Moto Maker for Moto X hitting Germany on July 1st

After way too much time as a US-only exclusive and with the phone it pimps to the extreme already starting to show its age, Motorola’s finally ready to launch the Moto Maker customisation service for the Moto X in Europe.

According to Motorola Germany, the case modding service will launch exclusively for those who buy a phone through Phone House in the country. Phone House is the German wing of Carphone Warehouse, so here’s hoping CPW picks up the deal and launches the custom phone option here in the UK too.

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This could be the answer to the tricky “eccentric summer phone” problem we currently face. As long as it’s cheap.

Link via Androidsis.

Vodafone Smart 4 – 4.5-inch display powered by 1.2GHz dual-core processor

Vodafone’s “Smart” series of devices has been expanded today, with the network launching the Vodafone Smart 4 — a budget model available on a PAYG basis for just £75. For that you get a 4.5-inch display, 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor and 512MB of RAM, backed up by a 5MP camera with secondary front chat-cam too. Android 4.4 is the launch OS.

4GB of internal storage will be a bit of a bottleneck, but other than that it ought to be decent enough for the money. Here it is:

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Don’t confuse it with the older Vodafone Smart 4 Mini. That’s a different one with less oomph. Check out the new Smart 4 over at Vodafone.

Archos 50b Oxygen – 5-inch display for £129

The Archos 50b Oxygen is apparently available today if you know where to look, with Archos looking to score a budget winner at a £129 price tag. For this, buyers get a 5-inch display running at 1280 x 720 resolution, 8megapixel camera, 1.3GHz quad-core chipset, 1GB of RAM and microSD card support. On paper, it’s WINNER.

This is it:

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Archos is also releasing the 50c Oxygen variant, which comes with a 1.7GHz octo-core processor and increased price tag of £179.

VVVVVV and Super Gravitron hit Android

Indie genius Terry Cavanagh, who robbed us of the first half of 2013 by releasing the staggering Super Hexagon on Android, is back. He has two new-to-Android games up on Google Play today — VVVVVV and its spin-off mini game friend Super Gravitron.

VVVVVV is the main treat. It’s a crazy gravitational platform game in which the main character [SPOILER] can stick to ceilings when jumping. Which instantly means twice the hassle, twice the jumps, twice the spikes, twice the deaths and more. It’s been on PC for years and has quite the fan base.

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VVVVVV is £1.99 to buy, while Super Gravitron is the £FREE taster. See the main man’s page for details.

SwiftKey Keyboard now £FREE

The popular SwiftKey Keyboard , which we’ve been banging on about constantly and using intermittently for years now, has changed. It’s now properly free for all to use, with the maker binning the one-month free trial version and making the full app now free for everyone.

The standard version of the alternative keyboard now includes in-app purchases for buying additional visual themes, but it looks like all the usual features are IN for FREE. So HOORAY to THAT.

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Given that Google’s now adopted next-word prediction into the core Android experience it probably had little choice in the matter. Check it out here , if you’ve not had it on your phone since 2011 anyway.

Link via Giz UK.

Nexus 5 down to £250 unlocked via Carphone Warehouse

It’s official price cut season! The most recent Nexus model has now seen its price CRASHED and SLASHED to just £249 by third-party mobile deals aggregator Carphone Warehouse, selling the Nexus 5 for its cheapest price yet. We didn’t love it hugely as the battery’s a bit of a weak point in Google and LG’s latest reference device, but for that price and 16GB of onboard storage it’s a bit of a steal.

And the red and white versions are also down to £249 too, if you’re a bit flamboyant. Get in there.

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Or get in here to be more precise.

Link via HUKD.

Sony Xperia Z2 review

This is Sony’s latest go at producing a high-spec Android flagship model, with the Xperia Z2 ticking every one of 2014′s must-have tech bullet points. It has a large 5.2-inch 1080p display. It has the hot new Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset inside. It has a massive 3GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. It’s also got lots of glass and a 20.7MP camera and magnetic charging options and more software tweaks than you can imagine.

Here’s what it’s like.

Review phone provided by GiffGaff, supplier of mobiles, contracts, minutes, texts, data, SIM cards and all that sort of thing.

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It’s big. While rival monster phones like the Huawei Ascend P7 manage to feel surprisingly small in the hand, the metallic and glassy Z2 is definitely on the large side. It’s quite slim, but the lack of curvature in the boxy chassis and the sharp metallic sides make it feel as if you’re holding quite a lump of electronics. And, of course, that’s because you are.

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It’s not disastrously unportable, but there were occasions when we preferred to pocket our substantially more humble Moto G when off out, simply because humping around the Z2 is a little more of a task. You feel it in your pocket. It has a gravitational pull on your trousers.

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Sony’s chunked-up the USB cover from the Xperia Z1. It’s now much fatter and easier to remove here on the Z2, making picking it open to charge the phone less of a chore. It’s the little things that make life worth living.

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There’s a microSD card slot along the other edge, along with the central power button and a physical camera shutter button, with the latter also letting you insta-launch straight into the camera app from standby.

One Very Nice Thing is that Sony’s the latest company to nick the tap-to-wake option and stick it in the Z2, so you’re able to double-tap on the display to pull it out of standby, rendering the power button nearly obsolete. It worked most of the time, although on quite a few occasions we had to knock it a few extra times to wake the phone. There’s probably a knack to timing it right.

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We were also supplied with a Roxfit flip case for the Xperia Z2. It’s ridiculously thin, but does add a little extra size to the already rather large phone. But it’s probably a necessity given the glassy nature of the mobile. If you handle it with one eye on its future resale value, you’ll want it looked after.

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And this is the official Sony DK36 magnetic charger. You don’t get a lot of plastic for your £30 investment, but it does lock on with a satisfying click and flips the display into landscape mode. Sadly this doesn’t kick in any sort of custom docking display, despite the fact that Sony’s software automatically recognises headphones being plugged in and offers a customisable list of actions.

And as we moaned about on Twitter ages ago, Sony won’t let you use any old headphones with the Xperia Z2. Which is a shame, as the ones it supplies are the type that require forceful insertion into your earholes. I hate them. They hurt and always fall out. But the sound quality is really good if you can get them rammed near enough to your brain and taped to your head so they don’t fall out.

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That’s the main Home screen (left) and the lock screen. A quick launch for the camera sits in the lock screen’s pull-up slot, so there’s no standard access to Google Now from the lock screen. Plus Sony’s bafflingly and rather pointlessly added a link to its “What’s New” app store on the Google Now button when pulled up from the Home screen.

Not a fan of that. The older Sony Select app store is pre-loaded on the Xperia Z2 too, so there are now TWO useless curated rival app stores inside Sony’s take on Android.

Read the full article »

Hitman GO launched on Android today

Unique strategy game Hitman GO has been winning fans on iOS for quite some time — now we get a GO on it via today’s Android release. For £2.99 you get a turn-based adventure that has little in common with the stealthy home console originals, with the new mobile game offering instead the opportunity to “strategically navigate fixed spaces on a grid.”

That’s not the most evocative description we’ve ever seen on Google Play. Here it is:

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It’s very nice looking, with the diorama style graphics a massive improvement on the series’ usual collection of drab 3D worlds. Get it on Google Play here. It does have the dreaded IAPs, though, so discretion is advised.

HTC One (E8) — 5-inch 1080p display, polycarbonate unibody shell

The non-stop flood of rumours suggesting HTC has a possibly cheaper, non-metallic version of the HTC One (M8) on the way were indeed correct, with HTC today announcing the HTC One (E8). The phone’s largely the same as the M8 variant, offering a 5-inch display running at 1080p resolution backed by a quad-core Snapdragon 801 chipset and 2GB of RAM, with the only compromise being the removal of the secondary rear camera the M8 used for some of its fancy image processing tricks.

The E8 features one lone 13MP rear camera and 5MP front camera, along with microSD support and a 2,600mAh battery. Here it is, in some colours:

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Lovely colours. The E8 should be on sale in “select markets” in June. No news regarding price has emerged yet, but it must be cheaper. Even if only by a fiver. Read more on HTC’s blog.

BBC D-Day’s Last Heroes app commemorates 70th anniversary of landings

The BBC’s D-Day’s Last Heroes app is a sort of app recreation of and companion to its documentary about the historic WWII landings, combining original footage with new interviews filmed for the TV series in 2013. Maps and timelines help explain the events of June 1944, as survivors pop up to tell their stories about the battle.

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Men died so we can watch cat GIFs and moan at social media accounts that our internet isn’t going as fast as advertised. Thanks for the easy life, brave old men. Get the app here.

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