Posts by Joe Levi

Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.

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    Whenever you look at a wireless provider's coverage map, you'll probably notice a few things right off: coverage is best in major population centers and along the highway corridors that connect them. Stray too far from either and your signal strength drops. Signal strength impacts more than you might think, and that drop happens more often that you might think and why you might want to pick up a signal booster for your car! Signal Boosters Put simply, a signal booster listens for radio waves on cellular frequencies, then boost them with an amplifier, and sends that signal to an antenna ...

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    T-Mobile has been doing some very "un-carrier" things for quite some time now. That's not by accident - instead it's a very strategic plan to woo customers away from the more "traditional" Stateside cellular providers and give them a taste of how things are across Europe and in other parts of the world. From all-but eliminating contracts to offering some of the only "unlimited" plans that still exist, T-Mobile has been boldly changing the way people look at and use cell phones, and with the recent unveiling of JUMP On Demand, it doesn't look like Magenta will be changing that anytime soon. ...

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    For those of you who didn't already know, I just got back from an epic road-trip vacation that covered more than 2,500 miles (4,000 km), and took me through four states. What's more, the route I selected took us through some very out-of-the-way locales and far from cellular data coverage. Being the tech nerd that I am, I loaded up my smartphone with Google Maps and went about pre-loading areas for offline use. When offline ability first came to Google Maps it was a pain to use. You'd select an arbitrary area, and zoom in and out until you could save the selection to your device. These ...

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    Contrary to some rumors circulating around the Internet, I'm not dead (not yet anyway) - I've just been on vacation for the last two-and-a-half weeks. I had a wonderful time with my family, saw some beautiful places, soaked up some sun, and spent way too much money on food. Since I am "Joe the Android Guy™" after all, I had plenty of tech in tow, but before we dive into that, let me give you a little background about how we went about our trip,then share some vacation tech tips to help your next excursion be more enjoyable. Including my mother-in-law, we have eight people in my ...

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    There are three major components to evaluate whenever you talk about network speed: latency, download speed, and upload speed. For most of us, that translates into "how fast does it load" when talking about web pages or other content, or "how high is the resolution" when streaming video. We've already gone through quite a few iterations of wireless systems, "5G" is arguably the fifth generation of mobile networks and is the "the next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards". The Past Over the years there have been many standards for ...

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    You probably don't know this about me, and forgive me if it's TMI. Back in my college days I was recovering from an illness that caused short-term memory loss. My coping mechanism was writing everything down. Since analog notes are hard to search through, I turned to the digital world to get help me find whatever information I was looking for. One of my all time favorite devices at the time was the HP Jornada - which got me through a few years in college. It was durable, quick, and helped organize my life. This little device held my schedule in its calendar app, my personal and college ...

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    Snapdragon, MediaTek, Exynos, and A8 are  SoCs - systems on a chip - that might be powering your smartphone or tablet right now. All of these processors follow the RISC style of computer chip technology, unlike CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) chips which are typically based around the x86 or x64 platform and power most desktop and laptop computers these days. RISC chips feature a reduced instruction set and have been stereotypically "underpowered" compared to their CISC counterparts, and therefore limited to mobile applications. With the increase in capabilities and popularity ...

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    Back in the early days of cell phones in these United States, cellular phones were purchased from the carrier along with a service plan. Those plans came with ridiculous pricing by today's standards - some cost more than US$5 per minute! If you needed to replace your phone (if it was lost, stolen, broken, or even if you wanted to upgrade) you had to go back to your carrier and have them update your account to point the new device. Each device had a unique ID assigned to it, so this process wasn't particularly difficult, just inconvenient and fairly time consuming as you were forced ...

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    If you're reading this article, chances are that you own a smartphone - a device that's transforming the consumer electronics playing field. It's a remarkable little device, regardless of whatever operating system it runs, which cellular carrier it's on, or its formfactor. Almost universally, a smartphone has a touchscreen, a telephone capabilities, an additional speaker, a camera (sometimes two or more), a high-speed, always-on connection to the Internet, and a whole bevy of sensors. Because of it's jack-of-all-trades utility, the humble smartphone has been replacing what used to be ...

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    At the Google I/O 2015 keynote we were shown pieces of the next version of Android, currently codenamed "Android M". While we don't know what the final dessert name will be we were treated to a Developer Preview of Android M (just like last year with Android L). Not everything we saw in the keynote is available in the Developer Preview, but many of the features are. If you want to give the Developer Preview of Android M a try on your supported device, head over to the Android Developer website and flash away. It's buggy, as one might expect, so proceed at your own risk. In the meantime, ...

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    Today and tomorrow, Google is hosting its developer conference, Google I/O 2015. Like last year, we got to see the next version of Android for the very first time. Also like last year, Google isn't giving away the name of the next version, it's simply referred to as it's letter - in this case: Android M. This morning Dave Burke, VP Engineering (Android) at Google, took the stage, giving us all a first-hand look at Android M. Though nothing was mentioned about the version number of this upcoming release, the changes that were mentioned sound a lot like Android M will be version 5.2 rather ...

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    I was never a fan of handwriting while I was in school.  Later I was introduced to fountain pens and all of that changed. My "daily carry" pen is an aluminum-bodied, steel-nibbed pen from Schrade that writes wonderfully and looks great. The downside is that all my handwritten notes are analog. I have to manually scan them - every single one - if I want them in a digital format. Since then I've been looking for a digital solution. My old Apple Newton fit the bill. Notes I'd write there on it were handwritten "ink", but digitized on the fly. Since then I haven't found anything that ...

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    Android Wear is picking up more OEMs, more styles, and more users every passing day. These svelte wearables take a fairly robust microcomputer and cram it into a wristwatch - an impressive feat when you think about it. Despite all the technological capabilities built-in to these devices, first and foremost they are timepieces. As such, watch faces need to be simple, elegant, and informative. Some are better than others. Here are a few of my digital favorites. Background I was happy with the very rectangular Pebble (Kickstarter Edition), until I saw Android Wear and spring for the LG G ...

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    Google I/O 2015 is less than a week away and the schedule of events has posted on what has to be the most "Material Design"-styled website that I've ever seen, complete with Android Lollipop-esque animations. For those who may not know, Google I/O is two days of "inspirational talks, hands-on learning, and a chance to hear more about Google's latest developer products". What's more, we usually get an early peek at what's coming next and the general direction of Android, ChromeOS, the Chrome browser, and how devices that leverage these technologies may interplay with each other going ...

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    Historically, HTC has made some very high-quality products with specifications that compete at virtually every price-point. Back in 2013 we started musing about an HTC-built tablet that would resemble the insanely popular HTC One, complete with its then-novel front-firing speakers. We hoped that 2014 might be the year the HTC tablet made a comeback. Over the years there have been a spattering of HTC tablets, one of the more notable recent additions being Google's own Nexus 9 - the first tablet in almost four years from HTC - but even it isn't a killer Android tablet. Many thought an ...

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    Marmalade? Mango? Mint Julep? Marshmallow? Meringue? Marzipan? Milk Chocolate? Moon Pie? M&M? Milky Way? Mars Bars? Milkshake? Though we may not know what the name of "Android M" will be once it starts showing up on smartphones, tablets, and wearables, we're already putting our list of wants together. What's on our Android M wishlist? I polled the Pocketnow team to see what's on their minds, keep on reading to find out what we'd like to see! Volume Control To start with let's hop in the wayback machine and look at one of my favorite features from the early CyanogenMod Custom ROMs: ...

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    App permissions are the big, ugly monster that no one wants to think about. We all want to play our games, update our social networks, play embarrassing farting sounds and blame our friends, and so much more. To make all that happen, we head over to our preferred app stores, search through an endless sea of apps, then download whatever app looks like it's the "best". During the installation process we're warned about all the permissions the app says it needs to be able to work correctly. We may have cared what those permissions were when we installed our first few apps, but after we ...

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    Whether you use a tablet, phablet, or phone, and regardless of what OS powers it or which brand is stamped on its backside, we all have one thing in common: our devices all have batteries that always need recharging. Power bricks come in all shapes and sizes. Some may feature a quick-charging standard, others may be the run-of-the mill chargers that simply get the job done. Regardless, they all require a power outlet - and there never seems to be one of those around when we need it. What we need is a compact, portable, charging station that we can take anywhere, uses power from the ...

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    What is Microsoft Continuum? Just in case you haven't heard of it before, Continuum is Microsoft's solution to let you use your smartphone as a desktop computer - wirelessly. There are times when a phone just doesn't cut it. It's too small or too limited, and the task simply requires that you pull out your tablet or laptop, or sit down at your desktop PC. I write all my articles on a computer running Microsoft Windows. I use a wireless keyboard and mouse (both ergonomic, because that's how I roll) and a 27-inch monitor. This set up lets me have plenty of room to see what I'm writing, and ...

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    We all know that higher numbers are better than lower ones, right? But does that same logic apply when we're talking about two high-end mobile processors? The root of the questions falls squarely on LG, and its decision to put the Snapdragon 808 (instead of the 810) inside the flagship LG G4. The LG G Flex 2 uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 SoC, but LG selected the Snapdragon 808 for use in the G4. Some have hypothesized that this decision was made due to what some are characterizing as "overheating" and "aggressive throttling" in the 810. According to a source, the decision to utilize ...

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    "The affordable, high-end smartphone is no longer a pipe dream." Those are the words Taylor Martin used to describe the OnePlus One - and he was right. OnePlus seemed to emerge from the shadows, a Chinese manufacturer who apparently wanted to undercut everyone else, especially OEMs who create expensive flagships that come with too many compromises. Now the OnePlus Two is on the horizon. Rumors are spreading rapidly, and we have to stop and ask ourselves, what does OnePlus need to do right with  the OnePlus 2? The OnePlus One wasn't a small phone. It's 5.5-inch screen filled out even the ...

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    HTC is releasing a new phone called the Butterfly 3 which should launch in Asia soon. Looking at its expected list of features, which is quite impressive, we're all scratching our heads wondering why HTC's current flagship, the One M9, is so "ordinary" compared to the Butterfly 3. The HTC One M9 has a 5.0-inch, 1080P display. The Butterfly 3 is likely going to bump that spec to 5.1- or 5.2-inches, but all rumors are pointing to a quad HD display rather than "standard" HD,  just like on the One M9 Plus. That's not to say the Butterfly 3 is the One M9 Plus - despite some important ...

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    Let's lay some groundwork before we jump in. There are more smartphones powered by Android in the world today than there are powered by iOS. Google beat Apple to the game by releasing Android Wear an entire season before the Apple Watch hit the market. Watches powered by Android Wear come in numerous shapes and sizes - including round. Apple Watch hit the shelves, and immediately eclipsed Android Wear - or so the headlines would like you to believe. The Apple Watch has a whole bunch of features that Android Wear doesn't have, and it's got a lot of people declaring victory. Hold 'yer ...

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    It wasn't that long ago that almost every mobile operating system (and variant thereof) was heavily stylized after tangible items that we come across every day. Notepads apps looked like legal pads, volume controls looked like dials and knobs, toggle buttons looked like switches, and so on. Pushing beyond just tangible "things", many OEMs incorporated skeuomorphic hints in their textures and backgrounds. Patterns modeled after stitching, denim, paper, and even fine leather could be found in our UIs. Skeuomorphism One of the main arguments for skeuomorphic design is the relative ease for ...

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    When I was a baby I had a blanket that my mother always covered me with when I slept. I ran my fingers over one corner until it was literally threadbare. Call it OCD or a sensory disorder, that habit apparently stuck with me. When my daily driver was a Nexus 4, with it's gently curved sides, I often found myself sweeping my thumb from side to side across the screen. Thankfully the Gorilla Glass 2 was harder than my baby blanket and didn't show a wear-mark from that habit. Most OEMs never adopted anything more than very slightly curved edges. Now, however, Samsung has brought back ...

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