Info & Phones News
Google today formally introduced its effort to port Android to wearables. The company announced Android Wear, a version of the Android operating system that will start with watches and eventually move on to other form factors. Google's immediate vision for wearables - and watches in particular - include some basic functions. Google believes smart wearables should provide useful information when the wearer needs it, such as posts, social network updates, and messaging notifications. Google thinks wearables should be able to answer questions, such as "OK Google." Google's Android-based wearables will include Google Now, its voice-based assistant, for performing searches and issuing commands. Android Wear will give people a better way to monitor their health and fitness, such as help with exercise goals and provide fitness summaries. Last, Google sees wearables as the key to a multiscreen world. Android Wear will let users access and control other devices - music players, phones, TVs - through Google Now. Developers interested in Project Android Wear can sign up to participate in a preview. Developers will be able to customize their app notifications for watches powered by Android Wear, for example. Google said that more resources, including APIs, will be available to developers soon. Google also noted that it is working with Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung to create Android Wear-based watches, which should arrive later this year.
Asus introduced a flurry of new devices at CES today, the most interesting of which are those that combine a smartphone and a tablet. Here are our thoughts about the PadFone Mini and PadFone X.
Asus today showed off the Zenfone series, a new line of smartphones that range from small to large, but focus on ease-of-use and simplicity. There are four devices in the series, including the Zenfone 4, Zenfone 5, Zenfone 6, and Padfone Mini. As their names imply, the Zenfone 4 has a 4-inch screen with 5-megapixel camera; the Zenfone 5 has a 5-inch screen with 8-megapixel camera; and the Zenfone 6 has a 6-inch screen with 13-megapixel camera. The Padfone Mini has a 4-inch screen and docks with a 7-inch tablet. All of the Zenfone products use the Zen user interface, called ZenUI, that has a modern style and spartan design, yet remains powerful and customizable with 3D animations. The devices are inexpensive, ranging from $99 to $249 without contracts. Asus did not say when the devices might become available. Asus also showed off the PadFone X, which will be sold by AT&T later this year.
AT&T and Asus today announced that AT&T will carry the PadFone X, which is a smartphone/tablet combo device. The PadFone X has both a 5-inch smartphone and a 9-inch tablet that dock with one another. Both screens are full 1080p HD. The screen and apps will instantly transition from the smartphone to the tablet when the smartphone is docked with the tablet. The PadFone X tablet device has a soft-touch back cover, a metallic frame, and stereo speakers. It includes a large battery that will charge the smartphone device when it is docked. The PadFone is one of the first from AT&T to include LTE-Advanced technologies, such as Carrier Aggregation. It supports both VoLTE and HD Voice, which are firsts for AT&T. The Asus PadFone X runs Android 4.4 Kit Kat. Pricing and availability will be shared closer to launch.
Asus CEO Jerry Shen said that the company is developing a PadFone for a U.S. network operator. Shen made the revelation in an interview with Engadget. To-date, Asus has only made its PadFone products available in Asian markets. The company wants to expand its smartphones to the U.S. and Europe, and is targeting the U.S. first. The PadFone includes a tablet and phone that work together as one, with the phone docking in the tablet. "Once this product is launched [in the US], we will definitely have no problem tackling Europe with the same product, because this U.S. operator is very big," said Shen. The device is set to arrive during the second quarter of 2014, but Shen didn't provide any specifics, such as the name of the network operator.
Asus may already sell tablets in the U.S., but it wants to expand its stateside product offerings to include smartphones as soon as next year. Speaking to AllThingsD, Asus chairman Johnny Shih said the company is working to build its relationships with U.S network operators. Asus is already well-known as the maker of Google's Nexus 7 tablet and the FonePad smartphone. Shih did explicitly not say what types of smartphones the company is seeking to sell in the U.S. Asus would like to get into the U.S. as soon as this year, but thinks 2014 is a more likely timeframe.
We spent a few moments with the new Padfone - a phone that that plugs into a tablet - and the Fonepad, a small tablet that doubles as a phone.
Asus today announced the Fonepad, an affordable phone/tablet with a 7-inch display for just $250 full price. The Fonepad is powered by an Intel Atom Z2420 processor and has a microSD memory card slot. The display is an IPS LCD panel with 1280 x 800 pixel resolution. It has a 3-megapixel main camera and 1.2-megapixel front camera. It has WCDMA 3G, but no 4G. It ships in April.
Asus today announced the Padfone Infinity, a new Padfone with a 5-inch 1080p display, that plugs into a 10.1-inch tablet, also with 1080p full HD resolution. The Padfone sports a 13-megapixel camera with an f/2.0 lens. The body is made from brushed aluminum alloy, with an NFC antenna embedded in the Padfone logo on the back. Like the HTC One, the Padfone sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 1.7 GHz quad-core processor. It has 64 GB of storage, 2 GB of RAM, and LTE. The company also announced Asus Open Cloud Computing (AOCC,) a cloud platform to compete with iCloud.
It's probably not coming to the US, but the Padfone is quite unique and interesting. It's a phone that docks into a tablet that docks into a keyboard to make a laptop. We took a quick look.
Asus today announced a new product that blends the functionality of both an Android smartphone with an Android tablet. The Padfone features an Android smartphone that docks inside a slate-style tablet device. The tablet device offers a bigger screen, stereo speakers, and an extended battery, but the operating system and core features are provided by the smartphone. Asus says the operating system can transition seamlessly between the phone and tablet when the phone is inserted. Asus points out that this will allow users to "eliminate data transfer" as all the data and media are kept on the smartphone and don't need to be installed/replicated on the tablet. It also supports the smartphones cellular capabilities without the need for a second SIM card/data subscription, and the pad can be used to charge the phone's battery when needed. Asus shared few other details, but indicated that it is targeting a holiday launch for the product.