Category Archives: Android

Google Nexus 4 – The Best Android Device Ever?

Google’s Nexus 4 might just be the best Android device around. Guest writer Allison Foster walks you through a comprehensive overview – see what you think.

imageIn keeping with the aesthetics and innovative features of its bigger brothers, the Google Nexus 4 is a smartphone to contend with. This device has the technological benefits of the tablet line condensed into a small pocket version with access to telecommunications.

Providing overwhelming graphic capabilities as well as processing power, the Nexus 4 is loaded with the hardware it needs in order to accomplish virtually any task. It is a phone that can engage a person on a variety of levels whether it is for entertainment, professional, or personal use.

1. Display – Using a 4.7-inch display, the Google Nexus 4 runs at a resolution of 1280×768 with 320 pixels per inch. This provides an amazing clarity for video and graphics, making it ideal for streaming movies or playing games. Operating at such resolutions also makes web browsing ideal as one would be able to see the website as it would be on a desktop computer system or view the condensed site if it had been optimized for smartphones. Protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 2, one could feel comfortable with carrying the Nexus 4 in his or her pocket without worry of keys or other materials scratching the glass.

2. Connections – The Google Nexus 4 is compatible with a number of carriers as it uses GSM, EDGE, and GPRS on 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz bands. This unlocked smartphone is capable of using 3G networks, support for more than 200 service carriers, and can connect to virtually any wireless access point supporting 802.11 a/b/g/n. As an added bonus, Bluetooth and Android Beam technologies increase connectivity across millions of devices.

Keeping true to using innovative technologies, the Google Nexus 4 is capable of wireless charging. This form of replenishment is also called inductive charging and uses electromagnetic fields in order to transfer energy from a charging base to the receiving unit. This technology has been utilized in the past in key-cards and readers.

3. CPU and Memory – Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 CPU, the Google Nexus 4 operates at 1.5Ghz with a quad-core chipset. Backed by 2GB of memory, this smartphone has power to burn for running multiple apps simultaneously. Even Google admits to the Nexus 4 as being, “our snappiest smartphone yet.”

4. Features – Loaded with the standard apps that accompany any Android device, the Nexus 4 also supports:

i. An 8MP rear and 1.3MP front facing camera – This provides amazingly clear and detailed images

ii. A built-in microphone – When combined with one of the built-in cameras, this phone can utilize video conferencing through Google+ with exceptional quality

iii. The ability to voice search – Searching the Internet is easier if you don’t have to type in the letters. Just tell the Nexus 4 what it is you need to search

iv. Gesture Typing – No longer will you have to press each letter individually in order to create sentences. With Gesture Typing, you simply run your fingers across the letters of the on-screen keyboard in a fluid motion

Google Wallet – Contain the information of your credit and debit cards within Google Wallet in order to use your phone for wireless payment at one of more than 200,000 locations around the United States

The Google Nexus 4 is a premier phone that is built for longevity and multitasking. With access to apps such as Google Play, Netflix, and more this phone can provide a wealth of entertainment and communication wrapped in the sleek and elegant design of its chassis. This impressive addition to the Nexus family is more than a simple smartphone; it’s a tool of unlimited possibilities.

Author Byline:

Blogging was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with www.nannyclassifieds.com. She can be reached through e-mail – allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgmail – the rest you know.

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Filed under Android, Connected Devices, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Smart Phone

Little TunnelBear (free) – A Drop Dead Simple VPN Built on Simplicity and Speed

I’m an Internet privacy advocate (regular readers will now pause – laugh – and say – “no kidding!”), and while the fight to rein in Google, and others, might seem unwinnable, privacy advocates have not lost the battle – yet. Which is why, I have a great interest in any tool that will either stop Google and other data accumulators from collecting, storing, and dissecting my private personal information, or inhibit their ability to do so.

As a result, I’ve long made it a practice to camouflage my IP address when searching for sensitive subject matter.  Sensitive subject matter doesn’t always involve porn. Although, ………….   Smile

Take a look at the following free VPN (Virtual Private Network) application – Little TunnelBear (a paid version with enhanced features is available), which allows you to surf the Web while hiding your IP address. Hiding your “real” IP address won’t leave traces of your private surfing activities – protecting you from snooping web sites, annoying advertisers, employers, curious family members, and of course – Google.

I’ve been running with TunnelBear, (for 6 months or so), on a daily basis – and I’m impressed – very impressed. This application is “snappy quick” which cannot be said of the majority of the 10 (or more), VPNs I’ve tested here in the last few years.

While the service is not entirely free (500 MB monthly free – an additional 1 GB is available (free) if one “Tweets” the application. Even with my heavy usage, I generally don’t run out of free data access (1.5 GB), until the 25/26th of the month.

At that point, I switch over to the free version of Expat Shield which unfortunately lacks the quickness of TunnelBear, with the additional handicap of being ad supported. Having said that, I’ll emphasize (from a previous review), that Expat Shield is a terrific application and, the developer is certainly entitled to generate revenue.

TunnelBear will get no points for a stylish  user interface …

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…. but I can assure you, that in this case “hot looks” cannot compete with speed, simplicity  and ease of use.  And, TunnelBear has all that – and more.

Simplicity – no need to launch a Browser first. Switch on – choose your preferred locale (the UK or the US) then launch a Browser.

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Please note that occasionally, you may find that instead of the UK, you will be assigned an alternative European IP address. Hungary and Holland come quickly to mind. It would be preferable, in my view, if the GUI reflected that fact.

Boost the freebie – If you have a Twitter account, and should you choose to do so, a quick Tweet is all it takes to bump up free data access to 1.5 GB. A very sweet deal, I think.

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Following which, an email similar to that shown below, will confirm your additional 1 GB of data access.

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I’ll repeat – Even with my heavy usage, I generally don’t run out of free data access (1.5 GB), until the 25/26th of the month.

Significant points:

There are no ads and the application doesn’t have to run in the background, or at startup.

Employs a minimum of  AES 128-bit encryption.

Normal surfing (hopping from site to site), showed no slowdown (none that I could measure in human terms) in connection speed.

Once the application has been started – all applications that communicate with a remote address will do so through TunnelBear.

As with all such applications, a leap of faith is required. While the application does shield you from prying eyes, the developer has full access. You need to consider the implications. In other words – do you trust the developer.

Here’s what the developer has top say on that issue –

“TunnelBear stores the absolute minimum amount of information required to operate our service. This information includes your email, first name, last name, # of times you’ve logged on and the overall amount of data you transferred for the month. We do NOT log any information as to the websites you visit, nor do we store your IP address after you disconnect.”

Having tested my fair share of anonymous surfing applications in the last few years, I’d judge this application to be as good, or better, than most.

Supported systems:

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Download at: Developer’s site (http://www.tunnelbear.com/)

Additional information is available from the developer’s FAQ page here.

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Filed under Android, Apple, downloads, Freeware, Google, Online Privacy, Software, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Nasty Competition: iPhone vs. Android – Writerdood’s Feedback

Earlier this week, I posted Grady Winston’s latest guest article – Nasty Competition: iPhone vs. Android – which lays out the moves and countermoves in a precarious battle between Apple and Google. The article has drawn a number of forward thinking comments which deserve wider distribution than a straight-forward comment might allow.

The following comment, by Writerdood, addresses some of the questions posed in the original article – then, raises a series of “functionality probability” teasers. Are they teasers – or, real issues which the smartphone industry needs to address?

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imageThe future of smartphones is an interesting topic. I don’t see Apple as being at the top of that list. RIM has fallen and can’t get up. And Microsoft’s solution is still an infant with potential.

Globally, I think Android will likely dominate, at least in the short term, but in the long term it’s difficult to say what will happen. Apple phones are beautiful devices, but so are Android phones. Brand-name loyalty will certainly ensure Apple always has a market, but their innovation seems to have reached its limit. Their latest release offers very little of consequence to most people.

What we’re missing is the functionality innovations – the leaps in operational use that allow users to do more things with their mobile devices.

Who will be the first to add infrared control as a standard in phones (allowing users to control their televisions without needing specific hardware)?

Who will add customization user interfaces (allowing users to decide how their screens display)?

Who will add tactile interfaces (allowing raised buttons to appear when needed)?

Will NFC take off and become a desired utility (allowing users to make payments or upload data with a wave of their phone)?

Will phones start to come stock with projectors?

Will full integration with XBox or Playstation make a big difference?

Will flexible expandable screens become a desired feature?

And all of them appear interested in AI of some type, which will produce the desired results?

Then there’s audio – and some manufacturers seem focused on pushing that to the extreme limits, making the screen itself into a speaker.

And then there’s Google’s project glass and integration between those glasses and their phones may force Apple and others to compete.

I think the smart phone world is poised to move on a variety of innovations that will vastly enhance the capabilities of the phones slated to come out in the next few years. Most of those phones will not belong to Apple.

To keep up with this wave of new functionality, Apple will have to either jump on that bandwagon – and pay the patent rights to use them – or come up with an intuitive leap just as risky as their first iPod venture. Their fans will support them regardless, but the rest of the world will only support them if that leap is useful to them and something they can’t get elsewhere.

Heck, if Apple put infrared and tactile into their phones, I’d even buy one. And a projector too? Worth it. Particularly if it can project a keyboard in addition to being used to project slides and video. But maybe these are features that don’t matter to most people. Only time and user adoption can tell that story.

12 Comments

Filed under Android, Apple, Google, Guest Writers, iPhone, Smart Phone

Nasty Competition: iPhone vs. Android

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

imageiPhone versus Android. The choice between the two smartphone platforms is as contentious as the battle between being a Mac or PC person. However, thanks to the war emerging between Apple and Google, the battle is not just heated — it’s just plain nasty.

It’s no secret Apple was displeased when Google entered the smartphone arena with army of Android phones and an app market, recently rebranded as Google Play. However, it shouldn’t have been a shock either.

Those who have a disdain for Apple products — and there are a lot of people on the planet who fit that description, despite the seeming ubiquity of iPhones — had as much right to inundate their smartphones with apps as iPhone users.

Although the Android app market is still small in comparison to Apple — 70,000 to 230,000 apps, respectively — the Android market is quickly gaining ground in the world of mobile application development. Incensing Apple even further, many Android apps are free. Why pay $.99 for an app on an iPhone when you can get it for nothing on a Galaxy III?

As tech goliaths, Apple and Google have run into more than a few disputes. Remember when Instagram moved from iOS-only to Android? Apple recently unveiled its new proprietary Maps application, designed to supplant Google’s ultra-popular-to-the-point-of-being-de-facto offering.

In a similar move, Apple is removing the YouTube app from its phones, effective with iOS6. This probably won’t be enough to make people chuck their iPhones, especially since the app hasn’t been recently updated, but it might make consumers on the fence choose an Android the next time their contract expires.

It’s hard to say if these differences will affect the populace in any more than a divisive capacity. Even when it comes to price, there isn’t much difference between the iPhone and Android phones. The iPhone 5 is priced at $199 with a contract, which is in the ballpark of the Galaxy and other mid- to upper-range smartphones. The decision may become clearer as the dust kicked up by the iPhone 5’s release begins to settle, even though it will be stirred up again with the next major smartphone release.

So, who’s going to emerge as the winner? As much as Apple and Google want to think they have the power to destroy each other through the end user, the bottom line is Apple people are Apple people and Android people are Android people. It’s really not much different than the Mac versus PC debate.

Sure, you do have people who cross over — some Mac people have Android phones and some PC users have iPhones — but for the most part, people are loyal to their brands. If Apple or Google want to crush each other, they’ll really have to do it without the help of the consumer. However, if they both continue to play nasty games, they make themselves ripe for a third player to emerge on the scene and take a share of both their markets away. I wonder if Linux plans to enter the cell phone market…

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Filed under Android, Apple, Connected Devices, Google, Guest Writers, iPhone

Android Malware – Take the Security of Your Device Seriously

Guest writer Megan Berry has some timely advice on how you can avoid avoid malware on Android smartphones and tablets.

imageRule #1 of Android security: don’t download apps from websites other than Google Play for fear that you unwittingly infect your smartphone or tablet with malware. Well, not surprisingly, cybercriminals found a way to invalidate rule #1.

A security researcher at Symantec recently discovered two apps infected with malware in the app store that were quickly removed. But not before tens of thousands of users downloaded them.

This scenario is particularly troubling for companies with BYOD programs that permit Android devices to connect to their network. How do companies protect corporate assets without taking away employees’ ability to use their favorite mobile devices on the job? Especially since it seems that cybercriminals are always one step ahead of security experts.

Whether you use an Android device at home, on the job, or both, the growing threat of Android malware means it is more important than ever to take the security of your device seriously.

How to avoid malware on Android smartphones and tablets

Nothing you can do will guarantee you will never be infected with malware, but there are things you can do to minimize the risk.

· Before downloading an app, do a quick web search to check up on the developer and the app itself. Look for red flags in the search results, such as negative user reviews or complaints, that indicate you need to dig deeper before tapping that “Accept & download” button. Hint: You can visit the developer’s webpage from the app listing.

· Some malicious apps try to hide behind a legitimate brand name. Make sure the name of the developer jives with the title of the app.

· Read the app’s user reviews. Red flags will show up here, too.

· Examine the permissions of the app: are they in line with the app’s intended use? For example, does a news app really need to access your contacts or send text messages?

· IT managers should insist that employees install an Android anti-virus app. Or, better yet, insist that users turn their devices over to IT before they’re allowed to connect to the network for the first time. This way IT can install anti-virus software it has evaluated, configure it properly and enforce its use.

Android anti-virus apps: worth it or not?

The effectiveness of Android anti-virus apps is debatable, though. In a recent study, only a handful of Android anti-virus apps were found to detect most types of threats. The March 2012 study by AV-Test.org rated 23 out of 41 apps effective, or 56%. Of those 23, only 10 detected greater than 90% of known malware types.

Still, the authors of the study say any of the anti-virus apps that were found to detect greater than 65% of known malware types provide adequate protection.

Unpatched system software: Your device’s Achilles’ heel

Even though you’re careful about what apps you install and you run an anti-virus program, your device may still be vulnerable because of unpatched system software.

According to security vendor Duo Security, the speed at which wireless carriers supply updates to their users varies. Therefore, it’s possible for devices to go unprotected for long periods of time. The fragmentation of the Android platform complicates the task of rolling out updates, not to mention the fact that companies have little incentive to fix existing flaws when new devices with the latest system software are already on the shelves.

This is of particular concern for companies that allow their employees to connect their personal Android devices to the company network. It should also be of concern to employees, who may be liable if their device infects their employer’s network – many corporate bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies place the responsibility for keeping devices malware-free squarely on the shoulders of the user.

Duo Security’s new app, X-ray, scans Android devices to discover unpatched flaws in system software. If the app finds a problem, the user can go to Settings>About Phone>System Updates to download the latest version. If an official update isn’t available via System Updates, Duo Security encourages users to contact their carrier for more information, or at the very least, exercise extreme caution when downloading apps.

Individual users can download and install the app from the X-Ray for Android website. Organizations can get an enterprise-level version by emailing the company.

Lesson learned

The lesson here is that unfortunately, it’s no longer safe to assume that just because an app is available from a reputable source, it’s malware-free. And, educating yourself and your users, combined with tried-and-true anti-virus software, is still the best protection against the quickly evolving threat that Android malware presents.

About the Author: Senior writer for IT Manager Daily, Megan covers the latest technology news and trends impacting business.

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Filed under Android, Anti-Malware Tools, Guest Writers, Malware Protection

The Immense Success of the Mobile Gaming Industry

imageEverywhere you look, you see people engulfed in their smartphones, shouts of joy and frustration coming from playing mobile games like Angry Birds, Draw Something and Cut the Rope. In just a few years, mobile gaming has literally exploded into a multi-million dollar industry (the industry is predicted to break 18 billion in total revenue by 2016).

Instead of just being the applications that game developers made because they couldn’t produce something for a console or the computer, mobile gaming now comprises a huge chunk of the gaming sector.

Hardcore gamers are all about the massively expensive computer rigs with eye-popping graphics and console gamers load up their massive TVs, but casual and hardcore gamers alike can be found with their heads buried in the latest mobile game. Even people who don’t really play games are into flinging stylized birds at discolored pigs. Smartphones have successfully turned nearly everyone into a gamer.

Handheld Market Share

Back in the day, the handheld gaming market was cornered by the console makers. While the Nintendo DS and Play Station Portable still have a presence in the market, mobile gaming on smartphones is chipping away at it more and more. Far more people have a smartphone than a DS, after all, and they are always going to have it on them for every-day use.

As the technology in smartphones advances, the complexity and appeal of mobile games continues to grow, utilizing touch screens, hi-definition, and motion sensitive controls. It is more practical for an individual to simply open an application on a phone to play a game for a few minutes than to dive into a highly specialized and complicated one on a separate device.

Branding and Captive Market

Businesses have a variety of options to take advantage of the focus that mobile gaming gives them. First, it doesn’t take as long to develop a mobile game as it does to create an AAA computer game and is much more inexpensive. Where months and years of preparation go into console and computer games, mobile games are intended for short term usage thus can be more simplified and quick to produce.

Branding and product integration is always front and center, and since the game requires interaction their focus will remain on the task at hand. By creating such a simple and identifiable interface, logos, and characters, it is easier for the user to relate and retain the information they have just engaged in. As a result, other doors are opened for further game updates, individual products about the game, and connections to other organizations.

Generating Income

Mobile gaming can turn a profit in a few different ways, by offering the application for an upfront price or through micro transactions. With micro transactions, you offer the game for free or a low cost, then provide the user with ways to purchase in-game items and other content to upgrade gameplay.

Another popular route is to offer up a “lite” version of a game to give users a small taste of the game, but not the entirety. Showcasing the graphics and the game options pulls in the user, but the game ends before too much can be accomplished. Then, to play more, they are redirected to purchasing the full version of the game for a designated price.

When it comes down to generating the bulk of its profit, the mobile gaming and application industry as a whole is centered around the nominal fee idea. Individuals will pay a small price, 0.99 cents or 1.99, for a game or application, and since the cost is so low users almost don’t care to spend it. But, with thousands and millions of users buying the application, alongside micro transactions, the amount adds up to be very lucrative.

Angry Birds: a mobile gaming empire

Rovio, the developers of Angry Birds, went through a lot of flops before they hit upon the mobile gaming success that was Angry Birds. Fifty-one games before they struck gold, in fact. They based Angry Birds off of concept art that had a special appeal and focused their efforts on the iOS application market.

It took some time to gain traction, but the game took off when they created a YouTube trailer, a lite version of the game and got featured on the front page of the app store. From there, Angry Birds captured the hearts and minds of everyone in the mobile gaming world, expanding its branding to clothing, plush toys, books and various other spin off games.

How have they done so well? By providing free updates for the game’s audience, adding hundreds of free levels, and by creating spinoffs such as Seasonal Angry Birds and Angry Bird Space, Rovio has maintained the devotion of a short attention span audience. Remaining in the spotlight of the industry and pushing the boundaries of the game and the system it runs on, Angry Birds has become a massive success, being downloaded over 600 million times and with 30 million active players daily. It’s not hard to see why mobile game development has taken off since the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007.

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

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Filed under Android, Games, Guest Writers, iOS, Online Gaming

Exfoliate – Automates Removal Of Facebook Content

imageI like the idea that technology makes it easier to stay “connected”, but Facebook , Twitter and the like, take that connected feeling well past my comfort zone. While I do have a Facebook account, that account is dedicated to professional use only.

On balance, social networking is a good thing – it’s opened new doorways of opportunity to stay connected. But, with those positive opportunities, comes a new set of problems. With Facebook, those problems include a corporate philosophy that includes unethical behavior and bullying.

It’s unfortunate that Facebook users make the assumption that Facebook is essentially safe, and harmless – despite the fact that it’s anything but. Facebook is a scam and malware magnet without parallel.

Look, it’s natural for we humans to communicate, be friendly, and generous – and, Facebook is certainly a vehicle for that. But, the lack of privacy controls – or, perhaps more accurately – the ever changing privacy controls on Facebook, are cause for concern. There’s little doubt that Facebook’s privacy settings are a continuing source of controversy.

Regular reader, and good friend John B., recently pointed me to an application – Exfoliate (currently priced at 99 cents) – which can automate the removal of content from Facebook – content that perhaps you now regret posting.

From the site:

Exfoliate helps you remove old content from Facebook(tm). Content on social networking sites is a potential threat to your privacy. Removing this content by hand is tedious, and practically impossible. On your wall, Exfoliate can remove any post, comment, like, or photo, whether made by you or by others, older than a time you specify. Exfoliate can remove your own posts, comments, likes, and photos, from your friends’ walls too. You can choose the age of items you wish removed, and Exfoliate will remove any items that are at least as old as your selection from any of your selected content areas. It is important, though, to understand that Exfoliate truly deletes the content. It is not backed up and it is not recoverable – well, that’s kinda the point.

Exfoliate is easy to use. Here are the three simple steps:

1. Set your preferences. Indicate the age of the items you wish removed, from where (your wall and/or friends’ walls) you want the items removed, and the type(s) of items you want removed (posts, comments, likes, photos).

2. Log in to your Facebook account using Exfoliate.
3. Start the automatic cleaning process.

Application screen shots:

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System requirements: Android: 2.2 and up.

Download at: The Android Marketplace

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Filed under Android, Connected Devices, downloads, FaceBook, Privacy