J. Angelo Racoma(444 posts)

J. Angelo Racoma has written extensively about mobile, social media, enterprise apps and startups. Angelo develops business case studies for Microsoft enterprise platforms, and is also co-founder at WorkSmartr, a small outsourcing team that offers digital content and marketing services.




All posts by J. Angelo Racoma
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Motorola Assist update lets you relax more at home with Home Mode

by: J. Angelo RacomaJune 5, 2014

Using a smartphone can sometimes keep you too engaged that you won’t have time to do other things, like relax at home, spend time with loved ones or keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while driving. To address this, some apps exist to make it easier to manage your communication needs when you’re preoccupied elsewhere. For instance, Motorola Assist was earlier updated with a driving mode, enabling the user to respond to text messages with voice commands and voice recognition. The app even reads out messages, so you won’t have to touch nor look at the device to interact with it.

What’s magical about Motorola Assist is the way it detects [...]

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Zilta rethinks the Android smartphone with focus on usability

by: J. Angelo RacomaJune 3, 2014

Android is a platform known for its flexibility and customizability. But while many would prefer to have their choice of user interfaces and applications, some would rather focus on key functionalities, such as being able to call, text, email and browse the web.

These major functionalities are sometimes buried within layers of apps and UI add-ons, and smartphones tend to have a higher learning curve than, say, feature phones. When accessibility is key, it should not take a user dozens of taps just to access an oft-used feature.

This is the ethos of Zilta, an Irish startup that is focusing on re-designing the Android user experience from ground up. Initially [...]

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Is sapphire glass the next big thing in mobile devices?

by: J. Angelo RacomaMay 29, 2014
While Apple is already set to use more of sapphire glass in its upcoming devices, Samsung and LG are also exploring the technology.
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Updated: Paranoid Android’s Peek feature makes its way to Google Play

by: J. Angelo RacomaMay 22, 2014

Update: Google Play Store link is now back online. The developers have also clarified that the APK downloadable from Github is not from them.

Custom Android ROMs each have their own highlight characteristics. A prominent feature on Paranoid Android, for example, is Peek, which gives enhanced access to notifications, which are available through motion-detection. For example, simply lifting your smartphone from the table or taking it out from your pocket wakes up the screen, and shows you actionable notifications right from the lockscreen.

In the developer’s own words:

The design philosophy behind peek was to deliver a smartwatch convenience. When you [...]

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Change your stock launcher icons, no root required

by: J. Angelo RacomaMay 21, 2014

Customization is one of the stronger points of Android. With a multitude of tweaks in UI and functionality, the platform enables users to incorporate more of their personality and needs into their devices, compared with, say, iOS. While for some, customization is skin-deep — like themes, wallpapers and graphics — others take rooting their devices as an avenue to do even more drastic customizations.

But even supposedly skin-deep customizations might require root. For instance, changing icon packs in stock launchers might sound mundane, but in most cases would require root. If you wanted to change icons, you could either switch to popular launchers like Nova, [...]

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Spice up your Hangouts chats with stickers using this app and Xposed mod

by: J. Angelo RacomaMay 19, 2014

An extension of the usual IP-based chatting service, stickers have grown in popularity among mobile users, especially with the rise of cross-platform apps like LINE and Viber and even Facebook Messenger. Google’s own Hangouts service was actually late in the game, only introducing stickers in late February this year in its iOS release.

Even with stickers support on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, Hangouts for Android, and even on desktop, are still lacking in this department. Users could only send the usual emoticons and smileys, but not the bigger, more interesting, stickers. An app, Stickers for Hangouts, addresses this deficiency by providing a means for [...]

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Can’t wait for Pressy? Free QuickClick app gives you custom volume button actions

by: J. Angelo RacomaMay 18, 2014

Extra buttons? Why not use the ones you already have?

On popular crowd-funding platforms today are a couple of interesting smartphone add-on accessories. On Kickstarter, we have Pressy, which plugs into the phone’s 3.5mm audio jack and acts as an extra button. On Indiegogo, there’s Dimple, which is an adhesive strip that contains four buttons that work in conjunction with NFC.

The key functionality in these accessories is the easy access to functions through button-press shortcuts. For instance, a series or combination of button presses could turn on your torch or launch the SMS app, and so forth.

These accessories are taking [...]

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Google Maps now features elevation profiles for cycling routes

by: J. Angelo RacomaMay 18, 2014

“Cycling is the new golf,” according to CNN Money. While biking has long been a combination of leisure activity, sport and a practical means to get around town, cycling has now turned into an event for business people to get together. According to The Economist, a growing number of city cycling clubs and corporate-sponsored charity bike rides are bringing together like-minded professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Whether you’re cycling for fun, as a challenge, to go around the city, or to mingle with fellow cyclists, you might be using apps like Google Maps to track your route. But even if Maps offers distance and time estimates, the map representation [...]

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This weather app will brighten up your day

by: J. Angelo RacomaMay 13, 2014

Weather apps and widgets are aplenty, but a new app release from LevelUp Studios called Bright Weather promises to make your day with a balance of style and functionality. Bright Weather mixes stunning photography with minimalistic graphics in balancing information and functionality for checking out the weather.

True enough, while anyone can simply look out the window to check out the current weather conditions, weather apps like Bright Weather offer a few functionalities that can help you plan your day or week, including location-based weather alerts, weekend weather forecasts and hourly weather and temperature forecasts.

Bright Weather also comes with smart [...]

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Exclusive: Leaked photos of the Moto E

by: J. Angelo RacomaMay 10, 2014

One of the most hotly anticipated devices this time of the year is the Moto E. Codenamed XT1021, Motorola’s rumored entry-level offering is intended for emerging markets, and likewise expected to launch in more mature mobile markets like the US, UK and others. While the Moto E specs are not trail-blazing, what’s so hot about this device is its price, expected to be in the sub-$100 pricing range. A source close to Motorola has shared a few details about the upcoming Moto E with Android Authority.

Our source says the Moto E will feature a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, 4GB internal memory, microSD expansion support, 4.3-inch screen, 5-megapixel [...]

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