Friday, 1 August 2014

Google Now Launcher works on any 4.1+ device

Since being on a Nexus, I've really REALLY liked the Google Now launcher.  Well, since being able to play with the G2, OnePlus and now the G3, I find myself wanting to go back to that launcher; and doing so meant I had to go and find the Launcher APK, download it and install it... sometimes finding it was pretty hard.  Ensuring it was updated was tricky because it 'wasn't supposed to be installed'.  Much like I do for Google Voice or Wallet.

But as of today, EVERYBODY can use the launcher without a trick.  Well, everybody with a device running 4.1 or higher

... which according to the last stats was almost 75% of all Android users.

So go grab it now!

Source: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.launcher


The LG G3 is here, the LG G3 is here...

It's rare that I actually get excited about a release of a phone.  But the G3 is something to be sure!

I just got my review device yesterday and for the few moments I've played with it, I'm in love.  Feels right, not big at all and just sleek and light.  I'll be playing with it for a little while so if you've got questions, just let me know.

In the mean time, if you want one, you can order from one of several carriers as of today!



  • Rogers - $180 on contract ($600 outright)
  • Bell - $150 on contract ($700 outright)
  • MTS - $150 on contract ($650 outright)
  • Videotron - $200 on contract ($600 outright)
  • SaskTel - still listed as 'coming soon'


Sure, the carrier I'm on has it listed as the most expensive.  Grr.  No way I'm updating my plan.  I wonder if the Videotron one will work on my phone

We'll be updating our database pages as more information comes in where you can see it compared to the other carriers; and you can see the specs of the phone compared to others as well.

How about you?  Are you excited for this phone, or what are you waiting for next?



Thursday, 31 July 2014

Like Scrabble, but hate the board? Wordiest review

So I don't know what kind of gamer you are, but I'm not really much of one.  I like my Mario and Kart, but also my brain games too... I love logic puzzles like Sudoku and Word Searches, Jumbles, etc...

One of my favourite is Scrabble.  Besides being able to come up with cool words the strategy of the game is being able to come up with the 'right' word in just the 'right' place.

Wordiest - screenshotWordiest is just like scrabble, you're given 14 letter tiles, and each have their standard Scrabble scoring points, but randomly thy'll have multipliers like 3W or 2L (if you're a Scrabble player you'll know those as meaning 3xWord value or 2xLetter value).

The idea here is to make 2 words with your tiles.  Try to make as many points as possible.

When the score is tallied you're then compared to others who played the same round.  Based on that you're given a ranking.

Wordiest - screenshotTo make it even more competitive you're given a graph (and you know me and my charts... I love charts).  The chart has 4 quadrant...

Top Right is showing those who were ranked higher than you and scored higher (just tap on a dot to see what words they came up with - use it as a learning experience).

Top Left is showing those who ranked lower than you and beat you (use this as a humbling experience)

Bottom Left is showing those who were ranked lower and you beat them (this hopefully was obvious to you and use it to reaffirm your superiority)

Bottom Right is showing those who were ranked higher than you and you beat them (use these as an ego booster).

You have to watch it to get the full experience.  Here I am giving it a play...


So, if you like word games, give it a try... the Google Play Games sign-in allows you to keep track of your achievements across devices, but not your ranking, unfortunately.

Play Store:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.concreterose.wordiest&hl=en

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Sungale's Stackable Power Disks [review]

We do love to review portable battery chargers here... it's obviously something y'all are interested in. Especially during the summer time as we're out and about more often, having power with us for those 'just in case' scenarios is really important.

Now, these Sungale Power Disks are a 'portable' power charger, but personally I found that they were a little trickier to keep a couple with me as I walked around, in the sense that they may not fit in your pocket as easily as others out there, plus as you stack them up it definitely limits the carry-around factor.  If you had a purse, or a jacket pocket, or a messenger bag, they fit very easily.

Some might still like to carry them around, but I think the big draw on these guys are the fact that they're stackable.  I like that.  Plop one on top of the other and you've now doubled your power reserve.

For me, the use of these power disks has been as an alternate to my work laptop usb cord.  A laptop can sometimes put out 100mA to maybe 300mA for power.  That means it's going to charge real slow.  Which is okay if you don't need power quickly... put it on and let it charge until the next meeting.  But I hate doing those long, slow charges.  I usually notice "hey, it's low, better charge it before I go".  For that I need to be able to have something that uses more current.  Most adapters that phones come with are 500mA, some are even 1A (I like those).  The cool ones are 2A.

These power discs are rated at 1A.  So I can get a quicker charge than my laptop... then, just plug them in at night and charge up what I used (or get a couple days out of the stack).

I've been finding charging my phone has been about 30 minutes for a 15% bump in the battery.  Which I think is pretty good.  Now charging them up is a little bit longer... especially as I'm using my laptop for it, but ... set it up to charge over night.    Who cares, I may drain them by the end of the day (hasn't happened yet, even for one stack), but click it on to the computer and it'll top itself up by the time I get back 16 hours later easily.  I'm usually using up one per day, so after 2 days I'll charge the duo up.

What I like is that it senses the connection and starts charging automatically - but if it doesn't for your phone, just hit the button (the little battery icon... it doesn't feel like a battery as it's pretty flush with the case, but you can push it in).

Now, you can easily find their 'square' version online, but for the round ones, I've only been able to find a pack of 3 for $70 (which comes with the wall outlet, which the box I reeived didn't come with).  http://www.qvc.com/Sungale-Set3-3000-mAh-Stackable-Cell-Phone-&-Tablet-Chargers.product.E225918.html?sc=E225918-User&cm_sp=VIEWPOSITION-_-1-_-E225918&catentryImage=http://images.qvc.com/is/image/e/18/e225918.001?$uslarge$

But here's their site info on them
http://www.sungale.com/index.asp?m=showpro&c=power_bank&p=SPB0202

Like unboxing videos?  Here's mine for it:


Sony's Xperia T3 ready in Canada for back to school shopping time

Sometimes folks just don't want the 'top end'.  Mostly it's because either the end user can't (or doesn't want to) afford the full price, or just probably won't notice the difference (my mom still says she doesn't see the difference in HD).

Sony has some great devices lately, the Z2 that myself and Tom have reviewed (Tom even went out and bought it!) is a great example!  But if you can't afford the upper echelon of the performance scale; say, you were going to school in the fall; you would look for a cheaper alternative - something that would be 'almost as good'.

Well, Sony has the Xperia T3.  I haven't seen the price listings for it yet, but it'll be available soon on Bell, Virgin, SaskTel and even in the Sony Stores.  For the specs listed below I'm imagining it'll be probably free on contract, and not that expensive outright.

We've seen the device before, but it'll now be available for us in Canada soon enough.  But let's run down what you'll get on the device.

5.3" @ 720p
1.4GHz x4 w/ 1GB RAM
8GB storage + microSD
8MP camera + 1.1MP front camera
2500mAh battery
Android 4.4

Not bad... it's about the specs of my Nexus 4 that I'm weaning myself off of.  (you can check out the specs and compare to other devices in our database page)

5.3" for a nice amount of real estate, microSD for moving files about and a pretty decent battery.

Compared to the Z2 it's actually bigger, but at lower resolution, definitely a lower processor and RAM and storage etc... and don't try to dunk this device.

But definitely will fit that proper market... or even, depending on the price, as a nice backup phone for that "oh crap I just dropped my phone" moment.

http://www.sonymobile.com/ca-en/products/phones/xperia-t3/



Monday, 28 July 2014

Word Monsters game review

Cover artWay back during our 81st Hangout show I showed off a cool app called Word Monsters for my #appcoliseum.

Here's my review of it (sorry for the delay).

Word Monsters is a simple game where you are given letter tiles.  Swipe across the letter tiles to spell a word and they go away allowing the tiles to fall.  Ensure you do it in such a way that you get all the words and you get a better score.

It's hard to 'explain', you just have to see it to understand.  It takes no time at all to learn, and each of the rounds are quick, so it's an easy way to kill a minute or 2 here and there when you need to.

You get 'star coins' to purchase new categories for your words (like 'body parts', 'in the kitchen', or 'summertime'), or you could purchase funky things for your monster avatar.

You can play a solo game or against another player... either a random player or someone you might know their player name for.  There is also a 'league' option, where you play a bunch of rounds against other folks and based on your scores you can move up the league, or be demoted down.  Kinda fun!

Again, it takes a visual demonstration to really get the gist..

Get it on Google Play

Friday, 25 July 2014

Epic Watch Battles of History [G Watch vs. Gear Live]

So, this is the first Android Wear watch battle here at the Coliseum, and I'm hoping we can do a Hangout with +Mark Lastiwka and +Sylvain Le Bourhis to have them showcase their watches and square off the way that +Sivan Rehan and I did with our phones.

It's been a while since the Watches have been out, so it gave each of them some time to think about the pros/cons of their respective device.

After they list them out, there's a response from the other user.




Thursday, 24 July 2014

OnePlus posts the AOSP image for the One

So, I've enjoyed my One thus far.  It's not bad, but I definitely have noticed the 'cracks in the facade'.  I've been having some touchscreen issues and the yellow is really predominant (whether it's that bad, or it's more likely that once you see it, you can't un-see it).

But the catchphrase of "Never Settle" has come in to echo today as they have officially released an option for the phone with the AOSP version ROM.

To use it, you'll have to factory unlock the phone (which I'm surprised it didn't come with already), and then flash your favourite custom recovery, then wipe, then flash the new ROM (and the accompanying GAPPS).

Doesn't make sense to you?  Then don't worry.

I'm willing to give it a go.  I'm still a bit chuffed that I have to factory unlock my phone (fastboot oem unlock here I come), which means wiping everything and then resetting it all back up.  I'd do it now, but there's no wifi around for me to use to set it up.  I was going to have to do it anyways to get myself root (as the OnePlus doesn't work with TowelRoot)

Take heed that there are some bugs with the AOSP:  gyroscope and VPN issues.  For what I'm using, it's probably ok.  Plus, if it fixes the touchscreen issues I'm having... all the better!

My only concern would be how are they going to continue to support it?  Will it get updates as per Google/Nexus, or is it up to OnePlus to deploy?

Source:  https://forums.oneplus.net/threads/rom-official-4-4-4-oneplus-aosp.65482/



Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Google Play Store gets an Android L facelift

So I think most of us were impressed with what we saw of Android L back at I/O.

Well, it looks like they're readying our eyeballs for that new Material look with the new Google Play Store update to 4.9.13.

The front of the store doesn't look much different, but when you look at a specific app, you see the elements come into play, plus a much more 'front facing' video of the app, then the description, then screenshots.  I like the focus on the video.


Scrolling down you see the top element bar come into view.

Not bad.

If you haven't got the update +Android Police have you covered:  http://www.androidpolice.com/2014/07/22/google-play-store-update-4-9-13-adds-material-design-app-and-content-pages-apk-download/




Tuesday, 22 July 2014

How do I use my Android device?

When it comes to using my android device every day it's usually pretty simple. My phone is my primary device for everything I do in general.

It all starts with a solid base and you can't have a more solid base then Nova Launcher Prim or Apex. Honestly two of the really hard to beat launcher. There's a few contenders like Go Launcher EX.

I'm not one to use the standard Android look that typically comes with every handset. I try to customize it as much as I can with whatever is available.

Anything from the clock to the notification bar. Make it your own.

Sad to say that people even today don't understand that with Android it's not about being XYZ is about making it your own experience and get people to say WOW.

Let's start running down the items I use on a regular basis. Yeah I have a phone icon but at the most in the month I'll maybe use the phone for 30mins at the most. My smartphone is really not being used a telephone device.

I'll be using text messages, emails. Now here's the part that probably most of you won't know from looking at my home screen, but I'm using hidden folders to store the various apps I use often. Before I go forward it's important to know that my internet icon is linked to chrome, the camera is linked to the Google camera app, email is CloudMagic, messages is stock CM11 sms app. Now this is currently but that could change by tomorrow morning.

I'm always playing around with apps so this may change.

Check these screen captures right below:


I use 2 folders one tools and one social. From the different apps I have in each one of them  your able to understand my logic behind it. These are the most used apps on my phone at any given time.

I'm able from here to access all my social apps, pictures, file browser, contact, emails, txt messages, camera etc. By nature I strive to make everything simple for me. People should look at they're smartphone as an extension of yourself and the home computer. There's still quite a lot you can't do from a smartphone due to screen limitation.

Most of us will use our smartphone and make part of our social life, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram and so on. We rely on our smartphone as if it was our BFF! If you'd like to take it a step further, we do our online banking, pay bills, transfer money and even pay for a purchase on ebay or at your favourite coffee joint.

Tell me, what do you use your smartphone in your daily life?