Samsung Galaxy NX Review: The first professional-level Android powered camera

As a blogger, taking great, print-quality photos when covering events or doing reviews is a necessity. So carrying around a big DSLR or comparable digital camera system has become a necessary evil. I say evil because the camera world and I just don’t understand each other. The camera market has become stale and full of devices that cater to professional photographers, while seemingly ignoring the incredible innovations that have happened with mobile devices in recent years. Just because pro photogs want their tried and trusted physical controls and pricey glass, doesn’t mean there isn’t room for beautiful touch screens with easy to use UIs, WiFi, LTE connectivity, USB charging, and everything we love about the app and developer ecosystem that we get with Android.

Samsung is the only company that gets it: It’s the first to integrate what is essentially a full Android smartphone on the back of a full fledged, professional mirrorless camera system. It’s the big brother, high-end version of the Galaxy Camera (review) point and shoot it introduced last year.  It’s an intriguing concept and certainly where I hoped camera manufacturers would look to when attempting to take their professional product lines out of the stone age, so I’ve been more than excited to have the opportunity to put the device to the test over the last few weeks.

DESIGN/ SPECS: Read more

Amazon to launch revamped, higher-resolution Kindle Fire ‘HDX’ as soon as tomorrow [Now launched]

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Update: Now launched – full press release below

Amazon plans to debut all-new versions of the Kindle Fire as soon as tomorrow, according to sources familiar with the products. The new Kindles are said to be redesigned both externally and internally with faster processors [Quad-core Snapdragon 800], improved graphics performance, and higher-resolution displays [323ppi for 7", 339ppi for 8.9"]. To represent the upgrade over the older Kindle Fire, Amazon will reportedly slap an “X” at the end of “HD,” making the name Kindle Fire HDX. Also reportedly in the mix are new cases that are akin to the Smart Covers that Apple sells for the iPad…

Read more

iMessage makes the jump to Android in the form of a shady unofficial app (update: removed)

Update: The app has been removed from the Google Play Store.

Earlier this month, iMessage Chat for Android appeared on the Google Play store. The app is by no means an official Apple-created iMessage solution for Android, but the creation of a third-party developer named Daniel Zweigart. Surprisingly, according to a few users who have tried the app, it actually works. You can send messages from your Android device to your iPhone or iPad, and vice versa.

However, it’s quite possible that the Apple IDs and passwords being entered into the app are being collected by the developer for nefarious purposes.

If you’re really curious about how the app works, software developer Adam Bell has discovered that it connects to Apple’s iMessage server posing as a Mac mini. Cydia creator Jay Freeman (aka saurik) has also noted on Google+ that the app forwards all communication from Apple to a server running in China. That means every message you send or receive using this app is being processed—and possibly stored—on a server run by the creator.

However, Steven Troughton-Smith also points out that the app has the ability to download and install software in the background, meaning it is capable of putting malware on your phone without your knowledge. Given this information, we highly advise staying away from the app.

Should you decide to try downloading the app from the Google Play store, we recommend only testing it with a throwaway Apple ID that has none of your payment or personal information attached. We really can’t stress that point enough.

T-Mobile rolling out update to Moto X that dramatically improves camera performance

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When the Moto X finally made its way into the hands of consumers, many people were disappointed by the quality of photos taken with the device’s shooter. Specification-wise, the lens was no slouch, so many people were optimistic that the company would improve the sensor with a software update. Today, T-Mobile has begun rolling out an update to its Moto X variant that, according to AnandTech, greatly improves the quality of images.

  • Camera – Improved Photo Quality: Improved capture of natural light (auto-white balance) and color accuracy for more precise exposure in outdoor and backlit scenes
  • Camera – Improved Focus: Faster touch to focus time and reduced unnecessary refocusing in low light conditions and scenes with continuous motion
  • Camera – Faster Switching: Shortened the time it takes to switch between rear and front-facing cameras, as well as transition between the viewfinder and the Gallery app

AnandTech notes that the update dramatically improves the quality of images taken both indoors and outdoors with the Moto X. The update changes the tuning of the camera and improves exposure in  outdoor and backlit scenes, improves the color accuracy, and reduces the noise in low light images.

In addition to the camera improvements, the update also adds several other enhancements to the T-Mobile Moto X and fixes a handful of bugs. Read of the rest of the change log below:  Read more

Android Device Manager quietly adds ability to remotely lock devices, override previous password settings

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Google has just added an incredibly useful feature to its Android Device Manager service. As first noted by Android Police, you can now remotely lock your Android device with a specific password or passcode, should you misplace it or have it stolen.

Most notably, you can override any other pattern or pin set on the device. The Device Manager will simply ask to you to choose a new password when submitting the lock request, and when you find the device, you simply enter in that passcode to regain access. If the device is in Airplane mode, the service will automatically perform the lock request as soon as it’s reconnected to the internet.

With Google, Apple, and others under strong pressure from the government to improve device security, this feature is incredibly useful. Apple recently launched a new Activation Lock feature that requires an Apple ID and password to reactivate a device after it’s reset via Find My iPhone.

To try this functionality out for yourself, head to the Android Device Manager site and select the lock icon and be sure the service is already enabled on your device, as well.  Read more

HTC One dev edition to receive Android 4.3 update this week, Canada models by month’s end

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After making the decision to halt the Android 4.2 rollout to One variants, HTC America president Jason Mackenzie has just announced on Twitter that the company plans to update the One developer edition to Android 4.3 this week. The update will include the latest version of Sense, as well. Mackenzie also notes that One owners in Canada should expect the update by the end of the month.

There’s no word on when the carrier models here in the United States will get the Android 4.3 update. Once HTC finalizes the build for each model, it must send it to every carrier for final improvements and tweaks, and as we all know, carriers certainly don’t expedite the update process at all.

If you own an HTC One developer edition or Canadian variant, be sure to keep an eye out for the update and let us know when you receive it.  Read more

New York regulators crack down on fake online reviews, is Google Play next?

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The New York Times reports that New York regulators will today announce a new initiative that aims to crackdown on fake reviews online. They’ve already reached settlement agreements with a number of companies and issued fines of around $350,000 to companies purchasing and providing fake reviews, many of which are submitted to services such as Google, Yahoo, and Yelp. Fake reviews have always been an issue for Google Play and just about every mobile app marketplace, so perhaps regulators will soon extend their investigation to mobile app stores as well.

“What we’ve found is even worse than old-fashioned false advertising,” said Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general. “When you look at a billboard, you can tell it’s a paid advertisement — but on Yelp or Citysearch, you assume you’re reading authentic consumer opinions, making this practice even more deceiving.”

Regulators found that US Coachways, one of the companies included in the investigation, had hired freelance writers to write fake reviews on Yelp and other services: Read more

HP announces four new Android-powered tablets coming in November

HP is officially announcing four new Android tablets today that will join its low-cost Slate 7 and fill out the company’s Android lineup with tablets in several categories. Most of the new tablets will launch this November, although HP isn’t releasing specific availability and pricing for most models.

The new tablets include the 8-inch Slate 8 Pro, the Slate 7 HD and Slate 10 HD, and finally the Slate 7 Extreme. Although the new lineup includes two 7-inch models, HP is hinting that the new tablets won’t be outright replacing its current Slate 7.  Read more

Republic Wireless launching Moto X for $299 off contract in November

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Normally available for around $600 unsubsidized, Republic Wireless announced today that it will soon begin offering the Moto for just $299. That’s the carrier’s no contract price and just $100 more than most carriers are charging for the device on the usual two-year contract:

The Moto X will retail at $299 (plus taxes and surcharges) from the Republic Wireless store. That’s right – we took the hot, new Moto X, added Republic’s great Hybrid service and priced it at $299 with no contract required. That’s a price that’s, like, impossible to match anywhere in the industry. How did we do it? The phone is $299 because we are footing the bill.  Period.  This is NOT a $299 phone.   Take a quick look around the web and look at “no contract” pricing for the Moto X.

The device will be available on two of the carrier unlimited plans that start at just $5 a month, but customers will have the following plans to choose from: Read more

Google-owned QuickOffice goes free on iOS and Android, 10GB of Drive space offered

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Google today made its QuickOffice suite for both iOS and Android free to use with a Google Account. QuickOffice is a cross-platform document editor that can manage and edit Microsoft Office documents. The app is downloadable for free on both iTunes and Google play for no charge. Better yet, Google says that those who login to the updated app by September 26th will receive a 10GB storage boost in Google Drive for the next two years.

Read more

AT&T to sell Samsung Galaxy S III Mini for 99 cents starting Sept. 27

AT&T announced today that it will begin selling the Samsung Galaxy S III mini, which was first released in November of last year, as a smaller entry level version of Samsung’s flagship at the time, the Galaxy S III. It might be a last generation device– Samsung unveiled the S4 mini at its event back in June– but that’s why AT&T will sell it for 99 cents on contract when it becomes available on September 27.

As a reminder, the S III mini includes a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, comes with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean out of the box, and packs in a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 5 megapixel main camera. You’ll also of course get Samsung’s TouchWiz UI on top of with S Beam, S Voice, Group Play, and other Samsung goodies.

AT&T will kick off preorders for the Galaxy S III mini starting tomorrow. Read more

Nexus 7 w/ LTE now available on Google Play for AT&T, T-Mobile & 8 other countries

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Update: Verizon explained in a statement that support for the LTE Nexus 7 is on the way:

The Google Nexus 7 is not yet a Verizon 4G LTE certified device, though it entered our process in August and we expect it will be certified shortly. Once the device is certified, we will work with Google to enable the device to be activated on our 4G LTE network.

Verizon Wireless’ certification process, which generally takes between four and six weeks, is one of the most rigorous testing protocols of any carrier, and is focused on guarding the safety and security of our network. Certification is done by third party labs approved by Verizon, and selected by the device manufacturer. Over the years, Verizon Wireless has certified hundreds of devices; information on the certification process is available to anyone at opennetwork.verizonwireless.com.

Verizon is committed to ensuring our customers have the best overall experience when any device becomes available on the nation’s most reliable network.

When Google first announced its new Nexus 7, the company said at the time that an 4G LTE capable version of the device would be available in the weeks to come. Up until now Google has had only a WiFi-only version of the tablet, but today it announced that the LTE model is finally available through Google Play in 9 countries.

Google announced that the LTE model is available in not only the US, but also in Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, UK, Japan, and Korea. In most of the countries listed above the 32GB LTE Nexus 7 is sold unlocked (for $349 in the US), but it’s also available with an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM directly from Google Play for U.S. customers. AT&T made things official in a press release announcing availability of the Nexus 7 only through Google Play.

Interestingly, word has it that Verizon won’t be activating the new Nexus 7 on its network. While there doesn’t seem to be a clear reason why the device wouldn’t be compatible with Verizon’s network (Google even showed a Verizon logo on stage when announcing the device), using a Verizon SIM card that’s already been activated with another device will apparently work on the new Nexus 7. The problem, according to AndroidCommunity, is that the Nexus 7 won’t work on Verizon’s CDMA network and only LTE. That means for users without LTE coverage the tablet wouldn’t work at all, and that’s likely the reason Verizon is yet to officially support the device. The carrier confirmed in a statement saying the Nexus 7 “is not yet a device that is Verizon 4G LTE certified. We’ll let folks know when it’s certified.”

You can get the Nexus 7 now in all of the countries mentioned above as well as Italy, which finally for the first time gets access to purchase Google Play devices today.