Editorial: What is the primary reason you will select your new Android smartphone?

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I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I recognize that when it comes to smartphone buying, I’m stuck in a crossroads about my next device. Yes, it’s true that my position as a tech blogger affords me the opportunity to try the latest and greatest, often at the same time. However, with a 10 month old my primary methodology for selecting a smartphone lately comes down to camera, camera and camera.

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Review: Europe’s answer to Nest, Tado the smartphone-controlled intelligent thermostat

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Affordable home automation has been a long time coming. Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed that it’s the 21st Century and homes still don’t have Star Trek style swishy doors as standard.

But smartphone-controlled heating and lighting is here today. Nest hasn’t yet made it to the UK, so I decided to try out competitor system Tado, which is available in Europe now and expected to launch in the US at CES in Las Vegas in January. I tested it with both an iPhone and Nexus 4.

In the UK, it costs £249 ($400) outright, or you can rent it for £7 ($11.35) a month. Tado claims you will save more on your heating costs than it costs to rent.

The concept

The idea behind Tado is three-fold. First, automation. As well as the programmable timer you have in any heating system, it also monitors the locations of everyone in the household via their smartphones. If everyone is out, it turns down the heating even if the timer says it should be on.

How much it turns it down depends on how far away you are, because it aims to have it back up to temperature by the time you return. Nip out to the local grocery store, and it won’t adjust it much, drive an hour to work and it’ll turn it down a lot …  Read more

The gold HTC One finally arrives, though so far only in Europe

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We first showed you leaked photos of a gold-colored HTC One in September, and HTC finally confirmed today that the gold version will be joining the black, silver, blue and red casings.

Apple made gold a fashionable color for smartphones with the champagne option for its flagship iPhone 5s model, and the shade HTC has chosen looks remarkably similar. Both Samsung and HTC have made small volumes of actual gold-plated handsets, but those are not quite the sort of thing you’ll find in your local shopping mall …  Read more

Eric Schmidt takes to Google+ and tells you all about ditching your iPhone

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I think we all deserve to give Google Chairman Eric Schmidt a round of applause for his recently posted Google+ message telling the world how to ditch the iPhone. In a fairly lengthy write-up, Schmidt describes in detail how to set up an Android device, move contacts over to Gmail from iCloud and a quick reminder that ditching Safari for Chrome is the new hotness.

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Amazon gives Android Appstore a facelift and some performance tweaks

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Amazon’s Appstore received a nice redesign this past week and while it fell under our radar early on, it’s still very much a worthwhile update. For those of you who prefer purchasing your apps from Amazon alongside Google Play or who have found many gems with Amazon’s “free app of the day” it’s nice to see the company breath new life into the store.

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Talking Schmidt: Drop smartphones, not bombs

(Businessweek / Peg Korpinski)

(Businessweek / Peg Korpinski)

Eric Schmidt revealed today that he has figured out how to end war and conflict across the globe. His solution? Drop millions of smartphones into other countries instead of going to war. Nope, really, that’s his plan.

According to the executive, raining down smartphones on Iraq or Afghanistan could have dramatically altered the course of history and prevented war in both countries. He suggests that the United States “could have airdropped a million into Afghanistan or Iraq as a thought experiment.”

We can only thank Eric Schmidt for selflessly suggesting a deep, thoughtful solution to global conflict, which could in no way financially benefit his company (which holds a smartphone OS marketshare majority). Yeah… we’re not really expecting the Department of Defense to offer Schmidt a job anytime soon.

Android 4.4 KitKat now rolling out to AT&T Moto X

Moto X KitKat

Just yesterday, Motorola began rolling out Android 4.4 KitKat to the T-Mobile variant of the Moto X, which was preceded by the Verizon model earlier this week. Today, the company has announced that the AT&T variant of its flagship will be the next device to receive the update.

Motorola says that the update will begin rolling out to Moto X users on AT&T today. The update will take the device to version number 140.44.5.ghost and includes all the features expected from KitKat, including the new design and much more.

  • An improved phone dialer. Now you can search for contacts directly from the dial-pad and easily see and tap on those you contact frequently.
  • More gallery goodies. KitKat packs in some cool, new gallery effects—such as Posterize, Highlights, and Edges. You can even use the Draw feature to annotate your photos freehand with your finger.
  • New Hangouts app. All of your conversations now in one place—texts, video calls, and other chats all together in one app. Plus, you can now send animated gifs and share your location.
  • Color emojis. For when words aren’t enough, the Google Keyboard now includes colorful characters to send in text messages and other communications.
  • Drag to focus and expose. An updated camera app lets you control both the focus and exposure of your photos. Simply drag your finger to set just the right exposure and focus point.
  • And more… Restyled status and navigation bars, new full-screen mode, and enhancements to Motorola features like Touchless Control.

We’re still waiting for a plethora of other devices to receive the update, including the Google Edition HTC One and Nexus 10. Motorola, however, finally appears to be on top of its game, and that’s certainly a good thing.

After self-driving cars, Google now working on flying ones?

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Zee Aero, a low-profile company based in Mountain View very close to Google X, the company’s research lab, has registered a patent for what appears to be a flying car, reports SFGate (via Gizmodo). And from two photos uncovered by the paper, it looks like the company has already got as far as either a prototype or large mockup.

The patent illustrations look all but identical to an aircraft spotted from a helicopter at an abandoned Naval base on Alameda just under a year ago. If the photo looks a little odd it’s because Greg Espiritu used a camcorder to zoom in and then took this photo of the LCD display.

Here’s one of the patent illustrations:

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