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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    It's not yet Wednesday, the day of the week we've learned to be on the lookout for Google to deliver its latest assortment of software updates for its app library, but today the company's getting an early start to its latest round, announcing a new release of Keep that gives the note-taking app a key feature that promises to really enhance the program's usefulness, letting users collaboratively work with shared notes. In the past it was pretty straightforward to create a task list and use Keep to stay on top of your progress towards completion, checking off items as you went. That's fine ...

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    HTC's One M8 for Windows may be a few months old by now, but it's experiencing a burst of popularity lately thanks to its greatly expanded availability, with the smartphone coming to both AT&T and T-Mobile. If you've still been on the fence about picking one up, HTC's got a new offer to help sweeten the deal a little, hooking new shoppers up with a free Dot View case to complement their smartphone. Here's the skinny: buy a One M8 for Windows between the first of November and the end of January to qualify for your free Dot View case in Xbox green. Then hit up the online registration ...

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    Do you Uber? For a growing number of smartphone users, convenient transportation's just a couple taps away, with services like Uber ready to hook them up with local drivers. And while taking advantage of such services may prove to be a lot easier than owning a car of your own, you give up a fair degree of freedom in the process: how many of us treat our cars as our personal listening booths, surrounded by speakers and ready to rock out to our favorite tunes? Now a new partnership between Uber and Spotify seeks to bring some of that experience to for-hire rides, giving users the ability to ...

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    Last week we saw Sony get a (very) early start to the early 2015 trade show season, which will bring us CES, MWC, and a whole boatload of new devices. Sony announced its schedule for its CES press conference, and while it isn't yet sharing any tantalizing details about what it will be bringing to show off, rumors have been quick to suggest that an Xperia Z4 could be in the cards: after all, we got the Xperia Z2 last winter (though that one was at MWC, not CES). With a possible launch under two months away, leaks are already starting to reveal details about this rumored hardware, and today ...

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    Depending on whom you ask, the degree of control Apple exerts over its app selection is either a blessing or a curse. Apple's policies help keep its iOS App Store one of the high points of smartphone software in general, full of plenty of really polished titles. But there's a dark side to Apple's oversight, and devs don't find themselves free to to release any type of program they choose: things like tethering apps and emulators have long been in Apple's crosshairs. With Android, on the other hand, Google's been far more lenient with the software it lets devs distribute through the Play ...

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    If it weren't for that big Nexus logo down the back, would you be able to recognize a Nexus phone these days? While the Nexus 6 may be an impressive piece of hardware, it's strayed quite a bit from the example set by the Nexus 5 and Nexus 4 before it. That means things like higher pricing across the board, whether off-contract or subsidized, and if the Lollipop rollout we've been seeing get underway is any indication, we may no longer be able to count on Nexus phones being first in line for Android updates in the future, too. But at least you can count on Nexus phones being clean and ...

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    Android Lollipop update momentum has hit a (temporary) lull. After those heady early hours of distribution for Nexus devices (to say nothing of efforts by Motorola or LG), the feverish pace at which update news arrived has slowed to a trickle; while last night brought us hope that the Nexus 4's update would be arriving at any moment, as of now it's still yet to surface. But even as we wait for that release to drop, we're already looking forward to who's getting Lollipop next, and new confirmation has just arrived that some Google Play edition models should see their own Android 5.0 updates ...

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    Back in early January, we asked if 2014 would finally be the year when upstart mobile platforms spread their wings and soared, becoming legitimate competition for the big boys. While varying degrees of progress has been made on platforms like Ubuntu and Firefox OS, we've yet to see a real breakout star. Back in late 2013, Jolla found itself among those names with its Sailfish OS, but so far this year's been a relatively quiet one for the company: we got some of those Other Half backplates for its phone, and saw the Jolla launcher come to Android, but that's been about it. However, big news ...

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    The Nokia Lumia is a thing of the past; earlier this week, we saw Microsoft introduce the latest Lumia model, but this is no straight-up Nokia model as we've known and loved these past few years, firmly arriving with the branding “Microsoft Lumia 535.” This trend is absolutely one we expect to see Microsoft continue with, so what does that mean for any hope of seeing another Nokia smartphone one day? Well, its deal with Microsoft allows Nokia to once again start releasing handsets under the Nokia name beginning in 2016, but will it? The company's been talking about its future plans at ...

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    Earlier this week, Samsung provided some important information about its release plans for the Gear VR Note 4 accessory, talking about getting sales started in early December. While we'll be interested to see how readily Android users take to the unusual hardware, what about the problems we've heard reported with it? Last month we checked out some reports that the Gear VR was overheating even only after moderate use, a potentially uncomfortable situation when that hot phone is only inches from your eyes. Thankfully, Samsung seems to be on top of things, and claims that the overheating ...

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    In a couple days, this Lollipop update madness will calm down, and we can start turning our attention back to all the other smartphone and tablet news under the sun, but for the moment, Google's distribution of its latest platform update – and specifically, to Nexus devices – remains a hot topic on the minds of many users. We've already seen progress on a few big Nexus models, like the Nexus 5, Nexus 10, and Nexus 7, but what about the Nexus 4? The two-year-old handset is very much on tap to get Lollipop, but its factory image didn't arrive yesterday alongside its brethren, and we ...

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    Android Lollipop is slowly making its presence felt this week, as updates start hitting existing devices. Maybe you've already downloaded one of the OTAs for your Nexus phone or tablet and have installed it over ADB. Maybe you've been lucky and your device has just directly received its OTA the old fashioned way. But however you got it, you're finally on the very latest version of Android. Right? Well, maybe not so much, because at a dev event in the Netherlands, some Google guys just gave a presentation that included references to Android Lollipop MR1 running on a Nexus 5. What's MR1? ...

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    Sometime early next year, be that the tail end of winter or the early days of spring, Apple will start selling its Apple Watch. With three primary models, each available in a couple sizes and with your choice of bands, there's going to be plenty of selection to go around. Between all the options, will you find a Watch that's compelling enough to make a purchase? Apple looks to be expecting some pretty substantial interest, with industry rumors reporting an initial sales target of 30-40 million of these smartwatches. That figure comes from sources apparently involved in the production of ...

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    Four years ago, Microsoft invited smartphone fans to take a chance on its new mobile platform, introducing the world to Windows Phone 7. And take a chance with it we did, eagerly covering its hardware and software. Two years into its life, Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8, the next major revision for its OS, and while that was great news for users already looking to upgrade to a new, native WP8 device, things didn't look so good for the WP7 crowd, as Microsoft shared news that no WP7 phones would see WP8 updates at all, and the best they could hope for was to end their lives on WP7.8. ...

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    Yesterday, after a lot of will-they-won't-they confusion, we saw Google go ahead with initial distribution of Android 5.0 Lollipop updates for existing Nexus models. We got word of updates on their way down for the Nexus 5, Nexus 10, and both generations of WiFi Nexus 7, as well as some smaller updates for the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9. Shortly thereafter, Google made available factory images for these models, enabling you to flash your device with Lollipop at the expense of losing all your data. For many users, that's just not an option they want to embrace, and the ...

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