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3 years ago

Daily news roundup: December 11, 2012

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What a big day for news of all types in the Android world. We wouldn't hold it against you if a couple of these stories slipped past you throughout the day. Luckily, we've started doing news roundups so you don't miss a thing. Take a gander at today's and get caught up.

All that hardware news

Industry talk

Software and app updates

Reviews and editorial content

See everyone bright and early tomorrow!

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3 years ago

The YotaPhone runs Android 4.2, has LTE, and two screens

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We've seen dual display devices before, but never one like this. The Russian broadband service provider Yota has engineered their own Android phone, with big specs, and a full sized e-ink display on the back. If you're thinking that the name sounds familiar, Yota also happens to be the company that released the world's first Wimax 4G cellular network, and is a leader in 4G LTE technology.

The phone has been designed so that besides the always present time and weather notifications also are displayed on the e-ink panel. Social networking, calls, messages and reminders appear, or a user configurable slideshow of images can be displayed. Of course, you can also read news and eBooks on the 4.3-inch e-ink display. Flip things over, and a matching 4.3-inch 720p LCD is ready for watching a movie or surfing the web. It's novel, and different. I've always said I like different, and can't wait to have a good look at this one. 

We'll know more about release and pricing at MWC in February, but chances are it will be an eastern European and Asian only affair. We do have some specs though.

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM 8960 Dual Core 1.5 Ghz Krait
  • OS: Android, 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • Dimensions: 67 x 131 (7.3 / 9.9) mm
  • Weight: 140 grams
  • Display: EPD Eink, 4.3z-inch, LCD JDI, 4.3z1280x720 (HD)
  • Connectivity: LTE (bands 3, 7, 20 MIMO), 2G, 3G, 4G, Wifi (Direct), BT, NFC
  • Storage: 32 or 64 GB Flash
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Battery: 2100 mAh
  • Camera: 12 MP main camera, HD front camera 
  • Controls: Touch strip for EPD control, Power and Volume Keys, SIM slot combined with Power key button
  • Connectors: Magnetic Adaptor for charging and data, Audio 3.5mm

The 2100 mAh battery is a bit concerning since it's an LTE device powering two separate 4.3-inch displays (even if one is e-ink), but the specs are nothing to laugh at -- especially the part where it ships with 4.2 on board. Hopefully we learn some more about this one, and it eventually appears on an importers list. Hit the break for more press renders and the full press release.

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3 years ago

A Touchstone charging mod for the Nexus 7

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We've seen the Palm Touchstone be repurposed to work with a number of Android phones before, but Rod Whitby of webOS Internals fame is working up a method to use the charger with his Nexus 7.

Using two regular phone Touchstone coils (and currently experimenting with a TouchPad coil) it looks like Rod has the charging circuit figured out, and the rest is a matter of assembly. We're pretty confident that he can make it happen, so we're giving the early heads-up.

Who knows, this might just be the only way we'll ever see any sort of dock for our Nexus 7 that's more than "coming soon".

Source: +Rod Whitby

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3 years ago

FCC approves Dish's plans to use spectrum for cellular network

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Dish has been battling with the FCC and other carriers over the possibility of using its current satellite spectrum holdings for a terrestrial cellular network. The TV operator turned carrier has finally got full approval by the FCC to do just that today, following months of negotiation. Dish holds a good portion of spectrum -- about 40MHz -- in the AWS-4 band, which isn't exactly the "prime real estate" that other carriers hold, but is well within reason considering that T-Mobile and Sprint both operate portions of their network at even higher frequencies.

This is a bittersweet deal for Dish, however, as there are a few conditions put on the approval. Sprint, which was a big opponent of the deal, holds spectrum near AWS-4 and therefore the FCC put restrictions on how much of the spectrum Dish can operate on and at what power levels. This effectively lowers the amount of usable spectrum that Dish can end up operating on when it launches its network. Additionally, part of the deal will let the FCC have an auction for spectrum in the AWS-H Block, which is adjacent to Dish's holdings. Sprint is interested in owning this H Block spectrum, furthering issues between the companies.

Now that all of these regulatory hurdles are (somewhat) out of the way, the real fun can begin. Reports have been swirling about what Dish could eventually do with these spectrum holdings, including but not limited to rumors that Google could be a potential network partner. At this point nothing is solidified, and Dish is surely in talks with more than just one company to get its network started. Hopefully the end result will be a new operator that can take on the big four here in the U.S.

Source: FCC; Reuters; Ars Technica

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3 years ago

AT&T's Galaxy Tab 8.9 receives ICS update, but only via Kies

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Remember Android 3.0 Honeycomb? Well, if you have an AT&T-branded Galaxy Tab 8.9 (SGH-i957) you're likely all too familiar with the software. Fortunately, AT&T and Samsung are ready to bring you an update to Ice Cream Sandwich today, which is long overdue even when compared to the other models of the Tab 8.9. AT&T's variant will sadly only be updated via Samsung's Kies desktop software, however. There's no indication at this point that an OTA is coming either.

A quick bit of warning for those updating, several different settings and apps will be reset in the update. Samsung's support documentation indicates that homescreen placements will be reset, contacts stored on the device may be erased and the music app's playlists and settings will also be reset to default.

We really wish that AT&T would just push these updates OTA. Most people won't have Kies installed or want to go through the trouble to install the update manually in this manor. We saw this same scenario with the recent Jelly Bean update for the Galaxy SIII (S3), and we just don't care for it.

Source: Samsung; Via: Android Police

More: Galaxy Tab 8.9 Forums

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3 years ago

Scope update brings new feeds, bugfixes

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Scope, a client meant to help you manage all of your social media accounts, has been updated today with several improvements. On top of your usual Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr feeds, the update brings new feeds such as Reddit and Slickdeals that you can add to your account. Now with an increased number of feeds available, you can select individual streams within each that you want to follow specifically as well.

There's also a couple of bug fixes included, such as an issue that caused double notifications of updates. You can grab a download at the Google Play Store link above.

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3 years ago

Google Magazines starts to work its way into Google Play in the UK

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Users in the UK are beginning to see the first inkling of Google Play Magazines appear in Google Play on their devices. None are for sale just yet, but the fact that they are showing up (especially since many are UK specific versions) leads us to believe that it won't be too long before the people of Great Britain will be able to purchase them. 

The list of what has been seen so far runs the gamut of tastes and selection. While it is likely this is incomplete, here is what has been spotted so far --  

  • Official Xbox Magazine
  • PC Gamer (US and UK editions)
  • Cross Stitch Collections
  • Computer Music
  • Red UK
  • Total Film
  • Country Living
  • Elle Decoration
  • How It Works
  • Linux User
  • Tatler
  • Crochet Today
  • Papercraft Inspirations
  • ShortList
  • Autocar
  • Condé Nast Traveller
  • Mac Format
  • EDGE
  • Wired UK
  • Digital Photographer
  • Mini Magazine
  • X360

No word from Google on when we can expect all this to go live, and we are not about to guess. If you're in the UK and have been waiting to get your content and subscriptions onto your Android device, it looks like it is coming "soon". Hit the break for a few screenshots.

Thanks, Richard for the tip!

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3 years ago

Larry Page talks about Google, defines the Nexus role

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Larry Page, Google CEO, had a sit down with Fortune to discuss search and its future, mobile, and the competition. It is an interesting read for anyone who follows tech, but there was one thing that caught my eye enough to talk it about it separately here. When talking about the Motorola buyout, and the possibility of a Motorola Nexus, the Nexus program itself got some explanation.

Part of the reason why we've done Nexus devices in the past is that we want to build an amazing device that kind of showcases what's possible on Android, gives a way for the programmers to get early builds, does a whole bunch of things that are important. Exactly what we do, which devices we do, what the timing is, how we release the software with them, all those things have been changing.

This lines up pretty well with how we feel about the Nexus program here at Android Central. Get the bleeding edge build of Android into the hands of the people making the next killer app. By the time the rest of the world is ready to move up a version, it's more stable and the niggling kinks (hello glitchy lock screen widget panes) have been worked out. But more importantly, the apps are ready. The way this is changing is bound to keep things exciting, and we're ready for it.

Larry also talks about why we did not see a Motorola built Nexus device. Forget the conspiracies and armchair QB stuff, before we get to any of that there is a simple fact to consider.

I don't think there's any physical way we could have released a Nexus Motorola device in that sense. I mean, we haven't owned the company long enough. 

The full article is really worth the read, hit the source link and have a look.

Source: Fortune

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3 years ago

Gloomy puzzle game Contre Jour comes to Android for $1.99

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Contre Jour, a dark and gloomy puzzle game that has received numerous awards as an iOS app, is finally coming to Android today. It's got a dark vibe, but that adds to the interesting gameplay that will lead you through various types of levels. It's hard to explain, but something about the gray scale design is compelling. The trailer on the Play Store gives you a good idea of what you're getting into.

Unfortunately, the game doesn't have price parity with the Apple ecosystem, which has the game for just $0.99. Either way, go ahead and give it a try at the Play Store link above for $1.99, this looks like a game that'll be worth your money.

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3 years ago

Google News website receives tablet UI facelift

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Starting today, Google will be improving the Google News webpage reading experience on 7- and 10-inch tablets. Rolling out over the next few days, the new interface provides a more intuitive navigation paradigm letting users swipe between categories and more simply select articles. There's also a new "Explore in depth" button that lets you see more information and related articles to a particular story that you're reading.

Google notes that the Google News page provides other news sites with over 6 billion visits per month, so this is an important set of updates for the platform. You can view the new UI at news.google.com on your tablet now.

Source: Google News Blog

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3 years ago

Yahoo! Mail gets new UI and name change in latest update

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Yahoo! Mail just received a notable update to version 2.0 this morning. As is the case when making a move to a new version number, many changes are in order. Right off the bat you'll notice a much-needed updated UI that brings it into the present period of design. It's clean, usable and even follows much of Google's new design guidelines -- no menu buttons to be found here. The changelog also indicates that the new app should be easier on battery, provide more reliable push notifications and has SSL turned on by default for enhanced security.

The app has also changed names, now being called "Y! Mail" for some reason. Whatever the name change, this UI update is something every Yahoo! Mail user should be excited about.

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3 years ago

Weekly photo contest: Filters revisited

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Smartphone cameras have come a long way. They are capable of taking pictures that are clear and bright, and even the least capable ones usually can pull off a picture that's good enough for any use. Because of this, we (the collective "we" meaning Android enthusiasts) often scoff at all the filters and hipster magic that filter apps like Snapseed can do to your pictures.

But some of them are interesting, and with a little work they can look really nice. That's what we're going for this week. Take your time, play with the camera settings , then have a crack with the filters of your choice. If you don't already have a favorite camera filter app, there are plenty of free ones in Google Play -- Snapseed is one I'll recommend.

Once you have your masterpiece, hit the forums and enter the contest. The prize this go 'round is a Lloyd Overlord T-Shirt and one of the cool new Lloyd Gear stickers. It's a great way to show your Android pride while at the movies, a ballgame, or at the Apple store. We're giving the best five pictures one of each.

Before we go, let's all congratulate last week's winner olivercollings for his cool picture of a engine manifold taken with his Galaxy S3. Nice work, Oliver. Check your inbox for information about your prize.

Enter this week's photo contest

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3 years ago

Hulu Plus update adds dedicated kids section and new discovery features

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It's been quite a while since we've heard from Hulu but a new update is available right now on the Google Play store that has some nice additions to it. Rather than sticking with the typical bug fixes and improvements, Hulu has added a new dedicated section for kids. Knowing that Hulu contains some stuff you might not want your children watching they have also introduced a new Kids Lock that feature allows parents to restrict access to Kids-only content on their devices.

Finally, if you have issues with finding something to watch on Hulu, they've amped up their discovery tools as well. This isn't overly exciting but if you're a channel flicker like me, it might help. When you open up the app, they now show you more of their available content on the homepage giving you options of new shows and movies to choose from.

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3 years ago

The best Android smartphones on U.S. carriers [late 2012]

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We've said it a number of times the past few months -- never before have we seen a time when there are so many good Android smartphones on so many U.S. carriers. We've practically been tripping over them all year. 

From T-Mobile to Sprint to AT&T to Verizon, most of the major manufacturers are represented. But when we get down to it, we're going in the same direction as we did in our international picks.

Best of the Best in the U.S.: Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2

Our all-around winner(s) for best smartphone remains the Samsung Galaxy S3, and its larger sibling, the Galaxy Note 2. OK, so that's two phones. We're adding the Note 2 here because it really is in a category all its own.

Back to the Galaxy S3, though. It's got the design. The whole "inspired by nature" thing is Samsung's most personable, fluid design yet. It makes a large, 4.8-inch phone feel good. The specs, while maybe not on the bleeding edge anymore, remain more than good enough for most smartphone owners. The inclusion of microSD storage and a removable battery give flexibility that other phones don't. (Those features have been trending off in the majority of other devices. And while we don't ding them for it as much as we used to, you can't overlook the fact that it's better to have a microSD card and removable battery and not need them, than to not have the option.)

What's more, the Galaxy S3 is the only phone on every major U.S. carrier (and a few of the regionals as well). The experience is largely the same whether you're on T-Mobile or Sprint or AT&T or Verizon, network issues aside. The camera is among the best you can get. The software remains on the newer side of things, with the phone starting to get its upgrades to Android 4.x Jelly Bean. Samsung's TouchWiz user interface isn't our favorite way to get things done, but, again, for most smartphone users, it makes life easier. 

OK. The Galaxy Note 2. It's also available on every major U.S. carrier. Picture the Galaxy S3, only bigger. Some 5.5 inches, to be exact. Take all the features Samsung's put into the Galaxy S3, and add some excellent pen input mechanisms and dual-screen viewing, and you've got another winner, hands-down.

So should you bother to look at anything else?

Absolutely.​ If we have to pick just one phone, the Galaxy S3 takes it. But as we said at the outset, there are a number of excellent options on each major carrier.

These aren't also-rans. We're not picking other phones to make their manufacturers feel good about themselves. The phones we've listed after the break are the phones that our in our pockets. They're the phones that we use day after day. We live with them. We work with them. We travel with them. We rely on them to document our lives. And we recommend any one of them.  

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3 years ago

NYTimes for Android updated with improved tablet support

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The official New York Times app for Android has been updated to version 3.0 today with a substantial improvement in UI and usability. The big news is that this new application is responsive to many more screen sizes, rather than just being optimized for one size. Previously, the app was really only designed for phones and 7-inch tablets, but now users with 10-inch devices (and sizes in between) will be able to benefit from the increased screen real estate. The new UI will offer a better column setup for reading, along with larger images and scaled typography.

There are also several general improvements to the app, including improvements to breaking news alerts, a better "Top News" layout and general performance enhancements. You can grab a download of the app at the Play Store link above.

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