It's not often we get excited about benchmark numbers, but we'll make an exception today. Early benchmarks of the first chips based upon Qualcomm's new Snapdragon S4 ("Krait") architecture have appeared, showing dramatic improvements from earlier Snapdragon chips. The tests run by AnandTech on Qualcomm's S4 Mobile Development Platform (powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core MSM8960 chip), show single and mutli-threaded CPU performance dwarfing earlier models. This includes TI OMAP chips used in phones like the Galaxy Nexus and Droid RAZR, as well as the much-vaunted 1.2GHz Exynos chip in the Galaxy S II.
So the MSM8960 is shaping up to be an impressive chip indeed. We're expecting to see it in a number of mid-range and high-end devices this year, including HTC's "Ville" (rumored to ship as the HTC One S). We'll no doubt hear more about this chip, and the devices it'll be powering, at MWC next week.
This, folks, is Ubuntu on Android. An honest-to-goodness, not janky or VNC'd, full build of the Linux distro powered by an Android smartphone.
We'll let that sink in.
Canonical -- the company behind Ubuntu -- today announced that it's bringing the full Ubuntu experience to multi-core Android phones in the same way that Motorola has attempted to extend its hardware to a more traditional computing experience with Webtop. That is, you'll connect your phone to a keyboard and display, and from there have full control over a proper Ubuntu experience, all powered by the phone. Because your Android smartphone is already running a Linux kernel, the marriage between your phone and Ubuntu is darn near seamless. The Ubuntu build actually shares the kernel from your phone and boots in parallel.
Canonical gave us a walkthrough of the experience, and it really couldn't be more simple. Dock the phone, and Ubuntu Unity fires up. Photos and videos are instantly available in the desktop experience.
But photos and videos are chump change. You've got full Chromium and Thunderbird apps. VLC. The Ubuntu Music Player. If it's on Ubuntu, it can be on your phone.
But the real power is in the ability to launch your Android apps within that desktop experience. Same goes for contacts. Or your network settings. Or your notifications. It's Android within an Ubuntu experience. And it's pretty slick.
As for hardware requirements, you'll need a dual-core smartphone with at least a 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM. You'll need 2GB of storage free as well, plus USB host mode and HDMI out (MHL adapters will work, Canonical tells us), plus video acceleration. Older phones need not apply, basically.
It's worth repeating that this is your phone powering Ubuntu -- not the Ubuntu desktop on your phone. We're going to get a close look at Mobile World Congress next week in Barcelona, Spain. Stay tuned. For now, we've got Canonical's full press release after the break.
Viber, the cross-platform VoIP app popular for its free voice calling and text messaging, has received its official upgrade for Ice Cream Sandwich-compatability, available now in the Android Market. Viber arrived on Android last summer and just recently announced that it has reached a 50 million registered users milestone. Viber uses your 3G/4G or WiFi connection to call or text other registered Android or iOS Viber users for free.
In addition to support for Android 4.0, the most recent update also brings with it "significant enhancements" to the Viber voice engine, promising better voice quality, improved support for lower-end devices, and better handling of poor network quality. Other recent updates have brought location and photo sharing, as well as UI improvements, including the ability to see when another person is typing a text message.
If you've got a Galaxy Nexus or a shiny new ICS ROM on one of your devices, you'll want to grab the update from the Android Market after the break.
It's been a couple months now since we broke the news that US Cellular would be getting the Samsung Galaxy S II, and today the carrier manufacturer made it official. Samsung's flagship phone from 2011 will be making its debut on the regional carrier sometime in the future (no date was given) and it'll launch with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Don't everybody go rushing to the store at once.
That's not to say you'll be getting a bad phone -- it'll cost $229.99 after $100 mail-in rebate. It's odd timing considering we'll be seeing new fare from Samsung in the coming weeks and months, most likely. And nor is it slated for USCC's fledgling LTE network. But you do get Samsung's 1.2GHz dual-core Exynos processor, an 8MP rear camera and 16GB of storage tucked into that 4.5-inch form factor, which is nice, we suppose.
Three is the first UK network to announce that it'll be carrying the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 and Mini 2, which were announced just a few hours ago. These are two entry level devices from Samsung, with screens ranging from 3.2 to 3.8 inches, and respectable (if not mind-blowing) internals.
We first saw the Galaxy Mini 2 a couple of weeks back, in a leaked promotional image, and it looks like Samsung's built on the hardware of the original Galaxy Mini, with some much needed upgrades. The CPU's been bumped up to 800MHz, while display resolution has been upgraded to HVGA (320x480). Internal storage has been expanded too, giving it enough internal flash to be "upgradable to the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich", according to Three product manager Brendan Ardnt.
The 3.8-inch Galaxy Ace 2 offers a little more horsepower, with a dual-core 800MHz chip, 768MB of RAM, a WVGA screen and 5MP camera. Like the Mini 2, the Ace 2 runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, backed up by TouchWiz 4.0.
We'll be watching with interest to see where both devices land in terms of pricing, as both could be tempting for first-time smartphone buyers if priced competitively.
Panasonic may have just announced the Eluga, its first smartphone for the European market, but it may preparing to announce something more impressive at MWC next week, if the latest round of rumors are to be believed.
British tech site Pocket-Lint reports, via sources at Panasonic, that the manufacturer will unveil a "premium" Android handset at next week's show, with a bigger screen and meatier specs. Rumored specs include a dual-core CPU, presumably at a faster clock speed than the Eluga's 1GHz, along with a display powered by a new Panasonic technology. A rear camera based on Panasonic's Lumix range is also reported, in addition to a front facing camera.
We're sure we don't need to tell you by now, but we'll be live at MWC next week to cover all the announcements live.
Following the recent announcents of the Optimus Vu and Optimus LTE Tag, LG has taken the wraps off three more Android smartphones ahead of next week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The Optimus L3, L5 and L7 make up what the manufacturer calls its "L-style" series -- a series of smartphones for design-conscious consumers.
LG has outlined a new design philosophy to go along with these new products -- put simply, it's hoping you're after a slimmer, squarer handset of metal construction. From today's press release --
"L-Style’s design philosophy is comprised of five aesthetic elements: Modern Square Style for a comfortable grip, Floating Mass Technology for a slimmer look, Seamless Layout for a more intuitive arrangement of keys, Harmonized Design Contrast utilizing metallic accents and Sensuous Slim Shape that naturally draws one’s attention."
Eagle-eyed readers may remember the entry-level L3 from its brief appearance on a Swedish retailer's site a few weeks back -- the device was said to run Android 2.3 on a 3.2-inch display. That's been confirmed as part of LG's announcement today, though detailed hardware specs for all three devices are conspicuously absent.
In the absence of a spec list, we'll have to guess that L5 and the L7 are mid to high-end products. Both run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (behind LG's Optimus UI, of course), but the only specs LG is confirming at this stage are the screen sizes -- the L5 is a 4-incher, while the L7 is a little larger at 4.3. LG says the L3 is due in Europe this March, while the L5 and L7 will follow in the first half of the year.
We'll bring you more on all of LG's new handsets, including the L-style series, from the show floor next week.
For some of us, social apps are a load of fun and we love having the big selection of them on our Androids. Every time we write a post about one, fans seem to come out of the woodwork. But there's also plenty who seem to not care for them, and even think they are a waste of time. We hear ya, and as a matter of fact, they are a waste of time -- that's why they're so engaging! But seriously, everybody is different and no two Android fan's phones will be set up the same. We wouldn't want it any other way.
Myself, I love to play with them. I try them all, even the more obscure ones like Schemer. I usually give up on them after a week or so, but a select few keep me coming back. Holler at me on Google+ if you want. What about you guys? Do you find yourself checking in, or updating statuses or tweetering when you're bored? Let us know in the poll.
Samsung has confirmed the Galaxy Ace 2, and Galaxy Mini 2, which will replace their existing counterparts and offer upgraded processors, displays, and cameras. Both phones will run Samsung's TouchWiz 4.0 flavor of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).
The Galaxy Ace 2 is powered by a dual-core 800MHz CPU, with a 3.8-inch WVGA screen, an 768MB RAM. The camera is a 5MP model with LED flash, and the front camera has a VGA resolution. On the software side, Samsung's apps include ChatON, Wifi direct, and Samsung's Social, Media, and Game Hubs. Expect it to become available in the UK this April.
The Galaxy Mini 2 has a single-core 800MHz processor, 3.2-inch HVGA display, 512MB RAM and a 3MP rear camera. It also includes ChatON, and Social and Media Hub software from Samsung. The Galaxy Mini 2 is expected in France this March. Hit the break for the full press images.
It's Monday, and that means it's time to kick off this week's Android Central photo contest. This time around, we're looking for your best macro-photography shots. Grab something small and cool looking, grab your Android phone, and snap a picture! The prize this week is a blind box Android mini collectable, and we're looking to give five of them away to the best close-up shots. The blind box factor makes it a cool mystery, and we have no idea which one you'll get. No matter, they're all really, really cool. As a refresher, here's the rules:
One picture per person
The picture must be taken with an Android device
The picture must be awesome
Send it in to email@example.com by Friday Feb. 24, and include which phone you used and you name so we can give proper credit. We'll pick the best five and show them off to the world Sunday on the blog. Good luck!
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