It is no secret that Samsung will unveil "The Next Big Thing" at its first Unpacked event of the year (odds are it will be the successor of the popular Galaxy S4). The company has told us so. But what we do not know is the direction that the South Korean maker wants to take with its upcoming flagship. Will there be something new or will it stick to the previous theme?
A new image released for Unpacked Episode 1 (where almost everything is at the power of five -- which gives Galaxy S5 rumors credence) shows nine key areas of focus for The Next Big Thing, some of which we have seen the company focusing on starting with the Galaxy S4 release almost a year ago. There are, however, clear signs that Samsung is looking to shake things up a bit as well.
Folks looking to purchase a small Windows 8.1 tablet now have one more option available to consider, as the ASUS VivoTab Note 8 just made its way to Microsoft's online store. The device can be had for $329 in the 32 GB storage trim, making it slightly more expensive compared to the $299 its maker had revealed it would cost at launch.
For the money, the VivoTab Note 8 packs an 8-inch IPS, five-point multi-touch display with a resolution of 1280 by 800. There is an Intel Atom Z3740 processor, running at 1.33 GHz (1.86 GHz on Turbo Boost), inside, backed by 2 GB of RAM and a one-cell battery that is rated at up to eight hours of use on a single charge.
IT professionals wanting to perform certain tasks on remote devices from their Windows Phone will be pleased to know they can now take advantage of a Putty client to log in and get the job done. The app just landed in Store, and is currently undergoing private testing. For those who may not be familiar with it, Putty allows users to connect via SSH and Telnet to other devices that have support enabled for the two previously mentioned protocols.
There is a very good chance that your router, which is a common device in Internet-connected households, supports SSH and Telnet connections. When one (or both) is enabled, it is possible to use such an app to, for instance, view stats and modify configurations remotely. But, a more popular use for Putty is remote access to servers, allowing administrators to keep a close eye on what is happening and intervene when needed, like in case of attacks.
For many people across the globe making payments using their smartphones remains a thing of the future. Unlike credit and debit cards, for which there exist compatible devices in lots of locations to facilitate purchases, mobile payments require retailers to install new gadgets and smartphone owners to use special apps, which have to be supported by their bank and/or mobile operator of choice. It is a mess, really, at this point, as I have found out while trying to enable such a feature on my smartphone.
Mobile payments are easier to enable on smartphones which have NFC or a microSD card slot, and trickier to offer on handsets that do not. In the latter scenario, a case is needed in order for the feature to work. Luckily, for iPhone users on Verizon such an accessory and dedicated app are now available.
Having quality, official apps available, and frequently improving, for popular services is a key part in increasing Windows Phone's chances of breaking into market share double digits and, therefore, getting more developers to consider releasing their offerings in the Store.
While third-party alternatives have already proved to be viable options, it is clear by looking at the Store rankings that Windows Phone users have an undeniable craving for installing the real deal. Official apps lend more credence, after all, and are less likely to be removed without prior notice, unlike their unofficial counterparts. And this brings us to the Flickr app which Yahoo has officially admitted it no longer has any plans to update.
The Galaxy S4 is approaching its one-year anniversary and, to keep things interesting before its successor arrives to take the helm, Samsung has announced a new Black Edition version of the popular Android smartphone. Not to leave the smaller mini out of the equation, the South Korean maker is also giving it the same makeover.
Black Edition makes me think of hardcore variants of Mercedes AMG cars, which usually offer more power on tap than the base models. However, this is not the case when it comes to the two new Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S4 mini trims that come without beefed up internals. Basically, what we are looking at here folks is smartphone plastic surgery.
Being the go-to tech support guy for my family and some friends usually means I am asked to do a clean install of the operating system and software on their PCs. It does not happen often, but when it does I make sure they are on the latest available versions. This is because there is a lesser chance of malware infections, and developers ensure updates for many years to come. (That being said, I have yet to subject them to Windows 8.x, but that day may come as well.)
Microsoft knows it has many customers who also provide tech support for friends and family, so the software giant is now urging them to move everyone they know away from Windows XP, as support for the old operating system is soon to end, by upgrading to Windows 8.1. In part, this is a sound piece of advice as there are still too many Windows XP users out there who may have to face massive problems due to the lack of software updates. (If my experience is of any indication, those who provide tech support may face massive headaches when attempting to fix those problems, but that is another story).
In tech, subscriptions are all the rage today. This business practice allows companies to have a steadier flow of revenue, as opposed to the traditional (in this field, anyway) one-time payment model. At the same time, consumers can pay less at once in exchange for upscale services and products. Just take a look at Microsoft Office 365. It costs $99.99 per year for a suite that consumers would have to pay at least twice as much to buy outright (not to mention that the former can be installed on four more devices, and it offers exceedingly more features).
US retailer Newegg has decided that it too wants a piece of the subscription revenue pie, as it just launched Premier. The $49.99 per year service is similar to Amazon Prime, albeit cheaper compared to the $79 charged by its rival. It is also currently in beta, most likely for Newegg to gauge customer feedback and adoption before labeling it as ready for prime time (or, maybe, pulling the plug).
The Motorola Moto G is one of the most interesting smartphones launched in 2013. It comes with a powerful processor, large screen and, most importantly, a very attractive price. The base 8 GB model costs a mere $179 off-contract, while the 16 GB version can be had for $20 more. Users also get 50 GB of free Google Drive storage for two years.
But, there is another reason why the Moto G is interesting -- KitKat. Motorola has promised to update its entry-level smartphone to the latest version of Android, quickly rolling it out for the international version. Now, those who have the Verizon model can also experience what KitKat has to offer.
It is that time of the month again when we take a look at the latest Android distribution data. Google has released a new chart, based on the number of devices accessing the Play store in the seven days ending February 4, placing Jelly Bean as the most popular sweet with over 60 percent share in the green droid realm.
In early-February, the most popular Jelly Bean iteration is once again Android 4.1, thanks to a strong 35.5 percent distribution. It is also the most popular version of the mobile operating system, a title that it's relished since July 2013 when it finally topped the outdated Gingerbread. In the Jelly Bean branch, Android 4.1 is followed, in this order, by Android 4.2 and Android 4.3, with 16.3 percent and 8.9 percent distribution, respectively.
Microsoft has put an end to all the speculation surrounding Steve Ballmer's replacement, as the software giant today named Satya Nadella as its new CEO. The company's new leader will take the role "effective immediately". Also, starting today, Microsoft founder Bill Gates will no longer act as chairman of the board.
Gates is not stepping down from Microsoft entirely, as he will continue being on the board in a new role, as Founder and Technology Advisor. The man will also "devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction", says Microsoft. Gates will also continue his philanthropic endeavors, for which he has been best known since stepping down as the software giant's CEO in 2008.
It is no secret that Microsoft is feeling threatened by Chromebooks and Chrome OS. A series of controversial ads which disparage the pair has already proved that. But when will the software giant stop playing the same old broken record that implies only Windows PCs are good enough to get real work done and Chromebooks are not?
Microsoft downplays Chromebooks due to their alleged inability to get "much done" without an Internet connection and without access to its own Office suite. This is the theme that Microsoft has used (and repeatedly abused before) to pitch Windows 8.1 in a new video advert. Seriously? How can a company that prides itself for its cloud services use those two arguments in 2014? Is that not the definition of hypocrisy?
Samsung has announced that its first Unpacked event of the year will be held on February 24, in Barcelona, which coincides with the MWC 2014 opening day. The South Korean maker has also hinted at a possible unveiling of "The Next Big Thing". You did not see this one coming, did you?
Samsung has previously used the term The Next Big Thing prior to taking the wraps off new versions of its popular high-end smartphones, like the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3, and the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, all of which were also announced at the Unpacked events it held last year.
Even though more than one year has passed since Windows Phone 8 arrived, Microsoft has yet to officially take the wraps off the upcoming new version of its tiled smartphone operating system. This long release cycle is uncommon in this business, as more popular competitors boast two major iterations launched in the course of a year. Windows Phone 8.1 has a lot of catching up to do, giving us plenty of leeway to compile and compare our own wish lists before the grand unveiling.
The foundation that Windows Phone 8 has laid out for its successor, starting with the original release that was subsequently improved by three minor updates, is solid enough for Microsoft to build upon and launch something mind-blowing (whenever that happens). Nothing else will cut it, as the platform needs a big boost to overcome the paltry 3.6 percent market share from last year. And, it is about time Windows Phone gets a solid head start on the competition, that has created an unshakable duopoly in the market, responsible for 94.4 percent of smartphone shipments in 2013. What Microsoft decides to bake in Windows Phone 8.1 can make or break the operating system's chances of ever becoming that respected third player, that is taken seriously due to its traits not its incidental place on the podium.
Nexus smartphones and tablets have developed a cult following among enthusiasts mainly due to Google's ability to deliver updates to the latest versions of Android in a timely manner. The software also has little to no customizations over the code that is available in AOSP, unlike that of many devices that have been offered throughout the years by Android vendors, such as HTC and Samsung. Android enthusiasts often refer to Google's distributions as "pure Android", even though that is no longer the case exactly with the new Nexus 5, that has introduced a launcher not officially found on any of its siblings (or available in AOSP for that matter).
Nexus devices were also supposed to usher Android vendors into releasing smartphones and tablets that adhere to the design guidelines established by Google. This is one area where the search giant's brand has failed to become a trendsetter, as the likes of HTC, LG and Samsung continue to apply their own vision on how their Android handsets should look at the software and hardware levels. Remember how physical buttons were supposed to go away from the front of Android devices? Well, they are still alive and kicking even in 2014 and even on tablets (even though there were clear signs pointing to slates only adopting on-screen keys). It could, therefore, be argued that the Nexus ethos has already ran its course and it is time for Google to move on. So should Google move on?