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2 years ago

Motorola updates device software upgrade timeline, several ICS updates delayed

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While Motorola may have promised Jelly Bean updates for their most recently launched RAZR devices, for other Moto owners life isn't so peachy on the update front. The device software upgrade page has been updated, and it isn't going to make happy reading for some. 

The Atrix 4G and Atrix 2 now read as "further plans coming soon," having previously been pegged to update to ICS in Q3. The Xyboard 8.2 and Xoom Family Edition are also in the same boat, only the pair of tablets are still provided with a date sometime in Q4. Also slipping into the Q4 category is the DROID Bionic. 

We previously reported that devices such as the DROID 3 would remain on Gingerbread, and one has to only hope that the same isn't about to be said of some of these. The Atrix 2 isn't even a year old, so to see it left languishing in a pre-ICS world would be a sorry sight. Slipping dates leave us feeling less doomsday, yet still with a slightly ominous feeling. If Moto is already talking the Jelly Bean talk, one does have to wonder where some of these ICS updates are hiding. 

Of course, there is always the promise of a $100 credit towards a new Motorola phone should your 2011 onwards device not get updated to Jelly Bean. So don't go throwing away that Atrix 2 just yet. 

Source: Motorola thanks Rich!

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2 years ago

Motorola pokes fun at iOS 6 Maps, wants to prevent people becoming #iLost

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By now, the vast majority of Android users -- no, make that people in the world -- have heard about Apple's new replacement for Google Maps in iOS 6. Proudly announced during their iOS 6 keynote, replacing Google Maps was another step away from using Google services for the Cupertino giant. Since the launch, much has been said about the maps, and their apparent lack of some key information within the maps themselves. 

We'll admit it. It makes us chuckle. As we sit here using our native Google Maps, more and more we see comments arising from iPhone owners, both new and old, slating iOS6 Maps. And now, Google owned Motorola is joining in on the fun. 

Looking for 315 E 15th in Manhattan? Google Maps on DROID RAZR M will get you there & not #iLost in Brooklyn.

Seen on the Motorola Mobility Google+ page, and on their Twitter page, the message is clear. While an obvious advertisement for their latest handset -- and perhaps the RAZR M's edge to edge screen, compared to the 'stretched' iPhone 5 -- rather than Google Maps itself, we wonder how long before the #iLost tag will catch on. Probably until Google releases a third-party Google Maps application into the iOS App Store, but until then, we can but chuckle away.

Source: Motorola (Google+) (Twitter)

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2 years ago

Qualcomm updates Vellamo benchmark suite for Android, we had a nice chat with them about it

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The popular Vellamo benchmark suite got a pretty big update today, bringing new features and a really nice UI to the popular software from Qualcomm. We talked with Sy Choudhury, senior director of product management at Qualcomm about it earlier in the week, and while they haven't convinced me that benchmarks are the perfect way to measure the performance of our Android phones and tablets just yet, they did answer a couple questions I've had and have me looking at the issue again. That's no small feat -- I'm pretty stubborn.

First, let's talk about the app itself. A benchmark tool doesn't have to look ugly, and Vellamo really does things up nicely. The main screen of the app lets you chose between HTML 5 based browser benchmarks, "Metal", as in hardware measuring, benchmarks, or a set of extras like tools to measure touch screen response, the Octane benchmark, and "advanced" video benchmarking tools. 

Benchmarking is easy, just tap one of the circular icons and let it run. When finished, you can compare your scores with others, or look a bit deeper to evaluate each test individually. You can also long press on the main benchmark icon and select individual tests. The settings allow you to run multiple tests to get the best average (recommended), email the comprehensive set of results to you when finished, and turn the tutorial on and off. 

Most importantly, a link to a full description of each test is provided right in the About section. It's no use to run these things if you have no clue what it all means, and Qualcomm does a great job explaining each test in both the HTML 5 and the Metal category, as well as the extras. This is what makes Vellamo my recommendation for folks who are fiddling with software and want to test the result on their phone. Sure, Qualcomm can send me a well written pdf file (they did, and I thank them for it) about each test but putting it out there for everyone using the app to read is pretty damn smart. Excellent move, Qualcomm.

As mentioned, Mr. Choudhury from Qualcomm took a few minutes to talk with us about Vellamo. He walked me through each of the tests and tools, but more importantly they shared a little about why they made the app and how they use it. Vellamo started as an internal testing suite for engineers and developers at Qualcomm. Some of their customers (folks like Samsung and HTC) requested the tools for themselves. Qualcomm obliged, and then decided since they had to build a stand alone app anyway that they would release it to the public. While it's not exactly the same app the fellows designing Qualcomm chips is using, it does provide the same exact tools they use to test performance. Learning about the how and why is always cool, and talking with Mr. Choudhury let me know that they take performance of our mobile devices pretty seriously at Qualcomm -- at least as seriously as we do.

Of course, I asked about any weighting or bias towards Qualcomm-powered devices -- a popular theory around the Internet. The tests used in Vellamo are industry standards, and are unmodified. The reason Qualcomm devices often score better on Vellamo is because, as mentioned, it's the tool they are using in-house to improve their chips. The engineers address issues they may see in Vellamo, and that means that the end product will score well in Vellamo. There are no sneaky software edits to make Snapdragons outperform other chips. 

I'm still not convinced that software based benchmark tools are a good way to compare the way one device runs versus another. There are too many variables, and nobody worries about the raw data given and instead uses the big number at the end as an Internet manhood measuring tool. But if you want to see how flashing different ROMs or making other software edits affects the phone or tablet in your hands, Vellamo is a pretty damn good way to do it. It's free in Google Play, grab it from the link above ad check out the product video after the break.

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2 years ago

Roku Mobile app now streams content from Android devices

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Roku has just updated the remote control app for their TV set-top box so you can also play content from your Android device on the big screen. This includes pictures and videos, as well as the usual access to web-based streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, Crackle, and others. You can also launch into channels over voice with this new update, and name multiple Roku boxes whatever you like. A nice little perk of this update is that the app is now available in Canada, the U.K., and Ireland. 

Roku's mobile app first launched on Android in March, but at that point it was pretty much strictly about controlling your Roku over Wi-Fi with simple stuff like volume and playback control, but this update seems to add a fair bit more functionality. 

Any Roku owners in the house? Digging the experience compared to, say, Google TV? 

Source: Roku

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2 years ago

Facebook Messenger app updated with texting support*

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You read that correctly - starting today, Facebook Messenger 2.0 will support sending text messages. However, that asterisk in the title denotes that there's a catch. Initially, only the HTC EVO 3D, HTC One X, LG Optimus Black, LG Optimus Hub, Samsung Galaxy Ace, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy Y will support texting from the app. Facebook promises that more devices will be supported over the next few weeks.

Besides redesigning your messages inbox look like a SMS app, Facebook Messenger lets you swipe your finger to the left anywhere in the app to see who's available, and from there you can send a message. You can also put the friends you message most to the top through Favorites so they’re easily accessible.

Along with the updates coming to Facebook Messenger, the main Facebook app is getting an update today as well. It will receive the same SMS-style look for your messages and there will be an icon in the upper-right of your News Feed that shows who's available to chat. In addition, Facebook says that the new app has been made more secure and they've ironed out some bugs with push notifications and multi-photo uploads.

Source: Facebook

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2 years ago

SoundCloud for Android updated with fresh editing tools

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The SoundCloud app for Android now includes clipping, recording pause, and fade-in/fade-out editing options. Right now, the app is still more about flipping through the most recently-posted tunes, but these are certainly welcome tools for those looking to do some light editing before posting anything from the field. There are a few features that are coming to the iOS version that aren't included, like Private Listening, which allows users to use the phone earpiece instead of the loudspeaker. 

SoundCloud, as you might know, is a a social network for sharing all sorts of audio, including (but not limited to) music, podcasts, and sound effects. The timeline system uis really cool, in that it allows users to leave comments at specific points throughout a track. 

While smartphones aren't really widely-used for Serious Business when it comes to video production, it's much easier to imagine them finding a home among those recording audio. With the right microphone and apps like SoundCloud, it's pretty easy to get time-sensitive content out into the wild. 

Audiophiles, how do you use SoundCloud? Do you do a lot of editing on your Android devices? Which apps do you use?

Source: SoundCloud

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2 years ago

The Bard's Tale brings medieval debauchery to Android

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The Bard's Tale has found its way to Android today, and is available in Google Play and soon in the NVIDIA Tegra Zone for  $5.99. 

The action RPG provides 20 to 30 hours of gameplay, which drags a nameless rogue to unwillingly defend mankind against nefarious evils. He has a hard time getting there, but thanks to the occasional incentives of coin and cleavage, plus back-up from creatures summoned through song, he seems to get by. 

If you're sitting on the fence about this one, we're working on a review which will be up real soon. From what I've played so far, the dialog is hilarious and sells the game pretty much on its own. Anybody play the original game on PC or console? How about the old Interplay version from 1985 (which, by the way, is bundled with the game)? 

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2 years ago

Official Dick's Sporting Goods app comes to Android

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An official Dick's Sporting Goods app has hit the Google Play Store. Dick's Sporting Goods is the largest U.S. sporting retailer, so it's great to see an app finally released. I know that when I have sports clothes to buy, I seek out a Dick's Sporting Goods, so I'm happy to be able to shop right from my Android device.

The app is well designed and offers a lot of functionality. If you shop at Dick's quite a bit, by now you're familiar with the ScoreCard, which is their rewards program. With the app, you can manage your rewards and track the points that you've accumulated. You can also scan your area for the nearest store to you, shop right from the app and view the weekly ad. You can also scan items to see what others are saying about them.

It's been a long time coming, but a Dick's Sporting Goods official app is finally available. The app is well designed too, so if you shop for sports gear often, definitely check out this app. 

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2 years ago

Ice Cream Sandwich update coming to some Xperia Ion users on AT&T

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Showing up quickly after the international Xperia Ion started to receive an Ice Cream Sandwich update, the AT&T model of the same phone has started to show up in SuS -- Sony's PC companion software -- for some users over in the XDA forums. The AT&T model, LT28AT, is being pushed up to software build 6.1.c.1.105 which brings all of the features and visual cues associated with ICS. We won't know for sure what other fixes or changes are included in this update until AT&T spills the beans officially.

We'll see if the update starts to roll out to more users in the next couple days, and hopefully it'll start to come out over OTA rather than relying on Sony's PC software. Check your own device and let us know in the comments if you're seeing the update.

Source: XDA Forums; Thanks Terry!

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2 years ago

Sony opening the PlayStation Mobile store on October 3.

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First unveiled back at E3, we now have more information on just when Sony's new PlayStation Mobile store will be coming to market. Sony has given a firm release date of October 3, and the store will be initially available in Japan, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Australia. More countries are set to follow at a later time. 

We're not just going to see re-hashed PSOne content in the PlayStation Mobile store either. Instead we're promised "PlayStation like content" with 30 all new titles available at launch, created by third-party developers and Sony alike. 

Additionally two further OEM's were added to the PlayStation Certfified list -- Fujitsu and Sharp. While neither of these two companies are particularly well known in the western world for their Android devices, both have good presence in Japan. Both join the likes of HTC, ASUS and Wikipad in the ranks of PlayStation Certified devices. 

For developers, the PlayStation Mobile SDK will become available across 11 different countries, starting in November. You can find the full press release after the break. 

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2 years ago

Opera Mini for Android updated with new Smart Page

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Opera Mini 7.5 has been released, which is the first significant update to the browser since it launched over the spring. Opera Mini now has something called a Smart Page, which provides a broad overview of what's going on online, and includes separate tabs for social, news, and suggested links. 

As always, Opera Mini compresses your web viewing so it zips along much more speedily than it would if being processed locally. That's the theory, anyway. Opera's been doing this kind of thing for a long time, and have become pretty good at it. There are some other fancier features, like Link, which syncs up history, bookmarks, and notes from your browsing with the desktop (though that means you've got to be using Opera on your computer too). 

Which mobile browser do you use? Is the stock Android browser good enough, or is there something in particular that third parties that you can't get elsewhere? Anyone interested in giving this one a shot?

Source: Opera

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2 years ago

Facebook testing automatic photo uploads via Android app

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Facebook appears to be jumping on the automatic uploading of pictures bandwagon, rolling out a feature to select users that lets all pictures they take get uploaded to a private photo album in their account. Similarly to the way the Dropbox and Google+ apps operate, photos will be uploaded in the background and then managed at the user's discretion later. Facebook officially points out that they're rolling the feature out to a very small set of users -- which is customary for new Facebook features -- but considering there is already a help page for the feature, we'll bet that it will be coming to more users soon.

The other services do this feature well, but for those of you who prefer Facebook it's good to see some feature parity coming even as Facebook moves towards making a native Android app.

Source: The Verge, Facebook Help

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2 years ago

Rhapsody app updated with ability to download tracks, albums

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Popular music service Rhapsody just released an update to its Android app in the Google Play Store, version 3.0.1, bringing the ability for subscribers to download individual tracks or complete albums. This is a welcome addition for the data conscious among us, letting users download some choice tracks before leaving the house and not relying on streaming 100% of the time. Especially if you find yourself re-listening to the same few albums, it really makes sense to download those locally. Additionally, the app lets you choose where you'd like to put those downloaded songs, whether on internal storage on an SDcard if you're short on space.

The Rhapsody app can be found at the link above in the Google Play Store.

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2 years ago

Google Maps updated with synchronized search history

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The latest version of Google Maps has just been pushed out in the Google Play Store, and offers a large bit of functionality to the app. Now when you are using Google Maps on your computer, all of your searches for maps and directions will be synced between that device and your phone or tablet -- provided you're signed into your Google Account and have your web history enabled, of course. For example, after you look up a restaurant listing on your computer, as soon as you launch Google Maps on your phone, your search results will be pre-populated with the result you chose on the computer previously. Also new is the ability to go back through your past searches and completed navigation directions through the "My Places" menu. Additionally, if you choose to enter pre-defined addresses for your home and work and tie them to your Google Account, simply typing "home" or "work" into the directions field of the Google Maps app will give you directions to each place.

It's the little bits of integration like this that make Google Maps the premier example of an integrated mapping experience. If you haven't yet, go grab the update in the Google Play Store at the link above.

Source: Google Maps Blog

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2 years ago

Ice Cream Sandwich update coming to some Xperia Ion users on AT&T

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Showing up quickly after the international Xperia Ion started to receive an Ice Cream Sandwich update, the AT&T model of the same phone has started to show up in SuS -- Sony's PC companion software -- for some users over in the XDA forums. The AT&T model, LT28AT, is being pushed up to software build 6.1.c.1.105 which brings all of the features and visual cues associated with ICS. If you'll remember back to IFA in Berlin, our own Alex Dobie went hands on with a pre-release build of ICS on the Ion, so that should give you a pretty good look at what to expect. We won't know for sure what other fixes or changes are included in this update until AT&T spills the beans officially.

We'll see if the update starts to roll out to more users in the next couple days, and hopefully it'll start to come out over OTA rather than relying on Sony's PC software. Check your own device and let us know in the comments if you're seeing the update.

Source: XDA Forums; Thanks Terry!

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