Apps  Music  2013-11-25 10:02:07

Smartphones just passed the 50 percent mark this past quarter, finally edging out feature phones. But by 2017, 82 percent of all phones sold will be smartphones, according to market researcher NDP. And 30 percent of them will be sold in China. “Smartphone market growth is being fueled by entry-level smartphones from international brands and white-box vendors in emerging markets,” said Tina Teng, an analyst at NPD DisplaySearch. “We expect aggressive pricing moves to continue, prompting first-time smartphone buyers to upgrade earlier.” That’s a compound annual growth rate of 21 percent, while feature phones will decline at about 16 percent annually. Smartphones just reached the 250 million mark in a single quarter for the first time, and just recently passed the 50 percent market share.  2013-11-25 05:18:00

Though smartwatches may or may not be selling well, such market conditions aren't stopping newcomers like Qualcomm and others from entering the game. Now, China's ZTE has told the WSJ that it'll launch its own model in the second quarter of 2014 with features similar to Samsung's Galaxy Gear, but at a lower price. Before you get too excited, the yet-unnamed device will just launch it in China at first, and it'll only be compatible with the company's own smartphones -- like the Nubia Z5 shown above. However, ZTE said it may roll it out in Europe and the US later and might also launch future smartwatches that work with any Android device. Though the market for wrist-borne wearables in China is tiny compared to the smartphone segment, ZTE's mobile marketing chief Lu Qianhao said that launching such a product may give its smartphones a competitive advantage.  2013-11-22 13:59:00

The Moto G may not reach the US until January, but that doesn't mean it will be unavailable on North American shores until then. Motorola's budget wunderkind has just reached the continent through Canada's Telus and its low-cost Koodo brand. Both carriers are selling the 8GB smartphone for $200 CAD ($189 US) off-contract; thriftier shoppers can get the Moto G for free on a two-year Telus agreement, or $50 at Koodo with a $150 use tab. Other local carriers aren't expected to offer the Moto G in the near future, so this may represent the best chance of getting the handset for both Canucks and eager American importers.  2013-11-21 17:24:06

All four major U.S. carriers said Thursday that they will stop billing for most premium text messages, acknowledging such services had become a significant gateway for fraud.Vermont’s attorney general, along with regulators in 44 other states, had been looking into the issue of unauthorized third-party services, known as “cramming.”“While [premium text] has some benefits, like charitable giving, it is also a major contributor to the current mobile cramming problem,” Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell said in a statement. “We are pleased that AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have decided to stop the flow of money from the pockets of ordinary people to the bank accounts of scam artists. We’re hopeful the other carriers will soon follow their lead.”Most of the carriers will still allow customers to donate to charitable causes, political campaigns or both, while ending most other paid test messaging.  2013-11-21 06:39:00

Got a Nexus phone but can't wait for the over-the-air update process to deliver the latest and greatest operating system to your handset? Simple, clear the service framework data and commence mashing the update key. Not so fast, hotshot, says Google's Dan Morrill, who has taken to Reddit to advise users against the approach. On the thread, the engineer has said that wiping the data will invalidate your push notifications in a variety of minor, yet annoying ways. While this process won't brick your smartphone, Morrill advises that if you want to save yourself some annoyance, you use adb sideload to avoid the messiness altogether.  2013-11-20 16:46:38

Google today launched a Newsstand app for Android, which combines its existing Flipboard-style Currents app, its Google Play magazine app, and a new newspaper subscription service to offer a variety of paid and free publications in one spot. The new Google Newsstand app shares a name with Apple's own Newsstand and it also mimics the functionality of the built-in app that Apple first debuted in 2011. As with Apple's Newsstand, Google's Newsstand aggregates content in one convenient location, combining all of a user's subscriptions for magazines and newspapers. Google does, however, go one step further, combining content from an array of sources into a single newsfeed, and the company has also partnered with multiple publications to offer subscriptions directly within its app. Google Newsstand shares several similarities with Apple Newsstand, but it is arguably more useful with its in-app subscriptions and its Flipboard-style feed.  2013-11-20 08:18:56

LG has spent plenty of time hyping up the curved screen of its Flex Android smartphone, but it’s unique “self-healing” capabilities looks to be even more useful. The Flex’s rear is coated with a special material which LG says can heal itself after being scratched. Putting that claim to the test, YouTube tech personality Marques Brownlee took a pair of keys and a very sharp knife to the Flex’s back. The results will surprise you. The Flex mostly cleared up the light scratches from Brownlee’s keys (it didn’t completely remove them, but there’s a definite improvement). It was less effective at surviving a sharp knife cut, he notes that it “half-heals,” but this is (hopefully) a far rarer scenario for phone damage. Brownlee also tried to “flex” the Flex by putting pressure on the phone’s screen to flatten it.  2013-11-20 07:04:00

If you're still enjoying that fresh Snapdragon 800 CPU, guess what? Qualcomm's just trumped it with a new model: the Snapdragon 805 'Ultra HD' quad-core processor. The most headline-grabbing feature is UltraHD video playback on your tablet, smartphone or Smart TV -- so you can finally watch that 4K video you recorded. To do that, it's packing the latest Adreno 420 GPU, which Qualcomm claims has as much as 40 percent more graphics horsepower than previous models. On top of that, the Krait 450 CPU's four cores will each run at up to 2.5GHz and communicate with memory at 25.6 GB/second max, to make all apps run faster.The new processor will also come with the 28nm Gobi MDM9x25 modem announced earlier this year, in order to support LTE carrier aggregation (and the resulting higher speeds) and 150Mbps LTE 4. Another option will be a new LTE modem, the 20nm Gobi MDM9x35, which pairs with the WTR3925 chip to bring up to 300Mbps download speeds via LTE advanced.  2013-11-20 05:16:36

The leaks were right — Logitech has a gamepad case for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and it will be widely available in early December.The PowerShell is part of the gaming-focused G Series, costs $99.99 and contains a standard directional pad; four main buttons, labeled A, B, X and Y; two trigger buttons; a dedicated pause button; and a 1500 mAh battery that charges the iPhone/iPod. It works with the iPhone 5 and 5s and the fifth-generation iPod Touch on iOS 7. Notice what’s missing from that list? Logitech says the case won’t work with the new iPhone 5c because it’s 0.4-1.37 mm bigger in all dimensions. In order to accommodate the iPod Touch, which is 1.5 mm thinner than the phones, the case includes a removable sheet of padding.Global product marketing manager Mark Starrett said Logitech has been working with Apple since before the official announcement of iOS 7′s third-party controller support at this year’s WWDC.  2013-11-19 13:22:12

Of the big US carriers, Verizon is rarely the most punctual when it comes to Android updates. This is especially true for OEM phones from the likes of Samsung and HTC, but even the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is still waiting for its Android 4.3 update. That's why it was particularly surprising when Google and Motorola announced that the Verizon version of the Moto X would be receiving its Android 4.4 KitKat update beginning today, just a week after older Nexus phones and tablets began to get the new software. While Motorola has been owned by Google for around two years now, its phones to date haven't really benefitted from being made by the same company that develops Android. Most Droids and other phones have continued to ship with slightly older versions of Android, and updates typically jump through the normal carrier approval hoops.  2013-11-25 07:05:00

Earlier today, HTC posted the Android 4.4 KitKat kernel source and framework files for the HTC One Google Play Edition, which usually means an official OTA update is imminent. Sure enough, a user on XDA Developers has now reported that he's received the update the safe way, over-the-air. That means you'll soon be able to bellow "OK, Google!" if you're rocking the Sense-less device, though some waiting may be in order if the rollout is staggered. Other benefits you'll notice will be a streamlined interface, better camera app with its own shortcut, improved battery life and more speed overall. Meanwhile, owners of the regular HTC One should get KitKat in January, at least in the US and UK. If you went for the Google Play Edition, you can check your settings for the update or, if you're feeling brave, download it at the "More Coverage" link after the break.  2013-11-23 13:26:00

Two sticks, four face buttons, a pair of shoulder paddles and a d-pad: the formula for a modern gamepad and the layout of MOGA's Ace Power controller. It's a pretty standard assortment of inputs, but this controller happens to be the first fully featured peripheral to support Apple's new iOS 7 gamepad protocols. Naturally, we couldn't wait to put the pad through its paces.The MOGA Ace may have the normal assortment of buttons and triggers, but it has one trick most gamepads can't emulate: it telescopes. Taken out of the box, the Ace is hardly longer than an iPhone 5s, but pulling on either end stretches the peripheral to fit your iDevice. The Gamepad's left side retains enough tension to hold a device in place on its own, but our iPod had trouble identifying the controller unless we made a point of pushing the controller's edges inward to secure the connection. Once we had a compatible iOS 7 device locked in place, however, the Ace worked like a dream.  2013-11-22 11:19:14

Motorola is looking to a 3D printing company to help the company’s effort to make mobile phones out of a series of customizable parts.The Google unit is partnering with 3D Systems to help manufacture the custom gear needed for “Project Ara,” which aims to allow consumers to upgrade various parts of their mobile device without having to by a whole new phone.“With Project Ara, we asked the question, ‘How do we bring the benefits of customization and an open hardware ecosystem to six billion people?’ That is our driving application,” Senior VP and advanced research head Regina Dugan said in a statement. “It requires technical advances in areas such as material strength and printing with conductive inks for antennas. And those advances must support production-level speeds and volumes, which is a natural partnership with 3D Systems.”  2013-11-21 07:00:00

Remember the allegation that Samsung cheats at benchmarks? Despite the manufacturer's semi-denials, there's growing evidence to suggest that not only Samsung, but also a number of other Android phone makers engage in some level of chicanery. Usually, it involves programming a device to temporarily ramp up its performance if it detects the launch of a benchmark test, regardless of the consequences for battery life or processor temperature. This results in a higher score on the artificial test, but one that is unrepresentative of what the device could actually achieve if it had to pace itself for a real-world task that lasted for a longer period of time -- such as a 20-minute bout of gaming.So far, so bad. However, a startup called GameBench reckons there's another way.  2013-11-21 05:10:22

If the dreamers of the tech world have their way, the day will come when we'll use 3D printers to produce everything we need, from nourishing meals to spacecraft parts. Electronics have proven tougher to manufacture at home, however, due to their need for rigid circuit boards and highly integrated components. That's the problem addressed by a recently published paper from three Chinese researchers, who claim to have demonstrated a metal alloy that's liquid at room temperature and therefore printable with something as conventional as a standard inkjet printer.Because of its liquid state, their particular mix of gallium and indium can be printed on pretty much any surface.  2013-11-20 14:33:14

Even as the jury weighs the amount of damages to award, Samsung filed an emergency motion on Tuesday seeking to put its current case with Apple on hold following action by the U.S. Patent Office to move toward invalidating one of the patents at issue.Samsung said in a motion on Wednesday that Judge Lucy Koh should put the case on hold following the latest ruling from a patent office examiner who is re-evaluating Apple’s ’915 patent — a key patent in the case. As it did in July, the patent office said it is leaning toward invalidating the patent, though Apple will have additional chances to fight the decision.Koh had previously rejected Samsung’s effort to put the case on hold pending a final determination from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The current six-woman, two-man jury is tasked with recalculating appropriate damages for a portion of last year’s $1 billion verdict.  2013-11-20 07:43:57

Amazon is offering the best deal yet on the Moto X, selling its black and white Verizon models for just a penny each when on a two-year contract. While you can get the phone directly from Verizon in all its customizable glory, it'll run a full $99.99 now that its half-off promotion is over, making Amazon's offer a much more appealing option. As it's on Verizon, it'll be immediately eligible for an upgrade to KitKat too, an update that Motorola released just yesterday. Buying the phone through Amazon will still keep you stuck on-contract though, and the discount isn't quite so impressive when factored in over the long haul — but for those upgrading, it's still a great price on one of the most exciting Android phones this year.  2013-11-20 06:30:47

Qualcomm is announcing on Wednesday a faster version of its high-end Snapdragon chip and a separate effort to take on a more central role in powering networking gear.Asa Mathat | All Things DigitalIn its Snapdragon line, the company is debuting the Snapdragon 805, which it says packs up to 40 percent faster graphics performance and support for UltraHD (4K) video. That chip is sampling now and expected to show up in mobile devices by the first half of next eyar. The other big announcement–the new IPQ chip– is designed transform home Internet gear the way that the smartphones changed then shape of the cellular phone market.“We want to do the same for the home,” said Amir Faintuch, a Qualcomm senior VP and head of the company’s Qualcomm Atheros unit.The chipmaker is making the announcements at its yearly meeting with analysts being held on Wednesday.Faintuch argues that the time is right to put more powerful chips into home networking gear.  2013-11-19 16:10:33

Filming with the Nokia Lumia 1520 up in the wild blue yonder. (video link) Nokia announced its Lumia 1520 last month at Nokia World 2013 in Abu Dhabi. The six-inch smartphone appeared to be aimed at the same large-phone-loving audience that Samsung has grabbed with the Galaxy Note, although the 1520 lacked the Note's signature stylus. Now that we've held one in our hands, our impression is indeed that the Lumia 1520 is a large, hefty device. It's bigger in every dimension than the Galaxy Note 3, and it's heavier, too—in fact, I had a Galaxy Note II owner play with our review 1520 for a few minutes, and his parting comment was along the lines of "Man, this is just a big-ass phone." Nokia's specs page lists the 1520's dimensions at 162.8 mm by 85.4 mm by 8.7 mm; in practical terms, it's almost too big to fit into my jeans pocket.  2013-11-19 13:07:28

Dilapidated smartphone pioneer BlackBerry couldn’t sell enough of its new $300 BlackBerry 10 handsets to avoid a calamitous second-quarter loss, and it’s hard to imagine a new $2,250 model will sell any better. Yet the oblivious BlackBerry is pressing on with the super-premium handset, maybe figuring that at that price, it doesn’t have to move that many units.BlackBerry, which recently failed to close a deal to take itself private, on Tuesday uncrated a luxury handset developed in cooperation with Porsche Design. Dubbed the P’9982, the device is essentially a more ostentatious version of the poorly received BlackBerry Z10, crafted from stainless steel and crocodile leather, and — bizarrely — touted with a “special series of PIN numbers” that will make its owners “instantly recognizable in the exclusive world of Porsche Design smartphone owners.”Astonishing.

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