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Smartphones

Zombies, Run! and The Walk cross a pedometer with audiobooks
July 13, 2014 | 2:35 pm

Screenshot_2014-07-13-14-28-56Mobile technology is really bringing about some interesting new forms of gaming, isn’t it? Lately I’ve been experimenting with an Android/iOS smartphone game called “Zombies, Run!” while I play Ingress. I had heard from friends that it was a pretty good game, and after finding out that it worked just as well on a bicycle as on foot, I decided to give it a shot. The premise of Zombies, Run! is that you’re “Runner 5,” a rather quiet military operative sent in to help a small settlement called Able Township by running missions to fetch supplies, deliver messages, and...

Amazon gives away 30 free Android apps June 27, 28
June 27, 2014 | 3:36 pm

If you’ve got an Android tablet and are looking for something fun to put on it, don’t miss this Amazon giveaway. Instead of just one app, today Amazon’s giving away thirty with a combined total value of over $100. And these aren’t some random apps you’ve never heard of, either. Gizmodo has a rundown of some of the better ones.  The list includes the Plex media streamer, AccuWeather Platinum (a great weather app, which I personally used myself already), Notepad+, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and more. Most of them will work with any Android tablet, as long as you’ve...

Android One means more low-cost smartphones for e-reading
June 26, 2014 | 10:25 am

androidone5-600x400Fans of dirt-cheap e-reading devices - and who isn't? - will be gladdened by one of the many announcements to come out of the Google I/O 2014 development conference, still under way in San Francisco. There, Google Android supremo Sundar Pichai introduced Android One, a new reference platform designed to bring an almost-full Android experience to users in emerging markets, with a sub-$100 price tag. According to the official Google Blog: There are many people—billions of people, in fact—who still don’t have access to a smartphone. We want to change that; so today we announced an important initiative called Android One....

Aereo loses, cell phone privacy wins at Supreme Court today
June 25, 2014 | 11:22 am

A pair of important Supreme Court decisions came down today—one disappointing and one critically important to anyone who uses mobile devices. The disappointing one is a 6-3 decision killing Aereo. The service that used dedicated individual miniature antennas to stream broadcast TV service to people’s computers over the Internet has been ruled to appear too much like a cable company, even as it scrupulously followed the letter of existing case law (while nonetheless skirting its spirit). Aereo could try to license content from the networks going forward, but would have to pass the costs on to consumers—and as Gizmodo...

Why fear Firefly when you can go with the Flow?
June 19, 2014 | 2:37 pm

fireflyNo, not that Firefly. Various sites are referring to the Amazon Fire Phone’s “Firefly” image recognizer as a “built-in showrooming tool.” Which I suppose it is, when you get right down to it. But it’s not as if it’s that much harder for folks to install a “showrooming tool” of their own, such as QR Droid, or even Amazon’s own “Flow” showrooming tool, on the phones they already have. In fact, having just tried “Flow” out for the first time, I can safely say it basically is Firefly (or, at least, the subset of what Firefly does...

Portuguese app store Aptoide files anti-trust accusation against Google for bundling Play Store
June 18, 2014 | 5:37 pm

aptoideGigaom (and our sister blog TechnologyTell) reports that a Portuguese Android app store, Aptoide, has filed an anti-trust complaint against Google to the European Commission. This isn’t the first such complaint Google’s gotten in Europe, either. Aptoide complains that Google’s Play store won’t permit fully-functional third-party app stores on board (which is to say, apps that let you download other apps from outside Google), that Google has been making it harder and harder for people to find the setting necessary to allow installation of third-party apps, that the Google Play store is bundled with Google’s services and required to...

Amazon’s Fire Phone is the smartphone for people who love Amazon
June 18, 2014 | 3:40 pm

amazon_phone-1200-80Well, the Amazon launch event just wrapped, and there are articles covering all the details all over the place. (Here’s a good one at Ars Technica plus our own Juli Monroe wrote one.) The Amazon Fire Phone (what a creative and original name!) is pretty much as expected from all the rumors. It has decent specs (quad-core 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800 CPU, Adreno 330 GPU, 2 GB RAM; 4.7” IPS Gorilla Glass 1280x720 display) four head-tracking cameras for lenticular 3D effects, a 13 megapixel image-stabilized rear facing camera, and a few other neat gizmos like that. It does have...

Amazon to partner with AT&T for its smartphone service, sources say
June 17, 2014 | 9:09 am

An iconoclastic company introduces a new cell phone, and announces it will be available exclusively through AT&T. Anyone feel like it’s 2007 again? The Wall Street Journal reports (paywalled; google the headline to get the full article) that anonymous sources have revealed Amazon’s new smartphone, to be announced tomorrow, will be available exclusively through AT&T. AT&T is already the service provider for Kindle tablets and e-readers, so it’s not exactly a surprise. It’s amusing that Amazon is taking a page from its rival Apple’s book, with Apple’s very own former dance partner yet. I suppose AT&T’s been hurting a...

Ars Technica exhaustively documents all Android versions
June 16, 2014 | 2:37 am

its-been-quite-a-journey1-980x439In the interest of documenting it for the historical record, Ars Technica has just posted an immense 40,000-word retrospective on all versions of Android to date, with as many screen shots and as much information as they can gather. It’s possibly the biggest article I’ve seen on their site, at 26 separate pages; Ars Technica premier subscribers can view it in single page form on the site or download a PDF. Those folks who don’t pay for a subscription may want to use an aggregator like Instapaper to view it in a more manageable form. It might even...

Amazon could ‘attack’ Android…but why would it want to?
June 15, 2014 | 3:48 pm

So, investment tea-leaf-reading site Seeking Alpha has a piece by Panabee Research on ways that Amazon could “attack” Android with its new device, presumably a smartphone, it will be announcing this week. Noting that Amazon has historically sold its hardware devices at close to their wholesale cost and made most of its money from content sales, Panabee believes Amazon should go with “a volume strategy and an attack on Android.” Because Android is so fragmented, Amazon doesn’t require a large market share in order to “threaten Android and present a compelling alternative to developers.” The article goes on to...

Latest Kantar data shows smartphone big boys struggling in Europe
May 27, 2014 | 5:25 pm

Samsung-Galaxy-Note-IIIjpg_thumb.jpgThe latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, covering the three months until April 2014, shows that international leading brands, from Apple to Samsung, are facing attrition from smaller newcomers who are picking away at their market share. Alongside comeback stories from the likes of Motorola are significant successes by companies like China's Huawei, which saw its sales rise 123 percent in the five most significant European markets (the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain) over the past year. "Across Europe there is an accelerating trend of fragmentation in the handset market as smaller brands gain real traction," said Dominic...

Phablet use distinct from smartphones and tablets
May 23, 2014 | 10:25 am

0298_what_is_phablet_768x432_mainI saw this article on re/code about phablet use, and none of is seemed surprising to me. I also didn't agree with all of it. Check the page URL for the article: phablets aren't just eating tablets' lunch, they're changing behavior (which wasn't the same as the article headline--interesting). Do remember that this is the same site that published an article on how our love affair with tablets is over. Okay, let's step back a moment. The data on phablet use was interesting. Social networking was more than 50% of the usage, which didn't surprise me. My iPhone 4S is a bit...