Tag Archive | "mobile"

The biggest mobile tech blunders in history

Today, we can do things with technology that would seem like magic even fifteen years ago. We carry around glass rectangles that can tell us anything we want to know. But it hasn’t been a totally smooth process. Thomas Edison said that in his failures, he learned how not to make a lightbulb. Let’s see how smartphone makers learned how not to make lightbulbs.

The heart breaker

The rise and fall of webOS has been documented time and again, so I won’t go into the hows and whys. It was one of those really great platforms that seemed to have it all: ease of use; intuitiveness; a passionate fan base; customizability, but not to the point of micromanaging. It had lofty goals— multiple platforms all working together, UI that would have actually worked, regardless of screen size.

Editor’s Pick

Alas, mismanagement coupled with hardware and software issues led to webOS’s untimely demise. It just wasn’t in the cards for webOS to survive up against (at the time) Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and others. The field was too crowded.

But webOS’s legacy remains even today. There are so many pieces of webOS found in today’s modern smartphones, that the fans among us can still smile at the memory – and at the fact that it’s 2017, and we’re still talking about it. In fact, these days the OS is owned by LG and is what powers many of their Smart TVs, even if you wouldn’t know it from looking at the UI.

Sunk like a stone

Pebble wasn’t the first smartwatch in the world, but it was arguably the first one the world noticed. The original Pebble, with its E Ink display, inadvertently set the standard for battery life in the smartwatch community. It’s a standard that no other product lived up to, even today. When Pebble burst onto the scene it set Kickstarter records and showed all the promise of what a good smartwatch could be.

Then came Android Wear, and the Apple Watch, and Tizen, and a number of other watches that all did more, but only lasted a day— if that. These other watches provided full-colored prettiness, slick animations, and tons added functionality that Pebble couldn’t match. Pebble released a color version of its watch – the Pebble Time – along with a newly revamped operating system which included 1984 Atari-style animations. The use of color e-ink maintained the high battery life, but the watch just couldn’t compete with the big players out there, and their Toy Story watch faces.

Pebble eventually sold to FitBit who basically scrapped the whole project. Support for the Pebble has ended, but a small core of developers and fans have devoted themselves to keeping the Pebble alive.

Facebook, go home

The HTC First was a monumental failure in almost every respect. Facebook Home wasn’t nearly mature enough to be a main feature of a smartphone and the time since has proven that it never would…

Joe Hindy

2013 saw Facebook dive into the mobile market with… a custom Android Launcher? Facebook Home basically took over your lock screen, updating it with a rotation of status updates from your friends. The neat part was that photos from your friend’s feed served as the background for those updates. It was pretty.

Facebook Home also introduced Chat Heads, floating chat bubbles that expanded into Facebook Messenger. This allowed you to have a conversation going, quickly minimize it to look at something on your screen, then bring it back by tapping the bubble. You could move them around the screen, up/down/left/right. This was a polarizing feature. Personally, I was a fan, but plenty didn’t.

What really nailed this down as a tech failure was the device that actually came out at the event.

First at what?

…HTC was only on the verge of collapse back then and the First only served to hasten its dramatic swan dive. The HTC First and Facebook Home are both now little more than bad memories, forgotten in the great flow of time, where they belong.

Joe Hindy

HTC announced the First alongside Facebook Home. It was the first phone to natively incorporate Facebook Home as its skin. It was a midrange phone with a relatively poor camera. Some folks figured out that it you turned off Facebook Home, you got a mostly stock Android experience. Since stock Android is the best in the world, it was awesome!

Actually, it was still a midrange phone with a crappy camera. But hey, stock Android, right?

Overall, Facebook Home was predicated on the fact that people still used Facebook, and the HTC First was predicated on the fact that people wanted Facebook Home. Both were fine for heavy Facebook users, like myself. But a “Facebook phone” was a bit ahead of its time for many. Maybe if it were a Snapchat phone, this would be a different conversation. No, probably not.

Curved displays

The LG G Flex came along in 2015 with a full curve to the entire device. It set the device apart from all others, but what did it really solve? Nothing.

Jonathan Feist

The LG G Flex line brings us a two-fer of failures. The curved screen of the LG G Flex and LG G Flex 2 offered some unique capabilities. Like the 18:9 screen ratios of today, the curved screen made the G Flex and the G Flex 2 feel smaller and easier to use in one hand. Arguably, today’s implementation is more elegant. The curved screen of the Flex also allowed the phone to slip more easily into a back pocket, and hold up to your face. Regardless of the cheek the phone interacted with, the curved added to the elegance.

Curved screens abound today in larger form factors, like TV’s. At the size of a TV, curving a screen makes a ton of sense. It allows you to have a more immersive experience with your media. At 5.5 inches, you don’t really get that same sense of immersion, unless you want to hold the phone up to your face and give yourself a headache.

We also need to give an honorable mention to the Samsung Galaxy Round which… well, let’s just say there are some things that are better off dead.

Smartphone, heal thyself

“I was happily making my hands-on video…took my key out and just rubbed it on the back of the phone. I didn’t think i pressed all that hard, but I did.”

Joshua Vergara

Also on the Flex line of phones, LG experimented with a self-healing material that could rid phone backs of scratches and nicks. This tech was a little more experimental in nature. The self-healing part of the phone back worked, as long as you were willing to rub out the scratches. Scratching your phone too deeply could still be permanent, too– even self-healing tech has its limits. As long as you kept the scratches to hairline, or smaller, you were good to go.

The tech was limited as hell, but in a time where smartphones were all becoming more and more alike, it was nice to see a company sidestep and try something new. We respect LG for trying that out, even if neither innovation really made headway in the industry.


Finally we come to one of the biggest failures in recent memory – Google Glass. Though calling this a “failure” might be premature as a new version is on the way. This new version is geared more toward enterprise applications – factory floors, etc. Frankly that’s probably the smartest thing Alphabet could have done with this product because of how messed up the 1.0 version was.

You could point to various parts of the device – the battery life, the functionality, and so on – as its main downside. But the fact of the matter was Google was likely never going to shake off the “glassholes” moniker that its users got saddled with early on. From its inception, Google Glass was subject to ridicule (#peacock). The device was simply not socially acceptable to wear because people were afraid of being surreptitiously filmed. Google glass brought with it an aura of douchiness even greater than that exuded by the those who walked around with a Bluetooth earpieces in all the time. It also mixed in a healthy dose of paranoia.

The good news is Google definitely learned from this failure. The next generation of Enterprise-focused Google Glass is already progressing. One can hope that this experiment will yet yield fruit, even if it’s not as sexy as a consumer product.


Tech failures aren’t necessarily bad . As often as not, we learn something from our failures. My father always told me, “As long as you learn from your mistakes, they’re not mistakes. They’re experiments.” OEMs these days could stand to experiment a bit more, if I do say so myself. As long as we’re learning what works and what doesn’t, we’re all the better for it.

What about you? What are your favorite tech experiments from the past few years? Why do you think they  failed? Did you buy into any of them? Sound off in the comments below! Who knows, maybe the next great experiment is on the horizon.

Android Authority

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Wrecker’s Revenge – Gumball is Cartoon Network’s latest wacky mobile game

Cartoon Network’s latest game, Wrecker’s Revenge – Gumball, has now landed free to play in the Google Play Store. The platforming title sees you take control of Gumball Watterson as you direct him through levels (voids) using floating islands to help him reach the end.

The game is based on Cartoon Network’s The Amazing World of Gumball TV series, and it looks like it will offer fairly lightweight platforming action. You can manipulate the floating islands to allow you to reach them, and use power-ups like the giant Gummy Hand to swing across gaps and Universal Remote to rewind time. Each level is also procedural generated, so you’ll never come across the same scenario twice.

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Oh, and you’ll meet the cast of characters from the show like Richard, Nicole, and not forgetting Banana Joe, along the way.

Wrecker’s Revenge – Gumball also includes gamepad support and there’s no talk of in-app purchases, though Cartoon Network says its other products and services are cross-promoted in-game.

It looks like a decent time-killer and you can download it in the Play Store via the button below. If you want to check out other titles featuring Gumball, like Agent Gumball or Sky Streaker – Gumball, visit the Cartoon Network developer page at Google Play.

Android Authority

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Latest Android Oreo bug disables mobile data on some Pixel and Nexus devices

Android 8.0 Oreo already rolled out to most Pixel and Nexus devices, and although it offers quite a few useful and interesting features, it also has a few annoying bugs on board. The latest one disables all mobile data usage prematurely on some carriers around the world, as reported by a number of users on the Google Product Forums.

Certain carriers provide customers with unlimited access to certain apps like WhatsApp, for example. What this means is that even though you have used up all of your mobile data, you should still be able to use these apps. Unfortunately, it looks like Oreo doesn’t know, this because as soon as you reach your data allowance for the month, mobile data is shut off completely.

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What’s more, some users are also reporting that the mobile data on their Pixel devices is turned off despite the fact they haven’t yet used all of it. This is a software issue and, thankfully, Google is already aware of it.

A Pixel Community Manager announced on the forums that the company is looking into the issue and will fix it via an update. When exactly it will be available is anyone’s guess at this point, but we likely won’t have to wait for long as the problem was described as “high priority” by the community manager.

Have you been experiencing this issue on your Pixel or Nexus smartphone? Let us know in the comments.

Android Authority

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Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform brings 4G to entry-level handsets

Qualcomm has unveiled a new mobile chip for entry-level handsets at a launch event in New Delhi today. The Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform is designed to bring 4G connectivity to entry-level smartphones and low cost features phones, to keep up with and accelerate demand for faster mobile data in emerging markets.

The 205 SoC comes equipped with a Category 4 LTE modem for peak download speeds of up to 150Mbps and uploads at 50Mbps, with support for dual SIMs too. There’s also Bluetooth 4.1, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, ANT+, and FM radio support included.

However, unlike the high performance SoCs that we may traditionally associate with Qualcomm, the 205 is designed with maximum power efficiency and low costs in mind. The SoC contains a dual core CPU configuration running at 1.1GHz and is accompanied by an unspecified Adreno GPU that can output a resolution of just 480p at 60fps. Still, Qualcomm states that the processor supports a “Linux based OS”, so presumably a cut down version of Android will run just fine. Qualcomm also mentions that the chip should be able to offer up to 34 days of standby time, 16 hours of voice calls, and 80 hours of music playback when presumably used in a low power feature phone.

“Qualcomm Technologies is committed to the migration of users and networks from 2G, 2.5G,and 3G to 4G … Feature phones are a lifeline in many emerging countries and the Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform allows us to bring 4G connectivity and services to the masses with devices at price points never seen before.”  –  Kedar Kondap, vice president, product management, Qualcomm

Importantly, the chip is pin compatible with Qualcomm’s existing entry level Snapdragon 210 and 212, giving manufacturers a cost effective and convenient solution to incorporate the 205 with existing designs and technology.

According to research from IDC, feature phones remain in high demand in many countries, with 56 percent of users opting for one over a smartphone in India during 2016, and 49 percent in Vietnam. However, India’s 4G capable phone shipments are expected to accelerate from 55 percent this year to 90 percent in 2020, as consumers continue to be driven towards social media, consuming news online, making video calls, and streaming video. With the 205 SoC, Qualcomm is looking to enable local manufacturers to build these 4G devices at cost effective price points.

The Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform is expected to appear in its first devices come the second quarter of 2017.


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Google acquires Twitter’s mobile app development division Fabric

Twitter is making yet another move away from its side properties and divisions. Fabric, the mobile app development platform that Twitter launched in 2014, has now been acquired by Google.

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Fabric was developed by Twitter to give app creators some new tools to help grow. They included the Crashlytics toolkit, which was designed to help developers find the reasons why their apps crashed. They also included the MoPub tools so that developers could more easily put advertisements inside apps. Finally, there was the Twitter Kit, which allowed apps to embed Twitter posts, along with a way to post Twitter messages from within third-party applications.

In the blog post announcing its acquisition by Google, the Fabric team said it would be joining that company’s Developer Products Group, and specifically its Firebase team. In a separate blog post, Firebase confirmed that Fabric’s Crashlytics tools will become the main crash analytical program for the team. The specific financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This is just the latest move by Twitter to get rid of some of their secondary tools and services so it can concentrate its efforts on its main social network. Earlier this week, it officially shut down its Vine six-second online video service, replacing the app with the lower-end Vine Camera.

Android Authority

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Sony reportedly looking into new ventures, partnerships and sales for their mobile division

SONY Brand Shot logo CES 2014-3

Sony’s mobile division has been suffering over the past few years, and the company may be looking into a new venture to turn their business around. In a recent report, Sony is said to be exploring other options including new business partnerships and even a sale when it comes to the company’s mobile division. The report from Reuters doesn’t name any specific deals or avenues Sony is looking towards, but we do know that the electronics giant is looking for new ventures to save their dying mobile branch. Sony CEO, Kazuo Hirai, explains that “the mobile and TV businesses both require a drastic overhaul.” He goes on to say, “Without drastic reforms such as joint ventures or alliances, they will both be in the red three years from now.”

Sony has been largely focusing on high-end mobile phones and cost cutting over the past few years, and it’s apparent that these attempts to save money aren’t warranting any results. At CES 2015, Hirai elaborated on the company’s status to a group of reporters:

Electronics in general, along with entertainment and finance, will continue to be an important business. But within that there are some operations that will need to be run with caution – and that might be TV or mobile, for example.

All of these alternate business ventures haven’t spawned completely out of the blue, though. In late 2012, Sony moved its headquarters to Japan and vowed to cut 1,000 jobs by the year 2014. The effort didn’t produce many results because Sony later reported a $ 1.7 billion loss due to poor smartphone sales in late 2014. If that didn’t make a big difference, Sony has also recently planned to slim their smartphone line down to hopefully return some sort of profit.

Sony looking into other business opportunities seems to be a last-ditch effort on Hirai’s part to turn the company’s mobile division around. For now, only time will tell what the company will do to increase profits.

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