Tag: Android

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Pixel C ships in time for Christmas

The rumor is fact. Today, Google started selling its first homegrown tablet, Pixel C. You can buy one directly from the company—until they sell out! Google typically struggles stocking new devices, like Nexus smartphones and the Chromebook Pixel. On November 30th, I asked: “Where is Pixel C?“, which was promised to arrive before the holidays. Now we know.

I hope to have the 10.2-inch tablet in possession within a few days and will subsequently post first-impression and full reviews. If you can’t wait for that, and shouldn’t, larger tech news sites already have their takes online. Search for the name, and you will find them. Don’t wait on me, if you’re thinking about one for Christmas! 

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HTC One A9 Review

So you bought iPhone 6. You love the understated styling of the aluminum enclosure and how the device feels in your hands. But iOS is a dog brain. It’s loyal and friendly, but you want more than a tail-wagger that needs to be let out to pee. HTC has your back, with the shockingly similar-looking One A9. The imitator gives you close-enough design benefits with the extra bang of the freshest Android (Marshmallow).

Over the Black-Friday-to-Cyber-Monday weekend, one in ten A9 buyers moved up from iPhone 6 or 6s series devices, according to HTC. The manufacturer has a holiday special ending Jan. 7, 2016 that allures some switchers. Trade-in one of the Apples for full discount off the A9’s purchase price (HTC mails a $499.99 check after receiving the old device). Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge traders get $200 and LG3 and LG4 owners $100. 

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OK, Google, Where Is Pixel C?

Black Friday is behind us, Cyber Monday is here, and Christmas shipping new purchases cuts off in about three weeks. Which makes me wonder: Where is Google’s new tablet? When announced at the end of September, Google product director Andrew Bowers said that the “Pixel C will be available in time for the holidays on the Google Store”. Eh, yeah—by whose measure is “in time”. The information giant typically sells out of new gear, which leaves little time to manage inventory. “Out of stock” notices will disappoint many shoppers, who may buy something else.

I watched for this baby to drop before Thanksgiving, particularly with Apple iPad Pro already available—three weeks now. Granted, the devices target different markets, if for no other reason than size (12.9 and 10.2 inches, respectively). But each is innovative and stylish and would make great presents for someone. I’m ready to buy, Google. As surely are many Android fanboys.I reached out to the PR staff there today and was told to “stay tuned”, which could be interpreted as soon. We shall see, eh? 

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The 5 Smartphones of Christmas

If you’re smartphone shopping this holiday and wondering what to buy, my primer can assist—with caveats. I focus solely on Androids that are higher end but affordable, and I ignore iPhones. No slight against Apple devices is intended. I figure that people who want an iPhone won’t likely consider an alternative. Also: The differences aren’t as pronounced. For example, the major benefit choosing 6s or 6s Plus over the two previous models is slightly lower price (3D Touch is an unnecessary gimmick). The major benefit picking 5s over the 6 or 6 Plus is again price but also smaller size.

Among Androids, differences abound—and many, such as older OS versions or custom UI skins, are carrier or manufacturer imposed. That’s without considering the bloatware that either or both parties might impose. I intentionally focus on devices that offer the most value for price paid, which includes upfront or payment-plan purchased unlocked. 

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The iPhone 6s Doppelgänger

Without even turning on the HTC One A9 (which I haven’t yet), the physical similarities with iPhone 6/6s are unmistakable. The smartphones share striking design ethic, separated by the shape of the home-button fingerprint sensor, placement of the rear-facing camera, and left-side SIM and microSD card slots. But these differences aren’t immediately obvious.

My question: Is this the Android for people wanting the iPhone 6s look but something more flexible than the iOS platform? If there is truth in marketing, HTC’s tag lines reveal much: “Design worth imitating”, which while referring the company’s One legacy also could be interpreted as backhanded praise or even fist-to-snub about Apple’s device, which some could argue imitates earlier One models. “Power to choose”—customization and personalization options not offered on fruit-logo handsets. 

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Nexus 9 Revised Review

My May, lukewarm assessment begins: “t want to love Google-branded, HTC-manufactured Nexus 9. But ours is a contentious relationship”. I didn’t see value for the cost, particularly comparing performance to other tabs similarly priced. On Oct. 29, 2015, Amazon delivered a new N9, and the user experience dramatically differs from the previous device—so much I must revise my review.

Days earlier, I parted with iPad Air 2 LTE. The family hopes to change cellular carriers, and there was opportunity to amicably relinquish my payment responsibility to Verizon. I would love to replace the Apple with Google Pixel C, but the tab’s forthcoming release date is uncertain. I reconsidered Nexus 9 and found the 32GB white model available from Amazon for $130 less than list price. I ordered, knowing that the device could be returned for refund if Pixel C imminently released or if N9 dissatisfied again. Lower price made buying and trying again an easy decision. 

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Android vs iPhone: When Hype Bites

The haughty headline from yesterday’s Apple fiscal fourth quarter 2015 earnings report isn’t big revenue or profit performance ($51.5 billion and $11.1 billion, respectively), but a figure given by CEO Tim Cook during the analyst call: “We recorded the highest rate on record for Android switches last quarter at 30 percent”.

Blogs, and some news sites, set the statement off like an atomic blast of free marketing for Apple. The fallout spreads across the InterWebs this fine Wednesday, largely undisputed or corroborated. Just because Cook claims something doesn’t make it true. To get some perspective, and to either correct or confirm the public record, today I asked a half-dozen analysts: “Does your analysis of the smartphone market support that assertion?” 

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Nexus 5X Early Review

The question everyone should ask about Google-branded, LG-manufactured Nexus 5X: Who is it for? My first-impressions review primarily focuses on the answer. My wife is one person, and I am surprised. Because conceptually she steps down from the Motorola Droid Turbo, which by raw specs is the superior mobile. Budget buyers also should consider the 5X or anyone living the Google lifestyle or wanting stock Android.

The new handset course corrects last year’s release blunder, when Google sized up to 6-inch screen with the Nexus 6, leaving many satisfied N5 owners in stunned silence followed by loud complaint. While a N6 fan, I agree: It is a huge phone that is overly large for the majority of prospective buyers. This year’s solution is smart. Google released two smartphones: Nexus 6P, which while phablet-class is markedly more manageable in the hands than its predecessor; Nexus 5X, for people wanting something smaller and for N5 owners looking to upgrade. 

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The Android Army Rises

January 2010. Briefly, my attention turns away from rumors about an Apple tablet (true) and (then) Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s Consumer Electronics Show keynote. On this fifth day of the new decade, Google debuts a new smartphone. I see the launch as a watershed event—and order Nexus One for myself. Made by HTC, but codesigned by Google and carrying its brand, the self-described, so-called “superphone” is the stone that later sets off an Android avalanche sweeping across the planet.

Things that matter about the N1:

  • Google sells it direct, unlocked, with no contract required
  • Voice interaction is as important as, if not more than, touch
  • Operating system and core features tightly tie to Google search
  • Hardware is a baseline reference design for manufacturing partners
  • Platform provides software developers the foundation for making Android apps
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Something Surprising about New Nexus

Google packed today’s big annual autumn product launch with loads of news: Nexus 5X and 6P (available for preorder now); Chromecast 2 and Chromecast Audio (for sale today); Google Photo enhancements (rolling out soon); Android 6 “Marshmallow” (arriving on existing Nexus devices next week); and Pixel C tablet (coming sometime before the holidays). Jamming in so much, some things might get overlooked. One seeming tidbit rapped my attention.

Soon after discussing how Marshmallow uses a new permissions scheme for apps, Google veep Dave Burke said: “With the new Nexus devices, we’ve reduced the number of preloaded apps on the phone, to make the out-of-box experience cleaner and simpler. We’ve also developed a new system that moves over a quarter of our apps to a post-setup installation phase, which means they can be uninstalled just like any other apps”. The implications are interesting.