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Android App Development Ireland | Mobile & Tablet Apps | Limerick, Dublin, Ireland. 

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Buying an Android Tablet this Christmas?

Android Tablets will be a popular gift this Christmas, but with so many on the market what do you
need to know before buying one? The biggest problem with Android Tablets is the wide disparity
in quality and performance, at the high end and running the latest Android Kit Kat 4.4, the official
Google Nexus series, has that sense of magical wonder when you use it, to the lower end tablets that have low res screens, and sluggishly run Android ICS v4, and just about everything in between. It is easy see how the average consumer gets bewildered with the staggering choice and aggressive marketing of tablets.

The one thing you don’t want your tablet is to be a turkey, there’ll be plenty of time for that after you unwrap your shiny new tablet. Your best resource for checking out a tablet is GSMarena.com, searching the model you are looking
at here will give you detailed specs, things to look out for are screen resolution/density, you will want a higher DPI, or density, on smaller screens. RAM and CPU important to check, better off with 2Gb RAM, especially for future updates, and of course you will also be able see other features on this site, battery, cameras, bluetooth, GPS, etc.

Aesthetics are also an important factor in tablet choice, it is likely you will use a case that covers it up anyway, but determining size that is both practable and usable, and this will depend on what you intend to use the device for. As par for the course with android, screen sizes vary wildly from everything to 5in phablets to 13.3in monsters. My personal choice is the 7 or 8in form factor, images tend to be sharper on a decent 7in compared with an equivalent resolution on a 10in, and the more natural widescreen format of the 7in also lend to more natural movie experience. However, if you are intending to do a lot of web browsing, go for a 10in, games I find are better on 7in however, a more natural sense for gameplay.

If you use skype/video calling make sure to check decent front camera, other things to look out for are mobile data, if you would like independance from wifi or phone tethering, also worth checking to see if SD card slot on tablet, this is sorely lacking on the Nexus series however.

Good buying choices for the christmas are the Sony tablet range, Samsung Tab 3, Acer have some decent affordable tablets, but the cream of the crop is straight from Google with it’s Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, serious iPad rivals, on a par at every level of usability and design, it is the best screen I have yet to see on a tablet, if buying at the high end, this quite simply is the way to go, but be sure to get the 2013 models. The Samsung Tab 3 is good value for money and a decent tablet, and to save a few more euros have a look at the Acer line up.

Be wary of tablets with no brand, they may boast quad core, but generally a weak ass chip, and also the screens can be incredibly blocky on some budget models, so be careful in Maplin or Harvey Normans not to be duped by what looks like great value for money, some of these tablets are a waste of money.

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PayPal Here, accept card payments on the go

PayPal Here is a new product from PayPal, available in the UK, to accept card payments using a chip and pin card reader, and hopefully Ireland soon, apps are available from PayPal for iOS and Android. Please watch the following short video for more information on this new product.

While PayPal have been a longtime on the forefront of online payments, from eBay, to online subscriptions and even paying bills, securing deposits on travel accommodation, and much more.  PayPal has often been subject to the misconception that it is insecure and particularly amongst the older demographic. However the introduction of chip and pin card readers for merchants who can use PayPal in store, or even accept card orders over the phone will greatly increase consumer confidence with PayPal payments, in store and on mobile.

PayPal Here bridges the gap between the ‘pay by email’ or pay by paypal account and traditional chip and pin card payments, and will undoubtedly encourage the non-believers to adopt PayPal as a trusted payment method.  This new chip and pin card reader is ideal for small businesses and start-ups, looking to keep merchant banking costs at bay and opt for an easy to setup, and secure method of receiving card payments.  There is a once off setup charge of only £99, and no monthly payments.  This new service allows for fast and efficient payments to be received, and accepts card payments anywhere.

The PayPal Chip and PIN Card Reader is available now to accept in-store and mobile payments, offering   flexible with payment options, on the go, and anywhere, at any time.

PayPal Here will support major cards including Visa, Maestro and MasterCard; the addition of Maestro will be a welcome advancement for many EU card holders who do not have Visa Debit.

PayPal Here also offers a full suite of payment recording and logging, so you can also use paypal to keep track of your finances and sales income, as there are also options to log cash and cheque payments received, alongside payments received through the usual paypal channels.g

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New App for Auto Repair professionals

We are unsure how much the mobile app will need to do, whether or not users would also like to create and view past customer invoices is an area we are hoping to gain feedback.  Anyone who wished to test the alpha app can do so by contacting us.
For the past few months we have been busy developing our new android app for our cloud based invoicing software for the auto repair trade, the software is young yet, with a lot more to come.  For now, we are testing the waters with public beta of our cloud service Auto Repair Bill, invoicing software.  To compliment this the mobile app will allow for bookings to be made and viewed.

Auto Repair Bill in it’s cloud incarnation went live at the beginning of August, with initial positive feedback and some feature suggestions, and we welcome more suggestions for features and improvement.

In the coming weeks we will be adding better sales reporting, including TAX/VAT analysis and more reporting dimensions, our primary concern was to have invoicing, payment and booking all 100% functioning before expanding the software with the really cool stuff!


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Google Chromecast, the Next Gen Smart TV?

Google’s Chromecast is promising a lot for its $35 price tag. This new dongle from Google will turn a regular TV into a smart TV, much like the many offerings already available builtin, or as BluRay players and media boxes. For now the dongle offers access to Netflix, YouTube and Google Play. Google are in talks to bring more content to the platform, and intends to build a content delivery eco-system around this technology.

In fact, unlike a Blu-Ray player that comes with a YouTube app baked into its firmware, Chromecast can’t really stream YouTube at all – not on its lonesome. It’s really just a receiver. To stream content, it relies on a “sender” app running on an Android or iOS device or in the Chrome browser. Both halves together make the whole.

How important is the sender app? Consider the Google Cast SDK documentation, which explains, “Given the nature of the interaction model, tabs, windows or popups cannot be created, and there should be nothing on the receiver device screen requiring input. All interaction with the application must be done through a sender application.”

With Chromecast streaming, you never see any buttons or input boxes or menus on your TV screen. All of that user interaction takes place on the sender device. Thus, the UI you use to find and display content on your TV is the exact same UI you use to find and display that content on your Android or iOS device or in your browser. The only difference is that when you press the Cast button, the content comes up on your TV.

But the Chromecast dongle isn’t just mirroring what you see on your sender device’s screen. While you’re viewing the content on your TV, you’re free to use your fondleslab to browse the web, send emails, play games, or even dim the screen and set it aside; the content keeps playing on your TV.

It does so because you’re not streaming content from your tablet to your TV. What the sender app sends is just a command that tells Chromecast to grab the content stream and render it itself, via a custom receiver application that’s loaded and run on the Chromecast dongle. Netflix content is streamed to a Netflix receiver app running on the dongle, YouTube content streams to a YouTube receiver app, and so on.

The dongle itself is running an embedded version of Chrome OS, and Chromecast receiver apps are all web apps. Therefore, any content that can be rendered in a browser using HTML5 and Google’s supported media types and DRM technologies should also be supportable with a Chromecast receiver app. (Despite being based on Chrome, Google’s Native Client technology is not supported on Chromecast at this time.)

All of this is significant for a number of reasons. First, it means Chromecast is flexible. The word “platform” is thrown around too lightly these days, but Chromecast is certainly closer to being a media platform than most of the dedicated media player devices on the market today.

This is Google’s second attempt to break into the TV world, after the ill fated Nexus Q and its $300 price tag, this may prove more palatable, content is king in this arena, so if Google can get this right, then Chromecast will be a force to be reckoned with.

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Introducing the ORB, an innovative bluetooth ring and headset

This interesting gizmo makes use of a headset and ring to display caller ID, read text, dictate messages, make and receive calls and more.

With a simple twist, The O.R.B. transforms from a ring to a headset worn on the ear that is capable of hands-free calling. Incorporating HiWave™ technology, the O.R.B. is a “Digitset™” that provides high-quality bone conduction audio without the discomfort of placing a device inside the ear. A deluxe edition also features an E Ink display for caller ID, text messaging, and calendar reminders.

To use the ring as a headset, simply remove it from the finger and twist open around the hinged joint. The ring (now a headset) is placed over the upper ear, between the ear and the side of the head. The transmitter end of the headset rests just above the jawbone and utilizes dual speaker “voice annihilation” DSP technology. The transmit exciter transducer rests just behind the outer ear.

The O.R.B. will be available in a variety of sizes, available in styles for both men and women.

All sizes have an expansion hinge, spring prongs and adjustable adhesive soft pads on the interior edge, which provide a secure and comfortable fit on the finger (or thumb) as well as the ear.

The O.R.B. features military-grade seals and gaskets, making it fully waterproof and built to accompany you on any adventure.

The ring vibrates, alerting the user to an incoming call, text message, or event reminder. The user can glance down at the finger and see a horizontal streaming message of caller I.D. or meeting schedules. If accepting an incoming call, the user twists open the O.R.B., slips over the ear, and begins the conversation. If declining incoming calls or texts, or dismissing

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Google Play Book store available in Ireland

Google Play in the US and other markets have had music, video and books for some time now, back in March Play Music starting making it’s way to Irish devices, and now in the last few weeks Play Books have been fully rolled out across the Irish networks.  How this will challenge Kindle or Amazon is anyone’s guess at this point, but kindle do have a strong and loyal following amongst their userbase.

There are a number of free books to download, an initial cursory glance of the store would suggest pricing is more or less on par with Amazon kindle books.  It would be nice to import downloaded books from Kindle to the new Google Play Books, but this is unlikely to happen given the competition between the two giants.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 released

Published on May 30, 2013 by in Android, News, Review

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the most hotly anticipated smartphone ever from the Korean brand, and with a glut of top end features, it’s the most powerful and desirable device Samsung has created yet.

One of the most impressive things about the phone is the fact the size hasn’t changed from its predecessor – the Galaxy S4 comes in at 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm, meaning there’s no extra heft to try to work with in your palm, as with a lot of the high end the phone is large, but quite thin. However, despite this fact, the screen on the S4 has been increased once more, to a whopping 5-inch display with Full HD resolution. This is as good as or better than your HDTV.

Both the Sony Xperia Z and the HTC One have screens of the same resolution, but neither of them have the razor sharpness of the Super AMOLED HD screen on the new Samsung, somehow Samsung always seem to outdo themselves on display quality.

On top of that, there’s a much faster processor packed under the hood, two quad-core chips in fact, the Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7.  There is also ample storage space for media thanks to an expandable memory card slot, with 16/32/64Gb internal memory available.

Communications include 4G/LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and all the usuals you would expect such as GPS, Bluetooth, Gyroscope, etc.  It is let down by not supporting the highest speed standards for 3G networks. The infra red blaster on the top of the phone is a nice touch however. This enables you to control your TV, satellite box, DVD player, amp and even air conditioner.

The S4 comes out of the box with Jellybean 4.2.  Samsung have added their own software bloatware, it’s attempts to innovate here are more likely to confuse and irritate than be truly helpful.

Media capabilities have been improved, with a 13Mp camera for stunning shots, and front 2MP camera.  There is an improved rear speaker with deeper bass for use without earphones, it is no match for the BoomSound on the HTC One, but a decent improvement none the less.  Video and the web are crystal clear on the phone display.

Of additional note on the software side, Samsung have bundled a health app, which is likely to be a large area of expansion for app development.


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Android touchscreen monitors to aid declining demand

Published on May 6, 2013 by in Android, News, Tablet

Taiwanese analyst outfit WitsView says monitor-makers are considering a 21 inch Android monitor as a way to fix the sales slump in the display industry. That slump is in part caused by slowing PC sales thanks to users’ preference for tablets and smartphones. By tapping into that shift, WitsView feels, monitor-makers may find a way to grow again.

The firm offers the following description for this product:

“An Android LCD monitor is a LCD monitor equipped with the ARM processor, featuring the Android operating system, and adjustable to a horizontal angle on top of the touch function and WiFi, which can be regarded as a simple version of [all-in-one computer] AIO or a large-sized tablet.”

The analyst firm goes on to say “the user experience on an Android LCD monitor is similar to that on a tablet and can be seen as the extension of a tablet.” But WitsView also feels that the Android-powered monitors would compete with all-in-one PCs, the cheapest of which retail for around $US600. At $US400 an Android monitor would undercut those PCs handily but also give monitor-makers a chance to sell a product with a higher margin than their conventional wares.

WitsView’s post on Android monitors doesn’t say who will make them, when or if they may emerge or if punters want them.

Current experience suggests there’s not likely to be a queue for giant tablets: Sony’s 20” Vaio Tap has been well-received but is not a hit product. Nor have environments offering rapid bootup and access to a basic computing environment done well: the SplashTop “instant-on” environment scarcely rates a mention on the eponymous company’s website just four years after appearing in many netbooks.

Perhaps if Android monitors could easily be unclipped from their stand and revert to battery power they could be of utility or interest. Such an arrangement could make desks less of an anchor for monitors and therefore spur new reasons for purchase, an important factor given the devices don’t really wear out. Your correspondent’s 24” screen, for example, is seven years old and shows no sign of wearing out other than a dodgy power button.

Which leaves just one important consideration: what to call a giant convertible monitor/fondleslab hybrid? Do feel free to offer your ideas in the comments.

The following video demonstrates such a device, developed by Acer.

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Google Play Music arrives in Ireland

Google has made music available through its online store in Ireland for the first time.

The Play Music Store went live in Ireland, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Portugal yesterday morning, bringing the total number of countries that can access the main rival to Apple’s iTunes store to 18.

Users can add up to 20,000 songs from their existing music collection to the Google Play “online locker”, which is accessible through the app for Android smartphones and tablets, and at play.google.com for computers and iOS devices.
The store offers millions of old and new songs from all major record companies, as well as dozens of independent labels and artists.

“Whether you want the latest single from Tinie Tempah or a classic album from Dire Straits, you’ll find it on Google Play,” Google’s head of international music partnerships Sami Valkonen said today.
Once downloaded, songs can be synced between Android devices and computers using the Google Chrome app, which Google claims is the key advantage of Play over other music services.

“The free online locker means you can take your music with you wherever you go, on any device,” Mr Valkonen said.
The cost of purchase varies depending on the track, but Google claims prices are on par with other music services. Singles cost between 99c and €1.29.

Through the Artist Hub feature, independent artists can create a profile, upload music files, suggest a retail price and sell their music directly to their fans through the store.

The Social Shares feature allows users to share the music they have purchased with friends on Google+, giving others a chance to listen to a track in full once before deciding whether to purchase it themselves. Instant Mix generates custom playlists based on the mood and style of a selected track.

Google Play Music first launched in Europe last November. A multi-territorial licensing process recommended by the European Commission last year has allowed Google to roll out the service to more countries.

With the expansion of the service, Google hopes to cash in on the rising popularity of digital music. Sales of digital albums increased by 14 per cent last year, according to the latest music industry report from Nielsen/Billboard, while sales of digital tracks were up five per cent.

Google Play also offers apps, movies, television programmes and books, but the US and UK are the only countries where customers have access to all stores.

- Irish Times

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New flagship HTC One vs iPhone 5

HTC’s new flagship smartphone, the HTC One, was unveiled last month at a media event in New York. Touted as the world’s first smartphone with UltraPixel camera (with capability to capture 300 percent more light than traditional smartphone camera sensors), the One is expected to go global (across more than 185 mobile operators and major retailers spanning about 80 regions and countries) from March, while the UK has an expected release date of 15 March.

HTC One v iPhone 5: Display

The HTC One features a 4.7in Super LCD3 display, which is wrapped in a zero-gap aluminium unibody design for enhanced ergonomics (sits comfortably in the hands). It supports a full HD resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels at a pixel density of 469 pixels-per-inch (ppi), which is notably higher than the 4in iPhone 5 that offers just 640 x 1136 pixels (326ppi) on the tried and tested LED-backlit IPS LCD screen.  This is the first phone with a full HD display to hit the market, and has a much higher density than the iPhone’s Retina display.

Both the smartphones boast unibody aluminium design. In addition, the HTC phone offers unique antenna technology, which is expected to help users achieve crystal clear signal during phone calls.

Given the superior display technology and higher resolution screen of the HTC handset, its display is expected to offer better contrast, more natural colours and better clarity under bright sunshine than the IPS LCD counterpart.

The iPhone 5 offers Corning’s Gorilla Glass protection, while the HTC phone equips the newer Corning Gorilla Glass 2 technology with oleophobic coating for enhanced protection against scratches, smudges and other superficial damage to the screen. The latter also gets a revamped User Interface – Sense UI v5.

HTC One v iPhone 5: Operating System

The HTC One packs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean out-of-the-box, which is further upgradeable to Android 4.2.2. Some of its noteworthy features include HTC BlinkFeed (live-streaming of social, entertainment and lifestyle updates), HTC Zoe (ability to capture three second clips of 1080p video, while simultaneously shooting stills), HTC BoomSound with Beats Audio integration, HTC Sense Voice (boosts call Volume and quality in noisy environments for louder and clearer phone calls) and HTC Sense TV (an interactive programme guide and remote control for TVs, set-top boxes and receivers) which make an impressive package for Power users and tech-enthusiasts alike.

The new Android 4.2 update, which is expected to arrive on HTC One is likely to deliver a noteworthy improvement over Android 4.1.

Android 4.2 packs a host of new features including Gesture Typing which enables users to slide fingers over the letters they want to type on the keyboard while increasing the typing speed. The operating system (OS) also supports wireless display which allows users to share movies, YouTube videos and other videos and images on their TVs. Other noteworthy features include Daydream, enhanced Google Now, Google Search and Android Beam.

On the other hand, the iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6 out-of-the-box, which is now upgradeable to the latest iOS 6.1.2 update (includes fixes for Exchange calendar bug and reduced battery life). iOS 6 brings a host of new features including the all-new Apple Maps with turn-by-turn navigation system, Facebook integration, Passbook organisation, enhanced Siri with support for new languages, and iCloud’s Shared Photo Streams.

HTC One v iPhone 5: Processor and RAM

HTC One offers a powerful quad-core 1.7GHz Krait 300 processor integrated on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 chipset which is reportedly the first chipset to integrate four cores of 1.7GHz Krait 300 processor onboard. The Snapdragon chipset includes an Adreno 320 GPU for graphics processing. According to Qualcomm, the new CPU is expected to deliver unprecedented performance per watt and consequently offer greater battery life.

According to recent benchmark tests conducted by GSM Arena, the HTC One easily blows away all competition in overall scores against its nearest rivals: Sony Xperia Z, HTC Butterfly, HTC One X+, HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy S3 and Nexus 4.

The iPhone 5, on the other hand, is powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz processor based on the new A6 chip architecture. The phone’s graphics processing is done by the PowerVR SGX 543MP3 chipset with triple-core Graphics Processing Unit (GPU).

The iPhone 5 offers just 1GB of RAM, while the HTC One offers twice its memory with 2GB of RAM.

HTC One v iPhone 5: Connectivity

Both the smartphones support Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP connectivity options and offer LTE capability. The iPhone 5 supports Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n standards, while the HTC One offers Wi-Fi 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n standards. The former offers data speeds of HSDPA up to 21 Mbps and HSUPA up to 5.76 Mbps, while the latter can connect to HSPA+ speeds (up to 50 Mbps upload and 100 Mbps download).

Only the HTC One offers support for Near Field Communications (NFC) and Infrared port for communicating with infrared enabled devices. Instead of NFC, the iPhone 5 adds a new e-commerce solution via Passbook app built into iOS 6.

HTC One v iPhone 5: Storage

The HTC One comes in just two storage variants: 32 and 64 GB, while iPhone 5 offers an additional 16GB storage variant, besides 32 and 64 GB models.

Both the smartphones lack support for microSD expansion slot, which is a major drawback for Power users.

HTC One v iPhone 5: Price

The HTC One is likely to hit the UK market by 15 March, so we should see it here in Ireland a few weeks after this. The SIM-free version is priced at £510 (including VAT). This is about £100 cheaper than the iPhone 5′s SIM-free version (32GB White), which is priced at £609.99 at Amazon.co.uk.

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