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4 years ago

Sprint's LG Optimus G first impressions


The unapologetic first impressions after 10 minutes of use

From time to time we review phones here at AC. Some of us are really good at it, with a fine eye for detail, some of us have used so many phones, we have an excellent idea of how they compare to each other, and some of us think a bit differently and look at things normal people wouldn't think to. That's how we roll, and I think it makes for a great mix, especially when more than one of us get to look at the same phone. 

I'm holding Sprint's LG Optimus G (coming November 11) in my grubby claws, and after 10 minutes of sitting in my chair and toying with it I've got a couple things to say -- both good and bad,

The good

  • This thing is fast. It's the first phone running stock software that's faster than anything else out there. Faster than the Galaxy S3, faster than the Galaxy Nexus running 4.1.2, and faster than the One X with HTC's UI-focused multitasking.
  • The screen. Yes, it's as good as the One X, and that's saying a lot.
  • The back "glass". I can't describe it any better than Phil can, but when you hold it you know it feels like glass but isn't really glass. And it survives a four foot drop-test on the hardwood floor (don't look Sprint) with nary a scratch or ding.
  • The notification icons tell you how many unread you have with a red bubble. A subtle, yet meaningful touch that Google totally needs to steal.

The bad

  • The fake chrome ring around the edge isn't flush, and you feel it when you rub your thumb across it. Or not. See here for more.
  • Ice Cream Sandwich. Jelly Bean coming soon doesn't cut it with me.
  • The ultra colorful UI. Tone that down a bit, please. 
  • I'm rubbing my thumb across that trim ring again, so I had to mention it twice.
  • 78 kbps 3G speeds from Sprint

I've put all my other toys away and will be using the G exclusively, look for more soon.

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4 years ago

TuneIn Radio Pro updated with holo design


One of the most popular radio apps on Android, TuneIn Radio Pro, has been updated with a proper holo design. Since the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, Google has been engaged in getting developers on board with a design language that helps unify the user experience across apps. This "holo" design has been implemented in many of Google's own apps, and now many headline developers have implemented it as well.

Bits of polish show in a swipe across stations to choose available streaming qualities, pull to refresh and a proper blue / white / gray design. Beyond just looking better, the design change in TuneIn Radio Pro offers better usability. Swiping between UI panes feels more natural, and gives users access to "related", "twitter", "favorites", "options" and "recent" right from the main "now playing" screen.

We've got a few side-by-side comparison screenshots of the old (left) and new (right) design after the break. If you like what you see, you can buy the Pro version of the app at the Google Play Store link above for 99 cents.

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4 years ago

ESPN ScoreCenter app updated with Galaxy S3 DLNA sharing


The ESPN ScoreCenter app has just been updated with a pretty handy feature for Samsung Galaxy SIII (S3) owners. With the latest update -- version 2.3.2 -- users that have a Galaxy S3 and a Smart TV (any DLNA compatible device, really) can push ESPN video from the phone to the TV over the local Wi-Fi network.

This is functionality we usually only see for specific boxes, or with specific manufacturer tie-in, so it's interesting to see ESPN integrate it at the app level -- and see it work with any DLNA device to boot. Hopefully future updates will expand functionality past the Galaxy S3 as well.

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4 years ago

Sprint's Optimus G lands Nov. 11 for $199; preorders start Nov. 1


Hot on the heels of AT&T's announcement today, Sprint has given word that its LG Optimus G will be available on Nov. 11, for $199 on contract. Preorders start Nov. 1.

We took a gander at the Sprint version last week at CTIA. And as you'll recall, it's a bit different than AT&T's Optimus G (as well as the global version). Will it stand up to full scrutiny? Only The Shadow Jerry Hildenbrand knows.

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4 years ago

Open webOS running on the Nook Color


You're seeing that right -- it's Open webOS running on our old friend the Nook Color. Yes, it's incomplete, and it's laggy, but it's also a pretty damned beautiful sight if you're a fan of open hardware and open source software.

Ping-Hsun Chen, a savvy fellow from Taiwan, got the desktop version of Open webOS up and running using the same methods we're used to seeing for Ubuntu distributions. It's running more as a layer on top of Android than it is natively, but it's still a huge first step and paves the way for all sorts of fun hackery getting Open webOS on any device that has been running Ubuntu -- like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 or the Transformer. 

With further refinement, and better hardware, we can see this becoming a viable alternative for folks who want to give Open webOS a try on a cheap device. It's the kind of innovation we all here at Mobile Nations love to see, and you can bet we're all keeping a close eye on this one. Derek and the crew over at webOS Nation are pretty excited about it, and you can bet the WN forums will be jumping. Head over and join in the fun!

Source: Penk; via webOS Nation

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4 years ago

Google opens new Google Play Developer Console to all


If you'll recall back to Google I/O 2012, a new Google Play Developer Console was previewed, showing what Google intended for the future. Since then, Google has teamed up with specific developers to try it out and give feedback, and now it has released the new Dev Console to everyone.

The new console is designed to be bright, clean and easy to use. Features like good universal search -- a Google product staple -- and the ability to track user ratings over time are great additions that help developers improve their apps. Additionally, this latest version improves the publishing workflow, offers support for more languages and has automated language translations.

Take a look at the source link below for more information, the second link for a gallery of screenshots of the new UI, and stick around after the break for the video demonstration from Google I/O (jump to 31:30 in to see the Dev Console part).

Source: Android Developers Blog; Google+

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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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