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2 years ago

AC Explains: The Verizon Galaxy Nexus is still supported by Google

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Reports across the Internet about the Verizon Galaxy Nexus being dropped from AOSP support -- or even worse, no longer being updated by Google -- apparently were a bit premature.  Dan Morrill has posted the following to the Android Contributors Google Group:

Hello! This is a quick clarification about support for CDMA devices.

For various technical reasons, recent CDMA Android devices implement core telephony functionality in .apk files provided in binary form by the carriers. To function correctly, these .apk files must be signed by the so-called "platform" key. However, when an individual creates a custom build from the AOSP source code, they don't use the same signing key as these CDMA flies were signed with. [...]

He goes on to note that the AOSP documentation was simply updated to reflect this fact, and that they will continue to provide as much of the closed-source material as they can.  

So what does that mean? Signing keys are tricky things. When we build Android from the available AOSP source, we use a specific set of keys to digitally sign all the binaries. When "official" builds are made by Google or manufacturers, they use a different set of keys. When these keys are mismatched, things can get wonky. Google doesn't want your phone (or tablet) to be wonky. The fellow who built that custom ROM you're using doesn't want things to be wonky. If these changes weren't made and brought to everyone's attention, wonkiness would have resulted, and nobody would have known why without a lot of digging around.

Verizon Galaxy Nexus devices are still Nexus devices. They still have unlockable bootloaders. They still have the Android source available. They just have changed the way they redistribute binaries, because of incompatibilities with the signing keys.

Android developers will just have to change the way they build for the Toro (Verizon Galaxy Nexus), the Stingray (the LTE Xoom), and the Crespo 4G (Nexus S 4G). The sky has not fallen, and they'll figure it out.   

Source: Android Contributors

More info: AOSP documentation; Google Support pages (1), (2)

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2 years ago

MIUI ROM is going open-source

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MIUI is not the ROM for everyone, we get that.  But for those that do enjoy using it, things just got a little better -- Xiaomi has decided to release the source code changes and is in the process of open-sourcing the project.  As of the time of this writing, you'll find the core patches to things like the framework and the make files as well as code for the file explorer, notes app, compass app, and sound recorder at MiCode's github pages.  An official sounding announcement on the MIUI Android blog says to expect code for more applications in the "very near future".  Hooray!

MIUI is more than just a custom ROM.  Xiaomi builds and releases phones in China running the heavily customized version of Android, and through the hard work of their development team and independent developers, the builds have been modified to work with many phones we're familiar with here in the rest of the world.  It's a big change from the stock look and feel of Android, and some say it has a very Apple-esque vibe about it.  Have a look at a review of MIUI for the Nexus S and see what we're talking about.  This is a far cry from a developer adding in a few custom tweaks to the AOSP -- we're talking a very big rewrite much like HTC, Motorola, Samsung and LG do with their custom builds of Android.  The difference is that MIUI has now decided to share with everyone.

Building MIUI isn't going to be something that most of us will do.  But your favorite ROM developers, especially those that work with MIUI for various devices already, now have a whole new toolbox at their disposal.  Look for more, and better, builds of MIUI to come from this, as well as some features and options from MIUI to make their way into more customs ROMs everywhere.  Good news all around.

Source: MIUI Android

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2 years ago

Best Buy opening Samsung Galaxy Note pre-orders with free Flip Cover Case offer

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If you're looking to be the cool kid on the block by being one of the first to get a Samsung Glaxy Note from AT&T in your hands, Best Buy is where you'll want to sign up. They've opened up pre-orders for the device and to sweeten the deal a bit further, they'll be tossing in a free flip cover case. Pre-orders start Feb. 5 -- that's this Sunday -- with the device being available Feb. 19 for $300.

Source: Best Buy

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2 years ago

Secure Android phones to be rolled out to U.S. military and government officials

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"Secure" Android smartphones capable of handling classified content are to be given to U.S. officials across various government and military departments later this year, according to reports from CNN. The network's sources indicate that the devices, which run a modified version of Android, will first be given to U.S. soldiers, and then later rolled out to other officials and government contractors.

Current regulations don't allow those with access to classified information view it using a smartphone, and any device that's used to view or send such data is subject to strict security certifications. According to today's report, government developers have completed work on a version of Android that's certified to store -- but not send -- classified messages, and smartphones cleared to transmit classified data are expected "in the next few months."

CNN reports that the government-approved, secured version of Android, phone users will have control of each individual data transmission to the Internet, to ensure that sensitive information isn't included.

This isn't the first time we've seen Android win approval from the U.S. military. In late 2010 it emerged that General Dynamics was to build its GD300 Wearable Rugged Computer on Android software. Android's emergence as the platform of choice for secure government and military smartphones should go some way towards dispelling the myth that it's less secure than competing operating systems.

Source: CNN; Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

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2 years ago

Sony Ericsson Xperia NX arriving in Japan from Feb. 24

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It looks like Japanese consumers will be the first to get their hands on Sony Ericsson's 2012 smartphones. Japan's largest carrier, NTT Docomo, has announced that it'll start taking pre-orders of the Xperia NX from Feb. 10, with the first units due to go on sale on Feb. 24. Pricing information has yet to be announced.

The Xperia NX is Japan's version of the Xperia S, which was announced alongside its chunkier, waterpoof sibling the Xperia Acro HD last month. Curiously, both Japanese devices are sticking with Sony Ericsson branding, while U.S. and international variants bare the Sony name. The Xperia S, Sony's international flagship smartphone, is due to go on sale in Europe a couple of weeks later, in early March.

Source: NTT Docomo; via: XperiaBlog

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2 years ago

Sony Ericsson partners with Billabong, announces Xperia Active Billabong Edition

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Sony Ericsson has announced that it's entered into a global partenrship with Australian sports clothing brand Billabong, in an effort to extend the appeal of its Xperia phones to extreme sports enthusiasts. As part of the partnership, SE has revealed the Xperia Active Billabong Edition, which in addition to the fancy back cover shown above, also features a couple of unique software features. These include Billabong-branded screensavers and videos, along the Billabong LIVE app for keeping track of pro surfing news, if you're into that sort of thing.

Besides the Xperia Active, Sony says that its Xperia smartphones will be featured at major Billabong events, and that Xperia Play owners will soon be able to download Billabong Suft Trip, an "exclusive surf game".

If you're cooler than us, you can pick up the Xperia Active Billabong Edition from today in "selected markets". Check out our full review to find out more about the original Xperia Active. We've got today's full press release after the break.

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2 years ago

Apple expands patent claims against Samsung in Australia

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278 claims covering 22 patents across 10 devices

The latest round of legal wrangling between Apple and Samsung has seen the former significantly expand its patent claims against the latter in Australia. ​The Australian​ newspaper is reporting that Apple has broadened its suit against the Korean manufacturer to include 278 claims covering 22 patents across 10 devices.

The Australian suit, which began with Apple's seeking an injunction against sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, now encompasses a plethora of claims against Samsung smartphones and tabets. According to ​TheNextWeb​, some of the devices included haven't even launched in Australia yet. Samsung was reportedly given "only days" notice of this latest development, and consequently it's indicated that it won't be able to file a defense until "mid-May".

This is just the latest chapter in the ongoing patent war between Apple and Samsung, which has seen both companies attempt to block each others' products from sale in various countries over the past six months.

Source: TheNextWeb; The Australian

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2 years ago

LG Optimus LTE on TELUS outed in Canada

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Following the device's launch on Bell Mobility late last year, it seems LG's flagship smartphone, the Optimus LTE, will be making its way to rival network TELUS at some point, too. LG's official Canadian website has outed TELUS as the carrier of the Optimus LTE "P935" model (for those keeping score, Bell's version was the P930). U.S. readers will recognize it as the LG Nitro HD, which came to AT&T in late 2011.

TELUS has yet to issue any official confirmation, so there's no pricing or availability information on offer just yet. Bell currently sells the Optimus LTE for C$99 on contract, so we'd expect a similar price point from TELUS.

The manufacturer recently celebrated the milestone of a million Optimus LTE phones sold worldwide, with particularly strong sales in Asia.

Source: LG Canada; via: MobileSyrup

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2 years ago

Late night poll: Would you use an NFC mobile payment system?

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Google Wallet and NFC is a hot topic with a lot of folks.  It seems like a whole lot of people are concerned with the availability of Google Wallet (including yours truly), and we're all curious to learn more about ISIS, but we've no idea how popular either will ultimately be.  Just how many of you guys see yourself using any sort of NFC based mobile payment method?  NFC on phones has been around for a while in many parts of the world, but it never caught on in a big way -- especially in North America.  Of course, it wasn't really very available either, so maybe it never got a fair shake.

So let us know -- if and when NFC ends up on more new Android phones, will you use a mobile payment service?  Let us know in the poll.

Would you use an NFC based mobile payment system?

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2 years ago

ComScore: Android still holds the top spot in the U.S. smartphone market

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The latest ComScore numbers are out, and it looks like the predicted death of Android still hasn't happened.  During October, November, and December 2011, Android still experienced more growth than any other platform in the US.  Keeping the top spot with 47.3 percent market penetration (that's about 45 million and counting), Android grew another 2.5 percent overall.  Apple, on the success of the iPhone 4S and iPad2, also experienced growth during the period, albeit not as much as Android.  Just as interesting, but in a different way, is the fact that the rest of the players in the game lost market share.  Reasearch In Motion, Microsoft, and Symbian, who were once the big three, all lost market share and only hold about 22 percent of the market combined.  WebOS, once again, was a no-show. 

The number of smartphone users in the US also grew, reaching their highest ever point.  ComScore calculates that 97.9 million people now use a smartphone of some sort or another.  We expect that number will also continue to climb, as you can now get an Android or Apple smartphone for free with a new contract.  

On the manufacturer front, things also look much like the last go around.  Samsung still makes the most phones in the United States (25.3 percent of all phones), followed by LG Electronics, Motorola Mobility and Apple.  There's no data about how many smartphones each vendor sells, but we imagine more than a few of Samsung's sales were Galaxy S and Galaxy S II devices.  

We're used to this by now.  Android, with the might of Google and their online services, makes a very compelling argument to choose their products.  We couldn't imagine using any other product.  

Source: ComScore

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