Phandroid » Opinion http://phandroid.com Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Wed, 27 May 2015 01:39:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 22 Bold predictions for Google IO 2015 http://phandroid.com/2015/05/26/bold-google-io-predictions/ http://phandroid.com/2015/05/26/bold-google-io-predictions/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 18:46:40 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=165353 Google’s annual developer conference is one of the tech industry’s most exciting times. Android fans are sure to see a plethora of exciting announcements, developments, and unveils across a wide range of products. So what exactly will we see at Google IO 2015?

The web is already flooded with articles explaining what to expect, but if there’s anything we’ve learned in the past 6 years of covering Google IO, it’s to expect the unexpected. In that spirit we’ve combined our logical expectations with our deepest (and sometimes unrealistic) Android desires to formulate these 22 Bold predictions for Google IO 2015.

Sergey Brin will make a flashy entrance by way of self-driving car

sergey-drives-car

Each year, Google is tasked with outdoing itself at their annual developer conference. In 2012, to showcase the capabilities of Google Glass, CEO Sergey Brin jumped out of a helicopter, parachuted onto the top of the Moscone Center, and ran downstairs to deliver his portion of the Keynote speech. Yes… that really happened.

Makes the self-driving car entrance seem less crazy, right? Let’s not forget that – within the past month – Google has promised their Self-Driving cars will be on the roads by this summer. With Android Auto waiting to make its big splash, perhaps this is the year Sergey makes another grand entrance.

[Prediction: Rob Jackson]
[Probability: 5%]

Android M will be revealed as Marshmallow

Android-M

We know Android M will be at Google IO in some capacity, with Google’s own schedule inadvertently tipping us off to that much ahead of time. The schedule suggests Android @ Work will be a big focus for this release, and we’re sure there will be a ton of other goodies tucked inside.
But our big guess? We’ll actually get a name this time, and its name will be Android Marshmallow. Because there just aren’t many other treats that start with the letter M that we can imagine an Android statue being made of except Macadamia Nut Cookies, though Google’s early and internal use of the “MNC” codename historically suggests they’ll be going another direction (The company used KLP and LMP for KitKat and Lollipop, but neither ended up being Key Lime Pie or Lemon Meringue Pie.)
[Prediction: Quentyn Kennemer]
[Probability: 5%]

Google will show something to convince you Google Glass isn’t dead

google-glass-chris

While Tony Fadell has long said he won’t reveal his vision of Google Glass until it’s 100% ready, we’re betting that Google will feel pressured to show something. After all, people swear it’s dead, and Google would love for nothing more than to prove all those folks wrong.
Google will surprise everyone by revealing that Google Glass is further along than we think, and will give us our first glimpse at the smart glasses since the man behind the iPod got his hands on it.
[Prediction: Quentyn Kennemer]
[Probability: 30%]

Google inks NFL deal for Pay-Per-View games through Play Store

android-nfl

In many ways the battle for the home is happening through content partnerships. If you don’t recall, this is the only way the late genius Steve Jobs was able to make the iPod bring down the music industry’s old guard. For this same content revolution to take place on the television, we’ll need some forward thinking executives to blaze trails.

Live sports is one main feature holding cord cutters back. Digital distribution through Pay-per-view and a la carte subscription models is the future. Look for Google to get ahead of the curve by landing one of the biggest TV deals of all-time and one that could be a catalyst for the industry. Later this year, you could be using your Nexus Player to watch NFL games on Android TV.

[Prediction: Rob Jackson]
[Probability: 2%]

Android will reach over 1.3 billion active users

android billion

The last time Google dropped some activation numbers on us they told us Android surpassed 1 billion active users. That number is sure to have grown since then, and we think it’ll grow by a significant amount. Google will announce that Android has 1.5 billion active users, likely fueled by the launch of the affordable Android One line in many developing countries.
[Prediction: Quentyn Kennemer]
[Probability: 65%]

Google finally follows their own guidelines for Material Design

materialdesign_introduction

Google is notorious for setting style and design guidelines and, well, completely failing to fully follow those guidelines themselves. We think Google will finally find it in their gracious hearts to make sure all their apps are consistent in design as described in the lengthy Material Design guideline documents they’ve released. Seriously, Google, how can you expect developers to follow your guidelines when you refuse to? Let’s get it together!
[Prediction: Quentyn Kennemer]
[Probability: 0%]

Google Play Store will launch kid friendly version for children

Samsung Galaxy S6 Kids Mode

Google’s been making big strides towards kid-friendly apps and services. We’ve already seen them introduce a YouTube app made especially for kids, and recently purchased the team behind popular kids apps Toontastic and TeleStory. We also know they’re allowing developers to submit their apps into a new Designed for Families program.

It’s entirely possible that Google could be preparing a full suite of kid-friendly apps and making them easily accessible via a new “Google Play Kids” app. This will be a version of the Google Play Store that only features applications for children, with no in-app purchases or ads targeting children.

[Prediction: Chris Chavez]
[Probability: 99.9%]

Google Play Kids will be filled with exclusive Sesame Street content

Elmo

OK, so Google Play for Kids is probably happening, but what will be in it? We’ll obviously see curated lists of educational apps and games suited for children, but we’ll also go out on a limb and say that Google will be the beneficiary of some exclusive apps. New Sesame Street games and digital books, anyone?
[Prediction: Quentyn Kennemer]
[Probability: 6%]

New Devices & Oprah Moments

Nexus and Google Play edition devices

Despite being more developer focused, every year Google reveals at least a few new Android devices, handing them out to attendees to get to tinkering with. This year we expect things to be no different and although we’re not sure what they could be unveiling, here’s what we think they’ll unwrap during this year’s Google I/O.

  • Chromecast 2
  • Nexus 8
  • Google Glass (2015)
  • Motorola Moto 360 (2nd Gen)
  • Google Plastic (it’s like Cardboard, but made out of plastic this time around)
  • Google Home automation speaker (Amazon Echo competitor)
  • Google Fit Clip (Fitbit competitor)
  • Google Fi Phone (Affordable Android smartphone)

[Prediction: Chris Chavez]
[Probability: 19%]

Google reveals Fit Clip activity tracking accessory

google-fit-clip

The fitness category is one of the hottest in tech and all the big guys are finally paying attention. One could argue the trend was started by Fitbit, but tech’s two household favorites have followed suit with Apple Health and Google Fit. Although Google Glass and Smartwatches haven’t been the home runs for which Google hoped, the company will exhaustively pursue the Android Wear lineup.

Next up: an activity tracker with integrated GPS that lets you leave your phone behind. We’re eagerly awaiting the Under Armour backed HTC Grip that will leverage Endomondo and MapMyFitness (now UARecord), but look for Google to offer a reference design of sorts by offering their own product that syncs with Google Fit.

[Prediction: Rob Jackson]
[Probability: 10%]

Project Fi will get a low-cost Android One device

philippine android one

With Project Fi, Google introduced an extremely low-cost wireless plans for individuals or families who sip data on their devices. The part that didn’t make any sense was the fact that it was only available on the Nexus 6, a huge mammoth of an Android device carrying a retail full value of $650.

Google says they plan on fulfilling all Project Fi invites by summer, but because just about no one is going buy an expensive handset just to save a few bucks on wireless service every month, Google will take introduce a new low-priced handset for the masses. Whether this will be a Nexus 5 (2015) or some kind of extremely low-priced Android One device, remains to be seen.

[Prediction: Chris Chavez]
[Probability: 11%]

Android Home bundle offers Nest, Dropcam, Android TV, at one low price

home-automation-android
(Photo: Armando Ferreira)

One irritating actuality regarding technology is piecing together your “system” of sorts. Your personal electronics inventory consists of different devices across different brands and platforms that don’t always play nice together. If you’ve got a Macbook Air, HTC Android Phone, Samsung TV, Fitbit, Xbox One, Xfinity Security, and drive a BWM… how can you set them all up to work together?

To defray the expense and complications of piecing together this collection over time, Google will begin offering an Android Home bundle that puts all the latest technology into their house and hands at one low price. It will allow users a more seamless experience, encourage consumers to invest in emerging categories, and generate brand loyalty (through switching costs if nothing else). If this doesn’t happen, and Google hasn’t already seriously considered it… they should.

[Prediction: Rob Jackson]
[Probability: 7%]

Google Wallet will be resurrected as Android Pay

Google Wallet tap to pay phone

It’s no secret Google isn’t always the most thorough company when it comes to supporting the services they launch. Google Wallet, while stable and chock full of great reasons to  use it, was always marred by Google’s inability to get major retailers on board.
With Apple Pay out of the door and Samsung Pay on the way, we’re going to take a wild guess and suggest Google will relaunch Google Wallet as Android Pay. The bold part about this prediction? That they’ll actually put forth some effort in getting widespread support from the biggest retailers in the US and around the world.
[Prediction: Quentyn Kennemer]
[Probability: 70%]

Android Auto app to work everywhere

TYLT-VU-Charger-4

When Google first showed off “Android L” on stage during last year’s Google I/O, Android Auto was one of the more interesting aspects of the new firmware update. Here we are nearly a year later, and there really aren’t too many vehicles or head units that are able to trigger Android Auto on our devices, and even fewer devices even running Lollipop.

During this year’s Google I/O, we predict that Google will open up the Android Auto app to work without having to plug directly into a head unit. Simply fire up the app, and you’ll be able to use Android Auto on your Android device while it rests in your favorite car dock — no head unit or compatible vehicle necessary.

[Prediction: Chris Chavez]
[Probability: 13%]

Google will debut first robots with Project Tango technology inside

glass-photoshop-terminator

We haven’t heard much from Project Tango since Google opened up tablets to developers on the Google Play Store. The program was meant to give developers an inside look at building 3D motion and depth sensing software and earlier this year, graduated out of Google ATAP to an official Google project.

After purchasing Boston Dynamics late 2013, we think Google will finally show us the first few robots utilizing Project Tango’s depth sensing technology. Whether they come marching onto stage, or skydiving from a plane is anyone’s guess. The end result will be the same: they will eventually become sentient and take over the world.

[Prediction: Chris Chavez]
[Probability: 1% (or 99% in 10 years)]

Google shows off new Android UI built for VR

Google Cardboard app

(Google Cardboard app UI)

In its current state, Android isn’t really built to work on VR headsets. Not the specialty apps or games, mind you. We’re talking the complete user interface: launcher, notifications, settings, all of it. When Google gave away Google Cardboard headsets during last year’s Google I/O, to get developers up and running with building VR apps, it was seen as more of a side project.

With the explosion of VR headsets from multiple OEMs in recent months, it’s clear Google needs to start getting serious about VR. During this year’s Google I/O they will, announcing a full VR-friendly UI for Android. I mean, hey — we’ve already got Android Auto for cars and Android Wear for smartwatches. Why not Android VR for virtual reality headsets?

[Prediction: Chris Chavez]
[Probability: 22%]

Android Wear grows up with new features and devices

Moto 360 screen

Last year at Google IO we saw the first batch of Android Wear devices. Since then there have been many other Android smartwatches, but their popularity is still pretty small. Android Wear has slowly evolved over time and we expect to see more changes at IO. We wouldn’t be surprised to see new hardware features like speakers. It’s already possible to talk to an Android Wear device, but what if it could talk back? Could we see this new feature on the next Moto 360?

[Prediction: Joe Fedewa]
[Probability: 50%]

Chrome continues to replace Android apps

Phandroid Chrome

In the last year we’ve seen Chrome become much more than just a browser. Android Lollipop introduced “Merged Tabs,” which puts websites in the Recent App menu. More recently we’ve seen Chrome get “pull-to-refresh,” and even push notifications. Google has always loved web apps. We expect Google to announce even more tools for making websites act like native Android apps. A future without “apps” is getting closer.

[Prediction: Joe Fedewa]
[Probability: 80%]

Project Ara is fully operational (and we go hands-on)

project ara

We’ve been extremely impressed with the development of Project Ara. Last year at IO they showed off a prototype that could boot up (but nothing more). Just a couple of months later they had a prototype almost fully functional. Prepare to once again be blown away by the speed of tech progress. We expect Google to show off a more refined fully functional prototype, and maybe even allow developers to get their hands on devices.

[Prediction: Joe Fedewa]
[Probability: 75%]

Android TV gets HDMI passthrough and becomes your home’s hub

razer forge tv DSC07799

Android TV was also announced at IO last year, but there hasn’t been much word about it since then. The few set-top boxes floating around aren’t very popular. Expect to see Google take Android TV a little more seriously this year. We’d love to see HDMI pass through make its way back to Android TV. Integration with home automation devices would also be killer. Imagine if your Nest could communicate with your TV?

[Prediction: Joe Fedewa]
[Probability: 45%]

A new Chromecast is on the way

Chromecast featured

The Chromecast is one of those products that everyone should own. It can do so many amazing things, and it’s dirt cheap. This year there will be a big focus on “Google Cast” at IO. We’ll soon be able to “cast” stuff to more devices, but the Chromecast remains at the center. It’s been nearly 2 years since the Chromecast was announced. It’s a long shot, but this could be the year Google announces a new version of the Chromecast. We expect the same great price, and some new features as well.

[Prediction: Joe Fedewa]
[Probability: 15%]

Google Fiber comes to 10 new cities

Project Fi has dominated discussion when it comes to new internet oriented services offered by Google, but let’s not forget about Google Fiber which currently offers blazing fast home internet in Kansas City, Austin, and Provo. There are 9 more cities on-the-way or under consideration.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 11.37.58 AM

Look for Google to not only give us an update on Google Fiber, number of customers, and actual data speeds it’s generating for those using it, but also to add up to 10 more cities to their service roadmap. And since this article is all about predictions, why not toss out some city names: Baltimore, Charleston, Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Miami, San Diego, Savannah, Seattle.

The spread of Google Fiber can’t happen fast enough. Perhaps best explained by Google Fiber Community Impact Manager Rachel Merlo, “What we are seeing so far is looking a little bit like the early days of going from dial-up to broadband. We didn’t really know what to expect but the innovation followed.”

[Prediction: Rob Jackson]
[Probability: 20%]

What do YOU think?

Will anything from our above wishlist come true? How about predictions you don’t think will happen but that you really want to see?

Leave your predictions below and make sure to follow Phandroid for live coverage of Google IO 2015!

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I spent a week without Android Wear or how I turned into a savage without my smartwatch http://phandroid.com/2015/05/22/week-without-android-wear-moto-360/ http://phandroid.com/2015/05/22/week-without-android-wear-moto-360/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 22:16:50 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=165491 Phandroid Facer

I’ve been living like a savage barbarian the past week and I don’t like it one bit. In fact, my life has been inconvenienced more times than not, it’s been filled with various frustrations, and from time to time certain tasks that were once simple have been much harder.

Next month will mark twelve months since the launch of Android Wear and I’ve worn either my LG G Watch or my Moto 360 every day since the Google I/O 2014 launch. I’ve spent the past week without my Android Wear powered Moto 360 smartwatch and I can’t wait to get home and get it fixed.

You see, while traveling to China to attend the OPPO R7 and R7 Plus launch event, my Moto 360 got snagged on a cramped bus aisle seat and was roughly ripped off of my wrist. The accompanying strap pin went flying off into the unknown and I was left without a wrist computer for the first time in nearly a year.

Smartwatches are not for everyone. They’re accessories. Just like how not everyone needs a smartphone case, not everyone needs to wear a bracelet, not everyone needs a traditional watch, and not everyone needs a smartwatch. But that doesn’t mean that each of those items do not serve a purpose in one way or another.

Smartwatches are all about convenience and how I personally use Android Wear reflects that as notifications, Google Now, and Smart Lock are my three main use cases.

Managing notifications on your wrist is a godsend if your pocket is constantly buzzing with updates and notifications from your smartphone. While it’s not generally a big deal to pull out your phone a few times a day, this can become quite annoying and repetitive if you’re an avid smartphone user. Having this simple, yet extremely powerful capability removed from your life just plain sucks. Glancing at your wrist for a second or two is much more convenient than pulling your smartphone out of your pocket and interacting with it for a longer period of time. Think about how many minutes a day you waste just pulling a phone out of your pocket. Also, sometimes you just can’t get into your pocket because your hands are full or you’re in a meeting and anything beyond a quick glance would be considered rude, it happens.

Next on the smartwatch added convenience factor is Smart Lock and trusted Bluetooth devices. Smart Lock for Android Lollipop allows you to conveniently unlock your smartphone if a trusted device is connected or you’re in a trusted location, etc. With Smart Lock enabled, you won’t have to constantly unlock your phone if one of the security criterias are met. I like to use my Moto 360 as my trusted Bluetooth device. If my Moto 360 is powered on, then it’s on my wrist and that means my smartphone won’t prompt me for a PIN, password, or pattern each and every time I go to use it. It’s extremely convenient and a time saver.

Do you know how annoying it is to get hundreds of notifications per day and have pull your phone out of your pocket and unlock it each and every time? Sure, queue the first world problems meme, but the struggle is real.

Google’s contextual service, Google Now, is the last on my list of hardships I’ve gone through the past week. Google Now is an extremely powerful tool, giving you just the information you need, when it’s convenient. In fact, I’d argue some of the most powerful and useful features of Google Now don’t shine until you’re traveling. Having your boarding pass show up on your wrist when you arrive at the airport, having hotel information pop up on your check-in date, showcasing local restaurants, or even just the temperature, all of these just pop up with very little effort on your part. I really missed those things the past week. Though, in my case, most of them wouldn’t have worked anyways, because Google Services in China are worthless thanks to the Great Firewall of China blocking the Googs, but I’ll leave that to a future article.

Even as I type this now in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport, I hear my Nexus 6 vibrating in my backpack as it’s charging with a power bank. I can’t look at my wrist to see what’s going on and it’s driving me mad.

There’s no doubt in my mind that smartwatches are going to take off in the next year or two. Wearable tech is still fairly new, but once you give it a try, the convenience factor will win you over and you won’t want to go back to your savage, phone checking life.

Do you use Android Wear or another smartwatch? If so, have you gone an extended time without it? Let me know in the comments.

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5 mobile moments that rocked my Android world http://phandroid.com/2015/05/14/5-mobile-moments-that-rocked-my-android-world/ http://phandroid.com/2015/05/14/5-mobile-moments-that-rocked-my-android-world/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 20:38:50 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=165040 andKevin

Looking at the calendar it occurs to me that it is already 2015 — over five years since I got my first Android phone. So much has happened in that space of time, more than one could be expected to remember. The Android Market saw a name change, and grew from a meager selection of apps to an entertainment behemoth. Manufacturers have been bought, sold, and gone out of business. Android as a platform has grown larger than we could have ever imagined, landing on everything from tablets and phones to watches and refrigerators.

Since 2010, I’ve written over 6,500 posts covering it all. That number astonishes me because I can’t recall doing that much work. As they say, it’s not work if you love what you are doing. So today is bittersweet. Today I am moving on from writing for Phandroid. Cry. Cheer. Feel indifferent. That’s totally up to you, but I want to say thanks to all who have read even one of my posts, listened to me blabber on the Mobile Roar Podcast, or taken to the comments to call me an iPhone fanboi.

I’ve got some fun adventures planned; if you care to follow (and I can’t promise I will be talking much tech), find me on Twitter and Instagram. Otherwise I’d like to leave you with a quick trip down memory lane. Here are some of the stories I’ve enjoyed covering the most — the ones that changed the way I think of tech and led me to this place. Please feel free to share your own in the comments below!

1) The Motorola Droid arrives

motorola-droid-pr

In the fall of 2009, Verizon subscribers were itching for an answer to the AT&T-exclusive iPhone, and Motorola was eager to give it to them in the form of the Droid. Arguably the handset that put Android on the map, this smartphone’s impact was felt far and wide, and established the Droid as a brand more recognizable than the operating system it ran.

The Droid was followed by countless iterations and updates and lives on today with Verizon’s Droid turbo, but it is that first generation, the so-called OG, that really set Android down its path to dominance. The launch was the first of several major Android devices and spurred the rise of the platform as a viable competitor to Apple’s iOS ecosystem.

For me, it’s personal. I was one of those Verizon customers yearning for the iPhone, but smartphone options were limited at the time and a family plan made switching carriers a hassle for me. I took home the Droid during launch week, and it’s my excitement for that device that brought me to Phandroid as a reader, eventually leading to a gig writing for this very site. It’s been five years, and the Droid is a distant memory, but it’s impact lives on.

2) Samsung’s legacy begin with the Galaxy S…

kevinatgalaxyslaunch

Less than a year after the Droid hit the scene, Samsung was gearing up to launch a device that would perhaps have an equal impact on the Android world. The Galaxy S launched in the summer of 2010, and despite a slightly awkward rollout with carrier-branded variants (Samsung has thankfully improved on this), it was a major hit. Six iterations later we have arrived at the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. In the meantime, Samsung has become one of the most dominant forces not only in the Android ecosystem but in the mobile industry, as well.

For me, the Samsung Galaxy S launch in New York City was one of the first press events I attended as a blogger with Phandroid, and it was one of the best despite all the crazy announcements from manufacturers far and wide in the years that followed. Samsung threw a badass party with music from B.O.B., and I had the chance to meet a ton of cool people in the tech industry.

I’ve never used a Samsung device as a daily driver, but I’ve had the chance to review nearly every Galaxy S device known to man. It’s been amazing to see the company grow and hone their Android craft.

3) …then there was the Galaxy Nexus

Galaxy Nexus Phandroid Nexus Q

The Nexus One was a first for Google. The Nexus S was a first for Samsung. The Galaxy Nexus was a first for many. Much like the Droid, it was the first of Google’s Nexus devices to become available to Verizon customers, but it also marked the first time Android fans could get their hands on the highly-anticipated Ice Cream Sandwich platform update.

The Galaxy Nexus was not among the best-received Nexus devices. Critics and consumers had mixed feelings about the handset, particularly regarding battery life. I’ve included the Galaxy Nexus rather than the Nexus One or Nexus S for personal reasons. Still tied to Verizon, this is the phone that pried that Droid workhorse out of my hands, and I continued using it well beyond the point that most gave up on the phone.

4) Motorola goes Google (then Lenovo)

motorola logo a google company

While the Droid launched Android into the stratosphere, Motorola fell behind the pack in later years. A string of ambitious devices experimenting with form factor and other features mostly flopped for consumers, and the company fell on some hard times. Mostly in pursuit of patents (but perhaps a slight sense of obligation), Google officially acquired Moto in 2012.

The following years represented a bit of a renaissance for the maker of the Droid. The company’s smartphone offerings went back to basics, and emphasized core Android features paired with customizable design in the form of the Moto X. Low-cost offerings like the Moto G gave Moto a foothold in emerging markets, and the company was able to begin its rebound from their downward trajectory.

While Google sold Motorola to Lenovo in 2014 (while maintaining ownership of a majority of patents and some projects like Project ARA), Moto’s course has not changed. In fact, things seem better than ever. I’m rooting for them with every last ounce of energy remaining in the worn-down Droid that still sits on my shelf among other pieces of tech from year’s past.

5) iPhone 5 envy

gs5-iphone5s-hero

Steve Jobs made it very clear that the iPhone would never have a screen larger than 3.7-inches. Then the iPhone 5 launched. Possibly the most meaningful iPhone update ever, the iPhone 5 showed that Apple had started taking the Android threat seriously, and they needed to update their devices to hold par with devices featuring larger displays with higher resolutions.

But here’s the thing…this whole story started with me getting a Droid as an alternative to the iPhone I really wanted (because Verizon). And I did fall in love with that Droid and Android, but the iPhone 5 was simply too tempting. It was time to venture to the dark side. So I did. I got an iPhone 5. I even had a stint writing for our iOS sister-site iSource. But I came back to Phandroid, and I have been back and forth with my smartphone of choice ever since.

I do find the iPhone a great daily driver. I do understand that isn’t the opinion of everyone (especially most of our readers here). But I have had the chance to play with so many awesome Android devices over the past few years — extended periods using some of the best Android phones on the market. I’ve had the opportunity to experience the best of both worlds, and you really can’t beat that.

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The Galaxy S6 isn’t waterproof… but what about the Galaxy S6 Active? http://phandroid.com/2015/03/06/galaxy-s6-active-waterproof/ http://phandroid.com/2015/03/06/galaxy-s6-active-waterproof/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 20:25:36 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=160984 We now know pretty much everything there is to know about the Samsung Galaxy S6. The specs, the features, the price… it’s all on the table. With the device going on sale April 1st and launching April 10th, people are debating whether it’ll be their next phone and one limiting factor could be the disappearance of a key Galaxy S5 feature that didn’t make its way to the new S6: water resistance.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs S5 backs

There is no doubt that the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are the sexiest Galaxy devices yet. But to achieve said sexiness, Samsung made compromises in areas they were previously adamant:

  • The battery is not removable
  • There is no expandable memory card slot
  • The device is not water resistant

When we reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S5, water resistance was one of my favorite new features. After only one year, it’s gone. One could speculate why water resistance was removed, make various comparisons to Apple, and discuss the technological difficulties in engineering such a product, but for the sake of this article- let’s not.

Maybe, just maybe, Samsung didn’t make the Galaxy S6 waterproof because they expect another product will eventually fill those shoes… the Samsung Galaxy S6 active.

Galaxy S4 Active

Samsung first launched their “Active” series with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, announcing it on the heels of the regular Samsung Galaxy S4.

galaxy-s4-active

The device slightly dumbed down the specs; for example, in exchange for getting an IP67 water resistant device you also get a chunkier, heavier phone with hardware buttons and an 8MP camera instead of a 13MP camera.

Whatever the case may be it seems the Active brand performed well enough to live on as Samsung released its sequel the following year.

Galaxy S5

Things got a bit more awkward when Samsung announced the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active. You see, they already had the Samsung Galaxy S5 and had accomplished the feat of making it IP67 water resistant.

Galaxy S5 in Toilet

We reviewed the S5 and found water resistance to be one of the best new additions. There wouldn’t be any need for the S5 Active now because Samsung had solved the problem by making its flagship phone waterproof! Right!? Right? Wrong…

Galaxy S5 Active

Despite having a IP67 water resistant flagship in the Galaxy S5, Samsung pushed forward and announced the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active.

galaxy-s5-active

Once again, they slightly dumbed down the specs, made it chunkier with more rugged material, and added some extra Ingress protection. Both the S5 and S5 Active were IP67 water resistant, but only the S5 Active enjoyed drop resistance (up to 4 feet), dust, temperature, and humidity resistance. Oh… and it looked a lot crazier.

Speaking of crazy designs, Samsung’s newest generation of flagship devices is quite the divergence from their typical hardware.

Galaxy S6

It wouldn’t be wrong to call the Galaxy S6 a fish out of water. The S4 was not water resistant. The S5 was water resistant. The S6 is not water resistant. Flip. Flop. Flip.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Clock Calendar DSC08975

It seems Samsung focused their time and energy making the Galaxy S6 the most premium feeling device possible. No removable battery. No external storage. No problem. Because one look at the S6 and S6 Edge and you’d fall in love. At least that’s how I assume Samsung’s internal team approached the matter.

Some people are freaking out over the lack of water resistance but Samsung made a clear decision to focus more on being premium. And let’s not forget the added accuracy of the fingerprint sensor which probably wouldn’t do so well underwater.

But maybe, just maybe, there is more to the madness than meets the eye.

Galaxy S6 Active?

Samsung has not confirmed or denied the future existence of a new phone in their “Active” series, but considering they released a ruggedized version of an already waterproof phone (the S5), it seems the company is hellbent on making “Active” devices. To see a Galaxy S6 Active would not be a surprise and to the contrary, it’s something you should expect.

If you’re one of the people “freaking out” consider this the part where we shake some sense into you: if you want a waterproof Galaxy S6, simply wait for the company to announce the S6 Active… we’re pretty sure it’ll come eventually.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Gorilla Glass 4

However, I believe the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Active will have more difference between them than their sibling counterparts. Whereas in the past the S4 Active and S5 Active were merely ruggedized version of almost the same device, Samsung now has the opportunity to let the S5 Active stand out.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: there is no way Samsung will create a Galaxy S6 Edge Active. The engineering would be impossible and the final product would be too expensive. Don’t get your hopes up. It isn’t happening.

Whatever the case may be, Samsung may have created a golden sales opportunity by making this decision. It makes the features/benefits much more clear to consumers and sales people, giving the marketing team specific issues to target when reaching their target market with the (one) perfect product that fits their needs.

So what is that one perfect product…

What will the S6 Active be?

This is purely speculation and I invite you to voice  your opinion in the poll below, but I think this is the perfect opportunity for Samsung to please two different parties:

  1. Galaxy S6 gets sleekest metal/glass design, unremovable battery.
  2. Galaxy S6 Active gets plastic with removable battery.

Whereas in the past Samsung had two very similar products with one primary differentiating factor, the new Galaxy S6 Active would be a completely different product than the Galaxy S6 and offer an entirely different set of features and benefits from a hardware perspective.

I’d be really excited to see the Galaxy S6 Active simply be the natural progression of the previous Galaxy S5, sticking with the plastic and Ingress protection and continuing to add ruggedized features. Nobody knows for sure, but it’s always fun to speculate.

The bottom line is this: if you want a waterproof Galaxy S6 you don’t have to cry over spilled milk… the Galaxy S6 Active will likely be coming. Exactly what that means is anybody’s guess, but if you stay glued to Phandroid, we’ll let you know exactly what it means when the universe reveals to us these secrets.

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Blackberry stock drops 20% after acquisition rumors denied (and the SEC should investigate) http://phandroid.com/2015/01/15/samsung-buys-blackberry-rumor-ftc-investigation/ http://phandroid.com/2015/01/15/samsung-buys-blackberry-rumor-ftc-investigation/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 15:35:57 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=157276 Yesterday, Blackberry’s stock surged 20% when rumors suggested Samsung inquired about purchasing the rapidly declining tech brand. Today, Blackberry has plummeted 20%, erasing yesterdays gains after both parties denied these claims. And if you ask me, the SEC should investigate this 24-hour stock price roller coaster.

Blackberry Samsung Deal

The stock market is already filled with corruption, from insider trading to price fixing to the next flavor of the day. One rapidly growing trend is price volatility of individual stocks due to tech acquisitions. In the traditional stock market, Blackberry would be dead in the water, a once-proud company gravely in danger of becoming the next Palm. Most think this fate is inevitable,  which would urge many market analysts to conclude it’s doomed to reach zero.

Not so fast! Blackberry might be headed to zero in terms of sales and revenue, but the company still has a long list of assets that could infuse highly sought proprietary value into a suitor. Even sitting at $10/share and heading towards $0, BlackBerry’s stock market fortunes were changed when Reuters reported that Samsung could buy Blackberry for up to $15 per share.

Whether the stock is headed to $0 or not, those stocks are worth $15/share if the company is being acquired at $15/share. Since the stock was priced at $10 there was an obvious opportunity for people to pick up a potential 50% growth with quick turn around. Postured as rumor it came with an assumed and calculated risk, so the rise in yesterday’s stock price leveled out around 20%.

Then the rumors were denied. Today the stock is down 20% from yesterday close, losing almost all of the gains in this sudden surge. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Us too… and it should make the federal government wonder as well. There are hundreds of millions of dollars to gain by inserting an acquisition rumor into the industry dialogue, watching the market react, selling based on this reaction, and then watching the stock return to earth when the rumors are denied. The fact that this latest rumor came with a specific acquisition price, and thus could have a more immediate and specific impact on the stock market, make it seem shadier- especially considering the immediate denial of said rumor.

samberry

Is it possible this was an innocent rumor that just happened to kick up dust on a Canada’s Old Faithful? Absolutely and that is – more than likely – the case. But the nature of the industry, condition of Blackberry’s ticker, specifics of the rumor, and swiftness of the rise and fall make underhandedness seem like a possibility and I hope it’s something that the government investigates.

This trend of tech acquisitions make picking stocks much more difficult. What could be widely considered as a terrible stock can become a huge opportunity if the company is acquired. It’s easy to manufacture an acquisition rumor which can have an immediate impact on the market, amounting to billions of dollars in cash changing hands. The motivations to artificially affect stock prices are a real threat and the next crazy story could be right around the corner.

What if Comcast bought Gogo? What if Amazon bought Netflix? What if Google bought Tesla? What if Samsung bought GoPro? All these acquisitions are possibilities. All these acquisitions would have a significant affect on the stock market. None of these deals – as far as I know – have ever been rumored, discussed, or speculated… but if a little birdy WERE to whisper in someones ear, what would happen?

I want to reiterate that I’m not accusing anyone of foul play in the case of BlackBerry, Samsung, or Reuters, I’m merely saying that from an outsiders perspective it seems a bit fishy. And if foul play were to be involved here, chances are equal or greater that it’d be due to someone in the financial services industry.

This story will likely blow over and be forgotten about, but the 24 hour fluctuation of Blackberry’s price shows the delicate nature of the stock market, and you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s the sort of thing that happens every single day. Let’s just hope you stayed out of Blackberry and still have your bottom dollar to bet.

Samsung Galaxy A5 A3 DSC07918

Will we ever see one of these with a Blackberry logo?

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Hey Google: absurd developer policies are hurting the Android community http://phandroid.com/2015/01/04/play-store-developer-policies/ http://phandroid.com/2015/01/04/play-store-developer-policies/#comments Sun, 04 Jan 2015 15:20:31 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=156419 Show Google how important this issue is by signing the petition on Change.org

The Google Play Store is becoming an absolute joke, governed by contradicting laws that are enforced without logic, and policed anonymously and at random. Once heralded as the most open and developer friendly mobile platform on the planet, Google has given Android a huge black eye by sucker-punching loyal developers right in the face. Over and over and over.

Screen Shot 2015-01-03 at 1.14.01 PM

How do we know? We’re one of them. Here’s our latest frustrating and infuriating interaction with Google (it’s happened before):

Your title and/or description attempts to impersonate or leverage another popular product without permission. Please remove all such references. Do not use irrelevant, misleading, or excessive keywords in apps descriptions, titles, or metadata.

  • So is it the title? Or the description? Or both? What? Google offers zero specifics but they link an article that seems to suggest our description is to blame.
  • We cannot make adjustments or updates to the app as it has been indefinitely suspended and all downloads/reviews/ratings permanently lost. We have to upload a new app and start from scratch, but have no clue if our new app will also suspended… making investing any time or money in the venture a complete waste of time.
  • A request to reinstate the app so we can make necessary adjustments is denied almost immediately with a canned e-mail response.

So here we are, dumbfounded. We’ve dumped a ton of time, resources, and finances into into this app over the past 2 years and Google deletes it without warning and without the information necessary to correct this app (or properly submit future apps). It’d be bad enough if Google was just doing this to us – but they’re not- Google is governing the Play Store like tyrants, randomly burning and pillaging the resources developers have built up over years, leaving behind nothing but smoldering ashes and silence.

“If I was a developer debating whether to launch first on Android, iOS, or Windows… I’d look at Google’s recent actions and think: anything but Android”

Hey, Google- you should be embarrassed. What currently seems like “Amateur Hour at the Play Store” could snowball into much more. If I was a developer debating whether to launch first on Android, iOS, or Windows… I’d look at Google’s recent actions and think: “anything but Android”. When an automated system can wipe out an entire company with no discussion or recourse, why risk it?

There is one caveat I’d like to address which may – in part – explain this suspension, but I’ll also explain why that possibility is still inexcusable and absurd. It’s possible that Google is contesting the validity of our app because it uses the name “PS4″ which is a product we don’t own. Why shouldn’t this make a difference?

  • Unless Sony filed a trademark violation against us (which is highly unlikely), Google shouldn’t care. We’ve directly communicated with Sony in the past and I’d highly doubt they take issue with the app or app name. Google’s web results are filled with fan sites and the Play Store should be no different (but with the same case-by-case caveats that protect trademark holders).
  • They’ve put us into a panicked frenzy, creating fear that our other apps (like Phandroid news) may get suspended, but we have no clue what to adjust to ensure we’re following the Play Store rules. We don’t know exactly what rule we broke or how we broke it, so we’re forced to preemptively adjust everything within the realm of Google’s ridiculous possibilities. Seriously Google, are you running a business or a circus? Do you not see the problem here?
  • Google makes a truckload of money on Android-related products. Android would not exist without developers. Would it be such a bad idea to hire a team of people to handle these very important and urgent matters, communicating directly with developers when the existence of their app literally depends on it?

Our best guess is that our “App Description” contained the term “PS4″ too often, but we did so for the obvious reason- we want potential users to know what they can find in the app! They allow up to 4,000 characters in the app description so why punish people for including more than one sentence defining the app? How are we supposed to describe the app without using the keyword that defines the app’s main content and purpose?

To illustrate, here is our new description for Phandroid News for Android:

Android enthusiasts will love this quick and beautiful news app which features the latest breaking news, rumors, tips, tricks, reviews, and videos for everything Android. Get the latest info about Android phones, tablets, TV, Auto, and more from the industry’s leading Android news source – Phandroid.com!

This replaces what we feel is a far more informative and helpful description, but we felt forced to do so because… well, because Google is ridiculous and doesn’t seem to care about developers in this capacity (we know all too well). Here is the old description:

Get the latest News, Reviews, and info delivered right to your phone or tablet from Phandroid, the world’s first and most respected News for Android™ source.

What you’ll find:
✓ News & Rumors for Android
✓ Tips, Tricks, & Tutorials for Android
✓ Apps & Games for Android
✓ Phones & Tablets for Android
✓ Accessories for Android
✓ Software & Firmware Updates for Android
✓ Opinions, Discussion, and more all for Android!

App Features:
☆ Native Android app with beautiful, Material Design UI
☆ Receive notifications for new articles
☆ “Star” articles to mark them as favorites, for reading later or future reference
☆ View “Featured” articles to quickly browse top stories
☆ Filter articles by categories and topics
☆ Search thousands of articles using text or voice search
☆ Read and post comments with seamless DISQUS support
☆ Login with Google+, Facebook, Twitter, or browse as a guest
☆ View photo galleries, vote on polls, and watch video embeds in articles!
☆ Share articles and images through Android action bar
☆ Resizable widget delivers news to your home screen

Settings & Options:
☆ Select from light or dark theme
☆ Select font size
☆ Toggle UI between Modern Card Display and Traditional List View
☆ Customize frequency and style of notifications

Tips on using the app:
☆ Press on the “Star” to save an article in your favorites
☆ When reading an article, swipe left and right to jump article to article
☆ Press the chat bubble in the lower right of articles to read comments and leave comments
☆ Pull down on any screen to refresh
☆ Latest articles in a widget, navigate through latest articles.
☆ Long press links, text, and images for additional options

★ Where you can find us:
Web – http://phandroid.com
Forums – http://androidforums.com
Facebook – http://facebook.com/phandroid
Google+ – http://plus.google.com/+phandroid
Twitter – http://twitter.com/phandroid

For a company that prides themselves on accurate algorithms and machine learning, they’ve engineered an outrageously dumb system.

Google needs to look in the mirror and make some serious New Year’s Resolutions. Their Android developer policies are unclear. Their system of enforcing them is unfair. Their unwillingness to communicate is lazy. This doesn’t seem like the same Android that was pioneered from scratch… it seems like an Android that has gotten large and complacent. This isn’t the Android promised by the Open Handset Alliance. This is a unilateral mess in the hands of Google and they’re dropping the ball.

Please, Google, pick up the pieces… not just for us but for the sake of the entire Android community and its future.


Below you’ll find the Change.org petition requesting Google improve their practices and communication when issuing and attempting to resolve Play Store policy violations. If you believe in the fair treatment of Android Developers around the world, we invite you to sign the petition.

Android has become the most popular mobile operating system on the planet, but Google is mistreating key stakeholders that helped propel its success: developers.

Google has been improperly suspending Android Apps and Developer accounts deemed to be violating the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement and/or the Google Play Developer Program Policies. Furthermore, Google’s notification for these violations comes in the form of vague automated e-mails that prevent honest developers from complying with Google’s demands (they’re not told what to change or fix). In many cases, apps and accounts are suspended or removed completely without prior warning or notice, offering no recourse to fix inadvertent violations regardless of the size, nature, or developer’s intentions to comply.

The result of these careless actions are often disastrous and far reaching, ranging from the exodus of loyal Android developers to the sudden loss of income source and jobs. We’ve fallen victim to this troubling practice twice at Phandroid.com which, ironically, is a site for Android enthusiasts by Android enthusiasts. After seeing countless other Android developers burned, left in the dust, and ignored by Google… we felt it was time to speak up (or move on).

This problem can be resolved by creating a team of Android Developer Advocates whose primary role is to communicate directly with developers who are issued policy violations, helping them understand the exact reasons for the violation, and help them understand what adjustments can be made to bring their app and account into good standing. Supporting developers directly will help keep good apps in the Play Store, maximize good-will and morale in the developer community, and prevent the livelihoods of developers, startups, and entrepreneurs from being destroyed.

Stop the automated suspensions. Help developers comply. Protect the Android ecosystem. Save the clock tower.

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7 things I love (and hate) and about the Nexus Player http://phandroid.com/2014/11/24/nexus-player-things-to-love-hate/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/24/nexus-player-things-to-love-hate/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:27:39 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=153774 nexus-player-puck

If you read our Nexus Player review, you already know how we feel about the new media streaming device from Google. With a little more time to stew on things, our opinions have only solidified. Here are 7 things we loved (and hated) about Google’s appealing-but-flawed Android TV flagship.

Love: Simplified user interface

nexus-player-android-tv-menu

For a media box, the Nexus Player is as it should be: a super clean and straightforward interface makes it easy to quickly jump into your favorite movie, TV show, or game; find new content in the Google Play store; or discover recommended media from sources including YouTube. Initial setup, which takes about five minutes, is about as complicated as the Nexus Player and its Android TV interface gets.

Hate: No TV passthrough

nexus-player-bluetooth-sync-button

We get that this isn’t Google TV. We get that the Nexus Player is designed as a standalone media player operating independently of your television service provider. But there is something frustrating about a lack of an HDMI passthrough. It’s a tiny step to change the input on your TV from your cable box to your Nexus Player, but it’s one step that we wish wasn’t there. Seamless jumping from cable content to internet-streamed media is the sort of integration that should have been a killer feature for the now-dead Google TV platform. If only Google hadn’t abandoned the functionality with Android TV and the Nexus Player.

Love: Gaming experience

We’re just going to say it: gaming on the Nexus Player is better than it should be. That’s not meant as a slight to Android TV at all. Many devices have attempted to bring the Android gaming experience to bigger screens and done so without much success. The Nexus Player achieves perhaps the best version of Android gaming in the living room without even trying that hard. This has a lot to do with Google’s decision to keep a handle on the apps and games that are being approved for Android TV — developers have so far brought their ‘A’ game. There are plenty of quality games that take advantage of only the included remote in addition to a strong selection utilizing the optional gamepad.

Hate: Lack of native apps

nexus-player-android-tv-google-play

The gaming selection at launch is strong if a bit limited, but the Nexus Player simply lacks a number of must-have native apps for content streaming. Standards like Netflix and Hulu Plus are present, but HBO Go is a no-go and Amazon content might never find its way to the Fire TV competitor. Popular music streaming services like Pandora and iHeartRadio are there, but big dog Spotify is notably not. Hopefully the situation will improve as the Android TV ecosystem matures, but its a major shortcoming out of the gate.

Love: Google Cast support

Google Cast is the Nexus Player’s saving grace. Many of the aforementioned missing apps and services can still find their way to Android TV via casting from a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Once Google Cast (the same technology as used in the popular, inexpensive Chromecast) is setup, pushing content to your TV is as easy as tapping a button. Users of the Chrome browser can even share the content of individual tabs, allowing for web-only streaming services not available on Android TV to find their way to bigger screens.

Love: Voice search

nexus-player-android-tv-voice-search

Entering search queries via the click pad of the Nexus Player’s included remote can quickly become annoying — good thing Google has baked voice search right into Android TV. Tap the microphone button on the remote, speak your query or command, and skip the hassle of tedious manual text entry. This is the same accurate and responsive voice input we have come to love on Android devices, though it’s especially well-suited for this device.

Hate: No microphone on Gamepad

nexus-player-gamepad

The optional Nexus Player gamepad doubles as a great means to navigate Android TV’s menus and content. If only it included the same built-in microphone support as the standard Nexus Player remote. We can’t say it’s a major oversight, but we can say it would have been a nice touch to bring all available controls together into one package.

***

The Nexus Player does what it does really well. It’s what it doesn’t do that makes evaluating the device more troublesome. As is apparent above, however, there is slightly more to love about the Android TV box than there is to hate (at least in our opinion). Remember to check out the full Nexus Player review for even more and be sure to check out our Nexus Player and Android TV watering holes over at the all-new Android Forums.

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What do kids think about Google Glass? http://phandroid.com/2014/09/29/kids-and-google-glass/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/29/kids-and-google-glass/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:46:29 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149122 When I was a kid, “cool new technology” meant games like Duck Hunt and Power Pad on regular Nintendo. That was 25 years ago, and to give you an idea of how long 25 years is, take a quick look at Nintendo’s TV commercial for Power Pad when it first came out:

Each new generation of kids grows up in a very different world. Today, the Internet and mobile phones are everywhere. When I was a kid, neither existed. In 25 more years, how much more will technology change?

Although it seems like “adults” make all the decisions, today’s kids have the answer. Like it or not, kids are the ones that decide what’s cool and what’s not, both now and in the future. And as they grow up, they’ll be the ones dreaming up, building, creating, designing, and making the cool new technology the world enjoys. So when one of my friends – an elementary school art teacher in Virginia- said her 5th grade class wanted to ask me some questions about Google Glass, I was happy to answer.

In 25 short years, these kids will be making the world’s cool stuff, so we better get them pointed in the right direction. Here are a handful of their questions (and my answers) about Google Glass.

What do you see when you wear them? How can you see what is happening around you while they are on?

When you’re wearing Google Glass you don’t see anything… until you turn the screen on. You can turn it on by tapping the side of Google Glass or nodding your head in the air. When it’s on, it looks like a little computer screen is floating in the air, at the very top right. At first, it just shows a clock of the time, but by using your voice or your finger you can control Google Glass, and do things like take pictures, take videos, check sports scores, or even read and send messages to your friends.

The “floating screen” isn’t directly in front of your eye, you’ve got to look up and to the right to see it, so it doesn’t block anything when you’re walking around. It’s also partly clear, so you can see what’s behind the screen.

Here is the first video I made about Google Glass, showing exactly what it looks like to see through Google Glass:

How close are the images to your eyes? Is it hard to get used to?

The image is only a couple inches from your eye, but because it’s so small and not that bright, it looks and feels like you’re watching TV from 6 or 7 feet away. It does take some time to get used to Google Glass- at first it’s a weird feeling to have a screen attached to your face! It’s a combination of cool and weird, but after a few days, you get used to the way it looks and feels and it gets much more comfortable.

google-glass-chris

How does it work?….if you activate it with your voice or by tilting your head up, does that get confusing when you move around or talk to people?

The two ways to turn Google Glass on are by tilting up your head or by tapping the touch pad on the side. Google Glass isn’t perfect in every situation, so you need to be aware of your surroundings when deciding how to use it. If you’re in a loud place it might be hard for Glass to understand your voice. If you’re talking with a group of friends, it might be distracting if you’re moving your head around, saying voice commands, or tapping on your Glass.

Google Glass is best for doing small things, like getting answers to questions and responding to messages when your hands are full. Just like anything else, you need to be respectful of those around you when using it. If you’re using it in a way that is confusing or annoying to other people around you, it’s probably best to not use it until later.

Just like companies can make apps and games for phones and tablets, companies can also make apps and games for Google Glass. How Google Glass works in the future will depend on what great ideas people can think up. What do you think would be cool for Google Glass to do?

How accurate is the voice command?…is it better than the iPhone? B/c that one isn’t good.

Google Glass uses the same voice commands as other Android phones and tablets. From all the devices I’ve tested, I think Android (and Google Glass) have the best voice commands, but they’re still not perfect. The voice commands work best when you’re in a quiet place and can speak slowly and clearly. Google can even detect if you’ve got an accent, like Australian or British, and use that information to improve the voice commands.

Sometimes, when you’re in a loud and crowded place, Google can still understand your voice commands perfectly. They have been working hard to improve voice commands every year and it keeps on getting better and better.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.20.48 AM

Did you know you can use voice commands on your home computer, too? If you use Google Chrome you can set it up to use the same voice commands that Google Glass use and test it for yourself!

How good is the camera for photos and video?

The camera is my favorite part of Google Glass, but it is only okay compared to the camera on most phones. It needs to be smaller and lighter so it can fit on your head comfortably. The reason the Google Glass camera is so cool is that it’s always ready to go. Sometimes you miss the chance to take a picture because you can’t get your phone out of your pocket quick enough. With Google Glass it’s always right there: just press the camera button once to take a picture or hold it down to take a video.

For example, I went on a bike ride with my brother (who is a bit of a daredevil), and took the picture and video below with Google Glass. If I didn’t have Google Glass, I wouldn’t have gotten either!

google-glass-mark-on-bike

It’s also hard to take good pictures or videos with Google Glass at night because there’s no flash. Here’s my family singing Happy Birthday to my dad through Google Glass… obviously I didn’t pay enough attention in music class!

Is there sound? Can everyone around you hear it or just you?

Google Glass has sound and it kind of tickles! There is a little speaker that presses against the side of your head, behind your ear, right where the glasses rest. The speaker vibrates the bone behind your ear (which tickles) and somehow – through the magic of science – your brain translates the vibrations into noise and you can hear sound even though it’s not directly in your ear.

You can also add a headphone that plugs into Google Glass and goes directly in your ear, which is really helpful for using Google Glass to make phone calls or listening to music.

Nobody around you can hear the sound unless they’re really, really close to you. Otherwise they just hear a quiet, muffled sound.

How fast/well does it translate languages for you?

Google Glass translates languages the same way that Google.com translates languages. So for example, if you went to Google and typed in “translate Hello! How are you? to Spanish” it would quickly pop up and show “Hola ¿cómo estás ?”

With Google Glass you would do almost the same thing, but instead of typing, you would say out loud:

“Okay, Google translate hello! how are you? to Spanish.”

You would then see the same translation in your Google Glass display and it would read that sentence to you out loud in Spanish.

Why is the design so ugly? I expect more from Google.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Most people agree that Google Glass looks a little big and clunky, but that’s because this is the very first version ever made. As the technology gets better the design will improve.

Just think about how big cell phones used to be:

old-cell-phone

Or how big computers used to be:

computer

Eventually, Google Glass will improve in style and functionality, and to some degree it already has.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.50.07 AM

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.34.27 AM

Did you know Google is already working on contact lenses with technology built in, directly on your eye? And it’s very possible that in 25 years, kids won’t know what driving is like… because cars will all drive themselves. In fact, the very first cars with Android in them come out this year.

So yes, we’ve come a long way in the past 25 years and we’re going to go a lot further in the next 25 years. Google Glass is one of many cool new technologies whose future depends on the upcoming generation of kids who love technology, deciding what the next cool thing should be.

So what do you think? What would make Google Glass even cooler? If you can dream up a good idea, you can make it a reality!

What the kids are saying about Glass

“I think it looks awesome! I want to try it!”

– Andrew


“I think it’s cool, but I think it could be intrusive for other people because of the camera capabilities. I also want to know how you charge them. And could they be solar powered?”

– Bhaswith

You’re right: Glass could be intrusive if people use it in bad or sneaky ways. There will always be new technology coming out and as a community, we need to make laws, rules, and manners about how to responsibly and respectfully use that technology. The same thing happened 15 years ago, before cell phones were popular… now all of a sudden, almost everyone has a video camera with them at all times! Lots of people think Glass is more intrusive than mobile phones, but it can’t do anything that a mobile phone can’t.


“I think they are neat because I like electronics and it’s cool that you can search on Google without having to take out your phone.”

– Sam


“I don’t think people should wear them in situations that are unsafe. Especially when you are driving. That could be very dangerous with a screen to distract you.”

– Vivi

It’s very important to be safe when driving Vivi, I agree, which is why I’m sure you know texting and using your phone while driving is against the law. One girl got pulled over by a police officer and got a ticket for driving and using Glass!

She didn’t get in trouble, though. Glass is a little bit different, though, because it doesn’t block your view (it would look like the screen is on the top of your windshield) and you don’t have to look away from the road to see the screen. Hopefully, as Google Glass gets better and people learn more about it, they’ll come up with ideas to make sure people are using it safely!


“I think they’re a cool new technology. People have probably been trying to make them for a long time. But, they are also kind of a let down because they cost so much and you can’t drive or go to work or school with them on. But I think they will be cool as they get better.”

– Kaylin

I think you’re right, Kaylin, they’re too expensive and limited right now but as time goes on they’ll get better. Hopefully in a few years they’ll be smaller, look cooler, cost less, and do more. And if not, there is lots of other cool new technology just around the corner!

Thanks to all the kids for their interest! I’ve closed the comments, but if you’ve got any more questions, ask your teacher to contact me and I’ll make sure to answer them.

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Dear Tim Cook: watch your Google rant get destroyed in 2 paragraphs http://phandroid.com/2014/09/18/tim-cook-google-rant/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/18/tim-cook-google-rant/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 18:02:28 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149342 Apple CEO Tim Cook today published an open letter to customers, passive aggressively attacking Google’s business model without ever mentioning the company’s name. This led some sites to sensationalize Cook’s rant as a heroic piece of literature that single handedly “ripped apart Google’s business model in 2 paragraphs.

That’s funny, because it only takes 2 paragraphs to flip all of that upside down.

Dear Tim Cook,

I appreciate your company’s strong stance on protecting customer privacy. I strongly agree that Apple is an industry leader in privacy. After all, recent product launches prove this is true: Apple knows absolutely nothing about its customers. And from what I’ve seen, neither does Siri.

What pioneering bravery it took to ignore consumer demand – despite an overwhelming amount of data – and insist on launching small screened iPhones until privacy breaching company’s like Google and Samsung exploited this information. What principle it took to release the Apple Watch with a rectangular face, while Google excavated consumer’s deepest desires for optional round-faced smart watches. Keep up the good work and fight the good fight! #IgnoranceIsBliss

Love,
Phandroid

PS: thanks for the leaked celebrity pics!

This comes on the heels of a new Google patent that tracks and identifies everyone in a room. The privacy doomers and gloomers will have their field day, but if Google responsibly integrates these types of ideas into their products and services, they’ll continue to outpace Apple in growth and innovation. How much smarter can Siri get if it doesn’t know who the heck you are?

I truly am an Apple fan, by the way: I’m typing this on Macbook Pro. I think the world is going to massively enjoy the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. I’m excited for the implications that Apple Pay may have on NFC and mobile payments as a whole and believe that Apple Watch will help bring wearables mainstream.

That being said, Apple has a Jobs-based mentality of saying “screw what the consumer wants… we’ll make what they don’t know they want yet.” I fear this sentiment echoes in Apple’s hallways, without the ability to be fulfilled in Steve Jobs wake. Move on, Apple… responsibly collecting consumer data is the key to creating the most successful products you can.

UPDATE: I found this in last week’s edition of the Washington Post

tim-cook-privacy

 

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Is Comcast planning “Studio Xfinity” retail stores to cure customer woes? http://phandroid.com/2014/09/16/comcast-studio-xfinity-retail-stores/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/16/comcast-studio-xfinity-retail-stores/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 01:52:26 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149231 We’ve all heard the Comcast horror stories and too many of us – especially Netflix customers – have lived the nightmare while listening to the company blather on about net neutrality. The company is now looking to acquire Time Warner Cable, a move of unparalleled proportions that could give the new super company a monopolistic competitive advantage in two key areas : internet connectivity and terrible customer service.

Have Comcast execs been intently listening and carefully plotting a solution to improve customer service and customer satisfaction in the form of retail stores? If the September 11th trademark filing for “Studio Xfinity” is any indication, it seems possible. Here’s how Comcast describes their new trademark:

Retail store services featuring telecommunications goods and services; retail store services featuring entertainment services, namely, providing television programs, films, movies and other audio-video content via cable, fiber optics, the Internet, mobile networks and other electronic communications networks; retail store services featuring goods and services for home and business automation, control, monitoring, and security; retail store services featuring the demonstration of said goods and services

Comcast Studio Xfinity

Careful attention should be paid to the full term repeatedly used by Comcast: retail store services. Rather than building a nation-wide network of retail stores for a company that sells no physical products, Studio Xfinity would more likely incorporate a number of popup stores found in retail partners such as Best Buy to either feature a holiday push (a la Samsung) or facilitate better, permanent customer service solutions (think Comcast Geek Squad).

That raises another interesting question, though: what if Comcast did have physical products to sell to customers? Comcast would be in a unique position to leverage their existing customer relationships in an emerging market that has yet to fully take shape: the connected home.

If you’re currently a Comcast customer, I know what you’re probably thinking: the last thing you want is a connected home powered by Comcast. Your garage stops functioning, refrigerator starts spouting out water, TV is stuck on QVC channel, and after 4 hours of sitting on hold with Comcast customer service, they schedule you an appointment for next week between the convenient hours of 6AM and 10PM.

xfinity-truck

But the idea of physical Comcast retail locations, especially as store-within-stores in already popular shopping locations and outlets, could be great for customers if approached modestly and not only as a cash grab for selling new products and services. Current Comcast office locations are nothing short of horrendous, and to be honest, the opportunity to browse new technology while waiting in line would be a welcome addition.

Unless Comcast has some huge unforeseen announcement waiting in the wings, we’re going to predict they don’t jump head first into the retail space. But this holiday season could prove to be a fruitful test with a small sample size of featured “Studio Xfinity” store-within-stores concept.

As we’ve discussed regarding Google in years past, retail stores are risky but tempting. Struggling companies like Radio Shack and Office Depot are facing increasing competitive pressure from online juggernauts like Amazon. On the flip side, prominent brands with loyal customers and premium brands (read: Apple) continue to make a killing. Where on the retail store spectrum would Comcast belong, what could they offer customers to make the experience worthwhile, and would they ultimately be successful/profitable?

This editorial is speculative, based on Comcast’s trademark filing for “Studio Xfinity”

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Apple is 3 years late to Android’s party, but does it matter? http://phandroid.com/2014/09/09/apple-vs-android-screen-size/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/09/apple-vs-android-screen-size/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 21:17:43 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=148670 Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 4.25.46 PM
iPhone 6 vs. Galaxy S5 | iPhone 6 Plus vs Galaxy Note 4Apple Watch vs. Moto 360

Since the iPhone’s inception, Apple brass – once led by the brilliant Steve Jobs – has vehemently argued that Android is nothing more than an iPhone knockoff. Recently, however, it’s become apparent that Apple is now the one playing catch up, launching new features they once adamantly opposed– the same features Android had wholeheartedly embraced years ago.

This trend continues with Apple’s most recent announcement: the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Does bigger always mean better?

Sporting a gorgeous 5.5-inch screen, the iPhone 6+ rivals the newly announced Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge. It’s the first iPhone (along with the iPhone 6) with a display over 4-inches. By comparison, the original Galaxy Note launched in 2011 with a 5.3-inch screen and introduced a 4-inch screen with their flagship product: the Samsung Galaxy S, way back in March of 2010.

It’s almost embarrassing to think that until last year, the largest iPhone you could buy had a 3.5-inch screen. Android bested that way back when Verizon’s robotic “Droiiiid” slogan first began dominating TV channels in 2009: the 3.7-inch screen on the original Motorola Droid.

Now (finally), in two consecutive years, Apple announces 3 devices with bigger screens. Just like last year, Apple started their iPhone event by bragging about new features — ones Android users have been enjoying forever — including split screen display view, the same one Samsung made available years ago.

iphone-6-plus-vs-galaxy-note-split-screen

The iPhone gets split screen e-mail 3 years later. Groundbreaking.

It doesn’t start and stop with screen size, either:

apple-pay-vs-google-wallet

apple-watch-vs-android-wear

Maybe Conan O’brien said it best when first discussing the iPhone 6 rumors.

Conan Obrien iPhone Galaxy joke

For Apple, timing is everything

Technology has become more powerful, components have become smaller, the industry has evolved and consumer needs and desires have shifted with those changes. A recent report from Adobe shows use of 4-inch and smaller mobile devices dropping in the double digits while larger device use continues to skyrocket. Our own 2011 poll of over 5,000 readers anticipated this long ago.

Apple is adapting. That much is clear. But isn’t that a funny word for Apple- adapting? Apple’s role as the trailblazing mobile innovator seems to have slowed considerably.

Apple’s primary role in forging new opportunities for MP3 players, smartphones, and tablets is undeniable. However, let’s not forget that Apple wasn’t first in any of these areas. Rather than rush to market for the sake of being first, Apple spotted opportunities, worked to perfect them, and launched only when they felt the consumer was ready to spend money on devices that truly wowed. Regardless of who is first, Apple simply needs to continue wowing.

It’s worked, and no matter how big of an Android fanboy you are it’s hard to deny these facts:

  • The iPhone gained mass popularity before Android phones
  • The iPad gained mass popularity before Android tablets

But he who laughs last, laughs best and today, Android market share dominates all competition.

While “winning the war” would be nice, it’s not necessary for Apple to have the highest market share or launch products before the competition in order to be a successful company. The company is still raking in massive amounts of money for every iOS device they sell. The stock is up 25% this year alone, not to mention 300% in the past 5 years and almost 4,000% percent over the last decade.

Apple is still largely known as the premiere industry innovator: when they announce something brand spanking new, people pay attention. And then people buy it. And then the door is opened for competitors to become profitable making similar products, thanks to the Apple brand’s ability to demand attention for new product categories.

In a post Steve Jobs world, what product category will be next?  In 2001, we saw the first iPod. In 2007, the first iPhone. In 2010, the first iPad. For years now, people have been wondering — what will be the next big thing?

Apple Watch vs Android Wear

Today, the oft rumored iWatch has finally become official, announced instead as Apple Watch. Our own research shows that the Moto 360 is largely considered the most attractive smartwatch to date. If there is any indication that Apple has indeed lost it’s innovative edge it’s probably not best illustrated by the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus screen size increases. Apple is going to make an absolute fortune on those improvements and the devices themselves look impressive. What’s more telling, in my opinion, is that Android Wear’s current stable of devices mostly look superior to the Apple Watch and highlight Android’s true edge: hardware options.

android-wear-vs-apple-watch

From a software perspective, Android Wear’s design language seems much more impressive. Its ability to accommodate circular watch faces and its wide variety of manufacturers provide the greatest combination of choices, price points, looks, and feels. Because, well. It’s Android. There’s also two very different wearable philosophies coming into play. Google believes a wearable should be quick, simple, and nearly hands-free, while Apple… well, they’re taking more the kitchen sink approach by shrinking down a smartphone, adding a physical scroll wheel, and slapping it on the wrist.

Of course, I’m speaking from a slightly biased viewpoint, but I wouldn’t consider myself an Apple hater — they make some of the best electronics in the world and the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are now among them. But seeing the Apple Watch announcement, I can’t help but feel some of that Apple magic has faded away.

Check out the Apple Watch promo video and the Android Wear promo video and let us know which one you think looks more impressive:

And as an added bonus, here are our first impressions of the Moto 360:

Getting Beat to the punch by Android

Apple is still one of the world’s most iconic companies, but recently, they’ve had some swings and misses. Take for example the iPhone 5C which attempted to reach a younger and more price conscientious consumer with a colorful array of affordable iPhones. It flopped and Apple didn’t feel the need to bring it back this year.

Meanwhile, Motorola’s Moto Maker — first announced a year earlier — blows all other manufacturer’s customization features out of the water. And it’s only getting better. Soon, Motorola will be adding natural wood and genuine leather finishes for the Moto X, giving them a premium and personal feel unmatched by other brands. The more affordable Moto G, which competes directly with the iPhone 5C, recently became the companies best selling smartphone of all-time.

The point I’m trying to make? Motorola led. Apple followed. Then failed and gave up. Doesn’t sound very Apple-like.

With these recent failures, maybe Apple is finally accepting that some of their gusto is gone. Lending credence to that sentiment is the company’s recent purchase of Beats by Dre for $3 Billion bucks.

From a business perspective the move makes sense: Beats markets itself as a premium brand with a high price tag, huge margins, and “cool factor.” Detractors would say they’re overpriced piles of audio dung, but for the purpose of this discussion, that point is moot. Apple had a huge pile of cash begging to be spent, but purchasing an existing brand of this nature seems out of character for a company that’s traditionally thrived on organic creativity and style.

The financial analysts might paint a much different picture, explaining that instead of taking a margin on the sale of Beats products in Apple Stores, they could own the company and take all the profits for themselves. Simple math could justify the purchase. That’s true, but the symbolic story told — if you can’t create it, buy it — seems nestled in that context.

Can Apple still win the war with Android?

So here we are with larger iPhones (nothing new to Android), Apple NFC payments (ancient Android feature), and Apple smartwatches (that are convoluted and much more expensive than Android Wear devices). Color me unimpressed.

Apple has gone from leading the pack to drafting off Android’s dust. Apple’s new iPhones will sell like hotcakes, though, crushing holiday sales figures in ways the iPhone hasn’t done in years — you best believe that. The Apple Watch won’t trail far behind, once it sees the light of day next year. Apple has created a loyal following of people who love their products, their software, their services, and their culture. Today’s announcements will do nothing but fuel excitement in consumers that Apple events have lacked for a couple years, plenty powerful to keep Apple chugging right alongside Android as top horses in tech.

Here is the most important thing about the Apple vs. Android war: both companies can win. In fact, both companies are winning. Android seems to have the current edge on innovative hardware, but there is plenty of room for both companies to succeed and if you consider yourself a true tech enthusiast, you should be rooting for both.

I hope Apple sees it this way, too. Rather than only chase Android, perhaps they should revisit Steve Jobs’ take on the Apple vs Google war before Android became prominent.

“We never saw ourselves in a platform war with Microsoft and maybe that’s why we ‘lost’ [laughs], but uh, we always saw ourselves as trying to build the best computers we know how to build for people. That’s what we were always trying to do.”

And so the saga continues. From what I’ve seen the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus look great. Apple Watch looks pretty good and will inevitably sell like hotcakes (because Apple). I think the mobile payments through Apple Watch are the most compelling new feature of the device and together with Apple Pay — although they were far from first to market — have the opportunity to finally make mobile payments the defacto standard.

Is Apple simply following in Android’s footsteps? It appears that way on the surface, but just ask Nokia and Blackberry how quickly the mobile landscape can change. Apple might not be the trailblazer they were 5 years ago, but they’re within striking distance in a marathon and will be taking home the gold or silver medal for years to come. It’s hard to ask for much more.

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Is the Galaxy Note Edge doomed to the same fate as the Samsung Continuum? http://phandroid.com/2014/09/07/is-the-galaxy-note-edge-doomed-to-the-same-fate-as-the-samsung-continuum/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/07/is-the-galaxy-note-edge-doomed-to-the-same-fate-as-the-samsung-continuum/#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 15:00:20 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=148191 The year was 2010 and Samsung was riding the high of their debut Android flagship, the Galaxy S. That Galaxy S spawned a smartphone line that has since gone on to sell millions of handsets; the sales figures growing exponentially for each new iteration. The most recent, the Samsung Galaxy S5, garnered sales of over 10 million units in its first month alone. But back in 2010, before Galaxy devices carried the banner for Android, Samsung’s strategy was quite a bit different.

At that time, carriers still depended on device differentiation to draw customers to their network, and the policy was that each US service provider would receive a unique version of the Galaxy S. In the end, consumer desire and other factors in the smartphone industry that favored a unified device experience led manufacturers and carriers to ditch the strategy for future generations of Galaxy devices, but not before the DNA trickled down to one of the most disastrous Android releases of all time: the Samsung Continuum for Verizon.

samsung-continuum-available-at-verizon

The Contiuum, which did or did not carry a Galaxy prefix depending on the marketing materials you reference, was released several months after the original Galaxy S. The specs for the phone aren’t even worth mentioning today, but they were mostly identical to the already popular Galaxy S and among the best you could get in an Android phone at the time. What set the Continuum apart was the presence of a secondary ticker display — a gimmicky second screen placed below the phone’s navigation keys and measuring 1.8 inches and sporting a whopping resolution of 480×96 pixels.

This ticker showcased notification info, the date, time, weather and updates from your social feeds among other things, but it ended up looking more like a constant banner ad on your smartphone. It could be awakened independently to quickly access info without tasking the Contiuum’s larger primary Super AMOLED display. The benefits were touted as battery saving and distraction reducing — don’t interrupt the meeting by waking your bright smartphone display, discreetly check the Continuum’s ticker. Perhaps the idea was ahead of its time.

Perhaps its place as a one-off feature on a Samsung device running Samsung’s version of Android meant developers weren’t too keen to take notice. What we can agree on is the fact that Samsung utterly miscalculated in launching this phone and believing that a ticker gimmick would be enough to get consumers interested in buying a different version of a phone that had already been available for months.

Four years later, why are we talking about the long-forgotten Continuum now? Earlier this week Samsung announced the Galaxy Note Edge, a device that is reminiscent of the Continuum in both its unique functionality as well as the strategy surrounding its upcoming launch.

note-edge

The Edge, like the Continuum, offers users a secondary display that will act as a notification ticker, shortcuts drawer, and information hub. The secondary display can be awakened independently of the main display. Samsung  is hoping once again that developers will buoy the idea by introducing novel uses for the “Edge Screen.”

The Edge, like the Continuum, is also a repackaging of another Samsung device. In this case, it’s the upcoming Galaxy Note 4. Slightly different this time around was Samsung’s decision to announce both devices simultaneously and launch them concurrently across several carriers (including the big four in the US).

So how is the Note Edge different from the Continuum? For starters, the technology has evolved since 2010. The Edge utilizes flexible display technology developed by Samsung to present its secondary display as a curved portion sloping off from the primary Super AMOLED pane. It’s an impressive technical feat, and Samsung has fleshed out functionality to an extent that wasn’t seen on the Continuum. The screen’s placement, higher resolution, and larger surface area help it blend into the overall design of the phone. Moving frequently used shortcuts to the Edge Screen frees up space on the main display, adding precious real estate for multitasking.

The question we must ask again echoes the Continuum: does the secondary display functionality provide reason to choose this phone over the standard Note 4? Maybe that’s a bit of a loaded question. After all, the Continuum’s chances for success were hampered by availability limited to a single US carrier. The Galaxy brand wasn’t a household name in 2010.

Samsung Galaxy Round hand

As a counter, we might look toward the Galaxy Round, another device designed to showcase Samsung’s curved display technology. The Galaxy Round also was limited in release, but folks weren’t exactly clamoring for the device. The device’s namesake roundness seemed to exist only as a neat parlor trick not as a form factor that added any particular useful functionality. With the Note Edge, Samsung seems to have found a much more novel and useful way to deploy flexible AMOLED tech, but we’re still not sold.

The Continuum, Round, and Note Edge seem to highlight Samsung’s insistence on making available to the general public devices that should have never left the R&D department. In fact, the Note Edge is nearly identical to a prototype device Samsung showed off nearly two years ago at CES 2013. We’re not saying the Note Edge will be the next Continuum or Galaxy Round, but you can’t blame anyone for making the comparison.

We applaud Samsung for pushing the boundaries of what the smartphone can be, and devices like the Edge certainly seem refreshing in a market that has seen plenty of stagnation lately. One handset won’t do it, however. Proprietary form factors are not favorable to developers and hardly ever last more than a single generation. Is the Galaxy Note Edge just another of these oddities? We’re as eager to find out as anyone.

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Motorola’s Shamu, the first Nexus phone I do not want [Opinion] http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/motorola-shamu-nexus-6-do-not-want/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/motorola-shamu-nexus-6-do-not-want/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 00:24:49 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145753 Nexus-Shamu

When you own a Nexus device, you get a few perks for being backed by El Goog. Nexus means your device will be developer friendly with an unlockable bootloader, have supported AOSP code, precompiled binaries for certain pieces of hardware, and of course factory images in case you happen to tinker a bit too hard. You’ll also be privy to the latest and greatest versions of Android, with timely updates. Last and certainly not least, Nexus devices also set a standard for the entire Android ecosystem in not only software, but hardware too.

The Information apparently has three difference sources confirming the existence of Motorola “Shamu,” which is rumored to be the Nexus 6. Why Shamu? Well, besides aligning with Google’s fishy device codenames, it’s apparently a whale of a phone, literally. 5.9 inches to be exact.

That’s just insane. I might be a self proclaimed Android fanboy, but holy hell. I do not want something that big. I might live and breathe Nexus and Android, however I’m saddened to say that this might be the first Nexus phone that I won’t salivate over or end up buying. It’s just too damn big to comfortably use.

For example, the Oppo Find 7 and OnePlus One are just great phones when it comes to hardware specs and software like CyanogenMod. But, no matter how great the hardware and software combinations are for these phones, the sheer size of these devices with their 5.5 inch displays are one of their downfalls. Having to move the phone up and down in your hand like some one handed kung-fu move just to reach the top and bottom of the phone is something I just do not want to experience day in and day out.

Sure, you can argue that Nexus isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that Google should further alienate the brand. While large screened phones also known as phablets (I hate that word) are becoming more and more prevalent, that does’t mean the reference device for Android should embrace their size as a standard, setting the stage for devices to continually grow larger and larger.

Who knows? Maybe Android Silver isn’t dead and this is Google’s way to ween people away from the Nexus program by launching a less than desirable device? Maybe Android L will launch with even more hands-free actions allowing smartphone users to accomplish more without even having to touch their massive screened device. At this point until we hear the good word from Google, anything is possible.

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Has Google’s reputation turned sour? http://phandroid.com/2014/05/19/google-youtube-twitch-reputation/ http://phandroid.com/2014/05/19/google-youtube-twitch-reputation/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 20:13:09 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=140934 google sour

Don’t be evil.

That simple (unofficial) slogan helped Google become a beloved company with many fans. They exploded onto the scene with a search engine that was simple to use and blew our minds with results. Then they started giving away great products like Gmail, Google Docs, and of course Android, for free. There was a time when Google could do no wrong, but fast forward to today and a growing amount of consumers don’t believe that famous slogan to be true anymore. What changed?

This sentiment was perfectly demonstrated over the weekend when the rumor that YouTube might be interested in buying Twitch.tv first surfaced. The news was met with negative reactions by a large portion of the internet, especially the gaming community. #RIPTwitch was trending on Twitter quickly after the news broke. Threads on Reddit were filled with complaints, disappointment, and this gif. The most remarkable thing about all of these reactions is how different they would have been just a couple of years ago.

tweet4

YouTube is the best example. In the beginning people seemed to love everything Google did with YouTube. However, in the past few years many people have started getting upset with the changes Google has implemented. Things like the Google+ comment system are still being complained about today, which is exactly why some people are so worried about Twitch. Google’s once shining reputation has turned sour as consumers fear they will ruin their favorite services.

tweet5

Google+ alone is a major point of contention among many users. When the social network was brand new and invite-only there was a lot of excitement. But the more Google has pushed it the more consumers have pushed back. For many internet users the first time they saw Google+ was when they needed to sign up to continue using YouTube. That’s not a good first impression. Unfortunately, this social network has turned into an arch nemesis for a lot of internet users.

tweet2

Last year Google’s VP of Corporate Development said a third of their acquisitions end up failing. This is obviously the worst case scenario in the minds of Twitch users. A few notable Google products that have been shut down include Picnik, Aardvark, Dodgeball, Google Reader, Wave, and Buzz. Not all of these services were acquisitions, but it goes to show how unafraid Google is to shut down a service. Obviously users of Twitch don’t want that to happen.

Another reason that many consumers are wary of Google is how much of the internet they own. A user on Reddit had this to say:

“Google will control the largest video sharing service, the largest video streaming service, the largest e-mail service, a large social network service, 50% of the smart-phone market and is now even providing your internet – yet no one, including the government seems to care.”

They didn’t even mention the fact that most people use Google Search to find information, Google Maps to navigate, Google Chrome to browse the web, and their car may soon be controlled with Google technology. When one company owns so many popular services it makes people nervous. Just look at what happened to Microsoft in the 90’s. They were accused of creating a monopoly in web browsers by bundling IE with every version of Windows. Anyone that owns a Nexus device or Chromebook will see the similarities. Microsoft is still fighting the negative reputation it earned during that era. Could Google be on a similar path?

tweet1

Something else that has changed their reputation is just the sheer size of the company. It’s easy to love an upstart that tries a bunch of crazy things and disrupts industries. They are seen as the anti-corporation. Eventually every successful company becomes a giant. Now that Google has become such a worldwide powerhouse they are no different from the likes of Microsoft, IBM, and Apple in the eyes of many people. Google will continue to battle this as they get bigger and bigger. The question will be how do they respond? It’s hard to be cool forever.

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Annoying Comcast ad brags about their stance on Net Neutrality http://phandroid.com/2014/05/12/comcast-time-warner-ad-net-neutrality/ http://phandroid.com/2014/05/12/comcast-time-warner-ad-net-neutrality/#comments Mon, 12 May 2014 16:00:58 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=140442 There aren’t many things I hate more than misleading advertisements. Flip through the print edition of the Wall Street Journal today and you’ll see one such ad from Comcast and Time Warner.

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The ad is posed as a multiple choice question listing 4 potential benefits from the proposed Comcast and Time Warner merger. It leads with “Net Neutrality Protection” but of course  has “All Of The Above” selected, suggesting the merger will also create faster, more secure, more reliable, and more readily available internet for its customers.

Comcast leading with Net Neutrality is laughable, but unfortunately, Net Neutrality isn’t a laughing matter.

Ever wonder why Netflix used to be so slow on Comcast? It’s because Netflix hadn’t yet started paying Comcast for preferential treatment to ensure better speeds for its customers. The idea that Internet Service Providers like Comcast can pick and choose which sites and services get good speeds and which get worse speeds is what the entire net neutrality debate hinges upon. Yet they’ve created an entire site to spout about their dedication to net neutrality.

“There has been no company that has had a stronger commitment to openness of the Internet than Comcast.”

Yeah and Donald Sterling is the next Gandhi.

Technically speaking, Comcast does support Net Neutrality… but only because the current proposed version of Net Neutrality laws are in direct conflict with the spirit of a free and open Internet. Comcast supports the version of Net Neutrality where things aren’t neutral because they can sell preferred access to specific companies. So by my measure there are at least 150 companies that have a stronger commitment to openness of the Internet.

So how can Comcast stoop so low as to masquerade the net neutrality buzzword around like a crown jewel achievement when most people think a merger with Time Warner will be a disaster for users and severe blow to net neutrality? Where do they derive the gusto to promote participation in a movement when they’re widely considered the number one threat to that movement’s success?

In an open letter to the FCC, a long list of powerhouse tech companies shunned a proposal to legally allow for Internet “Fast Lanes”. Signed by the likes of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and 147 others, here’s a snippet of what they had to say:

According to recent news reports, the Commission intends to propose rules that would enable phone and cable Internet service providers to discriminate both technically and financially against Internet companies and to impose new tolls on them. If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet.

As you’ll notice, Comcast isn’t among those that signed. That’s because they’re among the Internet Service Providers who would (and do) charge tolls. They stand to make huge profits by charging companies like Netflix extra to ensure Netflix streaming videos load quick enough through Comcast’s bandwidth. You can bet those costs will be passed onto the consumer, so don’t blame Netflix if subscription hikes come soon- blame Comcast and the FCC.

If Comcast and the FCC have their way, it could prove to be a complete disaster for the Internet. It could be the start of something much bigger. We’re putting our toes on the tippy top of a slippery slope with an Internet iceberg underneath.

This Comcast advertisement is maddening, because in my mind, it couldn’t be more misleading. Or maybe they’re just delusional. This is the type of smoke and mirror advertising typically reserved for presidential campaigns, so disturbingly filled with BS propaganda that it makes me lack faith in humanity. It makes me loathe whoever schemed up these ads in some thought polluted, idiot filled backroom. It makes me more desperately crave Google Fiber.

But most of all… it makes me want to cancel my Comcast service.

[Thanks Tokugawa!]

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