This is just for looks and will not officially be coming to Canada. Samsung and Swarovski have teamed up to launch the “Crystal Collection” of the flagship Galaxy S5. From looking at the 13-second teaser video it seems the GS5 is generally the same and what is already available to the masses, but the back cover has been fully engulfed with Swarovski crystals. This flashy and encrusted gem will be available in Korea this coming May.
It’s no accident that no Nexus devices since the Nexus One have included microSD cards. Google has been slowly chipping away at the usefulness (and viability) of using external storage within Android, both as a means to increase security, and a way to improve user experience.
With the two latest and great Android devices in the Galaxy S5 and One M8 including microSD slots — the former a given, the latter a surprise — we have come to a tipping point in the life of SD cards on the platform.
Today, most high-end Android devices come standard with either 32GB of internal storage standard, or offer secondary (and often prohibitively expensive) options for more internal storage. This is a good thing: recently Android versions, plus OEM and carrier pre-installs, often take up 5GB, reducing a user’s usable space out of the box from 16GB to around 11GB. Samsung was most famously guilty of this in last year’s GS4, and prompted a backlash from users complaining they weren’t getting what they paid for.
Leaving behind for a moment the reality that 16 million bits is not actually 16 gigaBYTES of space — and that hard drive manufacturers have been guilty of this deception for years — should Android’s microSD support die once and for all?
Sony has debuted its standalone Background Defocus app in the Play Store ahead of the release of the Xperia Z2.
The company has been recently decoupling many of its core apps, from camera features to its own keyboard, in a quest to make updates faster and more seamless. Background Defocus is, like Nokia’s Refocus, a single function application that allows users to take a photo and add a background blur. A feature currently in vogue, the HTC One enables this at the hardware level, capturing two photos simultaneously, while the Samsung Galaxy S5′s Selective Focus feature takes multiple photos to determine the placement of an object in space.
Recently, Google released a standalone Camera app for all Android devices running KitKat or above, featuring a similar technology called Lens Blur. While it appears that Sony’s Background Defocus app is a little more granular — you can adjust background blur on a sliding scale, rather than tapping on a part of the photo like in other apps — its presence is no longer as interesting as it sounded when the app debuted alongside the Xperia Z1s at CES.
The good news is that Background Defocus will work with any Xperia device running Android 4.3 or higher, which comprises a good chunk of its recent flagships, from the ZL to the Z Ultra, Z1 and above.
Canadians travelling to the U.S. have a limited set of less than favourable options when it comes to using their smartphone. They can A) try to live off of Wi-Fi for the duration of their trip B) sign up for a travelling plan from their local carrier with marked up data prices C) try to snag a local U.S. SIM card D) suck it up and pay exorbitant roaming fees. Explora is now presenting a new option to jet setting Canadians: a rented smartphone with the requisite bells and whistles.
For $8 per day, international travellers can rent a Google Nexus 5 with unlimited data and nationwide calling. The phone is sent to a pre-specified hotel or residential address for easy pickup upon arrival, and can be returned via a pre-paid envelope once the trip is done. The Nexus 5 also comes pre-loaded with 40 apps, many of which you’d expect (Facebook, Google Maps, Skype, Expedia, etc.), and some feature special offers just for Explora customers (Taxi Magic, for example, knocks $10 off travellers’ first cab fare).
While the $8 flat fee will add up over extended trips, it’s perfect for a weekend jaunt to New York, and the convenience factor is significant. If Explora can improve the device selection and pre-loaded app offers, it might have a real winner. We’ll certainly give it a try during our next U.S. trip.
When Facebook initially filed its IPO back in 2012, it noted that mobile in general, and its capacity to monetize its mobile products in specific, were considerable risks to the company’s growth. Today Facebook released its Q1 2014 results, demonstrating just how much has changed in two years.
Facebook posted a revenue total of $2.5 billion during the quarter, a 72% increase year-over-year. $2.27 billion of that revenue came from advertising, of which mobile advertising represented 59%, a 30% increase year-over-year.
Mobile also played a big role in Facebook’s operational highlights. As of March 31st, Facebook now has 1.01 billion mobile monthly active users, an increase of 34% year-over-year, at an average of 609 million mobile daily active users. Facebook’s mobile growth far outpaced its total growth, which is now at 1.28 billion monthly active users, an increase of 15% year-over-year.
“Facebook’s business is strong and growing, and this quarter was a great start to 2014,” Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. “We’ve made some long term bets on the future while staying focused on executing and improving our core products and business. We’re in great position to continue making progress towards our mission.”
Facebook will be hosting a conference call at 5pm EST today about its Q1 2014 results, and we’re sure mobile will be a hot topic of conversation.
Apple reported its Q2 2014 earnings this afternoon, and though the company erred on the conservative side of guidance, it earned record revenue and strong profit numbers.
The company earned $11.62 per share on revenue of $45.6 billion, walking away with $10.2 billion in net profit. The numbers, including strong gross margins of 39.3%, were up marginally from the same quarter last year.
Selling 43.7 million iPhones and 16.3 million iPads, Apple continued to show strong sales from a quarter that saw no new products. Though Cupertino doesn’t break down its sales by type of iPhone, it’s believed that the 5s outsells the 5c by a margin of two to one. Apple stated that 66% of the quarter’s revenues were from international markets, so much of the iPhone’s growth is from developing regions like China. The iPhone’s sales numbers got a small boost by a slightly lower average sales price (ASP) of $596, down slightly from a year ago. The likely cause is a boost in sales from older devices like the iPhone 4s and, to some extent, the iPhone 5c.
Though the iPhone’s sales continue to excel, increasing from 37.4 million to 43.7 million, iPad sales have dropped precipitously. Indeed, the company sold 19.5 million devices the same time last year, compared to just 16.3 million in Q2 2014. With a strong lineup of devices, including the refreshed iPad 4, the Retina iPad mini and the iPad Air, it appears that either customers are unsure how the iPad fits in with their existing workflow, or are choosing to buy cheaper Android tablets that do most of what an iPad does at a fraction of the cost. (more…)
Motorola is reportedly attempting to transmute the essence of the Moto G into an even smaller, cheaper package. According to Xataka México, Motorola was impressed with the sales figures of the $200 Moto G and felt it necessary to draw down some of those extra costs.
The Moto E will reportedly cost around $150 USD, with a 4.3-inch 1280×720 pixel display, a 1.2Ghz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of storage, a 5MP camera, a 1900mAh battery cell, Android 4.4 KitKat and, of course, HSPA+ connectivity. (more…)
Square, the mobile commerce platform that was founded by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, recently unveiled a thinner Square Reader. This little gem enables entrepreneurs and small business owners to start accepting payments via their mobile device, and also brings the ability to track inventory and trends through Square Register.
During CES this year Griffin and Square announced the Merchant Case for the iPhone. This accessory is part of the “Works with Square” program and sees the dongle embedded into the case, which essentially provides a bit more protection. At the time of its unveiling the case was not available to Canadians, but it is now for a ripe $20. The Merchant Case is made of silicone and compatible with the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. (more…)
The HTC One M8 is receiving a minor software update today, adding Extreme Power Saving Mode and a number of enhacements for the Camera and Gallery apps.
While citizens in other countries were able to use Extreme Power Saving Mode at launch, Canadians and their US counterparts had to wait on FCC approval for the update, since the device required additional testing to ensure that emergency calls were able to be routed in that low power state.
Android Wear has Google Now. Samsung Gear has S Voice. And now Omate has Minuum.
Minuum, the former Indiegogo champ, has succeeded in its quest to make forgiving and accurate typing possible on even the smallest of screens. The Omate TrueSmart watch is not the most recognizable name in wearables, but recently come off a successful Kickstarter campaign during which the company raised over $1 million to further its development.
The TrueSmart runs Android, and is in fact a standalone 3G-capable device that doesn’t require a Bluetooth connection to function. Minuum figures it can make typing considerably less painful by integrating its autocorrect algorithms and one-dimensional user interface with the input capabilities of Omate’s various apps.
TrueSmart uses a dual-core Cortex-A7 chip, 1GB of RAM and Android 4.2.2 to emulate the smartphone experience as much as possible, though its Omate UI skin is also quite good at hiding Android’s more size-sensitive elements. Minuum, along with other specialized apps, will be made available through a customized version of the Google Play Store.