WinterBoard updated for iOS 8

Winterboard theme

Themers rejoice as WinterBoard has been updated to support new features of iOS 8. Clocking at version 0.9.3916, this new version of WinterBoard adds a few features geared towards iOS 8, as well as some features for users that are still on iOS 7.

Besides the many updates that can be found under the hood, the most obvious change users will notice right away is that WinterBoard isn’t a standalone app anymore, and all changes will have to be made directly from the dedicated panel in the Settings app.... Read the rest of this post here


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Kik Messenger app updated with new design, mute options and more

kik 2

Popular cross-platform messaging service Kik updated its iOS client last night, bringing the app to version 7.8. Headlining the update is a refreshed design, which features lighter, more modern UI elements and other changes.

The changes are’t necessarily significant, but they are noticeable. Most of the darker colors have been replaced by empty white spaces, and there are other tweaks to the app’s design that make for a more streamlined experience.... Read the rest of this post here


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Apple updates GarageBand for iOS with new RED Loop Pack

garageband

Apple pushed out an update for the iOS version of GarageBand on Sunday, bringing the popular music-making app to version 2.0.5. The update adds the option to purchase the RED Loop Pack, a limited-time in-app purchase that features an exclusive collection of 300 guitar, bass, synth and drum loops in a variety of genres.

The pack will only be available until December 7, via a $0.99 in-app purchase, but of course once paid for it will be permanently accessible from the GarageBand loop browser. Apple says 100% of the proceeds will go to the RED foundation, a charity that raises money for a global fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.... Read the rest of this post here


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Google Maps offers more info about destinations and alternate routes

Earlier this month, Google Maps for Android received the requisite Material Design update and tacked on in-app restaurant reservations for good measure (in the US). A new version is rolling out, and with it comes some handy features to lend a hand with those navigation needs. The app will display time, weather and a smattering of facts about your destination in addition to letting you know exactly how much time that alternate route will save. In addition, Maps can show or hide traffic with a simple voice command, should you need to sort the info without futzing with that handset. Version 9.1 should hit your devices soon, but if you can't wait, the folks over at Android Police have the APK available for manual install.

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Source: Android Police

Disney Store app updated with support for Apple Pay

disney store

The Disney Store app has received an update, bringing it to version 3.2.1. Just in time for the holidays, the update includes support for Apple Pay, allowing iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users to pay for their purchases using Apple’s new payment method.

While in-app Apple Pay is supported by the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, it doesn’t appear the iPad version of the Disney Store app takes advantage of it yet. It also looks like folks utilizing Apple Pay will still have to enter all of their shipping info.... Read the rest of this post here


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Pocket updated with support for 1Password extension, Dynamic Type and more

Pocket (iOS 8 sharing)

Popular read-it-later service Pocket pushed out a notable update for its iOS client today, bringing the app to version 5.6.2. The update includes a number of improvements, including support for Dynamic Type and the 1Password extension.

The addition of Dynamic Type support means that text in Pocket will now reflect whatever you have set as your system font size preference. And of course 1Password extension support means users can now login to Pocket with Touch ID.... Read the rest of this post here


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Snapchat app updated with support for new Snapcash service

Snapchat Snapcash (image 001)

Snapchat updated its iOS client today, bringing the app to version 8. The update activates the company’s new ‘Snapcash’ money transfer service, which it announced yesterday, that allows users to quickly send money to one another by simply sending a message.

Snapcash is a collaborative project between Snapchat and Square, built using the SquareCash concept. SquareCash allows users to send money via email, text message and Bluetooth with little friction, so it’s not hard to see how they made the jump to Snapchat.... Read the rest of this post here


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Shazam updated with support for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

shazam

Audio identification service Shazam updated its iOS client today, bringing the app to version 8.1. The change log for the update is very short, but it does include one significant item: the app now officially supports the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

“Shazam now makes the most of the big, beautiful screens of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, so you can get the full glory of those extra pixels.” reads the text, which was posted by the developers in the App Store earlier today. “We get it, size matters.”... Read the rest of this post here


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eBay app update allows you to create, pay for and print shipping labels

ebay

Popular auction site eBay has updated its iOS client, bringing the app to version 3.5. The update brings about a handful of improvements, including performance and speed boosts and various new country-specific features.

The release adds new checkout features in Germany and Australia, and a new click and collect option for Argos in the UK. Users can now purchase something from Argos on eBay in-app, and choose to pick the item up locally.... Read the rest of this post here


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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 Review

Huawei Ascend Mate 7It’s all the fault of Samsung.  We had a tablet market and a phone market with a rather clear distinction between the two.  Phones were small, tablets were large and in between we had the Dell Streak with its immense 5” screen that everyone looked at and said “Who would want one of those?”

Then along came someone at Samsung thinking that we’d all love a 5.3” screen coupled with Android and so they launched the Galaxy Note.  Probably to the surprise of most it was a rather large success and so ever since more and more manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon and launched their own take on the “phablet.”

We of course have the Galaxy Note 4, Nexus 6, the LG G3 Stylus, the Nokia 1520, HTC One Max and of course the iPhone 6 Plus.  The list goes on and on.

Now, Huawei have thrown their hat into the ring with the snappily named Huawei Ascend Mate 7.

Luckily for us, Huawei have leant us one of these and thus it’s time to bring you our review starting as ever with the good and bad points.

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The Good

  • Excellent fingerprint sensor
  • The screen – bright and vibrant
  • Battery life
  • Design

 

The Bad

  • Old version of Android
  • Too much bloatware
  • Almost impossible to use one handed
  • Micro SD slot hard to access

 

Design

Lets not mince words here, beating around the bush is pointless.  This thing is huge.  Its absolutely massive.  If it were a boat it would be a super tanker.  With a 6” screen flanked top and bottom by some proportionately sized bezels, the Huawei is most certainly a looker.

There is nothing but the Huawei logo on the bottom bezel, a speaker, front facing camera and sensor on the top.  One great thing on the front is that there are virtually no side bezels meaning that the screen takes up a quoted 83% of the device.

The top of the device has the headphone socket and a microphone, the bottom holds the USB charging port with another microphone, the left hand side has the SIM card slot and the Micro SD card slot.  The SD slot is only accessible using a SIM removal tool which I’m not too sure is a good idea and is certainly not handy for swapping cards quickly.  The right hand side houses the power and volume controls.

The back is where the magic happens.  As well as the camera and LED flash there is a fingerprint sensor.

The model that we had is silver and white whilst a black and white and a gold model is also available.

Make no mistake, the Ascend Mate 7 is a good looking device.  It feels pleasantly weighty, the rear is finished in an attractive silver and the aluminium unibody design certainly feels sturdy.

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Hardware

Underpowered this device certainly is not.  Whilst the RAM could be a little bigger (2GB is the default)  the processor is a behemoth.

The full specs are as follows:

  • Size: 157mm x 81mm x 7.9mm
  • Weight: 185g inc battery
  • IPS LCD Capacative touchscreen
  • Display: 6” FHD screen, 1080p (1920 x 1080), 368PPPI, 16M colours
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Processor: Octo-core Hasilicon Kirin 925 (4×1.8GHz + 4×1.3GHz)
  • GPU: Mali 628
  • OS: Android 4.4.2 / Huawei Emotion UI 3.0
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Onboard Storage: 16GB
  • Connectivity: LTE / GPS / Wi-FI / Bluetooth 4.0 / MicroUSB / GSM / UMTS
  • NFC
  • Bands: LTE 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/20/28, GSM 850/900/1800/1900, UMTS 850/900/1900/2100
  • Camera: 13MP rear camera, 5MP front facing, 1080p video recording / playback
  • Battery: 4100mAh
  • Colours: Silver / Gold / Black
  • Accessories supplied: Headphones / Charger / USB cable

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The Ascend Mate 7 is certainly a fully loaded device with every type of connection that you could wish for.  16GB onboard storage does seem a little measly but the inclusion of a MicroSD card slot makes up for that however swapping cards whilst out and about is a virtual impossibility due to the fact that you need a sim card removal tool to access it.  There is a total of 9GB free out of the box.

The speaker placement is on the rear however this doesn’t detract from the aural experience and is actually quite loud whilst maintaining clarity at high volumes.  Bass is a little lacking however this is after all a phone speaker.

The outstanding feature of the Huawei is the screen.  Bright even in sunlight, clear and vibrant it really is a joy to behold.  Viewing angles are excellent and of course as it is so large detail is abound when watching movies or television streams.  The lack of bezels along the sides really does mean that screen real estate is maximised.

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The fingerprint sensor seems to be growing in popularity and the one included on the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 is excellent.  A small setup process whereby each finger that you want recognised is scanned several times means that 360 degree recognition is available.  The sensor itself does a superb job and is backed up by PIN code access should there be any issues (I had none in all the time I had the device).

Software

The Ascend Mate 7 runs Android 4.4.2 which for a premium device is a bit of a disappointment as I would expect the latest version.  This is then overlaid with Huawei’s Emotion 3.0 interface which to be blunt feels a bit of a mess.

Confusingly there is no app drawer which means that every app installed has to appear on one of up to 9 homescreens.

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There are many pre-installed apps and games, some of which are useful, some not so.  The pre installed themes are frankly awful and whilst you can download more none are too appealing.

Despite only running Android 4.4.2, Huawei have seen fit to include the Nav buttons from Lollipop, these can be reconfigured in an order that suits the user and also in what Huawei calls one handed mode.  In reality it makes little difference as unless you are Big Daddy or Giant Haystacks (if you know who I am talking about then you are showing your age) then your hands will simply not be big enough.

All of the usual Google apps are bundled along with Huawei’s additions.  In short, Polaris Office, Bitcasa, Todoist, Zinio, Asphalt 8, Bubble Bash Mania and Real Football 2015 are all included as well as Huawei’s phone manager, music player, gallery, file organiser, contact manager and notepad.

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The notification bar has 2 sections, Notifications and Shortcuts.  Notifications does exactly what it says whilst Shortcuts offers a shortcut toggle to many of the settings and includes a Screenshot button, a restart button, a multi screen option and an ultra battery toggle.  These buttons can be edited and removed if you so desire.

The settings menu is vast leading to a massive array of configurable options that could be confusing to someone that is inexperienced with Android.  Even after a couple of weeks I am finding options within the settings that I didn’t know existed.  You really do need to spend a great deal of time playing in order to find all the nuances and settings that will get this phone exactly the way that you like it.

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Camera

The camera on the Huawei Mate 7 is a 13MP with LED flash offering and it does rather well.  Whilst very few handsets will ever be capable of replacing a dedicated stand alone camera the Huawei is more than able to provide some good shots and offers up a large range of effects and functions.

There is a beauty mode which smooths out the skin and enlarges eyes when taking pictures of faces, a panorama mode, the standard HDR and a best photo mode (similar to ZOE on the HTC handsets).

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The ability to take a photo with the fingerprint sensor is offered as well as voice control.  As with other areas of the Mate 7, there are multiple functions here including manual ISO adjustment, manual White balance, exposure settings, saturation settings, contrast and brightness settings and the ability to add an audio note.

There is also the option to add a pre-defined filter a la Instagram, modes include Nostalgia, Childhood, Dawn, Dusk, Pure and many many others.

The front facing camera is a 5MP affair and adds the ability to video call using Skype or Hangouts in 720p resolution and offers up a more acceptable image quality.

Sample images are included below.

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Conclusion

The Huawei Ascend Mate 7 is a good looking, solidly built handset than has more than a touch of quality.  It feels nice in the hand, is well balanced, has a great screen, plenty of storage options and features galore.

On the slightly less than positive side is the software, whilst there are hundreds and hundreds of options and features it could be construed as a little too confusing.  The fact that the software version is also not the most up to date (meaning 4.4.4, Android Lollipop is a little too ambitious) is also not in the Huawei’s favour.

That said, the UI really is of the Marmite variety.  You’ll either love it or hate it and if you love it then the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 is an excellent, well performing handset with good battery life and one that is a solid alternative to the more mainstream “phablets” currently available.

Our thanks go to Huawei for the loan of the Ascend Mate 7.

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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 Review is original content from Coolsmartphone.com