30
Oct
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Xiaomi isn't letting its devices' limited geographical availability get in the way of its heated competition with other brands for worldwide smartphone sales. As reported by both the IDC and Strategy Analytics, the Chinese manufacturer has shipped the third most smartphones in the world in Q3 2014, leapfrogging LG, Lenovo, and Huawei, and only trailing behind Samsung and Apple.

This shouldn't come as a surprise: Xiaomi has been on a roll for the past year.

30
Oct
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Buyers of the Huawei Ascend Mate2 in the US are fuming today over news that there won't be a KitKat update for this device. It's not unusual for older devices to be left in the dust, but the Mate2 was announced in early 2014 and only went on sale for US consumers in June of this year. Huawei has shown some interest in breaking into the US market as of late, but the Chinese OEM is going to have trouble if this is the kind of support we can expect.

30
Oct
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Amazon seems rather ecstatic about giving its users a lot of free software lately. Not content with one free app of the day, the Appstore multiplied that by forty, got the total savings over a Franklin and Hamilton combined, and is giving you until Saturday to grab as many as you want. Granted, some of the apps and games were previously offered during one of the store's daily deals, but this is a good opportunity to catch up if you missed them earlier.

29
Oct
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Update, 10:30PM CST: Wow, it looks like Google really dropped the ball on this one. While previous Play Store launches have been problematic, today's Nexus 6 pre-order has left the vast majority of prospective buyers high and dry. Google seems to have sold out of a low initial stock almost instantly, and there was never a single point in the afternoon where you could reliably go to the Play Store and pay for a phone.

29
Oct
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Update: As commenter JT3 points out, it looks like all the new color options introduced today aren't shipping for at least a month, despite being sold immediately. That includes the separate metal bands. Bummer.

Update 2: ...aaaaand they're gone. The new colors and band listings have been removed from Amazon, presumably to be added back at some point. At least you can drool at the photos below between now and then.

29
Oct
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Last Updated: October 31st, 2014

Chinese manufacturer Oppo has been making a name for itself thanks to some unconventional designs on top solid hardware (on paper, at least). The latest round of upgrades for the company's product lines are novel, to be certain: the new Oppo R5 is the latest phone to steal the coveted "world's thinnest" title, and the N3 uses a new rotating camera that's positively unique. But do these features actually make the phones desirable, or are they mere gimmicks?

29
Oct
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We've been seeing bits and pieces (and fully functional prototypes) of Google Stars for a long time now. The tool, which for now acts as a replacement for Chrome's bookmark manager, has been in development even longer, but it looks like the Chrome extension might finally be ready to roll (assuming it doesn't get pulled again) as Google released "Bookmark Manager" to the Chrome Web Store earlier today.

Despite the new name, the extension takes over chrome://bookmarks just as before, with options to organize bookmarks into folders, give those folders descriptions, and even share folders with others.

29
Oct
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Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides have all received some love today, though the visual changes here are minor. For the most part, these apps were already all material-ed up, and while this update does dot some i's and cross some t's, it doesn't quite leave us satisfied. Fortunately that's not all there is to see here.

What's New

Let's get the biggest visual tweak out of the way first. Yes, Google has changed the hamburger menu icon in the action bar.

29
Oct
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Months ago, we posted a rumor about "modular actions" set to come to Google's Search app (now just called Google) along with "Ok Google Everywhere" functionality that would allow users to activate search from anywhere on their device. The latter has already been implemented, but Google is still inching toward the former. With the technically unreleased Google app, the search interface can overlay apps from which it is called, but Google today announced another step forward - the ability to let apps hook into search by accepting voice queries from the user.

29
Oct
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Primer: Marketing for Startups isn't like most of Google's other Android apps. For starters, it's the first to appear in the Play Store under the publisher "Google Learn." The app also happens to be such a niche product that only a specific target demographic will benefit from it.

As the name says, Primer is aimed at helping startups manage their marketing efforts. A great deal of work and knowledge goes into getting a new brand in front of consumers and establishing awareness.

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