Friday, September 26, 2014

Galaxy Gear 2 Neo and the smart watch race: the new arms race(pun intended)!

Since the days of Fossil, we haven't seen the potential in a smart watch in many years. Samsung picks up the mantle and carries it. But now that other manufactures are jumping in the race, who will be left standing?  Reset your clocks to 2007 when Apple reinvented the smartphone, and you can get a feel for where we are in the new arms race(pun intended).
After one month with the Galaxy Gear 2 NEO, I am pleased with it! Paired with a Galaxy Note 3, I am beginning to enjoy the connected life that was the promise of the new tech. At home and at work are beginning to take on different parameters as the watch offers different types of notifications and connectivity to achieve various tasks.
Let's begin with phone calls. The Bluetooth connected watch has the ability to place and receive calls without the need to reach for your connected phone. As a work application, I find it very useful to receive calls from the watch especially when in a quite setting like in a secure office or in a vehicle. Sound quality is clear and callers can hear me clearly without knowing I'm on a speakerphone on a watch. You also have the option to transfer the call to a connected Bluetooth headset or to the paired smartphone.
The calculator(downloaded) is easy to use despite the size of the keyboard, and makes computations on the fly a breeze. Having weather at a glance is a nice touch as being outdoors and wanting to know what's going on is as easy as looking at your wrist vs pulling out your phone.
My favorite app is the media player as I am avid Google music  user. I am able to pause, play, skip forward and backward through tracks all without the phone. There is also 4gig of on board storage for you to upload your own tracks to a built in mp3 player. There is also a gallery to upload your own background pics and personal photos.
Now for the downsides. Despite being very light weight and non obtrusive, the clasp tends to come undone with moderate vibration unlike a traditional watch band. This is easily corrected by replacing your band. The main draw back I see in keeping folks from plopping down the $200 for a new unit is the lack of new apps. I constantly check the Gear app store for anything new and I am often frustrated. My first choice for a smartwatch was a Pebble as it has a healthy selection of apps. This can be a deal breaker for many including myself.
Now that the Gear S was announced, I am also afraid that Samsung will simply forget this watch exists as there are already new apps including navigation that are being advertised as exclusive to the new watch. The news that many of Samsung's mobile software engineers were  reassigned to other departments doesn't look to good either.
When you consider the typical fanatical reception for the new Apple iWatch, and the warm receptions the Moto 360 and LG G watch are receiving , although I am pleased with the Neo, I am wondering if Samsung can both attract new adaptors, and service the watch's that are replaced by newer ones? Good customer experience is one of Apples strong suits, and Samsung hopefully knows that as the innovator, its dominance is threatened if it can't keep its existing customers happy.
My final verdict? The Neo is a great proof of concept watch. All around well constructed, with dust and water resistance, it is a step towards what I think the future of wearable tech is going. Keep in mind the lack of new apps, and I will say that its defiantly worth the investment as new apps are promised.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why it just dosent matter!

After pondering a point, I've come to the conclusion that when bickering over what Mobile phone is the best or what platform is king, we are all missing the boat! Unless we are on the board of directors or principal stock owners, or in high management, your voice is insignificant.

I am a Samsung fan boy(hard to use this term) and with the recent announcements of Apple's new phones and watch, I joined the very loud chorus of naysayers and trolls who discredited and denounced Apple and all things non-Android. I never took one thought beyond the bigger picture, I was only concerned about my small sphere of influence and the "friends" who shared my views.

Then I thought about the BIG picture, and my paradigm shifted! Sony, Samsung, Apple, Microsoft and other similar companies have existed for a long time without any acknowledgment of me or my friends as individuals other than canned emails and other electronic correspondence soliciting more sales. It dawned on me that no matter which ecosystem you select Android, Apple, Windows, its all like the commentary in the movie Casino suggests "...its all designed to get your money!"

As I type this on a Samsung tablet, checking the time on a Samsung smart watch, slaved to a Samsung smartphone, it's easy for me to laugh at the irony I myself discovered. A simple truth is that I prefer an ecosystem that's simplistic and seamless across all aspects of my digital life, and my decision to support one brand still makes sense to me for my own reason and preferences. Consider how all of our collective electronic purchases just for this past year have contributed billions towards these companies coffers.

I'm not saying we should all shun new tech, not at all. I'm humbly asking us all to step back and take a second to think about the larger picture. In the time it took you to write some hate speech, or create a clever meme about a product or company, in the time it took you to do that, how many people in the world who can't even dream to afford what you are promoting have died of starvation, been killed in a senseless war, or have died by a 100% curable disease? In the greatest nation on earth, we can do better!

Instead of bragging on which phone is best, let's compare which company contributes the most towards ANY relief effort globally. We can be a connected family, and a caring family. Google has an initiative to bring internet to the global masses, drones are being considered to assist in global search and rescue and internet distribution, these are example of what our press should be focusing on.

Again, this not a bashing of liking one device over another, but if we can take that same energy and channel it (think the ALS ice water challenge) think of all the good, and change we can all affect and initiate from our keyboards!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

X phone release date official, Aug 1 from Motorola

Motorola has officially announced the release of the long awaited X phone for a August 1st press event in New York. Not much else is known at the time but Android Authority has released the following rumored specs:

Dual-core Qualcomm S4 Pro MSM8960DT 1.7GHz CPU
Adreno 320 GPU
2GB of RAM
720p 4.7"  display with on-screen buttons (4.4-4.5" viewable)
10MP rear camera w/ clear pixel technology
2.1MP front camera
16GM internal memory
Android 4.2.2
Always on mic for voice commands

I am going to avoid further comment on the unit it is released and hopefully I can demo a unit. Until then here is the leaked video from Rogers Mobile that details a little about the phone. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Falcon Pro, so much hope, so much disappointment

Reading a posting on one of my favorite Android blogs I came across some info on Falcon Pro. I saw it in a few places and was curious as I don't like the stock Twitter app and Echofon left me flat, why not give it a try? So after reading the review on the app, I had to have it! After downloading on HTC One S, it worked great! Set up was intuitive and simple and once loaded I even liked the black background with Magenta highlights as I'm with Tmobile! Video plays in app which blew me away, and pics are in app as well. Switching between accounts (@section16media)was very easy and the selling point for me of the app.

Now for the Ugly, when I downloaded it to my Nexus 7, it worked ok for the first few times I used it, then I got the weirdest screen of death ever where no Falcon screen came up but a Twitter log in screen, go figure. The issue is not an unknown one as Falcon Pro (as of the time of this article) is still pulled from the play store. There is an app called Falcon, but its not the same one. The issue with the app originally stems from a Token limit. Think of Face book's friend limit and how once a person reaches this limit is forced to open a new page to accommodate the new members. The 100,000 Twitter limit is much the same way as this was actually reached twice forcing drastic measures by followers trying to access the app.

Twitter removed access from any new app users and the Google removed it form the app store. So to deal with the absence of a doesn't Twitter client, I did what I wanted not to do... I went back to using Echofon Twitter client for my Nexus 7. Falcon Pro still works on my HTC One S, but I am considering removing it soon. If I find a new contender count on it being reviewed here. Do you have a Twitter client you like that wasn't mentioned here? Comment below and follow this blog!

Nexus 7 refresh due soon

Lots of leaked info out now about the new X phone (see upcoming post on it), new updates to Google Map app, Google has had a busy week. But wait, there's more (Steve Jobs tip of hat!), new leaked info and images have surfaced on the new Nexus 7. Already the darling of the tablet world, this new info shows that Google went all out in refreshing this powerhouse tablet.

With so many places to begin this, lets get the specs out of the way. Pretty much in line with the current version the latest incarnation of the tablet will have the same 16 Gig to 32 Gig options. The newest leak also points toward July 20th availability at Office Max at $269.99. The processor is rumored to be the Qualcom Snapdragon S4 and the big upgrade to 4 Gig of ram (we hope this is real)! Under new additions add the 1.2 mega pixel front camera and the 1.5 mega pixel camera on the back (yes fans they listened)! 
As far as aesthetics, it's obviously thinner than the current model and man look at those lines! It appears to have a bezel to bezel display so you gamers have more real estate to play with ( or more girth for movies). I'm sure the closer we get to the 20th more details emerge the main thing on the watch list is if the 4 gig of ram holds true, also do we get SD card on this round? Any way you slice it, I plan on getting one! What do you think? Think It lives up to it's predecessor?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Packing a Snapdragon 800 processor, The Sony Xperia Z Ultra has upped the game in the phablet wars

In the new world of “phablets” the race to best of the class has just heated up with the newest entry from Sony the Xperia Z Ultra. The Ultra is the latest in the family of Xperia devices. With anticipated releases from HTC and others expected, Sony has beaten the pack to market with a Snapdragon 800 processor powered titan! All pun aside, the initial response glows for this device except for one hitch, no flash? More on that in a moment. Let's take a look at some of the other refinements that are bound to make this a benchmark phone in the phablet arena.
The Z Ultra like all phablets is defined by its screen, in this case a beautiful 6.44 inch 1080p display. As other manufactures are going in the direction of a dedicated stylus Sony takes the interesting direction of allowing pretty much anything you would like to use  as a stylus including a pencil! This is a great plus for me as not all devices are kind to stylus input. This makes creating on the Z Ultra practical as who has a stylus on them at all times?
The beauty of the display is complemented by the thinness of the frame, 6.55 inches thick. To add to the wow factor the device is waterproof up to 3 feet of water for up to 30 mins! Made of metal for a solid all around feel (remind you of any HTC offing yet?) the case is also dust-proof. This is another plus as yet another manufacturer takes the nod form Motorola and builds in protection for real world use.
Now for an interesting turn. When they got to the 13.1mp camera and the 2mp front facing camera, initial reviewers have noted the lack of an external flash! Odd play after reading all of these wonderful details right? Maybe there is some super low light software they will use to offset this? No word yet. Maybe HTC offers a clue with its superior low light sensor in the new HTC One. However there is more to look at.
The phone will be offered initially with 16g internal storage with SD card support. The 3000 mAh battery can support a reported 11 hours of talk time, 5.5 hours of video playback, and 120 hours of audio playback. With LTE support it would seem the concept is the ability to support streaming. As I am experimenting with the new Google Play Radio, I think this device would enhance this experience as battery life is a premium on many phones as bluetooth is the killer of all things fun!
All indicators point to this being a phenomenal device but the lack of external flash, could make a ripple once other competitors release new offerings. Sony and HTC have new projects in the pipes with leaked specs that could be similar. With so much going for it, why kill your momentum by holding back the most common of additions? Size factor of thinness? Not enough space after LTE and SD card added? We may know soon but I feel strange having to gripe about such a small omission.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The new Gmail-The beginning of the new way to do email?

I just had a friend send the link to the new Gmail upgrades and I must say I like the change! Google has really made some interesting changes in the past month. A new look for the Play Store, and new capabilities in Google Now, A new subscription service that kills Pandora! Also rumored is an upcoming remake of the Store page. But in all of these amazing changes Gmail is the one that many were waiting on. A physical change to one of the most used, and most reliable email services in the world needed a monumental new look, and the folks at Google listened!

Not only is the browser different, but Gmail now has beefed up it's brains! It now intuitively sorts your messages into categories! This is a great idea as my life is so compartmentalized that a little help in straightening things out is always welcome. Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums are the new categories to choose from. You don't have to select these settings but if you do they really help out.  Under the Primary tab, I no longer have to fight with Viagra ads, and weed through sales of the day to get to grandma's email from last Thursday. A search in the tool bar is now intuitive and searches all mail without having to set parameters.

The new updates to the phone/tablet app mirrors these same changes. On my Nexus 7, these changes are beautiful to view and a breeze to navigate. Deleting or marking multiple emails is different but not difficult, simply press and hold on a message in the list until it turns blue, do the same for any others and press the mark read option and press select, simple! The good news is that the web app is updated, simply go to settings and select inbox to activate new inbox tabs. The bad news is that Google is taking it's time in pushing out the app update to all devices and even a trip to the Play Store wont help just yet, but keep checking! If you can't wait, a simple Google search will turn up the download you need to get the app.