Friday, November 20, 2015

Google Wants To Make The One App To Rule Them All

So Google has this crazy idea where your smartphone would only need one, single app.....Google's. It used to be that when we wanted information we had to go to a library or read an encyclopedia. Then it transitioned into sitting in front of our computers and typing our queries into Google. Today, we simply open up our smartphone and verbally ask it questions and wait for it to find us the answers. In addition to that, other things aside from information have started getting their own apps. Looking for a good restaurant? There's an app for that. Looking for new clothes? There's an app for that. Trying to check out the latest in world news? App. However, Google wants to change all of that.

According to recent reports, Google wants to extend its domination in the search engine world to smartphones. Google wants to give you a way to use apps without having to actually download them onto your smartphone or tablet and they want to start this as early as next week. Sounds crazy right? I mean how am I supposed to use an app on my phone if the app isn't actually on my phone? Google's solution to this is actually very interesting.

If you search for something, like a cheap hotel, using Google's app on a smartphone running the Android operating system, you will receive search results from all over the internet, like normal. However, there will also be information from apps like Hotel Tonight or Kayak. If you tap a button, Google will open the app so that you can book a room on the app even if you don't have it installed on your device. This sounds like a ridiculous pipe dream to some and pure ecstasy to others, especially those people who don't download an app until the very moment they need it and then are in a time crunch waiting for it to download.

Google is using some shenanigans, though. The company is actually streaming a video to your phone from the internet while the app runs on a computer far, far away. In addition to that, there's also a catch. At the moment, Google can only achieve this feat with these nine apps: Hotel Tonight, Weather, New York Subway, My Horoscope, Daily Horoscope, Visual Anatomy Free, Useful Knots, Gormey (a restaurant finder), and Chimani (a national parks guide). According to Lead Engineer for Google's Mobile Search and App Indexing Team Rajan Patel, "We feel like it's our role to make sure we have answers. In mobile, oftentimes that's in apps."


So what does this mean for consumers like me and you? Well for starters it means a decrease in the time and hassle it takes to download an app and install it on your phone or tablet. You will also have the ability to use an app without having it take up space on your device. For Google, this could be an attempt to make mobile apps less relevant while also keeping Google at the forefront of smartphone users' minds. Even though Google is basically untouchable on the desktop market, the same can't be said for its mobile counterpart.

This is but one of Google's attempts to make mobile search better. Back in April the company changes the way it organized all websites and prioritized those that come up better on smartphones. In addition to that, Google has also been working on making information from inside an app more searchable on Google, known as deep linking. Google said that it now has over 100 billion links to information from apps.

Google streams these apps with technology it got from a startup called Agawi last year. In reality, you aren't really getting access to these apps from Google. Sure it feels as if you are in the program, but Google is actually streaming you an HD video that you can tap and scroll through like a normal app, according to a company spokeswoman. The only real  difference here is that in the Google version a banner runs across the bottom fo the screen that says "App streamed by Google".

This technology is currently only available on Android devices though Google did say that it will eventually come to iPhones and other Apple iOS devices though a timeframe has yet to be established.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

The Nexus 6P Is Fancy

The Nexus 6P (which stands for Premium) is officially out and the reviews are ranging from good to the most incredible Android smartphone to ever grace mankind! Ok so I might have embellished a little bit on that last part, but that isn't to say that the Nexus 6P is your average run-of-the-mill smartphone. No, this one has features and designs that are really making waves with consumers and putting it up on a pedestal.

Almost every review on the internet about the Nexus 6P shows that people are really loving the smaller dimensions, especially when compared to the previous Nexus 6. In addition to that, the metal case is also receiving rave reviews, though a few people did complain that the design could have been a little better. Regardless, the vast majority of reviews praised the camera as well as the fingerprint scanner on the back. Although, one reviewer stated that both features lagged in performance behind the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus though the majority disagreed with this.

Some criticisms that came along all fronts included ones about the lack of an SD card slot for upgrading storage space and the fact that there is no removable battery. What's also interesting is that wireless charging is not included either. This is particularly strange considering the non-removable battery. Many smartphone manufacturers either give you a removable battery or give you wireless charging. Rarely do they take away both.


Specifications include: Bluetooth 4.2; 802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz, ac WiFi; reversible USB Type-C; Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994 chip, Octa-Core 2,000 MHz ARM Cortex-A53 or ARM Cortex A-57 64-bit processor; Ardeno 430 graphics; 8MP camera and either 32GB or 64GB of storage space. However, specs seem to becoming less important to average users who are more interested in all the pretty bells and whistles that a phone has to offer. The Xperia line from Sony is a perfect example of a smartphone that looks really good on a spec sheet but doesn't sell as well as it should because it's not as fancy as others.

The Nexus 6P is a great smartphone and a great looking one as well. Android enthusiasts will love it, iPhone users will be indifferent towards it, and average smartphone users will definitely find something about it to love. The 34GB model will run you $499 with the 64GB model running you $549.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Rumor: Apple Music App Headed To Android

According to Tim Cook, Apple Music is starting off very well, with 15 million subscribers already. Now that there's an Android version coming out, a lot about it seems to be coming to the surface.

MobileGeeks (via SlashGear), the german-language tech site, posted screenshots that show an Android version of Apple Music. The screenshots show different sections of the app, like the New and For You screens. It also has Beats One streaming radio. The app looks just like the iOS version, but it also has some Android design touches, Like the Hamburger menu in the upper right corner.

Apple recently announced that Android would be getting Apple music "this fall." MobileGeeks has been very reliable in knowing what's coming with Android. This isn't the first time rumors passed around about an Android version of Apple Music. TechAeris reported last month that some people were given invites to join a limited beta of an Apple Music app for Android. Although TechAeris's rumor-mill track record isn't fully known. There are some things that seem odd with Apple performing a beta test this way, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it couldn't be done.


Those of you that have Android, like me, may appreciate this music app. Sometimes only using Pandora for music just isn't enough.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Xiaomi Is Amazon With A Focus On Smartphones

Have you ever heard of Xiaomi? No? Well, this is a company that partners with manufacturers all over the world in order to sell a plethora of products online. In addition to that, this company is also willing to lose some profit in order to make sure that the prices it offers are bargain-bin low. Sure it sounds like a knock off of Amazon and while Xiaomi isn't a well-known brand in the United States, it is huge in Asia.

The company, which is based in China, is valued at $46 billion, which makes it the second-most valuable startup in the world behind Uber. Xiaomi has created a reputation by selling inexpensive, high-quality smartphones which sell out in Asian markets in a matter of hours. The founder of the company also reminded people at a recent Wall Street Journal conference that it offers a large list of products ranging from HDTVs to air purifiers, all of which are offered at extremely low prices. Co-Founder and President of Xiaomi Bin Lin was quoted saying, "We are more in the area of smart consumer electronics. We'd rather be called an Internet company."

However, the company's push to make itself bigger puts it on the same level as massive online retailers, like Amazon or Alibaba. As a matter of fact, both Amazon and Alibaba have benefited from the increased comfort of consumers making purchases online. It's a strategy that could help Xiaomi expand faster and into different parts of the world. Xiaomi is actually already planning on launching a US and European online store in May that will feature electronic accessories but no phones.

In markets where Xiaomi does sell smartphones, however, the company believes that these handheld devices will be the remote control for everything we have. Unlike Amazon and Alibaba, Xiaomi only sells gadgets. "It's been clear for a long time that it has much broader ambitions and that seeing Xiaomi as just a smartphone company was missing the bigger picture," says Jackdaw Research Analyst Jan Dawson.


For example, Lin talked about the capabilities of his new air purifier that addresses the pollution issue in China. The air purifier is capable of clearing the air around you in six minutes and can also connect to a smartphone. He also called the MiTV 3 television that Xiaomi recently launched "almost like a phone, except for the bigger display." The HDTV boasts a 60" 4K resolution screen for a price tag of under $800.

Xiaomi is also taking a play out of Amazon's playbook and sees an opportunity to provide media, gaming, and other services through TV, all of which will also connect to a smartphone. According to Lin, 130 million people use the company's smartphones, televisions, routers, and other products and Xiaomi is generating pretty good revenue from the services related to those products.

The company is also looking past smartphones as its main source of business. "The last couple of years in China the smartphone business is changing from rapid growth to a replacement market," Lin added. "So the absolute growth of the smartphone market is flat." Lin also talked about the concern that smartphones are becoming boring and that consumers are finding it increasingly difficult to get excited about the seemingly same products that come out every year. "In the next few months, I'm sure we can come up with something that is super cool," he added.

The Mi store from Xiaomi in the United States offers things like battery chargers and headphones though Lin did say that he was thinking of selling the company's popular smartphones in the states, though he did not give specific details on when that would happen.

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Google Looking To Make Mobile Web Faster

Google has created a way to make the mobile web faster. The company announced a technical preview for a system called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). It is designed to fight many of the factors slowing down your mobile web pages. Google has teamed up with a bunch of publishers for the system, such as The Washington Post, Vox Media (The Verge's parent company), The Guardian, and Buzzfeed.

The system is available on a public GitHub repository, having a more commonly held code and smarter caching system. If the system is working, you should have lighter, faster loading mobile pages on things like smartphones and tablets. Google's head of News, Richard Gingras said, "We're here because we love the web and we feel the web can be better than it is. We can make the web great again."

Although the system is still in technical preview, the announcement comes with a ton of major programs for offsite content hosting. In May, Facebook released Instant Articles that allowed publishers to push content directly to Facebook with the results of faster loading times and simpler advertising. Apple has done something similar with Apple News, which they announced at WWDC in June. With this new availability of ad-blocking applications in iOS 9 has allowed you to bypass a lot of tracking systems that slow down your internet completely. This is making publishers look for a way to shrink mobile pages.


With all these systems out, it's putting a lot of pressure on Google, which relies tremendously on web advertising and is being threatened by the migration to closed systems. Gingras spoke about the power of the web but never said that Google's future depends on an open internet.

Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages system is more open than the systems from Apple and Facebook. The core of the system is an open-source GitHub repository, which allows companies to adapt or change when needed. Individual libraries or systems can also adapt individually, becoming more of a toolkit than a self-contained portal.

Google and its partners will still use non-trivial power in its advertising and tracking within the system. The system still allows for third-party caching, Google's hosting network means most of AMP content will likely be hosted on the company's servers. The system is likely to restore concern on the increasing balkanization of internet platforms. Google will represent an open, web-integrated alternative for more controlled platforms within Facebook and Apple.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Two New Smartphones Unveiled By Google

Last week, Apple unveiled its newest iPhone models with the 6S and 6S Plus. Not missing a beat, Google has debuted two new smartphones as well. The new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P come with 5.2" and 5.7" screens, respectively, and are actually pretty inexpensive. In addition to that, these phones are aimed to be direct competition to the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Both phones run the latest version of Google's Android operating system (6.0 Marshmallow), bringing a ton of updates to Google's operating system, including increased battery life.

The Nexus 5X, which comes from LG, is the least expensive of the two smartphones and comes with a 1920 x 1080 screen resolution and a pair of front-facing speakers for better audio. On the rear of the device, you'll find a 12.3-megapixel camera sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and larger pixels that will aid with low-light photos. Laser autofocus will help with detecting and focusing on objects faster, meaning there will be less delay when taking pictures.

In addition to that, the back of the 5X also has a fingerprint scanner. Granted, this is an odd place for a fingerprint scanner, but it is within easy access of your index finger while the phone is in your hand. The one thing this could cause problems with is when making mobile payments as this typically requires you to place the back of the phone on a retailer's payment terminal.

On the inside of the 5X, you'll find a 6-core processor with 2GB of RAM and either 16GB or 32GB of storage. Unfortunately, this storage is the only option you have as there is no place for upgrading. Still, the 16GB model will start at $380, which is a heck of a deal compared with the iPhone 6S starting price of $650.

On the flip side, we have the Nexus 6P from Huawei. This smartphone comes with a 5.7" screen that has a 2560 x 1440 resolution and is aimed at consumers looking for a big screen handset with a super high-res AMOLED display. This is Google's flagship device, meaning it gets the luxury of having an all-metal design made from aerospace-grade aluminum.

Like the Nexus 5X, the Nexus 6P comes with a 12.3-megapixel camera and a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. On the front of the device, you'll find an 8-megapixel camera, making the billions of selfies you take everyday look nice and bright. Inside you'll find a powerful 8-core processor and 3GB of RAM for fast performance. In addition to that, the 6P also offers more storage than the 5X. Here you'll get 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB of storage.

However, that increased memory, bigger screen, and more RAM means a higher cost. The base Nexus 6P with 32GB of RAM will run you $500. That's still cheaper than the base model iPhone 6S Plus, which runs you $750 for only 16GB of memory.

Both phones get a USB Type-C port, which is faster than the older micro USB ports found on most Android smartphones, allowing you to stream video to external displays. In addition to that, this port is reversible, meaning you don't have to worry about which way you plug it into your device.

This is Android smartphone technology at its purest. The fact that both devices are being made by Google means that the Android interface is unchanged and you won't have to deal with any unwanted apps or things from manufacturers like LG and Samsung. It also means that you will get all the Android updates as soon as they become available, which is always nice. If you're looking for a nice, new Android smartphone, then the Google Nexus 5X and Google Nexus 6P may be precisely what you're looking for.

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Friday, September 11, 2015

iPhone 6 Powered By Hydrogen Lasts One Week on One Charge

There had been rumors that a British company was working very closely with Apple to develop a hydrogen fuel cell for the iPhone 6, which would allow the device to run for an entire week without recharging.

Intelligent Energy, according to reports, has reportedly created a working iPhone 6 prototype that looks identical to every single other iPhone 6 you've seen with one small change. There are now tiny vents on the rear of the device that allow imperceptible amounts of water vapor to escape from the smartphone. In addition to that, the iPhone 6 prototype also has a rechargeable battery along with its very own hydrogen fuel cell, the Telegraph reports.

Hydrogen fuel cells are capable of generating energy by combining hydrogen and oxygen with the only emission from the process being water. Fuel cells supply hydrogen to a negative anode which releases electrons. These electrons then flow to a positive cathode in order to generate electricity. What's more is that upon releasing the electrons, the hydrogen becomes a hydrogen ion moving to a positive cathode and then bonds with oxygen in the air, forming water. Yeah, science.

When it comes to our wonderful periodic table, hydrogen is the simplest and most common molecule that exists. Because of this, hydrogen is a part of pretty much every single substance known to man, including water and hydrocarbons. In addition to that, hydrogen is also found in biomass, which includes every single plant and animal on this fascinating planet.


Intelligent Energy has produced over 2,000 patents related to fuel cells, patents which it has used to create things like car batteries and a portable charger known as the Upp. The Upp is a mini-hydrogen fuel cell that charges any USB-compatible mobile device, like smartphones, tablets, handheld gaming consoles and cameras.

Like any other fuel cell, the one in this prototype iPhone 6 requires charging with hydrogen gas. Intelligent Energy has stated that this process could be completed via an adapted headphone socket. The company is working on a commercial version of this smartphone fuel cell, which would be in the form of a small cartridge that would fit into the bottom of a smartphone. The cartridge would supply power for up to a week and could be discarded after use.

Finance Chief for Intelligent Energy Mark Lawson-Statham was reported saying that this type of smartphone fuel cell technology is still a few years out from commercial use. While this technology is cool, I wonder what it would cost to buy these cartridges every single week. If that turns out to be expensive then this will be nothing more than a neat concept.

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