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.

Contact Joe Levi

  • by |

    Over the years, WiFi has become an integral part of our lives. It saves us from data overages and often provides us with data where cellular signals don't reach. Currently WiFi is fairly limited in its spectrum, utilizing mainly 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Each flavor of WiFi has its own benefits as well as disadvantages, but it's becoming increasingly difficult for WiFi as more devices use the already crowded spectrum. What we need is more spectrum, but that gets into an international quagmire of competing standards and restrictions. What we need is spectrum that's universally unlicensed. That ...

    Share
  • by |

    Back in 1994, Ericsson (who would later merge with Sony) "invented" Bluetooth. Back then out devices were connected by one of a few technologies: RS-232 "COM Ports", Parallel Ports, and SCSI. USB was still being worked on. Ericsson's vision was to replace the serial RS-232 cables with a new, wireless standard. Bluetooth was born. Bluetooth is a wireless communication standard using the 2.4GHz band (which competes with WiFi and other signals) and is sometimes referred to as 802.15.1. In addition to exchanging data over short distances (typically 30- to 300-feet, though the spec allows for ...

    Share
  • by |

    There used to be a time when, if you lost your phone, that was it - it was gone. You'd get in touch with your carrier and report it lost or stolen so any calls or texts wouldn't be added to your bill, but your options beyond that were pretty limited. A little later on, recovery options were added to help you find out where you phone was (just in case you lost in the couch or at the restaurant). If it was heading down the interstate at 70MPH, you could probably assume that it had been stolen - and you could remotely wipe it. While these tools can be very helpful, all a thief needs to do is ...

    Share
  • by |

    If you want to customize the look and feel of your phone or tablet, Android is the platform for you! Since the very early days of the OS, users have been able to replace their launcher - the app that holds the icons, widgets, and wallpaper - with one of their choosing. Back then we started a series called "Launcher Wars" where Brandon Miniman and I would take turns evaluating launchers, sharing our thoughts, and trying to one-up the launcher the other was using. Most of those Android Launchers still exist today, but many are no longer being updated. The Android launcher we're talking ...

    Share
  • by |

    Back in 1999 we got our first real taste of our wireless future: WiFi. The first variant was called 802.11a and operated in the 5GHz spectrum (later on, 3.7GHz support was added). Back then, 5GHz radios were more expensive than 2.4GHz equipment, and 802.11b quickly surpassed 802.11a in popularity. For years we happily surfed the web, streamed our music, and watched our videos over the 2.4GHz spectrum. But we weren't alone. Another technology started competing for the same wireless spectrum with our WiFi: Bluetooth. It promised to bring "personal area networks" to our mobile devices and ...

    Share
  • by |

    Chrome is the web browser at the center of Google's empire - both on desktops as well as mobile devices. In addition to being just a standalone app (which may or may not be preloaded on your smartphone), the Chrome engine also drives the component that displays web content inside apps. As you might expect, a vulnerability in that engine could cause significant problems for the device running it. Such is the case with a particularly troublesome Android Google Chrome exploit. During the recent PacSec conference in Tokyo, Qihoo 360 developer Guang Gong showed off a vulnerability which takes ...

    Share
  • by |

    You wear a watch to help you know what time it is. Some watches tell you the day and date in addition to the time. Some display two time zones. Some have altimeters, barometers, stop watches, countdown timers, and more. Your smartphone likely has all of these features and functionalities as well. So why do you still wear a watch? Convenience, of course. It's easier to glance at the watch on your wrist than it is to fish your phone out of your pocket, turn it on, bypass its security mechanisms, find and launch the corresponding app, and finally see the information you're looking for. The ...

    Share
  • by |

    Android Pay isn't the first time Google has gotten into the mobile payments business. Google demonstrated Google Wallet way back in 2011, and released it in these United States that September. The Google Wallet used NFC and a "secure element" in your smartphone to take advantage of contactless payment terminals which were slated to replace traditional swipe-to-pay card readers. Since then, Apple has gotten into the game with its own product, Apple Pay, and Google has restructured and re-released its service, this time calling it Android Pay. Despite all the technological mumbo jumbo, ...

    Share
  • by |

    Long ago, when Google was a rising star giving "everything" away for free, Apple was busy revolutionizing the mobile industry with the iPhone. Google fought back, not by creating the "Google Phone", but by acquiring the Android operating system, spinning up a consortium of carriers, OEMs, and technology providers, and rolling out a massive initiative that has finally surpassed Apple in number of handsets in use. That strategy, and the momentum behind it, has one flaw that self-professed pundits continue to proclaim: Android fragmentation. Android Fragmentation There are really two types ...

    Share
  • by |

    "It is obvious that this contest cannot be decided by our knowledge of the Force... but by our skills with a lightsaber." –Count Dooku One of the best things Verizon Wireless ever did was acquiring the rights to use the word “DROID” to differentiate its Androids from phones from its competitors, and one of the latest phones to carry the DROID name is the DROID Maxx 2, made by Motorola. In our Verizon Motorola DROID Maxx 2 review, we're taking a close look at this brand new device on Big Red. Motorola made some compromises on this device, but did it keep the DROID Maxx 2 worthy of ...

    Share
  • by |

    People just aren't happy unless there's some kind of controversy running amok. Any sufficiently worthy conspiracy theory, especially those that could be shrouded in an actual or alleged scandal (and especially one that involves a cover-up) is worthy of the -gate suffix. So, here we are, on the verge of another -gate - and not just any -gate, it's #bendgate, part two (or is it part three?). This time around, Google's latest phablet flagship is at the center. Is it true? Is there really a Nexus 6P bending issue? There just may be, but let's look at some history to put it all in perspective. ...

    Share
  • by |

    One of the best things Verizon wireless ever did was acquiring the rights to use the word "Droid" to differentiate its phones powered by the Android operating system from those available from other carriers. Not every Android-powered phone offered by Verizon has carried the Droid moniker. Some of us think this is because the Droid name implies higher-end devices. In the case of the Droid Maxx 2, that's absolutely the case, and from what we've seen, it's worthy of the name. When asked about the naming of the Droid Maxx 2, Rick Osterloh, Motorola's CEO said, it stands for "maxx battery, ...

    Share
  • by |

    Anyone who has ever owned an Android-powered smartphone will probably tell you how frustrating it is to get OTA updates. Whether it's security patches, bug fixes, or the much-coveted OS upgrades (for example: Lollipop to Marshmallow). Since each of these is different, the reasons for delays and the mechanism for getting updates are sometimes different as well. Operating System Upgrades Let's start with the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, shall we? First of all, Android and iOS are substantially different in how each approaches updates. Apple attempts to get every device up to the latest ...

    Share
  • by |

    When other sites review a phone, many simply unbox it and fiddle around with it for a few hours before pulling out the laptop and penning a review. When we review a new smartphone, we try and put several days of actual, real-world use on it. We put it through all the tests and scenarios that we can think of. Even still, sometimes some of the finer details, the intricate settings or features that don’t immediately jump out at us get overlooked or we have to limit what we include in our reviews so they don't balloon to 5,000 words or more. However, some phones are deserving of ...

    Share
  • by |

    In 1968, novelist Philip K. Dick asked Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? In his book (which was the inspiration for Blade Runner), after war had devastated Earth, a bounty hunter was tasked with "retiring" six escaped Nexus-6 model androids - the latest and most advanced model ever. That got us wondering: what's the best Nexus smartphone of all time? For years, Google had denied any intention to make a "Google Phone", reiterating its support of the Android OS and the Open Handset Alliance -  a consortium of companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices. The ...

    Share
  • by |

    A few of us at Pocketnow have been opponents to using fingerprint scanners as biometric security devices on our phones for quite a while. There are various reasons why fingerprints should be used for identification, but not for passwords. Nonetheless, the industry is sprinting toward using fingerprints as passwords, and now Google has gotten in the game with Nexus Imprint on its latest phones, the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P. Both phones are built by separate OEMs, and each uses different fingerprint scanner hardware. Apple, Samsung, HTC, and others include fingerprint scanners on their ...

    Share
  • by |

    When talking about phones that carry the Nexus name, we typically consider them to be iterative updates of one another - each building on the success of the one that came before. Google decided to change things up a bit last year by releasing the Nexus 6: a phablet - not a phone. Thankfully, this year Google returned the Nexus to its roots by releasing the Nexus 5X. How does it stack up against the original Nexus 5 from two years back? Let's dive right in! Nexus 5X vs Nexus 5 To begin with, both the original Nexus 5 and the Nexus 5X are remarkably similar in terms of overall dimensions. ...

    Share
  • by |

    The “Nexus phone” has meant many things to many people since the Nexus One rolled off the assembly line nearly six years ago. With the debut of 2012's Nexus 4, it morphed into a super-affordable smartphone for anyone who didn't want to be tied down by a contract. That was succeeded by 2013's Nexus 5, which brought LTE and a more accessible design to become the first Nexus to be embraced by the masses. In 2014 Google arguably "jumped the shark" with the oversized Nexus 6, a Motorola-made phablet that some considered an abandonment of the fundamental principles behind the ...

    Share
  • by |

    Android has gone through a few iterations of "shut up and leave me alone" "Do Not Disturb" mode, but hasn't gotten it right - until Android 6.0 Marshmallow. At 2am my wife isn't very supportive of me being "Joe the Android Guy™". That seems to be when my nightstand lights up with alerts from all over the world. My nightstand typically has an Android Wear smartwatch cradled and charging, a Nexus 9 and Nexus 7 tablet, my Nexus 6, and usually at least one other phone or device that I'm evaluating. When an alert comes in from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Skype, Hangouts, Gmail, ...

    Share
  • by |

    In June of 2012 at Google I/O, Google's developer conference, the company announced an all new product category designed to be conduit between your smartphone or tablet and your media. The product Google used to launch this category was called the "Nexus Q" and was offered for sale for the steep price of US$299. At the time, the orb-shaped device was supposed to let users cast audio to their high-end speaker systems, and could allow people to create their own party soundtrack through its "social, shared experience". The product was eventually given away to those who attended I/O or had ...

    Share
  • by |

    Just when we thought we had this whole "quick charging" thing all figured out and knew which car- and wall-chargers to get, Google went and confused everyone all over again. Yes, it's true that the new Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X support quick charging, but no, despite both phones being built around Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs, neither has "Qualcomm Quick Charge" of any variety (1.0, 2.0, or any other version). What they do have is pretty good, if specifications are to be believed (we'll reserve final judgement until after our full reviews), but there is quite a bit of confusion around what kind ...

    Share
  • by |

    Until recently, Google has only released one Nexus-labeled smartphone per cycle. Last year the popular Nexus 5 was followed-up by the Nexus 6 - Google's first phablet. Some were eager to adopt the new form factor, others weren't too enthusiastic. Although it has has its ups and downs, the Motorola-made Nexus 6 has fared pretty well over its first year of life. This time Google went all-in, releasing not only a successor to last year's Nexus 6 phablet, but also a 5-inch smartphone. We've already talked about the Nexus 6P and the Nexus 5X, and more coverage will follow as soon as we have ...

    Share
  • by |

    Ask anyone what they would improve about their smartphone and you'll probably come up with two answers very near the top: faster performance, and better battery life. Some argue that their phone or tablet is "faster" than another because of the operating system it runs. Other's swear that the batteries in devices from one manufacturer  outlast those of its competition. A lot of this comes down to comparing apples to oranges. For example, you can't easily compare a quad-core CPU clocked at 2.0 GHz with a hex-core CPU clocked at 1.8 GHz - there are simply too many differences between the ...

    Share
  • by |

    Recently I've taken a lot of flack for some of the articles I've written. I went on the record about what I felt Google got wrong with this year's Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. I critically evaluated the humble (yet game-changing) beginnings of the Nexus project, and opined that Google has lost its way in recent years. I outlined my case for why I thought Google may have just made the Moto X "obsolete" with the announcement of the Nexus 5X. Ultimately, I announced that, of the two new Nexus phones from Google, I was going with the smaller one. I was wrong From the very beginning I knew that I ...

    Share
  • by |

    Google bought Android (the operating system and the company behind it) a decade ago (back in 2005). Two years later Google unveiled not only Android, the operating system that powers most of today's smartphones, but also the Open Handset Alliance – a consortium of hardware, software, and telecommunication companies with the goal of advancing open standards for mobile devices. In 2008 Google partnered with T-Mobile and HTC to release the first Android-powered phone - what some of us call "the first Nexus". Later on, Google put together a team to come up with a phone that would serve as a ...

    Share
Mobile Version