Over the last four months, Outlook.com has increased in popularity and risen to more than 25 million active users. The eventual replacement for Hotmail, Outlook.com is clean, fast, and easy to use. Now, it’s available on Android too.
Developed by SEVEN, a Microsoft development partner, the Outlook.com app on Android allows everyone to take advantage of Exchange ActiveSync, regardless of whether their Android device actually supports the feature. The app is nearly identical to the one released for Hotmail, supporting push notifications, calendar and contact sync and device integration, multiple account support, and more. Unfortunately, the app is not nearly as clean and simple as the website. Hopefully, Microsoft’s team of engineers will develop a more Outlook.com-inspired version of the app in the near future.
In the meantime, you can download the Outlook.com app for free from Google Play, provided your device is running Android 2.1 or above.
As expected, Samsung has announced the GALAXY S III mini, which the South Korean manufacturer calls a ”compact version of the flagship smartphone GALAXY S III.” But while the device carries the name of Samsung’s high-end smartphone brand, it’s actually more of a mid-range handset.
The GALAXY S III mini features a 4-inch Super AMOLED display running at a resolution of 800 x 480, a 1GHz dual-core CPU, a VGA front-facing camera, and a 5MP primary camera with auto-focus and flash. It also includes Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, GPS/GLONASS, NFC, a 1,500mAh battery, and either 8GB or 16GB of storage, which can be expanded by up to 32GB with a microSD card.
The actual size of the GALAXY S III mini is 121.55mm x 63mm x 9.85mm, and it weighs 111.5g. While it doesn’t support LTE, it does come with Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean,” as well as Samsung’s usual suite of custom apps and features like S Voice, Smart Stay, Smart Alert, S Beam, and buddy photo share.
A few devices have sported PlayStation compatibility for some time now, but Sony’s PlayStation Mobile is now available on Android. This new service allows you to get a PlayStation-like gaming experience on PlayStation Certified Android devices and tablets, as well as Sony’s own PS Vita.
Sadly, the list of certified Android devices only includes those with Sony branding. The HTC One X, One S, and One V will be supported soon, as well as other devices from a variety of manufacturers.
PlayStation Mobile’s lineup of 21 launch titles is as follows: Aqua Kitty – Milk Mine Defender, Beats Slider, Beats Trellis, Everybody’s Arcade, Flick Hockey, Frederic – Resurrection of Music, Fuel Tiracas, Hungary Giraffe, Incurvio, Loot the Land, Magic Arrows, Numblast, Nyoqix, Rebel, Samurai Beatdown, Super Crate Box, Tractor Trails, Twist Pilot, Underline, Wipe!, and Word Blocked. The list isn’t all that impressive, but Sony will almost certainly improve upon it as time goes on.
In yet another case of a Hewlett-Packard CEO reversing the mistakes of her predecessor, Meg Whitman has told Fox Business that “we have to ultimately offer a smartphone” and “we are working on this.”
Former CEO Leo Apotheker discontinued operations for webOS in August 2011, which Whitman promptly turned into an open source platform upon assuming control of the company. In her most recent interview, Whitman admitted that HP “took a detour” with smartphones and that “we’ve got to get it right this time.” But it has to be good, not necessarily fast to market.
HP could be planning to use its webOS platform, or it might switch to one of the bigger operating systems like Windows Phone or Android. The company isn’t ready to say. But HP is definitely getting back into the smartphone business, regardless of which OS the devices end up running.
Google has officially introduced gift cards for its Play store, allowing you to take advantage of the apps, music, movies, TV shows, ebooks, and many other forms of entertainment available for purchase without the use of a credit card. While I generally have no problems using my credit/debit card, some people prefer to use gift cards. And, in many cases, it’s also more convenient for those who may not have a credit card or want to give digital content as a gift.
The Google Play gift cards will initially be sold in $10, $25, and $50 increments at a select few US retailers: GameStop, RadioShack, and Target. Wallmart.com, however, will eventually begin selling them as well.
It’s important to note that gift cards come with a few limitations. They can’t be used for subscriptions to apps or magazines – this makes sense, since they’re valued at a finite amount of money – and they can’t be used to purchase hardware or accessories. That being said, they are compatible with most digital Google Play content which requires a one-time fee.
Microsoft has announced that Android will, at long last, be getting an official SkyDrive app in “just a few weeks.” Windows Phone has had built-in SkyDrive integration since launch, and SkyDrive apps were released on Windows Phone and iOS in December 2011. Android users, however, were left without an official way to access the files they had stored on Microsoft’s cloud storage service from their tablet or smartphone. There are a few unofficial third-party apps, but they’re no replacement for the real thing. Thankfully, this problem will be rectified in the near future.
SkyDrive for Android will support all of the features you’d expect, including file uploads, downloads, and sharing via the “send a link” feature. The free app isn’t available yet, but Microsoft expects to make it available on Google Play in the coming weeks. At this point, there’s no word on whether the app will be released on the Amazon Appstore for Android.
The Android app isn’t the only SkyDrive improvement. Microsoft has also completely overhauled the website’s interface and added new features for developers and customers who use the SkyDrive application on Windows and OS X. For the full run-down on what’s new, head on over to our sister site Pocketables.
Google is in the midst of “reinventing Motorola [Mobility]” – a company it recently finished acquiring – according to a report in the New York Times. An estimated 4,000 jobs will be cut (approximately 20% of the staff) in order to help Motorola return to profitability. The smartphone manufacturer used to be a major player in the industry, but Apple and Samsung have rapidly ate away at its market share and, therefore, profits. Nokia, RIM, and others, of course, are in the same boat.
In addition to the job cuts – one third of which will be in the US – Google plans to shut down one third of Motorola’s 94 offices located around the world and concentrate on Research & Development in three cities: Chicago, Sunnyvale, and Beijing. Google plans to focus Motorola’s efforts on a just a few high quality handsets with long battery life and other “cool” features. This is in sharp contrast to the 27 devices Motorola released last year and it follows a similar move by HTC a few months ago. Even Motorola’s ads are being reimagined with a more emotional, historic, and somewhat nostalgic approach.
With a parent company like Google, Motorola doesn’t have to be too worried about its financial future at the moment. But everyone involved no doubt hopes to return Motorola to its former glory – without upsetting Google’s other Android OEMs, of course.
Allow me to introduce you to my favorite mobile game. No, it’s not Angry Birds, Words with Friends, or Draw Something. My absolute favorite game—with all of its faults and brilliant moments—is Glu Mobile’s SAMURAI vs ZOMBIES. The game has been out for some time now, but for those of you unfamiliar, SvZ is an action-packed side scrolling take on the tower defense concept. Just this week we welcomed a massive update, now allowing you to choose your side. Previously, the only play option was fighting left to right as a samurai defender. Now, you can fight right to left as an undead samurai attacker, with all new powers and characters.
In SvZ, you control a samurai, protector of the Sacred Gate. You move from left to right, slaying zombies as you go. The zombies spew out of—as far as I can tell—Hell itself, which happens to be located a few seconds’ jog from the Sacred Gate. Whatever happened to location, location, location? But I digress. Controls are simple: tap and hold in the direction you wish to move, tap and release to use various powers or summon allies, your character will auto-attack any zombies in range with first his bow and arrow, and then his sword.
Google has pushed out a new update for its Translate app, enabling support for translating text in images. This is especially useful when you’re in a foreign country, since it makes it easy to translate street signs and the like. To use the new feature, simply take a photo and use your finger to “brush” the text. This will trigger the translation software.
Windows Phone, believe it or not, has had text image translation built into the OS itself for more than a year. To access it, press the Bing button, tap the eye for Bing Vision, and select “scan text.” It will then automatically detect the text in the image and provide a translation directly on top of the original. I happen to prefer this method, but Google Translate works quite well too.
Google Translate v2.5 also includes a few other improvements like instant translations as you type, speech input dialect preferences, and improved Japanese handwriting recognition. The free app is available now for Android 2.1 devices and up, but you’ll need to have at least Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” in order to take advantage of this update’s marquee feature.
Have you been longing for the highlight feature in Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean,” Google Now, but lack access to the update or a device running the latest version of Android? If so, the fine folks over at xda-developers are here to help you out, provided that you have a smartphone with an ARMv7 CPU running Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich.” Your device will also need to be rooted and running either ClockWorkMod Recovery (CWM) or Team Win Recovery Project (TWRP) with a file explorer (with root permissions) of some sort, like ES File Explorer.
Once you have everything in order, you’ll be able to follow a step-by-step guide (which the authors claim is “noob-friendly”) for installing Google Now on your device. The app comes in two flavors: the full ~36MB version of Google Now and a ~14MB version which lacks offline message dictation. If you follow the instructions correctly, you’ll soon have a working version of Google Now on your Jelly Bean-less ICS handset in no time.
The beautiful Nokia Lumia 900 is manufactured from a single-piece injection-molded polycarbonate shell and features a 4.3-inch AMOLED ClearBlack Display (CBD), 1.4GHz processor, 16GB of internal memory, 512MB of RAM, and a 1830mAh battery. Performance-wise, it can best nearly every device on the market. The 8MP Carl Zeiss camera takes fantastic photos, and the quality of the 1MP front-facing camera is astounding. The intuitive Windows Phone OS, support for AT&T’s 4G LTE network, and $99 price tag are just icing on the cake.
Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX
The Motorola DROID RAZR was easily one of the best Android phones of 2011. It was one of the first seriously thin phones and it had the best specifications, durability, and styling to come out of Motorola in a long time. Now, with the introduction of the MAXX variant, it's almost irresistible, even to those currently locked into a contract. With Verizon’s 4G LTE, a 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and a 3300mAh battery pumping out over 21 hours of talk time, the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX is ecstasy wrapped in Kevlar.