Fire Phone - What you should know

Amazon held their much anticipated press conference today, and as was expected, they unveiled a Smartphone. Keeping with the "Fire" nomenclature, the phone is named the Amazon Fire Phone. Obviously not intended to be left behind in a market they are late to, Amazon went big in the specs department, stepping toe to toe with the big players in the space like the Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5s. Packing a "13MP camera with optical image stabilization for stunning photos and 1080p HD video, a 2.2 GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM for fast, fluid performance, a beautiful 4.7" HD display, dual stereo speakers, and Dolby Digital audio", Amazon obviously wanted to make sure potential users didn't feel they had to make sacrifices in power and performance if they opted to make the switch. Here is how the Fire Phone stacks up: 

It's obvious that the Fire Phone isn't a top tier phone from these specs, with the bewildering choice of Bluetooth 3.0 instead of 4.0, and the last generation Snapdragon 800 processor. But the phone is certainly no slouch in the specs department. It is obvious Amazon came to play. 

But as always with Amazon, the true point to this device is the experience, and Amazon aims to make it like no other.  

Fire Phone will work with the Amazon Appstore, but will not use any Google Apps. Running on the FireOS fork of Android that Amazon built for  the Kindle, expect a similar experience here. While it does not have access to Google Apps (NATIVELY, we installed Google Apps to our Kindle FIRE HDX the day we got it through sideloading), don't expect that to hold the experience back TOO much. Navigation in FireOS is a smooth, fluid experience. Game changing features like Firefly: a tool that lets you identify songs, shows or movies via the microphone, then queues up the content or product on Amazon's site to buy it, are certainly going to wow consumers. It's like the Google Goggles app on Android, times 100. It will even recognize phone numbers in text to let you dial or store in your contacts. In addition, Amazon brought the much beloved Mayday feature from the Kindle Fire HDX. Hitting the Mayday button summons a personal tech support concierge that connects within 15 seconds to your device, who can remotely guide you through any feature, even drawing on your screen to highlight the way. Having used this feature extensively with our HDX, we can attest to just how helpful and cool this feature is. The multiple cameras on board aid in creating an experience Amazon calls "dynamic perspective", a sort of parallax effect where images on the screen move and shift in a 3-Dimensional space in relation to where the user is looking. It is a striking effect that has to be seen to be believed. Whether this is merely a gimmicky feature of the lock screen only, or if it makes it's way into other features of the phone (aside from maps) remains to be seen. Either way, it's cool. 

Knowing that in order to compete in a space completely dominated by Apple and Google, Amazon knew they had to be prepared. Completely disassociating themselves from Google apps was a risky move. Android is well renowned for it's Google Apps, with the industry recognized best Maps and Email apps, among others. Jumping into this space without a quality replacement would be suicide in the smartphone arena. If initial impressions are to be believed, the Amazon Maps app with incorporated 3D visuals is a winner, with a competitive Email app as well. Packing in all the expected Kindle related features including X-Ray, and adding accelerometer powered scrolling and navigation, this looks to be one of Amazon's most ambitious and promising products ever.

With 32 and 64GB models selling at $199 and $299 respectively, and an off-contract purchase price of $649 for 32GB and $749 for 64GB, the Fire Phone aims to remain competitive in pricing as well, given that is double the storage most phone offer at their respective price points. Currently Fire Phone is available on AT&T only and comes with a free year of Amazon Prime. 

Can Amazon take on the mobile market and revolutionize it? That remains to be seen. But it is definitely clear with their aggressive entries into multiple product categories with the Kindle e-Readers, FireTV and now a smartphone, Amazon is certainly on "Fire". 

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 hits Google Play!!


Remastered port includes widescreen graphics, Hidden Palace Zone and Boss Attack mode

SEGA has today released a remastered mobile version of classic Genesis/Mega Drive platformer Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for Android and iOS. Like the updated versions of Sonic 1 and Sonic CD, Sonic 2 features widescreen graphics, 60fps gameplay and a few surprises for fans of the 90's console original.

Players take control of Sonic, Tails, Sonic & Tails or Knuckles and speed through a dozen zones, including one never before seen in full. The remastered port of Sonic 2 also includes a finished version of Hidden Palace Zone, a level partly revealed in a leaked beta of the game, but unplayable in the retail version. There's also a Boss Attack mode to pit players against Eggman/Robotnik's various contraptions. That's in addition to all eleven zones and seven special stages from the 16-bit original.

Sonic 2 for Android is available now on Google Play, priced at $2.99 in the U.S. and £2.18 in the UK; grab it at the Play Store link above.

Moto X - Tips and Tricks

The Star Trek Enterprise computer, the Nexus 7 Tablet, and HAL 9000, all sentient computers that are always listening, awaiting your command. The Moto X has them beat. The smart little phone that even puts more powerful, capable siblings and cousins to shame, the Moto X gets it's amazing reputation from two things, it has features we all actually USE, and it does it RIGHT.  The powerful little virtuoso is capable of many things, but some things you may not think of right off the bat. Here are some features and perfect companion apps to help you get the most out of your Moto X. 


 NQ Mobile Security

NQ Mobile Security & Antivirus is a mobile security. And the new Version 7 puts it far ahead of competitors like Lookout Mobile Security. Protect your phone and tablet from viruses, malware, spyware, trojans, and phone hacking. Speed up your device, backup important contacts, and find your lost or stolen phone from NQ website. If stolen, NQ intruder alert can snap a photo to identify who has your missing phone. You can download NQ Mobile Security & Antivirus from the Google Play Store here.

Clean Master

Want to clean up the memory space on your Moto X? Clean Master app allows you to clear cache files, clean brand-new installed files, and use the privacy raiser to protect anyone from seeing what you’re doing on your device. If you forget to clean your cache, Clean Master will remind you when to clean your device. This app is one of the must-haves when it comes to cleaning memory space. You can download Clean Master from the Google Play Store here.



Active DisplayMost people check their phone many times throughout an average day and they have to tap the power/unlock button to do it. With the Moto X there’s an Active Display feature which flashes up the time and an icon for any notifications you have every time you move the phone. If you want to see what the notification is then tap the icon. You’ll see it at the top of the screen and you can swipe up to go straight to it, swipe left or right to put your Moto X back to sleep, or swipe down to unlock your phone.


Activate the Camera -  You can twist your wrist twice while holding the Moto X to bring the camera app up, even if the phone is asleep. You can also swipe from the right on your lock screen to go straight into the camera. Focus and take a shot by tapping anywhere on the screen. That makes it fairly easy to capture spontaneous moments. Swipe from the left and you’ll get a dial of options including your flash, HDR, and everything else. Swipe from the right and you’ll enter the gallery to review your photos and videos. You can pinch to zoom and you can also pinch out to go to a film reel view which allows you to quickly delete photos or videos by swiping them away up or down.

How to use Motorola Assist - 

You can automate some actions on your Moto X using Motorola Assist and you’ll find it’s a neat way to ensure that you aren’t interrupted at an inopportune moment. The feature is accessed via the Assist icon in your app drawer and it’s divided into three sections.

  • Driving: As long as GPS is turned on, your Moto X will detect when you’re in a moving car and automatically default to your driving settings. You can tell it to “Talk to me” so it reads text messages out loud or tells you who is calling. You can also set up a quick text reply to tell people you’re driving. You can take calls by saying “Answer” or reject them by saying “Ignore.” When the Moto X first detects that you are in a car you’ll also get the option to tell it you’re not driving, in case you’re a passenger.
  • Meeting: Any meeting scheduled in your calendar that’s labeled as busy will default to your meeting profile, though you can cancel it when the notification first pops up. This lets you silence your Moto X, and you can choose to leave vibrate on if you like. You can also set up text auto-replies if you want to. There is an option to allow any favorite contacts to get through. You can also allow anyone who calls twice within five minutes to get through, and this is potentially a clever way of ensuring you don’t miss an emergency call.
  • Sleeping: Pick the hours you sleep (11pm to 6am is the default) to ensure that your Moto X remains silent and doesn’t pull you from your slumber. If you’re worried about missing an important call you can allow favorite contacts to get through, or tick the option to allow any caller trying twice within five minutes to get through.


How to use Touchless Control - One of the things that truly makes the Moto X unique is its ability to respond to your voice, even when it’s sleeping. This is achieved through Touchless Control accessed via Menu > Settings. It means you can say OK Google Now to wake the phone and then ask various things. When you first set it up, go to Menu > Settings > Touchless Control > Train launch phrase and you can train your Moto X so it only responds to your voice.


How to Use Motorola Skip to unlock - If you’re lucky, you got a Motorola Skip pack with your new Moto X. If not it will cost you $20. It’s basically a little clip that you can slip onto your shirt cuff or a bag strap and program as a quick way to unlock your Moto X. It uses NFC and you simply tap your Moto X on it to activate it and set your unlock pattern or PIN. It means you can quickly unlock your Moto X without having to input anything. You should also get three stickers that serve the same function.