The Tech News Blog

January 3, 2014

Acer Tips New Android Tablets Ahead of CES

Acer Iconia A1-830

Acer is bringing a pair of low- and even-lower-priced Android tablets to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week, the 7.9-inch Iconia A1-830 and the 7-inch Iconia B1-720.

The Iconia A1-830 (left) has Intel's 1.6GHz, "Clover Trail+"-class Atom Z2560 processor inside, is packing 1GB of system memory, and sports a 7.9-inch, 1,024-by-768 resolution, LED-backlit display with Acer's IPS technology. It will be priced starting at $179.99 in the United States and at $199.99 in Canada.

Acer didn't identify the maker of the dual-core, 1.3GHz chip powering the $129.99 Iconia B1-720, which also has 1GB of system memory, so it's probably safe to assume it's an ARM chip.

Both tablets run Google's Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean mobile operating system. The Iconia A1-830 and will be available in North America sometime in the first quarter of 2014 while the Iconia B1-720 is set to hit retail shelves in mid-January, Acer said.

"Our fundamental goal when creating the Acer Iconia A1-830 was to provide our customers with an optimized Android tablet that stands out from other devices," Paul Tayar, director of product marketing for Acer America's connected devices division, said in a statement. "Consumers expect more than ever from value-oriented products, and the Acer Iconia A1-830 tablet delivers outstanding performance and battery life, a bright IPS display and a more premium aluminum metal finish than is typically offered in tablets in this class."

January 2, 2014

Lenovo Unveils New Lineup of Android Smartphones

Lenovo Vibe ZIn advance of this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Lenovo is trotting out the newest members of its Android powered smartphones.

Though better known for its laptop and desktop divisions here in the U.S., Lenovo has carved out a nice chunk of the smartphone market, edging out LG to become the No. 3 global smartphone maker,  according to data from Gartner.

Lenovo's expanding its Vibe lineup, introducing its first smartphone with LTE, the Vibe Z. Also on tap for the New Year are the S930 and S650, which occupy the midrange, while the A859 will cater to the budget-friendly smartphone market.

The Vibe Z will carry Lenovo's mobile flag, offering a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 5.5-inch 1080p display, and a 13-megapixel camera to go along with the aforementioned LTE connectivity. The phone will run on GSM/UMTS networks, with support for Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Though it's packing a palm-busting display, the Vibe Z will measure just 0.31 inches thick and weigh 5.19 ounces.

December 28, 2013

Report: iOS Delivers More Christmas Day Sales Than Android

Get Organized: iOS7

Ready for another data point in the ongoing "Android vs. iOS" battle that's been waged around analysts' desks for years now? According to new research from IBM, iOS users drove more online sales on Christmas Day than their Android counterparts – even considering the fact that Android devices are absolutely crushing Apple's iPhones for smartphone market share on the worldwide level.

We realize we're mixing terminology a little bit, so we want to be clear: Android enjoys the win against the iPhone in worldwide and U.S. market share, but IBM's figures related to Android versus iOS in general (and only shopping done on U.S. retail sites). These figures include shopping done on Apple's iPads as well as any screen-tapping that shoppers did on Android tablets.

(Just as a separate point, it's a bit trickier to get a solid picture of the Android vs. iOS market share for tablets, but it's assumed that Android is going to eventually overtake iOS devices there as well.)

December 27, 2013

Online Holiday Shopping Ruled By Smartphones, iOS

5 Ways Products Find You Online With Shopping Personalization

It was certainly a very merry Christmas for online shopping, which grew 16.5 percent over last year thanks in great part to smartphone browsing and iOS sales.

Mobile traffic reached its highest-ever peak during the holiday season, accounting for 48 percent of all online traffic—up 28.3 percent from 2012, according to the annual IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.

A large part of that browsing was conducted on smartphones, which drove 28.5 percent of all online traffic, while shoppers used tablets for 18.1 percent of the traffic generated during the holiday season, according to the IBM report. When it came to actually going to checkout with a purchase, though, tablets were king with 19.4 percent of all online sales made via slates, while smartphone users generated 9.3 percent.

Tablet users were also more likely to spend more, averaging $95.61 per order, whereas smartphone users usually spent around $85.11, IBM reported.

Online shopping proclivities don't end at just the type of device—Apple fans tend to spend more on their mobile devices and it turns out they drop more coin when shopping online as well. According to IBM, online holiday season sales were five times more likely to be settled on Apple gadgets than Android-based devices. Apple's iOS mobile operating system was the platform used for 23 percent of online purchases during the holidays, as users of Google's Android OS drove just 4.6 percent.

December 23, 2013

Report: Google Play Grows at Apple App Store’s Expense in 2013

Distimo Apps

Google Play grew its share of revenue generated by online app distribution in 2013 as Apple's leading online app hub lost a bit, according to Distimo's recently published year-end review of the market.

Apple's App Store was still the leading revenue-earner among portals providing access to mobile apps as of a November study by Distimo, with a 63 percent share of the market. Google's rival app hub was pulling in a 37 percent share of revenue at that time, but Google Play's share of the revenue pie was up from 30 percent in June, according to the mobile app researcher. Apple held a 70 percent share of app-generated revenue in June.

Meanwhile, Amazon's Appstore is starting to come on as a real player in the mobile app distribution game, Distimo reported.

"For some apps, the download volumes from the Amazon Appstore started to compete with download volumes in established app stores like the Apple App Store and Google Play," the research firm said.

One trend worth watching is that paid apps are giving way to "freemium" apps as both drivers of revenue and popular downloads in online mobile app stores. For example, back in January, free apps including in-app purchasing represented about 77 percent of app-generated revenue in Apple's App Store. By November, they were the source of a whopping 92 percent of revenue, with paid apps and paid apps with in-app purchasing slipping from about 23 percent of revenue to just 8 percent.

December 16, 2013

The $38 Android Tablet Is Coming to the U.S.

Ubislate 7ci

The $37.99 Android tablet is finally coming to the U.S. The Datawind Ubislate 7ci, which we checked out when it launched in India last year, is rolling out here with Wi-Fi, 2G, and 3G models to bridge the digital divide, according to Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli.

"With how computing evolves and continues to evolve, these things are going to be like the calculator of the 1970s: that affordable, that accessible and frankly that disposable," he said.

Datawind is initially targeting these tablets mostly at schools. That's in its wheelhouse; the education market has been its major success in India, where the small Canadian company became the country's No. 2 tablet vendor at one point, with nearly a million units sold in the past year. You'd think that U.S. schools would be happy with their iPads, but Tuli points out that in our deeply economically divided country, a $299 iPad isn't affordable for a lot of people.

"A lot of the areas where we're getting interest seem to be those who are working with minorities and the inner cities where they're a lot more price sensitive … with a quarter of people not having broadband access at home, a significant number of kids don't have these tools," he said.

Yes, there are other cheap tablets on the U.S. market, but none are quite as cheap as the Ubislate. Walgreens sells a range of $89 and $99 tablets. Amazon has a few tablets in the $60 range. Datawind has not only a cheap tablet, but a 9-year history of products solid enough for PCMag to review and a supply chain that's been tested by its Indian success.

December 7, 2013

Rumor: Google Working on Set-Top Box for 2014 Launch

android logo 275

Here we go. It was only a matter of time before Google's Android platform joined the television rumor game. However, unlike Apple's iOS before it, the recent batch of rumors surrounding the search giant don't have Google allegedly making a physical television set of its own.

No, it's just a set-top box that we're all postulating about. At least, that's the rumor that's been thrown out by the brand-new tech news website The Information (subscription required), which suggests that said set-top box — based on Android, of course — will likely be available for purchase from Google in the first half of next year.

The device is said to be able to handle a number of different streaming services – think Hulu Plus, Netflix, YouTube (obviously), et cetera — and give a purchaser living room access to some gaming as well. As for just how powerful the set-top box will be, gaming-wise, we don't know (but we'd love to find out!)

The news echoes previous rumors from the Wall Street Journal months ago, which mentioned at the time that Google was also planning to stick a video camera and motion sensor into the set-top box — presumably, to make Google Hangouts just that much easier (and bite the thumb at rival Skype, which currently enjoys living room success as the de facto communication service on Microsoft's Xbox gaming consoles).

The latest batch of rumors don't explicitly call out this motion sensor by name, which gives us pause to wonder whether Google has rethought that part of the device.

November 12, 2013

Android Nabs Milestone 81 Percent of Smartphone Market

Android 4.4 KitKat Revealed: What

Google's Android platform had a milestone third quarter, topping 80 percent of global smartphone shipments for the first time, according to IDC.

The analyst firm also said Microsoft's Windows Phone had an "amazing" quarter with 156 percent year-over-year growth.

"Android and Windows Phone continued to make significant strides in the third quarter. Despite their differences in market share, they both have one important factor behind their success: price," Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team, said in a statement. "Both platforms have a selection of devices available at prices low enough to be affordable to the mass market, and it is the mass market that is driving the entire market forward."

Android reached 81 percent of the smartphone market thanks to its "broad and deep list of vendors," IDC said. Still, Samsung led the charge with 39.9 percent of Android shipments, while other Android vendors "still struggle to find meaningful market share."

Apple's iOS landed in second place with 12.9 percent of mobile operating system share. That's down from 14.4 percent during the same time period last year, but IDC attributed that to "soft demand in the weeks leading up to the launch of iOS 7 smartphones."

"If the 9 million units sold during the last week of September is any indication of future adoption, iOS stands to reap another record quarter in terms of volumes, market share, and year-over-year growth," IDC concluded.

October 31, 2013

Google Unveils Nexus 5 With Android 4.4 KitKat

Nexus 5

Google on Thursday officially unveiled its next-gen smartphone, the Nexus 5, and launched an updated version of Android, dubbed KitKat.

The smartphone sports a 4.95-inch, 1,920-by-1,080 full HD IPS Corning Gorilla Glass 3 display with 445 pixels per inch. It runs a 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip, 450MHz Adreno 330 GPU, and will be the first device with Android 4.4 KitKat.

The Nexus 5, manufactured by LG, also includes a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and 8-megapixel rear shooter with optical image stabilization.

"The advanced new lens on Nexus 5 captures more light for brighter night and sharper action shots," Google said in a blog post. "And with optical image stabilization, you no longer have to worry about shaky hands and blurry pictures. A new HDR+ mode automatically snaps a rapid burst of photos and combines them to give you the best possible single shot."

With a 2,300 mAH battery, Google promised up to 17 hours of talk time, 300 hours of standby, 8.5 hours of Internet time on Wi-Fi and 7 hours on LTE. If you need more, the Nexus 5 includes built-in wireless charging support.

October 7, 2013

Survey: Consumers Favor iPhone, Android But Not Overwhelmingly So

How to Switch From an iPhone to an Android Phone It's no surprise that Apple's iPhones and handsets running Google's Android mobile operating system are preferred by the majority of Americans seeking new smartphones, but new research from cg42 reveals that more consumers than you might think are open to other brands.

The brand research firm polled more than 2,500 Americans, finding that about 16 percent planned to buy a new mobile device within a year. Of that group, 34 percent said they preferred Apple devices, 27 percent favored Android, and a surprising 34 percent said they were undecided about their next device purchase, cg42 said.

That's good news for companies competing with the smartphone market's dominant players, namely Microsoft and BlackBerry, seeing as how the survey results show that "a large segment of the market remains in play," in the research firm's words.

Of course, there's a qualifier to this study, and it's a big one. Those undecided would-be handset purchasers didn't automatically lean towards buying a Windows phone or a BlackBerry device—indeed, just 3 percent said they intended to buy a device running Microsoft's OS and just 2 percent said the same about a BlackBerry, which jibes with the tiny slivers of smartphone market share those two firms currently possess.

Another finding emphasized by cg42 was that there aren't really a lot of folks out there eager to upgrade their current phone any time soon.