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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    Update: Some scheduling and technical difficulties have not only resulted in some portions of variable audio quality, but also a change in our format this episode. We hope that you can bear with them as we talk about the news of the week as well as a full WWDC 2015 editorial roundtable during the last half hour. Enjoy! Is a vegetarian "hamburger" rightfully called as much, or is it just a vegetable patty? Did Scrubs season nine really count, or were we essentially watching a brand-new show? And where are all these seemingly bizarre questions coming from? We're headed into not-so-uncharted ...

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    While flagship smartphones with their bleeding-edge hardware may be the most headline-grabbing segment of the industry, there's no ignoring just how big the market for more affordably priced handsets can be. An interest in capturing those kind of sales helped drive Samsung to launch the Galaxy Grand Prime last year, a conservatively specced model that also had the benefit of a relatively high-res front-facer for selfies. More recently, rumors have been suggesting that a new Galaxy Grand Prime could be in the works, and now we finally have some evidence for the existence of this so-called ...

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    Motorola Droid Turbo users on Verizon have been a patient bunch, waiting as long as they have been for their smartphones to get a taste of Android Lollipop. We've been hearing for months now that the update could be out soon, but so far, nothing. A recent rumor even suggested that Lollipop distribution could begin earlier this week, but that just hasn't come to pass. There's still reason to be hopeful that a release is imminent, though, as Verizon updates its own Droid Turbo pages to indicate that the phone runs Lollipop. In its Droid Turbo product listing, Verizon now gives the phone's ...

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    Last week we learned that Google-owned Nest was planning to share some news with us on June 17, and all signs pointed to some kind of new product. Rumors suggested that we'd see something more akin to a refinement of an existing device than something all-new, with a particular emphasis on slimming things down. While we're not sure if we have the whole picture just yet, at least one new Nest device has just leaked, as details emerge about the wireless Nest Cam. Nest bought Dropcam a while back, and the Nest Cam looks to be the first effort to integrate some of that Dropcam tech under the ...

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    With IFA 2015 scheduled for the early days of September, we're not even three months away from when Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 is on track to debut. As we get ready for the home stretch here, we expect rumors surrounding the handset to start really zeroing in on pertinent details, while maybe a hardware leak or two gives us an early look at the phone's design. For now, though, we're still in spec territory, as a new report out of China drops a few new possibilities about Samsung's plans for the phablet. For starters, this could be the phone that sees Samsung embrace the USB 3.1 type-C ...

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    Oh Snapdragon 810, will you ever catch a break? While on paper the SoC looks like an obvious choice for bringing flagship-level performance to a new smartphone, the chip's arrival on the market has been maligned by recurrent reports of excessive operating temperatures. It seems like every few months new voices arrive to warn of the 810's thermal woes, only for others to step up and insist this really isn't a problem, and that any previous overheating issues have been addressed in the chips landing in currently available phones. Well, today Japan gets its hands on the Xperia Z4 (while the ...

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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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