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4 years ago

This week's sidebar poll: What feature is most important?


With the holiday season creeping up on the western world, it's the time of year when many folks are looking at buying a new phone. A quick look at the numbers tells us that a whole bunch of those folks will be looking at Android phones, and that includes all of us.

A big consideration when spending a bunch of money and possibly attaching yourself to a carrier for two or more years is the feature list of a new phone. Hardware specs and software versions move at an amazing rate, and it's hard to decide which one might be perfect for you -- especially knowing that in a month or two newer and better phones will be coming.

When I buy a new phone I look at the software version first. I need to make sure it supports the software I want to use, and decide how well it may support future versions. Others feel that they can better future-proof themselves by going for the best CPU, or the most RAM. And plenty of folks are concerned with things like removable storage, or giant batteries that offer long life. 

As always, the best way to find out what people think is to just ask, so that's what we're doing this week. Look to the sidebar, or jump past the break and tell us what feature matters the most to you.

Before we go, last week's results follow:

Which OEM do you want to see make the next Nexus?

  • HTC -- 36.86-percent
  • Samsung -- 27.49-percent
  • Motorola -- 24.55-percent
  • LG -- 4.9-percent
  • Other -- 6.2-percent

It appears that very few people are thrilled about the evidence of LG making the next Nexus phone. Hopefully, all of the OEMs offer something for everyone and we all can buy what suits our needs.

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4 years ago

Star Command gameplay video showcases awesome strategic space combat


The fine folks at Warballoon have released a hefty 13-minute gameplay sample of their upcoming spaceship simulation title, Star Command. The video shows off nostalgic 16-bit-style graphics and broad, compelling mechanics, all set to the hilarious commentary of some of the dev team members. 

Throughout Star Command, you hire new crew members with varying skills in science, engineering, and combat. Over time, you put them on missions to improve their skills and unlock new perks, as well as upgrade the ship's various rooms. Completing missions requires some light role-playing through various dialog options, tactical combat when your ship gets boarded, and finely-honed reflex-driven mini-games for ship-to-ship combat. I missed these guys showing off gameplay at PAX East last year and I've been kicking myself ever since. 

A lot of my friends have been playing FTL lately, but Star Command looks so good that I've been holding off just in case I get burned out on the space sim thing before Warballoon's game launches. Star Command will be available on Android, iOS, Mac, and PC, though there aren't any details on price or release date. Considering how polished everything is looking, I would be surprised if it didn't land before the holidays. As for price? Well, this might be one of those "shut up and take my money" situations. 

Hit up Star Command's home page for more screenshots and info. 

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4 years ago

T-Mobile improving its 4G network in Kansas City, more cities to follow


T-Mobile announced today that it has improved its 4G network in Kansas City and will continue this initiative in more markets later this year.

Anyone on T-Mobile who lives in Kansas City right now will be pleased to know that they will soon see better signal strength and improved data and voice coverage. In addition, unlocked devices should see higher speeds.

Some specific locations that they mentioned were:

  • Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City Chiefs)
  • Westport
  • Power and Light Districts
  • The Legends
  • Jackson, Johnson and Wyandotte Counties

It's always great news to hear carriers improving their network, let's hope that there is a discernable difference. If you live in the Kansas City area and have seen improvement, sign out in the comments!

Source: T-Mobile

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4 years ago

The FBI issues Android malware warning, forgets how apps work


The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center has recently issued a warning about Android malware, citing two new malicious applications and how they can cause all sorts of havoc to the unsuspecting user. From the IC3 page:

Loozfon is an information-stealing piece of malware. Criminals use different variants to lure the victims. One version is a work-at-home opportunity that promises a profitable payday just for sending out e-mail. A link within these advertisements leads to a website that is designed to push Loozfon on the user's device. The malicious application steals contact details from the user’s address book and the infected device's phone number.

FinFisher is a spyware capable of taking over the components of a mobile device. When installed the mobile device can be remotely controlled and monitored no matter where the Target is located. FinFisher can be easily transmitted to a Smartphone when the user visits a specific web link or opens a text message masquerading as a system update.

Loozfon and FinFisher are just two examples of malware used by criminals to lure users into compromising their devices.

While we applaud the intent of the message -- keeping users safe -- the mechanics and facts are sorely lacking. Both the examples involve user "phishing," or tricking someone into clicking something. These aren't just flying around in space looking for your phone. And there's a big difference there.

Case in point -- one of the popular methods of propagation for the Loozfon malware that wasn't mentioned involves a promise of meeting wealthy Japanese men. Presumably, you can meet these men by clicking a link in an unsolicited message or from a web page. Protip -- you won't. Don't click them. The FinFisher malware gets even more tricky, as they mention the user is promised a system update if they click a link. In realty the user gets a variant of a corporate trojan written by professionals with ties to law enforcement

The FBI also gives a lengthy list of precautions to take to keep your phone safe, and we have to agree with them. Common sense items like not clicking unknown links and password protecting your phone are a must. Yet they forgot the most important one:

Applications can not install themselves after they have been downloaded. 

Even if you've clicked and downloaded one of these malicious apps, you still have to ask to install it, agree to the permissions you're given, then OK the entire process. Until that happens, it's just a file that can do no harm. There's two real pieces of advice we can give here -- read what you're installing, and pay attention to what you click. 

Source: IC3

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4 years ago

Android 4.1.2 update rolling out to some GSM Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S phones


Android 4.1.2 hit the Nexus 7 last week, and now it seems the latest version of Jelly Bean is slowly starting to make its way to the GSM/HSPA Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S. Currently the only version confirmed to have received the update is the "yakju" variant of the phone -- that's the one sold outside of the U.S. without Google Wallet support. We'll likely see the "takju" Galaxy Nexus -- the one sold through the Google Play Store -- hit 4.1.2 in the coming days. (Sorry, Verizon people, you're likely in for a much longer wait.) On the Nexus S, users in the U.S. and Canada (GT-i9020T/i9023) are reporting that they've received the update.

On phones, Android 4.1.2 is a minor update over the previous version 4.1.1. The changelog points to small performance and stability fixes. Unlike the Nexus 7, Android 4.1.2 on Nexus phones doesn't enable landscape mode in the launcher.

If you're feeling adventurous, and have the right kind of Galaxy Nexus, you'll find direct links to the OTA to flash your device manually. We'd recommend just waiting for the update to hit, though, as you're not missing out on much by being back on 4.1.1.

Source: Android Central forums, XDA

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4 years ago

AT&T Optimus G available Nov. 2 for $199; preorders start tomorrow


AT&T's LG Optimus G will be available Nov. 2 for $199 on contract. Pre-orders start tomorrow. 

And, well, that's about it. We've got the carrier's version of the Optimus G in our hot little hands, and it's pretty faithful to the worldwide version, though as we noted in our side-by-side with the Sprint iteration, some software and hardware features have been tweaked.

Source: AT&T

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4 years ago

Motorola DROID RAZR HD review [Rogers]


The Motorola Droid RAZR HD is coming to Verizon soon, but we’ve got our hands on the Canadian version to put through the paces. This is the first major iteration on the reborn RAZR from last year. Updates such as the RAZR i, the RAZR MAXX and the RAZR m have kept the brand fresh, but the Droid RAZR HD kicks things up a notch with a larger, higher-resolution display. At first blush, the Droid RAZR HD feels exceptionally well-built, but it comes at the cost of a non-removable battery and a rather steep pricetag (at least if you're buying in the U.S.). Is it worth the trade-off?

Let's give this one the ol' Canadian what-for.

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4 years ago

PowerSkin Battery Case for the Samsung Galaxy S3


Ah, the combination case and external battery. It's the white whale of Android smartphones. Unlike our iPhone-carrying friends, who have the likes of Mophie to serve their needs, we've been left searching for the perfect way to protect and charge our phones. 

For the Samsung Galaxy S3, we've already taken a look at the Droidax Power Pack. While it has a respectable 2300 mAh battery tucked into that shell, a design flaw made it tough to recommend.

Now we've got the PowerSkin Battery Case for the Galaxy S3. Will this one make the grade? Read on to find out.

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4 years ago

Modern Combat 4 gameplay video shown in first dev diary


Gameloft's upcoming military shooter game for Android, Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, was announced a few weeks ago, and today we're getting a nice look at what to expect. The graphics are great, with particular emphasis made by the devs on ragdoll physics and the some new vehicle animations. It sounds like the movement system is getting a bit of an update too, which should keep fumbling with jump and duck keys to a minimum. 

The video also shows a behind-the-scenes look at motion capture for the cinematic hand-to-hand combat sequences, as well as a hint from the game's writer that we'll be able to play as both the hero and the villain in the campaign. Of course, there's still a certain amount of "homage" paid to PC and console games like Modern Warfare and Battlefield 3. The submachinegun-toting flying drones at 1:40 in the video below will be familiar to many gamers. Modern Combat 4 will be released "this fall", but before then we'll learn a bit more about multiplayer in the next dev diary. You can also learn more from the official website.

Any big Modern Combat 3 fans out there? Is Modern Combat 4 shaping up to be significantly better, or is it just more of the same? Do mobile games really have a shot of competing with console and PC games when it comes to AAA-style shooters like this? 

Source: @Gameloft

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4 years ago

Dubious Sony 'Nexus X' photos appear online


Update: Sources tell Android Central that these images are not of a genuine Nexus device.

The photo above is one of a pair of pictures doing the rounds this morning, claiming to show a future Sony-built Nexus phone. The images appeared on Picasa today, tagged as "Nexus X" and "Xperia Nexus." EXIF information shows the photos were taken on a Galaxy Nexus on Oct. 13 and 14. The front face shows no branding whatsoever, while Google and Sony logos adorn the rear. Along the side can be seen three gold pogo pins and a microUSB port.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice a few anomalies with the image above, and the photo of the front face, which we've included after the break. First up is the odd bulge around the back of the device, and the strangely faded Sony logo. There's also some odd artefacting throughout the photo, particularly around the USB port and the Google logo up top -- hallmarks of possible Photoshopping. Then there's the fact that the front face shows a home screen where the Google Play Store icon is not labeled, and there's no persistent search bar up top. If you ask us, there's definitely something fishy going on here.

And then there's the fact that we're pretty sure the LG Nexus 4 is what's next from Google, and that Googlers are currently testing that model rather than any Sony creation.

In any case, let's suspend disbelief for a few minutes and entertain the idea that this is genuine. If so, we'd guess it's either an abandoned prototype or some future Sony phone in a dummy case. Certainly, the exterior doesn't match any Sony phone we're familiar with, though it does share a few design traits with the Xperia S and Xperia Ion. We know from briefings with Sony and other manufacturers that they often produce numerous prototype designs for future hardware, so it's possible that's what we're dealing with here. We also wouldn't read too much into the fact that it's running vanilla Android, as manufacturers must use this as a starting point when building their own UIs.

In any case, we'd suggest you don't get too excited about what we're seeing here. It's not impossible that we might see a Sony Nexus at some point in the future, but if we do, we're pretty sure it won't look anything like this.

Check past the break for the second, equally suspicious photo in this set.

Source: Picasa

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4 years ago

32GB Nexus 7 tipped for imminent launch in the UK


A version of Google's Nexus 7 tablet with 32GB of storage could launch as early as this week in the UK, according to reports. UK tech site ITProPortal says it's heard via retail sources that the 32GB Nexus 7 will appear in a Christmas gift guide for catalog chain Argos, priced at £199.99. The site reports that the 32GB version will replace the 16GB model at this price point, and that the 8GB model will continue to be sold at its current £159 price.

A 32GB Nexus 7 has been rumored for the past several weeks, and in one case it seems 32GB model was even shipped to one Japanese buyer in place of a 16GB unit. If the rumors are accurate, the additional storage would address one major complaint leveled against the ASUS-made Nexus tablet -- on the 8GB model, just under 6GB is actually available for use.

It's entirely possible that Argos could be jumping the gun with a 32GB Nexus 7 in its upcoming catalog. But with more Nexus announcements likely to be made later this month, we wouldn't be surprised to see an upgraded Nexus 7 sooner rather than later.

Source: ITProPortal

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4 years ago

Microsoft's Xbox Music coming to Android ... 'eventually'


With the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 launch just around the corner, Microsoft is once again making a big push into the world of digital music with its new Xbox Music service. Launching across Windows 8 PCs and tablets, Windows Phone 8 handsets and Xbox 360, Xbox Music won't be limited to Microsoft's own platforms, though, as the company has today confirmed that it'll "eventually" be heading to Android and iOS, too

In addition to the standard music streaming service, Xbox Music will reportedly comprise a digital download service, a cloud music storage offering and an iTunes Match-like service for importing tracks from CDs or other sources.

But in order to access the service on these other platforms, though, you'll need a $10-per-month subscription, as the free, ad-supported Xbox Music experience will only be available on Windows 8 PCs. With regards to Android, Xbox Music will compete with Google Play Music, a service that's well established in the U.S., but unavailable internationally. If Microsoft can offer wide availability in enough countries, it'd could have the chance convert Android users over to Xbox Music before Google has the chance to launch its own service.

Source: Microsoft; via:WPCentraliMore

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4 years ago

Samsung once again pushing out Jelly Bean update for Galaxy S3


Samsung has once again started rolling out the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update for its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S3. The update first landed in Poland a few weeks back, before being sent out to Korean S3 owners last week. However, the new firmware version has yet to see a widespread roll-out.

Today it seems the company’s ready to move ahead with Jelly Bean on the international Galaxy S3, as a new Jelly Bean-based firmware, version XXDLIH, has started pushing out to S3 owners in Sweden.

As we reported a couple of months back, the Galaxy S3 Jelly Bean update includes many new features, aside from the standard Android 4.1 features like Google Now and “Project Butter.” Anyone pulling down the new Jelly Bean-based ROM will also get new TouchWiz features, including Blocking Mode for managing notifications, an alternate home screen setup called Easy Mode, and certain Galaxy Note 2 features, such as Smart Rotation.

If you’ve got Jelly Bean up and running on your Galaxy S3, hit the comments and let us know how you’re getting on.

Source: SamMobile

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4 years ago

Softbank plans 70 percent acquisition of Sprint worth $20.1 billion


It's real early in the morning for a press conference, but that's not the real story here. In Japan, Sprint and Softbank are holding a joint press conference confirming what we've previously heard. The Japanese carrier is to acquire a 70 percent stake in Sprint, worth a whopping $20.1 billion. 

The acquisition will be made up of $12.1 billion worth of existing shares to be purchased, and a further $8 billion in newly issued shares. The move also has LTE intentions in its core. The press conference continues, but you can find the full information in the press release after the break. 

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