All posts by Andrew Kunesh

Andrew is a geek, Apple enthusiast, blogger and coffee lover from Chicago. Follow Andrew on Twitter for constant updates: @andrewkunesh

T-Mobile US/MetroPCS Merger To Be Completed By Next June

T-Mobile/MetroPCS Merger To Be Completed By Next June

It looks as if T-Mobile and MetroPCS are indeed following through with their merger plans as they’ve given a tentative merger completion date of April – June of 2013. This gives both networks adequate time to explain the plan to the United States government and get final approval from regulators. Both networks will also need time to explain the process to customers as well, though it looks as if both networks will run separately for a time after the merger.

If you’re unaware, once the merger is completed, MetroPCS devices will be forced to drop onto T-Mobile’s 3G cellular bands. Once this is completed, T-Mobile will have more room to produce a high-quality 4G LTE network for their users. As far as we know, once this is completed, MetroPCS customers will then be considered T-Mobile US customers. This would then allow T-Mobile to be a prime contestant in the race for the third major mobile carrier in the United States and give them an edge over Verizon and AT&T if they can keep their prices low.

Does the merger of T-Mobile US and MetroPCS make you want to switch to either of the carriers in the near future? Let us know by dropping a comment below this post.

Source: Reuters via Phandroid
Image Source: JC0598

Genius Bar Gets High Ratings, Improves Likely Sales

If you’ve ever made a stop at an Apple Store to get your Mac or iOS device fixed or replaced, you probably know how awesome Apple’s customer service is. Usually Apple employees do their best to fix the problem on the spot, and if they can’t, the most you’ll have to wait is a day or two for a replacement part to be shipped and installed.
Because of Apple’s customer support, 60% of Genius Bar attendees plan to purchase another Apple product according to the NPD Group’s “Tech Services Study”. Almost 90% of customers said that they were “extremely” or “very” satisfied with the Genius Bar. According to MacDailyNewsusers said they were most impressed with the Genius Bar because it was a free service. Finally, 53% of the 2,000 customers who participated in the survey also said that they were “extremely satisfied” with their in-store experience at the Apple.
Stephen Baker, the VP of industry analysis at NPD said the following about Apple’s Genius Bar and it’s affecting their sales.
“Tech support is a great service for the consumer, but more importantly it’s a brand-building element for the retailer and manufacturer. People tend to associate any type of tech support as a negative experience, but Apple has demonstrated that those ‘negatives’ can be turned into positive brand experiences and result in a trip back to the store.”
Have you had a good or bad Apple Store experience in the past? Let us know in the comments.
Source: MacDailyNews

Target And Best Buy Cut Prices On iPhone 4S, iPhone 4

Target And Best Buy Cut Prices On iPhone 4S, iPhone 4

In anticipation of the upcoming new iPhone, Target and Best Buy have slashed the prices of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S on AT&T and Verizon have been cut from $199 to $179 (16GB), but there is no word on whether or not the prices of the Sprint phone have dropped or if the 32GB or 64GB iPhone are included in this deal. However, Sprint is currently offering the iPhone 4S for $149.99 with waived activation fees via their official store. This deal is currently available from Target.

Best Buy has chosen to drop the price of the iPhone 4 on Verizon and AT&T from $99 to $49.99. Once again, there is no word on whether or not the Sprint model is included in this offer.

To me, these deals are great for anyone who doesn’t care about having the latest iOS hardware that’s coming next month. However, iOS-addicts, like me, will not be amused by these price cuts as the phones will be outdated in just over a month. In the comments, let us know if you will be taking advantage of this offer from Target, Sprint or Best Buy.

Source: Apple Insider
Image Source: Yutaka Tsutano

App.net Reaches $500,000 Funding Goal, Keeps On Going

App.net Reaches $500,000 Funding Goal, Keeps On Going

App.net, a new and upcoming social network, recently reached their $500,000 funding goal with over a day left. As I’m writing this article, App.net has received $576,000 worth of funding, $76,000 over their original goal. And while it wasn’t expected that they would reach their funding goal, they started to receive more media attention during their last few days of funding, which ended up launching them over their goal earlier today.

If you’re unaware, App.net is a new social network with an optimistic new business model. Instead of using ads to fund their service they will charge users to join. As of now, they are charging $50 per year for member status or $100 per year for developer status. A $1,000 payment will give users access to all of the developer tools as well as a phone support and a meeting with Dalton Caldwell, the creator of App.net. App.net claims to be the only social network to not offer their users as products, but to be the product themselves.

If you would like to back App.net yourself and gain access to the beta, feel free to back their project within the next 31 hours. You can back App.net by heading over to their website and pledging the amount of your choice. And if you’re wondering, yesI backed it!

uTorrent Becomes Ad Supported, Millions To Be Made

uTorrent

uTorrent, a popular torrent client for OS X, Windows and Linux, will start displaying ads to fund its parent company, BitTorrent Inc. BitTorrent currently generates roughly $15-$20 million in revenue every year, however, these numbers should rise exponentially after the displaying of ads on uTorrent. As of now, all revenue for BitTorrent came from the popular BitTorrent toolbar which users can optionally install when installing uTorrent. The ads will appear as “sponsored torrents” within the uTorrent application. BitTorrent has said the following about the introduction of ads to their app:

“This new build will display a featured torrent at the top of your torrent list. This featured torrent space will be used to offer a variety of different types of content. We are working towards bringing you offers that are relevant to you.”

If you’re unaware, uTorrent started as a minimal BitTorrent client for the most savvy torrenters. However, this has greatly changed over time as uTorrent is now the most popular of all BitTorrent clients on the net. BitTorrent has said that there isn’t a way to remove the ads as of now, but I’m guessing that we may see a premium version of uTorrent in the future, however, that is just my speculation. These ads will start appearing within uTorrent when the next build is released.

Source: TorrentFreak

iPad Takes 70% of Chinese Tablet Sales

iPad Takes 70% of Chinese Tablet Sales

Recently, Apple  has  cashing in on China with the iPad, iPhone and Mac line of computers. Because of this, all of Apple’s platforms have been gaining markershare like crazy in China and parts of Asia. In fact, China Daily reports that Apple controls roughly 72.6% of the tablet market in China. These numbers are up just over 20% from Q1. These numbers are coming from the market researcher Analysys International.

The expected reason for this jump in iPad sales is because the new iPad was finally approved for sale in China and the iPad 2’s price was dropped. Another reason these numbers are so high is because China does not yet offer the Kindle Fire, Nook Color/Tablet or the Nexus 7, so there isn’t much competition from the lower end of the tablet market within China. If you’re curious, the second leading tablet in China is produced by Lenovo and holds just 8.38% of tablet marketshare in China. China Daily also reports that Samsung holds only 3.59% of the tablet marketshare. China Daily has not revealed markershare for other Android tables as of now, however, we hope to see more marketshare specifics in the future.

Source: China Daily Europe
Image Source: Yutaka Tsutano


FCC Tells Verizon To Not Block Tethering Apps, Settles for $1.25m

FCC Tells Verizon To Not Block Tethering Apps, Settles for $1.25m

Verizon Wireless, a popular American wireless telecom, was recently told by the FCC that they cannot block tethering apps on any device on their network. Users have been using these apps to get around Verizon’s obnoxious $20 per month tethering add on fee. If you’re unaware, tethering is the act of using a mobile device such as a smartphone to provide an internet connection to another device such as a laptop or tablet.

The FCC came to the conclusion that Verizon is in the wrong because when Verizon purchased the 700MHz wireless spectrum they were told by the FCC that they had to keep this spectrum open and not filter network usage. Verizon settled with the FCC by writing them a $1.25 million dollar check and promising to only charge for tethering on unlimited data plans, not tiered plans. However, according to Gigaom, Verizon has no way of knowing if a user is using a free tethering app, so theoretically anyone can download a free tethering app to their Android device and use it to his or her heart’s content.

Unfortunately for Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile customers, this ruling does not apply to them as Verizon was breaking a deal with the FCC that was made when Verizon purchased the 700MHz wireless spectrum. However, if you’re a Verizon customer, enjoy your free tethering by using apps like PDAnet to connect your Android device to your laptops, tablets and other devices to provide on-the-go internet access.

Source: Gigaom

Review: HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE

Verizon seems to be one of the best networks for Android fans. They offer almost all of the major Android phones like the Galaxy Nexus, Droid RAZR and Galaxy S III. And while these phones are great, what if someone wants to grab a small, economical and fast Android phone on the Verizon network? HTC seems to have been thinking this through and has released the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE. This phone features top of the line specs while maintaining a small form factor and an even smaller price tag of only $149.99. So while this all sounds good on paper, how great is the Incredible 4G from a user’s perspective? You’re about to find out.

Hardware

Screen

Droid Incredible 4G Front

I have a love-hate relationship with the Droid Incredible’s screen. The Incredible 4G’s S-LCD display clocks in with a resolution of 540×960 (275ppi) which looks great when viewing photos, watching videos and browsing the web. The display is also pretty bright which is another “plus”. However, the display has one major flaw really gets on my nerves. When tapping one of the three capacitive buttons below with the slightest amount of force, the whole screen starts to get funky and discolored. And while the screen returns to normal after the button is pressed, it’s annoying and makes the phone look and feel cheap. However, this could just be an issue with my review unit, but I’m doubtful of that.

One thing I really like about the Incredible’s screen is the size. While the Incredible 4G doesn’t sport a huge 4.5″+ screen like the Galaxy Nexus or Galaxy S III, the Droid Incredible 4G offers around 4-inches of screen real estate. And while some will hate this screen size, I really like it. Personally, I think 3.5″-4″ is the sweet spot for smartphones.

Internals

The Droid Incredible sports a dual-core 1.2GHz, making it a pretty powerful phone. And while it isn’t clocked as high as some of the high-end Android phones on the market, the Incredible 4G runs pretty fast with minimal lag. We can expect this to improve even more if Android Jelly Bean is brought to the Incredible as this will make the phone an even faster device by speeding up all system animations, providing a more pleasant user experience thanks to Google’s “Project Butter.”

The rest of the Incredible 4G’s specs are pretty good as well. The Incredible 4G features 1GB of RAM, NFC support as well as an 8-megapixel camera. When testing the Incredible’s camera, I was able to take decent shots outdoors, but had trouble getting an exceptional indoor shot. So while it may not be on par with the iPhone 4S’s camera, it’s definitely good for general outdoor shooting. Not only can the phone shoot 8-megapixel photos, but it can also shoot 1080p video, which looks pretty good.

Design

Droid Incredible 4G Back

I’ve never been a big fan of HTC’s designs as they usually look less than stellar and are built out of plastic more often than not. And honestly, that holds true to the Droid Incredible 4G as it’s made completely out of plastic which is coated with a soft touch material. And while this gives a nice grip in the hand, it tends to feel cheap and flimsy. For instance, when I tried to remove the battery cover, I felt like I was going to crack it in half.

The actual design of the phone is a lot like the original Droid Incredible with the signature “swoosh” on the back of the phone. The phone is only available in black with red accents. And while I’m not a fan of this design, it all boils down to personal preference.

Software

The Droid Incredible 4G is running on the now outdated Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system with HTC Sense 4.0 layered on top. As of now, neither Verizon nor HTC have announced whether or not Android 4.1 will be coming to the Droid Incredible 4G, so we’ll just have to wait and see. However, Sense 4.0 is a decent skin and has actually made the Android experience more enjoyable for me. I’m a huge fan of the HTC widgets and definitely prefer HTC Sense over TouchWiz, MotoBLUR and other Android skins on the market.

Because of the Droid Incredible 4G’s fast CPU, Android 4.0 runs pretty well on the device. However, this isn’t without the occasional hiccup with system animations and scrolling through pages. Let’s hope that Android 4.1 fixes these problems if released for the Incredible 4G.

Connectivity

The Droid Incredible 4G is currently only available on the Verizon network and runs on both Verizon’s standard 3G network and high speed 4G LTE network. The Incredible 4G sports mobile hotspot capabilities and is not internationally unlocked, so you’ll have to shell out the extra money for Verizon’s international plan if you travel abroad. On Verizon’s LTE network in Chicago, I was able to get download speeds of over 20Mbps.

The Incredible 4G also features Wireless N capabilities and Bluetooth 4.0, so you can be sure your phone is future proof for all of your new Bluetooth gadgets.

Battery

The battery life could be better on the Droid Incredible 4G, but it’s not horrible. With LTE on, I would be able to get at least a day’s worth of charge on the Droid with normal usage of email, web browsing and social networking. The battery is removable on the Incredible 4G, so you can swap batteries if one charge won’t last you the day.

Conclusion

All in all, I think that the Droid Incredible 4G is an OK pick if you want a smaller Android device with 4G connectivity. However, beware that the built quality isn’t great and you’re not given much upgrade security. If you already own a Droid Incredible 4G, let us know how you like it by leaving a comment on this post!

2012 Sony Walkman Line Announced, Some Run Android 4.0

2012 Walkman Series Announced

Yesterday, Sony unveiled two new media players in their ‘Walkman’ line. The Walkman line of MP3 players has been due for an update for quite some time so these upgrades are definitely welcomed by diehard Android and Sony fans who are looking for a new media player. Sony has updated both their high-end and low-end media players.

The Walkman F800 is an interesting new iPod Touch competitor which runs on the Android 4.0 operating system and can run a ton of different apps from Google Play. The player also offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity all packed into a slim package with a 3.5″ touchscreen. The F800 is currently available in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB variants starting at $279.

As far as the lower end Walkmans go, Sony updated the Walkman E474 by adding a larger screen and more colors to the lineup. Other than that, the E747 is pretty barebones as it runs a proprietary operating system and is not touch based. The E747 will run you roughly $80 and can be purchased with an optional speaker dock. If you like the E747 but want Bluetooth capabilities, Sony has you covered. Sony also announced Walkman S770BT which is essentially the same as the E747 but adds Bluetooth capabilities.

Source: Engadget

Microsoft and NBC Split Up, MSNBC.com Now NBCnews.com

MSNBC Now NBC News

As of yesterday, July 14th, 2012, Microsoft has agreed to give NBC full control of MSNBC.com. Because of this, NBC is rebranding the site to NBCnews.com. The domain switch has already taken place but MSNBC.com will redirect to NBCnews.com for the time being. For the past 16 years Microsoft owned 50% of MSNBC, however, neither of the companies have disclosed how much the shares were sold for.

As of now, about half of NBC’s staff is located on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Washington  and will have to be moved to New York City where NBC’s headquarters is located. Because of this, NBC has stated that one of the biggest jobs will be to merge their web staff with their NBC News staff in New York. However, some of NBC’s staff will stay in the Seattle area at NBC’s new “NBC News Innovation Center”. This center will cover the technical end of NBC and will work to develop new technologies for the network.

If you’re unaware, Microsoft and NBC formed the MSNBC joint venture in 1996. Microsoft sold their shares of MSNBC TV back in 2005 but decided to stay partial owner of the website until now. When Microsoft and NBC announced the service, MSNBC was a $600 million joint venture.

Source: NBC News