Blackberry signs with Amazon to offer Android apps in bid for survival

BlackBerry is set to offer 240,000 Android apps to its smartphone users in a surprise deal with Amazon.

The deal will allow BlackBerry to add a vast array of consumer-focused apps to its devices, and to focus on developing enterprise and productivity applications.

However, many believe the move could be a last roll of the dice for BlackBerry after its devices suffered poor sales.

BlackBerry customers using devices powered by its 10 operating system will be able to access popular Android apps such as Groupon, Netflix, Pinterest, Candy Crush Saga and Minecraft.

The apps will be available on Continue reading “Blackberry signs with Amazon to offer Android apps in bid for survival”

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Google launches Nexus 5 with Android Kitkat

Google Nexus 5Google has officially unveiled the latest incarnation of its flagship Nexus smartphone.

Made by LG, the handset is smaller, slimmer and lighter than the Nexus 4 but its 4.96in (126mm) touchscreen is bigger. The Nexus 5 has been developed to show off the capabilities of the new version of the Android operating system.

Called Kitkat, the software has been designed to work well on both high-end smartphones and cheaper feature phones. The alliance with Google has helped bolster LG’s fortunes even though, according to statistics from Gartner, it is still a long way behind rivals Samsung and Apple.

In the April-to-June quarter, the consultancy indicated 3.8% of all smartphones sold were LG handsets putting the South Korean firm in third place. By contrast, Apple accounted for 18.8% of all sales and Samsung 29.7%.

The specifications for the new phone were widely leaked before it was announced on the official Google blog.

The gadget shares some of the hardware Continue reading “Google launches Nexus 5 with Android Kitkat”

Google to launch a smartwatch within weeks

Google SmartwatchGoogle is putting the finishing touches to a smartwatch that could be unveiled ‘within weeks’, according to industry insiders. The watch, believed to be codenamed Gem, could take advantage of the work Google has been doing on its Glass wearable computer. It could also use the same Google Now alerts for directions and text messages as the eyewear.

In August, it was revealed the firm bought a company called WIMM, which makes a watch that runs on Google’s Android software. It syncs with a smartphone and can show the phone’s notifications on its fixed screen. The WIMM One comes with pre-installed Micro Apps, including a calendar that syncs with Google and Exchange, weather, timer, stopwatch, world clock, and alarm clock.

‘Google could put a lot of the functionality of Google Glass in the watch product,’ claims Seth Weintraub of the 9to5Google website.

‘Push a button, ask a question, get a response as the watch talks to the Now-enabled smartphone.

‘Also, the ‘serendipitous’ information that Google Now shows you on your phone could come up in the watch.

‘Time to get home, Calendar alarms, emails, SMSes, etc. all could get pushed to the watch’s display.’

Juniper research says the market will be Continue reading “Google to launch a smartwatch within weeks”

Samsung Unveils Galaxy Gear Smartwatch

Samsung Galaxy Gear SmartwatchSamsung Electronics Co. planted its flag in the battle over wearable devices Wednesday, unveiling a digital watch that can run apps and interact with its own family of smartphones.

Samsung, which raced ahead of Apple Inc. last year to become the world’s biggest maker of smartphones, is attempting to shake off long-running criticism that it has been a follower rather than an innovator in the competitive market for high-end devices.

The release of the Galaxy Gear, which is slated to go on sale Sept. 25 for $299, comes ahead of an expected smartwatch from Apple. But the technological limitations of Samsung’s device, and of others like it on the market, raise questions as to whether this category will take off with consumers.

As Samsung showed off the Galaxy Gear at a trade show in Berlin, Qualcomm Inc. announced plans to ship a new color-display smartwatch, the Toq, in the fourth quarter. The company said the gadget, which works as a companion to smartphones with Google Inc.’s Android operating system, will be available in a “limited edition” for about $300. In June, Sony Corp. unveiled its own Android-based smartwatch expected to start selling this month.

Neil Mawston, an executive director at research firm Strategy Analytics, said smartwatch manufacturers are “clearly still in the experimental phase today of trying to figure out what consumers and businesses really want.”

“The first generation of smartwatches this year, from Samsung and others, is likely to see modest global sales in the near-term,” Mr. Mawston said, forecasting 1.2 million smartwatches to be shipped world-wide in 2013, rising to 7 million in 2014.

The Galaxy Gear, which has Continue reading “Samsung Unveils Galaxy Gear Smartwatch”

Google Android new feature to track you even when Wifi is switched OFF

Google Android 4.3Google’s latest Android phone operating system has revealed a feature that will scan for networks and track user’s locations even when Wi-Fi has been turned off.

The code used to build Android 4.3 claims that ‘to improve location accuracy and for other purposes, Google and other apps may scan for nearby networks even when Wi-Fi is off. By identifying nearby Wi-Fi networks a device can determine a user’s location and it can be used as an alternative to GPS.

The new feature of Android 4.3 means that even if a user disables Wi-Fi to save battery or conceal their location, for example, it will stay on and run in the background. It also indicates that any location, or ‘other’ information obtained during this scan will be shared with Google or other apps installed onto a device.

Google is yet to comment on what these ‘other purposes’ could be.

According to Ron Amadeo from fan site Android Police, who discovered the code: ‘Google wants you to leave your Wi-Fi on, or at least partially on, all the time.

‘Now I know you might immediately scream ‘MY BATTERY [LIFE!’] but this will probably save battery.

Google wants you to leave Wi-Fi on Continue reading “Google Android new feature to track you even when Wifi is switched OFF”

Nokia’s Lumia 1020 comes out with 41 megapixel camera

nokia lumia 1020

Nokia has unveiled a new handset with a 41 megapixel sensor which it claims can record “details never thought possible from a smartphone”.

It says consumers will be able to zoom in and reframe their photos without worrying about the image quality suffering.

Analysts who have tested the device said that it was “without doubt” the best smartphone camera on the market.

But they added that was not a guarantee that it would be a bestseller.

Market research firm IDC recently carried out a survey of smartphone owners in 25 countries to identify what factors were most likely to drive future purchases.

The results placed camera resolution 15th on a list of 23 features. Audio quality for voice, battery life, device security and browsing came top of the poll.

“Most people just look at their photos on their smartphone or via a social network on a computer – and for this the other vendors already provide very good quality,” Francisco Jeronimo, a mobile phone analyst at the firm, told the BBC.

“Nokia needs to convince consumers that this new handset outperforms others in low-light conditions, otherwise they would only really notice the difference if they zoomed in on the images on a large screen or printed out a poster.

“It may be the best smartphone out there but I doubt it will be enough to convince many users to jump platform from Android or iOS which accounted for 92% of global shipments in the last quarter.”

Smartphone shows directions on windscreen

directions on windscreenSat-nav firm Garmin has made a portable head-up display (HUD) for cars that projects turn-by-turn directions on to a vehicle’s windscreen.

The portable HUD works with a smartphone and Garmin app to generate navigation information.

The gadget can project directional arrows, distances, current speed and speed limits on the windscreen.

Information is projected via the HUD’s attached reflector lens or on to a plastic film stuck to the window glass.

The navigation system can also provide voice prompts via a smartphone’s speaker or a car stereo that works with the Bluetooth short range radio technology. The app associated with the sat-nav system is available for iPhones, Android phones and Windows Phone 8 handsets.

The HUD automatically adjusts brightness levels to ensure that projected information is easy to read during the day and at night.

The Garmin HUD looked “interesting”, said Tim Edwards, a principal engineer in the future transport technology division at motor industry research firm Mira.

“Car makers are starting to do this themselves but their challenge has always been development lifecycles,” he said. “Your smartphone changes almost daily but there’s a limit to how fast a car can be updated.”

Mr Edwards said HUDs Continue reading “Smartphone shows directions on windscreen”