Headphone audio on smartphones is something we rarely think too much about, because, well, most people don't really care. As long a smartphone produces sound that is listenable and loud enough, your average Joe isn't particular concerned about the quality.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
TeslaCoil Software's Nova Launcher has become one of the most popular custom launchers for Android power users since shortly after the arrival of Ice Cream Sandwich, and part of the reason is the constant addition of new features. The latest revision (2.1) adds a whole lot of goodies, especially if you like to play around with the look and feel of your icons and themes. The release adds features both for free users and those who've bought the $4 Nova Launcher Prime.