If you've been patiently waiting for the next series in Rovio's blockbuster hit Angry Birds, then you'll be pleased to know that Angry Birds Space has now lifted off. Rovio has been teasing the new series for quite some time now with it being a whole new twist on the original series. For now, it's available in the Amazon App Store for $1 so if you have access to that, you can hit the link below to grab it. If you can't access the Amazon App Store or just would rather wait until it appears in the Google Play Store, you can grab the ad-based version past the break to hold you over. Now, excuse me -- I have to go defy some gravity.
The way many of us buy our phones is like nothing else bought or sold. Carriers world-wide will subsidize about half the cost of the phone itself as long as you sign a multi-year contract to use their service. Imagine if Comcast or Time Warner sold televisions the same way -- it sounds crazy. It's a model that's been going on a while, and for the most part doesn't look like it's going away any time soon.
But what if it did? What if a company like, let's say Google, offered a phone not connected to any carrier, like the Nexus One was? Two years ago that model didn't work, and Google abandoned it completely, but a lot can change in two years. The mobile landscape has changed, and so has the way we use our devices. Has the way we would buy them changed as well?
If the next "Nexus" phone was only sold off contract and carrier-free, would you buy it? Let us know in the poll.
Samsung mobile has issued a press release all about the Galaxy Note and it's upcoming "Premium Suite" software upgrade. Sometime in Q2 of this year, Samsung expects to update the 5.3-inch Note to their version of Ice Cream Sandwich and bring better application support for the S pen as well as unnamed extra multimedia features.
The three applications mentioned specifically are S Note, a tool that combines notes or drawings with other digital content as well as using "Shape Match and Formula Match applications that help correct and digitize geometric shapes and even solve numeric formulas hand-drawn with S Pen"; My Story, which appears to be an application that helps you design e-cards and notes with multimedia content; and of course Angry Birds Space -- the newest iteration of the Angry Birds franchise from Rovio. In addition, Angry Birds Space will be available (sans the extra-special Galaxy Note level) for all Galaxy Series devices.
Of course the biggest draw for most of us will be the update to Android 4.0, which Samsung teased Note users about on Facebook earlier today. The version for the Note is said to include the features we've come to expect from ICS, including Android Beam and Face Unlock, as well as an "entirely new look and feel" to the Android operating system. The Q2 timeframe is coming up shortly, and International Galaxy note users are ready and waiting. Hopefully, the AT&T version follows quickly. Hit the break for the full press release.
We first looked at the new SDK tools and various resources coming with version 17 at the beginning of the month, and today they have become available for installation through the SDK manager program. The new download is chock full of goodies for developers, with things like more Lint rules, support for custom views and custom attributes in libraries, and much needed improvements to the emulator. And of course, hackers and coders alike will love the new DDMS views, including the detailed network traffic meter.
It's also worth mentioning that there's an x86 image you can download for the emulator, but for now it's stuck at Android version 2.3.3. We expect that to change soon enough, as Intel has shown they're serious about Android.
Getting the update is easy enough -- just fire up the SDK manager and install. Now get to work making some killer apps, and be sure to let us know about them so we can share them with the world.
In such a style aware country as France, Motorola will be hoping to make a splash with the Motoluxe. What it lacks in specs, Motorola are hoping it makes up for in style. The Motoluxe is available now on Orange France and selected retailers, for a price of €299 off contract.
Google is said to be considering a few changes in their Google Wallet strategy because of poor adoption rates. According to Bloomberg, Google is contemplating sharing revenue with the carriers to make the service more appealing and get them to embrace G Wallet like they have done with the ISIS competitor. Of course we have to take all this with that big grain of salt, as Bloomberg is unable to name their sources because of the sensitive nature of the discussions. But this seems completely plausible.
Google is facing the same sort of opposition on all sides that they had when they tried to introduce the original Nexus phone -- what Google thinks is good for consumers isn't good for carriers and manufacturers. NFC payment systems in our phones depend on three things -- hardware, adoption, and participation. OEM's have to build phones with the correct NFC hardware, which they have been slow to do. Even upcoming phones like the HTC One S don't include the necessary hardware, and the fabled NFC-enabled battery and/or stickers have yet to show their face. Without the hardware, nobody has access and the interest is low. With low consumer interest, OEM's have no incentive to make the hardware. That's a tough nut to crack.
There are many of us who are interested, and would use Google Wallet if it became widely available. But many is subjective. It's readily apparent there isn't a high enough consumer interest in adoption to tackle the problem Google is having with carrier and financial participation. If we cry for it enough, the carriers, banks, and retailers will jump to give it to us, and we're not crying for it enough. Security issues, and a lack of a solid advertising campaign aren't helping much on this front. When the only press you get about your product is bad press, nobody will be lining up to use your services.
Finally, the participation of carriers, OEM's, banks, and retailers is what will really drive Google Wallet forward. We're not seeing that, and odds are it's because not enough dollars are being spread around. I'm no financial analyst, but I'm pretty sure the folks at ISIS aren't afraid to throw money at U.S. carriers to get them on-board. Once you have names like AT&T and Verizon behind your mobile service, getting banks and stores to jump on the bandwagon is much easier.
We love the idea of having Google Wallet for everyone who may want to use it. We also realize that Google is going to have to grease many a palm to make that happen, and if these reports are right Google finally does, too.
Here's the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G, which you can find in select stores today for $149 on contract. Dunno which stores those are, chances are they'll be the ones with smug looks on their faces. For everybody else, you'll be able to get this awkwardly named (but surprisingly decent, if not necessarily cutting-edge) Android 2.3.6 smartphone on March 28.
We've heard reports of an April 5 launch for the HTC One X over the past couple of weeks, and now it seems we have confirmation of the date, as HTC France prepares for a One series launch party. The manufacturer's French Facebook page invites fans to a "Soireé HTC One" in Paris on the evening of April 5. It looks like the event's open to the public too, not just press and HTC partners, so if you're in Paris in early April, you might want to drop in -- HTC certainly knows how to throw a party.
The Paris event takes place just a day after HTC and Sprint are getting together in New York City. Everyone's expecting a Sprint LTE-powered HTC One phone to be unveiled, and we'll be there to cover whatever's announced.
It's been available in some parts of the world since late February, but today Sony Mobile has officially announced global availability of the Xperia S, its current international flagship device. Sony hasn't revealed pricing or carrier availability in specific markets, but in the UK, O2, Three, Orange and T-Mobile offer the black Xperia S, while Phones4U has exclusivity over the white version. SIM-free prices range from £370-400 in the UK, and around €450 in the eurozone.
Unfortunately this "global" release doesn't apply to the U.S., where Sony has no plans to release the Xperia S, or its mid-range siblings the Xperis P and Xperia U. The manufacturer will launch the 4.7-inch, LTE-toting Xperia Ion on AT&T during the second quarter, though.
We recently reviewed the Xperia S, and found it to be a capable handset with some outstanding features, including a great camera and sharp 720p screen. It's running Gingerbread out of the box though, and there's no specific timeframe for that ICS update beyond Q2 2012.
If you're thinking of picking up an Xperia S, or you've already dropped some cash on Sony's latest handset, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments.
Back at Mobile World Congress we went hands-on with the Huawei Ascend D Quad and at that time, it was mentioned the device could potentially start shipping in June. Recent reports, however, indicate that may have been a little premature, as the device won't even go into mass production until June with shipments now expected to be rolling out in July.
As Huawei's 2012 flagship, the Ascend D Quad isn't short on specs. It comes loaded with Ice Cream Sandwich, with a 4.5 inch IPS HD (1280 x 720) display and an 8MP camera. It's powered by Huawei's own 1.2GHz quad-core processor, which looks every bit as impressive as the more widely-used NVIDIA Tegra 3. However, if the shipment dates are accurate then Huawei will be competing for sales against the like of the HTC One X, as well a rumored high-end device from Samsung.
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