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5 years ago

Google+ app updated with 'massive performance improvements' and some UI tweaks


If you're a Google+ fan and have an Android phone, you'll want to hit the Android Market because there's an update for Google+ that promises (among other things) "massive performance improvements" across the app.  The full changelog:

  • Massive performance improvements across the app
  • What's Hot!
  • View who +1'd a post or comment
  • Stream posts shortened to fit more per scroll
  • Infinite photos feed in 'From your circles'
  • Stream no longer jumps to the top for an automatic refresh

I never really noticed any poor performance from the app to start with, so I'm not yet ready to judge these massive improvements, but the rest of the list has a bunch of welcome changes.  The addition of What's Hot! and ability to see who +1'd a post or comment are things many have been asking for, and UI improvements like better formatting of posts and no longer bouncing to the top and losing your place when you refresh are always welcome.  Now let's focus on a tablet optimized version, shall we Google?  Maybe walk over and visit the cubes of the folks working on Currents.

Download link is after the break.

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5 years ago

Razr Maxx OTA, On-Screen keyboards [From the Forums]


We're busting through this week like there was no tomorrow and there has been plenty of news to keep us busy. If you missed anything be sure to get caught up. Once caught up, come hang out in the forums for a while:

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

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5 years ago

Foursquare updated with better searching, recommendations and further Android Beam support


Foursquare continues to improve upon their Android app making it better with each new release. This time around they've focused on searching places and recommendations as well as some fixes to improve scrolling within the app:

  • Smarter searching - Every time you search with Explore, we’ll show you results based on the time of day, places your friends have been or left tips, places on lists you follow, and places we think you’ll like based on the 1,500,000,000 check-ins on foursquare. Tap the top right filter button (bottom right on Android), to narrow your results by places you and your friends have been. Try selecting ‘New to me’ and ‘My friends have been’ to catch up on what you’ve been missing out on! With every suggestion, we show you which of your friends have tried that place, so it’s easy to get suggestions and see what’s popular.
  • Recommendations for anywhere - On your way to another part of town, or a new town altogether? One big new feature: you can now drag your map around, or enter a neighborhood, city or address to get recommendations for anywhere you want. Try pinching in or out, or double tapping to zoom quickly. It’s easy to focus in on where you want to go.

In addition to those changes, Foursquare has also added some more support for Android Beam on both the Venue page, and Me page. The update is live now in the Android Market so go get it!

Source: Foursquare

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5 years ago

Samsung not having an MWC press conference for a phone it's not announcing anyway


Samsung has told PC Mag that it's not having a major press conference at Mobile World Congress later this month in Barcelona, Spain. Bummer, cause they're usually pretty good. It did, however, tell Sascha Segan that it'll still have new products to show off. Sweet.

Samsung apparently has also said it's not announcing the Galaxy S III at Mobile World Congress. It's also not explicitly said that the Galaxy S III exists, but whatever.

So that's where we stand. Samsung is not having a press conference, nor is it planning to show off a phone it hasn't actually announced in the first place. But it'll have other stuff. Gotcha.

Here are a few companies that are having press conferences, just in case you're worried: HTC, Huawei, Sony (Ericsson), Intel, Nokia and ASUS, to name but a few that we can say out loud. That's in addition to meetings and keynote addresses. There will be no shortage of things for us to do.

Source: PC Mag
Keep up with all of our Mobile World Congress news here

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5 years ago

Rovio celebrates Angry Birds 2nd birthday with 15 new birthday cake levels


Rovio is celebrating the Angry Birds second birthday with the release of their updated version of Angry Birds. The update, available now in the Android Market, brings 15 new cake-inspired levels to the mix bringing the grand total of Angry Birds levels to 300! They managed to input some goodies as well for fans:

  • Party with the amazing expandable orange bird!
  • Check out the spiffy new menus and graphics!
  • Special birthday achievements make this update a treat!
  • As a birthday gift to our fans, all episodes are now unlocked!

Happy Birthday Angry Birds and thanks for the great update. Hit the break for the download, folks.

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5 years ago

Chrome Beta for Android walkthrough


You might have noticed that the Google Chrome team has released the long awaited build for Android. It's still a beta version, but it's a pretty big deal. It's built for Ice Cream Sandwich only (we're playing with getting it on Honeycomb devices, but no joy yet), so that narrows down the potential user base a good bit. It's also a beta build, which means there are some features missing and some bugs. Luckily, the good outweighs the bad this time around.

We're going to walk through this bad boy in three parts -- design, performance and tips and tricks. It's good to remember that technically Chrome for Android is still in beta. But it could well serve as your day-to-day browser, with a couple caveats.

Hit the break and have a look.

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5 years ago

Seesmic's Android Twitter client gets a long-awaited update


Along with the introduction of Seesmic Ping this week, the social networking developer has dropped a long-awaited update to its Seesmic Twitter client. There are a bunch of bugfixes rolled into this one, along with support for links, and Seesmic finally dropped support for Google Buzz.

Glad to see a little love and attention to what's one of the best free Twitter clients out there. We've got download links after the break.

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5 years ago

Mobi Products Honeycomb Case for HTC EVO 3D [Android Case Review]



Finding the right case for your phone is like picking a wand in Harry Potter. Try as you might, you can't ever force one on yourself; the right case always seems to choose you. Fortunately for me, I think I've finally found my one true case in the Mobi Products Honeycomb TPU Case for the HTC EVO 3D.


While there's no shortage of anti-dust, rubberized material, no-slip cases out on the market, the Honeycomb TPU Case has one glaring difference: its design. While it comes off as "just another case" from the front, once you flip this bad boy over, you'll be getting nothing but compliments at how cool your case is.

Up top you've got the standard 3.5mm headphone jack opening, but curiously enough, Mobi Products opted to cover the power button completely, leaving their own plastic button cover in place. It doesn't feel bad, but sometimes you lose the truly tactile clicking feeling that only comes from an uncovered button. They give the same treatment to the volume rocker, too.

On the same bezel as the rocker there's an opening for the camera button and 2D/3D slider, as well as openings for the microphones down bottom and the micro-USB charging port on the left.

The case itself is relatively thin, but just tall enough to peer over the camera lenses, which means you can finally leave your phone on its backside without worrying about scratching everything up. Add in the fact it's slick in your hand but grippy when on a surface, and you've definitely got a winner in the "cool look, great price" category of phone cases.

More pictures are after the break.

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5 years ago

Free Android Wallpaper of the day - Cobblestone


Today's Free Android Wallpaper comes from member dchawk81, who uploaded this shot of a cobblestone square, bench and doorway in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. (Franklin County represent!)

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5 years ago

Kindle Fire video gets the best, worst of Viacom TV in new streaming deal


Amazon today announced that it's reached a streaming agreement with Viacom that will bring television shows from MTV, Comedy Central, Nikelodeon, TV Land, Spike, VH1, CMT and Logo to Amazon Prime subscribers -- and that means to the Amazon Kindle Fire as well. 

That pretty much runs the gamut from the worst television has to offer -- Jersey Shore, The Hills, The Real World -- to the best of Comedy Central (Chappelle's Show and The Sarah Silverman Program are mentioned; here's to hoping The Daily Show is included as well) and Nikelodeon, including Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants and Yo Gabba Gabba.

All GTL kidding aside, this is yet another big deal for Amazon, which already has a killer streaming offering through Amazon Prime. Package this up with perhaps a slightly higher-resolution Kindle Fire, and we're going to go through the roof.

Full presser's after the break.

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5 years ago

HTC, Vodafone Germany to launch first 4G LTE phone -- the HTC Velocity


Vodafone Germany customers will soon be able to pick up the network's first 4G LTE smartphone, the HTC Velocity, according to reports from German site Computer Woche. The device will be familiar to readers in the U.S., as stateside it's known as the AT&T HTC Vivid. As well as supporting the insane speeds we've come to expect from LTE networks, the Velocity also sports HSPA+ connectivity up to 42.2 Mb/sec, alongside good old-fashioned 2G and 3G.

Internally, the device is similar to many of HTC's other high-end smartphones. There's a 1.5GHz dual-core chip inside, along with a full gigabyte of RAM, a 4.5-inch qHD (960x540) screen and Android 2.3 Gingerbread, backed up by HTC Sense 3.5. Frequency-wise, the HTC Velocity supports LTE on 800/2600MHz in addition to UMTS/HSPA on 900/2100MHz, meaning it should work on other LTE networks across Europe once they start rolling out.

So it's an HTC Vivid for Europe. Speaking of which, you can check out our review of that device to get an idea of what you'll be dealing with if you pick up an HTC Velocity in the future. We'll keep you posted with any release date or pricing info as it becomes available.

Source: Computer Woche; via: Engadget Mobile

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5 years ago

Taking an Android eye around BlackBerry Devcon Europe


There are increasingly more and more stories that cross the boundaries between Android and BlackBerry of late. It is no secret of course that the forthcoming update to the BlackBerry Playbook  to OS 2.0 will bring with it the Android Runtime feature. Allowing Android developers to repackage their applications for distribution in the BlackBerry App World, is just one of many different new development strategies that are being opened up ahead of the launch of BlackBerry 10

In the Android community, there are a lot of mixed feelings around this. On the one hand, some feel that it is almost begging in trying to get Android applications on board. On the other hand some see the better (and real) side to it all -- it offers another opportunity to make money from selling your apps. There are a lot of amazing Android developers out there who deserve to be making as much money as possible from their work, and with minimal effort on their part the BlackBerry platform is opening a door to them. 

Being at BlackBerry Devcon Europe in Amsterdam this week has really opened my eyes to how this is all going to work. The event sold out two weeks beforehand, with around 2000 eager developers from a variety of backgrounds descending on Amsterdam to learn for the future. Among those in attendance were a surprising amount of Android developers. Free PlayBook in hand, these guys are starting to get really excited about being able to distribute their already built apps to a whole new audience with minimal work. The sessions dedicated to working with the Android Runtime were so popular, that an extra session had to be scheduled on the first day to cater for the incredible amount of interest. 

The guys from the App World team pointed out that in no way, shape or form are any of the submitted applications to be marketed as Android apps. To the average consumer, there will be no obvious difference. This is how it should be done. They aren't trying to market an Android tablet -- they would have probably just made one if that was the case. Once the repackaged Android apps are submitted to BlackBerry App World, the Android connection ends. Developers are registered as a BlackBerry developer. 

The underlying message surrounds the simplicity at which apps can be repackaged. An apk file can be repackaged in a few different ways -- utilizing Eclipse, command lines or even simpler than that, through a web browser. To use the web browser requires little more than requesting some signing keys from BlackBerry, the Gingerbread SDK, and following the steps. Gingerbread or below only for the time being, as the Runtime is based around Android 2.3.3. But with Ice Cream Sandwich having been open sourced, dedicated tablet apps are likely to work with future builds. 

We're not expecting Android users to flock to the PlayBook as a cheaper alternative to a fully featured Android tablet, the functionality you would be looking for is desperately lacking in some areas -- but then it isn't an Android tablet. There is a list of features API's that aren't supported at present within Android Runtime. A lot of these are hardware specific, so anything that needs NFC or the Camera for example probably won't work. There are a lot that do work though. 

The App Express booth walked interested Android developers through the steps to repackage their apps and sent them away with a working bar file to use on their Playbooks. Of all the apk files put through the process on the first day, just one was incompatible.

All in all, the guys at RIM are welcoming developers from across the board with open arms, not just from Android. But there was a definite buzz around the conference. Nobody is begging for anything from anybody. There will always be different platforms, and competition between the platforms. But Android developers will continue to make killer apps for Android, and continue to deserve to make money from it. We should all be supporting our developers to further success by moving into BlackBerry 10 as well.

Interested developers not at Devcon Europe should remember that you can still get a free PlayBook to try out your apps on. Submit your apps to BlackBerry App World by Feb. 13 to take advantage of the offer. 

Android Central's Richard Devine has been lending a hand at the BlackBerry Devcon conference in Amsterdam this week.

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5 years ago

Galaxy Nexus now available on Videotron, C$150 on contract


Just as planned, Quebec-centric carrier Videotron has today launched the Samsung Galaxy Nexus on its network. Canadians wanting to use Samsung and Google's flagship smartphone on Videotron can now pick one up for the subsidized price of C$149.95, with a qualifying service plan of C$40 or more per month. Or if you don't fancy paying 40 dollars per month for the next three years, Videotron's also selling it on its own at the retail price of C$599.95.

Videtron is the latest in a long list of Canadian networks currently offering the Galaxy Nexus. This includes the big three -- Bell, TELUS and Rogers -- as well as smaller players like Fido, Mobilicity and WIND. Hit the source link for more on Videotron's Galaxy Nexus deals, and check out our review of the thing if for some reason you're still on the fence.

Source: Videotron

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5 years ago

Should poor manufacturer earnings reports matter to Android consumers?


There hasn’t been much to cheer about on Wall Street lately when it comes to Android manufacturers' earnings. HTC and Motorola have both issued relatively disappointing quarterly results for long enough to annoy the investment community. In the case of Motorola, the big GOOG has come to their rescue anyway.  Motorola didn’t even hold a conference call to discuss its latest quarter (because of the Google deal, it said). They’re getting assimilated into the Google unless something goes haywire with the merger. 
But HTC is still an almost perfect pure play on the Android smartphone market. Yeah, they support Windows Phone too, but almost all the volume is on Android right now, and I think it’s a safe be that this will continue to be the case in 2012.

Neither Motorola or HTC seem to be performing very well. Motorola can’t seem to get enough volume shipped to make a profit on phones, while HTC’s profitability has slipped considerably. The latest quarterly forecast from the Taiwanese giant is for an operating margin of only 7.5 percent.

So what does all this mean to investors and consumers?

I think investors need to keep in mind that Android vendors don’t have much ability to differentiate on software. Especially with the release of ICS, the features and capabilities of the OS are much improved and there is less of a need for vendors to mess around with something that is already very good.

This leaves vendors to compete on hardware. And even there, it’s a challenge.  Most of the volume is for the same old sheet-of-glass form factor that we’ve all grown to love since the launch of the iPhone back in 2007. So we watch vendors compete on gigahertz, megapixels, screen resolution, size, milliAmp hours, and so on.

And of course they compete on price. All of the big Android vendors make good hardware, and carriers are naturally interested in reducing the subsidies on these small computers. Especially those who also get stung by the massive subsidies that are applied to iPhones. The iPhone 4S, for example, is believed to cost carriers more $600, meaning there is a massive $400 subsidy for a device that fetches the carrier a two-year contract. (Something Sprint alluded to in its earnings call Wednesday.) Apple makes the money. Carriers just help them do it. 
So the Android vendor community is under immense pressure to cut costs, and this means fewer dollars of profit on the latest phones. 

Making matters worse for HTC and Motorola (and others) is the necessity to fight against Samsung, a vertically integrated vendor who just so happens to make its own screens, memory and the exynos processors. (Along with being more diversified in the electronics space.) Vertical integration often allows vendors to produce at a lower price, or at least the illusion of lower price depending on internal corporate accounting.

My belief is that we’ve moved past the big innovative period in the smartphone market. RIM got things interesting with the QWERTY-focused BlackBerry lineup. Then iPhone changed the game entirely, and finally Android brought in some much needed competition and, of course, openness. 

The hardware battle is now all about cost. The Android vendors are probably not the best way to play the trend. In a war, people on both sides of the fight die. But it’s the arms dealers that make money. 

My good friend Ed Zabitsky from ACI Research, and co-host of Mobile Nations Stock Talk has been educating me on exactly what’s happening within this supply chain. I find it fascinating. We’ll definitely be talking about this in the next live podcast.

So does this mean most Android vendors are doomed? No, of course not. It just means that people who compete on hardware are likely destined to earn the kind of margins that PC vendors make.  There’s always a profit to be made by someone even if it’s thin. So long as there is demand for Android smartphones, there will be enough companies who can get by on slim margins to make them. The stock market will value these companies the way they should be valued in the long run.

Should consumers worry? Nope. Not any more than they worry about PC box makers disappearing. There are always enough competitors to supply our needs. 

Chris Umiastowski is a former sell-side equity analyst at Orion Securities and TD Securities. Before that, he was an engineer for Nortel Networks. Chris is co-host of the Mobile Nations Stock Talk podcast.

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5 years ago

Sprint adds 1.6 million subscribers in Q4 2011, posts a $1.3 billion net loss


Sprint this morning announced its Q4 2011 earnings, which, basically, were all about the iPhone and the revamping of its entire network. It added 1.6 million net subscribers in the fourth quarter -- the best three-month result in six years, Sprint says, with the bulk of that being from wholesale and affiliate outlets.

Despite that, Sprint still posted a $1.3 billion loss for the quarter, due to a variety of factors that outweigh the addition of new subscribers, record average revenue per user -- and the sale of some 1.8 million iPhones. Major changes to Sprint's network is costing a lot of money, and the company continues to cut costs on the operationsi side.

Source: Sprint

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