About Brad Ward

Residing in Eastern Michigan, Brad is a lover of all-things Android. Technology has always been a fascination for Brad, which has led to an interesting in writing. His first phone was the Motorola Atrix 2. He currently works at The Droid Guy and enjoys gaming, weightlifting, reading, creating ideas and watching start ups.

Brad has written 1150 articles so far, you can find them below.

Google’s Elves Launches Play Store Surprise Calendar, Daily Giveaways And Discounts Until Jan. 1st

Google-Play-Giveaway

Yesterday Google started up their Play Store Surprise Calendar Countdown with a bang by offering a $35 hotel credit for the Hotel Tonight app. Today Google is celebrating Keith Richards’ birthday by offering a free live version of “Beast of Burden,” which was played at the Rolling Stones’ 1982 tour at their final show.

During the Play Store Surprise Calendar Countdown Google will be conducting a daily giveaway or discount until January 1st, 2013. This is extremely familiar to Google Offers, albeit Google Offers has not conducted “giveaways” before. We’ll make sure to let everyone know if there are any deals out there that you don’t want to miss. I’m personally hoping that we’ll be seeing some awesome discounts for the Play Movies side of things. Even getting one free rental would be awesome as well. Make sure to load up the Play store app (or hit the source link) to check out the daily deals that Google will be offering!

What would you like to see Google offer during their Play Store Surprise Calendar Countdown? Make sure to let us know in the comments below!

source: Google Play

HTC November 2012 Sales Not Looking Good From Previous Year

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HTC Logo (Thumb)

We all know how well HTC and Verizon Wireless’ new Droid DNA is doing, but despite it’s popularity, HTC’s profit continues to go down into the pit, which has put the company in a larger financial hole than they had originally expected. According to a report from Reuters, HTC’s consolidated November sales were T$21.23 billion. That is equal to $732 million USD, which is down by 31.4% since November of 2011. Things really aren’t sounding that great for HTC, and this surely isn’t helping their financial outlook from their last quarterly report (which was a loss off 79% compared to their previous quarterly report).

Hopefully since HTC has hired a new marketing director we’ll be seeing a rise in profits. If the companies funds continue to tumble, who knows how much longer it would be before the company officially comes to a halt. Maybe this next quarter will look a lot better for HTC. Although, I’m not really sure the timing on the release of the Droid DNA was really that perfect, as tons of people have been purchasing Galaxy Note II’s only a few weeks before their announcement.

Although quite unlikely, maybe a company will be interested in purchasing HTC like Google purchased Motorola and has been turning it around ever since.

source: Reuters

Consumer Reports Shows Verizon Wireless Customer’s As The Happiest

Consumer Reports has just published their annual customer satisfaction rankings for the United States mobile carriers. The new rankings show Verizon Wireless customers as the happiest, while AT&T has been scored the lowest out of the four major carriers (I can personally vouch for this, as their customer service is terrible!).

These rankings are all based off of consumer surveys that are based upon categories like data network, call quality and customer service. These stats likely depend on where you live, as you could be extremely happy with AT&T while being extremely dissatisfied with Verizon. You can easily do a internet search showing varied opinions on carriers. Some will be happy with AT&T or T-Mobile while others will hate AT&T and T-Mobile to their grave.

Regardless, what mobile carrier do you have right now? Are you happy with them based off of the categories listed above?

Sound off in the comments below!

source: Android Central

 

HTC Gets New Marketing Chief

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htc-logo

HTC announced today that a new head of marketing would be joining the company in January of 2013, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Benjamin Ho is a former CMO of Motorola who is currently in charge of marketing at a Taiwanese carrier known as FarEasTone. Ho will be reporting directly to HTC CEO Peter Chou.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that HTC’s current marketing and sales chief Jason Mackenzie will be focusing on sales strategy. Current CMO John Wang will be stepping down from his position. Although, we don’t know if he is getting fired or if he has been moved to a different position.

HTC said that Mr. Ho’s first project at the company will be dubbed “Marketing 2.0,” with a goal of “refocusing HTC’s efforts around holistic marketing and mass-market brand outreach.”

As you know, HTC has been suffering financially and has lost a lot of ground to rivals Samsung and Apple. While Samsung is boasting of selling 5 million Galaxy Note II’s and 20+ million Galaxy S III’s, HTC’s sales have been pretty abysmal compared to those numbers. With the launch of the Droid DNA and HTC hoping to get their marketing improved, we may see the company have another chance in the spotlight. They originally reported that Q4 wasn’t looking that great, but maybe things will be able to turn around for them just in time.

It’d definitely be sad to see HTC close down, or even get bought out by another company. I honestly hope that their finances and innovation will pick up speed this next quarter. While I’m not a huge fan of their devices, losing the competition would be terrible.

source: Android Central 

 

Chrome For Android Updated

The Android variant of Google Chrome has been updated to fix a few stability issues, according to Google. This news comes just a little while after Google announced on their Google+ page that the company would be bringing the mobile Chrome versions up to speed with the desktop versions by early next year. Right now, the desktop version of Chrome is at version 23 while the mobile Chrome versions is at 18. We’ll be able to see Chrome releases become well organized and efficient as Google moves forward with their plans.

Aside from improved stability, nothing has really been changed or added to the app. We probably will not be seeing a “big” update until the mobile version of Chrome catches up with the desktop version. Although I could be wrong. We’ll see.

Regardless, you can grab the new update directly from the Play Store on your smartphone.

source: Android Central

Nexus 7 Dock Shows Up On A Few Regional ASUS Website’s Revealing A Early December Release

Yep, the Nexus 7 is now the perfect tablet. Nexus 7 owners will be thrilled to hear that a new accessory for the tablet will be releasing in the very near future. A Nexus 7 dock (90-XB3XOKDSS00020-JAN) recently surfaced on a couple of different international websites. Among those websites was ASUS Japan, showing that the dock is scheduled to arrive early December. The dock touts a USB port and a 3.5mm audio jack on the rear side of the dock, which means that the dock will also probably be using the Nexus 7’s pogo pins for charging the device and outputting audio. Extra accessories for the Nexus 7 seems to be one of the most requested additions for the device, and thankfully it’s almost here!

ASUS Japan is selling the Nexus 7 dock for 3,480 Japanese Yen. That turns out to be equal to $41 USD. Talk Android notes that a Norwegian site is showing the device for 240 NOK ($42 USD) and a Portgual website showing it for a low €23.90 ($31). There’s been no word as to when or if we’ll be seeing the dock in the United States, but if it did, you could probably expect (based off of international pricing) to shell out $40 for the dock. Hopefully it will be coming to the U.S. though, there would be a lot of consumers anxiously awaiting to get it in the Play Store.

Are you looking for the possibility of a Nexus 7 dock here in the United States? What would you use it for?

Sound off in the comments below!

source: Talk Android

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Canadian Galaxy S III Receiving Jelly Bean Update On December 3rd

Users overseas may have been a bit jealous that the United States has been getting their updates to Jelly Bean on the Galaxy S III earlier than just about everyone else. If you’ve been anxious to get that update on your device, well you’re in luck! Samsung Canada has announced via a tweet that they a OTA (Over The Air) update would begin rolling out next week, which is Monday, December 3rd. This update just happens to be Android 4.1.1, which should excite a lot of you Canadian users!

A lot of American carriers still aren’t pushing out the Jelly Bean update to the Galaxy S III, despite Sprint rolling it out to their devices on their network a while back. Regardless, hopefully with the announcement of Canada getting the update we will be seeing the update also roll out from AT&T and Verizon here in the states. With how long users have been waiting for this update, I would highly doubt Samsung — and the carriers — would keep their users waiting much longer. If you remember, a while back there were a few reports that December would be the month of Jelly Bean for a few of Samsung’s devices as well. With this update coming to Canada on December 3rd, I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of Jelly Bean just about everywhere.

In other news, there has been rumors going around the Samsung Galaxy S 2 update to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is almost ready as well! Hopefully we’ll be hearing some news of this shortly here. We’ll keep you posted as to when we spot something!

Do you have any predictions as to when Samsung and the various carriers are going to start rolling out Jelly Bean for the S III and S II?  Any of our friends over in Canada excited to hear about the Jelly Bean update as well?

Sound off in the comments below!

source: Samsung
via: Talk Android 

Draw Something Re-Review

Available On: Android, iOS

Price; Free, Micro transactions

Download: Google Play | iTunes

I’ve reviewed Draw Something in the past, but since then I’ve been able to get a Samsung Galaxy Note II, which comes with the S-Pen. It turns out that the S-Pen works extraordinarily well with Draw Something, and actually makes the game insanely easier to play. I get a bit frustrated when I can’t reach perfection with drawings on Draw Something, or even with drawing in general. Having a stylus or S-Pen to help you along the way with Draw Something is insanely useful. You know those smudges you would always get in your drawing because your hand shook? Those are easily avoided using a stylus/S-Pen.

To bring you up to speed as to what Draw Something is, it’s essentially a social game that you can play with your friends on Facebook or via e-mail. You can also play with random players out in cyberspace by creating a username as well. Draw Something is nothing competitive. You simply choose a word and then draw a image of that word for the other player to guess. The other player will then receive that drawing and will have to guess what it is. If they can’t guess, they can simply press the pass button, which will restart all of the turns back to 1 (e.g. if you have 100 turns, and someone passes, it goes back to 1). It’s a fun little casual game to pass the time away.

After having used the S-Pen with Draw Something, I was definitely encouraged to play the game more and most of all my problems were almost fixed when I started using the S-Pen to draw. My only beef with the app now is the fact that it’s owned by Zynga. As a result of that, we probably won’t be seeing any new creative ideas added to the app. Instead, Draw Something will turn into a cash cow with little to no substance behind the app itself. That sums up most of Zynga’s games right there.

Like I said, I’ve found a new appreciation for Draw Something after using the S-Pen. The app would work just as well with a regular stylus, but the S-Pen is what I happened to have on hand. To anyone that hasn’t found much appeal with the app or has been overly frustrated due to the perfection lacking in your drawings, I honestly suggest trying to pick up a stylus. If you decide to get a Galaxy Note device, an S-Pen will work just as well as a stylus does.

Draw Something is a free game (with quite a few micro transactions) that is available on both iOS and Android. You can pick it up right now by hitting one of the links that we’ve listed above. After you’ve given the app a try, make sure to let us know what you think of it with a stylus in-hand. I’d like to know if I’m not the only one who thought it was a bit lacking when just using your finger.

 

Coupon Apps That Will Help You Save Money

Over the past two years, grocery store prices have increased drastically. So have stores that offer your basic needs as well. Thanks to smartphone apps, all of that extra money does not need to go flying out of your bank account. Finding coupons and discounts can be a bit time consuming, especially when you’re doing it all manually. But if you’re one of those people that does not mind spending five or ten minutes looking for coupon, you could save yourself a lot of money through a few handy smartphone apps. I’ve handpicked a few apps below:

Coupons.com — This app is the most helpful out of all of the coupon apps I am going to list. From playing around with this app, it seems like all of the coupons are universal coupons. Meaning that you can print off the coupon and use it just about anywhere a retailer carries the product. Most of the coupons in this app are things that I would use just about everyday as well. That said, most of these coupons are actually helpful and aren’t the ones that you will probably never use in your life that you get from a newspaper or something. At the time of this writing, there are 198 coupons available that could potentially save you $330.22.

Coupons — This app is similar to Coupons.com, but it has a few extra features added to it. It will show you the cheapest gas that is near your location. Often the gas prices it shows is extremely accurate. What I’ve noticed is that the gas prices on the app don’t usually update if gas goes up or down by 1- or 2-cents. It will update when there’s a drastic change in gas pricing though. Of course, if you’re looking for a gas pricing app, there are others out there that are extremely accurate and update manually. The Coupons app also shows a bunch of online coupons. So, maybe you want $5 off of a trip to White Castle, just click on the offer and the app will take you to there website where you can claim the coupon. It’s a pretty handy app.

Dining Deals — Lastly we have Dining Deals. A lot of people like to go out to eat, especially after a long day shopping. While that may be common sense, bear with me here. Going out to eat is often expensive, most of the time you find yourself spending a good $20 – $30 on food at a restaurant plus a tip. You can easily reduce that cost by checking out coupons in Dining Deals. While it does not have every restaurant on the planet listed, it certainly has some of the more popular restaurants listed. That said, if you go to one the restaurants listed on the app, you could easily save a good $5 or $10 off of your next meal.

Before downloading any of these apps you should keep in mind that you’re still going to have to cut out coupons yourself. The only thing that these apps do is consolidate coupons around the web and allows you to print them off easily. It makes the process much smoother and saves a lot of time even though you have to cut them out yourself.

Amazon Says Black Friday Weekend Kindle Sales Doubled From Last Year

Amazon is saying that their Kindle sales have nearly doubled over this Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. That’s great!

Unfortunately, Amazon isn’t going to be releasing their sales figures for their Kindles, so we won’t get to see statistics side-by-side from last year’s Black Friday weekend. In addition to that, Amazon isn’t even saying what Kindle’s were hot sellers. Based off of their massive Kindle Fire coupon on Cyber Monday, I have a hunch that that was a best seller. Who knows though, these massive sales could of just been the extremely cheap e-ink Kindle e-books. We don’t know for sure, which is quite unfortunate.

Regardless, it’s great news to hear that Amazon’s Kindle sales are doing fantastic. Phone Arena also reports that Cyber Monday of 2012 was the busiest day for Kindle sales worldwide. With Amazon’s 4 worldwide bestllers all being Kindle’s, I’m going to go ahead and assume that customers loved Amazon’s $129 deal on the 7-inch Kindle Fire. Phone Arena also reports that the Fire HD was the most gifted and wished for product on Amazon.

Hopefully when Black Friday / Cyber Monday rolls around next year Amazon will be willing to give out their exact sales figures.

In other news, Microsoft and Nintendo have released their sales figures. Microsoft sold over 750,000 Xbox 360 units, which surpassed their expectations. Nintendo only sold a good 400,000 Wii U units, but some speculate this is because of the constant shortages they were having.

Regardless of all of that, it looks like this past weekend was great for some of the big name companies!

source: Phone Arena

Sony Finishes SDK With A Final Add-On

Sony just launched their Tablet SDK (Software Development Kit) add-on, which has completed the entirety of their SDK. With this pack, developers will now be able to manipulate some of the special features that are found in Sony tablets. These “special features” include windowed small apps that are found on the Xperia Tablet S. This does include the IR blaster (which is on the Xperia Tablet S as well), which can be used to interface with TVs. Devs that are looking for find documentation and code samples can head on over to the Sony Developer World website.

As you know, Sony has not been seeing any sort of massive success from their Android tablets, but one thing to keep in mind is how developer-friendly Sony has been. There is no doubt that when a company supports developers like this that there will eventually be some sort of interest and success. Although, that may just happen later on down the road as Sony continues to refine and improve the experience with their Xperia devices in general. Although from what I have seen, there has already been a pretty strong developer community surrounding the Xperia Tablet S over on the XDA Developers forums.

If you’re a developer or just someone interested in the tablet SDK, you can head on over to the source link below where you will be able to find a wealth of information.

Are you excited to see Sony completing the tablet SDK? Are you going to take advantage of it?

Sound off in the comments below!

source: Sony Developer World
via: Android Central 

 

Rhapsody Launches New Song Matching App “SongMatch”

If you are looking for a good song matching app that isn’t SoundHound or Shazam, then Rhapsody may have just launched something you would be interested in. The app they’ve launched is called SongMatch. While it’s a free download and you really don’t need a Rhapsody subscription to play around the app, it’s best that you get the subscription as that is when the real features come into play. Users with a Rhapsody subscription will be able to instantly launch playback of a song or album when the app detects a match.

Rhapsody also creates a special SongMatch playlist in your account based off of matches that were done previously. Which is pretty awesome if you forget a song you matches previously. Now, keep in mind that if you’re rocking a smartphone with Jelly Bean, you can easily ask Google Now what song is playing and it will match it. You can then click on that song that it matched it with and be taken straight to the music section of the Play Store to purchase or even preview the song.

Do you have a Rhapsody subscription? Does something like SongMatch interest you? Personally, Google Now’s song matching feature is enough for me.

source: Talk Android, Play Store

 

Verizon Wireless Files For A DVR Patent That Can Watch and Listen To What Is Happening In Your Living Room

Verizon Wireless has just patented a new DVR that has the ability to watch and listen to just about everything that is taking place in your living room. “Why is this sort of technology needed”, you may ask. For targeted advertising, of course!

The goal of this technology is to watch and listen as to what is going on in the room that the DVR is stationed. It will then create personalized, targeted advertisements that is suited for whatever is happening in the room that the device is in. Verizon Wireless gave a few examples as to how this technology would work exactly. If a husband and wife are arguing in the room that the DVR is stationed, an ad would play for marriage counselling.If the DVR heard sounds of cuddling it would kindly play an ad for contraceptives. While it’s cool that the technology is there instead of playing useless ads, I would never have such a thing in my house. It seems a bit risky, you know? Although, if a husband and wife arguing triggered a marriage counselling ad, I tend to think that the TV may be broken during said argument. This could prove to be a bit “counter-productive.”

You can read the full patent at the USPTO source link below. It’s definitely some interesting technology.

I’d definitely be opting out of this technology, but is this something that you would use? Make sure to tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

source: sourcefednews, USPTO

Samsung Galaxy Note II Review: The Most Noteworthy Device On The Market

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galaxy-note-2-verizon

Bottom Line

The Galaxy Note II is easily the most powerful product Samsung has created. While the 5.6-inch display may be a huge turnoff for some, that doesn’t stop the device from providing cutting-edge performance. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, the Galaxy Note II should be at the very least on your list of devices you are considering. It’s a noteworthy (see what I did there?) competitor to similar devices like the Optimus G and Droid DNA (although the DNA does not have an S-Pen or anything of the like). The device is a little pricey coming in at a subsidized $299. As with any device though, I’d highly suggest purchasing the device outright and grab a Straight Talk plan, which could potentially save you $1000 in extra fees and monthly payments.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is one of the most sleek and powerful devices I’ve ever used. It’s hardware and software performance is out of this world.

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Ease of Use

The Samsung Galaxy Note II functions like any other smartphone, but there is a bit of a learning curve with it when it comes to the S-Pen and motion actions. There are a lot of extra features packed in the Note II like Paper Artist, motion detection and various S-Pen features, which can all be confusing at first due to the amount of options that are available to you. Within a few days of use though, the Galaxy Note II should feel like any other smartphone you have used, except better.

The device’s speedy hardware mixed with Jelly Bean’s Project Butter makes this device as smooth as butter. Slow loading times are almost non-existent on the hardware and software side of things. If you experience long loading times, I can almost guarantee it’s your network and not the hardware itself. Regardless, if you’re an impatient person, you shouldn’t find yourself frustrated with the device’s loading times whatsoever.

Performance & Reliability

As I mentioned above, the Galaxy Note II’s performance is as smooth as butter. While you may notice some frame rate drops in games, the Note II almost plays them seamlessly. The device loads apps and internet pages almost instantaneously (again, depending on your network strength), which is something that you can really get used too. Going back to the Atrix 2 to test a few things before putting it away felt like a drag.

The call quality of the Galaxy Note II is crisp and clear. In fact, I’ve had a few people mention that I sound much clearer on the Galaxy Note II as opposed to the  Atrix 2.

Network speeds are blazing fast, especially when it’s hooked up to an LTE network. I’m often able to hit 40MBp/s in download speeds. I’ve only once had the network cut out on me, but that was when AT&T was doing maintenance on their cell towers where I live, so I hardly consider that the Note II’s fault.

As for reliability, I don’t think any smartphone could get you through the day like the Galaxy Note II. The device features a 3100 mAh battery, which often gets me through 1 1/2 days without a charge (that’s on the basis that I’m not using the Mobile Hotspot or playing games frequently). If you’re a smartphone power user, one charge will easily get you through the day until you can reach a charger.

Durability

The durability of the Samsung Galaxy Note II is unmatched. In fact, Android Authority did a video a few months back dropping the smartphone from shoulder length onto the cement. A few scuffs and scratches were found on the device, but everything was in working condition. In fact, Android Authority gave the Samsung Galaxy S III, the Note II’s little brother, the ‘ol drop test as well. The device did not see similar results to the Note II. In fact, it saw much worse results.

The Galaxy Note II won’t wear out easily.

Overall

The overall quality of the Galaxy Note II is unmatched (although, the S III touts a lot of similarities). At the time of this writing, its performance and reliability is some of the best you can get in the market. Despite better devices in the works for 2013, the device will no doubt still be something to consider and won’t be looked at as “old technology.”

I am very impressed with the quality that the Note II provides. This is easily one of the best devices Samsung has ever produced. I would recommend the device in a heartbeat to anyone who can get past the idea of a large screen.