On Monday, Sony unveiled a new smartphone called the Xperia ZR. The handset shares some of its underpinnings with the company's current flagship, the Xperia Z, but according to the Japanese electronics giant it features "the highest level of water-resistance for capturing photos and Full HD videos underwater".
The Xperia ZR can be used to record 1080p videos and shoot stills in up to 1.5 meters of "fresh water" for up to half an hour. The smartphone is also dust-resistant and meets the IP55 and IP58 protection standards. This means that the Xperia ZR can survive the usual water encounters, including a drop in the toilet (as long as it doesn't crack at impact) and a coffee spill, as well as keep dust away from its insides.
On Friday, Nokia ended days of teases, officially taking the wraps off the Lumia 928 Windows Phone 8 smartphone. The handset, which will be available exclusively at US mobile operator Verizon, showcases a departure in design from current flagship, Lumia 920, while delivering similar hardware and software specifications.
The Lumia 928 packs a 4.5-inch OLED display with a resolution of 768 by 1280 and 334 pixels per inch, protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass. The screen can be operated using gloves or long fingernails (women should love this). Power comes from a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 processor, 1GB of RAM and a 2000 mAh battery. The 32 GB internal storage is non-expandable.
Late yesterday, Canadian manufacturer BlackBerry announced yet another range of updates for the LinkedIn and Twitter apps on BlackBerry 10. The latest iterations are designed to bring the social networking apps on par with their Android, iOS and Windows Phone counterparts and, according to BlackBerry, to "make it easier than ever to stay connected and do more with your social and professional contacts, while on the go".
Twitter is on its third noteworthy update in the past couple of months -- the first one arrived in early-March while the second released weeks later. The latest iteration sports two major improvements, the first of which is the ability to display more content while searching. Users can view photos, relevant profiles and searches as well as tweets and top tweets on the same page.
On Friday, Finnish handset maker Nokia announced that the Play To app for Windows Phone 8 made the grade from experimental to stable version and is now publicly available to download from the Store. Previously, the DLNA app could only be installed through Nokia' Beta Labs.
According to the company, Play To brings DLNA to all of Nokia's Windows Phone 8 handsets available today like Lumia 920, 720 and 520, among others. Compared to the experimental version that I detailed little over two weeks ago, the stable Play To app ships with a number of bug fixes but without any new features onboard.
After many nightlies and a couple of stable monthly builds, the team of developers behind CyanogenMod, one of the most popular custom green droid distributions, announced the first release candidate for CyanogenMod 10.1. The latest stable build is based on Android 4.2 and arrives just under six months after Google rolled out the second Jelly Bean iteration.
"The 10.1 branch is quickly approaching the point where a 'final' build is due", says the team of developers responsible for the project. "This will be one of (if not the last) milestone releases before a 10.1.0 is pushed out. These builds will appear as they complete the build process".
Late yesterday, Microsoft announced that Windows Phone 8 users from all over the world can now finally take advantage of the complete photo and video backup feature offered by its smartphone operating system. This comes a tad over six months after the Windows Phone 8 release in late-October, last year. A little too late, wouldn't you agree?
Previously, users from a number of regions were constricted to use a dumbed-down backup feature that only allowed automatically upload of low-resolution pictures (no video support) straight to SkyDrive. "We just started to light this up, so be patient if you don’t see it right away. The change could take a few days to roll out around the globe", Aaron Sauvé, Microsoft senior program manager says.
I'll admit, I'm a sucker for subscriptions. I subscribe to receive periodic emails with the latest discounts for tech gear, car news or any other bits of useful information (well, at least to me). Maybe there's something nice out there that I want to know about. But because the emails keep coming in at different times of the day, going through each and every one would be a waste of time.
Cloud service Unroll.Me promises to solve the problem of subscription overload by allowing its users to wrap those emails into one big daily digest. Although the unsubscribe option is also available, the idea is to give folks the ability to actually make the best of the stuff that keeps coming in without, likely, losing track of vacation deals or the latest social updates.
On Wednesday, Finnish smartphone manufacturer Nokia released two updates for its Chat and Ringtone Maker Windows Phone apps. The changelog lists minor improvements rather than significant enhancements, focusing on expanding the list of supported markets and media formats, respectively.
Nokia Chat for Windows Phone, which comes with Yahoo Messenger integration, is now also available for those in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Finland, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Spain and Venezuela. The text messaging service still doesn't allow users to log in using a Yahoo Messenger handle, so if you plan on using the app to chat you will have to add the necessary contacts manually.
How many memorable video ads about phones have you seen so far? Off the top of my head I can only think of just two recent ones, both released by Microsoft. The first one is from late-October, last year, and features Steve Ballmer discussing his HTC Windows Phone 8X and the second, unveiled little over a week ago, stars the Lumia 920 in an Android vs iOS fanboy war at a wedding.
Both videos are memorable in the sense that they allow us, the viewers, to actually relate to the folks presented in the two scenarios. We are users of different social networks, send and receive emails and messages each day, have friends who are Android or iOS fanboys and so on. Now, by contrast, Nokia's new Lumia 928 video ad is one of the weakest attempts at wooing viewers. It lacks any sort of panache or wit.
After introducing Android and iOS apps, enterprise social network Unison has shifted its focus from mobile handsets to large team collaboration, introducing the ability to voice chat with up to 250 users straight from the browser. The feature is currently available only through the official Chrome app.
Compared to the traditional way of doing things on Unison -- text chatting -- the latest feature allows users and members of large teams to interact in a more personal way. Voice is also more immediate than writing and can trigger a faster response, something which can be helpful when dealing with fast-approaching deadlines or other critical scenarios. In some cases, businesses can also replace the traditional phone conference and, therefore, rely less on other services for basic but essential tasks.
Little over a month ago, AT&T announced that on a two-year contract the Samsung Galaxy S4 in 32GB storage trim will be available for $249.99. In the meantime the 16GB version hit the mobile operator's stores for $50 less, but even today the 32GB Galaxy S4 is still nowhere to be seen.
On its Twitter account, AT&T sheds some light on the matter and reveals that the 32GB Galaxy S4 is available starting this Friday, May 10. In just a couple of days prospective customers will be able to purchase the smartphone for $249.99 alongside a two-year contract and qualifying plans.
Even if you're not the biggest Windows Phone enthusiast I'm quite sure you have heard or read about the alleged Lumia 928 that Nokia is to unveil sometime soon. I will not bore you with the rumored specs, release date or carrier on which the device is assumed to surface, but can confirm that the Lumia 928 is definitely real.
The Finnish maker, likely to keep the rumors flowing, released a picture showcasing a device referred to as "the newest Nokia Lumia" smartphone. There is no reference of the name in the photo, but the link address clearly says Lumia 928.
Judging by all the heavy criticism hitting the interwebs each day one would rightfully assume that Microsoft is on the wrong path with Windows 8. The operating system is often blamed for declining PC shipments, an user interface designed only for touchscreen devices or a scarce Modern UI app ecosystem filled with knockoffs. So, therefore, Windows 8 must be a clear sales miss, right?
Today, Tami Reller, Windows & Windows Live CFO, boasts about 100 million Windows 8 licenses, a figure which does not fall in line with what every naysayer leads you to believe. "This number includes Windows licenses that ship on a new tablet or PC, as well as upgrades to Windows 8. This is up from the 60 million license number we provided in January. We've also seen the number of certified devices for Windows 8 and Window RT grow to 2,400 devices, and we're seeing more and more touch devices in the mix".
US mobile operator AT&T has officially announced that starting tomorrow, May 3, the Optimus G Pro is available for pre-order from its online store. The smartphone, which was unveiled in mid-February, will go on sale a week after, from May 10, exclusively from AT&T.
The price of the Optimus G Pro falls in line with that of its fierce competition. On a two-year contract LG's Android smartphone flagship runs for $199.99, on par with Apple's iPhone 5, BlackBerry's Z10, HTC's One and Samsung's Galaxy S4. By contrast, the similarly-sized Galaxy Note II is available for $299.99 on a two-year contract.
Last month Google altered the method of collecting data for its Android distribution charts, now measuring the popularity of the operating system iterations by visits to the app store instead of check-ins to the company's servers as before. The move significantly changed the results compared to the previous month, but is there a noticeable difference that is felt in the Android distribution charts for May?
Based on the number of devices visiting Google Play during the 14 days ending May 1, Jelly Bean now ranks as the most popular Android sweet, after Gingerbread. With a combined distribution level of 29.4 percent, for Android 4.1 and Android 4.2, Jelly Bean surpassed Ice Cream Sandwich, which now runs on 27.5 percent of all droids.