Headlines

3 years ago

Carrier IQ unveils tool operators can use to open up about data collected from your phone

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Carrier IQ cares. Or, rather, for Carrier IQ, it's all about care. The much-maligned California analytics company has weathered the Great Privacy Scandal of 2011 and today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona announced a new product for its customers -- the operators -- to give greater transparency to consumers -- that's you and me -- regarding data being collected from your smartphones and tablets.

Let's be clear here: You are not Carrier IQ's customer. It provides network and hardware analytics capabilities to companies that sell smartphones by the millions, not folks like you and me who buy them every year or so (or, in our case, more often). That's not to say that CIQ is deaf to the recent surge in the push for privacy. Far from it. And that's not to say it hasn't learned a thing or two since everybody started to care about on-board analytics. It most certainly has.

And that brings us to today's announcement.  

Dubbed the "Customer Experience Dashboard," CIQ will begin offering -- again, to operators, not to end-users directly -- tools that the operators can then use to show their users basic fault explanations. Is your phone's battery draining? Dropping a lot of calls? Constantly rebooting? CIQ's new tools would all the operator to better explain to you what's going on with your phone, as well as with the network it's on. CIQ would essentially provide APIs to the operators, who then could build into their own websites the ability to see exactly what's going on with your phone.

It's a twofold proposition. At its core, the idea is to place some of the customer care onus back onto the customer, specifically to cut down on customer care phone calls. In other words, to help you help yourself. That, in turn, saves the operator money. It's also a great opportunity for the operator to show exactly what sort of data it's harvesting from your phone. But -- and this is a pretty big "but" -- it's up to the operator to implement any or all of this. As with Carrier IQ's current suite of products, it's completely customizable to for each operator and platform. It doesn't (and probably wouldn't) look like what you see in the picture above. Operators would be free to customize and present as much data as it sees fit, and in whatever manner it sees fit. And as of right now, it's still completely optional (and in fact will raise the cost of the CIQ platform for the operator).

For our part, we believe that would be money well spent by the operators. As much as the operators need analytics, the end-users need greater transparency. And done right (there's always a catch, right?), the operators could conceivably kill two birds with one stone here: continue to learn about the devices it supports in a real-time manner, and do so in a way that doesn't scare the hell out of its users.

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3 years ago

Opera Software announces Opera Mini Next & Opera Mobile 12

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[YouTube link for mobile viewing]

Opera Software software has been working with mobile devices for quite some time now so they're not new to the mobile web by any means. They know the web os constantly changing and evolving and adaption of new techniques for use and implementation is vital to their success. With Mobile World Congress now kicked off into full swing they've gone ahead released the final version of Opera Mobile 12 to the Android Market:

  • WebGL on Android phones, for all things 3D and web. With WebGL on mobile, it’ll be even easier to make games cross platform and to distribute them. “Opera have contributed significantly to the development of the WebGL specification and now Opera Mobile is playing a leading role in the roll-out of GPU-accelerated WebGL on Android,” said Neil Trevett, Khronos president and vice president of mobile content at NVIDIA.
  • Ragnarök, Opera's HTML5 parser support, meaning better web apps and increased compatibility with websites. More HTML5 means more advanced web functionality.
  • Support for camera use in the browser.
  • More possibilities for customizing the Speed Dial of Opera Mobile, including entering as many Speed Dial entries as you like.

In addition to the availability of Opera Mobile 12, Opera Software has also introduced support for MIPS based devices and Intel architecture. Opera has also introduced Opera Mini Next. A new version of Opera Mini that highlights social networking at the forefront. You can check out their full press release past the break, as well -- grab the download for Opera Mobile 12.

Source: Opera

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3 years ago

Official Hotmail for Android app updated, now supports Ice Cream Sandwich

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Remember the days when absolutely everyone used Hotmail for their email needs? Seems there's a lot of people who still do, but couldn't use the official Android application if they were running Ice Cream Sandwich

An update pushed out this week that addressed just that issue. However, while it now supports Ice Cream Sandwich, it definitely isn't optimised for it. 

There's also a fix for some issues on the HTC Desire, various crashes, improvements to battery life for anyone still running Android 2.1, and various improvements to calendar and meeting requests. Download links after the break. 

Thanks John!

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3 years ago

HTC and Dropbox team up to offer 25GB of storage on all Sense 4.0 devices

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Along with HTC's announcement of their One series devices, one thing that may have been overlooked while mulling the specs over was their new agreement with Dropbox. Previously, HTC was working with Dropbox to offer folks a free 5GB when using HTC devices but they've now bumped that up to 25GB free for 2-years:

Dropbox integrated with HTC Sense - HTC One gives you an easy way to save and share your photos and videos. HTC has integrated Dropbox into HTC Sense 4 enabling HTC One customers to get 25 gigabytes of free Dropbox space for two years. That’s enough to keep more than 10,000 high-quality photos. Dropbox is also integrated throughout HTC Sense 4, so it’s easy to edit, save and share your documents and other kinds of files.

We've gone through the process of explaining cloud storage services like Dropbox can be used for storing files, and now with it built-into Sense 4.0, it'll make things easier then ever.

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3 years ago

HTC brings Beats Audio to all Sense 4.0 devices

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One of HTC's major (if questionable) maneuvers of 2011 was the purchase of Beats Audio. With the reportedly $300 million deal came better earbuds for a few phones released late in the year, as well as some on-board audio enhancements.

But from a software standpoint, the Beats improvements were fairly sandboxed. HTC's apps could play with Beats, but not much else.

That chances with Sense 4.0.

The Beats software has been rearranged in the audio stack so that all applications on a Sense 4.0 smartphone can take take advantage of the feature. That means just about any application you download -- any third-party music player, any third-party video player, any game -- use the Beats Audio enhancements in an HTC device.

Will you notice an improvement in, say, Google Music? Or Pandora? Maybe. Or maybe not. But the point is that with the upcoming HTC devices that were just announced this evening, you'll have the opportunity to find out.

Headphones image via Shutterstock

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3 years ago

The official Temple Run for Android still isn't out, anything else is just malware

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A lot of excited Temple Run fans may have thought the day had finally arrived this morning. Despite having previously confirmed that an announcement would be made via their Facebook page, probably the most convincing fake of all showed up today in the Market. 

The 'developers' were shown as being Imangi Studios, the actual developers of the iOS smash hit. All seemed well, until you actually installed the app. Reports were flooding in suggesting that no levels would be available for another four days. Of course the alarm bells should at this point start ringing and anyone who had downloaded this should uninstall immediately. Imangi -- the real Imangi -- took to Twitter to try and get the word out. Thankfully the malicious app has been removed from the Market. 

To try and calm down the fever pitch that anticipation has reached for Temple Run, Imangi have offered some further information on the release -- you guessed it, on their Facebook page. Everything is a scam, until they say otherwise. They have promised to deliver at least a weeks notice prior to launching in the Market, which rules February out of the equation. The message is clear though folks, you might be excited for the game, but there are some horrible people out there who will stop at nothing to take advantage of that. However, hit the source link below to head over to the official Temple Run Facebook page. After all, that's where everything will be revealed. 

Source: Imangi (Facebook)

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3 years ago

Cloud storage apps - what are they and how do they work?

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Dropbox and Box.net have been in the news recently, updating their apps and giving away tons of free space, so it's understandable that a few of us are wondering what the heck they're all about. Sure, you know you get Gigabytes of space, and great looking apps, but what exactly do they do, and how do they work? We're about to tell you! I'll focus on Dropbox here, because that's the service we use here at AC. I'm not recommending it over any of the others, but they are all similar and we've already got all our stuff uploaded there and we're too lazy busy to switch. 

Dropbox is storage space, reserved for you, on a computer somewhere in San Francisco. Other services, like Box.net or Ubuntu One may be in different cities, but they all are in big fancy data centers where nerdy people type in the command window all day and night to keep things running smoothly. They aren't just old Windows machines sitting in a basement somewhere, they are dedicated places designed to hold lots and lots of data. They routinely make backups, and have excellent uptime -- your data is going to be there when you need it to be there. They also use things like SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and AES-256 encryption to make sure nobody can peek at your files without your login credentials. Your stuff is safe in these types of cloud storage centers. Things like file encryption and obfuscation are best left for another day, so we're not going to discuss that type of security -- just don't do anything illegal, OK?

Most of these companies offer a set amount of storage space for free, and have yearly plans for folks who need more. The amount is different from service to service, so be sure to read those terms before you sign up for one. This storage is yours, to put any files you want there, so you can get to them from any Internet connected device anywhere on Earth. You can do this at the company's website, or more importantly for this conversation, through a program on your smartphone or computer.

The program on your computer is usually set up to sync a folder with your online account. Inside this Dropbox folder are all the other folders and files you've placed in the cloud, and they stay synchronized -- change a file on your computer and it uploads the changes to your cloud account, and those changes are available from anywhere. You can also share these files or folders with other users of the same service, which means someone can make a change to a file and it will sync to their cloud account, through Dropbox, and into the shared folder on my computer. That makes collaboration pretty easy, and we share folders and files a lot here at Smartphone Experts (You should see Bla1ze's lolcat pictures!).

Things are different on our smartphones. We don't normally have tons of free space to sync everything, so it's a bit more selective. The data about each folder and file in your online account is sent to your phone when you start up the app, and you can see everything that's there without having to download it all. When you need a file, you can choose to download it to your phone's memory somewhere and access it through your phone. You can also upload files, which will then sync to your cloud account and any connected computers you may have. 

As you can see, there are all sorts of ways this could be useful. I have a folder in my Dropbox with names and phone numbers I may need in an emergency. If something happens, and I end up losing my smartphone while I'm out somewhere, I can still have access to them from any computer with a web browser. My wife likes to keep her shopping list in a shared folder, and either of us can add something to it from anywhere. Bla1ze likes to share his lolcats. I think just about anyone would find these services useful, and if you aren't using them yet you should give them a try. Links to Android apps for the three mentioned in this post are below, give one of them a shot!

Dropbox for Android | Box.net for Android | Ubuntu One for Android

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3 years ago

Third-party store uploading Android apps to BlackBerry App World without developers permission?

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The long awaited OS 2.0 update for the BlackBerry Playbook brought with it a whole host of opportunities for new apps. Now that repackaged Android applications are compatible with the PlayBook, and being accepted into BlackBerry App World, some well known names are starting to appear in the listings. 

One such name is Dolphin Browser HD. A highly respected Android replacement browser appearing on the BlackBerry Playbook. Impressive. Despite being a phone browser, Dolphin is absolutely superb on the PlayBook and many already prefer it to the stock browser. Quickly -- although not surprisingly -- it has become one of the top 25 free apps in the App World catalogue. 

Everything is rosy then yes? Well, no, not quite. The submission to App World wasn't made by MoboTap, the developers of Dolphin. The submission was made by Handster, a third party store owned by Opera. Someone else doing the work on the behalf of the developers -- a win surely? Turns out MoboTap were blissfully unaware that Handster had repackaged and submitted Dolphin to the App World for approval. Handster had already put out a statement prior to the OS 2.0 launch that they were to be uploading apps on behalf of developers. 

A spokesman for MoboTap told Engadget that; "We do not condone Handster submitting our Dolphin Browser app to BlackBerry's App World for us and are currently working to take it down and assure Handster will not submit our app for us again. We will assess developing for BlackBerry when the time is right."

Even though Dolphin is a free application in the Android Market, the question still remains over why Handster are submitting an application to BlackBerry App World without permission. A quick search finds a pretty big selection of apps that Handster have submitted -- albeit a lot of them aren't that good -- including paid applications. 

In any case, it seems that MoboTap are doing everything they can to remove Dolphin Browser HD from App World. Questions have been raised, but more importantly we're hoping that there aren't any Android developers being taken advantage of. 

Source: Engadget

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3 years ago

AC picks: Apps from the world of rock music

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Everyone likes different music, so some of you out there probably won't find anything contained within that will whet your appetite. Personally, I love rock music. If there's guitars involved there's a good chance i'll give it a try. It's a pretty diverse category with so much different -- and killer -- music to offer. 

As more and more people get smartphones, we're starting to see musicians use apps as a new way to reach their fans. Everyone (well nearly everyone) uses Facebook, Twitter, Google+ to keep up with their idols. But what about an app? Like all apps the offerings vary in quality, but a lot offer some really nice features for fans to take advantage of. 

What we don't seem to have is just an RSS reader with a smattering of pictures and tour dates. Video catalogues, music clips, even notifications are all available from some of the biggest and best in the world of rock. We've picked out a selection of apps to get you started which you'll find linked below. 

If there's any that you guys feel deserve a mention, shout out in the comments and we'll build the list up. Lets rock!

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3 years ago

Chrome extension allows for downloading of Android apps from Market to desktop

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For those who know their way around the insides of an Android smartphone, pulling the apps off the device in their .apk form is a pretty trivial exercise. (We showed you how to do it many moons ago.) Now, thanks to a clever developer and a Chrome extension, you can download Android apps to your computer straight from the Android Market -- no smartphone acting as a middle man.

The trick is to install redphx's APK Downloader Chrome extension, turn off SSL error notifications, and then set a cookie for your Android Market e-mail and device ID. (Which means you need to be giving that sort of info up to the dev's cookie.) From there, you go to an App in the Android Market, hit the icon that now appears in the Omnibar, and download away. We've tested it out, and things work as advertised.

All that said, we've got no idea how Google's going to feel about this, but we imagine the Android Market doesn't have this sort of download capability in the first place.

We've got some demo video after the break if you want to see what you're getting into.

Source: code kiếm cơm blogThanks, redphx!

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3 years ago

Dropbox v2.1 now available in the Android Market, automatically upload photos and videos using WiFi

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Just in case you skipped out on testing the recent experimental builds of Dropbox from their users forums, you can now head on over to the Android Market and grab the official release. As noted in the change log, they've addressed some bugs from the beta and added some new features as well:

  • Allows you to automatically uploads photos and videos in the background using Wi-Fi or data plan
  • Up to 3 GB of free space for uploading photos automatically (in 500 MB increments)
  • Upload files of any size
  • Various performance improvements & bug fixes
  • We now store your Dropbox credentials in Android’s secure Account Manager. This means Dropbox can’t be installed on your SD Card and requires the “Your Accounts” permissions. These permissions only allows us to access accounts we create.

If you're a Dropbox user and haven't grabbed the latest release, now is a good time to do so and take advantage of that free space they're offering. Download link is past that for you all.

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3 years ago

Facebook users spreading Android malware, here's how to stay safe

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Youtube link for mobile viewing

The Sophos security website has reported a new bit of Android malware, and this time it's being spread on Facebook. If you watch the video above, you'll see how an unknown person on Facebook send you a link, which you dutifully click (because we all click random Facebook links from people we don't know, right?) and it downloads a malware ridden apk file to your phone. It's a trick folks have to use now that Google has a Bouncer at large in the Market.

Unfortunately, the video stops there and leads the viewer to believe that it's another cause for panic and that we need to be up in arms over this. The reality is far different, and this is a classic case of sensationalism. What happens after the part where the video ends is really the important bit.

After the file downloads, you'll have to choose to install it. This also depends on you having disabled the security feature that prevents third party apps from being installed, and failing to read the permission warning that pops up when you verify that you want to install this random file. Of course, across the Internet you'll probably not hear this part, because Android and malware in the same title generates hits. We've seen it before. 

So how do you stay safe? It's easy:

  • Don't interact with random people on Facebook
  • Don't click random URLs from random people
  • Don't install random apps that you didn't download

With Android, you get the freedom to install apps from anywhere, not just an official store where the folks that make the OS get 30 percent. You also get notified of what every app can do, and are forced to accept those terms. With that in mind, use just a little bit of common sense and you'll be fine.

Source: Sophos

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3 years ago

BlackBerry users get a Google+ app, here's how it stacks up against the Android version

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[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

With the Google+ user base growing daily, we suppose it had to happen eventually. Yes, BlackBerry users now have themselves a Google+ app to make use of. It's not an official app mind you, it's one that was created by a company called Smarter Apps but it does indeed work for Google+ access.

Some features are still missing, most notably hangouts and messenger but the basics are there. Needless to say, the Android version is still better no matter how you swing it. Check out the video above to see the BlackBerry and Android version go head-to-head and don't forget to follow Android Central on Google+.

Source: CrackBerry

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3 years ago

Chrome for Android gets an update, appears to break support for some custom ROMs

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Chrome Beta for Android has received a mystery update over in the Android Market, updating the mobile version of Google's browser to version 0.16. There's nothing in the changelog to indicate what's new in this version, but we've noticed no new features, so we can assume it's just the usual mix of bug fixes and performance tweaks.

However, if you're using CyanogenMod 9, or another ICS-based custom ROM, you may want to hold off updating, as there are reports in the Market comments section of this new version breaking things for those on using custom firmware. If you're running a custom ROM and still want to update, we recommend backing up your current version of Chrome before proceeding. Hopefully Google will be able to issue a fix for those affected before too long.

We've got Market links for you after the break.

Thanks, edhe!

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3 years ago

Late-night poll: Do you use a third party launcher?

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One of the best things about Android is that the OS allows us to customize things that are built deep into the system. Things like keyboards, or the messaging application, or the home launcher. Using applications from the market, it's easy to make our Android phones look and feel like our Android phones. Before we got a little taste of Ice Cream Sandwich, a custom home launcher was a must for many a power user. But did that change with the stock Android launcher? It's the most customizable stock launcher yet, and for many the new folder system and launcher bar are just what the doctor ordered. For others, they need even more. And what about third party vendors, and their versions of Android? The TouchWiz launcher is pretty customizable, and the Sense launcher looks beautiful. Even Blur has come a long way and we don't have a lot bad to say about it any longer.

There's plenty of pros and cons either way, so which camp do you fall in? Let us know in tonight's poll.

Do you use a custom third party launcher?

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