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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    I've always been the most technologically advanced guy in my family, and even in my group of friends. I've generally got the latest generation smartphone and tablet. I wear a Bluetooth headset for listening to music and making phone calls. I own several smartwatches (even before the LG G Watch and Pebble came on scene). My house, car, and office are peppered with NFC tags. Now we're starting to see what I consider to be a disturbing trend: body-modding for tech. Not long ago we saw a tattoo artist who embedded four high-power magnets into his wrist so he could keep his iPod Nano at the ...

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    When it comes to wearables and smartwatches, Android Wear is a step in the right direction. No, it's not perfect - not yet anyway. The feeling is fairly uniform here at Pocketnow that Android Wear feels more like a "technology preview" than a final, polished product. All that having been said, I'm wearing my LG G Watch on my wrist right now. It pretty much lives there. Products powered by Android Wear are currently available from LG and Samsung, and the Moto 360 should be coming soon. We've also heard of an Asus smartwatch and a round G Watch that we expect to see at IFA. All this is very ...

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    As Android users, most of us have the ability to sideload apps directly onto our smartphones and tablets - no app store needed! People who use other operating systems on their mobile devices aren't always so lucky. To load apps on their devices from sources other than those officially sanctioned by the company that makes their phone, many have to go through a jailbreaking or unlocking process. While not necessarily a "bad" thing, jailbreaking brings with it many other implications that reach significantly deeper than simply installing an app. Most Android-powered devices provide the ...

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    Even before HTC built the "first Android", the G1 for T-Mobile, the company was well known for making hardware that really stood out. Its phones were built really well and stood out from the competition. That trend has continued through to today: HTC makes really good looking hardware! But you and I know that hardware is only half of the equation. Now that HTC is starting to release some of its most desired software to the public, how will HTC stand out from its competition? Hardware My first hands-on experience with HTC was with the HP iPaq line of Pocket PCs. They weren't slabs like ...

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    As efforts like After The Buzz, the Pocketnow U-Review, and Empty Nest demonstrate, we’re constantly searching for fresh ways to review mobile technology. The newest product of those efforts is Pocketnow’s “Review Rebuttal” series, in which a member of our team is assigned to test a smartphone or tablet that’s already gone through our standard review process. While the resulting video or editorial doesn’t affect the “official” Pocketnow review score, we hope it provides added context by showcasing an editor’s personal opinion, rather than a team-wide consensus. We ...

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    We've spent the last week or so talking about smartphone security and how the privacy-centric Blackphone can help keep your communications as well as your data private. We've looked at all the technical stuff that's going on to keep you secure, as well as given it our full hands-on review treatment. But what if you don't have a Blackphone? If you're running (virtually) any Android-powered smartphone or tablet, you're in luck! Here are three Android security tips that will improve your security and privacy right now! 1. Encrypt Not long ago we heard of people buying old smartphones and ...

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    The Amazon Fire Phone is a pretty interesting device, but it comes with the Amazon Appstore instead of the Google Play Store. What if you want some other apps? Because the Fire Phone is based on Android, you're in luck! Just like other Android-powered devices, you can sideload applications right onto the device, but the process looks a little different than you may be used to. Here's how you can sideload apps on the Amazon Fire Phone. Enable Sideloading Head into the Settings by pulling down on the top of the screen and tapping the Settings cog. From there, find Applications & Parental ...

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    When we went hands-on, and gave Amazon's Fire Phone the full review treatment earlier this month, we didn't have many nice things to say about its battery life, rating it as "poor to fair". This rating carries with its own measure of irony since Amazon touts "uncompromised battery life" as one of the selling points of its phone. "You'll definitely want to take a charger with you if you're planning on anything close to heavy use. We haven't once reached 4 hours of screen-on time with the Fire Phone's embedded 2600 mAh battery, and charging it every night has been a non-negotiable ...

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    "You know what I hate? Handing my tablet over to one of my kids to keep them entertained 'for a few minutes' only to discover that their 'entertainment' was changing my wallpaper, rearranging my icons, and messing up my tablet!" That's what I said back in 2012 when we started learning about Android 4.2 A New Flavor of Jelly Bean. Since then, two out of the three tablets in my house has multiple logins. My wife shares her original Nexus 7 with our seven year old son, and I have a "guest" account set up on my 2013 Nexus 7. The practicality of multi-user support on a tablet is almost without ...

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    Last week the Internet exploded with people complaining about the security permissions required by the latest update to the Facebook Messenger app for Android. Now that some of the initial knee-jerk reaction has passed, is there anything you need to be worried about? And if so, how worried should you be? Let's dig into some background before we dive into that. Facebook is huge. It's been just more than a decade since being founded, employs more than 7,000 people, and has over 1.28 billion active users. Add to the fact that we recently learned that Facebook has been "experimenting with the ...

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    This week as I've been going hands-on with the ultra-secure Blackphone, there's one thing that's really stuck out in my mind: passwords, and if there is such thing as a "perfect password". We use passwords for a lot more than most think. Every day I wake up and check my email. Doing so requires that I enter a password. I head over to Pocketnow and login with another password to publish my daily article. I then share that article with various social media networks, each with a different password. When I check my phone I have to input a PIN (which is another kind of password). When I head ...

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    We've got Android Wear. We've got Samsung's proprietary Gear line-up. We've got Pebble. Even Sony has some skin in the game. You probably won't find anyone who would argue with you that those are all "smartwatches". But they're all so different from one another! That got us scratching our heads: what is a smartwatch? According to Wikipedia: "A smartwatch (or smart watch) is a computerized wristwatch with functionality that is enhanced beyond timekeeping, and is often comparable to a personal digital assistant (PDA) device. While early models can perform basic tasks, such as calculations, ...

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    Some have referred to Blackphone as a smartphone for people who are "paranoid", I don't see it that way. Blackphone offers something that, as a society, we give away too freely: our privacy. Many will say "if you don't have anything to hide, you don't have anything to worry about", yet these people still close the door on the stall when using the restroom, and have curtains over their windows to keep people from snooping. That's what Blackphone does, only for your personal communications. How it does that is a little complicated, so let's walk through what kinds of security Blackphone ...

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    We all want fast devices, but RAM, CPU, and GPU are all just lines on a spec sheet. That's where benchmarking comes in, but they can be gamed, and even cheated. Today we're going hands on with GameBench, a new app that aims to change that and give us information that's useful and accurate. With so many components inside our devices, and complex interrelations between them, it's all but impossible for us to gauge "how fast" something is just by looking at its specifications. Additional cores have an impact. How fast those cores are clocked play into the equation as well. Why type of ...

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    For many of us who have gotten a taste of wireless charging, there's no possible way we can picture ourselves going back to old-fashioned wired charging. Sure, I still plug my phone in while I'm in the car, but that's simply because I haven't found a wireless charger that satisfies my needs (not yet, anyway). Wireless charging is tremendously convenient. In the wireless charging world, we don't see charging as a distinct act. It's not something we physically do. Instead, charging simply "happens" when we set our phones or tablets on our desk or nightstand. It's automatic. It's casual. ...

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    Back in "the day", telephones were made up of a round speaker connected to a round microphone via a handle. To call someone, you picked up the "handset" from the "receiver" and "dialed" the number. The reason we still use that term today is because the apparatus for inputting our contact's phone number was a round dial. You'd stick your finger in the hole that represented the number you wanted, rotate the dial until it stopped, pull out your finger, and wait while it returned back to the starting position. This wasn't such a chore when only four digits were required to call someone. Then ...

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    My mother-in-law isn't exactly what you'd call "technologically savvy", but that doesn't stop her from upgrading to the latest and greatest Android-powered smartphones every chance she gets. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, but I'll give you three guesses who gets to support those devices. It wouldn't be such an issue except at her age -- how can I put this lightly -- she's a bit "set in her ways". Don't get me wrong, she can whip out her phone and call anyone in her extremely wide social network faster than you can say "mint chocolate chip ice cream". She's got friends and relatives ...

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    Have you even noticed how fast and smooth a brand new desktop or laptop computer runs when you first take it out of the box? Other than the obligatory bloat, nothing is pre-loaded. Very few processes run in the background. Both the RAM and CPU are ready for whatever you throw at them. Such is the case with a brand new smartphone or tablet -- with a catch. When you get your first phone or tablet, you haven't setup your accounts. You haven't downloaded and installed any apps. You don't have any services pushing data to your device, or apps pulling data from web services at regular ...

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    Here at Pocketnow, we see a lot of phones. Some are terrible, some are "okay", and others are amazing pieces of technology that excel in every way -- except a couple. It seems that even now, do device is perfect. But what is "perfect", anyway? What do we want in our dream phone? That's what we asked the Pocketnow Team, but instead of limiting ourselves to which of today's phones we'd really love to have in our pockets, we asked what tech we want in a phone right now. Is it a curved screen? An even better AMOLED display? Knock to unlock on even more devices? Frickin' lasers? Here's what ...

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    Job got you down? Has your love life lost its spark? Are you sick and tired of real reality? Lucky for you, all of that can change thanks to the modern miracle of virtual reality! Okay, that sounds a little cheesy, right? Okay fine, it's a lot cheesy. Virtual reality, however, is much less so and has the potential to revolutionize, well, everything! We've been trying to put virtual reality to use in more and more applications over the years, and now it's poised to go beyond expensive simulators and make its bold entrance into our living rooms, and even our pockets! In the past, virtual ...

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    With each passing generation of smartphone and tablet, we're promised an even stronger screen, more resistant to scratches, and made out of increasingly exotic materials. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself if these screens are so scratch-resistant, why do manufacturers continue to ship them to us with a protective film covering the screen? Think about it. Manufacturers assemble these devices in very clean environments, then place their products into clean boxes that hold them securely in place and protect them while they're shipped across the globe. Why would they need a protective ...

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    Remember back in the days of Android Gingerbread when ambitious OEMs started pumping out Android-powered tablets in an attempt to compete with Apple's iPad? Google pulled out all the stops to get Android Honeycomb released, and even partnered with Motorola to create the XOOM to show us all how a tablet "should be made". Honeycomb didn't last that long, but prior to Honeycomb, Google's message to OEMs was very clear: don't make a tablet powered by Android just yet. In retrospect, it's obvious why Google wanted its partners to wait: Android wasn't ready for tablets back then. It took some ...

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    Whether you're using Android, iOS, or Windows phone, there's one thing that unites us all: phone chargers. This week, Natalie and Kristin want to know why some chargers charge phones faster than others. Kristin bought a brand new phone charger that charges her phone about twice as fast as Natalie's in-wall charger. What gives? To answer that, first we have to talk a little bit about electricity. We'll dig into that, get into some Ohm's Law, and talk about rectifiers and inverters on this episode of the Pocketnow Power User. AC/DC The power inside our walls is AC (alternating current). The ...

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    While users may not have always responded favorably, the ability of OEMs to deliver wildly divergent looks for their Android UIs could be seen as big success story for the sort of openness and flexibility that only Android offers. In the very early days of Android, everything looked the same. Manufacturers kept the stock OS intact and focused on deploying hardware -- that's where the real creativity was exercised back then. That approach didn't last long. Shortly after HTC built the G1 for T-Mobile, it created other phones with interfaces that began to refine the somewhat basic look and ...

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    It's the first smartphone designed by Amazon, and it marks a day that many of us said would never come. The Fire Phone has landed, and you can buy it now! It's got this cool new pseudo-3D tilty thing called "dynamic perspective" (which actually sounds kind of cool), and some fairly decent specifications. The CPU powering the Fire Phone is a 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, and it's loaded with 2GB of RAM. Both of those are good, but neither are top-of-the-line. If anything, those are last year's specs. On the graphics side, there's an Adreno 330 GPU, but it's only powering a ...

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