The tablet market experienced something of a slump in 2014 and things don't look like being much better this year according to a new report by research specialists Gartner.
It estimates that tablet sales will reach 233 million units in 2015, an increase of only eight percent over last year's figure. Worldwide combined shipments of devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) for 2015 are estimated to reach 2.5 billion units, an increase of 3.9 percent over 2014.
When it comes time to buy your next smartphone, will you be swayed by hardware or operating system? Forget iOS for a moment; put Apple's mobile OS out of your mind for right now. Hardware to a large extent determines price, and an upcoming range of budget phones from Alcatel offers an interesting choice.
The Pixi 3 -- that rainbow-colored delight you see above assaulting your eyeballs -- comes with a choice of four screen sizes, and three OS choices. The smallest measures just 3.5 inches, but 4, 4.5 and 5 inch models are also available. But the interesting thing is that each is available with a choice of Android, Windows Phone or, erm, Firefox OS installed.
Three weeks ago I asked "What tech changed your life in 2014?" You answered here and on Google+. As the new year starts, I wonder what will make all our lives better. Apple Watch? I doubt it. Shake me awake from the nightmare if the wearable isn't the most successful flop of 2015. Windows 10? Skipping nine is a good sign, but is giving users more of what they don't want to let go life changing? Eh, no.
At the precipice of looking ahead, this is a last look behind. Once Consumer Electronics Show leaks and early announcements rush the InterWebs, all eyes will turn forward -- blind to what many people have, focusing on what they want instead. That's because "aspiration" is the defining word of the technology era, and the promise if you buy newfangled This or That your life will be better for it. Sometimes the promise is true, but too often not, which is why I asked the important question three weeks ago.
The mobile market is a four horse race... if we're being polite, that is. Really it's a battle between Apple's iOS and Google's Android. BlackBerry desperately neighs about its importance to the enterprise market, while Windows Phone stamps its hooves trying to gain attention as it's hauled off to the glue factory via the knacker's yard.
Microsoft's mobile OS may have gained ground in some parts of the world, but the reality is that it's struggling. Whenever we talk about Windows Phone it feels like the same topic comes up again and again, forcing us to re-tread old ground, bang the same drum. The app situation is dire; it's all but impossible to paint it any other way. But could opening up the ecosystem to Android apps save it from a slow and painful death?
Samsung has unveiled a new version of its Galaxy Note 4, featuring support for LTE Advanced Tri-Band Carrier Aggregation and Category 9 cellular networks. Dubbed Galaxy Note 4 LTE-A, it promises much faster download speeds over 4G LTE compared to the regular models, which the South Korean maker announced in early-September.
Galaxy Note 4 LTE-A is capable of offering download speeds of up to 450 Mbps. To put things into perspective, that is 50 percent faster than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805-equipped Galaxy Note 4 -- which is no slouch to begin with -- and a whopping 200 percent faster than the Exynos-powered model.
"Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that"…. Oh wait you want some happier news. Well, there is some -- you can track the progress of Santa tonight, just so you know where the big guy in the red suit is at all times.
Google Maps is once again providing the data on the sleigh ride. You can follow the progress around the world using the GPS equipped on the vehicle. There's more to it than just tracking though. You can open all sorts of options.
The patent wars are cooling down. Rockstar Consortium's litigation against numerous Android handset manufacturers has come to an end after the group sold 4,000 patents to RPX Corp. The intellectual property risk mitigation company bought the patents for $900 million, ending lawsuits against HTC, LG and Samsung.
Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony formed Rockstar Consortium back in 2011 to purchase around 6,000 patents from the bankrupt Nortel Network Corp for $4.5 billion. 2,000 of the patents had previously been shared between the members of the consortium, and the remainder have now exchanged hands for less a quarter of the original sale price.
You lazy son of a bitch. It's Sunday, Christmas is Thursday, and you still haven't started shopping for gifts? Don't worry, we've got your ass covered with a quick, down-and-dirty gift bonanza. It's an eclectic mix because we have the attention spans of mice intoxicated by coffee and Krispy Kremes.
Lucky you. Many U.S. online shops grub for dollars by offering last-minute, free one-day shipping. Ha! There are some rewards waiting until Santa attaches reindeer to the sleigh. Read fast, because some of these are deals that won't last -- and when we say this grab bag is random, we mean it.
China's monitoring and control of how its citizens access the internet is something that has been going on for some time. Now there is something new for Chinese smartphone owners to worry about. Security researchers at Palo Alto Networks have discovered a backdoor built into millions of handsets produced by Coolpad.
Known as CoolReaper, the backdoor potentially places more than 10 million smartphone owners at risk. The security firm conducted investigations after users complained on message boards about suspicious activity on their handsets. After downloading multiple copies of the stock ROM used on Chinese CoolPad phone, it was found that "the majority of the ROMs contained the CoolReaper backdoor".
BlackBerry is not a company that's afraid to do things a little differently, and this is something that's perfectly demonstrated by its latest release. Rather than eschewing the physical keyboard like most smartphones, the BlackBerry Classic embraces it. The square 720 x 720 screen is comparable to that of the BlackBerry Passport, but stands out from mainstream handsets due to its size -- just 3.5 inches -- and unusual aspect ratio.
The look of the handset might be a little dated, and the specs are also something of a blast from the past. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus dual-core processor, the phone has 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, an 8MP rear camera, and a 2MP front shooter. And it can be yours for $449 unlocked.
Plex is perhaps the most well known media server among home theater and HTPC enthusiasts. Both a server and end-user app are provided, the former for free, while the latter will set you back a nominal fee. However, it's well worth the time to set up and few dollars out of your pocket.
Now the service is improving on it's offering to Google's mobile platform. Plex for Android has just gained Playlists, making things just a bit easier for its multitude of customers.
In the grand scheme of things, we aren't far removed from a time when most people thought the Earth was flat. Yes, we went from thinking a boat could sail off of the edge of the world, to landing a spacecraft on a comet -- crazy, right?
When Google Earth was first released, it was a mind-boggling program. It allowed users to easily navigate a virtual Earth; a high-tech globe, if you will. While people take it for granted, the search-giant's offering remains wonderful. Unfortunately for developers, Google is killing the Earth API.
Benedict Evans recently wrote an insightful piece exploring new questions for the mobile industry. Among the five questions he brought up, I believe that the evolution of interaction models and messaging will end up being the most important.
I don't have anything to add there as think Benedict's analysis here was excellent. However, I do think that three of his questions could benefit from deeper analysis. I also think that he may have missed a crucial question brought on by the scale of the mobile industry.
For Nokia to get any real traction with HERE outside of Windows Phone and its former brands, the Finnish company must make its app available to as many potential new users as possible. And that means offering it on the biggest mobile app stores around today -- Apple App Store and Google Play.
Today, Nokia is taking a step in the right direction by making HERE for Android available on Google Play. The app's availability on the largest Android app store comes more than three months after the initial launch, for Galaxy smartphones. HERE still sports the beta label, but continues to offer the same lovely features we have come to expect from it.