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Motorola invented the very first mobile phone in 1973 - these guys have been around the block a few times, so Google's $12.5bn acquisition of the company last year may not have been the most craziest of decisions.
While us techies are crying out for innovation from the smartphone giants - begging for payments, near-field communication, SLR-quality cameras and the next "biggest thing", Google has analysed what a mobile device means to a person today.
Especially the millennials, who are growing up with a smartphone attached to their hands 24/7, the Facebook, SMS and Twitter notifications bleeping out around the clock. These devices are personal.
Smartphones are a fundamental part of their lives.
And it's not just the teenagers, most adults would be completely lost without their phones - just remember how you struggled to find your way around a city the last time your battery went flat.
Technology is at the core of everything we do.
And while Apple and Samsung have been the trendsetters in this space placing their white and black rectangles into the palms of Westerners everywhere, perhaps it's time for the consumer to choose what their phone looks like today?
The Moto X is the design for everybody: "I'd love this device to be the equivalent of the person who walks into the party, and it's not the intimidating person in the corner or the performer, but the one is who is comfortable there," said Jim Wicks, head of design at Motorola.
While only available in the US this summer, the Moto X will offer 2,000 variations to the device in terms of colours, covers, and engravings. And this I think could just be the beginning for design and the smartphone.
The cost of 3D printing has dramatically fallen in the past year, with models predicted to be in the average person's home in the not-so-distant future. We will soon be designing our products and printing spare parts to our machines in our living rooms.
But this will change our attitude to design and manufacturing, creating two issues:
- If we can design spare parts will we keep our technology for longer by being able to personalise it and fix it when it breaks?
- Or will it become even more disposable because we can just cobble together a new one at home?
With people becoming more aware about what 3D printing could mean for the industry, it has given way for self-design businesses like Makie Dolls to spring up. Makie Dolls are transforming digital production. The dolls are produced by the customer digitally and the digital model is then manufactured by a 3D printer to the required specifications which can vary to include, hair colour, eye shape, and clothes.
So if the self-design trend is about to kick off, maybe Google has just got their timing right on the launch of this phone.
Or will we continue to become mindless sheep following the crowd forever more?
Facebook launched its new social search function, called Graph Search, last night, and I have been lucky enough to try out the additions which the company have said are still in beta test mode.
The social network, which boasts one billion members, 240 billion photos and one trillion connections, will enable users to "naturally" search through people, photos, interests and places.
Graph Search will enable users to filter content on Facebook to find out particular things, such as which nearby restaurants their friends have liked or which friends like a certain movie, or to search for photos including selected people.
Facebook will then order answers depending on the number of "likes" or the level of a user's interaction with their chosen person, place or photograph, placing more familiar links at the top of the search results.
Dressed in his statement black zipped-up sweater (for the love of God, you're a millionaire, shell out for a checked shirt at least? No? OK), Zuckerberg stated that while Graph Search is not a web search, like Google, Facebook has partnered with Microsoft's search engine, Bing, to enable users to search the internet when Facebook fails to find an answer.
When I used Graph Search for the first time last night, Facebook provided me with a two minute tour which showed you how to type questions into the search bar. It seemed to personalise the tutorial for me, using "Cardiff University" as an example search term.
However, that's where the personalisation ingenuity stopped, for me at least.
During the press conference Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and his cronies were describing different types of searches and how they had enabled Graph Search to recognise natural language. They suggested 'photos I have liked' as a search term to gather all the images you have positively engaged with.
Trying out Graph Search for the first time at about 11pm last night, I forgot the "correct" terminology and typed in 'my favourite photos'. Facebook decided to autocorrect my sentence to 'my favourite girl photos' and presented this page of rather nude women, which may I add, I haven't 'liked'.
I found another couple of faults, which can only be expected in a beta test version - It seems that my best friend who lives in Bangor, North Wales, lives in Cardiff, because any Cardiff filters I put in she pops straight up.
I can see this going down particularly well with users who wish to check out single men and women. Just type in 'single friends of friends who live in London' and friends of friends who have publicly shared their relationship status will appear as the results. Maybe if everyone everyone knows is taken, Bing will direct you to Match.com?
While the tech industry generally seems underwhelmed with the added functionality, it will be interesting to see how small businesses may be able to explore their customers' likes and dislikes and target advertising at them. For instance if a user has liked a bar, it will be interesting to see if the bar can then go ahead and filter, finding that user to like a particular cocktail or cuisine, then pointing out special offers to them which will in theory be more attractive to the customer.
Zuckerberg kept a quite tight-lipped on using Graph Search for business, avoiding questions, but answering in regards to existing sponsored advertisements on Facebook:
"You build good businesses over time, by people wanting to use something," said Zuckerberg. "Sponsored ads extend quite nicely to Graph Search, but there is nothing new for this."
I predict that Facebook users will not mind the inclusion of Graph Search in general. It's not a redesign of the site, which is when users usually get up in arms about scandalous changes to their ever-so-familiar pages... for about two days.
The search bar will feature at the top of Facebook on the blue bar, with the home button moved over to the right. Facebook users do like complaining though, so they might kick up a bit of a fuss, until they realise the power of the Graph Search functionality to increase stalking by 600%.
Still in beta, Graph Search will be rolled out to a "very small audience" from 16 January. The company will collect feedback from users before rolling out to a wider audience. Graph Search will also go through tests before being available on mobile devices.
With a couple of weeks remaining until the big day, Christmas 2012 looks like being the year of the 7 inch tablet, with offerings from Amazon, Apple and Google, among others, vying to be the belle of the ball. I took Google's 16GB Nexus 7 - widely regarded as the one to beat in the 7 inch space - out for a spin to find out what all the fuss is about.
First things first, physically speaking this is a nice gadget. It feels well put together and definitely better quality than its £159 price point would suggest, clearly Google's OEM partner Asus has put some work into this baby.
The power button and volume controls are tucked away discretely on the side while its micro USB slot, 3.5mm headphone jack and speaker are down at the bottom. The whole is backed with a dimpled, sealed plastic back, which is pleasant to hold, doesn't show up fingerprints, and gives you the impression that the thing could take a couple of knocks if it needed to, although I didn't test that out...
The seven inch screen with 1280 x 800 resolution is a pleasure to look at in most conditions, and of superior quality to some more expensive tablet options. Video played smoothly and looked great.
Under the bonnet an nVidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor and a gig of RAM once again gives the Nexus 7 comparable oomph to something much more expensive. In short, it's quick and slick.
However it's not all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows; the lack of a microSD card slot will be a drawback if you want to beef up the storage capacity, and although Google is really pushing its cloud storage options with the Nexus 7, limited connectivity options on the basic 16GB model mean that when on the move you can't actually get at anything unless you plug into someone else's Wi-Fi or use your smartphone as a portable hotspot. This could get very expensive very quickly unless, like me, you are lucky enough to have an all-you-can-eat contract, so for a mobile worker the Nexus 7 might not be the one.
Speaking of the Wi-Fi, the Nexus 7 does occasionally have difficulty connecting to a network. On a two hour train ride to Birmingham it resolutely refused to have anything to do with my phone's Wi-Fi, although this feature worked fine later on, and when I got to my destination - a castle in Shropshire if you were wondering - it struggled, although that may have been more down to the thick, 17th century stone walls than any failing on the Nexus 7's part. It turns out Oliver Cromwell didn't foresee mobile computing. Who knew?
The other issue on my snag list was with the 1.2MP top-mounted, front-facing camera, which is disappointing as a camera and really-badly designed for video chats - using Skype in landscape mode I had to hold the tablet at an awkward angle.
Setting up the Nexus 7 was a breeze. It was up and running in seconds flat and after I had tapped in my Google account details off it went and got me every app I use on my Samsung Galaxy and applied a sneaky Android OS update into the bargain! This turned out to be a blessing only up to a point, for as much as I appreciated having immediate access to Facebook, Twitter and so on, a week later I'm still finding and deleting some of T-Mobile's bloatware. You should also note that app availability for the Nexus 7 on 4.1 Jelly Bean is not yet great, and I was forced to give up, among other things, the BBC iPlayer.
That said the Tegra in the tank means that the overall user experience can't be beat; with the majority of apps working quickly and smoothly and some, such as YouTube, seeming tailor made for the Nexus 7.
All-in-all, the Nexus 7 is a perfectly cromulent tablet and more than holds its own in the increasingly crowded 7 inch space. Would I buy one in a BYOD splurge? Probably not; for business use the 3G-enabled big brother will serve you better when Wi-Fi can't be found, but for personal use you could be paying much, much more for much, much worse.
Google recently extended its family of Nexus devices to include "small, medium and large". The existing Nexus 7 tablet now comes with 16GB or 32GB of storage as well as offering a version with mobile connectivity. The 7 inch tablet is also joined by the Nexus 4 smartphone and the larger tablet, the Nexus 10.
There was lots of networking, staring at mildly famous people, grabbing as many canapés as I could carry and even a little bit of note taking.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 made the biggest impression, after it was crowned both the smartphone of the year and the gadget of the year.
Yes, that's right, it fought off competition from the iPhone 5. Speaking of Apple, it took home the computer of the year award for its new retina display Mac book Pro. For some reason an Apple rep wasn't in attendance to collect the award, with some (me) speculating that they must have used new Apple Maps to try and find the venue.
Smartphone app of the year went to the cycling and running buddy, Strava. Cloud app of the year went to the BBC for iPlayer and its news app, clearly boosted by its coverage of the Olympics.
Sticking with apps, tablet app of the year was awarded to Sky Sports as it continues to grow in popularity in the mobile sector.
Google also had a good night, taking home four awards, two of which were for tablet of the year thanks to the Nexus 7 and the most wanted future gadget gong, awarded to its Project Glass concept.
Not too much I'd disagree with from the night and I'm not just saying that because they fed me chocolate mousse. Honest.
So what did I think of the specs?
It has a 4.6inch display, weighs a light 139g and is only 9.4mm thick. My first impression was that this seemed like a very masculine phone, being almost 10mm wider than the generic smartphone (based on the iPhone 4S), even my very long fingers had a bit of difficulty stretching around this device
The impressive 13MP camera also shoots HD video and with 16GB of internal memory, and an option to expand using a microSD up to 32GB, that should keep even provide Bond-style sleuths with enough memory to capture evidence.
Snap-happy on Oxford Street
Motorola's latest offering in the form of the RAZR i, comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and what Intel claims to be the fastest chip ever placed in a smartphone.
It is Motorola's first phone to launch in the UK after the Google acquisition and after getting my hands on it, it seems to be leading the way in the mid-range smartphone market.
Launched at the beginning of this month, the phone contains the Intel Atom providing up to 2Ghz of speed. The Android software runs without hitches, yet there are some compatability issues with the Intel chip. As pointed out in Pocket Lint, some applications do not run, such as Adobe Flash Player, which means you can't run apps such as BBC iPlayer or ITV Player.
It may be that this hasn't been addressed as Flash is no longer in its prime, however it will be interesting to see if Motorola rectifies this, or waits to see if developers make changes instead.
OK, so not the best start. But first impressions in the looks department and, yes it is another "Black Mirror", but press the unlock button and a gorgeous bright screen comes to life. Another big claim for the device is that it has a 4.3 inch 540x960 screen which "goes right to the edges." And it does indeed go right to the edges of the screen, avoiding that black frame you get with other smartphones.
It also sits really nicely in the hand at only 126g and even with the Intel chip powering away, the 2000 mAh battery will keep you going for the day.
I particularly like the widget that comes with the Motorola overlay. It is made up of three circles of varying sizes which are customisable. You can select for text messages, missed calls or voicemails to rotate in the circle which provides the time. You can also turn over the middle circle to see the weather in preselected countries. The smaller circle also provides you with how much battery you have remaining.
It just makes the homescreen feel very personal. And after all that, if you're a more angular person and despise circles you can still remove it from the homescreen, nice to know you're not stuck with it, even if it is a Motorola addition.
The phone isn't enabled for 4G or NFC, and doesn't have any fancy wireless charging (or thank god come in luminous highlighter colours), but this phone isn't trying to set a fashion statement or be the first to conquer anything. This is a quality mid-range smartphone that does everything you expect it to do quickly and efficiently, while lasting longer than an iPhone.
T-Mobile's Business SIM-only plans include a 30-day or 12-month plan whilst getting up to 2000 minutes and a Flexible Booster, plans start from £10 per month.
Lenovo have revealed a new fleet of convertible PC devices designed for use with Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT. While all the other big names were launching hybrid devices at the end of the summer, Lenovo only launched traditional Windows 8 tablets. It's great to see the company finally jumping on the band wagon to reveal some interesting action-packed products.
In an attempt to mimic the gymnasts of London 2012, the products spin, twist, and flip to drastically merge the line between tablet and desktop computing.
The ThinkPad Twist, aimed at small businesses, while the - aptly named - IdeaPad Yoga, is aimed at consumers.
The ThinkPad Twist
This 12.5-in hi-def display ultrabook can be twisted to switch to a convertible tablet. Packaged with a 3rd generation Intel Core i7 processors, Windows 8 Pro and optional 3G networking capabilities, it also has 500GB or 128 GB SSD of storage.
The product claims to offer a "nearly all-day" battery life, with dedicated small business software tools, including Lenovo Solutions for Small Business powered by Intel Small Business Advantage and Lenovo Cloud Storage by SugarSync.
Packing the latest dual core Intel Atom processor, this 11.6-inch tablet can be used as a full Windows 8 tablet via its multi-touch screen or can be connected to its keyboard for utilising the Office package. The device boasts 16 hours of battery as well as an optional base which can connect to a full-size USB port for using with accessories.
IdeaPad Yoga 13
The IdeaPad Yoga range has an innovative hinge which is capable of rotating 360° and fold from laptop to tablet in one motion. The Yoga 13 is available on full Windows 8, while its smaller counterpart, the Yoga 11 runs Windows RT.
IdeaPad Yoga 11
Got to big this one up for the bold choice of colouring - Clementine - which I kind of like!
Pricing and availability
- ThinkPad Twist will be available from business partners from mid-November with pricing for models starting at £809 through to £979 (exc VAT)
- Pricing and availability of IdeaTab Lynx is to be announced.
- IdeaPad Yoga 13 will be available from early November through, Dixons, John Lewis, PC World and Currys. Pricing starts at £999 (inc VAT).
- IdeaPad Yoga 11 will be available through the same above retailers starting from late November. Pricing starts at £699 (inc VAT).
Expect a review on the Yoga and Twist models coming soon on Inspect-a-Gadget.