Google’s Nexus phones will reportedly be replaced by premium Android Silver handsets

The Android Silver project, which was rumored earlier this month, has today been corroborated by four fresh sources, all of whom point to a major shift in Google’s mobile strategy. The Information reports that the current scheme of offering Nexus-branded handsets with Google’s unadulterated vision of the best Android user experience will be scrapped, to be replaced by a set of high-end Silver phones that will closely adhere to it. The change is both expansive and expensive, as Google is said to be planning to spend heavily on promoting these devices in wireless carriers’ stores and through advertising, essentially subsidizing the development and marketing costs for its hardware partners.

In exchange for this new contribution, Google will gain tighter control over the software shipping on the selected phones. The promise is that the company will clean up third-party bloatware, ensure prompt and reliable software updates, and introduce a real standard and consistency to the user experience across Android Silver devices. LG and Motorola are identified as the likeliest candidates for taking part, with the first phones anticipated as soon as next year, while Samsung, HTC, and Sony might need a bit more convincing. Then again, all three of the latter companies have already offered Google Play Editions of their leading phones, which might be the closest analog we have at the moment for what an Android Silver device will look and act like.

Google’s appetite to reassert itself among premium smartphones has been evident in the first flagship Android phones released this year. Both the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S5 feature the words “Powered by Android” in their bootup animations, while in January Google was reported to have held talks with Samsung about reining in the Korean company’s customizations.

Now the Mountain View company is rumored to be spending as much as $1 billion to get phone makers to jump aboard its new initiative. Android Silver will reportedly target the United States and other developed markets first, with in-store Android kiosks designed by Google showcasing its software. The one missing piece from this puzzle is what Google will do with the mid-range market that the Nexus program is expected to vacate. Android Silver is gunning for the high end, so who will step up to fill the void left in the middle?



X series: Nokia’s first ever android smartphones

The Finnish-tech giant Nokia has announced its first-ever android based smartphones series– Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL, which are powered by Microsoft and Nokia services.

On the specification front, all three handsets are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon Dual Core processor and are dual SIM. Popular messaging apps like BBM, Viber, Vine and Twitter come pre-installed.

Nokia X and X+ come with 4-inch 480×800 displays. Both have identical 4GB internal storage, with expandable support up to 32GB via microSD card, and are powered by a 1500mAh battery

While the Nokia X comes with 512MB RAM, the Nokia X+ comes with 768MB RAM. Both phones have a 3-megapixel rear camera, but no front shooter. Both the Nokia X and Nokia X+ will be available in bright green, bright red, cyan, and yellow, black and white.

On the other hand, Nokia XL comes with 5-inch 480×800 display. It sports a 5-megapixel camera, a 720p front camera, 768MB RAM and is packed with 2000mAh battery, while sharing other specifications with its siblings. The handset will be available in bright green, orange, and cyan, yellow, black and white. Colour availability may vary across regions.

All three phones come with 3G support and take Micro-SIMs instead of regular ones.

The Nokia X will go on sale immediately, starting at approximately Rs. 7,500.  Nokia X+ and Nokia XL are expected to roll out early in the second quarter, priced at approximately Rs. 8,400 and Rs 9,300 respectively.


HTC set to roll out three wearables including Google Now smartwatch

HTC is reportedly set to launch three wearable devices at the upcoming Mobile World Congress, including a rumoured Google Now smartwatch.

The Taiwanese manufacturer would introduce a HTC smartwatch, based on Qualcomm’s Toq smartwatch and use that company”s Mirasol display, featuring Bluetooth connectivity and a music player, apart from an electronic bracelet that plays music.

HTC set to roll out three wearables including Google Now smartwatch

Sources have revealed that another smartwatch that HTC is working on would be based on the Google Now service, The Verge reports.

Although the Google Now concept is promising, there hasn’t been any smartwatch in the market based on the concept and it was speculated last October that Google Now watch could be ”ready within months”.

It is unclear if the search firm itself would produce Google Now smartwatch or Google-owned HTC would unveil it under its banner.

HTC CEO Peter Chou said last year that wearables were ‘critical’ for the sinking company, but that its planned smartwatches had to meet a need to stop them being gimmicks, the report added.


Google Search for Android updated, Google Now Launcher spotted

Google is famous for rolling out minor bug fixes and improvements for its various apps in no time; following this the search engine giant has now rolled out an update for Google Search (version 3.2).


The new update for Google Search is being called a regular bug fix, apart from bringing performance improvements. However, Android Police has noted some new features in the new Google Search update. According to the site, the Google Experience Launcher has also received an update and will soon be reportedly dubbed Google Now Launcher. Further, the site claims that the Google Experience Launcher is installed on the Nexus 5 by default, so the new Google Now Launcher branding will not show up on it.

With the update to Google Experience Launcher, it is being speculated that Google might soon release the Google Now Launcher to other (non-Nexus) Android devices as an app on the Play Store.

The site suggests that the minor bug and performance improvement update in Google Search brings some new features like the new Google Now Launcher name with splash page on starting screen; hotword detection now works in British and Canadian English; icon now imports from old home screen; new animations for Google Now’s expandable card bundles; voice volume now depends on media volume and users can now customize TV provider and on-demand options.

The site also reveals that with the update, the new alarm interface comes with a new blue box along with the regular information cards.

Not too long ago, Google announced a new Search feature, which would give slightly more information about certain websites shown in the search results. These websites, in order to qualify for this feature, would have to be “widely recognized as notable online, when there is enough information to show or when the content may be handy for you,” as per the official blog post.


Photo hints at 21 megapixel camera for the Samsung Galaxy S5

A photo has emerged online which may have been taken by a Samsung Galaxy S5. The photo’s data reveals that it was taken by a Samsung device with the model number SM-G900-V.

That model number has been associated with the Samsung Galaxy S5 before – namely the model expected to be available via US network Verizon. However, it is the first time we’ve seen concrete evidence a device with that model number exists.


The image was published to Flipboard by user @123fliptest. Commentators have suggested that the user may in fact be Samsung. They have also posited that the name may hint at deeper Flipboard integration in the Galaxy S5.

Previous rumours have hinted that the Galaxy S5 would come with the new Magazine UI.

However, the agreement between Samsung and Google to bring the version of Android found on Galaxy smartphones back in line with Google’s guidelines could mean that is no longer the case.

The photo’s EXIF data revealed that the photo comes with a resolution of 5312 x 2988 pixels. Depending the sensor Samsung uses in the smartphone, that could result in the Samsung Galaxy S5 coming with a 21 megapixel camera.

In order for the phone to come with a 21 megapixel sensor, it would need to retain the 4:3 sensor used in Samsung’s existing smartphones.

However, it has been suggested that the Samsung Galaxy S5 could come with a 16:9 sensor. If true, it would mean that the phone would feature a 16 megapixel sensor.

That makes more sense, especially considering previous reports that the phone would come with a 16 megapixel OIS lens.

It is widely expected that Samsung will unveil the Samsung Galaxy S5 at Mobile World Congress next month.

Apple, the biggest loser in the Google-Motorola-Lenovo deal

Things are about to get tougher for Apple.

Google late Wednesday made an unexpected announcement that it’s selling Motorola Mobility to Chinese PC giant Lenovo for $2.91 billion, or less than a quarter of what it paid for the handset vendor just a couple of years ago. During the years Google owned it, Motorola lost money and market share, and the relationship caused tension between Google and the other Android vendors, particularly Samsung. It also led those other phone makers to develop their own software and services, rather than push those from Google. That amplified Android’s fragmentation in the market.

Overall, Google’s purchase of Motorola turned out much better for iPhone maker Apple than for Google. That’s now going to change.

Google, sans Motorola, can go back to focusing on what it does best — making a really great operating system and apps. It can mend its relationship with Android leader Samsung and the other vendors. And it can concentrate on unifying and streamlining the Android experience, rather than worry about bolstering its own hardware operations. All of those factors mean that Apple may not be able to win over customers as easily as it has in the past.

“Getting rid of Motorola helps Google, and anything that Google can do to create a more cohesive user experience across vendors is competitive to Apple,” Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said.

But Google isn’t all Apple should be worried about. Up to this point, only Samsung has posed a real threat to Apple in smartphones. A combined Lenovo and Motorola, however, has the potential to take a large chunk of the market. It won’t be easy or quick, but Lenovo has a strong track record for dominating markets it enters. Less than a decade after buying IBM’s PC operations, Lenovo became the world’s biggest PC maker.

Already, Lenovo is one of the fastest-growing smartphone makers in China, a market that’s also getting a lot of attention from Apple. Last year, Lenovo was the second largest smartphone vendor in mainland China by volume, up from eighth place in 2011, according to Strategy Analytics. That boosted its position in the global market in 2013 to fifth place behind Samsung, Apple, Huawei, and LG.

At the same time Lenovo’s market share has risen in China, Apple’s has fallen. In 2011, Apple was the third largest smartphone vendor in the country. By last year, it had dropped to sixth place, according to Strategy Analytics.

“Apple’s lack of presence in the lower end of the smartphone market has cost it sizable volumes in China in recent years,” said Neil Mawston, executive director of Strategy Analytics.

Apple, predictably, has offered no public reaction to the Lenovo-Motorola news. We’ve contacted the company for comment and will update the report when we have more information.

The iPhone maker doesn’t have device pricing that touches the lower end of the market. So far, it hasn’t needed or wanted to, but that will need to change if it doesn’t want to be relegated to niche status. Already, the low end of the smartphone market is growing much faster than the high end. Strategy Analytics expects Apple’s deal with China Mobile to boost it to fifth place in the Chinese market this year, but that’s nowhere near the position of Samsung or Lenovo.

And Apple’s less expensive, more colorful iPhone 5C has failed to catch on with users. Apple positioned the device as more of a mainstream product, but it’s still too pricey for developing countries. And it turns out that most people are buying the higher-end iPhone 5S that includes a fingerprint sensor, Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged during the company’s earnings conference call earlier this week.

Apple won’t just face Lenovo in China. The company also will use Motorola to break into the US market. Lenovo gains not only a well-known brand with Motorola but also closer relationships with US carriers and retailers. The company wants to become the world’s biggest seller of smart devices — which includes PCs, tablets, smartphones, and smart TVs — and it won’t be able to do that without addressing the US market.

Lenovo won’t become Apple’s biggest threat overnight. It will take awhile for the Chinese company to figure out its strategy with Motorola, and Lenovo also will have to invest heavily to get Motorola back on its feet. In the meantime, Apple and Samsung won’t be slowing down in their efforts to dominate the market. But a few years down the line, it may be Samsung and Lenovo jockeying for the top mobile spot, not Samsung and Apple.



Google sells Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91bn

Google has sold Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91bn. The sale comes just a few years after having bought the company which makes the Moto X for $12.5bn back in 2011.

For those wondering why the difference in values is so significant Google has confirmed that whilst it is selling Motorola it will be retaining the majority of the company’s vast portfolio of patents.

Motorola Moto X review

Writing on Google’s official blog, CEO Larry Page outlined the reasons why Google was selling Motorola so soon after having bought it:

“The smartphone market is super competitive, and to thrive it helps to be all-in when it comes to making mobile devices.

“It’s why we believe that Motorola will be better served by Lenovo—which has a rapidly growing smartphone business and is the largest (and fastest-growing) PC manufacturer in the world.”

Despite reportedly investing $500 million in the marketing campaign for the launch of the Moto X Google has been operating Motorola at a loss with the company posting third quarter losses of $248 million in 2013.

Google already has hardware under the guise of the Nexus brand with the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 so it makes sense to lose what was essentially a non-profitable branch of their business.

Is Google poised to dump its Nexus brand?

Google is poised to dump its Nexus brand and replace it with more Google Play Edition devices.

At least that is what the search engine giant is planning to do, according to Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin. Murtazin is known for having close connections to the Russian mobile industry.

According to Murtazin’s sources, Google will launch two more Nexus branded smartphones this year. However, the company will retire the brand by 2015.

In its place will elevate the Play Edition brand to replace it, according to Murtazin.

Murtazin doesn’t expand on the claim, but it does make some sense.

Google Nexus 5

No longer needed?

The Nexus brand was launched by Google to ensure that there were handsets on the market that would receive the latest version of Android almost as soon as it was released.

One of Android’s major flaws is that it has to go through several approval processes before it hits smartphones. First Google needs to approve the latest update, then the handset maker and occasionally the phone network.

This means it can be months and sometimes even a year before smartphones receive the latest update, such as Android KitKat.

An example is that it took nearly 60 days for Android KitKat to be released onHTC’s smartphones. SonySamsung and LG have also taken a similar amount of time to ready the operating system for their own flagship smartphones.

However, recent years has seen an increase in the number of Play Edition handsets being launched by phone makers. Phone makers can quickly push out the updates to these vanilla Android smartphones, essentially making the Nexus line redundant.

All for nought

Despite it making sense for Google to move towards encouraging phone makers to produce more Play Edition phones, it does seem strange it would dump a brand it has built up over the last five years.

What’s more, Nexus editions have also been cheaper than Play Editions. Whether this will change is unclear.


Google Glass prescription lenses now available

Google has revealed its Titanium Collection of frames for Google Glass, the frames are specifically made for the Augmented Reality headset.

In a blog post the Glass team admitted that “If we had a nickel for every time someone has asked about prescription lenses for Glass we’d have a lot of nickels.”

With a variation of styles and lenses, from hipster chic to sportswear, you’re bound to find something to like. Google has also played around with the colours of the device, too.

As well as the new frames Google has started to support prescription lenses, as well as looking into users with vision insurance plans. This means that there’s a chance that policies may help cover your new frames. We can guess that the latter will have some pretty specific T’s&C’s though…

Glass has been designed to be integrated with everyday life. Users can take photos and record videos in true first-person, something that was previously restricted to devices like the GoPro Hero 3.

Google Glass also allows users to (completely hands free) access Google services, such as being able to access directions, and Google+ features, like Hangouts and Calendar notifications.

Undoubtedly, this list will grow with the arrival of new software updates resulting in a true Augmented Reality experience that makes Arnie’s Terminator look like a caveman.

Glass Explorers can access Google’s Titanium Collection from tomorrow afternoon. Get yourself to for more info.



Google slapped with $1.2 million fine for breaking privacy law

Google is in trouble once again, and this time it’s not for something nearly as subtle asgiant, mysterious barges floating in U.S. waters. Reuters reports that Google is being fined €900,000 ($1.23 million USD) for breaking Spain’s data protection law, the maximum fine possible under the law. Spain’s privacy watchdog started its investigation after Google changed the privacy policies on its cloud-based services without informing users.

“Inspections have shown that Google compiles personal information through close to one hundred services and products it offers in Spain, without providing in many cases the adequate information about the data that is being gathered, why it is gathered and without obtaining the consent of the owners,” said the Spanish Agency for Data Protection in a statement.

This is not the first fine that Google has been asked to pay for a breach of privacy this year. In fact, a Dutch regulator accused Google of breaking a nearly identical law just last month. Google is currently working with Spain to resolve the issue.