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3 years ago

This week's sidebar poll: Do you use NFC?

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NFC has been set to be the "next big thing" for a while now, but has never taken off. Most high-end Android phones ship with an NFC chip now, so the hardware is out there, but there is one big piece of the puzzle missing -- a reason to use it.

Most folks instantly think of Google Wallet whenever NFC is mentioned. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed and unless Google can force a drastic change in the way partners do business, it's a non-starter. Carriers and OEM partners effectively killed Google Wallet by refusing to support it in favor of their own solutions.

But NFC can do much more than mobile payments. Apps like NFC Task Launcher and Tasker allow you to use an NFC tag to do just about anything your phone is capable of, phones can share data by bumping their backs together, and you can even set up a Nexus Q by touching it to your phone. So we wanted to find out, now that NFC has been around a while is anyone really using it? Answer in the poll after the break or in the sidebar to the right.

Before we go, a look at last week's poll.

Who brought the best devices to show us at MWC 2013?

Looks like the HTC One wins this round, but the season is early!

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3 years ago

C Spire Galaxy S3 Jelly Bean OTA rolling out now

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Hot on the heels of the Jelly Bean update for the Verizon model, the Galaxy SIII (S3) on C Spire Wireless is receiving its own OTA starting today. The update will bring users up to Android 4.1.2 -- build L710WWMB3 -- and include numerous features. On top of the usual Jelly Been goodness like Project Butter and Google Now, there are specific fixes and enhancements being made to the software. Several apps -- including Chrome, Paper Artist and Voice Search -- along with a dozen new widgets have been added with the update. Numerous fixes, including an S Voice update, MusicHub 3.0 update and streaming audio/video fix are all included.

The update is pushing out OTA in phases (as is usually the case), but if you're anxious you can also check manually for the update in your phone's settings. If you've really got some time on your hands, you can download the Kies desktop software and install the update manually.

Source: C Spire; Thanks, Jeff!

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3 years ago

SO.HO 'the social homescreen' launcher hits the Play Store in beta

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SO.HO (which stands for "the social homescreen") is a new launcher that puts your Facebook and Twitter feeds directly at the center of your device. Just released in beta, SO.HO takes the place of whatever launcher you have currently and makes the primary homescreen of your device a scrolling list of either your Facebook or Twitter feed. Swiping left or right gives you a "normal" homescreen where you can place widgets, apps and folders as usual. You sill get a dock on the main page too, which is nice.

You can tap the top status bar to quickly switch between Facebook and Twitter, and use the compose button in the top right to quickly make a post. There's a smooth pull to refresh option in both, and the views are actually in many ways nicer than the official Facebook and Twitter apps. If you're interested in SO.HO as a homescreen launcher replacement, check out the beta at the Play Store link above.

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3 years ago

Google Shopper improves search results, location detection

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Google Shopper received a few new features in an update today, including an improved search result page and location data collection. Search results will now come back with the most popular products first that can be narrowed down and browsed through from there. When browsing products, users can also now use a "slideshow view" to see larger images as they go through. The update has also improved the app's location detection, which can help users search for products in their local area without having to manually enter a location.

While we're speaking of Google app updates, Google Play Music has also received an update today. It's just bugfixes, but an update to grab nonetheless. You can get your updated Play Music right there, and the Google Shopper update can of course be updated from the Play Store link at the top of this post.

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3 years ago

Nexus 7 dock finally in the Google Play Store

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If you're looking to get your hands on the elusive official dock for the Nexus 7, it's now finally listed in Google Play for $29.99. Google has thus far set a limit of two per person.

The dock, which charges the tablet via the pogo pins as well as serves as an audio output via a 3.5mm jack, runs $29.99. You can read our complete review of it here.

Google's currently listing it with a 1- to 2-week shipping time, which generally means there's a better than average chance you'll actually get it sooner than that. (We're currently seeing an anticipated shipping date of March 17, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, being a Sunday and all.)

Thanks, Bill!

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3 years ago

Official Twitter app updated with new 'top tweets' feature, smoother animations

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It might be all doom and gloom for popular third-party Twitter clients, but at least the official app is getting some love. Twitter's own Android app has been updated to version 3.8 today, with a trio of new features alongside the usual big fixes. First up there's a new "top tweets" feature, which is supposed to make significant tweets from the past pop up when searching for specific topics. (We tried searching for "Election 2012" and "Olympics" to no avail, but Twitter had plenty of tweets to highlight when searching for "grumpy cat," including news of the disgruntled feline's upcoming appearance at SXSW.)

Other additions include the ability to see all replies to tweets in details view, and smoother animations for pull-to-refresh in the "Discover" tab.

Has the recent drama over user tokens for third-party apps got you back on the official Twitter client? Let us know what you think of this update down in the comments! If you're giving it a try for the first time, check the handy Google Play link above.

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3 years ago

Endomondo adds a couple premium features

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Fitness app Endomondo got itself an update today that brings a pair of new premium features, as well as a couple nuggets for the cheap seats.

New for those who shelled out for the full version are "Heart Rate Zones" and weather information in the workout summary area. 

For everyone, there's also altitude data in the summary, and you can now see and join challenges from within the app itself. There also are the requisite bugfixes.

The the link above to get your update on.

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3 years ago

Google+ (on the web) rolls out huge cover pics, new local reviews tab

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Google+ today rolled out some interesting improvements to its web version. The biggest, obviously, is the gianormous new cover photos. What was once long and skinny is now long and not-so-skinny. (We know how it feels.) When fully expanded, the new cover photos have a 16x9 aspect ration and can be as large as 2,120px by 1,192px. That's big. So make sure your image doesn't suck.

Next is a new tab for your local reviews. If you've reviewed something in your hamlet, it'll show up here. You can use it to showcase specific reviews, or you can hide it altogether. Your call.

Editing your info also is easier now, with better separation of content in the About tab, with cards acting as category separators.

Source: +SaraMcKinley

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3 years ago

Opera browser beta: Starting the move to WebKit

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Opera has announced that it is making the switch to WebKit, and they're giving everyone a look at their first effort with a beta version of the browser packing the new engine. Building on top of that new engine, the Opera browser beta brings along new features that are meant to help speed up browsing, as well as a new interface design.

Hang around after the break and see how the first WebKit-based Opera browser beta performs.

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3 years ago

Alleged U.S. model Galaxy S4 screenshots emerge

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We're just over a week away from Samsung's big Galaxy S4 announcement, and so we're starting to see a last-minute flurry of alleged leaks from the device. As you'll know if you followed the run up to the Galaxy S3 launch last year, late-breaking leaks have proven to be both wildly accurate and wildly inaccurate, so take this with the usual pinch of salt.

This latest set of images has an air of authenticity about it, though. GSM Israel says it has screenshots from a U.S. model Galaxy S4 (the AT&T version, judging by the 4G logo on display), obtained from a "very reliable" source. The images show a slightly re-vamped TouchWiz UI with brighter UI elements and tweaked icons, a redesigned settings menu and a transparent notification bar on the home screen. Interestingly, the so-called "eye scrolling" feature seems to be present, under the name "Smart scroll" in a settings menu screenshot.

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3 years ago

Google Play gift cards officially land in the UK, Tesco and Morrisons on-board

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There've been plenty of hints at Google Play gift cards landing in the UK since shortly after the U.S. launch. Today, on the service's first birthday, Google has announced that UK consumers will be able to buy the cards in £10, £25 and £50 denominations, with "all" Tesco and Morrisons stores stocking the cards "in the weeks ahead."

The cards work just the same as they do in the U.S. -- buy one, scratch to reveal its code, and redeem on the web or via the Android app. The amount is then added to your Google Play balance, and can be used to buy music, magazines, books. movies and apps -- but not hardware.

The news of the launch follows reports of Google Play gift card sightings at Tesco stores in recent days.

It'll take some time for Google's offering to catch up to Apple's widespread iTunes gift cards, but having two major supermarkets on-board at launch has to be a plus. More details in the presser after the break.

Update: Google's put together a retailer finder page allowing Brits to track down local stores stocking Google Play cards.

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3 years ago

HTC's revenue slide continues into February

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HTC's financial woes continued into the second month of 2013, the company's newly-released unaudited February revenue figures show. Last month the Taiwanese manufacturer brought in revenue of NT$11.4 billion ($390 million), down from NT$15.54 billion ($520 million) in January. That means total 2013 revenue so far stands at NT$26.9 billion ($910 million), down from NT$36.9 ($1.25 billion) for the same period in 2012.

HTC will be hoping the upcoming launch of its high-profile HTC One handset will begin to reverse its fortunes. The phone is due to launch in Europe later next week, though U.S. release dates have yet to be confirmed. 

Source: HTC

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3 years ago

Team Coco app now supports phones, full episode streaming

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The Conan O'Brien Team Coco app now supports phones as well as full episode streaming right inside the app. Previously, the app was only available for tablets, which didn't make a whole lot of sense. The new update opens things up to phones, and has a pretty solid UI to go along with it. You have access to videos, photos, articles and show schedule from a slide-in panel on the left, and a video clip viewer on the main page.

You can also now "sync" your phone with the TV broadcast for enhanced functionality while watching, or even watch full episodes on demand in the app. The Team Coco app still shows ads, unfortunately, but surely has a lot of increased functionality in this latest update. You can grab a download from the Play Store at the link above.

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Stellar receiving Jelly Bean OTA

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Verizon has published support documents indicating that the Jelly Bean update for the Samsung Galaxy Stellar is on its way out. The update to Android 4.1 -- software version JZO54K.I200VRBMA1 -- is rolling out to devices OTA (Over The Air) now, and weighs in at a hefty 403MB. Users will see several improvements from Jelly Bean, such as Google Now, expandable notifications and Project Butter. The update also brings support for 64GB SDcards, improved networking and removes the Verizon app store.

If you have a Galaxy Stellar, be on the lookout for the update notification to hit your device. As always, you can check for the update manually via the "About phone" menu as well. Once downloaded, expect your device to be out of commission for about 15 minutes while it installs. If you want a little more information on the update, hit the source links below.

Source: Verizon; Instructions (PDF)

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3 years ago

'Bring Your Own Sprint Device' lets users activate used Sprint phones on MVNOs

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Sprint is announcing a new program called "Bring Your Own Sprint Device" that is aimed at reducing waste by letting users bring used and inactive Sprint devices to approved MVNO partner carriers. The program will let deactivated and otherwise unused phones be re-activated on MVNOs that use the Sprint network, like Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile. The MVNO carrier will determine the device's eligibility to be re-activated -- although the requirements have not yet been specified -- and then activate it for use like any other device on the network. Sprint is focusing on reducing the waste associated with the number of phones that sit unused or are thrown away, which could be notably decreased if more used phones can be reused on other carriers.

Another big part of this is increasing the number of devices available to Sprint MVNO customers. Traditionally these carriers have limited device selection to those they sell directly, which aren't always great. If this program is indeed open to all used and deactivated Sprint-branded devices, carriers like Virgin and Boost could lure in many new customers that wouldn't have considered them previously because of their device selection.

Source: Sprint

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