Monthly Archives: July 2015

Fly Or Die: Amazon Echo

Upon first hearing about the Amazon Echo, a device that sits in the home and receives voice-powered commands, I wasn’t even remotely convinced that this could be a good idea. For one, the idea of Amazon listening to every word I say was disconcerting, and voice-powered computational tools (such as Siri and Google Now) have yet to really impress me.

But in practice, the Amazon Echo is one of the more powerful voice-powered devices on the market.

Users simply say “Alexa” to initiate a command, and can ask a wide range of questions, add items to their Amazon cart, add notes to Evernote, and control IoT devices in the home (including the Phillips Hue Lightbulbs and WiMo switches, currently).

And because it’s in the home, the Amazon Echo offers a more focused experience than products like Siri or Google Now, which attempt to live up to the standard of a smartphone by doing everything at once.

Alexa isn’t perfect — she sometimes misses her cue to answer or gets confused, and there is a limited set of questions you can ask — but for $179, Fitz and I were more than impressed with her capabilities. Plus, Amazon is opening up tools so that developers and gadget-makers can integrate their technology with the Amazon Echo, which could make the device an attractive option as the central portal for your in-home computational needs.

Two flies.

*The Amazon Echo retails for $179 for Amazon Prime members and $199 for non-Prime members. It was originally available for $99 for Prime members, thus the confusion in the video, which was recorded well before time of publishing.

(techcrunch.com)

Lenovo S21e-20 Review – an ultrabook with a crazy bezel

Lenovo S21e-20 Review – an ultrabook with a crazy bezel

 

At one time netbooks were all the rage, and though that trend has simmered down, the options for inexpensive and relatively low powered machines are as expansive as ever. Chromebooks largely fill the void left behind by netbooks, but if Chrome OS isn’t your thing, some PC makers are still releasing small laptops loaded with Windows, and Lenovo is one of them. The latest among the maker’s small netbook-like Windows offerings is the Lenovo S21e, a laptop with a small display and price tag, and very big bezel. Does it work as well as its larger siblings? Read our review to find out.

 

1. Hardware

 

The Lenovo S21e is, upon first glance, nearly identical to the maker’s N20P Chromebook, with the same feel, style, and color. The big difference is that the S21e runs Windows 8.1, whereas the N20P runs, as you’d expect, Google’s Chrome OS. Lenovo has the laptop priced at $219 USD, which makes it one of the most affordable name-brand laptops you can grab. In exchange for that price you get an 11.67-inch display, a silver outer shell, and a black inner design.

 

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Lenovo is offering two configurations of the S21e-20, one with an Intel Celeron N3540 2.16GHz processor and one with an Intel Celeron N2840 2.16GHz processor. Both run Windows 8.1 and feature an 11.6-inch LED display with an anti-glare coating and 1366 x 768 resolution. There’s Intel HD Graphics, 2GB of RAM, Lenovo BGN Wireless, Bluetooth 4.0, and a 4 cell 23.2Whr battery.

The N3540 model features 64GB of internal storage, and the N2840 model features 32GB of internal storage.

 

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The S21e-20 has a very large, noticeable bezel around the display, and that’s likely to make the body large enough to accommodate a full size keyboard and a large trackpad. That’s a benefit when it comes to typing, but one’s first impression of the laptop is that the large bezel gives the laptop a retro feel. The bezel’s size isn’t comical, however, and the laptop isn’t too large — it starts at 2.5lbs, making it light enough to tote around in a bag.

 

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The laptop has a notable number of ports, at least as far as tiny laptops go. There’s a USB 2.0 port and USB 3.0 port, a 2-in-1 card reader that supports MMC and SD, a combination audio jack for headphones and microphones, and a micro HDMI port. The laptop features an integrated microphone, as well, and stereo speakers coupled with Dolby Home Theater. The keyboard is of the chiclet variety, and though cheaper in quality than what you’ll get with a ThinkPad, it is still a solid offering and fine for long typing sessions.

 

2. Software

 

The Lenovo S21e-20 features a pre-installed app, but compared to other Lenovo laptops, the S21e features a surprising lack of bundled software. There’s the Weather Channel app, which might not be a favorite among many users, but that’s it. Lenovo’s Companion apps are nowhere to be seen.

 

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3. Performance

 

You can expect up to 5 hours of battery life, which is about an hour better than the 4 hours you’ll get with the newly introduced IdeaPad 100. The run time is typical for a laptop of this size in the budget price range, and will work for many users — those who need more will have to shell out for something like the Lenovo X250.

 

4. Conclusion

 

With the Lenovo S21e, you need to be sure your biggest requirement in a laptop is a small size and a small price tag. If both of those things matter most, any other complaints about the system will fall to the wayside, as you’ll understand that with such requirements it is necessary to make sacrifices elsewhere.

The S21e isn’t going to work as a gaming system, as a way to render videos or perform other intensive tasks. It will, however, take up little room in your bag, will let you surf the web as often as you’d like, and probably be less of a financial burden than your last car payment.

Price starts at $219 USD from Lenovo, but is available on Amazon for $179 USD.

 

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(slashgear.com)

Instagram for Android has a new edit screen

Instagram for Android has a new edit screen

 

If you use Instagram on Android, you may be seeing a new edit screen that speeds up the sharing process (and if you’re not, try updating the app – some users have had luck doing this). Some users are seeing a new so-called quick edit screen that reduces the editing and sharing process to a single screen. The screen allows those who want the more expansive process to use it, but for everyone else, filtering is reduced to swiping right and left.

If you’re familiar with the Instagram app, you’ll find that the quick edit screen is very similar to the previous editing process, only condensed. The image is shown at the top of the app, and filters are quickly applied by swiping right and left through the options.

 

 

If you need a little more than that, though, you can click the “Edit” button. A location and caption can both be added via the same screen, and at the bottom are the sharing location options. Tagging can be done via the new screen, too, using the “Tag” button.

It is, in the grand scheme of things, a small change, but one that improves the ease of use. The update appears to be quiet one, though, and it isn’t clear if all users have access to it, nor whether any changes are coming to the iOS app.

(slashgear.com)

Periscope for iOS updated with “mute” feature

Periscope for iOS updated with “mute” feature

 

Broadcasting app Periscope has pushed out an update for its iOS app, and among the changes is the ability to mute people you are following. You’ll still be able to see their feeds if you’d like, and you’ll still be following them, but if they broadcast too often you can “mute” their notifications (turn off receiving them), so that push notifications from those users become a thing of the past. This is version 1.1.3, and it is available as of today from the App Store.

The feature is similar to muting someone in Twitter — if someone tweets too often, you can silence them while remaining a follower. The same goes in Periscope for iOS, only it stops the push notifications that happen when that user starts a broadcast.

The latest version also brings some other changes, the second most notable of which is an option for setting your preferred language. This is found in one’s profile settings, and will narrow down which broadcasts you see in the global list.

Other changes include past broadcasts having “always visible” viewer statistics, and “iOS 8 Handoff” with which users can begin watching on one of their iOS devices and then transition “seamlessly” to another iOS device (assuming they both are logged into the same iCloud account and have Bluetooth turned on).

(slashgear.com)

Twitter starts blocking overt plagiarism

Twitter starts blocking overt plagiarism

 

Can’t think of anything original to tweet? If you ever feel tempted to pilfer someone’s clever quip or cheesy joke, be prepared to feel the sting of public shame. Twitter has started replacing those tweets with a boilerplate message letting others know the content was scrapped from elsewhere, and that the original content creator has issued a complaint. Take a look around Twitter and you might notice the message yourself — and you’ll also notice that many of the illicit tweeters are spam accounts, meaning this new banhammer might prove doubly useful.

News of the change was first surfaced by Plagiarism is Bad, a Twitter account, which grabbed the screenshot you see below. The blocking seems straight forward: someone tweets something, someone else steals it without credit, and the creator sends a complaint to Twitter.

 

 

The source of the joke above, which earned several other accounts boilerplate blocks, reported that her joke had been used by others without permission and without credit. Twitter responded a short while after the complaint by blocking the tweets, and presenting them with a public message.

The boilerplate simply reads that the tweet was “withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder.” Hopefully such an action will help chip away at the glut of stolen tweets. Check out the timeline below for more Twitter news!

(slashgear.com)

Google, Apple, Microsoft pledge to fight climate change

Google, Apple, Microsoft pledge to fight climate change

 

Major businesses, including several tech companies, have taken up the White House’s pledge to help combat climate change. In a statement today, the Obama administration detailed the threat climate change poses to the world as a whole, pointing out that 19 of the 20 hottest recorded years have happened in the last two decades, and that we’re already collectively experiencing things like bigger storms, longer droughts, and more frequent wildfires. That’s why the White House has launched its Climate Action Plan to cut pollution, and many companies have signed the American Business Act on Climate pledge to do their part.

According to the White House, the Climate Action Plan will cut almost 6 billion tons of carbon pollution up through the year 2030, something said to be so massive it would be equaled by removing all cars from US roads for more than four years. In addition, Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed that China will curb its emissions by about 2030.

In addition, hundreds of private companies have made a pledge to help fight climate change, and among them are some big tech companies: Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Other well known businesses that have pledged include Coca Cola, GM, UPS, Walmart, Bank of America, and Pepsi, among others.

They have all signed the American Business Act on Climate pledge, which represents their support for a “strong outcome in the Paris climate negotiations”, a commitment to action against climate change, a desire to set a positive example for other companies, and more.

(slashgear.com)

Samsung schedules Unpacked August 13th: Note 5 ahoy!

Samsung schedules Unpacked August 13th: Note 5 ahoy!

This week is bringing events from a few big companies, but Samsung is not one of them. Instead, the Korean company will be having its next event in mid-August, but before that it has started teasing what we can expect. The company fired out some invites today, announcing that it will be showing off its next big thing on August 13, and it followed the invites with an animated teaser on its Twitter account — we see rolling lines, and they (probably) mean there’s another curved display inbound.

Samsung teases that the “Next Galaxy” is coming next month, and it has elected to use the animation shown in the tweet below — dark lines rolling over the silhouette of a phone that appears to have gently curved edges on both sides. Speculation has it this is the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, of which we’ve seen several leaks in recent days.

Word also has it the upcoming Note 5 will feature a 3220mAh battery, an 8MP front camera, 16MP rear camera, and an S Pen. Of course, these are rumors at this point and yet unconfirmed; we’ll know for sure in the next three or so weeks.

When August 13 rolls around, you’ll be able to watch the event live as it happens on Samsung’s website; it starts at 11AM EST. As always, we’ll have all the details for you live as they arrive, so be sure to stay tuned. Until then check out the timeline below for recent Galaxy Note 5 leaks!

As of last week, the leaks indicated as follows: the Galaxy Note 5, as you expect, will be big, but the design will refreshed, hinting more at the Galaxy S6 rather than its older Note sibling. Sources say it’ll feature a 5.7-inch display with a 1440 x 2560 resolution, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor (or a Exynos 7422), 4GB or so of RAM, and up to 128GB of storage.

(slashgear.com)

Galaxy Note 5 gets an Exynos 7422 and some hi-res pics

Galaxy Note 5 gets an Exynos 7422 and some hi-res pics

 

One of the problems with leaks is that there is really no telling which leak is the most accurate one until the fated day finally arrives. Take for example the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, whose leaks are starting to heat up as the August 13 announcement date fast approaches. Many aspects of the S Pen phablet remains in limbo, like the presence, or absence, of an auto eject mechanism for the stylus. But perhaps the most contentious component is the CPU, which is now again said to be an Exynos 7422.

The choice of an Exynos 7422 is notable though not something end users might exactly notice. Sure, it’s an improved version of the 7420 in the Galaxy S6, but this SoC’s achievement is really on the modem, the first all-in-one that features CPU, GPU, and moden in the same chip. In short, it could be Samsung’s final piece to completely rid itself of its dependency on Qualcomm, at least on the high end.

Other leaks and rumors point to a different scenario. One has the same Exynos 7420 inside. While even more worrying is conjecture that the Galaxy Note 5 might come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 instead. This latest confirmation of the 7422 theory comes via a CPU-Z benchmark for a certain SM-N920F. The image also confirms 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. Also noted is the 5.7-inch QHD display, exactly the same as that of the Galaxy Note 4 before it.

 

galaxy-note-5-cpuz

 

But if you’re more interested in the design of the Galaxy Note 5, her’s a fresh new batch of hi res images detailing every side of the phablet. Sadly, it doesn’t give much in the way of telling use more about the S Pen.

(slashgear.com)

OnePlus 2 hands-on – The Android wild-card

OnePlus 2 hands-on – The Android wild-card

Seldom are the life-lessons so clear when you launch a follow-up product, like the new OnePlus 2 Android smartphone. Born of a desire to cater to the whims of the Android enthusiast, the requests were simple: they wanted power, they wanted affordability, and they wanted it right now. The original OnePlus One succeeded on the first two of those counts but notoriously botched the third. Now, still bearing a near-astonishing SIM-free, unlocked price tag – starting at $329 – but brought up to speed with 2015’s finest, the OnePlus 2 is aiming for the hat trick. I caught up with OnePlus to see what’s new.

The OnePlus One was never just about price, but it was certainly a key part of the story. Released for $299 in April last year, it met the specifications of more mainstream phones but with an contract-free price within spitting distance of carrier subsidized devices.

 

 

 

 

 

Likely to be controversial among Android fans wanting the very latest hardware is the screen resolution. The OnePlus 2 has a 5.5-inch LCD panel, but it runs at 1920 x 1080 for a total pixel density of 401ppi.

 

The thinking, OnePlus tells me, was that a higher-resolution screen – like the 2k becoming increasingly common on rivals’ phones – is difficult to appreciate at this size. Certainly, graphics are smooth, text is crisp, and colors good. If the decision rankles all the same, the fact that the screen should use less battery than a more pixel-dense equivalent might prove a little solace, and OnePlus is estimating at least a full day of use from a single charge.

 

OnePlus 2

 

Physically, the design is derivative but more mature. At 151.8 x 74.9 x 9.85 mm and 6.17 ounces, it’s slightly shorter and narrower than its predecessor, but a little thicker and heavier.

The original OnePlus flirted with some interesting materials, like its almost soft-touch back cover, but still felt somewhat plasticky. Happily the OnePlus 2 is a far more grown-up feeling phone.

 

OnePlus 2

 

The chrome-effect bezel of the old phone has been replaced with proper metal, drilled with a neat row of holes on the bottom for the speakers, and inset with slim buttons for power and volume, as well as a knurled three-way switch designed to play nicely with the priority notifications option in recent versions of Android.

OnePlus 2

 

Also helping are the new, interchangeable back covers. By default the OnePlus 2 will come with a Sandstone Black panel, but that can be easily removed and replaced with one of the optional alternative finishes: real Kevlar, for instance, or a choice from three different types of real wood: bamboo, black apricot, and rosewood.

They may be a thin veneer over a plastic but they look and feel great, with the wood having surprisingly deep grooves.

OnePlus has also baked in the hardware for automatic theme-switching based on which panel is attached, though it won’t be supported in the software at launch.

OnePlus 2

 

While you’ve got the back cover off, that’s the moment to slot in up to two nano SIM cards. Both SIMs are active all the time – you can receive calls on either – though only one data connection can be used.

OnePlus 2

 

OnePlus didn’t stint on connectivity options, either. In the US, there’s support for LTE on AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks, along with WiFi a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), and Bluetooth 4.1. GPS, GLONASS, and a digital compass are joined by the usual accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, and ambient light sensors.

Unusual, though, is the USB Type-C port for charging and data. USB-C is set to be the next big thing in smartphone connectivity – not least because it can be plugged in at either orientation, like Apple’s proprietary Lightning – but so far we’re yet to see a big manufacturer embrace it.

OnePlus 2

 

OnePlus is hoping to do its part in kickstarting adoption by offering its own USB to USB-C cable at cost: $5 gets you an anti-snag cord, and a homegrown double-sided USB plug that can hook up to your computer or AC adapter in either direction, too.

I’m also pleased to see a fingerprint sensor, integrated into the OnePlus 2’s home key. It only demands a tap, not a swipe, just as with the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6, and you can register up to five fingertips.

 

OnePlus 2

 

Above the screen there’s a 5-megapixel camera for selfies, while on the back there’s a 13-megapixel camera, with the sensor now provided by OmniVision rather than Sony. Combined with the six-element, f/2.0 lens is optical image stabilization and a laser focus system, similar to that on the LG G4, plus a dual-LED flash.

As you might expect, there’s support for up to 4k resolution video recording, along with a slow-motion mode. The latter, however, tops out at 720p at 120fps.

 

OnePlus 2

 

Inside the OnePlus 2 is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810, a 1.8GHz octa-core with Adreno 430 graphics. Notably, it’s the first smartphone to offer 4GB of faster LPDDR4 memory (other handsets have offered 4GB of LPDDR3, or 3GB of LPDDR4, but the OnePlus 2 is first to “four of four”) though you’ll need to opt for the $389 64GB version to get it. The 16GB phone makes do with 3GB.

 

OnePlus 2

 

It’s running Android 5.1 – though Android M will arrive just as soon as Google releases the final code and OnePlus has its way with it, the company tells me – with a number of tweaks, though unlike the original OnePlus One those aren’t the handiwork of CyanogenMod. Instead, it’s a homegrown OS dubbed OxygenOS.

 

OnePlus 2

 

To be honest, though, you might not notice the differences unless they’re pointed out to you. That’s by design: OnePlus – sensibly, in my opinion – opted for a light-touch approach, making a number of small improvements rather than trying to outdo Google’s Android developers at their own game.

So, there’s a custom camera app, a preloaded file manager, and an audio tuner app for greater control over playback. The OnePlus 2 has touch-sensitive buttons for the Android multitasker and back key, but you can flip them around in the settings, or opt to have on-screen soft keys instead.

 

OnePlus 2

 

Similarly, the quick settings can be rearranged according to personal preference, and there’s a dark mode that changes the color scheme of the UI.

There’s also a new launcher, accessed with a side-swipe to the far left of the homescreen. It’s only an early beta right now, with panes for recently-used apps and frequent contacts, but eventually OnePlus intends to add more panels as well as open it up to third-party developers.

 

OnePlus 2

 

OnePlus’s tagline for its original smartphone fourteen months ago was “never settle” but, all the same, you do have to compromise a little even on this second-generation device.

What you don’t get are either an interchangeable battery or expandable storage. The 3,300 mAh LiPo battery can’t be removed, and there’s no microSD slot: instead, you have to choose between the 16GB or 64GB models.

 

OnePlus 2

 

OnePlus tells me it expects most power-users who might require more storage to turn to the cloud to accommodate that. I’m okay with that, but I do wish OnePlus had found space for wireless charging.

Arguably the biggest difference this time around, though, will be availability. OnePlus’ first launch was perhaps too successful for the company’s own good: demand far exceeded supply, and left would-be buyers at the mercy of the convoluted invite system.

 

OnePlus 2

 

For the OnePlus 2, the company tells me, initial stocks are going to be much higher and, though it’ll still be relying on invites to meter out devices, the wait-time involved should be much less.

Meanwhile, add-ons like the interchangeable back covers should be in stock from day one, along with accessories like the USB-C cable and a flip-case that clips on instead of the back cover so as to minimize bulk.

 

OnePlus 2

 

I can’t help but admire what OnePlus is trying to do. The modern smartphone space is notoriously challenging: companies with lengthy histories in the space, like HTC, are struggling to compete. To launch what amounts to a boutique brand and a wannabe-flagship device, even with the lessons learned from Oppo under your belt, is hugely ambitious.

 

OnePlus 2

 

Usefully, the OnePlus 2 seems like a great handset, too. Anything more lasting than first-impressions will have to wait until we put one through its paces for a full review, but there’s a tangible sense that OnePlus listened to feedback, cast a critical eye across the device landscape, and came up with something that should satisfy not only a good many Android enthusiasts but those looking for something of a bargain without a compromise on specifications.

 

OnePlus 2

 

If the company can deliver on its supply chain promises, and avoid the distractions of its occasionally ill-advised sales promotions, the OnePlus 2 stands to be even more successful than its predecessor. OnePlus has opened up its invite system now, with sales expected to begin for the $389, 64GB version of the phone in the US and Europe come August 11. The $329, 16GB handset will follow on afterwards.

(slashgear.com)

Moto X 3rd gen leak: larger screen, same res, microSD slot

Moto X 3rd gen leak: larger screen, same res, microSD slot

 

It’s about time that Motorola’s flagship get its fair share of leaks, though it might barely matter with just a few hours left before the real deal hits. That is, unless Motorola’s 28th July event is meant only for the new Moto G. In any case, theMoto X that is being revealed in this latest leak may or may not be worth all the excitement. Sure there are marked improvements over last year’s model, but depending on what you’re looking for in a 2015 flagship, you might be a bit disappointed.

The next Moto X will be larger, says the source, thanks to two things, a larger 3,600 mAh battery and a larger 5.5-inch screen. That said, the latter is still the same FHD resolution as the 2014 model and not the 2K QHD that many might be hoping for. No word on internal storage but the biggest surprise is that there will supposedly be a microSD card slot. But not just an ordinary one, but the same two-in-one tray that many Chinese smartphones seem to have these days. This means you can either have two SIM cards slotted inside or one SIM card and one memory card.

The camera have also been upgraded, 21 megapixels on the rear and 5 in front. That’s definitely a substantial upgrade, though megapixels are just one part of the camera story. Other specs, as well as performance, are equally or even more important. Previous leaks hint that the Moto X will have a dual LED flash on the back, same as the Moto G.

CPU and RAM are still unknown, at least from this particular leak. It might as well be a Snapdragon 810 since everyone seems to be going for that, though an 808 is also likely and perhaps preferable. We would be pleasantly surprised if there were 4 GB of RAM inside, though 3 GB is probably closer to reality.

All in all, the 2015 Moto X looks like a very mixed bag, making it harder to consider this a substantial leap forward from last year’s model, especially with its rather odd back design. That said, we’ll reserve judgment when the real Moto X stands up.

(slashgear.com)

BlackBerry ready to drop smartphones if things don’t improve

BlackBerry ready to drop smartphones if things don’t improve

 

Is BlackBerry ready to concede defeat, something that pundits have been waiting for it to do for years now? In a way, yes, but it isn’t a blanket statement. CEO John Chen did admit that it was willing stop making smartphones if things don’t change for the better, referring to the company’s sliding revenues. However, there are still other options available to it that doesn’t require completely scrapping their hardware business, though Chen also admits that it would be only under the most ideal cases.

Not yet even two years on the helm, John Chen has already faced the toughest of adversities faced by any company, like a smatphone market share that has plummeted to less than 1 percent. During his tenure, he girded up BlackBerry’s loins, shaved off what can be outsourced, and juggled the company’s focus in a desperate attempt to remain afloat.

Part of his strategy was to focus more on the software side of things. In particular, he acquired software or companies that focused on secure enterprise communication and workflow. Chen also opened up its own software, like BBM, to other platforms. Conversely, he also opened up the BlackBerry OS to Android, allowing some more popular apps to run on its smartphones.

Chen never abandoned hardware. His tenure saw the launch of the odd BlackBerry Passport, the return of the keyboard in the BlackBerry Classic, and a budget BlackBerry Leap option. That last part is where Chen plans to do more cost savings if necessary. Competing in the low end doesn’t make much sense for BlackBerry. More importantly, it doesn’t make much money either. The company needs to focus on its core business of providing hardware and software in the workplace. If that means high-end, expensive smartphones, then so be it.

So is BlackBerry ready to call it quits? In a fashion. Chen probably prefers to shift the focus to software, which can far outlive any smartphone, but many inside BlackBerry, including those with much influence, prefer to keep the hardware business intact, as part of the company’s history and legacy. That might be plausible for a time, if BlackBerry can reduce the number of its devices and drop the low-end line. But, as Chen says, “At a certain point in time, the economics take over.”

(slashgear.com)

BLU Products’ new line brings selfie to budget market

BLU Products’ new line brings selfie to budget market

 

Selfies. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. And when you’ve got super affordable smartphones to satisfy that selfie crave, why suffer living without? That might be the line of thinking behind BLU’s three new smartphones. Although the VIVO Selfie is the leader of the gang when it comes to that criteria, the oddly named C 5+5 and the Energy X Plus do also boast a bit of selfie-centric features. Best of all, like any BLU smarpthone, these devices come unlocked and with tempting budget prices.

When it comes to selfies, VIVO Selfie is the name of the game. Why? Because of the 8 megapixel selfie cam partnered with an LED flash. It’s not exactly the highest in the market (we’ve seen 13 megapixels in this category) but at budget price, that’s a real steal. Curiously, the rear camera also has an 8-megapixel sensor, though boasting of a higher-end Sony IMX 179 model. The rest of the VIVO Selfie’s specs is like a mix and match game. The 4.8-inch 1280×720 screen is definitely easy to hold. Topped by Gorilla Glass 3, you won’t be too scared to drop it, accidentally of course. The 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, paired with 1 GB of RAM, might be just about decent. The 8 GB internal storage, however, might not have enough room for all the selfies you’ll take. Luckily, there’s a 64 GB microSD card slot for more fun.

The BLU Studio C 5+5 is definitely a strange name to give a smartphone. That comes from the fact that it has a 5 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel wide-angle front camera, not just for selfies but also for groufies/wefies. Curious, then, that BLU didn’t call the VIVO Selfie an 8+8. Actually, the C 5+5 could also be a 5+5+5 thanks to its 5-inch screen. Though larger than the VIVO Seflie, its resolution is a rather dismal FWVGA 854×480. It has the same 1.3 GHz quad-core CPU and even the same 1 GB RAM and 8 GB storage configuration. What’s different here, and what sets the Studio C 5+5 apart from this batch, is that it comes with an LTE capable model. Oh, and that it took a page out of LG’s book and offers a “leather pattern” back design paired with a color matched metallic front frame.

Last but definitely not the least, the BLU Energy X Plus adds a dash of battery power into the choices. 4,000 mAh to be exact. That’s an advertised 72 hours of standard usage or 36 days on standby. Considering it closely matches the specs of the other two, meaning the same CPU and RAM combo, you’re mostly assured of those figures. That said, the larger 5.5-inch HD screen sort of balances that advantages. Plus, the Energy X Plus supports dual active SIMs on standby, which slightly increases the power draw.

All three BLU smartphones become available on Amazon starting August. The prices are as as follows:

• Studio C 5+5 (3G): $89.00
• Studio C 5+5 (LTE): $99.00
• VIVO Selfie: $149.00
• Energy X Plus: $139.00

(slashgear.com)

OnePlus 2 pricing announced along with pop-up events in major cities

OnePlus 2 pricing announced along with pop-up events in major cities

 

The latest smartphone from OnePlus, the OnePlus 2 has now been unveiled officially. We spent some hands on time with the smartphone already to give you an idea what the device is about. The next thing you want to know is how much the smartphone will cost in your country. The official pricing has been announced for the OnePlus 2 and in the US it will sell for $329 for the 16GB version and $389 for the 64GB version.

In Europe, the 16GB version will cost 339 euro with the 64GB version going for 399 euro. Fans of the OnePlus 2 in the UK will pay 239 GBP or 289 GBP depending on capacity. For pricing in other countries where the OnePlus 2 is available, check out the image below.

 

oneplus2-price

 

Along with pricing details for the smartphone, OnePlus has also announced that it will host a number of pop-up events where fans can hang out and see the OnePlus 2 in person. Pop-up events will be held in New York, San Francisco, London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, New Delhi, Bangalore, and Jakarta on July 31.

At the events, members from OnePlus will be available showing of the smartphone. The staffers on hand at the pop-up events will give fans the chance to win invites for the OnePlus 2 or even win the smartphone itself. The first 50 people to show up at each event will get a special gift bag.

(slashgear.com)

Apple Pay now supported by UK’s HSBC and First Direct

Apple Pay now supported by UK’s HSBC and First Direct

 

If you’re a UK resident and were disappointed by the launch of Apple Pay about two weeks ago and the lack of support from more than a few major banking institutions, good news is finally here. Today HSBC and First Direct have announced they’ve rolled out support for Apple Pay, allowing customers to link their credit and debit cards from the banks to Apple’s mobile payment system. A large number of UK merchants are already supporting payments via iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch.

The UK Apple Pay rollout took a bit of hit earlier this month after HSBC and First Direct were advertised as launch partners, but then delayed their support at the last minute. Unfortunately there are still a number of big banks in the country that yet to support Apple Pay. Lloyds has said its support is coming this fall, while Barclays, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, M&S, and TSB are simply listed as “coming soon” on the Apple Pay website.

Like all transactions made with Apple Pay, those using HSBC and First Direct cards are still limited to purchases of £20 and under, however there are a limited number of merchants with advanced terminals that are able to accept higher payment amounts. Come this September, the UK will increase the contactless payment limit to £30.

Among the large number of merchants accepting Apple Pay in the country include McDonalds, Starbucks, Nando’s, M&S, and Costa, in addition to the London Underground subway system.

(slashgear.com)

Samsung Unpacked event may see a new smartwatch launch

Samsung Unpacked event may see a new smartwatch launch

 

The rumors about what we will see at the Samsung Unpacked event being held on August 13 have been flying like crazy. One of the things that we haven’t heard much about so far is a new smartwatch launch alongside the expected smartphone unveiling. Word is that the event will see Samsung launch its first new Android Wear smartwatch in about a year.

The tip about the new smartwatch at the August event comes from a source calming to be familiar with Samsung’s plans. However, this source did warn that the final decision to launch a new smartwatch at the Unpacked event hasn’t been made.

It’s about time for a new smartwatch from Samsung, the last time it launched any products in the category was in 2013 and 2014. Previously the new smartwatch was tipped to have integrated NFC allowing mobile payments via Samsung Pay.

No firm details on what we might expect for the smartwatch as far as hardware was offered by the source. Details on the Samsung Gear A round smartwatchhit the market a few weeks ago and offered details about hardware, this could be the watch unveiled at the event next month. We already know how theround apps for the smartwatch will look.

(slashgear.com)

Xbox One SmartGlass on Android, iOS get some screenshot love

Xbox One SmartGlass on Android, iOS get some screenshot love

 

Continuing its embrace of platforms other than its own, Microsoft has just revealed a new feature coming to Android and iOS users. No, it’s not Cortana, at least not yet. This one is all about gamers. The already talented Xbox One SmartGlass app on the two rival platforms has just gotten more talented, now able to work with screenshots the same way Windows 10 users are able to, meaning they can now view, share, and even save Xbox One screenshots, right from the convenience of their mobile phone.

Feature parity across devices hasn’t exactly been Microsoft’s strongest suit. In fact, in some cases even it has shown favor on Android and/or iOS more than its own Windows Phone. But that is now bridge under the water as Windows 10’s day looms closer. For now, Microsoft is making sure that its Xbox One mobile friends are up to snuff.

Apparently, these screenshot features have been one of the most voted requests from Xbox One gamers. After all, you don’t sit in front of your Xbox One rig 24/7. There are times when you’ll need to see those screenshots, either from yourself or from others, and save or share them with others as well. Now you can do just that in the SmartGlass app.

 

smartglass-screenshots

 

Before you get excited, however, there is one important caveat. The feature isn’t available yet to everyone. For iOS users, the feature is only available for those who are already part of the Xbox One SmartGlass Beta program. It’s a bit easier on Android since the beta version of the SmartGlass app is actually accessible to the public. When it will roll out to the rest of the world, Microsoft doesn’t say.

(slashgear.com)

Dragon Quest XI announced as first Nintendo NX game

Dragon Quest XI announced as first Nintendo NX game

 

The makers of Dragon Quest, not only the most popular RPG, but the biggest games series of all time in Japan, earlier today announced the eleventh title in the main series. Developers Square Enix held a 90-minute long live-stream broadcast to announce Dragon Quest XI for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo 3DS, with a tentative release sometime next year. But even more shocking was the fact that the game was announced for the “NX,” Nintendo’s mysterious next game system.

Being the first confirmed game for the NX is quite a surprise, as Nintendo has said next to nothing about the system, except to deny that it will run Android, and that it will be officially unveiled next year. There were no details about whatDragon Quest XI will be like or how it will play on the NX, so we still have no idea if the system will be a traditional home console or a handheld system.

Aside from the NX revelation, the demonstration of the 3DS version (pictured above) may be the most interesting. The game will be displayed across the system’s two screens, with full 3D graphics on the top and classic 2D sprites on the bottom. Players will also have a choice of battling monsters in either 3D, or in an old-school 2D view.

As for the PS4 version, Square Enix said it will use the Unreal Engine 4 and play similar to 2004’s Dragon Quest VIII on the PS2, with a large, open world and in full 3D. Dragon Quest XI on the PS4 also marks the first numbered, traditional style DQ game to hit a home console since VIII. IX came as a surprise in being exclusive for the Nintendo DS, while Dragon Quest X was an MMO-style game released for the 3DS, Wii, and Wii U.

(slashgear.com)

eBay to shutter some mobile apps and push folks to flagship eBay app

eBay to shutter some mobile apps and push folks to flagship eBay app

 

Over the years, eBay has rolled out a number of apps for mobile users aimed at making it easier to use specific services while on the go. Some of those apps include things like eBay Valet, eBay Fashion, and eBay Motors app. To help push users to the flagship eBay app the auction giant has announced that it will be retiring those three apps soon.

eBay says that Valet users will be able to get the same selling tools within the core eBay apps and Valet will be shuttered in the coming weeks. eBay Motors will be killed off later this year and the features found in the app will be offered in the main eBay app.

The eBay Now service in the US will also be killed off, including the local Brooklyn pilot service. The move to retire eBay Now as a service comes after the eBay Now app was retired last year. Many of the capabilities and participating merchants inventory were brought into the core mobile app at the time.

eBay says that it had good results with the eBay Now service; but that it always intended Now to be a pilot and it is now looking into new delivery and pick-up/drop-off programs that are relevant to more of the buyers and sellers using eBay. eBay does plan to continue to pilot scheduled delivery in the UK.

(slashgear.com)

New Moto G gets official debut from Motorola

New Moto G gets official debut from Motorola

 

Motorola has just announced its new Moto G, coming as a surprise to absolutely no one after weeks of early leaks. The latest version of the budget Android device was announced in New Delhi, about 30 minutes or so before Motorola’s live-streaming presentation from New York. The smartphone pretty much delivers on what was expected after the rumors and leaks, offering a 5-inch display with solid specs for what will surely be an affordable price.

The 2015 Moto G will feature the same 720p display as last year’s model, but upgrades with a 1.4GHz Snapdragon 410 processor. That comes with 1GB of RAM if you choose the 8GB storage model, or 2GB of RAM if you go with the 16GB version.

 

New Moto G gets official debut from Motorola

 

The phone will come running Android 5.1 Lollipop, and other improvements include a 13MP rear-facing camera (up from 8MP), and 5MP on the front camera. Both the 8GB and 16GB models will feature a dual-tone flash, a microSD slot, and 4G LTE connectivity, which took its time in coming to the previous generation Moto G.

 

New Moto G gets official debut from Motorola

 

Buyers will have a choice of either black or white casing, however there will also be optional Moto shells for mixing things up. US pricing hasn’t been made clear yet, but that’s sure to come shortly. Stay tuned as Motorola’s live event rolls on, with info on the Moto X to come!

(slashgear.com)

Moto X Style detailed for summer release

Moto X Style detailed for summer release

 

This afternoon the Moto X Style was revealed by Motorola alongside the Moto G 3rd generation and Moto X Play. This device has what the company suggests is “one of the best in the world” cameras, a large sharp display, and a new focus on customization – hence the name. This device works with a 5.7-inch quad-HD display, metal rim, and colorful accents. This device also has the same ability to customize with Moto Maker – that means wood backs, leather, and a new coated silicon rubber soft back.

This device will be working with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop right out of the box. You’ll have Moto Voice, Moto Assist, and Moto Display, along with Moto Actions for quick-launching applications and features. That’s the standard edition. There’ll also be a “Pure Edition” coming to the United States, launched off-carrier and off-contract with universal LTE.

The camera on the Moto X Style will be a 21-megapixel f/2.0 shooter with 4K video capture and dual CCT flash. Motorola suggests that this camera out-shoots the iPhone 6 and is “one of the best 3 smartphone cameras in the world” – meaning it’s near or matching the quality of the Galaxy S6 and LG G4.

Front-facing camera has its own flash (somehow or another) with a 5-megapixel shooter with 87-degree wide-angle lens.

 

wood

 

The battery inside this device is 3,000mAh strong with “up to 30 hours of mixed use” according to Motorola. Motorola has their own proprietary charging here that’s not the same as Qualcomm Quickcharge 2.0 – one they call TurboPower. A TurboPower 25 charger is included in the box.

 

charging

 

This device will come with 16, 32, or 64GB of internal storage and there’s a microSD card slot with up to 128GB of storage more.

Up front is a 5.7-inch Quad-HD display contained within a small bezel and a sharp metal rim. Along the back you’ve got the ability to choose from premium Horween leather and natural wood, plastic, or coated silicon rubber that’s specially formulated to resist color change. You can also have this device engraved.

Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor clocked at 1.8GHz with 3GB of RAM. This device has a water repellant coating and functions with Universal LTE banding – any carrier, that is to say.

 

specs

 

While we’re waiting on final pricing from each individual carrier, Motorola suggests this device will cost $200-$300 less than the competition. Stay tuned for more information, hands-on, and our full review.

Also note – this is one of THREE Motorola devices revealed today. Head to ourMotorola tag portal for more.

(slashgear.com)

Moto X Play detailed: smaller screen, bigger battery

Moto X Play detailed: smaller screen, bigger battery

 

This week Motorola has revealed three devices, the “best of both worlds” model coming in as the Moto X Play. This device has a 5.5-inch display while the Moto X Style has a 5.7-inch display, allowing the Moto X Play to “play longer.” You’ll also have a 1080p display instead of Quad-HD with a slightly larger battery at 3,600mAh instead of just 3,000. It might just be that the Moto X Play is the best choice amongst the three devices Motorola’s revealed today – or at least the longest lasting in the field.

Moto X Play will work with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, just like the Moto X Style. It’ll have all the same Moto software as its co-X device, and a very similar camera as well. While it doesn’t work with 4K capture, this machine does have a 21-megapixel f/2.0 main camera with dual CCT flash. Up front you’ll also have a 5-megapixel camera like the Moto X Style.

Customization of this device is closer to that of the Moto G or E than it is to previous Moto X devices, working with Moto Maker, but coming with replaceable color shells and flip shells. You’ll have the ability to choose unique metal accents like the Moto X Style as well.

Inside you’ll find a massive 3,630mAh battery with what Motorola describes as “48-hours of mixed use.” This device works with a TurboPower 15 charger – we’ll see more about what the difference between this and the “TurboPower 25” charger the X Style gets sooner than later.

 

The Processor on this device is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 clocked at 1.7GHz and you’ll be working with 2GB of RAM.

The Moto X Play will be offered up in 16 and 32GB internal storage sizes and you’ll have a microSD card slot for additional storage on the go.

In addition to 4G LTE on multiple bands, this device will have a dual-SIM edition available.

This device will be available starting in August for $299 off-contract. That’s without a contract. For three hundred dollars.

(slashgear.com)

Frontback app shuts down, front-facing cameras weep

Frontback app shuts down, front-facing cameras weep

 

The app Frontback is announced to be winding down after two years in service. This app started with an idea, an idea that if you were taking a back-facing photo, you should also be taking a front-facing photo at the same time. Therein you’d have a product that captured not only what you were seeing, but yourself in that environment as well. Today that dream is over – in a social networking sort of sense, at least. Today the Frontback community closes its doors.

Unfortunately this is an all-too-common occurrence in today’s Startup and Shutdown world of technology. A big dream can be dreamed, but unless your business has the ability to remain hyped up, your product doesn’t stand a good chance of sticking around. Unless you’ve got a utility or a monopoly, of course.

So long, Frontback. We’ll always remember the good times.

The two million users of Frontback will be able to access their photos through the frontback.me web portal with their username, which they’ll submit in exchange for a message that suggests their images are being processed. All images you’ve captured with Frontback will be available for takeout – download, that is.

The Android version of this app will be removed from the Google Play Store, while the iOS version of the app will be transitioned. Instead of being destroyed entirely, the iOS version of the app will be transformed into a local-only camera experience. You’ll still be able to share images you’ve captured to other social networks.

And of course the void will be filled by countless other photo-based social mini-networks. If you have any suggestions for those that want to transition to a new network, let use know!

(slashgear.com)

Leaked Moto G 2015 promo vid leaves little to imagination

Leaked Moto G 2015 promo vid leaves little to imagination

 

Already feeling overwhelmed by the surprising flood of leaks about this year’sMoto G? Here, have one more. This time, however, delivered in moving pictures format, which makes it more entertaining and probably easier to digest. And you don’t even need to know Brazilian Portuguese to understand it. This promotional video details almost all the interesting features of the mid-rangeMotorola smartphone heading our way next week confirming what we have seen elsewhere. And for the parts that it doesn’t reveal, we can pretty much fill in the blanks.

It’s a bit unexpected that the Moto G would generate this much attention ahead of its expected arrival next week, mostly because it isn’t Motorola’s flagship. That title belongs to the Moto X, which has only started to come up in leaks and rumors just recently. The extent of the Moto G leaks is such that there is probably little room for surprises when Motorola does announce it officially.

That said, the Moto G has also been noteworthy because of its combination of solid mid-tier specs, affordable price tag, and near vanilla Android experience. The first part of that formula carries on with this year’s model, at least as shown by the leaked video ad below. The vid speaks about the Moto G’s durability and ruggedness, confirming the IPX7 waterproofing we’ve heard of. The rear camera is also confirmed to have a 13 megapixel sensor but slightly new is the fact that it would be paired with a dual LED flash. The front is a 5 megapixel shooter. There is also a microSD card slot and dual SIM support.

 

What isn’t exactly confirmed is CPU and memory. The video mentions a quad-core processor, which could still either be a Snapdragon 410 or a 610. No mention of either RAM or internal storage was made. We’re still holding on to the hope that there will be choices between a model with 2 GB RAM and 16 GB of storage and one with half that size, as hinted by leaked Moto Maker options.

Things are definitely hitting up for Motorola’s mid-range wonder and we look forward to the official reveal on 28th July.

(slashgear.com)

Samsung Galaxy Note 5, S6 edge+ get a photo shoot again

Samsung Galaxy Note 5, S6 edge+ get a photo shoot again

Ready for more unofficial Samsung love? By now, the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 edge+ phablets are probably one of Samsung’s worst kept secrets, though we’re also hoping to still be surprised when the Korean OEM unveils the two next month. Presuming, the rumored dates are correct, of course. These latest set of leaked photos show the two in full view and they are looking just as we expected them to. Which is to say, a larger version of the Galaxy S6 edge and an S Pen wielding version of the Galaxy S6.

Design-wise, there is nothing too different about the Galaxy S6 edge+, except for that now larger size. Whether that still plays in Samsung’s favor remains to be seen. Part of the appeal of the Galaxy S6 edge was that the curved edges made it smooth to hold in one hand. The larger screen, however, might effectively cancel that advantage out. Internally, there is said to be some changes, like a switch to a Snapdragon 808, perhaps throwing Qualcomm a bone.

Here we also see a confirmation of the smartphone’s model number, the SM-G928A, and how its name will be officially spelled, the Galaxy S6 edge+.

Not much can be said of the Galaxy Note 5 at this point. There are still varying and sometimes conflicting information about its CPU and RAM. Hardware specs aside, though, it is perhaps high time for Samsung to show some innovation in the S Pen area, which it has pioneered and continues to dominate.

Given the number of convincing clones and fakes around the net, especially of Samsung’s devices, we’ll take these still with a serving of salt. WIth barely half a month left, it won’t be a long wait for the real thing anyway.

(slashgear.com)

Sony might be sticking with Snapdragon 810 for Xperia Z5

Sony might be sticking with Snapdragon 810 for Xperia Z5

 

Qualcomm might have found a staunch and loyal friend in Sony. If it hasn’t yet, it should. Despite all the flak it received precisely because of the Snapdragon 810 processor, it seems that Sony isn’t about to jump ship. At least not for some upcoming smartphones. User Agent profiles of two device lines, particularly a certain E6603 and E5803, believed to be the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact respectively, show evidence that those two will run on the almost ill-fated chip, which is bound not to sit well with those hoping for better Sony flagship before the year ends.

The E6603, E6653, E6683, E5803, and E5823 are still unnamed models, but given their seemingly high-end specs and relation to current titleholders, there is reason to suspect that these will be Sony’s flagships for the second half of the year. The Xperia Z4/Z3+, for example, used the model number E6553. On the other hand, the Xperia Z3 Compact used the D58xx prefix. If there had been an Xperia Z4 Compat, that would have probably been an E58xx.

Model numbers aside, the UAProfs reveal that both models use an MSM8994 processor. That’s the very same Snapdragon 810 that is giving OEMs a lot of headache. Now, this might be an even more improved version 3 of the chip (since everyone is apparently already using the supposedly fixed v2.1), but there has been no indication that such a chip exists.

The sightings bear little else in terms of revelations except for the screen resolution. The E6603 is marked to have a 1920×1080 while the E5803 has 1280×720. This is what led to the assumption that these two are the Xperia Z5 and its compact version. Sadly, those are also the exact same resolutions of the previous generation flagships.

It would be puzzling, and absolutely disappointing, if these speculations turn out exactly as they are. Using 1080p and 720p resolutions might still be forgivable, but using a processor that is already known to be problematic is inexcusable. Conversely, it is also possible that Sony has stumbled upon a fix that solves all of the Snapdragon 810’s foibles. Hopefully, it won’t involve using kitchen foil.

(slashgear.com)

Next Lumia flagships to sport iris scanner, Surface Pen

Next Lumia flagships to sport iris scanner, Surface Pen

 

Although Microsoft is in a celebratory mood over the imminent release ofWindows 10, the topic of Windows 10 smartphones remains to be a sore point. And it isn’t just because of the company’s somewhat indecisive, almost ambiguous, attitude towards this section of mobile, but even more because it lacks such a Wndows phone that it can truly be proud of. That, however, might soon change with Microsoft’s next Lumia duo, codenamed Cityman and Talkman. Provided, of course, these rumors do pan out in the end.

At one point, Microsoft’s next Lumia flagships went by different model numbers, the Lumia 940 and 940 XL, though still noted by the same codenames. Based on those rumors, those smartphones were a mixed bag of some high-end specs, an even higher end price tag, an a sad polycarbonate body. The specs for the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, as they are called now, mixes things up a bit and conveniently leaves out the topic of price. Sadly, still polycarbonate plastic.

Both smartphones are now said to sport the same 2560×1440 WQHD screen, though a smaller 5.2 inches on the 950 (Talkman) and a larger 5.7 inches on the 950 XL (Cityman). The CPUs remain as before, a Snapdragon 808 and Snapdragon 810, respectively. In almost all other aspects, the two are largely the same, like the 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, the 20 megapixel PureView rear camera, and 5 megapixel front shooter. Both will also use the new USB Type-C connector.

 

Cityman-Mockup

 

What’s even more interesting in this new set of leaks is the added features. For example, the Lumia 950 XL is said to sport built-in Qi wireless charging support while the Lumia 950 will need to use a flip cover for that. Both are also said to be equipped with infrared iris scanners for supporting the Windows Hello security feature. And last but definitely not the least, the Lumia 950 XL is rumored to support the very same Surface Pen on the Surface Pro 3, making it the first ever Windows smartphone to have the capability to rival Samsung’s dominant Galaxy Note line.

These are all very juicy bits but we’ll have to wait for a long while to see if any of it bears fruit. Microsoft is expected to announce the two smartphones in September, probably after Apple has had its day, but it won’t be until October or November before they go on sale, with the Lumia 950 Talkman launching weeks before the larger Lumia 950 XL.

(slashgear.com)

Fasten your seat belts! Next week will be a doozy for devices launch

Fasten your seat belts! Next week will be a doozy for devices launch

 

IFA 2015 is traditionally the time when many companies announce their wares to a captive audience, both physical and virtual. There now seems to be a trend, however, of some of those opting to go ahead, perhaps to avoid clashing with other giants. This month, it seems that the stars have curiously aligned to make the last week of July filled with new toys and tidbits that we’ll be talking about in the days, weeks, or even months, to come. To better buckle up, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

 

July 27: OnePlus 2

 

OnePlus will be opening the week with a bang and perhaps rightly so because it is definitely one of the most ambitious announcements happening that week. The Chinese startup will unveil the OnePlus 2, which is tenaciously calls the 2016 flagship killer. Of course, companies are known to make such boastful claims, but for a company of its size, those become fighting words. But why does OnePlus think its second smartphone will be all that? Here’s a list of confirmed and leaked features to understand why.

• CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 (confirmed, sadly)
• RAM: 4 GB DDR4 (confirmed)
• Screen: FHD or QHD
• Fingerprint scanner, physical (confirmed)
• USB Type-C (confirmed)
• 13 MP f/2.0 rear camera (confrimed)
• sub $450 price tag (confirmed, unfortunately)

 

oneplus-2-sketch-1-800x420

 

Give or take a few misses here and there, the OnePlus 2 does seem up to the challenge,. But a smartphone is more than just the sum of its specs. However, it will be some time before we can all verify the flagship killer claim, as OnePlus will again be using an invitation system to sell the OnePlus 2.

More than just the smartphone itself, the unveiling of the OnePlus 2 will also be equally ambitious, taking place in virtual reality. For that purpose, OnePlus has been handing out its own customized version of Google Cardboard, but the even will also be viewable without VR on a mobile app. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. PT

 

July 28: Moto X, Moto

 

There doesn’t seem to be any consistency with Motorola’s flagship announcements. The first Moto X was announced early August but the second one came in September. Now Motorola is going earlier, scheduling an event for Tuesday. It’s only hinting that it will be about smartphones, naturally, but everyone is already expecting that it will be all about the Moto X or at least theMoto G.

More love has strangely been lavished on the Moto G compared to the flagship, at least in terms of leaks. While we have almost a complete picture of what the mid-range device will be like both inside and out, most of the details about the Moto X are still shrouded in mystery. For the Moto G, here’s what we’ve all gotten so far:

• CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 or 610
• RAM: 1 or 2 GB
• Storage: 8 or 16 GB
• Screen: 5-inch 720p
• 13 MP rear camera with dual LED flash, 5 MP front camera
• IPX7 rating
• dual SIM, 4G network
• Moto Maker options for rear cover and accents

Depending on which set of specs match reality, the 2015 Moto G could either be a passable upgrade from last year’s model or a very tempting mid-range contender. We’ll definitely know once the clock strikes 9:00 AM Eastern on July 28.

 

July 28: Nokia VR (maybe)

 

This one is still unconfirmed. Sources are saying that Nokia has booked some very exclusive time in LA to supposedly reveal its plans to embark on the world of Virtual Reality. That alone might already send a few eyebrows rising. VR isn’t exactly what many would consider to be an already lucrative or even promising market. And it’s definitely not something one might associate with Nokia, who already seems to be at a loss in defining what its core business strategy really is. That said, if the Finnish giant really does want to spread its wings, VR might be a safer venture than others. Then again, Nokia has had many ventures already, and all but its HERE Maps remains to be even remotely stable.

 

July 29: Windows 10

 

And to seemingly cap off the insanity of the week, despite being smack in the middle of the week, Microsoft will formally launch Windows 10 on Wednesday. In truth, this is just the green light, marking the start of the OS’ roll out to the public. Only the luckiest Windows Insiders will actually be able to get a taste of it on that same day. The rest of us mortals will have to wait for the waves of updates to reach us. Unless, of course, you’ve bought a new Windows 10 PC that ships on that day.

Microsoft will be holding a huge celebration on that day, which is almost a bit anti-climactic because it is a party that will celebrate the year-long Windows 10 upgrade process. Still, if there was ever a reason for employees and fans to break out the champagne, this would be it.

Naturally, Windows 10 is Microsoft’s most significant OS yet. And we’re not just talking about the features. A lot of things are hedging on its success. Microsoft’s future, Nadella’s credibility, and the sustainability of the Windows platform, just to name a few. Feature-wise, Windows 10 tries to fix what Windows 8 has broken and to bring back the users that it had lost. But more than just a half step backward, Windows 10 is also huge leap of faith forward, with Microsoft putting almost all its eggs in the Windows 10 basket. In particular, the Universal App Platform will be the measure of its success and the instrument that could keep Microsoft from fading into obscurity in a mixed device (not post-PC) world.

 

windows-10-all

 

However, the Windows 10 picture won’t be complete on July 29. A critical part of it, the phone part, won’t be arriving until months later, perhaps as late as the fourth quarter of the year. Though late to the party, Windows 10 Mobile will be an important litmus test that will seal Microsoft’s fate.

Wrap-up

 

Though already packed, next week will just be a foretaste of the things that are yet to come, especially in the next two months. In August, we’re expecting to see Samsung’s next hand in the smartphone game, with the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 edge+ making their way to the market. Then in September, things really get hot with IFA 2015 in full blast, with all the new devices, gadgets, and oddities that it brings year after year. Even before the dust settles, we’ll be hearing from Apple as its finally reveals what the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will really have to offer. After that, we will probably circle back to Microsoft for what could hopefully be a flagship smartphone that can stand proud.

(slashgear.com)

People can legally listen to your butt dials

People can legally listen to your butt dials

 

I’d wager that anyone who uses a smartphone has probably butt dialed before, even if you don’t realize you did it. Butt dialing occurs when you accidentally hit the buttons on your smartphone and start a call without realizing you did. Some people immediately hang up when they receive a butt dial, but others like to listen in to see what they can hear being said.

One butt dial has led to a court case and resulted in a ruling that will make some folks even more leery of making a butt dial. A federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled this week that if you accidentally call someone else, whatever the person on the other end of that call hears is fair game for them to use.

The ruling came after a suit was filed against the assistant to the chief executive at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport took meticulous notes and recorded some of the conversation she heard when two member of the board of the airport were having a conversation she heard because of an accidental dial.

As the story goes one of the board members called the assistant to have her make them a restaurant reservation. After the board member hung up, he accidentally dialed her again and the assistant listened to the board members talk about firing her boss. She proceeded to take notes and record the conversation, then shared the recordings and notes with her boss and other board members. The board member then sued her under federal wiretapping guidelines. The appeals court ruled in the suit that if you accidentally call someone, the caller has no right to privacy liking it to leaving your curtains open at home.

(slashgear.com)

Apple patents Google Cardboard in search of use for iPod

Apple patents Google Cardboard in search of use for iPod

 

Apple files for a patent that looks extremely similar to the basic concept for Google Cardboard. It would appear that Apple has prepared for the eventuality that virtual reality lust would hit the iPhone community. What we’re looking at today is a couple of patent applications that essentially have Apple owning the idea of a face and ears-mounted display carrier, a headset, that can use an iPhone as its display. Sound familiar? It certainly should. This also isn’t the first, second, or even third time such an invention has been seen (and produced) by a hardware company.

We’ve been following Google Cardboard since it was first passed out at Google I/O. This strange experiment of a project has grown to a serious bit of businessin its first year out “on the market”, and Google isn’t letting up any time soon. So what’s Apple got to do with it?

 

allinvr

 

A patent was filed for on the 16th of July, 2015, and released via the United States Patent and Trademark Office on the 23rd of July, 2015. This patent describes a “Head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display.” It’s a pair of glasses into which you can slide a smartphone, as you see above.

In the description for this invention, Apple suggests the following: “Using head-mounted devices, a user may view media provided by a portable electronic device. For example, a user may couple a personal electronic device, such as the iPod available from Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., or the iPhone also available from Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., to the head-mounted device via a cable or wire.”

Therein lies the next use for the iPod touch. Internet connectivity not necessary.

 

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In the image above from patent application number 14/673753, you can see connectivity options for an “electronic device accessory” that’s almost certainly tied to this head-mounted display setup.

Of course if Apple really wanted to use a different iPod for this device, they’ve covered that as well: “In another embodiment of the present invention, the portable electronic device can be a dedicated media player such as an iPod sold by Apple Inc. Examples of iPods include for example the Touch, Nano, Classic, and the like.”

 

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As you can see above, we knew this was coming. Clearly.

You can learn more about the patent described above via the USPTO with patent application 14/604059, entitled “Head-Mounted Display Apparatus for Retaining a Portable Electronic Device with Display.”

(slashgear.com)

OPPO invading USA with a Selfie Stick and a smartwatch

OPPO invading USA with a Selfie Stick and a smartwatch

 

Smartphone brand OPPO announces their intent to move into the North American market with selfie-based intentions. When you have a phone with its own swivel camera made specifically for “selfie” photos, people might assume that you’ve gone “all in” on the selfie trend. They would be wrong. The smartphone brand OPPO have amped up their efforts with their own branded Selfie Stick, complete with wired functionality. They’ll be bringing it to the United States with a Selfie Party in Los Angeles soon.

All the way back in May of 2013 we got our first chance to review an OPPO phone. Have a peek at our OPPO Find 5 Review to see how surprisingly high quality these manufacturers of phones can be. Since then they’ve done all sorts of industry-leading sorts of things. Like releasing a smartphone with CyanogenMod onboard.

 

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The smartphone you’re seeing in the party invite above is a massive OPPO R7 Plus with a 6-inch display. Have a peek at this monster in action in the video below.

 

The selfie stick was first introduced by OPPO internationally back on the 20th of May, 2015. This stick will clamp on to your phone, plug in to its headphone port, and extend. With the button at the base of the stick, you’ll be able to press to take a photo. Simple!

Is this the best way to get into the United States here in 2015? It very well could be. Supposing OPPO really does have the “fashion models and celebrities” they suggest they’re bringing to a party in Los Angeles on the 28th of July.

 

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UPDATE: OPPO also has its own fitness band/smartwatch incoming. While it does not appear that this watch runs Android Wear at this time, nothing is impossible!

(slashgear.com)