Posts Tagged ‘Android’


Best new Android & Windows smartphones at MWC 2015

by admin ·

Samsung, HTC, Sony and others debut brand new smartphones at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

Best at MWC 2015
Samsung, HTC, Sony, Microsoft and others are using the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in Barcelona to debut their latest smartphones and other gear. Here’s a look at the new Android and Windows devices.

Samsung Galaxy S6
The latest Galaxy Android phone swaps out its plastic frame for one made of metal and glass. The 5.1-inch screen size hasn’t changed since the S5, but resolution has been improved to 1440×2560. Other features: 5mp camera on front, 16mp camera on back; Samsung octo-core processor; 32/64/128GB storage options; 3GB RAM; integrated wireless charging. Missing: water resistance, microSD card slot and user-replaceable battery. Available globally April 10. Pricing hasn’t been disclosed.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
This premium edition of the S6 has most of the same specs as the regular S6, but sports a screen that curves around its left and right sides.

HTC One M9
The company’s flagship Android 5.0 phone is based on a Snapdragon 810 processor running at 2GHz, includes 3GB of RAM and boasts a 5-inch screen. It features a 20mp front camera and 4pm rear one. HTC has partnered with Dolby to provide great sound. Best Buy lists a 32GB version for use on AT&T’s LTE network in the US for $650.

Silent Circle Blackphone 2
The Swiss company’s privacy-focused device will be targeted at enterprise customers in July, probably for about $630. The phone will have an 8-core processor, 32GB of memory and a 5-inch screen. What separates it from other phones is a hardened Android-based operating system dubbed PrivatOS as well as Silent Meeting, a secure conference-calling system, and a company-vetted app store. A new Blackphone+ tablet is on the way as well.

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
This waterproof device is a midrange Android offering that will cost about $335 when it launches in Q2. It has a 5-inch, 720×1280 pixel screen, a Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor and integrated support for LTE. The phone has a 13mp camera on the back and a 5mp camera on the front. Sony boasts of a two-day long battery life, but didn’t get into anymore specifics.

Acer Liquid M220
Acer says its new phone will come with Windows Phone 8.1, but will be upgradeable to Windows 10 when the operating system is released later this year. This $89 phone has a 4-inch screen, dual-core processor, 4GB of storage, 512MB of RAM, two SIM slots, and 5mp rear camera and 2mp front camera. It comes chock full of Microsoft apps like Cortana and OneDrive. It does not support LTE.

ZTE Grand S3
The unique thing about this phone is its biometric authentication system, which enables users to log in via eye scanning using EyeVerify technology. Down the road, the feature could work with apps. The smartphone runs Android 4.4, has a 5.5-inch screen, a Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM and 16GB of storage that can be expanded to 64GB via a microSD card. The back camera is 16mp and the front one is 8mp. The phone is initially available in China for about $480.

Microsoft Lumia 640 and 640 XL
These midrange Windows phones have 5- and 5.7-inch screens, respectively, and are upgradeable to Windows 10 when it is released later this year. Other specs: 1GB of memory, a quad-core Snapdragon processor running at 1.2GHz, an 8mp camera on the 640 and 13mp camera on the 640 XL. LTE support available on dual-SIM models. The 640 rolls out in April, the XL – a small phablet — in March. Pricing is expected to be in the $300 range for both.

LG Magna
LG revealed this new phone ahead of MWC, but gave people a first chance to play with it at the show. This Android smartphone has a 5-inch, 720×1280 pixel screen and 1.2GHz or 1.3GHz quad-core processor. It has an 8mp front camera and 5mp back one, plus 1GB of RAM and 8GB of integrated storage. Extended battery life and support for LTE are also touted by LG, which is expected to price the phone no higher than $250.

Lenovo A7000
This Android 5.0 smartphone has a 5.5-inch display, plus Dolby Atmos technology for audio. Powered by a MediaTek True8Core processor and supporting LTE, the phone has a dual SIM card slot for allowing use of separate phone numbers. The A7000 goes on sale in the US in March for $169.

Lenovo VIBE Shot
This is a camera-first Android phone that includes a 16mp rear camera with a six-piece modular lens and superfast shutter speed, as well as an 8mp selfie camera. Powered by a Snapdragon processor, the phone has 32GB of storage expandable to 128GB. It will sell for $350 when it becomes available in June.

BlackBerry Leap
OK, this isn’t an Android or Windows phone, but it bears at least a mention among the devices launched at MWC. BlackBerry is targeting young professionals (at start-ups!) with this $275 all-touchscreen phone that runs the BlackBerry 10 OS and features a 5-inch screen, 16GB of storage upgradeable to 128GB, an 8mp camera and 25 hours of battery life.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero 2+
This $300 6-inch phablet is the result of an Alcatel OneTouch partnership with Cyanogen, whose OS is based on Android. The unlocked phone is powered by a 2.0 GHz octa-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor, supports 4G LTE connectivity and features a 13mp back camera and 5mp front camera, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, expandable to 32GB via MicroSD.


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Windows 8 cobranding with Android may backfire for Microsoft

by admin ·

All business in the front and party in the back, this category is the mullet of mobile devices.

At CES, dual-boot devices running Windows 8.1 and Android revealed a conflicted situation for Microsoft. In the struggle to make Windows 8 relevant in mobile, the OS has been cobranded with Android on these devices.

Microsoft’s OEMs missed the point. Relevancy is measured in terms of digital life, the amount of time mobile users spend engaged with a mobile internet ecosystem. According to Chetan Sharma’s research, Microsoft ranks seventh in importance. In a similar unpublished interactive survey of 300 industry insiders at the Open Mobile Summit in San Francisco, Google led the digital life market, with Apple in second place, while Microsoft finished in the back of the pack.

With dual-boot tablets and notebooks, Microsoft is willfully sacrificing valuable digital life for Windows 8. As Richard Windsor of Radio Free Mobile reported from CES:

“The idea is that the user uses Windows 8.1 when he or she is working and Android when at leisure. This is a crazy proposition as the whole point of Windows 8 is to make an environment that is optimized for both use cases, and it’s telling that the OEMs feel the need to add something else.”

Splitting productivity time using a keyboard with Windows 8 and then rebooting for leisure time via gestures with Android just compounds the problem, because it stagnates users’ curiosity to search for new Windows 8 apps. This reduces some much-needed traffic to the Windows app store, which, compared to Android and iOS, is currently a ghost town.

Dual-boot teaches a user to boot Windows 8 for compatibility with Microsoft’s old ecosystem and to boot Android to use the new mobile ecosystem. This points to a glaring problem. If Microsoft is to fix this, Windows 8 users need a reason to spend their entire digital life in the Windows 8 ecosystem; when the user toggles from desktop to mobile they have to think –there’s an app for that – and download a Windows app.

Once upon a time, Windows users helped one another make Windows applications work. Given the dominance of earlier Windows versions, Microsoft had an army of users to help other users make Windows work. Mobile has completely changed user behavior. Mobile users download an app, give it a few seconds to satisfy the need that influenced them to download it, and if the app fails, they uninstall it and try the next app in the category. According to NetMarketshare, Microsoft retains 91% of the desktop market share, but Windows 8 only accounts for 10% of that. So a user’s chance of solving a Windows 8 problem through the help of another user who understands Windows 8 is only one in 10. According to Windsor:

“The Metro [the old name for the Windows 8 UI] user experience is perfectly capable of offering a good experience for Digital Life.”
If Microsoft is to become relevant in mobile, it needs to convince users of the value of this UI without the army of helpers it once had. Cobranding with Android doesn’t help, it hurts. Dual boot and virtualization isn’t a solution any longer in the consumer mobile market because app developers motivated by a good business model in target devices will port their apps. Dual boot emphasizes the limited number of apps available for Windows 8, and proves that Microsoft has not convinced users that it’s a good OS to begin with.

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The 20 greatest milestones of Android’s first five years

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The 20 greatest milestones of Android’s first five years
Android, this is your life.

Happy birthday, Android! Although you were technically announced six years ago, it wasn’t until October 22, 2008 that you made your debut. Apple tried stealing your thunder this year by hosting an event or something on your special day, so we decided to hold the celebration a day early in order to keep you in the limelight. You’ve had an interesting five years, and it’s only right that we take the time to celebrate one of the most revolutionary things to happen to mobile.

First Android phone released (October 22, 2008)
The T-Mobile G1 (known overseas as the HTC Dream) is the first smartphone to ship with Android. Even though the phone was incredibly clunky, it was pretty well received overall and sold over a million units.

Google announces Cupcake (April 30, 2009)
The first major update to the OS, Android 1.5 Cupcake starts the trend of naming Android updates after desserts and adds support for widgets, video uploads to YouTube, and a virtual on-screen keyboard.

Android Donut unveiled (September 15, 2009)
Android 1.6 Donut rolls out to the small handful of Android phones and brings with it support for more screen resolutions. The update also improves the camera and adds a speech-synthesis engine that lets Android “speak” simple lines of text.

Verizon backs Android (October 26, 2009)
The Motorola Droid is announced for Verizon, making it the first Android phone for the carrier. The phone ships running Android 2.0 Eclair, which includes a better version of Google Maps. Verizon aggressively markets the phone, painting it as the antithesis of Apple’s iPhone.

The Nexus One is released (January 5, 2010)
Google decides to leave the carriers behind by releasing its own unlocked phone. The Nexus One is sold directly from Google with the promise of software updates directly from the search giant, free from any carrier or OEM interference.

Google announces Android Froyo (May 20, 2010)
Android 2.2 Froyo brings Adobe Flash to Android, allowing people to enjoy Flash videos and games on their smartphones.

Android Gingerbread debuts (December 6, 2010)
Android 2.3 Gingerbread adds native support for NFC (near field communications) and a number of other sensors including gyroscopes and barometers. Gingerbread would go on to be the most used mobile operating system in the world.

First real Android tablet announced (February 24, 2011)
The Motorola Xoom becomes the first true Android tablet and is announced alongside Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Honeycomb adds support for multicore processors and replaces the hardware navigation buttons with virtual ones.

Malware in the Android Market (March 1, 2011)
The Google Play Store (known then as the Android Market) suffers from a serious bout of malware. Google ends up pulling more than 50 infected apps, and people start to seriously question how secure Android really is.

Google shows off Ice Cream Sandwich (October 19, 2011)
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich gives the operating system a major makeover, bringing many elements from Honeycomb to smartphones. This version of the OS includes a number of new features including Android Beam, panoramic photos, and the ability to unlock your phone using your face.

Phablets become a thing (late October 2011)
Samsung introduces the Galaxy Note, sparking a trend of smartphones with bigger screens. The phone is panned in the United States but becomes a huge success overseas, outselling many regular-size phones. Copy editors everywhere cringe as people invent a new word for this not-quite-a-phone-but-not-quite-a tablet device.

Amazon makes its own Android tablet (November 15, 2011)
Amazon enters the Android tablet race with its Kindle Fire. The Fire runs a customized version of Android but has access only to Amazon’s heavily moderated app store. The tablet’s low price makes it a huge hit with consumers and the most popular Android tablet of the day.

Google announces the Nexus 7 and Nexus Q (June 27-29, 2012)
At the 2012 Google I/O, the company takes the wraps off a number of products including the budget-friendly Nexus 7 and totally bizarre Nexus Q. The Q unfortunately (fortunately?) never sees the light of day, but the Nexus 7 becomes an instant hit and sells out almost immediately online.

Oh, and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (June 27-29, 2012)
What’s a Google product launch without a new version of Android? Android 4.1 Jelly Bean adds the ever helpful Google Now and helps to unify Android tablets and phones. The update also gives the OS a much needed speed boost thanks to the improvements in “Project Butter.”

500 million Androids activated (September 11, 2012)
Android is the most popular operating system in the world, with 1.5 million new devices activated daily.

Nexus 10 and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean announced (November 13, 2012)
Despite its event being canceled by a hurricane, Google goes ahead with announcing Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and the Nexus 10. This new version of Jelly Bean adds Photo Spheres and the ability to have multiple user accounts on tablets. The Nexus 10 marks the first 10-inch Nexus tablet and boasts an eye-meltingly high-resolution display.

Andy Rubin leaves Android (March 13, 2013)
The head of Android leaves the project to work on other things at Google. Sundar Pichai is put in charge of the department, tasked with running both the Android and Chrome teams

New Nexus 7 and new version of Jelly Bean revealed (July 24, 2013)
A slimmer, faster version of the Nexus 7 is launched running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. The update includes support for OpenGL 3.0 and Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy.

Hugo Barra leaves Google (August 28, 2013)
In a move surrounded by scandal and mystery, the vice president of Android, Hugo Barra, leaves Google for Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi. Barra was the face of Android and was the one who stood on stage introducing the Nexus 7.

1 billion Android devices activated total (September 3, 2013)
Android continues to grow and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. It’s still the most popular mobile operating system in the world and is starting to make its way into other devices like laptops, TVs, and watches.

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Google Android feeling brain drain?

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VP of Android mgmt. Hugo Barra headed from Google to Xiaomi – but why?

And just like that, Google I/O 2014 will be a different show – vice president of Android product management Hugo Barra abruptly announced that he’ll be leaving Google in “a few weeks” to join Chinese phone maker Xiaomi.

It’s not the first high-profile change at the Android unit in recent months. Andy Rubin, who’d been with Android since its pre-Google inception, left in March to tinker with robots over at Google X. Over at the Android Open-Source Project, maintainer Jean-Baptiste Quéru stepped down a couple weeks ago over an apparent clash with Qualcomm.

Uniting Android and Chrome under Sundar Pichai’s leadership made sense in the case of Rubin, and JBQ’s role as interlocutor between the AOSP community and Google’s corporate partners always carried the possibility of precisely the type of situation that led to his leaving. Yet Barra’s departure is less readily susceptible to explanation – he’s been one of the more prominent public faces of Android, and a key presenter at Google’s I/O developer conferences.

Valleywag is keen to paint Barra’s move as fallout from some sort of sordid romantic entanglement involving another Google employee and no less than Sergey Brin himself, based largely on reports from AllThingsD which were based in turn on anonymous sources.

It’s a bit disappointing to see from Valleywag, which frequently sends up the craziness of Silicon Valley’s elites with much more justification, but I suppose you can’t really complain too hard about what you get from a site that says up-front that it deals in gossip. AllThingsD’s anonymous “sources close to the situation” also say that Barra made his decision before “he was made aware of the new relationship,” for what it’s worth.

At any rate, broken heart or no, Barra is set to take over as vice president of Xiaomi Global, according to a Google Plus post making his pending departure official. It’s a pretty big coup for a company without much public profile outside of China, but, according to USA Today, much in keeping with its strategy of attracting experienced personnel from established U.S. companies like Google, Microsoft and Motorola.

* A recent study from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI says that Android is a “primary target” for mobile malware attacks thanks to its open architecture and skyrocketing user base. The biggest threats to Android users, the report says, are SMS Trojans, rootkits and bogus Google Play domains.

The study, which was publicized by activist group Public Intelligence, also states that older versions of the platform – which are still in use on 44% of Android devices – are particularly vulnerable to malicious attacks. You know, just in case you were looking for other reasons OS fragmentation is bad.

* Android geeks briefly erupted in flames this week at the news that well-known Android developer Koushik Dutta’s AirCast app for the Chromecast video dongle had been prevented from working by an update. AirCast was designed to allow users to stream locally stored content from their devices to the TV, but an official update to Chromecast added a whitelist system, preventing users from using the device to stream content from non-approved sources.

Dutta’s sonorously unhappy Google Plus post here has most of the details.

However, Google subsequently told The Verge that the software is still early in its development stages, and that “we’re excited to bring more content to Chromecast and would like to support all types of apps, including those for local content.” So that’s probably that, then.

* Like most people, I’ve been spending plenty of time lately thinking to myself “you know, I could really do with some more PR stunts involving Google Glass.” Take heart, everyone! A surgeon at Ohio State University has performed an ACL repair operation while wearing the device, which streamed pictures to colleagues and students.

To be fair, that’s one of the more useful PR stunts I’ve heard of recently. But I’m just worried about what happens when a doctor is out and about and accidentally switches back to the consultation app. It’d have to be a little off-putting to keep seeing gastrointestinal surgery when you’re just trying to get directions to the nearest Starbucks.


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Just like that, Android 4.3 is out, ahead of its release date

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Yes, the latest Jelly Bean has gone public already, plus: the HTC One kind-of-mini, malware scares, and HP’s supposed Android phone

In the same way that watched pots never boil, hotly anticipated Android versions often aren’t released when we think they should be. However, turn your back for a second and bang – suddenly Jelly Bean 4.3’s all over the Internet.

It was a somewhat odd way for the new software to make its debut – leaking quietly onto Google+ via a guy named Jeff Williams, who apparently bought a Nexus 4 running Android 4.3 on Craigslist from a Googler. (The comments on the post are worth a read.)

Android Police has further details on Jeff’s odyssey, which carried him from Google+ into an IRC chatroom on Freenode, where eager Android geeks talked him through the process of doing a system dump so that the software could be examined and passed around the Internet.

While Android 4.3 isn’t all that exciting in and of itself – Android Central says that most of the changes are on the back end – it’s nevertheless a pretty significant leak.

And it’s even more significant, besides, since Google “coincidentally” has chosen to schedule a major Android event for this Wednesday in San Francisco. It seems likely that this will be the official roll-out – though Google, as usual, isn’t letting anything definitive slip – for the new version of Jelly Bean, and could even see the company release the long-awaited Nexus 7 refresh. (The hardworking folks at Android Central come up big again, having apparently gotten their mitts on some pictures of the new tablet.)

* The HTC One mini became official on Thursday, keeping most of the features of the full-size variant while getting a little bit more compact. The usual tradeoffs are there – the screen isn’t as high-res and the internal hardware has been dialed back – but most of the functionality from the regular One is still present, including the new camera, speakers and, of course, the vaunted aluminum construction.

That’s all well and good, of course, but it’s also worth pointing out that the device isn’t actually that much smaller than the original One – according to CNET, it loses about a fifth of an inch from both its height and width. (The review also notes, however, that this still makes a substantial difference to how the One mini feels in the hand.)

A lot, of course, will depend on the One mini’s cost, which was not announced. At $100 on-contract and below, I feel like it makes for a fairly compelling bargain. Much more than that, however, and it’s tougher to see the value.

* Sigh. Just when you thought the stories about Android malware were over, here they are again: A recent study from Juniper Networks says that 92% of all mobile malware targets Android devices, as of March 2013. That’s up from less than 25% in 2010.

It’s not really much of a surprise, of course – Android has exploded in popularity since 2010, and the more loosely regulated app ecosystem (when compared to That Other Mobile Platform) has to be a tempting target for unscrupulous hackers.

Still, as long as you’re careful about what you allow to be installed on your Android device – hint: stick to the Play Store, for the most part – you’ll likely avoid most of the nasties out there.

The Android phone marketplace is crowded. Although I mostly discuss Samsung, HTC and Motorola in this piece, Sony and LG are making plays for greater market share, and there’s a host of companies like Huawei, ZTE and Pantech also doing business in Android phones.

Now, according to a report from PhoneArena, none other than HP is looking to grab off its own hunk of the Android smartphone market, citing an anonymously-sourced render of an essentially hypothetical HP Android phone.

Let that sink in for a minute: HP Android phone. Woof.

HP exec Yam Sin Yu points out PhoneArena did indeed say earlier this month that HP needs a presence in the mobile space, so the timing of the leak “is awfully fascinating.”

Personally, I would describe the timing as “highly suspicious” rather than “awfully fascinating,” and given the anonymous source, complete lack of pricing, feature and availability info, and general flimsiness of the rumor, I can officially declare myself “totally unconvinced.”

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NotCompatible’ Android malware rears its ugly head, again

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NotCompatible’ Android malware rears its ugly head, again
Mobile security vendor Lookout says Android malware is showing signs of sudden activity

The “NotCompatible” malware, designed to infect Android devices and turn them into unwitting Web proxies, is suddenly showing a sharp uptick in activity, according to mobile security vendor Lookout.

The malware is essentially a simple network proxy, which pretends to be a system update in order to get unwitting users to install it. The idea seems to be gaining access to protected networks through victims’ infected Android devices. It was named for its apparent command-and-control server, at

Last weekend saw the number of detections for NotCompatible rise to 20,000 per day as of last Sunday and Monday, wrote researcher Tim Strazzere, who said that the malware had been largely dormant since it was discovered in May 2012.

But while the initial discovery saw the malware being installed by hacked websites, the latest wave of NotCompatible is being spread by email spam. The usual subject line is “hot news,” and the infected messages appear to contain links to fake weight-loss articles.
NotCompatible malware
Credit: Lookout Security
The hacked Web page that can contain the NotCompatible malware.

“Depending on the user’s Android OS Version and browser, they may be prompted about the download. Many stock browsers will transparently trigger a download to the device /Downloads folder whereas Chrome displays a confirmation dialog,” wrote Strazzere.

Lookout said there is little chance of direct harm to infected devices, and victims must allow NotCompatible to be installed for it to function, further minimizing the overall threat to the majority of Android users. The best advice for safety is simply to never allow any .apk whose provenance you’re even a little bit unsure of to be installed on your phone.

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Android IceCream Sandwich 4.0 Features

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Android IceCream Sandwich 4.0 aka ICS is finally announced and its packed with features. Galaxy Nexus is the flagship device that would run ICS.
ICS basically brings Android 3.x Honeycomb features to phones. Lets go through the features quickly:


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30minutes Video demo of IceCream Sandwich

Android 4.0 ICS Features:
Updated Settings:  Revamped Settings screen organization. Items are arranged much better now.
Disabling Apps:  ICS adds the ability to disable an app outright. Don’t like an app that came preinstalled? Disable it! Its resources never run and its launcher icon is gone until you re-enable it.
Improved Download Manager.
Support for Encryption for Phones:  Honeycomb added full-device encryption, but ICS brings it to phones.
Audio Effects:  There’s a new audio effects API. Better media players coming!
New Font, Roboto: Droid Sans font is now gone for good.

OnScreen buttons, no hardware buttons: You dont need any hardware buttons for running ICS device, all the buttons: back, home are on-screen. Like Honeycomb, the buttons go invisible, smartly, to let you enjoy full screen video.
Resizable Widgets, Folders, Favorites: Dragging apps and contacts on top of each other create re-arrangeable folders. Users can stow their favorite apps, links, and folders into a new Favorites tray for quick and easy access
Screenshots: Hold down the power button and the volume down button to take a screenshot.
Notifications Revamped: Music controls have been integrated, and notifications can be dismissed by swiping
Improved Copy & Paste
Face Unlock
Enhanced Talk-to-Text: It’s more accurate.
Browser Tabs, offline: Upto 16 browser tabs. You can also save web pages offline
Gmail: Gmail now supports two-line previews, and sports a new context-sensitive action bar at the bottom of the screen. Gesture support allows you to swipe left and right between emails.
Contacts – People App: Contacts get re-vamped by showing contacts from Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Data Usage: You can now look at the details of what app is doing what with your data usage. Best part: The ability to limit data usage to a certain threshold.
Camera: Image stabilization, improved autofocus, and integration with other apps for sending photos or instant upload to Google+, built-in face detection, panorama and time lapse modes, and on-the-fly photo retouching and enhancements.
Android Beam: An secure NFC-powered sharing platform that lets users share nearly any kind of content, save for applications (in that case, a link to the Market is sent instead)

Read more:


ViewSonic ViewPad 10 tablet: Windows plus Android doesn’t add up

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You know the Reese’s ad about how chocolate and peanut better go better together? I bet whoever came up with the ViewSonic ViewPad 10 had the same aspiration. The problem is this dual-OS tablet is not a delectable combination. Think creamed spinach and red licorice, not peanut butter and chocolate.

The ViewPad 10 is an awkward shotgun marriage whose two parties clearly don’t have their hearts in it. You notice as soon as you turn it on. You get a DOS-like prompt telling you to use the arrow keys to select the OS you want: Windows 7 or Android. However, there are no arrow keys on the device. It’s a tablet, so of course there’s no keyboard, but you wil find three buttons: Power, Home, and Enter. It turns out you can use Home as a down-arrow key.


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[ Also on InfoWorld: “Tablet deathmatch: Apple iPad 2 vs. Motorola Xoom” | “RIM BlackBerry PlayBook: Unfinished, unusable” | Compare and calculate your own scores for the iPad 2, Xoom, Galaxy Tab, PlayBook, and ViewPad with our tablet calculator. ]

I asked ViewSonic why the boot menu didn’t match the actual buttons and was told that the company used a Linux boot loader. In other words, either no one thought to have the hardware and software match or no one cared to do anything about it. This “slap it together mentality” is one reason no tablets come close to the iPad.

The slow, awkward Windows experience
Once you boot into Windows, you get, well, Windows. It’s immediately familiar, so there’s essentially no learning curve. ViewSonic pre-installs very few applications. There’s Adobe Reader 9 and the minimum set of Windows-provisioned applications: Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, XPS Viewer, and the Calculator. You’ll need to install anything else you might want to use, such as Outlook or Office. Of course, the ViewPad is a tablet, so there’s no DVD drive, but you can plug one in via USB — if you own one.

However, you may not want to install any applications. Windows 7 and apps such as IE run like molasses on the ViewPad 10 and its 1GHz single-core Atom processor. The delays to my input were excruciating. For example, when I zoomed in or out of IE, it took several seconds for the screen to respond to my gestures. The latency is too great to work around, and I could never predict the results of what I’d done. I can’t imagine how the ViewPad would handle a bloated app like Office. Even simple tasks like opening the Start menu showed noticeable lags.

If you can handle the slow performance, beware the poor touch interface. Windows 7 is terrible at handling touch input — many buttons and links require very precisely positioned taps on screen elements that are usually frustratingly small; I typically had to tap multiple times to activate a control. Windows is inconsistent: Some controls just needed a tap near them, while others — even in the same dialog box or window — required a precise tap. It feels like you’re playing darts with your finger.