OnePlus Two might woo you with lasers and surprises

OnePlus One logo

OnePlus is readying a follow up to 2014’s OnePlus One, a phone that’s supposed to “surprise people” and once again offer top-end specs at a low price.

New rumours, this time from GizmoChina, suggest the OnePlus Two will be coming with a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset and is set to look quite similar to the Oppo Find 7.

The OnePlus One already looked quite similar to the Oppo Find 7 and a lot of the companies executives came directly from Oppo, so it isn’t a big surprise the phone is set to look like it again.

One of the more interesting additions is a “laser focus fingerprint identification system” embedded inside the home button.

One + Two = Great

Adding in more complicated hardware is sure to drive the price up higher than the original handset. OnePlus has yet to make it clear whether the second handset will be available under an invite system.

The controversial process of releasing the OnePlus One made some consumers angry but OnePlus is now in a better position to make the handset more widely available from day one.

We do know the OnePlus Two will be released in the third quarter of this year – but right now that feels like a long time away.


Instagram’s Layout app launches on iOS, Android version coming soon

Instagram's Layout app launches on iOS, Android version coming soon
Instagram today announced the launch of a brand new standalone app called Layout. This enables users to create customized photo collages (or layouts) from the images in their camera roll.

Up to 9 photos can be combined in a layout, and, according to Instagram, the new app’s “smooth, intuitive process gives you complete creative control.” You can flip and rotate photos, rearrange them, or resize them individually. Moreover, there’s a Photo Boot option that lets you capture spontaneous shots which will be instantly included in a collage.

Layout is currently available on iOS as a free application (see the second source link below). Instagram says that it will launch the app on Android sometime soon (“in the coming months”, to be precise).

Layout is not the first standalone app released by Instagram since the company’s been acquired by Facebook in 2012. Another app, which is exclusively available on iOS as of last year, is Hyperlapse (this lets you easily create and share time lapse videos).

Thus far, iOS users seem to really like Layout. Have you tried the app?

How to bring a TouchWiz look to your non-Samsung Android phone

How to bring a TouchWiz look to your non-Samsung Android phone

Samsung’s TouchWiz UI has often been criticized for various reasons, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t smartphone users who actually like its design. In case you’re one of these users, and your current Android handset is not manufactured by Samsung, you can easily make your device look like it’s got TouchWiz on top of Android.

The quickest and (arguably) best way to TouchWizify your smartphone is to download and install a launcher called S Launcher, which is available on Google Play.

Once installed, S Launcher should automatically become your new launcher. If that doesn’t happen, you can make it the default launcher from Settings -> Home (you can also choose another launcher from here, or delete S Launcher if you don’t like it and you think you won’t be using it again).

While S Launcher is highly customizable, it will not completely change the UI of your device (for example, it won’t change your Phone book, the main Settings menu, and any other sub-menus). It will, however, change the aspect of your app drawer.

Besides S Launcher, there are other TouchWiz-like launchers, as well as similar themes made for specific launchers (like Nova and Apex) that you can download at any time. You’ll find them all just by searching for “TouchWiz theme” or “TouchWiz launcher” on Google Play.

P.S.: The basic version of S Launcher is free, but you can also get a premium version with extra features, though you’ll have to pay $3.99 for that.

Windows 10 for phones vs Windows Phone 8.1: what’s new?

Windows 10 for phones vs Windows Phone 8 1 what s new

Windows Phone is not long for this world. But don’t worry, Microsoft hasn’t killed Windows Phone like it all-but killed the Nokia phone brand last year.

Instead, Windows phones, tablets, laptops and desktops are all going to use the same system, Windows 10. Or to be more precise, they’ll use the same family of software. Microsoft isn’t silly enough to try to cram what we’ll use on a 27-inch PC monitor onto a 5-inch phone screen.

Windows 10 will take over from Windows Phone 8.1, bypassing poor old Windows 9.0 altogether. The first build will be released to select devs as early as February, proving that it’s already a working system, not just a demo.

The key question now: what’s new? And does it have much chance up against Android 5.0 Lollipop and iOS 8.1?

Consistent approach across phone, tablet and desktop

The main aim of Windows 10 for phones seems to be to catch up with something Google and Apple have been working on for a while now: to have a consistent experience between your phone and your laptop or tablet. Being able to check emails on two devices at the same time is a given, but Windows 10 tries a lot harder to merge platforms.

Action Center, the notifications drop-down and Windows’ “brain” introduced in Windows 8.1, will now sync in with a similar hub in the desktop version of Windows 10. It’s where you find all your new emails, invites, messages and so on.

Windows 10 for phones vs Windows Phone 8 1
Consistency across your devices is a key aim of Windows 10 for phones

The stock messenger in desktop Windows will also offer the same communications standard, Skype, as the Windows Phone messaging app, letting the two platforms act as nodes in the same infrastructure. So your nan will be able to chat with you on your mobile while she’s using a PC, without any third-party apps. Neat, right?

It’s similar to what Apple does with iMessage. Although, granted, most people we know use iMessage exclusively on iPhones, and only notice it’s there when it goes wrong.

A new look for your home screens

Despite having a grand new name and setting an important precedent in being totally multi-platform, Windows 10 for phones looks quite a lot like Windows Phone 8.1. Baby and associated toys have not been thrown out with the figurative bathwater.

The system has a recognisable interface that’s split into a home screen and an apps menu that houses all the bits you don’t want to see every day. However, the look of the all-important home screen has been tweaked, fixing something we complained about when Windows Phone 8.1 was first announced.

Windows Phone 8.1 introduced home screen backgrounds, letting you jazz up your Live Tiles with a selected background rather than the usual block colour. Fair enough, many people love a bit of customisation. However, it also had a tendency to make the tiles’ contents completely illegible if you weren’t careful about the background used.

Windows 10 for phones tweaks this idea by putting the background across the whole home screen, with the Live Tiles sitting on top as a translucent layer. Which is, of course, what they should have done in the first place.

It could be that the original template was used because it let more of the screen stay black, which would improve battery life in top Nokia OLED phones like the Nokia Lumia 930. But perhaps we’re overestimating Microsoft here.

New Outlook: richer email than ever

As an effort to become a bit more PC-like, Windows 10 for phone gets a brand new Outlook interface. That’s the default Windows client for mail, for anyone who has shied away from Windows laptops and phones for the last, say, 25 years.

In Windows Phone 8.1, Outlook seems deliberately simple, more concerned with fitting in visually with the rest of the system than offering power user features. However, that’s all going to change with Windows 10.

You’ll be able to fully format your text just as you would with a desktop computer, and even add tables. What better way is there for the passive-aggressive among us to show our friends exactly how much we overpaid at dinner?

All Windows phones to get an advanced camera app

One of the changes we’re most looking forward to seeing is the new camera app. Windows 10 phones will more-or-less take on the Nokia Camera app currently used by most Nokia Lumia devices, ditching the very basic default camera of Windows Phone 8.1

Not only is Nokia Camera pretty feature-complete, offering great levels of manual control over photographic settings, it also means you won’t have to juggle between camera apps anymore (Nokia Lumias currently offer two camera app interfaces). It’s a win all round.

Canadian carriers accepting pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge

Canadian carriers accepting pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge
Samsung Canada has announced that they will soon start allowing pre-orders for the Gold Platinum Samsung Galaxy S6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 edge. Currently, reservations are being taken for both the Black Sapphire and Pearl White versions of the handsets. A number of Canadian carriers have those two models up for pre-orders like Bell, Eastlink, Fido, Rogers, SaskTel, TELUS, Videotron, Virgin Mobile and Wind.

There are slight variations in pricing between carriers, but let’s look at what Bell is charging for both phones. The 32GB Samsung Galaxy S6 is priced at the equivalent of $195 USD with a two-year pact. Sans contract, the phone is priced at $571 USD. The 64GB model is priced at $281 USD with your John Hancock on a two-year pact, and $657 USD off-contract. The 128GB variant with a two-year contract is priced at the equivalent of $367 USD. Without a contract, the price is $743 USD.

The 32GB Samsung Galaxy S6 edge is offered for $274 USD on contract, $649 USD off-contract. The 64GB version is priced at $360 USD with a signed pact and $735 USD without one. And lastly, the 128GB Galaxy S6 edge has a 2-year contract price of $446 USD and an off-contract price of $820 USD.

Tonino Lamborghini 88 Tauri hands-on

Tonino Lamborghini 88 Tauri hands-on

Hearing the name Lamborghini, most people think of some kind of souped-up, exotic car that screams premium. When folks hear the same name in a smartphone, you can only imagine that the same descriptions come to mind. Well, we managed to get a quick hands-on look at the Tonino Lamborghini 88 Tauri at the Luxury Technology Show held in New York City. The handset in question, featured alongside an actual Lamborghini at the showroom floor, is no doubt an exotic thing in the smartphone space.

Frankly, the smartphone is all about the design, aesthetics, and premium choice of materials, since the specs don’t really push the limits in any sort of way. To tell you the truth, it’s hard to realize if there are any inspirations taken from the car – though, we can attest that it’s sporting an aggressive look. In particular, the Tonino Lamborghini 88 Tauri flaunts a hard-lined, angular design. Naturally, there’s a premium touch in the form of its choice of materials.

The two versions we’re able to scope out are ornately designed with 0.5mm thick leather, one that feels pretty good in the hand – while on the other, it’s able to repel smudges and fingerprints. Now, one particular unit employs a steel frame, while the other shines elegantly in gold. Beyond the premium feel and look, there’s also a subtle rugged feel to the phone’s construction – thanks in part to its substantial feel, solid build quality, and weightiness.

As far as the specs are concerned, it features a 5-inch 1080p display, 8-megapixel front-facing camera, 20-meagpixel rear camera with dual-LED flash, 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 3400 mAh battery, 64GB of internal storage, Android 4.4 KitKat, microSD card, and dual-SIM. Some parts seem to be impressive, but as a whole, it’s tough to classify this one in the same space as some of the smartphone elites that exist in the market right now.

All told, it’s priced excessively at around $6,000, which shouldn’t be all too surprising considering it’s bearing the Lamborghini name. Actually, the reason why it’s priced so high is because of the premium choice of materials, each unit is handmade, and only a small fraction of units are produced. Needless to say, it’s the kind of thing that’ll truly stand out if it’s taken out and shown off, but it’s almost tough sell for most consumers.

64GB version of the HTC One M9 said to be in the pipeline

HTC One M9

HTC unveiled its new flagship the One M9 over a week ago, and even though there were no major surprises it still managed to impress us.

HTC announced at the show the phone would come in a 32GB version with microSD support of up to 128GB, but failed to mention whether there would be another variant to come.

A well-known HTC leaker called @LlabTooFeR has now suggested the phone will come in a 64GB version launching before the end of the year. We asked HTC about the new rumour but it refused to comment on the news.

The original HTC One launched in both 32GB and 64GB variants while the HTC One M8 dropped it down to either 16GB or 32GB.

It’s pure speculation but the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S6, a major competitor for the HTC One M9, brought news of 32GB, 64GB and 128GB versions.

HTC may see itself falling behind a little and perhaps decided to throw in some extra storage for those customers who really want it.