We've all done it -- put our hands to our pocket only to discover that the phone we thought was pressed close to our body is in fact missing. But where? That's the question. Android Device Manager is Google's latest solution to help you hunt out your hidden handset.
You could get a friend to call your phone -- that would seem like the obvious thing to do. But it's no help if you have put your phone into silent mode. Android Device Manager is able to call your phone and make it sound, even if the volume is turned down, so you can quickly determine if your Droid is nestling down in the back of the sofa or in the back of your car.
Rest in peace, iPad mini. Google killed you. The question then: Is it murder or manslaughter -- or justified homicide, putting the Apple tablet out of our misery?
Three days using the new Nexus 7, I can't imagine why Apple let Google, and partner ASUS, seize back-to-school buying with the tablet. I don't refer just to the instrument of destruction but the means. The 2013 edition is widely available through major US retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy. By all indications there is inventory to meet demand, not the typical supply shortages, although the 32GB WiFi model is unavailable this weekend from many retailers -- but Google Play is stocked.
On June 30, the day after my most recent one-year contract expires with AT&T U-verse, I will cancel the service and cut the cord. Last night, while I watched some last-minute Prime Time before it's gone, Apple commercial "Our Signature" aired. The ad is a concise, tweet-like mission statement that encapsulates all of what the company's product design is about. The spot sums up all anyone need know about the fruit-logo company in 60 seconds.
"This is what matters. The experience of a product. How it makes someone feel. Will it make life better", the commercial begins. Yes. Yes. Yes. This is what I have written about Apple for a decade -- that the company's products and marketing are aspirational. That the design goal simply is to make people feel good, to inspire life will be better for choosing the Apple way.
I am a longtime Android user and fan. However, my Nexus 7 has been running very slow. Needless to say, I am in the market for something to replace it. I was planning on looking for another Android tablet. Heck, like my colleague Joe Wilcox, I even collect Android collectibles. However, I am currently having a sordid love affair with Microsoft Windows 8. Everyone who hears about my love for Windows 8 on the desktop tells me that the operating system will really shine on a tablet. And so, I decided to explore an Android alternative -- a Windows 8 device.
When looking for a Windows 8 tablet, there were only two things I knew I wanted -- great build quality and for it to be light-weight. However I knew for sure what I didn’t want -- Windows RT. I expect Windows RT to slowly grow and gain momentum in the future. However, that time is not now. I need to get work done with my tablet so I must have access to Windows x86 apps.
Finding the right keyboard for Android can turn into a lengthy mission. There are few stock keyboards that cut the mustard and timesaving, gesture-friendly alternatives such as Swype and SwiftKey have gained a massive following in recent months. Not wanting to feel left out, Google is making its own stock Android keyboard available in the Play store.
Despite being a stock keyboard, Google Keyboard is surprisingly good -- Nexus users should not be surprised at this as this is the keyboard they are used to working with. Unlike many native keyboards, this one goes above and beyond being a basic onscreen input device for typing letter by letter. Well above and beyond.
Something strange happened last week. My ultra-fast Nexus 7 started to freeze and run slow. The problem persisted for about a week and I feared that the tablet had become a paperweight. I turned to Google Search to research the issue and as it turns out, I was not alone. Other Nexus 7 users (and other Android device users) were reporting the same issue -- if the device uses most of or all of the available storage, then the operating system is slow. When I say "slow", I mean painfully slow. Users were reporting that they needed to keep at least 3GB free to keep the tablet running properly.
As a test, I wiped all data from my device and rebooted. Amazingly, the device ran as well as the day I bought it. Unfortunately, the solution raised a much bigger problem -- I could not use all of the storage space that I had paid for. Was this a case of false advertising? Did Google lie to me about the available storage? I decided to contact Google for confirmation.
Gadget geeks love their toys, the more sci-fi the better. Several manufacturers offer wireless charging solutions, Google and LG among them -- for Nexus 4. The idea is simple: Rather than plug in the device, you rest it on something else connected to electricity. My question: If the phone lays down to charge anyway, why not just plug in and save, in this instance, $59.99 before tax and shipping?
I paid Google Play just that in a moment of weakness, and later regret. Don't bother, and that's really good advice. The Nexus 4 Wireless Charger is more than a wasteful, redundant accessory. The design is fundamentally flawed, where form goes before function to ruin. If you read no further, take away this: Save your money for something else.
Accessories can make a portable device better. If you own the ASUS-manufactured, Google-branded Nexus 7 tablet, surely there is a case protecting it; sometimes, anyway. Some can prop the tablet, but there's another option. Can a dock improve the user experience and even extend the utility? That's what this quickie review seeks to answer.
The Nexus 7 dock is the official issue, made by ASUS, and sold from Google Play for $29.99. I ordered mine in late January, for $39.99, from B&H Photo, back when only third parties carried the accessory. Since then, the retailer dropped the price by five bucks. B&H took my order when the dock was out of stock, but shipped 8 days later. If you want this thing, don't be deterred by availability elsewhere but forget Google Play, which isn't taking orders as I write. Expect to spend more elsewhere. By the way, I would have waited and paid less, had I known better.
Blink and you missed it. Registration for Google's developer conference opened at 10 a.m. EDT this morning and sold out fast. With so much candy to offer -- Android Key Lime Pie, Chromebook Pixel, Glass and Google Now -- I'm not exactly surprised. Google I/O 2012 was big, and this year's event promises to be even bigger. I got the "Google I/O is sold out" on the registration page around 10:48 a.m.
Google charges $900 for general developer admission and $300 for students or school faculty. The event takes place in San Francisco from May 15-17. Considering the goodies Google gives attendees, some people might sign up just for the hope of free Glass or Pixel (don't hold your breath). Last year, attendees got Galaxy Nexus, Nexus Q and Nexus 7. Oh yeah, Train performed live.
My joy at receiving Nexus 7 32GB HSPA as a day-after-Christmas present turned to deep disappointment just two weeks later. Google replaced the device, and a second runs down the battery in about 15 hours, whether sitting idle or actively used. Near as I can tell, and others share my problem, Android 4.2 is root problem. My woes with the replacement tablet started with the point-two update, while others suffering similar misery report troubles with 4.2.1. Google really needs to fix this problem. Fast.
I wasted many hours troubleshooting. The prescribed fix is restore and reset, which I've done about a half-dozen times. No change. Perhaps the cellular radio drains the battery fast. I removed the SIM. No change. Maybe one of my apps keeps Nexus 7 from going idle. I restored and set up with my wife's Google account. No change. The battery app consistently lists the "screen" as top consumer, which suggests something prevents the tablet from going idle. Last night, I charged up. Nine hours and thirty-minutes later, there is 45 percent charge. At that rate, I'll set a new record: 16 -- maybe even 17 -- hours to zero. What a lucky day this is.
One year ago, March 6, 2012, Google renamed Android Market, and nothing is the same sense. The rebranded Google Play pushed forward a transition started in November 2011, with the broad expansion of content beyond apps. The name change also represented something bigger, shift in emphasis away from broader Android to the search giant's siloed services and brands. Google sought to imitate Apple while tackling wild Amazon.
On Play's first birthday, Google Android -- not the skinned software Amazon, HTC, LG, Samsung and others ship -- is a 98-pound weakling gone super steroids. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company sells apps, ebooks, gift cards, magazines, music, movies, TV shows and devices through the online store. There were no devices available a year ago, but now accessories, Chromebooks, smartphones and tablets. Three different computers are available, including the new and Google-branded Chromebook Pixel. Also: Two different Nexus 4 smartphones and Nexus 10 tablets and three Nexus 7 slates -- four if counting 32GB HSPA+ models twice, with different cellular SIMs.
Little less than a week ago, after replying to tweets from disgruntled users, Verizon revealed that the Galaxy Nexus will "soon" receive a software update. The big red did not provide any specifics and, judging by its past track record, "soon" means "months down the road" as updates usually roll out with the speed of a snail cruising down the highway in rush-hour traffic.
But great news! Well, sort of. Less than a month after Google rolled out Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean for the other Nexus devices, the Verizon-branded Galaxy Nexus has also received the latest iteration of the green droid operating system albeit via an OTA (Over-The-Air) update file. The OTA update was uncovered by enthusiasts, but comes straight from Google's servers which means that it might hit all devices "soon" (as Verizon likes to say).
We've had to wait a tad longer than expected, but it's finally here. The team behind the popular custom Android distribution CyanogenMod unveiled the second monthly release based on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, more than a month after the last build.
Like it usually happens with monthly builds, with CyanogenMod 10.1 M2 the focus is on stability improvements rather than introducing numerous new features that have yet to pass rigorous testing. As a result some of the latest features found in nightly builds may be left behind for future monthly releases in order to provide a custom Android distribution suited for daily-driver use.
Two weeks ago my colleague Alan Buckingham expressed his disappointment for the lack of software updates on the Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Because of it, he even suggests that "Google should NEVER let Verizon sell another Nexus device". Is all hope lost?
On its Twitter account, replying to the post of a disgruntled user, the big red has confirmed that the Galaxy Nexus will receive a software update, presumably to Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean or newer. The carrier did not provide an exact release date and only suggested a rough estimate -- "soon".
Forget about the boring Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III for a moment, because while they may be impressive in their own right, both handsets now pale in comparison to the HTC-built Google Nexus One. The three year-old smartphone is the first to reach outer space and is circling around the Earth right now -- a feat that easily tops any other hardware or software feature.
HTC claims the Nexus One is the "world's first smartpho-naut" after the Android-powered device skyrocketed onto orbit from India, aboard the STRaND-1 nanosatellite. And that's not the best part. The STRaND-1 features WARP DRiVE (Water Alcohol Resistojet Propulsion Deorbit Re-entry Velocity Experiment) and electric PPTs (Pulsed Plasma Thrusters). How cool does that sound?