This week’s must-reads: Apple Maps, Bill Gates, The one Coin, and more

It’s been an interesting week. Aside from officially launching BakingPixel today, we’re also compiling the most interesting and popular posts from this week for you.

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 review: Unapologetically content-driven
People buy the Kindle to consume content. It is no surprise that Amazon makes it the focus of the Kindle Fire HDX.

Why an 80% market share might only represent half of smartphone users
Charles Arthur explains on The Guardian why an 80% market share might only represent half of smartphone users.

Thoughts on the Google Nexus 7 from the perspective of a longtime iOS user
This pretty much sums up my experience when I switched from my iPhone 5 to a Nexus 4. There are pros and cons, but it takes a while to get used to the change, for better or worse.

Apple maps: how Google lost when everyone thought it had won
Charles Arthur reports on The Guardian how Google maps lost to Apple maps when everyone thought it had won.

Bill Gates: Here’s My Plan to Improve Our World — And How You Can Help
Bill Gates shares on Wired his plan to improve the world. The article is a very good read. Take the time to go through it. And then sit down and reflect upon yourself.

Tired of a fat wallet? Coin lets you hold all your cards in a single, connected card
Aside from the cheeky, and possibly misleading name, Coin is a product that could go a long way to helping us solve the issue of fat wallets. After all, why carry so many pieces of plastic when you can just carry one? It’ll have additional hurdles in countries where security chips are implemented in cards, instead of just relying on the magnetic stripe. The good news is that the folks behind Coin are already aware of this and working to offer support for chip and pin future versions.

The Google Books decision is good for authors and readers
Not everybody is going to be a fan of a judge’s recent decision to approve Google’s book-scanning activities, however an author has penned a short article on why he thinks that the ruling is a good one.

Next Up for Evernote: Learning Your Habits
This is something all apps should strive towards. Having an app that knows my habit well will make it very hard for me to want to switch to a different app. This will be great for user retention.

HDmessaging helps carriers fight back against free messaging apps

SMS, and the associated revenue that carriers derive from it, is facing a serious onslaught from free mobile messaging platforms such as Whatsapp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and even Snapchat. Now HDmessaging is offering a white-label solution for carriers to fight back.

HDmessaging rides messaging wave to $3M funding round

HDmessaging might have one of the most prosaic names in tech, but that doesn’t really matter to the Bay Area startup. Its chief purpose is to provide messaging services to mobile operators so they can fight what is probably a futile fight against WhatsApp and company. HD’s clients include Vodafone, Airtel, Aircel, Singtel, and T-Mobile, among others, accounting for 800 million people worldwide. HD says it processes 1 billion messages a month and is growing 200 percent quarter.

Daring Fireball on the Retina iPad Mini

John Gruber writes about the Retina iPad Mini.

But this new retina Mini feels like a two-year upgrade over last year’s. There is no longer any compromise over display quality or CPU performance. All of the advantages of the original Mini remain — smaller size, lighter weight — and there are no drawbacks. When the full size iPad went retina, it was a two steps forward, one step back sort of upgrade: you got the beautiful retina display, but the device got noticeably thicker and heavier to accommodate the battery that was necessary to power all those pixels and maintain 10-hour battery life.

There is no drawback to the iPad Mini going retina. There is a negligible increase in weight, and an even more negligible increase in thickness, but the differences are so slight I honestly don’t think they matter. The old and new Minis are so close in thickness that both fit perfectly in Apple’s new leather Smart Case (and the same polyurethane Smart Covers fit both as well).

He has some advice for you if you are undecided which iPad to go for.

iPad Mini or iPad Air? It really just comes down to size. I think the Air is better-suited for those who use their iPad as their primary portable computer (or primary computer, period). And if you use your iPad for things where bigger is better — watching video, reading comic books or PDFs or print-derived magazine apps (where you’re better off with a screen that is closer in size to that of the printed page), or for on-screen touch typing — well, you probably want the bigger display of the iPad Air.

Nexus 5 is the best Android device

Steve Kovach of Business Insider reviews the Nexus 5.

Either way, the Nexus 5 is the perfect device if you want to make sure you always have the best Google has to offer with Android. It might not be much to look at, but it’s the best device you can own if you care about the experience and Google ecosystem above anything else.

Using Android the way Google intended it to be.

Window’s 30 years of evolution

Business Insider reports on how Windows has evolved over 30 years.

It also shows how much technology has advanced during that period of time.

An author’s take on Google’s book-scanning

Not everybody is going to be a fan of a judge’s recent decision to approve Google’s book-scanning activities, however an author has penned a short article on why he thinks that the ruling is a good one.

The Google Books decision is good for authors and readers

You’d think this process would have been improved with the advent of search engines and digitized text, but it hasn’t. Millions upon millions of books have been published over the past couple of centuries yet precious few are completely searchable. Each year in the US alone, about 350,000 books are published. While you can find a book’s title you can’t search inside the actual book without either buying or borrowing it.

Far better would be to make a book completely searchable so whenever a user looks for a term and comes to your book, she can buy it. Otherwise it sits on a dusty library shelf or on a server somewhere, unloved and unread, like they do at NYU’s Bobst Library and other libraries across the country. It’s a colossal waste, each book a ripple in an ocean of information, very difficult to get to.

Android 4.4 KitKat images for suported Nexus devices released

If you’re an owner of a Nexus 4, 7, or 10, and are impatient, the good news is that Google has released the official factory images for those devices. Do bear in mind that the downside of flashing these factory images, instead of waiting for an over-the-air (OTA) update from Google, is that your device will be erased.

This is also a sad reminder that the older Galaxy Nexus won’t be part of this party. Not officially anyways.

Android 4.4 images for the Nexus 7s, Nexus 4, and Nexus 10 now available

The one device that won’t be joining the KitKat party is the Galaxy Nexus. The official excuse is that the Galaxy Nexus is over 18 months old, but the real reason is that Texas Instruments, the company that made the SoC in the Galaxy Nexus, quit the smartphone business about a year ago. Official support for the chip has dried up, so there won’t be a KitKat port for anything with a TI OMAP processor. A lack of official support has never stopped the modding community before, though, so if you have a Galaxy Nexus and really want KitKat, some Googling should be able to turn something up.

Could Google Glass become essential to photography?

For the moment, the topic of privacy will always come up during the discussion of Google Glass. Privacy issues aside, if Google continues to improve Glass, it could become a very useful tool to photographers.

You can view more examples of photos taken with Google Glass by Trey Ratcliff on Google+.

These Astonishing Images Convinced Us That Google Glass Will Change Photography Forever

What Glass does is allow hands-free photos to be taken — thus removing all the shake and wobble of hand-held photography. It’s probably one of the defining advances Glass will make in photography: Humans can hold their heads almost perfectly still while taking a picture; we can’t do that with our hands.

Moto G reviewed. King of budget phones?

In Asia and other emerging markets, it’s common to see many cheap Android phones being sold. Considering that they’re usually a mix of a low-end display, underpowered processor, a tiny bit of RAM, it’s no suprise that the user experience is often horrible. At $179, the Google-owned Motorola is continuing Google’s initative to offer decent off-contract low-priced Android phones. Certainly a win for consumers.

Motorola Moto G review – the best budget smartphone is just £135

It is fast, fluid, with a sharp 4.5in screen and a long battery life that’s more than enough to get you through even the most arduous of work days – something most premium phones costing three times as much as the Moto G struggle with.

SmugMug’s Camera Awesome app took 20 months longer to be developed for Android

PetaPixel reports that SmugMug’s Camera Awesome app is finally available on Android.

For Android fanboys offended that it took 20 more months to bring Camera Awesome to Android than iOS, you might want to give SmugMug a pass on this one.

Both apps actually went into development at the same time, but the fact that Android is fragmented across so many different devices with varying screen sizes and capabilities caused serious headaches for the design team.

“It turned out to be so much more difficult than iOS,” CEO Don MacAskill told CNET. “The plethora of devices is a real pain. Earlier versions of Android had some serious issues around memory management, so taking and editing photos was basically the thing you couldn’t do without jumping through all kinds of hoops.”

The trouble developers face due to Android’s fragmentation.