Earlier this year, Amazon announced that it was preparing a proprietary virtual currency specifically for its Appstore. Then the incorrigible Eric Ravenscraft spent a few thousand words explaining exactly why Amazon Coins, and any system that substitutes real money for meaningless points, is just a pretense for sucking money out of people's wallets. If you can't wait to pay Amazon's tax on those without common sense, you can now hand over your real dollars for fake ones to spend on apps and in-app purchases.
If you're a United States Amazon customer and you own any model of Kindle Fire, congratulations, you've just been credited with 500 Amazon Coins, or $5 in non-fake money.
Unveiled in December of 2010, Notion Ink's original Adam was intended to be an innovative, disruptive Android tablet that could compete with the iPad. Its primary selling point - besides a relatively high-end (at the time) dual-core Tegra 250 processor and 1GB of RAM - was a UI overlay known as Eden, which promised to make underlying the Android 2.2 more tablet-friendly. Launched to much fanfare in January 2011, the Adam never quite caught on the way Notion Ink had hoped; shipping delays, software issues, and poor build quality led the company to sell fewer units than anticipated. Two years and several versions of Android later, Notion Ink's ready to give it another go with the Adam 2.
Most mobile users these days are happy to get LTE service (and a few of us just wish we could get 3G reliably) but there is already a surprising push towards the next big thing in wireless speeds. Samsung thinks it has the solution, or at least what might become one: expanding existing LTE networks into the super-high 28GHz range, the lower part of what's known as the millimeter wave bands. The company is calling this system 5G, and expects to have it ready for cellular networks in 2020.
Any grade school science student can tell you that higher-frequency radio waves have the capacity for more data, and Samsung's system has been tested with speeds just north of 1Gb per second, about ten times as fast as the best current LTE offerings.
If a speaker, vibration motor, and an on-device notification light aren't enough to grab your attention when a new message comes to your phone, you need a more extreme option. The developer of HueNotifier Beta has provided one: an impressive sync between any Android 4.0+ device and Philips' range of Hue connected LED lightbulbs. After installing the app and setting it up, new notifications from any app can be assigned to pulsate the light bulb or bulbs in any available color.
The app is pretty basic at the moment, but seems to have all of its bases covered, with easy setup and quick modifications.
Zact is a brand new Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that might just change the way you think about cell phone providers. Its unique approach is built on software provided by parent company ItsOn, and enabled with a mix of Android hardware and proprietary services. The result is unlike anything else available at the moment. With a completely customizable selection of voice, text, and data features, a la cart app-based data, and unprecedented sharing and parental controls, Zact might just be the perfect phone service... at least for those who fit into some admittedly specialized situations. Zact service is scheduled to go live in June, but the company gave us a quick look at what makes it different from other cell phone providers.
The Xperia Z is a pretty spiffy flagship phone, and tough as well, thanks to its IP55/IP57 Ingress Protection rating. But now there's a more specialized model coming, the Xperia ZR, designed specifically for waterproof functioning in even wetter environments. The new phone is manufactured to the higher IP55/IP58 standard, meaning that it can be safely submersed in 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.
The Xperia ZR roughly follows the Z's design, getting rid of some of the slim lines and premium materials for the sake of its more waterproof chassis. It looks a lot like the slightly down-market ZL, in fact, with a 10.4mm-thick plastic body.
Here's hoping all of our readers are having a peaceful Mother's Day. If any of you gave your mom a Google Play Store gift certificate (and your mother is particularly fond of action games or weather widgets) you might point her towards this story for a few bargain-priced suggestions. Sega has a couple of their Android ported games on sale, and Minecraft is discounted over on Amazon. The surprisingly powerful eWeather HD/Radar HD is also on sale, along with the gaming-focused remote access suite Kainy.
Of course after our app roundup earlier today, we've got to have a roundup of the very best games from last month. This time we have a few more than usual, bumping the count to eight. While our shortlist isn't so short this time around, all the games discussed are well worth checking out. From racing to hidden object, April 2013 had something for just about every type of gamer.
First up is CSR Racing. If you sense a lack of super-shiny racing games on Android, CSR Racing by NaturalMotionGames will fill the gap. Check out the promo video, which itself is as fast as the racing.
Readers probably don't need to be reminded that each month, we distill all of the Play Store's latest entries into a selection of the very best apps of the previous month, hand-picking a shortlist to save you both time and money in testing everything out. This month, though, there were just too many worthy apps to cut down to the usual five, so we've got a slightly-less-short list of the best six apps from April 2013. If you're looking for something to spice up your device, you can't go wrong with any of the below selections.