Monday, June 29, 2015

Ubuntu Launches New, Invite-Only Smartphone

So far one big thing we know about Ubuntu phones is that when they launch, it is in a very odd way. For the newest edition to their family, things haven't changed.

Canonical is launching an invite-only handset manufactured by Meizu. The company had hoped to launch an Ubuntu phone back in 2014, and now it seems they have finally done it in a really weird way. The new MX4 Ubuntu Edition has been available for a few months only to developers in China, but now you are able to order one in Europe too if you are one of the few people who are able to get an invite. They aren't announcing how many are available, but every day you can visit their teaser site and complete a few puzzles and other nonsense to compete for your chance at an invite. They also haven't said if they will release the phone outside of this odd invite system, or if it will be sold in other markets besides Europe. The whole thing is pretty much just extremely unusual.

The company has launched a few other phones, like the Aquaris E4.5 and E5, which are basically modified versions of Android phones that are already out, and the MX4 is basically the same idea. Its main features include a 5.36-inch display, an octa-core MediaTek 6595 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 3,100mAh battery. It also has a really nice 20.7-megapixel rear facing camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera for all of your selfie needs. It looks like a pretty good, solid smartphone, though there aren't really any features that make it stand out from the crowd and be the next "must have" phone.

Maybe it is coming out at a bad time. Compared to the Ubuntu Edge, it doesn't really seem very cool at all. Canonical has been really slow at developing the software for the device, and now it is almost outdated when put up against iOS 8 and Android Lollipop. There are also other operating systems about to drop soon, so it seems like the launch wasn't even thought out very well. Some people think that this phone's release is a strategic way of keeping expectations for the company low so that they can come from left field with something awesome and unexpected in the future. Whether this is true or not, who knows. But the phone isn't super awesome, that's the main point here.

The coolest thing about the phone is really the mystery behind its release, which is riding a fine line between being super cool and interesting, and really stupid and frustrating. Either way, the website is worth checking out, even if you don't end up getting an invite. At least check it out to see how weird it is.

Content originally published here

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

iOS 9 Finally Delivers a Lowercase Keyboard

So... when you are typing on your iPhone and pretending that you are way cooler than every Android user ever... how mad do you secretly get when you accidentally type with uppercase letters when you shouldn't? Or when you don't realize you did something like that until it's too late and look like an idiot? Yeah, I know. All the time.

Well, now it seems that Apple has fixed this little "design flaw" after approximately 5 thousand years of everyone wondering why they haven't done it yet. One of the most welcomed changed that will come along with iOS 9 is that the keyboard will show lowercase letters when typing in lower case. And, as it should, it will show uppercase letters when typing in upper case.

Until this change, we have all had to deal with only seeing uppercase letters when we type anything at all. You only see the difference when the words appear as you type them. Maybe it was to mimic the design of the MacBook keyboard where all of the letters are uppercase. Either way, no matter what they were doing, it was wrong. Android keyboards have displayed uppercase and lowercase letters since the beginning of time. I'm pretty sure there was a T-Rex somewhere who had an easier time texting his buddies while having a great time knowing which set of letters he was using without remembering if the shift button needed to be white or grey.

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Before iOS 7 came out, the shift key was highlighted in blue when you had it engaged. This let you see pretty easily, as long as you weren't texting at all and your thumbs weren't blocking it... which was always. And then they changed it to a monochromatic highlight, which personally confuses me to this day a little bit more. Either way, now it's not an issue anymore!

I'd also like to point out that I am in fact an iPhone user. I've had almost all the iPhone's. So, I'm not hating on them in any way... But come on, even as an avid iPhone user, there are certain things you just have to scratch your head over! At least we can all have a good sense of humor about it while we shell out money for every new model.

Content originally published here

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Huawei Wants the Attention of US Smartphone Users

Huawei, the Chinese company that is the top-ranked telecommunications equipment vendor in the world by revenue and the fourth largest smartphone vendor by market share, created an online store about a year ago, to sell their own versions of a smartphone directly to US customers,

Huawei introduced the P8 Lite, which is an exceptionally priced mid-tier smartphone, along with being a fitness tracker made in similarity with Jawbone called the TalkBand B2. Zhiqiang Xu, the
President of Huawei Device USA, said that this device is just the start in an interview Tuesday. Xu also plans on releasing a premium smartphone in the future, similar to Apple's iPhone 6 and Samsung's Galaxy S6.

Huawei is focusing on online sales in order to reach US customers. This is just part of a push from several Chinese vendors to get around US carriers and make smartphones that directly appeal to US consumers with relatively cheap prices, yet still making high-quality components. Carriers removed subsidies that showed the actual costs that range from $100 to $1000. Xu believes that the market will change and that E-commerce is the perfect solution with consumers buying their smartphones.

Consumers are looking for affordable smartphones in the market that aren't stuck with a single carrier. Huawei claims that its P8 Lite, for $250 with no contract, will be compatible with any US carrier's LTE network. Xu believes this smartphone is good enough to sell millions of units around the world.

It's far from the traditional strategy of working with US carriers, who haven't paid any attention to the Chinese vendors smartphones, and dropping Huawei and ZTE to being prepaid or the budget side. Huawei's Xu is hoping to make that one or more blockbuster phones that change everything.

It's very unlikely for a blockbuster to come from the online market. In the US, most of us prefer to just buy our smartphones directly from our carriers or a partner to our carriers. So far this year, 26% of smartphones were sold online versus actually walking into a store and physically buying a phone right there, according to Kantar WorldPanel. Online sales of unlocked devices have an even smaller percentage. Those who do shop online are typically looking for a better deal in prices.

Google is the only real exception to this. Google introduced its Nexus 4 smartphone a few years ago and it was sold online for $350 without a contract. Last year Google released the Nexus 6, which worked with carriers, to ensure more retail support. This hasn't stopped those like Alcatel who, earlier this year, made an Amazon powered store, or ZTE's US store.

Xu believes going with online sales is heading in the right direction, but he doesn't know when US consumers would take unlocked smartphones seriously. Carriers help educate consumers. AT&T said Monday that they're trying to have their retail partners sell phones without contracts or phone subsidies and focus more on non-contract options such as the carrier's monthly payment program.

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Xu is aiming for more digital and social marketing to help raise awareness for He's still considering more common ways of marketing, such as big sponsorships or eye catching TV commercials, which can be a bit more pricey. Huawei is trying to make their unlocked smartphones more appealing by offering a two year warranty on the P8 Lite, along with a monthly installment program split between 3 to 12 months. Xu claims that you can't find a better deal on Earth with the P8 Lite.

Huawei is focused on its online presence to help its own brand, but they still will work with the carriers to sell smartphones through regular channels. Xu said that he'd prefer to partner up with a carrier along with offering their device on their own website. Smartphones with a carrier are more appealing with well established brands with bigger marketing budgets versus high end smartphones without a carrier to support them.

Content originally published here

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Moleskine's New Calendar App is Both Elegant and Beautiful

Moleskine is famous for their beautiful notebooks and notepads, and now they have their own calendar app that is along the same lines as their physical products. The new app is called Timepage. It has a minimalist design and it doesn't have the traditional calendar view of the whole month. Instead, you get a nice little day-to-day view which makes things a lot more simple and less overwhelming.

The app also has weather built into it, and the ability to work with Uber and take care of all of your upcoming appointments. The app is supposed to help with all of your daily needs by giving you weather, appointments, and even take care of directions and transportation.

When you open up the app you get a list of days, and even if you don't have anything scheduled for a day, it still takes up as much space in the list as the others so things don't get confusing, and it is hard to look at it wrong. If you don't have anything scheduled, it will throw in a historical fact of something that happened that day in history just to keeps things interesting and lively. You can also customize the look of the app and have days that already passed appear darker than upcoming days.

If you want to add a new event to the calendar, all you have to do is pull down on a day and type whatever it is that you want. You can also send out calendar invites and locations are automatically pulled from Google Places.

If you have Google Maps or Apple Maps, you can also get directions from them to your Timepage app. Then it will show you how long it will take to get to your appointments from wherever you are currently. It will give you options for driving, walking, and even public transportation.

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Moleskine has made the weather portion of the app a really big part of the app. It always keeps you updated with the daily forecast which includes beautiful graphics that look a lot like the Fresh Air weather graphs. You can even check out the forecast for the same time and place as any of the events you create in your calendar. This way you can be prepared for anything.

They have also made the Timepage app compatible with the Apple Watch and made it super easy to use with the tiny device. You'll be able to use all of the same features with the tiny little screen. This makes having the app or the Apple Watch that much more convenient. You can get everything you need to know with just a glance.

The Timepage app will also pull information from the calendar apps that you already have including Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange 2007, and iCloud.

Unfortunately, the app is not free. But it is cheap, and completely worth it. If you are interested, you can get it at the Apple App Store for just $4.99.

Content originally published here
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