Starmobile vida

Starmobile Vida: entry-level phone packs a punch

WITH all eyes on the latest and greatest flagship devices of the different phone manufacturers, it’s easy to lose sight of the bottom end of the lineup — the entry-level phones that will connect the next billion to the Internet.

Starmobile’s Vida is such a phone. Its technical specs are good for an entry-level device: 1GHz dual core ARM Cortex-A7 processor with a 512MB RAM and a 4GB built-in memory with provisions for up to 32GB expansion via a micro SD card. It comes with Android Kitkat.

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LG G2

The LG G2 is a great high-end Android phone

THE first thing that strikes you when you turn on the LG G2 is how beautiful the display is. It is sharp and vibrant and comes on such a big screen. It’s almost realistic you’d find yourself gingerly pressing the glass.

And as you start using what is currently LG’s flagship device, the next thing that will strike you is how responsive it is. Opening apps, switching between applications and moving between screens feel fluid and seamless.

And as the day wears on, you’d find the phone’s large battery capacity kicking in, allowing you to use the device for an entire day without having to recharge.

I tried the LG G2 for several weeks and found the phone, which comes with Android Jelly Bean, a joy to use. Continue reading →

Facebook Messenger on BlackBerry Z10

Google Chrome simplifies sideloading of Android apps to BlackBerry Z10

One of the key features of the new BlackBerry 10 operating system that runs on newer devices like the Playbook, Z10 and Q10 is its ability to run some Android apps that have been converted into .bar files.

To install these apps, you need to “sideload” the files or transfer these to the phone via a laptop or desktop. If you’re on Windows, you can sideload the files using DDPB or VNBB10.

If you’re on a Mac, it used to be a bit more complicated to install Android apps and required that you type commands on the Terminal.

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EVERNOTE. The Evernote applications for iOS and Android allow you to manage your notes on the go.

App-y New Year

Mobile exploded in 2012. US consumers now spend 1.8 more times in mobiles apps than on the Web, according to Flurry, a mobile analytics company. Flurry said that between December 2011 and December 2012, “the average time spent inside mobile apps by a US consumer grew 35 percent, from 94 minutes to 127 minutes.”

Closer to home, the Philippines recorded a 326 percent increase in smartphone sales, the fastest growth in the Southeast Asian region, according to research company GfK. The Philippines is also the country “with the highest jump in smartphone market share within a year, from 9 to 24 percent,” GfK said in a press statement last September.

To mark the end of this year of mobile, let me riff on a Pinoy New Year’s Eve tradition by offering you my favorite apps in 12 task categories, in no particular order:

News apps Zite, Prismatic and News.me

NEWS APPS. (From left) Zite, Prismatic and News.me harness social networking connections to match news stories to users’ interests.

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Edmon Joson, Smart Communications Inc. product development manager, demonstrates features of the Netphone 701 during a press conference in Cebu. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Smartphones, Smart’s Netphone

In the US, 89 percent of those with smartphones use it throughout the day, according to a study published last April by Google. The study, based on interviews of 5,013 American adults who identified themselves as users of smartphones, said the device has become a consumer’s “always-on companion” and 93 percent use it at home, 87 percent while commuting or walking, 77 percent while in a store and 72 percent while at work.

Smartphones, according to the study, “serve as pocket PCs and extend the desktop experience” with 81 percent of smartphone users browsing the Internet, 77 percent using search engines and 68 percent using an app. Seventy-two percent of users also report using their phones while consuming other media like listening to music, 44 percent; watching TV, 33 percent; reading a book, 16 percent; and reading a newspaper or magazine, 22 percent.

The study offers a peek into the quickly rising use of mobile devices to access the Internet. It’s just a peek because local usage scenario would likely be slightly different. For instance, the study said 89 percent of US respondents use their smartphones to stay connected with 82 percent saying they check and send emails with their phones and 63 percent using it for social networking. The numbers will likely be the other way around for Filipinos, who are among the world’s most active group of people in social networks.

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Google Docs on Android in Samsung Galaxy Tab

In the cloud? What if it goes up in smoke?

I wrote this column in Google Docs, the Internet search giant’s free online office suite. I thumb-typed a rough outline on an Android device—a Samsung Galaxy Tab—before I finished the first draft on my favorite desktop, which runs Ubuntu Linux, and edited the final piece in my office PC, which runs Windows XP.

All the time that I worked intermittently on this article during free time from desk work, I did not know precisely the physical location of this digital file nor the number of its copies and iterations. All I knew was that it was in Google’s data centers–precisely where I do not know nor care.

Saving digital office files in the correct location is among the first things you are required to learn on the job, whatever the industry or the size of the company. In our newsroom, file location is something seared into your brain the very first day on the job. Unless you saved your article in the designated folder, editors cannot access your story in the modern-day filing tray called The Local Network.

Google Docs on Android in Samsung Galaxy Tab
Writing using Google Docs on the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab gets updated to Gingerbread

I just upgraded my Samsung Galaxy Tab (Model GT-P1000) to Android 2.3.3 or Gingerbread. Ever since Samsung announced the tab was getting Gingerbread, I’ve been regularly checking whether the firmware was already available for the Philippines.

Gingerbread offers a streamlined user interface “for simplicity and speed.” Here’s a listing of the firmware’s improvements.

Samsung Galaxy Tab upgrade to Gingerbread from Froyo

GINGERBREAD UPDATE. The Galaxy Tab gets upgraded to Android 2.3.3 or Gingerbread, which offers improvements on the user interface, power management among a slew of other features. Click on photo to enlarge.

“The user interface is refined in many ways across the system, making it easier to learn, faster to use, and more power-efficient. A simplified visual theme of colors against black brings vividness and contrast to the notification bar, menus, and other parts of the UI. Changes in menus and settings make it easier for the user to navigate and control the features of the system and device.”

It also comes with a keyboard “redesigned and optimized for faster text input and editing” as well as improvements in copying and pasting text. Gingerbread also offers improved power management, built-in Internet calling, downloads management and offers “user access to multiple cameras on the device, including a front-facing camera, if available.”

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CSS cheat sheets as Android apps: stop taping printouts on your cubicle walls

I need to work with CSS/XHTML often enough that I’d need a reference but rarely enough to make me memorize the damned properties, selectors and syntax. I used to print out CSS/XHTML cheat sheets and tape these on my cubicle wall for easy reference whenever I was working on a website.

Just as I was about to print new cheat sheets to replace the torn and smudged copies that I had, I found handy and infinitely better references—two free Android apps.

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Smart launches low-cost Android tablet

SMART today announced the offering of a 7-inch Android 2.2 powered tablet bundled with its Smart Bro package. The company said the offering will further “democratize” Internet access in the country.

The ZTE V9 was launched last week with a suggested retail price of P12,795.

ZTE V9. The 7-inch Android 2.2-powered tablet is being bundled with Smart Bro and is sold at a suggested retail price of P12,795. (CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE)

“The ZTE V9 is an affordable way for our subscribers to get the rich Internet experience of desktops and laptops, and the convenience and portability of Internet-capable mobile phones,” Smart chief wireless advisor Orlando Vea said in a press statement.

“We know that many Filipinos still access the Internet mainly through Internet cafes and work or school computers. With low-cost Internet devices such as this, we aim to increase the country’s Internet population, by enabling more people to easily have their own personal Internet access device,” Vea said.

Initially being offered for prepaid subscription, Smart is making available the ZTE V9 on affordable payment terms. Subscriber may pay in six monthly installments at 0 percent interest through participating credit cards. It comes with a Smart Bro prepaid SIM with five days of unlimited Internet browsing. Subscriber may then register the Smart Bro prepaid account to avail of Unlisurf Packages, Per Minute Packages, or All Text Packages.

But more than just for Internet surfing, Smart officials expect Smart Bro to revolutionize the way subscribers use data services through the ZTE V9.

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Ditching paper planners for Google Calendar-Android combo

EACH November, I’d eagerly start my annual search for the next year’s planner. It is a circuitous process that almost always ends the same way each year—I’d drool over one planner after the other, go on coffee binges to collect stickers for a free diary, and end up buying a Moleskine.

I’ve been regularly trying and experimenting with online calendars and task managers for years but never got around to using one for long, back when the only interface was a Web browser and you needed to have an Internet connection to be able to use the system.

Paper was more efficient, apart from being more beautiful.

Starbucks 2011 planner and Google Calendars on the Samsung Galaxy Tab

BLANK PAGES. My Google calendar items in the Galaxy Tab placed on top the blank pages of the free 2011 Starbucks planners that I got after a coffee binge. Click to enlarge. Click to enlarge. (PHOTO BY MARLEN LIMPAG)

Last year, however, I started to gradually shift from using paper planners to online calendar services and a mobile phone.

I started with Nokia Ovi using my trustworthy-but-now-gone Nokia E63. If you have a Nokia phone, you have to use it with Ovi, a suite of online services that allow you to manage your phone’s calendar and contacts from the Web. Although I repeatedly encountered downtimes and syncing problems with Nokia Ovi last year, I found it useful enough that I migrated my office tasks and even marathon training schedule to the service.

With Ovi, you could enter tasks on the Web, set reminder settings and then have all these downloaded to your phone. Close to the end of last year, the service started allowing the sharing of calendar tasks and I was about to test it with the Sun.Star Cebu business section team when I lost my phone.

Then I got an Android phone.

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