• Devices

    by Published on 10-20-2016 08:00 AM
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    Wareable posted a feature this week using data gathered from various studies to paint a picture—in broad strokes—of the current wearable market. Sources include CCS Insight, NPD and First Insight (direct link to PDF).

    I'll admit that precious few of these "insights" are in any way surprising; the most encouraging data point for me is that there's a large potential market out there for cheaper hardware. And who doesn't want cheaper hardware?

    Anyway, read on for more! ...
    by Published on 10-19-2016 02:49 PM
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    2. Devices,
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    I’ve been playing with the Motorola Moto Z and some Moto Mod accessories for it. I recently checked out the JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod. Initially, I was unsure of how much sense a proprietary accessory would make, but Motorola managed to make it work and I loved the SoundBoost.



    Next up is their Moto Insta-Share Projector. It’s a pic projector that attaches to the back of a Motorola Moto Z family phone (currently there are 3 compatible Z family phones with presumably more to come). There are pogo plugs on the back of the projector which mate to connectors on the back of a Moto Z. It uses magnets to hold it in place which I assure you, hold it very securely. ...
    by Published on 10-19-2016 08:00 AM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on



    Some embargo must have been lifted yesterday; around lunchtime my RSS feeds and YouTube queue were suddenly filled with reviews of Google's new iPhone, like the video you see here from The Verge's Dieter Bohn.

    This morning's plan was to post some links for your reading pleasure, but this longtime Nexus fan couldn't resist the urge to throw in his own snarky comments along with them. Let's start with Dieter, who says that the Pixel phones go "toe to toe" with the iPhone, and that the Pixel "doesn't fall down". This gets right to my fundamental problem with Pixel. It copies the iPhone so much, from its exorbitant price right down to the long-press actions on app icons, that it begs the question: Why wouldn't someone just buy an iPhone? ...
    by Published on 10-18-2016 08:00 AM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on



    Okay, enough griping about Google iPhone wannabes... Here's a new video by Michael Fisher featuring five pretty great mid-range phones—actually, this one only really focuses on three, as the Moto Z Play and OnePlus 3 have already been reviewed on that same channel.

    Rather than just share the video and be done with it I'm also linking to some other reviews of these same devices and, as a bonus for my fellow modders, bootloader unlock information where available. Enjoy! ...
    by Published on 10-17-2016 08:00 AM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors
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    I'm no fan of Google's iPhones and it doesn't seem like many of you are, either. I am, however, duly impressed with Android Police's reporting on the devices prior to their official launch. Leaks came early and often—AP had full specs for one of the phones as far back as last June.

    Now they've taken the unprecedented (for a tech blog) step of revisiting their Pixel coverage and grading themselves on what they got right and what they got wrong. Since they got almost everything right the exercise amounts to a pat on their collective backs, but the accuracy of their reporting is impressive, nonetheless—that is, with one notable exception. ...
    by Published on 10-14-2016 08:00 AM
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    One other bit of news to catch up on, and potentially good news for anyone in the market for an Android phone that punches above its price tag. Last Friday Chinese OEM LeEco slipped up and published pretty much everything slated for its big U.S. announcement next Wednesday, October 19th. The pages have since been taken down, but the Internet doesn't forget!

    Here are the specs of the two unlocked smartphones headed our way:

    Le S3
    5.5" Full HD display
    16MP rear camera
    Snapdragon 652 processor
    3000mAh battery
    Quick Charge 3.0
    Fingerprint scanner
    Android 6.0

    Le Max2
    5.7" Quad HD display
    21MP rear camera
    Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
    4GB or 6GB of RAM
    3100mAh battery
    Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
    Fingerprint scanner
    Android 6.0

    The bad news? Neither phone will have a headphone jack, but international versions of these devices have shipped with USB to audio adapters. The good news? Price. The larger Le Max2 will retail for $349 USD, with a sale price of $289 until December 18th. The Le S3 will sell for $299 USD, with an introductory sale price of $169. That might be a typo, though. ...
    by Published on 10-13-2016 09:44 AM
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    I’ve been playing with a Motorola Moto Z and a few Moto Mod accessories for a few days and thought I’d share some thoughts on how they work together.

    But first off, I have to mention what really jumps out about the Z is just how thin it is. I mean how can something this skinny pack flagship specs? What’s more impressive is that they managed to do this without having to resort to a gigantic bezel or skimping on the battery capacity.



    They didn’t skimp on features either, on the back are series of 16 pogo pins which allow you to attach a variety of add-ons called Moto Mods. Motorola isn’t messing around either, they sent me 4 different Mods with the Z including:


    • a serious sounding speaker from JBL
    • external battery pack for extended Pokemon Go so I can finally catch enough Dratini to evolve it
    • Camera with 10x optical zoom from Hasselblad
    • Pico Projector so the wife and I can watch Brooklyn Nine Nine on the ceiling




    These can all attach to the back of the Moto Z using magnets. In case you’re wondering; Yes, they attach very securely - they won’t come off unless you want it to and even then it takes a bit of coaxing.



    As it turns out the thinness, allows the Z to stay manageable even when you have a Moto Mod attached.



    So, far the one I’ve used most is the JBL speaker. I’ll talk more about the other mods in another write up. It’s considerably thicker than the Z and at 145g it basically doubles the weight of the package. Fortunately it’s very sculpted so it doesn’t feel too strange in my hand when I have it connected.
    ...
    by Published on 10-13-2016 08:30 AM
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    $1,179 CAD. That's what Google Canada wants for a 128 GB Pixel XL. To say that I'm not interested would be a massive understatement.

    And it's not like I don't love gadgets; it's just that I buy enough of them to have a pretty good idea of what I'm willing to spend. As a reference, here's my own personal computer allowance:

    Desktop computer - $2,000 - upgraded every two to three years
    Laptop computer - $1,000 - upgraded every two to three years
    Smartphone - $500 - upgraded every year
    Smartwatch - $250 - upgraded every year

    But wait, you say, you can get a 32 GB Pixel for only $899 CAD. Yeah, no thanks... over the summer I bought a ThinkPad for the same price. ...
    by Published on 10-12-2016 08:00 AM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors
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    Make of this rumour what you will. I'm still trying to deal with the name.

    In the past few days two separate sources have reported that there will shortly be a super-sized OnePlus 3. Thankfully, there's no confirmed moniker for the actual phone; "OnePlus 3 Plus" is, at least for the moment, pure conjecture.

    So why would OnePlus dilute their 2016 product line with a second device? To capitalize on the Note7 disaster would be a good reason, but there's another, more practical one: the company is apparently having a lot of trouble securing AMOLED panels for production, and a new phone would give OnePlus an excuse to switch to LCD. ...
    by Published on 10-11-2016 08:00 AM
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    Samsung's strategy of beating Apple to market with their own flagship phablet has now completely, irreversibly and permanently backfired. Early this morning The Wall Street Journal reported that the product has been discontinued altogether.

    In Canada and the USA it was the carriers who bore the brunt of Note7 returns during the initial recall, and when it became clear that replacement devices were also faulty it was time to cut their losses—on Sunday AT&T decided to stop selling the Note7, followed soon after by Best Buy, Sprint and Verizon.

    For Samsung it's been a disaster on three fronts—manufacturing, sales and PR. A user of a faulty replacement Note7 received a text message from Samsung that was clearly not meant for him:

    Just now got this. I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter, or we just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it
    All this has at least one mobile industry expert—Tomi Ahonen—to wonder if this is the end of the Note line altogether. According to him, the damage to Samsung's brand will last for at least a year, if not more. ...
    by Published on 10-07-2016 08:00 AM
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    Purism is a boutique seller of Linux laptops based in San Francisco. Their hardware ships with a custom spin of Trisquel, itself an Ubuntu derivative with only FOSS (free and open source) software on-board.

    Now the company is looking to get into the smartphone racket with what they're calling the Librem Phone, a free software phone running a bona fide GNU/Linux stack.

    A truly FOSS phone has, historically, been a tough nut to crack. Ubuntu Phone, the other contender in this very niche space, still relies on binary blobs from Android. I'd wager that most hardcore freedom beards are already making do with CyanogenMod or some other custom Android ROM and F-Droid in place of GMS (Google mobile services). ...
    by Published on 10-06-2016 08:00 AM
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    Yesterday BGR found AnTuTu's listing for the top ten smartphones of September on their Chinese site—they should be published in English anytime now. Anyway, the story, according to BGR, is that the new iPhones "crush" the iPhones from Google (aka Pixel). Thing is, the Google iPhones haven't even been benchmarked yet; the claim is based solely on the fact that the number three handset is powered by the same Snapdragon 821 processor as the Pixel (aka Google iPhone).

    Sure, that's fair. But when I look at these results I see a completely different story. I see a chart that's dominated by Chinese OEMs, and of the seven Chinese brands in this list, only one of them—the OnePlus 3—is available for purchase here in the Americas. ...
    by Published on 10-05-2016 08:30 AM
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    After all the Pixel-related hoopla yesterday Android Police confirmed with Google that the Nexus brand is effectively dead. I think I've come to terms with it; Nexus hasn't really been the same since late 2013 anyway, when the Nexus 5—codenamed hammerhead—went on sale.

    The Nexus 5 finished what the Nexus 4 started, offering high-end specs at an affordable price. The final pieces to this puzzle that were added by the 5 include a full HD screen, LTE radio and optically-stabilized rear camera. Battery life wasn't spectacular, but this was offset somewhat by the convenience of inductive charging.

    And, of course, being a Nexus meant that hammerhead was a modder's dream. It was my first testbed for Xposed Modules, ran one of my all-time favourite custom ROMs, SlimKat, and was even compatible with MultiROM, allowing me to boot into Android, Sailfish and Ubuntu all on the same phone. Hammerhead continues to be useful to this day; it's currently the only device that can run Maru OS, transforming a humble smartphone into a fully-functioning Debian-powered desktop computer.

    You could go so far as to call The Nexus 5 the anti-iPhone. Where Apple's flagship was locked down and expensive, Google's alternative was open and affordable. It seems to have sold pretty well, too; I still see the occasional Nexus 5 when I'm out in the world. 2013 actually saw two Nexus successes: the second-gen Nexus 7 tablet was (and is) also pretty great. ...
    by Published on 10-04-2016 08:00 AM
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    2. Devices,
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    The Pixel and Pixel XL won't be the only hardware that Google will be announcing at 9am Pacific Time today, though they'll obviously be a big part of the event—oh look, here they are in blue and silver.

    Over the summer there have been rumours and leaks of other devices which, taken together, would suggest that Google is pushing further into VR, further into your home and further into your life... like there was ever any doubt that they would.

    Here then, is an early look at what else is likely to be announced by Google today. ...
    by Published on 10-03-2016 08:00 AM
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    Yesterday, Bell Canada published some images of the new Pixel Phones from Google. Shortly thereafter, higher-res version of those same images were discovered on the French version of the TELUS website. And then, UK retailer Carphone Warehouse trumped them both by publishing product pages for both devices. The listings were since removed, but the Internet—in this case reddit—does not forget.

    Here are the confirmed specs for the Pixel and Pixel XL:

    Google Pixel

    • 5 inch 1920 x 1080 pixel AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 4
    • 2.15GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
    • 4GB of RAM
    • 32GB and 128GB storage options
    • 12.3MP rear camera with image stabilization
    • 8MP front camera
    • 2,770mAh battery with fast charging and up to 32 hours of talk time
    • USB Type-C
    • Fingerprint scanner
    • NFC
    • 143.8mm x 69.5mm x 8.6mm
    • 143 grams

    Google Pixel XL

    • 5.5 inch 2560 x 1440 pixel AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 4
    • 2.15GHZ Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
    • 4GB of RAM
    • 32GB and 128GB storage options
    • 12.3MP rear camera with image stabilization
    • 8MP front camera
    • 3,450mAH battery with fast charging and up to 26 hours of talk time
    • USB Type-C
    • Fingerprint scanner
    • NFC
    • 154.7mm x 75.7mm x 8.6mm
    • 168 grams

    And here are the images. Enjoy! ...
    by Published on 09-28-2016 08:00 AM
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    Yesterday some folks from OnePlus appeared on r/Android for what they called their September Software Edition AMA. The company announced their second carrier agreement with UK operator O2 this week; OnePlus phones have also been available through Finland's Elisa since May.

    This AMA, however, was primarily conducted to address the code merge of their Western and Chinese market ROMs. On hand were the following staff:

    Brian (Head of ROM Product) - /u/BrianTheBigBear
    Aaron (Android Technical Lead) - /u/Aaron_oneplus
    Omega (Rom Dev Lead) - /u/OmegaHsu
    Carl (Head of Global) - /u/Carpe02
    Bradon (Community/Marketing) - /u/BradonOP

    My cherry-picked highlights can be read directly below. ...
    by Published on 09-27-2016 08:45 AM
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    Here's yet another render of the Google Pixel, found by Evan Blass and posted to VentureBeat yesterday. With exactly one week to go before its official unveiling I thought it might be instructive to compare what we know about it (and the larger Pixel XL) against a list of traits one would expect in a Nexus phone of days gone by.

    Note that I won't have definitive answers for everything you'll read in this post; chalk that up to rumours I've heard on podcasts and my unfamiliarity with Verizon. ...
    by Published on 09-26-2016 08:00 AM
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    Some big news from Snapchat over the weekend... The company has renamed itself Snap, Inc. and announced its first hardware product, called Spectacles.

    Priced at $130 USD and available this fall in either black, teal or coral (seen here), Spectacles capture and send Snaps to your phone via Bluetooth or WiFi. Those not wearing Snap Specs will know they're being Snapped by a ring of lights that will illuminate around the lens. On the upside, confrontations with strangers who don't wish to be recorded will be limited to 10-second segments. ...
    by Published on 09-23-2016 11:36 AM
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    I was very excited when Pokemon Go launched, I really enjoyed playing the original Pokemon games 20 years ago, and was really looked forward to being able to play the latest version with my 6 year old daughter.

    The 2 of us have managed to make it up to level 28 mostly because I play a lot when she’s not around. However playing a lot of Pokemon Go causes 3 problems. Can the Pokemon Go Plus solve them? ...
    by Published on 09-23-2016 08:00 AM
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    Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have just published the results of a two-year study on wearable technology and weight loss. A total of 471 participants in the study, men and women aged 18-35, were weeded down into two groups; the group using fitness trackers lost less weight on average than the ones that didn't.

    All of the initial subjects got six months of a low-calorie diet, prescribed increases in physical activity and group counseling. From that larger group subjects were selected at random for an additional 18 months of phone counseling, SMS reminders and access to either a website or a wearable device.

    The results: After 2 years, the non-wearable group lost 13 lbs on average, and the wearable group only 7.7 lbs. ...
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