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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

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Android Central 2014 Readers' Choice Awards

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 02:08 PM PST

Another year has come and gone. And that means it's time for the annual popularity contest.

We asked you fine folks to give us your picks for the best smartphone. The best tablet. The best smartwatch — a new category for us this year!

And these are the winners. Your winners.

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Weekly Photo Contest: Darkness

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 02:08 PM PST

We hope you're all coming back from a great holiday week ready to take some photos and win more prizes. We're going from bright sparkles in the last contest to "darkness" for this one, and even though it's on the opposite end of the spectrum we're sure you can take just as many great shots. With all of the craziness surrounding CES next week, and the lack of a contest last week, it made sense to extend this week's contest a full two weeks. You still have just one entry allowed, though, so make it count!

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HTC apparently has 'some huge surprises' coming in 2015

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 02:08 PM PST

According to HTC's Jeff Gordon (he's their Senior Global Online Communications Manager), 2015 is going to be a big year for HTC. Of course, as their head online PR guy he's not going to say that 2015 will be a ho-hum year for the Taiwanese manufacturer of some of our favorite smartphones and the latest Nexus tablet, but we can't help but be interested in what HTC is planning on bringing to bear in the coming year.

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HTC has some “huge surprises” in store for 2015

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 12:21 PM PST

HTC had quite a year in 2014. Not only did the company release quite possibly its all around best smartphone yet with the HTC One (M8), it also stepped outside the phone arena releasing the RE camera and got back into the tablet game with the Nexus 9. But apparently 2015 is going to be even better.

Jeff Gordon, Senior Global Online Communications Manager at HTC, took to Twitter today to get us pumped for HTC's plans in the new year by saying "HTC's 2015 roadmap will be our best ever–with some huge surprises that will blow you away." While nothing specific was mentioned, based on rumors we imagine more cameras, tablets, an Android Wear device and at least one flagship phone are all in the works. If we're lucky, that will be just the beginning.

HTC may not have a perfect track record, but no one does. And when they release something good, it's usually really good. Consider us excited for what HTC has in store for us in 2015.

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64GB Moto X Pure Edition now available from Motorola

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 11:54 AM PST

SkEye, the perfect companion app for any stargazer

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 11:51 AM PST


Without a doubt, one of the most wonderful pieces of equipment a person can own is a telescope. For centuries, these optical devices have been used to bring objects afar close to both the eye and the soul. And, now that most of the gift-giving this holiday season has passed, you, like a few people I know, may have received one of these instruments.

I could spend pages talking about Newtonian reflectors or laser collimators, but this being Talk Android, I'd like to give you my review of an app I have used for a few years that has made stargazing incredibly fun and easy. The app is called SkEye and it brings a planetarium straight to your smartphone or tablet.

One of the most challenging things about astronomy is finding objects in the sky to look at. Assuming your equipment is set up the way it should be, how do you determine where your planets and other celestial bodies are located? This is the main problem SkEye sets out to resolve.

SkEye works by using your device's sensors to determine where your phone's back-side is pointed relative to the night sky. It uses a combination of three sensors: the gyroscope, accelerometer and the magnetometer. The app uses the sensors splendidly without much lag or jitteriness and, in my experience with the app across several versions of Android, custom ROMs, and different devices, SkEye has never had any issues with reliability in pinpointing where my smartphone has been aimed.

The most powerful feature of SkEye is its search-and-direct tool. Let's say you really want to find Neptune in the night sky, but Neptune, unlike the closer planets, is fairly hard to distinguish from the millions of other twinkling stars in the night sky. Simply click the three vertical dots in the top right of the SkEye starmap and tap "Search" in the pop-up menu. From there, you can type in or find "Neptune". You will then be re-directed to the starmap, with a bullseye reticle and arrow that will guide you to Neptune's location in the sky. Hopefully it's above the horizon!


If you're just playing around without your telescope, you can also scroll around on the starmap to see where things are. This will disable the alignment to your phone so you can freely roam about. To get back to alignment mode, just click "Back" in the top left.

SkEye's database on objects is immense. The free version contains all stars up to Mag 8 and approximately 200 NGCs, whereas the pro version contains all stars up to Mag 10 and all known NGCs and ICs. Both versions also include Messier objects. The app will even let you locate satellites and the International Space Station!

SkEye also offers the ability to change color themes to help your eyes better switch from your device's screen back to your telescope. The night theme uses a red-light overlay, which is very easy on the eyes in the dark so readjustment is much quicker. A lot of objects you will look at through your telescope can be faint, so if you just got done looking at a bright smartphone screen, it can take quite a while for your eyes to readjust.


In closing, if you or someone you know got their hands on a telescope this holiday season, SkEye is definitely something you don't want to pass up. There is a free version for the app or, if you want to support the developer and get some added goodies like the complete database, the pro version will run you $6.

Have fun out there and prepare to feel very tiny when you get your first look at Jupiter!

qr code

Google Play Download Link [Free Version]

qr code

Google Play Download Link [Pro Version]

Developer's Website: SkEye

Come comment on this article: SkEye, the perfect companion app for any stargazer

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You can now buy a custom Pure Edition Moto X with 64GB of storage

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 11:48 AM PST

If you've been holding out on buying a custom Motorola Moto X until you can snag an upgraded version of the handset with 64GB of storage, your wait is finally over.

It may have taken awhile, but the totally unlocked, contract-free 64GB Pure Edition Moto X — the best version of the second generation Moto X — is available now from Motorola's web store starting at $599. The 64GB option certainly isn't cheap, but without SD expansion it may be the only viable option for some. Fortunately, Motorola has an excellent track record in supporting its phones for well after release, so you can rest easy spending that much on a phone with the intention of using it for a couple years.

To pick up your 64GB Pure Edition Moto X, hit up the source link below.

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Moto X Pure Edition gets a 64GB option for $599

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 11:38 AM PST

The Moto X Pure Edition just got a new storage option. Previously available in 16GB and 32 GB flavors, the Pure Edition now has an option with 64GB of internal storage. Buying a 64GB Moto X Pure Edition will run you $599.99.

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Android Authority End of the year survey

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 11:14 AM PST

Moto X (2nd Gen) now available in 64GB option, Pure Edition only

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 11:06 AM PST

Moto X 2014 64GB

Didn't see this one coming. We're just about ready to ring in the New Year and out of the blue, Motorola announced the availability of the Motorola Moto X 2014 in an all new 64GB storage configuration.

Hitting Motomaker at $600 without any of the other fixins (wood or leather), the option — which adds a cool $100 to the base model — is only available for the Moto X Pure Edition. You know, that regular 'ol smartphone that got Lollipop before the Nexus 5. Yeah, that one.

Better late than never, we suppose.


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The Interview was the top selling movie in 2014 on Google Play and YouTube

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 10:49 AM PST

interview_picture1 After all of the drama surrounding the release of "The Interview", it turns out the film did pretty well in Google's online store. The comedy pulled in about $15 million from Google Play and YouTube, officially making it Google's best selling movie of 2014. Considering it's only been out for one week, that's an impressive number. This number also marks "The Interview" as Sony Pictures' highest grossing digital film ever.

Since the film only saw a very limited release in theaters (and there were was still plenty of controversy surrounding that) it only brought in about $2.84 at the box office, which is pretty low. For comparison, Seth Rogen's "This Is The End" made $20.7 million on its opening weekend in theaters.

Sony is estimated to have spent about $80 million making the movie, so it's currently still in the hole on getting a return on the movie. The $15 million doesn't completely even things out, but it's a start. There are still other sources of revenue for the movie, including iTunes and Microsoft's online store, but according to the report Google Play and YouTube made up a majority of revenue for the movie.

Nothing about this movie's release has been normal, but it'll be interesting to see if movie studios will be more willing to test the waters for digitally releasing movies the same day as theaters. There's clearly some market here, but it remains to be seen if it's profitable enough to replace the traditional box office model.

Did you rent or purchase "The Interview" since it was released last week?

source: Bloomberg

Come comment on this article: The Interview was the top selling movie in 2014 on Google Play and YouTube

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Google puts song lyrics websites out of business by adding lyrics to Google Search Knowledge Graph

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 10:34 AM PST

Google Play Music YouTube Music Key

Once upon a time, if you needed an accurate script of the words recited in a song, you'd head to Google and punch in "[name of song] lyrics," right? And Google would simply spit out a list of lyrics websites loaded up with as many ads as you can handle and, eventually, the very list of words you're looking for.

But those sites could soon find themselves in a pinch thanks to Google's latest move. The company has started showing song lyrics for select songs in Knowledge Graph, their big database of information that aims to tell you what you need to know when you need to know it (and the main driving force behind Google Now).

google lyrics

Our search for Stone Temple Pilots' lyrics to "Plush" presented the information in the cleanest layout we could ask for, and even hooked us up with a handy link to the lyrics and the ability to buy the song on Google Play. And the best part is there's not a single ad to be had.

Convenient, handy and useful. But it's not all good news, particularly for those whose life this might negatively affect: owners of song lyric websites. While Google still includes those wonderful sites in their long list of search results, most folks might not even see them anymore as Google's built-in lyrics sit on top of everything else. Viewing the search results on my 1080p monitor forces me to scroll down before I'm able to see the first actual listing (as illustrated in the screenshot above).

The short term effects of this change might not be immediately severe — after all, Google doesn't yet have lyrics for every song you can think of. But the more deals Google strikes with recording companies to offer these lyrics in Google Search and on Google Play, the more traffic to those age-old lyrics sites will fall off. And knowing how much money Google has we reckon it won't be long before they snap up more of said deals.

What makes matters worse for those guys is YouTube — Google could leverage the treasure trove of song lyric videos uploaded there to not only offer up lyrics, but also actual songs to listen to while you're perusing those sweet words your ears have come to love.

Whether those sites will be rendered completely obsolete with the move remains to be seen (worth noting here that Google isn't the only search engine in the world, though it is the largest), but don't be surprised if this move eats up so much of those folks' profits that they're eventually forced to close up shop. Give it a go on Google Search the next time you're interested in seeing what your favorite song consists of in text.

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Amazon is giving away $110 worth of apps and games for free today

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 10:06 AM PST

Amazon now has 33 paid Android apps available for free

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 09:48 AM PST

If the 40 free applications that Amazon gave away last week wasn't enough to satiate your hunger for new apps, the company is back today with even more goodies for your Android device.

Amazon is now offering 33 paid Android apps for free as part of its latest Free App of the Day Bundle. There are games and utilities packed inside of the bundle, including big names like Monopoly, République, Thomas Was Alone, Lyne, and Angry Birds Star Wars.

If you'd like to grab one or many of these apps, you have a few ways to do so. You can easily get them on an Amazon Fire device, you can get 'em using the old Amazon app for Android, or you can sideload the Amazon Appstore.

There are quite a few quality apps available in this new bundle, and hey, who doesn't want a bunch of new games to help pass some downtime in 2015? If you download any free apps from Amazon's Appstore today, be sure to let us know what you got!

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Expensify Adds Beta Camera Features: Rapid Fire Mode, Add From Gallery, And LED Flash Support

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 09:22 AM PST

unnamed (1) When one of your app's core features is built around the camera, your camera interface had better be up to snuff. Take Expensify for example: this expense report app just released an update that overhauls its camera feature, which is designed to save and automate your receipt reporting. The updated "beta" camera adds a ton of useful stuff, none more so than the capability to use your phone's LED flash module, which was apparently missing before.

Expensify Adds Beta Camera Features: Rapid Fire Mode, Add From Gallery, And LED Flash Support was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Get up to $110 worth of apps for free with Amazon's Free App of the Day bundle

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 09:22 AM PST

Amazon is offering a major promotion on their Appstore, featuring several paid apps for free. The bundle has a total value of around $110, and includes the following utilities and games:

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Pro-tip: Avoid Uber surge pricing on New Year’s Eve by riding at the right times

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 09:20 AM PST

waiting for uber

It's New Year's Eve, and that means many of you are likely gearing up for a night of partying and, for a lot of people, drinking. Cabs will be in high demand because of that, so drivers will look to drive their prices up (no pun intended) to manage the increased load.

Uber, being the awesome folks that they are, did some dirty work on their end and gave us a quick look at when they expect their prices to be at their highest (otherwise known as surge pricing) based on previous trends.

The first takeaway is that ride activity drastically rises between the hours of 12:30 am, just after the iconic crystal ball in New York drops, and 2:30am, which we imagine is around the "winding down" hour of any parties or bars celebrating the event. As such, it's probably wise to hitch a ride either immediately after the calendar turns to 2015, or wait until well after the crowd has dissipated a couple of hours later.

uber fare spikes

Another quick takeaway is that there tend to be moderate spikes around 9pm, the time we imagine everyone is looking to get to their destination to start the party. While fares at that window of time aren't expected to be as expensive as the first rides of 2015, you could save a couple of bucks by getting to your party a bit early or a little late (and who doesn't want to be fashionably late, anyway?).

But no matter when you decide to head home, we urge you to let someone else turn the wheels if you've been drinking. There have been enough accidents in 2014, and there's no reason not to call on a cab or give Uber a spin to make sure no one is seriously injured or, at worst, killed due to foolishness on the very first day of 2015.

[via Uber]

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Xiaomi’s Mi5 gets another leak with fingerprint scanner in tow

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 09:20 AM PST

Xiaomi-Mi5-Mi4S-Leaked- With CES just around the corner and Xiaomi set to show off the Mi5, and as we wind down the days to that fateful announcement we're going to be seeing a lot more of the device in the form of leaks and rumors. Today is no different as we're seeing a rumor that the new Mi5 in white, along with a fancy feature in tow.

From what we see by the leaked photo (above), the phone looks almost Galaxy-esque in design and like both the iPhone and Galaxy series, will sport a fingerprint scanner on the home button. The scanner will function much like TouchID and Samsung's fingerprint scanner. One thing we should always do with rumors, is take them with a grain or two of salt. Considering this image looks different than the black device we saw earlier, who knows which one will be debuted at CES.

Given that Xiaomi is said to be worth $45 billion, it'll be interesting to see what the company has in store with the new device. Rumored to be 5.5-5.7 inches in terms of screen size, a phablet with decent specs could do well. Especially if it's decently priced. Of course, it being available in the US is another thing entirely.

source: Gizchina (Italian)

via: Phone Arena

Come comment on this article: Xiaomi's Mi5 gets another leak with fingerprint scanner in tow

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Sony unveils a trio of limited edition Xperia Z3 devices

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 08:50 AM PST

While having color options is one thing, sometimes a little bit of extra creativity for a smartphone or tablet can go a long way. Thankfully, limited edition devices tend to pop up every once in awhile to spice things up.

The latest batch comes from Sony's German arm, which has recently revealed through its official site [translated] three new Xperia Z3 devices that feature unique works of art on the back, each depicting a major city of the world. The city of Berlin is depicted on the back of the Xperia Z3, from artist Vera Tapani Sammalisto. Tokyo, which has been printed on the back of the Xperia Z3 Compact, is from Shinpei Hasegawa. And, finally, Warsaw, from January Feliks Kallwejt, is printed on the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact.

image Xperia Z3 Warsaw

The creations are part of the "Stadt Talente" project.

image Sony Xperia Z3 Berlin

Each device is available now, but only in Germany, and according to the official posting there are only 33 of each available to buy. The Xperia Z3 and the Xperia Z3 Compact are available in four different colors each, while the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact will be available in two different color options.

The limited availability only compounds the limited edition nature of the devices, but for those who do manage to get their hands around one or more of these, they will certainly stand out.

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Best Cricket phones

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 08:44 AM PST

Palm phones could be making a comeback, thanks to Alcatel Onetouch

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 08:34 AM PST

Palm may not be dead yet. Photo: Anthony Goto/Flickr Some might say HP threw in the towel on Palm and its webOS software a little too prematurely, but it seems another hardware manufacturer may be willing to give it another chance. Alcatel Onetouch appears to have purchased the Palm brand from HP, but it's currently unclear what the French company intends to do with

The post Palm phones could be making a comeback, thanks to Alcatel Onetouch appeared first on Cult of Android.

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Privacy policy on the Moto X

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 07:38 AM PST

Privacy and smartphones is something of a popular — and important! — topic, especially after the last few years of spying scandals and security breaches. It's often not clear how much data from your device is being collected, not just by your apps and by Google, but by the manufacturers. It's also often unclear just how to turn that off on your phone should you wish to not have your data being shared with them.

Well, Motorola wants to respect your wishes, and so the company has made it easy not only to disable device feedback but also for Moto X users to see exactly what the privacy policy for its phone is.

It's transparency done right, and it's worth highlighting here.

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Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro performance: benchmarks vs reality

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 07:33 AM PST

When it comes to tablets, many expect to use them for more productivity than their phones. As such, they expect their tablet to have some extra horsepower to keep things running smoothly. Lenovo designed the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro as a device that could be used for serious productivity and media uses, aided by its large display and innovative kickstand. But does the performance match up with that goal? Read on to find out.


Benchmark Test Score
Geekbench 3792 (single-thread) 2467 (multi-thread)
AndEBench Pro7116
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited16621
SunSpider 1.0.2750ms

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro performs well in benchmarks. It can be topped by a few other devices, but for the most part, it holds up very well. Benchmarks aren't everything, though, so let's talk about how it performs in day-to-day activities.


In everyday performance, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro runs fairly well but occasionally stutters. These stutters and slowdowns are likely due to a mixture of software and hardware; in particular, the huge high-res display. The 13.3-inch display has a resolution of 2560×1440, and that's a lot of pixels to push around. Lenovo stuck a 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor inside and paired it with 2GB of RAM, but it's not quite enough to keep the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro constantly running at full steam.

That being said, however, the lag was only mild and never caused any problems with usability. For the most part, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro runs very well and won't bother you with its performance. Gaming is decent, with nearly every game running at perfectly acceptable frame rates. Looking at the big picture, Lenovo did a fine job with the performance, even if there is the potential to do better.

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30 best Android apps of 2014

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 07:30 AM PST

Chromebooks can now run Linux in a window

Posted: 31 Dec 2014 07:30 AM PST