Google Now Arrives on iOS As Part of Google Search 3.0

 This morning Google Search 3.0 arrived in the Apple iOS App Store giving millions of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users access to Google Now, an “information assistant” that has been available on Android-powered smartphones for the past year.

Once you have activated the Google Now feature in the Google Search app, you can use Google Now to see time and weather updates based on your current location, get notices of breaking news and your favorite sports teams, area restaurants, and currency exchange rates.

Rumors that Google Now was coming to Apple’s mobile operating system appeared back on March 12 when a leaked video showing off Google Now’s iOS tutorial video appears and was quickly pulled down from YouTube.

For more information, visit the Google Now website.  Google Search is a free application in the iOS App Store (link). To use the Google Now features, you must be running iOS 5.0 or later.

Facebook Home Goes Live on Select Android Handsets

If you are the type that just can’t get enough Facebook and you use a Google Android smartphone, you might be interested to know that Facebook Home is now available for download from the Google Play Store.

Facebook Home provides deep Facebook integration into your Android-powered smartphone putting your friend’s status updates, notifications, and Messenger chats front and center so you always know what’s going on.

According to BGR, compatible devices include the HTC One, HTC One X, HTC One X+, Galaxy S4, Galaxy SIII, Galaxy Note II and of course HTC’s (2498) First. Unfortunately, Facebook Home is only available in the US right now and you must be running Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS or later.

Want to learn more about Facebook Home?  Check out Facebook’s promotional video.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiqbNxRurFA]

[Via BGR.com…]

Sprint Begins HTC One Pre-Orders

Sprint has begun taking pre-orders for the black HTC One smartphone.

HTC’s latest premium Android-powered smartphone will begin shipping for Sprint customers this coming Friday, April 19.  The best part?  If you pre-order online, the black HTC One will be a cool $99 when you sign a two-year service agreement.

“BLACK HTC ONE COMING SOON 

For a limited time, save $100 on this phone when you bring your number to Sprint on a new line of service. 

Pre-order: Order online today, we’ll charge your card for your phone and we’ll do our best to get it to you before others get a glimpse on Friday, April 19. Ordering more than just this phone? Please complete your pre-order package checkout and come back to order additional items.”

The One has all of the things you would expect form a modern Android phone:

Google Android 4.1 OS
2300 mAh battery supporting 19 hours of talk time
4.7″ (1920 x 1080) display
1.7GHz quad core processor
2GB RAM, with 32GB of flash storage
Dimensions: 5.4″ x 2.7″ x .37″
Weight: 5.0oz

The HTC One comes in two colors, black and silver.  From the Sprint website, it sounds like the black version is the one that is going on sale first with a lead in like “Black HTC One coming soon.”

Personally, I like the silver model better, but the black one looks nice too.

I recently had an opportunity to play with the silver HTC One at a recent press event that Sprint attended and it has an amazingly crisp and bright display.  For the few minutes that I was able to play with it, the touch screen seemed responsive and there was no hesitation from Android when scrolling or changing apps.

This is the first Google Android-powered smartphone that made me think about switching from the Apple iPhone 4S.

For more details about the HTC One, visit the Sprint website.

Google Updates Chrome Browser for iOS

Today, Google released a new version of their Chrome browser for iOS devices.

When running on a compatible iPhone or iPod touch, you are now able to run Chrome in full screen mode by scrolling the entire screen up, pushing the URL toolbar off the top of the screen allowing you to interact with the web page.  To get the URL bar back, simply scroll down again.

But I think that the more interesting update is Google adding the ability to print using their own Google Cloud Print service, or by sending your print job over the air to your wireless printer using AirPrint.

Anti-paper, are ya?  No problem.  Google still has you covered because you can now also save any web page as a PDF document in your Google Drive.  That’s pretty nifty

You can download the latest update from the App Store icon on your iDevice, or you can install Google Chrome from the App Store for the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch (link).

FaceBook Event To Feature New Android Home Screen Integration

After posting about a possible new Facebook smartphone yesterday, a new report today from the Wall Street Journal suggests otherwise.

The Journal reports:

“The social network is developing software for mobile devices powered by Google Inc.’s Android operating system that displays content from users’ Facebook accounts on a smartphone’s home screen—the first screen visible when they turn on the device, people familiar with the situation said.”

The Journal goes on to report that hardware manufacturer HTC will be the first partner announced and that the social networking company is pursuing other handset.  Facebook has been investigating new ways to keep it’s users fixated  on spending more time interacting with the service as a means to extract more revenue from the sale of online ads.

So the only question that I have is whether or not this feature will be baked into the new HTC One that is launching in a few weeks.

The HTC One smartphone

[Via WSJ.com…]

A Pair of Often Rumored Phones About to Get Real?

We have been hearing and reading rumors about smartphones from Facebook and Amazon for a long time now.

The Facebook Smartphone

Facebook phone rumors are nothing new.  I recall reading a TechCrunch story about it in 2010.  At the time, Facebook spokesperson Jamie Schopflin told Mashable that, “[T]he story, which originated in Techcrunch, is not accurate. Facebook is not building a phone.”

That was then, and this is now, and judging by the “media only” event invitations that went out, something’s up.  I seriously doubt that Facebook would be holding a media event for a major new release of their mobile app for Android or iOS.

The Amazon Smartphone

Amazon smartphone rumors are a little bit more recent.  They didn’t start until people saw that Amazon could build a credible tablet beyond the Kindle e-reader as CNet talked about back in 2011.  Will we see the book-seller-turned-tech-giant CEO Jeff Bezos on stage later this year hawking a Kindle Fire smartphone?

According to AppleInsider.com, DigiTimes has been at it again leaking information about Amazon’s Android powered smartphone shipping this year.  The rumors of a new Amazon smartphone flared up again when DigitTimes indicated that Amazon was witching from a 4.3″ display to the larger 4.7″ “phatablet” size.  Lending credence to that idea, that an Amazon smartphone is still be months away, is this little snippet that appears in the AppleInsider story:

“Development of Amazon’s rumored handset reportedly remains fluid, and the retailer is said to be “working on or enhancing other specifications” of the device.”

Take Aways

So, what we can gather, if any of these rumors are accurate, is that both Facebook and Amazon are hard at work on their smartphone plans.  Facebook looks to be closer to the finish line as they are calling a major tech event next week.  It is unclear how Facebook would position a smartphone.  Would they view themselves as a premium brand go try to complete directly with Apple and Samsung on the high end?  Would they go after the smaller Windows Phone and BlackBerry market?  Or would they they to complete on the “free with a new 2-year contract” level?

Amazon, still looks to be refining their device to get the most bang for the buck, which makes sense because the Kindle Fire isn’t about profit margins on the hardware, it’s about how much can the vendor sell with their own “a store that fits in the palm of your hand” smartphone.  With that in mind, I can’t see Amazon trying to position their phone any higher than the mid-market.  Since Amazon is more about selling things and content, it makes more sense to me that they would have their own phone on the low end side, and continue to develop their mobile apps for iOS, Android, and all the rest to maximize the number of people viewing the goods they have for sale.

[Via AppleInsider.com…]

Thanks to Mike C. for the tip…

Gmail App for iOS Updated

Yesterday, Google released and update for their popular Gmail app for iOS.

The updated email client now allows you to swipe left and right while reading messages to move to the next or previous message.  Additionally, once you select one message in your mailbox, a new “edit” menu appears at the top of the screen giving you quick access to archive, delete, or more options.

If you are a Gmail user with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you will want to install this new version of the app.  The ability to apply Gmail tags to messages from my iPhone is the one features that I wish Apple’s stock mail app had.

But there is one other reason that you will want to consider installing the Gmail app for iOS if you use Gmail heavily, Google is gradually dropping support for “push” email notifications.  In the future, the only way to get push Gmail notifications of new messages is to switch to the Gmail app for iOS or switch to an Android smartphone.

Samsung Unveils the Galaxy S4

New York, USA, March 14, 2013 – Samsung Electronics announced today the fourth generation GALAXY S, the GALAXY S 4, designed to get you closer to what matters in life and bring your world together.

Understanding what matters most to us in our lives, the Samsung GALAXY S 4 was developed to redefine the way we live and to maximize our fulfillment of life. This sleek and innovative smartphone makes every moment of life very meaningful; it understands the value of relationships, enabling true connections with friends and family.  It believes in the importance of an effortless user experience, making your life easy and hassle-free; and, it empowers your life, helping take care of your well-being.

The beauty of the phone is the highly crafted design encompassing a larger screen size and battery, minimized bezel; all housed in a light (130g) and slim (7.9mm) shape. The Samsung GALAXY S 4 is slimmer yet stronger, with less to hold yet more to see. It has come up with simply unreal beauty. At launch, two color options will be available – Black Mist and White Frost; with a variety of additional color options to follow later this year.

“With the GALAXY S 4, Samsung is again going to enhance the way we live,” said JK Shin, President and Head of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung. “All the innovative features of GALAXY S 4 were developed based on the insights and needs we found from our consumers all around the world. Following the successful GALAXY S series, this phone is yet another great proof point of people-inspired innovation. At Samsung we’ll never stop pursuing innovation conceived by people, so we can inspire them in return.”

Samsung GALAXY S 4 Product Specifications:


Network 

2.5G (GSM/ GPRS/ EDGE): 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps): 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
4G (LTE Cat 3 100/50Mbps) : up to 6 different band sets(Dependent on market)
Display
5 inch Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 441 ppi
AP 
1.9 GHz Quad-Core Processor / 1.6 GHz Octa-Core Processor
The selection of AP will be differed by markets. 
OS
Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
Camera
Main(Rear): 13 Mega pixel Auto Focus camera with Flash & Zero Shutter Lag, BIS
Sub (Front): 2 Mega pixel camera, Full HD recording @30fps with Zero Shutter Lag, BIS
Video
Codec: MPEG4, H.264, H.263, DivX, DivX3.11, VC-1, VP8, WMV7/8, Sorenson Spark, HEVC
Recording & Playback: Full HD (1080p) 
Audio
Codec: MP3, AMR-NB/WB, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, WMA, OGG, FLAC, AC-3, apt-X
Camera
Features
Dual Camera: Dual Shot / Dual Recording/ Dual Video Call
Drama Shot, Sound & Shot, 360 Photo, Cinema Photo, Eraser, Night, Best Photo, Best Face
Beauty Face, HDR (High Dynamic Range), Panorama, Sports
Additional 
Features
Group Play: Share Music, Share Picture, Share Document, Play Games 
Story Album, S Translator, Optical Reader
Samsung Smart Scroll, Samsung Smart Pause, Air Gesture, Air View, 
Samsung Hub, ChatON (Voice/Video Call, Share screen, 3-way calling) 
Samsung WatchON 
S Travel (Trip Advisor), S Voice™ Drive, S Health
Samsung Adapt Display, Samsung Adapt Sound
Auto adjust touch sensitivity (Glove friendly)
Safety Assistance, Samsung Link, Screen Mirroring
Samsung KNOX (B2B only)
Google Mobile Services
Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Latitude
Google Play Store, Google Plus, YouTube, Google Talk,
Google Places, Google Navigation, Google Downloads, Voice Search
Connectivity
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (HT80)
GPS / GLONASS 
NFC,  Bluetooth® 4.0 (LE)
IR LED (Remote Control), MHL 2.0
Sensor
Accelerometer, RGB light, Geomagnetic, Proximity, Gyro, Barometer
Temperature & Humidity, Gesture
Memory
16/ 32/ 64 GB User memory + microSD slot (up to 64GB)
2GB RAM 
Dimension
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm, 130g
Battery
2,600 mAh

Read the full press release on the Samsung website.

Rumor: Google Now Coming to iOS

Take this with a grain of salt, because I’m putting this in the ‘rumor’ category, but…if a supposedly ‘leaked’ video is real, Google’s next assault on the iOS ecosystem will be the up until now Android exclusive Google Now digital assistant.

“Google Now, an Android-only app that aims to provide users with “the right information, at just the right time”, is coming to iOS, if a leaked video is to be believed. Google reportedly posted this promotional video to YouTube accidentally.”

As you might imagine, the Google video was quickly pulled from YouTube, but you can watch the video below.

[Via MacRumors.com…]

Third-Party App Invasion

I’m a stock iOS guy.  I don’t jailbreak my iPhone.  (Go #TeamPure!) I don’t tweak it.  I do install apps, games, and utilities.  But my every day go to apps have always been the stock Apple apps: Mail, Safari, Calendar, and Siri.  Until today.

Starting today, I’m going to try out some third-party applications as my every day go to apps.  Why? you might ask?  Well, I’ve been reading a lot about how Apple is being ‘out Appled’ by Google.  In other words, Google is getting much better at hardware design faster than Apple is getting better at software and services.  That doesn’t really mean much to us common folk, but it has inspired me to try out and use new software and that is a good thing.

On my iPhone and iPad 3, Mail has been replaced by Gmail, Calendar by Fantastical, Safari by Chrome, and Siri by Google Search.  I also installed Google Maps in addition to Apple Maps, but honestly, I don’t use either maps app on my iPhone very often for it to make a difference.

I though about using Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Cloud Player or Rdio to replace iTunes but I didn’t want to switch to a streaming service because I don’t want to run my iPhone’s battery down any faster than it already does.

I’ll run my experiment for 2-4 weeks and then post my thoughts about things here.

If you have a favorite app that replaces a stock Apple app, let us know and post it in the comments section below.