EE's been conducting closed trials of LTE-Advanced technology since last year, so imagine the red faces when Vodafone reported earlier this month that its own faster 4G network was about to go live in three cities. EE's now being forced to play catch-up, but it's well on its way today after flipping its LTE-A network live in parts of central London, including Kensington, Old Street, Shoreditch, Soho, Southbank and Westminster. This 4G+ network, as EE brands it, should cover the whole of Greater London by the middle of next year, before rolling out to other big cities like Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester later. While standard LTE can deliver a theoretical maximum download speed of 150 Mbps, LTE-A doubles that to a maximum speed of 300 Mbps (though real-world speeds tend to be around half the max).

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

The folks at Flipboard must have been crazy busy these past months: the company has just unleashed a huge update for its iOS and Android apps, a few weeks after it finally released an app for Windows Phone. This update gives the digital magazine/social network aggregator a major makeover, with a new font and a brand new menu bar at the bottom. The menu, which you can see above, gives you quick access to your home page, redesigned profile, news tiles, notifications and an improved search function. In addition, the app comes with a feature called "The Daily Edition," a curated roundup (by the Flipboard team) of all the top stories from the day before, complete with an animated GIF at the end.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Google wants even third-party Android apps to be able to do searches using "Ok, Google" voice commands, so it's now making it easier for developers to integrate the feature. Now, all devs have to do is add a few lines of code to their AndroidManifest.xml -- they can even copy and paste those lines straight from the company's post in the Android Developers Blog. After that, users can issue vocal commands to make a query (for instance: "Ok Google, search for hotels in Maldives on TripAdvisor") from within the app. They can even do that from any screen on their phones, so long as they activate hot-word detection. Cool, right? Unfortunately, this feature also has limitations: it will only work for folks with phones running Jelly Bean and above, and only for those in English-speaking locales.

0 Comments

Xiaomi, the smartphone of choice in China, just had a really good few months selling phones. According to Strategy Analytics, it reckon the new phone maker is now the third largest smartphone maker in the world, trailing only Samsung and Apple. Its shipments have tripled in the space of a year, now up to 18 million in Q3 2014, while its share of the smartphone has also more than doubled, shifting from 2.1 to 5.6 percent. Those sales also make it the 5th largest phone manufacturer (including cheaper feature phones). While Samsung (24.7 percent) and Apple (12.3 percent) still dominate, LG's recent good run, selling a record number of phones, has also moved it to fourth. Barring making it big in India, we're looking to see what Xiaomi's going to do next.

0 Comments

It looks like the curtains have been raised early on Microsoft's attempt to join the wearable game. Windows Central points out that sync apps have appeared in the Mac and Android app stores (update: and Microsoft's), set to personalize and track data for your "Microsoft Band." Rumors had pointed to a fitness tracker more than a watch that could debut within weeks, and judging by the apps that's just what we'll get. According to the Google Play, Windows Phone Store and iTunes listings, the device itself has more in common with Nike's FuelBand than the what we've seen from Apple and Google so far. That includes tracking steps, heartbeat, calories burned and sleep quality. 9to5Mac linked a privacy agreement that goes into even deeper detail about what else it can do, namely display notifications from your mobile device or take notes and set reminders with Cortana.

Update: Microsoft confirmed that the Band will go on sale for $199 Thursday in its online and physical stores, to US customers only, in "limited quantities." Designed by Quentin Morris (who also developed the Xbox One controller), it carries ten sensors onboard to measure things from heart rate to UV exposure to stress levels, and can last as much as 48 hours on a single charge. As indicated by the apps, it's ready to work with whatever mobile platform you bring to the table, but with its built-in GPS, you can go running without a phone and still track your workout.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Confirming its own estimates from earlier this month, Samsung announced tonight that it accumulated an operating profit of $3.9 billion in Q3. That's not a bad haul for most companies in the July to September period, but last year Samsung proudly celebrated a record profit of $9.6 billion and now it's down to less than half that. Now the company is breaking down the reasons behind the drop, and everything starts with the flagship Galaxy S smartphones. Reuters notes that phones drove its growth over the last couple of years, but profits in that area dropped from 6.7 trillion Korean won last year, to 1.75 trillion in the same period this year.

That drop came as a result of price cuts for older phones and "declined shipments" of high-end models. Even slightly higher sales of midrange smartphones apparently weren't enough to right the ship, and the Galaxy Note 4 hasn't been on sale long enough to contribute. Worse, the phone sales have an effect across the company for its display, memory and CPU businesses. It expects to sell more Ultra HD and curved TVs to close out 2014, but investors will likely be more interested in how it responds to cheaper Chinese phone manufacturers.

0 Comments

A Project Ara smartphone in action

You'd be forgiven for being skeptical of Google's Project Ara -- for all the prototypes and partnerships, actually spotting a working unit has been a gigantic challenge. You won't have to jump through hoops to see one after today, thankfully. The engineering team at NK Labs has shown Phonebloks a real, honest-to-goodness functioning test phone that boots into Android. It's using an old Jelly Bean release instead of the promised Android Lollipop build, and the demo doesn't include a significant amount of functionality, but hey -- progress!

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Poynt's smart terminal

One of the many reasons you don't see widespread support for mobile payment tech like Apple Pay or Google Wallet is the hardware investment needed to make it all work. Why should a store spend thousands of dollars on machines that miss out on some features, or will be obsolete in a few years? That's what Poynt wants to fix with its new smart terminal. The Android-powered device takes just about every form of payment imaginable, including NFC transactions from your phone, chip-and-pin cards, QR codes and old-fashioned magnetic stripe cards. You can even add a cash drawer through USB. The countertop machine also has Bluetooth beacon support for in-store offers, and its app platform lets stores adapt to new services by either downloading apps or writing their own.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

CurrentC got hacked

If the retailers backing the CurrentC mobile payment system hope to topple NFC-based technology like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, they may need to improve their safeguards for your data. CurrentC is now warning people in its beta program that "unauthorized third parties" (read: hackers) swiped some of their email addresses. While that appears to be the only information at risk, the loss isn't an auspicious sign for a service that's still months away from launch -- especially one that touts privacy and security as "top priorities." It's not clear who's responsible, either, although the platform's architect, the Merchant Customer Exchange, says that it's still investigating the breach. Whatever happened, it's safe to say that the incident underscores one of the main concerns of middleman-based payment systems like CurrentC. Handing sensitive info to in-between providers, no matter how careful they are, leaves you that much more vulnerable to theft.

0 Comments

It's a little funny to see Motorola finally crafting a Nexus phone after Google sold it to Lenovo, but hey -- life is peculiar that way. What's more important is that Motorola has taken its responsibilities as Keeper of the Nexus name seriously, and put together a phone that's as big on power as it is big in your pocket. Let's go for a quick tour, shall we?

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

On Monday last week, Apple finally launched Apple Pay, the company's mobile-payment system that only works with the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and the latest iPads. (Though you can't use iPads for in-store payments.) Even though mobile payments have been around for several years now, Apple Pay is seen by many as a key step toward making paying-by-phone more mainstream due to all the increased attention. Seeing that I have an iPhone 6, I decided to use Apple Pay every day this past week to pay for everything from my groceries to a hot dog at AT&T Park during the World Series. Just to see how they would compare, I also tried using Google Wallet installed on a Samsung Galaxy S5 and a regular ol' credit card in the same locations.

The verdict? Well, the future of mobile payments is looking brighter than ever, but that doesn't mean I'm getting rid of my wallet. Let me tell you why.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

A resident of Pusack near Doebern, easte

The promise of a smart home, ultimately, is to introduce savings of some sorts be it with time, effort or money. Keen Home is targeting the latter with its Smart Vent which monitors things like outside air temperature as well as the climate in your abode to regulate heat and AC. That happens via smart device, of course and apparently the whole thing can cut your HVAC system's runtime by 32 percent according to the company. What's coming down the pike, though, is what could be the most interesting: bringing "proactive intelligence" to otherwise dumb products in the house. Specifically, sump pumps that you can monitor from a mobile gizmo and will alert you should something go awry before your basement turns into a wading pool.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

When CVS and Rite-Aid shut off their NFC-based payments to prevent customers from using Apple Pay, we heard it was because they're part of a large group developing rival technology CurrentC. Now, The New York Times has shed more light on the issue, and it turns out they did it not just to stifle the competition, but also because they're contractually obligated not to offer Apple Pay in their stores. The whole Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) group, including these two drug stores and big-box retailers Walmart and Best Buy, signed a contract years ago that binds them to Current C. That contract, signed way before anyone knew if Apple Pay was ever going to materialize, prevents them from supporting rival technologies, as doing so will earn them outrageous fines.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Step aside, Gionee, as your record for the world's slimmest smartphone has just been beaten by a fellow Chinese manufacturer. Oppo's R5, the successor to the Asia-only R3, comes in at just 4.85mm thick, thus beating the 5.15mm-thick Elife S5.1 from Gionee. Despite the crazy thin metallic body, the R5 still packs a handful of goodies: a 5.2-inch full HD AMOLED screen, an octa-core (quad 2.1GHz and quad 1.5GHz), 64-bit Snapdragon 615 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 5MP/13MP cameras (both with f/2.0 aperture), LTE radio and a 2,000 mAh battery. All of this comes in at just 155g heavy. Of course, there's bound to be a trade-off: You only get 16GB of internal storage, no microSD expansion and, unlike the Elife S5.1, no 3.5mm headphone connector here -- you'll need to use the bundled micro-USB adapter or Bluetooth (there's an optional O-Music Bluetooth clip for your headphones and for triggering the camera).

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

If you thought Oppo was done with making eccentric selfie phones, you're wrong; the Chinese company is back with a new model dubbed the N3 to replace the N1 from last September. The iconic swivel camera at the top is here to stay, but this time we have a 16-megapixel f/2.2 module with Schneider optics, and it's motorised! It's actually much cooler than it sounds: You can quickly flip the camera with a flick gesture on the screen or on the fingerprint sensor on the back -- more on that later. In addition to that, the N3 comes with a new O-Click Bluetooth remote that not only acts as a remote trigger, but it also lets you adjust the camera's angle using the extra buttons.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments