Inbox for Gmail: hands-on and first impressions

Mail for Inbox

Google this afternoon announced Inbox for Gmail, its all-new emailing solution that is intended to coexist with the regular Gmail platform. Inbox for Gmail is available on an invite only basis for Android, iOS and Chrome. I am fortunate enough to have received an invite to Inbox for Gmail, and I have been giving the iPhone app a rundown to see how it works. For the most part, Inbox is everything that you know and love about Gmail in a sleeker package.

Read more

Microsoft latest to mimic Snapchat with new Skype Qik ephemeral video messaging app

Microsoft has just joined the ranks of companies looking to capitalize on the success of ephemeral messaging apps like Snapchat. Through its Skype division, the company has launched a new cross-platform app for iOS, Android, and (of course) Windows Phone called Skype Qik. The premise of the application, as can be seen in the video above and screenshots below, is simple: you can record a quick video, and then share it to either one person in your address book or multiple groups of people.

By default, videos will expire after two weeks, and you can also un-send messages at any time. A cool feature of Skype Qik is the ability to pre-record various 5 second GIFs that you can send as instant replies. So, if you don’t have the ability to send a live video reply, you can just choose one of your pre-record defaults. The app is free today on the aforementioned platforms, and Microsoft says that updates, such as one for blocking iPhone contacts (that feature is available today on Android and Windows Phone), will come often to enhance the feature-set.

You can view some screenshots of the Android app in action below:

Read more

Samsung warns Q3 profits will again miss analyst expectations, blames imploding smartphone margins

samsung-headquarters

Samsung on Monday night issued a statement warning that its third-quarter earnings would be considerably weaker than it initially expected. The South Korean company stated that it expects a third quarter operating profit of 4.1 trillion won, or $3.8 billion, and sales of 47 trillion won. Both of these numbers are below Reuters’ forecasts of 5.6 trillion won in operating profit and 50.9 trillion in sales (via CNBC).

Read more

Starbucks for Android updated w/ new widgets, ability to digitally tip, shake your phone to pay, more

The Starbucks app on Android has always been on the forefront of mobile payment and technology features, and this evening, the app has received an update making it even more useful for customers. Bumping the app to version 2.7, the update today adds a handful of new features, including the ability to pay tips digitally and shake your phone to pay.

Read more

Android users at last get access to Amazon Instant Video as of today

amazoninstantvideo

Amazon seems to have finally accepted that access to Amazon Instant Video still isn’t going to make anyone want to buy a Fire Phone. As of today, Amazon Prime members in the U.S. can watch Instant Video on any Android device using the updated Amazon app.

Prime members in the US can stream unlimited Prime Instant Video from inside the Amazon app using the Prime Instant Video player, including HBO shows The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Six Feet Under, and The Wire …

Read more

Amazon having Fire Sale on the Fire Phone: $0.99 on contract, $449 off

firephone

Is the Amazon Fire Phone simmering out? Recent estimates reached by The Guardian pegged the device at having sold less than 35,000 units and today Amazon and AT&T are bringing down the price to 99¢ on a two year contract less than two months after launch. The device was previously priced at $199 for 32GB with a two year commitment, which many observed was a rather high price point for a not-so-remarkable handset mostly differentiated by its 3D effect and Amazon Prime services… Read more

Xiaomi claims to have sold 40,000 budget smartphones in India in 4.2 seconds

Chinese Android manufacturer Xiaomi may be trying to compete at the high end of Android devices with it’s iPhone-inspired Mi 3 handset and unsubtley-named Mi Pad, but it isn’t neglecting the low-end of the market. Its Redmi 1S just launched in India and, according to a tweet by former Google exec and now Xiaomi Global VP, sold 40,000 units in 4.2 seconds …  Read more

In-Depth profile of Motorola tracks its rise and fall (and future)

9to5-image 2014-08-28 at 11.45.58 AM

If you want to learn what happened behind the scenes in the tumultuous world of Motorola in the past decade, Chicago Mag does an excellent in-depth feature of the company that is awaiting approval of its sale from Google to Lenovo. Some excellent bits:

Meanwhile, in arguably one of the worst decisions ever made by a major corporate CEO, Zander struck a deal with his Silicon Valley friend Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple. Together their companies created a Motorola iTunes phone, the first phone connected to Apple’s music store. “We can’t think of a more natural partnership than this one with Apple,” Zander said at the time. Named the Rokr, the phone launched in the fall of 2005. Jobs, who introduced it, called it “an iPod Shuffle right on your phone.”

Ouch, a Shuffle… Read more

Samsung champions metal frame, curved corners & finish of Galaxy Alpha in new blog post

Samsung has put together a blog post extolling the virtues of the metal frame, curved corners and finish of the handset it created to go head-to-head with Apple’s iPhone, the Galaxy Alpha. It follows an earlier post on the making of the phone.

The prose is best described as stilted, but the general idea is that every element of the design has a reason behind it. Metal, we are told, offers “thinness, style and a comfortable grip.” And just in case anyone should accuse them of copying the iPhone in switching from plastic to metal, Samsung is quick to point out it started making metal phones back in 2006 – a year before the first iPhone …  Read more

Talking Schmidt: Know your competition, but don’t copy it

talking schmidt how google works

“Know your competition, but don’t copy it.” Those words of wisdom come from the image above accompanying a message put on the entirely original – not a copy of Facebook – Google+ by Google executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt. Schmidt is promoting his new book with Jonathan Rosenberg called How Google Works due out next month where the billionaire lays out the principles that made Google what it is today.

Included with the lemonade stand image and ‘don’t copy’ caption is another Schmidt line on originality and competition. “Playing catch-up with the competition will never help you get ahead by creating something new,” Schmidt says. Google would be the “hard” boozy lemonade to the competitions’ fresh lemonade. In the case of Google Plus, the booze could be the hangouts or perhaps the photo editing features or integration with other Google products.

Now picture this tidbit from Walter Isaacson’s biography of the late Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs:

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” Jobs said. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

It’s hard to deny that Android started looking a lot more like iOS after the iPhone’s introduction, and iOS has clearly borrowed its fair share of features from Google’s mobile operating system, but there’s no denying that Schmidt’s message could be challenged. File this one with the rest under Talking Schmidt.