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Smartphones

Republic Wireless offers affordable hybrid VOIP/cell smartphone service
April 18, 2014 | 3:06 am

20140418_003539_HDRI’d previously mentioned switching to an Android smartphone with Virgin Mobile, and enjoying it as far as it went. However, lately my Virgin Mobile phone went belly-up. I’d already promised myself that when I got my new full-time job I would be switching to Republic Wireless, so this was a good opportunity. I’ve only had my new Motorola Moto X for a day or so, but I’m already pretty pleased with the phone and the service so far. If you’ve never heard of Republic Wireless, it’s a small no-contract smartphone startup based on a clever idea. If you’re like...

Photos of Amazon 3D, 6-camera smartphone prototype surface
April 15, 2014 | 2:44 pm

bgr-a-phone-1-500x231There goes Amazon, changing the game again. I’ve noticed that when Amazon introduces its own spin on an already-established device, it likes to add some new and different feature from right out of left field to distinguish itself from the competition. With e-readers, it was the free 3G service to let people buy e-books and check their mail from anywhere. With the Fire TV it was the extensive gaming focus and voice search. Now, with Amazon’s impending smartphone, it appears to be six cameras and a 3D display. The Boy Genius Report has exclusive photos and more information about...

For Jeff Bezos, customer convenience is king
April 6, 2014 | 3:11 pm

Forbes has another profile of Jeff Bezos. Seems we’ve been seeing those a lot lately, what with that recent book on the man. This one looks particularly at Bezos’s intense focus on customer satisfaction. Actually, “satisfaction” doesn’t seem to go quite far enough, because “satisfaction” implies a middle-of-the-scale response. Bezos wants the customer wowed. He wants to make everything as convenient as possible, even to the point of shaving fractions of a second from page load times. That kind of obsession might be easy to make fun of, but give the man his due: he’s running a multi-billion dollar corporation that...

Amazon waves magic wand, creates Amazon Dash for instant Amazon Fresh shopping
April 4, 2014 | 8:05 pm

amazondashAs many successful products and services as Amazon has launched over the last few years, sometimes it seems like Jeff Bezos must have a magic wand. It turns out, in fact, that he does, and now he’s making it available to select Amazon Fresh customers, too. Gizmodo has the word about the new “Amazon Dash,” a wand-shaped device that incorporates a bar code scanner and a microphone with speech recognition (undoubtedly the same speech recognition as Amazon just introduced in the Amazon Fire TV), along with WiFi connectivity, to allow people to add things to their Amazon Fresh grocery...

BlackBerry gets injunction against Typo keyboard; plans to refocus on keyboard phones for business
March 29, 2014 | 8:02 am

Here’s an update concerning BlackBerry’s suit against the Typo keyboard, a Bluetooth thumbboard add-on for iPhones (backed by Hollywood’s Ryan Seacrest!) that hewed a little too closely to Blackberry’s own patented keyboard design. Opining that BlackBerry was likely to succeed in the overall trial, a federal judge issued an injunction halting sales of the Typo keyboard case. Meanwhile, BlackBerry has announced it plans to create more keyboard-equipped phones. Given the recent setbacks of its touchscreen devices, and the disappearance of Palm, the only other major smartphone brand to place such a premium on a physical keyboard, it seems BlackBerry...

Pre-paid WiFi roundup: TruConnect, Wal-Mart, Karma
March 21, 2014 | 11:49 am

A while back I talked about the TruConnect Mi-Fi portable WiFi hotspot I had purchased. It’s time for an update, and discussion of a couple of reasonable prepaid Wi-Fi alternatives. First of all, I still use the TruConnect MiFi. In fact, I’m on my second one now. The first one stopped working after I dropped it; I bought a replacement and kept the battery from the old one, which means I now have access to twice the battery life, even before plugging in the three different battery backups I now have—bonus! I don’t use it as...

Ashton Kutcher to help develop mobile devices for Lenovo
March 1, 2014 | 3:44 am

kutcher_lenovoAshton Kutcher is taking his resemblance to Steve Jobs to a whole new level. Re/code reports that Lenovo has hired Kutcher on as a user interface engineer for its new tablet and smartphone products. Lenovo is buying Motorola from Google to beef up its mobile device chops, so it stands to reason they’d want a little extra help. The partnership isn’t actually as silly as it sounds. Kutcher did study biochemical engineering before getting into acting. While you can’t call a mobile device “biochemical,” to some extent the engineering skills will still carry over. And hey, if Ryan Seacrest...

Google continues working on Ara modular smartphone project
February 27, 2014 | 11:42 am

arabackGoogle might have sold Motorola, but it turns out it hung onto the part of the company that’s been working on its Project Ara modular smartphone design. Time has an extensive feature about the project: turns out that Google is looking at creating a bare-bones design that would sell for as little as $50 for the base unit—possibly something that could be sold in convenience stores, much like pre-paid phones are now. The base unit would be little more than a screen, a frame, and a wi-fi radio; about like a low-end iPod Touch I suppose. You’d have to...

New Nielsen report shows smartphones changing lives
February 26, 2014 | 6:47 pm

A timely new analysis from Nielsen provides some context that justifies all the smartphone releases around Mobile World Congress 2014. Because, it seems, "smartphones are beginning to transform how we engage in our everyday lives." Based on data collected "from markets including the U.S., U.K., Italy, Japan, and around the globe," via Nielsen's opt-in phone monitoring meters, the report concludes that "not only is smartphone penetration growing, with over two-thirds (67%) of mobile subscribers in the U.S. owning smartphones in Q4 2013, but consumer usage of phones is rapidly shifting toward increased screen time with entertainment and social media." Also, critically, "time spent using...

Nokia gets assimilated to Android: Resistance is futile
February 24, 2014 | 12:00 pm

One of the most interesting single pieces of news to come out of the Mobile World Congress 2014is the announcement that Nokia has thrown itself under the wheels of the Android juggernaut by rolling out its own line of Android-powered smartphones in the form of Nokia X, "a family of smartphones that run Android(TM) apps, Microsoft services and signature Nokia experiences," just before new acquirer Microsoft is due to pick it up. Announced under the somewhat disingenuous headline "Nokia connects the next billion with affordable smartphones," Nokia's announcement details both the individual phones to be brought to market under the new...

MWC2014 announcements look likely to extend smartphone lead
February 24, 2014 | 10:58 am

The series of product announcements from smartphone manufacturers coming from and around Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona look likely to push smartphone penetration even further across all markets and price points, and to make smartphones more attractive and affordable than ever before as ereading platforms. Manufacturers seem to be queuing up to offer larger screens with higher resolutions at lower prices. Typical of these announcements, Lenovo, has announced a new series of smartphones, the S series, which "start at $349, $269 and $229, respectively." In this series, the S860 has "a large 5.3-inch HD screen," the S850 has "a large...

Smartphones replace entire Radio Shack advertisement worth of gadgets
February 15, 2014 | 1:10 pm

radioshackadJust to show how far we’ve come in the last twenty-three years, a blogger recently came across a full-page Radio Shack newspaper ad from 1991, and noticed that all except two items on the ad have now been superseded by his iPhone. While a few of his comparisons are a little iffy (for example, the iPhone could be said to replace a CB radio inasmuch as you can chat with people on the go, but it doesn’t let you chat on CB radio on the go; and not everyone uses their phone as their full-time computer) most of them...