Here are Google’s new Nexus 5 cases and a wireless charger

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 7.18.17 PM

Continuing its flood of announcements today, Google has announced cases for the new Nexus 5, as well as a wireless charging pad for the Nexus 7 and Nexus 5. With the Nexus 4 last year, Google introduced a circular “puck” shaped charger, but this time around, the company has completely revamped the charger.

The wireless charging pad (via The Verge) has a square design and is wider on the top than on the bottom. While the 2012 wireless charger had a sticky, rubber-coated top, this one has a glossy top. Finally, the wireless charger also has a built-in magnet in order to help your device stick to it. Both the Nexus 7 and Nexus 5 have magnets built in, so they will both work seamlessly with this charger.

Google also today introduced two cases for the Nexus 5. The LG QuickCover is similar to the flip covers designed by Samsung. It covers both the back and front of your device and allows you unlock your phone by just opening the front cover. The Quick Cover is listed as “coming soon” on Google Play and will run $49.99 and be available in black and white.

The bumper case for the Nexus 5 is pretty basic and protects the back and sides of your device. It too is listed as “coming soon” on Google Play and will run $34.99 and be available in black, grey, red, and yellow.  Read more

Black 16GB Nexus 5 sells out in minutes as shipping times slip for other models

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 2.50.21 PM

Minutes after launching on Google Play, Google’s new flagship Nexus 5 smartphone is now officially sold out for some models as shipping times continue to slip for others in at least US.

The black 16GB model is now listed as sold out on Google Play, while the white 16GB model has now slipped to Nov. 8. For the black model, Google Play says that it is “out of inventory” and to “check back soon”.

The 32GB models of the device are still listed as shipping by in 1-2 business days.  Nov. 8.

Shipping times are also slipping in other countries. All models of the device are currently listed as shipping by November 8 in Canada. Read more

Google officially unveils Android 4.4 KitKat, available on Nexus 4, 7, 10, Galaxy S4 & HTC One GPE in coming weeks

Update: Google has released a full list of what’s new in Android 4.4 KitKat. We’re digging in and we’ll bring you more details as we discover them.

Alongside the official release of its new flagship Nexus 5 on Google Play today, Google is also of course officially taking the wraps of 4.4 KitKat, the latest version of Android that will ship on the new Nexus 5. When will you be able to get your hands on the new OS? Google said KitKat 4.4 updates will arrive for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and the Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play Editions in the coming weeks.

Google confirmed that the update will not be coming to the Galaxy Nexus. Since it’s two years old, it now “falls outside of the 18-month update window when Google and others traditionally update devices.”

In the YouTub playlist above, Google walks through some of the new features of KitKat for developers and also highlights a number of user-facing features such as a new “immersive mode” that allows users to automatically hide onscreen controls for a truly full-screen experience. In a blog post, Google took sometime to explain the performance improvements it’s made in KitKat, noting that Android can now “run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices”: Read more

Google releases Nexus 5 on Google Play for $349/$399, ships in 1-2 days

As expected, the rumors indicated Google would be making a silent Nexus 5 announcement today and now the device is officially available on Google Play in the US. Lining up with previous rumors, the device will sell for $349 for the 16GB model and $399 for a 32GB model. Google is currently quoting an estimated shipping time of 1-2 business days.

Google says the Nexus 5 will officially go up for sale unlocked and without a contract in the following countries starting today through Google Play: U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and Korea. It also notes that the Sprint, T-Mobile, Amazon, Best Buy and RadioShack will get carry the device soon alongside retailers in India.

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 2.02.50 PM

Official specs for the device right from Google Play: 4.95″ 1920×1080 display (445 ppi), Full HD IPS and Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3, a 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 800 processor, an 8MP rear facing camera, and a 1.3MP front facing camera. There’s also a 2,300 mAH battery, Adreno 330, 450MHz GPU, and Wireless Charging.

Read more

Samsung beats out iPad in J.D. Power U.S. tablet customer satisfaction study (Update: Or not …)

JD-Power-tablet-customer-satification

Update: JD Power’s math seems a little off, when you delve into the scores … 

jd-detail

Samsung got 18 stars, Apple 18, with Samsung only ahead on price, yet took the overall lead.

J.D. Power has released its 2013 U.S. Tablet Satisfaction Study–Volume 2 today with Samsung edging out Apple’s iPad for the top spot. Apple has in the past ranked number one in the company’s customer stratification surveys for tablets, but this time Samsung has jumped up from number 3 in April to take the first position from the iPad.

Samsung ranks highest with a score of 835 and is the only manufacturer to improve across all five factors since the previous reporting period in April 2013. Samsung showed particularly strong improvement in the cost factor (25-point increase). Apple ranks second scoring 833 and performs particularly well in performance and ease of operation.

While Samsung only slightly beat out Apple with 835 points vs 833 points on a 1000 point scale, the outcome is quite notable for Samsung who in April ranked even lower than Amazon. The study measures customer satisfaction based on five metrics for 3,375 tablet owners: performance (26%); ease of operation (22%); styling and design (19%); features (17%); and cost (16%). Read more

Smartphones Sony’s saviour as cameras, TVs, gaming and movies all lose money

Photo: digitaltrends.com

Photo: digitaltrends.com

Strong smartphone sales were about the only good news for Sony investors in today’s earnings release, mobile sales in the last quarter up 39.3 percent year-on-year, led by its flagship Xperia Z.

Cameras, TVs, gaming and movie divisions all lost money, leading the company to slash its annual profit forecast by 40 percent to $300M …  Read more

Regulatory filing suggests Samsung S4 Active Mini on the way

mini

The images are rather blurry and lacking in detail, but a regulatory filing spotted by Chinese site Tenaa of a handset described by Samsung as the GT-I8580 looks rather like a smaller version of the S4 Active, reports Engadget.

Visually, it looks like the chunky Galaxy S4 Active, what with its return to physical buttons and a fairly robust (and cheaper looking) case. Aside from that there’s little to go on, although that model number has previously been associated with a benchmarked phone featuring a 4.65-inch display with a low-end 480 x 800 resolution …  Read more

Growth of Android tablet sales in Q3 cut Apple’s market share to less than 30%

IDC-tablets-Q3-2013

In IDC’s report released today covering worldwide tablet market for the third quarter, the research firm notes that the market as a whole continues to grow thanks to strong growth from Android tablets. Apple shipments remained steady during the quarter compared to last year at 14 million units in Q3, but its share of the market drops from 40.2% last year to just 29.6% this year as Samsung, Asus, Lenovo, and Acer all post significant growth for the quarter compared to the same quarter last year.

Samsung is up from 12.4% last year to 20.4% of the tablet market in Q3 2013 (a 123% increase), while Asus is up 53.9% to 3.5 million units, Lenovo sold 2.3m (up 420.7%), and Acer 1.2M (up 346.3%):

Read more

Ashton Kutcher takes product engineering job at Lenovo, announces new Android Yoga tablets w/ 18hr battery

Yoga-Tablet

Actor Ashton Kutcher has joined Lenovo as a product engineer. Kutcher’s experience in engineering includes… basically nothing, although he did play Steve Jobs in the 2013 biopic Jobs, so that has to count for something, right? Right?

Kutcher’s first job at Lenovo will be using his celebrity status to market the company’s new Android-powered “Yoga” tablet—an obvious first step for any aspiring product engineer (or, you know, celebrity endorser). The tablet, which Kutcher presumably had some “engineering” input on, is a flat aluminum enclosure with a rounded base that houses the power button. The Yoga is an attempt at an original body design, and it certainly wins points in that category as long as you only compare it to other tablets. When compared to other electronics, however, the originality quickly fades. The thing basically looks like an upside-down Apple Wireless Keyboard.

The rounded base acts as a built-in stand of sorts and provides 3 viewing modes and the tablets feature Quad Core processors, 16 or 32GB of built-in storage, front-facing speakers, 5MP rear cameras, microSD slot, and 1280 x 800 displays. Lenovo will sell 8 and 10-inch models in WiFi and 3G variants of the Yoga for $249 and $299 starting Oct. 30 with the 8-inch model coming exclusively to Best Buy stores.

Clearly Kutcher’s time as Steve Jobs informed his sense of product design and influenced the hard work he did “engineering” the Yoga.  We look forward to seeing what other innovative and original ideas Kutcher “engineers” during his time at Lenovo.

Google adds location sharing, animated GIFs to Hangouts, integrates SMS

Today during its “A Morning with Google+” event, Google announced some updates for its Google+ service on top of sharing some improvements to Hangouts. Perhaps the biggest new feature that was announced during the event this morning is the integration of SMS into the Hangouts app, something that many user have speculated would arrive in Android 4.4 KitKat, the next version of Android expected in the near future.

Another new feature that Google announced today was location sharing, which allows users to click a small icon before posting to Google+ to add their location. Finally, Google’s Vic Gundotra announced that Google+ will now support animated GIFs.

Google also announced some new features for Hangouts on Air today, including the ability to plan a future Hangout. That will give users a dedicated landing page for the upcoming Hangout in order easier promote it, and Google has new tools that allow users to manage users in an active Hangout. It also announced that it is flipping the switch on HD full screen video calls across all devices and new auto-awesome tools. Those tools will provide auto-correction features, but also creative features that allow users to flip on different filters during a live video chat.

In addition, Google noted today that it has added 1000 new terms into its deep learning algorithms that allow users to search for visual content on Google+ even when the photos or videos aren’t tagged with your specific search query. Google has a roundup of all today’s announcements on its blog here.

Read more

Google launching ‘Helpouts’ Hangout-based tutoring service to the public on Nov. 5

 

Google-Helpouts

Back in August Google announced a new closed beta service called Helpouts that would allow users to offer free and paid tutoring and learning services over Google+ Hangout video chats. Google would allow users to sign up as experts, and others could use the service to get help from experts in real-time over video chat. Google had been inviting experts slowing to prepare for when the service goes live, and today we’ve received a tip that the service will officially be launching on Nov. 5.

Android Police says a trusted source tipped them – we got the same tip – see anon screenshot below. As you can see in the email, Google has been preparing experts by giving them private access to the service and plans on officially launching the service next week on Nov. 5. Google is already accepting signs ups through its Helpouts page and allowing users to access the still close beta through invitation codes.  Read more

Facebook announces it will revamp Messenger apps with new design, phone number integration

In line with my report from earlier this month, Facebook has announced that it will be revamping its Android and iOS Messenger apps. As we previously noted, the new apps have an entirely new design that is flatter and distinct from the standard Facebook application on Android and iOS. The Verge was given a preview of the Android version has some new features besides the new design:

In terms of functionality, there are a host of under-the-hood improvements to make sending and receiving messages faster, says product manager Peter Martinazzi. There are also some front-end tweaks that makes the app faster — especially on Android, where the SMS texting feature, which let you text friends who don’t have Facebook, has been removed.

The highlight feature, however, of the new apps is phone number integration. The repot summarizes the functionality as a WhatsApp competitor:

While Facebook won’t let you text a phone number from Messenger, the company plans to use phone numbers in a new way: to identify its users, just like in WhatsApp. Upon opening Messenger for the first time, it will ask you to provide your phone number. Then, the app can match you with people whose numbers you have, but whom you aren’t Facebook friends with. Facebook guarantees your messages will reach somebody’s inbox if you have their phone number.

The Android version is available as a test with a limited number of users beginning today and on iOS in the future. Also incoming, we previously reported, are updates to the main Facebook app that integrate Graph Search, but Facebook has not confirmed this as of yet.

Read more