Samsung announces the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5Yesterday Samsung announced two new supersized phones at its Unpacked event in New York: the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+.

The new handsets both have 5.7 inch screens boasting 2560 x 1440 resolution Super AMOLED diplays, with 518 pixels per inch.

Like the Note 4, the Note 5 still comes with an S-pen stylus, but its predecessor’s plastic frame has been replaced by metal and glass, in keeping with the Galaxy S6 Edge.

Measuring 154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9mm and weighing 153g, the Galaxy S6 Edge is effectively a larger version of the S6 Edge, released earlier in the year, and retains the same curved sides. It has the same Exynos 7420 octa-core processor but boasts 4GB of RAM instead of 3GB and comes with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. However, there is no micro SD card slot and the 3,000 mAh battery is non-removable.

The Note 5 shares the same specs, and both have a16 MP rear camera, 5 MP front camera, and fingerprint sensor for security and use with Samsung Pay, which was also announced at the event.

There’s also a keyboard attachment for both handsets, for those who prefer physical keys as opposed to touchscreen.

UK pricing is yet to be confirmed, but the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is expected to arrive on our shores on 4 September. However, there are currently no plans to release Note 5 in Europe.

What do you think of Samsung’s latest handsets?

Samsung takes on the iPad with its new Galaxy Tab S2

Just days after announcing its thinnest smartphone to date, the Galaxy A8, Samsung has just announced its thinnest ever tablet in the form of the Galaxy Tab S2.

At only 5.6mm thick, the new Galaxy Tab S2 is 1mm thinner than last year’s Galaxy Tab S, and even thinner than Apple’s 6.1mm thick iPad Air 2.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Samsung’s latest tablet comes in two sizes; an 8 inch and 9.7 inch model, both with a 3 x 4 aspect ration, which is much more reminiscent of the iPad’s dimensions than those of its widescreen predecessor.

The new tablets are not only super thin, but also extremely light, weighing only 265g and 389g respectively. They also have a 2048 x 1536 pixel super AMOLED display that, while lower res than its predecessor, is designed to provide bright, vibrant colours whilst also being easy to read.

As well as being slim and easy on the eye, the Galaxy Tab S2 is also fast and powerful, with loads of memory. It has an octo-core processor running at 1.9Ghz/1.3Ghz, and 3GB of RAM, with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, which can be increased to up to 128GB via micro SD. There’s also a 8MP rear camera and 2.1 MP one on the front.

With its sleek design, altered dimensions and improved specs, it’s clear that Samsung is taking on the iPad, and the Galaxy Tab S2 may be its biggest rival yet.

Available in either black or white, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 will go on sale in August although the price has yet to be divulged.

What do you make of Samsung’s latest tablet? 

Apple Music goes head-to-head with Spotify

Apple MusicApple Music was finally launched as a “one more thing” at the end of the company’s keynote speech at the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.

Apple’s eagerly awaited music streaming service will launch on 30 June, and although initially only available on Mac, iOS and Apple TV, it will also be coming to PC and Android later in the year.

Users will be given a three month free trial of the service, after which it will cost $9.99 per month or $14.99 per month for a family of up to six people. UK prices are yet to be released but it’s expected to be less than rival services.

The platform consists of three separate elements, which Apple hopes will encapsulate “All the ways you love music. All in one place”.

Apple Music favouritesFirst and foremost there’s iTunes, which you can use to search for, and listen to music you’ve downloaded, or stream from a huge library of other tracks and albums. You can also use Siri to search for or suggest music, if you want.

The app will also have it’s own radio station, Beats 1 that will be fronted by Zane Lowe and broadcast to over 100 countries around the world.

Its final dimension is a social network, known as Connect, where artists can share exclusive content with users.

It remains to be seen whether Apple’s multi-faceted music platform will be able to rival its biggest competitor, Spotify, particularly as the music streaming giant has just announced that it has doubled its paid subscribers from 10 million to 20 million in the past year. Judging by his reaction to the launch of Apple Music – an “Oh ok” via Twitter – Founder Daniel Ek doesn’t seem to think so.

Do you think Apple Music will be able to rival Spotify?

Tom Hanks’ typewriter app a hit on iTunes

hanx-writer-app-by-tom-hanksRemember those traditional typewriters that hurt your fingers and made a heavy clunking sound every time you hit a key. They even used real paper – lots of it. No, us neither. Honest.

Well, if like Tom Hanks you lament the passing of the traditional typewriter, with its clunking sounds, sticky keys and smudged, unevenly spaced characters, you can now download an app for your iPad that emulates the experience. And you won’t be alone as the app, that was released last week, has already shot to number 1 in the iTunes App Store

It might have something to do with the fact that it has been developed by Tom Hanks, who not only has celebrity appeal but has also spent months waxing lyrical about the charms of this iconic old piece of machinery.

Hanx Writer (see what they did there) presents you with an on screen keyboard that looks like that of an old fashioned typewriter and makes all the authentic sounds as you type, including the distinctive “ding” when you move on to the next line. Your text appears in old school typewriter script as if it is emerging from the typewriter on the screen. There’s also the option to connect to a Bluetooth keyboard for a slightly more authentic typing experience, and you can even chose different (virtual) machines, for a premium.

Hanx WriterWhile the app replicates the sounds and, to a certain extent, the experience of using an old fashioned typewriter, it does have enhanced features that writers back in the back would have killed for, such as the ability to delete mistakes. You can also save, print, email or share documents.

The app comes in three different versions for iPad, with the basic one being free. You can upgrade to more sophisticated versions that allow you to use different coloured ribbons and backgrounds, save multiple documents and incorporate photos into your documents.

It’s probably not an app to use to produce an important report for work or anything that requires to be done quickly. And it’s probably wise to avoid using it on the train or other public place, if you don’t want to incur the wrath of those around you who may not feel quite so sentimental about sounds from a bygone age. But as a novelty app, it’s well-made, fun to use and allows you to pretend that you’re one of the great classic novelists or screenwriters tapping out a masterpiece, but without the inconvenience of Tip Ex or finger fatigue.

Have you downloaded Hanx Writer? What do you think?

Google’s first Android Wear smartwatches go on sale

LG G Watch

LG G Watch

One of several announcements made by Google at its annual I/O developers conference yesterday was news that the first smartwatches powered by its Android Wear operating system have finally gone on sale.

The Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch are now available to pre-order through Google Play, with shipping expected on 7 July. Those who’ve been holding out for the eagerly awaited Motorola 360, which also runs Android Wear, will have to wait until “later this summer” for it to go on sale.

With its new smartwatch-specific operating system, Google hopes to make Android Wear the ‘go-to’ platform for developers. Analysts believe that part of the reason that smartwatches have failed to take off thus far is due lack of decent apps. However, it’s thought that a standardised platform such as Android Wear will encourage the development of better integrated, more sophisticated and widely used apps.

Another factor that’s deemed to be crucial to the success of smartwatches is the ability for them to be used as passively as possible. This is something that Google has focused on with Android Wear. The user interface is based around Google Now cards, which can be easily navigated using swipe, and press and hold gestures. Voice commands are also an integral feature.

samsung-gear-live-smartwatch

Samsung Gear Live

The £145 LG G Watch measures 37.9 x 46.5 x 9.95mm, weighs 63 grams, and is available in Black Titan and White Gold. Other specifications include a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor; always-on 1.65-inch IPS (280×280 pixels) display; 4GB of built-in storage; 512MB of RAM; 400mAh battery; Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity; and a 9-axis sensor. It is also dust and water resistant for up to 30 minutes in 1 metre of water.

The Samsung Gear Live costs £118 and looks very similar to the Gear 2 smartwatch that was released earlier in the year. It measures 37.9 x 56.4 x 8.9mm, weighs 59 grams, and has a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED (320×320 pixels) display. It also features a 1.2GHz processor; 512MB off RAM; 4GB of inbuilt storage; Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity; 300mAh battery; heart rate monitor and a range of other sensors including accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass.

Both smartwatches are compatible with smartphones running Android 4.3 or above.

What do you think of Google’s Android Wear and the new smartwatches running it?