Samsung Milk Music will soon milk users for ad-free subsistence

Some things are just too good to last, as some say. While Samsung surprise of a music streaming service may now be currently be free, both from price and from ads, that might not be the case in the very near future. Samsung has not so subtly revealed that there will be an ad-free Music Milk subscription that, of course, means that free users will start to see ads pretty soon.

Samsung Milk Music was both unexpected and yet at the same time a logical step as the manufacturer plans to go beyond hardware, and in some cases software, to an entire mobile ecosystem. It already does have books, videos, and a music store, so a streaming music service was inevitable. When Samsung launched Milk Music last month, it was offered for free and without ads, but there were indications that it would not be the case forever, which is also not that surprising either. Other similar music streaming services do it, like Slacker with whom Samsung partnered to bring about Milk Music, so it feels inevitable that Samsung would want to capitalize on that business setup too.

That scenario might soon be upon us if Samsung is already willing to let the public know about its plans, not to mention the price it has in mind. In an infographic detailing some of the basic features of Samsung Milk Music, the company reveals two tiers that will be available, one free and one that will cost $3.99 a month. It does note that the free Basic Service will be ad-free as a special introductory offer available to early adopters. The Premium service is marked to have no ads and some special features, which are still unknown at this time.

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Samsung Milk Music is still available only in the US, which is, again, on par with how most of these streaming services have started out. It is likely that Samsung will be putting its tiered system in place around the same time that it starts rolling out the service to more markets. But at the moment, the list of supported Samsung Galaxy devices still stand at five, including the Galaxy Note II, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S III, Galaxy S 4, and Galaxy S5.

SOURCE: Samsung
VIA: The Next Web

CONTRA: Evolution now free on Android, still with IAP

If the shiny new Amazing Spider-Man 2 game didn’t float your boat, then maybe some old school arcade shooting action will. CONTRA: Evolution, a throwback to the 80′s namesake, is now free to play on Android, but still carries with it a bit of in-game purchases.

CONTRA: Evolution launched August last year to the tune of $0.99. The price was quite normal for a such a game that was, back then, riddled with in-app purchases. For whatever reason, Konami has now decided to go the free to play route. Surprisingly, that did not lead into an increase of IAP but has actually even reduced them down to a select few. Most of the game, however, runs the same and follows the same rules for unlocking characters and content.

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The game is basically an old game with new graphics and controls retrofitted for touchscreen devices. Unlike the situation when it launched, it seems that the game is now available not just for smartphones but for tablets as well, though the latter might be somewhat harder to handle given the screen size. The game features an Arcade mode as well as a Mission Mode, which gives players the same content as the original Contra, except with updated and fancier graphics. But gameplay has changed a bit as well, and might confuse some players. The D-pad on the left is used to both move the character forward or backward as well as direct your gun’s aim. Fortunately you don’t need to mash some trigger button, as you weapon fires rapidly by itself. On the right you have button for jumping up, as well as down, and smaller buttons for special moves or skills that need to be recharged after use. CONTRA: Evolution also adds a bit of modern-day mobile gaming conventions, like special rewards for playing the game within some set period of time or intervals.

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Now that CONTRA: Evolution is free for the taking, it is unlikely that it will go on a paid price again, since Google Play Store doesn’t yet have a mechanism for that. Konami and game developer Coco might release a different paid version, but it’s hard to imagine what that version would have over the one already in the market. CONTRA: Evolution, despite its issues, is a game that gives a nod to a gaming age long past but doesn’t remain chained to the conventions and limitation of that period. And now that it’s free, everyone can take a jab at one of gaming’s classic titles.

Download: CONTRA: Evolution on Google Play Store
VIA: Android Police

Samsung Galaxy S5 now available with MetroPCS

MetroPCS has become the latest US carrier to announce the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy S5. They have the Galaxy S5 in black, and sitting priced at $649. Purchases can be made online and in retail stores. Customers can then pair the Galaxy S5 with the contract-free MetroPCS plans which begin at $40 per month.

MetroPCS has plans available at $40, $50 and $60 per month and these all include unlimited talk, text and data. The difference in price comes with the allotment of 4G LTE. These three plans include 500MB, 2.5GB and unlimited 4G LTE respectively.

Aside from the available plans, the MetroPCS branded Galaxy S5 brings a familiar set of specs. These begin with Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat and TouchWiz and go on to include a 5.1-inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, 2MP front-facing camera and 16MP rear-facing camera.

Of course, there are some other perks such as the IP67 rating for water resistance as well as the fitness and health features. Those include S Health, the ability to count your daily steps and check your current heart rate.

Aside from MetroPCS, the Galaxy S5 is also available with Verizon Wireless, ATT, T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular. Those looking for more on the Galaxy S5 should check the Story Timeline below and also follow the associated tag here on Android Community.

SOURCE: Business Wire

HTC talks smartphone camera tech

Vodafone UK recently spoke with Symon Whitehorn of HTC. Whitehorn, who is dubbed HTC’s “camera expert” offered some hints in terms of where the smartphone camera market is heading, and also managed to get a few jabs in at the competition. He also talked a bit about the megapixel war and selfies.

In terms of the future. While many have already ditched a point and shoot camera for their smartphone, they aren’t able to do the same with fancier DSLR models just yet. Whitehorn mentioned that is a “boundary that everyone wants us [them] to crack.” And it seems it may happen sooner than some would expect. According to Whitehorn, he feels we are “looking at about 18 months to two years.” Of course, that does have some limits and some users, namely professionals, will likely stick with a dedicated camera.

“Optical zooming in a smartphone is not too far off at all for HTC. I can’t give too much away, but within 12-18 months we’ll see huge advances in phone optics.”

There was also some talk about 4K video. Whitehorn addressed this topic rather clearly by saying they “could be 4K ready now.” The jab came towards Sony when he said HTC is “waiting until 4K can really fit into people’s lives, and to make sure that that decision makes sense.” It also looks like the HTC smartphone camera setup could go to 8MP at some point.

“If you look at 4K quality, it really is only about 8-megapixels. That’s a pretty good level to hold at, because over and above that we’re not sure what benefit you’d be getting. That kind of ballpark is where we’ll be very happy to be in the future, as long as we can maintain the large pixel model.”

Shifting to the front-facing camera and the selfies. Here we heard talk about how the front-facing camera will be improved above the current 5MP on the HTC One (M8). Whitehorn mentioned how “in some markets 90% of pictures taken are selfies.” He then went on to say how HTC wants to “own the selfie market” and dropped a hint about how we may see an UltraPixel camera move to the front on future devices.

SOURCE: Vodafone

Sony Xperia Z2 Compact surfaces in series of leaked images

We’ve yet to get the official word from Sony, however that hasn’t stopped images of the Xperia Z2 Compact from showing up online. The pics were recently spotted on Weibo, after having been shared by a user going by the name of alfred520. Perhaps key here, the Xperia Z2 Compact appears to be living up to the name.

Simply put, from what we are seeing here — the Xperia Z2 Compact appears to be a shrunken down version of the Xperia Z2 in terms of looks. It is a bit hard to tell from the images, however the handset appears to have a rubbery exterior. An official nod from Sony, or some other leaked images should be able to offer a bit more in that regard.

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For now though, speculation suggests the Xperia Z2 Compact could have a 1080p display, Qualcomm processor and microSD memory card slot. The microSD should support cards up to 128GB in size, and the processor may end up being a Snapdragon 400. But again, we’ll have to wait for further leaks or an official announcement from Sony.

One bit we can see from the images deal with the rear-facing camera — which is the G lens setup. The handset will have a single LED flash along with a 1/2.3 20.7 megapixel lens. This is one of the earlier leaks on the Xperia Z2 Compact, however we do have plenty of Xperia Z2 coverage sitting in the Story Timeline below.

VIA: SlashGear

SOURCE: Weibo

HTC snags ex-Samsung marketing chief

HTC had admitted fault in terms of neglecting the midrange market. This came after the company put more focus and effort on pushing the HTC One through 2013, but they already mentioned how they aren’t planning to make that same mistake with the HTC One (M8) in 2014. Not to mention, we’ve already being seeing some new midrange handsets such as the HTC Desire 816.

But that isn’t to say HTC doesn’t have plans to push the new flagship. And in fact it looks like HTC will be getting some help from an ex-Samsung marketing chief. According to a recent WSJ report, HTC has hired Paul Golden. HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang has taken a more active role in overseeing the marketing plans at HTC and Golden is said to be coming on as a consultant for Wang.

Paul Golden formerly served as Samsung’s US CMO. He held that position from 2008 to 2012 and is credited as helping to launch the Galaxy brand. There was also mention about how Samsung’s global smartphone market share went from 4.5 percent to 21 percent during that time. Of course, whether he can do the same with HTC remains to be seen.

HTC had previously looked towards celebrity names such as Robert Downey Jr. to attract some attention. Those campaigns seemed to have attracted some initial attention, but that attention also seemed to have disappeared rather quickly. Of course, on some level HTC is back at it with the One (M8) and Gary Oldman.

We have yet to see any sales figures from HTC following the launch of the One (M8), however it does seem they managed to get something right this time around — the immediate availability. If you remember back to the launch of the HTC One — you will remember the long delays, which were even worse for Verizon users.

SOURCE: WSJ

Google Trends now delivering to your inbox

Google Trends already provided a useful way of keeping up with what is hot at any given time. Trends offers details on current topics, as well as what had been hot at any given time dating back to 2004. And as of today you can now have those reports delivered directly to your inbox.

Users will be able to subscribe to Hot Searches for any country as well as any search topic, or any US monthly Top Chart. Once you find the topic you want to have delivered — you’ll simply need to look for the “Subscribe” button. Assuming you are already logged in while browsing, the results will automatically go to that Gmail account.

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You can also do a bit of further customizing once you click on the subscribe button. Options here include getting worldwide results, or having those broken down to a specific country.

Perhaps key for those looking to keep the email to a minimum — there is also an option to have them delivered “about” once a week or once a month. Google clarifies the “about” aspect by saying this is only a “rough estimate and will vary between topics and over time.”

Those new to Google Trends may also like the results provided directly on the web. Those include a chart showing interest over time, regional interest, related searches and more. Of course, as it had been, Trends can simply be a good place to learn a bit more about any given topic.

SOURCE: Google Inside Search

Chromecast Offers hit UK, could be elsewhere soon

New Chromecast owners in the UK have something extra to be excited about, as Google is seeding special offers to them. For a limited (but undetermined) time, Chromecast owners who reside int he UK can visit Google’s Chromecast offers site and get £4.99 in Play Store credit.

Of course, Google is hoping you spend that on movies or TV to stream content, but you can use it however you like. As for the promo itself, it looks as though it is te first in a long line of special offers Google will be sending out to all of us. The UK Chromecast offer looks to simply be the first one to gently roll out, considering the site is location and language agnostic.

These offers likely won’t be UK only, either. Anyone can check the offers site (link in our ‘Source’ tag below), which checks the existing Chromecast devices on your WiFi network for offers. Once you agree to share your location, and which Chromecast device you’re inquiring about, offers are searched for. We’ve not found anything for the US yet, but we should all expect this to be the page where we’d find them in the future.

Of course, you’ll need to use a Chrome browser to search for the offers. The offers page casts to your desired Chromecast (it needs you to share the serial number), and that can only be done via Chrome. UK Chromecast owners should go get their fiver — the rest of us can just wait patiently.

Source: Google Chromecast Offers

Via: Liliputing

Smartphone theft reports jump to 3.1 million in 2013

We’ve been hearing about the “kill switch” technology lately. That is a debate that will likely continue for a while, but it looks like a recent Consumer Report study may have some falling on the side of using the kill switch. Details here show that 3.1 million people (from the US) reported their smartphone stolen in 2013.

For comparison, that is up from 1.6 million in 2012. While thefts seem to have jumped quite a bit, the number losing their phone stayed close to the same going from 2012 to 2013. The number was 1.2 million in 2012 and 1.4 million in 2013.

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You cannot always prevent theft, but you can take some measures ahead of time to try and make it more difficult for the thief. We are talking about using some sort of method to secure your phone. This includes the basics such as the 4-digit PIN code or an unlock pattern. Of course, there are also some devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One Max offering fingerprint security.

We suspect most would agree they need to protect their device — but it seems roughly a third aren’t doing anything. According to the report, 34 percent of those surveyed were using an unsecured/unprotected phone. But putting a positive spin on this, Consumer Reports did mention how the “proportion of those who used the simplest protection, setting a 4-digit PIN code to lock their phone’s screen, increased by about 50 percent compared with the year before.”

Other details coming from the study show that only 29 percent of users are backing up the data, and only 22 percent are using software that can track and locate their phone. That last one is a topic we recently discussed.

VIA: PC Mag

SOURCE: Consumer Reports

Xiaomi teases new device, could be long awaited tablet

Xiaomi has been on a bit of a tear lately, introducing themselves to the world stage via various product teasers. Their latest has us guessing once again, with the company posting a very intriguing picture to Chinese blogging site Weibo. In the pic, we see something oddly familiar, but nothing that we can identify as Xiaomi’s.


A profile of some sort of device hints that Xiaomi has something new for us, and they’re teasing April 23 as the day we’ll see it. For those keeping track, April 23 is the day we expect to see the OnePlus One launch. This could be coincidental, or it may be intentional. OnePlus definitely steps on Xiaomi’s toes with their high-end, low-cost scheme.

The Xiaomi device itself looks like the Lenovo Yoga tablet, with it’s bulbous battery on one side/end. That’s a tablet we intialy wrote off, but quickly found it to be more useful than the slates we have from most OEMs. Xiaomi may be taking a page form their book, and we’ve long expected a tablet from Xiaomi — especially as they begin to introduce their products outside of China.

It could be a number of things, like a wireless charging pad or some sort of remote trackpad for Xiaomi’s devices. Nobody outside of Xiaomi knows, and they’re happy to leave us in suspense. It looks like April 23 could be a busy, busy day for Android!

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Via: GizChina