Phandroid Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:10:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 You’ll have to smash your current phone for an early chance to buy the OnePlus One Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:01:58 +0000   Talk about the OnePlus One at | Pricing and Availability | Are you buying?


In case you didn’t catch wind of it in our OnePlus One announcement post, we finally have an idea how many units are going to be available for its April 25th launch, as well as what you need to do to get it.

OnePlus is inviting people to apply for a chance to smash their OnePlus One, only 100 of which will be available. This is off-putting for sure, but OnePlus intends to sweeten the publicity stunt by making the device just $1 for those lucky 100 souls.

Not interested in smashing your phone? Worried you won’t be able to get one? There may be hope yet. OnePlus is giving the winners an invite code of their own to distribute. You’ll have to pay full price for the OnePlus One ($300 for the 16GB version and $350 for 32GB), but that comes with the added trade-off of not having to defile your current piece of mobile tech.

You’d better start buttering the palms of OnePlus One enthusiasts everywhere, because there’s no telling how long it’ll take to get more chances to buy this phone. Read all about the device right here, then head to the OnePlus One Phone Smash site if you don’t mind putting your current device to rest.

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OnePlus One price and release date revealed; starts at $299 Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:01:36 +0000  Talk about the OnePlus One at | How to buy it Are you buying?


So we know what it is and what it looks like, and we’ve even had the displeasure of knowing how you’ll be able to get one. Need pricing and availability information? Here it is laid out nice and neat:

  • $299/€269 for 16GB Silk White version
  • $349/€299 for 64GB Sandstone Black version
  • Available in the following countries:
    • Austria
    • Belgium
    • Denmark
    • Finland
    • France
    • Germany
    • Hong Kong
    • Italy
    • Netherlands
    • Portugal
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Taiwan
    • United Kingdom
    • United States
  • First 100 units available for $1 April 25th via the Phone Smash promotion. Read all about that right here.

And that’s that, folks. While that 100 unit cap is small, those users will also be treated to an invitation of their own to distribute to eager consumers (though they’ll have to pay the full retail price for that privilege).

We imagine OnePlus won’t drag their feet on making more invitations available either through contests or the Phone Smash program, though, so relax and be patient if you don’t end up being lucky enough to grab one right away. Understand all that? Then be sure to head here and read more about the OnePlus One with CyanogenMod.

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Are you buying the OnePlus One? [POLL] Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:01:17 +0000  Talk about the OnePlus One at | Pricing and Availability | How to buy it


We’ve finally learned everything we need to know about the OnePlus One. Everything is peachy keen aside from an annoying purchase process. It can be had as cheap as $300, a price tag that certainly cannot be matched by any other device in its class. The question is simple then — are you buying one?

Sure, you have to be lucky enough to be one of 100 people selected to smash their phone for a chance to buy the OnePlus One for $1 (or be diligent enough to pry an invite away from someone who has been selected to purchase the device right away), but for its cost-to-performance ratio it’s probably considered just a small nuisance in the grand scheme of things.

Read up on everything, then circle back to drop your vote in the poll below. Don’t forget to follow that up with a comment if you wish to share the reasoning for your eventual decision.

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OnePlus One officially, finally and fully unveiled Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:00:12 +0000 Talk about the OnePlus One at | Pricing and Availability | Are you buying?

02 It’s been a veeeery long and arguably frustrating wait, but the OnePlus One has finally been unveiled for the world to see. The beaut you see up above is the first device built specifically for CyanogenMod, and while the tactic of trickled specs kept us on the edge of our seats, there’s nothing quite like seeing a full spec listing.

OnePlus One Specs

Here’s everything that’ll be packed inside:

  • 5.5-inch JDI display with 1080p HD resolution
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.5GHz chipset
  • 3GB of LP-DDR3 RAM clocked at 1866MHz
  • Between 16GB and 64GB of internal storage
  • 13 megapixel Sony Exmor IMX 214 f/2.0 aperture sensor with 4K video recording and dual LED flash, 5 megapixel front sensor
  • 3,100mAh lithium polymer battery
  • dual-band WiFi AC, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS w/ GLONASS, NFC
  • microUSB 2.0, multi-colored LED notification light and a 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Android 4.4 KitKat with CyanogenMod 11S

OnePlus One Software and Features

That last one is the big kicker, because it’s the software where OnePlus and CyanogenMod’s values truly shine. Their boisterous condemnation of carrier bloatware and unnecessary features were paramount to creating a device users would want. Well, that and a device that packs as much cutting edge silicon that it can inside a 5.5-inch frame.

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CyanogenMod features all the key staples of the existing after-market ROM, except it has a different, special coat of pain designed specifically for the OnePlus One. A staggering thousand or so themes will be available for you to customize with thanks to the built-in themes engine. Secure encrypted texting between other CyanogenMod or TextSecure users ensures privacy. Privacy Guard lets you control which apps get access to which data. We’ll even be treated to a feature that allows you to activate your phone’s voice commands without having to touch it.

OnePlus One Pricing and Availability

So when? Where? How much? And how to buy it? Thankfully they aren’t pussyfooting with that information. The device will be coming to

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Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the United States. The 16GB Silk White model will run you an absolutely insane $299/€269, while the 64GB Sandstone Black can be had for $349/€299. We honestly thought they’d go with the $399.99 price point to stay under their goal of delivering a device that costs less than $400, but this is a whole different level of value. Unfortunately the “how” of it all is still based on an invite only system. Aside from the handful of users who have already gotten an invite code through a recent OnePlus One forum contest, users will be able to get a chance to “smash” their phone. Dubbed the OnePlus One Phone Smash, the company will select 100 users — at random — to smash their phones and buy the OnePlus One. Doesn’t make sense if you were planning to trade your current phone in to pay for the device, right? That’s why those same 100 people will be able to grab it for a mere dollar. Anyone beyond that will need an invite for now, so you’d better make friends with one of those 100 lucky people as they’ll be the only ones with invite codes to buy the phone at full price. It’s not the most popular system among our readership, but hey — for what you’re getting at the cost you’re paying, there’s little else to complain about.

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Pricing for OnePlus One 16GB and 64GB models may have leaked ahead of tonight’s announcement Wed, 23 Apr 2014 00:59:19 +0000 OnePlus One BabySkin back

Leading all the way up until its launch, the folks at OnePlus haven’t exactly been shy on revealing many of the hardware specs coming bundled inside their upcoming flagship, the OnePlus One. And while CEO Pete Lau has mentioned in the past that their smartphone would definitely be sold for under $400, but we weren’t sure if that meant $350, or was marketing speak for $399.99.\

While that part is still up in the air, the folks at GizmoChina havereceived a leaked screenshot, allegedly showing pricing for both the 16GB and 64GB OnePlus One models. Looks like we could (unofficially) be looking at about $353 for the 16GB model (2199.99 RMB), and $417 for the 64GB version (2,599.99 RMB). Pretty impressive given there sheer amount of hardware being offered for the price. In comparison, the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5 can be found for around $650 off-contract.

OnePlus One price

Of course, we’ll let the OnePlus guys make the final US and European pricing for the phone official and the best part is we wont have to wait much longer. The OnePlus One will be unveiled tonight, at 11:30pm PDT / 2:30am EDT. OnePlus recommends following their Twitter account here, or the live coverage in their forum here for the latest from the event.

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You can now buy a Nest smart thermostat on Google Play Tue, 22 Apr 2014 23:44:37 +0000 Nest Google Play listing

It’s probably not the biggest news of the day, but after Google announced that they’d be acquiring Nest for $3.2 billion back January, the smart thermostats that put Nest on the map are now available for purchase in the Google Play Store. It’s really not surprising, and probably just the tip of the iceberg in Google’s plan for home automation.

We can’t wait to see what becomes of this marriage — which didn’t become officially official until February –  but a new hardware OEM Google now has at their disposal, they’ll either come up with super cool gadgets to help better our lives, or rule over us with their robot army. Only product missing is the Nest Protect, but they still have a few bugs to work out first. You can find the Nest Learning Thermostat for $250. Link provided below.

Buy on Google Play: Nest Learning Thermostat

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Motorola shipped 6.5 million devices during Q1 of this year Tue, 22 Apr 2014 22:40:55 +0000 Motorola Moto X Boot animation DSC00738

Motorola president and COO Rick Osterloh took to Twitter this afternoon to update the world the manufacturer’s progress, and the dent they’re slowly making in the world’s smartphone marketshare. According to Osterloh, Motorola appears to be on the up-and-up, reporting a total of 6.5 million devices shipped in Q1 2014. While that’s nothing to sneeze at, technically, we don’t know how many of those devices were actually sold.

By comparison, Samsung sold over 10 million devices it’s first 30 days with the Galaxy S4, with Samsung’s senior vice president of product strategy Yoo Han-kil mentioning in an interview that the Galaxy S5 sales surpassed even those numbers. For the iPhone 5s/5c, Apple saw 9 million in sales its opening weekend. Why even bring up these numbers? It’s not to knock Motorola. If nothing more, it’s just to help illustrate how insanely far ahead market share leaders like Samsung and Apple are from the competition.

Looking out on the horizon, Motorola is gearing up to release their new smartwatch, the Motorola Moto 360, one of the first of its kinds to feature Google’s new Android Wear mobile OS. There’s also rumors of an LTE equipped Moto G and an even lower-priced Moto E in the works, as well as a refreshed Moto X that’s all but certain to release this summer. Should be a good year for Motorola and we’ll continue pulling for them.

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100 Billion Google searches are done every month Tue, 22 Apr 2014 22:09:34 +0000 At an event for Google Adwords advertisers the company revealed a bombshell statistic: 100 Billion Google searches are done every month.


To put that in perspective: if you gave me a nickle for every time someone did a Google search, I’d be a millionaire in 9 minutes.

That’s about 3.3 billion Google searches each day. There are roughly 7 billion humans on earth. Clearly that’s not enough Google searches per person so the company wants to fly thousands of WiFi balloons around the world so 3rd world countries can get inernet, too. And no… that’s not a a joke.

What’s unclear for the 100 billion stat are the guidelines for what’s considered If I do a google voice search that brings up a google search on my android phone, is that included in the 100 billion? If I’m getting information from Google Now is that considered part of this 100 billion?

The answer: it doesn’t really matter.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 5.15.24 PM

The 100 Billion statistic is a towering number, but when you consider that is just a small part of our relationship with Google, it’s an overwhelming statistic. Consider Google Maps, Google Navigation, GMail, Google Docs, Google Adsense ads seen on sites across the web, Android Phones, Chrome Browsers, and the list goes on and will continue to grow.

When Google first announced Android, they insisted they weren’t trying to create a cash cow of their own, and instead trying to bring the internet to more places so Google’s core services could flourish. Let me refresh your memory: in a 2008 interview a Google Executive flat out told me that there is no monetization strategy for Android.

Their sincerity was questioned but they’ve stuck by that principle, continuing to bring the internet to more places in more ways, looking especially towards opportunities like Google FiberProject Loon, and the Open Automotive Alliance.

Here is an excerpt from the full presentation:

For a couple of years we’ve been talking about the opportunity of mobile and mobile’s importance in your advertising. But today I’d like to tell you that it’s not really about mobile, it’s about consumers. And as consumers, what we really want to do is connect with the people and things that matter the most. Wherever we are, whenever, on any device.

If there’s one thing that you take away from my talk today, it’s this: it’s no longer about devices. It’s about connecting people to the content that they care about whether they’re online, on mobile sites, or in apps.

watch the full event above

Perhaps he should have added, “Or wearing Google Glass, or Android Wear, or watching Android TV, or riding in an Android Car developed by Open Automotive Alliance members.”

This is a theme I anticipate we’ll see pushed heavily at Google IO this year as well. It’s not just about all these different operating systems and platforms and hardware Google has pushed… it’s about improving the entire ecosystem and then unifying the experience under it.

This is something Google has been laying the groundwork for heavily for quite awhile, most recently with Google+ and the single sign on they’ve oh so fluently weaved into our experience across the web. Speaking of which, I absolutely love.

The event where this statistic was revealed focuses on the #1 source of Google revenue: advertisers. The company’s most recent earnings report disappointingly missed analyst expectations. The reason? Growing percentages of users are moving their web habits mobile, where advertising competition is lower and advertisers struggle to deliver measurable and effective campaigns.

This is a problem Google will be scrambling to solve in the upcoming year. Two obvious methods: encouraging advertisers to push downloads of their apps/games and getting advertisers to run ads that send users directly into the app if it’s already downloaded to their device (perhaps targeting them, too).

Over 80% of downloaded apps are used only once and then deleted.*  Lots of businesses are able to get their apps onto a device, but might never see their customer again.  Today we announced a new app re-engagement campaign type in AdWords for both search and display so that consumers can be taken directly into already-installed apps.  For example, if someone has the HotelTonight app installed on their phone and searches for “hotels in San Francisco” on, they can go directly to the specific page in HotelTonight about SF hotels, instead of being taken to the app’s main landing page.

I’m sure we’ll hear a ton more statistics like these come Google IO and start preparing yourself for information overload: me, Steve Albright, and Derek Ross will all be attending Google IO to bring you the most and best coverage possible.

It’s an interesting dance Google is doing and in many ways they’re walking a fine line. On the one side they’re expanding their business to more hardware and platforms yet simultaneously trying to consolidate the user experience. On another side they’re generating ad revenue as a search engine that penalizes scrapers and spammers and ranks content based on quality and relevance yet they simultaneously bypass these publishers by scraping bits of their content and delivering it to uses through Google Now and the Google Knowledge Graph.

Google has a lot of important decisions to make. The company’s astronomical growth looks like it could continue, potentially becoming the most important company of our lifetime. But when you’re the leader in the tech industry and you’re the #1 trail blazer, you’re much more susceptible to making missteps because you’ve got no footprints to follow.

Circle June 24th and 25th on your calendar with magic marker, spray paint, panther’s blood, whatever… and pop into Phandroid to see what revolutionary things Google has lined up as we cover Google IO 2014 live from San Francisco.

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Targeted app install ads coming soon to Google Search and YouTube applications Tue, 22 Apr 2014 21:33:57 +0000 Google Search AdWords Install Ads

Some new changes are headed to both Google Search and YouTube, specifically, the type of ads we’ll start seeing those apps. Announced during Google’s livestreamed AdWords Performance Forum event, Google talked about better ways they can connect businesses to customers through finely tuned ads that target the specific user viewing them. How does Google do this? Well, needless to say, Google knows a lot about you. They take into account purchases you’ve made, Google searches, or even the apps you currently have installed on your device.

Because Google says only about 20% of smartphone users ever reopen an installed application more than once, they’ll now show ads for applications already installed on a user’s device when it applies to a search query. This is different from Google’s “deep linking” initiative we saw introduced last year, in that now it will be integrated with AdWords and doesn’t require developers to add deep linking into their apps.

Deep linking knows not only which apps are installed on your device, but can open a search query inside that application. For instance, if you’re searching for the new X-Men movie, an ad in Google Search might show you the Fandango app already installed on your phone. Clicking open will take you to a pre-order page in that app, where you can buy tickets. Pretty darn convenient and everyone wins when you think about it.

Google AdWords install ad YouTube 1

In addition to Google Search, the YouTube application will also see “install ads” for application arriving on the platform via TrueView. Before a YouTube video starts, you’ll now have to option to skip or install an application from the advertiser, directly from the Google Play Store.

With Google hitting 100 billion searches monthly, it’s clear there’s still a lot money to be made and bringing customers to businesses is what Google does best. Google says these new features will be rolling out over the course of the next few weeks, so be on the look out.

[Inside AdWords | Image credit: TNW]

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40+ Apps for new Android users Tue, 22 Apr 2014 20:07:05 +0000 appsnew

We are hot on the tails of the release of several big-name Android flagship phones. These devices will carry the torch for their respective companies for most of this year. Whenever a new crop of devices gets launched a flood of new users enter the Android world. One of the first things new users will do is search the Google Play Store for apps to download.

If you’re a grizzled veteran Android user you’re well aware of the best apps, but new users have no clue. The Play Store can seem like a giant ocean of choices. Consider this your lifeboat. We have compiled a list of the best apps in a variety of categories for new Android users to download. Some of these choices are obvious, others are a little less well-known. Download these apps and you’ll be off to a great start.


timehop tumblr vine fenix

Fenix, $2.49

If the official Twitter app isn’t good enough for you there are plenty of other options available. One of the best paid Twitter apps is called Fenix. This app is packed with tons of features you won’t find in other Twitter apps. It has real-time updates, clickable links in the timeline to save clicks, awesome conversation layout, multiple account support, and much more.

Vine, Free

The easiest way to create and share quick videos is Vine. With this app you can easily make 6-second videos to share with your social networks. Vine is also has a fun community filled with extremely talented and creative people. Vine works best if you have a Twitter account, but it’s not necessary.

Tumblr, Free

If you are into blogging you have probably heard of Tumblr. This services makes it super easy to set up and use a blog. Think of it like the spawn of Twitter and WordPress. The official Tumblr app is great for checking up on the blogs you follow, and adding posts to your own blogs.

Timehop, Free

This app is a fun way to travel back in time through your social media. Ever wonder what you were tweeting about a year ago? Or what you were doing on Facebook when you first started? With this app you can take a trip down memory lane though almost all of your social networks. It has a beautiful design and is very easy to set up and use.

Obvious Picks: FacebookTwitterSnapchatInstagramGoogle+


ccleaner airdroid astro tasker

Tasker, $2.99

In many ways this can be considered the ultimate Android app. Tasker can do things that apps on other operating systems wish they could do. Simply put, Tasker can automate almost anything for you. You can have texts read aloud when you’re driving, send a text when you leave the office, or even take a photo of someone trying to unlock your phone. The only limit is your imagination.

ASTRO File Manager, Free

Now that you have an Android device you’re going to need a file manager. ASTRO makes accessing your files very simple, and it even integrates with popular cloud storage services. ASTRO is your one stop shop for everything stored on your phone and in the cloud.

CCleaner Beta, Free

One of the best apps available for keeping Windows PCs clean and fast is CCleaner. Recently they released their Android app for beta testing. This app will optimize browser history, application cache and clipboard. Clean call logs and SMS messages individually, in bulk, by age or by contact. Reclaim storage space by quickly removing unwanted applications, and much more.

AirDroid, Free

Ever been at your PC and wished you could access something on your phone? AirDroid does exactly that, and more. With this app you can see your Android device on the web with no USB cables required. Some of the things you can do include send and receive SMS, manage files, view photos and videos, set music as ringtones, and more.

Google Translate, Free

With Google Translate you can communicate with people from other languages in real-time. You can also translate real-world text into your own language just by looking at it through the camera. This is one of the most futuristic and crazy cool apps available. If you are someone who interacts with other languages often you need this app.


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Flipboard, Free

This handy app can curate news for you based on your interests, but also allow you to add your own sources. The best thing about Flipboard is the gorgeous design and beautiful animations. All of the content that you would normally find on the web is displayed like a magazine. Flipboard is one of the best ways to read the news.

Google Play Newsstand, Free

If you’re interested in reading actual magazines on your device Play Newsstand is worth a look. Google has thousands of magazines available for free and subscriptions. On top of that you can also subscribe to your favorite websites. All of your favorite magazines and websites can be read in the same place. It doesn’t get much more handy than that.

Pocket, Free

When you spend a lot of time on the web there is almost too much interesting stuff to read. It can be hard to keep up and remember the stuff you wanted to read later. Pocket is a great service that allows you to save things for a later time. Everything that you add to your Pocket will be waiting for you on your Android device. Read on your own time.

ESPN ScoreCenter, Free

If you’re a sports fan you know how important it is to keep up with the latest scores. ESPN ScoreCenter is the best way to track your favorite games, teams, sports, and events. ScoreCenter boasts a collection of sports that you won’t find in other apps, including the INDY 500, Brazilian soccer, and more. When you need sports coverage go to the sports leader.

Android News by Phandroid, Free

Now that you have an Android device you will want to keep up with Android news. The best way to do that is with our very own app. We cover all the breaking news, review the top devices and apps, and create original content all the time. Our app has an easy to use UI, customization features, and the ability to comment on articles. Don’t miss anything that happens in the Android world.


hangouts whatsapp fbmessenger gvoice

Google Voice, Free

Sick of dealing with your carrier’s over-priced SMS plans, clanky voicemail services, and no cloud support? Enter Google Voice. With this app you get a brand new phone number that you can use to send calls, receive calls, send texts, and listen to voicemails. The best part is that it doesn’t require an SMS plan, and all of your messages and call history can be accessed on the web.

Hangouts, Free

RIP Google Talk, hello Hangouts. This is Google’s own app for instant messaging and SMS. Hangouts allows you to send messages to Google contacts, and also do video and voice calls. If you use this app on a phone you can also make it the default app for sending and receiving SMS messages. It’s very handy if you are constantly switching between SMS and IM.

Facebook Messenger, Free

Everybody is on Facebook. That’s just a fact in today’s world. Facebook Messenger allows you to easily talk with all of your Facebook friends. You can do group chats, send fun stickers, do voice calls, and much more. On Android you can use a feature called “Chat Heads” which will put your conversations in easy to access bubbles on top of other apps. It’s very cool.

WhatsApp, Free

It may not be super popular here in the US, but in the rest of the world WhatsApp is the king of messengers. What makes this app so great is how easy it is to use, and the fact that it’s available on almost every device. WhatsApp uses your mobile number to find friends. After that it simply works. Millions of people around the world use WhatsApp as their only form of communication. Will you join the fun?

Gmail, Free

If you do any amount of emailing, which is probably a lot, you use Gmail. Google’s email service has quickly become one of the most popular on the planet. Google’s own Gmail app for Android is easily he best way to access your account. It has all the features you’ve come to love from the web version, and more. This app comes pre-installed on many devices, so check to see if you have it.


abc crackle hbo netflix

Netflix, Free

If you’re a Netflix subscriber you need the official Android app. With this app you can binge watch all of your favorite shows from anywhere. Netflix for Android also has support for the Chromecast, which allows you to watch it on your big screen TV.

HBO GO. Free

Game of Thrones, Eastbound and Down, Boardwalk Empire, and Veep are just a few of the excellent shows on HBO. If you are a subscriber you need the HBO GO app for Android. Keep up with all your favorite HBO shows from anywhere you can get an internet connection. The only way to avoid spoilers is to stay up to date.

Crackle, Free

Crackle is like Netflix, but all for completely free. Great movies like Pineapple Express and Step Brothers, classic TV shows like Seinfeld, and original content like Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee are all available at Crackle. If you prefer to watch on your TV this app also has support for the Chromecast. TV Networks: ABCCBSHistoryA&ECWShowtime


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Spotify, Free

Spotify has one of the biggest libraries of music available. The Spotify app for Android even has free radio-like streaming, but with a paid subscription you get access to tons of music. You can even listen to albums the same day they get released. For the music lover this is a real bargain and a great app.

Pandora, Free

For the casual music lover there is Pandora. This app has been around forever, and it still rocks. You can stream customized radio stations for free all day long. Stations can be fine tuned with favorite songs, genre, and you can tell it which songs to avoid. If you’re really into it you can even buy a subscription to avoid ads.

Google Play Music, Free

If you already own a lot of music, but don’t want to store it on your phone, Google Music is the perfect app. Google allows users to upload up to 20,000 songs to the cloud for free. These songs can be accessed on the web and anywhere you can install Google Music. Plus, on top of that, you can buy music from the Google Play Store to add to your collection.

Poweramp Music Player, Free

Not everyone is interested in streaming services and cloud storage. Some people just want to play the music they already own. Poweramp is a full-featured music player for Android. It has tons of powerful features, but above all else it plays music in any file type you can throw at it. Which is an often overlooked feature in modern music players.

AirSync: iTunes Sync, $4.99

If you’re a new Android user you may be coming over from an iPhone. If that’s the case you might have a large collection of music in iTunes. How do you get it on your Android device? AirSync makes this process very simple. This app will securely sync your Android device up with your iTunes library on Mac or PC. It can also allow you to AirPlay that music to connected devices.


pixlr cam360 flickr Snapseed

Snapseed, Free

If Instagram doesn’t offer enough filters and effects for you, check out Snapseed. This Google-owned app has tons of amazing features for photo editing. Normally an app like this would cost at least a couple bucks, but remarkably it’s free. Take advantage of their generosity and make your photos look great.

Flickr, Free

The best community for sharing photos is Flickr. This is where professionals share the photos they take. If you are into photography at a high level this is a great app to have. Upload your photos and get feedback from other users. Plus, the app allows you to edit photos right on your Android device.

Camera360, Free

One of the highest rated photography apps in the Play Store is Camera360. This app can replace the stock camera app on your device. It offers tons of features you wouldn’t normally find in a camera app. There is even an in-app store that allows you to purchase more filters and effects. Camera360 is your camera on steroids.

Pixlr Express, Free

Pixlr Express offers many of the same features of other photography apps on this list. The one feature it is used for the most is collages. You can easily take several photos and put them in a beautiful collage. That collage can then be shared to your social network of choice. All of the other filters and effects works great as well.

Vignette, Free

Some Android phones don’t have the best camera software. If you’re looking for a replacement Vignette is an app that has around for a long time, but keeps getting better. Features like retro filters, LOMO and toy camera styles, touch to focus, and easy photo editing make this a great app. Plus, Wil Wheaton is a user, so there’s that.


Phew. That’s a lot of apps. If you download a few of these apps you will be on the right track to having a great experience with Android. If you’re not a new Android user let us know what apps you think new users should download. Together we can make sure new users know what to do.

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HTC Droid DNA receiving Android 4.4.2 KitKat and Sense 5.5 on April 24th Tue, 22 Apr 2014 19:47:38 +0000 HTC Droid DNA Verizon DSC05836

Let’s play a game: how many Android devices can you list that launched back in 2012, and have found themselves updated to Android 4.4.2 KitKat? Not very many. Well, joining that illustrious list this week — on April 24th, to be exact — will be the HTC DROID DNA for Verizon Wireless. HTC’s Executive Director of Product Management revealed the good news on Twitter this afternoon, also adding that Sense 5.5 will come along with the firmware upgrade as well.

Droid DNA owners are breathing a sigh of relief. It’s been a long time coming, and after facing initial delays in getting Android 4.2.2 to the device, HTC remained committed to updating the DNA to KitKat. A testament to HTC’s new commitment to support their flagship devices with major software releases (even if the Droid DNA launched a few months ahead of the One line).

In a time when 720p was still the standard, HTC smashed convention, launching the first phone in the US with a full 1080p display. Some said it was overkill, but my, how time flies. It’s nice to see the DNA still holds a special place in HTC’s heart, just don’t expect any major firmware upgrades from here on out. HTC’s will have done their part, breathing new life into Droid DNA, most likely for the last time.


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You thought Google Glass looked silly? Check out Sony’s latest patent for a head-mounted display Tue, 22 Apr 2014 19:08:52 +0000 Heads-up display units are nothing new. Even before the advent of Google Glass, fitness-focused glasses had displays which fed users information about any relevant vitals they may need, location information, and more.

Sony seems highly interested in the field, and their latest patent gives us an idea of the strange apparatus they’re thinking of using. Patent application 20140104692 describes a head-mounted device with a reflective, transparent surface that would give you a look at the display of something attached to it. Something like, say, your smartphone.

sony head-mounted display patent 1

That’s right, folks — Sony wants you to attach your smartphone to your head and view a reflection of whatever is on its screen. Feel like watching Levar Burton straight out of an episode of Star Trek after looking at that image above? You aren’t alone.

Digging deeper into the patent, they say this solution solves the “problem” of heavy devices with heads-up displays which integrate the components needed to process and project information. More than weight, they say this would also bring a much more affordable head-mounted unit than what’s typically available (because what’s typically available are indeed expensive).

The fact that you’d need to attach a smartphone or some other display device in order to take advantage of the technology seems to cancel that “positive” out. The only way we see this being more beneficial than something like Google Glass or Oakley’s smart glasses is if Sony also sold a lightweight companion device that could serve up the information you need as opposed to using your smartphone.

Sony’s illustrated figures included with the patent application show variations that include front-facing cameras, and a method of tracking your eye movement to determine if you’re attempting to look ahead of you are look at whatever’s on the display. Ideally the display would be dimmed whenever you’re not trying to look at whatever is being projected, and will get more opaque when you do want to view it.

sony head-mounted display patent 5 sony head-mounted display patent 4 sony head-mounted display patent 2 sony head-mounted display patent 3

The patent figures at the USPTO alone are quite silly, and I’m having a tough time imagining how Sony can make this work in a practical way without:

  1. The user looking ridiculously ridiculous
  2. Being less cumbersome or heavy than existing solutions
  3. and potentially causing vision obscurity

For what it’s worth, Sony also briefly illustrated a different version of the unit (illustrated in the gallery sitting above) that looks more like actual an actual pair of glasses. The devices projecting their image in this instance would be side-mounted on each side of your face.

Perhaps none of this is meant for consumers, though. There could be many professional fields where this is more appropriate (for example, a surgeon who needs heads-up access to information about a procedure), but I have a feeling someone can think up a much better solution than this.

And then there’s the possibility that this is just Sony toying around with ideas. After all, the list of patents these companies file for that aren’t actually put to use in a real product or device is outrageously large, and we wouldn’t be surprised to learn Sony eventually decided to tuck this one away into a filing cabinet in the back of a cold, dark room.

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LG G3 screenshots leak again, LG’s fresh new user interface has us drooling Tue, 22 Apr 2014 18:54:19 +0000 lg-g3-android-apps-macro-970x646-c

We honestly weren’t sure we could suffer through another flagship iteration using LG’s stale old user interface. What was good during the age of Ice Cream Sandwich isn’t sitting so well with us anymore, especially after seeing what rival OEMs like HTC and Samsung are bringing to the table. The good news? It looks like LG has finally gotten the hint, and for upcoming LG G3, will be giving their UI a much needed facelift.


Old vs new

The folks at Digital Trends have nabbed some screenshots taken from the upcoming LG G3, confirming once again not only a 1440×2560 resolution display, but a departure from LG’s previous skeuomorphic design. Instead, we find a design much more in tune with what we’re seeing in iOS 7 (round, bright colored settings icons), and a much more flat, minimal icon set. We have to admit, it looks leaps and bounds better than before.


Old vs new

Apparently, a refreshed UI isn’t the only trick LG has up their sleeves for the G3, with a new “Concierge” supposedly in the works as well (because voice controlled personal assistants are all the rage these days). You can see a brief glimpse of their concierge in action in the weather widget, where concierge is recommending the user bring an umbrella. According to sources, other contextual based information will be displayed here, similar to Google Now.


No word on when — or even if — LG will get around to updating their older devices to this new UI. Typically, LG drags their feet when it comes to software updates on older devices, so don’t go holding your breath. We’ll keep you updated.

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Sony SmartWatch 2 update brings tons of new features, new watch faces and more Tue, 22 Apr 2014 18:01:25 +0000 smartwatch 2 update

Sony stood firm on their stance to move forward with their own smartwatch platform instead of going with Android Wear, and they’re making nice on their commitment with a huge software upgrade for the latest model. The new Sony SmartWatch 2 goods come in a very hefty package, but not without reason. Here’s what’s on tap:

  • New watch faces, with the ability to customize them — drag and drop elements using your phone or on the watch itself.
  • Six new wallpapers
  • Caclulator app
  • Improved Gmail and Facebook apps with better syncing. Facebok posts are also scrollable.
  • New setting to enable or disable vibration on Bluetooth connect or disconnect

Sony says things haven’t even started heating up yet, though, with plans to bring even more upgrades down the pipeline. There’s no telling what those upgrades are or how far up the pipeline they are, but history tells us the wait won’t be too unbearable.

The only thing you need to do to get your hands on this one is update the SmartWatch 2 app in the Google Play Store. Head over there to take care of it as soon as you can.

[via Sony]

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Samsung Gear Fit Review Tue, 22 Apr 2014 17:08:58 +0000 galaxy fit hero

The Samsung Gear Fit is part fitness tracker, part smart wearable — a device that has the potential to solve the conundrum of smartwatches that attempt to cram too many features into too small a package. With an attractive design, reasonable price point, and the backing of Samsung’s hit line of Galaxy smartphones, the Fit has all the measurables to finish first. Does its training pay off in a victory? Read on to find out.

Smartwatch design done right

We have had a lot to say about Samsung’s design choices over the past few years. Whether it be the tacky faux-leather of the Galaxy Note 3, the cheap plastic construction of the Galaxy S line, or the clunky aesthetics of the original Galaxy Gear (and to a lesser degree the new line of Gear smartwatches), Samsung has continually missed the mark when it comes to aesthetics. The Gear Fit is a rare exception to the trend.

That isn’t to say the Fit is a marvel of design and engineering. Rather, the Fit borrows from the established look and feel of previous fitness trackers like the FitBit Force, Jawbone UP and Nike FuelBand, mixing in a few tasteful elements that are pure Samsung — remember, “tasteful” is a word not typically found in Samsung’s design dictionary.


What we get is a device that through its design emphasizes its most appealing asset: a 1.84-inch curved AMOLED display. In fact, the Gear Fit represents perhaps the most appropriate use of curved touchscreen technology to date, one that marries form factor with aesthetics in a way that is more useful than the bowed displays of the Samsung Galaxy Round and LG G Flex smartphones that came before it. And, as can be expected from a Samsung AMOLED display, it looks pretty darn great with brilliant, eye-popping color and crisp detail.


The Fit’s greatest asset, however, is also one of its biggest flaws. The unique screen design, which results in an odd resolution of 432 x 128 pixels, presents issues with the way information is displayed and presented on the Fit. The standard readout, which arranges text longways across the screen, is not suited for a quick glance at the wrist while running, cycling, or performing another fitness activity. Likewise, while opting to orient text and other data vertically (done by the flick of a settings parameter) makes it easier to consume at a glance, the display was obviously not optimized for such use. This can result in some odd text wrapping or information that gets cut off at the edges of the screen.

Beyond the display, a minimalist approach also has its drawbacks in other areas. A proprietary charging cradle is necessitated by a lack of ports on the device itself. Instead, the Fit must be charged via a set of five small contact pins on its underside. Compounding the issue is battery life that is good but not great. While two to three days of use on an average charge is solid (though not as good as the battery life of competing devices such as the FitBit), if the need arises to charge the Fit on the go — perhaps while on vacation or at work — you will need to bring along the charging cradle. It’s easy to imagine this small peripheral, essential to keeping the Fit operational, becoming lost.


One nice addition to the fit is a built-in heart rate monitor. The sensor sits on the underside of the the fit and makes contact with the wearer’s wrist, reading heart rate info on command. After using the Fit, such a sensor, though finicky at times, seems like a must-have for any future fitness wearable. It’s use does require that the user stay relatively still and that the Fit maintains good contact with the skin. Better results seem to come from wearing the fit so that the heart rate monitor makes contact with the underside of the wrist.

The Fit offers a degree of water resistance, as well. While it might not be the best device to use for tracking laps in the pool, the Fit won’t sizzle out due to excessive sweat and you won’t have to worry about taking it off before hopping in the shower for a post-workout rinse.

Finally, rounding out the Gear Fit is its adjustable wristband. The rubberized band is comfortable enough and offers a decent range of sizes for the average wearer. Those with slightly thicker wrists might be out of luck, though, as the band does seem to run a bit on the small side of things. The band is easily removable to wash off sweat or swap out for any number of colored options from Samsung.

Fitness tracking that needs to shape up


For a device with the word “fit” in its name, fitness tracking isn’t always the strong suit of the Samsung Gear Fit. Users are presented with three basic options for tracking health and fitness related activities: Pedometer, Exercise, and Sleep. As the names suggest, Pedometer tracks a user’s daily steps, Exercise provides tracking for specific activities like running, cycling, or hiking, and Sleep gathers information related to a user’s sleep patterns. Additionally users have access to a timer and stopwatch, but we’ll focus here on the modes geared toward tracking specific health and fitness data.

The pedometer does a decent job of tracking steps taken throughout the day, though it is not always the most accurate. A daily goal can be set that will congratulate the wearer when they reach a certain number of predefined steps over the course of the day. If there is a drawback to the Fit’s functionality as a pedometer it is the fact that the users must start and stop step tracking manually. The Fit will not automatically track this data as will other fitness trackers.

Likewise, users must do the same for tracking their sleep. Whereas some competing trackers will enter sleep mode automatically when they sense a user has settled down for the night, the Fit requires its wearer to manually start and stop sleep tracking. Seeing as tracking sleep cycles is probably one of the farthest things from most individual’s minds just before falling asleep and after waking, it leaves something to be desired.

As for tracking exercise, the Fit offers modes for walking, running, cycling, and hiking. Each activity provides feedback for more or less the same parameters, which include distance traveled, speed, and heart rate if selected. Once an activity is finished this data will further be crunched to provide more information like average and max speed. In Running mode, the Fit can provide coaching feedback based on heart rate. While this is more information than most basic fitness trackers provide, the modes still seem fairly limited overall.

One thinks back to Motorola’s MOTOACTV, released in 2011, and sees little advantage over  what that since-dsinctonued fitness watch offered three years ago. In fact, that Motorola device included ANT+ support for connecting a variety of sensor peripherals (from heart rate monitors to step counters to cycling cadence meters) that would further add to collected data. The Gear Fit lacks support for ANT+ devices and any of the more robust fitness tracking that comes along with them.


The data collected by the Gear Fit can be fed into Samsung’s S Health app on a connected Galaxy device, but it won’t offer much insight beyond what can be culled from the Fit itself. You get the same information arranged in a more visually appealing manner, but don’t expect the detailed analysis offered by Fitbit’s software and others. This makes it even more perplexing that the Fit cannot be used as a standalone device; it must be connected to a Galaxy handset during initial startup. S Health does offer some additional benefits, such as the tracking of nutrition and diet information entered by the used, and the hope is that Samsung will continue to refine and build on the experience.

The not-so-perfect smartphone companion?

The Gear Fit’s ability to sync with Galaxy smartphones elevates it from simple fitness tracker into the realm of the smartwatch, but here again the experience seems shortsighted. The fit is more a glorified notification ticker than anything else, but it’s hard to say whether this fact — at least as a concept — is necessarily good or bad.


The tendency among smartwatch makers is to try to make a device limited by form do too much. With the Fit, Samsung has stripped back functionality to the bare minimum. You get alerts for missed calls, incoming texts, Facebook likes, and more, but the degree of interaction is relegated to the ability to read a message or other basic information related to a notification. After receiving an alert, there is little a user can do beyond dismissing it.

For the Fit’s design this makes sense. It would be near impossible to type a response to a text; including a microphone, speaker, or headset jack would complicate the device’s simple build. But even in representing notifications in their most basic form the Fit falters, again in no small part thanks to the dimensions of its display. When arranged horizontally information is hard to access at a glance. When arranged vertically text is wrapped in an odd manner.

Beyond this, the Fit offers two other ways to interface with your smartphone. The first is Find My Device, which will trigger the ringer of a lost phone to help the user locate it. The second is Media Controller, which offers playback controls for media stored on a Galaxy device. The crux to this, of course, is the fact that you will still need to carry that Galaxy device in order to enjoy this experience. This isn’t always ideal when taking a run or doing other strenuous fitness activities.

Samsung Gear Fit — The Bottom Line

The Samsung Gear Fit offers a simplified fitness tracker/smartwatch experience that manages to under-deliver without over-promising. By attempting to cram smartwatch functionality into a basic fitness tracker, and, as a result, neither aspect flourishes. In a rare instance for Samsung these days, design is actually the one area where the Gear Fit gets things right with a nice (if at times hampered by its dimensions) curved AMOLED display and solid build.

Should you buy it? For its price of $199, Samsung gives few compelling reasons to choose their device over cheaper alternatives from FitBit, Jawbone, and others that offer more or less the same fitness tracking capabilities. Even if a user wants the device for its direct integration with Galaxy smartphones, the more advanced Gear 2 Neo can be had for the same price.

The Good:

  • Clean, attractive design
  • Sharp and colorful curved AMOLED display
  • Heart rate sensor is a nice addition

The Bad:

  • Display orientation is not ideal
  • Fitness tracking is limited, at times inaccurate
  • No ANT+
  • Smartphone integration leaves something to be desired
  • Better options exist for the same price or cheaper

Overall: 2.5/5

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