Month: June 2013

Best budget smartphones!

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Our list of the best pay as you go mobile phones.

With the mobile marketplace teeming with a multitude of highly priced smartphones, one might wonder whether cheap phones still have a place in the mobile infrastructure.

With massive innovation in both hardware and operating systems, phones now do a lot more than just let you talk and text, with handsets like the samsung Galaxy s4,HTC One and iPhone 5 stealing headlines around the world these days.

Sadly all this innovation isn’t cheap – and most of it is reserved for high-end contract handsets. So, is there such a thing as the ‘best phone on a budget’?

so if you’re looking to pick up a decent handset for not much wonga, these are the best budget phones going.

Nokia Lumia 520

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SIM-free: from £139.95
PAYG: from £99.95

The Nokia Lumia 520, much like its big brother the Lumia 620, is a jack of all trades and a master of none – although it really manages to make a good fist of everything it tries, for the price.

It looks good, it’s got a decent screen both in terms of size and resolution, it rarely stutters or slows down, it’s great for calls and messaging, reasonable for media and okay for photos.

To achieve a lower price point the 520 has had to strip away a few things – there’s no NFC, compass, camera flash or front facing camera here.

The Nokia Lumia 520 certainly isn’t an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy beater – but it’s a sueprb Windows Phone 8 device that you can pick up for under £100.

If you’re a fan of a simple interface with some quality add-ons, then you should definitely look at Nokia’s latest attempt to win over the smartphone naysayers.

Orange San Diego

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PAYG: from £199

The San Diego may have been around a while but it’s still a great little handset which won’t cost you the earth or let you down.

It differs from the rest of the phones in this list due to the fact it has an Intel Atom processor housed under the hood instead of an ARM based chip – but this single-core power is not to be sniffed at.

Intel and Orange have done some clever bits behind the scenes to make the San Diego run like the clappers, giving you a great smartphone experience – although this handset is stuck on Android 4.0 ice Cream Sandwich.

You are limited in the fact that you can only get the San Diego from Orange, but if you’re already on the colourful network and are in the market for an inexpensive smartphone this is certainly a good shout.

Huawei Ascend G330

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PAYG: from £100

The Ascend G330 is a solid performer. It’s smooth in use, has the power to run even the most demanding apps very well, and although not hugely exciting to look at and hold, the display’s clear and bright enough to elevate it above some of the tattier budget models.

And it’s definitely more capable than the old Ascend G300, with hardly any glitches when downloading/updating apps and navigating the phone at the same time.

It delivers a great smartphone experience for the money with hardly any obvious compromises.

When deciding on a budget phone, it can be a nightmare trying to decide which one to go for. Is it power? Name? Specs? Or just a low price tag attached to a phone that doesn’t go bananas when you prod it?

The latter applies to the Huawei – and it delivers well, especially for the £100 sticker whacked on it.

Sony Xperia U

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SIM-free: from £149.95
PAYG: from £79.99

The Sony Xperia U oozes style and sophistication. Featuring a well-built form and traditional black Sony style, it will help you get the look on a budget.

As well as it’s fashionista tendencies, the Xperia U doesn’t disappoint on specs either. A large 3.5 inch touch screen give good access to all your apps, and Ice Cream Sandwich offers plenty of choice when it comes to games and productivity (even though it’s starting to feel its age against Jelly Bean) – plus a dual-core 1GHz processor is impressive for the price.

A front facing camera will let you video call at VGA resolution, whilst on the back you will find a decent 5-megapixel camera for your snaps.

The Xperia U doesn’t offer any expansion slots, and comes with a slightly meagre 4GB storage. This is plenty for day-to-day use, but you might still need a standalone media player if music or video is your thing.

For £150, this device offers a lot, and is clearly one of the best pay-as-you-go handsets around.

Nokia Lumia 620

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SIM-free: from £169.95
PAYG: from £129.99

There’s not a whole lot that the Nokia Lumia 620 does wrong. As an all-round, jack of all trades budget handset it does a great job.

We’d love it if the screen was slightly bigger or it had a little bit more RAM, but for the price we can’t really complain.

The range of brightly coloured covers will likely attract the youth of today, and their tough plastic construction should keep the Lumia 620 in good nick, even after the occasional drop.

The only real issue is the battery, and that’s an issue to some extent with every Windows Phone 8 right now but if you fancy a little more screen real estate and a non-Android experience then this is a decent shout over the smaller Lumia 520.

HTC Desire C

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SIM-free: from £139.95
PAYG: from £79.99

The HTC Desire C took over from the Wildfire S last year with an improved camera and integrated Beats audio – giving crisper definition to your MP3s and a solid battery life.

Taking a cue from its Beats Audio partner styling – the Desire C offers an urban rubberized finish with metallic red accents. It’s a great-looking device that performs well and is tough enough to take a few bumps.

It is stuck rocking Android Ice Cream Sandwich and won’t ever see Jelly Bean grace its screen, but don’t let that put you off and the Sense 4.0 overlay makes the Desire C an easy to use handset, especially for those who are new to the smartphone game.

This handset is designed for those who want more from a device than simple phone calls, but still want to keep their budget in check. For under £100, it won’t break the bank either.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 2

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SIM-free: from £169.95
PAYG: from £129.95

With a sleek, stylish design that is closer to the build quality and appealing feel of the former market leading Samsung Galaxy S2, the Ace 2 impresses from the off with a curvaceous finish that leads the way to an impressive collection of features.

As the 800MHz dual-core processor runs the show with reality ease, the handset’s inbuilt 5-megapixel camera is a surprising hit equally capable of producing high-end stills as it is impressive 720p HD video content. On top of this, the device is easy to use and intuitive to master.

The Galaxy Ace 2 makes up for small niggles and limited features by mastering what it offers. Exceeding expectation on multiple fronts, the second-generation would be a wise buy for any first time or returning smartphone owner.

Huawei Ascend W1

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PAYG: from £129.99

When you consider the Huawei Ascend W1 will set you back just £130 it’s difficult to fault, as you’re getting a pretty good deal.

The Ascend W1 comes with a strong set of features allowing you to fully use the handset as a mobile phone, internet portal, handheld gaming device and multimedia station.

It may not excel at any of these things, but that’s OK. You’re not going to buy the Huawei Ascend W1 for power, you’re going to buy it for practicality and value for money – and those are the criteria it absolutely wins out on.

HTC Desire X

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SIM-free: from £214.99
PAYG: from £199.95

The HTC Desire X is a decent mid-range phone which offers up a smartphone experience you’ve come to expect from handsets which cost around £200.

It’s doesn’t offer anything particularly thrilling, nor does it having any major flaws and while the design is welcoming and the UI intuitive, we can’t help but feel HTC hasn’t pushed the Desire X to its full potential.

If you’re looking for a stylish and affordable Android handset the Desire X is certainly an attractive option – but if you’re not taken with its looks you might want to check out other alternatives.

Samsung Galaxy Mini 2

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SIM-free: from £139.99
PAYG: from £69.99

The Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 offers up a budget smartphone experience and carries it off with relative ease.

For a cheap handset the Galaxy Mini 2 produces relatively decent performance and while it doesn’t have the zip of pricier handsets, it’s by no means a slouch which constantly leaves you waiting.

The camera does feel like a bit of an afterthought and it lags behind the competition, but with a well placed microSD slot, removable battery and NFC it’s not all bad.

The lower end of the mobile market is getting rather busy, but the Galaxy Mini 2 doesn’t disgrace itself and while it doesn’t rise head and shoulders above the competition it least gives them something to think about.

 

 

 

 

Best 4G phones 2013!

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Prepare yourself for next-gen speeds with a top 4G-ready phone.

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Want to get cutting edge speeds on the go? Then You’ll need to know the top 4G phone for you.

Samsung Galaxy S4

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This year’s Galaxy S series update was not without controversy. Its launch event was a bizarre music hall experience that some said was rather sexist, the phone’s full of so much bloatware and additional Samsung software it’s been complained about on TV, but none of these whinges have stopped the Galaxy S4 shipping in record numbers and making it the most popular Android phone around today.

The only model sold in the UK comes with a 4G-friendly radio inside it, so once you’ve got it, you’ve got the 4G power — if your SIM and network allows it.

Huawei Ascend P1 LTE

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The massive Android budget phone scene hasn’t yet embraced LTE, so unless you’re prepared to pay big money there’s not a huge amount of choice when it comes to 4G models as yet.

One of the most affordable 4G-ready Android models is the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE, an updated version of 2012’s excellent Ascend P1. It features a 4.3-inch display running at 960 x 540 resolution, backed by an 8MP camera and 1.3MP front-facing chat cam.

It’s an impressive performer, with Huawei only slightly meddling with Google’s code. Only available on EE, from £31 a month.

iPhone 5

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If you want the amazingly popular iPhone 5 with the coveted 4G logo on it right now, the only way to get it is go to EE.

Due to the frequencies used by EE to provide its 4G network in the UK, the version of the phone it’s selling won’t work on the forthcoming LTE services from Vodafone and the rest, so if you buy it through EE you’d better be prepared to stick with the network for the duration of your contract.

As for the phone itself, the iPhone 5 isn’t an enormous update over the previous models, but Apple doesn’t need to change things to appeal to its eager fans. It’s still the mobile phenomenon it always has been.

BlackBerry Z10

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If you want something a little more avant garde, BlackBerry’s new Z10 is also an early member of the UK’s 4G phone club.

The first phone to run the company’s new BB10 mobile OS, the Z10’s software is a little quirky in places, but the powerful, feature-packed web browser and 4G connectivity makes it a decent contender for those after something fast and a little different.

Plus, with a relatively modest 4.2-inch display, it’s one of the more pocketable modern smartphones and less of a slab than other big name models. Don’t ignore it just because it’s BlackBerry.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 LTE

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If you want the biggest AND fastest phone around, Samsung’s high-end phone/tablet hybrid is the way to go. EE’s offering the Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE on a range of contracts, while Vodafone’s also selling the 4G-ready device on monthly contracts right now, which you’ll be able to upgrade to an LTE speed connection later this year when Vodafone finally launches its 4G service.

The phone’s a stunner, combining a 5.5-inch HD display with a quad-core processor running at 1.5GHz. And the S Pen stylus. And loads of Samsung software tools to play with. It’s a portable activity centre for tech enthusiasts.

HTC One

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This is HTC’s best phone yet, and that’s saying something. The HTC One is 4G-ready from the offset, so can be bought on any of the networks — although only EE will let you use a 4G connection right now.

The HTC One earned rave reviews for its metallic chassis, superb low-light camera performance and the general smoothness of HTC’s updated user interface, with the new HTC Sense social features also going down a storm. This phone and a 4G data connection would make most people very, very jealous indeed.

Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE

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Samsung’s 2012 flagship model has also been refreshed to feature 4G capabilities in the UK, with network EE offering last year’s top-spec Android models on a range of 4G contracts — starting at a very decent £36 a month.

For that you get a phone that’s still extremely competitive, offering a quad-core processor, 4.8-inch 1280 x 720 display and a very capable 8MP camera, with the LTE version able to hit the theoretical 3G maximum download speed of 42Mbps and maxing out at a hard-to-comprehend (and unlikely to actually hit in the real world) 100Mbps on a clear 4G link.

Sony Xperia Z

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Sony’s current highest-end Android model is the Xperia Z, which stuffs a lovely 5-inch display into a slim chassis, into which it’s also somehow managed to include a quad-core chipset, 2GB of RAM and a 13MP camera.

It’s one of the most impressive Android models around today, and is also ready for your next-gen mobile data connection thanks to featuring the required miniature internal coat hanger needed to pick up an LTE radio signal.

It operates on all known 4G bands, so you’ll be free to switch providers and juggle SIMs at will once all the networks have their 4G service up and running.

Nokia Lumia 920

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Nokia’s latest Windows Phone 8 model has been doing some good work in convincing people to give Microsoft’s mobile OS a fair go, with its nicely sized 4.5-inch 760 x 1280 display a good option for those not yet ready to accept something up nearer the 5-inch range.

The Lumia 920 also features dual cameras (8.7MP and 1.3MP), a whopping great 32GB of onboard storage space for your photos and media, plus support for all of the key UK 4G bands is in for future-proofed connectivity.

It’s been beaten now by the Nokia Lumia 925 – so we’ll be updating this list as and when we get to compare the two.

BlackBerry Q10

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If you want traditional QWERTY BlackBerry hardware to accompany your futuristic 4G data speeds, there’s only one choice — the new Q10.

The phone looks like your usual old BB with its chunky keyboard and landscape display above, but comes with the updated BB10 OS for adding a bit more style to proceedings.

The phone also includes NFC support, for transferring mobile data rather more slowly over distances of a couple of centimetres, should that ever really become a thing people want to do.

Changing trendz of mobile advertising….

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Mobile advertising is becoming major revenue gainer for big companies.

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In less than a year, Facebook became the market leader in mobile display ads – outpacing giants like Google and Apple to control approximately a quarter of all mobile display revenues. What represented zero percent of Facebook’s ad revenues a year ago is on track to be a billion-dollar market this year in the United States alone.

Facebook broadly launched its first mobile ad product just weeks after its IPO. Fast-forward three months and mobile represented 14 percent of their business. It seemed every other week the company released a new mobile ad product, and by the end of 2012, mobile grew to represent 23 percent of Facebook’s ad business. And today this number has grown to 30 percent.

Why exactly have mobile ad dollars moved so quickly to Facebook? The answer is simple. Facebook and its Preferred Marketing Developer ecosystem are solving real challenges on behalf of marketers – challenges that center on the three core pillars of any successful ad campaign:

  • Targeting
  • Creative
  • Optimization

Combined, these driving forces of innovation have resulted in advertisers achieving 15 to 20 times higher clickthrough rates (CTRs) on Facebook mobile as compared to desktop and, most important, are revealing the true return on investment of mobile ad investments.

Targeting

Twenty-five percent of time spent in mobile apps is on Facebook, with the social network bringing a 750 million person audience to mobile. While this engagement and scale is impressive enough, what’s more compelling to marketers is that (finally) hundreds of millions of people on mobile have an identity. From demographics and psychographics to affinities and behaviors, marketers have a trove of targeting data and combinations to leverage with Facebook mobile.

One Facebook targeting innovation achieving broad, sustained success starts with a marketer’s known customer-relationship management (CRM) data. With custom audience targeting, advertisers can upload information from their CRM database such as e-mail and phone numbers, and Facebook will match this data with profiles containing the same information. The targetable audience created through this process has proven a lucrative strategy for marketers from retail to gaming, with results like increasing the ROI of campaigns by a factor of five and driving 100 percent same-day ROI multiple days in row.

Mobile ad targeting lacked identity almost completely prior to Facebook — with targeting data either nonpersonal or inferred. Take gender targeting. When mobile ad networks tell marketers they’re targeting women, what they really mean is they’re delivering impressions on publisher sites and apps that cater to women audiences. Sure, the marketer’s message could reach women — but there’s a high probability it’s also reaching men. Ultimately this lack of identity resulted in an industry relying on spray and pray tactics, with marketers buying blindly and thinking opportunistically that those people they’re putting impressions in front of will actual convert into customers.

Creative

When we think of mobile ads, we’re used to thinking of tiny, ugly banners that sit in the mobile apps we use and on the mobile web pages we browse.

Enter Facebook. The social network’s brought ads to mobile that take up the entire screen with strong calls to actions, providing the huge canvas and seamless conversion funnel the mobile marketing industry has been craving for years.

Facebook has also brought ads to mobile that act like content, sitting in the News Feed with the same look and feel of the content being shared by friends, family, and colleagues. These ads feature social engagement such as Likes, comments, and shares, making them even more relevant to end consumers.

Facebook mobile app install ads are a great example, providing advertisers with large creative, strong “install now” calls to action and social context. All of this has contributed to incredible campaign results on Facebook mobile, with advertisers achieving on average 1 percent click-through rates (CTRs).

Optimization

 Facebook is no longer social marketing. It’s performance marketing. The reason for this is due to the media buying, tracking, and optimization innovations developed in the Facebook marketing ecosystem on desktop — which are now shifting to mobile.

Advertisers no longer need to buy on mobile based on proxy metrics like views or clicks or immediate actions. They can now buy and optimize their ad spend for true ROI. A brief summary of the evolution of mobile media buying is below:

  • CPM (cost per impression): cost to deliver one thousand ad views.
  • CPC (cost per click): cost to generate a click on an ad.
  • CPA (cost per action): cost to drive an immediate action, like an app install.
  • LTV (lifetime value): value you earn off a customer over time.
  • ROI (return on investment): how much greater your LTV is than your CPA.

The shift from CPM, CPC and CPA to LTV and ROI is significant, as marketers are able to accurately understand the true return generated from their mobile investment – that is, the purchase revenue generated from people the advertiser reaches with mobile ads.

To understand why optimizing on proxy metrics like CPA is dangerous for marketers, let’s take a basic example from retail. The retailer has two hypothetical customers, Steve and Mary. Both buy a $10 T-shirt immediately after engaging with the retailer’s ad. Steve (25, single) costs $9 to acquire, while Mary (35, with a family) costs $12 to acquire. Mary is 33 percent more expensive to acquire than Steve, so Steve appears to represent a more valuable segment for an advertiser.

But what happens after that immediate purchase? Who is a more valuable, lifelong customer over time?

Mary ends up making additional purchases for her family in the coming weeks ($50 worth), while Steve never returned after that first T-shirt purchase. While Mary was 33 percent more expensive to acquire, she purchased 400 percent more. Ultimately, this calculates out to Mary generating 28 times higher ROI than Steve.

Marketers focusing on lifetime value and optimizing based on true ROI by leveraging maturity curves and predicting purchase behavior over time are the ones profitably scaling budgets across desktop and mobile today.

Evolution

There’s no question there’s been a huge evolution in mobile advertising – all in an incredibly short period of time.

Targeting is no longer inferred or non-personal; instead, marketers have a vast and rich targeting set. Creative is no longer limited to tiny banner ads; instead, marketers have the opportunity to leverage large, engaging creative that acts just like content. And media buying and optimization no longer has to be based on proxy metrics like CPA; instead, marketers can measure and predict lifetime value to optimize for true ROI.

Welcome to the new world of mobile advertising, with thanks to the Facebook ecosystem.

10 essential education and kids apps..!

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Apps that helps your kids have fun and learn at the same time.

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One of the coolest things about the Samsung GALAXY S4 and Note 8.0 is how simple they are for children to get to grips with. After a few minutes of prodding and swiping they usually pick up the basics of how to use a touchscreen and before you know it they will be mithering you to play with your favourite gadget.

Rather than just let them loose on your emails, both devices have a huge library of apps aimed at kids that combine education with fun.

Here is our pick of the best.

Famigo – Kid Lock

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Handing your phone or tablet to a toddler can be a nerve-wracking experience. Even assuming they don’t work out how to send confusing texts to your boss they could accidentally delete something you haven’t had a chance to back up yet, make an alarmingly-expensive in-app purchase or just stumble upon something you would rather remained private.

Famigo will temporarily replace your home screen with a kid-friendly list of approved apps (don’t worry, you get to chose, not them) and lock down everything else.

They won’t see incoming notifications or be able to do anything on your S4 or Note 8.0 without your say-so. Once the phone is back in your hands you can quickly enter a code and disable Famigo until next time.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.famigo.sandbox&hl=en

HomeWork

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Trying to plan your studies is a lot for a kid to cope with, especially if you add exams into the mix. HomeWork is an app that can help.

It works like a scheduler, logging homework assignments and keeping track of the weekly timetable – either for students or teachers. The app is flexible enough to be used by teachers, pupils and their parents to help manage a busy school year.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=klwinkel.huiswerk

iStoryBooks

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iStoryBooks is a complete tablet-or-phone-sized library of picture books. Books range from history and facts (the life of Helen Keller or a guide to Dinosaurs, for example) to fairy stories and folktales with plenty in between. All books are well illustrated and can be both narrated page-by-page or left to play through in ‘movie mode’.

If the free books aren’t enough to keep your kids occupied, you can subscribe to an iStoryBooks Monthly for 99p/month and get access to a catalogue of extra titles to download as you need them.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.infomarvel.istorybooks

NASA app

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Any child with the slightest interest in space will love this, the official NASA app, which is packed with more interesting facts about the solar system and beyond than you can shake an asteroid at, as well as details on all current NASA missions.

There is a brilliant gallery of the latest images from NASA’s many eyes in the sky, which you can share with friends or save for later. It will even work out where you are based on GPS and give you the instructions you need to spot the International Space Station with the naked eye.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.nasa&feature=apps_topselling_free

How To Draw – Easy Lessons

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An app just made for use with the Note 8.0’s S Pen, How To Draw aims to show you exactly that – clear instructions to help you draw anything from Hello Kitty to Justin Bieber.

Inside the app you are faced with a ‘graph paper’ background upon which it will show you step-by-step lines to trace around using your fingertip or the S Pen. Once you have finished tracing the app will show you where you went wrong. Your masterpieces can be saved to SD card or shared by email from within the app.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.artelplus.howtodraw&feature=apps_topselling_free

Green Eggs And Ham

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Dr Seuss’ classic nonsense rhyme comes to your GALAXY S4 or Note 8.0 with the complete text and illustrations from the book, ready for bedtime.

The app works in three ways – as a simple storybook that you can read through by flipping the pages, an automated and fully narrated version of the tale or a combination of the two where you cant run the pages and have the book sound out each word as you tap.

The illustrations can be tapped to make the narrator say the name of a character or object and the same is true of any word in the story, which can be read aloud simply by tapping it.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.oceanhouse_media.bookgreeneggsandham_app&hl=en

LEGO DUPLO Zoo

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LEGO’s Duplo bricks are geared towards simple fun for younger builders and this cute app takes the form of an interactive (and wordless) story in which you must help Giraffe and Rabbit to deliver a parcel to Mr Lion.

There are plenty of interactive elements to tap on screen and each stage features simple Duplo builds which work more like shape-matching puzzles than anything else. You can also unlock movies featuring the characters from the story. A great way to entertain small children.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=dk.spatifo.dublo&feature=more_from_developer

The Icky Mr Fox

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A charming, lightly interactive storybook for young readers. The narrator reads the story of Mr Rabbit and Mr Mole trying to have a tea party while the Icky Mr Fox tries to burrow into their underground hiding place. As the story progresses your child can tap almost every object in the book to hear what it is called. There are also hidden characters to be discovered by careful tapping.

There are plenty of ‘tappy-tap’ moments where your child must help things along by tapping characters to make them move. A simple but fun diversion for young children.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.ickyMrFox&feature=more_from_developer#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEwMiwiYWlyLmlja3lNckZveCJd

Monkey Word School Adventure

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Monkey Word School adventure is an educational game designed to help with spelling, reading and writing with a focus on phonics. Your monkey guide will take you through minigame after minigame, all with a simian theme.

Children will need to spell words by dragging letters around, trace the outline of letters to practice writing and tap gems containing certain words or letters as they fall from the sky.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.thup.MonkeyWord&feature=more_from_developer

Color & Draw: Super Artist Ed.

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Colour and Draw is another app just begging to be used with the Note 8.0’s S Pen, although finger painting on the S4 works just fine as well.

Children can jump straight into drawing on a blank canvas or can instead pick outlines from a library of 100+ pictures to colour in or embellish with new detail. Photos can be imported to use as image backgrounds or just be scrawled on.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=tipitap.coloring

Best Jelly Bean Android phones!

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Get your hands on the best beans, made of the finest jelly, in your smartphone.

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Google has an odd historical habit of naming its major Android releases after types of American puddings, with the result being that the proudest users of Google’s mobile OS are currently boasting about having “Jelly Bean” on their phones today.

In fact, Jelly Bean describes two versions of Android — Android 4.1 and 4.2 — plus the minor point version bug fixing releases between, so anything running Android 4.1 or higher is commonly described as running on Jelly Bean. And makes its users happy.

The most recently released Jelly Bean code is 4.2.2 which sits on the phones of Nexus users. It offers a few innovations over 4.1, like the ability to add widgets to the lock screen, gesture-based text input and a more active and visual Notifications panel, but it’s hardly a huge leap.

As long as you’ve got at least Android 4.1 you’re in the zone when it comes to having what Google considers to be its best work. These 10 phones deliver that right now, straight out of their lovely cardboard boxes.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini

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Samsung’s smaller take on the massively popular Galaxy S3 doesn’t share too many features with its bigger, older brother, scaling down the processor slightly, reducing display size and dropping the camera resolution to 5MP.

Compromises for sure, but the changes make it smaller and cheaper, while being released more recently than the original S3 means you get Android 4.1.1 installed as the OS when it arrives – although you’ve always got the option of installing it on an older S3 now.

Samsung’s added stacks of its own features on top of it, but you still get the enhanced browser, multitasking panel, individually dismissable notifications and much, much more to endlessly fiddle with instead of paying attention to what’s on TV.

Sony Xperia SP

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Sony’s most recent Xperia is a smaller, less powerful model than the gorgeous Sony Xperia Z, but it still manages to run Android 4.1.2 extremely smoothly.

The SP also includes a decent camera, NFC support and a 4G-ready radio, so it has everything smartphone users need, plus there’s a microSD card slot inside the chassis for expanding its 8GB of onboard storage space.

All this, and a relatively recent version of Google’s Jelly Bean code underneath Sony’s interface tweaks, for much less of an outlay that the Xperia Z.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

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The Note II arrived with Android 4.1 onboard, with Samsung upgrading it to the newer 4.1.2 code in early 2013.

Which means the immense 5.5-inch phone is one step nearer the leading edge of Android software, plus you get all of Samsung’s bonkers, and perhaps slightly unnecessary, S Pen software innovations to plough your way through, as well and the split-screen tools that feature as part of the maker’s TouchWiz interface tweaks.

Never before have so many features, apps and tools been rammed into a device. That’s probably why Samsung had to make it so big.

Huawei Ascend G510

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You don’t have to take out a two-year contract or pay £500 to get yourself a decent Jelly Bean phone. The Huawei Ascend G510 is available on a PAYG SIM through Vodafone for just £130, and arrives with Android 4.1.1 as its OS.

Sadly there’s only 512MB of RAM inside the thing so multitasking performance is a little restricted, and Huawei’s user interface is a bit bizarre in the way it bins Google’s usual app drawer system, but it’s still a well-constructed phone that does everything you might need. Just don’t expect lightning performance.

HTC One X+

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Android 4.1.1 is the specific version of Jelly Bean found on the One X+, with HTC also slightly updating its Sense interface compared with that found on the original HTC One X.

The phone is a slightly amended version of HTC’s flagship model of 2012 and still offers an impressive amount of oomph and smoothness.

The One X+ runs on a quad-core Tegra 3 chipset so will run everything out there today with ease, plus the “+” part of the name means you get an enormous 64GB of onboard storage space. It’s for people who haven’t yet bought into the concept of cloud storage.

Motorola Razr HD

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Motorola’s RAZR range is something a little different from the Android norm, using an odd mixture of angular design and Kevlar materials to build something solid and slightly unusual looking.

The software inside the RAZR HD is the commonplace 4.1.2 version of Android’s Jelly Bean code, complete with a few customisations from Motorola layered over the top.

The big selling point here is one of the best-performing batteries on the market, which goes some way toward making up for the not particularly impressive dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM combo that power the thing.

Sony Xperia Z

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The Xperia Z’s a seriously impressive phone, one that’s currently running on the slightly older 4.1 version of Google’s Jelly Bean code.

That said, Sony’s masses of software optimisations go some way toward filling in the few gaps that exist between versions 4.1 and 4.2 of Jelly Bean, with the Xperia Z’s camera software, visual theme switching, Sony’s own gesture typing system, NFC tools and more making it a superb demonstration of how manufacturer skins can sometimes really improve Google’s core code.

It’s got a 4.2 update winging its way to users right now, so it will also be supercharged to the other version of Jelly Bean soon – making things even better.

Samsung Galaxy S4

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The immense Samsung flagship arrives running Android 4.2, making it not only the biggest and most popular model around today, but it also lets users feel rather pleased about having Google’s latest OS at its core.

That said, it’s barely recognisable, with Samsung’s own TouchWiz user interface binning the vast majority of Google’s design work in favour of its own layouts, icon sets and custom software features.

Folder management isn’t as good as it is under Google’s system, but the trade off here is you get Samsung’s feature-packed camera app instead of the rather poor and bland stock Jelly Bean tool.

HTC One

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As well as arriving with Android 4.1.2 onboard, there are many, many reasons that make the HTC One one of the finest Jelly Bean models out there right now, even if it’s not quite running on the newest code from Google.

The full HD 1080p display’s a stunner, the aluminium body a welcome change from the lightweight plastics that make up many other smartphones, plus HTC’s Sense interface has been completely reworked and refreshed, and enhances Android for the better across the board.

Nexus 4

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Obviously this is the winner if you’re serious about keeping on top of Google’s Android software releases – or just want a really, really cheap quad-core smartphone.

The Nexus series is always first in line when it comes to receiving the new software updates, as they’re supplied free from the fiddlings, skins and alternate options added in by many other hardware makers, and tend to hit the phone within days of being announced by Google.

As a result of this, the Nexus 4 is currently using version 4.2.2 of Android, which is the newest public release of the “Jelly Bean” code available — and it’s likely to be first in line for 4.3 or even 5.0 whenever they may pop out of Google’s labs.

Internet devices grow amid mobile shift: Survey

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ME AND MOBILE looks at the growing trend of internet devices.

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Global sales of Internet devices including PCs, tablets and mobile phones is showing steady growth in 2013, amid a shift to more mobile gadgets, a survey showed Monday.

The Gartner survey suggests the number of these devices will increase 5.9 percent in 2013 to 2.35 billion, driven by sales in tablets, smartphones, and to a lesser extent, “ultramobile” PCs.

Traditional desk-based and notebook PC shipments are forecast to drop 10.6 percent to 305 million units, not including ultramobiles, a new category of PCs which includes smaller computers including convertible tablets.

Tablet shipments are expected to grow 67.9 percent to 202 million units, while the mobile phone market will grow 4.3 percent to 1.8 billion.

“Consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access that content from a different portfolio of products,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

“Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets.”

Sales of ultramobile PCs, which include the Google Chromebook, are expected to double in 2013 but remain at a relatively modest 20 million units, Gartner said.

Gartner said the red-hot growth in tablets and smartphones will taper off as these devices gain longer life cycles. The report said many consumers are opting for “basic” tablets to cut costs.

It said Apple’s iPad mini represented 60 percent of overall Apple tablet sales in the first quarter of 2013.

“The increased availability of lower priced basic tablets, plus the value add shifting to software rather than hardware will result in the lifetimes of premium tablets extending as they remain active in the household for longer,” said Gartner’s Ranjit Atwal.

Lower-priced smartphones are also impacting the market, it found.

“Volume expectations for 2013 have been brought down as the life cycles lengthen as consumers wait for new models and lower prices to hit the market in the fall and holiday season,” Atwal said.

“The challenge in the smartphone market is also that, as penetration moves more and more to the mass market, price points are lowering and in most cases so do margins.”

Google’s Android is expected to extend its dominance in 2013, accounting for 866 million devices, ahead of Microsoft Windows and Apple’s iOS.

But Gartner said Apple is the most “homogeneous” with a large number of products in each segment, while Windows dominates in PCs and Android in smartphones.

Developers Delight: iOS or Android

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Why app developers love iOS, not Android..?

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Apple, perhaps for the first time other than the data it shares during events, has officially disclosed ‘fragmentation’ data for iOS devices.

According to the data available on the Apple website, 93 percent of iOS devices run iOS 6, the latest version of Apple’s operating system. Just 6 percent of devices run iOS 5 and only 1 percent devices run iOS 4 or earlier. Apparently, this includes all iOS devices i.e. iPhones, iPod touch devices as well as iPads.

The graph that Apple has shared is very similar (in principal, if not the trends) to what Google shares every month for Android. It will be interesting to see if Apple updates this data every month, like Google does, or if this remains a one-off.

According to data shared by google, only 4 percent of Android devices run the latest version, Android 4.2. If you expand the criteria to include all Jelly Bean (Android 4.1 and Android 4.2) devices, even then the number touches just 33 percent, a heaven and earth comparison when you stack it up against iOS.

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Google’s data is for all Android devices as well, mobiles and tablets. Interestingly, Apple’s data is based on devices connecting to Apple’s App Store during a 14-day period ending June 3, 2013. This is the same cut-off date and criteria that Google used to share its last set of data. Google releases fresh data using the 3rd as the cut off for each month based on devices that connect to the Play Store during a 14-day period.

As is evident from the charts, fragmentation is rampant on Android, making it difficult for developers to write code against APIs available in the latest version of the OS. As a contrast, Apple developers can make use of all the latest features and write iOS 6-only apps, and be confident that their apps will still reach nearly all of the iOS install base. Android developers, as a contrast, must either maintain various copies of code, each targeting different versions of Android, or continue to use outdated APIs to ensure their apps reach a critical mass.

Of course, the Android fragmentation is even worse when you consider variants/ versions of Android that do not get to connect to the Google Play store, like Amazon’s Kindle Fire devices, as well as third-party manufacturers that are unable to ship with Play Store on board due to google’s requirements. As indicated earlier, such Android devices are not included in the dat Google shares.

Best Windows Phone!

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Choose the Windows Phone 8 handset that’s right for you.

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When it comes to Windows Phone there’s a new player in the starting line up in the form of Windows Phone 8 – Microsoft’s latest attempt to make a significant dent in the mobile market.

While Android and iOS lead the way when it comes to mobile operating systems, you can draw many similarities between the two which may leave you feeling like you want some new. A fresh start, a new perspective.

That’s exactly what Windows Phone 8 offers with a completely new way of providing you with your smartphone fill.

We’ve taken the time to go through all the Windows Phone devices available to pick out the best ones around and while there’s some serious Nokia dominance in this list a handful of other manufacturers are also getting in on the action.

Nokia Lumia 520

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Usually the number one place in our top lists is claimed by a powerful, flagship smartphone but as you can see here that’s not always the case will the incredibly affordable Lumia 520 grabbing the “Best Windows phone” title.

While it may not have a ridiculous amount of power, super sized screen or market leading camera, what the Lumia 520 does offer is the perfect smartphone experience on a budget.

It’s got a decent spec sheet for such a keenly priced device with a 1GHz dual-core processor, 4-inch display, 5MP camera and micro SD card slot to make up for a small internal storage.

In may not have a front facing snapper or fancy NFC technology, plus the battery life could better, but for the money you’ll be hard pressed to get something better than the Lumia 520.

All in all it’s cheap and extremely cheerful and if you want to try Windows Phone 8 but don’t want a handset which will break the bank, or your pocket then the Nokia Lumia 520 is the one you should plump for.

Nokia Lumia 920

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What’s better than a top Windows Phone 7 handset? A Windows Phone 8 one, and we’ve got no qualms about telling you the Lumia 920 is one of the best Windows Phone out there.

Simplicity is the key here, the Lumia 920 does the basics well, from contact integration and calling, to web browsing and messaging – oh and it’s 4G enabled.

The 8MP camera on the back of the Lumia 920 is one of the best we’ve used and for anyone looking to get a top end cameraphone you need to seriously consider this Nokia.

The 4.5-inch display is also a good’un, crisp and clear it makes watching movies, surfing the web or Facebook stalking an enjoyable experience, thanks to the PureMotion HD technology on offer.

It’s major flaw though is its size, so if you’ve got delicate hands you may want to side step the weighty Lumia 920 for something a little more manageable – perhaps take a look at the HTC 8X.

Oh and you can even use it with gloves on… what more could you want? You’re right: holograms. But they don’t exist yet.

Nokia Lumia 820

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If you’re pockets aren’t so deep, or your hands are a little smaller, you may want to take a look at the Nokia Lumia 820, which still provides you with the full Windows Phone 8 experience, albeit on a slightly smaller screen.

The 4.3-inch AMOLED display is still a strong performer, while the camera comes with the Nokia class that we’ve come to expect.

It still has the fancy tricks of Lumia 920, including wireless charging, 4G, NFC connectivity, but it also brings changeable covers so your phone can reflect your mood – exciting times.

There aren’t any giant flaws with the Nokia Lumia 820, and while there may be a couple of minor niggles they certainly don’t get in the way.

Samsung Ativ S

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The Samsung Ativ S is one of the unsung heroes of the Windows Phone 8 brigade, a handset which hasn’t been thrust into the limelight and while it may be a little tricky to get hold of you won’t be disappointed.

Sporting a similar design to its Android toting brother the Samsung Galaxy S3 the Korean firm works on its winning design formula and breaks away from the styles employed by the likes of Nokia, HTC and Huawei.

It’s also so light and slim. Given the size of the handset, the weight and dimensions genuinely surprised us when we picked one up.

With a 4.8-inch display it’s already the sort of phone that may poke out of your pocket, so the skinny design is much appreciated.

A removable battery and miroSD card slot are welcome bonuses and helps set the Ativ S apart from the rest of the Windows Phone 8 crowd.

Nokia Lumia 720

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The Nokia Lumia 720 lands slap bang in the middle of the Finnish firm’s Windows Phone 8 line up and thus also packs a mediocre price tag to boot.

There’s not a huge amount to pick between the 720 and Lumia 620 – with the former sporting a squarer designer and slightly larger screen.

Windows Phone 8 works seamlessly, and smoothly on the Lumia 720 and the camera round the back is capable of taking some solid shots.

A microSD slot is always a bonus, although there’s not a lot of grip from the polycarbonate body so make sure you hold onto this one tightly.

Nokia Lumia 620

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Once upon a time the Nokia Lumia 620 was the baby of the Lumia family, but with the 520 now on the scene it has been bumped up a notch.

The Nokia Lumia 620 is a great little handset. While it can’t compete with most other Windows Phone 8 handsets, such as its bigger brother the Lumia 820 or the HTC 8X, with a price tag of just £150 it doesn’t have to.

Its performance is generally smooth and responsive, the screen isn’t bad at all for such a budget phone, and like all Windows Phone handsets it handles contacts and messaging impressively well.

The battery is the single biggest problem with the Nokia Lumia 620. Most users will probably get through a day on a single charge, but if you plan to watch a lot of videos then you might want to carry a charger with you just in case.

HTC 8X

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Microsoft decided to shun Nokia when it came to championing Windows Phone 8, instead choose the HTC 8X to be the signature device for its new operating system.

While the 8X is by far the best looking of the Windows Phone 8 bunch it unfortunately doesn’t have the prowess under the hood to match the powerhouse which is the Lumia 920.

You do get Beats Audio technology and a couple of amplifiers to enhance your tunes through the internal speaker as well as the headphone jack, plus the slender frame fits comfortably in the hand.

It’s by no means a bad phone, it’s just not the best Windows Phone 8 handset out there.

HTC 8S

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The HTC 8S is a solid handset. It’s got an attractive and distinctive style, which both fits with the colourful Windows Phone aesthetic and stands out from the pack.

It’s also surprisingly slick and fast for a mid range phone. It’s even got the edge over the top end Windows Phone 8 handsets in at least one area- specifically the inclusion of a microSD card slot, which is absent on both the Nokia Lumia 920 and the HTC 8X.

On the other hand the battery is average at best, web browsing can be a little slow and it doesn’t do much to stand out in the apps or media department. It’s also arguably a little over priced for what you get.

 

Is mobile movie a threat to cine goers…?

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ME AND MOBILE looks at the emerging trend of digital entertainment.

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People will always want to watch movies in theatres despite the growing trend of watching videos at home and on mobile devices, the head of giant movie system maker Imax said.

“People are social animals and I don’t think they want to be chained to their couches, mobile devices and tablets. They want to go out,” Richard Gelfond, chief executive of Canada-based Imax, told the annual President’s Conference in Israel on Thursday.

“They recognise the fact that (filmmakers) Steven Spielberg and James Cameron may be better at telling a story than a 16 year old over the Internet. I think they can exist side by side.”

Special effects-driven movies, in particular, “cannot be adequately captured” on a mobile device, Gelfond said.

“You need to go to a theatre to appreciate them. If you are going to leave home you want a dramatically different experience than in the home.”

Imax also designs and manufactures theatre systems and then sells or leases them under revenue-sharing arrangements. It has more than 738 theatres in 53 countries.

Its fourth-quarter 2012 profit soared as gross box office revenue from its digital media remastering business rose 56 percent to $152 million, and its theatre network grew. Remastering adapts a movie shot for normal theaters for giant Imax screens.

Imax signed contracts for 142 new theaters in 2012.

The entertainment industry, Gelfond said, was becoming more globalised, with the United States now accounting only for a third of global box office sales.

He said the digital era is lowering the cost of making movies while special effects can be created on a home computer.

“There is an opportunity for almost anyone to make a movie but those movies are likely to be shown on tablets,” Gelfond said.

In Israel, there are just two Imax theatres, and Gelfond said he would like to see about 20.

10 Best Google Nexus 4 Apps!

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ME AND MOBILE picks best apps for Google Nexus 4.

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The Nexus 4 has it all as far as most Android users are concerned. A gorgeous slim design, a sharp display, enough power and RAM to run games and Twitter with ease, and those critical sparkly bits on the back of it that give you something else to look at when you’re done trawling your usual apps and feeds.

More importantly, being a Nexus device means it’s always first in line for software updates direct from Google, so it always features the very latest pre-loaded apps and tools that other Android users have to wait for their makers to port across.

Currently the Nexus 4 is running on the 4.2.2 iteration of Google’s mobile software, which is as new as it gets. We’re also expecting Google to push out an updated version of Android quite soon, most likely version 4.3, over the coming weeks. But until then, get the most out of your current edition Nexus 4 by installing these ten top apps that further enhance Google’s current Android flagship.

DashClock Widget

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One of the new additions within Android 4.2 that Nexus 4 owners can enjoy is the ability for some widgets to be installed on the lock screen, with the lock screen itself scrolling from left to right like the phone’s actual desktop.

DashClock Widget replaces the default clock, also letting you select from a list of additional extensions that add more data to the lock display.

You can have your emails incorporated there, the weather, battery status, upcoming Calendar entries, SMS messages and more, all in a stylish, Android-like layout. It’s the Nexus advantage in full effect.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.nurik.roman.dashclock&hl=en

SphereShare.net

The Nexus 4 doesn’t have the best physical camera in the smartphone world, but it does have Google’s most feature-packed camera software — including the impressive PhotoSphere tool that lets anyone create Street View style 360-degree panoramas by walking around in a circle and letting the phone stitch together the results.

Problem is, these PhotoSpheres are large, difficult to share and are usually only viewable through Google+, which is where SphereShare.net comes it. It lets you browse PhotoSpheres taken by other Nexus 4 users on your phone, giving you an instant gallery of staggering panoramas to leaf through and drop into.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=cz.kinst.jakub.sphereshare

Photosphere Live Wallpaper

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If you have been so absorbed by the act of slowly rotating on the spot to categorise your surroundings you want a constant reminder on your Home screen, install this.

It lets you set a PhotoSphere as your wallpaper, using left and right swipes to scroll it roughly in time with the screens it sits behind, and the phone’s motion control sensors to move your “head” up and down.

Relive that great view or a 360-degree panorama of your bedroom with ease.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=fishnoodle.photospherewp_free

Chrome Beta

The Nexus 4’s very latest Android OS already comes with the excellent mobile Chrome browser built-in, so the only way to get an even more bleeding-edge, nerdy web experience is to install Chrome Beta.

It’s a separate, standalone app, which Google uses to test new functionality with understanding users who don’t mind the odd glitch. It means you get new features first, which is one of the big reasons people invest in Nexus devices in the first place.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.chrome.beta&hl=en

Feedly

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If your Nexus is your mobile news hub, you’ll no doubt be gutted that Google’s decided to close its Reader RSS feed tool by the summer of 2013.

This leaves a massive chasm in the world of desktop and mobile RSS reader apps, with few alternatives offering such a seamless RSS experience.

Fortunately, Feedly’s just about there when it comes to matching Google’s old Reader in terms of cross-platform reading, article syncing and sharing, plus it comes with a vastly superior design that borrows heavily from the stylish news aggregators like Flipboard and Google’s own Currents app.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.devhd.feedly

Twilight

This is a weird one, but it might change your life. Or at least change the sleeping part of it.

Twilight makes some very believable claims about the blue spectrum of light emitted by mobile screens, suggesting it’s these that tell our brains it’s the middle of the day — despite the fact we tend to stare at our phones in the darkness before going to bed.

By eliminating the blue light from the screen output this app supposedly alleviates the effects of looking at a bright light in a dark room, helping your brain realise it’s dark and therefore bedtime. In short, it might help you sleep better if you’re in the habit of using your phone before bed, in return for using a red-tinted display.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.urbandroid.lux

WeVideo

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The Nexus 4 comes with stacks of filters and frames for making the best of still shots, but the video editor is stupidly simple, only letting users trim clips to create shorter versions of your pre-recorded films.

WeVideo adds loads more options to editing movies on the Nexus 4, letting users drag and drop videos onto a timeline to create long-form edits, add filters, drop in images and MP3s for use as a soundtrack, create titles and much more.

Google ought to buy it for a few hundred million and make it a standard thing.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wevideo.mobile.android

Cinemagram

While Android users wait for Twitter’s developers to release a version of video sharing app Vine for Android, there’s this stylish alternative to practise on.

It’s pretty much exactly the same as Vine, letting users record short clips, live, with the press of a button to start/stop recording, which are automatically compiled into tidy, looping edits, and chucked online to share through social sites.

There’s some social network stuff built in too, but it’s best used as simple a simple way to share small video files.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cinemagram.main

Dextr Email Beta

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There are plenty of third-party email apps competing for installation on your Nexus 4, plus the onboard generic Email option that comes as part of Android 4.2 is certainly worth using, too.

But this one’s different. It syncs with a Gmail account and replaces Google’s mail tools, giving you a simpler interface built around threaded messages that pop up in a modern Android-inspired layout.

A friend system lets you sort the humans from the automated notices that plague modern email, hopefully making reading messages less of a chore.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dextr.android

CloudMagic

Make sense of that mass of social networks, email providers and cloud services with Cloud Magic, which lets you search through all of them in one go.

The first task is the not insignificant chore of opening the app and separately signing in to everything again, but climb that mountain of tedium and you can then use its interface to search your Google account, various social networks, Microsoft’s mail systems, Evernote files and more, all through one little search box.

Do it often and you have to pay for increased access, but the occasional rummage is free — and there’s a lock screen widget for ease of access, too.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cloudmagic.android