[News] Gmail phone calls to be free in 2013

Google has announced that the free domestic calling using their Gmail service will continue to be free throughout all of 2013.  A nice Christmas and New Year’s gift for those who currently utilize this service.  I’ve used the video chat feature in Gmail a little bit, and while this tech (video calling in general) is still in its infancy, I believe its truly the way of future. And as more and more folks get mobile broadband services, this type of free service will impact a greater number of folks.  Good times!

*Source:  Droid-Life


[Rumor] Google and Motorola working on "X phone"

As noted in one of my fearless predictions for next year (see the whole list here) I theorized that the next Nexus phone would be produced by a joint Google and Motorola venture.  Since Google owns Moto, that’s no small thing…but since Samsung, HTC, and now LG have all had their shot – I’m thinking it just makes sense if Motorola gets a shot at it.  And it looks like we might be well on our way to that future – if reports from the Wall Street Journal are true.  The rumored device, the so-called “X Phone” would be made by a super secret division within Motorola, and sanctioned by Google, to produce the next generation smartphone so that it can be released in 2013.

I for one am hoping for the unlocked, quad core, 3500mAh, LTE toting beast all Android smartphone lovers have been waiting for since LTE was introduced, but hey – this is just a rumor and could be darn near anything at this point.  Even something crappy.  So we’ll all just have to wait and see.

*Source:  Droid-Life

[Rumor] Next "superphone" from HTC to come in Feb?

HTC’s One X/One X+

Its not even the end of the year, and already juicy rumors are flying around that interweb about how HTC is trying to up their game after the Droid DNA’s launch.  The newest rumors have HTC looking to launch a new superphone (codename M7) sometime in the first quarter of 2013, and man are the rumored specs on this guy crazy.  Can you imagine the One X’s successor with: 1.7GHz quad core Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB internal storage, either a 4.7 inch or 5.0 inch 1080p display using their new SoLux technology, a 13MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, and a 2300mAh battery powering it all.

HTC’s really slick unibody construction would give it the look and feel of the already beautiful One X series, but with much beefier internals.  If this bad boy comes to Verizon (no carriers rumored as of yet) I’m going to give it a strong look as my next phone.  Alas, we are still in just the rumor stage as of yet, but February is the early target date of release so far.  You know we will keep our ears to the grindstone for any more details.  Stay tuned.

*Source:  Geek.com

[Rumor] Next Galaxy Note to have even bigger display?

Could this be the Galaxy Note 3?

File this under the “it’s just a crazy rumor right now but hey…maybe?” department, but Samsung is reportedly considering going even larger with their Galaxy Note device in the next generation, by throwing a whopping 6.3 inch display in the 3rd version of the Note series.

I can’t imagine why anyone would consider such a large screen or form factor in their phone, but since that’s pretty close to the size of my Nexus 7 – let’s just call it like we see it and say any phone that size is really just a 3G/4G enabled tablet, shall we?  We’ll just have to wait and see I guess.

*Source:  Droid-Life

[News] New BB10 device shown and "reviewed"

As we approach the end of the year, we are also approaching the beginning of 2013.  Duh.  But what this means for fans of Research in Motion (RIM) is that the next generation of Blackberry devices are actually coming soon.  The all touch screen device (with the code name of London) is set to debut in January 2013.   An Asian group has managed to lay hands on the device and offer up a walk through of the phone itself, as well as some of the new Blackberry 10 operating systems features.  Sadly, I don’t speak Vietnamese, so most of the info is lost on me…but its worth a watch nonetheless.  Check out the video below if you are interested in seeing what RIM has up its sleeve with its newest Blackberry smartphone.

*Source:  BGR

[News] Verizon Galaxy Note 2’s bootloader unlocked

Now this news will probably not mean much to a lot of folks, but for those precious few Android enthusiasts who enjoy “modding” their phones…this is a great day.  The good folks over at XDA Developers have found an exploit that allows the bootloader of the Verizon Galaxy Note 2 to be unlocked.  This allows for a variety of custom options to be flashed onto the device, including a custom recovery, kernels, and ROMs.  If you’re like me and have a desire to always tinker with your device, the Galaxy Note 2 (already a great smartphone) just got a little better.

This link to the chaps over at Droid-Life includes some more info, along with the video on how its done.  You might want to make a “Note” of it if you are thinking about picking up this phone and messing around with it.

*Source:  Droid-Life

[News] Fortune interview with Google’s Larry Page

Fortune sat down recently to talk with Google’s somewhat reclusive CEO, Larry Page.  As Mr. Page is not often in the spotlight, it seems like this interview would be of significant interest to Google or Android enthusiasts.  A excerpt of the interview with a focus on Android is below:

There are some great products out of Motorola, but none of them are your signature Nexus line. Will you partner with Motorola for these sort of signature devices? How will you decide when to partner with them? And despite all your assurances to the other [Android] partners that you’re going to be neutral, aren’t they going to freak out [when you build a Motorola Nexus]?
First of all, I don’t think there’s any physical way we could have released a Nexus Motorola device in that sense. I mean, we haven’t owned the company long enough.
How will you decide when to do a Motorola Nexus device, and what do you tell Samsung and LG? 
I think there’s a lot of complexity in that question. Maybe I’ll talk more generally about that area.
The right way to think about it is how do we get amazing products into users’ hands in the most cost-effective, highest quality way possible and to the most people. That’s what we do as a business, and that’s what we’ve done with Android.  Part of the reason why we’ve done Nexus devices in the past is that we want to build an amazing device that kind of showcases what’s possible on Android, gives a way for the programmers to get early builds, does a whole bunch of things that are important. Exactly what we do, which devices we do, what the timing is, how we release the software with them, all those things have been changing.
So…as you’ve probably read in our article on Fearless Predictions for next year, a proposed Motorola Nexus device would be of extreme interest to yours truly.  So hopefully Mr. Page has enough sway to make it happen.  Because I’m sure he’s focused solely on my personal happiness.  Or something.  But enough from me…check out the whole article from Fortune here.
*Source:  Fortune Magazine

[News] T-Mobile to carry iPhone in 2013

Last of all the major carriers, T-Mobile announced during their annual investor conference they will carry the iPhone in 2013.  This is surely good news for T-Mobile customers as well as T-Mobile themselves, since no doubt many folks interested in T-Mobile’s low price point for voice and data plans will likely be attracted now that the iPhone can be had on their service.  Also announced at the conference was that T-Mobile plans to end carrier subsidies for their phones, likely meaning that new customers may have to pony up between $300-700 for a new phone (depending on device).

There is no firm date for when the iPhone will be offered, as well as how much it might cost on T-Mobile.  If it is released in the middle of next year, it might coincide with the release of the so-called iPhone 5S, if Apple does do a mid year refresh to its flagship device.  Without a carrier subsidy, the iPhone would probably run somewhere in the $399 range to start however.  Speaking of removing carrier subsidies, this represents another change in the way the mobile wireless industry does business, and is something that was first embodied by Google offering their Nexus 4 device unlocked for as little as $299.  This selling of devices direct to consumers (see our article here) is something new to the US shores, but is fairly common in Europe and the UK where carriers operate much differently.  If T-Mobile is looking to stand out from the crowd, this new business model might be a really good start.  It would likely take the American smartphone buyer a while to get used to, but the profits it brings to the carrier and the freedom it gives the buyer make this situation a true “win-win” scenario.

*Source:  Digital Trends

[News] Apple profits expected to fall for first time in 9 years

The last quarter of this year isn’t expected to be kind to Apple.  According to a Forbes.com report, the company will likely post its first decline in profit since 2003.  This news comes as Apple stock continues to fall from record highs reached just before the release of the iPhone 5 earlier this year.  Now down over 21%, most analysts predict this tend to continue for the short term.

The fact that the world largest publicly traded company is experiencing a downturn in profits is also causing analysts to believe the entire tech sector’s profits will shrink by 2.4% in the 4th quarter.  How this might impact other phone OEMs remissions to be seen, but this is surely a day that hasn’t been on the mind of Apple in a long, long time.

*Source:  Forbes

[News] Samsung porting Galaxy Note features to S3

Based no doubt on the success of the Galaxy Note 2 and its many innovative (read: cool) features, Samsung has announced on their blog that some of these features will be coming to the Galaxy S3 phone as well.  These features will likely include Multi-Window and Page Buddy, two of the more useful of the Galaxy Note 2’s software bundle.  Multi-Window is just that, allowing multiple windows open on the screen running different apps.  Page Buddy is more along the lines of “smart actions” by executing certain commands based on related actions (launching your music player if you were to plug in headphones for example).

The size of the Galaxy S3 makes this an almost no brainer, and makes a great phone even more versatile and functional.  Now…the bad news.  So its pretty much being released by Samsung as the “Premium Software Suite” and will be available in the international market first.  And then it would be up to the individual carriers at some point to make it available to those in the U.S. market.  Sounds like it won’t be hitting anyone around here anytime soon.  But still…hope is a good thing.  And Samsung gets props from me for even offering this suite to begin with.  Good on you Sammy!

*Source: BGR