Last year we would've bet our lunch money on Vodafone being the first UK carrier to release an own-brand LTE smartphone. After all, we spotted a "Vodafone Smart 4G" picking up its roaming permit from the US communications regulator, and only a few weeks after the carrier switched on its UK LTE network. Alas, the phone was destined for other European countries and EE pipped Vodafone to the post with the launch of the 4G-friendly Kestrel. Vodafone's finally caught up, however, releasing a pair of LTE handsets under its own name: the Smart 4 power and Smart 4 turbo (left and right in the image above, respectively). The turbo is the inferior of the two, with a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and 4.5-inch 854 x 480 display, while the power is outfitted with a 1.3GHz quad-core Mediatek processor and 5-inch HD screen (we assume that means 720p). Otherwise, both have 1GB of RAM, unspecified amounts of on-board storage (with microSD support), 5-megapixel main shooters, front-facing cameras, and run Android 4.4 KitKat.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Handsome American soldier behind his computer -talking on the phone

Watson supercomputer has a new and very important job, one that's a lot different from beating Jeopardy champions or whipping up BBQ sauce recipes: helping vets return to normal life. IBM has recently formed a partnership with the USAA (the financial services firm for soldiers and their families) to create an app that can answer ex-soldiers' questions about finances and the like. For instance, a vet could ask Watson how he can get a job, what his benefits are, what his insurance covers or what the GI Bill entails. Even though Watson's been wearing many hats for years, this is the first time anyone developed a consumer app based on the supercomputer. This app pulls data from more than 3,000 documents that deal with military transitions, in hopes of making things easier for the 155,000 soldiers who retire from service every year.

[Image credit: Getty/Mie Ahmt]

0 Comments

Taking a payment on a Square Reader attached to an iPhone

Consumers have been automating apps with IFTTT (If This Then That) for awhile by, say, backing up Instagram photos to Dropbox whenever they snap a photo. Now, businesses will be able to take advantage of IFTTT directly from the Square mobile payment app. For instance, rather than just yelling "Booyah!," a company can send out a company-wide congratulatory email after closing a huge deal. Similarly, a text alert can be issued to team members to follow up a customer refund -- all of which can be pre-programmed into IFTTT. It'll also work with services like Google Drive, Twitter and SMS, to name just a few. Hopefully companies won't abuse it -- we'd hate to see a tweet after buying a particularly sensitive item.

0 Comments

Crossbar's resistive RAM

You may think that the 3GB of memory in your new smartphone is hot stuff, but that pales in comparison with what Rice University has in store. Its scientists have detailed a form of resistive RAM (RRAM) that can be made using regular equipment at room temperatures, making it practical for everyday gadgets. The trick is the use of porous silicon oxide where metals (such as gold or platinum) fill the gaps. Using the silicon material doesn't just give manufacturers something familiar to work with; it requires much less power than previous techniques, can last through 100 times as many uses and isn't fazed by heat. It's also far denser than earlier RRAM, storing nine bits per cell where even conventional flash storage stops at three. The result should be an easy-to-make RAM chip with the kind of capacity that you'd normally expect from much larger permanent storage, like an SSD -- as the company Crossbar hinted when it first discussed this approach, you could stuff 1TB into a component the size of a postage stamp.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

http://o.aolcdn.com/dims-global/dims3/GLOB/resize/600x400/http://www.blogcdn.com/slideshows/images/slides/267/695/6/S2676956/slug/l/mg-8479-800-wm-1.jpg

LG has just reported a record quarter for mobile phone sales, showing that it's taking advantage of a slump from arch-rival Samsung. LG sold 14.5 million handsets over the last quarter, its highest total ever and 20 percent more than last year -- with more than a third of those LTE models. It chalked up most of the success to its well-reviewed top-of-the-line G3 handset, along with strong sales of its mid-range L products. LG's mobile division scooped up KRW 3.6 trillion ($3.5 billion) and put an end to three straight quarters of losses. Home entertainment also performed well, climbing 3 percent on the strength of higher-margin UltraHD 4K sets. All that resulted in an operating profit of KRW 412 billion ($599 million) -- not nearly Samsung-level numbers, but at least LG's are going up, not down.

0 Comments

Samsung Galaxy S5 (left), leaked Galaxy Alpha (right)

Many have assumed that Samsung's fabled metal smartphone would be a very high-end device, but some new leaks hint that it could be considerably more modest. Both SamMobile and Tinhte have posted photos of the Galaxy Alpha (shown on the right), a mid-range Android handset that reportedly touts a 4.7-inch screen and that long-rumored, slightly more fashionable metal trim. It's not certain exactly what's under the hood beyond LTE-Advanced data, although SamMobile suggests that the internals would slot in neatly between the Galaxy S5 and its smaller, slower mini counterpart. Alongside a previously rumored 720p screen, the Alpha would supposedly pack 32GB of (sadly non-removable) storage and either an Exynos 5 Octa or a Snapdragon 800 for a processor -- good enough, but not great.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Google Maps' Explore feature on Android

Google quietly slipped out a big upgrade to Maps' local discovery features on iOS a couple of weeks ago, and today it's Android's turn. Once your device gets the refresh, you should see a new Explore guide that offers suggestions for things to do based on both context and your tastes; it knows not to point you to a nearby park when it's raining, and can suggest breakfast spots the night before you need them. In that sense, Google Maps could become a solid alternative to familiar location-based recommendation apps like Yelp and Foursquare. Don't be surprised if it takes some time for Explore to arrive, though. It's just starting to reach Android this week, so you may have to rely on other tools for a little while longer.

0 Comments

If you've hailed an Uber ride on a Windows Phone handset, you're aware that the you were beamed to the service's mobile site rather via a full-fledged app. That changed today, as the taxi outfit returns to Microsoft's mobile OS with proper software. This means users can lock in location, call for a ride and sort payments with a properly equipped handset. Uber's app is missing a few key features though, as in-app fare quotes, sharable trip info and fare splitting are on the way soon. While that's a bit of a bummer, the new version is available now for those looking to take advantage.

0 Comments

Puppy Pop on an LG G3

Are you an impulsive gamer? So impulsive that you can't even wait to unlock your phone before you start playing? If so, LG is entirely willing to cater to that (frankly disconcerting) behavior. The company has just launched Puppy Pop, the first game designed to work with the G3's QuickCircle case. It's a clever demo of what that round case window allows, although it's only a game in the loosest sense of the word. All you're doing is matching as many puppy heads as you can before time runs out -- it might do for a quick diversion at the bus stop, but it's not hard to see this wearing thin over time. You can grab the app today if you're curious, although you might want to wait for more substantial titles down the road -- or better yet, unlock your G3 and make full use of the phone you paid for.

0 Comments

To celebrate the start of Comic-Con tomorrow in San Diego, Marvel is kicking off a promotion that provides an all-you-can-have pass to its entire digital library for less than a dollar. There are a few caveats, as expected, but not enough to make the offer seem any less attractive. According to Wired, Marvel Unlimited, which is home to more than 13,000 comics, can be accessed over the next week with a simple payment of 99 cents. The deal will only give you an in to the service for one month, but the renowned publisher is hoping that's plenty of time to keep you locked in beyond said period.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

0

Whether you're looking to replace your laptop or just find something to keep you entertained, there's a tablet out there to suit you. But with an ever-increasing array of slates crowding the market, narrowing down the list can be a chore. So we've sorted through the pile and picked out some of our favorites for both power users and media consumers. Our complete buyer's guide is always just a few clicks away, but feel free to cruise through the gallery below for a quick rundown of the best tablets you can buy today.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

The Foursquare faithful have had some time to get used social venue tracker's Swarm option for sorting check-ins, as the outfit jettisoned the activity to a second app. Folks who didn't want to give up the OG method were still able to tally stops, but now the redesigned search-focused software is imminent. As of tomorrow, you'll have to use Swarm for all check-ins, and Foursquare claims that about 75 percent of your fellow users have already made the leap. What's more, the company has a new logo to go along with the upcoming app that it's teasing as well. Once you pipe in info on your personal tastes, follow a few experts and make a few stops, the new Foursquare will learn about your delicate sensibilities and make recommendations based on the gathered info. However, you don't need to have Swarm installed to make use of the original app's new focus on "personalized local search." As you can see in the screenshots above, the directory will offer to hop over for a check-in -- if you've installed both applications, of course. Unfortunately, there's no date for the official arrival, but the announcement claims you'll be leveraging the tidied up ratings and tips "really soon."

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Amazon's recently announced music service for Prime members just got a bit better. Today, the giant online retailer revealed that its Prime Music library is welcoming a bunch of new songs into the mix, from artists such as Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Kendrick Lamar, Shakira, Skrillex, Ella Fitzgerald, DJ Snake & Lil Jon (#TD4W, anyone?) and many, many more. To make use of these newly added tunes, Amazon said it has curated "hundreds" of fresh Prime Playlists, citing this feature as one users have come to love since the service's launch last month. Amazon will need to keep making similar moves if Prime Music is to be a threat to the likes of Spotify, so this is, without a doubt, a step in the right direction. The next natural step would be expanding outside of the US, but record labels might make that a lot more complicated than it sounds.

0 Comments

Whether you're a fan of Captain Kirk or Picard (we're Team Picard here), you have to admit it's apt that William Shatner is reviewing the celebrity-exclusive Facebook app -- he definitely loves some VIP prestige. The Priceline huckster gives a surprisingly in-depth feature-by-feature comparison between The Social Network's Mentions app and Pages, which everyone has access to, but not before throwing some shade toward the starship Enterprise's yellow-shirted helmsman and all-around social-media-guy George Takei. Apparently, when you first sign into Mentions you can't proceed any further until you follow one of Facebook's suggested celebrity accounts.

"The first person on the list I was given was George Takei (rolling my eyes.) I ended up choosing Robert Downey Jr. to follow and then I hid his posts (sorry Robert!)."

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

With Nokia's range of Android-powered smartphones all but dead, Microsoft is pushing its newly-acquired Lumia line harder than ever. Today, it's introduced the lowest-priced Windows Phone to date, the Lumia 530, delivering middle-of-the-road specs for €85 ($114). For that, you'll get a 4-inch FWVGA (854 x 480) display, quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal memory (with support for 128GB microSD storage). There's also a 5-megapixel camera on the rear (no selfie camera here folks), which is controlled by Microsoft's latest Windows Phone 8.1 software. That, of course, offers access to Cortana (if you're in the US), the new WordFlow swipe keyboard and a multitude of other custom Microsoft- and Nokia-crafted apps. Like its older siblings, the Lumia 530 will also come in both single and dual SIM (3G) variants and offer interchangeable back covers, which will be available in the traditional orange, green, white and dark grey colors. Microsoft's latest Lumia will go on a global tour in the near future, starting with an initial rollout in "select markets" from next month.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments