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3 years ago

Amazon's suite of apps on Verizon phones isn't a bad thing

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Once upon a time there was a leaked memo regarding Verizon beginning to load "a suite of Amazon apps preloaded on one dedicated home screen for all newly launched Android devices." Wit the launch of the HTC Droid DNA, we now now exactly what that entails. And the results are not nearly as scary as some had feared.

First off, the sentence in and of itself should have made things pretty clear. Apps. On one home screen. Nothing about replacing Google Play. Nothing about going solely with the Amazon Appstore. But we can't blame folks' ears from perking up a little bit. Verizon, after all, is the carrier that once swapped out Google's maps and search for Microsoft's Bing. That ended poorly.

More: Read our complete Droid DNA review

Fact of the matter here is that there's a nicely designed widget on one of the home screens that pushes to Amazon storefront, as well as apps such as Amazon MP3 and Kindle. No surprise there, and it's not like those apps had never been preloaded on any other devices before.

The really interesting thing is how it handles the suite of apps. Instead of pushing links to the Amazon Appstore, you're directed to Google Play. We're willing to put good money on that being a requirement from Google in order to pass compatibility testing -- and there's no reason why you can't install the Amazon Appstore later, if you so desire.

We've got a little video of the whole thing after the break.

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3 years ago

Creatorverse brings physics sandbox to Android

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Linden Lab, the folks behind the Second Life virtual world, have released their first creation for Android. Creatorverse isn't so much a game as it is a toy. Though there are simple, intuitive controls for placing virtual objects into a space, resizing, connecting, and coloring them, the breadth of mechanics that can be applied to them are truly boggling. Virtual magnetic fields, alterations in gravity and friction, levers, pivots, triggers, and many more tools are likely to keep tinkerers busy for a long time. Best of all, any creations, be they cute pieces of interactive art, explorations in physics, or even simple games, can all be shared online to other creators on all platforms. They can then download, experience, and tweak creations as they see fit. 

As Android fans, I think we all have a bit of a tinkerer's mindset. That said, an open, creative sandbox like this is well-suited to us. I can definitely see the use of Creatorverse for getting kids interested in engineering; the rules and interface are accessible, but deep and potentially inspiring. I've only been playing around with Creatorverse for a little while, but I can already tell that it's going to be keeping a permanent spot on my Android device. 

What do you guys think? Any Little Big Planet fans in the house? How about Second Life? 

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3 years ago

Verizon Droid DNA review

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You got something against large, high-resolution displays and the most powerful processor we've used thus far? What's wrong with you?!?!?!

The Verizon Droid DNA has too many pixels, they said. It'll run too slow. The battery's too small, they said. It'll never last. The screen's too big, they said. It'll be too unwieldy. There's not enough on-board storage, says everybody.

Poppycock. (OK, except for that last one.)

After keeping HTC on the sidelines for most of 2012, Verizon's ending the year with a powerhouse of an Android smartphone in the Droid DNA. All the usual boxes are checked here. Powerful processor. High-resolution display. (The highest we've tested, actually). Great camera. Verizon's fast LTE data.

So what has everybody so worried, and are their concerns really valid? Or is it just the usual "SMARTPHONE SKY IS FALLING!!!" jitters before anyone's actually used the device?

Let's rap, shall we? Read on for the full Android Central Verizon Droid DNA review.

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3 years ago

ForeverMap 2 brings offline-ready OpenStreetMaps to Google Play

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After hanging out on the Barnes & Noble Nook since the summer, Skobbler's ForeverMap 2 has found its way to the Google Play store. Like a few other non-Google solutions ForeverMap 2 taps into OpenStreetMap for its data, which is created thanks to the collective contributions of users. The core app costs $0.99, and you can download locally-stored maps for individual cities for $0.99, single states for $1.99, whole countries for $2.99, continents for $5.99 each, or a full global map for $9.99. Though that sounds like a fair bit to ask, users get one country for free out of the box. All of the usual services are there, including turn-by-turn directions, points of interest search, and address lookup. 

Skobbler is pushing ForeverMap 2 as a Google Maps alternative, which is a pretty hard sell considering the high quality of Android's built-in navigation and local search apps. Offline access is always handy, especially if you're visiting someplace outside your data coverage, but it that alone enough? What would it take for you to switch to something other than Google Maps? Does ForeverMap 2 look like it could fit the bill, or are there other third-party maps applications that you're already comfortable with? 

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3 years ago

TELUS One X+ on-contract pricing tipped at $129

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The HTC One X+ is already available in Europe, the U.S. and parts of Asia, but has yet to make its debut in Canada. That may be about to change, as leaked promotional materials for the TELUS version appears to show subsidized pricing for the Canadian carrier. The image, obtained by MobileSyrup, indicates that it'll go on sale for C$129.99 on a three-year contract. No details on unsubsidized pricing was offered.

The One X+ is a re-vamped version of HTC's earlier premium handset. With a redesigned chassis furnished in soft-touch plastic, a faster quad-core Tegra 3 CPU, 64GB of storage and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box. In North America, the phone also includes 4G LTE connectivity.

For more on the HTC One X+, check out our full review of the European version.

Source: MobileSyrup

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3 years ago

EE, Vodafone customers to get Tube Wifi access

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Update: Both EE and Vodafone have now confirmed that they'll offer Wifi on the Tube in 2013.

Original story: British mobile operators EE and Vodafone are said to be in talks to allow their customers free access to Virgin Media's Wifi network on the London Underground, according to reports. A tweet from the official EE Twitter account, which has since been deleted, said, "Travel on the tube? From early 2013, EE customers will be able to get WiFi access on the London Underground at no extra cost. Details soon."

Virgin Media's Underground Wifi network is currently open to all users for free, however the company is due to begin charging for access in the near future. Presumably that's when deals with mobile operators might also kick in. Virgin and EE already collaborate on on mobile services in the UK, including the Virgin Media mobile network, which runs on EE, and on-board Wifi access on Virgin Trains.

UK tech blog Pocket-Lint reports that the two are in talks to over access to Virgin Media's Tube Wifi network, which currently covers some 72 Underground stations. What's more, Vodafone is said to be in similar negotiations with Virgin to bring access to its customers, too.

Neither company is officially commenting on the deals, but the "early 2013" timeframe suggested in EE's deleted tweet indicates an agreement well may be close.

Source: Pocket-Lint

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3 years ago

Verizon launches the Droid DNA by HTC

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As was promised at the launch event a week ago today, Verizon has released the latest handset in its Droid series, the Droid DNA by HTC. The phone is available to order right now on VerizonWireless.com, where it'll run you $199 on a two-year contact, or $599 if you want to buy the device outright.

We'll have a full review coming up soon, but we don't think we're spoiling much when we say the DNA is one of the most impressive phones in Big Red's line-up. Packing a quad-core Snapdragon S4 CPU, 2GB of RAM, an 8MP ImageSense camera and Retina-beating 1080p SuperLCD3 display, it certainly trounces just about everything else in terms of hardware specs. And on the software side, you're running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, so you're not missing out on newer Android features like Google Now and "Project Butter" performance enhancements.

Anyone planning on picking up a launch day Droid DNA? Shout out in the comments!

More: Verizon Wireless

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3 years ago

HSPA+ 42 data speeds, Nexus 10 back in stock [From the Forums]

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While you get yourself caught up on the blog posts from today, don't forget that in the Android Central Forums there is plenty to talk about as well. Have some questions? Need some help or just looking to chat Android? You know where to go, check out some of the threads below to get started.

We've got over 1 million members helping members and nearly 2 million posts in our Android Forums. Are you one of them? Join today!

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3 years ago

Verizon expands 4G LTE coverage in New York

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Verizon continues its expansive 4G LTE rollout today with improvements to its network in several markets in New York. Users in these areas may or may not already have LTE coverage, but Verizon is promising that it is expanding the network in these areas. The markets receiving updates are below:

  • Poughkeepsie, New York
  • Greene County, New York
  • Utica-Rome, New York
  • Binghamton, New York

The Verizon LTE train keeps chugging along, covering more and more markets. At this point we're not surprised that they're focusing on enhancing current markets, given that nearly all major areas already have some kind of LTE coverage.

Source: Verizon; (2); (3); (4)

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3 years ago

Pixel wars: HTC One X versus Droid DNA

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Click the image above to enlarge.

When the HTC One X arrived earlier in the year, it easily took the smartphone display crown, blowing us away with its high pixel density and super-clear zero-air-gap screen. Fast forward six months and we already have a successor in waiting, in the form of Verizon's Droid DNA. The DNA rocks a 1080p SuperLCD 3 screen versus the One X's 720p SuperLCD 2, and that means it boasts a whopping 440 ppi (pixels per inch) compared to the One X's 312.

It shouldn't be surprising to hear that the Droid DNA produces incredibly crisp images -- after all, it matches the pixel count of the average HDTV.  But the One X's screen is impressive in its own right, despite packing less than half as many pixels in total. As you can see in our close-up shot above, the differences between the Droid DNA and One X are noticeable but subtle -- when viewed up-close, icons, text and other on-screen elements do appear crisper. The perceived difference isn't anywhere near as great as going from WVGA to 720p, though.

Pixels aside, the two phones are pretty closely matched in color quality and brightness, too. The Droid DNA's screen is ever so slightly cooler and a little darker than the One X at maximum brightness, though these aren't differences you'll  notice unless you've got both devices sitting side by side. For general day-to-day use, both of these screens look stunningly good.

You'll be able to see for yourself when the HTC Droid DNA goes on sale tomorrow -- stay tuned for our full review. In the meantime, be sure to sound off in the comments, and stop by our Droid DNA forums for more great discussion.

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3 years ago

T-Mobile improving coverage, lighting up 1900MHz in 10 metro areas

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T-Mobile is announcing 10 new markets that are being added to its list of 1900MHz HSPA+ areas, as part of its vision to eventually move to the frequency completely. Joining the current set of enhanced coverage cities -- Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas and Washington D.C. -- users in the following locations will experience improved coverage and speeds, and should start seeing HSPA+ speeds on unlocked AT&T-compatible devices:

  • Phoenix, AZ: including Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, Paradise Valley, Surprise and Ahwatukee
  • Mesa, AZ: including Chandler and Gilbert
  • Tucson, AZ: including South Tucson, Marana, and Vail
  • Silicon Valley: including Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Santa Clara, San Jose
  • Oakland, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Stockton, CA
  • Modesto, CA
  • Miami, FL: including Coral Gables and Miami Beach
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL: including Hollywood

Users in these areas may have already seen 1900MHz HSPA+ coverage before this date, but now T-Mobile feels there are enough towers supporting the service that it has launched it officially. Our own Chris Parsons notes that it has been off-and-on operational in Arizona before this point.

T-Mobile also notes that it is working to expand the same 1900MHz HSPA+ coverage in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, the New York metro area, Philadelphia, San Diego and Seattle, and users may start seeing faster service as they work to roll it out officially.

This is a very important move for the carrier as it attempts to lure customers away from AT&T -- especially those with the iPhone -- and offer them a full-speed experience with their current handset. As we move through 2013, we'll see even more markets go live with 1900MHz HSPA+.

Source: T-Mobile

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3 years ago

Android 4.2 OTA update and factory image live for 'yakju' Galaxy Nexus

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Good news for those of you waiting patiently on Android 4.2 for the 'yakju' variant international GSM Galaxy Nexus. We're seeing reports from Android Central Forums members that the OTA update has begun pushing out to those devices. Should you not wish to wait though, or just want a fresh start, the factory 4.2 image for the device has also been posted. 

This only applies to 'yakju' Galaxy Nexus owners at this time, which means people in places like Hong Kong and the UK should be seeing OTA notifications very soon. 'Takju' Galaxy Nexus owners had their updates push last week, and at this time there's still no sign of an update for the Verizon or Sprint versions of the Galaxy Nexus. 

And, because we're so good to you, we've got your download links below for both the factory images and the update package. For a run through of how to update your Galaxy Nexus to Android 4.2 manually be sure to check out our guide linked below. 

How to manually update your Nexus to the latest Android Version

Download: Android 4.2 update, Factory Image

More: Samsung Galaxy Nexus Forums

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3 years ago

Ematic FunTab is the 7-inch tablet for your kids

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We're always thinking about what tablet is best in sleek design and top-notch specs, but we're not always considering that not every age group should have its hands on a full-featured device. For the younger set, Ematic is creating a tablet experience that caters to them with this, the FunTab. It's running Android 4.0 and has mid-range specs, but that's not what's important. What is important is this tablet is rugged and easy to hold, and is pre-loaded with popular games like Angry Birds, Where’s My Water, Cut the Rope and Fruit Ninja. Ematic is also partnering to put a popular childrens app, Zoodles, on the device that helps keep kids safe and allows parents to check in on their progress separately.

The Ematic FunTab is coming to Walmart for just $119.99, a great price for this type of device. Once the kids grow up though, do them a favor and get them a Nexus 7, will ya?

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3 years ago

OpenFeint gaming service closing its doors on December 14

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OpenFeint -- the service that used to ask you if you didn't like fun if you ignored it -- is closing its doors and discontinuing service as of December 14. The cross-platform game platform that allows you to chart scores on leaderboards, achievements and compete against friends is being shut down by owners Gree. At the same time, Gree is hoping that developers who utilized OpenFeint will transfer over to their own platform instead. 

As of shutdown "all OpenFeint network calls will be non-functional." In simple terms, it will cease to work. The actual end date may end up being later than December 14 but developers are urged to prepare for this date. All game information stored will be lost, and should developers wish to retain it migration to the Gree platform ahead of December 14 is advised. 

Source: OpenFeint via Joystiq

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