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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  • by | February 12, 2014 7:23 AM

    Smartphone customers are always on the lookout for the "perfect" smartphone. So far, we haven't seen it, not yet anyway. There's always something that's just not "good enough" to be perfect. The camera isn't great. It doesn't have an SD card slot. The battery is too small. There's no Qi wireless charging in it. The screen uses the "wrong" technology. The colors aren't "Miniman-tastic" (or is it "Miniman-ilicious"). You get my point. In short, manufacturers have to keep pandering to a constantly moving target and a sometimes fickle customer-base -- and they've got to do it without giving ...

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  • by | February 11, 2014 10:50 AM

    As I sit here writing this article, my Pebble smartwatch is on my wrist and my mind is racing back to my time with the Galaxy Gear -- and finally getting it to "work" with my Nexus 5. I love my Pebble. It's a watch that does so much more than a standard wristwatch, and helps keep my smartphone in my pocket, rather than in and out, over and over when I check notifications. Samsung's Galaxy Gear is a different breed of smartwatch. In addition to doing most of what Pebble does, it also serves as your phone's handset, lets you snap short videos, and more. Unfortunately, it's only "compatible" ...

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  • by | February 10, 2014 7:24 AM

    Generally speaking, whenever Apple introduces a product, many claim it to be "perfect". This always strikes me as odd when a new iteration comes along, and somehow "improves" on the previous one (which was supposed to have been "perfect"). One thing that was "missing" from Apple's phone offering until recently was a "low priced" device. When the iPhone 5C came out, many saw a new era of low-priced iPhones in the not-too-distant future. That future has thus far failed to materialize. iPhone 5C When it comes to smartphones, adding a splash of color not only makes otherwise "bland" devices ...

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  • by | February 7, 2014 4:20 PM

    The Galaxy Gear is a really interesting and fun wearable, but it only works with a select few devices. Only a couple of Samsung phones and phablets are currently supported, but what if you've got another phone? In general, you're out of luck, but thanks to some tinkering by some pretty talented folks, if you've got a Nexus 5 and a bit of patience, you might just able to use your Galaxy Gear with the Nexus 5. This work-around (dare we call it a "hack"?) has been around for a few weeks, but we couldn't get it working. We weren't alone. Now, however, two of the files needed have been ...

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  • by | February 6, 2014 7:23 AM

    We all know that a platform without many apps isn't very attractive. As far as mobile computing platforms are concerned, Android is somewhat uniquely positioned when it comes to apps.  Most platforms require their apps to be compiled for the particular processor tucked neatly inside the device. This has some significant advantages, not the least of which is speed. Programs that are written and compiled for one particular architecture are generally much faster, more responsive, and a lot less "laggy" than devices that go through a middle-tier -- like Android does. Google's working on that ...

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  • by | February 5, 2014 7:34 AM

    Like it or not, you've got to admit that Android has come a long way, and is finally proving to be a formidable contender against entrenched devices running iOS. Android has smartphones, phablets, tablets, and even TV set-top boxes. Google has its ChromeBook and ChromeCast to push devices into the home as well as the office. Google even has Glass, a wearable companion to help put commonly used information as well as activities (snapping pictures, recording memos, looking stuff up, and even shooting videos) on your head. What about your car? Google has been working on a self-driving car for ...

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  • by | February 4, 2014 2:17 PM

    You're out on the town, you're having fun, and your smartphone is the furthest thing from your mind -- until you get home and check your pockets, and it isn't there. It's happened to the best of us, even some important people at Apple have left their super-secret prototype phones in bars. Though your device may be lost, there is something you can do to make sure your private information isn't compromised. Here's how you can use encryption to make your Android a little bit more secure just in case it gets lost somewhere along the way. Android Encryption We do a lot on our smartphones and ...

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  • by | February 3, 2014 7:24 AM

    Back when I started getting involved in cellphones I was a Nokia guy... so was everyone. VoiceStream gave me the option to pick up any one of several phones -- all of which were made by Nokia. They could all make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, and if you were really lucky you could even play Snake! At the time the phones were between $50 and $150 (on contract). Jump ahead to today and we've all but given up on the candy bar phone -- and the affordable prices that came along with them. Today we're surrounded by smartphones, but until recently they were all several ...

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  • by | January 31, 2014 7:23 AM

    CyanogenMod has long been one of the leading names in the custom ROM community. Only recently did the group go "corporate" when they formed Cyanogen, Inc. Before that, CyanogenMod was available as a flashable ROM for devices from virtually all manufacturers, and brought unofficial updates and current versions of Android to devices that had been abandoned by carriers and OEMs alike. However, CyanogenMod was limited primarily as a second-class-citizen, since devices came with their own ROM pre-installed, which would then be replaced by a custom CyanogenMod ROM. What we needed was a device ...

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  • by | January 30, 2014 12:10 PM

    Power users will likely recognize the name +Chainfire as one of the developers who brought superuser to Android and helped make rooting achievable for countless others. As you might expect, he's still very much into the "guts" of Android, and recently came across something a little troubling. When some power users pointed out a recent commit to the AOSP master tree, Chainfire found a significant amount of Android root changes -- which could break the majority of today's root apps. The change AOSP is the "core" Android code that developers use to create ROMs for their devices. Rooting is ...

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  • by | January 29, 2014 2:41 PM

    Anyone who has ever rooted their Android-powered device should be familiar with two things: superuser and BusyBox. The former is a permissions management tool that lets you, the user, decide which apps get issued superuser permissions (and for how long), and which ones get rejected. BusyBox is something different, and it may be slated for replacement. What is BusyBox, and what do we know about the "new BusyBox" that may be replacing it? I'm glad you asked! What is BusyBox? BusyBox was originally written by Bruce Perens and "finished" in 1996. It originally was aimed at putting a complete ...

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  • by | January 28, 2014 12:17 PM

    I generally keep both my desktop as well as my mobile devices pretty clean. On those with Windows installed I run an anti-malware application, but on my mobile devices I rely on Android and Google to take care of any malicious software that might try and wiggle its way in. So far that's worked out pretty well -- in both environments. However, I'm not an average user. I'm a little more savvy and a little more understanding of infection vectors and how malware authors try to trick users into installing it. Part of that means I know some kinds of websites are "shady" and I'll run a higher ...

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  • by | January 27, 2014 7:28 AM

    I'm a fan of HTC products. Anyone who's been around very long probably remembers how I recall my days with the HP iPaq with great fondness. That device was well-built, stylish, and rugged! I teamed that little Pocket PC up with an IR keyboard and typed countless pages of notes from my college courses on it. While others with laptops hunted for power outlets, I just sat down and tapped away. Back then HTC built devices that other OEMs sold with their brands stamped all over them. Eventually HTC started making its own products, but the road has been pretty rocky. That seemed to turn around ...

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  • by | January 24, 2014 2:15 PM

    I've been a T-Mobile customer since the company was known as VoiceStream Wireless. Back then coverage of its PCS network wasn't that great. Big cities and highway corridors were fine, but as soon as I'd venture off the beaten path, my signal would drop to unacceptable levels. I tolerated that because I was covered 80-percent of the time, and the other 20-percent were when I really shouldn't be using my cell phone anyway (vacations, family functions, etc.). Today that's all changed. Coverage has improved significantly (though some areas have better saturation that others), data speeds are ...

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  • by | January 23, 2014 10:54 AM

    Way back when Wi-Fi first came out, there were two versions that you could chose from: 802.11a and 802.11b. From a consumer perspective, there wasn't much difference between the two. Devices based on 802.11b were generally less expensive and more readily available than those based on 802.11a, so the b specification quickly became the consumer standard. 802.11b operates in the 2.4GHz spectrum. These days, it's getting pretty crowded, and to help address the digital noise that comes with it, 5GHz WiFi is making a comeback. 802.11a (2.4GHz) 802.11a was a standard in 1999 which promised to ...

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