While I love Android, I am open-minded. Despite the fact that I collect Android figures, I am no "fan-boy" of Google's mobile operating system. My choice to use the OS is because I like it. Over the years, I have tried Palm OS, iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone -- all of these smartphone-focused operating systems are good in their own ways. However, I fell in love with the counter-culture aspect of Android -- hacking, rooting, flashing roms; it was fun.
The holy grail of this sub-culture of Android is the Nexus smartphone. You see, these phones are easy to tinker with because you can easily unlock the bootloader, plus they have a pure Android experience. The newest such smartphone, the Nexus 5, has the Android community giddy with excitement. The phone sold out almost immediately and it is currently on backorder for weeks. If you check eBay, you will find the device selling for more than MSRP. You must be thinking that this phone is amazing right? I am sorry to say it's not. It's just OK. It's also one of the best Android phones you can buy. Confused? Read on.
Up until now, if you wanted to try out Android 4.4 KitKat, there were only two options available -- buy a new Nexus 5 that has the OS preinstalled, or download a custom ROM and roll your own. Now there is a new option, at least if you have a Nexus 7 or Nexus 10, as Google is rolling out the latest version of Android to its flagship tablets.
It is not just owners of the latest Nexus 7 who are in luck as the update is also being made available to the 2012 model. The fact that KitKat is rolling out to older hardware will please many people. Sadly, there has been no change of heart -- not yet, anyway -- for Galaxy Nexus owners hoping for an upgrade.
Five words, 25 letters, all indicating the latest addition to Apple's growing iPad family. Let's try to skirt over the name that extends to almost Tolstoyan lengths before we get too bogged down in it. But it does bear mentioning that this is a name no one is going to use; this is the iPad mini, perhaps the 'new' iPad mini to help differentiate from its predecessor. However it's not just the official title that's big… there's that price tag too.
While the price is not a new revelation -- we knew about it when the new iPad mini was announced a few weeks back -- now that the latest model is actually available to purchase, it seems a good time to reassess it. Head over to the Apple website and you can pick up the diminutive tablet for $399. And that's just the base price.
To help with the emergency in the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck, Google launches a series of tools to assist those affected by the disaster. The website can be used by anyone looking for friends or relatives who have been lost, as well as by those who have information about the whereabouts of individuals. With information very hard to get hold off in the area, this is a valuable service to those hunting for loved ones.
It is possible to visit the site and perform a search for anyone using their full name, or just part of it. Where possible, details about whether the individual has been located alive and well are provided, although there is the disclaimer that "Google does not review or verify the accuracy of this data". To help keep the people database up to date, anyone with information is invited to share information about people they know to be alive.
While the Nexus 5 is relatively inexpensive (in smartphone terms) at $349, you should still protect your investment. Android fans will likely want the official bumper case, but that costs $35 -- a bit expensive at 10 percent the cost of the device itself.
I decided to purchase an alternative, third-party case, so that I can compare the two. The Cruzerlite series of cases are quite popular on Amazon -- they are inexpensive, look good and get great reviews. And so, I chose the Cruzerlite Bugdroid Circuit Case which is almost a third cheaper at $12.95. The question becomes, which deserves your hard-earned money?
This week Google put an end to all the speculation and finally launched not only the Nexus 5 but also the new version of Android -- KitKat. There were no great surprises as there had been so many leaks prior to launch that we knew pretty much everything there was to know, but it was good have the rumors confirmed. Expect a full review in the very near future. The Nexus 5 comes with KitKat preinstalled, but it will also be available as an upgrade for a number of other handsets. As it this wasn't quite enough for Google, the company also donated 17,000 Nexus 7s to communities affected by Hurricane Sandy.
After the recent announcement, the iPad Air went on sale, and Logitech was ready with a series of cases.
Ending months of rumors and speculation, Google puts all of our minds at rest and announces that the Nexus 5 not only exists (as if we didn’t already know following all of the leaked images!) but is launching now.
It does seem like an age since we first (apparently) caught a glimpse of this phone in a Nexus 7 video, but now we know it to be true. The Nexus 5 is here, and it looks like it's everything we could have hoped it would be.
It may be a year since Sandy struck, but the effects of the storms are still being felt. To mark the anniversary, Google is donating 17,000 Nexus 7 tablets to communities still feeling the impact of the hurricane. The devices, worth a total of $2.7 million, have been donated to community centers, libraries and other centers in the affected areas in New York.
The tablets were donated to the non-for-profit service the New York State Community Action Association who worked with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to store and distribute the devices. The Nexus 7s will be used in a number of ways including being loaned out as e-readers in areas where libraries are yet to re-open.
This was another week in which Microsoft managed to steal the show, this time with the public release of Windows 8.1. Here at BetaNews we were fully prepared for the upgrade and showed off what's new. While we're generally impressed with the update, there's still a little room for improvement. Of course the Start menu (or lack thereof) is still a sticking point, but you can get this back. The operating system update was preceded by a raft of updates to Window's built in apps.
Windows 8.1 may be where it's at right now, but there are still plenty of people running Windows XP. Google announced that Chrome users on XP would be supported for a year after the OS is retired.
Google's Nexus 5 is a hotly anticipated handset, and over the past few weeks there have been numerous leaked images purporting to show what the device looks like.
Now it looks as though the speculation can come to an end after Google accidentally listed the device in the Play store, complete with pricing details. The temporary listing -- which has now been removed -- showed the 16GB model costing $349, and featured the tagline "capture the everyday and the epic in fresh new ways".
In another busy week, Microsoft continued to promote Internet Explorer 11 by showing off some of the new features that will be available to Windows 8 users. At the same time, the company released a tool that lets Windows 7 users block the update. Microsoft also announced that it would speed up the approval process for apps submitted to the Windows Store, so initial certification can be complete within five days.
Moving away from the desktop, champagne corks were popping as it was revealed that Raspberry Pi has sold 1.75 million units. After the launch of Mavericks, Mihaita was taken with his MacBook Air, and I was quite impressed with the Tesco Hudl -- although it's not going to be replacing my Nexus 7 any time soon.
The Nexus 7 has gone down well with the team here at BetaNews (despite a few teething problems) and it's proving popular with a lot of other people as well. Part of the tablet's appeal is that it offers great value for money. But just because something is relatively cheap, it does not mean that it should not be looked after.
Whatever phone or tablet you have, there are countless protective skins to choose from and also various ways in which to stamp your mark on your mobile device. With a couple of Nexus 7's (Nexi?) to take care of, I thought I'd take a look at some of the options that are available. The official sleeve has been available for a while and the official case has been unveiled. At $50 it's worth seeing what else is out there as well.
Many people are settling into the idea that a 7 inch screen is the ideal size for a tablet. The extra screen space provided by a 10 inch model sounds great in theory, but it does result in a device that is slightly more cumbersome to take from place to place. Looked at in terms of portability, 7 inches is perfect -- large enough to make most tasks easy, but small enough to easily slip into a bag, if not necessarily a pocket.
The slightly smaller size also makes an important difference to the price tag, and there is a burgeoning market for tablets of this size. It is interesting to see that as the screens of phones gradually get larger and larger, the general trend for the tablet is to shrink -- the two are on a collision course!
Facebook's Graph Search is being updated to include more information from the social network. The personalized search engine previously allowed for searching of people, photos, places and interests when it was launched back at the beginning of the year. Now posts from you and your friends as well as status updates can be included in searches allowing you to get even more specific about what you're looking for.
Also included in the update is the ability to search for status updates, photo captions, check-ins and comments. There are various ways in which searches can be used to hone in on the content you're looking for, and natural language searching is the order of the day. Want to see the posts your online contacts have made about Microsoft's latest operating system? Just search for "posts about Windows 8.1 by my friends". Results can be limited by date as well, so you could search for "posts about Nexus 7 from the last month".
When I bought the first-generation iPad in 2010, I intended to use it for taking notes in college classes. Unfortunately, the iPad didn't come with an office suite and Microsoft's was not available. And so, I was forced to try a bunch of alternatives. Ultimately, I found one that stood out among the rest -- Quickoffice. I found it to be complete and a pleasure to use.
While my iPad is long gone, Quickoffice has followed me to Android with great results. However, Google bought my beloved Quickoffice in June 2012 and I became very nervous. My concern was that the software development would cease under Google's leadership. I am happy to say that my concerns were for naught -- Google announces today that QuickOffice has been updated and is now free.