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Casio’s New G-SHOCK Connects To Smartphones, Shows Incoming Calls, Emails, SMS

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 05:33 AM PST


Casio Japan is planning [JP] to roll out the G-SHOCK GB-6900 on March 16 next year, a wristwatch that connects to certain smartphones via Bluetooth LE (LE=low-energy, a standard that’s baked into Bluetooth 4.0). The device will be compatible with the Medias LTE N-04D Android phone from NEC  (to be released next year) and NEC’s Medias PP N-01D.

Casio says that the G-SHOCK not only synchronizes the time with the phones but also shows incoming calls, emails, or SMS on its display. Users can also switch their handsets to vibration mode by pushing a button on the watch or set alarms.

The watch isn’t the first that connects to phones, but the main selling point here is the Bluetooth LE feature (in fact, it’s the first watch with Bluetooth 4.0 on board): Bluetooth LE consumes a fraction of the energy of other Bluetooth versions. In the case of the G-SHOCK GB-6900, Casio says users can expect a battery life of about 2 years with one conventional CR2032 button battery.

The company initially planned to start selling the watch in December but had to push back the release date to March 16 because of the floods in Thailand (which dampened production). It will cost 18,000 Yen (US$231).

The Gizmon iCA Might Be The Ultimate iPhone Camera Case

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 05:53 PM PST


There are iPhone cases and then there are…more iPhone cases. There are probably close to a gazillion different iPhone cases available now. But none are as elaborate as the Gizmon iCA — at least none I have seen. The case — if you call it just a case — is made of 32 different polycarbonate parts, it features a conversion lens mount with additional optional lenses, and adds a working shutter button and optical viewfinder. There is even an optional faux pancake lens for additional street cred with the camera nerds. It gets better, too. No, seriously, this contraption is genius.

The case is available in white, black, and retrotastic orange. Both corners feature eyelets for a neck strap because, you know, if you have such a case, it deserves to live outside of a pocket. There’s a tripod mount even a mirror inside the fake lens for self portraits.

Four Corner Store currently sells the Gizmon case in the States along with a host of other unique photography-themed items. The iCA alone cost $65 with the strap running an additional $30 and the lenses costing $45 for either the macro or fisheye. It’s really a fair price to pay to dress your modern smartphone as a sexy rangefinder.

comScore: Apple Grows Mobile Marketshare From 9.8% To 11.2%, But Samsung’s Still Top OEM

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 02:25 PM PST


comScore has just released its latest numbers regarding the mobile landscape here in the U.S., finding that Samsung is still the top OEM with a 25.6 percent marketshare, up just .3 percentage points from the three month period ending in August. Meanwhile, Apple’s price drop on the iPhone 4 along with the introduction of the iPhone 4S has taken its share of the market from 9.8 percent to 11.2 percent.

Mind you, this report doesn’t include holiday sales numbers (Galaxy Nexus, included), and as we know thanks to Flurry data, 6.8 million iOS and Android devices were activated on Christmas day. It’s unclear how exactly those activations were split among the two platforms, so there’s no telling if it actually made a difference in market share, but it’s worth considering. These numbers also include feature phones as well as smartphones.

LG (number 2) and Motorola (number 3) both slipped a bit during this time frame, along with last place RIM (which is to be expected, seeing that RIM is doing silly things like getting $1.7 million in PlayBooks stolen at a truck stop).

As far as the mobile OS is concerned, Google still reigns supreme with a 47 percent market share, up from 43.8 percent last period. Apple comes in second, taking its share from 27.3 percent to 28.7 percent, while RIM, Microsoft, and Nokia all slipped this period. Most notably, RIM lost 3.1 percentage points in platform market share, dropping from 19.7 percent in August to 16.6 percent.

LTE-Capable Windows Phones Should Ship In The First Half Of 2012

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 12:07 PM PST


There are a lot of naysayers out there when it comes to the Windows Phone platform, but as Robin pointed out a couple of days ago many haven’t really given the OS a fighting chance. Some of it has to do with the fact that people often equate cost with quality, and most Windows phones are (at the moment) rather inexpensive.

But Redmond apparently has plans to get some higher-end devices on the market next year.

According to WinSupersite’s Paul Thurrott (who has yet to formally reveal his sources, but promises the news is legit), Microsoft and its partners will release at least three new LTE-capable Windows phones in the first half of 2012.

The Nokia Ace, HTC Radiant, and Samsung Mendel will all run on AT&T’s 4G LTE network during the first half of next year, the Ace specifically hitting shelves on March 18. Thurrott also claims that the Nokia Lumia 710 (which does not run on any 4G LTE network) will head to Verizon in April of 2012, three months after it hits T-Mo shelves in January.

Past that, we know very little about the new LTE Windows phones. Will they run Mango? Tango? WMPoweruser’s leaked road map of what is supposed to be Microsoft’s update plans leads us to believe that Apollo won’t make its way onto the market until late 2012, but it’s unclear whether or not the incremental Tango update will be included on this next batch of phones.

Either way, it’s good to see Windows Phone catching up to Android when it comes to LTE support. And if things go as we expect them to, iOS may be the last to join the 4G LTE party.

Is Verizon Joking? Paying Online/By Phone Will Soon Cost You An Extra $2

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 10:53 AM PST


Yesterday Droid-Life obtained a leaked internal document from Verizon that had a surprisingly annoying little tidbit within: “Beginning 1/15/12, there is a $2 ‘convenience fee’ for making a credit or debit card bill payment online or via call-in channels.”

Sometimes leaks are faked or forged, and I hoped against hope that this particular leak was a load of malarkey. But alas, Phonescoop has apparently received confirmation via email that Verizon will in fact impose this “convenience fee” starting January 15.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Conveniently enough, Verizon has laid out a few ways for you to avoid such a convenience.

I realize I’m harping on it, but the only joke bigger than this $2 fee is the fact that they’re calling it a “convenience fee.” Convenient to whom (other than Verizon, of course)? You’d think that processing online payments would actually be more convenient for Big Red than processing paper payments, and it doesn’t necessarily encourage environmental friendliness, either.

Either way, you won’t have to pay the extra $2 if you choose to send in an electronic check through My Verizon Online, My Verizon Mobile or via telephone. Using Autopay will also rid you of this charge if you’re using credit/debit/ATM cards or electronic checks. If you pay through customer home-banking services, pay in-store at the kiosk, or use a Verizon Wireless gift card or device rebate card to pay a bill in-store, online or by telephone, the fee will also be waived.

Obviously, you can always pay with a standard paper check mailed directly to Verizon Wireless along with your bill (the same way people paid their bills in the olden days), but some of us live in the 21st century.

Verizon customers who don’t check the blogs or news as much as you fine people will be notified at the time of payment (both online and by phone) that an extra $2 is being charged.

Nearly 40% Of Facebook Users Are Mobile App Users

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 08:52 AM PST


According to new data from Benedict Evans for Enders Analysis, the number of monthly active users of Facebook’s mobile apps recently passed the 300 million mark. This is primarily due to heavy use of the iOS and Android apps, but it also takes into account apps that run on BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Phone, iPad and feature phones.

That number equates to roughly 40% of Facebook’s currently disclosed 800 million active users.

What’s interesting is that Facebook announced in September that over 350 million active users access Facebook through their mobile devices – a number that includes mobile web users as well as users of its mobile apps. Explains Evans, you can track the number of app users by going to the Facebook Page for each app then adding them up. (Alternately, one could use a service like AppData to do something similar).

At the time that Facebook announced 350 million mobile users, there were 250 million mobile app users, he says. That means that over the past few months, Facebook has seen another 50 million+ become active app users. Impressive.

Evans’ findings also back up TechCrunch writer Josh Constine’s earlier report that Android has finally surpassed iPhone in terms of daily active users. But on a weekly and monthly basis, iPhone and iPod Touch are still coming out ahead. In fact, in terms of monthly active users, over 100 million are using iPhone/iPods, says Evans. (The iPad is broken out separately).

BlackBerry devices and feature phones are still somewhat holding their own, while Symbian and the practically insignificant contributions from Windows Phone trail the number of iPad users whether you’re looking at daily, weekly or monthly active user counts.

One thing we don’t know – and can’t know, unless Facebook itself reported it – is how many users only access Facebook on their mobile phone, never visiting the desktop site. Evans estimates that number is high, but it’s impossible to tell using currently published data.

Mobilewalla: The Highest Rated Mobile Apps Of 2011

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 07:16 AM PST

iPhone Apps

Mobile analytics firm Mobilewalla has ranked the top apps across all four mobile platforms for 2011, using its own ranking system known at the “Mobilewalla Score.” Instead of looking at raw user ratings, this scoring system is an algorithm that analyzes a variety of factors in addition to ratings, including an app’s position within its own category, volume, social media sentiment and more.

The scores are a numerical value between 0 and 100, with a higher score indicating a more successful app. It’s an interesting way to slice the data, and gives a different picture of the app store ecosystem than typical year-end lists do. Those often look solely at download numbers and tend to include apps which have been popular for years – like Facebook, Twitter, Angry Birds, etc. Other lists, meanwhile, are editorially selected or curated, like some of those we’ve featured here.

The list below is grouped by platform (Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone): 

Pixlr-o-matic (Android Free): 97.5 out of 100

Super Stickman Golf: (Android Free): 97.5 out of 100

Smurfs’ Village (Android Free): 97 out of 100

Crime Story (Android Free): 96.4 out of 100

Marvel Comics (Android Free): 96.3 out of 100

MADDEN NFL 12 by EA SPORTS™ (Android Paid): 93.6 out of 100

Dragon, Fly! Full (Android Paid): 92.3 out of 100

Earth And Legend (Android Paid): 92.4 out of 100

Great Little War Game (Android Paid): 92.2 out of 100

SHADOWGUN (Android Paid): 91.8 out of 100 At Bat Lite (Apple Free): 96 out of 100

My Horse (Apple Free): 95.3 out of 100

Family Feud® & Friends (Apple Free): 93.5 out of 100

Funny Videos & Pics by – Free (Apple Free): 92.8 out of 100

MetalStorm: Wingman (Apple Free): 92.3 out of 100

Angry Birds Rio (Apple Paid): 93.9 out of 100

Tiny Wings (Apple Paid): 92.9 out of 100

Craigslist + Notifications. CraigsPro+ Craigslist + Photo Wall + Posting + Photo previews (Apple Paid): 91.7 out of 100

Where’s My Water? (Apple Paid): 91 out of 100

Lock My Photos – Password lock photos & picture data for peace of mind! (Apple Paid): 89.7 out of 100

Bike Baron (Apple Paid): 87.3 out of 100

Memory Booster Pro (BlackBerry Free): 95.1 out of 100

BlackBerry Protect (BlackBerry Free): 95.1 out of 100

Memory Booster (BlackBerry Free): 95 out of 100

AppsLock – Password Protect Applications (Full Version) (BlackBerry Free): 94.7 out of 100

Slider Lock Free – slide to unlock your phone (BlackBerry Free): 94.5 out of 100

Sea Storm Animated Theme 2.0 (BlackBerry Paid): 94.7 out of 100

Love Is Love – Great Offer of Valentine’s Day (BlackBerry Paid): 92 out of 100

Playboy’s Animated Luck O’ The Irish (BlackBerry Paid): 90.4 out of 100

Underwater HD Animated Theme (BlackBerry Paid): 90.1 out of 100

Juicy Girl Theme – On Sale! (BlackBerry Paid): 89.5 out of 100

TuneIn Radio (Windows Phone Free): 96.7 out of 100

Penguin – Dictionary and Thesaurus (Windows Phone Free): 96 out of 100

gMaps (Windows Phone Free): 95.7 out of 100

PhotoFunia (Windows Phone Free): 95.7 out of 100

Phone 8 (Windows Phone Paid): 92.2 out of 100

Weather Live (Windows Phone Paid): 91.7 out of 100

Fuse (Windows Phone Paid): 89 out of 100

iFun (Windows Phone Paid): 89 out of 100

SuperTube (Windows Phone Paid): 88.4 out of 100


Top image: Daniel Y. Go