Android is a very capable operating system. With it, Google accomplished the unthinkable -- widespread Linux use by average home users. Linus Torvalds popularized his kernel with nerds and the enterprise, but the search giant made it accessible for all. Here's the thing though -- the fact that Android is powered by Linux doesn't matter. No, to the average consumer, all that matters is the experience. What lies beneath is inconsequential.
Samsung recently released the Galaxy Tab S 10.5, its newest flagship tablet. The device's closest competitor is the iPad Air -- which is a tablet I love. Besides Apple's tablet, there is really no other product to consider at the $500 price point. So, if you are considering a $500 general-use tablet, the only question that must be asked is -- is it better than the iPad Air?
Cloud storage service Dropbox has detailed a new partnership with mobile operator Deutsche Telekom, that will result in its Android app being preloaded on the majority of devices sold in certain parts of Europe by the German company and its subsidiaries.
This partnership also impacts Deutsche Telekom's current customer base, who will be helped to "discover" Dropbox. The Android devices that will come preloaded with the app will be available, starting in October, in Central and Eastern European markets.
Unlocking the bootloader is not a task most Android users may want or need to undertake, as it comes with its fair share of risks, but it is paramount for those who want to install a different distribution, load a faster kernel, use a third-party recovery and so on. I personally prefer to turn off all the nannies on every Android device I own, as it makes way for quick modifications.
While not all manufacturers allow users to unlock the bootloader on their devices, there are a couple of vendors which believe this should be possible, and straightforward. Among them is Sony, known for its modder-friendly attitude, which has just improved its dedicated online tool for Xperia smartphones and tablets. And here is how easy it is to use.
No matter how you slice it, Windows Phone Store is a ghost town. Too many popular titles just aren't there right now. As developers take their sweet time to release the desired offerings or overlook the platform altogether, could Android apps be the answer to Windows Phone's long-lasting shortcoming?
It wouldn't be unusual for Microsoft to get in bed with Android, as the software giant already sells Android-based devices, which make up its Nokia X series (admittedly, Nokia launched it). If it works there, it could work just as well for Windows Phone. It's not like the platform has anything to lose, considering the measly market share it claims since inception. Right? Well, it's not that simple.
Let's face it: there are only two major app stores in the mobile space. One is Apple App Store and the other is Google Play. That is due to their huge app selection, which was long passed the one billion apps mark in each case, and the quality of the available offerings, which often tops that of other app stores.
On the iOS side of things, there is virtually no competition due to the platform's closed nature. On Android, however, Google Play's success stems from the popularity of Google-vetted devices, which tops that of handsets running forked versions of the operating system (that are not approved by Google). Still, one vendor had the potential to give Google Play a run for its money -- Samsung.
As a test, Avast purchased 20 used and supposedly wiped Android phones and discovered that it was able to recover vast amounts of personal user data. My colleague Brian Fagioli reported the story here.
Google responded to the news, stating "This research looks to be based on old devices and versions (pre-Android 3.0) and does not reflect the security protections in Android versions that are used by the vast majority of users". It went on to offer users advice on how to make sure when selling an old mobile phone you aren’t also gifting your personal data to buyers.
It has been a year since Google released its Chromecast -- a "one last thing" sort of device that was hidden behind the new Nexus 7 announcement. The tiny HDMI dongle has been steadily gaining features, making it compatible with an ever-growing number of services.
But one thing it lacked seemed rather basic -- Android screen mirroring. While we don't know how this slipped through the Google cracks, it has finally made its debut.
Last year Lenovo extended its Yoga line to cover not just the company's rather clever folding hybrid Windows laptops, but Android tablets too. The designs weren't quite as ingenious as the IdeaPad Yoga, with its keyboard that flipped nearly 360 degrees to sit flat against the back of the display, but it still had a unique selling point (USP): A brilliant flip-out stand which could hold the tablet either tilted or upright.
It was a fabulous concept, but spoilt by a dated specification. The screen was a bog standard 1280 x 800 resolution effort, and the processor a lowly Mediatek quad-core CPU. Now, however, Lenovo has come back with the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+, enhancing the previous model with a full HD 1080p screen and a Snapdragon S400 SoC. Is this enough to make a great tablet from a great idea?
Phones hit the headlines for lots of reasons -- the biggest, the most expensive, the shiniest, or just the newest. We live in times in which security and privacy are major concerns for people in all walks of life. The activities of the NSA, as revealed by Edward Snowden, served only to heighten paranoia -- the prospect of having one's phone calls and text messages intercepted is something that fills few people with joy. Enter Vysk communicastions' Vysk QS1 phone case which can be used with an iPhone 5 or 5s, and a Samsung Galaxy S5 or S4. The selling point here is that it's not just your phone that's protected, but also your privacy.
The privacy features come in mechanical and software forms. On the mechanical front there are "shutters" that can be used to obscure your phone's front and rear cameras, and there's also a jamming system for microphones. This is described by Vysk as "Lockdown Mode", but you can take things a step further. For $9.95 you can subscribe to "Private Call Mode". This introduces encryption to your texts and phone calls, with an onboard processor taking care of encryption on the fly and sent via the Vysk encrypted network. As Vysk puts it: "No one -- not even Vysk -- will know the identity of the caller or the recipient. No data is collected -- no phone numbers, call times or content - so there is no data to record. Because nothing is recorded, nothing is at risk."
Earlier this week we covered the debate on whether Android users need malware protection. If further fuel for the argument was needed it comes in the form of Russian security firm Dr.Web's monitoring of Android threats.
Until recently embedded advertising modules have topped Dr.Web's malicious program rankings, but statistics for recent months indicate that an Android SMS bot Trojan has been spreading at an alarming rate.
Hitting the road means luggage, and luggage is a pain -- all that… stuff… to carry from place to place. Traveling light can help to make the journey less of a chore, but there are some things that simply have to be packed: no self-respecting technology fan would go on vacation without taking a raft of devices with them. But devices need power, and this means chargers are needed. iPhones, MP3 players, Android tablets, iPads, digital cameras, Chromebooks, and countless other devices all need power -- and that means a lot of chargers.
We just took a look at the Lumsing DCH-5U 5-Port USB Travel Wall Charger which enables you to leave the chargers at home and charge up to five devices simultaneously from a single power point. And we have one to give away!
A few weeks ago I took a look at Lumsing's harmonica battery pack. Now from the same stables comes the lengthily titled DCH-5U 5-Port USB Travel Wall Charger. This is a slightly different twist on the idea of providing power to travellers' devices -- this is a wall charger rather than a portable battery pack. If you're going on vacation, taking a trip, or even just hitting the office, there are your devices to consider. Your phone, tablet, MP3 player, and other bits and pieces all need power, all need their own charger.
Except they don’t. Leave all of your chargers at home, and just take a selection of USB cables -- this 5-port hub allows for up to five USB devices (obviously) to be charged from a single wall power point. The 31W/6.2A unit has two 5V 1A ports for phones, and three 5V 2A ports for tablets and devices with higher power demands. Oddly, the ports are labelled, left to right, iPad, iPad, Samsung Tab, iPhone, and Android. It would have made more sense to simply indicate which of the five were the high-powered ports, but this is a minor niggle in the grand scheme of things.
Want to get more out of your rooted Android device? Looking for unique features and expanded functionality? Unhappy with the CyanogenMod team selling their collective souls to the VC devil?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you owe it to yourself to check out OmniROM. Billed as the "anti-CyanogenMod", OmniROM is the result of efforts by several former CyanogenMod team members to create a new custom Android ROM, one that adheres to the CM team’s original vision of an open-source alternative to Google’s stock OS.
Buying and trading goods used to be so easy. If I needed a rake and my neighbor needed a hoe, we could simply swap. If I wanted to sell something, I would take out a classified ad in a local newspaper, like the Penny Saver. Hell, I bought my first car that way -- loved that thing.
Nowadays, buying and selling is much more complicated -- especially electronics. You can buy something from eBay or Craigslist only to find out that it doesn't work or is stolen. Smartphones and tablets can be risky to sell, because you have to remember to wipe your data before giving it to the other party. If you forget, the buyer can get your personal information and private photos. Forget to delete that sexy selfie that you took? Some weirdo from eBay now has it and will spread it around the net. Today, Avast announces that as a test it purchased 20 used and supposedly wiped phones from the net. The personal data recovered is shocking.
Starting today, consumers looking for a large tablet have one more option to choose from as LG rolls out its 10.1-inch G Pad across the globe. The slate is part of the South Korean maker's budget-friendly lineup, which was introduced in mid-May.
G Pad 7.0 was the first of LG's new slates to debut on the market, less than a month ago. Its bigger sibling, G Pad 10.1, is available first in US, with other markets -- Europe, Asia and Latin America -- to follow shortly, later this month.