Before Motorola brought the Moto G and Moto X to Europe, the company's presence on the old continent was lackluster at best when it came to smartphones. The best consumers could get, and only in a small number of markets, was the dated Razr HD that seemed to be aimed solely at the brand's fans and keeping the Motorola name alive. The maker had thrown in the towel, trailing behind the likes of Apple and Samsung.
The Moto G and, later, the Moto X have put Motorola back on the smartphone map. "Motorola was nowhere in Europe before the Moto G launched in November last year, but the new model has since boosted the manufacturer to 6 percent of British sales", says Kantar Wordpanel ComTech strategic insight director Dominic Sunnebo. "It highlights the speed at which a quality budget phone can disrupt a market".
Android tablets are often hit or miss. There are typically two types -- good quality and poor quality, with very few in between. Android purists will tell you to stick with the Nexus line, but restricting the pool of available tablets defeats the purpose of Android entirely -- choice and diversity. Instead, consumers should keep an open-mind to all manufacturers.
Speaking of manufacturers, one of my favorites is Acer, as it delivers value on a budget. Today, I am reviewing an 8-inch tablet from that company, the A1-830, and it is very unique. Hell, it is powered by Intel, costs $179.99 and the display is 4:3. Interested? Read on.
Microsoft has flirted with Apple's iPad on a couple of occasions this week. Early on in the week there was the case of a 12-year-old girl who wanted nothing more than an iPad Mini. Microsoft stepped in and managed to convince her that the Surface 2 was the way ahead. Way to spin! But this was not the big Microsoft-iPad news. In a move that many saw as almost sacrilegious -- but one that was welcomed by just about the same number -- Microsoft Office, finally, made its way onto iPad. This wasn't the only release from Microsoft this week -- the source code for early versions of MS-DOS and Word for Windows was made publicly available. Having faced criticism for the way it approached a recent investigation, Microsoft pledged that it would no longer read customer emails during the course of an investigation without getting law enforcement involved.
Windows XP may be in its death throes, but this isn't going to stop people from using it. To help keep these hardy fellows safe, Malwarebytes announced that it would keep its users protected for life. It's not just XP that Microsoft is lowering into the grave, Office 2003 also finds itself six feet under. As the door on XP closes, another one opens -- or closes, depending on how you look at it. The purchase of Nokia's Devices and Services division is due to close in April after initially facing some delays.
Rdio is already partnered with Shazam, the app that allows you to identify that song you're hearing and are dying to know -- on the radio or TV, it can’t help with the one stuck in your head. That app hasn’t been invented yet, but I personally hope it is soon.
Now Rdio announces it has expanded the partnership beyond previous bounds. Until now users of Shazam could add songs they discovered to a Rdio playlist. Now customers of the app will be able to add any song to that list.
When it comes to mobile media apps, there is no shortage of available content. It is simply overwhelming to choose between the various music and video services, such as Netflix, Beats Music, and Hulu Plus, to name a few. However, more choice is always a good thing, as it can cause a competition that ultimately helps consumers with lower prices.
One network that has been lacking a representation in the mobile app landscape is BET -- Black Entertainment Television. While the network self-proclaims to focus on African-American audiences, people of any color or nationality can enjoy it. Today, the network launches the BET NOW app for iOS and Android.
Analyst Gartner has just released its latest worldwide devices forecast, which shows, unsurprisingly, traditional PC shipments declining, and tablets, mobile phones, and ultramobiles (hybrid and clamshell) all growing. In total, device shipments are set to rise 6.9 percent, up from the 4.8 percent growth achieved last year.
There are few surprises in the report. Shipments of mobile phones, the most popular device type in the market, are expected to reach 1.9 billion units in 2014, a 4.9 percent increase from 2013. The worldwide tablet market is forecast to grow 38.6 percent in 2014, shipments of traditional PCs are forecast to total 276.7 million units in 2014 (a 6.6 percent decline from 2013), and ultramobiles are set to grow from 21.1 million in 2013 to 37.2 million this year. Gartner has also forecast shipments by operating systems, and while Windows still shows growth, overall it's far from happy times ahead for Microsoft.
Peanut butter and jelly. Fish and chips. Salt and pepper. Dell and Microsoft. These are all things that go great together. Sure, Dell has strayed a bit, offering things like laptops with Ubuntu and tablets with Android. However, Windows has been and will likely continue to be the manufacturer's bread and butter.
In the technology world, Dell and Microsoft are "BFF" -- best friends forever. If the companies were teen girls, they'd be braiding each other's hair and gossiping about boys. Today, Dell and Microsoft have signed a monumental patent agreement -- tantamount to BFF's exchanging friendship bracelets.
As much as I enjoy running, I often need help and motivation to get started, and keep going, and Zombies, Run! has been my savior. I’ve mentioned the fitness app several times in the past, but if you’re not familiar, it’s a sort of interactive radio play, in which episodic stories unfold in-between tracks from your playlist as you run, transforming a real-world jog into a journey through the zombie apocalypse.
Season 3 of Zombies, Run! is out next month, but I’ve found a new running app to keep me occupied until then. BattleSuit Runner Fitness is available for both Android and iOS and is quite similar in that the missions unfold in-between your running songs, but in this game you’re DeltaSuit, an exosuit-wearing commando battling against an alien invasion.
After a string of unexciting smartphones, last year, HTC wowed Android fans all over the world with the One. For the first time, in my opinion, a smartphone powered by the little green droid looked attractive. It did not take part in the silly specs race, as, at the time, the display was not the largest in its class, the processor was not the fastest around and it was not even the most compact Android smartphone given its specs. However, it performed well and offered unique software features, which, combined with the stunning looks, made it one of the best-received smartphones of the year. Sadly for HTC, it was not quite the sales success the company hoped it would be.
Because the original One set the bar so high, it will be interesting to see how its successor will stack up. It has pretty high expectations to live up to. Luckily, we do not have to wait long to find out, as HTC just took the wraps off the new One (M8). The name is not as inspiring, but it does pack a fair punch.
After trying to drum up more interest in Glass by dispelling some myths believed to have built up around the wearable tech, Google is looking to push things even further, gaining a little cool cred by teaming up with Luxottica the group behind well-known names such as Ray-Ban and Vogue. Teaming up with such a premium brand could be key to the success or failure of Glass, and Google is keen to push Glass as being the next step in the gradual evolution of eyewear.
At the moment, there are more than forty different looks for Glass (once the various frames, colors and styles are factored in), but it is hoped that the new partnership will result in even more designs. Love them or not, Ray-Ban and Vogue are names you will be quite familiar with, and it seems as though this is something that Google is keen to latch on to -- although it is, of course, a household name in its own right. "Luxottica understands how to build, distribute and sell great products that their clients and consumers love -- something we care deeply about at Glass, too," purrs Google on its Google+ page.
Last week in the UK, the announcement of the new budget for the country was closely watched as citizens kept an eye on whether they'll be paying more for beer and whether taxes are going up or down. There's a lot to talk about in George Osborne's 2014 budget, but this is not the place to discuss most of what it involves. One thing is of interest for technology enthusiasts, though. The cost of digital downloads -- meaning ebooks, music and apps -- could be set to rise as the chancellor (the guy holding the purse strings) closes a tax loophole.
At the moment, companies offering digital downloads are able to avoid paying taxes in the UK by routing them through another country where taxes are lower. This is not a new technique, and there is nothing illegal about it. It is a loophole that has been exploited for many years, but now plans are afoot to close it off. What is this likely to mean? Well, it should come as no surprise that, ultimately, it's probably going to lead to higher prices for people in the UK.
Apple has rarely been first to market with a product -- it did not build the first MP3 player or tablet, but it does have a history of revolutionizing those markets, as it did with the smartphone. There isn't anything wrong with stepping into an existing market and bringing along fresh and innovative ideas. In fact, it has worked out quite well for the company over the years.
However, more recent history shows that Apple can also lose the markets, as both tablet and smartphone have fallen behind rival Android, which entered the scene later. Openness plays a part in this -- a multitude of devices to choose from, along with more customizable options, is a big deal when compared to a closed system with one device released annually.
OK, maybe that's a slight exaggeration. But wearable devices are really struggling to get off the ground, at least in the UK. All of the excitement that surrounds smartwatches that can be used to read email, VPN into a home computer, check vital stats, set off The Bomb, or tell the time (imagine!) -- maybe a couple of these are a little far-fetched -- seems to be little more than manufacturers' fluff and guff. The wheels of the marketing machine have been whirring away furiously, but it has had very little effect. With a population of approaching 65 million people, only a very tiny proportion of the nation has seen the need to invest in a smartwatch -- below 1 percent in fact.
Figures from Kantar World Panel show that a lowly 0.9 percent of UK consumers have put their hard-earned money towards a smartwatch. Other statistics to come from the research are of little surprise. Almost three quarters (72 percent) of smartwatch owners are male, and 56 percent are aged under 35. There are a small number of names associated with smartwatches, and the spread is fairly evenly distributed. At the top of the heap is Samsung with a 32 percent share, followed by Sony with 21 percent and Pebble with 18 percent. There is obviously a leader, but with the numbers being so low, percentages are very easily swayed.
Most Android smartphones and tablets do not run the latest-available version of Android, as vendors choose older iterations, even for their flagship products. As a result, it can take many months -- or it may never even happen -- for a software upgrade to finally close the gap.
One of the vendors that finds itself in this situation quite often is Japanese maker Sony, which cannot seem to release a high-end device, like the Xperia Z, Xperia Z1, Xperia Z Ultra or Xperia Z Compact, without shipping it with a dated version of Android. Luckily, KitKat commences its much-awaited roll-out for the company's most-recent flagship smartphones and tablets.
Wearable technology is not a brand new innovation, it's not even new to Google. We've long become accustomed to Android-powered products like Google Glass, and Pebble and Galaxy Gear smartwatches. While I've had no real desire to foray into the Glass market, I am on record as wanting a Pebble, though I've yet to convince myself to shell out the money.
Now Google is diving into this market a bit more officially -- no more dipping in toes to test the water. The company announces wearable Android, and it begins with watches.