Category: Android Tablet

Android Tablet Sales Drop 10% in The Last Quarter of 2016

While there were a few bright spots, the Android tablet market continued to constrict in the last quarter of 2016 according to Strategy Analytics.  The site Q4 2016 report is out and with it, you see that overall, Android tablet sales dropped by 10% year-over-year with Samsung seeing a 10% drop themselves year-over-year.  Interestingly, relatively new comer Huawei saw a 49% increase in growth over last year as they made their first significant efforts in the tablet space in 2016.  It seems to have paid off – at least for now.  Amazon also enjoyed a nice growth rate of 21% thanks to their Fire lineup of Android-powered tablets.

The news on tablet sales didn’t just impact Android.  Apple saw a 19% drop in iPad sales year-over-year in Q4 2016.

Opinion – Chrome OS Could Kill The Android Tablet in 2017

As 2017 gets started, one thing has become abundantly clear to me:  The days of the Android tablet form factor are numbered.  Its not that the Android experience on tablets will kill them – which is pretty poor to be fair – but rather the flood of Chromebooks and other Chrome OS devices that are set to hit the market this year.  2017 will be the year that Chrome OS takes off for good with a wide range of form factors expected to be release and the much anticipated support of Android apps on the platform in Chrome 56.  The latter is due within days and the former, with the likes of Samsung’s new Chromebooks, will set the stage for a transformative year.

The push for the tablet form factor came fundamentally from Apple.  With the launch of the iPad, it suddenly became a tool by which you could get more things done on a larger screen.  Add to that portability and a lower cost, generally, than a laptop and you set the stage for a form factor that seemingly many wanted.  But for all the might of Apple, the iPad has never really taken hold.  Samsung, HTC and Google themselves have had the same struggles.  They brought the conveniences of a mobile Operating System and the associated apps but equally, they brought limitations that users did not experience on laptops.  It was, as if, they were a stop-gap measure until a proper merger of a desktop OS and a mobile OS could take place.

That merger is happening now with Chrome OS and Android.

Android apps running in Chrome will be more than just a stop gap.  You will get the benefits of an app ecosystem along with the power and productivity of a desktop OS.  Is it perfect?  No but it is a far cry better than having two completely desparent solutions to meet your productivity and entertainment needs.

I suspect that my usage of my Nexus 9 Android tablet is similar to many of you.  I like the tablet but 90% of my use of it is for entertainment:  Games, movie watching and social networking.  Rarely do I use it for productivity, even with the solid Google productivity apps like Docs, Sheets and Slides.  The only time I really use it for productivity is when I’m on an airplane, in coach, crammed into a little seat with little room to pull out a 14″ Chromebook to work.  If I’m in business class or First class, the Chromebook is always the weapon of choice to get things done.  So the question becomes, if I had my entertainment on a slate or convertible Chrome OS-based device, would I need a tablet?  The answer, in my mind, is a resounding no.

Today’s Deal – Huawei MediaPad M3 Tablet – $299 on Amazon

Today’s Deal is on a well appointed new tablet from Huawei.  The MediaPad M3 is their latest offering and the 8.4″ tablet sports 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a 2560 x 1600 pixel IPS display for $299.  To make this an even sweeter deal, the M3 has Harmon Kardon tuned sound so you should have a great media experience with it on top of the great overall specs.  The new tablet from Huawei was announced in November and hit the Amazon digital shelves in December.  If you are an Amazon Prime customer, shipping is free.

The MediaPad M3 is powered by the Octa-Core Kirin 950 processor running at 2.3GHz and it is coupled with the Mali-T880 MP4 GPU.  This combination should do great for everyday use and you have plenty of RAM to support the processor which always helps.

Today’s Deal – Huawei MediaPad M3 Tablet – $299 on Amazon

Today’s Deal is on a well appointed new tablet from Huawei.  The MediaPad M3 is their latest offering and the 8.4″ tablet sports 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a 2560 x 1600 pixel IPS display for $299.  To make this an even sweeter deal, the M3 has Harmon Kardon tuned sound so you should have a great media experience with it on top of the great overall specs.  The new tablet from Huawei was announced last month and hit the Amazon digital shelves yesterday.  If you are an Amazon Prime customer, shipping is free.

The MediaPad M3 is powered by the Octa-Core Kirin 950 processor running at 2.3GHz and it is coupled with the Mali-T880 MP4 GPU.  This combination should do great for everyday use and you have plenty of RAM to support the processor which always helps.

Google 7″ Android Tablet Likely On Its Way

Based on a leak from the ever reliable Evan Blass, it looks like we could well see a new 7″ Android tablet from Google coming very soon.  In fact, it could be as early as next month with the October 4th event slated to announce the new Pixel phones, a 4K Google Cast device, Google Assistant and Google Home.  Adding a tablet to that mix wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.

If the rumor is true, this would be a welcome device by many Android fans.  The very popular Nexus 7 (2013) tablet is no longer available or supported as far as major releases are concerned and the only real Google branded tablet option is the Pixel C.  That’s a nice device and Android Nougat has certainly made it more usable, but at 10″, it is bigger than what some people will want or need.

Amazon Fire 7 and 10 Tablets On Sale Through Valentines Day

If you are heavily invested in the Amazon ecosystem and are in the market for a good, mid-market tablet, the Amazon Fire 7 tablet is currently on sale for $39.99 at the online retailer.  That’s a $10 savings off the normal price and gets you a tablet for eReading, video streaming, email and other basic functions, is more than up to the task.  The Amazon Fire 7 has a 7″ display that renders at 1024 x 600, is powered by a 1.5 GHz processor and has 8GB of onboard storage.  That storage can be expanded by an additional 128GB thanks to the integrated MicroSD slot.  As you would expect, this tablet takes full advantage of Amazon’s digital services with the Kindle ebook reader built in as well as Amazon Underground, the self-built app store from the company where you can download apps and games, many of which are free.  Many times Amazon offers apps in the Underground that you would have to pay for at the Google Play Store.

Nexus 9 is 40% Off Right Now at HTC

If you have been in the market for the HTC built Nexus 9, today is the day to make it happen.  Over at the HTC site, you can pick up Android tablet for 40% off the regular price.  To sweeten the deal even more, HTC is throwing in a free Logitech wireless keyboard.  The pricing makes this pure Android experience tablet a real steal with the 32GB Wi-Fi model down to just $287.40.  There is no coupon code required to get the price.  Just go to the HTC site, add the tablet to your cart and the price will be adjusted.

How To Encrypt You Android Phone or Tablet

Securing your personal information on mobile devices is paramount in today’s world.  With our phones and tablets containing banking information, credit information, work information and other sensitive content, having that information get into a thief’s hands is a borderline nightmare.  While a security PIN or swipe pattern helps, there is one thing you can do that adds another layer of security:  Encrypt your device.

Encryption is pretty straight forward to do in Android Lollipop and Android Marshmallow if your device isn’t already encrypted.  On phones that have Android Marshmallow on them, chances are that it has already been encrypted as that is part of the requirements for manufactures to enable it to deploy Marshmallow.  This is one reason why I think that adoption has continued to creep along – but that’s another story.  If you have a tablet however, it hasn’t been encrypted and on Lollipop it wasn’t required.

How the encrypt process works in Android is pretty straight forward.  It encrypts your entire device – apps, data, accounts, media and basically any other user files – so that a PIN or pattern is required to unlock it.  But here is the added juice:  If someone got your phone or tablet and connected it to a PC via a USB cable, they could hack the device and get to your sensitive content.  If the device is encrypted, they can’t unless they can break a 128-bit AES key.  Is it possible?  Sure.  But we are talking about determent.  If a hacker gets your phone and they see it is encrypted, chances are they will simply reset the device (which erases everything) and use it or sell it.

In this How To I’ll outline how to encrypt your device for this added level of security.

Google Now Voice Commands – Part 1: Commands

While searching by text has been available to smartphone users for many years now, voice commands to search and do other things is still relatively new.  Sure there have been attempts at it in the past but over the course of the last 18 months with Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft) and Google Now, the ability to do far more than simply search for web content with your voice has grown exponentially.  In fact the challenge now is not so much what you can’t say to your device but remembering what you can say to your device.

This is the first part in a multi-part series on voice commands with Google Now.  I will preface this by saying that this by no means should be considered definitive or final.  Google is continually adding voice commands to the service and while I do plan to update these posts as time goes on, undoubtedly I will miss something.  Your help, of course, is appreciated in finding new commands.  For this first post I am going to focus on commands that you can give to your phone or tablet to perform a function or to get you information.

The way I have structured the information after the break is whatever you find (parenthetically) is the user adjustable command.  For example, “What time is it in (Denver)?”.

How To Create Offline Maps in Google Maps

In the flurry of updates that happened to not just Google apps but apps in general for Android at the end of last year, one big change came to Google Maps.  The app gained the ability to have offline maps available, something that competitor products had enjoyed for a long while yet for whatever reason, Google had not yet supported it.  That has changed now and in typical Google fashion, they have made it very easy to create offline maps.

Why would you want offline maps?  Simple really.  No matter which carrier you use for your mobile service, you will undoubtedly hit a dead zone where you have no coverage.  I experienced this over Thanksgiving when I drove from my home in Denver to ski in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  There is a good 50-odd miles stretch that has absolutely no mobile coverage.  I did not have it with Project Fi (which meant there was no T-Mobile or Sprint in the area) and my wife had no coverage on her iPhone with AT&T.  This scenario is exactly where offline maps become important, especially if you know you are going to have to make some road changes to get to your destination but aren’t exactly sure where those are going to happen.

For this How To I’ll show you how easy Google has made it to create offline maps in Google Maps and how the app works with them.

Angry Birds 2 Update Brings New Arena Competition

Just in time for your holiday break, Angry Birds 2 has been updated with new levels and a new arena competition where you can play other players from around the world.  The team at Rovio who develop the game are saying that this is the biggest update to the game so far and based on the release notes and a bit of game play this morning, I believe it.  There are a huge number of improvements and changes to the app along with the new player vs player arena.

Like in the previous versions, when you tap on the arena you have your nest of birds and you try to clear as many levels as possible before you run out of birds.  It use to be that you would simply see your score and the scores of other players on the scoreboard but now you are pitted against another player to see if you can beat their score.  Add to that the ability to collect stars which allow you to level up your birds and other rewards, it has really changed how you play in the arena – and for the better in my opinion.

Part of this update in the area and throughout the game is a new Star Ranks where you earn starts in campaigns and tournaments.  This allows you to upgrade your birds and get other rewards in the game.

That’s really only the beginning of this update to Angry Birds 2

Google Now On Tap Adds Screen Sharing

Google Now on Tap continues to evolve and the latest update to the contextual information feature has had a new feature added:  Screen sharing.  The update comes courtesy of an update to the Google Search app for Android, taking that app (and the engine behind Now on Tap) to version 5.7.14.19 for those keeping score at home.  That build and this feature is specifically designed for Android Marshmallow so if that hasn’t hit your phone or tablet yet, you won’t see the feature.

Essentially what this update does it take a screen capture of whatever you are viewing on your screen.  While you can capture your screen using the combination of the Power+Volume Down key, having this just a couple of screen taps away will make it easier and faster for many users.  It has been in beta for a week or so now and there have been several posts that it is coming but now it has rolled out to the Google Play Store and is widely available.