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3 years ago

WeatherBug refreshes user interface in latest update

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Improved navigation, live updating and photos section all included

The popular WeatherBug app has just undergone quite a redesign in the Play Store today, bringing in a completely new interface. The overall experience better follows current Android design guidelines, with a tabbed interface that makes it easy to get between current weather, forecasts and detailed information with just a swipe. Further functions and navigation are handled behind a slide-in panel from the right, and the overflow bar at the top takes care of the rest.

On the content side there are "tiles" in the interface that stay up to date with the latest data, a new photos area where you can view shots of the area and different background themes for the whole app. It's a big visual refresh that certainly looks nice to our eyes, and drastically improves usability of the whole app. You can take a look at the free version of WeatherBug from the Play Store link above, or grab the paid version right here as well.

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3 years ago

Rogers expands LTE network footprint, announces 'LTE Max'

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Using both 2100MHz and 2600MHz for LTE will provide increased bandwidth going forward

Rogers is expanding its LTE footprint today, with several new markets available across Ontario, and one new market in Alberta:

  • Chatham
  • Milton
  • Sarnia
  • Woodstock
  • Orangeville
  • St. Catharines, which also includes Fort Erie, Port Colborne, Welland and Pelham;
  • GTA North expansion, which also includes King City & Bradford
  • GTA West expansion, which also includes Georgetown & Halton Hills
  • Kentville
  • Brantford
  • Collingwood
  • GTA Northeast Expansion, which also includes Stouffville & East Gwillimbury
  • Oshawa Expansion, which also includes Clarington
  • Lloydminster

Along with this announcement of increased LTE availability, Rogers is launching what it is calling "LTE Max". Aside from just a gimmicky name, this new "premium network" should actually improve speeds for end users. Rather than using just one frequency for LTE, it will rely on both 2100MHz and 2600MHz concurrently to deliver more bandwidth. Transferring data over both blocks means a larger amount of spectrum can be used, and may also help overcome the limitations of the higher frequencies. Look for more handsets that support both frequencies in the future.

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3 years ago

Android platform numbers for April are in, Jelly Bean on 28.4% of devices

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Jelly Bean rises as Ice Cream Sandwich falls, legacy versions remain virtually unchanged

Google has released the platform version numbers for the month of April, and the general trends we've seen for the past months is still the norm. Jelly Bean is slowly growing, up to 28.4-percent compared to last month's 25-percent. The majority of the growth looks to be coming from devices released with Ice Cream Sandwich, who's numbers have dropped almost two-percent as devices get updated. Honeycomb is also declining, as is Gingerbread. Legacy numbers are pretty stagnant, and any movement there is likely from users upgrading to a newer device. 

The important number, from an application developer's point of view, is that over 50-percent of all devices now run Android 4.0 or higher. This number has to move higher, and faster than it has been, before they can stop writing apps designed to work with older devices. The good news is that device manufacturers seem to be targeting the latest versions with new hardware releases, so there may come a day when everyone can stop worrying about Gingerbread.

Source: Android developers

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3 years ago

This week's sidebar poll: What's your Android keyboard of choice?

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We spend more time using the keyboard than many other apps. Which one is your favorite?

One of Android's killer features is the ability to change system applications if we come across one that's better for us than what came with our phone or tablet. Things like messaging apps, or launchers or lock screens. That's some powerful stuff, and makes the word customized actually mean something. To me, this is especially important when we're talking about the input method we use to communicate with the world from our phones. Of course, I'm talking about the keyboard.

There are some really great keyboard replacement apps out there. SwiftKey has an uncanny prediction engine that learns as you use it (even BlackBerry users agree) combined with the "Flow" swipe-to-type feature. Swype, the original swipe-to-type keyboard, now has a fine prediction engine and dictionary set-up of it's own. A quick look through Google Play will show you that there are plenty of others out there that offer unique functions and layouts, too. No matter what you're looking for from your keyboard, you'll probably find one to suit you.

So we ask, what is your keyboard of choice on your Android device? There's a poll on the sidebar to the right, and it's also embedded after the break. Let us know which keyboard you're using, and feel free to tell us why in the comments.

A look at last week's poll results:

Which U.S. carrier will you be getting the Samsung Galaxy S4 on?

A nice, even spread with Verizon taking a slight lead as expected. More importantly -- a lot of people are picking up a Galaxy S4. And we can see why.

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3 years ago

Ingress invites passed out to players level 2 and higher

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Recruiting your friends and family just got easier, as Ingress has sent out new invites to level 2 and higher players

If you're an Ingress player, and have been wanting to spread a little love and get some of your friends and family involved, there's a good chance you just got a couple invites to hand out. The official Ingress profile on Google+ has announced that players level two and higher will receive invite codes they can pass out to folks in need. 

With rumors of "dark matter" portals and a new Red faction to compete with the Enlightened and the Resistance being talked about, it looks like the summer is going to be quite a fun time for Ingress players. Be sure to help out your friends who need an invite with the codes you got today. If you're looking for an invite, or have a few to spread around, be sure to hit the Ingress forums!

Source: +Ingress

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3 years ago

IDC: Android now leads the tablet market with a 56.5% share

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There were more Android-based tablets shipped in Q1 2013 than all others combined, and here's why that matters

The Q1 2013 numbers from IDC, a technology and telecommunications research firm who keeps track of this sort of thing, show that Android tablets now lead the market with a 56.5-percent share. The 27,800,000 units shipped in the quarter is a 247-percent improvement from this time last year, when just 8,000,000 units were shipped. It's important to note that this increase doesn't come at the expense of Apple, who shipped 65.3-percent more tablets in Q1 2013 than they did in Q1 2012 -- it shows the market is growing, and the lions share of new purchases are Android.

These sorts of numbers make CEOs and people who count pennies pretty happy, and will be the fuel for fanboy wars across the Internet, but why are they important? I'll tell you why -- because the available selection of applications designed for Android tablets sucks.

Google keeps telling developers exactly how to build their app to take advantage of the real estate on a tablet, but because there weren't that many out there, nobody listened. Sure, there are some really great applications done "right" and look fabulous on our tablets, but most of them are just the phone version blown up to fill the seven or ten inch screen on your tablet with unused white space. Have a look at iPad apps, and you'll know exactly what I mean.

Hopefully, with more Android tablets being sold than any others, developers will take notice and change this. You simply can't afford to ignore over half the market, and we saw what happened when Android took the phone market away from everyone else. I'm looking for big things now that we can no longer be ignored.

Source: IDC

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3 years ago

Twitter relents, adds an actual menu button to its Android app

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When Twitter overhauled its Android app last month, we lauded its update to the Holo design while facepalming at the settings being buried behind one of the tabs (to say nothing of the broken menu system on HTC phones). Twitter's done a solid with an update today, however, tucking the accounts and settings menus into that overflow button. 

Also new in this update are location-based trending topics, along with "a smoother experience thanks to bug fixes and other improvements." We, however, would say following basic Android design guidelines already took care of that.

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3 years ago

Sprint will shut down its iDEN network on June 29

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Voice, data and 911 service will cease the morning of June 30th

Sprint reminds us today that its iDEN network shutdown is right on schedule, expected to hit the date the carrier set out over 11 months ago. Starting "first thing" on June 30th, the carrier will turn off switch locations in rapid succession, quickly followed by powering down equipment and removing backhaul from the cell cites. The carrier has been urging customers since the announcement of the network's shutdown to move away from their legacy devices and onto one using EVDO and LTE going forward. Sprint says it has sent letters, legal notices, emails and text messages to customers consistently in order to remind them of the June 29th deadline.

Customers who eventually do make the move to Sprint's "Direct Connect" service to replace iDEN devices will experience better coverage, international Push-to-Talk service and much faster 3G data speeds. All they have to do now is make the switch.

Source: Sprint

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3 years ago

T-Mobile/MetroPCS deal finally complete, public trading begins

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Trading of the combined company can be tracked by the "TMUS" ticker on the NYSE

After a standard delay when looking to combine companies of this size, the T-Mobile/MetroPCS reverse takeover has finally gone through. While there may not be any instant noticeable changes on the consumer side, there's a whole lot of business restructuring going on. The combined company will now be known as "T-Mobile US, Inc.", and will in effect be taking T-Mobile "public" (previously a private company owned by Deutsch Telekom) under the stock ticker "TMUS". The "new" company has the same CEO, John Legere, with former Vice Chairman and CFO of MetroPC J. Braxton Carter taking over the new CFO position. The board of directors will now include two members previously of MetroPCS as well.

So what can we expect as consumers now that the deal has gone through? As a T-Mobile customer, not a whole lot. The "UNcarrier" is in a serious transition phase with its new plans, device financing and LTE rollout right now, and this deal completing doesn't change those plans. As a current MetroPCS customer, you can expect things to shake up a bit as the CDMA network is quickly phased out in favor of T-Mobile's GSM one and T-Mobile's vision for the MetroPCS brand is put into effect. As we previously noted, MetroPCS will continue on offering service as a separate brand for the time being. 

The end result will hopefully be a stronger T-Mobile with more customers (43 million now) and money to work with to expand its new LTE network. MetroPCS brings a positive cash flow and solid spectrum holdings that compliment T-Mobile's existing spectrum nicely. T-Mobile stated today it plans to have a 20x20MHz LTE network available in 90-percent of the top 25 metro areas in 2014, and cover 200 million PoPs with LTE by the end of 2013.

Source: T-Mobile (BusinessWire)

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3 years ago

How to turn off those annoying Galaxy S4 sounds

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If you're new to the Samsung Galaxy S4, you might well think you're under attack by bloops and bleeps and drops -- the cacophony of "nature' sounds Samsung's got baked into everything these days. They're there by design, of course. That whole "designed by nature" thing started last year with the Galaxy S3, and it continues in the latest iteration. They're not necessarily that harsh, they can just get a little old after the first five minutes.

Those of us who have been using Samsung devices for a while are more used to this, of course, and are pretty adept at turning them off. This post isn't for you. Move on. But things have changed a little bit in Samsung's latest, so here's your primer for getting rid of those annoying system sounds.

More: Check out our Galaxy S4 forums!

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3 years ago

Sam's Club adds U.S. Cellular to its wireless offering

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US Cellular has announced this morning that it will now have a presence in select Sam's Club stores across the country and offer postpaid plans and devices.

You will be able to find US Cellular in certain Sam's Club stores now in the following states:

  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Maine
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Then beginning May 7th, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas will join.  If you're a big Sam's Club member, you can now purchase postpaid plans from US Cellular. Full press release after the break.

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3 years ago

New day, time for the Android Central Podcast!

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A quick heads up for those of you who like to catch the Android Central Podcast live -- and for those who haven't been able to because it cuts into your hot-yoga class. We're going to try a new day and time starting this week. It's not going to do anything about our crazy travel schedule, which tends to be the biggest disruptor in our recording schedule, but we're hoping the change will make for a better show.

So, here's the deal: We're going to shoot for 4 p.m. Eastern on Fridays. That's 1 p.m. on the west coast, and 9 p.m. in London. We'll be a little more awake, a little less harried, and hopefully you will be, too.

Look for the usual event invite to go out on Google+ soon enough, and get ready for more of the Greatest Android Podcast in the World.

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3 years ago

T-Mobile and MLB continue partnership, offer MLB At Bat for free

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Back in January, T-Mobile announced a partnership with Major League Baseball that would enable the carrier to control on-field communications. It has now furthered that deal by allowing T-Mobile customers to download MLB At Bat for free and enjoy it for the full 2013 season.

We covered some of our favorite baseball apps at the beginning of the season and MLB At Bat remains near the top. They continue to do a stellar job with the app and we like how they changed their payment options this year. In case you have forgotten, it is free to download the app. You can then pay a one-time fee of $19.99 for premium features such as MLB Game of the Day live-video, audio broadcasts and more.

This offer is for the premium version of MLB At Bat, so a $19.99 savings. It is not for a MLB TV subscription, which is the level that gives you access to live video from all out-of-market games.

To take advantage of this offer, you must be a T-Mobile customer and you must download the app between today, May 1st, and June 30th.  If you have previously purchased the app, you cannot take advantage of this offer. If you're a T-Mobile customer and a baseball fan, check out the Google Play link. Full press release after the break.

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3 years ago

AT&T makes its Optimus G Pro official, $199 on contract starting May 10

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Optimus G Pro preorders start May 3

AT&T this morning officially announced the LG Optimus G Pro. It'll be available starting May 10 for $199 on contract. Preorders kick off May 3 online. (Looks like what we heard a few weeks back about a May 10 AT&T launch was right on the money.)

We're no stranger to the Optimus G Pro, having enjoyed the Korean version for a couple months now after its unveiling at Mobile World Congress. It's surprisingly svelte for a 5.5-inch device, and the 1080p IPS display is downright gorgeous. It's plenty snappy, too, with a Snapdragon 600 processor cranking along at 1.7 GHz. The 13MP rear camera proved to be decent enough as well. 

AT&T's version is sporting 32GB of total storage (actual available storage will be less, of course), and you can slap up to a 64GB microSD card in there for good measure.

AT&T's Optimus G Pro also will have that "Value Pack" update that brings features such as dual-video recording and that eye-tracking stuff the kids are crazy about these days. 

More: AT&T

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3 years ago

Sony 'Honami' rumored with Cyber-shot camera

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Camera-centric smartphone with 20-megapixel 1/1.6-inch sensor could be coming later this year

Smartphone imaging tech is constantly evolving, with manufacturers cramming ever more advanced shooters into handsets. Now it seems Sony may be taking things a step further with a new flagship phone for late 2013, codenamed "Honami." 

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