Phandroid » Opinion http://phandroid.com Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Sun, 29 Mar 2015 00:08:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 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.

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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?

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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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Google is creating their own Android experience to showcase their Googly UI [Rumor] http://phandroid.com/2014/05/09/google-experience-android-silver/ http://phandroid.com/2014/05/09/google-experience-android-silver/#comments Sat, 10 May 2014 02:12:25 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=140389 Google_Now_Launcher_Large_IconUntil very recently, Google’s Nexus line and Google Play edition devices have been “pure” Android, running mostly code directly out of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). With the launch of Android 4.4 KitKat and the Nexus 5, we began to see Google’s version of Android emerge thanks to the likes of the Google Dialer and Google Now Launcher. These applications launched a Google Experience for Nexus devices, laying the framework for how Google envisions their version of Android. Now, new design rumors have appeared that clearly show Google wants to put their own experience on top of Android, similar to what HTC is doing with Sense or what Samsung is doing with TouchWiz.

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With the Android Open Source Project, hardware and software partners from around the world collaboratively work on Android’s open source code. This code is then made available for hardware partners to use as they see fit. They can choose to work with Google and use Google Play Services, or they can go their own way like Nokia or Amazon.

Going the Google route means you’re going to use Google’s services, but you’re free to use your own services too. OEMs then customize Android to their own liking, promoting their own services and creating their own unique experience – and ultimately reaping all of the benefits while they build customer relationships on top of Google’s handiwork. Samsung is probably the worst offender.

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This is where the problem begins. I won’t even get into the fragmentation of applications and services issue that splits and segregates users around the Android platform because of this methodology. More importantly, Google is devoted to promoting their software experience by leveraging their array of cloud services. Up until now, Android has been Google’s platform for doing so. However, it seems we’re beginning to see a transition where Google is acting just like other OEMs and creating their own experience on top of Android.

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This is where those Android Silver rumors come into play I believe. Google needs to demonstrate how beneficial the entire Google Experience can be for users in a big way so that they continue to buy into the ecosystem. Google has to provide a robust enough out of box experience to convince handset makers that customers want the full Google package. The more customers that want to experience Android the Google way equates to more hardware sales – something handset makers can get behind. For Android Silver to succeed, the Google Experience needs to differ greatly from Sense, TouchWiz, and other OEM UIs.

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As with all rumors this size, it’s good to note that not all of these design implementations are guaranteed to make it into a final public release. At this time, Android Police is reporting that Google is working on breaking search out of it’s shell, having a revamped Recents menu, a new Notification shade, a drastically changed Home Screen launcher experience, and even Widgets could see a major usage change.  If these rumors hold true, we could be on the midst of a very defining announcement in the near future. Not only will Google be pushing the full Google Experience, but they could just be using Android Silver to do it.

Maybe the first Google Experience device will launch at Google IO in June on a brand new HTC manufactured tablet? In the meantime, let us know what you think about Google’s new direction in the comments.

Source: Android Police 1, 2

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250 miles with the Galaxy S5 http://phandroid.com/2014/04/30/bike-touring-with-the-galaxy-s5/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/30/bike-touring-with-the-galaxy-s5/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 17:15:21 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=139407 20140425_155516

The rain begins soaking through my poncho as I zip along the muddy towpath skirting the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. I’ve come 100 miles by bike through the mountains of western Maryland and still have 30 more to go before setting up camp for the night. For a moment there is a sinking feeling in my gut as I remember I forgot to stow my phone, which is now wrapped tight in the heavy, waterlogged fabric of my cycling jersey. Then I remember that phone is a Galaxy S5.

Stopping for a moment to assess the situation and check that the rest of the gear — the sleeping bags and hammocks, the clothes, the food — is staying dry, I pull out the phone to snap a few pictures. It’s waterproof, after all. To prove the point to my riding partner I throw the phone in a deep puddle. I pick it up, wipe the mud off on my leg, and place the phone back into my pocket. Determining that our situation is unlikely to improve over the course of the next several miles, we do the only logical thing and crack open a beer.

Touring with the Galaxy S5

Our final route would cover nearly 250 miles from the valley housing Deep Creek Lake near the western boundaries of Maryland to the tidewaters of Baltimore. The four day cycling tour would be no walk in the park as we camped each night with the minimal amount of equipment we could stuff into the panniers hung from the backs of our bikes, pumped water from wells leeching their contents from the nearby Potomac River, and followed along a route that led us out of the comfortable confines of 4G LTE service into a world of cellular dead zones. And throughout it all, the Galaxy S5 might just have been the most important tool I brought along.

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Full disclosure: I had brought along a secondary phone — an iPhone — but the device saw little use. I also carried an Incipio portable battery pack with a solid 6000mAh of extra charge in case I needed it. But given that packing light was key so as to avoid the pain of dragging 100 pounds of bike and gear up steep mountain inclines, I had to keep a limit on the sorts of technology I brought along. In hindsight, the Galaxy S5 was probably all I needed, no extra phone or battery pack necessary.

This is not to say the S5 was perfect, and I wasn’t necessarily using the phone in the traditional sense — my glowing endorsement really only concerns its use as a GPS device and camera — but I really could have had no better companion for the trip. That’s if you don’t count my riding companion Lee Cumberland. You can catch a glimpse of the full ride as captured via GoPro and the Galaxy S5 over at his S/V Satori blog.

When it rains it pours

Most of the Galaxy S5 coverage we have seen to this point lauds the device for its IP67 certification. The phone’s resistance to dust and water has for the most part, however, only been demonstrated in very controlled settings. While it’s great to know we can drop the phone in a bowl of water or a toilet without fear, I would not call this a typical situation. I was able to put the phone through the paces in conditions that many folks would be much more likely to find themselves in.

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The first day of riding on the C&O Canal towpath, an unpaved surface of packed dirt and loose gravel, saw no shortage of dust kicked up around the GS5. A major storm system would turn that dry and dusty path into a mess of mud by the next day, and the ensuing storm would soak us to the bone as we toughed it out to keep on schedule. No, this was not a test immersing the Galaxy S5 in a few inches of standing water. This was actively using the phone to navigate and track progress with no qualms about keeping it out of the damp and dirty conditions.

While the water protection was ace, that is not to say the Galaxy S5 was the most accommodating device to use in wet conditions. While damage was not an issue, water build up on the phone’s touchscreen made navigating the user interface impossible at times, and caused some issues when trying to snap off a few quick shots. This is not necessarily a flaw inherent to the Galaxy S5 itself — water would interfere with the accuracy of any capacitive touchscreen — but it does draw a distinction between “safe from water damage” and “usable in wet conditions.” Wiping off the display provided a quick remedy, but in a torrential downpour it wasn’t staying dry for long.

Still, the peace of mind that the Galaxy S5 could survive the rugged nature of the journey is a testament to its design. I did not go easy on the phone, nor did mother nature, but it made it back in one piece and no worse for the wear.

That camera, though

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Perhaps even more impressive than the device’s resistance to water and dust damage was the performance of its camera. The phone was always on hand and I used it to document the journey, snapping a few quick photos here and there as we rode along. Without thinking too hard about the photos or even messing much with the Galaxy S5’s modes and shooting settings, I was able to capture some pretty nice shots. All the photos you see in this post were taken with the phone.

The Galaxy S5 definitely does wonders in the sun. Give that 13MP camera ample natural light and you might just impress yourself with how good a photo you are able to capture. When the clouds rolled in the story wasn’t quite the same, but image quality remained impressive.

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Nearly everyone I have shown the photos since my return has made a comment along the lines of “that phone takes some pretty nice pictures.” And it does. My secondary iPhone might have done a a decent job itself in capturing photos, but the Galaxy S5 made sure that other handset stayed buried deep in my bag.

Battery life for days

Eight hours of GPS tracking per day, constantly connecting and disconnecting from cell towers while searching for a signal and moving in and out of roaming — these are just a few of the pitfalls that the Galaxy S5 had to face over the course of four long days traveling away from the comfort of an easily accessible wall outlet. Despite a life on the road that would test the limits of any phone’s battery, I never had to worry about keeping the Galaxy S5 powered.

After two days of use with a little over 30 percent left on the phone’s battery I gave it a quick recharge via my Incipio offGRID battery pack. I can’t say enough for that little device either. In an extremely portable and rugged-in-its-own-right package, the offGRID provided 6000mAh of backup juice (enough to get about two full charges of the GS5’s 2800mAh battery) with two USB ports providing 3.1 amps of charging power. Charge times were quick, and they needed to be. The trail waits for no one and we were constantly on the move.

But even without the Incipio battery pack I feel confident the GS5 could have made it to four full days of use had I worked the battery more efficiently, powering down when possible and limiting connectivity to avoid wasting power searching for data networks and downloading emails. If needed, the Galaxy’s Ultra Power Saving mode could have easily kept me connected for the duration had my battery waned to below 10 percent.

The struggle is real

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Riding hundreds of miles over four days is no easy task. Being the smartphone that tags along can be equally grueling. While the GS5 did its job and more, there were some areas where the device still fell short.

For starters, forget S Health. I didn’t bother using the pre-installed app to track the ride due to its extreme limitations. S Health is probably nice for the casual user that wants to track steps or a couple runs or shorter bike rides per week, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Strava, my default app for recording and analyzing my cycling activity.

The Galaxy S5 is also rather bulky and difficult to use with one hand. Opting to ride without a handlebar mount for the phone, removing the GS5 from my back pocket in order to check a map or take a photo typically meant coming to a complete stop. Not that it’s recommended to operate a bicycle with one hand and a smartphone simultaneously with the other, but the Galaxy S5 makes the task highly impractical.

With all the praise being heaped on the Galaxy S5’s display, it’s worth noting that in sunny conditions even the eye-searing brightness of the Super AMOLED display was greatly washed out. At maximum brightness there were still times where a hand was needed to shield the sun from the display.

As a smartphone user, I have my personal differences with the Galaxy S5 and Samsung. I’ve never been a fan of TouchWiz and the cheap feel of of the Galaxy line’s plastic build has provided me enough reason to keep my distance. But Samsung’s latest effort has given me some hope for the Galaxy brand. Sure, it’s still clunky in many ways — four days of solid use was not enough to demystify the bloated and at times overly complicated software of the phone — but it gets a lot right in the process, including battery life, ruggedness, and camera quality. If the Galaxy S5 is at home in any adventurer’s bag, it is equally worth consideration for a place in the average user’s pocket.

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Don’t Smash the Past: This OnePlus One promotion is a bad idea http://phandroid.com/2014/04/25/oneplus-one-phone-smash-bad/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/25/oneplus-one-phone-smash-bad/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 16:25:35 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=139252 Samsung Galaxy S3 cracked

After unveiling their “Flagship Killer” smartphone earlier this week, Chinese start-up OnePlus has announced that you can become one of the very first 100 people to purchase their new phone. Even better – it will only run you one dollar. All you have to do is enter a contest stating that you’ll smash your current smartphone if your entry is chosen. This is a bad idea.

Sure, drop test videos and “phone durability tests” generate an insane amount of views and dumb promotional stunts generate a lot of hype for businesses. These are reasons why we love the Internet – for sometimes dark and twisted entertainment. That said, these types of stunts are done on a very small scale. Asking 100 people to destroy perfectly fine smartphones is just bad form and someone could get hurt.

OnePlus has already stated that they won’t be held liable for any damage or injury that occurs while smashing your phone. Why did they put that clause in their FAQ? Because it’s a very real possibility. Remember the Galaxy S5 hammer test that sprayed out noxious fumes and caused the viewer physical harm? I’m sure he’ll never forget it.

Here’s a few alternatives to smashing your phone:

Sell it on Swappa. OnePlus wants you to smash your phone in lieu of $298. Did you know that a lot of the phones accepted by OnePlus’s Smash promo actually sell for a lot more on Swappa? For example, the unlocked Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Samsung Galaxy S4, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, Sony Xperia Z, LG G Flex, and many others are selling for $450-$550 right now. You’d actually turn a profit if you sold your current phone on Swappa and used that cash to buy a OnePlus One.

Use it as a media device. Turn your phone into a music player. This is a great idea for kids. If you don’t have kids, no problem. Having a portable music player helps save your phones precious battery life. You could also turn your spare phone as a dedicated remote control for your Chromecast devices.

Turn your phone into a security camera. There’s plenty of camera apps on Google Play that allow you to turn your phone into a home surveillance device. You’ll be able to easily check in on things while you’re away from home and you don’t need to buy an expensive system to do so thanks to your existing Android phone and just an app.

Use HTC’s Power to Give program. With the Power to Give app, you can make the world a better place by using your phones CPU cycles to crunch research data. It may not be that much, but you’ll be able to sleep at night knowing your helping out in some way or another.

Donate your old phone to a good cause. Cell Phones for Soldiers is a nonprofit organization that provides free communication services to active-duty military members and veterans. If you don’t want to have to keep a phone plugged in all of the time just to a good dead, this is probably your best option – helping those that have served your country.

Will you be entering the contest for a chance to smash your phone? Let us know in the comments.

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