If you had to put money on what type of app Google would release next, you probably wouldn't have wagered much on this. Forget searching, maps, and cloud storage, Google Opinion Rewards is an app that you can use to earn credit that can be spent at Google Play. Sounds good? Well, you have to be willing to do a little work. What's the catch? The clue's in the name of the app: you'll have to spend time completing surveys.
The free Android app is available in the US only (for the moment, at least) and once you have created a basic profile you will be notified whenever a new survey is ready to be completed. Unlike other paid surveys, it looks as though there is going to be a limit on how many are announced. The frequency is described as being "about once a week".
Amazon began shipping its seven-inch Kindle Fire HDX back on October 18, going directly after the Google Nexus for supremacy of the low-price tablet market. Now the company follows up by announcing that the larger version is heading out the door today.
The 8.9-inch Fire HDX weighs in at 13.2 ounces, which Amazon claims makes it "the lightest large-screen tablet". It also features a 339 ppi display, and boasts three times the processing power, two times the memory and four times the graphics performance of the previous generation. Fire OS 3.0, the new mobile operating system, also features a "mayday" button -- for those in need of a bit of hand-holding.
When reporting on PC shipments, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be bad news these days. However, the latest PC shipment news from Gartner can’t really be described as bad, more like out and out disastrous.
Shipments in Western Europe totaled 11.9 million units in the third quarter of 2013, a decline of 12.8 percent from the same period in 2012. The drop relates to all PC segments. Mobile and desktop shipments fell by 14.5 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively. PC shipments in the professional PC market shrank by 8.3 percent, and the consumer PC market plummeted by 17.1 percent. Tablets, naturally, are to blame, although Windows 8 and 8.1 have a part to play in the collapse too.
IDC recently announced its tablet shipment estimates for Q3 2013 that showed a 6 percent growth over the previous quarter. This growth was entirely driven by large, branded Android tablet vendors as iPad demand declined ahead of the product refresh. This left the Android platform with a 65 percent share of the overall market. Let's take a deeper look at these figures in context of tablet market tiers.
As I had explained previously, the tablet market can broadly be categorized into multiple tiers, based on usage patterns. Here's a look at IDC's data in context of market tiers:
The Lenovo Yoga 10 tablet looked great... until I turned it on. You see, when I did the unboxing, the build quality felt solid. Holding it my hands, I had high hopes; the integrated kickstand was intriguing. The tablet itself resembles an Apple Magic Trackpad.
While most tablets are just rectangular slabs, the integrated kickstand allows the Yoga to stand up on its own. I was particularly blown-away by just how well-made the kickstand is; it's crafted from thick aluminum. This enables the tablet to be used as a display for watching video services like Hulu Plus or Netflix. However, the overall package is a cruel joke -- beautiful on the outside but horrible on the inside.
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.
After a long string of leaks and rumors, Google has officially launched Android 4.4 KitKat. The new mobile operating system, that has debuted alongside the Nexus 5, focuses on polishing the overall user experience, adding new features and improvements aimed at both entry-level and high-end devices. As usual, the big question is: When will your smartphone and/or tablet get the upgrade?
Google was among the first companies to reveal its plans for the upgrade. The search giant has announced that Android 4.4 KitKat will soon be available for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, as well as the Google Play editions of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 in the following weeks.
Just in time for Hallowe'en, Google takes us all out of our misery and officially launches Android 4.4 -- or KitKat as it is rather sweetly known. As with the Nexus 5, we have known pretty much what to expect from KitKat for a little while now. Google's blog post heralding the arrival of the latest version of the OS is a little understated and doesn't give much away.
One thing is particularly interesting. Rather than blowing its own trumpet and boasting about rafts of new features -- although this will probably follow -- Google has chosen to highlight the fact that Android 4.4 can run comfortably on devices with as little as 512MB RAM. The blog post points out that it is not just the operating system that has been put on a diet (ironic when you consider the origins of the name) but all Google services such as YouTube and Chrome.
Google groupies make too much of third quarter tablet shipment estimates released yesterday. By IDC's reckoning, Apple's global share fell from 40.2 percent to 29.6 percent year over year. Meanwhile, Samsung soared from 12.4 percent to 20.4 percent share. The whole Android market grew at iPad's expense -- that's the popular contention smirked across the InterWebs. Yeah, right.
Apple apologists are quick to give the money rebuttal whenever market share tides turn against the products -- that the fruit-logo company earns more per device than rivals, sometimes all of them combined. The revenue rebuttal is exhausting for being so predictable but often also it's right and no truer than the tablet market. Q3 share numbers make lots of sense behind CEO Tim Cook's shocking decision to raise iPad mini 2 prices by $70 over the original -- that's about 22 percent. Profit share is his priority.
When I embarked on my Microsoft-only journey, I was scared. After all, my professional life and career depends on my use of technology. By limiting myself to only one company and its products, there could be room for more harm rather than good. However, I was also excited to try something new and share it with you.
In reality, people will not purposely restrict their choice in computing; they will choose the devices they want, regardless of brand. Quite frankly, many people mix and match brands and operating systems -- Windows laptop with an iPhone, iMac with an Android smartphone, etc. While I was using a Surface 2 with a Windows Phone in my experiment, that is not necessarily a common combination.
Music choices continue to grow for the new mobile generation. While most services found on your phone are also an option for the tablet in your life, Pandora has been curiously absent from the larger screen. Not that it wouldn't work -- it has been at home on my Kindle Fire HD for sometime now -- but, it wasn't dedicated to the platform.
Today that changes. Mike Grishaver of Pandora proclaims "we’re excited to unveil our latest version of Pandora, designed specifically for Android tablets, and available for download starting today via Google Play".
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.
When it comes to Android tablets, they are all rather ho-hum; big rectangular slabs. In an effort to use them comfortably as a display or for watching a movie, clunky cases and folios must be purchased in order to prop them up. Sure, you can lean it against something and hope it doesn't fall over, but that is risky business.
Lenovo feels the pain of Android users and has created a new solution -- a better way, if you will. The company has been teasing a device for three weeks now, but it is finally unveiled. Meet the all-new Lenovo Yoga Tablet.
Surface is the tablet market's laughing stock. Microsoft has introduced the two-slate lineup in an attempt to steer consumers away from Apple's iPads and the myriad of Android tablets, by luring them with Windows and its services. In theory, the idea sounded great when the lineup was unveiled in June, last year, showing plenty of promise from the get-go but, as it turns out, most people only want Windows on their desktops and laptops, and not on tablets. The lineup has yet to make great strides in the business segment also.
The moment of truth was in mid-July when Microsoft revealed a $0.9 billion write-off related to Surface RT inventory adjustments. This has clearly shown that the software giant planned to sell a lot more units while the market had other plans, which involved (yes, you guessed it) iPads and Android tablets. Fast-forward a quarter later and Microsoft is now carefully choosing its words, saying that Surface sales have since more than doubled but without announcing an exact number of units that were shifted during the three months ending September 30. But, the $400 million in revenue that the lineup generated still points to a bleak quarter, despite a different picture being portrayed.
I am the sort of person who values a versatile device, that lends itself well both to productivity work and content consumption, in a portable package. In my opinion, Microsoft's Surface Pro 2 strikes the right balance and is definitely the tablet that I would buy if I were in the market for such a device. On the productivity side, it is an uncompromised machine that can run every piece of software that I want or need. Unquestionably, it puts Apple's new iPad Air to shame in this regard.
But the same cannot be said about the Surface 2, that ships with Windows RT 8.1. The tablet is not as good as the Surface Pro 2 when it comes to productivity work as it cannot run the same software nor is it as good as the iPad Air when it comes to content consumption, due to a still inferior app selection. But what happens when the Surface 2 is compared to the iPad Air, from a productivity standpoint?