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2 years ago

Android Central weekly photo contest: Photo filters and effects

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With word that Instagram will soon be heading to Android, we all had better get ready for the invasion of photo filters and effects. It's not really new, we've been able to edit our pictures with hipster filters on Android for quite some time, but Instagram is sure to become hugely popular on Android -- Rene hits it right on the head as to why.

To prepare, this week's photo contest is all about the hipster effect. Grab a picture, grab an app, and get to work applying filters and/or effects -- or both. Some great free apps to do it with are PicsArt and PicSay from Google Play, and there are plenty of others -- I'm partial to LightBox myself -- so everyone can get in on this one. 

This week's prize is something new and cool that I want for myself -- the Smart Phone Sleeper. It's a universal stand that holds your phone just about anywhere, and would be perfect for a little night-time Netflix viewing or Youtube surfing. Winning one is easy:

  • Use an Android device to take a picture of something cool.
  • Use any method you like to apply some filters or effects to it.
  • Send it to pics@androidcentral.com, along with a name we can use and the model of Android you used to take it. Let us know what effects or apps you used, too. We like knowing this kind of stuff.
  • If you send in more than one, or send me a link instead of an attachment, your entry gets filed in the trash folder, so don't do that. I hate it when I have to do that.
  • Get me the pictures before the end of the night on Friday.

We'll pick the best 11 of the entries, then decide on the best of the bunch. We'll show you all of them Sunday afternoon. Now head down to the closest bodega, find something ironic, and take us a picture!

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2 years ago

Why privacy matters

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Privacy is a hot subject across the Internet lately, and we think it's high time to dissect the mountains of information and pick out what's relevant amidst all the FUD and nonsense out there. You'll see a series here this week about privacy issues and policies, and the best way to kick it all off is to discuss why it matters in the first place.

The fact is, if you use and enjoy Google services you have to give up some privacy to get the most out of them. Things like Gmail and Google Voice don't cost money, but in order to make ads that are lucrative Google mines some of your data and can sell ads targeted at things you like. Advertisers love this, as it keeps big nerdy guys in West Virginia from seeing ads about women's shoes that they will just ignore, and instead shows ads about Android, computer parts, and fishing guides. Google has made this a huge business, and to keep it working, Google needs your data. Google does not sell mail or search -- it sells ads. For the most part, this isn't too intrusive. The data about you is kept in some odd string of computer generated numbers and is only used to display things you are likely to want to see. None of it is sold to anyone else, that would disrupt G's business model. That data is their cash cow. 

We trust Google to do the right thing with our personal information, and for the most part they have done so. But Google isn't the only game in town that's collecting data about you. Other ad networks, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and your cell carrier collect a good bit of information as well. We want to trust the big players, and don't think Facebook or Apple will sell your data away to some spammer (or worse), but when we get to the lower tier, where ad networks and smaller companies collect and store your information, things get a little muddy. If these can't be trusted (and we're not saying they can't) why is it important?

Imagine how you would feel if you lost your Android phone and didn't have it password locked. I could find it at Five Guys, open it up and look through everything. Besides the horrible things I could do with your pictures and accounts, I'd also have access to your contacts, your Internet history, your search history, and message archives. Even if you have nothing to hide, you wouldn't want me rifling through all that data. When apps and services have the same access, it's the same thing. I do not want the ad company that is being used in my favorite Android game to look through my Internet history. They would be bored, and find nothing incriminating, but I still don't want it to happen. Nor do I want some rogue app developer to steal that data and send it off to China. It's my data, and I want to know it's being treated properly. When I imagine it happening to my daughter, I get a little angry. Thankfully, those types of scenarios are few and far between. But they do happen

Data collection isn't inherently evil. It's a standard practice in today's digital world, and we've come to terms with it in some ways. It does need to be done correctly and handled securely, though. That's where the real issue lies -- we know the data is being collected, so can we trust those doing the collecting? That's a question each of us has to answer for ourselves -- we just want to spark the conversation. 

Look for plenty more on security and privacy coming up this week.

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2 years ago

Motorola updates 'ICS list' -- RAZR to get ICS in Q2 everywhere but the U.S.

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Motorola has updated their ICS "due date" page, and if you're in the U.S. you probably won't like the news very much. There are a few changes, and we see a few more devices slated to see Ice Cream Sandwich eventually, but what really stands out is the RAZR. In the Asia Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Korea, Japan, China and Canada the RAZR is set to see ICS in Q2 of this year. In the U.S., it's still in the "evaluation and planning" stage. 

Granted, CDMA and LTE probably make a huge difference in the code as well as the hardware, but I have to hope that Motorola has enough resources dedicated to the Droid RAZRs to get them updated quickly, and more importantly, free of any show-stopping bugs.

Of course the RAZR isn't the only device on the list, but it is the one that sticks out like a sore thumb. The good news is that most newer model Motos haven't been ruled out of anything just yet, and that Motorola cares enough to even make a chart that's bound to get them some grief. Updating an OS isn't easy folks, no matter what you might think. Hit the source link to see the full details.

Source: Motorola. Thanks, IceDree for the tip!

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2 years ago

HTC One X Deluxe Limited Edition announced in Taiwan

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With the One X due to launch internationally in the next month or so, HTC has revealed a limited edtion version of the handset in its home territory of Taiwan. Taiwanese site ePrice reports that the HTC One X Deluxe Limited Edition includes a set of Beats Solo wireless headphones, along with some fancy minimalist packaging.

Taiwanese retailers will start taking pre-orders for the limited edition One X starting next Tuesday, March 20. At this stage it's unknown whether HTC plans to launch this limited package elsewhere, but we saw a similar bundle with the Sensation XL in the UK last year, so our fingers are crossed.

In case you've just emerged from a month-long hibernation, the One X is HTC's flagship smartphone for 2012, with a quad-core CPU, a 720p screen and HTC's new ImageSense camera tech. We got hands-on with the device at MWC and last week's Three UK showcase event.

Source: ePrice; via: Unwired View

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2 years ago

Droid X2 prepping for another update

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Word on the street is that the Motorola Droid X2 is about to get another one of those update "soak tests" from Motorola, wherein a few volunteers agree to play guinnea pig. No idea what's in the update, but the mssage from Motorola is the usual.

Hi,
Thanks for joining the Motorola Feedback Network. We are inviting owners of
the Motorola Droid X2 on Verizon to participate in an early preview of a new
software release, and provide feedback. If you are not currently using a
Droid X2, please excuse and ignore this email.
Click this link to take a short enrollment survey if you wish to take part.
Note that you must be a member in good standing of the Motorola Owners'
Forums to be included. If you have not logged into the new site
(forums.motorola.com) please do not wait until the soak starts to do so, as
we will have little capacity then to help with any log-in issues
This is a confidential test under the terms of the Motorola Feedback Network.
Do not post any details or information about this on any public sites.

 

Thanks -- please understand that start times are always fluid. We urge you to
respond as quickly as possible but also ask for your patience if you register
but don't hear from us right away.
Matt
Motorola Owners’ Forums
Motorola Feedback Network

Don't worry, Motorola. We'll keep this just between us.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

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2 years ago

Alcatel Venture now available for preorder on Virgin Mobile for $99, ships March 15

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Update: As Phonescoop points out, it looks like this one's actually from Alcatel, a different manufactuer than we previously reported, though one that's pretty much as unknown here in the states as ZTE (though that'll be changing here shortly).

Looking for a physical keyboard on Virgin Mobile? The ZTE Alcatel Venture might just fill that void, and it's available for preorder now for just $99, and it's expected to ship on March 15. The Venture's got a 2.8-inch touchscreen in addition to the physical keyboard and physical buttons. We're not expecting much out of the 2-megpixel camera, but because of the screen size, the 600 MHz processor should move things along nicely. Other specs of note: It's got Android 2.3 Gingerbread and 512MB of RAM. Internal storage isn't listed, but it's got a microSD card slot (the phone comes with a 2GB card), which you'll no doubt need to use. It's also got Virgin's Mobile ID packs -- basically its version of Sprint ID.

More: Virgin Mobile; thanks, Brad!

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2 years ago

Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G available March 28 for $149

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For those of you waiting on pins and needles for the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G, we've finally got availability details. Starting March 28, you'll be able to pick it up for $149.99 along with a $50 mail-in rebate and two-year contract. (It'll hit "select" stores a week earlier, for what that's worth.)

We got a pretty good look at the Blaze 4G at Mobile World Congress. And while the 3.97-inch Super AMOLED display and 1.5GHz dual-core processor are nothing to sneeze at, it's still running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, you'll be left waiting for an Ice Cream Sandwich update. Perhaps T-Mobile's 42 Mbps data speeds will assuage that?

Edit: Fixed screen size.

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2 years ago

Korean carrier says Galaxy S II ICS update coming 'tomorrow'; Samsung promises announcement 'soon'

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After a series of false starts, it appears the long-awaited Ice Cream Sandwich update for Galaxy S II (GT-i9100) owners may be about to land. Korean mobile network SK Telecom tweeted this morning that it'll begin rolling out the software update starting 10am KST tomorrow, March 13. (That's 1am GMT, or 9pm EST today, because time zones are crazy like that.) However, the tweet in question was quickly pulled down, and now SK Telecom is telling customers to check with the manufacturer for update information.

Samsung remains coy, however, saying on its official "SamsungTomorrow" Twitter account that Galaxy S II owners should make sure they're up to date through Kies, and promising an announcement "soon."

So, possibly great news for Korean Galaxy S II owners, and we're sure it won't be long before the update goes out to owners of the same hardware in Europe and other parts of Asia, too. But Galaxy S II devices in the United States will probably have a little longer to wait, due to the differences in phone hardware from carrier to carrier.

Source: @SKTelecom via The Verge, @SamsungTomorrow

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2 years ago

Sony Xperia 'Pepper' promo shot leaks briefly, confirms NFC support

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It's been a while since we last saw the Sony MT27i 'Pepper' a tantalizing mid-range (yet dual-core) smartphone which appeared in a couple of pre-MWC leaks, but failed to materialize at the show. However, in the past day or so the device, which is still known only by its model number and codename, cropped up on Sony Mobile China's website, before being swiftly pulled. The leaked image shows an official press shot of the device, alongside Sony's smart tags, indicating that like the Xperia P and S, the 'Pepper' will include NFC support.

Leaked specs place the device between the Xperia P and Xperia U in Sony's 2012 line-up, with a 1GHz dual-core CPU, a 3.7-inch WVGA854 display and 512MB of RAM. And an alleged 2012 roadmap for Sony smartphones which leaked back in January suggests a €300 price point. Interestingly, though, Sony's trademark clear element -- the transparent bit below the screen on Xperias S through U -- is nowhere to be seen on the 'Pepper.'

Based on the all the leaked info that's appeared, it looks like the 'Pepper' could be a solid mid-range contender for Sony. We'll keep you posted with any further details as they emerge.

Source: IT168; via: XperiaBlog

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2 years ago

AT&T's LTE coming to a dozen new locales through summer

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AT&T this morning announced that it's bringing its new LTE data services to a dozen more locations over the next few months. The cities include:

  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Akron, Ohio
  • Canton, Ohio
  • Naples, Fla.
  • Bloomoington, Ind.
  • Lafayette, Ind.
  • Muncie, Ind.
  • Baton Rouge, La.
  • New Orleans
  • St. Louis
  • Bryan/College Station, Texas
  • Staten Island, N.Y.

AT&T didn't give a specific timeline for the roll-out, though it did say Cleveland would be "soon," and that the other locations would launch in "April, May and into the early summer."

Source: Press release

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