Android

What it’s like to use the Samsung Galaxy Gear, Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Gear

Samsung Galaxy Gear

If the mammoth-sized Samsung Galaxy Mega is a tad to big, but the HTC One is a pinch too small, what smartphone should you be using?

Then, one can’t help but wonder if, amongst all the gadgets we carry around, if a watch is really relevant.

After all, we don’t need to have the time on our wrists. We could just look up the time on our smartphone, right?

Samsung is launching the Galaxy Gear as the company’s first major foray into wearable technology, just as Google has pushed ahead with the Google Glass wearable glasses.

Almost as many apps exist for Google Glass as there are subways in Calgary. But the whole concept is as fascinating as man’s first walk on the moon.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear is a gorgeous smartwatch you sync with your phone. On it, you can receive email and social media alerts in real time.

You can also use the watch to snap photos using the built-in camera in the wristband. The images are transferred almost instantly to a smartphone.

Then there’s a microphone no the bottom of the wristband, which lets you use the voice activation feature. It works so well, executives could likely the cost savings available as a real voice.

Not all is great in Android land.

The Galaxy Mega is still large, and it still needs to be cradled up in order to charge and show it’s full potential on the home heating and air conditioning unit.

Alleged Rob Ford crack video prompts video game

Stay_mayor_rob_fordToronto’s embattled mayor appears to have been the inspiration behind a new video game.

The game, Stay Mayor, doesn’t specifically say it’s about Rob Ford, but just check out the plot line and decide for yourself.

Users play the role of a mayor who must avoid the “Blood Thirsty Media” to buy an alleged video of him smoking crack. Only the Toronto Star and Gawker are reporting that they have seen such a video.

Note: We haven’t seen the video – and we can verify if it’s even authentic.

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Sub- $100 Android tablets could be coming this year

6a00e54f916452883401901d5beb5e970b-320wiWhile Asus just announced a small Android tablet that will sell for a little over $100, there are reports that we could see tablets sell for under the triple-digit point later this year.

Unveiled last week, the new Asus MeMo Pad HD 7 – obviously with a 7-inch screen – will sell for $129 in the U.S.

The specs aren’t record-setting, but they’re actually quite respectable.

The base version will have 8 GB of on-board storage space, a quad-core processor only a front-facing camera for video calling.

Expandable memory via a microSD slot, along with no rear-facing camera, means Asus can keep this thing cheap – yet the fast processor makes it cheerfully fast.

Besides – who uses their tablet to take photos? And cloud storage is the way to go, these days.

So this raises the question – what will it take before tablets sell for less than a hundred?

DigiTimes is reporting that 7-inch tablets may sell for less than $100 in the third quarter of this year.

Citing forecasts from manufacturers, they seem to think the smaller tablet market will grow as the price sinks.

Do you think we’ll see sub-$100 7-inch Android tablets? Could you live without a rear-facing camera?

WeVideo app easily edits video on Android

The video editing app WeVideo is almost like an Android version of iMovie.

The app starts off by letting you add and remove videos to a production. It’s as easy as dragging and dropping clips from your phone’s collection to a timeline. Don’t like a clip? Drag it out.

Then, edit your clips by using the Trim tool to get the cuts of the shots you do – or don’t – want to use. You can also adjust the audio levels. Both controls are with handy sliders.

Add a title to the start of your video, and customize how long it shows up for.

After the core editing is done, apply an Instagram-like filter to punch up the artistic qualities of your video. There’s a fairly broad selection, from Bold Distinct to the fun ‘Confetti’ option. The first option will add some lens vignetting and will amp up the contrast. The latter option will make everything seem fun, fluffy and bright.

Once your video is done, you can share it to an array of social networks, including Facebook, Videmo, Youtube and WeVideo.

Voice-to-text apps don’t make driving safer: study

Siri_imageDictating a text message or email to your phone with Siri or Vlingo isn’t really safe at all, a new study has found.

Research by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute has found that there’s actually no “real” safety advantage to using voice-to-text apps versus traditional thumb-intensive texting.

The study put 43 people in cars and asked them to send messages while driving on a closed course.

Several provinces in Canada have banned motorists from using handheld devices such as cellphones behind the wheel.

But as drivers use an iPhone’s Siri or Vlingo on Android to dictate commands and messages, they’re putting themselves and others on the road at just as much risk of getting into a crash.

Regardless of how they were using their phone, drivers sending a message using their thumbs or their voices took twice as long to react to road hazards, such as impending crashes and roadside objects, versus those not using their phones at all. The distracted drivers also spent less time looking at the road.

The study also found that drivers felt safer using voice-to-text apps compared to those manually typing out messages, but both were just as bad for their safety.

The dangers of physically texting while driving are well documented. Recently, the family of a Colorado teen released a picture of his phone – which shows he was sending a text before fatally crashing his car.

Do you find it hard to resist the urge to respond to a text message or email while driving?

Will users ‘Like’ Facebook’s new Home?

facebook_homeFacebook announced a new, major product called Home this week – and a partnership with HTC to sell phones with deep Facebook integration.

Those who spend every moment on their phone stalking friends on Facebook and Instagram will have reason to rejoice. But if your life doesn’t revolve around Poking and Liking, you might feel like you’re stuck in a fish tank.

The new Home ‘app’ essentially replaces the Android home screen with Facebook, bringing photo-centric status updates to your home screen.

You can also write status updates, upload photos and share links from Home.

When it comes to apps, Facebook has hidden them behind another menu. It’s all part of a move to get people spending more time in Facebook, or as the company says, more time connecting with people rather than apps.

On the topic of connecting with people, Facebook Home will also include a feature called Chat Heads. This is a way of receiving text message and Facebook message notifications from your friends, with little profile icons popping up in the top-right corner of your screen, no matter which app you’re in.

In all honesty, Home looks like it’ll be a great home for social media addicts who thrive off photos of their friends’ meals and duck faces.

But for anyone who uses their phone to get stuff done, burying apps beyond the Home interface is going to create a layer of disconnect with the apps that have made smartphones so successful.

It’s almost as if Facebook is giving everyone the chance to drink nothing but black coffee, unless they push through the crowd and ask for milk and sugar.

For some, there’s nothing wrong with that. But not everyone takes their coffee the same way.

What do you think of Facebook home?

Three reasons the HTC One is the best Android phone now

HTC One

HTC One

HTC is struggling in the smartphone market, a problem that shows as the company reporteda 98 per cent dip in profit during the first quarter.

It’s a shame, really, because the company’s plunging profits shouldn’t be grabbing headlines. That’s the way it seems after spending some time with their new flagship handset, the HTC One.

It’s an awesome phone that – coupled with the right marketing – can help turn around HTC’s fortunes and put a smile on your face.

Maybe it’s the supermodel-gorgeous design or the impressive camera, but the One is the best phone on the market right now. Here’s why.

Design

The back of the phone is cusped in machined aluminum, a piece that comprises the unibody construction of this phone.

It’s so sturdy that you might consider ditching the hammer in your toolbox with this phone. Need to hammer in a nail for a picture frame? The HTC One is probably sturdy enough to get the job done.

That being said, it’s too beautiful to actually use for that purpose. So don’t.

And because it’s so sturdy, you might not even want to wrap this phone in a case. Doing so would be like wrapping Mila Kunis in a parka for a dinner date.

While the HTC One is on the heavier side and the power button is a bit of a stretch across the 4.7-inch screen, some prefer their technology to feel like it’s worth something.

Camera

It seems HTC didn’t get the memo when it comes to building phones with a gazillion megapixels.

Inside the HTC One is what they’re calling an ‘UltraPixel’ image sensor. It’s more than twice the size of the 13-megapixel image sensors winding up in today’s phones, but it’s 300 per cent more sensitive to light.

The result is photos that capture shadows and highlights with colour reproduction as balanced as a Nik Wallenda on a high wire.

Images aren’t quite as razor sharp as what you’d see from the iPhone 5 in low light situations, but the One does a better job in dark places.

HTC Zoe is also a new feature that lets you capture 30-second videos that can be turned into photos, letting you select the right moment to produce a still picture.

Sound

Bookending the Gorilla Glass are two forward-facing speakers. Whether you’re cranking up a song, or watching YouTube video, these speakers help the HTC One pump out pounding audio in…stereo.

Yes, this phone does feature Beats Audio (which also improves the sound of anything travelling through the headphone jack). I was skeptical of this super-marketed audio feature at first, but it’s really grown on me.

So there you have it – three reasons why the HTC One stands out. There’s more to talk about, such as the quad-core processor and the high-resolution screen. But the three features outlined above are the ones to watch out for.

New Google Chromebooks have Canadian connection, now available here

Samsung's Google Chromebook is now for sale in Canada.

Samsung’s Google Chromebook is now for sale in Canada.

Google announced that its Chromebooks are now finally available in Canada – and there’s a Canadian connection to the device’s development.

Chromebooks are relatively affordable laptops that run the Chrome operating system – a beefed up environment of Google’s popular web browser.

When you think about it, almost everything you do on a computer these days is…on the web. From checking your email to stalking friends on Facebook, a web browser seems like the perfect portal.

So the Chromebook is essentially a laptop that connects to the Internet and lets you surf the web. That doesn’t sound impressive, but then consider the price tag.

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Samsung’s Galaxy S4 shines with specs, takes aim at BB10

samsung_galaxy_s_4Samsung unveiled its new smartphone, the Galaxy S4, at a major event in New York City complete with dancers, actors and an orchestra. But behind the glitz and glamour, is the phone any good?

On paper, the new Android phone has features that help it stand out from the competition. But some might be questioning the theatrics.

Let’s try forgetting about the cheesy acting for a minute and dive into the confirmed features.

The phone will sport a massive 5-inch Super AMOLED screen with an intense pixel density of 441 – compared to the iPhone 5’s 326 ppi.

With such a big screen, it’s a few millimetres heavier than Apple’s latest phone, and a few grams heavier.

What sets the GS4 apart from other Android devices? There are a lot out there…

For starters, Samsung has fitted a barrage of sensors, including a barometer to help monitor your health.

Something that I’m particularly excited about is infrared sensor-powered Air View, which can be used to sense when your finger gets close to the screen but doesn’t actually touch it.

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Google offering discounts to celebrate Play store’s birthday

Google’s app and media marketplace is celebrating its first birthday – and the tech giant is offering several deals to mark the occasion.

And, they’ve released some numbers that hint at how successful their Android mobile ecosystem has become.

Google Play is the company’s equivalent to Apple’s popular App Store – both offer apps (obviously), magazines, movies, books, TV shows, etc.

I’ll get to the types of discounts in a moment, but first: just how popular is Android?

Very popular, the numbers suggest.

 There are more than 700,000 apps in the Google Play store, collectively leading to 25 billion app downloads.

Google says more than 500 million Android devices have been activated around the world, and 1.3 million are activated each day.

The birthday was March 6, but that isn’t stopping Google from offering you some deals in the Google Play marketplace.

For example, Google is offering 99 cent movie rentals and 50 per cent off certain magazine subscriptions.

With more exciting Android devices coming down the pipe – such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 – it’s likely that these numbers will only go up as Android gets in the hands of more people.

Do you have – or want – an Android phone? What do you think of it and the apps?

 

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