Yesterday, I picked up my new baby - a brand spanking new Galaxy Note 3 that replaced my aging Note 2. (Update: I'd like to clarify this since a lot of people have misconstrued the "aging" comment for something it's not. My Note 2 has a screen crack and shows significant wear and tear. You may not consider the Note 2 or INSERT_DEVICE_HERE aging, but that's not what this line was about - it was about a very specific phone I was upgrading from and nothing else.) It's a great device on many fronts, as David pointed out in our extensive review, but it appears putting out solidly built products was not on Samsung's roadmap yet again.
Android phones are immensely customizable, but typically, these tweaks take place internally. We swap out launchers and keyboards like car floor mats and seat covers. We pop in widgets like an aftermarket radio and toss on live wallpapers like air fresheners hanging from the rear-view mirror. But by keeping our attention inside the car (wait, what was I talking about again?) we ignore all the external tweaks that are possible. Introducing Pressy, a Kickstarter project that wants to pop into your earphone jack so that you can take pictures and turn on the flashlight without having to unlock your device.
I have a confession to make: I'm obsessed with wireless portable audio gear. Bluetooth earbuds, headphones, and portable speakers excite me more than they probably should. And I'm OK with that. My wife, however, gives me "the look" every time a new gadget arrives, rolling her eyes so far up her skull she could have easily become a soap opera star or an extra on The Walking Dead. She doesn't get it - she's not a geek who loves to get to the bottom of every feature, spot every miniscule detail, and figure out if we have something special on our hands.
Google has finally added the feature that we've been wanting since Google first started adding functionality to notifications back in Ice Cream Sandwich: the ability to archive email directly from the notification shade. Now, when you get a new email, you can choose what to do with it immediately. This is extremely handy for the chronic email checkers who would like to be able to dismiss the clutter as it comes in, rather than let it pile up later
This is something that seems so obvious that when Ron reviewed Jelly Bean, the lack of buttons was a disappointment in an otherwise fantastic update.
We can easily get caught up in the mad scramble for the latest and greatest, so it's easy to lose track of the fact that low-end smartphones also have a place in the world. For this one, we'll let you decide. Who wants a smartphone with a 3" (yes, that is three inches) 240x320 TFT display, a 3MP rear camera, an unspecified "powerful" processor and 512MB of RAM? Before you decide, I should also point out that this phone has a dedicated music button and, for some bizarre reason, the spec sheet lists a WVGA projector (9 lumens), though it seems incredibly likely that this is a mistake.
Just after initially unveiling Google Play Services, Google has made the APK installable directly from the Play Store.
For those who missed the announcement, Google Play Services is an APK rolling out automatically to devices running Android 2.2+ that will allow Android apps to easily integrate with Google services like Google+. At present, the app (which is in version 1.0 "Asiago") includes components and relevant client APIs for OAuth 2.0 authentication, Google+ sign-in, and Google+ +1 buttons.
We can't say we didn't see this coming. Google just announced on the Android Developer blog that the Menu button is well and truly dead, in case you hadn't gotten the memo. The post has relevant information on how to update your apps to accommodate the new changes without breaking support for devices running software older than Honeycomb (which are the overwhelming majority at the moment).
Left: Glorious new Action Bar.
Update: Things have gone from "Looks like a weird software bug" to "Damn, this could well be a serious hardware issue". As some users had been suggesting, the problem does indeed link to use of 2G. However, it turns out that the issue can be replicated by the use of 2G even on another, proximate phone. As you can see in the video demonstration by kongzs7 below, the volume rocker keys' sensors are set off even when the phone is only at the bootloader.
The title pretty much says it all, but I'll explain this quick tip in a bit more detail. All too often I want to jump into the Market on my phone and search for an app I already have in mind. However, before the search box even appears, I am forced to wait for the featured app screen to finish loading, which on slow connections can take ages.
So, rather than wait for it, just jump straight into action by pressing the hardware Search button.
So maybe you've recently upgraded your Android phone and haven't gotten used to the new device's button alignment yet... or maybe you never use that pesky Search key and want to turn it into the camera key your EVO 4G has always wanted... or maybe you just enjoy tinkering with your phone. If you're in one of those situations, what you may be lusting after is a way to remap your phone's hardware buttons (i.e.