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3 years ago

Motorola swaps in stock apps in Droid RAZR/MAXX Jelly Bean soak test

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The folks in our Motorola DROID RAZR and DROID RAZR MAXX forums are all aflutter this morning, and rightfully so. A new software soak test -- wherein a few brave souls get in some final testing before the real push begins -- is hitting devices, and Motorola's own changelog for the Android 4.1.2 update confirms something surprising: Custom software features are being replaced by stock Google apps -- or are being removed altogether.

Consider:

  • Removed apps: Social Location, MOTOACTV, MOTOPRINT and Verizon Video on Demand are history. Kaput. Alarm and Timer are being replaced by the stock Google Clock app.
  • Removed widgets: Gone are the My Gallery, My MOTOCAST, My Music, Picture Slideshow, Social Location, Sticky Note, Weather and World Clock widgets. Gone. Kaput.
  • MOTOCAST has been decoupled from MyMusic, Files and the Gallery apps and is now standalone on the phone. (It's also been redesigned and is faster, Moto says.)
  • My Gallery and My Music have been replaced with their corresponding Google apps.

That's just the tip of the iceberg, but it's a pretty big deal. You'll also find Google Now, improved voice search, better camera quality, and the Chrome browser has been added.

Hit the link below for the full changelog, and keep an eye out for the full push, which should follow the soak test fairly soon.

Source: Motorola 4.1.2 changelog
More: Droid RAZR MAXX forums; Droid RAZR forums

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3 years ago

ASUS Transformer AiO Windows 8 all-in-one doubles as an Android tablet

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ASUS is all about crazy devices that double as other devices -- take the Padfone Infinity and Fonepad, announced last week at MWC, for instance. Today the Taiwanese manufacturer has launched an equally outlandish entrant into the all-in-one PC market, the ASUS Transformer AiO.

By day, the AiO is a humble Windows 8 PC; by night (or, you know, whenever), it detaches from its stand to become an Android 4.1 tablet. That's because it's actually two devices in one -- the Windows side is powered by a third-generation Intel Core i5-3350P CPU (8GB of RAM, 1TB of storage), whereas the Android tablet UI runs on an NVIDIA Tegra 3 chip (2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage). Both operating systems come to life on the 18-inch 1920x1080 LED display, which makes the AiO the largest commercial Android tablet we can think of.

It's a little perplexing to see Windows 8 and Android side-by-side on this kind of device, not least due to Microsoft's keenness to promote Windows' tablet credentials. But ASUS is also touting the AiO's ability to run Windows 8 in remote desktop mode on the tablet UI, so you'll  have that option open to you while you're in tablet mode.

The ASUS Transformer AiO is due for release during the second quarter, and will be priced at $1299 in North America.

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3 years ago

LG Optimus LTE III makes its debut on SK Telecom

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LG has just officially taken the wraps off of the Optimus LTE III, which has made some appearances in leaked images recently. As a worthy successor to the Optimus LTE II, the latest version has a 4.7-inch 720x1280 IPS display, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 8MP camera and a sizeable 2540mAh battery. The design falls in line nicely with other recent handsets like the mid-range L Series and Optimus G Pro, with a square design, plastic back and physical home button. On the software side we're looking at Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, along with LG's software UX tweaks and apps.

LG is teaming up with SK Telecom to release the Optimus LTE III in both black and white versions, but we'd be surprised if it ever hit the states in its current form. Our only chance at this one is likely a carrier-customized version a few months down the road.

Source: LG

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3 years ago

C Spire Galaxy S3 Jelly Bean OTA rolling out now

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Hot on the heels of the Jelly Bean update for the Verizon model, the Galaxy SIII (S3) on C Spire Wireless is receiving its own OTA starting today. The update will bring users up to Android 4.1.2 -- build L710WWMB3 -- and include numerous features. On top of the usual Jelly Been goodness like Project Butter and Google Now, there are specific fixes and enhancements being made to the software. Several apps -- including Chrome, Paper Artist and Voice Search -- along with a dozen new widgets have been added with the update. Numerous fixes, including an S Voice update, MusicHub 3.0 update and streaming audio/video fix are all included.

The update is pushing out OTA in phases (as is usually the case), but if you're anxious you can also check manually for the update in your phone's settings. If you've really got some time on your hands, you can download the Kies desktop software and install the update manually.

Source: C Spire; Thanks, Jeff!

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3 years ago

Alleged U.S. model Galaxy S4 screenshots emerge

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We're just over a week away from Samsung's big Galaxy S4 announcement, and so we're starting to see a last-minute flurry of alleged leaks from the device. As you'll know if you followed the run up to the Galaxy S3 launch last year, late-breaking leaks have proven to be both wildly accurate and wildly inaccurate, so take this with the usual pinch of salt.

This latest set of images has an air of authenticity about it, though. GSM Israel says it has screenshots from a U.S. model Galaxy S4 (the AT&T version, judging by the 4G logo on display), obtained from a "very reliable" source. The images show a slightly re-vamped TouchWiz UI with brighter UI elements and tweaked icons, a redesigned settings menu and a transparent notification bar on the home screen. Interestingly, the so-called "eye scrolling" feature seems to be present, under the name "Smart scroll" in a settings menu screenshot.

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Stellar receiving Jelly Bean OTA

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Verizon has published support documents indicating that the Jelly Bean update for the Samsung Galaxy Stellar is on its way out. The update to Android 4.1 -- software version JZO54K.I200VRBMA1 -- is rolling out to devices OTA (Over The Air) now, and weighs in at a hefty 403MB. Users will see several improvements from Jelly Bean, such as Google Now, expandable notifications and Project Butter. The update also brings support for 64GB SDcards, improved networking and removes the Verizon app store.

If you have a Galaxy Stellar, be on the lookout for the update notification to hit your device. As always, you can check for the update manually via the "About phone" menu as well. Once downloaded, expect your device to be out of commission for about 15 minutes while it installs. If you want a little more information on the update, hit the source links below.

Source: Verizon; Instructions (PDF)

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3 years ago

HTC One allows for 'distortion free recording' with dual membrane microphones

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A little information about the HTC One and BoomSound has been made available today, concerning the quality of audio captured by HTC's latest device. Very few of us know or care about things like the membranes over the microphone in our smart phones, but we all know what it's like to record some audio and hear the dreadful "hiss" when we play it back. It's also a great way to ruin an otherwise awesome video you've recorded. And it happens far too often.

HTC has found a way to correct this by using a twin-membrane microphone. Normally, only one membrane is used on a standard smart phone microphone, which means the sounds you want to hear aren't really separated from the sounds you don't want to hear, and loud, high pressure sounds can cut the mic completely. When the software does its job of leveling and equalizing the audio, we're often left with a background hiss and low levels. HTC says the twin-membrane setup will help make that a thing of the past.

With two microphones, each having a twin-membrane setup, there's more room for the mic to capture the sound you're trying to record via the extra sensitive membrane, while the high pressure membrane can handle the loud sounds that would normally shut a sensitive mic down. 

It sounds like a lot of voodoo that would be interesting to an audio engineer, but if HTC is correct and the outcome is "distortion free" then we all have reason to be excited. The release date is moving closer, and we'll soon be able to see for ourselves how well HTC's BoomSound operates.

Source: HTC blog

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3 years ago

Sony Xperia Z camera - initial sample images and comparisons

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We take a first look at photo and video on the Xperia Z's Exmor RS-powered camera, and compare it to last year's Xperia T​​

If you've read our initial review of the Sony Xperia Z you'll know it's packing Sony's new Exmor RS camera tech, which incorporates a fancy new 13-megapixel stacked CMOS sensor. But how does this translate into actual photos and videos? Check out our selection of early sample images and video after the break to find out.

For comparison's sake, we've also got a few side-by-side shots with the 13MP Exmor R camera on last year's Xperia T.

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3 years ago

Sony Xperia Z hands-on and initial review

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For Android fans, the Sony Xperia Z was one of the highlights of a fairly quiet CES. A 5-inch, 1080p phone with a bold new design language and fancy new camera technology, the Xperia Z was probably the most compelling phone of the show. And just a couple of months later, it's now available to buy in the UK.

Without a doubt Sony Mobile's new baby is one of the largest, specciest Android phones around, but it's soon to be joined by the formidable HTC One and Galaxy S4. So how does it shape up? Check out our first impressions after the break.

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3 years ago

Verizon Galaxy S3 seeing its Android 4.1.2 update today

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Verizon's Galaxy S3 is getting its update to Android 4.1.2, with the new build hitting phones right about ... now! Here's the full changelog for VRBMB1:

  • Keyboard Predictive Text feature has been improved
  • User can take pictures while on a call
  • Manual refresh button has been added to lock screen stock ticker
  • Email syncing has been improved
  • Bluetooth® performance has been improved
  • VZ Navigator and Amazon have been added to stub applications

Not huge improvements, we suppose (with Bluetooth being the exception), but we'll never look an update in the mouth.

More: Verizon Galaxy S3 forums; Thanks, Craig!

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3 years ago

Announcing our Winners in the 'Spring into TEGRA' Contest!

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First off, we would like to thank everyone for submitting their entries. The fun and creativity put into your entries was definitely on display. We really appreciate the time and effort put in to each and every entry… so THANK YOU!

Second, a BIG THANKS to our friends @NVIDIA. They've stepped up to partner with us on a few contests now, and for their continued support, we offer much thanks. If you're reading this, show them a little love and give them a follow @NVIDIA and @NVIDIATegra.

Now… it's time to announce the winners. Each winner will walk away with a brand new Tegra-powered HTC One X+… Drumroll please

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3 years ago

Unlocked Sony Xperia ZL headed to the U.S. with LTE and new color option

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Sony's other 5-incher heads stateside with T-Mobile + AT&T LTE bands and new red color

Good news for American Sony fans with a few hundred dollars to blow on an unlocked smartphone. The Xperia ZL -- the more compact cousin of the Xperia Z -- is landing in the U.S., where it'll be available unlocked from the manufacturer's online store. Like its international counterpart, the ZL packs a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 CPU, a 13MP Exmor RS rear camera and a 5-inch 1080p HD Reality Display screen. The main differences include the unique notification light down below, as well as the smaller chassis size and lack of waterproofing.

Of particular interest is the extra color variant that's cropped up -- a red option with a black front -- and the American ZL's support for LTE Bands 1, 2, 4, 5 and 17 alongside the standard pentaband HSPA. If our calculations are correct, that means it should work on both T-Mobile and AT&T's LTE networks -- T-Mo's in the process of lighting up Band 4, while AT&T has LTE deployed on Band 17. In theory that means you'll have an unlocked handset that can run quite happily on either carrier's 4G LTE -- a unique proposition for the U.S. market. However U.S. carriers being as they are, we'll have to wait until devices begin shipping before we can confirm that everything's working in the real world.

There are no details available on pricing just yet, but previous unlocked Sony handsets haven't come cheap. In any case, there's a sign-up page on the Sony Store where customers can register their interest.

Anyone in the U.S. tempted by the prospect of such an unlocked, LTE-capable Sony phone? Shout out in the comments!

More: Hands-on with the Sony Xperia ZL

Source: Sony Store; via: XperiaBlog

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy S4 to employ 'eye scrolling,' says NYT

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The Samsung Galaxy S4 launches next Thursday, Mar. 14, and the rumor mill is starting to churn. The latest unofficial reports on Samsung's next Android smartphone comes from the New York Times' 'Bits' blog, which claims to have word of a new scrolling technique used by the handset. Apparently the S4 will use eye-tracking technology to automatically scroll through articles --

"The phone will track a user’s eyes to determine where to scroll, said a Samsung employee who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. For example, when users read articles and their eyes reach the bottom of the page, the software will automatically scroll down to reveal the next paragraphs of text."

It wouldn't be the first time Samsung's used this kind of tech on a smartphone. The Galaxy S3 included "SmartStay," a feature which used the front-facing camera to determine whether the user was looking at the screen and lock it accordingly. There are no specific details about how this eye-scrolling feature might work, but the Times notes Samsung has applied for trademarks of "EyeScroll" and "Samsung EyeScroll" in the EU and U.S. respectively for similar-sounding software features.

To us, this sounds like exactly the sort of feature Samsung might bring to a new smartphone -- recall the wacky "Smart Rotation" feature that debuted on the Note 2 to assist with horizontal reading. However pre-release rumors don't always reveal the full picture, so we'll have to reserve final judgment until we see what Samsung's been building next Thursday.

Source: New York Times

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3 years ago

LG Spirit 4G review

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Anyone living in one of America’s largest urban areas in 2013 has undoubtedly seen the claim: “Everybody’s moving to Metro.” And the claim isn’t that far off; in the past year, contract-free, budget-friendly carriers have boomed both in terms of subscribers and coverage. The industry’s growth can be attributed to a lot of things, including incredible rate hikes from the nation’s three largest carriers, though the most important factor has been the rapid evolution in smartphone technology.

Case in point: the LG Spirit 4G, a knockout device in terms of both style and functionality. Where the Spirit really shines, though, is its price tag—at $199 with no contract and MetroPCS’ unlimited plans starting at just $40, the Spirit is perhaps the most capable of all economy Android devices on the market today.

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3 years ago

Minor Galaxy Note 2 security loophole could lead to momentary lock screen bypass

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As Samsung security vulnerabilities go, this one's relatively minor. Nevertheless, if you're using lock screen security on the Galaxy Note 2, this latest loophole is something you should be aware of. Blogger Terence Eden has discovered a way to briefly bypass lock screen security on Samsung's 5.5-incher, momentarily allowing access to the home screen.

By hitting "emergency call," then "emergency contacts," then holding the home button, the main home screen becomes visible for around a second -- just enough time to load an app, before reverting back to the lock screen. This dismisses any app that's loaded, but if a direct dial shortcut is placed on the home screen then it's possible to activate this and make a call, bypassing the lock screen security. Using this method it could also be possible to load up email or SMS apps for long enough to get an overview of sensitive messages.

So this certainly isn't anywhere near as serious as the Exynos kernel vulnerability or USSD code hacks that came to light late last year, but it's probably something that should be fixed. Until then, if you're concerned about folks breaking past your lock screen security, you could avoid placing direct dial shortcuts on your main home screen. (Or alternatively keep your phone away from people you don't trust.)

We've got Eden's original video after the break.

Source: Terence Eden; via: Engadget

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