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2 years ago

Editorial: Carrier IQ -- the 'evil' we agree to and hate that we did it

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Seems like every time you turn around you'll see corporations using sneaky tricks to gain a competitive advantage over a different, yet equally sneaky corporation.  That's usually how money is made by the people who are best at making lots of it -- at the expense of others.  The cell phone industry is no different, even though we wish it were.  Yes, I'm talking about Carrier IQ, and it's my turn to bitch.

Carrier IQ sells a stock client for BlackBerry, Symbian, and Android.  There's strong evidence that  they also make client software for other smartphone platforms, and even semi-smartphone OS's like Bada or BREW.  But they're only making it easy to get the same type of data your carrier has been collecting about you since the minute you turned your cell phone on.  If they're collecting it in an insecure manner, which has happened, that's bad on them, and they need to fix it -- pronto. But they're not doing it on their own. They're doing it at the behest of the manufacturer and the carrier, who uses the data to determine how to make changes that get you to spend more money when they offer you the latest shiny.  If 72 percent of the people use a certain feature, you can bet your last dollar that more work goes into making that feature "better" so it's a stronger selling point.  Carrier IQ, as a company, could care less what you do with your smartphone, when you do it, or why.  All they do is make it easier for the people you give your money to each month to see why you like your phone.  I don't work for HTC or AT&T, but I'm sure easy data collection and aggregation makes for a compelling sales pitch.

CIQ isn't doing anything it's not supposed to be doing, unless there's a software bug in play.  The software was purposefully placed there in order to track what you're doing in real time.  Apparently, it works pretty well.  Some may argue that it's a rootkit, or a flaw of some sort, but to the people using the product -- again, the carrier and manufacturer -- it's a feature, one that they pay money to include.  Remember, you are not HTC's (or Samsung, or LG, or RIM, etc.) customer -- companies like Verizon and Sprint are, and all parties find the data that's collected pretty damn useful, so they aren't likely to stop collecting it.

It could be argued that you don't have a choice in the matter. You bought the phone. And while there might be (and usually is -- see the picture above from a CIQ enabled HTC phone) some vague reference to the phone collecting data about how you use it, you likely skipped over that section, and it's not all that up-front about what's being collected or how it's being done. But on the other hand, that's probably true about 90 percent of what your phone's doing at any given time.  It works exactly how it's supposed to work.  Getting mad about it after the fact isn't very productive, and isn't going to solve the problem any time soon.

Vote with your wallet.  You have the option to say no to this sort of data collection software, and that's done by not buying phones that use it.  Every major carrier in the world now carries one of those.

Yes, I think Carrier IQ is a bad thing, done by unscrupulous people so they have more pennies to count.  But all the hate towards the company that writes and sells the software is misguided.  They are only filling a need, and if they stop someone else will step up to replace them.  Enough words have been written about it, yet the solution for Android fans only needs three:

Buy a Nexus.

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2 years ago

Time Warner Cable app for Honeycomb tablets now available in the Android Market

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Time Warner Cable has announced that its TWC app for Honeycomb tablets is now available in the Android Market.  Compatible with any set-top box or DVR running the Time Warner "Navigator" program guide, the app doesn't allow live streaming of television shows but it has some pretty cool features.  You can see seven days of TV listings, control and program your DVR through the app, search TV listings by title or episode name, and even use your tablet as a remote control for supported cable boxes and DVR's. 

TWC says the app has been "certified" to run as intended on the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, but should work just fine with any tablet running Android 3.1 or higher.  It's free in the Market, and you can find the download link after the break.

Source: TW Cable untangled, via BusinessWire

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2 years ago

Slacker Radio application receives update, now compatible with Ford SYNC

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Are you a Ford owner who just so happens to love Slacker Radio on your Android powered device? Well, good news for you as Slacker Radio has just released an update to their Android application which now allows for syncing with Ford vehicles such as the Fiesta, Mustang, Fusion and several others. Gone are the days of fumbling around trying to switch songs on your device while driving, now simply talk to skip songs, change stations and many other awesome features. If you are a Slacker Radio user be sure to hit the break for download links.

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2 years ago

Adobe Flash Player 11.1 coming to the Galaxy Nexus by end of year

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Adobe's been saying this for a week or so now, and today it made it officially official in an official blog post: Flash Player 11.1 will come to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Huzzah. Look for the update in December (makes since, because November's 24 hours from being in our rear-view mirrors).

Glad to see another one last update for Flash Player (and AIR as well, which we're already seeing in the Android Market) for the Galaxy Nexus. Now if only we could get the phone in North America.

Source: Adobe; Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

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2 years ago

Google Maps goes indoors in Version 6.0

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Tired of looking lost outdoors, staring at Google Maps on your smartphone like a total tourist? Now you can have that same experience indoors with Google Maps 6.0! Google's taking maps inside, offering up floor plans at some of the largest retailers and airports in the U.S. and Japan. Also, the UI's been reworked a little bit, with a quick-selection menu up top to bounce between Maps, Places, Navigattion, Check in, Latitude, Location History and My Places.

Check out the videos after the break for a closer look, and hit the links below to see the indoor locations Google currently has mapped, and how to add your business.

Source: Google Blog; More: Indoor Maps availability; how to add floorplans

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2 years ago

Video hands-on with Cluzee: Not quite a Siri competitor

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Youtube link for mobile viewing

There are a few things a voice-recognition app needs to do well to be successful -- and must do extremely well if it wants to call itself a competitor to Apple's Siri.

  1. It needs to be easilly accessible, and launch quickly. Very quickly.
  2. It needs to actually understand what you're saying.
  3. It needs to return results quickly.

As we continue to find out, this is easier said than done. The latest victim candidate is Cluzee, which bills itself as "Your Intelligent Personal Assisant" -- and which despite some initial glowing press doesn't really stand up to simple testing.

Let's start with Point 1: You need to be able to launch a voice app like this quickly. The iPhone 4S has a leg up by allowing you to long-press the home button to launch Siri at any time. Simple, quick. With Cluzee, you need a home screen shortcut, which means having to wake and unlock the phone first. If the app's not yet in memory, it takes several seconds to launch -- an eternity for this sort of thing. It really has to be faster. (And it is, so long as Cluzee remains loaded.)

On to Point 2: Cluzee understood our tests some of the time, but not all of the time. And even in our abbreviated use, it seemed to struggle more than it should. That ties into Point 3: Returning results for local pizza locations took so long we thought the app had hung on us (force closes are not uncommon at this point). And opening applications through Cluzee took too many steps. (Us: "Open Google Maps." Cluzee: "Which application do you want me to open?" Grrrrrr.)

That's not to say Cluzee doesn't have potential -- it most certainly does, and it does a decent job at personifying itself, using the pronouns you'd expect from something like this. But let's not go calling it a Siri competitor just yet. If you want to give it a shot, we've got download links after the break.

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2 years ago

3DMark benchmarking app coming to Android

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Finnish developer Futuremark has announced that its 3DMark benchmarking software will be headed to Android phones and tablets in 2012. 3DMark has long been an important benchmarking suite for PC gamers, and as Android devices become more powerful, it should come as no surprise to see benchmark-makers attempting to get a piece of the action.

With development just now starting to ramp up, Futuremark is inviting Android device manufacturers to join its "Benchmark Development Program" in order to ensure their products are fully supported when the app eventually hits next year.

The developer's planning to implement CPU, GPU and physics processing tests in 3DMark for Android, along with online rankings, just like its current Windows offerings. Interestingly, scores generated by the Android app are also said to be "comparable" with those from the next Windows version of 3DMark, presumably giving users a way to directly compare performance between devices across the two platforms.

Clearly it's still early days, but it should be interesting to see what Futuremark comes up with over the next year. If nothing else, 3DMark on Windows has always offered a generous helping of eye candy.

Today's press release can be found in full after the jump.

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2 years ago

Victoria's Secret Android app now available

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Attention women, husbands, boyfriends and anyone who just needs to feel pretty from time to time: The Victoria's Secret app has slinked into the Android Market. The app itself isn't all that well done -- it's more of a mobile portal than something that feels like a true native app, and it requires too many taps before you get to the merchandise -- but it does give you a way to shop from your phone. You also get video previews for such things as the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show (that's on TV tonight, by the way), a look at some of the VS supermodels, a store locater and barcode scanner.

We've got screenshots (you're welcome) and download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Multiple app markets crossing streams, causing problems for some

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Now this is interesting. Seems that some of you who have purchased apps from the Amazon Appstore are starting to see conflicts with the Android Market. A couple scenarios appear to be playing out. In some instances, the Android Market sees an app that was purchased from the Amazon Appstore, knows an updated version is available, but then fails on updating because the app wasn't actually purchased from the Android Market.  While we're not exactly sure what's going on, it may be an issue where some developers use the same signing key for applications in both the Android Market and other app stores.  This could cause your phone or tablet to see the applications as identical.  That's just a hunch, and chances are Google has a better grasp of the situation than we do.

Reversing things, as TWiT's Jason Howell points out, the Amazon Appstore can see that you have an app installed and offer to unassociate it from that other market so that you can get updates and such through its services instead. How handy. But it also smells of someone standing next to your car in a parking lot, pointing out a dent you know wasn't there when you left your car, and then recommending a friend who can fix it on the cheap. There's just something offputting about it.

This could end up being an interesting push and pull, but we've got a feeling Google's got the upper hand here, being able to more easily and quickly tweak code to keep things in line. And as violent23 points out in our forums, Google's already aware of this and is on the case. Should be interesting to see how it all works out.

Source: Android Forums; More: +Jason Howell

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2 years ago

Chances are you won't be this cool with your Galaxy Nexus

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Youtube link for mobile viewing

Still. Google+ Hangouts with up to nine other people on a Galaxy Nexus are pretty damn sweet. But you still can't (yet) start a hangout from a phone, right?

Source: +Android

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