Thursday 16th May 2013 by William Judd in Android.
Google Galaxy S4
Pretty much the only hardware announcement of the keynote was a Samsung Galaxy S4 running stock Android 4.2 – a far cry from the software experience that comes on the normal Galaxy S4. Like Google’s brand of Nexus devices, it will receive updates from Google directly without needing (much) manufacturer or carrier input. That means the hardware of the Galaxy S4 – which is unequivocally good – is married with stock Android, which is a nice alternative to the heavy skin, apps and services on the default Samsung model. The Galaxy S4 with stock Android will be released in the US in June for $649 sim-free and unlocked.
Google Play Music All Access
Google Play Music currently offers a digital locker (you can upload your own songs) and a music store (you can buy songs). At Google I/O, Google unveiled a new extension to this service called All Access, which is a Spotify-style streaming music subscription service. The service also uses Google’s expertise to craft recommendations for you, turning single songs into infinite radio stations with no restrictions on skipping songs or re-ordering them. All Access will be coming out in the US first, where it’ll cost $7.99 for early adopters and $9.99 for later adopters. There’s also a 30 day trial available.
New Android features
While a new version of Android was widely expected to launch at I/O, instead we got a few new features for Android developers. Some of the most exciting are notifications that can sync across different devices and Google Play game services – cloud saving, achievements, leaderboards and multiplayer matchmaking.
Google+ has been improved in three areas: the stream (the equivalent of the Facebook timeline), Hangouts (group messaging) and photos. The changes to the photos side of things were probably the most impressive – Google+ now can pick the best pictures out of hundreds, automatically improve these pictures and even composite multiple ones together.
Maps has been improved on both mobile and desktop – on the mobile side, Android is getting a lot of the enhancements introduced in the recent iOS release. Maps will include offers from various brands (e.g. Starbucks). Directions and Navigation have also been improved, allowing for dynamic re-routing in response to live traffic information. There’s also an Explore section which recommends places to eat, sleep and explore. The upgrade to mobile maps will hit this summer.
The desktop version of Maps has seen more obvious changes – the whole thing is now vector-based, using webGL in Chrome. Instead of pins, search results are labelled directly on the map. Maps will be personalised to show locations that you’ve visited or rated, and each location when selected can show additional recommendations. Public transport is also improved, with very clear diagrams showing different routes and methods.
Finally, desktop Maps has been improved on a much larger scale – zoom out far enough, and you’ll be able to see real-time clouds; you can see lights on the dark side of the world. Move out even more, and you’ll see the Earth moving through space, with the sun and stars in the right position – crazy. The new desktop Maps is in preview now, and should be released pretty soon.
While we didn’t see a lot of cool new products at this year’s Google I/O, there were loads of improvements to pretty much everything Google is involved in.
What did you make of the proceedings? Let us know in the comments below.
BlackBerry has announced a smaller version of the Q10 yesterday, the Q5. Reminiscent of the Curve models (with a bit of Bold blended in) the Q5 is a top spec but mid-range smartphone that should come with a smaller price tag than its larger sibling. According to BlackBerry, the new handset will be released in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America in early July. The price has not yet been confirmed.
Let’s get down to it – what are the specs?
The BlackBerry Q5 features a full QWERTY keyboard and a 3.1 inch 720p resolution LCD screen. Powered by a dual-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor running the latest BlackBerry 10 OS and carrying 2 GB of RAM, the Q5 has very similar specs to the Z10 and Q10. It comes with only 8 GB of internal memory but this can be expanded through the use of a microSD card. The front and back cameras are decent but not impressive. In the back you’ll find a 5 MP camera with autofocus and an LED flash while in the front there is a 2 MP camera.
BlackBerry Q5 versus BlackBerry Q10
At the beginning of this post I called the Q5 a “top spec but mid-range smartphone” – you may be wondering why? While the Q5 definitely packs a punch in terms of specs, BlackBerry has clearly targeted the mid-range smartphone market as cheaper materials have been used for the Q5 as compared to the Q10. The Q5 is also available in a wider variety of colours including red and pink which shows that BlackBerry is targeting a younger audience with this model.
The 3.1 inch screen on the Q5 is the same size as the one on the Q10, however, the Q10 features a Super AMOLED display while the Q5 uses a lower-cost LCD screen.
Polycarbonate is the main material used for the Q5′s body while the Q10 is made primarily from fiberglass and aluminium. On the plus side this makes the Q5 19 grams lighter than the Q10.
According to first hand reviews from a wide range of sources, the QWERTY keyboard is more similar to the old Curve setup than what is featured on the Q10 flagship model: a less-premium, flatter keyboard that provides a decent typing experience but leaves much to be desired when compared to the keyboard on the Q10 which has precisely angled keys, excellent feedback and a quick response.
Awesome or awful?
Awesome (and very much so). BlackBerry is trying to bring back the old Curve experience. Remember when everyone had a BBM PIN and all the kids were typing away on their BlackBerries: “clickety clack, clickety clack”? We may just see that fashion re-emerge.
All in all the Q5 looks very promising. A fun, trendy smartphone with great specs at a (hopefully) affordable price. I’m very much looking forward to it – are you?
Wednesday 15th May 2013 by Mihnea Gamulescu in Android.
We currently have over 200 Galaxy S4 cases available on our virtual shelves, including the very popular Samsung Galaxy S4 S View cover.
The S View features a small window on the front cover that allows users to answer (or reject) incoming calls without having to open the cover. It also has a built-in proximity sensor so that the S4 automatically shuts down most of the screen when the cover is closed and only leaves the area under the small window active (when needed). This is great as it helps save battery life while still showing you the most important notifications.
More so, it offers full front to back protection for the smartphone and guards it from bumps, drops and scratches. The best part is that it does all this without obstructing access to the S4′s ports and controls.
BlackBerry asks: touch versus type? If you’ve gone for ‘type’ odds are you’re reading this on your BlackBerry Q10 and loving it. I imagine so as browsing the web on a handheld device with a great QWERTY keyboard, 2 GB of RAM and a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor is a breeze.
So you’re the proud owner of a Q10 or are looking to get one in the near future and want to make sure it’s protected against bumps and scratches, or in other words, your cat or your clumsy hands? You’ve come to the right place – here are three of the best cases for the BlackBerry Q10, guaranteed to provide great protection without compromising on functionality.
The FlexiShield case is great as it’s easy to put on, is slim fitting and offers access to all of the Q10′s ports and features. It comes in a choice of black, white and purple and at a great price!
The flexible silicone material offers great protection against bumps and scratches and helps improve grip. A very good option.
The Genuine BlackBerry Q10 Hard Shell has excellent build quality and, as the name suggests, it is a hard shell meaning that it will offer more protection against drops than the FlexiShield. It doesn’t, however, improve grip quite as much as the FlexiShield.
The hard shell also has cutouts for all ports and features including the camera, charging port and volume controls and features a BlackBerry logo on the back, just like the one on the handset.
The BlackBerry Q10 flip shell is a genuine BlackBerry product. Designed specifically for the Q10 it covers the back, sides and corners of the smartphone and features a front flip that protects the screen when the phone is not in use. It gives users full access to all major functions and features so it never needs to be removed.
The flip shell is very thin and it even features a built-in proximity sensor which helps save battery life. When the front flip is closed the Q10 automatically shuts down the screen so that no unnecessary power is used.
All in all a great case but it can make it a bit tricky to use the phone due to the front flip. In my opinion, the advantage of having your screen protected while the phone is in your pocket or purse outweighs this small inconvenience; the Q10 will also take less damage if dropped as the flip shell offers 360 protection.
So there you have it, folks! My top three choices. Click here to see our whole range of BlackBerry Q10 cases and choose a case that fits your needs and style. Don’t fancy the Flip Shell? Drop a comment below and let everyone know which your favourite case is.
Tuesday 14th May 2013 by William Judd in Mobile Accessories.
The next big Nokia Lumia phone is coming soon. At a press event in London this morning, Nokia officially announced the Nokia Lumia 925 after weeks of rumour, leaks and speculation. As expected, the phone is a compelling upgrade over the existing Lumia 920 flagship, offering a much thinner and lighter body, an improved camera and a new AMOLED display.
Lumia on a diet
The biggest flaw of the original Lumia 920 was its size and weight – at 10.7 millimetres thick and 185 grams, it felt noticeably bigger and heavier than pretty much any phone on the market. Even phones with much larger displays felt better than the 920 – the Galaxy S4 weighs 55 grams less and is nearly 2 millimetres thinner.
With the Lumia 925, Nokia have switched to an aluminium construction that is in line with other leading smartphones, at 8.5 mm thick and 139 grams. While you lose out on the bold colour options and wireless charging of the Lumia 920, it feels like a worthwhile exchange.
The best smartphone camera – again
The Lumia 920′s weight was partly made up for by its capable camera, with unmatched features like optical image stabilisation for sharper stills and videos, particularly in low light. The Lumia 925 continues that tradition with an 8.7 megapixel camera, yet sheds the bulk and adds more software features.
The new camera app is called Smart Cam, and includes a number of burst shot modes for finding the perfect photo. You can use Best Shot for automatically finding the best one of the bunch, Action Shot which composites a moving subject and Motion Focus to add motion blur to everything that’s not moving.
Hardware upgrades, in small measures
The rest of the Lumia 925′s hardware is pretty much at the top end of what Windows Phone is capable of at the moment – which is to say that it’s mostly unchanged from the Lumia 920. The display has been changed from LCD to AMOLED for improved battery life and deeper blacks, but remains at 4.5-inches and at a resolution of 1280 x 768. The phone also has the same hardware inside, with a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage.
Best Windows Phone ever
There really isn’t any competition for the Lumia 925, at least in Windows Phone land. It’s simply the best-looking and most capable Windows Phone, and should enjoy strong retail success if it’s well marketed by Nokia. The Lumia 925 will be available in the UK in June.
Here at Mobile Fun, we’ll be stocking a range of Lumia 925 accessories, including those cool Lumia portable chargers we saw earlier this month and the wireless charging covers that take the place of the wireless charging that was integrated in the Lumia 920.