Android One is an ambitious smartphone initiative launched by Google in 2014. To date, it's been limited to a handful of countries - mostly in Asia - and it remains at best unclear if it's actually been successful. The idea was nice enough: Inexpensive Android phones built by typical handset-makers, but with Google lending a helping hand on the messy business of software updates. Of course, the carrot also came with a stick. In exchange for this software support, those handset companies agreed to use what Google decided constituted a good, proper Android - no bloat, stock look and feel, and regular security patches. Read More
2017 marked my sixth consecutive attendance at the world's largest technology event, and for the sixth year, I left feeling like phones weren't really a very important part of it all. I have come to accept that's just what CES has become, especially given it sits in the shadow of the much more mobile-focused Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, which is happening about seven weeks from now. But before we start looking ahead, let's talk about what happened last week.
CES has always been a proving ground for bold ideas from companies big and small. In 2017, the bold move is to take normal products that consumers use and smartify them. Read More
When Google Assistant was first unveiled at Google I/O last year, it promised to be a more natural voice assistant - similar to Siri, Alexa, Cortana, etc. It also serves as an Alexa competitor, with Google positioning Assistant for use with third-party devices and services. Right now, Google Assistant is officially available on Google's Pixel phones, the Google Home, Google's Allo chat application, and soon Android TV. Read More
Fun fact: As of yesterday, T-Mobile is now the only carrier in the US that no longer allows you to buy a plan on the internet with high-speed tethering. Did you know that? With the utterly confusing and pointless splitting of T-Mobile's ONE plan (already split into ONE and ONE Plus), the carrier has officially hidden high-speed tethering behind a phonewall. You have to call T-Mobile's sales number to buy the new ONE Plus International plan, the only T-Mobile plan advertised with high-speed tethering anymore (Note: T-Mobile has clarified that existing T-Mobile customers can get ONE Plus International through the T-Mobile app, but was unable to provide any explanation why new customers needed to call). Read More
The Phab 2 Pro is the first phone to feature Google's Tango. Tango is, to put it lightly, not really ready for anyone aside from curious tech reviewers and maybe developers looking to get into AR content. The Phab 2 Pro itself also isn't a very good phone, and frankly costs too much to justify a largely gimmicky feature. In short, this product has "commercial flop" written all over it, and I think even AR enthusiasts and Tango phones can understand that. I honestly didn't ever expect it to be commercially marketed: this is a gadget that has some novelty and development value, but essentially zero real consumer appeal at this time. Read More
Android tablets are dying. There are signals that bear this out: sales estimates, web traffic, an utter absence of meaningful innovation or even competitive products in the segment. We've watched Android tablets struggle from day one: when Samsung's Galaxy Tab was utterly panned for its subpar performance and pricing, to the years of Honeycomb suffering under the yoke of underpowered chipsets and endless bugs, and finally to the unspoken abandonment of Android tablets by Google's own app teams over the past few years. Android tablets have never been particularly lively, but in 2016, I think we've finally watched the market's pulse near flat-line. Read More
On September 28th, almost two months ago to the day, Allo co-lead Justin Uberti announced the app had achieved a staggering five-million downloads in just five days since its launch. It was impressive, though not exactly unexpected for a major Google app debut. Now, once at the top of the Play Store's app rankings, Allo sits below position #200, and shows few signs of momentum.
The app's download count remains at the 5,000,000-10,000,000 milestone it achieved back at the end of September, meaning that in over sixty days Allo has not managed to achieve again what it did in the first five it was available. Read More
Google's Daydream is what I would call the most travel-friendly VR solution yet. Its simple but elegant pointer-style Bluetooth controller means you aren't reaching all over the place to work the VR interface, its comfortable fabric design is tolerable for long periods of wear, and sliding the phone into the viewer is a simple no buttons, no switches affair.
So, I decided to put these qualities to test on a five-hour flight from Los Angeles to New York last week. I had a variety of games (I didn't play any), interactive experiences (many require an active internet connection), and a few movies I'd downloaded from Play Movies to watch. Read More
As mobile bloggers, watching national carriers with revenue in the billions snip at each other like gossiping high school students is the closest thing we have to a spectator sport. Between Sprint hiring Verizon's old spokesman, T-Mobile continuing its cloying David-versus-Goliath narrative, and Verizon using textbook straw man attacks against both of them in all those Jaime Foxx spots, we can hardly make the popcorn fast enough.
Every couple of months or so, T-Mobile CEO John Legere emerges from his fortress of solitude to directly address mobile consumers with a rant against his competitors. This time he's addressing specific points from Verizon's latest ad campaign. Read More