Google launches Nexus 5 handset with Android Kitkat

Google has officially unveiled the latest incarnation of its flagship Nexus smartphone.

Nexus 5

Made by LG, the handset is smaller, slimmer and lighter than the Nexus 4 but its 4.96in (126mm) touchscreen is bigger.

The Nexus 5 has been developed to show off the capabilities of the new version of the Android operating system.

Called Kitkat, the software has been designed to work well on both high-end smartphones and cheaper feature phones.

The alliance with Google has helped bolster LG’s fortunes even though, according to statistics from Gartner, it is still a long way behind rivals Samsung and Apple.

In the April-to-June quarter, the consultancy indicated 3.8% of all smartphones sold were LG handsets putting the South Korean firm in third place.

By contrast, Apple accounted for 18.8% of all sales and Samsung 29.7%.

Memory cut

The specifications for the new phone were widely leaked before it was announced on the official Google blog.

The gadget shares some of the hardware from LG’s G2 handset and can record and play back HD video at the full 1080p resolution. Its camera also has a rapid burst system that captures several photographs at the same time so owners can pick the best shot.

The handset is due to go on sale on 1 November in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and Korea.

“Nexus devices serve an important function for Google,” said Ben Wood, head of research at analyst firm CCS Insight.

“The company collaborates closely with the chosen phone maker as it rolls out a new version of the Android operating system and this results in a ‘vanilla’ version of the software that acts as a reference platform for developers and tech enthusiasts.”

Google said a base 16GB version of the device would cost $349 in the US (£299 in the UK), unlocked and without a contract. The 32GB version should cost $399 (£339 in the UK).

With Android Kitkat, Google said it had made the software use less memory so it could be used on handsets with much lower specifications than top end smartphones.

In addition, Google has begun moving some services off Android’s core software and onto its app store. Many see this as a way for it to maintain more control over the security of the software and its associated applications.

How to Turn an Old Android Phone Into a Webcam

What to do with that old Android smartphone? Rather than relegate it to the junk drawer to collect dust for all eternity, why not make it useful again as a webcam — or maybe a weathercam, baby monitor, petcam or nannycam? The applications are up to you, but it’s easier than you think. Seven simple steps and you’re done. Here’s how to make it happen.

Old Android

Many of us are now at the point where we’re trading in old smartphones for new. The big question is often, what to do with the old one?

Possible solutions include leaving it in a drawer; trading it in; downloading maps and creating a dedicated in-car GPS navigator (Google Maps are now downloadable, so you won’t need an expensive mobile connection because you can update while at home on WiFi); or turning it into a free webcam.

We’ll look at some more solutions in the future, but for now, the last of these is a nice option.

Turning an old Android phone into a webcam — or weathercam, baby monitor, petcam, nannycam — and streaming the image over a network is fun project, and accomplished with an existing WiFi connection.

Here’s how to go about it.

Step 1: Verify the phone’s network functions

Open the Settings drawer on the retired phone’s Home page and browse to Wireless and Networks. Select Turn on WiFi.

The phone will obtain an IP address and connect if it is configured for your home network. If it won’t connect, open WiFi Settings — it’s in the same area — and choose Add WiFi network.

Then enter the network details like the network name — called SSID — and password. It’s the same information you use to connect a laptop to the network.

Test the connection by browsing to any Web page.

Step 2: Download a webcam app

Browse to the Google Play store and look for a suitable camera streaming app. I’ve been using Pavel Khlebovich’s free IP Webcam, with which I have had success.

Click on the install button and allow the app to install to your device.

Press Start Server or similar within the app and the camera video image will appear on the phone.

Step 3: Configure the viewing medium

Open a Chrome or Firefox browser on a laptop that’s connected to the same router as the phone. You configured this network on the phone in the earlier step.

Tip: The laptop doesn’t have to be on the same wireless network, just the same network.

Enter the IP address of the phone into the browser address bar.

Tip: IP Webcam will tell you what the address is if you click on the “How Do I Connect” button within the app. It will be something like “http://192.168.1.3:8080.” The “:8080” is related to a port — the phone is serving the image and audio much like a website does.

Press the laptop’s Enter button and the phone’s webcam server Unified Server Monitoring: Free Trial. Click here. options page will display on the laptop.

Choose Use Browser Built-In Viewer, or similar, if you’re using Chrome or Firefox — they’re tested to work.

Alternatively, choose Use Java Browser Plugin and agree to any security prompts if you’re using another browser. You may have to install Java Plug-in from the resulting link.

Tip: It can take a moment for the video to display.

Step 4: Locate the phone

Point the camera at the subject using the on-screen image for placement — at a dog run or driveway, for instance. Window panes make good weatherproofing — place the camera inside pointing out of the window.

Tip: Choose a location near a power outlet.

Neat interior placement results can be accomplished with failed automotive phone cradles — the kind that are supposed to attach to the windshield and hold your phone while driving work well for this purpose, if not for their intended one. They often come with double-sided tape. Just make sure the cradle doesn’t obscure the phone’s camera hole.

Tip: Don’t point the camera into the sun. Try to obtain light from behind for best images.

Step 5: Set up power functions

Connect a USB power cable from phone to a wall outlet. Two-year-old and older phones can suffer from battery degradation — the battery holds less charge and expires sooner — so don’t rely on battery power for long-term camera use.

Step 6: Configure the audio medium

Select Click Here to Play Audio with Browser, and the audio will commence. Perform this step last to avoid potential feedback, which can occur if the phone and laptop are close to each other.

Step 7: Take a look

View the resulting video and audio on the laptop.

Want to Ask a Tech Question?

Is there a piece of tech you’d like to know how to operate properly? Is there a gadget that’s got you confounded? Please send your tech questions to me, and I’ll try to answer as many as possible in this column.