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MetroPCS teases ‘huge announcement’ for next week, likely related to Galaxy S 4

Jul 5th 2013, 17:00

 

Samsung Galaxy S 4 White Frost

Heads up, MetroPCS customers, because it looks like your carrier’s got something up its sleeve. MetroPCS took to its official Twitter account this morning to tease a “huge announcement” that it’s got planned for next week. Attached to the tweet are the hashtags #Samsung, #Android and #MetroPCS, as well as a Vine video that shows a Samsung Galaxy S III followed by a plus sign, the number “1,” an equals sign and a question mark. The Vine video is embedded below.

While MetroPCS doesn’t come out and say exactly what its planning to announce next week, the combination of hashtags and the Vine video suggest that the carrier plans to begin offering the Samsung Galaxy S 4. The Galaxy S 4 is already available on a number of other U.S. operators, including prepaid carrier Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS parent company T-Mobile US, and so it’d definitely be good to see Samsung’s flagship land on MetroPCS’s shelves as well. Now we just have to wait for Metro’s announcement next week to get the full rundown on the carrier’s plans.

We’ve got a huge announcement coming next week. Can you guess what it is? #Samsung #Android #MetroPCS http://t.co/4dOgjRNPW0

— MetroPCS Inc. (@MetroPCS) July 5, 2013

Via @MetroPCS

 

HP Slate 7 receives $30 price cut

Jul 5th 2013, 16:15

 

HP Slate 7 silver

In the mood to continue your Fourth of July celebration going with the purchase of a shiny new Android tablet? HP may have just the thing for you, as the company today cut the price of its Android 4.1-powered Slate 7 tablet. The 8GB Slate 7 is now available for $139.99 from HP’s online shop, which is a full $30 less than what HP was asking for the device when it launched back in April. HP is also offering a 16GB version of the Slate 7 for $169.99.

Along with the Android 4.1 OS, the HP Slate 7 features a 7-inch 1024×600 display, 1.6GHz dual-core processor, 3-megapixel rear and VGA front cameras, Beats Audio, 1GB RAM and a 3,500mAh battery. It may not be the highest-specced Android tablet on the market, but for a total price of just $140, the Slate 7 could be worth a look for consumers that are interested in picking up a new slate but are also on a tight budget. For a quick peek at the Slate 7 in action, you can check out Aaron’s hands-on with the Jelly Bean device below.

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Via Android Central, HP Home & Home Office Store: 8GB HP Slate 7, 16GB HP Slate 7

 

It’s time to start early marketing for your upcoming devices, HTC

Jul 5th 2013, 16:10

 

 

Earnings reports can be some of the most pervasive and confusing bits of information to see their way into the public space. We wait to see these reports because we want to see how well, or how poorly, a company is doing when compared to no one else (that comes later), and just its own previous earnings. It’s one way that the analysts out there make up their own reports, to gauge whether or not a company will be around all that much longer, and if they’ll be profitable during that time.

It’s also a surefire way to see reports proclaiming a particular company is “dead,” and “on the way out.” When it comes to companies like HTC, though, these catch phrases aren’t new in the slightest. Last year, after HTC released a couple hundred (/exaggeration) different devices, and replaced their flagship One X device within six months of its launch with a One X+, people were quick to point to HTC’s impending, inexorable demise.

Then, earlier this year, they threw a powerful right hook with the One. No one saw it coming, and so far it’s been raking up the attention from Android and non-Android enthusiasts here in the United States. It’s one of my favorite phones of all time.

But, according to HTC’s earnings report earlier this morning, it doesn’t look like the One has had a huge impact on HTC’s fortune — especially not in the way that they had wanted. As my fellow editor Alex pointed out in his article covering the report, HTC’s June earnings are a bit of a mixed bag. I won’t go over the full report again, but basically HTC didn’t continue to see the income growth it wanted to into June, and the company’s year-over-year totals weren’t better, either.

Basically, it doesn’t look like the One has continued to bring the cash in.

There is some shining light, though, and a lot of the weight could be put on the One’s shoulders again. We know that Verizon Wireless is due to start carrying the high-end device here in due time, but we’re still waiting to hear exactly when. It’s supposed to be “later this summer,” and we’ve already seen how the branding will look on the upcoming device thanks to recent leaks.

It’s entirely possible that the momentum of the One has been lost since its launch, and that the Verizon-branded version will see some adoption, but not nearly at the level it could have had it been launched on the Big Red carrier at the same time as the other carriers. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, depending on how Verizon prices the unit and how aggressively HTC markets the handset on the largest U.S.-based wireless carrier, HTC could see quite a bit of adoption for the handset.

If HTC can make that happen, and  then carry the attention for its One brand into the end of the year, that’s great. That’s the best scenario.

If that doesn’t happen, then maybe it’s time that HTC starts powering up the early marketing for two rumored devices: the HTC One Mini, and the HTC One Max (or T6). Maybe it’s time that HTC starts doing some early marketing like Motorola is doing with their Moto X, and just get people ready in some kind of official capacity for what’s coming. We’ve all see the leaks and rumors, sure, but that’s different than hearing it come from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

If HTC were to start talking up the smaller and larger versions of the One, and prepare those niche markets for the specific device’s launch later this year, it could keep attention on the company, and the positive attention they need leading into the holiday shopping season. Especially considering that HTC will be going up against Samsung’s next Galaxy Note flagship device, and not to mention Apple’s newest iPhone around the same time.

HTC has to start building some goodwill, starting now and carrying it right into the announcement of their new devices. It has to start as soon as possible.

But, what do you think? Do you think HTC’s middling, if not disappointing, sales will continue to decline going into the end of 2013? Or can the company start turning things around with heavy marketing, the Verizon-branded One, and the impending launches of the One Mini and One Max? Can HTC compete head-to-head with Samsung and Apple later this year? Let me know what you think!

 

HTC’s Q2 2013 brings income growth from Q1, but year-over-year profit drops

Jul 5th 2013, 14:25

 

HTC One bottom

How about a nice cup of quarterly earnings to go with our bowl of cereal? HTC is happy to oblige, as this morning it released its results for both the second quarter of 2013 as well as the June numbers. The company says that it earned total revenues of NT$70.7 billion ($2.35 billion USD) for Q2 2013, which is in line with HTC’s guidance but is also a 22 percent drop from the NT$91.04 billion ($3.03 billion USD) revenue that it saw in Q2 2012. Meanwhile, HTC’s net income after tax for the quarter finished at NT$1.25 billion ($41.6 million USD), a drop from the NT$7.40 billion ($246 million USD) profit that it saw in Q2 2012 but an increase from the NT$85 million ($2.83 million USD) income total of Q1 2013.

Looking at June specifically, HTC reports that it saw revenue of NT$22 billion ($732 million USD) during the 30-day period. That’s a decrease from the NT$29.0 billion ($966 million USD) revenue that the Taiwanese firm earned in May 2013 and a drop from the NT$30 billion ($999 million USD) revenue figure reported by HTC in June 2012.

Overall HTC’s Q2 2013 and June 2013 performances seem to be a bit of a mixed bag. HTC’s Q2 2013 numbers met the company’s own guidance for the quarter and also showed quite a bit of growth from Q1 2013, but the company didn’t quite reach the NT$2.0 billion ($66.6 million USD) of income that analysts has estimated it would. The June numbers show that despite moving 5 million units in its first 50 days of availability, the HTC One couldn’t help its maker to keep up the growth in revenue that it’d been seeing in recent months, starting at NT$15.88 billion ($529 million USD) in March and cresting at $29.0 billion ($966 million USD) in May.

Looking forward, HTC is rumored to be prepping a pair of variants of its flagship One smartphone. The HTC One mini is expected to sport a 4.3-inch 720p display and could launch in either July or August. A larger HTC One Max is also said to be in the works with a 5.9-inch 1080p display, though The Wall Street Journal claims that that device may not arrive until sometime in Q4 2013. Having several size options when it comes time to buy a new smartphone is always a good thing for shoppers, and it sounds like HTC is hoping that offering different sizes of the One will be good for its numbers as well.

Via HTC, The Wall Street Journal

 

Purported inventory screenshot suggests ‘Nokia Lumia 1020’ hitting AT&T in black, white and yellow

Jul 4th 2013, 16:25

 

AT&T Nokia Lumia 1020 colors leak

Jonesing for some more AT&T Nokia Lumia 1020 goodness after last night’s image leak? That’s precisely what is being served up tonight, courtesy of the folks at WPCentral. The site has posted what it claims is a screenshot of a Microsoft Store’s upcoming inventory, complete with three entries for a “Nokia Lumia 1020 AT&T.” The image suggests that AT&T will offer the new Lumia in black, white and yellow. It’s not clear if or when other colors might be offered. The screenshot also shows that this store will be receiving 70 units of the device at a price of $602 each, though it seems possible that that cost is how much the store paid for the phone, not the amount that consumers will need to pony up.

Nokia has scheduled an event titled “Zoom. Reinvented.” for July 11, and it’s expected that the company will use the gathering to formally introduce this new Lumia. The source of this leaked screenshot claims that the “7/22/2013” date in the lower left corner of the image indicates when they might begin receiving shipments of the new phone and that a consumer launch could come a few days later.

This upcoming Nokia Lumia device has leaked out several times in recent months under the codename “EOS,” but there have been conflicting reports on whether it’ll be known as the Lumia 1020 or Lumia 909 at launch. Whatever it’s called, the headlining feature of this handset is likely going to be a 41-megapixel camera sensor, making it what many refer to as a “true” PureView device.

Along with that beefy camera, the EOS/Lumia 1020/Lumia 909 will also reportedly include a 1280×768 OLED display, 32GB internal storage and a body that measures 1mm thinner than the Lumia 920’s 10.7mm-thick frame. Those specs may not make the EOS sounds like a major upgrade over the Lumia 920, which also sports a 1280×768 resolution LCD display and 32GB of storage, but I’m betting that that 41-megapixel camera will convince at least a few consumers to pull out their wallets for Nokia’s newest Lumia.

Via WPCentral

 

There’s nothing wrong with loving the skin you’re in

Jul 4th 2013, 15:50

 

Android is a fascinating platform. You can customize your device to your liking right out of the box, and can do even more customization if you know how to root. One of the coolest things about Android is the ability to create custom skins over the interface to make it look different. It’s still Android underneath, but on top it looks like something completely different. The ability to create and use skins on Android is arguably one of the most important aspects of the platform.

As of late, consumers in the mobile industry have been fawning over the release of what’s called “Google Edition” devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One. You’ve probably already heard about the Galaxy S 4, which runs on Samsung’s TouchWiz interface, or the HTC One, which runs on HTC’s Sense 5. But what are these devices without Sense or TouchWiz included on them? That’s what the Google Edition of these devices do. Google Edition essentially means that these devices will be stripped of their custom skins, and instead come with what is commonly referred to as “vanilla” or “stock” Android – no extra customizations, no extra skins, no extra apps, and no extra tweaks. The appeal to a Google Edition device is just that – you don’t have to deal with custom skins like TouchWiz or Sense, and can enjoy stock Android running on a superior piece of hardware.

But in some ways the user is missing out on what the device was optimized for. Sometimes, skins on Androids hold tweaks that are designed to make the phone unique and more useful. Although I think Google Editions are a good way to incorporate options for people who want something with better specs than the Nexus 4 while still running on stock Android, there’s also plenty of room to appreciate the skins that these manufacturers have created for us.

I myself am a Sense fan. I have always loved HTC Sense. I think the main thing that drew me to it was the iconic Sense clock. It was big, but in my opinion it was very well-designed. You never didn’t know what time it was. More important, I found the overall interface to be very pleasing to the eye. Little features that changed throughout time only seemed to make the features function better, like when the traditional ‘Slide Down to Unlock’ became a customizable ‘Pull Ring to Unlock’ It was nice to be able to access text messages or my phone straight from the lock screen if I chose to make it that way. Widget designs and functions always went over well with me, like when HTC introduced animated weather on the Sense Clock. I practically lived for rainy days just to see the windshield wipers drag across my screen. In more modern times, HTC Sense is essential for making devices like the HTC One stand out with features like Blinkfeed, and more importantly Zoe – which helps justify HTC’s decision to use the 4-megapixel “UltraPixel” camera.

Another popular skin comes from Samsung, who make the popular Galaxy Note and Galaxy S lines of products. Samsung’s TouchWiz isn’t my favorite, but it is necessary to have on a Note device if you want the ability to use the S Pen (which is what kind of makes a Note a Note). TouchWiz is also important for features on the Galaxy S devices like Smart Pause, Smart Stay, Smart Scrolling, and any other Smart features you can think of incorporating. And I’m probably in the minority here, but I also think that TouchWiz doesn’t look half bad. Regardless, a lot of the features that are in TouchWiz are absoutely necessary to make the device as “unique” as it is.

There are a lot of other skins that manufacturers use on their devices, and for once I think it’s time we give them some proper lovin’. Is vanilla Android great? Yes, yes it is! But sometimes we overlook the fact that the skins that are provided for us aren’t half bad either, and often hold the key to the reasons why we love the device so much.

So readers, with that being said, it’s time to discuss: Which skin is your favorite when it comes to Android devices? Do you like the S Pen functionality of the Note devices, the intriguing features of HTC’s Zoe, or something else completely? Share your favorites with me in the comments below!

Images via GSMNation, Samsung

 

Nokia Lumia 920 with Amber update shown on video

Jul 4th 2013, 15:25

 

Nokia Lumia 920 Amber video leak

Nokia’s Lumia Amber software update is slated to begin rolling out to the Finnish firm’s Windows Phone 8 sometime this summer, bringing with it new features like Glance Screen’s always-on clock and the ability to double-tap the phone’s display to wake it from standby. After getting an early peek at the Lumia Amber update running on the Lumia 925, which will launch with Amber preinstalled, today we get to see the update in action once again. This time, though, the software has been loaded onto a Lumia 920.

A brief video demonstrating the Lumia Amber update on the Nokia Lumia 920 has been uploaded by UnleashThePhones. The version of Amber that’s shown in the clip is said to be an early build, and so only a handful of the update’s features are included. The features that are demoed in the video include the aforementioned Glance Screen and double-tap to wake as well as Data Sense, some new wallpapers and Nokia’s Smart Camera app.

Along with the goodies that are shown off in this video, the Lumia Amber update will bring with it flip-to-silence functionality, CalDAV and CardDAV support and FM radio, the last of which is actually a feature that’s part of the broader Windows Phone 8 GDR2 update. Overall the Amber update looks like it ought to make Nokia’s existing Lumia handsets quite a bit better and possibly even stop those owners from drooling over newer models like the Lumia 925 and EOS (or at least reduce the amount of drool that comes out of their mouths). There’s no word yet on exactly when in the summer that the update will begin making its way to consumers, but hey, at least we’ve got leaks like these to keep us occupied until then.

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Via WPCentral, UnleashThePhones

 

Facebook for Android beta app update rolling out with bug fixes in tow

Jul 4th 2013, 12:10

 

Facebook for Android login

Facebook isn’t wasting any time in giving the users of its Android app beta to some new software to test. Exactly one week after first announcing the testing program, the company today pushed out an update to its Facebook for Android beta app that packs in a number of bug fixes for both the Facebook app and Facebook Home. As for the list of exactly what those changes are, it appears that Facebook has posted a couple of different changelogs and edited its original post, but the folks at Android Police managed to round up all of the tweaks into one big list:

Facebook App

  • Fixed an issue where timeline profile pictures might not update
  • Fixed a crash in the photo picker
  • Fixed a crash in the message list view
  • Fixed crash when tapping Nearby suggestions
  • Fixed an issue preventing image cropping from working in some cases
  • Fixed an error that some people saw while sharing feed stories in personal messages
  • Fixed an issue that preventing people from turning off Facebook after installing Facebook Home
  • Plus more bug fixes

Facebook Home

  • Various stability improvements in Facebook Home when using folders
  • Updated translations
  • Foreign language fonts are now available
  • Home settings moved from the fold in bookmarks
  • Home is easier to uninstall

Interestingly, Facebook says that the app’s version number won’t change after installing this update, so don’t think that you’re going crazy if you install this update and notice that the version number still reads “3.4.” The update will hit users as soon as it becomes available if they’ve got automatic updates turned. Those that prefer manual updating can grab the new software from the Google Play Store.

This Facebook for Android beta update may not contain any new features for users to get excited about, but it does pack in a number of bug fixes that show that the company is listening to the feedback. It’s also good to see Facebook pushing an update to its beta testers just a week after the program began. Here’s to hoping that the company keeps the updates coming at a speedy pace.

Via Android Police, Facebook for Android Beta Testers group, Google Play: Facebook for Android

 

Design choices are cool, but Moto X still freaks me out

Jul 4th 2013, 11:10

 

For the better half of the first part of the year we’ve been ranting and raving about Android flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S 4, the HTC One, and the Sony Xperia Z. But now that each of these devices is essentially old news, we’re starting to look forward to what the latter half of the year will bring us. The lineup of the hopeful devices we are waiting to see is the next generation iPhone, the Galaxy Note 3, and for this article in particular, the Moto X.

In the middle of watching yet another comparison video between the HTC One and the Galaxy S 4, I decided I was tired of trying to figure out which one I liked best. I decided to close the video and scope out the Internet in search of more interesting subject: the mysterious Moto X phone, which is set to arrive on the market sometime later this year.

We’ve seen recent teasers emerge from the Google-owned company stating that the Moto X will be the “first smartphone you can design yourself”, whatever that means. Evan wrote an article just the other day speculating what exactly that could entail, but until we know for sure it does make for an enticing marketing campaign to keep the dreamers a-dreaming. Even I was intrigued as to what it meant, but there is still one teensy weensy little issue that remained in the back of my head that turned me off from the idea of this phone in the first place: the “always on” sensors.

Ever since hearing about the “always on” sensors I’ve been pretty skeptical about the device. I guess it could be an ideal feature for some people, but then there are people like me who like to be in control of my own device on my own terms. Simply put, I don’t want my phone to think for me, and it doesn’t sound like there will be a way to turn the feature off. It’s even been described as being “the perfect spy”. That creeps me out. Not only do you have these sensors that are constantly monitoring your movements, but you also have the incorporation of Google Now that predicts what you want to do before you actually do it. This phone learns from you by reusing your information in nearly every possible way. This phone watches you. It’s the perfect real-life premise for a Will Smith movie if I’ve ever seen one.

I can see the appeal in having this type of technology in a phone, especially because some parts of it are being used to try and better how we use our phones; but I also think it sounds flawed. I have read that if you’re using a Moto X while traveling at high speeds, as if you were in a car, you wouldn’t be able to text anybody. This is great if you’re driving; not so great if you’re a passenger and need to shoot somebody a text for whatever reason. I guess that would be about the time that you’d have to dust off the old dialer pad and learn how to make a phone call again. It’s also my understanding that the phone does a lot of “predicting” when it comes to how you handle the phone. If you hold the phone out because you’re getting ready to watch a YouTube video, the camera might pop up. Well, thanks Moto X, but I really just wanted to watch this YouTube video in landscape mode, but I guess I could take a picture while we’re here.

I think that’s weird.

I just don’t think I could handle a device that tries to do everything for me. Granted, this is just speculation at this point considering we only have limited information on what this phone can really do. Until we know for sure, I’m going to remain skeptical of the device. Actually, I think the term I’m looking for is ‘nervous’. Maybe I just don’t understand how this technology works because I haven’t seen it before. I suppose only time will tell what this mysterious device will really entail. One thing is for sure – Motorola sure does know how to keep a person intrigued about a device that we know nearly nothing about.

Readers, what are your thoughts on rumors and speculation of Moto X so far? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

 

I want quick reply notifications to be a future standard

Jul 4th 2013, 09:35

 

Do you remember iOS’s old notifications? The ones that would pop up right there in the center of your display, interrupting just about everything else that may have been going on at the time? They were heralded as some of the worst notifications back then, and thankfully Apple switched them around to some small toast notifications that pop up at the top of the display. It’s less aggressive and in-your-face, and that’s just a big spoonful of winning right there.

Of course, it’s not all that new. Windows Phone has the same toast notification style, and they’ve had it right from the get go. The main difference, and probably the best difference? You can swipe away toast notifications in Windows Phone, just to make sure they’re out of the way completely while you’re doing other things. You can’t *technically* swipe notifications away in iOS 6 (or iOS 7 — just throwing that out there), but you can *trick* the notification away. Just swipe Notification Center down a bit while the toast is up there, and then swipe it back up. There. Notification gone.

I’m going to talk about Apple’s desktop OS right now, just for a second, because it’s relevant. When the Cupertino-based company unveiled their newest version of the operating system, Mavericks, during their Worldwide Developers Conference in June, they showed “quick reply” notifications. As you can guess from the name, it gives the ability to easily reply to some notifications, like iMessage, right from the notification that pops up at the right of the display. It’s easy, quick, and one of those features that should have been implemented right from the beginning.

And it’s a feature that is apparently still missing from iOS, despite the relative similarities between Mac OS X and Apple’s mobile platform. (They’re definitely trying to bridge the two, in certain areas.) One of those areas should be that quick reply notification. It’s a great feature in Mavericks, and it’s a good way to make iOS 7 benefit.

Especially when you look at Android, and the fact that there are quickly reply options within the notification shade, courtesy of certain apps. Replying to emails is quick and painless, if you have the desire to reply to an email from the notification shade, I guess.

And now, BlackBerry 10 has them! Well, they’re going to get them, according to leaks. We’ve already seen some of what BlackBerry 10.2 is going to bring to the new fleet of BlackBerry-branded hardware, but this latest leak has me very interested in the way that the company is handling notifications. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I’d been able to just reply to a text right from the home screen, without digging into the text message app, or even the text message itself.

It’s just an unnecessary step these days.

A quick reply won’t be the prime response every time, but it’s at least a good option to have. Mix that with the ability to discard a notification with the swipe of your finger, and you’re  working on the best of both worlds. You’ve got the perfect notification, in my eyes.

Though, I will admit that the notification shade, and that notification bar at the top of an Android display, is still some strong work in the notification department. It’s small and out of the way, but provides just enough information if you have the right settings turned on. It’s good stuff.

I just want to say that quick reply notifications, ranging from email to text messages to whatever else might need it, is a feature that should be standard in today’s smartphone world. I shouldn’t be craving it from every platform — I should just have it.

Do you agree? Would you love more quick reply notification options in other platforms? If you have a BlackBerry 10 device, are you looking forward to the new feature being added to 10.2? Would you like to see Windows Phone, iOS, and other platforms integrate the feature? Let me know!