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Viber's a Worthy Alternative to Outgoing GrooveIP
January 30, 2014
Google has been clamping down on third-party apps that ride piggyback on its Google Voice telephony service. A merger between Google Voice and Hangouts this year will result in the shuttering of an open protocol exploited by apps that used the Google Voice service for free SMS texting and VoIP calling. The days of free Internet-based in-U.S. smartphone calls over Google's network are numbered.
How to Slim Down a Bloated Android Device
January 22, 2014
It's a good idea to prune an Android device periodically, for a few reasons. A mishmash of apps, some aging, have all kinds of on-device routines running that can negatively affect performance. Worse, some are continually accessing the Internet and eating into your data cap -- unlimited wireless Internet on mobile devices is practically nonexistent these days.
Can Android Challenge Embedded Linux?
January 21, 2014
Is the Android OS morphing into a new form of embedded Linux? Android is a Linux OS derivative perched to make inroads beyond its growing user base in smartphones and tablets. Some auto makers are considering the potential for Android-connected communications systems in their vehicles. The Android OS is already available as an all-in-one desktop computer powered by System on a Chip circuitry.
The Blackphone vs. the NSA
January 20, 2014
Well Linux bloggers have made it plain from the get-go that privacy is among their top concerns for 2014, and recent events have done nothing to shift that focus. President Obama's momentous speech proposing NSA reforms wasn't the only clarion call last week. We also heard from Mozilla, which appealed to security researchers to help keep Firefox source code unadulterated and backdoor-free.
What's Up With Tizen?
January 15, 2014
Consumers might soon have access to cheaper, more talented smartphones that could challenge the market dominance of Android and iOS. At least that is the promise from the Tizen Association. The growing group of phone makers and application developers recently launched a partner program with 36 companies from all segments of the mobile and connected device ecosystems.
With Nova Launcher Prime, the Problem Is Too Many Options
January 10, 2014
Here's a simple way to refresh the look and functionality of your newer Android device without going to the trouble of rooting, bootloader-unlocking or installing a customized ROM. It's by using a home screen replacement app called a launcher, which is essentially a super-customizable home screen with themes. The one I'm looking at this week -- Nova Launcher Prime -- is one of the most popular.
All Things Appy: 5 Best Number-Crunching Apps for Firefox
January 10, 2014
When you need to deal with numbers, nothing beats the old PC, along with its full-sized screen, keyboard and browser. Firefox is a robust PC browser with numerous add-ons that's well-suited to mathematics. This week, we look at the top five best and must-have add-on apps for crunching operations in that browser. First up: Status-Bar Scientific Calculator, a calculator that lives in your status bar.
How to Speed Up a Sluggish Android Smartphone
January 09, 2014
One of the disadvantages of retaining a phone after the expiration of a two-year contract -- as many of us do -- is that those older phones have accumulated a few years' worth of digital gunk. They're clogged up like an aging sewer on the wrong side of town. Just like on a PC, bits of app and OS code become discombobulated -- orphaned from the parent program.
How an Aging Sprint Device Can Reduce Your Android Phone Bill
January 08, 2014
In case you hadn't noticed while wandering the aisles of your local consumer electronics big-box retailer, there is an explosion of mobile virtual network operators hitting the marketplace. MVNOs are telcos that buy capacity from major operators like T-Mobile or AT&T, for example, and sell it on to you. Walmart and América Móvil's Straight Talk calling product is an example.
Setup's Sharp Edges Don't Mar TinCan's Network-Free Messaging Potential
January 03, 2014
One lesson that's easy to learn if you've been through any natural disaster is that you shouldn't rely on classic means of communications like land lines, cellphones or Internet. Capacity gets challenged; infrastructure gets destroyed. Where I live, neighbors have developed ham radio-based communications plans geared solely towards communicating in a disaster.
A World of Skins Add Beauty to the Joy of ExDialer Pro
December 27, 2013
I was banging my head against the wall the other day because the dialer on my aging Motorola Photon 4G stopped working. Normally what I'd do -- and recommend doing -- is upgrade the OS to a later version while at the same time doing a hard reset on the device. However, you need an unlocked bootloader to do that, and Motorola has locked the bootloader on that model.
Startup Manager Renews Shine on Android's Boot
December 20, 2013
For some inexplicable reason, probably related to egocentric human nature, software developers can't seem to resist designing their programs as if they were default services: always on and ready. If you're familiar with maintaining a PC and like tinkering with programs, you'll know that you need to periodically disable or get rid of accumulating programs that automatically run processes.
How to Keep Your Devices Juiced Up on the Road
December 19, 2013
You can almost date a hotel room's last remodel by the number and location of jacks. In the old days, you'd be lucky to find a usable power outlet -- one that wasn't taken up with lamps or TV. Plug-in phone jacks were nonexistent. We then went to bedside phone jacks and later to desktop phone jacks and on to Ethernet jacks for supposed broadband; eventually, we went over to WiFi, with no jacks.
How to Set Up Email on a New Android Phone
December 18, 2013
Setting up a brand-new phone can involve numerous aggravations, but if you don't rely on one of the majors like Yahoo and Gmail for email, one of the worst is surely the manual email server configuration. If you use a customized domain name, your Android device's email client is likely to need this extra step. This could become an even more prevalent problem with the January U.S. launch of the Moto G smartphone.
Jailbroken Phones Targeted by Hacker Jammers
December 16, 2013
Smartphones hacked to run unauthorized programs or unlock features are being targeted by hackers and can pose a threat to enterprise networks, warned Marble Security. Modifying a smartphone to enable unauthorized behavior -- called "rooting" in the Android world and "jailbreaking" in the iOS realm -- makes the mobile vulnerable to infected jammer software, the firm said.
Remote Video Security Is Mydlink+'s Weak Link
December 13, 2013
As a smartphone app reviewer, I often like to include a bit of explanation for why I choose to review the apps that I do. It adds a bit of human interest, and can make for a more enjoyable read. This week, the story is especially exciting. This is a review of D-Link's Mydlink+ remote security camera Android app add-on, and I can explain the reason for the review in one word: goats.
Instagram Hitches Wagon to Private Messaging
December 12, 2013
Instagram has dipped its toes into private-photo and video messaging waters. Instagram Direct allows the community's more than 150 million monthly active users to send photos and videos within a group. The process of sending a private message works just like posting a photo or video publicly: Take a new photo or upload an existing one, slap on a filter and effects, and add a caption and tags.
Normandy May Lead Nokia's Surprise Android Attack
December 11, 2013
Nokia might be planning a shift away from its Windows Phone base in future smartphones -- even as the mobile phone unit of the business heads to Microsoft. The company is working on an Android phone as part of a push into the low-end smartphone market, according to The Verge. Several sources close to Nokia suggested the company is working on the project under the code name "Normandy."
If You're Jonesing for a 2nd Screen, Air Display Is a Nifty Fix
December 06, 2013
I was intrigued when I came across Air Display, an Android app that lets you use your tablet as a second screen. Second PC displays definitely boost work productivity. I've been using two displays for years, keeping my email client open all the time on the left screen -- a laptop display -- and work-work on the right screen. I'm able to monitor incoming junk mail without having to stop working.
Samsung Gussies Up Phablet Line With Galaxy Grand 2
November 25, 2013
Samsung has unveiled the latest model in its line of phablets, the Galaxy Grand 2, bearing a string of enhancements over its predecessor. The company's latest device has a 5.25-inch screen with a 16:9 ratio. The TFT screen is 0.25 inches larger than the previous model and has a 1280 x 720 resolution, compared with the 800 x 480 pixels of the Galaxy Grand's WVGA screen.

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