly lit scenes can cause big problems. The various video modes are fun to play with but you won’t find yourself looking for them often.

terrible-selfieThe 2MP front facing camera leaves a lot to be desired (the subject matter doesn’t help in this case) and we’d earmark it for an expected upgrade in the inevitable Galaxy S6.

Overall the Galaxy S5 camera is a solid improvement. The cleaned up UI makes taking a picture with the preferred settings an absolute breeze and in favorable conditions the photo quality is excellent. However, far too many situations seem adverse for the S5 camera’s capability range, which in turn prevents some cool new features like Selective Focus from functioning properly.

The result is a more than adequate 16MP camera that still won’t replace your point and shoot, but makes us yearn for a day when that’s possible. Until then we think the vast majority of people will be perfectly happy rocking the Galaxy S5, and if not, Samsung would be happy to sell you the Galaxy Camera 2 or the Samsung Galaxy Zoom to fulfill your photographic dreams.

Galaxy S5 Performance & Battery

My experience with the Galaxy S5 was near flawless from a performance and battery standpoint. The 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and its 2GB of RAM seemed to power Android 4.4 KitKat with the greatest of ease. Whether multi-tasking out the wazoo or handling everything Touchwiz could throw at it, I didn’t experience a single hiccup that you can blame on the Galaxy S5′s internals.

I know other reviewers have complained that the S5 seems sluggish at times, blaming the bloatiness of Touchwiz and a processor that can’t keep up but in my personal experience this simply couldn’t be further from the truth. The appearance and organization of the software may seem inconsistent in places, but from a hardware performance standpoint the Galaxy S5 was the definition of quality and consistency.

I was also pleasantly surprised with the Galaxy S5′s battery life, lasting a full day without much difficulty, offering additional battery saving modes for crunch time, with additional comfort knowing that should I choose I could likely upgrade the S5 with an extended battery.

Keeping your battery charged can be a mountain to climb… but not with the S5 

The two battery saving modes are called “Power Saving Mode” and “Ultra Power Saving Mode” and can be found in the main settings list. Customize the settings of each and activate them depending on how dire your straits (you cannot activate them both at once).

Power Saving Mode can block background data, limit CPU performance, lower the screen’s frame rate, lower brightness, turn off the capacitive menu and back button lights, turn off GPS, and convert the display to grayscale. I decided to turn off the touch key lights permanently and grew rather fond of grayscale at times.

Ultra Power Saving Mode takes it to another extreme, turning your phone into an “Easy Mode” of sorts. Your screen will turn black and white, you’ll have access to a maximum of 6 apps, and offered practically no additional options until the mode is turned off. You’re able to see your battery percentage and time left on standby, helpful towards tracking your battery conservation efforts in the clutch.

The Galaxy S5′s elite hardware performance combined with great battery life will alone make a lot of customers very happy, especially those coming from older generation phones.

Galaxy S5 Audio & Call Quality

If you plan on cranking up the volume, listening to music, watching videos, and playing games with noise to the max you may want to think again. The S5 can handle moderate sound levels okay, but the higher you take the volume the more tinny and cheap the audio sounds. This is especially noticeable when the device is laying flat on a surface, causing the plastic S5 frame to vibrate and rattle.

Needless to say, when operating the S5 at louder volume letters the multimedia experience leaves a lot to be desired.

I also found speakerphone quality dropped with the device laying flat on the counter; the other caller sometimes complained my voice was muffled. This was sporadic and I was unable to reproduce the effect, so I wouldn’t weigh this heavily into a purchase decision, but keep it in mind. If you plan on listening to loud multimedia on speakerphone regularly, you’ve got a lot more to think about.

Galaxy S5 – The Bottom Line

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is an impressive upgrade to an already great phone. On paper, Samsung has improved their offering in nearly every area imaginable. Aside from packing a more powerful punch in a similarly slender frame, the S5 improves both performance and battery life while retaining the crown for best mobile display.

Galaxy S5

The most important addition to the Galaxy S5 – weatherproofing – is an invisible feature you won’t use on a daily basis and is consequently overshadowed. It shouldn’t be-  its inclusion brings a ton of value to the S5. Instead it’s the finger scanner, heart rate monitor, and 16MP camera that steal the lime light even though their combined real-life improvement from the S4 is likely to be limited.

We’ve grown to expect an awful lot from Samsung, perhaps even holding them to a higher standard, which is why not being absolutely blown away by the S5′s awesomeness seems like a disappointment. The fact remains: the Samsung Galaxy S5 instantly becomes one of the best phones on the market, perhaps is the best all-around phone, and the vast majority of users will be pleased and impressed by its performance. It still has room to improve – especially in camera consistency, audio quality, and UI experience – but the Galaxy S5 once again delivers while leaving us continually yearning for more.

Should you buy it? If you’re due for an upgrade the Galaxy S5 should occupy one of the tops spots on your short list, along with the HTC One M8 and perhaps a couple others. It doesn’t warrant an upgrade fro the S4  and audiophiles should steer clear, but if you’re due for an upgrade and/or love the cutting edge of tech, the Galaxy S4 is a great choice.

The Good:

  • Amazing, best-in-market screen
  • Weatherproofing is a hugely valuable addition
  • Among most powerful and consistent performers
  • Strong battery life with additional battery saving modes
  • Finger Scanner and Heart Monitor are fun additions that add zero bulk

The Bad:

  • Software options can be overwhelming and scattered
  • Tinny and subpar audio when played at high volumes
  • Camera is inconsistent in less than optimal conditions

Overall: 4.5 out of 5

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12 weirdest Android device names ever Tue, 15 Apr 2014 19:35:49 +0000 android names

There was a time when Android phones were coming out so often that companies were using anything and everything for names. Rocks, stones, metals, liquids, animals, weather conditions, an even emoticons were used as inspiration. Most companies have come to their senses on naming standards, like Samsung with their letter and number scheme. Let’s take a look back at the wild west of Android device names. Here are the 12 weirdest/worst.

12. Samsung Galaxy Mega

When someone in the tech community jokingly creates a name for your next product, and then it actually gets used, you know it’s a bad name. That’s exactly what happened when Chris Ziegler mockingly said that Samsung would use the name “Mega,” and they actually did. What’s next? The Samsung Galaxy Ginormous?

11. ASUS Padfone

Anything that could slightly be confused with a feminine hygiene product is automatically a bad name. To make things worse Asus changed the “ph” in “phone” to the letter F. Replacing letters with phonetic equivalents is never a good thing. Just look at all those “cool” products that replace the “s” with a “z.”

10. ZTE Skate

This is the story of a company who ran out of adjectives so they started using verbs. Rejected ideas include “ZTE Run, Shoot, Skip, Pass, and Jump.” Or maybe we’re not taking this literal enough. Maybe the phone was literally named after a roller skate. Either way, this is a real fail.

9. YotaPhone

The YotaPhone is one of our favorite devices, but we have to admit the name is a little weird. The first time you hear it you are guaranteed to think it’s the “Yoda” phone. The first time I heard about this phone I didn’t even think it was real. I just thought it was a joke. “Who would name a phone after Yoda?” If people think your phone is a joke it might not have the best name.

8 OnePlus One

The device may be great when it finally launches, but this name is just plain weird. First of all, the company name sounds like a feature on Google+, but then to name your first ever phone “One” is either really dumb or really cocky. HTC already has a thing with “One,” but even if you ignore that the “OnePlus One” name just sounds silly. Someone just really likes addition.

7. HTC ChaCha/Salsa

The HTC First was not the first “Facebook phone.” HTC released the ChaCha (in the US, Salsa everywhere else) with a dedicated Facebook button. What do you think of when you think about Facebook? Latin dance moves of course. Makes sense, right? We like to think someone at HTC just really likes spicy condiments, and “ChaCha” was their way of sneaking it in.


Back in the day the “4G wars” were a lot more intense than they are today. Every company under the sun just had to put “4G” in the name of their device. HTC decided to take it a step further and add “LTE” on top of that. What makes this name even more ridiculous is the uppercase letters. The official branding is “ HTC EVO 4G LTE.” Stop yelling at us!

5. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

“Wait, are you telling me the display is 210.1 inches!? Does it come with a stand?” Samsung has moved to a numerical naming standard since the silliness of some of their early Android devices, but that hasn’t solved all of their problems. The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 has an excessive amount of numbers in the name. Is this a tablet or an area code?

4. Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman

I honestly could not believe this was a real name for a real device. Want to make sure people know what feature your phone has? Just include a sentence in the name of the device. “Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman.” “ LG Nexus Live with Google Now.” “Samsung Galaxy Live with Cheap Plastic.”

3. Casio G’zOne…

If you’re naming a phone here’s some free advice: don’t choose a name that no one knows how to pronounce. Casio did not take this advice with their series of G’zOne devices. Is it “G Zone?” Is it “Gzzz One?” For a quick laugh go to YouTube and watch people try to pronounce “G’zOne” in unboxing videos. The sad thing is these devices could have had so much better of a name. They are all super tough and durable. Let your imagination go wild.

2. ZTE Iconic Phablet

Another bit of advice for anyone naming a phone: don’t just plainly describe the device. Or, in the case of ZTE, how you want people to describe the device. I can’t wait for their next device, the “ZTE Best Phone Ever.” To make things even worse they have a special variant of this device for Boost Mobile called the “Boost Max.” Generic names for the win!

1. Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch

The grand prize of weirdest and worst Android device name has to go the “Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch.” This name is so long that some places even put a comma between the “II” and “Epic.” It’s so long that you have to take a breath halfway through it. To me this phone is the perfect example of corporate branding gone wrong. Samsung wants their branding in the name, and Sprint wants something unique for their network. The result is this obnoxiously long abomination of a name.


Do you agree with our rankings? Which phone do you think has the worst name? Did we leave any out? Let us know in the comment below!


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Cortana vs Google Now: Battle of the virtual assistants [VIDEO] Mon, 14 Apr 2014 19:42:24 +0000 google cortana

There is a new kid on the block, and her name is Cortana. Earlier this morning Microsoft released Windows Phone 8.1 for developers around the world. Included in that update is their new virtual assistant that they hope will compete with the likes of Google Now and Siri. Google has a huge head start when it comes to providing information to users, but Microsoft is not a company to take lightly. How does Cortana stack up against the mighty Google Now? Let’s take a look.

Pre-Search Information

google cortana ui

The main feature that makes Google Now so great is all the information it can give you before you ask for it. Cortana also has this feature, which puts it in direct competition with Google. Cortana can give you information about news you’re interested in, sports scores, local weather, traffic, nearby events, and more. Google Now can do all of these things as well. They both have useful information at the ready, but it’s displayed in very different ways.

Google Now displays things in cards. If you want to adjust how an item is displayed you tap the three dots icon in the top right. If you want to remove a card from your list you just swipe it away. Cortana separates things into categories with separation between them. You can tap a button to “see more” or “hide” the information. Whether or not you like the design of one more than the other will depend on your personal taste. If you like Android’s design you will definitely be favoring Google Now.

Voice Search

The biggest consumer-facing feature of these two services is the voice search. This is the one thing that people just love to play around with. Siri is playful and funny, but she doesn’t provide much useful information. Google Now and Cortana can do a lot more for you. They help you get things done quickly and easily by just talking. In order to test the voice search for these two services I created a list of 14 common questions you might ask.

  1. What is the forecast for this weekend in Boston?
  2. Set a reminder to feed the dog at 5pm
  3. set an alarm for 8:30 am
  4. Play Daft Punk
  5. where is the nearest McDonald’s
  6. find me coffee nearby
  7. Open Twitter
  8. how far is it to cheddar’s?
  9. when is my next appointment
  10. show me nearby events
  11. show me photos of bunnies
  12. Did the tigers win yesterday?
  13. when do the red wings play?
  14. How old is Barack Obama?

As you will see in the video posted above, the results to these questions were fairly similar. In some cases Google Now was faster, in other cases Cortana was faster. The information given was also a bit different since they are using different search engines. One thing Cortana was better at was helping you take action after the initial query. For example, you can just say “yes” to setting a reminder instead of tapping an extra button. At the end of the day I was able to get the answer I needed 9/10 from both services. You should have no trouble with either one.

Surprisingly, Microsoft has done an excellent job with Cortana in this initial beta release. They have already been able to do almost everything that Google has done. The battle for virtual assistants just got very interesting. Microsoft will continue to improve Cortana as time goes on, as will Google with search. There is one thing that we can know for sure from this comparisons: Siri is in trouble.

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Oppo Find 7a first look and unboxing [Video] Sat, 12 Apr 2014 00:07:09 +0000 Oppo_Find_7

The time has come Oppo fans, the successor to the Find 5 has finally arrived. Meet the Oppo Find 7a, the non premium edition of the Find 7. Because Oppo is known for their wonderful device packaging and quality devices for that matter, we’ve included an unboxing video for you below.

The Find 7 comes in two variants, a premium edition and a standard edition. Here are the specs below:

  • 5.5-inch 1080p display (2560 x 1440 premium)
  • 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Quad Core (MSM8974AB)
  • 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage (3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage premium)
  • 2,800 mAh removable battery with VOOC Fast Charging technology — charges up to 75% in 30 minutes (3,000 mAh premium)
  • 13MP rear camera with LED flash; 5.0 megapixel front camera
  • GPS w/ GLONASS, WiFi ac, Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
  • 152.6 x 75 x 9.2 mm, 171 g

The Find 7a feels great, looks great, and I can’t wait to put it to the daily grind over the next few days. Check back later in about a week and we’ll have the full review on the Oppo Find 7a.

And, just to keep your interests peaked, the Find 7 rocks an always listening microphone, just like the Moto X and the upcoming OnePlus One. However, it doesn’t look like Oppo did anything unique with the hotword.

Find 7 - Hey Snapdragon

Are you interested in the Oppo Find 7? Let us know in the comments below.

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Phandroid Recap: Types of Android Users, WTF Samsung, and Android TV [April 6-12] Fri, 11 Apr 2014 19:27:38 +0000 Recap

Another crazy week is in the books. A lot of great news and original content went up on the site this week. Google’s next attempt at the living room leaked, Samsung’s new flagship phone launched, we told you about some great tips for your new phone, and we had a lot of fun with some other featured stories. In order to make sure you don’t miss any of this stuff we have the Phandroid Recap. Below you will find all the big stories and featured articles from the last week. Don’t miss a single thing!

The 5 Types of Android Users


After browsing Android Forums “post your home screen” threads we noticed that most Android users fall in the same five categories. Everyone is either a Stock Jock, Themer, Minimalist, Hot Chick, or Ugly Duckling. Each one of these users sets up their home screens in a very specific way. You may not fit perfectly into just one of these, but you will be in at least one. We also gave each one of these unique Android users a favorite beverage and item from McDonald’s. If you haven’t read “The 5 Types of Android Users” yet go check it out and tell us which one you are!

Android TV

Android TV Apps

Google TV didn’t do so great. You know it. We know it. Google knows it. So what’s next? Their next attempt at the living room will be called “Android TV,” and thanks to a leak earlier this week we know a little about it. If you think of Google TV as a Swiss army knife, Android TV is like the corkscrew attachment. Google TV was trying to do so many different things that it didn’t do any single thing great. Android TV is more like a Roku. It just focuses on streaming media apps and search. be sure to check out the article to see more screenshots.

The 7 most WTF Galaxy devices ever made


Samsung has made some weird stuff in the past. Like, really weird. With the launch of the Galaxy S5 this week we decided to take a look back at some of the weirdest devices Samsung has launched. A few devices from the list include the Galaxy Mega, Galaxy Gear, and Galaxy Beam. We have to applaud Samsung for not being afraid to try so many terrible ideas. Which Samsung device won the award of “Most WTF?” You’ll have to read the article to find out!

6 high-priced Android apps worth the money

android money

Let’s be honest, when it comes to buying apps we can all be a bit stingy with our cash. Most of us have no problem shelling out $200 for the latest Samsung device, but dropping a couple of bucks on some app seems so much more difficult. It’s a very strange situation. We think there are plenty of apps out there that are worthy of your hard-earned cash. Here are 5 “high” priced apps and 1 cheapy for your consideration. Check them out and throw the devs a few bucks if you can.

Project Ara MDK shows how the devices will work

project ara

Project Ara has been a popular topic on the site, but a lot of that has been because of how cool the concept videos and renders look. We haven’t seen a ton in terms of real life use and how this crazy idea will actually work. This week, however, Google released the Module Developer Kit for developers. Along with this they released some guidelines to show how devices will look. Project Ara devices will come in small, medium, and large sizes. Once you decide what size board you want you can start adding modules. To find out more check out the full article.

Rest of the Best

Here are some other articles and featured stories you should check out!

]]> 2
Mobile Roar Podcast 40: Project Ara & Android TV Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:47:55 +0000

Project Ara was a cool concept, but we were skeptical of it becoming a real thing. This week Google showed us that this is much more than just a concept. We’re very excited. Also, Android TV got leaked and it looks like the idea of Google TV is dead. We also talk about the 5 types of Android users, Samsung’s craziest devices, Wins and Fails of the Week, and our App Picks. Thanks for listening!

Big News

5 Types of Android Users
7 Most WTF Samsung Devices

Quick Hits

  • iTunes overhaul: spotify-like streaming, Android app
  • Apple considered acquisition of Square
  • iWatch could launch with a range of pricing and design options
  • Galaxy S5 launches on Friday
  • Windows Phone 8.1 dev preview coming next week


App Picks

Follow Us

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]]> 3
Phan Favs: What is the best weather app? Thu, 10 Apr 2014 19:48:02 +0000 PhanFavsweather

We have several recurring features on this site where we tell you what the best apps, games, phones, or tablets happen to be. Of course these picks are largely based on our own opinions. Many times you, the readers, disagree with us. That is one of the great things about Android. It’s very personal. You all have your favorite apps and games, so it’s time we ask you.

Phan Favs gives you, the readers, the chance to tell us which apps and games are the best. It’s time for some good old-fashioned crowd sourcing to find out what apps Android users are really using. For our first vote we will be talking about WEATHER APPS. Checking the weather is one of the most basic functions of a smartphone. There are probably thousands of apps available for this specific task. We want to know which ones you are using.

How It Works

It’s very simple. Leave a comment below with the name of your favorite weather app. DON’T leave a comment with the name of an app that has already been mentioned. If your favorite app has been mentioned already just upvote it. Next week we will put the top 5 (and a few honorable mentions) into a list.

Spread the news! Let other Android users know about this! More people means more data, and more data means more accurate results. Click right here to tweet about it. Thanks for playing along!

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35+ HTC One M8 Tips & Tricks [VIDEO] Wed, 09 Apr 2014 22:17:27 +0000 So you’ve read our HTC One M8 Review and explored the forums, but want a quick and easy way to learn all the phone’s top tips and tricks? You’ve come to the right place.

The HTC Dot View Case

It’s one of the most unique cases we’ve seen in ages and more than another gimmick. In addition to protecting your phone the HTC Dot View Case will show you a glimpse of your notifications with a simple double tap on the front. The time, weather, notifications- it even shows incoming calls, the contact name, and allows you to answer without flipping the cover open. Very cool offering by HTC that a lot of people will love.

Double tap to wake

Whether you’ve got the Dot View Case or not you can always wake your screen by picking it up and double tapping it. The “picking it up” part is important: if it’s laying still and you double tap the screen it will not activate.

Pick up your phone to answer calls

When the person on the other end is hoping you pick up the phone, little do they know that literally picking up the phone is all you need to do to answer the call. During incoming calls the One M8 uses its gyroscope and light sensors to identify you’ve picked up your phone and put it up to your ear, automatically answering the phone in the process.

You can turn this on or off by going to Settings > Call > Auto Answer Call.

End Calls with Power Button

Want an easier way to end calls, especially helpful for folks who often use speakerphone? You can set the power button to end calls by going to Settings > Accessibility > Power button ends call.

Unlock directly to frequent activities

Rather than unlocking your phone and then having to find your app or activity of choice, the HTC One M8 allows you to unlock directly to certain activities with gestures called Motion Launch:

  • Swipe down for Voice Dialing
  • Swipe left to unlock to Home Screen
  • Swipe up to unlock to last activity
  • Swipe right for Blinkfeed
  • Wake screen and swipe dock icons up to launch directly
  • Hold volume down button to launch camera (must have lock screen enabled)

How to make Blinkfeed look better

We suggest you definitely give Blinkfeed a try: take a few minutes to connect all your social services and select topics and news sources that interest you- it makes all the difference. Then get rid of the hideous colored Blinkfeed themes by going to Settings > Personalize > Themes > and selecting the black and white theme.

This will make Blinkfeed much more visually appealing (we think) and you can still revisit the “Personalize” section to customize your wallpaper and more.

Customize your phone’s theme

As we suggest above, you can go to Settings > Personalize > Themes to change the look and feel of your phone’s UI. Different themes will adjust the color combinations in multiple places including your Wallpaper, Widgets, Blinkfeed, Quick Settings, and more. Hopefully HTC adds more themes from which to choose.

How to remove Blinkfeed

So you’ve given Blinkfeed a chance but you just don’t like it. No problem- it can be easily removed. While on Blinkfeed simply pinch the screen (move fingers the opposite direction of pinch and zoom) and you’ll see a miniature view of your pages at the top. Press and hold the picture of the Blinkfeed page and drag it to “Remove” at the top right where you see the trashcan icon.

You can also use this view to add widgets to your home screen pages, drag and drop the order of your home screen pages, and add/edit/remove home screen pages altogether.

Add Pages and Widgets to Lock Screen

When you first wake your phone you’ll notice an animated arrow in the top right, just under the time. Swipe this arrow left to access additional lock screen pages. Tap the arrow to add an additional lock screen page and then select widget you’d like it to display. You can continue adding more lock screen pages and widgets by repeating this process.

Customize your dock icons

Quick launching to your dock icons is helpful, but keep in mind your lock screen dock icons and your home screen icons are identical. The only way to change them on your dock is to change them on your home screen. You can do this by long pressing on an item in your dock and dragging it to “Remove” at the top. Long press on the app you want there and drag it into the vacant spot.

Add folders to your dock

Want quick access to more than just four apps in your dock? Continue adding apps and games to one specific dock position and it will group them into a folder of apps in your dock- very helpful for power users!

Display more in your App Drawer

The default 3 by 4 grid in the app tray isn’t very likeable- we prefer to see more than 12 apps at once. Tap on the 3 dots in the upper right, select “grid size”, and choose 4×5 as your default. It makes a world of difference.

Hide bloatware from your app drawer

Manufacturers and Carriers pre-install lots of apps on your device you might not want but that you can’t uninstall. Luckily HTC lets you hide them.

For example let’s suppose you’re an HTC One M8 genius (because you watched our video twice) and now have absolutely no need for the “Help” app: open your app tray, press the 3 dots on the top right, select Hide/unhide apps, check the apps you want to unhide, and hit done!

Prevent Icons adding themselves to your Home Screen

If you find that your home screen is getting cluttered because app icons are automatically being added to your phone, rest easy knowing you can prevent this from happening. Open the Google Play Store app, go into its settings, and uncheck “Add icon to Home Screen (for new apps)”. No more clutter! You’ll now have to add icons manually by long pressing them from within your app tray.

Access Recent Apps

This was missing from the original HTC One but it’s worth pointing out the icon to the right of the home screen: Recent Apps! Organizing your home pages, dock icons, app tray – all that is fine and dandy – but a tap on this icon will pop up a window of the most recent apps you’ve used. Definitely a need-to-know option for multi-taskers.

Quicker Quick settings

Quick notifications are a godsend, allowing you to quickly toggle between your most frequently adjusted settings like brightness, WiFi, and volume. Now you can access quick settings even qmnuicker: pull down the notification window with 2 fingers instead of 1 and you’ll go directly to quick settings!

To adjust the options of a specific setting, long press on it from the Quick Settings screen.

Customize your Quick Settings

Want to adjust what items appear in your quick settings and what order they’re in? No problem. From your Quick Settings page press the pencil and paper icon at the top right. Hold the 3 lines on the far right of a row to drag and drop the setting in the order you want. To remove it from the Quick Settings page, drag it as far down as you can, below the “Hidden Items” bar and press “Done” when complete.

Do Not Disturb Mode

My favorite Quick Setting is called Do Not Disturb, an incredibly useful feature that allows you to instantly block all sounds, lights, and vibrations from incoming calls, messages, and notifications. If you’re at an event like a movie, wedding, or business meeting it’s very handy.

Long press on Do Not Disturb from the Quick Settings menu to set additional options, such as allowing certain contacts to bypass Do Not Disturb, setting scheduled timeframes to automatically enter Do Not Disturb mode, and preventing your alarms and timers from being blocked in Do Not Disturb mode.

Turn off or adjust Notification LED

Is that darned notification light continually flashing and distracting the heck out of you? Change it! Simply go to Settings > Display & gestures > Notification light and you can adjust what triggers it to flash. Toggle it on or off for the following events: Calls, Voice mail, Messages, Calendar, Mail, Alarms.

Turn Emergency Alerts Off

Just as TV’s have tests of the Emergency Broadcast System, your phone can now show you emergency alerts from the government with cooperation from your mobile carrier. If you’ve been woken by these one too many times you can always turn them off by opening the “Emergency Alerts” app from your app drawer, pressing the 3 dot menu in the top right, and adjusting the settings.

You can toggle on or off Extreme alerts, Severe alerts, and Amber alerts; Presidential alerts cannot be adjusted and I assume are for only dire situations of public safety. You can also adjust how often the alert will repeat.

I’d ask people think twice before turning these alerts off, especially Amber alerts. While it might be a slight inconvenience every so often, it’s well worth it if the aggregate affect saves lives and prevents child abductions… just something to consider.

Show battery level in status bar

If you’re like me, you prefer to know EXACTLY how much battery power you’ve got left at any given point in time. To show the exact percentage next to the battery icon, visit Settings > Power > Show battery level and make sure it’s checked.

Conserve battery life with Sleep Mode

Also in Settings > Power, make sure “Sleep Mode” is turned on. This will disconnect your data during long periods of inactivity (while still allowing incoming phone calls and text messages). This will ensure apps aren’t constantly updating in the background and eating your precious battery life while you’re least expecting.

Enable Swype Keyboard

The keyboard pre-installed on the HTC One M8 is a tap keyboard only and does not allow you to swipe words. However, you can change that by going to Settings > Language & keyboard > HTC Sense Input > Trace keyboard. This will enable a Swype style keyboard that works with HTC’s default keyboard.

If you’d prefer to use a 3rd party keyboard downloaded from the Play Store you can do that as well by tapping “Keyboard Selection” in the same screen described above.

Triple tap to magnify

Need a closer look at something? From anywhere within the phone and in any app you can greatly magnify the screen by triple tapping (and triple tapping to return to normal). Very nice hidden feature that you can toggle on and off in (Settings > Accessibility > Magnification gestures > On.

Triple tap and hold and the magnification will follow your finger as you pan around and then close when you let go.

Triple tap does not work on the keyboard or navigation bar.

Change default SMS app

Have a preferred app for text messages that you want to use by default? Go to Settings > … More (under Wireless & Networks) > Default SMS app. Select your preferred app (and give Hangouts a try if you haven’t!)

Control your TV

Constantly losing your TV remote in the couch? Leave it there! The HTC One M8 has an infrared blaster that can be set up to work as a universal remote for your sound system, TV, and cable box. Set up takes only a few minutes and the functionality seriously takes the TV viewing experience into a new world.

This is one feature you’ve absolutely got to try!

Get 128GB of Storage

The HTC One M8 includes a MicroSD slot above the volume rocker. Open the slot by inserting the end of a paperclick (push hard!), then simply place the MicroSD card in the try and push it back in.

There are now MicroSD cards as large as 128GB, letting you load up your device with an outrageous amount of multimedia.

Save to your MicroSD Card

Now that you’ve got a huge amount of storage with a 128GB MicroSD card, you want to use it as effectively as possible. Visit Settings > Storage Settings > Update All > SD Card Storage to make sure as much data as possible is saved there (or customize individually as you see fit).

The HTC One M8 does not come with a file manager so to easily browse your MicroSD card from your phone, we recommend you download Astro File Manager or another similar app.

Get Unlimited Storage

There is a way you can get even more than 128GB of storage on your device… use the cloud! With the Google Drive app and WiFi/Data you can seamlessly pull your content from the cloud- Google is offering you 50GB for free for 2 years just to test it out. Open the Google Drive app from your HTC One M8 to claim the offer (can only be claimed once per device).

 Kidproof your phone with Kid Mode

HTC has pre-installed the One M8 with a feature called “Kid Mode” via an app named Zoodles. Entering Kid Mode will put your phone into a special mode that can only be exited by entering your birth year as a pin number, ensuring your kid doesn’t wreak havoc on the contents of your phone or accidentally call your estranged Uncle Lester.

Hold down the Power Button and select “Kid Mode” to get started… parents will love this!

Camera Tips & Tricks

The HTC One M8 has perhaps the most exciting camera software on a phone to date. There are so many great options that this really deserves its own article, but I’ll share three of my favorite settings that you should always have ready at your fingertips.

Blur Backgrounds with UFOCUS

You know those professional looking DSLR-quality pictures you see with people in the front and then a smoothly blurred background? The HTC One M8 can automatically create those type of pictures like a champ!

Select automatic mode (no flash), snap your picture, view it in the gallery, choose “edit” on the bottom right, then UFOCUS on the bottom left. Now tap whatever you want in focus and the One M8 will magically blur everything around it! Perhaps the most entertaining camera feature of any current smartphone… you’ll get addicted quickly.

Don’t block the Duo Cam!

Pick up your phone as if taking a picture and notice how your left hand may dangerously hang over the back of the phone, right where you’ll find the Duo Cam. Get in the habit of only holding the edges or you’ll end up blocking the Duo Cam (it’ll still take a picture with one lens) and disable Duo Cam in the process. UFOCUS and many more of these special camera features will only work properly when both of the rear One M8 lenses are in use.

Selfie Mode

Quickly flip to Selfie Mode by swiping from the top of the phone down when holding the camera in landscape mode. This will activate the front-facing camera: now simply tap anywhere on the screen to start a countdown timer and automatically snap a picture when it winds down. The camera is 5MP and a wide angle lens so its perfect for selfies!

Create an animated GIF

Select Zoe mode from the camera options and rather than tapping on the shutter icon to take a picture, hold it down. After 3 seconds that button will “lock” and you’ll need to tap it again to stop recording. Once your subject has successfully performed their entertaining sequence, view it in the gallery, tap the overlapping frames icon in the lower left (indicating it’s a sequence), and then “Edit” in the bottom right.

Scroll the list of options right and you’ll see “GIF CREATOR”: select it, clip it as necessary, save/share, and you’re in the meme business. Sequence shot, Always Smile, Object Remover, and Touch Up are additional Zoe Camera options you might also want to check out.

A few extra camera tips:

  • To get more than 20 pictures in burst mode go to Camera > Menu > Settings > Continuous Shooting and clear the limit option
  • You can pause any video in your gallery and save that current frame as an image file
  • Set volume button to act as a dedicated camera button by going to Camera > Menu > Settings > Volume button options > Capture (I do not recommend this because it can cause blurry pictures due to additional camera movement!)
  • Enjoy a crazy combinations of camera settings you’ve customized? Save them as a preset camera in Camera > Menu > Settings > Save as camera > name it and save!

That does it for HTC One M8 camera tips and tricks for now but I suggest you explore all the options.

How to take a Screenshot with HTC One M8

Like almost every Android phone, press and hold the power button and volume down at the same time to take a screen shot of your phone’s screen. It’s one of those questions we ALWAYS get!

How to reboot HTC One M8

On the off chance your HTC One M8 freezes and you can’t reboot it (because you can’t remove the battery), we’ve got the cure: hold the power button for 10+ seconds and the phone will automatically power itself off. Another of those questions we’re continually asked.

Enter Developer Mode

HTC has made Developer Mode a bit of an Easter Egg. To enable Developer Mode go to Settings > About > Software Information > More > and tap the Build Number 6 Times. It’ll eventually display the “you are now a developer” message and you’ll now find new Developer options in your Settings area.

HTC One M8 Support, Troubleshooting, Tips & Tricks

If you’ve got any questions not answered above, you can be sure to find your answer on the HTC One M8 Forums, either by asking a specific question yourself or browsing the list of existing conversations.

That wraps up our HTC One M8 Tips & Tricks article… if you’ve got tips or tricks of your own not mentioned above, please share them in the comments below!

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Why you should never sign another carrier contract Wed, 09 Apr 2014 19:28:14 +0000 hands tied

Walking into a Verizon store to buy a new phone may seem like a pretty normal thing to do here in the US, but in other countries that’s not the case. An easy way to look at the carrier situation is with the example of roads and cars. When you buy a new car from a dealership they don’t also get to decide what roads you can drive it on. You buy the car and decide to drive wherever you want.

US carriers sell you a phone that can only work on their network. They essentially lock the car down to certain roads. In many other countries you simply buy a phone and then decide what carrier to use with it. These are called “unlocked” phones. In the US it isn’t as easy because carriers like Verizon and Sprint don’t support many unlocked devices. Still, there is a way to take some control away from your carriers: buy phones without signing a contract. Here’s why you should do it.


When you sign a contract from a carrier you are locking yourself to that network and device for 2 years (or however long the contract is). Up front that may not seem like a big deal, but down the road you may regret it. If you want to get a new phone or switch carriers there are pricey fees that you will have to pay. Several carriers have started promotions where they pay the ETF from your old carrier, but this is just another ploy to get you to sign their contract. Don’t do it.

If you can buy an unlocked phone you get even more freedom. When you travel to another country you can easily swap in a different SIM card and be good to go. You’ll also be able to switch to a new carrier here in the US whenever you would like, assuming they support SIM cards. Unlocked devices offer a new level of freedom and choice.

Cheaper Monthly Bill

The biggest reason that signing contracts with phones has become so popular is the price of devices. Most people think that the average smartphone costs around $200. We know that this isn’t true. The HTC One M8, for example, costs $600 off-contract. This is the real price of the device. Verizon takes $400 off the price if you sign a contract because they know they will make it back in the long run.

When you buy a subsidized phone you are paying for it every month. It may be cheaper up front, but in the long run you end up paying more. You can avoid this by simply buying the device at full price right from the start. The money you save every month will quickly add up to pay for the full cost of the device. Plus, some carriers even offer special plans for people who bring their own device.

More Control

We already mentioned that you will have more control to switch phones or carriers by not signing a contract, but there is even more you can do. When you sign that contract you are like a lobster in a tank. They’ve already got you. By not signing a contract they will do a lot more to keep you as a customer. You will have more power in negotiating to get discounts and deals. Just call them up and tell them you’re thinking about switching. You’d be surprised what they’ll do to keep you.

The moral of the story is very clear. If you want control of your device and service don’t sign a contract. Look at the big picture and don’t let them hook you in with the cheap initial cost. They want your money more than anything. If the carrier situation in the US is every going to get better we have to stop giving them control. T-Mobile has done a pretty good job at shaking things up, but it’s not enough. When you buy your next phone consider buying it off-contract. You’ll thank me later.

What about you? Do you buy phones off-contract? Would you consider it in the future? What is holding you back?

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The 7 most WTF Galaxy devices ever made Wed, 09 Apr 2014 16:05:51 +0000 samsung-galaxy-wtf

For every device like the Galaxy S5, you can bet Samsung has at least three or four other Android handsets that more often than not leave us scratching our head. In celebration of this week’s launch of Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone, which looks to be one of the best Galaxy handsets of all time, we’re counting down the top 7 devices to leave us saying “WTF?”

7. Samsung Galaxy Mega


Nothing represents the confused nature of the phablet better than the Samsung Galaxy Mega. It wants badly to have the appeal of the Galaxy Note series but offers no real enhancements for its size. What is left ends up feeling a lot like a small tablet masquerading as a big smartphone, and the result of an arrangement like that is usually never pretty. We don’t really see a place for the 6.3-inch Mega among Samsung’s smartphone lineup, but we can think 6.3 reasons for it to lead off our list.

6. Samsung Galaxy Music

galaxy-musicIf you fall into a very particular consumer niche, there is a good chance Samsung has a phone for you. For tweens looking for a first time smartphone that can double as an MP3 player because a regular smartphone is obviously not good enough for such a purpose, there is the Galaxy Music. Not an overly offensive smartphone given its aspirations to be no more than an entry-level device, the inclusion of dual stereo speakers and dedicated hardware buttons for music playback are a bit ill-conceived. You could include any other number of similarly targeted low-end Galaxy devices on this list, but we’re taking the Music to represent them all.

5. Samsung Galaxy Gear

Samsung Galaxy Gear 6 colors horizontal

Samsung’s latest Gear smartwatches are actually quite solid pieces of wearable tech. Unfortunately, it took the launch of the original Galaxy Gear to get there. Its chunky design and gaudy finish options were matched by a user interface that attempted to do too much given the form factor. Samsung’s decision to launch the smartwatch with support only for the Galaxy Note 3 before rolling out compatibility for other devices months later never gave it a chance to catch on. Samsung has since ditched the Galaxy brand for their Gear lineup and switched from Android to Tizen. If only they had made the decision sooner and left this one in the prototype lab.

4. Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

GALAXY S4 zoom (8)

As if the Galaxy Camera — a device that almost made our list — wasn’t enough, Samsung took the next logical step. Instead of simply putting Android on a camera and leaving it at that, they decided to mount a full-fledged point-and-shoot camera to an otherwise functional Android smartphone. While its Galaxy S4 roots mean a respectable hardware compliment, its 16MP CMOS camera sensor with 10x optical zoom leads to a clumsy design lacking in easy pocketability. For whatever reason Samsung looks to rehash the idea with the Galaxy S5.

3. Samsung Galaxy Beam

Galaxy Beam

When you want to show a friend something on your smartphone you could simply hand it over to them. If you’re Samsung, you instead make a phone with a built-in pico projector and beam that YouTube video right onto the nearest flat service. Hence, the  Galaxy Beam was born. Sammy actually attempted to launch the phone in 2010 before eventually giving it a fairly limited release in 2012, but it’s safe to say the admittedly intriguing concept was doomed from the start.

2. Samsung Galaxy Round


We get it, Samsung, you can make curved OLED displays. But did you have to make the Galaxy Round? Sure, the spec sheet is respectable — a 5.7-inch HD display, 2.3GHz quad-core processing, 3GB RAM, and a 13MP camera — but that’s about where the Round stops making sense. From its faux-leather finish to gimmicky features that take advantage of the phone’s ability to rock when placed on a flat service, we’re not mad that the Galaxy Round never saw a wider release.

1. Samsung Continuum


You’ll notice that the only device on this list to not feature Galaxy in the name also happens to come in at the top. We blame the naming scheme on Verizon, as Samsung has shown no qualms about slapping the Galaxy brand on any handset that runs Android. The blame for launching this zany smartphone with a secondary notification ticker display? That falls squarely on Samsung. This variant of the original Galaxy S launched in fall of 2010 and quickly fell into obscurity. We hope it stays there.


Are you one of the 12 people that bought the Samsung Continuum and do you have a bone to pick with us over its positioning on the list? Did we miss a device that rightfully deserves a spot among our rankings? Let us know what you consider the most WTF device Samsung has ever made in the comments below.

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6 high-priced Android apps worth your hard-earned money Tue, 08 Apr 2014 19:26:00 +0000 android money

Let’s be honest, when it comes to buying apps we can all be a bit stingy with our cash. Most of us have no problem shelling out $200 for the latest Samsung device, but dropping a couple of bucks on some app seems so much more difficult. It’s a very strange situation. Through the years most people have decided that any app that costs over $1.99 is “expensive.” We really need to get over this mentality.

Most people have no problem spending a few bucks on a Big Mac that will keep them satisfied for a couple of hours. Why is it so hard to buy $5 app that you will use every day of your life? Not to mention the money you spend on apps is supporting hard-working developers. We think there are plenty of apps out there that are worthy of your hard-earned cash. Here are 5 “high” priced apps and 1 cheapy for your consideration.

Link Bubble – $4.99

link bubble

Link Bubble is a completely new way to browse the web on your Android device. When you click on a link the webpage begins to load in the background, allowing you to continue using the app you are in. Once the page is loaded it pops up on top of the current app. You never have to leave the app you are using or wait for pages to load. $5 may seem a bit steep, but when you consider how many times you open links it’s well worth it.

Plex – $4.99


If you know anyone that uses Plex they have probably already told you how great it is. This service can be easily described by their tagline: “One window into all your personal media. No matter where you are.” Upload all of your media to the Plex server and it can be accessed anywhere you can download the app. Photos can be automatically uploaded, and videos are displayed with beautiful movie posters. Plex even works with Chromecast. The $5 will give you access to all of this on your phone or tablet.

Safe In Cloud – $4.99


If you use the same password on every site, or let browsers remember your login info, you are at risk of getting hacked. Having a unique login and password for every site can be incredibly difficult to remember. Safe In Cloud is a password management system. that helps you keep track of it all. You can sync your passwords to Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive. The $5 will get you the Android app, plus the Chrome and Firefox extension for free. Privacy is nothing to skimp out on.

Pushover – $4.99


We all gets tons of notifications, but rarely about the things that should really be notifying us. Pushover can make notifications work for you. Want to know when your Fitbit battery is low? When a completely-legal-in-every-way torrent finishes downloading? An eBay item changes price? With Pushover you can get notifications for all of these things, and many more. Dozens of apps, services, and things can be configured to work with Pushover. For $5 you will be notified of anything and everything you can imagine.

ROM Manager – $5.99


If you are a frequent user of custom ROMs you have probably used the free version of ROM Manager at some time. This incredibly useful app comes pre-installed with some ROMs. The premium version adds a few features that are very important for hardcore ROM users. You can download incremental update zips to save on data, get access to premium ROMs, and receive notifications for when your ROM is updated. If you’ve ever hassled with ROMs this is an easy $6 to spend.

MarkAsRead – $1.21


Our cheapy pick is a new app that solves a small but annoying problem. Gmail’s current notifications let you archive and reply to emails directly from the notification. Unfortunately there is no way to mark an email as “read” from there. MarkAsRead replaces the stock Gmail notification with an almost identical one, except now there is a “read” button. No more seeing new emails twice. For just $1.21 this will make your life easier.

Those are some of the apps we think are worth the price tag, but what about you? What apps do you consider to be good enough to buy? Let us know in the comments below!

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The 5 types of Android users you meet Mon, 07 Apr 2014 19:31:06 +0000 5typesAndroid

One of Android’s best features is the ability to fully customize almost every aspect of your phone or tablet. The best place to see this customization in action is the home screen. Users have a plethora of icon packs, launchers, widgets, and wallpapers to choose from. All of these choices can lead to some amazingly beautiful (and amazingly awful) set-ups.

With all of these options you’d think home screens would be a giant mess of random configurations. That’s only partially true. We went through several “Share your home screen!” threads on Android Forums and found that most people set up their home screen in one of five ways. Even you, the person reading this right now. Don’t believe us? These are the five types of Android users and how they set up their home screen.

The Stock Jock


Who: The Stock Jock is someone who doesn’t do much to personalize their home screen. They could be new to Android and not know how to change things up, or maybe they just really like the way Samsung or Google do things. Whatever the reason may be, they are still rocking the original configuration and doing just fine. You can accomplish so much more when you aren’t changing your launcher every other day. Wait, what’s a launcher?

Item they order at McDonald’s: Happy Meal

Favorite beverage: Orange Hi-C

Are you a Stock Jock? Tweet it!

The Themer


Who: The Themer is someone who likes to get their hands dirty and make sure their phone looks like their phone. Maybe they stumbled upon Android Forums one day and discovered the world of Android modding. It starts with a simple icon pack. Harmless, right? Next thing you know they’re elbow deep in code trying to extract that perfect launcher. But now the wallpaper isn’t right! I’m so close to the perfect set-up!

Item they order at McDonald’s: Premium Crispy Chicken Ranch BLT Sandwich

Favorite beverage: Mountain Dew Code Red

Are you a Themer? Tweet it!

The Minimalist


Who: The Minimalist has been through the Themer phase. They’ve seen it all, and now it’s time to take things slow. Keep it simple. They have a keen eye for design, or at least that’s what they will tell you.  The Minimalist is also a tad OCD about how things are set up. Every app and widget is meticulously themed and organized. Man, I would love to download this new app, but I just can’t make that icon work.

Item they order at McDonald’s: Hamburger

Favorite beverage: Water

Are you a Minimalist? Tweet it!

The Hot Chick


Who: The Hot Chick is the dude (or bro) that always has some random chick plastered on his home screen. This guy loves looking at beautiful women. He loves it so much that he decided he needed to see one every time he turns on his phone. Most people would feel too creepy or shy about putting scantily clad women on their home screen, but not The Hot Chick. Hey, have you seen that new pic of Emma Watson? It’s pretty great.

Item they order at McDonald’s: Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese

Favorite beverage: Surge

Are you The Hot Chick? Tweet it!

The Ugly Duckling


Who: The power of Android customization can sometimes fall in the wrong hands. Occasionally you will glance over at someone’s phone and see a glorious disaster of a home screen. The Ugly Duckling tried really hard to get the home screen looking just the way they want. Like the story of the ugly duckling, there is beauty in even the ugly things in life. You just have to wait long enough to see it. In the case of these home screens you only have to wait for the screen to turn off.

Item they order at McDonald’s: McRib

Favorite beverage: Crystal Pepsi

Are you an Ugly Duckling? Tweet it!

The great thing about Android is that all of these people can exist and be using basically the same OS. Open source software is a wonderful thing. Which one of these people are you? How do you like to set-up your home screen? Have you ever come across The Ugly Duckling? Let us know below!


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Google’s upcoming Android TV leaks, plans to be your entertainment hub Sat, 05 Apr 2014 20:09:59 +0000 Android TV

Shortly after Chromecast’s launch last July, Sundar Pichai in an interview with AllThingsD talking about Chromecast stated that something like Google TV was more of a high end system for applications and gaming, while Chromecast was on the low end for streaming. Over the past year, Google TV set top boxes have seen very little on the update front while Android TV or Nexus TV reports continued to churn at the rumor mill. Today, The Verge has obtained exclusive evidence that Android TV is real and that Google plans to make Android TV your go to entertainment hub.

Android TV aims to pick up where Google TV failed, by making the living room experience “cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast”. Google wants the Android TV UI to be something more than a modified smartphone user interface and a separate computing platform, aligning with other set top boxes such as Roku, Apple TV, or even the newly announced Fire TV from Amazon. The Android TV UI will consist of scrolling cards that represent content for TV shows, movies, music, apps, and games. You’ll interact with your Android TV by using a four way directional pad on your remote control, an optional game controller, or voice input.

Android TV Apps

Google plans to stand out from other manufacturers by putting “the Google” into Android TV. Instead of always having to browse through content, trying to find something to watch, play, or listen to, Google’s entertainment hub will proactively recommend things for you to do right on the home screen. This almost sounds similar to the Listen Now feature of Google Play Music, but for more than just music. Google also plans to harness their cloud syncing capabilities, allowing you to resume content you started watching on your smartphone or tablet. Google wants living room goers to never be more than 3 clicks or gestures away from getting exactly what they want.

Android TV Movies

As for apps, according to The Verge and the images above, we see that Play Movies, Play Music, YouTube, Hangouts, are available. We also see that big hitters such as Songza, Pandora, Hulu, Vevo, and Netflix are in the pipeline as well. Google is encouraging developers to optimize their applications for a consistent living room experience, focusing on simplicity.

What’s this mean for Chromecast? Seeing as the $35 dongle just launched in other parts of the world, it seems Chromecast has a niche of it’s own to fill as originally stated by Sundar last summer. It is a little odd that Google would want developers to focus on yet another platform, but it’s still way too early to tell as we have very little information on this subject.

We’ll be keeping an eye out over the next few months leading up to Google IO in June. Chances are we’ll hear a lot more about Android TV and the fate of Chromecast then.

Source: The Verge

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