Category Archives: Smart Phone

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

Snapdragon: Changing the Mobile World

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.

imageSnapdragon is a mobile processor completely built on a single chip that brings you longer battery life and keeps you going in your everyday life. Battery life is great and an important part of any device’s usability, but that alone wasn’t enough for Qualcomm. Snapdragon is next-generation technology that provides all users with some exciting new features sure to change the way mobile devices are used.

Whether you’re a developer, a gamer or just an avid mobile device user, these next-generation technologies are going to impact the applications, games and other features on all mobile devices in the future.

Here are just a few reasons to get excited about Snapdragon:

  • Blink and smile detection: Have you ever been in that situation where you wanted to take a photograph of a group of people and the camera on your mobile device decides to focus in on just one person? It happens all the time. However, with Snapdragon, you get blink and smile detection that helps with facial processing and gives you a much better and higher quality photo of a group of people. Facial processing simply has never been this well done. Your camera will be able to recognize when someone is blinking, smiling or looking away from the camera; which helps you get the best picture possible.
  • Burst camera mode: Sometimes getting that perfect shot is really hard to do, especially when something is moving. Most cameras allow you to turn the shutter off or at least adjust the shutter speed, but this technology hasn’t really translated over to mobile devices – until now. The burst capture feature provided by Snapdragon allows even amateur photographers to capture a series of pictures with no shutter lag between shots.
  • Graphics: Qualcomm built the Snapdragon processor with gamers in mind — they designed it to take gaming to a whole new level with high resolution and realistic 3D graphics and effects. Just because you’re gaming on your mobile device doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice quality. In fact, with Snapdragon, you’ll soon be able to play games that rival any console gaming experience.
  • Surround sound recording: Sometimes, recording a video on your mobile device can leave you wanting something more. Maybe you missed something someone was saying or maybe there’s too much noise to really hear what you want. With Snapdragon technology, you get some amazing audio features that allow you to record in 5.1 surround sound. With Snapdragon, Fluence Surround Sound Recording uses the existing microphones on the device to bring you an HD camcorder sound and experience.
  • Indoor location: Have you ever been using the location feature on your phone only to realize it won’t work when you are inside? With Snapdragon, you don’t have to worry about that. The location feature on Snapdragon technology provides users with amazing experience. Not only does the location feature will allow you to search local points of interest, give you great walking and driving directions and give you object tracking, but it also gives you precise indoor position. You won’t have to worry about finding where you are because you are indoors; your mobile device will do that for you.

Snapdragon by Qualcomm is changing the ways in which users interact with their mobile devices. It pushes the limits on what traditional technology has brought consumers and is opening up a wide world of possibilities for next-generation consumer technology. For Qualcomm, it’s clearly not just about the technology itself. It’s about the way users interact with the technology they build and they want to make that experience the best one possible.

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Filed under Connected Devices, Guest Writers, Opinion, Smart Phone

RedNightHawk to Writerdood – Right Back at Ya!

I make a point of recognizing the importance of reader comments by including the following as a Blog sidebar item – “Comments are an important feature of this Blog. So, please feel free to let me, and other readers, know what your views are.”

It’s simple really – often, through a reader’s comment, others can gather additional information, gain exposure to issues and debates, learn from the experience of other readers,………….

Yesterday, for example, I highlighted comments by Writerdood who had opened debate on Grady Winston’s latest guest article – Nasty Competition: iPhone vs. Android. In today’s post, you’ll find RedNightHawk’s thoughtful and occasionally provocative responses to Writerdood.

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imageLet me begin, by saying I’m not picking on you (Writerdood), you raised some excellent points and even managed to do it without the fanboy attitude that so often needlessly pervades these types of discussions.

“RIM has fallen and can’t get up…”

I’m not so sure about that. I went to a recent BlackBerry Jam event in my area, and they demonstrated they have a lot of ways for developers to launch their products on their new BB OS10 platform (Android developers can port their apps over, and many, many other development options are available). I was surprised how many different ways people could leverage their existing knowledge to get into BlackBerry development. Here’s an article about an iOS developer porting their game to the PlayBook:

Don’t get me wrong, I had just about given up on them after years of frustration with OS updates that featured ever so slight loosening of the Java reins (Java!), and corporate thinking that showed just how out of touch they were with the new smartphone realities, but the move to QNX (BB OS10) looks like they got the message loud and clear and are ready to introduce a viable alternative to Android and iOS. Much like Apple, they also have a very loyal fanbase (though they lost some of them due to years of letting them down). Developers also make more money on BlackBerry since more BlackBerry owners actually purchase apps, so they are getting some quality apps ready for the upcoming launch.

“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)?”

Dammit. When I had a Palm PDA the infrared port was one of my favorite features on it. My laptop then also had an infrared port and it was nice to be able to communicate wirelessly long before the days of Wi-Fi. I do still miss it. That said, I don’t know if anyone will be willing to use the space in a modern day handset to add an IR port. With appliances becoming more and more connected, I would love to see a protocol to allow easy connection using existing hardware on the phone – Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi. So many things could be done if people had an easy way to make their own drivers for hardware so they could do things like connect their phone’s keyboard to their TV over Wi-Fi.

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

I’m not hot on the technology myself, but one of the lead BlackBerry OS developers is, and, as a company, they have invested pretty heavily in it being a selling point for their upcoming phones (and some current models). Apps have been made for payment and secured entry. Apple seems more intent on developing their own alternative and still haven’t equipped their phones with NFC ability. Some Android sets have it. It will be interesting to see how consumers embrace it (some people will, some won’t), and why.

“Will phones start to come stock with projectors?”

I’ve heard of a few of these, but definitely more of a rarity than something mainstream. I think this is an interesting thing – most people would say I have no need for a projector phone…but, the right app could likely make them think otherwise. A phone company that not only built the projector technology into their phone, but also paired it with well-made software that got people thinking about HOW they would use it (rather than if they would or not) would likely be able to sell it…by creating a market (more on this shortly).

As you said though, so many companies aren’t innovating.

Palm made devices I really liked – I would love to see a graffiti type app on some current touch screen phones since it’s still something I miss (I also had a nice folding keyboard that made it easy to travel with and setup a full-size keyboard on the go). But they reached a point where they were happy to sit on their laurels; where they not only stopped innovating, but stopped listening to their customers needs. By the time they started innovating again, it was too late. In the past, I’ve often compared RIM to Palm. This may be why you feel they’ve fallen and can’t get up, since they definitely went through a period where they weren’t paying attention to the right things. Apple now seems to be moving into that mode, as RIM moves out of it.

A few years back I’d read about VMware, the maker of the software that allows people to easily setup virtual computers on their existing OS and run a different OS on the virtual machine, working on a mobile version. That set off all sorts of daydreams for me about being able to have one piece of hardware that ran virtual machines which had different mobile OSes installed.

I think, as you mentioned, it’ll be interesting to see how the mobile space pans out in the next few years. It’s definitely becoming more volatile as once main players can quickly and easily lose their spot. This oddly enough makes the current main players both harder to unseat, and more vulnerable!

While companies like Samsung make 101 different types of phones, and ones like Apple make 1 type of phone (and keep old ones to sell off), what I’d like to see is a sort of build-your-own phone where you can custom order as if it was a PC or laptop (and let’s face it, nowadays the specs on phones are pretty close), choosing upgrades to the base RAM, processor speed, etc. and have an OS that can work with that.

Back to my earlier comment about how the right app might be able to sell projector phones to the masses. One of the reasons I liked the Palm PDA so much was that I used to use it to write – I could take it down to the waterfront and write using the stylus and graffiti, or take the folding keyboard and sit in a coffee shop and type, then I could later easily bring the files into my computer and work with them there.

Now, if you look at why more and more people are using smartphones, it isn’t because the hardware has gotten better (well, it sort of is – no one wants a laggy phone with a bad screen), it’s because they have an app or apps that make it necessary or desirable for them to have a tool that allows them to use the app where ever they are – it’s not enough to have a laptop because they need instant and convenient access to that app.

The app might be Facebook, allowing them to keep in touch with their friends and family more so than without the app, it might be a combination of being able to take a photo or video and quickly share it online, it might be YouTube, it might be a good music player, it might be some custom work software (dispatch, some of the waiter/waitress order taking software, etc.), or a combination of all of the above.

While you mention some hardware you’d like to see, I think a killer app that uses any new hardware will be the difference between people really feeling that the hardware is a selling point or not. And if there’s killer apps (more than one) for that hardware – more reasons to buy in, all the better.

This leaves a huge (and much less expensive) area for innovation as well if the phone companies actually start making those apps (which in some cases, the OSes, especially when they first came out, felt like killer apps – they made you excited about the possibilities of how you could use them, leaving you imagining what you could or would do with them).

P.S. In response to Grady’s question about Linux making a phone – I was discussing something with a friend a few weeks ago: I found it interesting that iOS is based on MacOS, which was derived/based on a Unix variation; Android is (as others have mentioned) a variation of linux, and QNX (RIM’s new BlackBerry base for the OS) is Unix like too.

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Filed under Apple, Blackberry Playbook, Connected Devices, Opinion, Point of View, Smart Phone

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.

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

If You Can, Steer Clear Of Free Wi-Fi Hotspots

imageWi-Fi hotspots and I don’t get along. It’s not that I’m not appreciative of the free service – I am.  But, I’m far from convinced that free Wi-Fi hotspots are appropriate for most Internet users. Hotspots are a hacker’s dream come true.

Free hotspots, in many instances, are unsecured – a semi-skilled hacker, using a selection of readily available tools (often available as a free download on the Internet), can easily penetrate such a network.

Here’s the first example of what I mean:

Earlier this year, while visiting my local Library, I logged on to it’s hotspot only to have my Browser warn me of a possible fraudulent certificate – symptomatic of a “man-in-the-middle” attack. Typically, a man-in-the-middle attack is designed to eavesdrop on the traffic between a user and a website.

Since most users are unaware of the importance of certificates, it’s fair to assume that a typical user, on seeing this warning, would simply click “ignore”. In this case, that had to be so – when I approached the Library’s chief Tech, shockingly, he had no idea what I was talking about. Certificate? Huh? Which led me to believe, that no other user had brought this issue to the Tech department’s attention.

In other words, possibly thousands of users were unaware of the very real risk to their privacy and confidential data, as they happily surfed the Internet from this location.

Given, that one purpose of a certificate is to confirm that the web site being visited is indeed what the user thinks it is – effectively, whether the site can be trusted or not – I continue to be surprised at the typical user’s scant knowledge in this area.

Here’s a challenge for you – query your self described “tech savvy” friends on the current certificates installed in their Browser. Wait for the surprises – or, maybe not.

Pictured below, as an example, are the Certificate installed in my current version of Firefox.

Authorities – These are the Root Certificates that Firefox trusts.

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Servers – These are the certificates that have been installed manually from a website.

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The second example:

At an Art class I joined earlier this year, I happened to notice a questionable type of person sitting (on the ground) outside the building (freezing his butt off, since it was Winter), surfing on his Laptop. I knew there were no open Wi-Fi networks within range, so it was apparent that this fellow was surfing through the Art Institute’s password protected Wi-Fi.

On speaking with Institute staff, it became clear that this was a common occurrence with this fellow. The long and the short of it is (it would take an entire article to tell this tale), a series of Wi-Fi hacking tools were being used to “play” with the owner’s site. Since few of the students used the Wi-Fi hotspot, no damage had been done. But, it easily could have.

If you do use Wi-Fi Hotspots, here are some recommendations for safer surfing:

Assume your Wi-Fi connection is open to penetration.

Be certain that your security applications are up to date.

Don’t enter sensitive financial data. Online banking while connect to a hotspot is, to put it mildly – crazy.

To be sure that you don’t leave a trail of “breadcrumbs” – history, cookies, passwords – set your Browser to private browsing mode.

Log out of each logged-in site you visit – particularly, web based email sites; Facebook, Twitter, and the like.

Pay particular attention to one of the craziest default setups ever – “Remember my password”. It’s imperative that you uncheck this.

If you’re comfortable with anonymous surfing then, consider installing a VPN application. One such application worth considering is Hotspot Shield – reviewed here, a number of times.

Finally, you should consider avoiding Wi-Fi Hotspots entirely. An alternative is creating a “personal hotspot” if your smartphone is capable. Check your phone manufacturers web site for information on how to do this.

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Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Interconnectivity, Safe Surfing, Smart Phone, Wi-Fi