Hands-on with Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch (Video)

If you haven’t heard by now, Samsung just announced its Galaxy Gear smart watch at its Unpacked 2013 event in Berlin and we were able to get a little bit of hands-on time with the device after the show. We were quite impressed with the build quality of the watch, and we’re hoping Samsung is able to work out some minor kinks with certain touch screen gestures not always behaving as expected. For the most part Samsung has done a great job of simplifying the UI of apps its including on the device, but sometimes that simplicity leaves a little to be desired for those of us used to interacting with our smartphones on a daily basis. We weren’t able to try any of the fitness features of the device in our limited time with the Gear, but the majority of apps we did play with were simple and intuitive. S Voice wasn’t playing nice, but, again, we hope Samsung will put a little bit more polish on some of the included software before it gets in the hands of users.

All in all, it beat out most the Bluetooth smart watches we’ve tried simply based on the hardware and excellent implementation of apps with extremely simplified UIs. It does, however, have the same problems a lot of other bluetooth smart watches have: it’s much bigger than your standard, traditional wrist watch, and that’s a big hurdle for people that might not even wear a regular watch day-to-day in the first place. The Galaxy Gear will launch for $299 later this month and we plan on bringing you a full review soon. Full specs and details here.

Live from Samsung’s Galaxy Gear IFA 2013 press conference

We’re in our seats live at Samsung’s Unpacked 2013 press conference taking place in Berlin and things are about to kick off. We already know that the company will be unveiling its new Galaxy Gear smartwatch, but up until now details on the device haven’t been confirmed. Leaked rumors point to varying specs for the prototypes floating around, so we’re excited to see exactly what Samsung has packed into the smartwatch. That, and expect some other new Galaxy announcements. We’ll have the latest in our live blog below and full coverage on 9to5Google: Read more

Live from Sony’s 2013 IFA press conference

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We’re live at Sony’s 2013 IFA press conference where the company is expected to announced new Xperia devices alongside the much rumored attachable camera lens product for smartphones that just landed on Amazon for $500. We’ll be bringing you the live blow by blow when the event kicks off in the coming minutes.

– Sony execs are talking innovation and its success in the European market with televisions and its digital camera line.

-Sony announced the next generation Cybershot RX1R

– Sony execs just briefly mentioned a new music video recorder and a new action cam- no word on Android yet.

– New 4K handycam coming later this month along with two new models of 4K tvs for the European market– still no Android.

-Sony just officially announced the Xperia Z1 (aka the “Honami” that has leaked out a lot in recent weeks.

– Exmor RS G lens and Bionz for Mobile in Xperia Z1.

– A new ‘Social Live’ feature for Xperia Z1 will let users capture video and stream it to social networks live as they are filming.

– Sony is detailing Timeshift burst, a feature that allows users to snap and save multiple photos at once.

-AR effect lets users capture images with augmented reality effects on the new Xperia. It includes an open SDK for app developers.

– The Xperia Z1 will come in black, white, and blue as pictured above

-Qualcomm snapdragon process (“and all the specs you’d expect”, according to Sony)

-will come with 100 euro worth of content from Music Unlimited and Sony’s movie services.

-Sony says its previously announced SmartWatch 2 will launch later this month.

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-CyberShot lens officially announced. Two models (QX10 and QX100) will be available for the Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z.

-On top of Xperia devices, Sony says the CyberShot lens will work with “almost any smartphone” with an attachment.

-Xperia Z1 launches later this month.

Google Play launches ‘A Rock and a Hard Place’ music promotion offering albums as low as $3.99

From 9to5Toys.com:

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The Google Play music store has kicked off ‘A Rock and a Hard Place’ promotion which offers rock and metal albums for as low as $3.99. There are a total of 90 discounted albums from the biggest classic rock and current metal groups: Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, Five Finger Death Punch, Black Sabbath, System of a Down, and more. No word from Google on how long the promo will last so if you see an album you like be sure to grab it soon.

Google’s clever workaround for manufacturers & carriers slow to update Android

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One of the reasons we’re keen on Nexus devices is that you’re guaranteed to get Android updates as soon as they are available – unlike many handsets where you’re at the mercy of manufacturers and carriers, who update either slowly or not at all. The effect of slow-acting OEMs and carriers has been a highly-fragmented Android market, with less than half of all devices running Jelly Bean.

Google can’t do anything about this, but arstechnica has a fascinating piece on why that doesn’t matter. First, Google has put most of the really cool stuff into new or updated apps, rather than into the OS itself. Google Hangouts, Google Play Games, Google Play Music, cloud saving of game data and so on. Nothing we didn’t know there. But the clever – or sneaky, depending on how you look at it – part of this is how Google makes this approach work, even with elderly versions of Android …  Read more

Nexus 4 8GB model goes out of stock, underlining expectations of Nexus 5 next month

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Just days after a $100 price-cut, the 8GB version of the Nexus 4 has gone out of stock in the U.S. at the Google Play Store. The 16GB model is still available at the time of writing and 8GB is available in the UK.

The Verge is reporting a Google source as saying that the model will not come back into stock, strongly suggesting that the company is clearing inventory ready for the expected Nexus 5 replacement next month, with some sources suggesting that 31st October is the launch-date. There are conflicting reports about whether the device will be made by LG or Motorola.

Via Droid-life

Acer claims first smartphone to record 4K video – but will sell in Europe before USA

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Smartphone manufacturers are making it hard to keep up to date these days: just as we’d got used to enjoying the ability to record 1080p full HD videos, the first handsets capable of recording 4K video are emerging. Google added 4K video support to Android in the latest 4.3 version.

Acer is claiming that its 6-inch Liquid S2 will be the first, though as the phone is being officially unveiled at the IFA this week, it may have company from Samsung’s new Galaxy Note – also rumored to have 4K recording on board. The Acer also won’t be available in the U.S. at launch, with the handset hitting Europe first …  Read more

Motorola X will drop to $99 on plan and gain at least 4 wood-grained backs in Q4

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According to @evleaks, Motorola’s Moto X phone will drop to $99.99 on a two year plan in Quarter 4 (which starts at the end of September).  In addition, those wood grain backs will make an appearance and cost an extra $50, making the kit still $50 cheaper than buying one now, so you might want to heed our advice and hold off for a little while.

Also, I’m now in love with the wood-grained backs. Mahogany on black please.

Read more

Screenshots of Samsung’s ‘Galaxy Gear’ smartwatch companion app leak ahead of Sept. 4 unveiling

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We’ve been hearing a lot about Samsung’s upcoming smartwatch dubbed “Galaxy Gear” in recent weeks, and just a few days ago Samsung’s Lee Young-hee confirmed that the device would make its first official appearance at the company’s event scheduled for Sept. 4 in Berlin. Today, Evleaks points us to the screenshots above showing what appears to be the device’s companion app that will likely be available for all Android devices, although there is still the possibility it will only support Samsung’s own Android devices.

The screenshots above confirm the device will pair with Bluetooth, and there is also a section within the app to manage “Samsung Apps.” Another feature called “Find my watch” sounds a lot like a feature for locating a missing Galaxy Gear and Samsung also references wireless charging: “turn on NFC in Settings and bring the mobile device and charger together, back to back.

We reported previously of claims that the Galaxy Gear would pack in a 2.5 inch OLED display, dual core processor, an accelerometer, speakers, and built-in NFC, and another that added 1GB of RAM, a “320×320 1.67-inch AMOLED display” and an ARM Mali-400 MP4 GPU. There is still nothing official for specs, but it’s likely we’ll be seeing something similar to the above based on the prototypes and developer units floating around. Read more

Google remains digital ad king, Facebook making gains in mobile, no one else close

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Increased competition in digital advertising doesn’t seem to be hurting Google: the company is on track to increase its market share to almost 33 percent this year, with a commanding 53% in mobile advertising. The projections were made by research company eMarketer based on an analysis of company reports, though both dollar and percentage figures are slightly down on its earlier predictions back in June …  Read more