- Grab the Amazon Fire Phone from Amazon and AT&T starting today
- So if I die or disappear, what happens to my Gmail and Google account?
- Deal: Best Buy offering $100 gift card on $0 down LG G3 from Sprint, AT&T or Verizon
- 8 things I miss after switching from Windows Phone to Android
- Leak: is this our clearest look yet at the Moto X+1?
- Deal: Back to School sale gives you an off-contract Moto X for as little as $300
- Amazon Fire Phone teardown shows all the love that went into the phone
- Google Glass has been explicitly banned from Comic-Con 2014 panels
- Report: Google and Twitch agree to $1 billion acquisition terms, expect an announcement shortly
- Sony Xperia Z3 leaks again, shows off matte back and rounded side profile
- Chrome Beta 37 update brings fancy new Material design changes, simplified login
- The Moto 360 will be the first Android Wear smartwatch to come with an ambient light sensor
- Xbox One SmartGlass Beta update brings remote shopping and new social features
- Square Enix summer sale brings Final Fantasy Android games down to much more reasonable prices
- Chromecast’s first birthday sparks 90 free days of Google Play Music All Access offer
If you haven't already pre-ordered your Amazon Fire Phone from Amazon and had it shipped to your doorstep, you can grab yours from a couple of different places as soon as today. You'll be able to stop into AT&T retail locations nationwide if you're the type to need to feel a smartphone before you walk away with it. Like any smartphone by Ma Bell, you'll be able to grab it for $0 down through AT&T Next so long as you don't mind paying a monthly balance until you've paid the full off-contract price of the phone. The 32GB version can be had for $27.09 per month for 18 months, while the 64GB version steps up to about $31.25. Each option is available under a two-year contract structure, of course, costing $200 and $300, respectively. Amazon wants to change the way you find information about all the products you come into contact with using the Amazon Fire Phone's Firefly feature. Whether you want to check prices for a book or CD you come across or you just want to learn more information about a painting or landmark you come across in your travels, Firefly's expansive database is likely to have all the information you need. Of course, their end goal is to get you to buy as many of those products as you can… with them. The most interesting thing about Firefly, though, is how developers can hook into it. For instance, if you snap a photo of a poster of Orange is the new Black, Firefly could potentially tap the Amazon app to bring the series up for you to begin watching immediately. It's pretty interesting stuff that we're going to get down and dirty with in our full review in the days to come. Other unique features of the Fire Phone include Dynamic Perspective, an experience powered by four cameras that lets you manipulate your phone by tilting your phone and your head. For instance, scrolling through a web page can be done by simply tilting the phone up or down. The maps app could reveal a different angle of a street depending on which way you tilt your phone. There's also the usual Amazon goods such as X Ray, Second Screen and that all important Mayday button should you ever need help with the device. Don't forget that you'll be entitled to a free year of Amazon Prime (movies, TV shows, music, book rentals and discounted shipping) and $10 in Amazon Coins to use on apps and games should you buy one. Quite a bit of value if I do say so myself. You can order one from Amazon or AT&T, or just stop into your AT&T store to do your shopping in person. Let us know if you'll be picking one up!
I hate to sour the mood, but one day you're going to die. It might be easier to ignore that fact, but all too often that's exactly what we do, and in our wake we leave a mountain of complications that cause interfamily conflict, legal battles, and obnoxious amounts of wasted time. We take day-to-day things, like E-Mail, for granted- but what if something were to happen to you? Would your entire account including your pictures, movies, and documents, collect dust and eventually disappear without someone who knows or who can recover your password? Or perhaps just the opposite. Maybe you've got a lot of private facets of your life that you wish to remain private: could family or friends legally gain access to your account, uncovering some secrets that are so embarrassing that you blush in the afterlife? Not if you use Google's Inactive Account Manager, a feature I accidentally stumbled upon yesterday. HERE'S HOW IT WORKS: * Set a time period after which, if you haven't logged in for that duration, you're considered inactive * When that time approaches, Google will warn you via TXT and E-mail alerts * Once officially deemed "inactive", Google will notify up to 10 pre-selected contacts that you're inactive * These contacts will gain limited access to your account, based on settings you select * You can set an auto-response for incoming e-mail, warning them of your inactivity It's a pretty brilliant solution if you've got the gusto to set it up- and you should. This tool could be especially valuable if you've disappeared without a trace, perhaps giving law enforcement additional information that leads to a resolution. I know, I know… this is a depressingly sinister topic, but a little preparation can go a long way. You can even customize what Google services each separate contact can access (see above) and have a custom message prepared for each one (see below): Almost got a little teary eyed typing that… and hopefully it never gets sent, but if it does, could be fun to leave a little custom goodbye to your loved ones. And honestly, having to write them in the first place provides a nice little sense of reflection on your life and what's important. The service isn't perfect and there are two things I'd specifically like to see changed: * The minimum length before you're considered "inactive" is 3 months. If I haven't used Google services for 24 hours someone should probably start a search party. I can appreciate the reasons why the longer durations should be the default, but even a 1 month or 2 month option would make a lot of sense. * Certain services should have more fine grained access options. Perhaps I have some private e-mails in my account but they're relegated to a certain tag or folder, why not allow users to selectively provide or deny access to these specific areas? Access to everything or nothing makes for some tough decision making. Alternatively, if instead of being worried about giving people access you want to make sure nobody gets access, you can delete your entire account on the spot the moment you're considered inactive. Privacy paranoia people, weird fetish folks, cheating-on-your-spouse crapheads, and others take note: you'll probably want to set this up right now. Or maybe you just don't want family and friends dragging out the grieving process by hanging on every little word you've written, picture you've taken, etc… Now that I've thoroughly depressed you, take a few minutes to reflect on the people most important to you, what you'd want to say to them in your absence, and if giving them access to your online identify would help them in any way.
Best Buy has one of the best deals we've seen yet for the LG G3 if you're in the market for one. You can get the phone for $0 down on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint through each company's respective payment programs (AT&T Next, Verizon Edge and Sprint Easy Pay). That's nothing special by itself, but perhaps the $100 Best Buy gift card that'll come with the phone will get you to consider buying through the big box retailer. Best Buy makes sure to emphasize that this offer will only apply to "well-qualified buyers," which means you'll probably need a decent line of credit to be able to take advantage. The other caveat is that these retailers usually tie you to the account for six months unless you're willing to eat a hefty early cancellation fee, though that shouldn't be much of an issue if you plan to stick with the LG G3 for quite some time. While yesteryear's LG flagship was a huge first step in turning public opinion about LG's smartphone prowess, the LG G3 was the definitive stake in the heart of any naysayer. The phone impressed the hair off Kevin Krause with him noting in our LG G3 review that it is perhaps the best phone they've ever created, and that it certainly can stand up to the stiff competition by HTC and Samsung. Be sure to read that review if you need a solid opinion before jumping into this deal. You can head into your local Best Buy store to take advantage if you eventually decide to take the plunge. [via Best Buy]
Almost three years ago I was given the opportunity to become a Windows Phone user. I was a little nervous to give up my Android device and switch to something completely different, but in the end I decided to do it. The first month or so with Windows Phone 7 was very rocky. As time went on I got more acquainted with the OS and started really loving it. Two years and two massive updates later I was being called a "Windows Phone fanboy." Four months ago I was given another opportunity, but this time it was to go _back_ to Android. I was just as nervous to leave the OS I had learned to love, but in doing so I learned a lot. Switching back to Android from Windows Phone has given me an interesting perspective. Now that I've had the time to fully adjust back to Android there are a few things that I think Windows Phone does better than Android. Here are the 8 things I miss the most. "UNOFFICIALLY OFFICIAL" APPS Everyone knows that Windows Phone suffers from a lack of apps. The situation has been getting better, but there is still a ton of work to do. They say "desperation is the mother of invention," and for Windows Phone developers that couldn't be more true. If there is a popular app missing from the Store you can guarantee some developer is working on porting it over. This may sound like a sad situation, but it's actually one of my favorite things about Windows Phone. There is no official SnapChat app, but there is an app that is better than anything SnapChat could ever make. Instagram finally made a Windows Phone app, but there is an unofficial version that blows it out of the water. Having the choice of which Instagram app to use is something you can't do on Android. Sure, there are hundreds of alternate choices for Twitter, but most services arrive on Android so quick that there is no need for anyone to build their own. CUSTOMIZATION Customization is a funny thing. I am not going to try to convince you that Windows Phone can be customized more than Android. It can't. The thing I miss is _how_ Windows Phone does customization. You can't choose custom launchers or icon packs, but what you can do is choose background and accent colors. These two simple color choices dramatically change how the entire OS looks. In the screenshots above you can see Cortana in three different color choices. Many apps tie into the background and accent colors like this to deliver a personal experience for every user. Even the Start Screen icons for most apps use the accent color. If you do some tinkering there are ways to theme apps in Android, but the ease at which you can make the entire OS look different in Windows Phone is truly great. No hacking required. BATTERY SAVER MODE One of the very first things I missed about Windows Phone was the built-in "Battery Saver" mode. This feature is a godsend when you're stranded away from a charger. When enabled, it automatically shuts down some battery-hogging features. Apps won't run in the background, email won't sync, live tiles will be shut off, but important things like SMS and phone call will still go through. This helps you eke out several more hours of use from what would normally last a couple of minutes. In Windows Phone 8.1 the feature got even better. Now you can decide which apps should be allowed to run in the background when Battery Saver is enabled. I'm glad to see Android is finally adopting some of these features in the "L" release. You will be amazed at how handy it is. I've used it in the past to go through an entire camping trip without charging my phone. VOLUME CONTROLS I hate the volume controls in Android. I'm constantly changing the volume for the wrong thing. On larger screen devices like the Nexus 7 you get a little settings icon which lets you adjust the volume for media and notifications. For whatever reason that option is not available on phones. You can only adjust the volume for whatever is currently making noise. Windows Phone 8.1 does it better. Tap the volume button once and you get a numerical value for the volume of "Media + Apps." There is a down arrow icon that expands the menu so you can adjust the volume for other things, such and ringer and notifications. There is even an option to turn vibrate on or off. I have to laugh that I'm including this because in Windows Phone 8 the volume control was awful. A lot can change in one update. SMOOTH AS BUTTER You have no doubt heard about how silky smooth everything feels in Windows Phone. It really is true. Android has come a long way since the days of laggy phones, but there is still just a little something that holds it back. For my money you can't beat the smooth scrolling of an iOS or Windows Phone device. Even under-powered Windows Phone 7 devices felt incredibly smooth and fast. I will admit that I don't notice a lot of lag on my Nexus 5. It's not as big of a deal as it used to be, but just go into a Best Buy and swipe around on the newest Nokia Lumia phone for a bit. You will notice how buttery smooth it is. HARDWARE CAMERA BUTTONS Having a dedicated camera button is a feature that too many manufacturers overlook. Some Android phones still come with a hardware camera button, but the vast majority do not. Microsoft requires manufacturers to include camera buttons (at least they used to). Having a two-stage camera button on your smartphone is incredibly handy. Not only is it great for focusing and snapping pictures, but it also allows the camera to be launched while the phone is locked. Most Android lockscreens have a shortcut to the camera, but it's not as quick as mashing down on a hardware button from your pocket. A physical camera button is also very useful for situations when I needed other people to take a photo with my phone. Every phone has a different camera UI, but all I had to say was "use this button like a regular camera." MULTITASKING This one is honestly just a personal preference. I think the multitasking screen in Windows Phone looks nicer than Android. You get a full screenshot of the app, not just a list of square thumbnails. It also seems to be faster and more reliable. Sometimes when I tap an app in the Android multitasking it doesn't open. I like the look of the new multitasking in Android L, but I would still prefer a full screenshot of the app. Like I said, this is just a personal preference. APP LISTS ARE BETTER THAN DRAWERS The last thing I miss is the Windows Phone app list. Everyone knows about the Start Screen with live tiles, but if you swipe to the right you can see a full vertical list of the installed apps with icons and names. The apps are organized alphabetically, and by tapping on a letter you can quickly jump to a different spot on the list. I find this to be a much quicker way to launch apps than finding them in the Android app drawer. For this reason I have found myself using the Yahoo Aviate launcher as my daily driver. It organizes apps into categories, but also has a vertical list of apps in alphabetical order. Also, if you have a Samsung device you can switch the app drawer to a vertical list. So while the default app drawer might not be my cup of tea, at least Android allows me to download something that is. *** The great thing about Android is I can usually find an app or mod to do something that I miss from Windows Phone. The nice thing about Windows Phone is all these features are baked right into the OS. I'm glad Android L is addressing some of the things that I miss. Windows Phone will always hold a special place in my heart, but for now I am very happy to be on #TeamAndroid. Do any of these things sound like something you would like? Are there any other features from different platforms that you want on Android? Have you switched from another platform and missed some features? Let us know!
We're getting awfully close to August, which is the month we expect Motorola to announce the successor to last year's Moto X. With that, the leaks are starting to barrel in and another huge one this morning gives us a pretty clear look at the device's externals. The source of this leak is calling it a "near-final prototype," which isn't all that hard to believe based on a couple of factors. For starters, a leaked chassis shot from earlier this month showed that the backplate would have two holes. We didn't know what the second hole would be for, but this leak shows that same design. Unfortunately it looks like the second hole will just be a flush slot for Motorola to place their logo (though it doesn't look like a bad touch if these photos are anything to go by). Of noteworthy mention is that Motorola will be using a bit of metal in this thing, albeit only for the edges of the device and not its entirety. It should still make for a nice premium feel when it's all said and done. Also contributing to a premium look and feel is the wooden back plate, something we saw featured on the Moto X. It's telling that an early prototype unit such as this is already being flaunted with a wooden back plate. This could be an indication that Motorola will have premium chassis options available through Moto Maker at launch (whereas we had to wait several months for all of the Moto X's options to come to the forefront). Of course, it could be just as likely that we won't see it -- the Moto X reveal showed us a huge lineup of wooden back plates, but they obviously weren't ready for public consumption in time for launch. Guess we'll just have to cross our fingers that Motorola's more comfortable with their manufacturing and assembly process to have these ready to go for game day. Let us know what you think of the design in the comments below!
Ready for one last big sale before Motorola announces the follow-up to the Moto X? The device has gone on sale -- as it has many times before -- in a back to school promotion that gives considerable savings on off-contract prices for the phone over at Moto Maker. You'll be able to get Motorola's 2013 flagship for the following prices depending on which model you opt for: * 16GB -- $299.99 * 32GB -- $324.99 * 64GB -- $375.99 Not too bad, I'd say. Note that the 32GB pricing also applies to the 32GB Developer Edition that can be had here for all of you tinkerers out there. The Moto X, while not boasting the most amazing technology, brought us a phone that introduced interesting, innovative features, a phone that you can customize however you want, and a user experience that was a breath of fresh air from the usual OEM skins we've seen in years past. You can check out our review if you want to know whether the phone was worth its skin in its heyday. We're not sure how smart of an investment the Moto X would be at this point with its successor said to be on the horizon, but if you don't care about a potentially dated experience (the price tag is good enough to dismiss that) then you can get started customizing your own right here.
Wondering if the Amazon Fire Phone is just as nice on the inside as it is on the outside? iFixIt has come through once again with a teardown that will let you make your own mind up on that. The fearless team has cracked the device open to get a sense of build quality and to see how easy it would be to repair the thing. As for build, it's about as clean as you'd expect from Amazon. They've no doubt done a great deal of research and development to make sure all the unique things they're doing (such as putting for non-visible cameras into the corners of the phone for purposes of eye and head tracking) fit into a form factor that's comfortable enough to hold on a daily basis. Unfortunately, though, this unique assembly comes at the cost of a huge pain in the rear-end when it comes to repairs. iFixIt scored the Fire Phone 3/10 (where 10 is the easiest to repair) due to copious amounts of glue and a cabling system where components share multiple cables. The lack of modular design means components are terribly expensive to replace, so you'll definitely want to get insurance or an extended warranty should anything happen to your expensive investment. If you don't mind that, though, and you like everything else the Amazon Fire Phone has to offer we reckon this shouldn't be a big deal. Stay on the lookout for our Amazon Fire Phone review coming soon to see how the phone holds up from a user's perspective!
Google Glass hasn't even hit an official consumer release (although bleeding edge tech enthusiasts can beta test it… for a price) and already the headset has hit another roadblock. Google's smart eyewear seems to have found itself banned from one of the biggest events of the year: San Deigo Comic-Con. Well, to be fair, the wearable has been authorized for use on the showroom floor, but in an email recently sent out to Comic-Con attendees, the Comic-Con International board is letting everyone know "Google Glasses" cannot be worn or used at any time during any of the show's panels. This is typically where movie companies show off very confidential new trailers and it seems anywhere where camera recording is prohibited -- the same goes for Google Glass whether powered on or off.
"_GOOGLE GLASSES/VIDEO RECORDERS/CAMERA PHONES_ _Remember recording of footage on the screens during panels is prohibited. This includes Google Glasses. You cannot wear Google Glasses during footage viewing in any program room. If your Google Glasses are prescription, please bring a different pair to use during these times."_It makes sense. Where, in most cases, it's easy to spot someone recording video footage with their smartphone or camera, Google Glass is far more discrete with its always forward facing camera lens. Comic-Con recommends anyone who is planning on wearing prescription Google Glass bring an spare set of specs for the panels if they hope to see everything clearly.
Last month, we heard rumors that Google would soon be buying the game streaming service Twitch for upwards of $1 billion. That deal -- lead by Google-owned YouTube -- was apparently still on the table, but now has reportedly been confirmed by sources from _Venture Beat_. According to VB, there's still no word on exactly when Google/YouTube plans on disclosing details of the deal, although with everyone now in agreement, an official announcement could be right around the corner. The general feeling of a Google buyout amongst Twitch fans is one of fear and uncertainty. It's not exactly clear what Google or YouTube plans on doing with Twitch, although we're sure it should help alleviate some of the problems game streamers have been facing with the constant barrage of DMCA take-down requests. We're sure Google will tread lightly, and in the end the deal will help benefit everyone. We'll keep you posted as we learn more.
We got more than a few good looks at what could be the still unannounced Sony Xperia Z3 last week. The leaks left little to the imagination, but one area of the phone not shown was its back. Some were hoping that for the Sony Xperia Z2 sequel, Sony would finally do away with the all-glass back cover, something we've never been a fan of since our Nexus 4 met an early demise a few years back. While today's leak could show a deviation from a glass back, we're still unsure… The few of you who purchased the Sony Xperia Z2 will no doubt remember the back of the device was outfitted with a plastic matte clear film to protect for added freshness. Because of that, we're not entirely sure if what we're looking at in this new leaked image is simply a plastic film over glass, or if Sony could actually be opting for an all aluminum device, a la the HTC One M8. As more leaks continue to seep out from the woodwork, we'll take this as another sign of the device's impending release. Let's hope that recent FCC filing means we can expect the Z3 to launch relatively soon here in the states, although we wont be holding our breath. [Evleaks]
Earlier this week we watched as Google gave the Google Play Store a spiffy new Material-ish redesign and next on the docket is Google's very own Chrome web browser. But before Google can update stable channels for Chrome, they'll first need to test out in beta. Chrome Beta 37 (37.0.2062.39 to be exact) is now rolling out on Google Play and aside from a new simplified login that allow users to sign into their Google account once for all Google sites -- the newly updated version of Chrome brings new Material design elements to the browser (including a more minimal Moonshine icon). It's nothing too major and from the wording on the official _Chrome Blog_ we can expect to see more Material design elements to come (like the fading transition of web pages). Really, there's not much to a web browser's UI, but you will notice Chrome's incognito tabs receiving a fresh new can of paint. Don't forget the usual bug fixes and performance improvements have also been addressed. Chrome Releases Blog]
Android Wear offerings from LG and Samsung are now readily available for anyone looking to add a little more convenience to their life. When it comes to choosing, you'll find these tiny devices don't really feature much variation in terms of hardware (their size and requirements from the OS aren't as demanding as smartphones). Sure, the Samsung Gear Live has slightly higher resolution, but I think just about all us early adopters were surprised to find that both LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live didn't come equipped with an ambient light sensor. A strange oversight, whenever a user sets their desire brightness, they'll need to jump through a few hoops in order to change the brightness of the display to match their environment. While, it's true apps like Wear Mini Launcher offer a quick brightness slider to help alleviate this issue, it doesn't totally fix it. And that sucks. For Motorola's upcoming smartwatch -- the Motorola Moto 360 -- there's still a bit of mystery surrounding wearable in terms of what Motorola is planning to do different (other than its circular design). If there was any question Motorola was aiming at a more premium smartwatch experience with its brushed aluminum frame and nearly bezeless watch face, we now have another idea of some hardware will be using in their device that simply put, the others forgot about: an ambient light sensor. A hands-off video from _TechCrunch_ is making the rounds around the net this afternoon. In the video (at the 1:39 mark), Motorola spokesperson Cathay Bi shows off the smartwatch just like she did in Motorola's official hands-on video, only this time she revealed a small detail many looked over at the time. At about the 1:50 mark, Bi mentions the watch's small bezel along the bottom -- which she calls the "display driver" -- houses an ambient light sensor, already putting the 360 ahead of the current rivals in terms of raw hardware. So there you have it. If you weren't already lusting over the Moto 360, the fact that the watch will offering even a little more convenience than the other guys should once again pique your interests. We'll have to wait and see what else Motorola has up their sleeves for the watch when it's made available for sale in the coming weeks.
Microsoft seems to have some dream of turning Xbox One into Twitter as the company has released a SmartGlass Beta update that makes your friend's list and activity feeds a lot more social. You can now "like" game clips and items from the activity feed -- not that your friends needed approval of what they're playing or what they're doing in those games, but there it is anyway. It all honestly feels like the Xbox One is drumming up to making a completely social platform where folks can comment on achievements and videos, but that's another thought for another day. Moving on, Microsoft has also added a fully native in-app store that will allow you to purchase content from your phone or tablet. Should your Xbox be turned on at the time or you have it in standby mode, it'll automatically begin downloading your content as soon as you hit the buy button. The rest of the changes are more housecleaning than anything, such as a cleaner way to submit feedback (without having to use email to do so) and what Microsoft calls "general stability and polish improvements." Nothing too out of the ordinary there. Want the beta? The link below should get you well on your way, though you should note that features aren't always guaranteed to work right as this is only meant to test the latest and greatest features. Folks looking for a more stable experience can head right here.
As great as many of the early Final Fantasy titles are, the Japanese RPG games are no doubt horribly overpriced in the Google Play Store. Titles cost as much as $16, and while that gives you a pretty full game with hours of gameplay and no in-app purchases, it's still a little much considering PC versions of these classics can be had for quite a bit cheaper. Thankfully Square Enix has decided to lower those prices quite a bit during this summer sale they're putting on. The sales will come in waves, with the first two offers being for Final Fantasy 3 and Final Fantasy 4. Both titles can be had for $8, down from the $16 they're usually available for. Here's the full breakdown of dates and prices for each game going on sale:
* JULY 24TH - JULY 30TH: Final Fantasy III - $7.99 (normally $15.99) * JULY 24TH - JULY 30TH: Final Fantasy IV - $7.99 (normally $15.99) * JULY 31ST - AUGUST 6TH: Final Fantasy V - TBA (normally $15.99) * AUGUST 7TH - AUGUST 18TH: Final Fantasy IV: The After Years - TBA (normally $15.99) * AUGUST 7TH - AUGUST 18TH: Final Fantasy VI - TBA (normally $15.99) We won't assume that the other titles will be getting a drop to the same $7.99 as the first two up for grabs, though we're certainly hoping for that trend to continue. You can use the links above to get to their respective listings in the Google Play Store if you're interested. We'll be updating this post as the weeks go on to reflect the confirmed pricing for all remaining titles.
It's been a year since the launch of Chromecast, which has taken the world by storm as 2013′s top gadget and one of the hottest selling items on Amazon and Google Play. To celebrate all of that goodness Google has decided to give users a nice treat for being part of the early wave of consumers to get in on the fun. They're offering 90 days of Google Play Music All Access, a premium subscription that gives you unlimited access to a library of over 20 million tracks. You can easily add these tracks to your library and playlists or listen to radio stations based on them. They won't be there for you once your subscription ends, though you obviously have the option of paying for each individual track or album you want to keep should you decide to give up your membership. The offer is good for anyone who has bought a Chromecast, and is available from today's date all the way through September 30th. You'll have to fork up about $10 per month at the conclusion of the offer if you want to keep on listening, though that's not a terribly high price to pay for unlimited access to such a big library of music. Of course, the offer doesn't apply to you if you already have a subscription so feel free to continue enjoying it as you always have. You can head right here to get started.