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3 years ago

Samsung reportedly developing its own mobile browser, just as it always has done


The Internet's in a bit of a tizzy this morning over reports from a Korean news that Samsung has begun development of its own WebKit-based mobile browser, to be used in future smartphones. ETNews reports that Samsung's browser will be offered as an alternative to Google Chrome on mobile. WebKit, of course, is the open-source software at the core of many mobile and desktop browsers, including Chrome, the native Android browser, and Safari. Today's report says Samsung has recruited several "WebKit professionals" in order to accelerate its browser efforts. The project is said to be based out of the Samsung Information Systems America R&D Center in Silicon Valley.

While this would be a fairly noteworthy development, it's not as big a deal as you might think. Google has been pushing Chrome as the default browser for Android for a while now, and it comes pre-loaded on upcoming phones like the RAZR M and RAZR HD, as well as Samsung's own Galaxy Camera. Samsung's already shown that it wants to foster its own ecosystem rather than relying on Google's. Competing Samsung and Google services are numerous -- Music Hub versus Play Music, Video Hub versus Play Videos and TV, Samsung Apps versus Play Store. So with Google taking the initiative to push Chrome center stage, a reaction from Samsung was only natural.

But today's news is only a natural progression of the work Samsung's been doing on its own native Android browser for the past several years. If you examine the bundled browser on a Samsung phone, you'll find it's quite far from the stock Android browser. Samsung was the first to introduce tiled rendering on Android in the Galaxy S2, and on the Galaxy S3 it offered its own unique tab control and power saving options. Other Android OEMs have done the same, so in a way they all have their own mobile browsers. And with Chrome replacing the stock browser as the default on Android handsets, we wouldn't be terribly surprised to see the likes of HTC and LG follow a similar path.

It's possible Samsung might be developing its browser from the ground up, based upon WebKit, though today's article is light on technical details like this. What we think is more likely is that we'll find Samsung's own S Browser, based upon the speedy stock Jelly Bean browser, made available alongside Chrome on future Samsung Android handsets. And really, that's not all that different from the way things work right now.

Source: ETNews, via SamMobile

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3 years ago

Google Play Books updated with new tools, highlighting and notes


Google has updated their Play Books application, bringing a new set of tools such as definitions, maps integration, translation, and text highlighting. The new feature set brings along some great options that we've seen in other popular e-book apps, as well as some that we haven't.

With today's update, users can select a named place and have a card with a Google Maps view displayed, with the option to find out more via a Google search or from Wikipedia. Similarly, when you come across a word or term you're not familiar with you can tap it for a quick definition. 

Taking things a bit further, you can also select a word or phrase and use the button in the action bar to translate it into other languages, presumably using Google's translate engine.

Last but not least, readers can now highlight sections and insert notes, which sync across the cloud to all devices running the app. 

It's great to see Google keeping their applications fresh and filled with new features, but it's even more exciting to see them moving outside the confines of the US into other countries. Google Play Books is available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Korea and Japan. Download it via the link above.

Source: Google 

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3 years ago

Netflix details their UI update for the Android application


Following reported sightings, Netflix has gone on record and detailed the UI updates that are being pushed to the Android version of the Netflix application. No download is required, everything has been done on the back end, and users should be seeing it for themselves. 

Other than looks, there's nothing else to be found within. But, looks are important. The Netflix app has always felt like a means to an end rather than an enjoyable application use. These changes looks to go someway to changing that feeling, and follows changes to the iOS offerings. A pretty sweet addition is the ability to double tap on a title and have it beginning right away. If you're a Netflix user, be sure to hit us up in the comments below and let us know your thoughts on the new mobile experience. 

Source: Netflix (YouTube)

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3 years ago

Motorola XPRT update brings Gingerbread and bugfixes


The Motorola XPRT, that BlackBerry-like keyboard phone on Sprint, has finally made its move to Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Along with bumping up to the next platform version, the update brings a decent grouping of bug fixes for the device:

  • Email User Interface fixes.
  • Contact User Interface fixes.
  • UXD fix to color backgrounds (remove red).
  • Fix the ability to use Bluetooth car kits.
  • Improve EAS GAL (Global Address List) Search.
  • Improve EAS First Sync timing.
  • Fix Forward / Reply markers to original email. (this is if you reply or forward an email from your phone, it would not display in your EAS email account.)
  • SMS fix when using () in SMS body.
  • Bluetooth toasts when syncing contacts improved.

The latest software version, 4.5.1-110-kns-46, is available now and your device should prompt you to update. If you haven't been updated yet, a quick trip to Settings > About phone > System updates should remedy that. As far as Ice Cream Sandwich goes, we think this is probably the end of the road for updates on the XPRT.

Source: Sprint Support

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3 years ago

Samsung ChatON app with voice and video chat spotted


Samsung continues to try and push its ChatON instant messaging service, and if the image seen here is to be believed they look set to push into the world of voice and video chat. Spied by on a Samsung Galaxy Camera is the as yet unreleased ChatONV. 

Very little else is known about it at this time, other than the apparent support for voice and video chat. While seen here as a separate application, presumably Samsung could integrate the services into their existing ChatON application rather than offering it separately. 

Source: SamsungMania via Sammyhub

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3 years ago

Pocket Planes sets course for Google Play


Pocket Planes, the adorable pixelated successor to Tiny Tower, found its way to Android over the weekend. Instead of building a massive self-sustaining skyscraper, players build out an airline, complete with a wide variety of aircraft, destinations, goods, and passengers to deliver. There are sets of missions that change regularly, and players that contribute deliveries to them are listed on worldwide leaderboards, as well as smaller ones in flight groups with your friends. 

I've played a fair bit of Pocket Planes on iOS, and it's a ton of fun, especially if you found that Tiny Tower lacked depth or complexity. The game is free, with the support of in-app purchases for accelerated progress on a handful of fronts. The Game maintains the charm of Tiny Tower, and puts a fresh twist on it.

Any Tiny Tower players in the house interested in giving this game a shot? Any other good business simulation games out there? The only other ones that really come to mind are Order Up!! To Go and the endless tide of Kairosoft titles like Game Dev Story.  

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3 years ago

So long, Verizon-exclusive NFL app: SiriusXM now streams NFL games


Had a pleasant surprise during Week 3 of the NFL season. (Never mind that the Steelers blew it by letting the Raiders within a half-mile of the end zone, with ol' Sea Bass on the sidelines.) SiriusXM is now streaming NFL games live online. And that means you also can listen to them on the SiriusXM Android application.

And that means I no longer need the NFL Mobile app, which only officially works on Verizon phones, to listen to games that aren't on TV. (And, yes, that means no cracked versions.)

I've never been a fan of such exclusives. Now, it doesn't matter. You will, however, need an extra app to keep up with the latest news and stats, but that's no big deal. OK, and you'll also need a subscription to SiriusXM. But kudos to to the company for getting this one done. Why didn't anyone tell me before now?

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3 years ago

Gameloft teases Modern Combat 4 at Tokyo Game Show


Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour was teased at the Tokyo Game Show by Gameloft the other day. While we might not all be particularly happy with the "I <3 iPhone" sessions where this video was aired, and the quality of the graphics and gameplay are hard to make out from this ground-floor video, it will be exciting to see how much has improved since Modern Combat 3. 

While the storyline isn't anything particularly riveting or original, games like this tend to push the outer limits of what's graphically possible on current smartphones, and I can only imagine Modern Combat 4 will continue to push the envelope.

Gameloft themselves haven't made an official unveiling through any of their channels, but we can likely expect them to make a bigger splash with their next title soon enough. Any gamers put a lot of time into Modern Combat 3? What would you like to see in the sequel?


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3 years ago

Chameleon launcher review


Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Chameleon released its widget-heavy launcher for Android tablets last week. The unified look and feel of the widgets make for a great show, and the context-based triggers for home screen launches are cool, but how easy is it to get along with most of your apps tucked away in a dock?

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3 years ago

Apps of the Week - OI File Manager, Music Volume EQ, Official XBMC Remote and more!


Another grouping of app picks that's primarily tools and productivity. We've got an EQ settings manager, file manager, remote app and a few others. There are enough dials, buttons and tabs in these apps to keep you busy for a couple weeks at least. If these aren't exactly your cup of tea, don't worry, we'll have another group of picks just 7 days from now. Either way, they're always worth a look -- you may just find something you like.

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3 years ago

Developers in India can now register to sell paid apps in Google Play


The Google Play Developers portal has received a welcome update, confirming now that developers in India can register to sell paid apps in Google Play. This is potentially huge news for two different reasons. India is one of the most populated nations on the planet, and the smartphone market in India is exploding at a tremendous rate. 

Developers having the facility to be paid for their work is a big deal too. Famously, the lack of paid app support in the UAE became the reason that Carbon will eventually be given away for free. While this nation is still omitted, the addition of India to the list that now reaches 32 is a welcome one. 

Source: Google Play Developers thanks Vishal!

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3 years ago

Motorola updates device software upgrade timeline, several ICS updates delayed


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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3 years ago

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


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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3 years ago

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


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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3 years ago

Roku Mobile app now streams content from Android devices


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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