Inbox requests during today’s ‘Happy Hour’ will net you a guaranteed invite by 5PM PST
By Andrew Grush
Late last month Google introduced Inbox, its dramatic re-envisioning of how Email should work. The only catch to its introduction was that the experience was invite only, though Google said it would do its best to send out invites to those who asked for requests.
Since then, Google has sent out multiple rounds of invites and has allowed existing Inbox users to spread the love as well. For those that still haven’t tried it out though, today is your chance! Google is conducting a “happy hour” today, during the hours of 3PM PT and 4PM PT. During this time, any users that email email@example.com for a request will get their invites no later than 5PM PT tonight! Keep in mind that only personal Gmail accounts can actually utilize Inbox at this time, so work emails running through Google Apps won’t be able to sign up.
For those interested in learning more about the Inbox experience, be sure to check out our hands-on first look at Google’s latest email experience:
For those that have already tried it, what do you think of Inbox? How do you feel it compares to a more ‘traditional’ experience like you’d find through the regular Gmail app?
Source:: android authority
Samsung Gear Circle Bluetooth headphones now available in US in limited quantities
By Dima Aryeh
The Samsung Gear Circle is definitely an interesting accessory, and it’s finally out in the U.S. The Gear Circle is a set of Bluetooth earphones that are designed to magnetically clasp together at the ends and become a necklace for easy carrying. And to warn you that you’re getting a call, the piece on the back of your neck will vibrate to warn you to put them on.
As for music controls, it uses a mix of touch controls and a play/pause feature that works when you clasp and unclasp the earphones from each other. You can also control your phone using voice commands, as you can with most earphones. The battery will last for 9 hours of music listening and 11 hours of talk time, which really isn’t bad for such a small set of earphones.
The Samsung Gear Circle is currently available in both black and blue at select T-Mobile stores if you want to pick some up now, with widespread availability coming later this month with AT&T and Amazon announcing availability. And if you want it in white, Best Buy will exclusively carry that color. What do you think of the Gear Circle?
Unsurprisingly, Verizon will not enter any pricing war per analysts
For years now, Verizon has largely stayed out of any meaningful price-battle with T-Mobile, AT&T or even Sprint. Considering that their network is generally considered the best on the whole, they see no need to really compete against others on price.
To be fair, I am not saying that Verizon Wireless has made no price moves. When AT&T made moves to their shared data plans, Verizon responded with their own slight drop in shared data plans. Verizon even eliminated their $35 activation fee for new customers who signed a two-year contract for a select period of time.
But so far Verizon has stayed away from significant price drops with their most common data allotments, or removing their per-device fees charged to connect a device to a shared data plan.
Another significant reason for Verizon’s refusal to dig deep on price is that Wall Street analysts are worried about competition hitting Verizon’s stock price.
Still, Wall Street analysts are worried that Verizon will eventually join the pricing fisticuffs, eroding stock value over time. Speaking to ComputerWorld, Verizon tries to calm investor fears by sticking to the company’s line that they’re simply too awesome to have to compete on price. – DSLReports
Now, analysts are coming out and stating that they expect Verizon Wireless to continue to be conservative in terms of its pricing strategy. Translation? Verizon is not going to lower their prices because rivals are cutting their prices.
In a research note, Jefferies analysts Mike McCormack, Scott Goldman and Tudor Mustata detailed their key takeaways from an investor event hosted on Tuesday by Verizon’s “senior leadership.” The research note indicates that Verizon’s top management is confident in its wireless strategy. – Fierce Wireless
Analysts also claimed that Verizon’s management stated that they do “not believe the wireless industry feels much different than in the past, contrary to the broad view that competition is intensifying to detrimental levels.”
They are right. Verizon has firm control with AT&T on the countries wireless service. There is no need to shake up anything when their wireless operating income margin is still significantly higher than the margins at AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.
Source:: android authority
Google Maps 9 is here: Material touches and Uber and Open Tablet integration
One by one, Google is pushing big updates to its staple applications – earlier today we saw Calendar getting a fresh coat of Material paint, and now it’s time for the all-important Maps to get the same treatment.
Rolling out to users now, Maps 9.0 features a refreshed design that’s all about layers and bold colors.
In a twist of the Material convention, you get two circular action buttons, one for jumping to your current location on the map (a second tap switches on the compass mode) and one for initiating navigation.
The side menu button, which was somewhat counter-intuitively placed at the bottom of the interface before, is now a true-to-guidelines hamburger button that shares space with the search bar. The navigation interface and side menu have been slightly refreshed, but the biggest changes are in the route screen, which is now more colorful overall. The Explore Nearby feature shows local attraction and eateries, and if you spot a place on the map, you can learn more about it by tapping on the information card at the bottom.
There are some changes in functionality as well – you can now reserve dinner tables from the app, thanks to Open Table integration, as well as get Uber waiting times and fare estimations (with the separate Uber app installed on your device).
Source:: android authority
Pushbullet now allows you to create new text messages from Chrome desktop
It’s pretty apparent that the folks over at Pushbullet never sleep. Not too long ago, they revamped their entire app to follow Google’s wonderful Material Design guidelines. With an update to the service rolling out today, users can now create new text messages, right from the Chrome extension.
For quite some time now, users have had the ability to reply to text messages from their desktop. Once a text was received on your Android device, a reply window would pop up, just as long as you’re logged into Chrome. With the newest update, however, you can now create text messages from your desktop, rather than waiting for someone to send you one to reply.
Are you looking to use this awesome new feature? Once Pushbullet is installed on your Android device and your Chrome browser, log in, and click the Pushbullet extension icon on Chrome. Choose the SMS tab, and begin typing the recipients’ name. Pushbullet actually has a nice autocomplete feature, which pulls your contacts from your device, so there’s no need to try and remember the full phone number. If you aren’t all that impressed with the new autocomplete feature, simply head to the Settings menu in the Android app and disable SMS Phonebook Autocomplete.
Pushbullet is quickly becoming one of the most convenient apps to have on Android. With the ability to send and receive texts or push files directly to your computer (or any other device for that matter), it exists to make life easier. Head to the Play Store to grab the update today!
Source:: android authority
Spotify Family is now available to offer ‘music for the whole family’
By Evan Selleck
Music streaming has taken a big part of the music industry, with services like Pandora, Spotify and Rdio. Of the bunch, Spotify has just launched their new family plans.
The service was first announced in late October, and Spotify has kept to its word by launching the new plans just a few weeks later. With Spotify Family, a Premium user can add up to four family members at a discounted rate to access their own independent Premium accounts, so that they get all of the bells and whistles (like unlimited, ad-free streaming and offline music listening) without having to pay the full $9.99 per month separately.
The pricing begins at $19.99 for one Premium user and one family member. Each additional Premium account will run $5. It breaks down as such:
- Premium Member + 1 Family Member: $14.99 per month
- Premium Member + 2 Family Members: $19.99 per month
- Premium Member + 3 Family Members: $24.99 per month
- Premium Member + 4 Family Members: $29.99 per month
After signing up for Spotify Family, members will be able to access their own Playlists, use Discover to find new music and rate music to better formulate recommendations. All without nosing in another family member’s listening habits. Spotify Family is available now.
WTF: Google sells out of Wednesday’s Nexus 6 units near-instantly
By Andrew Grush
After selling out of the Nexus 6 almost instantaneously, we learned yesterday that “every Wednesday” Google will start stocking more units for would-be buyers — starting today. Waiting around for today’s chance? Too late!
That’s right, not more than minutes before writing this we learned that the phone was back in stock, but we didn’t even have time to publish an alert before all the units apparently dried out. It remains unseen whether Google will have more today or not, but we have to ask: what the hell is going on Google? We love you guys, but this is pretty ridiculous. What, are you only getting five units in at a time? An obvious exaggeration, but still. For what it is worth, a number of folks were able to get their hands on the phone, despite the short availability window.
As mentioned yesterday, we imagine that stocking for carriers is a big part of what went wrong for the Nexus 6 launch, but still, we find it hard to excuse this. What do you think, is this kind of shortage acceptable for a newly launched product? Or should Google have been better prepared?
Source:: android authority
Xiaomi nearly doubled its revenue and profits last year
By Rob Triggs
Xiaomi has been rather secretive with its sales and profit figures in the past, but while attempting to secure $1 billion in loans for overseas expansion or acquisition, the Chinese company has had to reveal the state of its finances.
Documents presented to the bank and consulted by the WSJ reveal that Xiaomi’s revenues have more than doubled from 2012 to 2013, reaching 27 billion yuan ($4.42 billion). Net profit saw a similar boost, increasing 84 percent from 1.88 billion yuan ($310 million) in 2012 to 3.46 billion yuan ($566 million) last year. We don’t have Xiaomi’s profit figures for this year so far, but given that handset shipments are at an all-time high it is likely that profit will have continued to grow. The document forecasts an increase in net profit of 75 percent from 2013 to 2014, suggesting that the company could soon cross the $1 billion profit mark.
For comparison, HTC accumulated revenues of $6.64 billion in 2013 resulting in a loss of $43 million, whilst Samsung saw sales worth £209.4 billion and a net profit of $27.9 billion last year. Xiaomi is obviously still a small company compared to Samsung, but has already managed to generate as much income and more profit than some industry veterans. The fact that it is profiting and managing to expand and grow so quickly is quite astonishing.
Smartphone shipments are growing rapidly for Xiaomi and profits are set to increase as well
What makes Xiaomi’s situation even more unique is its business model. Xiaomi sells its high-end smartphones at considerably lower prices than the competition and also offers a range extra services and software to consumers. Interestingly, 94 percent of the company’s entire revenue came from handset sales last year, whilst mobile services accounted for just 1 percent. Handset margins are vastly more important to Xiaomi’s profitability than many had previously estimated.
So what’s the company’s secret? There’s no single answer, but one noticeable difference to its competitors is that Xiaomi has a very small advertising budget. Xiaomi spent just 3.2 percent of its revenue on sales and marketing expenses last year. Instead of expensive TV or billboard advertisement, Xiaomi relies heavily on social media.
Speaking in a recent interview Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra talked a little about the company’s hardware business model. Xiaomi sells only a small range of handsets and aims to maintain a product life cycle of 24 months for each. This has two major benefits for Xiaomi’s expenses. Firstly, research and development costs are lower than rivals which have more extensive product lineups.
94 percent of Xiaomi’s revenue came from handset sales last year
Secondly, it is able to purchase and sell shipments in bulk and batches, giving the company control over supply and preventing an excess of stock that it can’t shift. Batches are then sold almost exclusively through ecommerce, which offers improved margins compared with high-street retailing. The company has been able to steadily increase production along with consumer demand.
Essentially, Xiaomi manages to keep costs extremely low while also cultivating a strong brand presence in its retail markets through social media. The company is planning excursions into, Brazil and Mexico over the coming year, which is likely the intended use for the business loan. Expansion may leave a dent in short term profits but should see the company gain an even larger global presence in the future.
Xiaomi has managed to rise sharply at a time when other smartphone manufacturers appear to be struggling. Proof that the company’s business model is already proving profitable should quash any suggestions that Xiaomi isn’t a competitive force in the smartphone market.
Source:: android authority
Nexus 6 restocked in Google Play store
By Alex Wagner
The Motorola Nexus 6 is back in stock at Google’s Play store, just like El Goog said it would be. The Nexus 6 is available in Midnight Blue and Cloud White colors and with either 32GB or 64GB of built-in storage. Pricing is set at $649 for the 32GB model and $699 for the 64GB version.
Packing a 5.96-inch 2560×1440 AMOLED display, 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor and 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization, the Nexus 6 is Google’s biggest — literally — and highest-end Nexus smartphone yet. It’s also got 4G LTE, a 3220mAh battery, Qi wireless charging and Android 5.0 Lollipop.
It’s not clear how many Nexus 6s Google has in stock, so if you want one, you should probably go grab it as soon as possible. If you don’t get a unit, it’s worth noting that Google has said that it’ll work to restock the Play store each Wednesday and that the N6 will also go on sale at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular stores later in November.
It’s worth noting that Nexus 6 stock seems to be appearing and disappearing sporadically. I was able to place an order for a 32GB Cloud White model, though, and I got an email confirmation saying that my order will ship on November 21. If you’re trying to buy an N6, you may want to refresh the Play store a few times.
If you manage to buy a Nexus 6 today, be sure to tell us which model you got!
Google Maps getting big update with Material Design UI and more
By Alex Wagner
With Android 5.0 Lollipop now complete and in users’ hands, Google has kept busy by updating its core apps with Material Design user interfaces. Today El Goog revealed Google Maps as the next app to get a makeover.
The new Google Maps features “a fresh new design” with colors that are described as “bright” and “bold.” The app is definitely Material Design-ish, featuring a flat look, solid colors and layers.
In addition to its new look, this refreshed version of Google Maps has several features that are worth taking note of. For example, you can tap the info sheet at the bottom of you screen for more information on a venue, make a reservation with OpenTable (U.S. only) and get an estimated pickup time and price for Uber. In order to get the Uber integration, you’ll need to have the Uber app installed on your device.
This Google Maps update will roll out to users over the coming days. It looks like another great app update that’ll fit right in with Android 5.0 Lollipop. Good on Google for working hard to quickly update its core apps so early on in Android 5.0’s life.