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3 years ago

Pichai: Google I/O 2013 to focus on services, helping devs 'write better things'

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New Android head says 'It’s not a time when we have much in the way of launches of new products or a new operating system'

Newly-appointed Android head Sundar Pichai says the company will focus on "all of the kinds of things we’re doing for developers" at this year's Google I/O conference, due to begin this Wednesday. In an interview with Wired, Pichai, who also heads up Google Chrome, says that it isn't a time when the company has "much in the way of launches of new products or a new operating system," suggesting major device launches won't be the focus of the conference.

Having recently taken over from Android co-founder Andy Rubin, Pichai offered his thoughts on a variety of subjects, including Android updates, Google's relationship with Samsung, Facebook Home and the challenges of managing two operating systems.

Some bite-size snippets --

  • On the relationship between Chrome and Android: "Android and Chrome are both large, open platforms, growing very fast. I think that they will play a strong role, not merely exist. I see this as part of friendly innovation and choice for both users and developers."
  • On Facebook Home: "It’s exciting that Facebook thought of Android first in this case. Android was intended to be very customizable. And we welcome innovations. As for the specific product, my personal take on it is that time will tell."
  • On Samsung's Android dominance: "The relationship is very strong on a day-to-day basis and on a tactical basis. So I’m not that concerned. Historically the industry has had long stable structures. Look at Microsoft and Intel. They were very codependent on one another, but it served both of them well."
  • On future Nexus hardware: "You will see a continuation of what we have tried to do with Nexus and Chromebooks. Any hardware projects we do will be to push the ecosystem forward."
  • On slow Android updates: "We are thinking about how to make Android handle updates better. We see ways we can do this. It’s early days. We’re talking with our partners and working our way through it. We need time to figure out the mechanics, but it’s definitely an area of focus for me and for the team."
  • On what to expect from I/O this year: "Both on Android and Chrome, we’re going to focus this I/O on all of the kinds of things we’re doing for developers, so that they can write better things. We will show how Google services are doing amazing things on top of these two platforms."

Hit the source link to check out the interview in full.

Source: Wired

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3 years ago

'Blue Arctic' Samsung Galaxy S4 sighted in Japan

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Docomo could carry dark blue variant of Samsung's new handset

So far the Samsung Galaxy S4 has only been available in "white frost" and "black mist" color options, but it seems a third option may be about to join them. Japanese blog Rbmen has spotted the new "blue arctic" color option on a promotional leaflet from Japanese carrier Docomo, and it looks a lot like the old "pebble blue" Galaxy S3.

There's no word on whether this color option might be offered outside of Japan, but Samsung has a history of offering its phones and tablets in all kinds of weird and wonderful colors, so we wouldn't be surprised to see a wider release at some point.

Aside from new color options, the spec sheet also mentions a couple of Japanese-specific features, like FeliCa support for use with electronic payment cards, and a retractable TV antenna.

Docomo reportedly has a presentation scheduled for May 15, so Japanese buyers shouldn't be too long to learn more about their Galaxy S4 variant.

Source: Rbmen; via: SamMobile

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3 years ago

White Nexus 4 spotted in the wild once again, still no sign of wider release

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... And it still looks like a Nexus 4 in white

Remember that white Nexus 4 that cropped up in Vietnam a few months back? Well it's back, this time in the Philippines. Google+ user Ervin Sue has posted photos of the white-backed Nexus 4 which he says he bought from "a local buy and sell site." Like the white Nexus 4 we've seen in earlier leaks, this one has a white Crystal Reflective Process back and white sides, but a black trim around the display.

There's also no indication that this is anything other than an isolated appearance for the elusive white Nexus, which was rumored to have been given to some Google employees last year. It's not impossible that Google might opt for a more widespread launch in this color, especially if a new N4 variant is to be unveiled at Google I/O, but there's nothing here to suggest that'll happen.  So for the moment we'll have to make do with a few slightly blurry pics.

You'll find a couple more photos over at the source link.

Source: +Ervin Sue; via: CNET Asia

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3 years ago

Sony's Xperia ZR is a new, smaller waterproof handset

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Basically a shrunken down, mid-level Xperia Z

Update: A Sony Mobile spokesperson tells Android Central that the company has "nothing to announce" at this stage with regards to UK availability for the Xperia ZR.

Original story: Sony has expanded its Xperia Z family today with the new, 4.55-inch Xperia ZR. Packing many of the same internal components -- and Xperia Z-like waterproof capabilities, (rated IP55 and IP58) the ZR will represent Sony in the mid to high-end space. In fact, Sony's touting its higher IP rating (the Xperia Z is rated IP55 and IP57) as making the ZR ideal for underwater HD video recording, if that's your thing.

Under the hood it's running a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU -- the same Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro that's powering Xperias Z and ZL -- with 2GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage and a microSD slot. On the front there's a 4.55-inch 720p display (in places described as a 4.6-inch panel, so go figure), and around the back is a 13-megapixel Sony Exmor RS camera with LED flash. All in all, a respectable set of components, and the ZR's curved back should make it a good deal more comfortable to hold than its brick-like sibling.

Sony's press release says the Xperia ZR includes LTE support, but the official spec sheet only mentions HSPA+, so it's possible this may depend on which market you're in. As far as HSPA+ connectivity is concerned, it seems there'll be one version supporting 900 and 2100MHz (for Europe) and another with 850, 1700, 1900 and 2100MHz support, likely for North America.

The Xperia ZR will land in "various global markets" during Q2, so make of that what you will.

Source: Sony MobilePress Release (PDF)

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3 years ago

From the editor's desk: Let's go to Google I/O!

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We'll keep things short this week as it's Mother's Day (call your mom already, will ya?!?!) and it's a travel weekend. We've got not one but two developer events to both cover and keep an eye on. The most important, obviously, is Google I/O in San Francisco. The event kicks off with the lone (extended) keynote address Wednesday morning, but expect to see news start to roll out Tuesday afternoon or so.

I'll be in San Francisco along with Jerry Hildenbrand. There's nothing like actually being there, but Google should be commended for its "I/O Extended" events and for streaming so many of the sessions live.

The news will be flowing into the home page, of course, and you can get it all directly from our dedicated Google I/O page here. (And don't forget you can get it all on the go better than ever before with our new app.)

Also this week is BlackBerry Live in Orlando. CrackBerry.com has about 274 people (more or less) covering it by last count. Why do we care? It'll be important to see if and when BB10 supports the Android framework 4+ framework. That would mean more Android applications can run on it. (Including ours.)

So, yeah. Kind of a busy week. A few more thoughts, after the break.

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3 years ago

HTC One, two months on ...

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How has HTC's latest flagship fared after two months in the hands of an AC editor?

It’s been just over two months since I first got my hands on the HTC One -- first, a pre-production demo unit, then a final European retail model. For most of that time, HTC’s impressive 2013 flagship has been my daily driver -- the phone I use every day, and take with me just about everywhere I go. In that time it’s seen plenty of normal use, and ten days or so of not-so-normal use in New York City for our Galaxy S4 and #TM13 coverage

But the HTC One was in short supply when it first launched in Europe and it’s only recently hit the U.S. market, so we’re in a bit of a unique position to have used the phone for this long. With that in mind, now seems like the right moment to reflect on our time with the device.

Just as we did for the Nexus 4 in January, it’s time for our long-term, two-month retrospective feature on the HTC One. We’ve already brought you a full review of the phone, and a casual review of the Sprint version, of course. So consider this article a chance for us to share the kind of details that don’t come to light in the course of our normal review process, and an opportunity to let you know what to expect in the months ahead if you pick up an HTC One today.

Check past the break to learn how the HTC One has coped with 61 days in the hands of an Android Central editor.

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3 years ago

Galaxy S4 quick tip: Disable 'Auto adjust screen tone' for brighter whites

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A simple setting change can get you extra brightness on web pages and documents

The Samsung Galaxy S4's Full HD SuperAMOLED screen is the best AMOLED display we've seen on a smartphone. However if you're noticing subpar brightness some of the time, there's an option in "Display settings" you might want to take a look at.

By default, the Galaxy S4 and many other Samsung devices ship with "Auto adjust display tone" turned on. You can find it under Settings > My device > Display > More settings. When enabled, it tweaks the display brightness based on the on-screen image to avoid burning through an excessive amount of juice. Most of the time you might not notice this, but there's an easy way to see its effects.

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3 years ago

Google Play Sound Search now available in Australia

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Google Now "What's This Song?" also reported to be working for some users

Following the branch out of the Google Play Sound Search widget from the U.S. in selected European countries such as the UK and Ireland, the next to receive it are our friends down in Australia. Ausdroid reports that the widget is now available via the Google Play Store to download. Google's answer to Shazam, Sound Search will attempt to tell you what song is playing when you tap the homescreen widget. 

The Google Now "What's This Song?" feature also appears to be working now for some Australian users, though reports suggest this may still be rolling out. When trying it some are still seeing a message of "action not supported in your country," while others are seeing more successful results. 

Grab a copy now from the Google Play Store, and if the latest rollout has hit you somewhere other than Australia, be sure to drop us a line in the comments below. 

Source: Ausdroid

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3 years ago

Questions about the Optimus G Pro? Ask Android Central!

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You have questions, we have answers in the Optimus G Pro forums

Since I picked it up last week, the LG Optimus G Pro has become my go-to daily driver and as I said in our full review, it is by and large a device worthy of sharing shelf space with the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One. It's an exciting and stressful time to buy an Android device on AT&T, but we're here to lend a hand-- if you're still on the fence about whether the Optimus G Pro is worthy your two-year commitment, join me in the forums where I'll be answering your questions as they come in. Fire away!

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3 years ago

New Google Services apk confirms Google Play Games is coming

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We have a clue at what Google will provide in their upcoming Play Games service, look for it all to make more sense next week at Google I/O

There's a new version of Google Play Services being distributed, and inside the file there's plenty of reference to Google Play Games. For the past few weeks everyone has been sure that we were going to see some sort of Google Game Center for Android devices in the very near future, likely at Google I/O, and the fellows at Android Police have found all manner of clues and hints to what it will entail.

Things like leader boards and a matchmaking service are activities that a future application can trigger, as well as achievements and invitations. The settings for Play Games (so far, the only portion that's working) also show notification settings that will allow you to pick and choose who can send you game notifications. The whole kit and caboodle is tied up into Google+, which should mean easy access to your friends as well as a central hub for all the gaming goodness.

Make no mistake, this is pretty awesome. But it leaves a few unanswered questions. How backwards compatible will this be? How difficult (or easy) will it be for developers to integrate Play Games into their applications? Can any game be built to work with the new service? Most importantly, when will this go live? We'll likely get all those answers and more next week in San Francisco. 

For now, be sure to head to Android Police to read their in-depth look at everything they found inside the new Google Play Services file, it's a pretty epic read.

Source: Android Police

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3 years ago

AT&T Galaxy Note 2 update rolling out, still 4.1.2

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The 69MB update is available over Wifi only, brings new kernel and new radio

Build UCAMC3 looks like it's rolling out heavy for the AT&T branded Galaxy Note 2. Since last night, plenty of users are reporting that they have received the 69MB OTA. There's no official change log posted, but a quick chat with someone who has received it shows that you'll be getting a new radio and a new kernel. Besides the obvious performance boosts to the network that comes with new radio software, users are reporting better and stronger Wifi, and increased performance overall.

You'll need to be on Wifi to download this update, so be sure you're not using your cell radio when you check (right after reading this) lest you get the check again in 24 hours message. When and if AT&T posts any official list of changes, we'll update this post.

Via: Android Central forums. Thanks, Shawn!

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3 years ago

HTC highlights BlinkFeed in new commercials, wants you to stop digging

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The HTC One has a lot going for it. There's the UltraPixel camera. It has a fantastic unibody aluminum design. Let's not forget the sillily-named but great-sounding BoomSound speakers. And so much more. And while all that is nice, HTC really wants you to know about the software, specifically they want you to know about BlinkFeed.

So HTC America's posted to YouTube a pair of new commercials (after the break) that highlight BlinkFeed. They both play off the same concept: BlinkFeed surfaces relevant content for you on its own, keeping you from having to dig for it yourself. Literally, digging. It's an interesting visual metaphor, watching that poor guy shovel a pile of dirt out of his not-an-HTC but-certainly-meant-to-represent-a-Samsung smartphone. While BlinkFeed might not be for everybody (though you should know that you can use BlinkFeed to keep up with Android Central and the rest of the Mobile Nations network), the excellent hardware of the HTC One isn't the only selling point HTC has to offer.

Though HTC is sure in both ads to point out that the One is "all-metal", surely another dig at Samsung. It's clear that HTC is targeting Samsung as their sole competitor here. Samsung's arguably-over-the-top TouchWiz Nature UX doesn't serve up nearly as much news and social information as cohesively BlinkFeed can, and the new Galaxy S4 is certainly much more on the all-plastic side in comparison to HTC's all-metal One.

HTC has retired their old "quietly brilliant" tagline as they've opted to be more aggressive in their advertising efforts. Money's tight for HTC, so even with a more assertive marketing campaign they can't hope to match what Samsung (and Apple) will be putting on the table. HTC's all-in with the One - but will it be enough? Simple, clever, and smartly-targeted commercials like this might do it - assuming HTC can afford to buy enough airtime to cut through the noise.

Source: HTC America (YouTube)

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3 years ago

Ask the AC editors: What do you expect from Google I/O 2013?

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It's the biggest, baddest, and most fun event of the year. See what your favorite folks from Android Central think we'll be seeing

Our favorite time of the year starts in just a few more days -- Wednesday, May 15 to be exact. We're talking about Google I/O of course. Not that we don't get excited by the happenings at Mobile World Congress, or CES, or even carrier and manufacturer events, but I/O is all Google all day (and night), and that's pretty important to any Android fan. In years past we've seen some awfully cool stuff, some were blockbusters and some, well, not-so-much. But we enjoyed seeing every single thing.

And there's more to Google I/O than the keynote extravaganza. Skydiving and announcements of the year's coming tech is pretty exciting, but you also get to sit in and hear the people who make Google and Android great talk shop with some of the best developers in the business. If you're a geeky type, it's like Nirvana. And even if you're not, it's still absolutely awesome to see the passion that everyone has for Google and Android. 

We're going to be there of course, and we'll tell you everything that's going on in and around the Moscone Center. It's going to be a blast, but just what do we expect to see? We're going to answer that one. Hit the break, see what we think, and when it's all said and done we can see just how right (or wrong) we were. 

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3 years ago

Live long and prosper: Star Trek movies on special offer in Google Play UK

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To celebrate the new Star Trek: Into Darkness movie release, Google Play in the UK has a host of previous movies on special offer

If you're looking for some weekend watching, you could do worse than taking a look at the Google Play Store right now. In celebration at the release of the new Star Trek: Into Darkness movie, Google is throwing a promotion on a host of previous Star Trek movies. If that's not enough, Google also sat down with Benedict Cumberbach, star of the new movie, for an exclusive interview. Because we're good to you, you'll find that interview down below after the break. 

The price cuts have been made to both rental and purchase prices. Rentals start at £2.49 with purchases down to just £3.99. Virtually the whole library is there, from Star Trek I through to Insurrection and the 2009 new Star Trek movie. Nemesis seems to have been excluded for whatever reason but for not a lot of money you can own the rest of the Star Trek back catalog. 

The U.S. doesn't seem to be included in the promotion, at least for purchases. Rental prices are showing up at $2.99 for most of the catalog, so while you're waiting to see Into Darkness, feast on some classic Trek movies this weekend. While you're at it, be sure to jump into the comments below and share your favorite Star Trek movie with us, and let us know if you're somewhere other than the UK that's seeing the promotion. My favorite is First Contact, for what it's worth. 

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