Inbox by Gmail 710p featured

If you missed out on the first wave of invitations for Google’s new Inbox email client don’t fret, Google has been handing out another batch in the last 24 hours. Furthermore, another round of “Golden Ticket” invites will be will be arriving today for current users to dish out to their pals.

invite to inboxInbox users should see a golden invite icon appear in the Floating Action Button menu sometime in the next few hours. You can then invite others to join Inbox simply by entering their Gmail address. Last time each Inbox users was granted 3 invitations to give away and the same will likely apply this time.

For those who have avoided the madness that has gone along with this invitation-only rollout so far, Google Inbox attempts to be a self-organizing email client, which tries to sort all of your clutter into easy to recognise categories and offers up reminders if you want to deal with an email later.

If you are still curious about what all the fuss is about, check out our overview and hands-on video right here.

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ES File Explorer Chromecast live

One of the better Android file managers out there has added a modern touch, ES File Explorer has added Chromecast support.

More specifically, ES File Explorer is getting an update its own, without any Chromecast goodness, Streaming to your TV comes from a new plugin app that is free to install from the Google Play Store.

The list of features and abilities of ES File Explorer is something that seems to constantly grow, and this Chromecast addition is a welcome feature for many users. Being that ES File Explorer provides you access to all of your files on device, and full access to your external SD card, if you are rooted, it is nice to gain Cast functionality, instead of relying on other local streaming apps like AllCast or LocalCast.

Beyond your local files, don’t forget that ES File Explorer can access most of your cloud storage accounts, local network shares, FTP network shares and more. Not only this, but the built-in media players are very handy for quick and dirty consumption.

ES File Explorer Chromecast plugin

ES Chromcast Plugin is promoted as an entry level app, a Beta, if you will. The folks at the ES App Group are eager to get your feedback and suggestions. For example:

For my testing, I found that the basics of tossing a local image or video to screen worked quite well, on an individual basis. I could not manage to get a series of videos to play without having to fire up each individually, and all media encountered a short delay at first cast. Despite the pleasant fade out of images while viewing a slideshow, there was a short black screen before the next image would load, should you have the slideshow running under 5 seconds per photo, you may end up missing a few.

Despite ES File Explorer being able to access your cloud storage accounts and stream the content to your device, you may find that streaming content just won’t cast to the big screen.

Not a bad cons list, for a first attempt. The best part of ES Chromcast plugin, at least for some, is that it will play all of your animated gifs. Yes, plunk your saved Androidify character to the big screen, it’s totally worth it.

ES File Explorer is free in the Google Play Store, download now or wait for the update to roll out soon, if you do not have it already. ES Chromecast plugin is also free in the Google Play Store.

Has anyone put ES Chromecast through its paces, is it good enough to replace AllCast and LocalCast?

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microsoft life band

Update: The Microsoft Band is official. The device will be available from today online and in Microsoft stores, for $199. The band’s 10 sensors will feed health and activity data into Microsoft’s new Health Cloud service. More details about the Microsoft Band here.

Original post:

Wearable tech. Depending on whom you talk to, it’s either the biggest joke ever, or an invaluable life asset. Differing opinions aside, one thing is crystal clear: it’s here to stay, and with Apple now in the game, it’s about to explode. While some companies have released no less than six devices in the past year, others such as Microsoft have stayed away, but that’s about to change.

The Microsoft Band has been prematurely outed by none other than the big MS itself, along with application information that indicates it will be compatible with Android/Google Play. The device was spotted thanks to a syncing client that was published in the Mac Store, as well as an Android app, now available in the Play Store. The apps don’t give away many details, but it seems the Microsoft Band (Lumia Band?) will have all the conventional functionality of fitness trackers, including step tracking, calorie counter and more. Given that Microsoft already published the accompanying apps, the official announcement of the device could be iminent.

microsoft band android app (5)
microsoft band android app (1)
microsoft band android app (2)
microsoft band android app (3)
microsoft band android app (4)


What remains to be seen is how useful/original/relevant this device will be considering its about to enter an increasingly crowded market.

Perhaps the better takeaway message here lies in the story itself: multi-platform support. In addition to Android and (obviously) Windows, the Band will be compatible with Apple’s iOS. This is a dramatic step forward from the more narrow-sighted Gear wearables, where Samsung has deliberately locked them all to only run on Samsung devices, and only recent devices at that. Given that mainstream consumers have yet to buy into the whole fitness and fashion tech push, Microsoft seems to be taking the correct step in appealing to as large an audience as possible. The real question is when others will begin to do so as well, especially with some facing dire situations.

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Material Design apps

Google opened up sales to the brand new Nexus 6 today, it ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is the first version of Android that is imbued with Material Design. No better time to push out Material Design to a handful of Google apps, this time out we look at Drive, Docs, Slides and Sheets.

The updated versions of your trio of office suite apps – Docs, Slides and Sheets – in conjunction with your Google cloud storage solution, Google Drive, will start rolling out right away and may take a few days to get to everyone.

One of the biggest changes you’ll notice, across all the properties, is the addition of an “Incoming” link in the left hand menu. This section holds all of the goodies that others have shared with you through Google’s services. Not unlike the Incoming section you would find in Google Drive on the web.

Material Design for Google Drive Docs Sheets Slides

The Material Design improvements are about as good as you’d expect to see for non-Lollipop creations. The hamburger menu gets a little overhaul and there are a few nifty new animations to enjoy, including a new refresh animation.

In terms of functionality, I am very excited to see some old school keyboard shortcuts updating in the mix. Ctrl+C should work much better now when attached to a Bluetooth keyboard. A new “Make a copy” button under “Share & export” again duplicates features found in Drive/Docs on the web.

Last, Google Sheets is receiving a tiny addition that will make some of us very happy, you can now select a range of cells, by tapping and dragging, while editing a formula.

For a fresh install of Google’s apps, head on over to the Play Store – again, that was Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides getting the Material Design touches today. For those of us with the apps already installed, look out for the updates coming soon.

Are you liking all of these Material Design app updates slowly trickling through, or would you rather just wait for Android 5.0 Lollipop to get them all at once?

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Phonebloks has unveiled the first prototype for Project Ara. The modular device that debuted earlier this year has come a long way. A developer conference is scheduled for January of 2015. Read more…

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The recently launched Motorola Droid Turbo for Verizon is set to go global as the company has sent out invites for an event in Brazil showing off the rear side of the smartphone. Read more…

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The Amazing Choose Your Own Android Giveaway

According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, smartphone sales from the last three months show that Android is continuing its dominance of the European OS market with a 73.9 percent share, with Apple holding 15.4 percent and Windows having just 9.2 percent of the market. In fact, Android continues to hold a 70 percent or higher market share in many countries.

In the US, Android grew the most with an increase of 4.5 percentage points over the year to 61.8 percent, ahead of iOS which declined 3.3 percentage points to 32.6 percent. Android’s overall share of the Chinese market was up 3 percentage points to 83.4 percent, while iOS was up 1.4 percent, to take a 15.2 percent share.

Kantar Worldpanel shows that iOS market share is barely outgrowing Android across the five largest markets in Europe, growing 1.5 percent year-on-year against Android’s 1.4 percent, but dropping 3.3 percent in the USA. However, Apple’s share in countries like the United States and Japan were lower when compared to the same timeframe last year.

kantar1

Kantar also found that Windows Phone continues to flop with just a 9.2 percent share of sales in Europe’s big five countries: Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy and Spain. That figure is down 0.3 percentage points year on year. In the US, Windows Phone took 4.3 percent of sales in the quarter, also down from last year.

One of the oddest findings was that Italy seems to be the only country where the Windows Phone is growing with a 1.5 percentage point rise. This gives Windows Phone a 15.2 percent share in the country, second only to Android’s 71.8 percent share.

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motorola Droid turbo verizon

The newly announced Motorola Droid Turbo is an exceptional smartphone, but its exclusive ties to US carrier Verizon have left some feeling that they might miss out. However, the handset might be heading out to other countries around the world too, as an invite for a launch event has appeared in Brazil.

The invitation, which was sent to Brazilian media, suggests that a launch event will be taking place on the 5th of November at 10AM. The message invites guest to a “technological experience without boundaries”, suggesting a high-end launch of some kind, and is accompanied by an unmistakable image of the Droid Turbo’s nylon back cover.

Brazil Droid Turbo Event

Left: Invitation. Right: Droid Turbo at the Verizon launch event.

Furthermore, a mysterious Motorola XT 1225 with 64GB of memory and the same 3,900 mAh battery as the Droid Turbo recently passed through Anatel, Brazil’s telecommunications regulator. The model number has also just cropped up in an XDA forum post. Motorola also has an active history in Brazil, having launched the Moto G in the region not too long ago. The bigger question is will the smartphone ship out globally as well?

Additional rumors are suggesting that the Droid Turbo might be renamed to the Droid Maxx come its Brazil launch, and there’s a chance that the name could stick in other regions too. Motorola filed for the “Moto Maxx” trademark at the US Office of Patents and Trademarks back in July, suggesting that this could be the name of the handset if it retails through other US carriers.

It’s all a little unknown right now, but I would be surprised if such a great smartphone remained exclusive for long. Hopefully everything will be a lot clearer come November 5th.

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t-mobile logo Thomas Hawk

As we have previously discussed, T-Mobile is currently in talks with the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges from their involvement in the practice of “cramming”, which involves wireless carriers allowing third-parties to bill customers for Premium SMS services. The carriers are then given a portion of the money collected by the third-parties.

Now, Wireless Week points out that over the past two quarters, T-Mobile has accrued more than $50 million to cover the estimated cost of a refund program and settlement payments that likely will occur when the FTC and T-Mobile come to a settlement.

According to an SEC filing, in the second quarter T-Mobile accrued a $24 million reduction to service revenues to cover the estimated cost of a refund program. For the third quarter the carrier accrued an additional $29 million to cover anticipated settlement payments regarding an ongoing FTC lawsuit over cramming. - Wireless Week

TMobileCrammingExampleBill

Of course, T-Mobile made many millions off the cramming scam (as did other carriers). According to some reports, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile made millions off these scams which was costing customers roughly two billion dollars per year.

Recently, AT&T agreed to pay the FTC over $100 million to settle a similar cramming charge.

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gold note 4

Too much disposable income? No problem. This gold-plated Note 4 edition can relieve you of $2,000 in a pinch.

The Note 4 is already one of the most expensive Android smartphones you can buy (alligator leather-clad Vertus not included). The device starts from $700, though in many countries from around the world, the price tag is closer to $1000.

One of the color versions the Note 4 is available in is bronze gold, but if you live in Vietnam, you can get the unmistakable sheen of real gold for an extra $1100. A company called Golden Mobile plates the aluminum frame of the Note 4 with precious 24k metal, and the result is quite striking. You will need to supply your own device, bringing the total price of the extravaganza close to two grand. But our guess is, if you’re even considering gold-plating your phone, you don’t really care about the price, do you?

This, of course, isn’t the first mobile device clad in real gold. HTC released an 18k gold-plated special edition of the One (M7) in October 2013. And there are specialized companies out there that will infuse your device of choice with as much bling as you like.

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