Take a look at your wallet. How many debit cards, credit cards and loyalty cards do you have? If it's anything like mine it is probably bursting at the seams with an inch or more of plastic cards. Reach the checkout in a store and you may well have ended up red-faced as you rummage for the right payment and loyalty card. With Coin, all of this could come to an end. The idea of a catch-all replacement that combines multiple cards into one is not new, but thus far solutions have taken the form of mobile apps. Coin is different -- this is a real card that acts as many.
Coins have a tendency to weigh down your pockets, but this Coin is a single lightweight unit. The card features an integrated display which you can use to view the last four digits of a stored card along with the expiration data and CVV so you, and the person you hand the card to, knows which of your stored cards you are using. You may well have used a mobile app that replaces loyalty cards, and Coin is taking this idea to the next level.
There’s been a considerable buzz surrounding smart watches in the last few months but it seems that they won’t be featuring in many letters to Santa. According to technology research specialists Gartner, premium pricing combined with a vague idea of the benefits they can offer will lead to disappointing smart watch sales.
"Samsung and other well-known vendors have recently entered the smart watch space, yet the products we have seen so far have been rather uninspiring in terms of design, available apps and features," says Annette Zimmermann, principal research analyst at Gartner. "As a result, Gartner predicts that wearable devices will remain a companion to mobile phones at least through 2017, with less than one percent of premium phone users opting to replace their phone with a combination of a wearable device and a tablet".
Of all top Android manufacturers, HTC and Motorola seem to be among the least likely players to release timely Android upgrades. Prior to the One and Moto X neither of the two has actually been quick to announce immediate roll-outs nor reassuring plans to do so for the foreseeable future. Yet here we are today with both HTC and Motorola doing just that. Interesting how their strategies have changed.
HTC's US arm has announced that the North American models of the HTC One will receive the Android 4.4 KitKat upgrade by the end of January 2014. This estimate also includes the Verizon version, which has yet to even get Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. HTC, however, says that this situation will not affect its plans.
It would be a strange week if Google didn’t steal a few headlines, and this week saw the introduction of new quick actions to Gmail as well as the launch of a series of online tools to help with the aftermath of the Philippines typhoon. Changes were also made to attachments in Gmail so it is now possible to download files directly to Google Drive. After the launch of the Nexus 5 -- which Brian was not blown away by -- Google also started to roll out Android 4.4 to Nexus tablets -- Mihaita was on hand with a guide to manually upgrading for anyone who did not want to wait for the OTA update to arrive. The news wasn't so good for the Chromebook 11 which was taken off sale after problems with overheating chargers. Google won a court battle after a judge ruled that the scanning of books is not illegal.
This week it was revealed that while BitTorrent still accounts for a large proportion of web traffic, and usage has actually increased in Europe, in the States there has been a drop in traffic. Anyone who seeks entertainment through other channels will be pleased by the fact that Roku streaming boxes can now be used to access Disney and ESPN channels. The Netflix channel was also updated with a new look.
Following the lead of US airlines, the European Commission gives the go-ahead for the use of 3G and 4G services during flights. The Commission is permitting the use of UMTS and LTE data connections on aircraft above altitudes of 3,000 meters in the European Union (EU). Up until now, only 2G (GSM) usage has been allowed and the decision paves the way for passengers to make use of high speed data connections, although the decision about whether to permit this on individual flights lies with airlines.
The Commission's announcement makes it clear that the decision does not translate into an automatic right for passengers to use data connections, at least partly because aircraft need to be adapted.
The head of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), Tom Wheeler, is calling for phone providers to pass rules that will make it easier for handset owners to unlock their devices. In a letter to Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA The Wireless Association, Wheeler says that "enough time has passed, and it is now time for the industry to act voluntarily or for the FCC to regulate". He goes on to call for the unlocking policy to be put in place before the December holiday season.
Wheeler is concerned that despite eight months of collaboration between CTIA and the FCC to make changes to CTIA's Consumer Code, these changes are yet to be made. The FCC is asking for five specific rules to be put in place to make it easier for consumers to unlock their phones.
Nexus users love to fiddle with their smartphones and tablets by tearing off the stock software and experimenting with custom Android distributions, kernels, recoveries and whatever else is different from what is offered out-of-the-box. More often than not this all works fine, but it is not uncommon for something to break beyond easy repair. And, that is when Nexus modders turn to Google's factory images for help to return their devices to stock software.
After kicking off the roll-out of the KitKat upgrade, Google released the Android 4.4 factory images for the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7. The Nexus 5 received this treatment right after launch while the Nexus 10 is still waiting for the search giant's stamp of approval.
Two days ago IDC released its latest Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker report, showing growth for both Android and Windows Phone and drops for iOS and BlackBerry.
Today Gartner provides details on worldwide mobile phone sales to end users, with the big news being that smartphones accounted for 55 percent of all mobile phone sales in the third quarter of 2013.
In August 2011, Google purchased Motorola Mobility (which was Motorola's cellular phone division prior to 2011). Google was good at software and services, but had little experience in making hardware for the mass market. Motorola had plenty of experience in building cell phones, starting with the first flip/clamshell mobile phone, the StarTAC, which was released in 1996. On paper, a good marriage, but the detractors complained that it was coming at too high a cost ($12.5 billion) even though buying Motorola Mobility gave Google ownership of a potentially valuable patent portfolio that it could use to defend itself against Apple and Microsoft.
The first child of this marriage, born in August 2013, was Moto X -- an Android smartphone that was to be Motorola's competitor to the iPhone. The main idea behind the Moto brand was to focus on user experience rather than technical specs. Focusing on the later had resulted in the Droid brand, which, although quite successful when it launched in 2009, perhaps owed most of its success due to a massive marketing campaign and the fact that it was the only decent smartphone available on the Verizon network (at that time, in United States, the iPhone was only available on the AT&T network). In 2013, with the smartphone market dominated, at least profit-wise, by Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy phones, it was time to try a new approach.
Motorola's newest smartphone is an aggressive response to Samsung, white box manufacturers and Apple in markets that matter -- where more people use feature phones rather than smart ones but will soon convert. The $179 pricing appeals, particularly for the features, benefits and design.
The U.S. manufacturer sells Moto G unlocked and contract-free, for a price more realistic than iPhone, or even many Samsung handsets, while delivering most -- if not all -- of the more desirable features. I highlight the major reasons why Moto G matters.
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.
Windows Phone may be the fastest growing major smartphone platform, but its market share still has a long way to go in order to become an imminent threat to Apple's iPhones, let alone Android smartphones. The latest IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker report shows, once again, Microsoft's tiled mobile OS in the same distant third place, far behind its more popular rivals, despite the impressive 156 percent year-over-year growth in shipments from Q3 2013.
"Android and Windows Phone continued to make significant strides in the third quarter. Despite their differences in market share, they both have one important factor behind their success: price", says IDC research manager Ramon Llamas. "Both platforms have a selection of devices available at prices low enough to be affordable to the mass market, and it is the mass market that is driving the entire market forward". That difference in market share that Llamas mentions is a whopping 77.4 percentage points, between Android's 81 percent and Windows Phone's mere 3.6 percent; put differently, Android shipments (211.6 million units) were 22.27 times higher than those of Windows Phones (at 9.5 million units).
Launched earlier this year in Barcelona, KNOX, as we reported at the time, is a secure Android platform powering Samsung Galaxy devices. It's designed to strengthen Android by using hardware features to provide the highest level of protection. KNOX is aimed at offering security whilst remaining manageable and addresses the need to separate work and play on the same device.
With the launch of a partner program, Samsung is helping resellers and independent software vendors to provide extra value for their customers and extend the benefits of KNOX to the enterprise market. It provides partners with assets, resources and training to help them provide support for Samsung devices. Compatibility is included for existing master data management (MDM) solutions to allow resellers to offer a complete solution or work with existing installations.
The rise of intelligent machines has long been fertile ground for science fiction writers, but a new report by technology research specialists Gartner suggests that the future is closer than we think.
"Smartphones are becoming smarter, and will be smarter than you by 2017," says Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "If there is heavy traffic, it will wake you up early for a meeting with your boss, or simply send an apology if it is a meeting with your colleague. The smartphone will gather contextual information from its calendar, its sensors, the user's location and personal data".
Another busy week with more news than you could shake a stick at. Following the release of KitKat, Google was riding high as figures revealed that Jelly Bean is now installed on more than half of Android devices. It’s a similar story for Microsoft. Its previous operating system, Windows 7, is still the most popular while growth for Windows 8 and 8.1 remains slow. It was better news for Windows Phone which is making serious inroads into Android and iOS's share of the mobile market in Europe, and even managed to overtake Apple in Italy.
It seems that more people want to be able to use the latest and greatest version of Android, and following the announcement that the Galaxy Nexus would not receive a KitKat update, a petition was quickly launched to try to change Google's mind. Showing that the march of progress will always leave casualties, Google announced that Internet Explorer 9 will no longer be supported by Google Apps, and Windows 7 users gained Internet Explorer 11. To push the launch, Microsoft unveiled a new Anime ad campaign focusing on the browser's improved security.