Android this week: Galaxy Note 8.0 pics; App finds best network; a Google smart watch?

Written on:January 26, 2013
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Another week brings us closer to the Mobile World Congress event where Samsung is rumored to be showing off new Android tablet. The Galaxy Note 8.0 has been leaked, confirmed and now pictured by several sites, looking like a large Samsung Galaxy S 3 phone. That’s not a bad thing considering the GS3 is Samsung’s top-selling smartphone.

What intrigues me most about the images is speaker above the 8-inch display, which is expected to have a 1280 x 800 resolution.

Galaxy Note 8.0That means the tablet is likely to have voice capabilities like a phone, although I don’t anticipate many to hold this slab to their head. It would work in a pinch, meaning you didn’t want to have a speakerphone conversation and didn’t have a wired or wireless headset handy.

Bear in mind that the original 7-inch Galaxy Tab had cellular voice capabilities, but here in the US, that feature was stripped out of the device for all 3G models.

If Samsung does out a new note at this size, the S-Pen and multiwindow software features could increase appeal. The company already supports these on the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note 2 and, after a recent software update, on the larger Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet.

Speaking of software, I stumbled upon a handy app for Androids that helps determine the best cellular and Wi-Fi network near your location. Called OpenSignal 2, the free app uses crowdsourced information to create maps for coverage and speed, while also using a compass-like function to find the nearest Wi-Fi hotspots. OpenSignal 2 also keeps track of your mobile broadband usage and provides a speed testing feature too.

Late this past week, I started speculating on why it’s time for Google to make a smart watch. As the recent sales success of the Pebble e-paper smart watch shows — the product topped 80,000 backers on Kickstarter alone — there’s some consumer interest in wearable devices such as these.

motoactv-watchGoogle actually already has a smart watch by proxy: It owns Motorola, which makes the MotoActv; perhaps one of the best Android-compatible watches on the market. It wouldn’t take much for Google to tweak or improve it. If the company is serious about wearable devices and quantified self gadgets, I’d think it could launch a revamped smart watch as early as this year’s Google I/O event.

If the company does so and gets even a small percent of Android device owners to use such a smart watch, it could gain access to tens of millions of  health-related data points such as steps taken, calories burned, heart rate. And as we already know: Google is all about gathering, indexing and using data.


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