As expected, British satellite broadcaster Sky has launched its Sky Go app for Android, allowing owners of some Android handsets to view a selection of Sky's on-demand TV offerings.
Right now, the list of officially-supported devices limits Sky Go to a handful of phones, namely HTC's Desire, Desire S, Desire HD, Incredible S and Sensation, and Samsung' Galaxy S and Galaxy S II. However, we also noticed that the Android Market showed it as compatible with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo, so you may want to double-check the Market even if your phone isn't listed.
It's also worth noting that the app doesn't support Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), so if you're running ICS-based software, even on an officially-supported device, you're out of luck. Equally, if you're rooted, you'll be denied access. And Android tablet support is missing from this initial release, though Sky has made vague noises about considering adding this in the future.
The rooting issue is a contentious one -- Google's own video rental service, for example, continues to be inaccessible from rooted devices -- however, we hope to see broader support for Android 3.x and 4.x from Sky in the future.
We've got Android Market linkage and a QR code for you after the break.
LG has announced a new handset for South Korea based on its popular Optimus LTE line -- The Optimus LTE Tag, a trimmed-down version of the original with NFC connectivity.
The Optimus LTE Tag is a 4.3-inch, device with a 1.2 GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB of RAM and a WVGA (480x800) IPS display. As well as the obvious 4G LTE and NFC connectivity, the phone also sports a 5MP rear camera and 1.3MP front-facer. On the software side, you get Android 2.3 Gingerbread with LG's Optimus UI, and the promise of an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich in the future. The specs are a step down from what's inside the original Optimus LTE, though LG has made up for this by packing the LTE Tag's guts into a slimmer chassis.
The manufacturer is keen to point out the potential practical uses for NFC, besides just being a bullet point on the back of the box. It's developed a technology it's calling LG Tag+, which allows customers to use NFC tags to automatically change the phone's behavior when in a certain location. For example, you might want to enter car dock mode, or start up a navigation app when it's in your car. Sure, there are apps on the Android Market that allow you to do things like this on any Android phone with NFC, but it is pretty cool to see this being offered straight out of the box.
Currently the Optimus LTE Tag has been announced for Korea only, however it's likely we'll see the LG Tag+ tech included in future NFC-enabled handsets from the manufacturer in other territories, too.
We've got today's press release, and the full spec list, after the break.
The winner of this weeks Android Central photo contest is Andrew Hammer. He gives us this lovely picture of a butterfly, taken with his T-Mobile Galaxy S II. It's a stunner, and fits in perfectly with the animal theme we asked for last week. It's hard to believe pictures this great can come from our Android phones. Thanks for entering everyone, and Andrew, check your inbox for details about your prize.
The pictures you guys are sending in are phenomenal. It's difficult for us to pick a winner each week, but we're loving it. Look through this weeks runners-up to see what I mean. We'll be back tomorrow with another contest for the week, as long as you guys promise to keep sending in such great pictures!
We've seen a couple new Ice Cream Sandwich builds leaked out for the Sprint Epic 4G Touch, and that makes us happy. It means someone is hard at work making this happen, nobody has forgotten about these great phones, and eventually ICS will show up for everyone that has one. But it's also easy to see why it's not there yet.
We love seeing leaks, and we try them, too. It's a fun part of Android, and having access to something a wee bit early appeals to the nerd in each of us. But when Sprint releases the ICS update, it has to work for everyone. That's why it hasn't been released for the E4GT just yet -- it's simply not ready for prime time. Some folks are seeing problems with the data connection, others are seeing issues with MTP, issues with overheating are being reported, and some general wonkiness is still going on. To make matters worse, some folks seem to have no issues at all. When you take user error out of the equation, you're left with a piece of software that acts a bit different from one device to the next. That's the sort of headache software developers have to deal with on a daily basis, and that's why it often takes longer than we'd like to see the latest version of shiny and new hit our phones.
The past couple of builds are great fodder for the ROM builders and hackers. If that's how you roll, you'll be seeing some new goodies from your favorite developer soon for your flashing enjoyment. If you're not that type, the news is still good -- Samsung and Sprint are hard at work, and aren't going to release anything to the public until they think it's ready. That's the way it should be.
I'm 6 feet, 8 inches tall. For our metric friends, that's 203 centimeters. I have, on more than one occasion, been called the tallest blogger in the world. (And may well be.) I can palm a basketball without any trouble. I cheer on the giants in Skyrim when they punt my lackey into orbit. Sometimes I imagine them doing cute little drawings on the Samsung Galaxy Note, mapping out the constellations the poor soul will be visiting shortly. The fact is, when someone first sees a 5-inch smartphone, be it the ill-fated Dell Streak or Samsung's latest stylus-toting follow-up, most folks think only an unnaturally gigantic person could use the thing to make a call. Well, they're wrong; even for us Gigantors, it's pretty unwieldy.
I have to say, my time with the Samsung Galaxy Note has definitely helped me appreciate what you little people are going through with ballooning screen sizes. 4-inch displays are now the norm among Android hardware, and make the 3.5-inch screen on the iPhone 4S, sharp as it may be, feel extremely cramped. While 4 inches is perfectly fine for me, cranking it up to 5 makes me realize just how unrealistic it is to use a bigger phone one-handed. Those larger screens also mean tighter pockets, awkward grips when making a call, and can be a significant drain on the power supply, even if the battery gets an equivalent up-size.
LG has made the Optimus Vu official, announcing the 5-inch phone on their Korean Newsroom site early this AM. Running Gingerbread (Android 2.3) and packing a 5.0-inch display with a 4:3 aspect ratio and a specialized stylus, the size alone makes this one a force to reckon with.
The full list of specs according to LG:
139.6 x 90.4 x 8.5mm
5-inch IPS 650 nit display at 1024x768
8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front
1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor
Android 2.3 Gingerbread
2080 mAh battery
We've already seen the Optimus Vu holding hands with the other member of the ginormus-phone club, the Galaxy Note (which went on sale for AT&T hours before this announcement), but it's nice to see some clearer press shots. No word on any worldwide release, but we're told to expect it in Korea on SK Telecom in early March. LG also says to expect more at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona about the Vu, and we'll be right there to hear and see it.
We've got more pics and the full presser after the break.
The the Samsung Galaxy Note is finally available in the United States, hitting Best Buy and AT&T's websites right this second, and brick-and-mortar stores just as soon as the sun rises. (And, you know, the stores actually open.)
The Galaxy Note is no stranger to these parts. We reviewed the European version some months ago -- it's already shipped more than 1 million units worldwide -- and we've had the AT&T version for a few days now. They're larger the same (large) smartphone. It's got a hulking (but beautiful) 5.3-inch Super AMOLED display -- with a whopping 800x1280 resolution -- powered by a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor running Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread.It's got an 8-megapixel camera in the back, and a 2MP shooter ujp front.
The AT&T version varies slightly by switching to the traditional 4-butoon scheme below the display, whereas the Euro version opts for a larger, centered home button. That's not unusual -- the Galaxy S and Galaxy S II lines did the same. AT&T's Galaxy Note also throws in a 4G LTE radio in addition to the HSPA+ radio. (Take that, Europe!)
It's a smartphone, to be sure. Makes phone calls and everything. But the noted feature of the note -- and really the reason it's so big -- is the included stylus, called the S Pen. It brings a whole 'nother level of functionality to the traditional Android experience. And when not needed (or wanted), it tucks away neatly into the phone itself, out of sight, out of mind.
There's your teaser. We've got lots more coming in our full AT&T Galaxy Note review. If you're the early adopting type, head into a store today, or hit the links below.
Update: Because so many people are just starting to get the update (thanks for the e-mails, everybody!), we're going to bump this post -- something we try to avoid doing for obvious reasons.
Original from Feb. 6: If you're the proud owner of a Motorola Droid RAZR, or it's brother with a bit bigger gas tank the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX, (read the review of the MAXX right here) there's an OTA update ready and waiting for you. Version 6.12.173.XT912.Verizon.en.US (there's no way we could make that one up) started slowly rolling out over the weekend and is now pushing hard and heavy, and chances are you can grab it yourself by simply going to Settings>About Phone>System Updates.
The update itself is about 150MB in size, and updates the software to Android 2.3.6. I know many were wanting Ice Cream Sandwich, but this update brings some welcome bug fixes and security patches, so we'll gladly take it. The full change list, line by line:
Mobile Hotspot will now successfully allow other devices to connect to all
Improvements in the Mobile Hotspot security.
VZ Navigator has been updated with the latest 3D map improvements.
Visual Voice Mail messages can be marked as read.
Visual Voice Mail message playback resumes when audio is switched to speaker.
Visual Voice Mail will successfully subscribe or unsubscribe while connected with Wifi.
Successfully press back key after playback in Visual Voice Mail without error.
V CAST App now comes preloaded.
MotoCast installation steps have been improved for easier use.
Improved stability of data connectivity after Airplane Mode is disabled.
Improved data throughput performance in low-signal 4G environments.
Improved Battery life when using Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP) Bluetooth headsets.
Successfully save multimedia ringtones.
Favorite Contacts widget has been updated.
Improved device stability when moving between home screen panels.
Email icon has been updated for improved visibility.
When performing an Over the Air (OTA) update, the display will correctly show the remaining download time.
CMAS (Commercial Mobile Alert Service) feature has been added.
That's a hell of a list, and seeing improvements with 4G data connectivity is certainly something everyone likes to see. Things should go smoothly after this one, but if you hit any snags or just want to discuss it all, be sure to hit the forums!
Since we started doing our polls each weeknight, the most popular requested subject from you guys was about root. People want to know who is rooting their phones, and why they're doing it. It's a choice everyone should consider before making, as these little (and not so little) pieces of glass and plastic can get pretty darned expensive to replace. Futzing around with the software can be a risky move, and when your done your phone is a bit less secure.
But man, can it be fun. So let's take a poll and see what the average reader of Android Central has to say. Do you root your phone?
HTC sends word via its official Facebook page that in addition to the handful of phones already announced, Verizon's Rhyme, Droid Incredible 2 and Thunderbolt will be getting the latest version of Android later in the year. And on the Canadian side, the manufacturer has confirmed that the HTC Raider on Rogers and Bell will also see ICS in the months ahead.
We have more good news related to Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, and can confirm that upgrades are planned for Verizon Wireless customers with the HTC Rhyme, HTC Thunderbolt, and DROID Incredible 2 by HTC, as well as the already announced HTC Rezound.
In addition, the HTC Raider is on the list to receive ICS for customers of Rogers and Bell in Canada. Stay tuned for more news on Ice Cream Sandwich releases in the coming weeks.
So great news for owners of those phones, especially the long-suffering Thunderbolt, which took long enough to get bumped from Froyo to Gingerbread. HTC expects to begin updating international handsets to ICS in the next month, starting with the Sensation and Sensation XE.
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