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Smartphones

Motorola’s ‘Duet’ tells a story as only a smartphone can
November 20, 2014 | 7:41 pm

Screenshot_2014-11-20-18-35-16I was just answering a message on Google Hangouts in my Moto X when I saw a blue stylized figure of a ballet dancer dance across the bottom of the screen. It left a glowing blue circle that I tapped on, and I was presented with a screen that said “Duet”. This puzzled me, as I certainly hadn’t installed anything by that name lately. A quick Google revealed that this was a new animated short from Motorola’s Moto X Spotlight Player. Directed by veteran ex-Disney animator Glen Keane, “Duet” tells the story of a boy and a girl who...

YotaPhone 2 slated to debut soon
November 19, 2014 | 2:19 pm

YotaPhone 2YotaPhone recently tweeted news of a press event in London: "#YotaPhone2 will be presented December 3! We will celebrate with a by-invitation only event in London - stay tuned!" accompanying it with a beautiful picture of this now-almost-mythical device. Now almost mythical because of the sadly protracted release time. "So late!! announced in MWC 2014" complained one respondent, and you can see their point. The design, however elegant, doesn't appear to have moved on much from February this year, but an implementation of a competitive smartphone design with a solid state ereader back is stillcompelling. As Chris Meadows reported earlier, the...

Personal hotspots: Wal-Mart vs. Karma
November 5, 2014 | 6:12 pm

karmaIn March of this year, I took a look at the current options for pay-as-you-go cellular wi-fi hotspots—just the thing for giving wi-fi-only tablets and e-readers connectivity wherever you go. At the time, I switched over from TruConnect to Wal-Mart’s equivalent 3G MiFi, to get away from TruConnect’s $5 per month fee, and was more or less happy with it, as far as it went. But one of the other competitors I mentioned at the time, Karma, is about to change things up, and it looks like it might just be worth trying. A lot of people with smartphones...

Opening the Inbox: Google’s new paradigm for reading email
November 5, 2014 | 5:20 pm

Screenshot_2014-11-05-17-12-58If you’ve heard about Google’s new “Inbox” system for reading GMail, you’re just about to have your chance to request an invitation. Between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern (3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Pacific) today (starting just about 40 minutes from now), Google will send invitations to everyone who requests one. Just send an email to inbox@google.com between 6 and 7 and you’ll get your invitation by 8 p.m. (5 p.m. Pacific). I requested an invitation the day it launched and got it the very next day. I’ve been using it since then, on my PC, tablet, and...

Greenpeace deluges Amazon Fire Phone with one-star protest reviews
October 3, 2014 | 5:56 pm

greenpeaceWow, everyone’s piling onto Amazon these days. The latest fight Amazon’s picked with someone (or vice versa) is with, of all organizations, Greenpeace. Seeking Alpha reports that the environmental organization is upset Amazon hasn’t committed to moving to 100% green energy for its data centers the way other big data users like Google, Apple, and Facebook have. Even Yahoo and Microsoft have been making improvements, but Amazon hasn’t seen the need. So, Greenpeace decided to stage a protest. And since Amazon doesn’t have any ships they can row dinghies in front of or send scuba divers to sabotage, they...

Switch from iOS to Android on my phone (Part 2)
September 10, 2014 | 12:25 pm

ios to androidIn Part 1, I talked about why I decided to make the switch from iOS to Android. Now let me talk about the experience and whether I have any regrets. As I said in the first part, I still think iOS is a good operating system. However, for my phone, I now prefer Android, even though the experience hasn't always been smooth. Let me talk for a moment about the HTC One M8 (which really needs a better name).  So far, it's a great phone. Battery life has been excellent. I've only charged during the day once, and that was because I...

Switch from iOS to Android on my phone (Part 1)
September 9, 2014 | 1:09 pm

switch from ios to androidAnyone think it's ironic that I'm writing this while waiting for the iPhone 6 event to start? I was probably crazy to switch from an iPhone 4S to an HTC One M8 just a few weeks before the launch of the iPhone 6, but I did it for a reason. I've been wanting to make the switch from iOS to Android on my phone for months now, but I was afraid if I waited for the iPhone 6 launch, I'd cave and get another iPhone. This way I'm "stuck" for 18 months. So far, I'm okay with that. I thought a couple...

xkcd explains why texting is good for writing skills
August 29, 2014 | 7:18 am

Origin 8292014 70958 AM.bmpRandall Munroe, Hugo-winning webcomic artist of xkcd, has hit the nail on the head with another keen observation about our mobile lifestyle. The xkcd character Cueball is not surprised when his friend observes that SMS texting is actually good for spelling and grammar. Practice, he explains in the rest of the strip, makes perfect. (The text does contain an F-bomb, but it’s an F-bomb that was dropped by James Joyce.) Be sure and pay attention to the alt-text that comes up when you mouse over the comic. In an odd juxtaposition, this came just a few minutes after I...

Mobile game Ingress has implications straight out of science-fiction
August 26, 2014 | 7:11 pm

braceletSo, this past weekend I took part in my first ever “Anomaly,” a big local event for players of the Ingress game (which I wrote about for Answers here) by Niantic Labs, a subsidiary of Google. In these events, players in certain towns gather together and fight over specific virtual bits of real territory, needing to hold as much of it as they can at specific time points when the score is counted. It was a great deal of fun, and very involved. The Resistance (the faction I play) is very well-organized around these parts. We met at 10:30...

Smartphone shipments hit 300 million says IDC
August 15, 2014 | 6:12 pm

IDC_logoThe latest figures in the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker show the global smartphone market hitting a new record high, with a sharp hike on last year's figures. According to the data, "vendors shipped a total of 301.3 million smartphones worldwide in 2Q14, up 25.3 percent from the 240.5 million units shipped in the second quarter of 2013" - the first time shipments have risen over 300 million. This comes from the same research house that a short time ago noted a decline in tablet shipments amid an explosion in the popularity of phablets. Judging from these...

Yota Devices moving from Russia to Canada
August 10, 2014 | 2:56 pm

According to a report in Canada's Financial Post, Yota Devices, the makers of router equipment and the very interesting Yotaphone, is relocating from its original home base in Moscow to either Toronto or Waterloo, Ontario. The decision is unrelated to the current political climate in and regarding Russia, according to the article, but is prompted partly by the desire to tap the talent pool of current and former BlackBerry engineers in Canada. The Yotaphone attracted attention before because of its eink back display, which is designed to combine with its front-facing LCD to provide a complete hybrid smartphone/ereader experience. So far,...

Smartphone size no obstacle to long reading
August 5, 2014 | 8:45 am

Hey, guess what? People read on their smartphones. That’s the thrust of a piece in Wired that talks about how the smartphone has been a godsend for long-form written journalism. Where people used to read their newspapers on the subway, now they read their smartphones—and despite the predictions of those who said such devices would destroy our attention span, the evidence is pretty good that smartphone users are able to concentrate enough to read articles thousands of words long in one go. The Atlantic recently reported that a gorgeously illustrated 6,200-word story on BuzzFeed—which likewise...