More and more often, smartphones are becoming the "safe place" for many users to store private data — photos, conversations, passwords, bank account information…you name it, it's probably on the phone. The problem is that oftentimes this data isn't necessarily secured by said users. Things like private photos are easy to find by jumping into the gallery app. Conversations aren't hidden anywhere in the system — the SMS app reveals all without any sort of barrier. And that all goes without mentioning the private things that could be held within social networks, email, or other apps that may not necessarily be protected behind a password. Read More
Good news, Sprint customers: you now get a free year of Amazon Prime! Maybe. If you activate a "qualifying" Samsung phone for a new line of service or a renewed line, Sprint will foot the bill for Amazon's premium shipping option for a year. The promotion starts today, and those qualifying phones are limited to the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and the Galaxy Note 5. So basically it's just for Samsung's 2015 flagship quadruplets - you can't just run out and buy an ancient Galaxy S II for ten bucks and get $100 worth of freebies.
The offer runs through November 30th, and it's valid for Sprint customers who buy their phone outright, lease it, pay in installments, or use an old-fashioned two-year contract. Read More
Once upon a time, Google got together with OEMs to sell Google Play Edition versions of flagship phones. They were expensive, but here we are in late 2015 and the 2014 HTC One M8 GPE just got Marshmallow. The regular M8? Good luck with that.
The tireless developers at Team Win released their custom Android recovery for the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X last week, but at the time it didn't support decryption. This makes working with the stock software (which Google encrypts by default, gleefully thumbing their noses at the NSA and FBI in a show of customer protection) somewhat tricky. But ROM flashers and phone modders can now use the latest version of TWRP on the Nexus 6P with the encrypted stock software, or any other ROM that uses the feature. The latest version is 18.104.22.168. Read More
It's nice to stop every once in a while and realize just how much Google search has improved over the years. For quite a while, Google didn't really prioritize time-sensitive content versus regular content when it crawled the web. This meant breaking news stories were cached about as frequently as Wikipedia entries on the history of the Roman Empire. That didn't really change until the events of September 11, when Google realized people who were searching for news on the attacks were instead being greeted with tourist information for the World Trade Center.
All these small improvements are hard to notice individually, but they really add up over time. Read More
A late-night update to the Play Store slipped out just before midnight. A close examination doesn't turn up any big visual changes or new features, but this version is begging for a teardown. I'm not going to beat around the bush, if you've read the title, you know why you're here. Yes, it's true, family sharing and gifting are on the way. No doubt about it. There's even a neat way to add credit cards if they have NFC. There's no point in teasing it out, just get to reading. If you want to jump straight to downloading the latest version, there's a link at the bottom of the post. Read More
AT&T is offering two new phones today in hopes of locking you down for the next few years. On the premium end of the spectrum is the BlackBerry Priv, and then there's the more budget-friendly LG G Vista 2. They both have a niche feature that's something of a blast from the past. The Priv has its keyboard and the G Vista 2 has a stylus. Read More
When I was in high school, BlackBerry was still an up-and-comer in the US cell phone market. The sleepy suburb I grew up in really had no widespread knowledge of them until after I had left for college. And when you start college in 2006, a year before the first iPhone (released at the end of my freshman year), it’s probably not surprising to learn that shiny-new-MacBook toting shiny-new-adults at a big state school turned up their noses at something as staid and “establishment” as a BlackBerry. Everyone who was into “cell-phone-as-status-symbol” knew it was the iPhone that was changing everything. Read More
Google began rolling out v8.3 of the Play services framework a few weeks ago, and it looks like it's in a wide release. While this version didn't present with any direct user-facing features and only a few cryptic hints for a teardown, it did bring some definite improvements to the Play services SDK. There are some changes to streamline the sign-in experience for app developers and users alike, along with some additional enhancements that should make it easier for developers to set up new user accounts. New APIs have also been added to make data delivery more efficient between a phone and an Android Wear watch. Read More
ASUS in the recent past has been pushing harder into Western markets and into smartphones in general with the ZenFone product line and its associated ZenUI software layer. Those who remember the Transformer tablets of yesteryear may be surprised at the non-geeky, colorful, feature-filled approach of these devices. Now well into the second generation of ZenFones, ASUS has announced the ZenFone 2 Laser for wide release, including the USA.
It is a slight refinement on the ZenFone 2, which we reviewed back in June. David felt that its base model was one of the best values around for just $199. Read More