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3 years ago

Android A to Z: What is the AOSP?

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AOSP is a term you'll see used a lot -- here, as well as at other Android-centric sites on the Internet. I'll admit I'm guilty of using it and just expecting everyone to know what I'm talking about, and I shouldn't. To rectify that, at least a little bit, I'll try to explain what the AOSP is now so we're all on the same page.

For some of us -- the nerdly types who build software -- the full name tells us what we need to know. AOSP stands for Android Open Source Project. The AOSP was designed and written by folks who had a vision that the world needed an open-source platform that exists for developers to easily build mobile applications. It wasn't designed to beat any other platform in market share, or to fight for user freedom from tyrannical CEOs -- it exists as a delivery mechanism for mobile apps -- like Google's mobile apps, or any of the 400,000+ in the Google Play store. Luckily, Google realized that using open-source software would ensure that this operating system/mobile application content delivery system is available for all, for free. And by choosing the licensing they did, it's also attractive to device manufacturers who can use it as a base to build their own mobile OS. 

The premise plays out rather nicely. Google writes and maintains a tree of all the Android source code -- the AOSP. It's made available for everyone (you, me, manufacturers you've never heard of and not just big players like Samsung or HTC) to download, modify, and take ownership of. This means the folks at CyanogenMod can add cool stuff like audio profiles. It also means folks like HTC can change multitasking in ways that many of us don't like. You can't have one without having the other. The big players then use their modified version of this source to build their own operating system. Some, like Amazon, radically changed everything without a care to use Google's official applications and keep their device in compliance with Android guidelines. Some, like HTC radically changed everything yet followed the Android Compatibility Program (ACP) so they could include Google's core application suite -- including the Google Play store. Some, like the folks at CyanogenMod, enhance the pure AOSP code with additions but don't change the overall look and feel. Again -- that's how this open-source thing works. You can't have it without allowing folks to change it as they see fit, for better or worse.

Any of us can download and build the AOSP. We can even stay compliant with the ACP and contact Google about including their applications. Yes, any of us could build our own device using the AOSP code in our garage or basement with Google's full blessing. That's the beauty of the AOSP, and we wouldn't want it any other way. 

More: Android Open Source Project;  Android Compatibility Program
Check out the complete Android Dictionary

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3 years ago

Swords and Soldiers [Android Game Review]

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If there's one thing I love about the Humble Bundle, it's the great games it brings to Android. The downside is that most aren't launched in the Google Play Store until much later, but Swords and Soldiers has made the jump.

Swords and Soldiers is a sidescrolling, conquer-'em-up type game, not unlike a simplified Starcraft 2 (yeah, I went there), where you mine resources, build up troops, and fight the invading army (that's coming from the other side of the screen). It's all very cartoony and lighthearted, but it's obvious the game was built from the ground up with this in mind, so it totally works.

You start off as the Vikings, but can eventually unlock storylines for the Aztecs and Chinese, as well. Combat and resource mining is the same across all three armies.

You create troops using the upgrade menu (the blue arrow in the bottom-left corner of the screen), and this is also where you buy spells to beef up your team. As your hoard of monies grows, you can build even more troops, or less, more powerful troops. There's an excellent variety of soldiers in your barracks, so you can tailor your army to your enemy's weakness or just steamroll them with your favorite.

Once you've purchased either a new unit or spell, there's a small amount of time before you can actually use it. (You'll notice its icon growing slowly on your screen.) Once it's up, you can tap on it and either build the troop or use the spell. As you advance through the campaign, you'll find yourself with a whole host of spells and troops that you've bought, but it really helps keep the game fresh.

There's also a multiplayer mode with a pretty ingenious implementation. Instead of requiring your buddy to have their own copy of the game and play over wireless, the game goes into portrait mode and each of you takes half of the screen (so you're sitting across from one another). You can't really see what they're doing (nor can they see you), but it lets you share the fun with a friend even if you only have one device.

To top it off, Swords and Soldiers also includes a skirmish level, where you can pick any army and hone your skills against a computer. You get to pick how large the map is, play with all upgrades unlocked, and just go to town. It's great for killing a few minutes, especially if you don't have time to keep playing through the campaign.

You can pick up Swords and Soldiers for $2.99 in the Google Play Store or try the demo version for free.

We've got video and download links after the break.

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3 years ago

Samsung and O2 unveil Galaxy Note and Galaxy Y Olympic editions

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Samsung is a big Olympic sponsor, and it's been ramping up its promotional efforts considerably in the lead up to this summer's London games. In addition to bringing to market the "official phone of the Olympics" in the form of the Galaxy S III, Samsung's also releasing special Olympic editions of the Galaxy Note and Galaxy Y smartphones through British network O2. The devices include limited edition back covers sporting either the Team GB lion logo, or the union jack. And owners will also get the chance to win a "once in a lifetime Team Samsung experience," including --

  • a pair of tickets to an Olympics Games Event
  • a pair of tickets to the Team GB training camp in Loughborough on 6 July 2012
  • a pair of tickets to the Team GB celebration event taking place in London

In addition, for each device sold, Samsung says it'll donate £1 (~$1.60) to "Team GB athletes of the future," meaning you can pick up a shiny new toy for yourself and enjoy a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

More: Samsung

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3 years ago

HTC Amaze 4G getting Ice Cream Sandwich update starting today

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As it was foretold, the T-Mobile HTC Amaze 4G has begun getting its Ice Cream Sandwich update. The push to Android 4.0 isn't going to hit everyone at the same time, so don't fret if you don't get it right this second.

Here's the full changelog:

  • Android version 4.0.3 / Software version 2.14.531.3710RD
  • Approved 5/21/2012


New Features

  • Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • Sense 3.6
  • System bar enhancements to easily view recent apps.
  • Re-sizeable widgets
  • Lock screen actions including pull down notifications and adjust volume while device is locked.
  • Data usage controls.
  • Face Unlock
  • Home screen folders
  • Improved battery life


Improvements

  • Improved text input and spell checking
  • Improved menu structure


Prerequisites

  • OTA or Manual update
  • Device is running Android version 2.3.4 / Software version 1.43.531.3, 1.36.531.5, or 1.36.531.6
  • Device software is not rooted
  • More than 50% battery life
  • Data or Wi-Fi connection

Source: T-Mobile; more: Amaze 4G forums

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy S Advance review (Three UK)

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Pick a screen size, a set of specs and a price point, and chances are Samsung has an Android smartphone that fits the bill. As the leading Android manufacturer, Samsung has a ridiculous number of phones on the market, and that’s particularly true around the mid-range price point. The latest of these is the Galaxy S Advance, which recently launched on Three UK. Best described as a shrunk-down Galaxy S II, the Advance incorporates many of the features of that phone at a more wallet-friendly price.

We often concentrate on the latest and greatest high-end smartphones here at AC, but there’s certainly a place for lean, mean smartphones with a fine balance between cost and performance. To that end we’ve spent the past couple of weeks getting to know the Galaxy S Advance, and you’ll find our thoughts in full after the break.

 


A powerful smartphone with good build quality, full-featured software and a surprisingly good camera. TouchWiz 4 holds up pretty well in the current Android ecosystem.


A little bloatware from Three. Running Gingerbread out of the box with no clue as to when ICS will arrive.


For those not interested in the super-high end of the smartphone spectrum, the Samsung Galaxy S Advance could represent a near-perfect balance. To the average user, there’s really not much to separate this thing from its big brother, the Galaxy S II. And that makes it a mid-range phone that’s definitely worth considering.

Inside this review

More info

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3 years ago

Samsung locks down S Voice following app leak

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The application file for Samsung's "S Voice" Siri clone interactive voice assistant agent was leaked over the weekend, leading to hundreds of less scrupulous users picking up the apk and installing it directly on their phones. This lead to owners of any Ice Cream Sandwich device being able to use the service intended only for owners of Samsung's next flagship phone, the Galaxy S III.

However, today it seems the pre-release fun is at an end, as Samsung appears to have locked down S Voice and prevented the leaked APK from connecting to its servers. This means any query sent to to S Voice on a non-Galaxy S III device will return a "network error" message, as you'll see above. (Funnily enough, Apple did the exact same thing when Siri was initially hacked to run on the iPhone 4, so no huge surprises there.)

So that's that. If you want to publicly embarrass yourself by shouting "Hi Galaxy" into your palm, you'll have to wait until the official launch of the Galaxy S III, which takes place in London next Tuesday, May 29.

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3 years ago

Three UK launches Sony Xperia U

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Three UK is the first British network to announce the availability of the Xperia U, the latest entry-level offering from Sony. The Xperia U sports a 1GHz dual-core CPU, a 3.5-inch FWVGA display and interchangeable colored bottom sections (for some reason.) Despite the focus on gimmicky features like swappable bottoms (and the fact that's still running Android 2.3 Gingerbread), the Xperia U looks like a solid entry-level device, based on our first impressions back at MWC.

Three's SIM-free price of £169.99 for the Xperia U matches that of the soon-to-be-released HTC Desire C, a much lower-specced device. The network also offers the Xperia U for free on 24-month contracts starting at £20 per month. Or if you don't mind an up-front charge, you can grab the phone on a £15 per month tariff with a £69 initial fee.

More info over at the source link, if you're tempted. Rival networks O2, T-Mobile UK and Orange plan to launch the Xperia U themselves later this month.

Source: Three UK

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3 years ago

HTC Bluetooth music adapter now shipping from Sprint

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We've been waiting to get the HTC Bluetooth Music Adaptor into our cars since we first saw it at Mobile World Congress in February, and now it's finally available for purchase. As you'll recall, it's a simple dongle that plugs into your car stereo AUX port (or any other 3.5mm jack, really), and allows you to wirelessly stream your music over Bluetooth. And in addition to using the standard A2DP profile, it's got the CSR aptX codec, so your music (theoretically) should sound great over the notoriously janky Bluetooth. Sprint's currently got the adaptor listed at $59.99.

Could you just plug in your phone via the 3.5mm jack? Sure. But that's not really The Future, is it? The other caveat is that you'll have to keep the adaptor charged, but Sprint rates it at 5 hours of play time and 120 hours of standby time. We've got our order on the way, so stay tuned for the full review.

Purchase: HTC Bluetooth Music Adaptor from Sprint; via EVO 4G LTE forums

 

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3 years ago

This week: The Android Glossary returns!

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Back by popular demand, Android A to Z returns this week! It's part of our Android Glossary, which in turn is an extension of our Android Dictionary. Every wonder what the hell we're talking about? Between ADB and AOSP and Dalvik and DRM and hboots and, well, all those other crazy terms, Android's full of nerdy goodness. But it can be a bit daunting if you're just starting out. That's where the Android Glossary and Android Dictionary come in.

So look for the features starting back up again this week, and don't forget to check out the full entries!

More: The Android Dictionary, the Android Glossary

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3 years ago

HTC says some products have passed U.S. Customs review (updated)

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In a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday, HTC stated that "Some of our products have passed the review and have been delivered to our telecoms operators’ clients in the US".  Referring to the import ban set in play by the ITC after an unsuccessful legal battle with Apple, the HTC One X and upcoming HTC EVO 4G LTE were barred from entering the country. 

The statement made to the TWSE is certainly vague, and we not sure exactly how to interpret "some". I've shot off an email to HTC for clarification, and I imagine everyone else has as well, so we'll probably see a statement of some sort soon. In the meantime, some of you can rest easy knowing that some of your phones are on the way to the shelves.

Update: We got a weekend update directly from HTC, which reads thusly:

"Each imported HTC model must be reviewed by Customs and will be released once Customs officials have completed the inspection.  Some models have gone through inspection and been released to our carrier customers.  We don't have the status of each specific device model at this time, but we are working closely with Customs. We remain confident that this issue will be resolved soon."

Source: Taipei Times; via icebike

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3 years ago

ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 software update rolling out for most everyone

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A minor OTA update for the ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 that started pushing Friday is now going out in full force. The update brings the software to version 9.4.3.29, and also bumps the Wifi version and Camera version up slightly. The device stays on Android 4.0.3, at least for the time being. The official word is that this brings stability improvements, which nobody here is going to complain about. Per ASUS the update is not available on the TF300 firmware page yet, and most users will have to manually check for the update from the tablet settings. As fate would have it, we're not yet seeing the update here, but if you are be sure to jump into the forums and compare notes.

Source: Android Central forums; More  ASUS Transformer forums

Thanks, Crimson!

 

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3 years ago

Play like it's 1997 with unofficial port of Theme Hospital for Android

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Some of you out there will remember Theme Hospital, the 1997 PC simulation game. Some of us spent a little too much time playing this during IT lessons at school instead of playing with boring spreadsheets. In any case, thanks to an unofficial port of the title, we can now enjoy some Theme Hospital on our Android devices for £0.99/$1.49

For those not familiar, over the course of different levels you're tasked with turning an empty hospital into an all singing, all dancing, fully equipped care facility. Oh, and you also get to hire and fire. When you've hit certain goals, you get to move on up to the next level and start the process all over again. 

It has been optimized for handheld devices, but requires a screen resolution of 800x480 or higher to be able to play. If that sounds like your device, we've got the download links for you after the break.

via Pocket Gamer

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3 years ago

From the Editor's Desk: Recharging

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No patents. No petitions. No bootloaders. No multitasking. No customs delays. See y'all next week.

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3 years ago

From the Android Forums: Factory data reset questions

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acr456 asks in the Android Central forums

Hello, I am going to factory reset my phone. However, my question is, since this is a complete reset will it also rollback to the version of Android that the EVO was launched with? For example, I know have version 2.3.5. Will it roll it all the way back to 2.1? I just want my data erased, I want to keep all my system updates including whatever updates Sprint sent. Do I have anything to worry about?

 

Also, the EVO I'm resetting is deactivated. Once the reset is complete will I be able to fully use my phone without the need of a Sprint connection? I have Wifi so that will do.

We're glad you asked! We get this one a lot, and we can see why the term factory data reset would make one think it was being returned to the factory, out-of-box condition. Thankfully, it's not. A factory reset will erase all user settings (things like home screen customizations, Wifi networks, sound settings and the like) and delete all apps downloaded from the Google Play store. It won't touch anything that's part of the system files, so your worse case scenario (and actually the likely scenario) is that system apps that have been updated from the Google Play store (things like the Gmail app or Maps) will just need updated from the Play store again. You'll still be on the latest 2.3.5 version, but the rest will be clean like a new device.

As for it working without Sprint service, everything but calls and SMS/MMS will work just fine. I've had my EVO 4G unactivated for over a year now and use it to keep little ones occupied when they come for a visit. Using Wifi, all your Google services, including the important one -- the Google Play store -- will still work just fine. Good luck, and have fun with your new EVO PDA!

Have a question you need answered? (Preferably about Android, but we're flexible.) Hit up our Contact Page to get in touch!

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