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Can we talk?

by Rick Martin

LG’s Optimus G Pro gets a Japan release

Customers on NTT Docomo’s network recently received another attractive Android smartphone option in LG’s Optimus G Pro, which launched early this month. Interestingly, the Japanese version of the handset is marginally smaller than the one that originally launched in the company’s home market of South Korea. However, with a 5-inch HD display, it’s still more than sufficient for mobile-media viewing.

Other key specifications include 2 gigabytes of RAM and a 1.7 GHz quad-core processor. The handset runs on Android 4.1 (aka Jelly Bean) and comes with a 13-megapixel camera on the rear, with a 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera. As you might expect, the Optimus G Pro is LTE compatible and able to run on Docomo’s high-speed Xi network.

Optimus G Pro

Google Translate has tourists covered

Folks who own Android smartphones will be pleased to hear that a recent update for the Google Translate app includes support for its offline text- and speech-translation functions. This is especially good news for the many tourists who come to Japan and struggle to adjust to the lack of open Wi-Fi networks.

You’ll have to download the offline package for the language of your choice under the Offline Languages menu, and these downloads can be pretty hefty. But when preparing for a trip abroad, it can certainly be a handy tool to get beforehand.

For those of you using Apple’s iPhone, Google does have a Translate app for iOS, but unfortunately offline translation is not supported yet.

Google Translate

Don’t touch that dial: Radiko to get a refresh

There are a lot of media-streaming options available these days, with a few made-in-Japan ones, too. For those of you in the market for radio on your mobile, radio-streaming service Radiko has a handy mobile app that provides access to all the radio stations in its repertoire. Launched back in 2010, Radiko offers Internet radio via personal computers and smartphones. The company was planning an April 8 renewal of its smartphone app, but that has been pushed to the end of the month, so stay tuned. Its website was overhauled on April 1, with a new layout that shows radio programs all on one convenient screen.

Personally, I’m a fan of another made-in-Japan music Web app — Beatrobo.com — so you might want to check out that one as well. But Radiko is well worth a download, as it makes for a really nice desk-side companion during working hours.

Radiko

Sony’s dock lets you amplify your iPhone

If you prefer your music delivered in a conventional manner, Sony recently announced a new device that offers a multitude of music options. Its new CMT-V10IPN iPod/iPhone dock combo is, as you may expect from its name, a great place to park an i-device if you want to amplify some tunes and charge the battery at the same time. It uses Apple’s new Lightning connector, so you’ll only be able to use iPhones or iPods released after fall 2012. Also included in the dock is a CD player, AM/FM radio, and a handy wake-up alarm for those who like to start the morning with a song.

CMT-V10IPN

Kids! The call is coming from inside the house!

Here’s an unusual iPhone application that fills a very specific role. For parents who have difficulty keeping their kids in line, Ghostcall allows sneaky moms and dads to fake a stern call from a goblin, ghost or another type of scary individual in the hopes of getting the child to behave. Parents can set a timer to have the app simulate a phone call at a designated time, at which point the child will hear a spooky prerecorded voice. While the demonic warnings might sound a little on the cruel side, there are voices available for other situations, too, such as when children need to take their medicine or eat their vegetables.

There’s even a Santa Claus option, although it’s only available for sale as an in-app purchase at an extra ¥85. In any case, Ghostcall is a rather unique application. Shrewd parents out there should consider adding this to their mobile arsenal of digital threats … at least for a laugh.

Ghostcall