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Nov 24, 2015 - 12:22 PM - by dgstorm
NVIDIA is hoping to entice folks into doing a little Black Friday (in person) or Cyber Monday (online) shopping with them. They are having two separate sales on the same device: the Shield Android TV console.
On Black Friday, if you go (in person) to Best Buy, Canada Computers, Fry’s, GameStop, Memory Express or Micro Center, you will be able to purchase the Shield Android TV for $50 off the normal price and get a free ($50 value) Shield Remote.
On Cyber Monday, you can jump online at shield.nvidia.com, Amazon.com, NCIX.com and NewEgg.com, and get the exact same deal. To be clear on pricing, that makes the 16GB Shield TV only $149.99 with a free Shield Remote, and the 500GB Shield Pro Android TV will be $249.99 with a free Shield Remote. Both consoles already come with one free Shield Controller.
For more info, here are a couple more links:
Nov 17, 2015 - 4:08 PM - by dgstorm
As long as your monitor or TV has an HDMI input, the new Chromebit from Google and Asus will let you convert it into a fully functioning "Chrome-based" computer. It's not quite ready for retail, but it is coming soon. When it does land, it will come to Amazon, Fry’s and Newegg in the US. It will also become available in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and the UK.
The Chromebit will only cost $85 USD and here are its full specs:
Rockchip RK3288-C with Mali T764 graphics
16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM
Dual-band 2×2 WiFi AC
HDMI-out, 1x USB 2.0, Bluetooth 4.0 LE
123 x 31 x 17mm
The little conversion dongle does require a power outlet and will not power through USB, so there is one caveat. Despite that, this could be a handy little device for the right user(s). It comes in a variety of colors (including what you see in the image above as well as black). It will even let you watch various TV shows from Google Play, Netflix or Hulu, just like any other Chrome OS device.
We will keep an eye out and let you folks know when it becomes available.
Nov 17, 2015 - 11:30 AM - by dgstorm
"The system goes online August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug." ~ Arnold Schwarzeneggar as The Terminator in the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day
While the above quote is a gloom and doom scenario from an entertaining sci-fi movie, the reality is that our current "AI" systems are a far cry from self awareness. Despite that, the most used "digital assistants" keep getting better. Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Now are constantly improved by their respective designers.
For the most part Google Now still remains the top dog as far as usability and capabilities area concerned. It might not have the same lively personality as its competitors, but it is much more effective at offering up the information and data that we crave. With Google's latest improvement/enhancement, it has become even better.
According to the latest reveal straight from Google's engineers, the Google Search app can now understand and respond to complex questions that it couldn't before. It is even beginning to understand the intent of the person asking the question, as well as the meaning behind the question. This includes some of the following complex linguistics examples:
- Superlatives (tallest, largest, etc.)
- Ordered items (“Who are the tallest Mavericks players?”)
- Points in time (“What songs did Taylor Swift record in 2014?”)
- Complex combinations (“What was the U.S. population when Bernie Sanders was born?”)
With each new improvement, Google Now gets that much closer to being able to understand questions as if we were asking another human being instead of just a machine. Who knows if any of the various AI digital assistants will ever truly achieve sentience, but one thing is for sure: they keep getting more and more useful as they continue to evolve. For now, Google Now is still the top dog in capabilities and language comprehension, and it has only pulled further ahead of the competition.
Nov 10, 2015 - 11:37 AM - by dgstorm
Those genius Google Maps engineers are finally ready to pull the trigger on the offline navigation mode of Google Maps. According to their own blog, the feature will start rolling out today in an update to Google Maps.
It's remarkably simple despite it being years in development; it works by first prompting the user to save an area and then the app simply downloads an offline map for you to view at your leisure. The app will even update the map every 15 days. These updates occur when the phone is plugged into a charger and connected to Wi-Fi.
There are a couple of things wroth noting: you can't switch to a satellite view, and there aren't any offline walking or public transport directions. Also, businesses which are registered on Google Maps will appear with only their names, star ratings, and phone numbers. They will not have photos or user reviews (of course this will display if you use it online).
That's not all that we are getting in the update though. Along with adding these extra features with offline search and navigation to Google Maps, they are also improving the speed and performance of the app. Nice! Here's what Google project manager Amanda Bishop had to say about it,
She added, "everybody on our team who uses it can't stand it when they have to use the old app because it's crazy how frequently you find yourself seeing that spinner waiting for results. Once you get used to it returning them in a second every single time, you quickly get used to how snappy the app feels."
We've been working on all of this stuff for two to three years. Google Maps happened to be really slow or completely unusable in many scenarios due to limited mobile internet. "Users now don't have to do all that screenshot jujitsu before they leave [in case they lose access], and there's much faster load times for search and driving directions.
Nifty! We can't wait to try it out her at HQ!
Nov 06, 2015 - 11:37 AM - by dgstorm
This morning has a strangely intriguing bit of rumint. According to the latest hot gossip, Google has been having talks with various microchip manufacturers to hammer out a deal to co-develop their own chip for future Android devices. The obvious conclusion from this rumor (if true) is that Google wants to have their own hardware so they can ensure that future iterations of Android works more smoothly across multiple devices.
This is basically the same approach that Apple takes with their iPhone and iPad products. It's not a bad idea and could help reduce the "fractured" Android landscape a tad. Of course, the biggest reason for the fracturing is that many OEMs take time to put their own "spin" on the Android UI. Still, if Google can ensure a more stable hardware architecture for future Android products, it could also mean they are planning on upping their game with fancy new features we haven't even thought of yet.
If this proves to be true, what do you think of this move from Google?
Source: The Information
Nov 06, 2015 - 10:54 AM - by dgstorm
When it comes to Malware on Android, it doesn't really get much scarier than this. The security company, Lookout, has just found a new trojanized malware "strain" for Android and the worst part about it is that it can actually root itself to your device.
According to Lookout's analysis, this new malware strain has been found on over 20,000 apps masquerading as legitimate top applications, including Candy Crush, Facebook, GoogleNow, NYTimes, Okta, Snapchat, Twitter, and others. The vast majority of these were found on third party download sites instead of the Google Play Store, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be cautious even when downloading from there. The highest rates of infection are in Google Play-friendly countries like Germany and the US.
What's especially troubling about this malware is that after it gains root access to your device it embeds itself as a system application. Lookout themselves claim this makes it "nearly impossible to remove." Only the most die-hard developer or tinkerer would be able to repair an infected phone by loading a completely fresh ROM or carefully modifying system files over ADB. This is obviously outside the capabilities of the average Android user, although many of our own members could tackle it.
Still, it would be an annoying hassle just to save your device from an infection. As always be extra careful what you download, and go out of your way to make sure it is legitimate. For more details read Lookout's report here: https://blog.lookout.com/blog/2015/1...anized-adware/
Nov 05, 2015 - 12:34 PM - by dgstorm
November 5th, 2007 was the first day that Android was revealed to the world. The Open Handset Alliance, which was composed of Google, Sony, HTC, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments announced the birth of the first Android-powered handset. That was the T-Mobile G1, otherwise known as the HTC Dream.
The continued evolution of Android has seen a number of radical changes and vast improvements over the years. Our current iteration is Android 6.0/Marshmallow. For the most part the OS is nailed down pretty tight. It's smooth, fast and efficient.
It's tough for Google to make it much better, but Google always finds something useful to add. This year was Android M, but next year is Android N. What crazy concoctions will those creative engineers craft? Either way, we look forward to finding out. You have our permission to grab a piece of cake, a donut or even a Starbucks scone to celebrate. Just be sure to wish your happy little Android a deliriously Happy Birthday!
Nov 03, 2015 - 12:11 PM - by dgstorm
Photo credit: GSMArena
According to statements from Blackberry's own CEO, John Chen, the company is betting the farm on the new PRIV Android smartphone. Analysts in the industry point out that Chen has basically set the stakes for an "all or nothing" move with the new phone. CNET's Roger Cheng claims that if the new $700 PRIV isn't a success, it may be Blackberry's last smartphone. He points out that Blackberry CEO Chen has repeatedly stated that he will dump the smartphone business if the PRIV flops. Here's a quote with the details,
What do you folks think? Could Blackberry sell this many devices next year, or is it too late for Blackberry's hardware business?
“If the $700 Priv flops, that will likely spell the end of the BlackBerry smartphone,” Cheng states bluntly. “[BlackBerry CEO John] Chen has already set the stakes. He’s said, repeatedly, that he’ll dump the smartphone business if it doesn’t turn a profit. While it doesn’t break out earnings from its devices business, BlackBerry has lost more than $6 billion in the last two and a half years. To move into the black, the company must sell 5 million smartphones next year. That’s a tall order considering it sold just 800,000 last quarter, less than half as much as it sold a year ago.”
Similarly, Bloomberg quotes Brian Colello
, a Chicago-based analyst at Morningstar Investment Services, who also thinks this is likely it for BlackBerry as a device manufacturer.
“Perhaps there’s something else in the pipeline, but this device does seem like a last stand,” he said. “We’ve seen new products come out for the last couple years, BlackBerry’s trying to get a hit with any form factor, any price point and now it’s with a different operating system.” ~ BGR
Nov 03, 2015 - 11:54 AM - by dgstorm
Even though HTC has been taking a beating lately (in multiple ways), they still make solid products. Here is an awesome deal alert for the Google Nexus 9 Android tablet. HTC themselves are offering deep, deep discounts on their Nexus 9 tablets for a limited time. This looks like the same promo they launched briefly back in September, which offers up to 40% off. Here's a breakdown of the offer:
- 16GB WiFi for $239.40 (previously $399)
- 32GB WiFi for $287.40 (previously $479)
- 32GB LTE for $359.40 (previously $599)
Here's a recap of specs to whet your appetite:
- 8.9 2048x1536p display
- Tegra K1 processor
- 2 GB of RAM,
- 8 MP rear camera
- 1.6 MP front shooter
- 6700 mAh battery
This offer lasts until Midnight Pacific time tomorrow, and it looks like their inventory is running out fast, so you may want to hurry. Here's the link: Buy the Nexus 9 | HTC United States
Nov 02, 2015 - 5:09 PM - by dgstorm
A new security patch update will soon be rolling out to Nexus devices and will be available for review for all other OEMs and carriers. This is the November security update for Android 6.x Marshmallow, and it fixes seven security vulnerabilities, two of which are considered critical.
Google indicated that OEM partners were of these security issues on October 5th. They also shared that source code patches are going to be released to AOSP over the next 48 hours. There have been no reports of anyone exploiting any of these security vulnerabilities, but/so it's great to see Google taking care of them so quickly.
Here's a link to the Google developer page for folks who want to download the Factory images: Factory Images for Nexus Devices
Of course, if you own a Nexus device, you should see an OTA rollout in just a few days if you would prefer to wait.
Oct 28, 2015 - 11:08 AM - by dgstorm
Uh oh... The infamous heat problem with Qualcomm chips might have returned. Throughout the last year, one of the big topics of conversation has been the overheating issues faced by Qualcomm with their Snapdragon 810 chipset. The problem was so egregious that Samsung declined to use the chip in their Galaxy S6 line. For a while, the industry speculated that Sammy was just taking an opportunity to try and hurt Qualcomm's reputation so they could push their own Exynos chips.
Even when it was revealed that Qualcomm really did have heat issues with the chipset, various media outlets continued to speculate that Samsung was taking advantage of the situation to pump up their own brand name in SoC manufacturing. While that may or may not be true, the latest murmurings from the supply side world suggest that overheating problems have once again reared their ugly head for Qualcomm, but this time it is with the Snapdragon 820.
What's really interesting is that this time, instead of abandoning Qualcomm and taking advantage of the situation, Samsung is supposedly digging in deeper to help Qualcomm work out the issues. This is partly because Qualcomm is using Samsung for their 14nm FinFET manufacturing process design on the chipset, because TSMC is still stuck at 20nm. We've also heard previous rumors that Samsung has committed to using both Qualcomm and their own Exynos chips in the new Galaxy S7. This is obviously another incentive to help Qualcomm make the chipset work.
For now, take this intel with a heaping helping of salt. We haven't been able to get any additional corroboration on this piece so it's possible it is bogus. We will keep an ear to the ground and let you know.
Oct 26, 2015 - 1:00 PM - by dgstorm
AnTuTu just released their latest smartphone performance rankings for quarter 3. The top 10 Android smartphones list is here, and the number one smartphone is likely to surprise you. According to AnTuTu benchmark numbers, the Meizu PRO 5 is the fastest Android smartphone with an aggregate score of 76852.
The PRO 5 beat out the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, the Galaxy S6 Edge+, the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, which rounded out the top 5 in that order. The Galaxy Note 5 wasn't really a close second with a score of 72156. Of course, once you read the specs of the PRO 5, the reason it came out the winner is quite clear: it has the same Samsung Exynos Exynos 7420 chip as the other devices but it only has a 1080p display. It's version of Android is also closer to stock than any of the Samsung products.
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