HTC's Butterfly series is an interesting one. While this particular range of models rarely makes its way outside of Asia, HTC often uses it as a testbed for new technology and features, and some of the highlights of these phones make it into the primary international lines on the next go-round. The latest version of the J Butterfly, which will launch exclusively on Japanese carrier KDDI next month, has some additions to the basic One design that might be worth watching.
The Amazon Appstore is slowly expanding to become a notable addition to the Android landscape, and though the Fire Phone isn't getting much love from reviewers, it's certainly giving Amazon a reason to boost the Appstore's profile. The latest promotion makes 30 paid apps free, over a $100 value. While not all of them are must-haves, more than a few deserve your attention. This time around the focus is more on tools than games, but there should be at least one entry for everyone.
At this point, it's essentially impossible to deny that Android is beating other mobile operating systems with a big market share stick. According to a report issued by Strategy Analytics, phone manufacturers sold a combined 295.2 million smartphones worldwide in the second quarter of 2014, 249.6 million of which ran Android. That gives Google's OS a staggering 84.6% of the market share for new devices, up from 80.2% the previous year.
Update: Verizon's specification page has been changed to indicate that the LG G Vista has an "HD" screen. It looks like there was an error in the original spec list. We're going to assume that means that it's a 1280x720 screen.
Looking for a mid-range phone on Verizon? Then you've got two more choices starting today. The LG G Vista, an enormous "phablet" device, and the Kyocera Brigadier, the latest in the company's line of "tough" phones, are both on sale now at Verizon's website.
Google I/O 2014 has come and gone, but that doesn't mean great stuff from the conference isn't still coming out. The companion app used by thousands of attendees -and hundreds of thousands of fans and followers- has been open sourced! Code for the I/O app is meant to serve as an example of best practices for Android developers, providing fully functioning implementations of the latest design principles, UI controls, networking code, and more.
Samsung pitched Milk Music this spring as a totally free music service exclusive to its devices, but slipped in at the end that it might not be free forever. You can still stream tunes for free without ads (or so the description says), but the new update to Milk adds the expected $3.99 monthly subscription for additional features.
Hangouts may be fun, but it's not all fun and games. It should come as no surprise that in this day and age, many people turn to Google's video chats as a means of getting work done. So the company is rolling out a number of business-related improvements to the service.
For starters, the company is now covering Hangouts under the same terms of service as other Google Apps for Business products.
Good news, European readers: physical gift cards for the Google Play Store are coming to more of you soon. Google updated its list of supported countries for gift cards today, marking Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden as "coming soon." We can't say exactly when - a few other countries like Greece, Poland, and Portugal got the same treatment earlier this month, and they're still marked as coming soon instead of linking to the relevant page.
Update: It looks like FreedomPop ran out of stock on its refurbished tablets almost immediately, and at the moment the links below default to various hotspot gadgets. Given the limitations of Sprint service, it's not a surprise that the company's secondhand hardware stockpile wouldn't be huge.
Also, several prospective customers have told us that they've been given the run-around when trying to sign up for the free plan, instead being placed on the free trial for paid service and almost immediately charged.