Tag Archives: future

The past, the present, and the future – week 32 recap: week in review

The technology world is a fast moving one, and hence, there are more than 100 stories we publish on a weekly basis here on Pocketnow. Those include reviews, videos, editorials, news, and more. With this new, weekly series, we’re making it easier for you to look back at the most interesting, exciting, and popular topics of the week, in case you missed anything.

Look for the Pocketnow Week in Review every Saturday morning. It contains the most popular ten stories of the week printed on the portal, as well as top videos from our YouTube channel. Additionally, you can also find our Pocketnow Daily Recap video here (if any), for your convenience, and viewing pleasure.

 

____

Text

iphone-6-render“Hey Bobby. Did you hear the new rumor about the iPhone 6? It’s on all the sites and it’s pretty much the same as all the rest of them but with one new thing. But did you hear it?” Rumors, rumors, rumors abound around this mysterious device that everyone wants to know about. So check it out, you know? It’s ok, folks. The Apple event is scheduled for September 9th, at which time we’ll get a one week reprieve before the iPhone 7 rumors start.

vibe-z2-pro-heroIf you’ve got a hankerin’ for epically massive Android phones, Lenovo is not about to disappoint. A while back, Lenovo teased August 5th as the date to watch, and on August 5th it delivered the Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro. This six inch monster comes packed with a 2K display and all the trimmings. If the camera is your thing, pay close attention because it seems to be Lenovo’s thing too. Give the story a look and bring a towel for the drool.

galaxy-alpha-b-1Our next story has the Samsung Galaxy Alpha showing up in front of the camera. We’ve got some new photos of Samsung’s upcoming next big thing showing off a shiny white coat and metal bands around the edges. We also have some rumors about specifications here so give it a look and let us know if Samsung’s next big thing is your next big phone. I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist. Are you ok? Need an aspirin?

samsung logo 2Samsung is back and it’s unpacking its bags once again in a new teaser image. This teaser seems to…ok, it doesn’t “seem to”, it pretty blatantly tells you that Samsung’s unpacked event at IFA will debut the next generation of Note phone. You can click over to see the graphic if you doubt our interpretation, but it ain’t exactly Stonehenge if you know what I mean. Give it a look and if you have different thoughts, we’d absolutely love to hear them.

blackphone unboxingA week without an unboxing is like a day without sunshine…or something like that. This time Michael Fisher is unboxing the all-new Blackphone. Security to this bad boy is like cameras to a Nokia. First, foremost, up front, and securely in yo’ face! Michael shows us the contents of the box you’ll receive when you order your Blackphone and includes a quick walkthrough of the first power on. Just what is “Silent phone” we wonder…

productivity-appsJoe Levi is back discussing with us the pros and cons of restorations versus clean installations. It’s an interesting thought – which would you rather have? If you could have a cleaner, but more burdensome experience, or an easier but a bit more messy restoration, which would you go for? I know my answer. Click on over and leave yours in the comments.

youtube-playlist-updateIf there is one thing we at Pocketnow can appreciate is a company with a sense of humor. Google has a long history of being one of those companies. All platform preferences aside, any time any company shows us their funny side, we have to stand up and applaud. Google showed us the funny this week and if we do say so ourselves, it’s bloody fantastic. Well played Google. Well played. You just gotta see this.

z-ultra-review-15Taylor Martin just bought the phone he didn’t like so much a year ago. Lolwut? Yessiree. He just went out and bought a Sony Z1 Ultra, the very same phone he gave a scandalously low 7.5 rating one year ago. Let’s put aside the fact that this phone is a year old, why on earth would Taylor have put his own money on the table for this phone? You’ll have to click through and find out. Let it not be said that Taylor doesn’t put his money where his mouth is.

samsung-wrapSamsung has made making a ton of devices and experimenting with new form factors an art form. We love to overtly criticize poke fun at Samsung for throwing devices at the wall to see what sticks, but the only way new trails are blazed is by going out and blazing them. Samsung seems to be doing that again with a wrap around screen possibly destined for the Note 4 or some variant thereof. Could this be the device revolution we’ve been waiting for? There’s only one way to find out – give it a shot.

ipad-mini-rd-review-37Once upon a time, Taylor had a bit on an attention problem when it came to tablets. Oh he used them enough…for a few months, then they’d inevitably end up sold on Swappa, or in a drawer or propping up that old wobbly table, or whatever. But one device brought Taylor into the fold and make him a believer. What device could that have possibly been? Why it’s none other than….Whoa. Read the story and find out.

_____

Video

This week, our videos took you into the future, into the past, and stuck you in the present with more of the same. They’re also all Michael, all the time.

Wearables took a fascinating new turn this week with Michael trying out Motorola’s new unlock tattoos. No body ink required, but the adhesive backed tags that stick and stick and keep on sticking might unlock a new generation of wearable tech. Or they might just unlock your phone. Time will tell.

Next, we take a step back into the past with a throwback review combining Michael’s two favorite things – Windows phone and portrait sliders. The Dell Venue Pro was a Windows Phone smartphone on the bleeding edge in its time, and we give it the full review treatment.

Sprint, not to be outdone by it’s competitor AT&T brings us the Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport smartphone. Most of everything about this smartphone is the same as every other GS5 on the market, but there are some cool software enhancements, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Finally, with the NSA, FBI, LOL, WTF and other lettered organizations all clamoring for your data, the Blackphone might just be your cure. If you don’t want national government agencies knowing that you missed the 6:10 train and now you’ll have to wait for the 6:40, so your wife should keep dinner in the microwave, well, we have good news for you. They don’t care. But on the off chance they did care, the Blackphone will keep them from knowing. Boom.


Pocketnow

The future of the Lumia 1020 – another sidelined classic like the 808?

A little history

We saw this in action for Nokia’s N93 – the original ‘transformer’ Symbian phone that could look like a regular T9 clamshell or a consumer camcorder at will. It tested well amongst geeks and camera phone enthusiasts but made no mark whatsoever in the consumer marketplace of the time (2006). The best-selling N95 escaped the ‘camera-centric’ tag because it had so many other innovations, of course, the integrated GPS, the GPU, the high quality stereo speakers, and so on.

The we run forward to the Nokia N82, from 2007/2008, the first smartphone with a Xenon flash, very definitely a ‘camera phone’ first and foremost. And still a device with just about the brightest Xenon illumination in the world, even after 7 years. But, despite appearing in High Street shops, it didn’t sell in huge numbers.

Repeat the process with the N86, the first High Street smartphone with an 8MP camera and still unique in having variable aperture, the first to use intelligent digital zoom when capturing video and to use a digital microphone. So many innovations, yet the N86 also failed to set the sales charts alight, this time in 2009.

Nokia N86 camera

Next in line, the aluminium-bodied N8, at the end of 2010, with 12MP and Xenon flash and a, for the time, huge sensor. Sales started off well, using the new GPU-accelerated Symbian^3 platform, but then Nokia’s Stephen Elop (prematurely) shot Symbian down on stage at MWC 2011 as part of the demonstration of support for Microsoft and Windows Phone, and the N8 never recovered.

Finally, on the Symbian front, we had the all-conquering Nokia 808 PureView, the result of five years of R&D, learning lessons from all the devices above, offering what’s still (by far) the largest camera sensor in any phone, with 41MP sensor into which users could ‘zoom’, digitally, without losing light or quality, and with hardware oversampling producing noiseless, pure images at lower resolution by default. Released in spring 2012, a full year after Symbian’s execution, it’s clear that the only reason this still made it to market was that so much work had already been done on the hardware and it would have been criminal to not at least shown it off to the world. At least, not without a Windows Phone version ready, something which was still a year away. As a result, in the world of 2012, with Symbian’s 360p screens seeming blocky compared to WVGA and 720p and with Android really taking off at the high end, and with Symbian utterly frowned on within High Street shops, the Nokia 808 PureView remained something of a cult hit only.

Lumia 1020 and 808 PureView

If there’s a common thread in all the above, it’s the inescapable conclusion that it takes time to create a really good phone camera. The space, weight and power constraints place extreme pressures on designers and in each case, by the time the phone hit the market, the underlying hardware was nearing the end of its relevance in the wider smartphone world. For example, the N82 was a full year after the N95 which had essentially the same internals, the N86 was a device and form factor from a bygone age even when launched, the N8 was legendarily delayed by up to a year, the 808 was borne into a completely hostile future.

And the same pattern applies to the Nokia Lumia 1020, headlined above. With ostensibly almost identical specifications to the mass market Lumia 920, it lagged the latter by almost a year. So, when eventually available, the chipset and internals were already nearing end-of-life, in terms of use in new devices. Again, the delay was almost certainly down to getting the camera working satisfactorily – again 41MP, like the 808, but this time doing everything in the main processor and an extra GB of RAM. The 1020 was well received by camera phone enthusiasts, and remains a benchmark device, though its shot to shot times are looking a little prehistoric in a world of 2.5GHz processors and monster GPUs.

Specs and the future

What, then, does the future hold for the Lumia 1020? There’s no doubting that it fared better, in terms of sales, than its Xenon-equipped, large-sensored 41MP ancestor, the Nokia 808, but with quite a few new software releases from Nokia/Microsoft explicitly saying that they’re only for the Lumia 1520 and 930, worries are starting to creep in for 1020 fans.

Let’s look at the hardware across the Nokia’s (now Microsoft’s) Windows Phone range:

Chipset Devices Specification
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 520, 521, 620, 720 Dual-core 1GHz Krait, Adreno 305, 512MB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 625 Dual-core 1.2GHz Krait 200, Adreno 305, LTE, 512MB RAM
Snapdragon 400 Lumia 630, 635 (etc) Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7, Adreno 305, 512MB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 820, 920, 925, 928 Dual-core 1.5GHz Krait, Adreno 225, LTE, 1GB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 1020 Dual-core 1.5GHz Krait, Adreno 225, LTE, 2GB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 1320 Dual-core 1.7GHz Krait 300, Adreno 305, LTE, 1GB RAM
Snapdragon 800 Lumia 1520, 930 Quad-core 2.2GHz Krait 400, Adreno 330, LTE, 2GB RAM

The Lumia 1020 does stand out a little, amidst its peers, by having the extra Gigabyte of RAM, needed to handle the processing of the (up to) 38MP full resolution bitmaps internally, but the RAM will hopefully come in handy in helping ensure that the 1020 is less likely to be left behind when it comes time to update the Windows Phone platform again.

So far we’re seeing no device left behind by Microsoft, thanks in part to Windows Phone’s comparatively low hardware requirements – most of the work is in finishing code, adding functions  and fixing issues and compatibility, all without adding much to ‘bloat’. As a result, even the lowest Lumia 520 is getting the full Windows Phone 8.1, though some of the higher end camera-related functions are starting to come with some hardware requirements. Historically this has been done according to RAM, though with 2GB on board the Lumia 1020 should be good in this regard for another year or two at least.

Processor and GPU speed are more of an issue, with the latest features in Nokia Camera/Storyteller being limited to just the Lumia 1520 and 930 – at least in theory. ‘Living Images’ worked pretty well under the original Nokia Camera Betas on the 1020, so maybe these can be worked in again, in an update?

Certainly Nokia seems to have standardised on a ‘good enough’ 20MP cut down version of the PureView technology. Which is fair enough – and results are good – but it doesn’t stop the cameraphone geek in me wanting a third in the 41MP series. Is it just me?

OS updates

What of the core OS though – at what point will Microsoft start lopping off device compatibility? Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, rumoured to roll out to developers for early testing later this month (July), for eventual release over the air to consumers in November/December, is supposed to be a fairly minor update (by comparison to 8.0 to 8.1) and should also be available for all devices. 

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 is scheduled to be available for testing around the end of 2014 and is likely to include new features to support new hardware, and I’d expect much of the lower end of the current Lumia range to get this update but not the full feature set. 

Whatever comes after that is pure conjecture (Google ‘Threshold’ if you want more on the rumours) and depends very much on Microsoft’s ongoing plans to unify its platforms, but it’s a fair bet that Windows Phone 8.2 (or Windows Phone 9, or whatever it ends up being called) will be optimised for the Snapdragon 800 and higher. Will the Lumia 1020 be updated for this release? My guess is ‘no’, but with the extra RAM, who knows? It might go down to the wire and depend on how many 1020-owning enthusiasts there are in early 2015 at Microsoft!

Of course, it’s not all about the operating system and there are other ways for a classic smartphone to get sidelined. It happened to the Nokia 808 and it’s happening now to the Lumia 1020. First, sales of the device stop – it becomes harder and harder to find one for sale – perhaps to replace a broken or stolen device? And accessories become harder to find – in the 1020’s case there’s the Qi charging back shell and Camera grip. If you have a 1020 and want either of these, then you’ve probably already put things off too long. [In the 808’s case it was mainly the BV-4D battery, original replacements for this were/are like gold dust.]

Lumia 1020 in Camera Grip

So – the Lumia 1020 stands a chance of being updated for longer than its older sister devices, the 920 and 925 – but only a slender one. Having said that, the 1020 will, by the time WP9/Threshold/whatever hits, be two years old and will have enjoyed updates freely throughout that time, adding significant extra general functionality that certainly wasn’t there when customer bought the device.

Classic of tech engineering

The Lumia 1020, like the 808 before it, still has unique selling points (in terms of photo quality, reframing/zooming flexibility and low light shots of people), and it seems that we still have at least another year of updates ahead. So celebrate the 1020 and don’t give up on it. 

And don’t you dare sell the Lumia 1020. Those who sold on the Nokia 808 PureView have bitterly regretted it – these devices are classic of modern tech engineering.

1020 and 808, all in white!!


All About Windows Phone

The future of the Lumia 1020 – another sidelined classic like the 808?

A little history

We saw this in action for Nokia’s N93 – the original ‘transformer’ Symbian phone that could look like a regular T9 clamshell or a consumer camcorder at will. It tested well amongst geeks and camera phone enthusiasts but made no mark whatsoever in the consumer marketplace of the time (2006). The best-selling N95 escaped the ‘camera-centric’ tag because it had so many other innovations, of course, the integrated GPS, the GPU, the high quality stereo speakers, and so on.

The we run forward to the Nokia N82, from 2007/2008, the first smartphone with a Xenon flash, very definitely a ‘camera phone’ first and foremost. And still a device with just about the brightest Xenon illumination in the world, even after 7 years. But, despite appearing in High Street shops, it didn’t sell in huge numbers.

Repeat the process with the N86, the first High Street smartphone with an 8MP camera and still unique in having variable aperture, the first to use intelligent digital zoom when capturing video and to use a digital microphone. So many innovations, yet the N86 also failed to set the sales charts alight, this time in 2009.

Nokia N86 camera

Next in line, the aluminium-bodied N8, at the end of 2010, with 12MP and Xenon flash and a, for the time, huge sensor. Sales started off well, using the new GPU-accelerated Symbian^3 platform, but then Nokia’s Stephen Elop (prematurely) shot Symbian down on stage at MWC 2011 as part of the demonstration of support for Microsoft and Windows Phone, and the N8 never recovered.

Finally, on the Symbian front, we had the all-conquering Nokia 808 PureView, the result of five years of R&D, learning lessons from all the devices above, offering what’s still (by far) the largest camera sensor in any phone, with 41MP sensor into which users could ‘zoom’, digitally, without losing light or quality, and with hardware oversampling producing noiseless, pure images at lower resolution by default. Released in spring 2012, a full year after Symbian’s execution, it’s clear that the only reason this still made it to market was that so much work had already been done on the hardware and it would have been criminal to not at least shown it off to the world. At least, not without a Windows Phone version ready, something which was still a year away. As a result, in the world of 2012, with Symbian’s 360p screens seeming blocky compared to WVGA and 720p and with Android really taking off at the high end, and with Symbian utterly frowned on within High Street shops, the Nokia 808 PureView remained something of a cult hit only.

Lumia 1020 and 808 PureView

If there’s a common thread in all the above, it’s the inescapable conclusion that it takes time to create a really good phone camera. The space, weight and power constraints place extreme pressures on designers and in each case, by the time the phone hit the market, the underlying hardware was nearing the end of its relevance in the wider smartphone world. For example, the N82 was a full year after the N95 which had essentially the same internals, the N86 was a device and form factor from a bygone age even when launched, the N8 was legendarily delayed by up to a year, the 808 was borne into a completely hostile future.

And the same pattern applies to the Nokia Lumia 1020, headlined above. With ostensibly almost identical specifications to the mass market Lumia 920, it lagged the latter by almost a year. So, when eventually available, the chipset and internals were already nearing end-of-life, in terms of use in new devices. Again, the delay was almost certainly down to getting the camera working satisfactorily – again 41MP, like the 808, but this time doing everything in the main processor and an extra GB of RAM. The 1020 was well received by camera phone enthusiasts, and remains a benchmark device, though its shot to shot times are looking a little prehistoric in a world of 2.5GHz processors and monster GPUs.

Specs and the future

What, then, does the future hold for the Lumia 1020? There’s no doubting that it fared better, in terms of sales, than its Xenon-equipped, large-sensored 41MP ancestor, the Nokia 808, but with quite a few new software releases from Nokia/Microsoft explicitly saying that they’re only for the Lumia 1520 and 930, worries are starting to creep in for 1020 fans.

Let’s look at the hardware across the Nokia’s (now Microsoft’s) Windows Phone range:

Chipset Devices Specification
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 520, 521, 620, 720 Dual-core 1GHz Krait, Adreno 305, 512MB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 625 Dual-core 1.2GHz Krait 200, Adreno 305, LTE, 512MB RAM
Snapdragon 400 Lumia 630, 635 (etc) Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7, Adreno 305, 512MB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 820, 920, 925, 928 Dual-core 1.5GHz Krait, Adreno 225, LTE, 1GB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 1020 Dual-core 1.5GHz Krait, Adreno 225, LTE, 2GB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 1320 Dual-core 1.7GHz Krait 300, Adreno 305, LTE, 1GB RAM
Snapdragon 800 Lumia 1520, 930 Quad-core 2.2GHz Krait 400, Adreno 330, LTE, 2GB RAM

The Lumia 1020 does stand out a little, amidst its peers, by having the extra Gigabyte of RAM, needed to handle the processing of the (up to) 38MP full resolution bitmaps internally, but the RAM will hopefully come in handy in helping ensure that the 1020 is less likely to be left behind when it comes time to update the Windows Phone platform again.

So far we’re seeing no device left behind by Microsoft, thanks in part to Windows Phone’s comparatively low hardware requirements – most of the work is in finishing code, adding functions  and fixing issues and compatibility, all without adding much to ‘bloat’. As a result, even the lowest Lumia 520 is getting the full Windows Phone 8.1, though some of the higher end camera-related functions are starting to come with some hardware requirements. Historically this has been done according to RAM, though with 2GB on board the Lumia 1020 should be good in this regard for another year or two at least.

Processor and GPU speed are more of an issue, with the latest features in Nokia Camera/Storyteller being limited to just the Lumia 1520 and 930 – at least in theory. ‘Living Images’ worked pretty well under the original Nokia Camera Betas on the 1020, so maybe these can be worked in again, in an update?

Certainly Nokia seems to have standardised on a ‘good enough’ 20MP cut down version of the PureView technology. Which is fair enough – and results are good – but it doesn’t stop the cameraphone geek in me wanting a third in the 41MP series. Is it just me?

OS updates

What of the core OS though – at what point will Microsoft start lopping off device compatibility? Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, rumoured to roll out to developers for early testing later this month (July), for eventual release over the air to consumers in November/December, is supposed to be a fairly minor update (by comparison to 8.0 to 8.1) and should also be available for all devices. 

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 is scheduled to be available for testing around the end of 2014 and is likely to include new features to support new hardware, and I’d expect much of the lower end of the current Lumia range to get this update but not the full feature set. 

Whatever comes after that is pure conjecture (Google ‘Threshold’ if you want more on the rumours) and depends very much on Microsoft’s ongoing plans to unify its platforms, but it’s a fair bet that Windows Phone 8.2 (or Windows Phone 9, or whatever it ends up being called) will be optimised for the Snapdragon 800 and higher. Will the Lumia 1020 be updated for this release? My guess is ‘no’, but with the extra RAM, who knows? It might go down to the wire and depend on how many 1020-owning enthusiasts there are in early 2015 at Microsoft!

Of course, it’s not all about the operating system and there are other ways for a classic smartphone to get sidelined. It happened to the Nokia 808 and it’s happening now to the Lumia 1020. First, sales of the device stop – it becomes harder and harder to find one for sale – perhaps to replace a broken or stolen device? And accessories become harder to find – in the 1020’s case there’s the Qi charging back shell and Camera grip. If you have a 1020 and want either of these, then you’ve probably already put things off too long. [In the 808’s case it was mainly the BV-4D battery, original replacements for this were/are like gold dust.]

Lumia 1020 in Camera Grip

So – the Lumia 1020 stands a chance of being updated for longer than its older sister devices, the 920 and 925 – but only a slender one. Having said that, the 1020 will, by the time WP9/Threshold/whatever hits, be two years old and will have enjoyed updates freely throughout that time, adding significant extra general functionality that certainly wasn’t there when customer bought the device.

Classic of tech engineering

The Lumia 1020, like the 808 before it, still has unique selling points (in terms of photo quality, reframing/zooming flexibility and low light shots of people), and it seems that we still have at least another year of updates ahead. So celebrate the 1020 and don’t give up on it. 

And don’t you dare sell the Lumia 1020. Those who sold on the Nokia 808 PureView have bitterly regretted it – these devices are classic of modern tech engineering.

1020 and 808, all in white!!


All About Windows Phone

How Droid World examines the future of the Android ecosystem

droid_world

With Android systems tipping the balance at up to 81% in units sold dependent on who you read, it’s never been a more fruitful time to be working in Android. There’s an awful lot of excitement coming out of Google I/O, and with version 4.4.4 hitting the streets, it’s definitely something for users to get their teeth into for now with a vital OpenSSL vuln fix the top priority.

With wearable technology and the Internet of Things gaining in prominence and mindshare, what’s available for developers on these new platforms? The possibilities are endless.

A lot of focus this year is on budget Android devices, with companies such as Huawei, Motorola, Samsung and ZTE releasing their own kit for customers in developing markets. How are these going to influence the ecosystem? Similarly, how is fragmentation going to affect these devices? Given a recent study showed that Android and iOS posed nearly equal security dangers in a corporate environment, are Android devices getting a bad rap?

The Droid World conference at Apps World, now in its fifth year, will answer all these questions and more. Featuring speakers from The Next Web, IDG, as well as Martin Joensson, design manager at Google. This free-to-attend track is essential for those looking to build on Android as well as general enthusiasts.

Find out more about Droid World and register for your free pass please click here.


AndroidGuys

Galaxy F leaked, Android L buttons, Google Project Ara’s future & more – Pocketnow Daily

Watch today’s Pocketnow Daily as we talk about the HTC One M8 and its new Dual SIM variant. Then we talk about Google’s Project Ara, and some possible changes due to a major departure. Google follows as we are teased some more button options for Android L. LG then confuses us with some leaked renders of the LG G Vista. We end today’s show talking about the Samsung Galaxy F, its chamfered edges and its aluminum design.

All this and more after the break.

Stories:
HTC One M8 gets the dual SIM treatment for Europe
Project Ara lead designer departing Google
Google teases another new look for Android buttons?
More LG G Vista renders emerge, and confuse
Samsung Galaxy F leaked in real-life picture


Pocketnow

Galaxy F leaked, Android L buttons, Google Project Ara’s future & more – Pocketnow Daily

Watch today’s Pocketnow Daily as we talk about the HTC One M8 and its new Dual SIM variant. Then we talk about Google’s Project Ara, and some possible changes due to a major departure. Google follows as we are teased some more button options for Android L. LG then confuses us with some leaked renders of the LG G Vista. We end today’s show talking about the Samsung Galaxy F, its chamfered edges and its aluminum design.

All this and more after the break.

Stories:
HTC One M8 gets the dual SIM treatment for Europe
Project Ara lead designer departing Google
Google teases another new look for Android buttons?
More LG G Vista renders emerge, and confuse
Samsung Galaxy F leaked in real-life picture


Pocketnow

Galaxy F leaked, Android L buttons, Google Project Ara’s future & more – Pocketnow Daily

Watch today’s Pocketnow Daily as we talk about the HTC One M8 and its new Dual SIM variant. Then we talk about Google’s Project Ara, and some possible changes due to a major departure. Google follows as we are teased some more button options for Android L. LG then confuses us with some leaked renders of the LG G Vista. We end today’s show talking about the Samsung Galaxy F, its chamfered edges and its aluminum design.

All this and more after the break.

Stories:
HTC One M8 gets the dual SIM treatment for Europe
Project Ara lead designer departing Google
Google teases another new look for Android buttons?
More LG G Vista renders emerge, and confuse
Samsung Galaxy F leaked in real-life picture


Pocketnow

Android One and the future of the platform

So this week was exciting huh? Google I/O and the return of 3D graphics and animations in Android. Android Car, Android TV, Android Lunchboxes. All very exciting. So exciting, that it almost drowned out one of the more notable announcements of the Keynote Android One. But it’s a confusing issue, so lets talk about it a little shall we?

Android One is basically a blueprint for a low-end phone. It’s a set of hardware and software rules that OEMs can follow to make what amounts to a pretty good dual- SIM toting handset that is set to reel in “the next billion”. “The next billion” is a term to describe the next billion smartphone users who will be coming from developing nations. The first billion is pretty much all wrapped up – as absurd as that sounds. We’ve all made our decisions on what phone we’re going to carry. The next billion is still very much up in the air. So it stands to reason, that this will be the next market to dominate, and Google has got it firmly in the crosshairs.

android-oneBut at what price?

The problem that Google is now trying to address is that many, many, many low-end Android phones….well…they suck. They’re either underpowered or have operating systems that are older than most of our children, or both. What Google wants to do with these guidelines, is help manufacturers make phones that don’t suck, and are cheap so that the next billion will buy them and not hate themselves when they do. This is a pretty big deal, but it comes at a cost, and it’s time for us to decide, good reader, whether or not that cost is too high.

Android was born and has grown up as a free entity. You want to make a phone? Put Android on it. You want to keep your tablet running after HP decided you suck and it hates you? Put Android on it. You want to make a tablet, and then a phone that bears no resemblance to any other OS out there? Put Android on it. And so on. Android has never been one about rules and regulations. But now Android One seems to show that Google is realizing that maybe this isn’t such a good philosophy. Android One is basically the opposite of “Android” which is to say “You want to make a phone? Do it this way,” which is a much more Windows Phone like attitude.

 CrowdPlusses

The benefits of this are obvious – low-end, potentially sub $ 100 phones that don’t suck. That’s something that only Motorola (nd not even sub-$ 100) has really managed thus far. But there’s a ton of OEMs out there who have tried and failed. Maybe Android One is a Motorola aftertaste that it left in Google’s mouth after it chewed. Disturbing metaphors aside, Android One could be paving the way for quality low-end phones across an entire spectrum of OEMs, which could be dangerous for Windows Phone OEMs who, until now, pretty much cornered this market.

On the other hand, it needs to be repeated that this is not even close to the foundations upon which Android was founded. The old Android was free and open and “do whatever you want with it”, and that was a beautiful thing. It’s lead to a number of wonderful creations from skins, to mods, to major differentiation among the platform. Differentiation that could be threatened by these rules of a stock Android build that will grace these low-end beauties. Basically Android seems to be trading in its freedom for a little bit of security. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to take off my shoes before I can board this plane.

So…..debate!

So I put it to you dear readers. Is sacrificing Android’s freedom for a solid affordable handset worth it? Or would you rather see Android OEMs continue to throw a multitude of phones of varying quality into a market that will help define the future of mobile? This is the freedom of Android that we’re debating here. I’ve given you both sides of the argument, now I invite you to take it to the comments and as the header graphic suggests, debate. Feel free to add your own points and views and let’s see if we can figure this out together.

Leader image source: thenextweb


Pocketnow

Noble Nutlings dev Boomlagoon secures $3.6 million for future game development

noble-nutlings-650

Mobile game developer Boomlagoon has secured $ 3.6 million in a Series A funding round, led by Northzone. The round was joined by Inventure and 360 Capital Partners, among others, and will see the developer expanding its team to increase future game development.

The Helsinki-based developer was formed in 2012 by three former Rovio employees. Since its formation, Boomlagoon has grown to eight employees, and has experienced past success with Noble Nutlings (our review), the company’s physics-based racing game.

This funding will be used to create a “strong portfolio of character-driven titles,” with the first game announcement coming later this month.

“The Finnish games industry possesses some of the best technology know-how globally,” said Tuomas Kosonen, Partner at Inventure. “Experienced in gaming, [the] Boomlagoon team understands the important role that social mechanics and balance in the free-to-play model play in driving games’ success. This gives the team an advantage when designing games for casual audiences, where fun and consumer engagement are paramount.”

Check back soon for more on Boomlagoon’s upcoming games, or to follow Noble Nutlings on AppData, our tracking platform for mobile and social apps and developers.


Inside Mobile Apps

What can we expect from HTC design in the future?

HTC can’t win for losing, it seems.

Despite creating some of the most gorgeous smartphones the market has seen in the last several years, its revenues, market share, and mind share have been uncontrollably slipping, while competitors like Apple and Samsung only seem to rake in the collective losses of all the struggling companies.

This year, things could be looking up. The One M8 has received stellar reviews across the board, despite the mediocre camera. And at least so far, it appears to be selling well, despite the Galaxy S 5.

No less, the company can’t manage to dig itself out of this perpetual downfall. Executives are still jumping ship, left and right, and one very important name was added to the growing list late last week: Scott Croyle Senior Vice President of Design.

croyleYes, the man responsible for the design of two of the most noteworthy HTC smartphones of all time is leaving the company just weeks after the One M8 launch. Croyle has been with the Taiwanese company since 2008, when his One & Co studio was acquired. Ever since, he’s played an integral role in the design of all HTC’s consumer products, particularly the One lineup.

It was announced Croyle would be leaving the company last week, though his presence will still be felt in the near future. He will “be focusing on special projects and dedicated on next generation developments,” reports The Verge. Meanwhile, he will remain involved in a consultant role for the next few months.

Design, especially over the last two years, has been a very important differentiating factor for HTC. Its phones are precision-machined devices made of aluminum while much of the competition still opt for plastics which often mimic higher-quality materials. They concave to the hand, incorporate clever design (a la the IR blaster being integrated in the standby button), and look distinctive.

The question is, what can we expect from the future of HTC phones and design without Scott Croyle?

vzw-one-m8-review-3

Likely, more of the same.

The obvious fear is that Croyle’s replacement, Jonah Becker, will not be able to uphold the same high standards or that he may not have the same eye for beautiful design – that his ideas will trump those of his predecessor. Maybe he likes different materials. Maybe he prefers the resilience of the dreaded plastic. Or maybe he doesn’t like the looks of the unbalanced bezels or BoomSound speakers.

Whatever Becker may prefer or bring to the table, we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves.

Apple hasn't made any drastic changes to the iPhone in ages.

We’ve learned in the past that just one person doesn’t necessarily lead directly to a dramatic change in direction. For example, in the grand scheme of things, little has changed at Apple since the passing of Steve Jobs. (Yes, I understand that can be just as dangerous as it is a positive thing.) Likewise, Google+ also lost its father, Vic Gundotra, last week. But the platform will live on and advance, as if nothing has happened. No one immediately feared the certain death of Google+, even though we’ve never really heard much of Gundotra’s replacement, David Besbris.

Sure, big names and execs sometimes leave companies and ultimately lead to undesired changes. But important people leave companies all the time with little to no effect.

The fact of the matter is, we don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know exactly how much say Croyle had in the overall design. Did he just approve the final designs and tweak things throughout the process? Did he dot the Ts and cross the Is once the drafts were presented? Or did he see the designs through from start to finish, critiquing every last detail, ultimately playing a major part in the final products we all know today?

We will likely never know the answers to those questions.

For all we know, we may have never known the difference if Scott Croyle left quietly and the next-generation HTC flagship came next year. For all we know, it will come out looking better than ever.

As such, we shouldn’t fear the future of HTC’s iconic smartphone design.

dot-view

The hope is that Becker has learned a lot in his time as Croyle’s right-hand man. A fresh pair of eyes can often be a good thing, and hopefully he can improve on certain areas not everyone is keen on. Maybe Becker can trim away at those excessive bezels (which, admittedly, don’t bother me a bit). Maybe he has a different stance on the need for a removable battery. Or maybe – just maybe – he can create even more beautiful smartphones.

I, like most of you, will be skeptical of what’s to come next. But I also have faith that HTC can continue to create beautiful smartphones without the help of a single guy, even if he’s led to the creation of two of the most gorgeous phones ever.

Your move, Jonah Becker.


Pocketnow