Headlines

2 years ago

Late-night poll: Texting and driving

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This one comes from Cory, who happens to be shopping for new car insurance. While deciding how much coverage he should buy, he brought up the question of other folks texting and driving. He is worried just how many people still do it, even though everyone knows they shouldn't, it's illegal damn near everywhere, and it's a good way to cause some serious harm to yourself or others. We're hoping that very few of you guys will say yes in tonight's poll -- we'll all be safer that way and Cory can save a little money.

Do you ever text and drive?

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2 years ago

S-Voice isn't another Siri, EVO 4G LTE [From the Forums]

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We're back from the weekend and have quite few things lined up this week for you -- nevermind those silly Canucks, being on vacation and all. If you happened to miss out on anything because you were out soaking up some sun, now is your chance to do so both here on the blogs and in the forums.

If you're not already a member of the Android Central forums, you can register your account today.

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2 years ago

Netflix for Android updated, brings 'enhanced playback experience' and a secondary install method if needed

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The Netflix Android client has seen what appears to be a relatively minor update this evening, promising an enhanced playback experience on both phones and tablets, stability improvements, and general bug fixes. Sound like a typical maintenance release. But what caught my eye was this, from the Google Play store change log:

If you are having problems updating your application, you can update your device manually by opening your mobile browser and going to this URL: http://tinyurl.com/nflx180
Once the application is downloaded please tap on it and follow the instructions to install this application. In some cases you may have to allow applications from untrusted sources to be installed.

Having had a device with "issues" when trying to update this particular app from the Play store once or twice, this is a really nice option. No need to try some potentially janky (or worse) version found in a forum, Netflix is offering up an alternative of their own. Hopefully, nobody needs it -- but it's great that it's there. 

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2 years ago

Amazon Appstore updated, beta version of 'Test Drive' comes to some

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Amazon has pushed out an update to their Appstore, bringing it to version 2.6.53. Besides the always-present bug fixes and stability enhancements, this time around there's a slick new feature for a select few -- The Test Drive feature. Much like the Test Drive that's always been available on Amazon's web site, this give you a chance to see what an app looks like and how it operates when installed. 

Without access to the methods Amazon is using to pull this one off, we're going to have to guess it's simulated on a server somewhere and not actually running on your device. But it's still pretty damn cool. Grab your update from Amazon and have a look. If you're lucky enough to get the Test Drive feature, sing out in the comments and let us mere mortals know how it works!

Thanks everyone who sent this in!

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2 years ago

Android Central weekly photo contest: Street scenes

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The best part about having a good camera on your phone is that you'll always have a way to snap pictures in your pocket. Our phone cameras will never be a good as expensive photo equipment, but who really carriers their DSLR camera around their neck everywhere they go? Thinking along those lines, this week's photo contest should be fun. Show us a street scene -- that is, things you find along the sidewalks and streets around you. Often times the best pictures are ones that weren't staged.

The prize this week is the winners choice of a case from ShopAndroid.com, where we have a ton of them to choose from. The rules, as always:

  • Use an Android device to take a picture. Any Android device
  • Submit the picture in the forum thread we have set up for this week, so everyone can see your handiwork. E-mail was swamping us, and not everyone got to see all the entries. This way, we get to see them all. We like seeing it all.
  • Only submit one. We're going to check, and we'll know if you try to game the system.
  • Be sure to tell what device you used, and any effects or filters used on the photo. We can learn from these as well as have fun.
  • Get your picture in by Friday midnight (your local time). We'll pick the winner and the runners-up and throw them on the blog Sunday afternoon.

So keep an eye out while your heading off to work, or out to play, snap a picture and enter to win!

Enter the weekly photo contest

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2 years ago

HTC EVO 4G LTE officially cleared to ship

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Our long national nightmare is over, ladies and gentlemen. The HTC EVO 4G LTE has cleared its International Trade Commission review at customs, which caused the phone to miss its launch date last Friday, and is headed to Sprint stores nationwide.

The delay stemmed from the ITC inspecting the phones to ensure that they don't infringe on a patent owned by Apple specifically, one that opens up a menu when you tap on a linked phone number. For its part, HTC in December had said that the patent covered "a small UI experience" and that it already had a workaround at that time. And sure enough, the EVO 4G LTE (and the AT&T HTC One X) that we've got here have changed things up a little bit. (Tapping on a linked phone number goes straight to the dialer instead of offering menu options.)

Preorders will arrive "on or around" May 24, Sprint said, and you should receive an e-mail with shipping confirmation once your phone is on the way.

Source: Sprint; more: HTC EVO 4G LTE forums

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2 years ago

Verizon confirms some phones will get updated for global use

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Verizon this afternoon confirmed that four of its CDMA Android smartphones will receive software updates that allow them to connect to GSM networks outside the United States. The phones are the HTC Rezound, the Motorola Droid RAZR and RAZR MAXX, and the Motorola Droid 4. All four of the phones phones are 4G LTE capable and thus have SIM cards, which generally is a hallmark of a GSM device.

Said Verizon:

Customers will see a notification on their device when the software update is available for their device. After the software update, customers will be able to take their smartphone overseas and use voice service in more than 220 countries and receive data in more than 205 countries.

Of course, you'll need to add some global service to your Verizon plan. Or, and this is the really good news -- Verizon tells us the phones already are SIM unlocked, so you should be able to use a prepaid SIM once you're in-country. If you don't travel outside the U.S., well, you can just go about your domestic business.

More: Verizonwireless.com/global

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2 years ago

Android A to Z: What is the AOSP?

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AOSP is a term you'll see used a lot -- here, as well as at other Android-centric sites on the Internet. I'll admit I'm guilty of using it and just expecting everyone to know what I'm talking about, and I shouldn't. To rectify that, at least a little bit, I'll try to explain what the AOSP is now so we're all on the same page.

For some of us -- the nerdly types who build software -- the full name tells us what we need to know. AOSP stands for Android Open Source Project. The AOSP was designed and written by folks who had a vision that the world needed an open-source platform that exists for developers to easily build mobile applications. It wasn't designed to beat any other platform in market share, or to fight for user freedom from tyrannical CEOs -- it exists as a delivery mechanism for mobile apps -- like Google's mobile apps, or any of the 400,000+ in the Google Play store. Luckily, Google realized that using open-source software would ensure that this operating system/mobile application content delivery system is available for all, for free. And by choosing the licensing they did, it's also attractive to device manufacturers who can use it as a base to build their own mobile OS. 

The premise plays out rather nicely. Google writes and maintains a tree of all the Android source code -- the AOSP. It's made available for everyone (you, me, manufacturers you've never heard of and not just big players like Samsung or HTC) to download, modify, and take ownership of. This means the folks at CyanogenMod can add cool stuff like audio profiles. It also means folks like HTC can change multitasking in ways that many of us don't like. You can't have one without having the other. The big players then use their modified version of this source to build their own operating system. Some, like Amazon, radically changed everything without a care to use Google's official applications and keep their device in compliance with Android guidelines. Some, like HTC radically changed everything yet followed the Android Compatibility Program (ACP) so they could include Google's core application suite -- including the Google Play store. Some, like the folks at CyanogenMod, enhance the pure AOSP code with additions but don't change the overall look and feel. Again -- that's how this open-source thing works. You can't have it without allowing folks to change it as they see fit, for better or worse.

Any of us can download and build the AOSP. We can even stay compliant with the ACP and contact Google about including their applications. Yes, any of us could build our own device using the AOSP code in our garage or basement with Google's full blessing. That's the beauty of the AOSP, and we wouldn't want it any other way. 

More: Android Open Source Project;  Android Compatibility Program
Check out the complete Android Dictionary

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2 years ago

Swords and Soldiers [Android Game Review]

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If there's one thing I love about the Humble Bundle, it's the great games it brings to Android. The downside is that most aren't launched in the Google Play Store until much later, but Swords and Soldiers has made the jump.

Swords and Soldiers is a sidescrolling, conquer-'em-up type game, not unlike a simplified Starcraft 2 (yeah, I went there), where you mine resources, build up troops, and fight the invading army (that's coming from the other side of the screen). It's all very cartoony and lighthearted, but it's obvious the game was built from the ground up with this in mind, so it totally works.

You start off as the Vikings, but can eventually unlock storylines for the Aztecs and Chinese, as well. Combat and resource mining is the same across all three armies.

You create troops using the upgrade menu (the blue arrow in the bottom-left corner of the screen), and this is also where you buy spells to beef up your team. As your hoard of monies grows, you can build even more troops, or less, more powerful troops. There's an excellent variety of soldiers in your barracks, so you can tailor your army to your enemy's weakness or just steamroll them with your favorite.

Once you've purchased either a new unit or spell, there's a small amount of time before you can actually use it. (You'll notice its icon growing slowly on your screen.) Once it's up, you can tap on it and either build the troop or use the spell. As you advance through the campaign, you'll find yourself with a whole host of spells and troops that you've bought, but it really helps keep the game fresh.

There's also a multiplayer mode with a pretty ingenious implementation. Instead of requiring your buddy to have their own copy of the game and play over wireless, the game goes into portrait mode and each of you takes half of the screen (so you're sitting across from one another). You can't really see what they're doing (nor can they see you), but it lets you share the fun with a friend even if you only have one device.

To top it off, Swords and Soldiers also includes a skirmish level, where you can pick any army and hone your skills against a computer. You get to pick how large the map is, play with all upgrades unlocked, and just go to town. It's great for killing a few minutes, especially if you don't have time to keep playing through the campaign.

You can pick up Swords and Soldiers for $2.99 in the Google Play Store or try the demo version for free.

We've got video and download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Samsung and O2 unveil Galaxy Note and Galaxy Y Olympic editions

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Samsung is a big Olympic sponsor, and it's been ramping up its promotional efforts considerably in the lead up to this summer's London games. In addition to bringing to market the "official phone of the Olympics" in the form of the Galaxy S III, Samsung's also releasing special Olympic editions of the Galaxy Note and Galaxy Y smartphones through British network O2. The devices include limited edition back covers sporting either the Team GB lion logo, or the union jack. And owners will also get the chance to win a "once in a lifetime Team Samsung experience," including --

  • a pair of tickets to an Olympics Games Event
  • a pair of tickets to the Team GB training camp in Loughborough on 6 July 2012
  • a pair of tickets to the Team GB celebration event taking place in London

In addition, for each device sold, Samsung says it'll donate £1 (~$1.60) to "Team GB athletes of the future," meaning you can pick up a shiny new toy for yourself and enjoy a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

More: Samsung

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