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Showing posts from 2014

Why Android is better than iOS - consumer perspective

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There are two kinds of people in the world - those who argue over whether Android or iOS is better, and those who don't. I'm in the former group, though I tend to stay away from mindless name-calling fanboy fights and reserve my energy for more, mature conversations. When geeks get together and discuss/argue about iOS and Android, most of the conversation revolves around, well, geeky stuff. Open source vs closed, custom ROMs and kernels, sideloading app APKs, etc. Mostly stuff that the average consumer either knows nothing about, or just doesn't care about. But even if we leave out all the technical arguments, there are still quite a few reasons why I believe Android is better than iOS. Things that even the average consumer can understand and appreciate. You see, while we geeks argue over all the technical stuff, at the end of the day it's the user experience which determines how good a platform really is. And you don't need to be a tech enthusiasts to understand u…

Nexus 6 initial impressions

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In a world filled with several variations of the Android experience, the Nexus brand stands out as the brand for purists, tinkerers, and fans of Google's own vision for Android. I myself prefer the Google experience. I got a taste for it back when I got the 2012 Nexus 7. I then flashed a stock custom ROM on my HTC One X, and eventually replaced it with my current Nexus 5. Unlike most enthusiasts, I don't buy a new phone every year, so the Nexus 6 was never on my radar. In addition to that, my Nexus 5 is still a very good phone despite being a year old, so I'm happy to keep using it. My only concern before the Nexus 6 was released was how tempting it would be to replace my Nexus 5 with it. Luckily for me, that concern was thrown out the window as soon as rumours that the Nexus 6 would be a 6" phone started going around. When the phone finally did launch, there was a lot about it that I did like, but also a few things I didn't. Which is normal, since the perfect pho…

Why Telegram is better than WhatsApp

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Messaging apps are some of the most popular among smartphone users. Three of the top five free apps in the Play Store are messaging apps, and there are many more as well. When it comes to sheer user base, none can boast a higher number of users than WhatsApp. As of August 2014, WhatsApp reports a total of 600 million active monthly users. WeChat is second by a huge 132 million user margin. But as in other markets, just because something is the most popular, doesn't mean it's the best. WhatsApp will always benefit from being one of the earliest cross-platform messaging apps in the market. They've had years to build up their massive user base, and as long as they have that, competing apps will find it difficult to get a foothold in the market. The problem newer messaging apps face is that not many people will use a service if none of their friends and family are. What good is a messaging app if you don't have anybody to send messages to? Telegram is very young compared t…

App Spotlight, Episode 7 - Pushbullet

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There are many utility apps in the Play Store, but Pushbullet is easily one of the best apps you can have on your device. Simply put, it acts as a bridge between your mobile device(s) and your computer(s), allowing you to perform several tasks between them. Initially it was just used to easily send data between all your connected devices like links and files, but the devs are amazing at adding new functionality. The app has grown to be much more than just a tool to send files between your devices. You can also receive your phone's notifications on your computer, send SMSes from your computer, have one clipboard for all your devices, and it even has an RSS-like feature called Channels. If you want to find a way to productively connect all your devices together, this is definitely an app to checkout.

Top 5: Favourite features of Android 5.0 Lollipop

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Android 5.0 Lollipop is the biggest jump for the platform since Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which was released back in 2011. Ever since then, Android has been taking small steps towards becoming a more powerful platform, such as the introduction of Google Now in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and to look more polished and elegant, with the shift towards a lighter-coloured environment in Android 4.4 KitKat. But Lollipop is by far the biggest change for the platform, as you can probably guess by the version number. With this change comes a lot of new functionality, in addition to a huge design overhaul to make "stock" Android look more like a finished product, rather than a bare bones foundation for others to build on. I won't go through every new feature in Lollipop, there are various videos and articles out there already. I'm just going to share with you the five features which I like the most, and which I think will make the biggest impact on everyday use for the avera…

One flagship smartphone is no longer enough

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"The best or most important thing owned or produced by a particular organization". That is the definition of a flagship. For smartphone manufacturers, it's the phone that receives the most marketing, has the best software features, the best hardware specs, the best after sales software support, so on and so forth. Typically, smartphone manufacturers release one flagship a year, and if you use Android, this wasn't really a problem. In fact, it still isn't. With various flagships released each year from several different OEMs, everyone's needs were all pretty much covered. If one OEM's flagship didn't suit you, you could still choose from any of the other flagships from other OEMs. But as we've been seeing lately, the market is growing at such a rapid pace that OEMs are no longer satisfied with releasing just one flagship a year any more. Android OEMs would normally release one main flagship a year, and fill out their portfolio with lesser variants,…

Top 5: Why you should use Google Drive

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I'm a big fan of Google Drive. I've been using it almost exclusively ever since I learned about it a couple of years ago. In fact, I recorded all my Master's research data, and wrote my entire thesis using Google Drive, only turning to Microsoft Office once my writing was completed to comply with university requirements. And with 72 of the world's top 100 universities also using Google Drive, I'm sure many other students have used it the same way too. I've actively been sharing my experiences using Google Drive on social media, because I really do think it's a great productivity tool. It may have some limitations when compared to what Microsoft Office offers, but for the majority of people who create documents, spreadsheets, and presentation slides, I'm confident what Google Drive and the associated app suite (Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides) offers is more than sufficient to meet consumer needs. And despite those few limitations, Google Drive…

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus initial impressions

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Apple announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus earlier this month, and as far as I can recall, there hasn't been a messier launch by Apple than this. First off, the live stream was a disaster, and why Apple still chooses to stream its events in-house rather than on YouTube remains a mystery. Secondly, Apple had to pull all HealthKit apps from the App Store just as iOS 8 was rolling out due to a critical bug with the service. Thirdly, many "new" features that Apple added to iOS 8 such as third-party keyboards and sharing app data via Extensibilitydidn't work as intended, in addition to the usual complaints of high battery drain and poor WiFi strength. iOS 8 had so many severe bugs, Apple had to release iOS 8.0.1 just one week after iOS 8 went public. As if that wasn't bad enough, iOS 8.0.1 was even worse, killing cellular reception and Touch ID. Apple straight up removed it from their servers. All this bad press, coming hot off the heels of the #icloudhack scandal…

Moto X (2014) and Moto G (2014) initial impressions

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If there was one word I would use to describe Motorola, it would be "different". The Motorola we know today is not the same Motorola we knew before the acquisition by Google. In the sea of Android OEMs all competing to be top dog, Motorola do things differently from others. And Motorola's approach in making mobile devices too, is different from the others. Last year, I like many other Android enthusiasts were amazed at this different approach that Motorola took, both with their Moto X and Moto G. There was a lot that I felt other OEMs could learn from Motorola, and I even considered Motorola as my best OEM of 2013. The Moto X introduced a renewed focus on the software and user experience, while other OEMs focused more on numbers on the specs sheet. And the Moto G was probably the first decently priced mid-range Android phone which was actually good, which is why it became Motorola's best selling smartphone of all time. With the Moto X being a favourite among the tech…

Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge initial impressions

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While Sony had a very good lineup on display at IFA 2014, there's no doubt that all eyes were on Samsung. The fourth generation Galaxy Note was teased immensely leading up to the event, and rumours were swirling about a phone with a curved display making an appearance. That rumour turned out to be accurate, as we also got the Galaxy Note Edge to accompany the more traditional Note. What started out as an experiment back in 2011, the Galaxy Note line has thrived. At first, the 5.3" Note was considered to be ridiculously huge, but people have adapted, and Samsung has continuously improved the device year after year. More tellingly, Samsung's gamble with the Note line has seen the ultimate sign of acceptance when its largest competitor, Apple, released a 5.5" iPhone 6 Plus (I'll be writing about this too in the future). Samsung thoroughly deserved the Twitter attack on Apple that came afterwards. Known for throwing everything to the consumer to see what sticks, the …

Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact initial impressions

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It's been a very busy week for tech heads, especially Android enthusiasts. IFA kicked off in Berlin earlier in the month, and we've been bombarded with countless new smartphones, tablets, and of course, smartwatches. Sony unveiled their new Z3 lineup, a trio of devices including the Z3 flagship, successor to the Z2 which was announced just half a year ago at MWC, the Z3 Compact, successor to the Z1 Compact, and the Z3 Tablet Compact, their first small tablet in the Z series. I'm not much of a tablet person, so I won't be touching on the Z3 Tablet Compact. Instead I'll just be sharing some initial thoughts on the Z3 and the Z3 Compact. Now for those of you who haven't read any of my previous initial impression posts, you should know that my thoughts are merely from watching videos and reading articles from tech journalists, I don't have any hands on time with any of the products. In other words, my thoughts are those of the average consumer, who is only able…

"Should I get the Nexus 5, or wait for the next Nexus?"

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I've been on Google+ for quite a while now, and it's common to see people asking for advice before they purchase a new smartphone. When the question is asking about choosing between two or more smartphones that are already on the market, it makes the task of answering that question much easier. But when people ask about choosing between a phone currently on the market, and a phone that's coming soon, that's a bit more of a challenge. Not knowing for a fact what that unannounced smartphone will bring to the market makes comparing the devices pretty much pointless. Sure we have rumours, but nothing is confirmed until it's confirmed. Remember how the Nexus 5 was rumoured to have a 3000 mAh battery? Or how everyone was convinced that the next version of android after JB was going to be Key Lime Pie? Rumours no matter the source are just that, rumours. So what do you do when someone asks"Should I get the Nexus 5, or wait for the next Nexus?", which has started…

Top 5: Favourite Google I/O 2014 announcements

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Google I/O. When every Google fan and Android enthusiast geek-out over anything and everything Google announce. I gotta admit, I geeked-out pretty hard during the keynote (you can tell by all the posts I shared during the event). Even though a lot of what was announced had already been leaked before the event, there were still plenty of surprise announcements during the keynote which kept me wide awake (the event started at midnight here) until the end, almost. There were announcements regarding Android, Android Wear, Android Auto, Android TV (yes, a lot of Android), ChromeOS, Google Drive and many more. Now, this won't be a summary of the best announcements made during the keynote, there are plenty of those already out there written by journalists who attended the event. This will just be some of my personal favourite announcements from the keynote. It was difficult to narrow it down to just five, because there were so many awesome announcements. So I'm doing a top five + two…

WWDC 2014: Taking on Google and Android head-on

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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Google's Android team must be feeling mighty peachy right about now. At WWDC, Apple unveiled a bevy of new features for iOS that might have seemed vaguely familiar to the engineers of the Android team, and even Android users in general. iOS users will no doubt love the new features in iOS 8. And why wouldn't they? Android users have been enjoying them for several years now. But for Android users and fans of mobile tech in general, iOS 8 doesn't really bring anything new to the industry. But I don't want to write about all the things that Apple took from Android and added to iOS. You can read about that here, here, or even here. What I want to write about has less to do with the details of iOS per se, and more to do with Apple. Looking at what the company announced, and what was said on stage, I think this year's WWDC was a very public sign of intent of how Apple really wants to take the fight to Google and Android in …

LG G3 initial impressions

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We've seen Sony's Xperia Z2, Samsung's Galaxy S5, and HTC's One M8. Now it's time to take a quick look at the next major Android flagship of 2014, LG's G3. The G3 was quite possibly the most anticipated phone of the year thus far. The G2 of last year was a welcome break from the traditional smartphones we are used to, thanks in no small part to the rear-mounted power and volume buttons. With the G3, we knew we would be getting the same thing, but everyone was also intrigued by LG's 1440p screen that would be coming on the G3, and something to do with lasers. Ever since the LG-made Nexus 4 launched, people have been looking at LG in a different light. They are no longer known as that company that made that square phone (although, a successor is coming for some strange reason). LG are now very much a major Android OEM, and the G3 just cements their place in the spotlight.

How Android Silver could be better, or worse than Nexus

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While Samsung dominate the consumer market, Nexus devices are the preferred choice of many Android enthusiasts around the world. Being one of the oldest brands in the Android ecosystem, the only brand to ship with Android the way Google intended it, in addition to having the best after-market software support courtesy of the people from XDA, the Nexus brand is loved by many Android fanboys, myself included. So when news broke that Google might be killing it in favour of something called Android Silver, you can only imagine the heartbreak that must've been felt by Nexus fans. While it is still only a rumour, the amount of respectable sites that have published the story seem to indicate that there may actually be some truth to the rumour. While the details may still be uncertain, it does look like Android Silver could indeed be a real thing in the future. So based on what we have read from reports, I believe the Android Silver programme could actually be better than the Nexus progra…

Top 5 - Google's best moves with Android

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Google is a monster of a company. They have their fingers in so many pies it's amazing that all their services and products work as well as they do. While Search may be Google's primary business, the company is also known for one other very successful product - Android. Although Android is free, Google do benefit a lot from having 80% of the worlds smartphone-toting population own an Android device. That being said, being the owner of the most widely used mobile OS in the world has it's fair share of challenges too. It's well known that Android had a hard time growing up. Up until ICS, Android was still maturing into a state that many would consider "complete", as depicted in this drawing by Googler +Manu Cornet. In the comic strip, the mascot eating the ICS is the first to have a straight back, which is why after 3 years, we are still happily on Android 4.x. Other than the upgrade to ICS, Google have also made many other brilliant decisions with regards to A…

OnePlus One initial impressions

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There was a lot of hype leading up to the launch of the OnePlus One. Like seriously, a lot of hype. So much so that people were beginning to get annoyed with OnePlus, who were actively mocking existing flagships while they themselves didn't have anything at the time to show. Their "Never Settle" campaign pointed towards a device that would please everyone, spec heads, Android purists, people on a budget and whoever else. A phone that would be second to none. A phone that no one would settle for, but a phone that people would actually want. But as is the case with every flagship, no phone is perfect. There will always be some criteria that a phone fails to fulfil for certain individuals. But if you ask me, the OnePlus One ticks more boxes than any other current flagship in the market.

Features and gimmicks - early 2014

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Last year, I asked what's the difference between a feature, and a gimmick. In the end, I differentiated between the two by saying that a feature is practically useful, while a gimmick is not. I shared my thoughts on some of the current features offered by various flagships at the time, including BoomSound, Touchless Control, and wireless charging. As Android hardware is plateauing on the specs sheet, OEMs are forced to try to innovate in other ways, be them software additions to Android like Knock Code, or unique hardware additions on their phones like Duo Camera. I have some thoughts on some current "features" of smartphones in the market, and not all of them are useful if you ask me.

HTC One (M8) initial impressions

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Now that all they hype has died down and I've had some time to gather my thoughts, here's the follow up to my first impressions of the Xperia Z2 and the Galaxy S5 - my first impressions of the HTC One (M8), which from here on out will just be called the One. This post will actually be easier to write, as the press embargo on the One has already been lifted. While my thoughts on the Z2 and S5 were all based merely on hands-on videos and early impression articles, my thoughts on the One will be based on actual reviews, which are already on the web thanks to HTC's eagerness to quickly release the One in select markets (more on this later). So what do I think of the successor to the best smartphone of 2013? Can the best be improved? Or is it all downhill once you achieve "perfection?" My thoughts after the break.

Top 5: Why Android Wear is so exciting

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Google have made it a bit of a habit of theirs to suddenly drop surprises out of nowhere that kinda leave us shocked. First there was the sudden announcement of Android 4.4 KitKat, when everyone was sure the next version of Android was going to be 5.0 Key Lime Pie. Then there was the much anticipated launch of the Nexus 5, which happened "silently" online without any prior invites from Google (though many people were trying to act smart and decipher the "clues", only to look kinda silly in the end). Next there was the totally unexpected sale of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo. And most recently, Android Wear. Android Wear has gotten all the tech geeks excited. This is probably the most excitement we've felt since the Nexus 5 was finally released. Wearables, smartwatches in particular are still a relatively "new" area of mobile tech, despite smartwatches having already been around for a few years, like from Sony, Pebble and even Motorola (no, the 360 is no…

Samsung Galaxy S5 initial impressions

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Yesterday I shared my initial impressions of the Xperia Z2. Overall I was quite pleased with what the Z2 brought to the table. Yes it's a small update over the Z1, but when you release a new flagship just several months after your previous one, that's to be expected. Still, it did bring some welcomed improvements, like better display technology and front-facing stereo speakers, and it still looks stunning, so it's good enough. The S5 on the other hand, left me a little flat. Now I'll admit, I'm not a big fan of Samsung, or their devices, but I do give credit where it's due. I'm always saying how the Note line of devices are the best in their class. In fact, I think they are the only devices in their class (productivity devices). I also believe that while TouchWiz is a big bloated mess, there actually are some useful features, like multi-window and the S-Pen software of the Note line. So with the S5, while my overall impression of the device is a negative on…

Sony Xperia Z2 initial impressions

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While the hype from MWC is all about the Galaxy S5, I'm still quite amazed by the flagship that was announced earlier - the Xperia Z2. I'm not a member of the press, nor am I some famous YouTuber who gets to go to all these cool events, I'm just a typical (but slightly more knowledgeable) consumer with a healthy interest in mobile technology, which I think pretty much sums up the majority of the tech community. So for us who can only watch videos and read articles on the web, it's important that the manufacturers at these trade shows make their devices so amazing, that we can still be excited about them even without holding any of their products in our own hands. So without seeing the Z2 with my own eyes, or feeling it with my own hands, what do I think about it? Here are a few good and bad points I've come up with.

5 differences between the black and white Nexus 5

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One of the most common questions I see in the Nexus 5 Central community on Google+ by prospective Nexus 5 owners is, "Which should I get? Black or white?". In the end, it's always a matter of preference. I think what they really want to know on most occasions, is what the differences are between the white and black models. As some of you might remember, I bought the white model initially, which unfortunately was stolen after just a month of use. I got a replacement soon after, but this time I got the black model instead. Having used it for almost a month now, I wanna share with you the differences between the two. Of course, you can always read reviews or watch videos which are already out there, but my thoughts don't come from merely looking at the devices, they come from my experience of using them. So hopefully, you'll get a little more value from this post.

5 ways Android is easier to use than iOS

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If you know a bit about me, you'll know that my first smartphone was the iPhone 4. Prior to that I was "training" using an iPod Touch I guess you can say, so I had about 3 years of experience using iOS before making the switch to Android. During that time, I was under the impression that Android was too complicated to use, while iOS "just worked". Now, after slightly less than two years on Android, I still think Android is more complex than iOS, but it's not too complex. In fact, there are some things that I feel are actually easier to do on Android than on iOS. That's what this post will be about, 5 things that are easier to do on Android than iOS.

Current state of Malaysia's smartphone market

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Malaysian's are getting more and more invested in mobile technology. The days of Blackberry's and Sony Ericsson's have long gone. Nowadays when you walk out in public, it's a common sight to see people with iPhone's, Galaxy's, iPads and various Android tablets. I've even seen a few people using tablets as phones, unfortunately. Nonetheless, the mobile market is booming in Malaysia, and Google did what Google does best - use their collected data from search to paint a picture of how the market looks. ++ Insights by Google Malaysia posted some interesting statistics last month, sharing with Google+ users the pattern of search queries relating to smartphones in the last three months of 2013. From this data, we can see what the most popular smartphones in the Malaysian market currently are, and also when interest in those phones peaked. You might be surprised at some of the conclusions that can be drawn from this data.

Strengths and weaknesses of Android OEMs

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One of the best things about the Android ecosystem is that as consumers, we have plenty of choice. We have a variety of manufacturers to choose from, as opposed to iOS where you only have the iPhone, or WP8 where the only good option is Nokia's Lumia devices. Or even BB10 where you only have phones from BlackBerry to choose from. With Android, there is pretty much a phone for every type of person. Each OEM that makes Android devices is good at something different, which is why we have different devices made suitably for different types of people. They each have their own strengths, and of course weaknesses. That is what this post will be about - highlighting what I think is each Android OEMs strengths, and weaknesses.

How it feels to lose your phone

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Well, my one-month old Nexus 5 was stolen earlier today. Snatched right from my hands by a snatch thief on a motorcycle. I was gutted, understandably. It all happened so fast it was like I was in shock for a few seconds. Once it finally set it what had happened, I quickly got on my laptop (luckily I had it with me) and got on Android Device Manager. I tried locating it first, but no luck. Not sure why though, had tested it before with the phone and it worked. Anyway, after that I set a remote lock on the device and called my carrier to disable my sim card. Unfortunately they couldn't deactivate the phone with the IMEI number, so that's that. I'm resigned to the fact that I will most likely never see the phone again, so I sent a remote wipe via ADM to remove all my data from the phone. Also changed all my passwords just in case. So after having a few hours to think about what happened, here's my thoughts after losing my first phone in more than 10 years.

5 tips for new Android users

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Before I turned into a very vocal advocate of the Android operating system, I was a long-time iOS user. At the time, my reasoning was that iOS was just so simple to use, while Android was too complicated. I didn't want to make the effort to learn how to use Android. Now that I have, I still think iOS is easier to use than Android, but that doesn't mean Android's too difficult to use. All you need is some guidance and Android will be a breeze. That's ultimately why I started this blog in the first place - not to report on mobile tech or spread rumours and such, but to provide the average consumer (who won't usually visit sites like Android Police or Pocketnow) with basic knowledge on how to make the most of their Android device. I already wrote a beginner's guide to smartphones, as well as highlighted a few of my favourite apps, and now I will give 5 tips that I think every new (or less-informed) Android user should know.

Making the most of your Google account

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If you are any level of a Google power user, even a "light" power user, you'll probably already know all of the things I'm about to share. But it's quite surprising really, just how many of my friends and colleagues are unaware of the perks of owning a Google account. Some of them don't even know what a Google account is, or that they have a Google account. So before we move on, if you have a Gmail account, or if you use Android, you have a Google account. In case anyone wasn't sure. One of the greatest strengths of having (and using) a Google account is the connectivity we can enjoy. We can have multiple devices in our arsenal - a smartphone (or two), a tablet, and a desktop/laptop, but thanks to our Google account, all our devices will always be connected. And if you use iDevices don't worry, you can have a Google account on your devices as well. There are many benefits of connecting our devices with our Google account, and here are just a few of th…

App Spotlight, Episode 6 - Gravity Screen - On / Off

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It's been quite some time since I did an app spotlight. This time I'm highlighting an app which I think, is one of those apps that puts the "smart" in "smartphone". If you read my post about the things I like and dislike about the Nexus 5, you'll remember that I said one of the things I disliked was the power button being on the right side of the device, because I'm left handed. However that wasn't a huge problem, largely due to this app I'm using, called Gravity Screen - On / Off. I started using it on my One X, and continued using it immediately once I got my Nexus 5. What it does is basically turn your screen on or off, depending on the situation your device is in. In the couple of months I've used it, it's been an excellent experience, which I will share with you in this post.

Trends I wish will stop in 2014

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If 2013 taught us anything about the mobile industry, it's that when someone has a good idea an idea which people perceive as good, competitors will follow. Some of these ideas really are good, like HTC's front-facing BoomSound speakers, or Motorola's near-stock skin which allows for quick updates, but for some reason, nobody else seems to be following these ideas. But other ideas, which turned into trends within the industry didn't really make much sense to me. Which is why I wish they would stop as we enter 2014, or at least be changed in a way so that they do make sense. Most of these trends are "me too" trends, where OEMs do what others are doing just so they can say "we have that too!", without actually putting much thought into their products. I hope OEMs actually think for themselves in 2014 instead of carrying on with these trends.