Posts by Brandon Miniman

Brandon is a graduate from the Villanova School of Business, located near Philadelphia, PA. He's been a technology writer since 2002, and, in 2005, became Editor-in-Chief of Pocketnow, a then Windows Mobile-focused website. He has since helped to transition Pocketnow into a top-tier smartphone and tablet publication. He's so obsessed with technology that he once entered a candle store and asked if they had a "new electronics" scent. They didn't.

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    Google Now is an impressive part of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (and it's available for Ice Cream Sandwich devices). It can provide you with relevant information depending on where you are, what you're doing, and what you've recently searched for. On the Galaxy Nexus, Google Now is accessible from both the lock screen and from doing a sliding gesture from the on-screen Home button. If you're running a Jelly Bean port on any hardware that doesn't have on-screen buttons, like the Galaxy S III, this gesture doesn't work. You can still access Google Now from the lock screen of virtual-buttonless ...

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    It didn't take very long for the Galaxy S III to get Jelly Bean. The CyanogenMod 10 preview release, while not intended for daily use, is very much good enough to be used all day. Not only is it good enough, but it's super fast, in fact, we've found it faster than a stable release of CyanogenMod 9, which is Ice Cream Sandwich-based (and soon to reach release candidate status). In the CyanogenMod 10 preview, all the Jelly Bean goodies are there: Google Now, Project Butter (hint: web browsing is insanely fluid), improved notifications, and the upgraded launcher. Of course in order to get the ...

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    This might be your first time on Pocketnow, or you might be among our regular readers, having kept an eye on the site for many years. Either way, there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes that makes this all possible: to generate 25 pieces of content per day takes a tremendous coordinated effort; to be able to pay the salary of five full-time and two part-time employees requires revenue; to be able to review the latest and greatest handsets requires solid relationships with a dozen OEMs and carriers, plus some cash for times when we must buy units. Ever wonder how it all works? Here's a ...

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    It's been about two weeks since I started using Jelly Bean, both on a Nexus 7 tablet and also on a Verizon Galaxy Nexus. And soon, thanks to the efforts of the development community, many of you will get an early upgrade to Jelly Bean thanks to the release of its source code on the AOSP. Your best shot of getting the new OS won't come from manufacturers, as they have yet to firmly commit to upgrades, but it'll come from sites like XDA, where eager developers compile builds of Jelly Bean for specific devices. Or, you can wait for more finished products, like CyanogenMod 10, which is ...

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    Recently Verizon and Motorola pushed forth an OTA update to Droid RAZR and RAZR MAXX devices to bring them from Android 2.3 Gingerbread to Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich. And with it, users can enjoy a less intrusive version of Motorola's MotoBlur interface. Android ICS fanatics will be excited to know that the browser, app drawer, and launcher (for the most part) have remained stock giving users the look and feel of unadulterated Android 4.0. That said, there is a fair amount of lag when going back to the homescreen and when browsing the web. Hopefully the Android community will ...

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    Google is serious about tablets. And they need to be in order to show leadership: most Android tablets that you can buy right now just aren't compelling. They suffer from UI lag and poor hardware. Then there's the abysmal selection of Android tablet apps. It's not a pretty picture, and as the iPad's market share continues to explode, drastic measures becomes neccessary. In a move that could have vast implications on the entire tablet market, Google has partnered with Asus to release an über-affordable and plenty-powerful tablet, the Nexus 7. Like all Nexus devices, the 7 comes preloaded ...

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    Android really needed a Nexus tablet. With the exception of the Transformer and Transformer Prime, all Android tablets so far have been pretty bad. We can say this because we've used them all (more or less). Whether it's a laggy interface, poor app selection, or bad hardware, Android tablets are still miles behind in a race that Apple is unequivocally winning. The Nexus 7 just might change that. It's got Jelly Bean, an operating system that attempts to (and succeeds at) make Android lag a thing of the past. It offers a thin and light form factor only possible with a 7" display. It brings ...

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    It was less than 24 hours ago that Google announced Android Jelly Bean, and already, we're seeing it leak onto a bevy of devices. Chief of among them is the Galaxy Nexus, which will be getting an official OTA update to Jelly Bean in July. For now, though, the OTA update has been leaked and whether you have a GSM or CDMA Galaxy Nexus, you can get it running on your phone. We loaded the leaked ROM onto a Verizon Galaxy Nexus, and in this video, we take you on a tour of how Jelly Bean feels on a phone, and not just an emulator. First impressions? Here are some remarks: Google voice search is ...

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    Google's announcement of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean touched on a ton of new features and improvements to the how the platform operates. Now that the SDK is available for developers, we fired-up the Android emulator to get a hands-on look for ourselves at some of those changes. We delve into the new automatic widget resizing, including reposition of existing app icons. Jelly Bean gives apps much greater freedom with how they present notification alerts to the user, including those that allow the user to perform actions; while we can't see all that new stuff in action without some JB-supporting ...

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    Finally, a company was bold enough to do it: kill the rear-facing camera on tablets, as the Nexus 7 only has a front-facing camera. The vast majority of tablet users don't use their rear-facing camera. Why? Because not only do tablets take horrible photos, but it's awkward and cumbersome to use your tablet to take a photo. A tablet is characteristically less mobile than a phone, so you're unlikely to have your table with you when you need to snap a photo of that special moment. You also look silly when taking a photo with a tablet. Have you ever tried it? A front-facing camera, though, ...

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    The rumors were true. The Asus-made Nexus 7 tablet comes out of the box with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The 7" display is 1280x800 resolution (though we're not sure of the display type). It's powered by a quad-core Tegra 3 CPU with 1GB of RAM. It also has a front-facing and no rear-facing camera. According to Google, it will run for 9 hours of HD video. It's a device very much focused on content: the home screen has special content widgets (that reminds us a lot of the B&N Nook Tablet) that allows you to "pin" your favorite books, (now) magazines, and videos. What's more, there are ...

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    By using a combination of current location, calendar status, and search history, a new feature of Android Jelly Bean, called Google Now, aims to provide you with information before you need it. For example, it'll know you're in a restaurant and suggest a great dish to try. Or, it'll know that you have an upcoming flight and will keep you updated with flight status, and even tell you what time you need to leave your current location to make the flight on time plus show you the traffic info . You can access Google Now with a swipe up from the bottom of the screen, which is a great universal ...

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    Up until now, Android tablets have been stuck with relatively low screen resolutions. Most are 1024x768, and at best you see tablets with 1280x800 resolution. With resolutions such as these, pixels are big enough to where you can see individual pixels if you look closely. The new iPad showed us what happens when you shrink the size of each pixel (and add more of them): the results are transformative as content can look printed-on the display. Acer is first out of the gate to launch an Android 4.0 tablet with a higher screen resolution. The Acer Iconia A700 packs 1920x1200 pixels, granting ...

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    We're back with another episode of After the Buzz, where we take another look at mobile devices after the shine wears off and after we've had ample time to live with the device past the honeymoon period. This time, we're assessing the new iPad, the tablet that still has the most market share (by far) in the tablet market. Questions we seek to answer include: does the Retina display markedly improve the experience? How has battery life been? Is it worth going for the LTE version? Does the extra weight and thickness negatively impact the experience? How about the app situation: are most ...

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    iOS has icons. Android has icons and widgets.  Windows Phone has live tiles. This alone makes Microsoft right when they say that Windows Phone is different. Not only Windows Phone look different, but it functions differently. Windows Phone attempts to give its users a more glanceable UI. And one could reasonably argue that the Windows Phone glanceable UI is beautiful: it's characterized by evenly-spaced, often symmetrical and perfectly square or rectangular boxes that contain dynamic bits of information. For a minimum level of distractions, the tiles are set against a background ...

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    Shipping this fall, Windows Phone 8 brings forth a lot of new features that makes it competitive with the next-generation updates for iOS and Google. It'll be available on new hardware only, but existing Windows Phone 7.5 users will get a smaller update (in Windows Phone 7.8) to bring forth some of the features (but not all) announced for Windows Phone 8. Here's a breakdown of our favorites.           5. Conversations With Apps. This seems nothing like a competition with Siri or S Voice. Microsoft is planning to offer a new speech platform that even enables ...

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    Previously we showed you how to root the Galaxy S III. We reported that at the time, there weren't many third-party ROMs for Samsung's latest and greatest for those wanting to part ways with Nature UX and all of the many little software flaws that we cited in our review. That's now changed thanks to the availability of CyanogenMod 9 nightlies for the Galaxy S III. In this video we give you a taste of what to expect. Short of a couple of bugs relating to the FM radio and camera flash, everything seems to be in working order. And what's more, everything looks and feels like stock Ice Cream ...

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    In our review of the Galaxy S III, most of our complaints were software-related. Thankfully, one of the best aspects of Android is that if you don't like the software, you can change it, thanks to a vibrant third-party development community. All you need to do is root the device to get super user permissions and install a custom bootloader, like ClockworkMod. Then, you're able to install any third-party ROM with ease. In this video we show you how to go through this process. Of course, there are always multiple methods of rooting, but this particular process was quick and easy. Here are ...

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    Apple just unveiled iOS 6, which in a lot of ways is their pre-emptive answer to the next version of all other mobile platforms due later this year, including Android (Jelly Bean?) and Windows Phone (Windows Phone 8?). It'll be available over-the-air this fall (no exact date was given), and it's available as a beta now for developers. Certainly, some are left disappointed that we didn't get homescreen widgets, significant improvements to the UI, or x-ray vision in the camera app (perhaps iOS 7?), but there are definetly some cool features of iOS 6 that have us really excited. Here's a ...

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    The Galaxy S III is one of the most highly anticipated phones ever. Samsung has had it right for several years now: they've created a recognizable, flagship brand that is so popular and sought-after that all major carriers in the world endeavor to sell it. The Galaxy S brand has also gotten them in a lot of trouble, as companies like Apple attempt to prevent Samsung from selling its handsets due to allegations of patent infringement. Nevertheless, Samsung has sold tens of millions of both the Galaxy S and Galaxy S II. Their success has been a result of the combination of fantastic ...

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    The Samsung Galaxy S III and the iPhone 4S are very different phones. On paper, the Galaxy S III has a stronger spec sheet: it has a larger, higher resolution display, a larger battery, and it has a quad core CPU (if we're talking about the international variant of the device). On the other hand, the iPhone 4S is without question one of the best-selling smartphones of all time, thanks in part to its handsome design (which is really starting to feel dated), great performance, and awesome camera. We're also at a strange point in the release cycle: Samsung's Galaxy S III is the company's ...

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    After having announced the (then-named) Windows Phone 7 Series platform at Mobile World Congress 2010, Microsoft planned a flashy New York City event in the fall of that same year to show off the first devices that would be bestowed with the Windows ecosystem's answer to Apple and Google's foray into mobile. There were a handful of devices, though one stood out to us in particular: the Samsung Focus, which seemed to have the best screen, the snappiest performance, and the most impressive thin-and-light form factor. The Focus went on to be one of the best-selling early Windows Phone 7 ...

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    The original Samsung Focus was a Windows Phone 7 "Series" launch device back in 2010, and it helped to set the pace for what has been a very warm reception of Microsoft's new mobile platform. The Focus was great because it was thin and light, had fantastic performance, and had a particularly high level of screen sensitivity, which made navigation super fluid. Overall, it did Windows Phone justice. When Samsung and AT&T announced the Focus 2, we had high expectations. While not the most impressively-spec'ed phones on the market, the Focus 2 has a capable 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU ...

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    I've got Verizon Palm Treo 700w sitting in front of me. Usually it'd be in a box in the corner of the office, but it made a star appearance in our recent Pocketnow 5.0 teaser video. The phone is remarkably, crazy thick at 23mm, or, in other words, three times thicker than the thinnest phones of today, like the HTC One S. Not only is it three times thicker, but it's magnitudes "dummer." The Treo 700w had a single-core 312MHz CPU with a mere 32MB of RAM. And the phone, in-hand, feels like a tank. It's seems that the phone, with its extra heft and endless thickness, would be unusable. Alas, ...

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    Greetings, all. For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Brandon Miniman, the Editor-in-Chief and publisher of Pocketnow. Since 2005, when my tenure as editor began, so much has changed. We once strove to be the best Windows Mobile site on the planet -- and then the industry evolved, and so did we. We broadened our mandate in an attempt to be the best Smartphone site on the planet -- and then the industry evolved yet again. So we evolved as well, adding tablets into our scope of coverage. Why? Because we believe in the transformative power of mobile computing devices, whether ...

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