Today’s Google event was chock full of new products and services many of which were leaked ahead of the event. While most of the new items had been covered in recent days (casemakers were ready), Stephen, Cam, Jordan and Chance did an excellent job rounding up the unexpected too. Some things that stood out:
In all of the excitement about the new Chromecasts yesterday we missed a semi-important milestone. Android Pay can now be downloaded at the Play store meaning it is now the de facto way to pay for goods and services offline with NFC readers. The new service in recent weeks brought heavies like McDonald’s, Citibank and Wells Fargo.
In a strange and head scratcher “Google Reader” type move, Google decided to split the online payments (Google Wallet) with its offline payments (Andoid Pay) services to two apps. Perhaps that Wallet is an iOS app while Android Pay will never be is a reason for the split. Sure, I’ll take another app on my phone with a side of confusion, especially at the moment I’m stressfully taking out my phone and rolling the NFC dice …and the 10 people behind me in line don’t have to wait any longer for this bolted together payments system to work.
Oh, I notice that I have to re-enter all of my cards into Android Pay like I never set them up in Google Wallet so that’s a nice added kick in the teeth to get my Saturday started.
Where’s my coffee!?
The WSJ is reporting that Amazon is going to strip down a 6-inch tablet and sell it for $50 for the holidays. What’s amazing is that the theoretically color tablet was cheaper to make than even an ebook display version:
Mr. Bezos had set an internal goal of the $50 price tag for versions of both the Fire tablet and Kindle e-reader, viewing the rock-bottom prices as a crucial lure for a more cost-conscious group of buyers, the people said. But the e-reader screen technology from its vendors ultimately proved too expensive to drop the retail price, the people said. Amazon’s cheapest Kindle sells for $79.
It is likely that the $50 Tablet will be a pared down version of the already minimalist $99 6-inch Kindle which has gone on sale for as little at $69 in recent months. The report cites a mono speaker as one of the cost cutting initiatives but the company will likely drop things like cameras, display quality and battery life.
What might be more interesting to me is that Amazon is said to have fired many from its FireOS group in the wake of the Fire Phone flop and subsequent $170M writedown… expand full story
While we’re off in Berlin at IFA, our good friend Mike “Detroit Borg” Kukielka got his hands on the $200 Google OnHub router manufactured by TP-Link. We’ve seen a lot of other reviews but this one is an excellent in-depth overview which hits all the right spots.
The TL;DR is that it is about as good a router you can buy but at $200 the differentiating features aren’t quite ready yet. Seems like a go especially if your home networking is currently lacking and you plan on living in Google’s home ecosystem in the future. Pick up one at Amazon, Best Buy, NewEgg, Walmart, Google, or TP-Link . Full video below
Amazon offers the Unlocked Motorola Nexus 6 32GB in Midnight Blue or Cloud White for $349.99 shipped. That’s $300 off the original list price, $150 less than Best Buy’s current listing, and the lowest we’ve ever seen. The move is likely a clearinghouse before new Nexus devices are revealed on or around September 29th. It is also in response to the newly on sale Moto X which has similar/better specs and a $399 price tag.
The Nexus 6 is still an incredibly solid phone and one of only a few options if you want to play with Andoid M Marshmallow right now.
When the Nexus 6 was announced with a super speedy Quick Charge 2.0 feature last year, I didn’t think it would almost be standard gear in the Android flagship world less than a year later. But here we are and pretty much every new high end phone announced in 2015 with Qualcomm hardware on board has it. In hindsight however, it’s not hard to see why.
Fast charging is incredibly useful in the car, on the road and at work where you have minutes to add hours of charge. And Qualcomm chips are now nearly ubiquitous in flagship Android phones making it a perfect storm (full updated list of of Quick Charge 2.0 phones and tablets here).
Aukey, a value-priced, quality hardware manufacturer that sells mostly through Amazon sent me 4 Quick Charge 2.0 products to review. All of them work well but I found some nuances to consider… expand full story
Unlike most phone networks, FreedomPop offers unlimited talking and texting with no contract. 9to5Toys Specials currently has one year of service bundled with the second generation Moto E for $150 shipped.
9to5Google’s review was unapologetically positive calling it the “best small Android phone that (a very little amount of) money can buy” expand full story
You might notice that 9to5Google has changed. Indeed so has the whole network. Long before the page size/speed and advertising controversies, we knew that we needed to rethink how we presented ourselves.
While we were one of the lightest and fastest sites in our field, our feature creep and advertisers were adding complexity and page load times, which is especially crucial on mobile – an ever expanding percentage of our growing audience.
We decided to start over… expand full story
I’ve long been a fan of what Motorola has been doing with their smartphones and peripherals, and this week’s announcements are no exception. Both of the headphones Moto released, the Moto Surround and especially the Moto Pulse are top notch. I’ve been using the Pulse exclusively since the event and couldn’t be happier. They are so light that you forget they’re even on your head, while at the same time they have a mic for calls, a battery meter on your phone ,and they swivel so they pack flat. Oh and the sound is excellent – comparable to a $200 set of heavy cans from other mid/high tier vendors. At $60, the Pulse headphones are a no-brainer if you need light over-ears for a reasonable price.
But the Moto G 3rd edition is what we’re here to talk about… expand full story
The Moto X Style — called Moto X Pure Edition in the US — phones we got to play with at the end of today’s event were obviously very pure Android and with their much larger displays and heavy batteries very much reminiscent of the Nexus 6 that I’m carrying around. The one big and important difference is the Sony 21MP shooter on the back that in limited testing makes all the difference.
It’s early but we’re here at the Moto ‘Choose a Better Relationship” event in NYC. We’re obviously expecting a new Moto X and Moto G but we’re really excited to see what a better mobile relationship entails. We’re live! Head below for the latest.
Following today’s big Nest announcements, the company released a broad overview video of the company’s philosophy and from it we can conclude that the company has much bigger ambitions than just thermostats, smart webcams and smoke detectors. In the video Nest thoughtfully breaks down a large number of household items that can become smart with many of them already made smart by other companies like Wemo, Ring and others.
Of particular note, I’ve heard personally that Nest was working on sprinkler management and the front door security products. Most of the others aren’t big stretches.
Here’s the full list from the video: expand full story
Stephen and I are off to Google I/O 2015 this week (the first time we’ve sent 2 people – for double the coverage!) but we wanted to preview what we we’re excited about this week. I’d run through the list of expectations but Chance already made 90% of the list when the sessions were launched. Go check it out. Here’s what I’ve been hearing… expand full story
From 9to5toys.com comes what appears to be a no-brainer deal for those who need a second emergency phone or who have kids/parents who want that 1st smartphone….
9to5Toys Specials currently has the Nexus 5 with One Year of Unlimited Talk-and-Text from FreedomPop for $200 with free shipping. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better phone at this price.
Google’s version of Android is the cleanest around, and it is matched nicely by the Nexus 5’s sleek exterior. But it is the specs of this handset that will really turn heads — a 2.26 GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, with a 1080×1920 high-resolution display and an 8MP rear-facing camera. It also sports 16GB of internal storage and a 1.3MP camera. In this deal, the Nexus 5 comes bundled with a year of FreedomPop wireless service. The generous Unlimited Talk-and-Text plan provides exactly what the name implies, along with 500MB of 4G LTE per month, voicemail, and tethering options — all with no contract.
- 2.26 GHz quad-core processor, Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Processor
- 8MP rear-facing autofocus camera and camcorder with LED flash
- 1.3MP front-facing camera and camcorder
- Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
- 1080 × 1920, multi-touch screen
- 16 GB of internal memory, 2GB RAM
Unlimited Talk-and-Text from FreedomPop
- Unlimited texting and talking, plus 500MB 4G/3G LTE data per month
- One year of visual voicemail – $30 value
- One year of tethering – $47.88 value
- One year of usage alerts – $23.88 value
- No contracts or early termination fees
HTC is now following up its flagship One M9 launch with a year’s worth of variants to satisfy local tastes. In China, that is manifesting it what is fairly being called the “M9ew” and will include larger M9+ proportions and a cheaper plastic shell according to local reports.
The figure above this unpublished products topped the models’ M9ew “, the body should look plastic material, bottom of the screen is also equipped with the same M9 + fingerprint reader. Specifications, it uses a 5.2-inch “1,440 x 1,560 (2,560 and wrong should be it …)” IPS screen, while the eight-core 2.2GHz processor, 3GB RAM and 32GB built-in storage capacity (up to 128GB Support microSD card expansion). Camera parts, only a 20MP main camera on the back, the front of the front lens still spend UltraPixel HTC’s own technology.
The specs and SD card expansion seem solid aside from the Mediatec processor but frankly, I’d take a One M8 Google Play Edition in a heartbeat over this. How about you? expand full story
The speaker icon in Chrome browser tabs is one of the amazingly helpful features that makes Chrome my default browser. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to mute a tab without going into the actual page that’s making all of the noise? It turns out that the Chrome team is actually working on such functionality and it is available as a beta product by putting the following URL into Chrome:
Once there, you’ll see a line like this:
Simply click “enable” and restart Chrome. I’ve been playing with it for about 30 minutes and it seems to work well but isn’t 100% effective on Adobe’s Flash volume according to a thread on the matter. As someone who usually steers clear of Flash, it isn’t a big deal and it makes life a little better.
The Nokia Brand phone company that Microsoft subsumed may be on the verge of a comeback to phones if recent rumors prove true. According to a recent report, the new/old Nokia will begin producing phones as soon as it is contractually able to do so and those phones unsurprisingly will run a flavor of Android.
Unlike other patent houses that do little more than license intellectual property, Nokia Technologies has designed new products and licensed them to other companies. So far, these ambitions have been small in scale. The division has released just two products — an Android program called Zlauncher and the N1, an Android tablet design it licensed to another manufacturer that is selling it under the Nokia name in China. Its return to the market is likely to employ a similar tactic.
But insiders said those two products are just the beginning.
“They have a lot of great stuff in development,” said Richard Kerris, a former Nokia executive who also consulted for the company until last year as part of his last startup. “It gave me complete confidence that Nokia is a company that is not going away.”
While Kerris said he couldn’t go into specifics, he said people will be blown away if some of the stuff he saw comes to market.
If you consider Nokia’s N1 Android tablet, the first to use the newly popular USB-C type of interface, which apparently, it can release outside of its Microsoft agreement the rumor isn’t surprising. In fact, it is pretty obvious.
But this whole episode really stinks to me. Microsoft’s Stephen Elop moved to Nokia in 2010 from Microsoft. Within months, he wrote a frightening memo that the company had to shift courses and eventually move to Microsoft’s shifting phone OS which was as disastrous a decision as it could make. Then, as the value of the company was rapidly depleted based off of that poor decision, the smartphone part of the business with Elop in tow gets bought by Microsoft at a steep discount.
Now, a lifetime later in mobile phone years, Nokia is doing what it should have done a long time ago and move to Android. Perhaps there is still some life left in the company. We’ll see. expand full story