Review: Living with Android Wear and the LG G Watch (Video)

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When Android Wear was first announced, I was very impressed. Aside from Google Glass, Android Wear and its associated devices is Google’s first major step into the wearables market for consumers. Let’s be honest, Glass came around a bit too early and it’s definitely not ready for mass consumption.

LG, Samsung, and Motorola jumped on the Android Wear train and so far, we’ve seen a couple of different smartwatches hit the market. The G Watch and Gear Live are our first Android Wear devices and I’ve been getting to know them over the past few weeks. This my experience…

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OnePlus One review: A true flagship killer that’s second to none (Video)

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There’s nothing worse than wanting something you can’t have. Unfortunately, that happens to be the case for the best Android smartphone on the market. Of course, “best” is completely subjective, but there are a lot of factors that make the OnePlus One my go-to Android smartphone and 2014’s “flagship killer.” It may not have everything for everyone, but it has everything I need and all for half the price of the current competition.

When the OnePlus One was introduced, it dropped jaws within the Android community. It’s powered by the latest and greatest specifications on the market and priced at just $299 for the 16GB model and $349 for the 64GB model. The catch is, you’ll need an invitation to buy it. Yup, that’s right an invitation, but we’ll talk about that more in a little bit…

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Review: A month with the Samsung Galaxy S5 (Video)

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With the release of Samsung’s Galaxy S5, it was clear that the company had decided against reinventing the wheel. The Galaxy S line has been evolving for quite some time now, and more than ever, the smallest refinements make the biggest difference.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the chance to really put the Galaxy S5 through its paces. This flagship device may seem like a minor update from the outside, but as always, it’s important to not judge a book by its cover.

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HTC One (M8) Review: It’s almost perfect (Video)

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The HTC One (M8) has been one of the most anticipated smartphone releases in 2014. Following the success of the One (M7) wasn’t going to be an easy task, but somehow the company pulled it off. Well, almost. This is nearly one of the best smartphones for your money, but there are a few things that hold the HTC One (M8) just inches away from Android perfection.

With the M8, you’re getting an even better build quality than its predecessor. HTC claims that the One (M8) has a body constructed of 90 percent metal, which is a 20 percent boost over last year’s model. There is nothing about this device that feels cheap. It’s an epic win in the quality department. It may be a little slippery (and look like a stainless steel refrigerator), but overall I’m very happy with the build quality here.

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Review roundup: LG G Flex bends, flops, still feels like a prototype

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Reviews for one of the first smartphones with a truly flexible, curved OLED, the recently announced LG G Flex, have just started hitting online. While the first reviews seem to be mixed, the recurring theme seems to be that the curved display and overall hardware experience doesn’t justify the nearly $1000 price tag. Most reviewers describe it as still feeling like a proof of concept, despite mostly decent reviews on the rest of the hardware and software experience.  The LG G Flex is still only available Korea, but it will soon be launching in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Europe. Head below to get a taste of what the reviews are saying:  Read more

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

Nexus 7 review: the best Android tablet gets even better

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Before Google I/O 2012, Android tablets hadn’t been all that successful, due in large part to their high price and lack of serious support from Google. Then, however, Google introduced the $199 Nexus 7 tablet and started a battle of who could make the best, most affordable tablet. More than a year later, it’s quite clear that Google was the winner of that battle. Other manufacturers could not release an affordable tablet that was worth buying– and its biggest 7-inch competitor, the iPad mini, remains a full $100 above the Nexus 7’s asking price.

When the first rumors hit claiming that the device would cost $229, $30 more than the original model, I was a tad worried, but once Google officially announced the specifications, all that worry went away. The new Nexus 7 improves on its predecessor in just about every way imaginable. It has a faster processor, higher resolution screen, a new rear camera, the latest version of Android, and more. All that doesn’t necessarily mean the device is better, however. Is the Nexus 7 still king of the Android tablet market? Can it compete with the iPad mini?

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Review: Google Play Edition HTC One is the best of both worlds

There’s no denying it – the HTC One is one of the nicest pieces of Android hardware on the market. When we reviewed it back in April, we called it “a standout, breathtaking Android phone” and boasted about its above-average build quality and crystal clear display. For me, however, there has always been one thing keeping the HTC One from being my go-to recommendation for the best Android smartphone out there – HTC Sense. This is why I couldn’t be any more pleased that Google has decided to release a “Google Play Edition” of the HTC One running stock Android, giving us more hardware options for pure Android devices on top of its Nexus line that ships alongside major new releases.

HTC Sense, the company’s Android UX overlay it uses to help make its phones unique, unfortunately adds an extra layer that affects the overall performance of the hardware considerably. HTC isn’t the only one. We noticed major performance improvements in our full review of the new Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition running stock Android instead of Samsung’s clunky TouchWiz UX.

For these reasons, I’ve been toting LG’s Nexus 4, which up until recently was the only out-of-the-box, stock Android smartphone available on top of above-average hardware. While there’s no mistaking the HTC One’s superior hardware, because of Sense, it continued to take a back seat to my Nexus 4. With Google’s recent introduction of new stock Android devices under the “Google Play Edition” moniker, the HTC One finally has the opportunity to win me over. Read more

Review: Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition – Less is more


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Way back at Google I/O 2013, it was announced that Samsung would be partnering with Google to release a Galaxy S4 variant running stock Android. Nearly two months later, the device is finally available to the masses and I’ve been using one as my daily driver for about a week now.

When the Google Play Edition Galaxy S4 was originally announced, I was really intrigued by the idea. Google has been releasing Nexus devices for the past few years, but I’ve never really fallen in love with one. They’ve all been good, but not great hardware. Nexus devices generally don’t feature top-of-the-line specs and are meant, in Google’s eyes, purely for developers to test apps their apps on.

Seeing how I had loved the original Galaxy S4, but couldn’t stand the bloated TouchWiz overlay, the Google Play Edition Galaxy S4 seemed like the perfect device for me. Near-stock Android paired with high-end, future-proof ‘resistant’ specifications. A match made in heaven, so to speak. Read more

Developers give in-depth look at Google Maps iOS SDK vs Apple’s MapKit

FastCompany today posted an in-depth look at the differences between Apple’s MapKit and Google’s recently launched Google Maps for iOS SDK from the perspective of developers. The lengthy piece gets insight from several iOS app developers with apps that rely on the SDKs and sheds some light on a few things that Apple is doing much better than Google despite a perception from users that Google Maps are superior:

“Google doesn’t currently charge for the Places API, but they do require a valid credit card for access–which gives you a quota of 100,000 daily requests. So you have to wonder if they plan to start charging sooner or later,” McKinlay explains. “That 100,000 limit perhaps sounds reasonable, but each user session can generate many requests–particularly when using the ‘autocomplete’ feature of Tube Tamer–and some types of requests count for 10 times the quota each, so it can get used up pretty quickly.”

While noting that Google wins out with location lookup services, 3D buildings, directions, geocoding, and better hybrid satellite imagery, the developers were also quick to point out downsides of the Google Maps SDK such as quotas for the Places API, an increased app size, and limitations with markers, gradient polylines, and overlays.

Developer of transportation app Tube Tamer, Bryce McKinlay, discussed some of the benefits of using Apple’s MapKit: Read more

Google+ update brings Local reviews tab, bigger cover photos & new ‘About’ tab

Google just announced on Google+ that it will roll out a few changes to the desktop version of the service starting today. Some of the updates include a new tab for local reviews for easy access to restaurant reviews from the sidebar, updates to the ‘About’ tab that making editing easier, and larger cover photos up to 2,120-by-1,192-pixel:

- A new tab for your Local reviews. In addition to your photos, +1’s and YouTube videos, there’s now a place for all your Local reviews. Highlight your favorite restaurants, or hide the tab completely via settings — it’s completely up to you.

- An easier way to edit your info. The ‘About’ tab now consists of separate cards (like Story, Places, and Links) — each with its own prominent edit link. As always: you can share specific fields with specific circles, or keep them just for you.

- Bigger cover photos, with a better aspect ratio. Cover photos are much larger than before (up to 2120px by 1192px), and they display in 16×9 when fully expanded. This way more images can be used as cover photos, and there’s more room for your selection to shine.

Google said it would roll out the new features gradually to all users.