Articles about Smartphones

The most popular stories on BetaNews this past week: June 22 -- 28

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The battle for dominance between Microsoft and Google continued, with Microsoft offering a huge storage boost for Office 365 and OneDrive users. This was quickly trumped by Google later in the week at 1/0 2014, when the company announced unlimited storage for Google Drive for Work users. Microsoft is basking in the glory of being heralded as cooler than Apple by Joe -- and stunts like offering cashback deals to sway MacBook Air owners into switching into Surface Pro 3 certainly helps. Microsoft opened a new store on Long Island, while Google branched out into new territory with a trial run of a new domain registration service. Microsoft also ventured into new waters with its first Android smartphone, the Nokia X2.

In something of an interesting twist, Microsoft opted to use Opera Mobile as the default web browser. Opera is also returning to Linux after the surprise release of Opera 24 Developer. Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" KDE was also released. Linux also managed to hit the headlines for facilitating the hacking of Google's Nest thermstats. If this hasn’t put you off, Logitech added support to its Harmony remotes.

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Smart consumers will be Android Wear wary

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I find the whole smartwatch craze rather amusing, even more so now that Google has officially announced Android Wear, with two models, made by LG and Samsung, shipping next month. One-day battery life? Bwaaahaha. Do they never learn? Microsoft-powered smartwatches got better than that a decade ago, and short battery life still turned out to be one of the main reasons the timepieces failed.

In product design you can never ignore existing behavior. A watch is a set-it, and forget-it device. I suppose some gadget geeks accustomed to daily smartphone charges (or less) will be dumb enough to buy. But smart consumers will be Android Wear wary. Just ask Microsoft about the road to ruin, which is paved with the best intentions, the right manufacturing partners, and concept seemingly smart that isn't.

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Android owners spend less on apps than Apple users do

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Many Google fans and developers are still excited in the wake of an eventful Google I/O 2014. From a transcendent show-opener where a metaphor-heavy Rube Goldberg device crossed through the physical and digital space to more discussion on the expansion of wearable technology, there was something for everyone at this developer conference.

The US tech giant's big hitter of this year was an emphasis on improving the integration of Android apps more seamlessly into users' everyday lives. Conference attendants were also granted an unprecedented look at the figures behind Android users' buying habits in the Play Store.

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How to install Android L preview on your Nexus 5, 7

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At the I/O 2014 conference, Google showcased the latest version of Android, known only as L until its official launch later this year. Compared to its predecessor, KitKat, it comes with 64-bit support, design changes, the ART runtime running the show, tightened security, battery life and performance improvements, notifications tweaks, new APIs and more.

Android L may not yet be ready for prime time, but a preview version is now available for Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (2013 Wi-Fi model), giving users the option to get comfortable with the slew of changes it introduces. Here is how you can download and install it.

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HTC vows to quickly offer Android L on all One (M7), (M8) models

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Taiwanese maker HTC is now, undoubtedly, at the pinnacle of timely Android upgrades. It was among the first to announce and deliver KitKat, and now it is stepping up to the plate once again by revealing its Android "L" plans.

HTC says all of its One (M7) and One (M8) smartphones will receive Android L within 90 days of getting the final bits of code from Google. That means both unlocked and mobile operator-branded versions of its two most-recent flagships; One (M7) -- as the original One is referred to by HTC now -- arrived more than a year ago, while One (M8) was launched in late-March, 2014.

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Google I/O 2014 Day 1: What you need to know

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Google I/O 2014 started yesterday and, thanks to a lengthy first-day keynote, the search giant has already made plenty of headlines one after another. And for good reason, as it unveiled new software, new hardware (albeit none of it was Nexus-branded) and a number of sweeping changes to its portfolio. Say what you will, but Google sure had plenty of interesting things to show without even announcing a new Nexus tablet (as we were used to in the past two years).

The amount of information from the conference is overwhelming, so here is the tl;dr version.

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What happens now that phones can see?

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Photos give us a window to the world -- our own experiences can only show us so much. Photos give us a richness of experience and perspective that we would otherwise be devoid of. The sudden existence of billions of smart phones, which take trillions of photos and videos per year, has given us the biggest increase we’ve seen yet in rich user data -- and now we have the technology to start to make sense of that data.

With this new technology, it’s now possible to analyze photos for myriad applications. For example, at Jetpac we use 100s of millions of travel photos shared on Instagram to develop the Jetpac City Guides app, and do object recognition on the photos to be able to recommend places such as restaurants with patios (from the blue skies in the photos), hipster bars (by the unusually high number of mustaches we spot in photos), and the best coffee shops (from the highest proportion of latte art in photos). We've also now developed deep learning AI technology to broaden our ability to be able to recognize all objects in photos. Putting deep learning on the iPhone (Spotter by Jetpac) means we can now recognize many objects from the iPhone's real-time video feed, locally on the phone. Having minimized the technology significantly, we also have room to allow you to train the phone to recognize a specific object (Deep Belief by Jetpac).

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27 percent of websites aren't configured for smartphone searches

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A new report from SEO and content marketing specialist BrightEdge reveals that although almost 60 percent of American adults own smartphones and 40 percent own tablets, more than a quarter of websites aren’t mobile friendly.

This leads to a massive loss of potential traffic and if marketers rectify this misconfiguration, the report discovered they stand to boost smartphone traffic by 200 percent.

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Windows Phones are easier to make, so new vendors jump on board

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Microsoft has realized that the only way to get more vendors to embrace Windows Phone is to make it easier for them to release Windows Phones. And that decision is paying off if its most-recent partnerships are of any indication.

Allview and Hisense, two vendors that target specific markets using low-cost devices, are now supporting the platform. The former, a Romanian company, has unveiled two new Windows Phones while the latter, which is based in China, has teased its newfound affinity for the tiled smartphone operating system on microblogging site Sina Weibo.

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HTC pokes fun at the Samsung Galaxy S5's 'bad design'

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HTC has taken to Twitter to have a dig at Android competitor Samsung’s design flaws when it comes to the latter’s flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone.

The US Twitter account of the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer posted a picture that pictured its HTC One M8 next to a lineup of three different colored plasters along with the slogan "Introducing the cure for bad design".

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Microsoft launches its first Android smartphone -- the Nokia X2

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At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) back in February, Nokia surprised people with a new Android-powered smartphone series. The Nokia X line consists of the X, X+ and XL, with the devices designed to fit somewhere between Nokia's low-end Ashas and high-end Windows Phones. There was speculation that once Microsoft had taken over the Finnish manufacturer's mobile business that this new line would be killed off -- keeping the focus solely on Windows Phone devices -- but that turns out not to be the case.

Today Microsoft announces the Nokia X2, which the tech giant introduces "as the newest addition to the expanding Nokia X family of affordable smartphones designed to introduce the 'next billion' people to the mobile Internet and cloud services". Like the Nokia X, the new device gives users access to both Android apps and popular Microsoft services, like Skype, Outlook.com, and OneDrive.

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Apple, Google and the kings of 'abandonware'

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"Abandonware". It’s the scourge of the industry. Every time a vendor abandons a software product, a puppy dies. Or an orphan. Or a Java developer.

Regardless, nobody likes to see their favorite app/game/platform get left behind. It’s the worst kind of techie betrayal. You spend days, weeks or even months mastering a product only to have the virtual rug pulled out from under you.

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BlackBerry Passport to arrive in September

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BlackBerry is still alive and kicking in the smartphone market, at least in terms of intentions if not market share, and the company will be launching a major handset by the name of Passport this September.

This phone was previously known as "Windermere", and the spec was rumoured last month, with the handset boasting a 4.5-inch screen with a 1440 x 1440 resolution, offering a very sharp 453 dpi.

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Hyped OnePlus One smartphone sees yet another delay

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A shipment of OnePlus One smartphones heading for Europe has been delayed for two weeks due to having incorrect font on the back of the handsets.

In a somewhat embarrassing setback, Android World reported that the company explained to consumers the reasons for the delay to the prototype shipment in an e-mail sent this week.

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The most popular stories on BetaNews this past week: June 15 -- 21

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This is the week of the Surface Pro 3. Brian had already attended the launch event earlier in the month, and has provided an essential list of hardware and software purchasers need to grab for the best all round experience -- he even goes as far as suggesting that it's better than a MacBook Air. Even before launch there was an update available for the tablet-cum-laptop, and there was also news that the Intel Core i3 and i7 models would be shipping earlier than previously expected. But not all of the products we looked at this week were quite so "every day". There was the wifi doorbell complete with camera, and also the prospect of charging your phone wirelessly with your pants -- yes you did read that correctly.

The Windows Phone market is dominated by Nokia, but a new batch of handsets has been unveiled by Indian manufacturer Micromax. If Android is your mobile OS of choice, you may be thinking about venturing into the rooted world. This week a new tool was released that makes the process as quick and painless as possible, opening up a whole new breed of apps and options. Joe decided to take a walk on the wild side and adopt the Nokia Lumia Icon as his phone of choice. In the Android arena, a new contender entered -- the Amazon Fire Phone. Will a kill switch be added? Microsoft and Google have agreed to add it to their mobile operating systems.

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