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Google smartwatch seeks manufacturer

Internet search engine giant Google is said to be in the late stage of development on its own smartwatch, where the company is now in talks with Asian suppliers.

Logo_2013_Google

This is for the mass production to start, quoted to be within months, according to people familiar with the matter.

It will run the company’s own Android operating system, with Google Now integration.

That has been reported by The Wall Street Journal, which cites a source, in that it can answer questions, predict information the user needs – based on what they are doing.

They also note that it will be able to communicate with other devices, such as a mobile phone and draw information from a user’s email.

This could be along the lines of travel schedules, all of which is thought to answer two issues surrounding these devices: usefulness and battery life.

On the latter, Google is thought to have worked on reducing the power consumption, leaving larger gaps between recharging.

News of Google making a watch first came to our attention in March, which we covered here.

That was shortly after the rumour came out about a Samsung smartwatch, now out, and called the Samsung Galaxy Gear.

Omio believes the Moto X’s always listening Google Now feature could be integrated in its watch, where saying ‘OK, Google Now’ followed by a command, activates the app.

We are also hedging our bets, in that it will be a part of the Android 4.4 KitKat OS, on supported devices – where it could be a part of other iterations, embedded or otherwise.

Study shows we use phones and tablets for 2 hours and 12 minutes a day, on average

Internet Advertising Bureau UK has published details of how frequently and what we use connected devices for – and with the aid of cameras.

Omio - 6285801918_954cb5394eIndependent research agency Firefish, obtained over 700 hours of video footage, from over 1,350 interviews, among smartphone owners.

Those participating were wearing FishEye cameras, which took a picture every five seconds.

That was over a three-day period that revealed people pick up/use a connected device, 34 times each day.

Those were with products such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet.

It also revealed that purchases were a common theme of activity, recording this with one in six smartphone owners.

The findings show that for 46 per cent of the time, they were using at least two devices, sometimes, three – all at the same time.

“One thing that stood out in the study was how surprised respondents were when told how frequently they’d looked at their phone, tablet or computer.”, commented Tim Elkington, Director of Research & Strategy at the Internet Advertising Bureau.

“It reinforces how normal ‘omni-screening’ – being just an arms-length away from some device that gets us online – has become.”

“We also saw a broad pattern in how people use their devices:”

the morning is about getting information such as weather and travel, the afternoon for undertaking specific tasks such as banking or paying bills, while the evening is focused on entertainment, including shopping.”

Smartphones overtake sales of normal mobiles, for the first time

Research firm Gartner has published a report on the worldwide sales of mobile phones, where the more advanced multi-functional handsets have hit a new record.

The study was for global sales of mobile phones for the second quarter of 2013, April to June.

This saw 435 million phones sold, which was an increase of 3.6 per cent – from the last time, in 2012.

From this figure, 225 million of those mobiles were smartphones, which in itself, was up 46.5 per cent from the second three months of last year.

The highest growth rate was in the Asia/Pacific region, which saw 74.1 per cent; Latin America gained a 55.7 per cent boost in sales, whereas Eastern Europe had a 31.6 per cent increase.

Principal research analyst at Gartner, Anshul Gupta, said – “Smartphones accounted for 51.8 percent of mobile phone sales in the second quarter of 2013, resulting in smartphone sales surpassing feature phone sales for the first time,”

Samsung came out on top, at 31.7 per cent; next, Apple, at 14.2; LG came in third, on 5.1.

In terms of operating systems, Android was the most popular, with a 79 per cent market share, with Apple at 14.2 and Microsoft at 3.3 per cent.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Launch: UK Release Date Set For May 30th

Samsung finally revealed the hotly anticipated Galaxy S3 yesterday evening, in a multi million pound launch event at London’s Earls Court Exhibition Centre.

The handset runs the latest version of Android 4.0.4 on its 1.4 GHz quad-core Exynos processor with 1GB of RAM. 

The screen is an impressive 4.8-inch 720p Super HD AMOLED screen, which, whilst big has a thin bezel around it, so is perfectly holdable.

Figures like that would usually have us reaching for the charger, but the new processor is said to be much more power efficient, and the battery is a whopping 2100mAh, which is roughly 30% more powerful than the rival quad-core HTC One X.

The rear camera is 8MP and super-fast, taking 3.3 still shots per second, and 1080p video. 

The front camera is a surprise at 1.9MP, which is larger than expected, but maybe necessary for facial tracking. The S3 will be able to tell if you are looking at it and stay on if you are reading something, rather than dim the screen on a timer as is the norm.

The Galaxy S3 was given a more rounded appearence than the S2, opting for natural curves and soft edges.

Samsung have said they were inspired by nature when desiging the handset, which explains why we were serenaded by whale noises and birdsong during the build up.  The handset was demoed in two colours, pebble blue and ceramic white, for business and pleasure respectively.

Samsung also described the phone as being ‘designed for humans’ focussing on the social sharing features of the handset.  ‘S Beam’ is a close proximity file sharing feature that uses NFC and wifi to send files between handsets.

Facial recognition software will also allow users to instantly share photo’s with people in their contact list immediately. 

‘S Voice’ brings an air of Siri to the precedings, allowing users to look insane whilst talking to no-one.

You may be able to wake the phone from sleep with a voice command, but we always found the wake button much quicker. Hopefully local search facilities will be enabled upon release, (something Apple have still failed to do here in Europe) and bring this functionality out of novelty status.

The S3 will be available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities, with this expandable upto a further 64GB with the addition of a micro SDXC card.

Users will also be given 50GB of Dropbox cloud storage free for two years, which should see through a 24month contract.

The Galaxy S3 will be released as a 3G HDSPA+ version on May 29th in Europe, with a 4G LTE version following in countries lucky enough to have super-fast mobile broadband, in June of this year.

The Korean tech giants were keen to play down the numbers and the launch focussed on what the phone could do rather than boast about specifications or previous succeses. Of course, they could have boasted had they wished…

Figures released recently by London firm Strategy Analytics revealed that Samsung held 30% of the smartphone market, beating Apple’s 24%.

Samsung also accounted for 24.5% of the global mobile handset market, passing Nokia, who have been on a downward slide of late.

UK Retailers are currently rubbing their hands in anticipation of the May 29th launch, as the Galaxy S2 sold like hotcakes.

Some information lacking from the launch event was any solid details on pricing. However, retailers will be keen to start pre-sales so expect full details soon.

We expect the handset to be offered on contract from the £35 per month mark, with the upfront cost varying depending on which model you plump for. Those who wish to buy the phone outright rather than tie into a lengthy contract should expect prices starting around £500.

We will of course be sure to bring you any deatils of availability and pricing as soon as we find out.  Sign up for alerts about the Samsung Galaxy S3 on our deals page, or keep tuned to Omio for more news.

Nokia World 2011 – Nokia debuts new ‘Lumia’ series Windows Phones for November release

At the Nokia World 2011 conference yesterday, CEO Stephen Elop introduced the first fruits of their ‘strategic partnership’ with Microsoft.  The Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia Lumia 710 are being heralded by the marketing blurb as the ‘first true Windows Phones’, (which presumably had executives at HTC and Samsung spraying their coffee over the boardroom table in shock). 

NOKIA LUMIA 800

First up is the Lumia 800, the flagship handset, and the one to drool over. Phonespotters and Nokia fanboys among you (yes, you over there in the corner) may find it somewhat familiar, as externally it looks pretty much identical to the Meego-running N9. It has the same highly engineered ‘unibody polycarbonate’ shell, looking similar to the last vertical iPod Nano, although with a 3.7” curved glass front and a fantastic ‘ClearBlack’ AMOLED screen running 800×480 pixels.

When it comes to the internal gubbins, the Lumia 800 is unlikely to win any games of Mobile Top Trumps. The processor is a qualcomm single core running at 1.4GHz, running 512MB of RAM, which won’t scare off drag-racers like Motorola Atrix or the Galaxy SII. This should be perfectly adequate for the resource-light Windows Phone 7.5 Mango operating system, (plus the iPhone 4S runs just fine on the same amount).  Storage is also somewhat disappointingly limited to 16GB, with no memory card slot, although users will be able to use 25GB of cloud storage with the Microsoft SkyDrive service. The Lumia 800 has removed the front facing camera of the N9 (not that anyone really uses them anyway) but it does pack a whopping 8MP camera at the back with Carl Zeiss optics and the (essential for shooting on nights out in Helsinki) good low light performance.

The handset will be released this November in the UK and Europe in three colours, black, cyan and magenta in the UK and Europe with a suggested price of around 420 Euro’s.

LUMIA 710

Playing the 800′s less attractive but no less powerful sibling, the ‘no nonsense’ (read affordable) Lumia 710 comes with the same 3.7” screen, 1.4GHz processor ad 512MB ram, and a smaller yet respectable 5MP camera with all the usual social network hook ups for image uploading. Users will however only have 8GB of unexpandable storage for music, video and images however, although Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage is here aswell.

Whilst it lacks the smooth unibody appearance of the 800, the Lumia 710 is available in both black and white flavours, with the distinctly Nokia interchangeable back covers making a return in black, white, cyan, fuchsia and yellow.  Hello Kitty ones are probably being moulded in China as we speak, coming to a market stall near you.

The Lumia 710 will still have access to all of the same services such as Nokia Drive navigation, Nokia Music, a Spotify-esque service and also run a fully functional Internet Explorer 9. This handset is aimed at the fun young and price conscious market, and will bring Windows Phone functionality to a lower price point of 270 Euro’s.

Both Microsoft and Nokia are pinning a lot of hopes on this  initial lineup. Whilst Nokia were arguably the original smartphone manufacturers with classic handsets like the Nokia Communicator and the N95, the App-led (pardon the pun) ecosystems of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Andoid Marketplace have since left Nokia shivering at the bus-stop. In the year that we’ve had it, Microsoft haven’t managed to make a mark with their Windows Phone OS, outside of critical commendations, and whilst a few handsets are available at present, none really have the ‘wow factor’ or mass market appeal of a ‘killer handset’.

With Lumia, Nokia and Microsoft are making a two pronged invasion of the marketplace. The Lumia 800 is clearly targeting  phone fashionista’s and getting people talking about Nokia’s design skills again. The Lumia 710, whilst not as flash, is aggressively priced to give a much needed boost in numbers to the Windows Phone platform, which will live or die on the number of users in the marketplace.

No doubt anyone that remember Nokia’s domination of the mobile market, back when Snake was the pinnacle of mobile gaming, will be hoping that the Lumia range will be the first step to restoring some of their former glory.

Check back here for more info as we receive it, and on Omio’s deals page for and the best contract deals for the Lumia 800 and the Lumia 710.

Nokia X7 Now Available On Three: Symbian Smartphone Set To Supplant Nokia N8

The Nokia X7 is now available to purchase via the Three website, as the Finnish manufacturer’s stylish and striking device marks revitalised efforts to promote their beleaguered Symbian smartphone platform.

Now buffed up to a sheen as Symbian ‘Anna,’ the Nokia X7 also boasts a 4-inch AMOLED touchscreen, an 8-megapixel camera with a dual-LED flash and HD video recording, as well as Nokia Maps-powered GPS and turn-by-turn voice guidance.

“Not much that can’t be handled by a vanilla Android phone,” you may say. “True,” we may reply, but the Nokia X7 also comes equipped with 16GB of memory out of the gate as well as a futuristic and angular form, with speedier browsing and a new feel to the operating system.

Benefits from shacking up with the data-chomping network include a wi-fi hotspot app on the device called “3Spot,” enabling Three consumers to connect to laptops or other Wi-Fi enabled devices.

The sad news is that the refurbished Nokia N8 released back in October of last year may well be reaching the end of its days with Three, with the shiny new X7 said to take its place in their smartphone line-up moving forward.

Pricing sees the Nokia X7 available from just £30 or £35 per month on The One Plan with unlimited data and 5,000 texts, whilst the prepay option is a slightly more weighty £379.99.

 

Windows Phone 7 – The Preview Judgements

Mobile sure is a brutal space to be in right now, just look at Apple; one minute everyone’s fawning over them for the slightest of pre-release hints for the iPad and then the iPhone 4. The next minute they’re chewing Apple out left right and centre over “Antennae-gate”. While the debate over that fiasco is best left to other pages, Kevin Turner’s (Microsoft’s Chief Operating Officer) comments last week that “iPhone 4 might be [Apple's] Vista” did at least make us laugh.

But maybe Mr Turner will be less quick with the quips in the coming months as Microsoft plan to launch Windows Phone 7. By their own admission, the software giant has already lost out on an entire generation of mobile users, so the pressure is on them to make a comeback with Windows Phone 7. However, with fickle the crowd looking for a new punch-bag, Wp7 might just be it.

This week Microsoft have been giving out technical preview copies of the WP7 on a “never-to-be-released” prototype Samsung handset. So the following round up does come with that as a caveat.

Boy Genius Report gave the hardware the benefit of the doubt, but found fault in the new OS, panning it as nothing short of a “disaster”. To them the minimalistic UI is simply “lonely and open”, while no support for an application switcher, and therefore multi-tasking is a big annoyance. Moreover, WP7′s core phone functionality was given a roasting for a confusing set of unalterable default settings.

Not all previews have been so damning though: ZDNet’s Matt Miller found some positives:

“The current experience is amazingly stable and fluid and I am quite impressed with what they have done”.

The lack of a Twitter app out of the box, lack of USB drive-mode, no copy & paste function and no ability to multitask made for some grumbling however.

BGR went even further however, “We’re not going to lie, we really have no idea how people actually let the phone app get this far.”

Meanwhile, Engadget’s preview praised the email interface and the keyboard, but expressed shock over WP7′s state of undress and warned that “putting out a product that is half-baked risks alienating early adopters at the worst possible time.” Nevertheless, they conceded that if Microsoft pulled their socks up and remedied the lack of multi-tasking and copy & paste, then “they could have an exceptional version-one product in Windows Phone 7.”

In summary then, previews have been a mixed bag with searing put-downs sitting next to positive remarks, so for now at least, the jury is still out on Wp7.


Google To Stop Selling Nexus One In U.S.

Google’s Nexus One, the handset many touted as a serious competitor to iPhone when it launched in January, is now history in the United States. The search giant said that it will no longer sell the phone via its website once stock is depleted.

“Once we sell the devices, the Nexus One will no longer be available online from Google,” the company said on its blog. “Customer support will still be available for current Nexus One customers. And Nexus One will continue to be sold in other regions such as Vodafone Europe, KT in Korea and possibly others, depending on market conditions.”

The Nexus One was highly rated by reviewers and is considered a signature Android phone, but it has struggled to find a market. The quick arrival of a whole host of other handsets on the platform, in particular HTC who manufactured the Nexus One, have lessened the need for Google to compete at the highest levels in the smartphone world.

Most significant in hobbling sales was probably Google’s novel early efforts to sell the phone exclusively from its website though.

“With only a small percentage of handset sales going through the Web, it was always difficult for the Nexus One to gain much momentum,” said market analyst Ross Rubin. “Google may have backed into such distribution to avoid competing too directly with its (Android) handset partners.”

Shortly after the Nexus One was launched, HTC then came with the HTC Desire which was almost identically styled and boasted the addition of an optical trackpad and HTC’s Sense UI. Ever since then it’s been a downward slide for the poor Nexus One. Oh well.

Source

Samsung Galaxy Europa Released For Pre-Order, Right On Cue

Today, Samsung release their latest Android device, just as forecast in the roadmap that we leaked earlier this month.

Named after one of Jupiter’s smallest moons, the Samsung Galaxy Europa i5500 is a compact addition to the Android handset family tree and breathes a fresh gust into the Corby/Genio styled brand, giving persons on a budget a chance to grab a smartphone.

The CPU is pretty decent at 600Mhz which is a decent power match for the 2.8″ capacitive touchscreen. On board memory is expandable to 16GB via SDcard and together with the 3.5mm jack, you’ll be able to use this a back up MP3 player and the handset has a built in FM radio. The camera isn’t great with only 2million pixels, nevertheless the Europa does run the latest version of Android OS, v21. (Eclair) and measuring at a diminutive 108mm tall, 56mm wide and 12.3mm thin, the Galaxy Europa won’t weigh you down like other smart phones.

The specs might be not be dazzling, but the Europa more than makes up for this with it’s slender price tag. Monthly deals for the Samsung Galaxy Europa start from £15 per month and on T-Mobile that gets you 300 minutes and 300 texts. Expect to add another £5 to that for a decent internet allowance.

The Samsung Galaxy Europa is available on both T-Mobile and Orange networks.


HTC Desire: Gorgeous Gallery Shots

If there’s one mobile phone that’s hot on everyone’s lips right now, it has got to be the HTC Desire. After a week-long road-test we have to say that it is the best embodiment of Google’s Android operating system we’ve had the pleasure of using and is a must for anyone looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous iPhone.

For sure we’re going to be sad to lose our unit back to the manufacturer so, just before the courier comes to wrestle the gadget from our grasp, here’s one last look at the little beast… enjoy!