New Samsung Galaxy Tab4 Series is Announced

New Samsung Galaxy Tab4 Series is Announced

Apr 3, 2014

Galaxy Tab4 10.1 (SM-T530) Black_1

The new mid-range tablets from Samsung will be available in three screen sizes: 7, 8 and 10.1 inches. They pack vivid WXGA displays and a multi-window functionality. Other specifications include 1.2 GHz Quad Core processor, full Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth support, and a number of multi-user sharing experiences, in addition to all the perks of Android KitKat. The new tablet line will be available in black and white colors, sales starting somewhere around a second quarter of this year. See the full specifications here: Samsung Mobile Press Releases.

Majesty: Northern Expansion Goes On Sale for Thanksgiving

Majesty: Northern Expansion Goes On Sale for Thanksgiving

Nov 28, 2013

Android users are always grateful anytime they can get a stellar game on the cheap, and HeroCraft is happy to oblige; slashing the price on its hit tablet game, Majesty: Northern Expansion to a low $.99 cents in celebration of Thanksgiving (USA).

So while your weird uncle rambles on about the political climate of the country, you can get your hands on this “Fantasy Kingdom Sim” for a price that’s less than a can of overly processed Cranberry “Sauce”.

The Hills Are Greener: Android as the Future of Laptops? But do Laptops Have a Future?

The Hills Are Greener: Android as the Future of Laptops? But do Laptops Have a Future?

Jul 1, 2013

Samsung has announced a new laptop that features an interesting form factor, albeit one seen before: Windows and Android hybrid devices. The Ativ Q is a convertible that can run in both Windows 8 mode and as an Android tablet. Interestingly, it is possible to share files between the two separate OSes, so ithis isn’t just a case of “two devices in one”, these are meant to be interoperable in some fashion.

However, there’s a very interesting side effect here of these moves: it’s manufacturers admitting that Windows 8 just isn’t a tablet OS. I own a Surface Pro, and more often than not, I use it as a laptop. Having the tablet functionality is nice periodically, but Windows 8 just is not a very touch-friendly OS when working with actual desktop applications, aka “the very reason one would use Windows for.” So having Android available is just a huge step forward for these devices. IS anything bigger than ~10 inches probably overdoing it for a tablet? Sure, but at least they exist.

As the Windows tablets start to enter the 7-8″ space that seems to have the most momentum for the tablet space at the moment, it will be interesting to see if anyone attempts dual-OS functionality as well. There are few laptop manufacturers even attempting to do the 10-11″ space seriously, so these devices may be just interesting curiosities.

Still, for hardware manufacturers trying to make their touch interfaces better, it’s interesting that there’s at least some movement in the direction of Android on PCs, and not the other way around. It’s easy to see where, as this expands, that Android could be powering a laptop at some point. There’s at least one example of a gaming PC that runs Android. So why not a laptop? It will be interesting to see where this goes. Windows is vulnerable, and it could be Android, not Mac, that is what ultimately destabilizes it.

Of course, in the world where iPad is still the accepted leader of the tablet market, what does this do? Bill GAtes said that people would be using Windows tablets down the road, yet they have little to no momentum. Perhaps the tablet future is doomed to be one where the tablet feels just out of reach of what the PC can do, or until the market decides that they need to truly adjust to what users do with their tablets. Something has to give, but when Android, once maligned for its incompatibility with tablets, is becoming a superior tablet OS to Windows, what does that truly say?

Sony Announces Second Screen Mobile App for PlayStation 4

Sony Announces Second Screen Mobile App for PlayStation 4

Feb 21, 2013

Sony announced the PS4 at a special event on February 20th – well, they announced that it existed and that here’s some big, shiny games with some big, shiny explosions, but they didn’t actually show off the actual console to anyone. However, one thing they have shown off is a second screen app that will be coming to Android devices. Tentatively known as the PlayStation App, it will work in similar ways to the already-existing Xbox SmartGlass app.

Games can integrate in features like maps and other details that can be viewed on a tablet screen. There will be the ability to browse the PSN Store and buy new content to have it ready at home. As well, with the system’s ability to stream gameplay video, the app will be able to view friends’ streamed videos from anywhere. While the system will boast robust Remote Play features, they’re currently locked in to the PlayStation Vita. While Sony appears to not be opening up all their features to non-Sony hardware, the fact that they’re announcing this sort of feature as baked-in to the system from day one says a lot about the influence that these devices are having. The PlayStation 4 will launch this holiday season, and the app should presumably be available around the same time.

The Hills Are Greener: Why Smaller Tablets Aren’t Just Physically Smaller

The Hills Are Greener: Why Smaller Tablets Aren’t Just Physically Smaller

Jan 21, 2013

A reminder that the Android market is not the same as the iOS market has been served by Super Hexagon. The Nexus 7 version of the game suffers from a latency issue on touch release that appears to be a hardware-level issue thanks to a cheap touchscreen on the Nexus 7, according to developer Terry Cavanagh; initially the game was going to skip the Nexus 7 but as players manually installed the game and reported that the issues were minor, he decided to go ahead and enabled Nexus 7 support on Google Play. Crisis averted.

Now, while eventually it was sorted out, the point is this: the Android tablet market is largely defined by cheap devices. The Nexus 7 got its start, after all, as a low-cost 7" tablet from Asus that was highly-powered, but concessions had to be made to get it down to the $200 level. There’s a general feel that it is less sturdy than say an iPad, though its rubbery grip could be the cause of that. Still, it’s something that pales in comparison to Apple’s hardware design – one may not enjoy Apple products, but their craftsmanship is very high, even on their relatively low cost ones.

It’s not just Google that’s doing it: Amazon and Nook are pushing low costs on their tablets too. And that’s not to speak of the many nameless manufacturers trying to cut below even them. The market has spoken, and in the 7“ range at least, people want cheap tablets. And there’s a chance that in getting them, quality is going to suffer at least a little bit. And while the 10” market is a bigger unknown – the smaller 7–8" range is the hot market now with the iPad jumping in, and the Galaxy Note 10.1 is certainly well-advertised, but finding out just how many units its sold is not an easy endeavor, while Samsung touts the sales of the entire Galaxy Note line. The Nexus 10 is sold out on Google Play, but who knows how accurate that is. Maybe only 10 Nexus 10s were made. The fact that the Nexus 4 is still out of stock is still suspicious as compared to how fast they should be produced. Who knows.

The point is this: the 7“ market is the clear winner for Android, but people should not expect to be getting the absolute latest and greatest because of the demand for low prices. And a similar phone market is unlikely to develop long-term because phone subsidies on 2-year contracts bring prices into the range of 7” tablets. Heck, even Apple is underpowering the iPad Mini compared to the full-size line. That says a lot about what this market really is.

The Hills Are Greener: Not Buying What Google’s Selling – Because They Can’t Sell It

The Hills Are Greener: Not Buying What Google’s Selling – Because They Can’t Sell It

Dec 3, 2012

Let’s compare the approach of Apple and Google.

So Google has a hot new phone on their hands. It’s been sold out for weeks. They finally get in, or at least release, new stock of their new phone. They announce when they’re selling it. It sells out in seconds. Literally: I’m sitting at my iPad shortly after I notice the clock turn to 2:00 pm central on a Tuesday afternoon, and the Nexus 4 is sold out. Already. And there’s no recourse, no preorder process for future batches, nothing. In short, if I want a Nexus 4, I’ve got to wait.

Now look at Apple’s website. Try to buy an iPhone from them. Why, they are quite happy to sell you an iPhone well in advance. They’ll give you an estimate of how long it’ll take to get your shiny new piece of Apple ephemera. They’ll even let you go to pick up your shiny new toy from an Apple Store if there’s one in stock. It works all too well.

I suppose that as a tech addict, it should fail to surprise anyone that I have an iPhone 5 now, considering that the unlocked one finally went on sale? Yup, I’m back on the dark side. Sure, it makes sense for me considering I also love doing iOS reviews, but I also admit that it was something of an impulse buy because I couldn’t get the Android phone I wanted. The Galaxy S III is still a really nice phone, but something was calling me elsewhere. The lure of a cleaner, stock experience, and if Google wasn’t going to give it to me, Apple was.

Now granted, in this situation of selling phones directly to customers, Google doesn’t have the kind of retail and e-commerce experience that Apple does. But still, to be in a position where people that want your product pretty much can’t buy it? It seems like a bad experience. It may build up hype, yes (their phone sold out in an amount of time best measured in seconds), but it’s also a bad experience for people who actually want the phone and not just the hype. And if the reports that Google’s probably backordered for a month during one of the biggest shopping periods, when people will be wanting new phones, are true? Well, it’s just a mess. Good for Google that they have a phone that people want, but they need more stock. They can provide it with the Nexus 7 – it’s time they do it with the 4 as well.

I’m still rocking my Nexus 7, as it is: it’s still a great tablet, after all. But it is weird, making the transition back to iOS as my primary phone and notification source. If only you could have sold me a Nexus 4, Google, I was ready!

The Nexus 7, Google’s Tablet, is Finally a Reality

The Nexus 7, Google’s Tablet, is Finally a Reality

Jun 28, 2012

The worst-kept secret in Android is now out: the 7″ Nexus tablet is now a reality. It’s an Asus-produced 7-inch tablet with a 1280×800 IPS screen, Tegra 3 chip, 1 GB of RAM, an estimated 8 hours of battery life on a 4325 mAh battery, a front-facing camera, and will come pre-loaded with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The Nexus 7 will come in 8 GB and 16 GB storage configurations for $199 and $249 respectively. It will not come in cellular models, at least not right away. Google will be selling the tablet through Google Play, starting in July.

Of course, with the rumor mill nailing pretty much everything that the Nexus 7 would have in terms of specs, this isn’t a surprise. It should be intriguing as a gaming device, though: Nvidia has done a lot of work in getting titles to be either exclusive to Tegra 3 chips, or launching with Tegra 3 enhancements. That an official, mass-market Google device will have the chip is a good thing for Nvidia and thosse who partnered with them, and should provide some compelling content for the tablet.

Google is hoping for this tablet to push Google Play in the way that the Kindle Fire has pushed Amazon services, and their massive library of apps, with the burgeoning music and video stores, should help them along. Interestingly, there isn’t much word if Google’s going to try to get this thing out at retail, or if they really want to try and drive people to Google Play. The Kindle Fire may be sold by Amazon, and it likely would still be somewhat successful if it sold through Amazon alone, but it also has a major retail presence. The Nexus 7 could be slow to take off if Google doesn’t sell it through retail stores, or people who are interested in it may not pick it up if they can’t get it at retail.

Of course, selling it at least exclusively through Google Play, at least initially, may help Google get more people acclimated to buying their devices directly from Google. The HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus just dropped to $349.99 on their store as well. It’s something of a brute-force tactic, but if they market this device properly, it could be a boon for them. If not, it could just be another well-kept secret in their arsenal, produced solely for their own amusement.

The Hills Are Greener: Google and Tablets on the Surface

The Hills Are Greener: Google and Tablets on the Surface

Jun 25, 2012

This is a major week for Google and the tablet space. The Google IO conference is this week, and there’s the rumors floating about that they’re going to finally unveil that Nexus Tablet that has been the worst-kept secret in the mobile space so far. They may just need it because of the Windows-based Surface tablet that Microsoft just announced.

Now, the Surface is not necessarily targeting Android tablets – the market is just too small to sufficiently do that, and the iPad is currently king gorilla. In fact, Microsoft seems to want to attack the ultrabook market as well, with their Intel Surface tablets being priced in that pricepoint, with the ARM-based tablets taking on the iPad and Android equivalents.

In fact, Google may be more concerned that if they don’t control the 7-inch market, that they could wind up losing control of Android entirely. Offering an attractive solution with more power with more apps at the same price could be key for them, if the rumored Nexus Tablet actually does make its appearance.

What Google and Microsoft both seem to share right now is a common position of where the third-parties that support their software are their biggest hindrance. Apple has succeeded because they found mass-market hardware that they can sell with software that they can update without cost to the user, or a low cost. Windows updates are rather pricey; Apple just dropped the price of a major OS X update from $29.99 to $19.99. It may not be feasible for Microsoft to keep selling software, so getting into hardware may be their key to long-term success. After all, it’s how the Xbox is succeeding. They may need to make the shift into hardware production even if it means that they’ll be going up against the various corporations who sell hardware with their product!

Google knows all too well about this, and it’s a sticky place to be in, though Google isn’t making much money off of Android installations because the OS is free. But what the Nexus Tablet, if it’s a low-cost device, would do is serve as a salvo to the world that they are here to control Android. The Motorola move was part of this, and they’ve made Nexus phones, but the tablet market is such a hot spot that feels like it is in need of a true low-cost option that Google needs to make sure they’re a part of it, even if it puts them in an awkward relationship with those who sell hardware with their product!

Google may just be the next Microsoft after all.

Remote Document Viewer and Editor CloudOn Makes Its Way to Android Tablets

Remote Document Viewer and Editor CloudOn Makes Its Way to Android Tablets

May 9, 2012

The cloud-based service for creating and editing Microsoft Office documents and viewing Adobe Reader files, CloudOn, is now on Android tablets after an iPad-exclusive run. This app lets users work in a real Microsoft Office environment on their tablets by connecting to the free CloudOn service. So Word documents can be edited in an actual version of Microsoft Word, spreadsheets in real Excel, and presentations in true PowerPoint, with the software running on CloudOn‘s remote servers. As well, CloudOn boasts one of the most robust PDF viewing experiences on mobile, with its cloud-based technology able to view even PDF files with embedded 3D modelling, unlike most if not all mobile PDF readers.

CloudOn can also boast that they have aleays been properly licensed, unlike competing solution OnLive Desktop, which had its recent issues with licensing. All files are saved to and are loaded from cloud storage services such as Dropbox and Box, making it easy to access finished or in-progress work seamlessly from any computer. Appropriately enough, Google Drive is supported in the Android launch of CloudOn.

As far as usability goes, it’s virtually identical to the iPad version, and the same user account will work between versions. Unlike OnLive Desktop, this is meant to be more of a native device experience than using a remote Windows computer. So, the app tries to hide the Windows experience underneath as much as it can. Scrolling works as a user would expect it to on a touchscreen, and text selection feels native as well. Right-clicking is available by tapping and holding on the screen. While the Android software keyboard does work with CloudOn, unlike the ineffective remote keyboard in OnLive Desktop, built-in autocorrect does not work, so users should take care when typing. Asus Transformer keyboard dock users should be at an advantage, as well as hardware keyboard users. Interested users can download CloudOn now for free for Google Play, though it is currently only for tablets.

500px Launches Android Version of Their Tablet App

500px Launches Android Version of Their Tablet App

Apr 25, 2012

500px has launched a version of their app for Android devices. The app is essentially a port of their iPad app, just now on Android. This is a viewer of the 500px service, which serves as a photo sharing repository for high-quality photography. Photos can be viewed by popular images, editor’s choice, those upcoming in popularity, newest uploads, via searching for keywords, and viewing one’s own 500px images by logging in to the app. Photos can be shared directly to Twitter or Facebook from directly in the app. While the app doesn’t let users save photographs directly in the app, opening up the photo in a web browser is available – make sure to respect artists’ copyrights. The app does come with nude photography, which is filtered out by default, but can be re-enabled in the settings of the app.

Unlike the iOS version of the app, this is actually installable on phones, though the interface is clearly optimized for higher-resolution screens. The app is available now for free from Google Play.

The Hills Are Greener: If Google Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

The Hills Are Greener: If Google Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

Apr 23, 2012

A lot is made of the fact that Amazon is using Android to power their own device, and their own app store is making more money per user than Google Play. The separation is interesting. But why does it continue to exist? Why haven’t Google teamed up with Amazon?

Now, the two companies are competing, particularly in that both are trying to sell music, movies, books, and apps to consumers. It might make such a relationship thorny because of that competition, but it’s no more competitive than Apple and Google, is it? Steve Jobs was famously no fan of Android, but Google still finds ways to make money off of iOS – and possibly even more than they do with Android, as was widely and possibly falsely reported.

The Kindle Fire

So what if Amazon wants to skin Android to look the way they want? Google would be remiss to not try and get their services on there. Get Gmail, their web browser (particularly Google Chrome), and their other services on the Kindle Fire.

They need to treat devices that use Android like they do Gmail. Users will sometimes use their own email client with Gmail. However, the ultimate goal is to keep them coming back to Gmail, and to Google services. They need to get on the Kindle Fire and keep people using Google services while they use their OS. Will it be possible to merge the Amazon Appstore with Google Play somehow? Unlikely, but the point of Android’s openness is that it was possible for this to happen. Even a possibility of merging purchases, like the way that some computer games offer Steam codes without actually selling the game on Steam, would help get people back on the Google ecosystem.

Of course, Amazon may be weary of relying on Google in the way that Apple may regret having Google services so tied in to their system. But Google is such an institution that it’s difficult to make a competent mobile device without integrating with Google services in some way. It would materially benefit the Kindle Fire and future Kindle tablets, if not Amazon. That’s where Google could come in from a position of strength.

As we’ve seen with the BlackBerry Playbook, it could be possible for Amazon to make their own OS while maintaining Android compatibility. Over time, that Android compatibility could be unnecessary, given how attractive the Kindle Fire ecosystem is. So Google needs to make sure they’re still a part of it, or they’ll be left behind.

If Google can’t beat Amazon, they need to join them if they still want to have some semblance of control over Android.

Tablet Remote Makes Tablet Usage While Hooked Up to a TV Easier

Tablet Remote Makes Tablet Usage While Hooked Up to a TV Easier

Mar 23, 2012

Like to use tablets hooked up a TV? That micro-HDMI port included in many tablets is very nice to use. Tablet Remote is here to help in situations like that, to use the tablet while not sitting physically close to it. Users download the app on the device they want to control, and on the device they want to use to control the tablet. They then follow the app’s setup instructions to setup its inputs and Bluetooth discovery, then a phone or another tablet can be used to control another Android device. This includes four-way arrows, media control buttons, and the built-in Android buttons. While Android is setup for keyboard control with arrow keys, some apps don’t work as well; including mouse emulation would help out a lot as some apps do need to be directly interacted with via the touch screen.

Still, this app has its uses. Watching videos from a tablet is easier, and for users who just can’t sit close to where there tablet is plugged in to, this helps. I mean, it’s a first-world problem, but it’s still something that may have some uses. The interface is animated in a unique way, that’s almost worth the free download from Google Play on its own.