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4 years ago

Customs delay a short-term nuisance, not a killing blow for HTC

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Last week the AT&T HTC One X and Sprint EVO 4G LTE were delayed at U.S. customs following an International Trade Commission exclusion order and subsequent review that Apple won against the Taiwanese company, banning them due to infringement on a specific aspect of an Apple patent wherein linked phone numbers would open an options menu. HTC in December said it already had a workaround, and sure enough it's present in the One X and EVO 4G LTE.

But this customs delay caused HTC to miss its launch date for the EVO 4G LTE at Sprint, and has caused AT&T to show an out-of-stock message on the One X. HTC stock was smacked by nearly 6 percent by the end of last week. And now that U.S. Customs has cleared the EVO 4G LTE, the market obviously feels comfortable with the idea that HTC has skirted this particular patent issue. The stock already has recovered from last week’s punishment. [HTC Corp at Google Finance]

But we really should be taking a long-term view of this situation. Similar to our friends from Waterloo who sell BlackBerry, HTC has been struggling in the U.S. market lately. Samsung quickly has become the top selling phone vendor on the planet.  And according to Gartner’s latest numbers, Samsung sells more than four times  the number of Android phones versus its closest competitor. 

So HTC really needs a comeback in the U.S. market. And that’s why a delay by International Trade Commission hurt as much as it did. Having just come home from a Canadian long weekend up in cottage country, these short term delays at U.S. customs remind me more of mosquito bites rather than bullet wounds. They’re irritating, but not deadly. They heal quickly and we forget about them.

But there’s no denying that Apple is putting some serious pressure on Android. Giving credit where credit is due, Apple single-handedly reinvented the user experience on a mobile phone. Android, BlackBerry, and others have copied Apple. 

Steve Jobs made no secrets about how he felt about this. I’m not saying that Apple never copied anyone either ... obviously it has.  But, unfortunately, that doesn’t matter. Patent law doesn’t care whether the plaintiff has infringed other IP in the past. 

The way I see it, Android vendors are exposed to future IP litigation by Apple. These first customs problems are the mosquito bites. But are the bullets still coming? And what are HTC, Samsung, and even the mighty Google doing to sidestep these bullets through future software redesign? 

HTC’s problems also go way beyond patent litigation. The company’s stock price has fallen from about 2,500 Taiwan dollars last April down to nearly 400 Taiwan dollars today. That kind of collapse is on the order of what happened to RIM.  But in the case of HTC, it's fighting purely on hardware. It doesn't own a platform like Apple or RIM. It doesn't have the supply chain strength to compete against Samsung. And to me, these are bigger issues than patent litigation.

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4 years ago

Spotify now live in Australia and New Zealand

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It's been a long time coming, but finally our friends in Australia and New Zealand can enjoy the Spotify service as it has launched down under. By now, Spotify needs no introduction, but its arrival in another new market is welcomed. As a 'celebration' of the launch, a special Australian themed playlist has been put together by Spotify to get everyone started.

The service you'll be interested in as a reader of this site, is the Spotify Premium, which includes the ability to listen to music on your Android device. In Australia, you're looking at $11.99 a month for this, and $12.99 in New Zealand. 

We've included download links to the Spotify app below to get you started. But, there's a newer -- and much better -- preview version available directly from Spotify themselves. We did a little hands on back in April when it first emerged, so don't forget to head over and give it a read. 

Source: Spotify

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4 years ago

ShopAndroid Daily contest winners!

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If you're a registered member here at Android Central then you know our forums always have a contest happening. And if you're not registered, well -- now is as good a time as any. This week's winners are as posted after the break, and if you were chosen watch your email as we'll be following up during the week. Stay tuned for more upcoming contests folks. Congrats to the winners!

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4 years ago

Jha steps down, Woodside steps in as Google-Motorola deal closes

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Google CEO Larry Page this morning penned a blog post announcing the close of his company's acquisition of Motorola Mobility (thanks to China's recent approval) -- and the departure of Sanjay Jha as Moto CEO. Taking over is Google's Dennis Woodside, whom Page notes increased revenue in the Americas region by some $6.7 billion in three years.

The big question, of course, is exactly what Google plans on doing with Motorola, Page's post was long on cheerleading and short on strategic answers. No surprise there, but Page does stress the importance of the mobile space, saying:

"It’s a well known fact that people tend to overestimate the impact technology will have in the short term, but underestimate its significance in the longer term. Many users coming online today may never use a desktop machine, and the impact of that transition will be profound--as will the ability to just tap and pay with your phone. That’s why it’s a great time to be in the mobile business, and why I’m confident Dennis and the team at Motorola will be creating the next generation of mobile devices that will improve lives for years to come."

Woodside, for his part, wrote in a release that "“Our aim is simple: to focus Motorola Mobility’s remarkable talent on fewer, bigger bets, and create wonderful devices that are used by people around the world.”

Motorola's news release notes that Woodside has brought on board execs from DARPA, Nokia, Google and NVIDIA (among others) and has retained a number of Motorola executives in their current roles, including product development, mass market products, software and enterprise and consumer experience design.

Read Page's full post and Motorola's release at the source links below.

Source: Google; Motorola

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4 years ago

David Beckham and the Galaxy Note get official

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In case you missed the leaked version last week.

(And I could totally do that.)

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4 years ago

Carphone Warehouse to offer early collection for Galaxy S III pre-orders

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When Samsung announced the early launch for the Galaxy S III at its own store in London, it also said it'd allow other retailers to open an hour later. Today we have confirmation that at least one major UK retail chain plans to do just that -- Carphone Warehouse sends word that it'll offer collection for pre-order customers in "select stores," at 7pm next Tuesday, May 29. No word on which stores will be running the promotion, so you'll probably want to call in and ask to avoid disappointment.

Carphone also hailed the Galaxy S III as the "fastest-selling pre-order of 2012," which if nothing else shows that it's outpacing HTC's One series in the pre-order stakes. The retailer adds that over 800 of its stores will stock the S III from its UK official launch date of May 30.

Are you picking up a launch day Galaxy S III? Planning on collecting yours the day before everyone else? Let us know in the comments! (Also check out our exhaustive launch day coverage)

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4 years ago

Three UK launches Samsung Galaxy Ace 2

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Three UK continues its barrage of mid-level Android handsets with today's launch of the Galaxy Ace 2 from Samsung. The Ace 2 is, unsurprisingly, the successor to last year's Galaxy Ace, which saw success among entry-level and mid-range buyers in Europe. The new version rocks a 3.8-inch WVGA display, an 800MHz dual-core CPU, a 5MP camera and TouchWiz'd Android 2.3 Gingerbread. So aside from a few differences with screen size and display tech, it's a similar deal to the Galaxy S Advance, which we recently reviewed.

Three's offering the Galaxy Ace 2 for £229.99 SIM-free, or for free on two-year contracts starting at £22 per month. Cheaper monthly plans, which include an up-front fee, start at £15 per month.

More: Three UK

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4 years ago

Late-night poll: Texting and driving

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This one comes from Cory, who happens to be shopping for new car insurance. While deciding how much coverage he should buy, he brought up the question of other folks texting and driving. He is worried just how many people still do it, even though everyone knows they shouldn't, it's illegal damn near everywhere, and it's a good way to cause some serious harm to yourself or others. We're hoping that very few of you guys will say yes in tonight's poll -- we'll all be safer that way and Cory can save a little money.

Do you ever text and drive?

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4 years ago

S-Voice isn't another Siri, EVO 4G LTE [From the Forums]

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We're back from the weekend and have quite few things lined up this week for you -- nevermind those silly Canucks, being on vacation and all. If you happened to miss out on anything because you were out soaking up some sun, now is your chance to do so both here on the blogs and in the forums.

If you're not already a member of the Android Central forums, you can register your account today.

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4 years ago

Netflix for Android updated, brings 'enhanced playback experience' and a secondary install method if needed

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The Netflix Android client has seen what appears to be a relatively minor update this evening, promising an enhanced playback experience on both phones and tablets, stability improvements, and general bug fixes. Sound like a typical maintenance release. But what caught my eye was this, from the Google Play store change log:

If you are having problems updating your application, you can update your device manually by opening your mobile browser and going to this URL: http://tinyurl.com/nflx180
Once the application is downloaded please tap on it and follow the instructions to install this application. In some cases you may have to allow applications from untrusted sources to be installed.

Having had a device with "issues" when trying to update this particular app from the Play store once or twice, this is a really nice option. No need to try some potentially janky (or worse) version found in a forum, Netflix is offering up an alternative of their own. Hopefully, nobody needs it -- but it's great that it's there. 

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4 years ago

Amazon Appstore updated, beta version of 'Test Drive' comes to some

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Amazon has pushed out an update to their Appstore, bringing it to version 2.6.53. Besides the always-present bug fixes and stability enhancements, this time around there's a slick new feature for a select few -- The Test Drive feature. Much like the Test Drive that's always been available on Amazon's web site, this give you a chance to see what an app looks like and how it operates when installed. 

Without access to the methods Amazon is using to pull this one off, we're going to have to guess it's simulated on a server somewhere and not actually running on your device. But it's still pretty damn cool. Grab your update from Amazon and have a look. If you're lucky enough to get the Test Drive feature, sing out in the comments and let us mere mortals know how it works!

Thanks everyone who sent this in!

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4 years ago

Android Central weekly photo contest: Street scenes

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The best part about having a good camera on your phone is that you'll always have a way to snap pictures in your pocket. Our phone cameras will never be a good as expensive photo equipment, but who really carriers their DSLR camera around their neck everywhere they go? Thinking along those lines, this week's photo contest should be fun. Show us a street scene -- that is, things you find along the sidewalks and streets around you. Often times the best pictures are ones that weren't staged.

The prize this week is the winners choice of a case from ShopAndroid.com, where we have a ton of them to choose from. The rules, as always:

  • Use an Android device to take a picture. Any Android device
  • Submit the picture in the forum thread we have set up for this week, so everyone can see your handiwork. E-mail was swamping us, and not everyone got to see all the entries. This way, we get to see them all. We like seeing it all.
  • Only submit one. We're going to check, and we'll know if you try to game the system.
  • Be sure to tell what device you used, and any effects or filters used on the photo. We can learn from these as well as have fun.
  • Get your picture in by Friday midnight (your local time). We'll pick the winner and the runners-up and throw them on the blog Sunday afternoon.

So keep an eye out while your heading off to work, or out to play, snap a picture and enter to win!

Enter the weekly photo contest

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4 years ago

HTC EVO 4G LTE officially cleared to ship

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Our long national nightmare is over, ladies and gentlemen. The HTC EVO 4G LTE has cleared its International Trade Commission review at customs, which caused the phone to miss its launch date last Friday, and is headed to Sprint stores nationwide.

The delay stemmed from the ITC inspecting the phones to ensure that they don't infringe on a patent owned by Apple specifically, one that opens up a menu when you tap on a linked phone number. For its part, HTC in December had said that the patent covered "a small UI experience" and that it already had a workaround at that time. And sure enough, the EVO 4G LTE (and the AT&T HTC One X) that we've got here have changed things up a little bit. (Tapping on a linked phone number goes straight to the dialer instead of offering menu options.)

Preorders will arrive "on or around" May 24, Sprint said, and you should receive an e-mail with shipping confirmation once your phone is on the way.

Source: Sprint; more: HTC EVO 4G LTE forums

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4 years ago

Verizon confirms some phones will get updated for global use

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Verizon this afternoon confirmed that four of its CDMA Android smartphones will receive software updates that allow them to connect to GSM networks outside the United States. The phones are the HTC Rezound, the Motorola Droid RAZR and RAZR MAXX, and the Motorola Droid 4. All four of the phones phones are 4G LTE capable and thus have SIM cards, which generally is a hallmark of a GSM device.

Said Verizon:

Customers will see a notification on their device when the software update is available for their device. After the software update, customers will be able to take their smartphone overseas and use voice service in more than 220 countries and receive data in more than 205 countries.

Of course, you'll need to add some global service to your Verizon plan. Or, and this is the really good news -- Verizon tells us the phones already are SIM unlocked, so you should be able to use a prepaid SIM once you're in-country. If you don't travel outside the U.S., well, you can just go about your domestic business.

More: Verizonwireless.com/global

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4 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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