Sony Xperia Z1, Xperia Z Ultra, & SmartWatch 2 now available in the U.S.

Sony originally only announced availability for Europe when it first unveiled its new flagship Xperia Z1, Xperia Z Ultra, and SmartWatch 2 during IFA last month, but today the company has officially put all three devices up for sale in the US. Available through Sony’s website now, the Xperia devices are selling unlocked in black, white, and purple and start at a hefty $649, while the SmartWatch 2 is now available from Sony’s website for $199.

The Xperia Z1, which packs in a 5-inch display, 20.7MP camera, and quad core processor, will start at $649.99, but that model, however, will only offer HSPA+ support and not LTE connectivity. That same price will get you the bigger 6.4-inch Xperia Z Ultra with HSPA+, but for LTE connectivity you’ll have to hand over $679. The new Xperia devices have a lot to offer– superior camera systems, beautiful large displays, and premium hardware– but the off-contract price means Sony is certainly a little higher than we were hoping for. There’s no word yet on carrier partners, but the latest rumors hint that T-Mobile might be the first.  Read more

Google to track mobile app usage via Mobile Meter app

Image: digitallifeplus.com

Image: digitallifeplus.com

Google has confirmed it’s working on a Mobile Meter app for both Android and iOS to allow it to monitor how smartphone owners use mobile apps. But no need for any privacy panicking: the app will be available only to those who have opted in to Google’s Screenwise paid market research panel, reports Engadget.

The Mobile Meter apps will replace an older method that allowed panelists to participate, helping Google measure media consumption across all screens but with more accurate results on mobile. Both the Android and iOS apps will be submitted to their relevant app stores in the near future, although only panelists will be able to actually use them …  Read more

Google Watch is happening soon, heavy into Kit Kat/Google Now functionality

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I recently heard word that Google was putting the finishing touches on a Watch product. Details are slim but the person seemed to think that Google Now functionality would be at the center of the product.

Thinking about this, Google could put a lot of the functionality of Google Glass in the watch product. Push a button, ask a question, get a response as the watch talks to the Now-enabled smartphone.  Also, the ‘serendipitous’ information that Google Now shows you on your phone could come up in the watch. Time to get home, Calendar alarms, emails, SMSes, etc. all could get pushed to the watch’s display

Google is focusing on longer battery life and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. There was no word on the type of sensors and health monitoring functionality that Apple is rumored to be working on.

We’d heard earlier some details from , which I can’t confirm, but considering my info now bears repeating:

Google will announce a Nexus watch, codenamed Gem, likely together with the KitKat announcement. The date I have, which, once again, is about a month old, is also October 31st.

My source also seemed to think “sooner rather than later.”

Google acquired WIMM Labs, an Android based Smartwatch SDK developer last year for an undisclosed sum. The company’s Smartwatch App store is still live here and contains some notable apps including Facebook.
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HTC One Max officially announced – with neat spin on fingerprint sensor

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HTC’s take on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 – the HTC One Max – has finally been officially announced by HTC after long-running rumors.

HTC, a global leader in mobile innovation and design, today announced the HTC One max, a super-sized smartphone that brings the award-winning design, functionality and performance of the HTC One to fans of larger handsets. A new Fingerprint Scan feature takes convenience to a new level while acclaimed features including HTC BlinkFeed™, HTC Zoe™ and HTC BoomSound™, combined with the new HTC Sense 5.5, which are all enhanced to continue to deliver the best overall smartphone experience, now on a larger screen.

Most of the specs are as per the rumors we’ve reported over the last few months, including the almost non-existent bezel, 5.9″ full HD1080p display, 3300mAH battery, (optional) capacitive stylus and fingerprint scanner. The fingerprint sensor unlocks the phone, of course, but also has a neat feature where you can assign a different app to each finger, switching on the device with that app loaded.

The CPU is, however, less powerful than rumored. Everyone had been expecting a Snapdragon 800 processor running at 2.3GHz, but instead the Max has the same 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 chip as the phone on which it’s based, the HTC One …  Read more

More leaked images claim to show Android 4.4 KitKat & Nexus 5

More images that allegedly show Android 4.4 Kit Kat running on a Nexus 5 have leaked today via Italian Android blog TuttoAndroid. First the site posted images of KitKat’s Settings app, which shows a new “Tap & Pay” feature alongside new Location mode settings that include options for High accuracy, Battery saving, and Device sensors modes. The high accuracy mode uses a combination of GPS, WiFi and mobile networks, while the other two offer just WiFi or GPS. The location modes are new, and we’ve seen hints at the NFC payments feature in previous leaks that listed the option as simply “Payments”.

Moving onto the shots of KitKat, many line up with several other leaks we’ve seen in the past including the transparent status bar on the lockscreen. The images also show a camera icon on the lock screen that can be dragged to launch the camera app in addition to the ability to swipe left to launch the camera like in previous versions of Android. These shots seem to have slightly redesigned icons, and the phone icon looks a little suspect to say the least. The report also goes through a number of other improvements its noticed in Google Now, search and elsewhere throughout Android 4.4, but we’ll have to wait for official details before we know if we are really looking at the next version of Android. Read more

Review & Giveaway: Dropcam Pro Wi-Fi video monitoring with mobile access and cloud recording

Dropcam has been around since 2009, but only truly became a player in the app-enabled home security space early last year with the release of the Dropcam HD Wi-Fi video monitoring system. It separated itself from the normal cast of IP video cameras by offering an insanely easy setup process, beautiful software, and effortless mobile device integration (iOS/Android). These wireless cameras have become so popular that Dropcam is now processing more video than YouTube on a daily basis.

Building on the success of the Dropcam HD, the San Francisco-based startup is now launching the Dropcam Pro. It will not be replacing the HD, but rather joining it as ‘step-up’ version for users who want to get the absolute most out of their video monitoring setup. The Dropcam HD will now be known simply as “Dropcam.” We had the opportunity to spend an entire week with the Dropcam Pro. Keep reading to find out if it lives up to the high expectations set by its predecessor.

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LG officially announces the 5.5-inch ‘LG G Pro Lite’ w/ Dual SIM & stylus

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Some details about a new mid-level smartphone from LG have been leaking in recent weeks, and today the company has officially announced the new “LG G Pro Lite”. Based off the company’s last generation flagship, the LG Optimus G, the company is including similar specs in the LG G Pro Lite including a large 5.5-inch display and 3,140mAh battery, but is also scaling back on some specs presumably to offer the device for much less than its flagships. It also offers Dual SIM functionality with a dedicated hotkey and a stylus:

In addition to its large IPS display, LG G Pro Lite features an equally large 3,140mAh battery, embedded Stylus Pen, stereo speakers and Dual SIM with a dedicated Hot Key. The phone is also designed with an ultra-narrow bezel for an incredible edge-to-edge viewing experience, slim design for optimal one-hand grip and convenient UX features shared with LG’s other premium G Series smartphones.

Specs for the device include a 1.0 GHz Dual Core processor, a 5.5-inch 960 x 540 display, 1GB of RAM, 3G, an 8 megapixel main camera and 1.2 megapixel front-facing cam, Bluetooth 3.0, and Android 4.1.2.

LG is also bundling all the software features that became available with its new flagship LG G2 including KnockON for waking the display with a double tap, Quick Memo, QTranslator and more: Read more

Archos officially announces GamePad 2, coming to the US in Q4 for $200

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Archos has just announced the successor to its GamePad portable gaming device, originally released last Winter. The GamePad 2 improves on original in about every way possible and is better suited to handle modern games. The device features a 7-inch, 1280 x 800 IPS display and a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor paired with 2GB of RAM. Archos also touts that it has improved the control sensitivity in the GamePad 2, as well as the battery life.

The GamePad 2 will come pre-loaded with both Asphalt 8: Airborne and Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour.  The device will be available in two storage capacities: 8GB and 16GB, and will have a microSD card slot that supports up to 64GB of more storage, as well as apps2SD to allow you to save games to the card.

“Following the success of the GamePad 1, we knew that we could take the gaming-tablet concept further. With our GamePad 2 we have included an HD  screen, better controls, a larger battery and a faster processor,” said Loic Poirier ARCHOS CEO, “We’re excited to be working with a leading games company like Gameloft to pre-install two visually stunning titles for an amazing gaming experience.”

The GamePad 2 will be available in Europe by the end of October for €180 and will come to the United States for $200 sometime in Q4. Check out our hands-on with the original GamePad after the break: Read more

Sense 5.5 screenshots leak, show new camera modes, toggle to turn off BlinkFeed

image_1-2One of the biggest changes HTC introduced with its Sense 5.0 software was BlinkFeed, which the company touted as a “personal live stream right on the home screen.” The feature was either loved or hated by many customers and reviewers, and it looks like HTC will be accommodating those who hate it with the upcoming Sense 5.5 update. Android Revolution HD has gotten ahold of several supposed screenshots of HTC’s Sense 5.5 update and if they are to be believed, there will now be a toggle on the homescreen to turn BlinkFeed on or off.

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Also believed to be coming in Sense 5.5 are some new camera features. The leaked screenshots show two new shooting modes: Panorama+ and Dual Capture. It’s not entirely clear what these two modes will offer, but I imagine that Dual Capture will allow you to take pictures with the front and rear facing shooters at the same time, similar to what Samsung already offers.

Aside from those changes, Sense 5.5 doesn’t appear to be all that different from 5.0, with the task switcher showing bigger preview windows and some new emojis being available.

HTC is expected to release the HTC One Max next week, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sense 5.5 come along with it.  Read more

T-Mobile unveils global data coverage in 100 countries at no extra charge

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 5.57.05 PM

T-Mobile unveiled a new offering that will provide global data coverage allowing users to access their data plan in over 100 countries at no extra charge (via Engadget). CEO John Legere has been hinting at the announcement on his Twitter account in recent days: “Today is the day! The day we change the way the world uses their phones!”

This new plan will allow Simple Choice customers to get unlimited 2G data and texting in supported Simple Global countries. Voice calls on the plan cost $.20 per minute for in-country calls. There are no extra fees for this service, as it is included in all Simple Choice plans automatically.

The “un-carrier” also announced a few other changes to its plans, including a new international talk and text option from the US to all other Simple Global countries. That will cost an additional $10/month and include $.20/minute voice calls and unlimited texting. Adding this option to your plan will also enable unlimited calling to landlines in over 70 Simple Global countries for free.

Finally, T-Mobile announced that its 4G LTE network is available nationwide and reaches over 200 million potential customers.

Samsung announces the Galaxy Round, the first curved smartphone in the world

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Samsung has just officially announced the world’s first curved-display smartphone, dubbed the Galaxy Round. We first saw photos of the Round earlier today from smartphone leaker @evleaks. The phone will only be available in Korea and will only come in one color, “Luxury Brown”—at least for now. If and when the phone will make its way to the United States and other markets is still unknown, though we expect that it will eventually make the transition.

The Round sports an impressive array of hardware features, including a massive 5.7″ Full HD Super Flexible AMOLED display; 3 GB of RAM; 2,800mAh battery; 13 MP camera; all of the latest LTE, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi connectivity; and a 2.3 GHz processor.

The full hardware specs can be found below the break, along with additional photos of the device.

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Google releases official Nexus 7 flip case in four colors, run $49.99 each

Two months after the initial launch of the device, Google has just released its official flip cases for the 2013 Nexus 7. The cases are available in four colors: red, white, black, and blue. Google touts that this is the first case “designed by Google specifically for the Nexus 7″ and is made to fit the “exact specifications” of your device.

The flip cases feature a built in stand with positions for typing, as well as watching a video/participating in a Hangout. Finally, on the edge of the case is a tiny Google-colored flag to remind you that the case fits perfectly.

The cases run $49.99, which is certainly steep, but they appear to be rather high quality.  Keep in mind, however, that there are plenty of cases on Amazon for under $10 that may be just as sturdyRead more