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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Huawei reports H1 2014 numbers, and they're looking good

If you needed more proof that Chinese (and Taiwanese) smartphone manufacturers are on track to rock the Android world in 2014, Huawei has announced their first half 2014 numbers. In short, 62% growth, up to 34 million smartphones shipped around the globe.

Further, Huawei total business operations pushed out over 60 million device, including smartphones, WiFi hotspots and more.

We've been watching manufacturers like Huawei and Xiaomi for a while now. Xiaomi especially has been flying with Huggo Bara at the helm, recently launching into India and continually selling out batches of devices in a matter of minutes.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Google using your data to help you travel, now helps you find your hotel

Google has expanded its services to now include natural language searches that use a hotel reservation in your Gmail as a point of reference.

Was that too much, too fast? Let's start at the end, you will now be able to ask Google to show you restaurants nearby your hotel with the simple phrase "Show me restaurants nearby my hotel." The value here is that Google is smart enough to know where your hotel is, allowing for the natural language support.

Taking it a step further, you are covered even if you forget the name of your hotel, or where it is, Google remembers this stuff and can get you directions to and from 'my hotel' as well.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TouchPico, that's no ordinary pico projector

TouchPico is a new IndieGogo campaign that combines the cool factor of a pico projector with the power of its own built-in Android OS. That's a good start, but the real selling factor reaches into the realm of science fiction, with some smarts built into the provided stylus, the TouchPico can turn any surface, at any size, into a touch interface.

Let's run through the specs real quick: 80 Lumens, Android 4.2, Wireless operation, SD Card, Google Cast support and more. Yeah, it does stuff, let's get back to that touch anywhere thing:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lenovo to launch a 6-inch Android phone on Augus 5th, look out for the K920, or Vibe Z2 Pro

Here's the thing, Lenovo is not yet selling phones in North America, and their purchase of Motorola hasn't exactly seen Lenovo style gear hit stores either, but they still have a flagship competitor in the works that could make a stir in the Asian markets.

The K920, which will likely be named the Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro when it ships to consumers, is a monstrous 6-inch device rocking the same sort of QHD display, Snapdragon 801 with 3GB of RAM and 16MP camera that many current flagships possess.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Netflix is testing out an incognito mode, so you don't have to be reminded of those poor viewing choices

It is too bad that Netflix is only in the testing stages of an incognito mode for their video streaming service. Worse yet, they are very hesitant to make any claims that the service will be available any time soon, if at all. One thing is for sure, we want this.

So, one's mind often goes to nefarious places when you say the word "incognito", for most of us, we are just looking to not be reminded of the cartoons that our children watch, or that one B-list horror flick we put on when our friends were over that one time.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Will the Nexus 6 actually be a 6-inch device? This is Shamu, built by Motorola

This is pretty big news, if it is accurate. It looks like Motorola may be building the next Nexus phone, code named Shamu, it is a 5.9-inch device with a fingerprint scanner.

Sounds like a major device for Google to launch their newest Android release on. We've discussed Android L already, but I am eager to see and learn more.

New contextually aware Explore button coming to Google Maps for Android

In its simplest form, you should soon expect to see a new Explore button pop up in the bottom right hand corner of your Maps screen. Do not always expect to see the new button, it will be contextually aware of not only your location, to show you relevant local information, but aspects like the time of the day, your preferences based on your Maps history and the weather.

Google offers the specific examples of taking note of the time of day so to not provide you info for breakfast spots at dinner time. They also explain that they will not promote a day in the park if there is bad weather rolling in.

How to use NFC Tags to fire off Tasker Tasks, using Trigger

Now we're getting into the good stuff. Let's take the Tasker projects that we've already built and use the program called Trigger to enable NFC Tags to fire off our Tasker Tasks.

That was a mouthful. Let's walk through it a little slower. You know what NFC Tags are, of course. Those little tags that are usually about 1-inch circles that look a little like the RFID tags you used to see in all of your movie and cd purchases. Yes, those NFC Tags. Now, what if you could perform almost any action on your Android device just by tapping a NFC Tag to it? That's what I'm talking about!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Keeping connected when there is no connection, this is goTenna

Have you ever been in a crowded space, or off the beaten path to find that your mobile device has no connection? Chances are, you are not alone in these situations and you have need to communicate with your fellow travelers. Without WiFi or a solid cell connection, what options do you have? goTenna looks to solve this for you, bringing connectivity when none else is to be had.

Let's be straight up here guys, goTenna does not provide internet services, it provides communications tools that can operate even when your device has no WiFi or cell connection. Now that that is out of the way, goTenna is a slick Bluetooth connected two-way radio antenna that allows you to communicate with other goTenna users up to 50 miles away! Yes, 50.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chromecast website got a little update, significantly improved app discovery

On the eve of the first birthday of the Chromecast, Google has pushed out an update to the Chromecast website. The update brings much needed improvements to app discovery, and really nothing else of consequence.

App discovery used to be a static list of a small collection of apps that supported Chromecast. Of course, there are now hundreds of apps, for Android, iOS and the desktop, that were only really to be found in the Google Play Store.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Huge update to Tasker is rolling out

If you've spent any time at all on this site, you know full well that I am a huge Tasker user. I use Tasker to customize dozens of features and settings on all of my devices. The update is to Tasker version 4.4, which is aptly named as it has many Android 4.4.x KitKat optimization tweaks.

I will absolutely be bringing you new project ideas based on the new features, but for now, let's just overwhelm you with the whole list of updates:

New Chrome OS interface in the works


We don't know if this is going to be a permanent change, or just an option, but we've got a little view of a new user interface for Chrome OS. It is called Athena and there is little more to it at this point.

Thanks to Fran├žois Beaufort over on G+ or sharing the news and the screenshot.

This is certainly an early look at the new interface, but we are excited that it may offer some customization and is designed more to be touch friendly.

Hey look, the Sony Xperia Z2 is available in the US

We've been excited about this device for months. Seriously, my co-workers over on Android Authority first reviewed the Sony Xperia Z2 back in February. It has been available for a while in various countries around the globe, and now US consumers get their chance.

I wrote about some of the Xperia Z2's photo taking abilities way back then as well. If you didn't see that, check out what I had to share of its quick photo tour of Tokyo, there is images and a short 4K video piece.

Friday, July 18, 2014

HP Chromebook 14 - The touchpad

You may think it silly that I am about to commit an entire post to the touchpad of the Chromebook, specifically for the HP Chromebook 14, but I assure you there is enough to be said about it. Let's take a look at how it differs from other touchpads and what nifty tricks it has up its sleeve.

Fist and foremost, the Chromebook foregoes the traditional 3 piece model of a touch area, left and right buttons. In place is a single touch area with a single click action to it. The touch area moves the mouse cursor, as expected, and the click operates your primary mouse button click. From here, further actions are made possible through multi-touch capabilities and key combinations.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chromebooks - HP Chromebook 14

I just wanted to say quickly that I have a new HP Chromebook 14 in hand and will be bringing it to this blog. Is there anything you guys would like to know?

This unit has the 14-inch display with 2GB of RAM and the 1.4GHz Intel processor. The display itself runs at 1366 x 768 resolution, but it also has a mock 1536 x 864 mode to better utilize the screen size.

The battery is giving me about 6-7 hours of use for my blog writing / research needs. The dual speakers on either side on the bottom are a little easy to muffle in the lap, but provide decent enough sound, for a laptop. I have not yet tested connected headphones, will let you know later.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Google opens up Project Ara developer board applications

Google has some unique and exciting stuff on the go. Self driving cars, 3D environment aware phones and tablets and more. One of their cool projects is a phone with some assembly required called Project Ara.

Project Ara is an interesting design that should allows users to stand the test of time with their Android smartphone. The device is an exoskeleton to which you electromagnetically attach modules that provide the actual specs of the device. There are different display panels, processors, cameras, batteries and more. This is great, but we need more.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Use Tasker to control your Android display timeout and display rotation

I spoke of display timeout in the past, I still believe that display timeout is a crucial balancing act for mobile device user - if your display turns off too soon, there is anger, if it stays on too long, good bye battery life.

Display rotation is one of those things that we each prefer differently. And that preference differs based on the device in hand as well. For myself, my Nexus 7 tablet is the perfect size for typing in portrait mode, but I cannot comfortably reach the entire keyboard in landscape mode. Pretty simple, the tablet stays in portrait mode except for a few apps.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Use Tasker to bypass silent mode on your Android phone, so you don't miss emergency calls

We walked you through setting up Tasker to automatically silence your phone at night, so you can sleep uninterrupted without ever having to manually silence your phone again. Whether you manually silence your device, use another app, a system setting or use Tasker, you may miss important calls while your phone is quiet.

We are working off of a basic premise today, that if specific contacts, like your parents, call you in the middle of the night, there is obviously something wrong. It's pretty simple, if you receive a call from specific contacts, Tasker simply increases the call volume to make sure you don't sleep through the call.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Custom Tasker sleep mode automatically silences your phone at night

I know I briefly showed you how to do this once before, but that was a long time ago with a different version of Tasker. Don't get me wrong, not much has changed, but this new tutorial is way better, so I figured I would post it.

As is usually the case these days, head on over to my post on Android Authority for the full step-by-step. Head back here afterward, I've got a few new ideas to share.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Heads Up! brings Android L style floating Notifications to your device

After Google introduced Android L at their Google I/O developer conference last week, Android users have been excited about getting their hands on the new release for their devices. As excited as we are to install the yet un-named "L___" release, most of us will have to wait until later this fall for the official release. However, small features of the release can be had today!

Android apps on Chrome OS, is it worth it?

I have been thinking about this for a couple days. I suspect I'll get some backlash for saying this, but I am not sure we need Android apps on Chrome OS.

Now hold on, before you start throwing things at me, please hear me out.