After the initial success of Pressy and the arrival of clones like the MiKey, it has become clear that there is a demand for customizable physical buttons. While Pressy and MiKey both use your phone jack to bring an extra physical button to your handset, the Dimple takes a very different approach.

The Dimple is a unique NFC sticker that includes four buttons that can be programmed to perform a variety of different tasks

The Dimple is a unique NFC sticker that includes four buttons dimples that can be programmed to perform a variety of different tasks including taking pictures, turning on your camera’s flash, opening specific apps and so much more. What makes the Dimple stand out from solutions like Pressy is that you don’t have to sacrifice anything to use it, as the Dimple’s creators say that NFC will continue to work with other devices even when this accessory is attached. This is in contrast to the Pressy, which blocks your headphone jack when in use.

On the downside, the Dimple doesn’t work with all NFC devices, though its creators say almost all NFC smartphones should work just fine, with the exception of the HTC One M7 and M8. The reason for this incompatibility is that the antenna location on these metal phones apparently will not play nicely with the Dimple.

So how do you get your hands on the Dimple? Right now, it’s not actually commercially avaliable, though the good news is that it will launch its official IndieGogo campaign on May 6th, with plans to ship the Dimple by August of 2014.

The Dimple is far along in development and the startup has already produced the first experimental mass production batch of 250 Dimples. So what will your funds do for the company? According to the Dimple team, the IndieGogo funds will be used to further refine the already existing software as well as prepare the product for full-scale production.

When the Dimple’s IndieGogo campaign kicks off next month, backers will be able to secure a Dimple for $26.99, with a planned retail cost of $28.99. For more details on the project, you’ll want to head on over to the Dimple’s official website.

What do you think, like the idea of a programmable NFC button? How do you feel this compares to Pressy?

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The only rule here is the dominant color in the picture, and we can’t wait to see your creativity.

We’re back to a standard photo contest, building on a single topic that gives you a wide range of subject options that fit your style. This week’s prompt is “yellow,” so we’re looking for pictures that are dominant in that color — beyond that, the choice of subject and style is up to you. We’ve done plenty of wide-open contests before with amazing results, so we can’t wait to see the pictures that come in this week.

After a huge giveaway last week, we’re settling back down to our usual setup of giving smaller prizes to more winners. This week, we’re picking out three winning photos to each receive a $50 ShopAndroid gift card!

Entering is easy. Just drop your entry in a forums post at the link below. Tell us what Android you used to get the picture, and any back story you want to add to it. We’ll pick a winner Tuesday (April 29) night at 11:59 PM ET, and announce them on the blog with next Wednesday’s contest.

Enter this week’s photo contest

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oneplus one vs galaxy s5 aa (9 of 12)

So, the OnePlus One is out, and yes, you will need an invitation to buy one. Some have voiced their concerns about this novel method of purchase, while others have been outright in sounding their disappointment.

However, what amazed me the most is how many people are willing to whip out their credit cards and buy a phone they’ve never seen before, made by a Chinese company that’s barely five months old. Sure, there are some vocal naysayers, but it’s clear they are actually a minority, and the OnePlus One launch has been, all things considered, a success.

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How could this be? OnePlus doesn’t have a single commercial on television, nor any printed ads, not even banners on the websites that we enthusiasts frequent. Yet most self-respecting Android fans have probably been familiar with the One for months!

From  the battery capacity, to the 5.5-inch 1080p display, to the processor and the amount of RAM, we’ve been familiar with the OnePlus One’s main features long before the product was even close to launch. That’s in stark contrast with the secrecy that surrounds most other smartphone releases.

By slowly lifting the veil on the One, OnePlus created genuine buzz, in blog posts, in comments, in forums, on Reddit and on every other channel where phone enthusiasts congregate.

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Managing to build this much hype around a product that came out of nowhere — while spending next to nothing — is commendable in itself. But OnePlus’s clever and unconventional approach does not end with drip-feeding information to potential consumers.

OnePlus also used the two-way nature of internet channels like forums and blogs to gather input from fans and gain insights into what the enthusiasts actually want from their smartphones. By doing so, the startup fostered a sense of belonging among their fans that could, in theory, turn them into ambassadors of their products in the future. Because if we felt we contributed to building something that we are proud of, we would be compelled to share it with the world, right?

While big name companies are spending millions in their endorsement programs, One Plus One has potentially recruited thousands of brand evangelists from all across the globe, for free. How smart is that?

OnePlus team

From the interview they gave to Android Authority a few weeks back, we learned that One Plus is not planning to generate profits out of their devices. In fact, Carl Pei, director of One Plus Global, said that the company is not planning to make any profit at all in the first two years.

One Plus is not planning to generate profits out of their devices

In order to do that, it’s imperative for One Plus to keep costs down. The company is planning to do this by selling its products solely through e-commerce, in effect cutting out the middlemen and the overheads of normal distribution channels.

Another way to minimize overhead is clever inventory management, which is usually a bane in any hardware startup’s existence. Make too few units, and a lot of people may potentially go upset over how hard it is to get the product they wanted. Make too many and you could expose your nascent company to huge risks. Indeed, One Plus’ execs admitted this in their Reddit AMA, saying that “a miscalculation here (inventory) could kill us.”

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Yet OnePlus’ mastery of unconventional, two-way internet channels has allowed it to turn this potential stumbling block to their advantage.

On the surface, it might seem that the invite system will only serve to make it harder for interested buyers to get the One. However, the invite model will allow OnePlus to not only gauge demand accurately (and thus avoid the risk of sinking money into unsold inventory), but will also create a sense of scarcity that could make the One even more desirable.

So, here we have a new company that’s looking to disrupt the smartphone market.

The plan is simple:

  • Avoid competing with the rich kids in marketing spending.
  • Instead, offer a product that’s built (at least partially) with the feedback of a budding community of enthusiasts.
  • Build up buzz for the phone through affordable, unconventional channels.
  • Sell it at a cut-throat price, made possible by doing away with conventional marketing and sales methods.

Will such a left field strategy have any chance to succeed though? Luckily we only need to shift our focus slightly further to the east to get an answer to that.

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there is the proof that these unconventional business and marketing models could succeed in challenging the big players

In China, there is another startup that also started life making smartphones tailored to run a popular custom ROM. It’s Xiaomi, which has been doing what One Plus is currently doing for the past three years. The results? According to TrendForce, Xiaomi is currently the 7th biggest smartphone brand in the world, in control of four percent of the world’s smartphone market. That is the same as Sony’s, but Xiaomi is currently only operating in three markets outside China.

So there is the proof that these unconventional business and marketing models could succeed in challenging the big players. The biggest difference is Xiaomi started by catering to the Chinese market first, and then proceeded to slowly expand outwards. OnePlus is aiming for the global market from the get go.

The following months will show us if OnePlus is truly able to replicate Xiaomi’s local success on a global scale. One thing’s for sure though – companies looking to upset the balance of the mobile battleground can learn a thing or two from OnePlus’ fresh approach on sales and marketing.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 color comparison Hands On -1160803

Over the last few years Samsung has come under fire time and time again for what many claim to be “cheaper looking” plastic designs. As companies like HTC push arguably more attractive aluminum designs onto the market, many have called for Samsung to change up their design language.

To be fair, Samsung has responded by bringing us minor changes such as switching to a faux leather plastic backing on the Galaxy Note 3 and introducing the new dimpled back design with the recently launched Galaxy S5. But where’s the ‘premium’ redesign we’ve all been waiting for, and what is with Samsung’s  affinity for plastic?

Getting Back to the Basics

Those that are most critical of Samsung will tell you that the plastics used on Samsung devices are simply cheaper and/or easier to produce, allowing the company to maximize profits. In a recent interview with several key Samsung designers, Engadget dove into the topic a bit deeper to get a better understanding of Samsung’s software and hardware design choices with the Galaxy S5.

Galaxy S5’s software and hardware design decisions all centered around the idea of getting back to basics

Engadget spoke to three designers and Samsung’s director of product marketing, who all stood behind the idea that the Galaxy S5’s software and hardware design decisions centered around the goal of “getting back to basics”. This meant focusing less on adding more features to the GS5 and focusing more on making existing Galaxy S features as useful as possible. This effort also included improving the camera and other elements, while scaling back some of Samsung’s existing software features.

Samsung says that their reason for going back to the basics was simple: It’s what their customers wanted.

Ahead of the GS5, Samsung researched over 3000 Galaxy S4 users globally and had the permission to follow many of these participants 24 hours a day for several days at a time. During this period, Samsung learned a lot about what Samsung fans wanted from their phones and what they didn’t. Samsung used this information to scale back a lot of the extras found in the TouchWiz software.

But why stick with plastic?

As for the outer design? Samsung’s designers indicate that their aim with the device was to provide “usability, friendliness and a more humanistic design”. Senior Product Designer Dong Hun Kim said that the company looked into all kinds of designs and materials for the Galaxy S5 but ultimately felt that metal wasn’t right for the Galaxy S line. The big reason was that metal is supposedly cold and heavy, while plastic is warm and “has a pleasing feel”.

Our major aims were usability, friendliness and a more humanistic design. We wanted something with a pleasing feel … and better grip. If we used metal, we felt the designs felt heavy and cold. But with plastic, the texture is warmer. We believe users will find the device both warmer and friendlier. This material was also the best at visually expressing volume, better at symbolizing our design concepts.
Dong Hun Kim
Samsung Senior Product Designer

Samsung’s user experience designer Jeeyeun Wang notes that a smartphone is more than just a piece of technology, it is “a fashion product” and that the company wanted something warm, vibrant and colorful. This is why Samsung ultimately decided to offer four colors right at launch: white, black, blue and copper gold. Of course many will argue that the dimpled look isn’t exactly “fashionable”, though this is obviously a matter of personal taste.

Wrap up

Honestly, we agree that going back to basics and focusing on creating a “fashionable product” is a great approach, but did Samsung really accomplish either of these goals? Sure, the Galaxy S5′s software was scaled back compared to the Galaxy S4, but it’s still TouchWiz. And on the outside? We might have a more colorful design that’s waterproof and potentially more durable — but it’s still largely the same as always.

Of course, not everyone has a problem with Samsung sticking to what they know and it’s important to note that the Galaxy S5 has sold rather well so far. So let’s leave the question to our readers:

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.


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On Verizon and want the HTC One (M8)? You might want to wait a bit, especially if red is your favorite color. Earlier this month we reported that a red version of handset was rumored for Verizon. Looks like we have our first look at this special edition from leakster @evleaks.

You’ll remember that the HTC One (M7) came in a variety of colors. It looks like the new HTC One is no exception. There are reports out there that red and blue versions are in the pipeline for the HTC One (M8). Up above is your first look at the red variant. It looks to be pretty similiar to the ‘glamor red’ HTC One from last year.

Anyone out there want this red HTC One?

Source: @evleaks

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Verizon always seems to have a wide range of phones available for customers of all types, and that means having at least one good rugged and waterproof phone on the roster. The latest rumored to be coming to the carrier is the Kyocera Brigadier, a device that looks like its ready for whatever you throw at it. Kyocera is good at making these kinds of devices, and we wouldn’t expect anything less than a phone that looks like this and can take a beating. According to info and a picture from @evleaks, we’ll see the Brigadier coming to Verizon sometime this year.

Source: @evleaks

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We all play games for fun, but wouldn’t it be nice if there were other positive effects too? Global Gaming Initiative’s newly-released Sidekick Cycle has just such a goal. As a game, it’s a 2D bicycling game in which racers ride through impossible courses in order to collect coins and items. Sort of like iStunt 2 and other obstacle-course based games.

Like most mobile games, Sidekick Cycle is free to play. The difference here is that fifty percent of in-app purchases go towards the “Free Bikes 4 Kidz” charity based out of Minneapolis, MN. As you can probably tell, the charity buys bicycles for children in order to help them lead healthy lifestyles.

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The AT&T HTC One M8 has been hit with a glitch that has, at least temporarily, taken away the bonus 50GB of Google Drive storage that come with the device. HTC Advantage is one of the nicer services that come with the device; it includes benefits like free cracked screen replacement, HTC backup and hands-on help. Users also get an additional 50GB of storage on Google Drive for two years. Well, that is as long as you’re not on AT&T.

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Motorola’s Punit Soni has been the public face of software for the company for some time now, especially with the launch of the Moto X and Moto G. This afternoon he took about a half-hour for a live Google Hangout as part of “Celebrating 50 Software Launches” to talk about where the company is in terms of software, how it got there, and just a few hints at where it might be going.

And that sort of chat is particularly interesting since Lenovo purchased Motorola from google earlier this year. We’ve got a quick summary of the big points, but we highly recommend watching the full video.

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htc one m8 vs iphone 5s quick look aa handheld (2 of 6)

If you are looking into buying a new phone, it seems best to continue buying one with a contract attached. Specifically, if you are a customer of AT&T or Verizon Wireless, it is in fact cheaper over the life of a two-year contract when compared to full-price.

As the Wall Street Journal reports:

Under a traditional contract with Verizon Wireless on a plan that includes 2 gigabytes of wireless data, you would pay $200 and an activation fee of $35 for the phone upfront and then $75 a month. Over two years, that comes to about $2,035. On the no contract version, you pay $65 a month for service, with no activation fee, plus about $27 a month over the period to pay off the iPhone, bringing your total to about $2,210 – $175 more.

Verizon advertises that its no-contract plans save money for consumers yet the total price is higher with no-contract than a contract plan. Huh?

As for AT&T:

Customers getting an iPhone on contract will pay $200 up front, plus a $36 activation fee, and then $80 a month for two years for two gigabytes of data, a total of $2,156. When buying an unsubsidized phone, the service fee is $65 a month, with no activation fee, and a device payment of $32.50 for 20 months, although customers can also pay it off over 26 months. That brings the two-year total to $2,210, or $54 more than signing a contract.

Yes, the no-subsidy plans offer faster upgrades and no money down for new phones but they still are going to cost you more over time. As you can see from the image below, you still pay the increased rate even after you technically own the phone. On T-Mobile, this would not be the case. Once you own the phone, it’s yours and you stop making payments on it. Thus, Verizon managed to show the one instance where it would be less expensive. In practically every other instance, Verizon costs more. That’s also assuming the customer doesn’t incur overage charges for going over their 2GB data limit.

AT&T and Verizon have been playing catchup to T-Mobile for some time now and they have therefore changed the language for their early handset upgrade programs.

It is important to keep in mind that cellular executives are on record admitting they jacked up the price of services and data to counter the impact they take from subsidizing devices. They have eliminated the subsidies without actually lowering service rates which means that you are not only paying more for service, you’re effectively paying for your handsets twice.

What plan are you on?

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