Earlier today, Google released a dedicated camera app into the Play Store. This would have been news on its own, as this method of distribution allows for camera updates without having to wait for a new firmware to come along. But the goodies didn't stop there. Google has completely redesigned the app, and while your opinion may vary, here's mine - it's better.
Why, You Ask?
For starters, there's a new lens blur effect that I've already elaborated on in great detail.
In case you missed it, Google just released an official Camera app into the Play Store. It isn't exclusive to Nexus or Google Play devices either, so go ahead and download it. I'll wait.
Alright, let's dive into the app's new Lens Blur feature. Google's released a blog post with some of the details. In short, it's one of the features of HTC One M8's duo camera made available to any Android device running Android 4.4.
Forget everything you've seen or heard about HTC's M8 until today. That's the only way you'll learn much of anything new from today's announcement. The M8, officially known as the HTC One M8, was officially unveiled today in New York City. We may have already seen the phone from a distance (several times), and learned its specs by heart, but the device is official now, and we got the chance to go hands on with it at HTC's event.
As I'm sure you've seen by now, earlier today Google exploded a bombshell by unveiling the Android Wear smart watch initiative along with a number of partners that will be making the hardware later this year. Last but not least, the Android Wear Preview SDK was announced so that developers could start playing with the Android Wear watch emulator hooked up live to their devices and get the feel for how everything will work.
Nearly every Android device available has NFC these days, but how often do you have a tag around to take advantage of it? Maybe this realization is what drove last year's NFC Ring Kickstarter campaign into multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars. Well, the rings have been making their way out to backers and pre-orders are going live for everyone on March 11th. Let's take a look at how this unusual accessory works.
If you didn't get enough coverage of Samsung's new devices from our own Mobile World Congress posts, Sammy has posted its own official hands-on videos for the three new gadgets introduced at the show. The Samsung YouTube page now has in-depth videos for the Galaxy S5 and the Gear 2 and Gear Fit. They're pretty exhaustive: the phone video clocks in at just under eight minutes and the watch video is over nine minutes.
Love it or hate it, the Galaxy S5 will almost certainly be the best-selling Android phone in 2014. Whether or not the hardware actually warrants those kinds of incredible sales figures is largely irrelevant, thanks to Samsung's marketing machine and consumers' general willingness to buy things they're familiar with. And "familiar" is certainly an excellent way to describe the phone's hardware. While it isn't quite the ho-hum upgrade that came with the GS4, and there are some significant hardware features that add to its value, the GS5's overall design probably won't win it any new fans.
My love of devices with built-in kickstands is well-documented. So it's no surprise that Lenovo's Yoga Tablet line, which is more or less built around the kickstand (or at least a big, rounded, multi-purpose hump that holds the kickstand and several other neat things) would catch my attention. The first versions were brought down by sub-par hardware, but Lenovo is back with the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+, which addresses a lot of the issues with the original.
One year ago we took a look at the original Grand Memo, ZTE's mid-range entry in the bustling "phablet" market. Fast forward and ZTE is back at Mobile World Congress, showing off a new and improved version called the Grand Memo II LTE, that's better in every way... but still not really good enough to elicit a "wow" of surprise. Check out our hands-on video below.
The Grand Memo II bumps up the screen size to 6.0 inches, putting it squarely in between the largest of the conventional smartphones and low-cost tablets.
Sony announced its new Xperia Z2 Tablet here at Mobile World Congress, so we swung by their booth on the show floor to get a hands-on with the next tablet flagship. This is the successor to the Tablet Z, now more fully aligned with the leading Sony phone in both name and hardware.
The first thing you notice when you pick up the Z2 Tablet is that it is thin. Crazy thin - 6.4mm, in fact, thinner than the previous tablet, thinner than any phone you're likely to get your hands on in the United States, thinner than the iPad Air by more than a millimeter, and lighter as well at only 425 grams.