April 10th, 2014

AndroidPhone_Apr07_CThe release of Office on mobile devices allows users to view and edit their files while on the go. Office Mobile 2013, the latest version of the mobile suite was recently updated for the Android platform. However, prior to the update a subscription to Office 365 was needed in order to use it. This is no longer the case and you can now use Office on your Android device for free.

Free you say? Is it time to ditch Office 365?

Not so fast! If you are a business owner, it's not advisable to ditch your Office 365 subscription. This is because the Office app is free for home use, but if you have an Office 365 business account, you need to have a paid Office 365 Business subscription to edit and save documents.

The benefits of using Office on your Android

The Microsoft Office Mobile suite is a collection of mobile versions of the popular Microsoft Office. Since it’s now available for free, you may want to take advantage of what the programs have to offer.

One of the benefits of having Office on your device is that you can access or create files while on the go. Even if you’re not in front of your computer, you can still be productive as you work on important files anytime, anywhere. It is integrated with OneDrive so your files are synced, allowing you to continue working on your computer after working on your mobile device.

Office on your Android supports popular Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats so you won't have problems opening and editing files. Office Mobile is also optimized for tablets and phones, making it convenient to use even on a small screen.

Office Mobile core applications

Office Mobile is a stripped down version of the Office Suite. Limited applications and features are available to make it work smoothly on mobile devices. Word Mobile, Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile are the three programs that come with it.

Word Mobile

Word Mobile can be generally used like its desktop counterpart. While the desktop version supports more file formats, the mobile version is still be able to open a Word file that has an unsupported format without editing options. To enable editing, you must first save the file as a .DocX file which is supported by the mobile version.

Images, tables and lists can be added to a Word Mobile document. Other features that you can use include: find and replace, word count, and spell checker, though some fonts are not supported. For example, page breaks, footers, headers, endnotes, and footnotes cannot be used, though these will be kept if the original file contains them.

PowerPoint Mobile

PowerPoint Mobile was the last application to join the Office Mobile suite. On the Android version you can open, as well as edit presentations using PowerPoint, whether from the desktop or Web version. When it comes to authoring, it is only possible to edit text and add notes.

Excel Mobile

This application is compatible with its desktop counterpart. The Android version lets you open, save, edit, and create spreadsheets in '.xlsx' format. Files saved in '.xls' can also be viewed but not edited or saved. Using Excel Mobile, you can create graphs and charts, format cells and use formulas for simple calculations. Split panes and full screen mode are also supported.

Mobile Office is a fantastic addition to your Android apps, especially now that it comes for free for home users, and for business users with paid Office 365 subscriptions. You can now have the flexibility of accessing documents or working on important files anytime, using your mobile device.

If you have questions about Mobile Office connect with us and we will help you find productivity boosting solutions.

Published with permission from Source.

March 13th, 2014

AndroidPhone_Mar10_CSmartphones have become one of the most essential tools a business owner has at their disposal. With an ever expanding number of features, these devices are more mobile computer than phone. That being said, communication features like the text message are still one of the most popular features. While texts are useful, some Android users are unsure about where to find their messages.

On the vast majority of Android devices there is more than one app that supports text messages. Here is an overview of the apps and how you can find text messages on your Android device.

The stock 'Messages' app

On almost all Android devices, especially those that use what's called an overlay (the device manufacturer's take on Android), there is the stock Messages app. When you first set up your phone, this is the app that will allow you to view and send messages by default.

Most devices already have a shortcut to this app on your device's home screen, usually in the drawer at the bottom of the screen. It usually looks like a speech bubble or an envelope with the words Messaging below it.

  1. Tapping on this app will open your text messages allowing you to read, send and reply to any messages. If you can't find this app, try:
  2. Clicking on the Apps icon on the bottom of your phone. It is usually represented by two rows of grey dots.
  3. Looking through the apps that come up. You are looking for an app with any of the icons listed above, or is called Messaging or SMS.
  4. Tapping on the app once you find it.
If you like, you can press on the app's icon for a second or two and then drag it to your device's Home Screen in order to place a shortcut there.

Google Hangouts

On new Google Nexus devices - especially the Nexus 5 - you probably won't find a messaging app. That is because Google has eliminated it, instead turning Google Hangouts into the new text messaging app.

Hangouts started as the instant messaging platform of Google+ and was then introduced as the new version of Google Chat, and finally the messaging platform on Google devices. In other words, Google Hangouts is the one app for instant messaging and texts across Google's platforms.

If you have the Hangouts app installed on your device, your text messages should show up when you open it. If you can't find your messages/would like to use Hangouts as your SMS app you can do so by:

  1. Opening Hangouts and signing in (if you need to) using your Google account.
  2. Pressing the three vertical squares at the top-right of the screen.
  3. Selecting Settings followed by SMS.
  4. Tapping on SMS Enabled followed by Default SMS app in the window that opens.
  5. Selecting Hangouts.
Your text messages should show up within a few seconds in the main hangouts messaging screen.

Which should I use?

This is a question some users have asked, as it can be slightly confusing as to which app they should be using. The true answer to the question is either! The stock apps, and Hangouts both offer full text messaging capabilities, it really comes down to which you prefer. Some apps present SMS messages in a clear and easy to read manner which some people prefer over Hangouts, while Hangouts is preferred by others, especially Google users.

If you are looking to learn more about the features of your Android phone, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from Source.

January 16th, 2014

AndroidPhone_Jan13_CAndroid devices are among the most popular smartphones out there. These small computers have revolutionized the way we communicate and interact with one another and will continue to become increasingly integrated into our daily lives. Like their larger cousins, Android devices do freeze from time-to-time. If this happens to your device, will you know how to deal with it?

If your Android phone or an app on the phone has frozen, here are two things you can try.

Frozen app? Try to force close it

Oftentimes when people say their phone has stopped working, the phone is running fine, it's an app that isn't working properly or which may have frozen completely. Because this does happen from time-to-time, Android has a built-in way you can force close apps when they stop working. This can be achieved by:
  1. Hitting the home button on your phone to go to the Home Screen (If you are in the app).
  2. Sliding down the notifications menu (slide from the top of your phone's screen) and tapping on the profile icon in the top-right.
  3. Tapping on Settings followed by Apps.
  4. Scrolling to the app that has stopped working and pressing on it.
  5. Pressing Force stop under the app's icon followed by OK.
These steps will close the app and usually keep it closed until you reopen the app again. However, some apps are essential and need to remain open in order for your phone to operate properly. If you are unsure of what an app does, don't force close it.

Did you try turning it off and on again?

There is a long-running gag on the tv show the IT Crowd where the techies in the basement answer every phone call by asking the caller if they have tried turning their computer off and on again.

While this may sound silly, and maybe even a little patronizing, restarting your device could be the solution it needs. In fact, many common errors are usually fixed by simply restarting your device. There are two types of restart you can execute:

  1. If you can still navigate your phone - Press and hold the power button for a second or two and the shutdown window should open. Tap on Power off and wait a few seconds. Your screen should go black and the device will be off. If you have low power, it may be a good idea to plug your phone in and charge it for a few minutes before starting your device up again. This type of shutdown/restart is the best because it allows your device to close all apps and stop all processes before it turns off.
  2. If your phone has frozen - This means you are not able to select apps and pushing the buttons does nothing. Android devices have different force restarts with most requiring you to hold the power button and volume down buttons for up to 10 seconds. Others require you to hold the power button and both of the volume buttons down. When the screen goes black, your device should switch off.
When a device has frozen, many people take the battery out - this should be an absolute last resort, as you could damage your device. If you can't remove the back cover of your device to get to the batter, don't try to remove it. Instead, try a forced restart. If this doesn't work, try plugging your device in and letting it charge for a few minutes before restarting it.

Should the device still not work, the best thing to do is to bring it to a mobile expert like us. We may be able to help you. And, if you are looking to learn more about your Android device, contact us today.

Published with permission from Source.

December 19th, 2013

AndroidPhone_Dec17_CAndroid is one of the big two mobile operating systems, offering apps for virtually everything. Google alone has more than 10 different apps, one of the more potentially useful being Google Now. This app is a digital assistant that can help you find the information you need while presenting additional information like traffic, important activities, etc. You can even interact with it by speaking.

How to use Google Now

With most phones, you can access Google Now by pressing and holding the home button on your device. You should see a circle appear on the screen that says Google. Swipe up to it and let go to open the app. If that doesn't work, open the app drawer on your device and look for the Google app (blue square with a lowercase g). Owners of the Nexus 5, should be able to say, "Ok, Google", from anywhere on the main screen or swipe to the left from the home screen to open Google Now.

Once you are taken to the main Google Now screen you will see useful cards that the app deems relevant to you e.g., weather, traffic, time to home, sport scores, upcoming calendar of events, information related to your most recent Google search, upcoming flight information and more.

To start a search, or interact with Google Now, simply say: "Ok, Google." If that doesn't work, tap the microphone in the search bar at the top so that you can use voice commands.

General commands

These commands are search related and you can use them to find information on Google Search. You can start a search by saying "Search for (something)," If you ask Google Now to "Search for the nearest computer repair shop," for example, you should get the same results you would using Google Search on your browser.

You can also start a search by asking a question. Ask, for example, "How many gallons is 5 liters?" and you should see the conversion pop right up.

If you come across a word and are unsure what it means, ask the app to, "Define (word)", or ask, "What does (word) mean?" You should see the definition displayed, along with additional information.

Setting notes and reminders

You can also use Google Now to set reminders and notes by saying:
  • Wake me up at (time e.g., 5 am tomorrow) - This will take you to your phone's alarm screen and automatically set your alarm.
  • Remind me to (action) on/at (time) e.g., (remind me to order pizza at 11:00 am) - This will set a reminder on your phone and let you know at 11:00 am to order pizza. You can even ask to set location specific reminders e.g., "Remind me when I get to work to email Jane."


There are a number of useful commands you can use to interact with the communication features of your phone.
  • Call (person) - Be sure to say the name of the contact as they are on your phone. If you have more than one contact with the same, or similar name, the app will ask you which one you want to call.
  • Send email to (person) subject (your subject) body (your message) - This will create an email message directly in Google Now. If the email is correct, you can press the send icon, all without having to open your email app.
  • Send SMS to (contact) (message) - Will draft a text message directly in Google Now. If the app is unsure of the contact, you will be asked to pick from a list. If the message is correct, you will be able to send it directly from the app.
There are actually over 60 useful voice commands you can use with Google Now. Check out this infographic to see all of them. If you would like to learn more about using Android in your business, please contact us today.
Published with permission from Source.

November 21st, 2013

AndroidPhone_Nov18_CHalloween is one of the most popular holidays for children in many countries across the globe. Youngsters get to dress up and run around getting candy all night - it's great. This year, adults got a treat too and there was another group of very excited people - Android fans. This was because Google finally took the wrapper off of their new version of Android - 4.4 KitKat and also introduced the new Nexus 5.

Below is a brief overview of the new Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 and what they mean for businesses.

Nexus 5 - Possibly 2013's worst kept secret News of this latest phone was rumored and even leaked months before Google announced it. Everyone who is a tech follower knew all about it already. So, when Google finally announced its introduction no one was really that surprised.

It is now expected that Google will announce a new Nexus phone each year. This is the device that Google deems to be the new benchmark for all future Android devices. With a stock version of Android, this is also the closest you will get to a 'pure Google' experience, not to mention the fact that these devices are usually quite powerful.

The Nexus 5, built by LG, is the benchmark device for late 2013/2014 and will be the among the first devices to get new versions of Android when these come out later next year.

If you are looking at this device for business purposes, here are six specifications that you might want to focus on and consider:

  • Size and display - This device has a 4.95 inch screen (from top-left to bottom-right corners) and is a little over five inches long. The display itself is 1920x1080 pixels, and many reviewers are calling it the best display on a smartphone to date. Like most other high-end smartphones, you likely won't struggle reading font on this device even when zoomed in.
  • Processor - The Nexus 5 has a processor that is more powerful than many of today's lower to mid-range laptops. Clocking in at 2.26GHz, it can handle everything you do on a smartphone without any issues.
  • Storage and memory - There are two versions of the Nexus 5. One with 16GB and the other with 32GB of storage. Both versions should be more than enough storage space for all business users. The device also has 2GB of RAM which ensures that you will be more than able to run multiple programs at the same time.
  • Connectivity - As with most new phones, you will be able to connect to 4G/LTE data networks (if they are available in your area). If you don't have 4G/LTE, this phone can also connect to 3G and Wi-Fi networks. This means you will be able to easily stay in contact with the office, usually with high-speed connections.
  • Battery - LG has put a bigger battery in the Nexus 5, thus many users are seeing the phone lasting a full day, or more, on one charge. This is great news for business users away from the office or a charger for long periods of time.
  • Price and availability - The Nexus 5 is available in the US, Australia and the UK now from the Google Play store, and is also available from many carriers and electronic stores around the world. Possibly the biggest draw for this phone is the price - the 16GB costs USD $349 while the 32GB costs $399 on the Google Play store and comes unlocked.
This makes the device affordable for many users, including small businesses - especially if purchased on contract.

Break us off a piece of that KitKat The Nexus 5 is the first device to be launched with the newest version of Android - Android 4.4 KitKat. As with the last few versions of Android, the 4.4 version is an incremental update instead of a completely new operating system. There are a number of new updates introduced in 4.4 worthy of note that business users will benefit from.

  • SMS rolled into Hangouts - Google has decided to roll their SMS app into their chat app Hangouts. In fact, on any phones with Hangout installed, and updated to the latest version, you should be able to view and send SMS messages. With the Nexus 5, Hangouts is the SMS app.
  • Increased Google Now presence - Google Now, Google's voice-powered assistant has been beefed up, and can now be accessed by swiping left from the home screen. You can also activate Google Search, programs and give basic commands like calling or messaging people from the home screen by simply saying, "Ok, Google". If you don't want to speak, you can enter your search from the now omnipresent Search bar at the top of the screen.
  • New version of QuickOffice - QuickOffice comes installed on nearly all Android devices and is the app used to open documents and PDFs that are downloaded to your phone. The new version allows users to open, edit and create Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents. It is also integrated with Google Drive, allowing you to store files on Drive, or even other cloud services.
  • Support for more devices - Google has noted that Android 4.4 was designed to work on a wider number of devices, especially those with lower hardware specifications. This should help push 4.4 to more devices.
As is usual for Android, newer Google Nexus devices will get the update soon, probably by the end of November. Older devices, like the Google Nexus from 2011, will not be getting the update, and devices made by other companies will have to wait to see what the manufacturer does. If you have a relatively new device, chances are good you will receive an update, it just may take a while.

Is the Nexus 5 good for businesses? If you are in the market for a new smartphone that can do anything and everything, then the Nexus 5 is likely the best phone currently available, especially considering the price is much lower than similar unlocked phones.

Of course, if you are still on contract with an existing phone and are looking to upgrade you should contact your mobile provider to see if the phone is available and that you can upgrade to it.

Before you do rush out and purchase the Nexus 5 however, you should make sure that your existing systems will integrate well with it. Why not contact us, as we can help ensure that any new phone will work with the systems you already have in place, or may be able to provide a solution for you.

Published with permission from Source.

October 23rd, 2013

AndroidPhone_Oct21_CIt's widely believed that businesses need to have an online presence. There are many ways a business can do this, one of the more useful is to have a Places page on Google. If you have a Google Places for Business page and an Android device, the company has recently released a mobile app to help you manage your Places page.

Here is an overview of the Places for Business app.

What is the Places for Business app? It is becoming increasingly apparent that users are conducting more business on their mobile devices. One function of business that has been slow to adopt the mobile platform is marketing. Sure, there are mobile specific ads and most apps come with advertising, but many marketing platforms lack mobile centric apps.

Take for example Google Places for Business. If you needed to change something or manage your Places page, you would have to either do so on a desktop or in your device's browser which can render a full desktop page, which is usually a bit of a chore.

Because Google Places for Business is an important part of the Google platform - it gives businesses a centralized way to manage their business's presence on Google's services - many marketers and business owners usually pay close attention to this. As such, they needed an easy way to access and manage their information from a mobile device.

Google has recently answered that request by launching the Google Places for Business Android app. With this app users can control and update their Places listings from their Android device. You can also change your business's hours, description, contact information, add photos and even post updates on Google+.

However, the most important feature of this app is that it allows you to view business related metrics, such as the effectiveness of your Ad campaigns and changes. While this is a feature rich app, it currently doesn't have all the functionality of the desktop app. For example, you can't respond to user reviews or create new listings from the app. It is also only available for businesses in the US, but should be available worldwide soon.

If you are looking to learn more about this app, or how you can establish a presence on Google Places for Business, please contact us today.

Published with permission from Source.

September 26th, 2013

AndroidPhone_Sep24_CAndroid devices are among the most popular smartphones on the market. While these devices have taken off in popularity, keeping you connected in business to vital contacts, you are still going to get unwanted calls from telemarketers and other people. When this happens, your first reaction you may be to block the caller. Only, do you know how to do this on your device?

There are actually a number of different ways you can block calls, and it really depends on the type of phone you have. For most devices, call blocking options can usually be enabled from the contact app on your device. Here's how you can access and enable call blocking:

  1. Tap the Applications icon on the main screen of your phone.
  2. Scroll down to the People app and tap on it.

On some devices, like those running Stock Android (Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy 4, etc.) you can technically block individual callers by scrolling to the person in your contact list, tapping on the name and pressing the three vertical squares and selecting All calls to voicemail.

On most HTC devices you should be able to tap on the Menu icon and select Manage Contacts. From here, tap on Blocked Contacts, followed by Add to add people from your contact list. On many Samsung devices, you follow the same steps but the block contact list is called the reject list. Pressing Add to reject list from the menu section associated with individual contacts will reject calls from that caller.

It helps to play around with your phone, as some devices actually have the ability to block all calls. This can usually be found with the phone dialer app. Try opening it, and pressing the menu icon (different depending on the device) and looking for an option to block calls. It may be in Settings.

You could also try installing a call blocking app. Here are three free ones:

1. Call Blocker

This app is a call blocker and more. It allows you to block calls and SMS, by creating lists from your contacts. You can also reject calls from contacts or set up a call forwarding number and auto reply via text message. Beyond that, you can also back up contacts to the company's server and even transfer them to a new device. Free on Google Play.

2. Call Control - Call Blocker

This app is like a full call manager. It allows you to assign contacts and numbers to black and white lists, with any blacklisted numbers being blocked. When you assign numbers to a blacklist, you can set to either pick up, hang up, send to voicemail or mute the ringer.

If you live in the US, this app also supports the FCC's Do Not Call Registry. So, if you get a call from a number that has been reported to the FCC as a telemarketer, they will be automatically blocked. The LITE version of this app, which includes the basic blocking features and three numbers on a personal blacklist, is available for free on Google Play. You can upgrade to the full version from within the app, but for most users the LITE version should be adequate enough.

3. Mr. Number

This app allows users to block both calls and texts from individual contacts, area codes or international numbers. When you choose to block a number you can select from a number of options as to what you want the app to do including: hang up, send the call to voicemail, or pick up.

There is also reverse lookup available to users, which is a function that isn't found on most other apps. It allows users to look up a number to get more information about the mobile number or landline in the US. You get 20 free look ups and then have to buy more at 20 for USD$0.99.

The app is available for free on Google Play.

If you receive a high volume of unwanted calls, a call blocker app might be the best way to go. Learn more about Android and how it fits into the office environment by contacting us today.

Published with permission from Source.

August 29th, 2013

AndroidPhone_Aug26_CHave you ever been away from the office or home only to pause for a moment and realize that you've lost your phone? It may have been stolen or misplaced. If you have an Android device it could be hard to find. Luckily, Google has recently launched the Android Device Manager which aims to help users track their lost devices, and more.

Here is an overview of Google's new Device Manager for Android.

About Android Device Manager Google's new Android Device Manager was introduced in August 2013 and is a tool designed to help you find your lost phone. Like other device location services you can access it via your web browser by going to:

When you visit this site you, you will first be asked to log into your Google account, if you aren't already. If you log in to an account you have registered an Android device to, you should see a Google Map come up with a box to the right. In the box will be your device, or devices, along with their location. Selecting a device will locate it on the map and give you three options:

  1. Rename the device - Pressing the pencil icon will allow you to rename the device to anything you want. This is useful especially if you have more than one Android device.
  2. Ring - Pressing this will cause your phone or tablet to ring on maximum volume for five minutes. The cool thing about this is that it will also work for tablets that don't have calling capabilities. The ringing will stop once the screen is touched.
  3. Erase - This will trigger a factory reset of your phone, erasing everything on it.
How to set up and use In order for the Device Manager to work, your device will need to be switched on, and properly set up. Here's how you can do that:
  1. Go to the Android Device Manager website, and log in with the Google account you use on your Android phone.
  2. Select your phone from the box on the left. The Manager will locate it.
  3. Open the App drawer on your device, scroll down and tap on Google Settings.
  4. Tap Android Device Manager and ensure that both Remotely locate this device and Allow remote factory reset are ticked.
  5. You will now be able to map your device in real time and erase it if you suspect that it has been stolen. If you have more than once Android device, click on the device's name and you should see a list of the other devices.
This is a great new feature that could prove useful in the unfortunate event that you lose your phone. Just be aware that if you press Erase, your phone will be reset - all files, apps and information will be gone. It is therefore be a good idea to ensure that important files are backed up.

Looking for more information on Android in the workplace? Why not call us for a chat?

Published with permission from Source.

August 1st, 2013

AndroidPhone_July29_CThe modern phone, or smartphone, has become one of the most popular business gadgets, with people in all corporate positions procuring these handy devices. One of the bigger phone systems is Google's Android, which has tons of popular apps, one of which is found on almost every device - Google Maps. This useful app has recently been updated with some impressive new features.

In early July, Google released the newest version of Google Maps, and with it introduced a number of new features and a generally new interface. Here is an overview of the changes this update has brought with it:

Modified layout The new layout of the Maps app is sleek, and a number of buttons and boxes have been removed to make it feel less cluttered. When you open the app now you see the map of your current location, and across the top is the search bar. Beside the search bar is the navigation button and your profile. You will also notice two buttons at the bottom. On the bottom-right is the compass/static map button. Pressing it turns on the compass and allows the map to rotate as you move your phone. On the bottom-left is a button with three gray lines. Tapping this will bring up the menu.

The menu has a number of options, including: Traffic, Public transit routes, Cycling routes, Satellite images, a link to Google Earth and Settings.

You will notice small changes to the map itself too. For instance, it looks cleaner, with roads highlighted for more effect. You will also see local businesses and points of interest show up as circles on your map. Tapping one of these will slide up a card with more information, a street view, contact information and directions. If you slide the card up you will be able to rate the location and see any reviews. The overall look is really slick.

Improved navigation An increasing number of Android owners are using their device for navigation and Google has gone to great lengths to improve the navigation within the Map app. When you are in navigation mode, traffic will automatically pop up and alternative routes will be highlighted - without you having to inquire about these. The improvements are really useful, especially if you spend a lot of time on the road and use Google Maps as a navigational tool.

Change of ratings for businesses In the past, Google has relied on ratings from sites like Zagat for local business information. These ratings can be a bit confusing, especially since they are scored out of 30. Google has now gone back to a standard 5-star rating system. The Zagat ratings, and those from other sites, have all been converted into a standard, easy to read system. These ratings are also displayed right under the name of the business as both a star rating and number (out of five).

Google has also made it easier for users to rank businesses and write reviews directly from Maps. They can just bring up the card in Maps (search for a business), and scroll down a bit. They can then select how many stars to give a business AND write a review.

For businesses like yours it is now a good idea to encourage customers to leave reviews on your Google+ Local page, or directly from the app.

Offline maps missing The one feature that many users are missing is the ability to download or 'cache' maps for use when you don't have a data or Internet connection. Contrary to popular belief, Google didn't actually get rid of this feature, they just hid it. If you want to download a map for offline use you can do so by:

  1. Navigating to the area where you want to download the map for.
  2. Tapping on the Search bar.
  3. Pressing the Microphone button on the right of the bar.
  4. Saying: Ok Maps.
You should notice a bar at the top of the screen that says: Pre-loading maps, along with a counter. It could take a minute to download, but when it is finished, you should be able to view this part of the map while offline.

If you are looking to learn more about the Maps app or how Android can fit into your office, please contact us today and map out a better future for your business for target customers who find your online.

Published with permission from Source.

July 4th, 2013

AndroidPhone_July03_CWhen it comes to mobile phones, the majority of users chose between one of two systems: Apple or Android. Android is, numbers-wise, the most used OS (it's installed on more devices). It is also available on a wider number of devices than Apple's system. In late June, two new Android devices, labeled as Google Play editions, were introduced, which are different from other devices.

Here is an overview of Google Play edition phones and what they could mean for Android users.

All about Google Play edition Android phones Earlier this year, manufacturers HTC and Samsung each released flagship phones - the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Both of these phones have the latest, and greatest hardware and specifications, and were heralded by many as the best phones on the market.

Unfortunately, due to the open nature of Android, many manufacturers put their own skin (how the software looks to us) on these devices. Compare an HTC Android phone with a Samsung Android phone and you can see they both handle the operating system differently. While the skins are usually good, they do pose a problem: When Google updates Android, the manufacturers have to update these too.

Google's latest version of Android is - 4.2.2. The HTC One runs Android 4.2.1, which is more than a year old by now. This has led to a fragmented market whereby older devices will probably never see updates that Google releases.

Google's answer to this has been to create the Nexus line of devices running what is called Stock Android. This is pure Google, and Nexus devices usually get Android updates as soon as Google releases them.

In May, 2013, after the HTC One and S4 had been released, an announcement was made that these two phones would be released without the skins and running Stock Android instead. Google called these Google Play editions, as they are sold on Google Play, the Android marketplace.

Google Play editions of the HTC One and Samsung S4, which are available now from the Play store, are phones with the exact same hardware as the versions sold by HTC and Samsung. The only difference is that they lack the skins and extras added by the two companies.

Nexus vs Google Play edition devices As we stated above, Google has their own version of devices that run Stock Android. The question some users have been asking is what the difference is between the two product lines. Well, the Nexus is a Google branded phone. Sure it's made by a manufacturer (Samsung and LG have both made them), but the key with Nexus devices is that they are what Google deems to be the "best" phone.

Google Play editions are marketed as versions of popular phones that run Stock Android. They are manufactured by one of the major companies and branded as such. Basically these editions give you the best of both worlds: Advanced hardware coupled with the latest version of Android.

The reason this is big news is because it marks a potential change in the way Google views Android. It could eventually lead to one operating system across multiple phones. Think of something like Apple's iOS, only it's on 10 different types of phone, not one. Of course this is a long way off, but it's a start. In other words, this could lead to a shift away from shopping for an OS and device, to shopping just for the device.

How do I buy Google Play edition phones? The devices are both available on the Google Play store, and will be shipped from July 9, 2013 onwards. The S4 will cost USD$649 while the HTC One will cost USD$599. They will be sold unlocked, so you will be able to use them world-wide, as long as the network is compatible.

Should I buy one? To many users looking for a new phone, especially those in North America, these devices may seem quite expensive but they actually don't cost any more than any other high-end smartphone. They just lack the usual carrier subsidy. The trade off is: They are unlocked, so you can use your phone wherever you go.

If you plan to travel lots, or don't want to be tied down to one mobile company, phones like these are a good idea. What's more, they have the most advanced mobile hardware available. If you take care of the device, there is no reason why it should not last at least 2-3 years or more.

These phones are also ideal for users who want the latest and greatest software from Google. You can guarantee that you will get updates almost as soon as they are out.

If you are looking to upgrade your phone, why not contact us today? We should be able to help find you one that's the best fit.

Published with permission from Source.