Thursday, February 11, 2016

Deal: Get a free Galaxy S6 with any other Galaxy flagship purchase at AT&T

Dayum, this is a pretty sweet deal. AT&T is offering a free 32 GB Galaxy S6 to anyone that purchases a Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, S6 Active or Note 5 on an AT&T Next instalment plan. Both devices will need to be on a Next plan, but considering one of them is for free, it’s a pretty awesome offer.
If you’re not particularly keen on the Galaxy S6, AT&T is also offering the S6 Active as the free device, or up to $595 in monthly bill credits so you can choose any other eligible Galaxy device you like. The free S6 will need to be a new activation and you’ll have to pay the taxes on both devices upfront.
The offer isn’t available in Connecticut, Rhode Island or Miami-Dade and you need to keep both devices “in good standing” (that means pay your bill) for the first month before the monthly bill credits kick in after three bill cycles. The offer is available until March 31 (at least in Puerto Rico) and both handsets must be on Next plans of at least $70 per month. With the Galaxy S7 being unveiled in less than two weeks at MWC 2016, you know more deals like this are coming soon.

Sony launches a new Marshmallow beta program, as stable release nears

Sony was one of the first Android manufacturers to detail their Marshmallow update plans and the first to launch a beta program for Android 6.0, called Concept for Android.
Now Sony is launching a new beta for the Xperia Z2, Xperia Z3, and Xperia Z3 Compact. The initiative is called Xperia Beta Program (how creative) and is only available for users of the aforementioned phones in Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands.
The difference between Concept for Android and Xperia Beta Program is that the latter is a “Quality beta test of official software,” while the former is “Experimental consumer driven software.” In other words, the builds in Xperia Beta Program should be very close to the final versions that will roll out to Sony devices in the close future. While the company did not specify when we should expect the official update rollouts, we think it’s a matter of weeks at most.
To sign up for Xperia Beta Program, head over to the Play Store and install this app. Sony promises that your feedback will reach its mobile development via an “open channel.” Regardless of what that means, you get a chance to make Xperia software a little better.
Openings are limited, according to the Play Store description, so if you live in one of the three countries we mentioned above, hurry up and sign up for your place.
Sony has confirmed the Marshmallow update for 14 devices released over the last couple of years, including the Xperia Z5, Z4, Z3, and Z2.
As for Concept for Android, which we reviewed here, users who signed up should expect a new update in the following weeks, bringing their devices to Android 6.0.1.

Facebook’s master plan: attention-grabbing new video ads with captions

It’s no secret that Facebook makes truck loads of money from its video advertising. Truck loads upon trucks loads, actually: around $17 billion in 2015. So it stands to reason that the world’s largest social networking site wants to make sure that the more than one and a half billion monthly active users don’t simply scroll past ads as easily as we have become accustomed to doing. Facebook is now rolling out a new captioned video captioning tool for marketers that will make those embedded ads almost impossible to ignore.
The announcement came on the Facebook for Business portal, with a daunting headline of “capture attention with updated features for video ads”. While most of us are probably perfectly happy being relatively immune to advertising in our stream, this doesn’t suit Facebook’s real clientele so well: advertisers. When the advertisers aren’t happy, Facebook isn’t happy.

The post tells marketers: “With people’s growing control over what content they watch and for how long, the faster you communicate your message in a video ad and capture viewers’ attention, the better.” It goes on to outline the new tools being made available over the coming weeks including automated video captioning.
Our new automated captioning tool generates captions for video ads and delivers them to the advertiser within the ad creation tool to review, edit and save to their video ad.
As Facebook notes, captioned videos increases view time by an average of 12%, with a testimony from A&W reporting a 25% increase with a captioned video ad. It’s not clear if Facebook is providing the service to advertisers for free to help the platform make more advertising dollars or whether advertisers will have to pay to use the service. Either way, with 12-25% greater view time you know you’re going to start seeing more captioned videos ads in the near future.

Advertising on Facebook has exploded recently, with 57% ad revenue growth YoY in just Q4, 2015. In that quarter, ad revenue represented 96% of Facebook’s total revenue and of that astronomical ad revenue, 80% came from mobile.
You can see the split between mobile (blue) and desktop (red) in the graph below. The green and pink lines represent percentage growth. Whatever Facebook is doing is working well, and the introduction of captioned video ads is sure to see that figure continue to spike just as hard.
In case you’re curious, the Facebook post gives some advertising examples of successful video ads as well as providing some tips to advertisers, which actually makes for some interesting reading. I’m not saying it will make you any more able to ignore this new breed of super-ad, but knowing how the enemy thinks can’t hurt. Be warned though, there are video ads on the page…

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Moto E 2015 4G launched in India for Rs 7999

Mote E LTE-16
Following the launch of the 3G version last month, Motorola have today launched the Moto E (2015)4G in India with a price tag of Rs 7999 – which works out to around $20 lower than the US price at $129. Beginning today, customers can order the LTE handset online from Flipkart and while Motorola haven’t revealed when the smartphone will go on sale, Flipkart has listed a release date of April 23.
Customers who choose to pre-order the Moto E (2015) LTE today will be able to choose from a range of offers including discounts on microSD cards, 100 percent cashback for the first 200 customers and six months of unlimited music downloads on Saavn Pro.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Best Buy offering $100 off Moto 360 when you buy any Android phone

With the impending arrival of the Apple Watch and a number of next-gen Android Wear devices, likelyeven a 2nd-gen Moto 360, we’re seeing some of the first members of the Android Wear family receive some pretty steep discounts, namely the G Watch and Moto 360. Now Best Buy is sweetening the deal further for those interested in the Moto 360, offering $100 off with the purchase of any Android device.
When Best Buy says any, they mean it. We have reports that this promotion works with both contract devices through traditional carriers or even the cheapest sub-$50 prepaid units. For that already have a decent Android phone, you could always buy a cheaper prepaid unit to get in on the deal and then sell it unopened on a place like Ebay, or regift to someone for that matter.
The Moto 360 promotion from Best Buy lasts until April 18th. How about it, anyone planning on picking up the Moto 360? Or would you rather wait for the next-gen crop of watches coming from Huawei, LG, Motorola, and others.

Android 5.0 Lollipop rolls out to more Sony Xperia Z devices

sony xperia z3 review (18 of 26)
Today, Android 5.0 Lollipop is heading out to the Xperia Z3 Dual, Xperia Z1, Xperia Z1 Compact andXperia Z Ultra smartphones, which is right on schedule. In the past few months, Sony has also pushed out Lollipop updates to a variety of its Xperia Z3 and Z2 devices.
Sony has even more devices with Lollipop support on the way as well. The company states that an update for the Xperia T2 Ultra and Xperia C3, including the dual SIM variants, is on the way next week. Then there’s the original Xperia Z series scheduled for Android 5.0 in a “few weeks’ time”, which includes the Xperia Z, ZL, ZR, and the Tablet Z. Of course, availability of updates will vary depending on your region and carrier.
The update includes all of the Lollipop features that have made their way out to Xperia Z3 and Z2 smartphones, including Priority Mode notifications, actionable lock screen notifications, Smart Lock, and the redesigned user interface. You can take a look at Sony’s latest software features in the video below.
With so many Xperia smartphones to support, Sony appears to be doing a pretty good job at pushing out Lollipop updates to older handsets in a timely manner.

Sharp announces 5.5-inch 4K IGZO display with an incredible 806ppi

Sharp Aquos-17
Many high-end flagships are already making use of higher resolution QHD (2560×1440) displays, but it seems increasingly likely that we will see our first 4K display smartphone before too long. Sharp, a Japanese LCD display manufacturer, has just announced its 5.5-inch 4K (3840×2160) IGZO display, which packs in a ridiculous 806 pixels per inch.
For comparison, QHD smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S6, LG G3, and Nexus 6 feature a PPI of 577, 538 and 493 respectively. 1080p smartphones are a little lower at 441 PPI for the HTC One M9, 424 for the Sony Xperia Z3 and 401 PPI for the larger OnePlus One. Of course, the important question is whether or not there’s any benefit to consumers in designing devices with such small 4K displays. The consensus is that the move from 1080p to 2K offers only minor visual benefits, so 4K will surely be even less noticeable.
However, native support for increasingly common 4K content may be a nice feature to have and would be supported by advances in mobile video capture and playback technologies. Furthermore, the recent rise of virtual reality headsets may give a boost to such small 4K displays, as the viewing distances are even closer than typical mobile applications and therefore require ultra-sharp images.
IGZO stands for indium gallium zinc oxide and is the material used in the backplane of Sharp’s display. This material is partly what has allowed Sharp to increase its pixel density so rapidly, as it has a higher electron mobility than a-Si, an essential property as backplane transistor sizes shrink down further. Sharp states that its 5.5-inch 4K IGZO panel will go into mass production in 2016, with smartphones as the most likely target market.
Sharp’s mobile display business has been struggling for profits over the past few years. The company is rumored to be looking for additional funding from the Innovation Network Corp. of Japan and may spin off its mobile LCD business as part of a deal. Do you think that the race to small form factor 4K displays will pay off for Sharp?