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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  • by | April 15, 2014 1:40 PM

    Heartbleed may be dominating the headlines when it comes to security topics lately, and while that one does pose some specific risks for smartphone users, it's far from alone among all the vulnerabilities out there. Today we hear about Google's efforts to address one that's new to us, an oversight in how Android manages permissions that could set the stage for malicious software to orchestrate a phishing attack. The problem stems from a pair of unprotected permissions tied to the Android launcher's configuration settings. Since they're classified at the low-risk “normal” permission ...

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  • by | April 15, 2014 12:49 PM

    Software devs love peppering their releases with a few well-placed Easter eggs, and voice-based virtual assistants on smartphones have been no stranger to this trend: Siri can be goaded into telling knock-knock jokes, and Google Now will engage in some Star Trek dialogue if asked to beam you up. As a result, it shouldn't be too surprising to learn that Microsoft's Cortana likes to get in on the fun as well, and this morning we check out one of the first-known Cortana Easter eggs. Remember Clippy, the on-screen cartoon paper clip “assistant” that would pop up in Microsoft Office with ...

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  • by | April 15, 2014 11:56 AM

    With the launch of the iPhone 5S last year, and the brand new Samsung Galaxy S5 hitting stores this month, fingerprint scanners on smartphones have finally hit the big time. Samsung, especially, is pushing taking the technology by extending it beyond its own ecosystem and making it available to third parties, like how PayPal uses the scanner to authenticate transactions through its mobile app. Despite all the potential, there's a possible downside to what Samsung's doing here, as security researchers raise the alarm about a combination of factors threatening to make the GS5's scanner ...

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  • by | April 15, 2014 11:02 AM

    Late last week, we brought you the latest in a long series of rumors about Amazon's efforts towards the release of the company's first smartphone. Over the months, there had been talk of multiple models, possible plans for subsidized sales, and a very unusual eye-tracking system using multiple cameras to allow the phone to create a pseudo-3D effect without the need for a special screen. That recent update attempted to sort things out about a possible release schedule, but did little to further our understanding about any of this hardware itself. Today, however, we're finally ready to get ...

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  • by | April 14, 2014 7:57 PM

    Last week, we heard a rumor that Google was about to take Google Glass down from the lofty realms of exclusivity and make the wearable broadly available for one day and one day only, putting it up for sale to anyone in the US still interested in being a tester before the full-on retail launch. Shortly after we shared that rumor with you, Google stepped up to confirm the news, and now we're just hours away from these Glass sales going live. Here's what's happening: starting tomorrow morning at 9am Eastern (6am Pacific), Google is opening up the Glass Explorer Program. In order to ...

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  • by | April 14, 2014 7:20 PM

    Recent leaks have suggested that Google's currently involved with an effort to spruce up the look of Android. Some of the changes we've heard mentioned sound pretty vast in scope, like that so-called Project Hera, while others came off as more run-of-the-mill app updates. While we still don't know the full extent of what Google's working on, a new leak suggests that part of it will involve new icons, with Google working to address the disconnect between how web-based services and Android apps are represented. The leaked screenshot above reveals many such icon changes, with the overall ...

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  • by | April 14, 2014 5:50 PM

    The new HTC One M8 introduced us to Sense 6, and new owners of the smartphone are already getting a chance to enjoy the software. What about those who have older HTC, devices, though? When will they get their own shot? Right before the M8 debuted, we heard a rumor attempting to outline HTC's strategy for updating current phones with Sense 6. According to that document, the original One M7 might see its update land in either May or June. Then at the One M8 launch itself, HTC confirmed plans for these Sense 6 updates, but without nailing down a precise timetable. Well, today we've finally ...

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  • by | April 14, 2014 5:12 PM

    One of the many changes Microsoft announced at Build 2014 back at the start of April was the arrival of universal cross-platform apps; you'd purchase it once, and then have access to the same software across Windows Phone, your Windows desktop, and eventually even your Xbox One console. Over the weekend, Microsoft started making some necessary changes in order to get this system up-and-running, and today we see the arrival of support for linked apps, as well Dev Center compatibility with new WP8.1 Phone Store apps. What Microsoft did over the weekend was to introduce some new pricing ...

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  • by | April 14, 2014 4:34 PM

    Nokia just introduced its latest batch of Windows Phone models a couple weeks back, welcoming the first of its models that will ship running Windows Phone 8.1. The Lumia 630/635 we've been following since we first heard its codename Moneypenny back in November of last year. Now that it's official, what are we to look forward to from Nokia next? As luck would have it, a crop of new codenames has arrived fresh off the leak wagaon, and from the look of things Nokia is up to its old habits. According to @evlekas, new Nokia codenames include Ara, Leo, Moonraker, Onyx, Peridot, Superman, Tesla, ...

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  • by | April 14, 2014 3:38 PM

    One week ago, rumors about a possible 2014 follow-up to last year's acclaimed Motorola Moto X really started taking shape. In a series of leaks, first we learned of the name Moto X+1, and then that Motorola may be planning on this year doing for leather what it did for wood with the original Moto X. As we wait to learn more about Motorola's plans, a new leak hopes to shed a little more light on those leather options. According to this, the Moto X+1 will offer shoppers choices between 17 colored backplate options, another four wooden selections available, and four all-new leather backs: ...

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  • by | April 14, 2014 1:36 PM

    There's a lot to like about HTC's One M8, and despite a few choices that missed the mark by a smidge, the phone still comes through as a remarkably high-quality handset, quite worthy to take the crown as HTC's current flagship. Much of the acclaim it's received has been directed towards the premium metal construction, and we've even seen HTC disparage competitor Samsung over the perceived lesser quality of the plastic it uses to build its own smartphones. That's what makes this next rumor so interesting, with claims that HTC is just about to introduce a plastic version of the One M8. Word ...

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  • by | April 14, 2014 12:34 PM

    Of all the possible “spin-offs” that would join the Galaxy S5 as members of Samsung's 2014 family, a Galaxy S5 Zoom has long seemed the most likely to make an appearance. We've been chasing leads on the phone for a couple months now, but the most interesting development came earlier this month, when a source both provided the first possible image of the hardware, along with a new name for the model: the Galaxy K Zoom. We weren't quite sure at the time how much faith to put in any of that, considering the name seemed to come from out of left field and the picture itself didn't look ...

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  • by | April 14, 2014 11:42 AM

    Google's been working on a new release of Android: no surprise there. We've spotted evidence pointing to development of Android 4.4.3, with versions in testing on both the Nexus 7 and Nexus 5. We've even had a decent sense of what to expect from the update, with rumors suggesting that this was primarily a bugfix update, without a focus on new features. The only big question was when we might see this new Android actually released, as despite all the signs of Google's testing, we really didn't have any proper sense of an ETA. Well, this might as well be platform-update-Monday, as in ...

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  • by | April 14, 2014 10:58 AM

    You've seen our Windows Phone 8.1 video review. You've may have caught us talking about WP8.1 in our live Hangout this morning. But are you ready to stop hearing other people tell you about their own experiences with Microsoft's latest mobile platform update and start forming some opinions for yourself? We've been eagerly awaiting Microsoft's release of the WP8.1 preview for developers, and got news a few days back that we should expect its distribution early this week. Sure enough, Monday is here, and with its arrival Microsoft has released the WP8.1 preview. So how do you get the ...

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  • by | April 11, 2014 8:14 PM

    Remember just a few short years ago, when golden smartphones were the epitome of cheese? Perceptions sure have shifted, and now we're seeing gold options become regular offerings from top-tier manufacturers. There are also two distinct camps we're talking about when discussing gold smartphones: those that are gold in the sense that they're gold the color, and those that are gold in the sense that they're actually made from the precious metal. With the new HTC One M8, we get it both ways, either as a the “amber gold” color option, or as a 24-karat gold plated edition. While you probably ...

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