Reclaiming Android: KitKat

Android 4.4 KitKat will be the name for the next significant iteration of Android.  The masses found this announcement a bit surprising; the popular belief was that the moniker for the next version of Android would be Key Lime Pie.

So, what does this new name mean?  In my opinion, and in no uncertain terms, Google has thrown down the gauntlet.  By choosing to name the next version of Android after a widely recognized brand (and a delicious sweet treat to boot!) Google has shown that it’s willing to play the name game and to bring some heavy weights to the table.  Bravo, Google.

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How-to: Using custom launchers for Android

Many casual Android users may not realize that Android’s home screen, app drawer, app dock, and a whole assortment of settings associated with them, can be customized rather heavily and easily.  The program that controls all of these settings on your device is called the launcher.  As I’ll explain further in this post, new launchers can significantly extend your phone’s functionality, enhance its performance, and provide a refreshing visual refresh to boot.  In short, it’s a win-win combination.

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Have smartphones gotten too big?

The other day, LG unveiled its new G2 smartphone.  Among its other top-notch specs, it’s packing a 5.2” display.

That’s almost half a foot.

Many Android smartphone manufacturers are subscribing to the “bigger is better” mantra these days.  I was unquestionably of that school of thought when I upgraded from a Droid Incredible with a 3.7” display to a Galaxy SIII and its glorious 4.8” display.  But is that the right perspective to have?  Sooner or later, there is a point of diminishing returns.  Have Android smartphone displays finally gotten too big?

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Google doing security is a good thing

Today, Google began rolling out a new service called Android Device Manager.  It gives users a set of limited, albeit useful, tools in case they misplace their Android smartphone or, worse yet, find that a bandit has wrongly appropriated it from them.  For many reasons, it’s a good move.

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What explains Samsung’s Android success?

After seeing all the coverage of The Wall Street Journal’s article about Google and Samsung being frienemies, I found myself wondering: Why, of all the companies angling for dominance in the smartphone space, has Samsung managed to claim the throne?  What has Samsung done to truly distinguish itself?  Does it deserve all the fame and fortune Android has bestowed upon it?

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Making the leap: From dumbphone to smartphone

Five years ago, if you told me the future of computing was a mobile device, I would’ve politely disagreed, pointed out that a phone could never combine the functionality and ease of use of my trusty Windows desktop, and gone back to downloading cool extensions for Firefox.  I might’ve also resisted the urge to laugh in your face.

By most accounts, I should now be laughing at myself.  Earlier this year, based on at least one scientific study, the number of smartphone users surpassed dumbphone users in the United States.  In 2011, smartphone manufacturers shipped over 470 million units, which itself was a 58% increase over shipments in 2010.  It’s no mystery that the popularity of mobile devices has been skyrocketing in the past several years, and it’s likely we’re still only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

So, although some 41% of adult Americans are still clinging to their flip phones and clamshells, the dumbphone, like the dodo, shall pass.  Thinking about jumping ship and casting your lot with we enlightened smartphone users?  If so, this post is for you.

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Updating…

Stay tuned for content.

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