You've probably seen plenty of Google's stock Android L interface by now, but custom interfaces are another story. What will the OS look like when device makers get hold of it? If SamMobile's experience with an early, leaked version of Samsung's TouchWiz software is any indication, it will be... remarkably familiar. At least on the Galaxy S5, it looks like the current front-end with splashes of Google's Material Design philosophy thrown in. Core apps and notifications are now full of card-like, colorful elements, but the home screen, app tray and many other elements resemble what you've seen on existing Samsung hardware.
Just days after reports circulated that SoftBank was looking to nab DreamWorks so it could tap into the movie biz, the company is investing elsewhere. Today, the Japanese outfit announced that it's forming a "strategic partnership" with another film studio: Legendary Entertainment. SoftBank is putting up $250 million to back the endeavor, aiming to push the movie maker's content over the web and on mobile devices -- focusing on the China and India markets in particular. If you're in need of a refresher, Legendary is the muscle behind films like Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises, and Inception. Variety reports that SoftBank's talks with DreamWorks stalled during the course of discussing a rumored $3.4 billion acquisition deal.
Thanks to a new subscription model it plans to take on, Instapaper's making its mobile applications available at no cost starting today. That said, the reading app does plan to lure in users to a premium tier it recently created, which costs $3 per month or $30 a year. If you recall, last year Instapaper was acquired by Betaworks, a company that also owns websites Bitly and Digg, so this recently adopted business scheme is part of the goal to continue growing and developing the read-it-later service. Those who choose to go the premium route will get access to features that won't be on the free version of the app, such as unlimited highlighting, text-to-speech playlists and others that haven't been announced yet. Having solid competitors like Pocket meant that Instapaper had to change its pay-for-play ways sooner or later, and this is definitely a great start.
Samsung wants you to know that the Galaxy Note 4 doesn't bend and break like, ahem, certain competitors even if you sit on it over and over again. So, the company has uploaded a video showing the types of stress tests the handset goes through, like the one it released years ago for the S 3 and Note 2. This time, though, the video aggressively hints (repeatedly, even) that the Note 4's a lot tougher than the new iPhones. Similar to the tests its previous handsets had to endure, the Note 4's subjected to a three-point bend test that pushes a metal with 25 kilograms of force to the middle of the device -- you can even see the phone bend just a little during the process in the video after the break. Also, the phones apparently have to survive getting sat on by robotic buttocks that simulate the force a 220-pound person's capable of.
We're not sure whether we dare utter the word 'Nokia' now Microsoft's dropped the name from any and all communications, so today we'll just say the new Lumia 735 is now available in the UK. Touted as "the selfie phone" due its 5-megapixel front-facing camera, the Lumia 735 -- an LTE-friendly brother of the Lumia 730 -- is a mid-range device with a 4.7-inch 720p display, quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor and 6.7MP main camera. Only O2 seems keen on day one, offering the Lumia 735 for free on contracts of £21 per month and over, while Carphone Warehouse has a number of carrier options starting at £17 per month with the handset thrown in. MVNO Virgin is strangely on the ball, with the Lumia 735 free from £15 per month or £190 on pay-as-you-go. In terms of SIM-free, unlocked models, Carphone Warehouse appears to be your best bet with a price just shy of £200, while most other retailers are currently hovering around the £220-£225 mark.
Sometimes it's all about the small things. With the release of iOS 8, Apple waved goodbye to its renowned Camera Roll, the hub where pictures and videos lived in previous versions of the operating system. Instead, the Cupertino company replaced it with a "Recently Added" section -- and let's just say some users weren't too happy about that. Fortunately, if you were one of the people disappointed by this, Apple appears to be having a change of heart. According to the site Product Reviews, which points to release notes of the most recent iOS 8 beta seeded to devs, the Camera Roll is back in its original spot, right where it once belonged. Of course, there's always a chance Apple could decide not to reverse course at the last minute, so don't get too, too excited. We won't know for sure until the next version, likely to be iOS 8.1, gets pushed out to the public; for now, you'll have to make due with what you have on your shiny new iPhones.
Via: Business Insider
Source: Product Reviews
Google is working its way through all its apps and updating them in anticipation of the release Android L. Next on the list is Play Newsstand, which most obviously is getting a Material Design facelift. That means a card based UI with bigger images and lots of transitional animations. But a visual revamp on its own isn't particularly exciting. The best news is that the reading experience for print magazines has been revamped. Until now reading a magazine meant scrolling around a PDF version of the print editions, with a few notable exceptions that had "interactive" editions. Now, you'll actually be able to browse a list of articles in the issue and open them up in a format that's much more phone friendly. You get clean easy to read text, without having to sacrifice the big images. Newsstand is also getting much more fine grained control over the topics in the explore section. So instead of just Food & Drink, you can get articles dedicated to vegetarian cuisine or the paleo diet delivered straight to your phone. The new version of Google Play Newsstand will be rolling out on Android over the next week. iOS users will probably have to wait a long while...
While carrier billing might be changing the way we buy digital products like apps, music and ringtones, it hasn't yet become a mainstream method of payment. That could be set to change, however, after the UK's three largest carriers agreed a new deal that may soon let you pay for physical goods using only your phone number. EE, Vodafone and O2 have teamed up with payment provider Boku to offer carrier billing through the company's new e-Money service, which allows stores to request your number and have the purchase added to your phone bill. Of course, retailers will need to actively support the service, but with the major operators already pledging their support, we imagine stores would jump at the chance to make it easier for customers to pay.
Source: Boku (Businesswire)
For the most part, smartphone peripherals can make your mobile devices even more powerful than they already are. A new add-on, dubbed Seek Thermal, aims to do just that by bringing extra imaging features to your handset. The tiny gadget can be attached to an iPhone or Android smartphone (via Lightning port and microUSB, respectively) and, thanks to a companion app, turn that otherwise common device into one with a thermal camera. Seek Thermal notes it wants to help users across different scenarios, such as being aware of what's around them at night time or, why not, look at clogged pipes throughout the household, just to mention a couple. If you're interested, be ready to pay a premium -- both the iPhone and Android models are priced at $199 a piece. While you think about it, check out the demo past the break, courtesy of Android Police.
Source: Seek Thermal
If you're a longtime Dropbox user on Android, you've probably bemoaned the lack of SD card support. What good is having gobs of cloud storage if you can't use all the free space you have on your own phone? At long last, though, Dropbox has released an Android update that lets you export files directly to external storage. It's a simple addition, but it's potentially a big deal -- you no longer have to worry about downloading that multi-gigabyte video so long as you have a card with enough room. The upgrade is already available in Google Play, so go and grab it if you're eager to fill up your device.
Tweetbot 3 for iOS is frequently regarded as one of the better mobile Twitter apps, no matter the platform -- it's full of shortcuts and visual flair that most clients (including Twitter's own) sorely lack. It has been lagging on support for Apple's latest developments, however, which makes today's version 3.5 update pretty important. The interface now scales properly on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, giving you much more screen real estate when you're browsing tweets. There are also a few noteworthy upgrades that apply to everyone, including interactive notifications, sharing sheets and support for fetching your login from 1Password. It'll cost you $5 to get the new release if you don't already use Tweetbot, but it might well be worth the outlay if the free Twitter apps aren't quite cutting it.
Source: App Store
The market for used iPhones is fraught with risk, because you may end up paying hundreds of dollars for a locked off device, or worse -- one that appears legit but can't make calls. However, Apple has just revealed an iCloud tool that lets you check a device's activation lock status. All you'll need is the iPhone's IMEI or serial number, and if you're the rightful owner, you'll get info on how to disable any activation locks before selling. Meanwhile, buyers will be shown how to remove the previous account (with the seller's permission). The tool will be particularly useful at sussing out "doulCi" devices, which bypass iCloud to enable activation but won't actually connect to a cell network. That'll prevent you from being fooled by a stolen or lost iPhone that appears to work, but is effectively... an iPod.
Via: 9to5 Mac
Since the launch of the Signature Touch, Vertu CEO Max Pogliani promised that "technology will be more a merging factor and not a differentiation point" for his phones. That's literally the case with the new mid-tier Aster launched today: This titanium Android device is identical to its flagship sibling device internally, just wrapped within a more contemporary and unisex design. We're looking at a 4.7-inch 1080p display, 5.1-inch 117 carat sapphire screen, 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 chipset, 13MP/2.1MP cameras (the former certified by Hasselblad), 64GB of internal storage, 2,275mAh battery, front stereo speakers, NFC, Qi wireless charging and great LTE compatibility (though no love for China, for some reason). With the specs out of the way, let's look at why this swanky phone starts from $6,900 or £4,200. %Gallery-slideshow228640%
Curious as to just which Honda models you'd see Android pop up in first? If you had money on the 2015 Civic, Civic Tourer and CRV it's time to collect your prize from the pool. Google's mobile OS will appear as standard equipment in those vehicles with a little help from Nvidia, naturally, and as the GPU giant tells it, Honda Connect will be the first infotainment system to run embedded Android on a Tegra chipset. Nvidia says that Connect will sport a 7-inch customizable touch-screen display that acts a lot like what you'd expect from a smartphone or a slate. Naturally that means there are swipe, pinch and zoom gestures along with an app store for the Ice Cream Sandwich-based system. How this will all play with Android Auto, though, remains to be seen.
Source: Nvidia Blog
Verizon is about to make it much easier to catch The Daily Show when you can't reach your TV on time. As part of a renewed carriage deal, Big Red will let you watch all of Viacom's live channels (including Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon) through the FiOS Mobile app when you're away from home. You'll also have access to all of Viacom's authenticated TV Everywhere services, so you'll get to stream on-demand shows through a wide array of apps and devices. There's more on the way, too. Verizon says the renewal will let it offer a mysterious bundle of "marquee content" nationwide to its wireless customers -- even if they don't have FiOS -- and it expects to roll out "innovative new TV packages" that better match viewers' tastes. We doubt the channel bundle will disappear entirely any time soon but we'd welcome more choices and, hopefully, lower prices.
[Image credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster]
Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters have more to worry about than they thought -- someone is gunning after their phones, too. Lacoon Mobile Security says it has detected new spyware, Xsser, that tries to trick WhatsApp users on Android and iOS by posing as a coordination tool for the Occupy Central movement. Anyone who falls for the ploy grants access to virtually all of their sensitive info, including contacts, call logs and instant messaging archives. The code is unusually sophisticated, to boot; it's a rare instance of a cross-platform mobile attack, and it updates itself over time.
Via: New York Times
Source: Lacoon Mobile Security
If you were worried that Verizon would start throttling your unlimited data plan because you use it a lot, you can relax -- Big Red just had a last-minute change of heart. The carrier tells Droid-Life that it has decided against pursuing "network optimization" (read: throttling) for uncapped LTE users. There's no direct explanation for the about-face, but Verizon says that it "valued the ongoing dialogue" on slowdowns. In other words, it's likely trying to avoid a clash with the FCC, not to mention angry customers, over a potential violation of net neutrality guidelines. Whatever triggered the provider's second thoughts, it's good news if you've felt that the unlimited service you pay for shouldn't have any strings attached. Check out the full statement below.
Update: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler approves, saying in a statement that "I salute Verizon Wireless's decision. This is a responsible action and I commend Verizon's leadership on this issue." Clash averted.
[Image credit: AP Photo/John Minchillo]
Not to be outdone by AT&T, Sprint and Verizon have now announced they are also going to double the data for users on shared mobile plans, at no extra cost. What's more, both carriers are bringing the promotion to family and business customers alike, making the news all the better. With Sprint, for example, you can get 120GB maximum for $225 per month on a family plan, while business accounts will receive up to 200GB for $330 -- on the former, there's also the $130 option, which lets you share 60GB between lines. Similarly, Verizon is set to double the data amount on its 20GB, 30GB, 40GB and 50GB More Everything plans; the 12GB and 16GB are making the jump as well, but only to 15GB and 30GB, respectively. Verizon's promo is kicking off tomorrow, with Sprint following suit the day after. But be sure to act fast, since the networks will only be offering this through the end of October.
In the midst of attempting to gobble up its largest counterpart, battle Netflix on net neutrality and face down customer service scandals, Comcast is still slowly extending its new TV platform. The latest addition to its X1 setup is enhancing the cloud DVR feature that CEO Brian Roberts showed off at the beginning of the year. While the 500GB cloud DVR and in-home streaming are already a part of the system in several areas, in the Bay Area and Houston viewers can stream or download recordings to their mobile devices (iOS or Android, PCs can only stream) starting today. Inside the house, the X1 app fulfills Roberts promise of turning any mobile device into a television, with access to live TV streaming, recordings and video on-demand. %Gallery-slideshow228584%
Sharing ideas on the web is tricky. You probably want something more persuasive than a social network update, but it's usually overkill to design a whole web page just to get your point across. Microsoft may have reached a happy balance between the two with Sway, a new part of the Office portfolio that lets you publish content in a slick, web-native format without knowing a thing about code or design. All you do is write and pull in content, whether it comes from your device or internet sources like Facebook, OneDrive and YouTube; Sway automatically organizes it all into polished web layouts that adapt to any screen size. You can switch layouts to fine-tune your work and update projects over time. Think of this as a Medium-like authoring tool that handles much more than just articles -- it's possible to publish daily photo diaries, non-linear presentations and other pieces that would typically require a dedicated web editor or a specialized app.