Kobo steps up to 10-inches with its latest reading focused Android tablet
Despite not being the first name you'd think of when considering an Android tablet, Kobo impressed with its first Arc tablet 12 months ago. And now, Kobo is back, and stepping up to the 10-inch mark with this, the Arc 10 HD. We took a first look at this Tegra 4 powered tablet back at IFA 2013 in Berlin, but now it's ready for folks to get their hands on so we've got one in for review.
As with the previous generation Arc, the Arc 10 HD is still a reading focused tablet. Kobo is after all an e-reading company, and so it's sticking firmly with what it knows. On the top there's the latest version of Kobo's custom UI, but as before underneath is a pretty much untouched Android 4.2.2 experience with some pre-loaded apps and a few minor tweaks. We'll go into a lot more detail in the full review, but for now, here's a quick video walkthrough of the hardware and software.
Hot on the heels of the open-source code drop, the Google Play edition HTC One has started receiving its over-the-air update to the latest version of Android, 4.4 KitKat. The 320MB update is arriving automatically on some handsets today — though as usual, not everyone will receive the update right away. As is the case with other non-Nexus 5 devices, the update includes the older stock Android launcher as opposed to the new one with Google Now integrated.
If you want to sideload the update, we've got the download link after the break.
Pretty big, pretty average specs define Samsung's latest Galaxy Grand
If we weren't already offered plenty of large smartphones to choose from, Samsung has thrown yet another new device into the pot with this, the Galaxy Grand 2. The successor to the original Grand sees a bump in hardware specs, but this is still a distinctly mid-range device.
The 5.2-inch display has a resolution of 1280x720, and underneath Android 4.3 is pushed along by a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU and 1.5GB of RAM. On-board storage is limited to just 8GB but there is at least a microSD card slot to go with that, and a reasonably sized 2600mAh battery.
Round the back there's an 8MP camera, and since the Galaxy Grand 2 is running the latest version of Touchwiz, a bunch of Samsung's own apps and services can be found on the Grand 2 including S-Translator, S-Travel and the Samsung Hub.
The Galaxy Grand 2 will come in black, white or pink in selected regions, and comes in a dual-SIM variety for folks that sort of thing is important to. What we don't have is any word on price or availability. The full press release can be found after the break.
After the 'real gold' HTC One, this one's more of a 'champagne' version
Following the (very) limited arrival of the HTC One in 18-carat gold, HTC has announced a new "golden" version of the HTC One to go alongside the silver, black, red and blue versions. As a mainstream color option, this version isn't plated with the precious metal — rather the aluminum chassis has been treated with a "champagne" color, similar to the "gold" iPhone 5s. Besides the eye-catching exterior, it's basically the same handset we've been using since the spring, with a Snapdragon 600 CPU, 1080p display and Android 4.3 plus HTC Sense 5.5.
The gold HTC One will be released across Europe "with a number of partners," HTC says, adding that details of local availability will be revealed later today.
So is anyone tempted by this new color option for the HTC One? Shout out in the comments!
Google Play edition Galaxy S4 and HTC One Android 4.4 updates shouldn't be far behind
Samsung and HTC have just published the Android 4.4 kernel source code and framework support files for their Google Play edition devices. While the code released today, a requirement of the GPL, won't be of any use to regular users, it does mean the rollout of KitKat to both Google Play edition phones is likely a matter of days away, if that. (The previous Android 4.3 OTA followed within a day of the open-source bits being released.)
Live TV functionality still limited to your home network
Making the move after being available on iOS first, Cox Cable's Contour app is now available for subscribers on Android. Designed specifically for tablets, Contour is very similar to offerings from other cable providers that let you manage your cable box and watch TV (albeit with restrictions) on your mobile device. At this point, Cox lists the Nexus 7, Nexus 10, Galaxy Tab 2 and Galaxy Tab 3 as supported in this release.
With Contour, you can manage your DVR, watch on-demand video content and switch between watching shows on your tablet and your TV seamlessly. While over 100 live TV channels are available through the app, a bit of tricky wording says that you can watch "anywhere in your house," indicating that the TV offerings aren't available outside of your home network.
Regardless of the restrictions, its nice to see another cable operator provide a useful second screen experience for Android tablet users out there.
Ludicrous $500 off-contract price likely won't entice many to forgo the service agreement
Although the carrier didn't make much noise about it, U.S. Cellular is now selling the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. While we knew the smaller (and lesser-appointed) Galaxy S4 was headed to the carrier at some point in November, no new information was known until the phone just popped up on its online store.
The Galaxy S4 Mini can be yours on U.S. Cellular for $50 with a two-year contract or (a frankly absurd) $500 without any service agreement. You'll have your choice of white or black for the color, and in either case you'll be getting much the same experience as those who have the S4 Mini internationally or in the states on Verizon.
If you are considering the S4 Mini on U.S. Cellular, you may want to shop around just a bit, however. The carrier is currently running promotions that peg devices like the Moto X at free on-contract.
A nice beginner's guide mixed with some subtle jabs at the competition
Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt doesn't always post on Google+, but when he does it's usually something entertaining. Today he took up a big chunk of everyone's stream with a little step-by-step tutorial on the process for switching to Android from an iPhone.
After taking a few sentences to remind folks the benefits of heading over to Android, Schmidt breaks down the process of signing in to your new Android phone, then moving over contacts, music, photos and finally, your SIM card. One of the biggest steps that he thankfully points out is the process of turning off iMessage before moving — nasty things can happen if you leave that on before you make it to your new Android phone.
As you would expect, the comments on his post have taken off as well, with a few more insights. Been wondering about undertaking the switch yourself, or have someone that might need a nudge in the new direction? You can find Schmidt's post at the source link below.
Just when you thought that every version of the Galaxy S4 had received its Android 4.3 update, now Canadian carriers are having their turn. Users with Galaxy S4 and S4 Minis on Rogers, TELUS and Bell are all reporting that the big 'ol 790MB update to Android 4.3 is hitting their phone today.
You'll be seeing much the same as every other Galaxy S4 owner that has received the update, including slight visual refreshes to some icons and menus and support for the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. If you haven't received the update on your Canadian carrier-branded S4 or S4 Mini, now's the time to start checking.
We had an interesting discussion on our most recent podcast about the rise of unofficial app stores that make it easy for BlackBerry devices to download and install Android apps.
To be clear, we're not talking about downloading directly from BlackBerry World — which requires Android developers to convert their APK file to a BAR, signed, sealed and delivered — but these sort of gray-market (if not outright black) options for sideloading Android apps that either worm their way into Google Play's repository, or out-and-out steal the APKs for their own use.