I can't believe it's already been a year since the last What We Use, but alas, it has. Basically everything has changed in my device collection since last year, so there's a lot to talk about this go around. Before we get into the stuff you're actually here to see, however, l want to point out that we're going to take a slightly different approach to the What We Use series this time.
Sources are saying that Sprint will soon offer a Sony smartphone in the US for the first time. We can't tell you who these sources are, but they're the kind that have spoken to Reuters and The Wall Street Journal in two separate reports. And the device apparently won't be cheap either. We're talking about an upcoming Xperia flagship. With Sony expected to unveil the Z3 at IFA next week, well, you can fill in the blanks from here.
The Samsung Gear Live launched with a built-in heart rate monitor, but unfortunately, it could only take measurements one at a time. There was no way to monitor a wearer's heart rate continuously, such as during a workout. Now developer Portable Pixels has hit Google Play with an Android app that makes this functionality possible, one that goes by the rather straightforward name of "Heart Rate Training."
The developer's previous creations skew more towards the amusing side, but that doesn't limit the capability of this app.
The Penny Arcade Expo, better known as PAX, has been doing its thing in various cities for ten years now. If you haven't heard of it, it's basically a tiny microcosm of video game trade shows put on with the intention of welcoming actual gamers and fans instead of press or investors. The Expo is put on by the creators of the long-running Penny Arcade web comic and their team, hence the name.
Samsung was the first to selectively boost system performance when a benchmark app was run, but it was forced to backpedal pretty quickly on that one. The latest OEM to try and sneak one past the benchmarks is Huawei with its new-ish Ascend P7. Futuremark is wise to this game, though, and has pulled the P7 from the 3DMark top phone charts.
Nokia is generally regarded as the best maker of Windows-powered phones on the market, which is probably why Microsoft snatched them up. While most of that attention is focused on the Finnish company's solid hardware, Nokia's custom HERE mapping platform has also received rave reviews, with many saying it outperforms Microsoft's own maps. Now Nokia is bringing a beta version of HERE Maps to Android... but strangely, only on Samsung hardware.
I'm at a point in my Android life where I can live without root access if I need to. I don't use very many root applications at all – I generally only use it for a one-touch reboot on phones without a built-in option in the power menu, and Greenify. I love Greenify. I don't use it for every app installed on my phone, but it's a fantastic tool when something just won't quit chomping down on the battery.
In July, Chrome Beta was updated with a new interface that more closely adhered to Google's new design vision - material design. Fitting with Google's occasional habit of stripping things down during major refreshes (see Google Maps on the web), many elements of the interface were sliced, rearranged, or simplified, including the tab indicator in the top right corner of the screen. Previously, the indicator showed users how many tabs were open, but after the redesign it simply displayed a square (or two stacked squares if you had multiple tabs open).
In an exclusive look provided to The Atlantic, Google today unveiled Project Wing, one of many "Google X" studies designed to produce "moonshot" advances in technology, health, and science.
Project Wing may sound familiar: just in time for Christmas last year, Jeff Bezos gave 60 Minutes an exclusive sneak-peak at Amazon Prime Air, the retailer's own drone-based delivery initiative. While you may be keen to shout 'copycat!' Google's Project Wing has been quietly developed over the last two years, having started out as an initiative to deliver defibrillators to people having heart attacks (yes, really).