The Moto E is Motorola’s latest smartphone, priced at just $129 unlocked. Outside of the Nexus program and the rumored Android Silver initiative, Motorola is the one manufacturer who seems dead serious about offering consumers an Android software experience that is closely aligned with Google’s vision of the operating system. Starting with the Moto X, the company made a decision to remove a large percentage of manufacturer code from their software builds. What they found was a nimble operating system that didn’t need the latest and greatest processor in order to provide for a great experience. Features in the Moto X were incremental. They were far from bloatware, instead building in options that really resonate with customers. In the Moto E, their best selling device to date, they delicately removed some of the higher end features. The removal was offset by value, with a $200 price point that did not require a contract. Last month, the company set out to prove they could go even lower. Did they make too many compromises or will the Moto E redefine expectations of what you can expect from a $129 smartphone? Okay, the title of our Moto E review is a bit of a spoiler, but read why this phone succeeds.
Available starting today, the new Google Camera app offers features you’d typically find on a DSLR or by using the depth of field effect on the HTC One M8. While the HTC One M8 utilizes multiple sensors, the Google Camera app manages to pull off high quality depth of field effects using any compatible Android phone. Depth of field or bokeh is when your subject is in focus and the background is blurred. You won’t need a 50mm lens at ƒ1.4 to create stunning bokeh filled imagery, thanks to the Lens Blur feature in the Google Camera app.
Motorola’s Moto Maker service that allows you to create a custom Moto X is pretty awesome and now it’s offering a new option to entice iPhone owners who looking to jump ship. When someone considers switching platforms, the biggest issue facing that decision has to be contacts and calendars. For many iPhone users, that information is in iCloud, Apple’s cloud service that allows syncing between iOS devices and Macs. It has some detractors, but overall iCloud works as promised. The service also makes it relatively easy to restore your data to a new phone, provided that is an iPhone. Realizing this might be a hurdle for some customers considering Android, Motorola has created a new migration assistant on Moto Maker that effectively migrates your contacts and calendars from iCloud/iPhone to your custom Moto X.
I have my hands on the Moto X since it was announced back in August. It’s the first byproduct of the new Google owned Motorola. Google is certainly no stranger to designing phones, but have relied on other companies to manufacture the Nexus line. This is different. Motorola is now part of Google, so there is a unique opportunity for synergy that can only come from a company that is the maker of both software and hardware. There are some inherit advantages, but have the merged companies succeeded in with this, their first effort? I’ll try to answer that question and more in our Moto X review.
Chances are that you carry your smartphone with you everywhere and more often than not, it’s in the palm of your hand, while your wallet is in your back pocket or at the bottom of a purse. If you have an Android phone with NFC, you can say goodbye, well for the most part, your trusty old wallet. It’s time to pay with your phone. Here’s how to setup and pay with Google Wallet on your Android phone.
If you regularly call a friend, family member or colleague at work, it can be a tiresome process if they do not have a direct line. The need for dialing extensions also extends to customer service calling centers, who seem to make it increasingly difficult to get in touch with an actual person. It can be an exercise in frustration. You have to wait for the answering system and then manually enter extensions. Thankfully, there is a way to automate that process. Here’s how to add extensions to Android contact phone numbers, allowing your phone to do all the dialing for you.
The beauty of widgets is they are able to bring information out front, without having to dive into an application, but that’s easy enough to do as well. Lock screen widgets extend that state of awesomeness, bringing them to the lock screen. Now you can see weather, missed calls, text messages email, calendar, tweets, Google Now and so much more without unlocking your phone. Here’s how to set up lock screen widgets on Android.
What you’ll need
A phone or tablet running Android Jelly Bean 4.2 or greater.
When you first press the power button, you’ll see the familiar lock screen. If you look to the left and right of the display, you’ll see the outlines of boxes that quickly disappear in a second or two. You’ll want to press the power button, grab a box and then slide in the opposite direction. If you’ve done it correctly, you’ll see a large ‘+’ sign.
Press the ‘+’ sign and you’ll see a list of the available lock screen widgets. Your existing set of widgets won’t work on the lock screen. The developer will need to create specific widgets for this purpose. All in all, you’ll find a good collection available and more are being added to the Google Play Store.
You can add multiple widgets, by adding them to new screens and these are all accessible without unlocking your phone or tablet. Drag down from the lock screen widget when you first power on your phone and you’ll see the lock disappear at the bottom. From there, you can swipe through your screens revealing the various widgets you’ve set up.
Once you find a widget of interest, you can tap on the information to open up the app, effectively unlocking your device. Lock screen widgets by themselves are tremendously helpful at providing you with information at a glance. The usefulness of these widgets gets magnified with the ability to jump right into the app, be it an email, the weather or a text message.
If there is one widget worth picking up in the Google Play Store it is DashClock. It’s the swiss army knife of lock screen widgets. It accomplishes this by adding extensions, which are available from within the app and also from the Google Play Store. Did I mention that the majority ofthese are all free, as is DashClock? There is increasing support for popular third party apps like Falcon Pro, Plume and so many more. The best part about DashClock is that it can present all of these extensions in one single page and it does so beautifully.
Once you are viewing your widgets, press and hold the screen to reveal them in a card view. From there you can re-order them to your liking.
Information flows through widgets and they offer people an infinite amount of ways to customize your Android phone or tablet. With Android Jelly Bean 4.2 or greater, their usefulness with lock screen widgets offering you incredibly quick and easy access to information that matters most to you. Once you set up your lock screen widgets on your Android phone or tablet, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.
Have a favorite lock screen widget? Share it in the comments or in our Android forums.
If you have an phone or tablet running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Search installed, you have Google Now on your device. Google Now works in unison with your Gmail account, search history and location to present information that’s relevant to you. There are a number of ways to improve the results and to access the service. Here’s how to set up Google Now on Android.