The Galaxy S4 may be on its way to selling 20 million units faster than any other Android device, but it’s not without its issues.
One of the major out-of-box problems with Samsung’s new flagship is something users may not notice until it’s too late: of the 16GB advertised storage, only 9.15GB is available to the user. The rest is used for high-resolution assets, system files and other Samsung necessities, all but ensuring that extra expenditure for a microSD slot.
An upcoming software update, rolling out to users in Germany starting today, addresses that issue by harkening back to Android 2.2 Froyo, adding a “Move to SD Card” button in the App Settings menu. The system update also reclaims 800MB or so for users, bringing the default free space to 9.23GB, but having that option to move individual apps to the SD card could be the difference between playing that big-time 3D game or not.
The main issue here is that Samsung seems unapologetic about its misleading advertising, preferring to resurrect a feature that was a security concern to developers and an annoyance to users rather than releasing a high-end phone with enough storage to satisfy the needs of its buyers.
The update to build I9505XXUBMEA also fixes many performance issues present on the release build, including a graphics bug that made the screen appear like it was tearing when the user scrolled through an app.
The camera app adds a new firmware and the ability to take HDR video, a net positive for users trying to eke that extra bit of dynamic range from uncertain lighting conditions. Users can also toggle Smart Pause in the Expanded Settings portion of the notification shade, but we’ve yet to see whether the software improves the feature itself; it was woefully broken when we reviewed the phone.
It may take a few weeks to a couple of months for carriers to roll out this update to users, especially in North America, as it is targeting Qualcomm-enabled GS4′s in Europe at the moment. At 365MB, it’s a significant bump from previous versions, and we hope that Samsung continues to swiftly improve its flagship in the months ahead.
Public Mobile announced today that they’ve been acquired by Toronto-based Thomvest Seed Capital and New York-based private equity firm Cartesian Capital.
Public Mobile invested $52 million during the 2008 wireless and gained the once unwanted G Band spectrum between from Windsor to Quebec City. The carrier defied the odds and launched their wireless service in Toronto and Montreal, giving “value conscious Canadian consumers” unlimited low-cost talk, text and data plans. Over the years they’ve attracted various financing deals from ZTE Corporation, the Export-Import Bank of China, plus were backed by OMERS with a $50 million investment.
The terms of the Thomvest Seed Capital and Cartesian Capital deal were not disclosed, but the press release stated that both companies have “invested the first tranche of a commitment to fully fund Public Mobile to a cash flow positive position, and Thomvest became the company’s controlling shareholder.”
In addition, and probably most important for Public Mobile’s future, is that they’ve declared their participation in the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction in January. This will help them expand their reach, plus position them for future growth and offer a better device selection.
Finally, could Public make a bid for Mobilicity? This line in the presser might be a hint: “In the coming months, the Canadian wireless industry will see consolidation, and an important spectrum auction. Public Mobile is well-positioned to grow in scale by pursuing these consolidation opportunities…”
Public is a private and they’re not obliged to release or announce their subscriber numbers, but at last count they were well above the 200,000 subscriber mark.
New pictures of Nokia’s massive 41MP EOS device, codenamed Elvis, have arrived online once again. Images surfaced yesterday of this PureView 808 successor in Yellow, but there’s now more detailed hi-res images show off this pending device in black and red.
Apart for the mongo bump on the back that houses the 41MP camera with Xenon flash, the EOS is rumoured to have the familiar polycarbonate body of past Lumia devices, a 4.5-inch OLED display with a resolution of 1280×768, wireless charging and 32GB of internal storage.
These pics are early samples of what Nokia is expected to launch next month.
It’s not uncommon to walk along the foggy piers of San Francisco and see millionaires, caretakers of a new economy that is changing our lives every day. These men and women are not celebrity famous, in that they’re not immediately recognizable on a magazine cover or TMZ, but they’re more influential and far more approachable. Financial advisors mingle with Twitter employees and Facebook faithful, and the throngs of endlessly energetic twenty-somethings convene over beers or Americanos less as competitors than compadres.
The products and services created by these creative designers, developers and engineers have far-reaching effects, but in my brief sojourn to San Francisco during Google I/O, I found myself enthralled by a new class of legends: Glassholes.
During the day-one keynote of Google I/O 2012, Sergey Brin and his parachute artists endeared its six thousand-strong audience, and hundreds of thousands of online viewers, to Glass, at the time primarily a technology demo. These flimsy-looking clear monocles looked, at least from afar and through casement, as though they were envisioned by a team of 1960′s film designers postulating on the future of computing. After using Glass for some time, both in its natural state among hundreds of others and back in Toronto courtesy of Bnotions‘ Matthew Patience, who was selected as one of Google’s limited “Glass Explorers,” I’m less convinced that Glass itself is the future of computing than something like it will eventually replace your smartphone.
Whistle has launched for dog owners keen to track and understand their dogs’ habits. Available for $99 pre-order, Whistle attaches to the pup’s collar, collecting relevant data on “walks, play and rest,” that can be synchronized with an iPhone.
If this sounds familiar, it should: Whistle performs similar functions to the human-centric Fitbit Flex and Jawbone UP, keeping tabs on when and for how long your mutt sleeps, walks, runs, plays and runs amok. With the free companion app, Whistle can attempt to make dogs — or, more importantly, dog owners — more active by setting daily activity goals. And because it also monitors sleep, Whistle can provide insight into problem behaviours if activity levels change from day to day.
Perhaps more valuable, Whistle can export daily, weekly and monthly activity/sleep logs to send to a veterinarian or animal hospital. It will be interesting to see whether the format will remain siloed to Whistle itself or if the company will allow a more universal approach to data export. Whistle also keeps a database of breeds and can compare a particular dog’s activity and sleep levels to the wider demographic.
Whistle synchronizes with the company’s servers via WiFi and Bluetooth, so it’s possible to check on a dog’s current status remotely — as long as the module is in view of a signal, of course. With 10-day battery life and Bluetooth 4.0 support, along with shock- and waterproof certification, Whistle should also withstand the elements.
Whistle is available for pre-order for $99 now, and the company promises Android support soon.
Do you use Swype or SwiftKey on your Android? Google wants you to switch away and use their stock Android keyboard. Google Keyboard makes for “smart and easy typing on Android” and is free. This “Nexus typing experience” has similar features to many 3rd-party typing apps as it comes with “Gesture Typing,” automatic error correction, and word prediction. The app works on smartphone and tablets running Android OS 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or higher.
BlackBerry’s popular messaging service – BlackBerry Messenger – is expected to arrive on both Android and iOS sometime this summer. The apps are pending approval from Apple and Google, but it seems that BlackBerry is potentially using a different strategy to populate the masses with BBM. According to a report in CNET, BlackBerry Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear says that “there is interest from other handset makers” to pre-load BBM on their devices.
Tear declined to comment on which manufacturers are interested, but if this idea was to move forward it would certainly increase the adoption rate of BBM, especially in developing countries. When BBM for iOS and Android becomes available the app will be free, but limited to messaging and groups. Then updated “later on” the app will receive and update to include BBM Voice, screen share, and the BBM Channels.
Pre-loading BBM on competing handsets is apparently not a concern to BlackBerry. Tear stated “we don’t feel like that is a risk… Obviously, if we did, we might have acted differently. BBM is a strong platform that provides a different way of communicating.” There’s currently over 60 million BBM subscribers worldwide.
Google’s Talk replacement, Hangouts, has been warmly received by its users and the media, consolidating most disparate aspects of the company’s formerly-confusing messaging platforms.
The Android app has received a small update today, bringing performance improvements and bug fixes for issues relating to double notifications and audio problems on older devices.
Hangouts is also available for the web and iOS, and has strengthened Google’s position in the extremely-competitive messaging market. With BBM coming to Android and iOS later this year, and WhatsApp already accounting for hundreds of millions of instant messaging users, Hangouts is a strong product that needs some improvements.
The lack of integration with SMS/MMS, in addition to no Google Voice support, will be addressed in future releases, says Google.
Download Hangouts for Android.
When Google announced during its I/O keynote a new service for Android developers to launch alpha and beta versions of their apps via Google+, there were more than a few excited faces in the room.
The ability to seamlessly integrate the update experience into Google Play — once the user is signed up to the beta, the new version appears in the same location on the Play Store as the production version — was more than a little enticing.
Falcon Pro, for instance, debuted an entirely new UI in its latest beta, while Fleksy is a brand new keyboard that supports invisible entry and some neat gestures and animations.
These betas are not necessarily meant to be used as daily drivers, though they do overwrite their stable counterparts, so refer to the developer’s specific instructions before opting into the program.
Because devs have the option of limiting the beta testing to a certain number of people, it’s possible that by the time you reach the page it will be full.
New reports, courtesy of CNET, of the next-generation BlackBerry have rushed online today. The report indicates that BlackBerry will be releasing a “higher-quality design” device called the A10. This will be their new flagship BlackBerry 10 smartphone and will sport an all-touchscreen display. CNET noted that “the A10 will occupy the highest tier, moving the Z10 and keyboard-equipped Q10 to the midtier.”
The A10, previously rumoured to have the code name of Aritso, is targeting “to keep up with the likes of the next iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S4.” This is expected to hit the market in November. Rumoured specs of the A10 are that it’ll come with a 4.65-inch Super AMOLED display (1080×1920 resolution), 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor, 3000mAh battery, and 2GB RAM.
BlackBerry declined to comment on the rumour, but Thorsten Heins BlackBerry’s CEO previously stated that “There’s one new product I’m really excited about, but I can’t really share it… It takes BlackBerry 10 to another level in terms of the user experience.”