Headlines

2 years ago

David Beckham and the Galaxy Note get official

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In case you missed the leaked version last week.

(And I could totally do that.)

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2 years ago

Carphone Warehouse to offer early collection for Galaxy S III pre-orders

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When Samsung announced the early launch for the Galaxy S III at its own store in London, it also said it'd allow other retailers to open an hour later. Today we have confirmation that at least one major UK retail chain plans to do just that -- Carphone Warehouse sends word that it'll offer collection for pre-order customers in "select stores," at 7pm next Tuesday, May 29. No word on which stores will be running the promotion, so you'll probably want to call in and ask to avoid disappointment.

Carphone also hailed the Galaxy S III as the "fastest-selling pre-order of 2012," which if nothing else shows that it's outpacing HTC's One series in the pre-order stakes. The retailer adds that over 800 of its stores will stock the S III from its UK official launch date of May 30.

Are you picking up a launch day Galaxy S III? Planning on collecting yours the day before everyone else? Let us know in the comments! (Also check out our exhaustive launch day coverage)

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2 years ago

Three UK launches Samsung Galaxy Ace 2

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Three UK continues its barrage of mid-level Android handsets with today's launch of the Galaxy Ace 2 from Samsung. The Ace 2 is, unsurprisingly, the successor to last year's Galaxy Ace, which saw success among entry-level and mid-range buyers in Europe. The new version rocks a 3.8-inch WVGA display, an 800MHz dual-core CPU, a 5MP camera and TouchWiz'd Android 2.3 Gingerbread. So aside from a few differences with screen size and display tech, it's a similar deal to the Galaxy S Advance, which we recently reviewed.

Three's offering the Galaxy Ace 2 for £229.99 SIM-free, or for free on two-year contracts starting at £22 per month. Cheaper monthly plans, which include an up-front fee, start at £15 per month.

More: Three UK

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2 years ago

Late-night poll: Texting and driving

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This one comes from Cory, who happens to be shopping for new car insurance. While deciding how much coverage he should buy, he brought up the question of other folks texting and driving. He is worried just how many people still do it, even though everyone knows they shouldn't, it's illegal damn near everywhere, and it's a good way to cause some serious harm to yourself or others. We're hoping that very few of you guys will say yes in tonight's poll -- we'll all be safer that way and Cory can save a little money.

Do you ever text and drive?

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2 years ago

Netflix for Android updated, brings 'enhanced playback experience' and a secondary install method if needed

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The Netflix Android client has seen what appears to be a relatively minor update this evening, promising an enhanced playback experience on both phones and tablets, stability improvements, and general bug fixes. Sound like a typical maintenance release. But what caught my eye was this, from the Google Play store change log:

If you are having problems updating your application, you can update your device manually by opening your mobile browser and going to this URL: http://tinyurl.com/nflx180
Once the application is downloaded please tap on it and follow the instructions to install this application. In some cases you may have to allow applications from untrusted sources to be installed.

Having had a device with "issues" when trying to update this particular app from the Play store once or twice, this is a really nice option. No need to try some potentially janky (or worse) version found in a forum, Netflix is offering up an alternative of their own. Hopefully, nobody needs it -- but it's great that it's there. 

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2 years ago

Amazon Appstore updated, beta version of 'Test Drive' comes to some

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Amazon has pushed out an update to their Appstore, bringing it to version 2.6.53. Besides the always-present bug fixes and stability enhancements, this time around there's a slick new feature for a select few -- The Test Drive feature. Much like the Test Drive that's always been available on Amazon's web site, this give you a chance to see what an app looks like and how it operates when installed. 

Without access to the methods Amazon is using to pull this one off, we're going to have to guess it's simulated on a server somewhere and not actually running on your device. But it's still pretty damn cool. Grab your update from Amazon and have a look. If you're lucky enough to get the Test Drive feature, sing out in the comments and let us mere mortals know how it works!

Thanks everyone who sent this in!

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2 years ago

Android Central weekly photo contest: Street scenes

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The best part about having a good camera on your phone is that you'll always have a way to snap pictures in your pocket. Our phone cameras will never be a good as expensive photo equipment, but who really carriers their DSLR camera around their neck everywhere they go? Thinking along those lines, this week's photo contest should be fun. Show us a street scene -- that is, things you find along the sidewalks and streets around you. Often times the best pictures are ones that weren't staged.

The prize this week is the winners choice of a case from ShopAndroid.com, where we have a ton of them to choose from. The rules, as always:

  • Use an Android device to take a picture. Any Android device
  • Submit the picture in the forum thread we have set up for this week, so everyone can see your handiwork. E-mail was swamping us, and not everyone got to see all the entries. This way, we get to see them all. We like seeing it all.
  • Only submit one. We're going to check, and we'll know if you try to game the system.
  • Be sure to tell what device you used, and any effects or filters used on the photo. We can learn from these as well as have fun.
  • Get your picture in by Friday midnight (your local time). We'll pick the winner and the runners-up and throw them on the blog Sunday afternoon.

So keep an eye out while your heading off to work, or out to play, snap a picture and enter to win!

Enter the weekly photo contest

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2 years ago

HTC EVO 4G LTE officially cleared to ship

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Our long national nightmare is over, ladies and gentlemen. The HTC EVO 4G LTE has cleared its International Trade Commission review at customs, which caused the phone to miss its launch date last Friday, and is headed to Sprint stores nationwide.

The delay stemmed from the ITC inspecting the phones to ensure that they don't infringe on a patent owned by Apple specifically, one that opens up a menu when you tap on a linked phone number. For its part, HTC in December had said that the patent covered "a small UI experience" and that it already had a workaround at that time. And sure enough, the EVO 4G LTE (and the AT&T HTC One X) that we've got here have changed things up a little bit. (Tapping on a linked phone number goes straight to the dialer instead of offering menu options.)

Preorders will arrive "on or around" May 24, Sprint said, and you should receive an e-mail with shipping confirmation once your phone is on the way.

Source: Sprint; more: HTC EVO 4G LTE forums

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2 years ago

Verizon confirms some phones will get updated for global use

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Verizon this afternoon confirmed that four of its CDMA Android smartphones will receive software updates that allow them to connect to GSM networks outside the United States. The phones are the HTC Rezound, the Motorola Droid RAZR and RAZR MAXX, and the Motorola Droid 4. All four of the phones phones are 4G LTE capable and thus have SIM cards, which generally is a hallmark of a GSM device.

Said Verizon:

Customers will see a notification on their device when the software update is available for their device. After the software update, customers will be able to take their smartphone overseas and use voice service in more than 220 countries and receive data in more than 205 countries.

Of course, you'll need to add some global service to your Verizon plan. Or, and this is the really good news -- Verizon tells us the phones already are SIM unlocked, so you should be able to use a prepaid SIM once you're in-country. If you don't travel outside the U.S., well, you can just go about your domestic business.

More: Verizonwireless.com/global

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2 years ago

Android A to Z: What is the AOSP?

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AOSP is a term you'll see used a lot -- here, as well as at other Android-centric sites on the Internet. I'll admit I'm guilty of using it and just expecting everyone to know what I'm talking about, and I shouldn't. To rectify that, at least a little bit, I'll try to explain what the AOSP is now so we're all on the same page.

For some of us -- the nerdly types who build software -- the full name tells us what we need to know. AOSP stands for Android Open Source Project. The AOSP was designed and written by folks who had a vision that the world needed an open-source platform that exists for developers to easily build mobile applications. It wasn't designed to beat any other platform in market share, or to fight for user freedom from tyrannical CEOs -- it exists as a delivery mechanism for mobile apps -- like Google's mobile apps, or any of the 400,000+ in the Google Play store. Luckily, Google realized that using open-source software would ensure that this operating system/mobile application content delivery system is available for all, for free. And by choosing the licensing they did, it's also attractive to device manufacturers who can use it as a base to build their own mobile OS. 

The premise plays out rather nicely. Google writes and maintains a tree of all the Android source code -- the AOSP. It's made available for everyone (you, me, manufacturers you've never heard of and not just big players like Samsung or HTC) to download, modify, and take ownership of. This means the folks at CyanogenMod can add cool stuff like audio profiles. It also means folks like HTC can change multitasking in ways that many of us don't like. You can't have one without having the other. The big players then use their modified version of this source to build their own operating system. Some, like Amazon, radically changed everything without a care to use Google's official applications and keep their device in compliance with Android guidelines. Some, like HTC radically changed everything yet followed the Android Compatibility Program (ACP) so they could include Google's core application suite -- including the Google Play store. Some, like the folks at CyanogenMod, enhance the pure AOSP code with additions but don't change the overall look and feel. Again -- that's how this open-source thing works. You can't have it without allowing folks to change it as they see fit, for better or worse.

Any of us can download and build the AOSP. We can even stay compliant with the ACP and contact Google about including their applications. Yes, any of us could build our own device using the AOSP code in our garage or basement with Google's full blessing. That's the beauty of the AOSP, and we wouldn't want it any other way. 

More: Android Open Source Project;  Android Compatibility Program
Check out the complete Android Dictionary

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2 years ago

Samsung and O2 unveil Galaxy Note and Galaxy Y Olympic editions

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Samsung is a big Olympic sponsor, and it's been ramping up its promotional efforts considerably in the lead up to this summer's London games. In addition to bringing to market the "official phone of the Olympics" in the form of the Galaxy S III, Samsung's also releasing special Olympic editions of the Galaxy Note and Galaxy Y smartphones through British network O2. The devices include limited edition back covers sporting either the Team GB lion logo, or the union jack. And owners will also get the chance to win a "once in a lifetime Team Samsung experience," including --

  • a pair of tickets to an Olympics Games Event
  • a pair of tickets to the Team GB training camp in Loughborough on 6 July 2012
  • a pair of tickets to the Team GB celebration event taking place in London

In addition, for each device sold, Samsung says it'll donate £1 (~$1.60) to "Team GB athletes of the future," meaning you can pick up a shiny new toy for yourself and enjoy a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

More: Samsung

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2 years ago

HTC Amaze 4G getting Ice Cream Sandwich update starting today

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As it was foretold, the T-Mobile HTC Amaze 4G has begun getting its Ice Cream Sandwich update. The push to Android 4.0 isn't going to hit everyone at the same time, so don't fret if you don't get it right this second.

Here's the full changelog:

  • Android version 4.0.3 / Software version 2.14.531.3710RD
  • Approved 5/21/2012


New Features

  • Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • Sense 3.6
  • System bar enhancements to easily view recent apps.
  • Re-sizeable widgets
  • Lock screen actions including pull down notifications and adjust volume while device is locked.
  • Data usage controls.
  • Face Unlock
  • Home screen folders
  • Improved battery life


Improvements

  • Improved text input and spell checking
  • Improved menu structure


Prerequisites

  • OTA or Manual update
  • Device is running Android version 2.3.4 / Software version 1.43.531.3, 1.36.531.5, or 1.36.531.6
  • Device software is not rooted
  • More than 50% battery life
  • Data or Wi-Fi connection

Source: T-Mobile; more: Amaze 4G forums

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2 years ago

Samsung Galaxy S Advance review (Three UK)

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Pick a screen size, a set of specs and a price point, and chances are Samsung has an Android smartphone that fits the bill. As the leading Android manufacturer, Samsung has a ridiculous number of phones on the market, and that’s particularly true around the mid-range price point. The latest of these is the Galaxy S Advance, which recently launched on Three UK. Best described as a shrunk-down Galaxy S II, the Advance incorporates many of the features of that phone at a more wallet-friendly price.

We often concentrate on the latest and greatest high-end smartphones here at AC, but there’s certainly a place for lean, mean smartphones with a fine balance between cost and performance. To that end we’ve spent the past couple of weeks getting to know the Galaxy S Advance, and you’ll find our thoughts in full after the break.

 


A powerful smartphone with good build quality, full-featured software and a surprisingly good camera. TouchWiz 4 holds up pretty well in the current Android ecosystem.


A little bloatware from Three. Running Gingerbread out of the box with no clue as to when ICS will arrive.


For those not interested in the super-high end of the smartphone spectrum, the Samsung Galaxy S Advance could represent a near-perfect balance. To the average user, there’s really not much to separate this thing from its big brother, the Galaxy S II. And that makes it a mid-range phone that’s definitely worth considering.

Inside this review

More info

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2 years ago

Samsung locks down S Voice following app leak

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The application file for Samsung's "S Voice" Siri clone interactive voice assistant agent was leaked over the weekend, leading to hundreds of less scrupulous users picking up the apk and installing it directly on their phones. This lead to owners of any Ice Cream Sandwich device being able to use the service intended only for owners of Samsung's next flagship phone, the Galaxy S III.

However, today it seems the pre-release fun is at an end, as Samsung appears to have locked down S Voice and prevented the leaked APK from connecting to its servers. This means any query sent to to S Voice on a non-Galaxy S III device will return a "network error" message, as you'll see above. (Funnily enough, Apple did the exact same thing when Siri was initially hacked to run on the iPhone 4, so no huge surprises there.)

So that's that. If you want to publicly embarrass yourself by shouting "Hi Galaxy" into your palm, you'll have to wait until the official launch of the Galaxy S III, which takes place in London next Tuesday, May 29.

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2 years ago

Three UK launches Sony Xperia U

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Three UK is the first British network to announce the availability of the Xperia U, the latest entry-level offering from Sony. The Xperia U sports a 1GHz dual-core CPU, a 3.5-inch FWVGA display and interchangeable colored bottom sections (for some reason.) Despite the focus on gimmicky features like swappable bottoms (and the fact that's still running Android 2.3 Gingerbread), the Xperia U looks like a solid entry-level device, based on our first impressions back at MWC.

Three's SIM-free price of £169.99 for the Xperia U matches that of the soon-to-be-released HTC Desire C, a much lower-specced device. The network also offers the Xperia U for free on 24-month contracts starting at £20 per month. Or if you don't mind an up-front charge, you can grab the phone on a £15 per month tariff with a £69 initial fee.

More info over at the source link, if you're tempted. Rival networks O2, T-Mobile UK and Orange plan to launch the Xperia U themselves later this month.

Source: Three UK

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