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Summary:

This week brought more images of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet, a new mobile app that helps you find the fastest network and speculation on a Google smart watch.

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Another week brings us closer to the Mobile World Congress event where Samsung is rumored to be showing off new Android tablet. The Galaxy Note 8.0 has been leaked, confirmed and now pictured by several sites, looking like a large Samsung Galaxy S 3 phone. That’s not a bad thing considering the GS3 is Samsung’s top-selling smartphone.

What intrigues me most about the images is speaker above the 8-inch display, which is expected to have a 1280 x 800 resolution.

Galaxy Note 8.0That means the tablet is likely to have voice capabilities like a phone, although I don’t anticipate many to hold this slab to their head. It would work in a pinch, meaning you didn’t want to have a speakerphone conversation and didn’t have a wired or wireless headset handy.

Bear in mind that the original 7-inch Galaxy Tab had cellular voice capabilities, but here in the US, that feature was stripped out of the device for all 3G models.

If Samsung does out a new note at this size, the S-Pen and multiwindow software features could increase appeal. The company already supports these on the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note 2 and, after a recent software update, on the larger Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet.

Speaking of software, I stumbled upon a handy app for Androids that helps determine the best cellular and Wi-Fi network near your location. Called OpenSignal 2, the free app uses crowdsourced information to create maps for coverage and speed, while also using a compass-like function to find the nearest Wi-Fi hotspots. OpenSignal 2 also keeps track of your mobile broadband usage and provides a speed testing feature too.

Late this past week, I started speculating on why it’s time for Google to make a smart watch. As the recent sales success of the Pebble e-paper smart watch shows — the product topped 80,000 backers on Kickstarter alone — there’s some consumer interest in wearable devices such as these.

motoactv-watchGoogle actually already has a smart watch by proxy: It owns Motorola, which makes the MotoActv; perhaps one of the best Android-compatible watches on the market. It wouldn’t take much for Google to tweak or improve it. If the company is serious about wearable devices and quantified self gadgets, I’d think it could launch a revamped smart watch as early as this year’s Google I/O event.

If the company does so and gets even a small percent of Android device owners to use such a smart watch, it could gain access to tens of millions of  health-related data points such as steps taken, calories burned, heart rate. And as we already know: Google is all about gathering, indexing and using data.

  1. i am interested to watch this and see how it plays out in terms of allowed cell company rate plans.

    all the carriers now have separate plans for phones and for tablets, no unlimited ones are available for tablets and the phone unlimited plans are technically not allowed for use in any ‘data only’ device.

    so if this ‘phablet’ has a built in phone call capable radio am i than eligible for the t-mobile unlimited plan? am i still eligible if i install ubuntu mobile and attach a large monitor and a keyboard and burn through a few 100 gigs a month? or would that be considered tethering even though the processing is done on the tablet device?

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    1. Most likely; I’m stuck under a verizon plan right now but am planning to switch to t-mobile. i know looking on their website that they do offer data only plans (under broadband plans or something like that) and don’t explicitly say that it works on a tablet but i’m pretty darn sure it’ll work. i’m gonna buy the 3g (last time i checked people weren’t sure it would be 4g or 3g) unlocked tablet and just buy a cheap 3g data plan since i’m always on my college campus and don’t necessarily need data there AND use my google voice account. a lot of people don’t realize they could have essentially free voice and text all thanks to google, just gotta pay for data so you can have voice and text while you’re on the go!
      addressing your later comments, i believe they throttle data after so much but that depends on what plan you get. for instance like i think most companies say “unlimited” data but after 5 gigs give you way slower speed (don’t you just love the tendencies of companies in the US while european companies offer true unlimited) ANYWAYS! i’m in the same boat as you about rooting and unleashing the real capabilities of android; just make sure if you install new roms etc. they dont mess up any of your drivers for the device. best wishes and happy to see someone else who has the right idea like me! ;)

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  2. This app – OpenSignal is awesome. I neede something like this. Too bad I am not living in a very crowded area. However, it’s perfect for traveling.

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  3. The rumor mill has Apple thinking about a iWatch or something. With the unexpected initial success with the Pebble, the big boys of Apple and Google now see that if done right it can be successful.

    IMHO, the perfect form factor for Apple would be just to rework the iPod nano with all this added functions and let people use it as a watch or anything else.

    For Google, their success is more iffy as this is dabbling in something they have no real experience in and UI and functionality will be the primary keys to success, something that Google takes awhile to get to.

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