Nexus 5 now available for purchase at Google Play. Delivery appears delayed another 2-3 weeks.

The Nexus 5 is now available for purchase at Google Play www.google.com/nexus/5/

Price is $349 for 16 gig and $399 for 32 gig.   However it appears there will be a delivery delay of 2-3 weeks so it’s not clear if you can get one faster this way or waiting for stores like Best Buy to stock them.   I’m betting online is best…..

Nexus 5 Specsus

EVOLUTION OF THE ANDROID OS

EVOLUTION OF THE ANDROID  OS  –  A Technology Report Guest Post

By Charlie O’Hay

Released in September 2008, the Android OS has gone through an abundance of incarnations—ever increasing its functionality and flexibility—though not all of the transitional versions were made commercially available.  Here, we’ll trace the Android OS timeline and define the features and advantages of each version available to consumers.

Version 1.0

Released in September 2008, this version was designed for the HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1, but ended up not being used on any commercially available device.

Version 1.1

This version tweaked 1.0 and was commercially released exclusively for the HTC Dream (T-Mobile G1) in October, 2008. Adjustments resolved some of the bugs experienced with version 1.0. Features included web browser, Gmail synchronization (with app), Google Search, Google Maps, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Google Talk, instant messaging, text messaging, and media player.

 

Version 1.5

Released in April 2009 and codenamed “Cupcake” by Google, this version was the first major release to be made available in a range of devices. Features included camcorder support to record and watch videos, easy upload of images and videos to websites like Picasa and Youtube, Bluetooth enhancements, animation on screen transitions, and an on-screen keyboard with predictive text.

Version 1.6

Nicknamed “Donut,” this September 2009 release included new camera, camcorder, and photo gallery interfaces, improved voice search technology, Google navigation, text-to-speech engine, multi-touch gesture support, and Virtual Private Network support.

Versions 2.0 and 2.1

Version 2.0 (October 2009) was quickly followed in January 2010 by Version 2.1, consequently 2.0 appears in few devices. Version 2.1 (nicknamed “Éclair”) has proven quite successful, owing largely to its improved user interface, enhanced speed, improved virtual keyboard, Contact and Account improvements, and an array of camera enhancements—including flash, digital zoom, white balance, scene modes, and macro zoom.

Version 2.2

Nicknamed “FroYo” and released in November 2010, version 2.2 allowed tethering to as many as eight WiFi “hot spots” or connection via USB. Other enhancements included camera improvements, multi-lingual keyboard support, quicker app access and faster browsing, Bluetooth improvements, and Microsoft Exchange.

Version 2.3

“Gingerbread,” as it was called, was released in December 2010 and offered an improved user interface, a faster and more intuitive virtual keyboard, copy/paste capability, improved power usage status and power management, internet phone calling, Near-Field Communication support and tagging, new download manager, front and rear cameras, and support for barometer, gravity, gyroscope, linear acceleration, and rotation.

Version 3.0

Released in February 2011, “Honeycomb” was the first Android OS to target the large-screen tablet devices. Features geared to tablet users included a new system bar, action bar, a customizable home screen, and a list of recently used/downloaded apps. The keyboard was again streamlined and the copy, cut, and paste functionality improved. Other features included Bluetooth tethering, support for physical keyboards, multi-core processor support, 2D and 3D graphics support, and applications for larger screens including browser, camera, gallery, contact and email.

Version 3.1

This June 2011 update retained the nickname “Honeycomb” included improvements for tablet users—including navigation and animation improvements essential for entertainment purposes and playing Android games. USB support for a more varied array of accessories (including keyboard, mouse, and digital camera), support for joysticks and gamepads, improved WiFi networking stability, expanded recent apps list and updated set of standard apps (browser, gallery calendar, contacts, and email).

Version 3.2

Still called “Honeycomb,” this July 2011 version continued to provide enhancements for tablet users—including compatibility zoom for fixed-sized applications, direct application access to SD card file system, and extended ability to handle different screen sizes.

Version 4.0

Released in October 2011, “Ice Cream Sandwich” merged the phone-based design of the second generation with the tab-centered design of the tablet-friendly third generation.  The user interface and apps selection were again redesigned, and users could now save often used items in home folders and a favorites tray. Other improvements included resizable widgets, lock screen, network data control, and faster call response. Users also benefitted from camera/camcorder improvements (including image stabilization, the ability to take still shots during video, and photo editing). The browser could now deliver full-sized web page appearance, and this version featured improved email, NFC-based sharing, and WiFi-direct suppotrt.

Version 4.1

Released in July 2012, “Jellybean,” as it was called, included even more user interface enhancements (including improved touch response and transitions; expandable, actionable notifications; and adaptive keyboard). Other popular features included the ability to instantly review photos, external Braille input and output via USB, enhanced voice search capability, photo sharing, USB audio, and Google Wallet.

Version 4.2

The most recent Android OS version to date maintains the “Jellybean” name and allows multiple users for tablets, a PhotoSphere feature that allows 360º images, keyboard gesture typing, Daydream feature to display info while a user’s device is isle or docked, and the ability to beam photos or videos to another device.

This is a guest post by Charlie O’Hay, a tech expert & Big Fish Android games enthusiast.

 

A Few Mobile Applications for Bad Weather

Mobile Applications to help in Bad Weather

A Guest Post by Alex Robinson

When a blizzard rolls through town, all you want to do is stay inside, stay warm and stay entertained. Cold weather, especially the type that has been drilling the East Coast recently, can cause a problem when it comes to staying warm thanks to freezing temperatures. Fortunately, cold weather doesn’t have to rob you of your entertainment.

One look at an app store on your smartphone or tablet and you know that you have hundreds and hundreds of app options available. But which ones will help you weather the storm?

  • Music apps – specifically, Spotify Premium. When the power goes out, the Internet goes with it. When you don’t have an Internet connection, which apps are even useful? Spotify Premium users know the answer to that question.  Even when you’re offline, with the Spotify app, you can listen to music. That includes all your established playlists and Spotify radio.
  • Flashlight apps – specifically, Best Flash Light! by RV AppStudios. Flashlight apps are a dime a dozen, but this app has something that makes it invaluable in a no-power situation: a timer. If a snowstorm takes out your power before you get a chance to light some candles, a flashlight on your phone is an invaluable asset. Use the timer on this specific app to turn off the light after a few minutes so you don’t drain your phone’s battery.
  • Weather apps – specifically, Weathermob. With a blizzard on the way, you want to know where it is – and what it looks like. This weather app combines the storm tracking you need to feel prepared, with pictures of the storm that other users of the app have uploaded. You can check forecasts, reports, news and attach photos and videos right in the app. You’ll be able to see what other storm-watchers have uploaded, including their captions. This app also offers Facebook and Twitter integration to keep you as social as possible.
  • Games – specifically, Angry Birds. No, Angry Birds isn’t anything new, but once you’ve downloaded this app, you can use it offline. This addictive app is perfect for hours where you can’t watch TV and those playing cards have gotten old. An app like this will keep you occupied and entertained while you ride out the storm, especially if you choose one of the themed-games, like the Star Wars version of Angry Birds.

Other tips to getting through inclement weather conditions?   Save as much battery as possible. One of the easiest ways to do that is to turn down your phone’s screen brightness, and close any apps running in the background.

Now, an accessory that is incredibly handy for iPhone users during a storm power outage is a self-charging case, specifically, the Mophie Juice Pack Helium.

Instead of worrying that your phone is going to die, and being left without the electricity you need to charge it, take comfort in these wireless cases. They are thin cases, protect your phone and charge your phone with just the flip of a switch.

With these apps, and some convenient accessories, you’ll be able to weather any winter storm 2013 has to bring.

This is a guest post by Alex Robinson, a tech expert and blogger for InternetServiceProvider.net .

CES Preview – Mobile Aps Showdown hosted by Jon Hein and Gary Dell’Abate of the Howard Stern Show.

CES Mobile Apps Showdown – turn your 2 minutes of mobile fame to your new fortune. 

Gary Dell’Abate and Jon Hein are hosting a great CES event on Thursday where competitors will showcase their mobile applications in the hopes of winning the “best mobile application” based on different criteria such as online voting and even audience applause.  A showcase event will follow where you can ask questions and test drive some of the applications you liked in the contest.

It’s encouraging to see a lot more internet centric events at CES in recent years.    In Technology Report’s 2008 coverage we noted that “Web 2.0″ and social media emphasis seemed a bit lacking but CES has made good progress in those areas – especially mobile internet which many see as the most fertile ground for expansion of the online landscape.

12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012
LVCC, North Hall, Room N255-N257

From the official website of CES 2012, CES Web:   Cesweb.org

Pit your mobile app against the competition during the Mobile Apps Showdown at 2012 CES! Apps producers will have two minutes to demo their app, and an applause-o-meter will measure audience enthusiasm to determine the winners. Guest emcees Gary Dell’Abate and Jon Hein from the Howard Stern Show will host the event. 

Enter at MobileAppsShowdown.com.

Now in its third year at the International CES, this event, honoring the best smartphone and tablet apps, will take place on Thursday, January 12, 2012.

Judges will select 10 finalists for the apps competition, which will take place live at the 2012 CES and online. Two winners will be selected, one based on a live vote at the 2012 CES and the other based on online voters at the site.

Nominations for the competition are now open. Developers can submit entries to be judged by a panel of tech experts including Gina SmithChristopher NullHelena StoneDave Whittle and other industry notables. Ten finalists will have a chance to present on stage at the 2012 International CES, held January 10-13, 2012, in Las Vegas. Readers of the Mobile Apps Showdown website will have a chance to try the apps and vote for the people’s choice award. Winners will be awarded based on audience response, both online and live at the Las Vegas Convention Center at 2:30 p.m. PT on Thursday, January 12, 2012.

Special Hosts Gary Dell’Abate And Jon Hein Add To The Fun
Co-hosts and fellow techies Gary Dell’Abate and Jon Hein, from SiriusXM Radio’s Howard Stern channels, will once again bring their inimitable wit and knowledge of all things geek to the festivities. For extra fun, they’ll lead a rollicking trivia contest. Want to see last year’s fun? Watch the Gary/Jon show in action. All contestants will be available to show their apps at a “meet up” immediately following the event. 

Winners of the 2011 CES Mobile Apps Showdown
Last year’s mobile apps winners have gone on to become two of the most successful apps on the market today. DriveSafe.ly 2.0, an app that addresses the hazards of road distraction, won based on audience applause. Line2, which gives smartphone users a second line, won the online ballot with over 50,000 votes. Clixtr and Gwabbit, winners in 2010, have gone on to rank as some of the top selling apps and still feature its Mobile Apps Showdown Award prominently. Good apps. Good business.

See you at CES 2012!

Wordlens – a free iPhone text translator

Update:  After seeing the demo of Wordlens and hearing that reviewers were “disappointed” due to speed and effectiveness I think this application needs a lot of work.

Remains, however, a great idea

Kudos to the folks at Quest Visual:  Questvisual.com.   Their free  iPhone application “Wordlens” allows real time translation by simply pointing your iPhone at a sign or other text.

As any traveler knows it’s very helpful to be able to interpret signs, menus, and  other text.   This is naturally very difficult in countries where you don’t speak the language.    Wordlens is only available in spanish now but other languages are on the way, and this is clearly a great step in the direction of our phones and handheld devices becoming “universal translators”

Via Singularity Hub

more at Quest Visual:  Questvisual.com

Got Google Hardware?

Reuters reports today on the delays in the Google Chrome Netbook which will push the device launch into the middle of 2011.    Although it’s far too early to see if Google can break into the hardware business profitably, it’s somewhat surprising how difficult is has been for Google to branch out successfully into hardware adventures like smartphones and netbooks:  http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6B65H620101207

My take is that Google is very concerned about protecting it’s dominant and hugely profitable online advertising empire, and is working hard to find ways to make sure they can capitalize on the boom in mobile device usage.     However I think all parties are exaggerating the profits to be had in mobile.   Tiny screens mean far less real estate on which to advertise.  Also, difficulties with targeting, advertising fatigue, and many other factors suggest to me that even as mobile online use explodes the profits from this may not, although larger screens and more netbooks could help preserve the existing advertising streams indefinitely.

As always we’ll have to stay tuned to see how this new online landscape shakes out.

Smartphone browser wars heat up, but Apple still dominant.

Information Week online has a nice summary graph and article showing what appear to be trends in mobile operating system adoption.   Apple’s still dominant with 56%, but that is falling from 70%.   Only Android shows growth and that growth is substantial – now at 25%.

Although it’s now clear that Smartphones are a key global browsing tool and that this use will grow explosively, it is not clear if Apple can retain their dominance in this market – perhaps with price drops on the iPhone or other innovations that may bring Apple devices into the price points demanded by many late adopters.

Apple iPad / iPhone vs Samsung Galaxy

PC World has compared the iPad and the new Samsung Galaxy Tab with this great comparison chart.

PC World seems to feel the Galaxy is the first real competitor to Apple’s iPad even though that’s not really true at all – e.g. the Dell Streak.

At fist glance the Galaxy Tab really seems superior with phone capabilities, lighter weight, and two cameras vs the iPad’s zero.

However it’s never clear the the legions of Apple’s enthusiastic customers would stray from the mother brand, and many products have flamed out assuming that unlikely scenario.   Still, it seems that Apple’s brilliancies in the iPhone and iPad are starting to be duplicated here, with the EVO phone, and with arguably superior form and function, so the future, as usual, remains uncertain.

Got Landline? VOIP, Magic Jack and the fall of the phone

One of the most significant trends in technology is the shift in phone pricing and usage patterns.    Ironically we now spend far more on phone related services than in the past even as we spend far less per call for conventional usage.    Thanks to Skype, Magic Jack, Vonage, and dozens of other ISP based phone services you can now generally make long distance calls at a tiny fraction of the former cost.     There are important exceptions to the plummeting price rules, such as using your own US cell phone in Europe which can have catastrophic cost implications.

However for local and US long distance you should review your current setup and consider alternatives.     Some of the points to consider are:

Do you need a landline?     If no, consider just using your cell phone.
Do you make a lot of calls?   If yes, you may want unlimited use plans.
Can you port (move) your landline number to your cell phone?    If yes, it makes moving to a “cell phone only” more plausible as you won’t lose your old phone number.
How expensive are your cell calls?      If “expensive”, review your contract – you should not be paying all that much anymore for great service and many calls.     Texting has become the new way to gauge customers so review those plans as well, and DO NOT let your children make phone decisions without your understanding – they rarely do a cost benefit analysis, making teen texting and ringtone purchases some of the most cost inefficient phone usage in all of history.

Magic Jack is not for everybody but they keep lowering the bar on “nearly free” calling and are now preparing to offer expanded free calling services, number porting, and more:  AP Reports

In my opinion a good general rule is that you generally can do much better than having a “separate landline”.      For me this takes the form of “bundling” my landline phone with high speed internet and cable TV.     But markets differ and deals change almost daily in terms of who is offering what.     If your landline is separate from your internet, you may benefit greatly by “porting” your local number and using VOIP  (Voice over IP) services such as Magic Jack, Vonage, or other internet based phone services from your local ISP.

No Touch Computing via 3D Sensors

The San Jose Mercury News has a summary today of the advent of “no touch” computing that will be coming fairly soon thanks to three dimensional sensors that represent the world to the machine in a much richer fashion than simple flat, 2 dimensional models.     3D sensors will allow people to interact with many devices in a much more natural way – for example via simply looking at a screen and moving your hands you could have dramatic control over a gaming environment.

The Mercury News seems to be suggesting that useful applications are about 5 years out but I’d guess we’ll have robust no touch devices within 3 years and high quality direct brain control within a decade.    Braingate is already using brain control and  Emotiv has developed a commercial version brain control device that uses theta waves that are read froma sensory “cap” with about 16 sensors.      The Emotiv headset will be available to consumers this year.

Mercury News article