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3 years ago

Further Sony Xperia Z2 'Sirius' details emerge

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More hardware and software nuggets from upcoming Sony flagship refresh

So much for Sony's effort to curb the flow of leaks of its future products. Following what might be our first look at the Sony D6503 — codenamed "Sirius" — over the weekend, we're today seeing more information on the device we might eventually come to know as the Xperia Z2. Today's leakage comes from XperiaBlog and the XDA forums and cover both hardware and software details.

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3 years ago

Fresh leak claims to show more of future Samsung phone UI

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A glimpse of what Samsung's next home screen might look like

We're rapidly approaching the time of year when a couple of the largest Android manufacturers are preparing to launch new flagship phones. One of those is ever-dominant Samsung, and in an unusual turn of events prolific leaker @evleaks has come up with an image said to contain visual elements of the company's next home screen design. The shot shows a list of Google Now-like cards for workout info, flights, concert details and delivery tracking.

Today's leak follows the emergence of a similar shot a couple of weeks ago, showing a new-style home screen arrangement with the same font — alongside redesigned, flattened, more abstract icons. That image seemed to show an HTC BlinkFeed-style vertical scrolling list of widgets like those in today's leak.

If accurate, it's a significant leak from a company which usually goes to great lengths to keep its secrets safe in the run up to major launches. It could also represent a significant departure from Samsung's old TouchWiz UI as we've come to know it on the Galaxy S3 and later devices. And while at best these images are likely work-in-progress mock-ups, the possible shift to a more contextual, content-based home screen is also interesting in light of Samsung's move to a magazine-style UI for its new "Pro" series tablets.

Source: @evleaks (2)

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3 years ago

From the Editor's Desk: Google Glass is distracting us from bigger dangers in the car

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We could talk for days and days about Google Glass and whether it's distracting while driving. And we will continue to talk about it. It doesn't matter that Glass still costs $1,500 and that so few people have it — we're Exploring, remember? Pardon the pun, but we're supposed to be experiencing these speed bumps along the way.

That said, I think it was pretty evident last week how traffic court perhaps isn't the best arena for these discussions. It's too easy for one's passion for Glass to overwhelm the story. It's too easy to misinterpret the technicalities of courtroom procedure. We saw that in the broad spectrum of headlines. "GLASS IS LEGAL!" (Actually, the traffic commissioner, said, it's not.) "Ticket for Google Glass driving dismissed." Yeah, but that's not really what was important. Driving with Glass — or other similar wearables — will sort itself out in the coming months and years. Of that I have no doubt.

There are still too many of us with one hand on the wheel — and the other on a phone.

Driving home this afternoon, though, I was reminded that Glass really has been a distraction — from the larger story. There still are far too many of us in the driver's seat with phones in our hands. Never mind space-age contraptions on our faces. The real danger comes from the phone that should be in our pocket. 

It doesn't matter what operating system it runs. It doesn't matter whether it has the latest updates. Screen size, RAM, processor speed, the number of cores — none of that means a thing when it comes to taking your eyes off the road.

I'm still not perfect at this. I strap my young daughters into child seats in the back but too often put them in danger from three feet in front. This has to stop. I have to do better. We all have to better. 

We're going to continue to talk about this in 2014. I'm convinced that it's still one of the most important conversations to be had in the mobile space.

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3 years ago

Eight minutes on Google buying Nest Labs

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One of the more polarizing stories of last week (though not necessarily for any sort of educated reason) was Google's $3.2 billion purchase of Nest Labs. That's not to say we shouldn't have a discussions about the implications of such an acquisition, but there certainly were the usual knee-jerk reactions. (Perhaps on more than one front, to be fair.) Whatever. A purchase of this size wasn't done in week. We're not going to have it all figured out in that same time span. 

But we do have to start somewhere. So we (well, me, actually) finally bought a Nest this week and started giving it the what-for. And we gave it a decent amount of time on the podcast this week. 

Have a listen to the excerpt below (after the break for you front-page browsers). One way or another, this is going to be an interesting, long-term topic. And have a listen to the full podcast here.

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3 years ago

Apps of the Week: Textra SMS, Archangel, AllCast and more!

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Another great set of apps ready to make their way onto your device

It's Saturday, and that means we've got another great list of apps for you to check out in our Apps of the Week column. Each weekend the writers here at Android Central show off a single app that has been installed on their phone or tablet in the last week. Some are new, some are old but in any case they're still installed and that means they work for us.

Read along with us after the break to see how this week's list breaks down. You may just find an app or two that will work for you on your own phone or tablet.

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3 years ago

Deezer's expansion plans may include a deal with Samsung

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Samsung may also take a stake in the French music streaming service

Deezer isn't yet available in the U.S, but the French music streaming company has big plans for expansion which now may include entering in to a deal with Samsung. According to a report in France courtesy of Reuters, the two companies are exploring a "commercial and industrial agreement" that could also see Samsung claim a stake in Deezer. 

Deezer offers a service similiar to that of Spotify and Rdio, with both a free ad-supported and paid subscription model available. The plan has been to expand to the U.S. later this year for some time, but a deal with Samsung could potentially help accelerate this, and build upon the 12 million subscribers Deezer already boasts. 

Presumably any possible deal would see Deezer come pre-installed on Samsung devices, possibly even with some included premium subscription time. We'll have to wait and see how it all pans out. 

Source: Reuters

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3 years ago

Solving the impossible problem of Android updates

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Android updates remain a messy, unpredictable business — and although Google and manufacturers have made progress in the past year, there's still much work to be done ...

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The speed at which new platform updates arrive remains one of the major pain points of owning an Android device. Whereas Apple rolls out iOS updates instantaneously across much of its product line — the platform absolutely was designed with that in mind — Google’s lack of direct control over the firmware running on most of the world's billion or so Android devices means it’s impossible for it to do the same.

In an article published in late 2012 we discussed exactly why this is the case. The “open” nature of Android, the vast differences in hardware across the entire ecosystem, not to mention the large number of moving parts required to get most updates pushed to users, all contribute to the lengthy delays we’ve come to know and hate. As we said almost 18 months ago, it’s a weakness that’s built into Android’s DNA, and not something that can be easily overcome.

Google and the manufacturers are tackling Android updates on multiple fronts.

Yet over the past year we’ve seen new endeavors by Google and some leading Android manufacturers to tackle this seemingly impossible problem. There have been efforts on multiple fronts: Firstly, the introduction of new features and APIs through Google Play Services, and the spinning of major Google apps out into the Play Store, allowing them to be updated independently from the OS. Google has put future Android code into the hands of OEMs earlier than before, through the “Google Play edition” program. There’s also evidence that manufacturers are seeing the competitive value in being first (or at least quick) with new OS versions. And OEMs, particularly HTC and Motorola, are getting better at communicating details of these updates to end-users.

To be sure, it’s no magic solution to the gargantuan task of moving the entire Android ecosystem forward. And the update situation for non-flagship devices remains something of a crapshoot. But it’s a start, and a big step in the right direction. And as we move from Jelly Bean into the KitKat era, it’s enough to give us some hope for the future of Android updates.

Read on to find out why.

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3 years ago

Belkin Miracast Video Adapter review

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It's likely the best Miracast adapter to date, but the value proposition still isn't there.

Google's $35 streaming stick, the Chromecast, may be at the top of minds nowadays, but long before this affordable entertainment accessory there was another video standard — Miracast. With a few caveats, you can find Miracast support on many of the most popular devices: Nexus 4, 5 and 7 (2013); Galaxy S3, S4, Note 2, 3, 8.0, 10.1; Optimus G; HTC One. So with all of this support, why hasn't Miracast taken off?

Netgear tried its hand at releasing one of the first Miracast accessories, the PTV3000, that really just didn't work well — even after multiple updates. Even for successful adapters, performance varied across devices and software versions. Be it an unfinished standard, poor implementation, bad accessories or maybe a combination of all three, Miracast really hasn't taken off. Samsung now does AllShare Cast, HTC pushes Media Link HD, Intel has Wi-Di and Google naturally likes Chromecast.

Despite the pile of adversity, Belkin decided to release the $79 Miracast Video Adapter.

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3 years ago

Sony leaks start again, show possible refresh to Xperia Z1

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A new device bound for Barcelona next month?

Sony's CES press conference came and went without anything truly new introduced to the gathered media. Both devices announced in Las Vegas already exist in some form, but what we're seeing here might be a first look at the first properly new device for 2014. Several images have appeared of a device labelled as D6503, and at first glance looks like a refreshed Xperia Z1

And that's not too far fetched for anything we might expect from Sony heading into Mobile World Congress next month. The Z1 itself was an iteration from the original Xperia Z. There are some clear design differences between this device and the current Z1 though. The side bezels are slimmer – though top and bottom are still ridiculously large – there's a different design to the speakers at the bottom of the phone, and the lanyard strap has moved. The change in bezels could indicate a bump in screen size, but not by much. 

Otherwise, it's a pretty recognizable design. There's no word on the camera resolution since that image is pretty blurry, but we do see the obvious G-Lens logo on the back, so at the very least we'd expect it to match the current Z1's 20.7MP shooter. 

Whatever this may or may not be, or whatever Sony is planning to take to Barcelona in late February, we'll be there to bring it to you. For now, hit up the source link below to check out the rest of the images. 

Source: XDA via Xperia Blog

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3 years ago

Recon Jet hardware redesign complete, production to start soon

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Design and engineering phase complete on Recon Instruments' Jet smart glasses

Recon Instruments CEO Dan Eisenhardt sent out an update to Recon Jet customers this afternoon about the hardware redesign announced last fall. The bad news is that the wearable heads-up sport glasses are still not on the shelves, but the good news is that production should start soon.

In my my last note to you, you read that the team and I decided a hardware re-design was required. Today, I am pleased to report that the re-design was successful and we are pleased with the results. Design and hardware engineering are now complete and I've greenlighted production ramp up. 

Things on the software side are complete, and you can spy a couple examples of the ReconOS user interface after the break. There's also a web presence, titled Recon Engage, and you can see an example right here.

Eisenhardt says he'll update soon with final details, but to expect the Jet to ship in the Spring of 2014.

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3 years ago

Android Central 168: Google's new $3.2 billion thermostat

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Audio-only stream below

What post-CES lull? Google bought Nest and its excellent connected-home products for $3.2 billion. Plus Richard Devine checks in from Europe's Moto X launch. You still probably shouldn't drive with Google Glass, and we answer more of your questions, live!

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3 years ago

Get $100 back on the Gold Note 3 when it hits Verizon

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Mail in rebate starts today, so look for an announcement soon

We've seen some good evidence of the Rose Gold Galaxy Note 3 coming to Verizon soon, but this one is on actual Verizon digital letterhead. Starting today, a big mail-in rebate program kicks off and one of the devices you can save a hundred bucks on is the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in Rose Gold (capital letters and all).

Under the shiny covering will be the same Note 3 that comes in white or black, but it has to be better because it's gold. There are also some other nice bits of pocket change to be had for other phones — it looks like Verizon's whole Android line-up is there. If you're looking to sign away a couple years and get a new Android, mosey over to your Verizon store or authorized retailer and check. The promo seems to end on January 26, so you have a few days to decide.

We're on the lookout for anything more official from Verizon about the Gold Note 3. 

Thanks, Anon!

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3 years ago

Rock out for three months with Sony Music Unlimited for just £3

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Get all the music you want for just £1 a month in limited time offer

If you're currently not invested in a music streaming service, then Sony Europe wants to make a play for your business. If you sign up to its Music Unlimited service before January 31, you'll be able to enjoy three months of all the tunes you can handle for just £3. 

The beauty to Music Unlimited over some of the competing services is getting it on your PlayStation console, if that's your thing. Since this is Sony we're talking, there's a pretty good selection of music, it offers 320 kbps AAC streaming and offline music. If this sounds like your sort of thing, grab the Android app from the Google Play Store at the link up top, and hit the source link for more information on this limited time offer. 

Source: Sony

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3 years ago

AT&T HTC One X+ update to Android 4.2.2 rolling out now

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Latest software update also brings Sense 5.0 along for the ride

We knew earlier in the week that AT&T's HTC One X+ was due a software update, and now it seems to be hitting devices. Software version 2.15.502.1 brings with it namely Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and Sense 5.0. Sure, this might be the end of the road for the One X+ in terms of major updates, but it's a solid update to get for a device that's been on sale now for a good 15 months. 

If you're yet to see it, you'll want to be heading into Settings > Software Update > Check for Updates and see if anything is coming your way. If you've already updated, drop us a line in the comments and let us know how you're finding it. 

Source: HTC

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3 years ago

Motorola lowers cost of Moto X wood finishes to $25, new grains hit Jan. 21

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Ebony, teak and walnut will soon join bamboo; early adopters getting a $75 credit

Good news for those of you who want to get your wood (or grass) on for the Moto X. Initially the organic custom backs cost $100 over the price of a traditional custom Moto X. Now, that's been lowered to $25.

And Motorola has now listed the other finishes that will soon be available. In addition to Bamboo, which you can get now and looks ridiculously awesome, you'll also be able to order ebony, teak and walnut. The new flavors will be available Jan. 21.

For those of us who ordered Bamboo Moto Xs first thing, Motorola's offering up a $75 credit that can be used on anything other than a Chromecast through midnight Jan. 31 from Motorola directly.

More: Motorola

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