Leaked screenshot suggests Google Now lookalike for improved TouchWiz UI on Samsung S5

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We’re not fans of manufacturer overlays, preferring our Android experience undiluted, but a leaked screenshot suggests that a revamped version of Samsung’s TouchWiz user-interface may actually be both attractive and useful.

Leaked by usually reliable source @evleaks, the screenshot shows live updates covering everything from flight delays to delivery notifications. It’s not known whether Samsung is grabbing the data from Google Now, and merely overlaying its own user-interface, or creating its own data feeds …  Read more

Moto X wood backplate upgrade drops to $25, arrives in Walnut, Teak & Ebony on Jan. 21 (Update: $75 refunds)

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After months of teasing natural wood backplates for the Moto X, last month Motorola finally introduced a Bamboo option available through its Moto Maker customization tool. Today the company announced that it will soon be introducing three other wood finishes including Walnut, Teak, and Ebony.  Read more

Google apparently working on fitness APIs for future Android releases

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With rumors of Apple’s upcoming iWatch and its focus on fitness, it’s not a stretch to think that Google couldn’t also be exploring a similar use for its own devices. Now, as spotted by the unofficial Google Operating System blog, it seems we have our first glimpse at a fitness API for Android.

Whether this API will become available in a future Android update or will require new hardware or sensors to fully operate is not yet known. The company has already included some fitness sensors with its Nexus 5, but there’s currently no way for other devices to take advantage of similar data natively. A system fitness API could open up new doors, not just for Google’s own software, but for third-party developers like Nike.

Will Samsung hit the $100 price point with its new 7-inch Galaxy Tab3 Lite?

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Following the introduction of its new line of Galaxy Pro tablets during CES, today Samsung introduced a new 7-inch tablet on the opposite end of the lineup with the new entry-level Galaxy Tab3 Lite.

The two-years ago specs are certainly nothing to brag about, but depending on how close Samsung prices the tablet to $100, it won’t look all that bad next to its competition in the low-cost tablet category. Unfortunately the company hasn’t announced pricing, but looking at the specs below, we think it could be its most affordable Galaxy Tab yet. That’s especially considering the current 7-inch Galaxy Tab 3 has been going for as low as $140 lately. It did confirm the tablet will be available globally in both black and white, but there’s no word on exact availability or markets.

Full specs for the Galaxy Tab3 Lite below: Read more

Samsung sells one out of every four smartphones in the US as ownership increases

Following the continued growth of smartphones in the US and increasing competition between Samsung and Apple, the two companies saw combined growth between 2012 and 2013 amounting to 68% of the US smartphone market. That’s according to data provided by The NPD Group which reports overall smartphone growth increased from 52% to 60% in Q4 of 2012 and 2013, respectively. NPD reports Samsung rose from 22% to 26% in Q4 2012 to 2013 among US smartphone users. Read more

CyanogenMod Installer app released for OS X, makes it even easier to install the custom ROM

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 5.38.34 PMBack in November, the CyanogenMod team announced an interesting new project that allowed users to flash the team’s custom ROM in just a few clicks.  The app came with a catch, though. It was only available on Windows machines, leaving Mac users in the dark. Today, however, the CyanogenMod team has released its Installer application on Mac OS X. 

CyanogenMod installer supports a long-list of devices, ranging from the HTC One and Galaxy S4 to the Nexus S and Galaxy S II. The process is very simple. First, simply join the CyanogenMod Installer for Mac beta group, download the actual app from Google+, connect a compatible Android device, and the Installer will handle most everything else. It’s important to note that the Installer will wipe all the data from your device, so be sure to back it up before beginning the process. 

The CyanogenMod team has had a very successful time over the past few months, as it raised $22 million in funding in December in addition to releasing more devices that run the CyanogenMod ROM out of the box.    

Check out CyanogenMod’s Google+ page for more.

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Google Play app arrives on iOS to stream movies and shows over WiFi

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Today, Google has released a new application for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to allow Google Play users to stream purchased movies and TV shows. You cannot rent or purchase content via this application: you must download it from Google Play on Android or the web and then the purchased titles will be available to stream via this app. The application is only supported in the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom. WiFi is currently required for streaming. The app also allows streaming to the ChromeCast.

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Rumored Samsung Galaxy S5 specs say both metal and plastic versions, as per iPhone

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The Samsung Galaxy S5, expected to be announced in March and released in April, will come in two variants, a higher-spec one in a metal case and a lower-spec one in a plastic case, claims SamMobile, citing an anonymous ‘insider.’

First, let’s get the most mysterious thing about the Galaxy S5 out of the way: Yes, it will come in both metal and plastic versions as has been rumored, with the metal version costing around 800 Euros and the plastic model coming in at around 650 Euros …  Read more

As predicted, HP launches its Slate 6 and Slate 7 VoiceTab Android 4.2 Phablets

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Last week, we went on the record saying that HP was set to unveil their new smartphones within a week and here we are just 5 days later with an announcement.  The quad-core Slate 6 and Slate 7 VoiceTab are (as predicted) 720P displayed “mega” phablets that will play in the same market as Samsung’s Galaxy Mega line. The initial launch country will be India but more are on the way.  While no price was given, we’d imagine that since the other details were true, the $200 price point for the Slate 6 VoiceTab and $250 for the 7-inch seem like a pretty good starting point.

The phones will come with 16GB of on board storage and have a Micro-SD card for 32GB more storage. As you can see in the image above, they both have stereo speakers a la the HTC One (no word yet on Beats Branding which HP still uses and HTC once used).

It appears that HP has really done its homework here and has identified a market where it can make things happen. HP obviously has a huge brand and PC presence in India and at the same time, the market is easy to enter because the carriers aren’t gatekeepers like they are in the US.

As for the phones themselves, they actually have some styling which is a notable step up from HP’s US slate lineup. While I’ll go on the record saying that I’m not a fan of the Black on Gold appearance from the press release and Android skin they are showing off, I’m not privy to style considerations from India.

Also ringing an alarm bell is the Android 4.2 launch OS. Combined with that pretty heavy looking skin/overlay, Indian consumers are already starting 2 OSes back…and counting.

In all, though Google has to be pretty satisfied with the launch. HP is traditionally a Windows shop but since Meg Whitman’s return has gone ChomeOS and Android first with the Slate line of tablets and now their Smartphones.

Another image if the Slate 6 Voicetab and Press release below: Read more

Google releases Moto G Google Play Edition for $179/$199

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This morning Google announced that its releasing a Moto G Google Play Edition starting at $179 for the 8GB model and $199 for the 16GB model. There isn’t much of a difference between the Google Play Edition and the regular unlocked GSM model of the Moto G selling through other retailers. The Moto G is already just about stock Android to begin with, and the pricing is around the same you’ll find through third-party retailers. Either way, with the GPE Moto G you’ll be guaranteed completely stock Android and updates when other Google Play Edition devices receive them. The Moto G is available now through the Google Play website for customers in the US and will run on AT&T or T-Mobile networks.  Read more

Motorola Assist updated with ability to reply to texts by voice while driving

Of the most notable things Motorola has accomplished over the past year is arguably its contextually aware services, found on devices like the Moto X. Today, the company’s Assist app on the Play Store has been updated with a few new features. For those unaware, Assist can determine your actions, such as driving and sleeping, and perform a pre-specificed command.

Up until today, the app could only read you the text messages you got while driving. With this newest update, however, you can now reply to texts while driving by speaking to the phone. So once the text is read to you, you will have the ability to read a response to the app. In addition to that, Assist can also now launch your music player of choice when it notices you are driving.

The update is available on the Play Store, although Motorola Assist is only compatible with the most recent Droid line of devices, as well as the Moto X.

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