Posts by Stephen Schenck

Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!

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    What's the best part of these early days of what sure feels like summer? Grilling out in the backyard? Taking trips to the beach with friends? We guess that stuff's pretty dope, but for our money, the hot thing to do right now is checking out some next-gen mobile platforms. Over the last few days, both Google and Apple have released the earliest public-facing editions of their forthcoming mobile releases, as the Android M developer preview and the first iOS 9 beta become available to testers. Apples and oranges they may be, but with both bringing some much-anticipated changes to their ...

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    There's no shortage of reasons to choose one mobile operating system over another, and we could compare platform features or supported apps until the cows come home. But for some users, the choice of platform comes down to a matter of principle, and if you strongly feel that users should be able to run the software of their choice, it's hard to recommend iOS. After all, while Google gives Android users the freedom to install third-party apps without any Play Store oversight, with Apple it's the App Store or nothing – no sideloading (jailbreaking notwithstanding) to speak of. At least, ...

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    It's still going to be a few months before we have any hope of checking out the next iPhone, but even with new hardware still out of reach, Apple could still be dropping a few clues about what to expect, hidden in its software. The developer preview of iOS 9 is now available, following its announcement earlier this week, and devs are understandably tearing through it to see what secrets lurk within. One promising avenue concerns camera support, as Apple appears to be putting the framework in place to support some significant front-facer upgrades. An analysis of iOS 9 code reveals a number ...

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    Android's voice search features are already pretty powerful, and with word of Google Now on Tap arriving at I/O the other week, it sounds like the voice-driven Android experience is only getting better. But while we're still waiting for Now on Tap to be ready for public release, Google's got another big upgrade it's deploying right now, as it brings location awareness to Google Search. With location services enabled on your phone, Google can now answer questions with contextual awareness of where your are at the moment. That means that if you're in a mall and wonder how much longer you ...

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    With CES and MWC, there's a lot of pressure on manufacturers to have new hardware ready to show off in the early months of the year. And while that means we get to check out all this new hardware in a short span of time, sometimes the desire to introduce new products gets ahead of the commercial realities of the situation – and we're left hearing about interesting new tech that leaves us waiting for months and months with no opportunity to buy it. That's proving very much to be the case for Huawei's new wearable, with the Android Wear-powered Huawei Watch still waiting to make its ...

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    With the arrival of June, it feels like the floodgates have opened for third-gen Moto X leaks and rumors, and over the past few days we've probably talked more about the smartphone than we have in the five months prior. Our topics of discussion have included a couple potential early looks at the phone's hardware, including a pic that hinted at the possible presence of a fingerprint scanner. Today we get some new imagery to check out, arriving alongside the warning that we may be getting the wrong idea about that scanner. According to this source, the Moto X 2015 with that scanner hardware ...

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    The original Moto X arrived back in 2013 as a very solid offering that helped define the new Motorola lineup going forward, but for as much as we liked the smartphone overall, its camera just wasn't up to snuff. So when 2014 rolled around and we got to check out the new Moto X, we had high expectations that Motorola might have learned from its mistakes – and we still got a camera that left us wanting. For the past week or so now we've been inundated by leaks and rumors about an upcoming third-gen Moto X; will Motorola finally get the camera right? There's cause to be hopeful, as a ...

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    For as much as we seem to talk about wishing our smartphones had the latest updates (especially if that means getting them before everyone else), we can be a little protective about our phones' software, wanting a say in the process. Sure, the latest OTA to hit your phone is probably loaded with good stuff, fixing bugs or otherwise improving performance, but maybe you're worried it might introduce new glitches, or take away functionality you've come to rely upon. That's why some of us place high value on being able to manually approve such updates, only permitting installation after we're ...

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    It was about two months back that Google went official with its plan to make it easier for Android users to find content in the Play Store that's appropriate for the whole family, including the youngest among us. The Designed for Families program was first revealed as a developer initiative, and Google prompted its dev community for submissions. In the weeks since, it's been evaluating them to ensure adherence to program guidelines, and now it's finally time to taste the fruits of that labor, as the Play Store's new Family section goes live. Google highlights tons of family-friendly apps, ...

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    If you still count yourself among the loyal contingent of BlackBerry fans, what's your favorite recent model? The full-touch Leap from earlier this year? Maybe the familiar design of last year's BlackBerry Classic? Or what about the unique layout of the Passport? If you're really feeling the Passport with its big square screen and hardware keyboard, you might want to pay attention to this fresh leak of the handset codenamed Oslo, which may just be a Passport in new clothing. We've already seen one Passport variant, as AT&T smoothed-out the phone's sharp corners for its own edition, and ...

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    Among the myriad announcements Apple had ready for us at WWDC yesterday, the company talked about the continuing expansion of Apple Pay, not just with new retail partners signing on in the US, but also as it got ready to bring its brand of contactless payments to the UK. With a number of big bank partners on board, it sounded like great news for Apple fans over on the other side of the pond. And while it largely should be, there's one important limitation Apple Pay's going to face in the UK that may have some users thinking twice about relying on it. To be fair, this isn't a problem with ...

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    There are a lot of attractive elements that go into making up the LG G4, but few are getting gas much attention as the phone's interchangeable back panels, especially the leather options. While the Moto X may still be our go-to leather-bound smartphone, the G4 might just improve on Motorola's offering by giving users the ability to change their leather backs on the go – not just to replace a worn or damaged cover, but to experiment with different color options. Of course, if you want to keep your G4 looking fresh with such swaps, you're going to need a few spare panels at your disposal. ...

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    Yesterday brought us Apple's announcement of its new streaming music service, as the company used its “one more thing” moment at the end of the WWDC keynote to introduce Apple Music. With promises of access to high quality radio, a huge library of streaming music, and exclusive content from popular artists, the service sure sounds like it has a lot going for it. Now in the hours since the initial reveal, we're picking up on some additional details about just how Apple Music will work, what content it will offer, and what you're going to be left without. Take, for instance, the issue of ...

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    With the introduction of iOS 9, OS X 10.11 El Capitan, Apple Music, split-screen iPad multitasking, and all the other upgrades to apps and features along the way, WWDC has already given us enough Apple news to keep even the most die-hard fan satisfied. But what if your tastes lie more over on the Android side of the tracks? While today may very much be Apple's day, we haven't forgotten about you Android users, and have just the thing to let you know we're still thinking about you: our latest smartphone giveaway. If you've been following our contests for the past several weeks, you'll know ...

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    The just-announced Apple Music sounds like it has a lot going for it, not the least of which being its upcoming multi-platform support. Sure, initial availability this summer will be an Apple-only affair, but Android support is in the works. Besides what that development stands to mean for the service's chances of building up a larger user base, it's noteworthy if only to see Apple announcing an Android app at all. But as it turns out, today's WWDC news also brings word of a second Apple Android app, as the company shares its plans for Move to iOS, an app designed to ease the transition ...

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    So far, WWDC 2015 has been doing a solid job at hitting most of the notes we were expecting: new platform updates, new Maps, split-screen on the iPad... and it's not stopping now. For months, we've been talking about Apple's next big push with media, re-thinking how it makes music accessible to its users - especially now that it has Beats under its umbrella. Today, Apple shares what we've been anticipating, announcing Apple Music. Beats 1 is Apple Music's 24/7 global radio effort, broadcasting from New York, LA, and London. Apple decries the rise of algorithmically generated playlists ...

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    The iOS 9 feature reveals continue at WWDC 2015, and the iPad is getting a few special abilities of its own. One exciting ability that had been frequently rumored was system-level support for working with two apps at once in a dual-window multi-task mode, and that's now confirmed, not only with split-screen mode, but with picture-in-picture support. First things first, we get a new app switcher, letting you page through big, clear screenshots to get to the software you want. Once you're in an app, a new system called Slide Over lets you swipe in a column view of a secondary app, giving you ...

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    Apple Pay has brought the the iPhone 6 into the world of wireless mobile payments, and as it moves forward, Apple's ambitions for expanding its system are only getting more and more grand. Today at WWDC, the company talks about growing retailer support for Apple Pay, as well as expanded user access, particularly as it expands to Apple users in the UK. Support from credit card companies grows as Discover joins the party, and more and more retailers are signing up, as well. New Square hardware is coming out to support wireless payments (above), and soon over one million retail locations in ...

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    WWDC 2015 is underway, and we're wasting no time getting to the announcements - no sales figures, no reflection on the last year's growth: straight into the new products. Apple's getting us started on the desktop with the announcement of the latest OS X release, dubbed El Capitan. Craig Federighi takes the stage to share some of the new OS X 10.11 features with us, proving that no tweak is too small as he highlights little but well easy-to-appreciate changes like how the system will enlarge the cursor as you shake it while waking from sleep. That gesture support continues with things like ...

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    Back at the start of the month, OnePlus teased what was supposed to be a major announcement – one that would “shake up” the industry. Well, we didn't get the launch of any new hardware or anything so interesting, and found ourselves left with the consolation prize of a $50 discount on the OnePlus One. On its own, that wasn't huge news – sales comes and sales go, and especially for a one-year-old phone, a price cut now and then is to be expected. Today, however, OnePlus tweaks that deal in a very important way that suddenly has us a bit more interested, making the price cur ...

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    The Samsung Galaxy S6 Active has been the subject of rumors for months now, with things really picking up over the last few weeks. Following a series of unofficial leaks and even Samsung letting slip a few details itself, we rounded out last week looking at what sure felt like it might be a teaser of the phone's pending launch on AT&T – expected to be the exclusive carrier home for the GS6 Active. It seems that interpretation was right on the money, as today Samsung and AT&T formally announce the ruggedized Galaxy S6 Active. Having seen this phone so much already, we knew quite a ...

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    Apple fans, your day is finally here. After sitting through all that talk of Windows 10 at Build, and what Google's up to with Android at I/O, today the spotlight's on Apple and Apple alone, with the company's Worldwide Developer Conference finally set to get started. The fun kicks off at 1pm Eastern (that's 5pm GMT), when the WWDC 2015 keynote address gets underway. We're expecting all manner of announcements, from the next generations of Apple's both mobile and desktop operating systems, to the debut of the Apple Music streaming radio service. That said, not all the big-ticket items once ...

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    For the past few weeks now, the upcoming Meizu smartphone you've been most likely to hear about has been the MX5, with early leaks and feature rumors giving way to a possible video hands-on. But the MX5 may not arrive by itself, and this evening we turn our attention to what might be the very first evidence for a slightly larger sibling, the MX5 Pro. All we have to go for the moment is the suggestion that the MX5 Pro will get a six-inch screen and the pair of images you see here, revealing a design that's a bit of departure from the MX5 we've seen leaked: the handset's edges as seen here, ...

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    Samsung's Galaxy S6 Active is all but a certainty at this point. We've seen evidence pointing to the phone's existence arrive directly from Samsung, not once, but multiple times, and what has emerged has corresponded perfectly with unofficial leaks. With so much support behind the smartphone, it launch feels much less like a question of “if” and more of “when.” That “when” could prove to be quite soon, indeed, if a new AT&T teaser really is a reference to the GS6 Active, as we've heard suggested. The carrier shared the above image on Twitter yesterday, with copy claiming ...

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    Did we just get a sneak peek at the 2015 gen 3 Moto X? A leaked pic from earlier this week sure purports to show us as much, and the accompanying specs describe some pretty heavyweight hardware – including a possible phablet-sized variant. We've heard some theories about this phone before, but this was the first time we actually had some evidence to turn to. Well, the next sign of Motorola's work towards a new Moto X may have already arrived, as an import database entry might just reveal the phone's codename. We're once again looking at India's Zauba database, which shows Motorola ...

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