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3 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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3 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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3 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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3 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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3 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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3 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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3 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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3 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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3 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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3 years ago

HTC says some products have passed U.S. Customs review (updated)

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In a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday, HTC stated that "Some of our products have passed the review and have been delivered to our telecoms operators’ clients in the US".  Referring to the import ban set in play by the ITC after an unsuccessful legal battle with Apple, the HTC One X and upcoming HTC EVO 4G LTE were barred from entering the country. 

The statement made to the TWSE is certainly vague, and we not sure exactly how to interpret "some". I've shot off an email to HTC for clarification, and I imagine everyone else has as well, so we'll probably see a statement of some sort soon. In the meantime, some of you can rest easy knowing that some of your phones are on the way to the shelves.

Update: We got a weekend update directly from HTC, which reads thusly:

"Each imported HTC model must be reviewed by Customs and will be released once Customs officials have completed the inspection.  Some models have gone through inspection and been released to our carrier customers.  We don't have the status of each specific device model at this time, but we are working closely with Customs. We remain confident that this issue will be resolved soon."

Source: Taipei Times; via icebike

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3 years ago

Motorola: If ICS won't make our device better, we won't update to it

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Motorola yesterday updated its device update schedule, with the crux being that we'll finally start to see some phones get Ice Cream Sandwich in the next month or so. Specifically, that's the Droid RAZR/MAXX, with the Atrix, Atrix 2, Droid 4 and Xyboards getting it in Q3.

Have a Droid 3 or Droid X2? Sorry, you're out of luck. And today Motorola expanded on why, saying:

"... obviously we want the new release to improve our devices. If we determine that can’t be done—well then, we’re not able to upgrade that particular device."

Interesting choice of words. What it probably means is that Moto determined that the cost in time and effort to update those older phones to ICS outweighs the benefit of Ice Cream Sandwich, which indeed sucks given how young those phones are. But that's the crapshoot we all enter into these days, unfortunately.

Good luck convincing folks that Ice Cream Sandwich won't improve their phones, Moto.

You can get the full statement at the source link below.

Source: Motorola

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3 years ago

Customers don't want shared data plans says T-Mobile

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With all the recent news about forcing customers to use shared data plans we saw this week, T-Mobile wanted to let everyone know their stance on the situation. Posting on the company's Issues and Insights blog, Andrew Sherrard, senior vice president of marketing, says "T-Mobile believes that consumers today do not want a ‘one size fits all’ approach to shared family data plans, nor would they benefit from that model". ​Reading through the sentiment in the comments on the recent Verizon news, and one would have to assume he is right.

Reading and watching David poke at Goliath is fun (in some twisted kind of blogger way) but there's one big variable still not defined -- how much shared data, and how much will it cost. With a reasonably high cap, at a reasonably low price, I can see the benefit in a shared data poll across multiple devices. Saying goodbye to a  5GB plan for your phone, your tablet, and your data card or hotspot, and hello to a shared 10 GB plan at half the cost is an offer many would jump on, even if the cost per kilobyte increases.  

One thing Sherrard is saying that I think most would agree with is that "Customers who pay more, should get more". There are many ways for Verizon (and AT&T, who surely won't be far behind) to make this a change for the good. Until we see the plans and pricing, I'm not ready to crucify anyone just yet. If everything holds true, we'll know more in about a month. 

Source: T-Mobile

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3 years ago

ITC orders import ban on Motorola Android phones over Microsoft patent issues

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Update: More of the story is coming out, and we learn that Motorola was found not to infringe on eight other patents in the case. This verdict is currently under Presidential review, and will be subject to appeal. In a statement to ArsTechnica Motorola has said the following: 

Although we are disappointed by the Commission’s ruling that certain Motorola Mobility products violated one patent, we look forward to reading the full opinion to understand its reasoning. Motorola Mobility will not experience any impact in the near term, as the Commission's ruling is subject to a $0.33/per unit bond during the 60 day Presidential review period. We will explore all options including appeal.

The original story follows.

HTC's One X and EVO 4G LTE may soon have a few friends to keep them company while they wait for customs to allow them into the US, as the ITC has decided to ban the import of Motorola Android phones for infringing on a Microsoft patent for "generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device". According to FOSS Patents, this order will likely go into effect in 60 days, as the ITC has rejected Google's claims that an exclusion order was not in the public's best interests. Because of FOSS Patents owner Florian Mueller's close ties to Microsoft and his track record on proceedings of this type, we're awaiting on an official word from both sides to see just how damaging this decision may be before we make any predictions. It's very likely that Motorola can just tweak a setting and comply with the ITC's rulings while they await a full judgment.

If you recall, Motorola has been embroiled in legal disputes with Microsoft while other big players have decided to pay licensing fees to stay out of court. Sometimes this strategy will work, sometimes it backfires. In the end innovation gets stifled by patents on ideas instead of methods, and consumers always lose. More on this as it comes forth.

Source: FOSS Patents

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3 years ago

Motorola Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich schedule updated

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Motorola device owners have been pretty vocal about their want for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on their devices. Motorola in response to that, has kept an ICS rollout schedule updated and recently they made some changes to it that will either excite you or upset you, depending on which device you own.

Droid RAZR, Droid RAZR MAXX and XOOM 3G/4G owners have the most to be excited about as ICS updates for those devices should be rolling out at just about any moment right now. Atrix, Atrix 2, Droid Bionic, Droid 4 and XYBOARD owners will be waiting until the next quarter for their updates.

Own a Droid 3 or Droid X2 though? Looks as though you better start looking towards some ICS compatible ROM's as those devicse will be stuck on Android 2.3 Gingerbread for the remainder of their lifecycle, minus some bug fix and maintenance releases.

Source: Motorola, Android Central Forums

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3 years ago

Beckham bending it for the Samsung Galaxy Note, London Olympics

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Samsung's teasing it on its Facebook page today, but the full advert's already leaked out on Twitter -- David Beckham's doing his thing for Samsung and the Galaxy Note. Some folks in the forums have opined that we're looking at a "new" Galaxy Note (and indeed the "new Galaxy Note with "Premium Suite" upgrade" is mentioned, but it  more to us like Samsung's just promoting that "Premium Suite" upgrade that includes Ice Cream Sandwich and started pushing recently. The description on the teaser points to something going down May 22, so stay tuned. (Our guess: More with the Olympic torch, which Becks helped welcome to the UK today.)

We've got the teaser and the full video after the break. Check it out before it gets pulled.

Via AT&T Galaxy Note forums

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