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3 years ago

From the Editor's Desk: Android Central at CES


In case you've been living under a rock the past week or so, CES -- the Consumer Electronics Show -- is this week in Las Vegas. And, yes. We're here. Or we're on our way here. You get the idea.

It's easy to be overwhelmed by CES. The flashing lights. The noises. The jingling of coins from the slots. The gratuitous nudity. And that's just the airport.

So here's an easy primer:

  • This evening: Toshiba and NVIDIA are doing their things. You can probably figure out which is the bigger of the two. We'll be liveblogging, of course.
  • Monday: It's Media Day. That's the one where we really go nuts, with 1,700 sites in close quarters, all liveblogging the same thing at the same time. We'll be doing that, too.
  • Tuesday-Friday: CES actually opens at the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

See? That's not that difficult. So how can you keep up with all the Android news at CES? Just keep it glued to It's that easy.

If you really want to get the behind-the-scenes scoop, though, you need to hop on your favorite social network thingy. Here's who's on the ground for us in Vegas:

And for all your non-Android news, we've got a host of folks from our other sites in town, too. Find them after the break, and get ready for some fun!

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3 years ago

Samsung announces new Bluetooth speaker with NFC and apt-X codec support


Samsung has just announced a new set of digital audio equipment, most importantly to us smartphone nerds being a new Bluetooth speaker for pairing with phones and tablets. This newest speaker, model DA-F60, supports both NFC pairing and the apt-X audio codec. This is a not-so-common yet interesting use of NFC, which lets users tap a tablet or phone to the speaker to initiate the bluetooth pairing connection meaning there's no messing around with a manual Bluetooth setup -- pretty neat.

Apt-X, if you're not familiar, is a relatively new audio codec available in some devices that improves the dynamic range and quality of streaming bluetooth audio. The list of supported devices is small but growing -- including the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2, the HTC One (X, S, V) line and Motorola RAZR (original, HD, Maxx, i, M) line.

We should see a bit more of the new speaker (and Samsung's other offerings) at CES this week, and hopefully have some time to play around with these new ones. No pricing or availability is out just yet, but we should expect those shortly as well.

Source: Samsung (BusinessWire)

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3 years ago

Samsung Korea details Jelly Bean update for Galaxy S2, without giving a date


Samsung Galaxy S2 owners eager for a piece of Jelly Bean action will no doubts be delighted to hear the first official information surrounding the update. While no expected date has been provided, Samsung Korea has provided some details on what will be contained within the update to Android 4.1. 

First up the less positive points. The available internal storage will be reduced from 12GB to 11GB, thanks to a new system partition. Samsung says the changes in structure potentially means the update can take an hour to flash. Also, apparently it's only going to be available by Kies, with no OTA update option available. 

Now onto the fun stuff. Of course, an update to Jelly Bean brings the likes of Project Butter and Google Now to the table. As part of the update, some additional applications such as Google+, Google Play Books and Google Play Movies will be pre-loaded. Additional functionality will come to the camera app, and Pop Up Play and Smart Stay from some of Samsung's newer devices will also be added to the Galaxy S2. 

It's sadly still a waiting game at this point, but with some official news coming out from Samsung, we'd like to hope it means the update isn't that far away from dropping. 

Source: Samsung Korea (Translated) via SamMobile

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3 years ago

Windows Phone users to get their broken Google Maps web experience back


Yesterday it seems that every single Windows Phone user was over at WPCentral lamenting the loss of the Google Maps web app for Windows Phone. It seems that Google made a change that redirected users with a Windows Phone browser UA string to Google search page instead of the Google Maps page they were expecting.

Google later chimed in and said that Google Maps on the mobile site was designed for webkit browsers, which IE on Windows Phone is not. Questions were raised about why it used to work, why it stopped working, and why Google was the devil. Turns out that a big fuss was made over a relatively minor (minor to Google anyways) product change. Google has reverted things back the way they were, and delivered this statement to The Next Web.

We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users.

In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to where they could at least make local searches. The Firefox mobile browser did offer a somewhat better user experience and that’s why there is no redirect for those users.

Recent improvements to IE mobile and Google Maps now deliver a better experience and we are currently working to remove the redirect. We will continue to test Google Maps compatibility with other mobile browsers to ensure the best possible experience for users.

A lot of Windows Phone fans are going to cry foul, and claim that their voices changed the world and moved the mountain that is Google, but even a few admitted Windows fans came to the very same conclusion that it was done because the experience, well, it sucked. 

The simple fact is that smart companies are going to build web apps that work well for Android and iOS because that's the vast majority of the mobile market. If that means building for webkit based browsers, then people on the fringe of the market won't be part of it. Google has decided to give Windows Phone users back the poor experience they want, but if future updates incorporate webkit-only features, you can bet Google will stop supporting IE once again. It's a decision about money, not about hate for Microsoft. 

Source: The Next Web

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3 years ago

Apps of the Week: Super Monsters Ate My Condo!, Netflix New Releases, AntennaPod and more!


We said we'd be back in 2013 with our weekly app picks, and here we are. Trying to start off the year right before some of us make the trip to Las Vegas for CES 2013, we've got a whole grouping of great picks for you this week. A mix of games, utilities and overall fun apps can be found here, so stick around after the break and see how we did.

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3 years ago

Weekend project: Customize your home screen with UCCW, the ultimate custom widget


Anytime you see folks discussing the virtues of Android, you hear the word custom being thrown around in one form or another. We're not talking about ROMs or kernels or anything like that, we mean the built in options to make your Android phone look like no other phone -- widgets. Specifically UCCW, the ultimate custom widget.

Ultimate is a pretty bold claim for any developer to make, especially when you're talking something as personal as the way our phones look. UCCW works it though, and is a way to change the look and feel of your home screen in a way only limited by your imagination. It's a "master" widget, which is simply a blank canvas that's painted the way you decide, either through your own talent or from themes (called uzips) that other talented folks have created.  Hit the jump, have a look, and get customized.

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3 years ago

The week in international Android news - Jan. 5


Happy New Year! CES is literally days away from us now, and with Alex en-route to Las Vegas as we speak, it falls to me to round up the weeks international Android news. CES leaks and rumors have dominated the headlines as we might expect since we returned from the holiday break, but there's been plenty to talk about since our last international round up.

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3 years ago

Play Magazines now offering 'free for print subscribers' option


According to a Google Play support document -- and confirmed when we browse to some magazines -- Google is now offering a "Free for print subscribers" option for certain magazines in the Play Store. When browsing many popular magazine subscriptions in the Play Store that have a print component, tapping on "subscribe" offers you three options. On top of the regular monthly or yearly subscriptions, you now have the option to get the digital version for free if you're already a print customer.

Google has likely signed some kind of content deals to make this happen, but however it happened it's a good thing. Many different publishers have offered this feature for their own websites and magazines, but its nice to see Google offering the same option with a digital subscription through the app as well.

Source: Google; Via: Android Police

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3 years ago

New 'Amber Brown' Galaxy Note 2 shows up again, this time in real photos


Quickly following on the heels of leaked renders of two new colors of the Galaxy Note 2, we've got some real hands-on images of the Amber Brown version of the device. The device seems to be all the same as the other Note 2 varieties, but now covered in a deep brown color. This is probably going to be a bit of a polarizing color -- either love it or hate it -- if we have to be honest, but more options are always better. This model is a Japanese version for the carrier NTT Docomo but it's feasible that we could see this color, along with the new "Ruby Wine" (aka red) color, come to other markets also.

We've got one more look at the device for you after the break. The source link below has several more with pictures of the box, accessories and color-matched brown flip cover as well.

Source: GizChina

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3 years ago

Sprint confirms own-branded prepaid service launching Jan 25


Following some rumors of a new prepaid option, Sprint has confirmed today with FierceWireless that it will be launching the new service under its own brand name on January 25th. Cleverly named "Sprint As You Go" will offer unlimited talk, text and data for $70 per month on smartphones or $50 on featurephones, with no annual contract required. The prepaid service will not throttle data, unlike its subsidiaries Boost and Virgin which have set plans to throttle data usage after 2.5GB.

Also unlike its other prepaid carriers, Sprint will only be selling these new Sprint As You Go plans in its own retail stores rather than with third party partners. The carrier is positioning these plans as a higher-end option that offers users most of the same features of the postpaid plans, but without a contract.

Sprint will unfortunately be limiting these new plans to just four phones right now, two of which are smartphones. The LG Optimus Elite for $150 and Samsung Victory for $250 are the smartphone options, the latter having LTE data connectivity. It's understandable that the new plans should launch with a limited selection of lower end devices, but we surely hope that this opens up quickly. Sprint is going to have to do something special to compete with other prepaid GSM carriers that offer similar (or lower) prices and a vastly wider selection of devices.

Source: FierceWireless

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3 years ago

New antenna from SkyCross hopes to alleviate LTE band fragmentation


You've heard tech pundits talk about the absolute mess that is LTE frequencies before I'm sure. Even Apple was forced to break the tradition of "one phone for all" when they decided to incorporate an LTE radio, and Apple never likes change. The problem is that there are 38 different frequencies with active LTE networks or planned LTE networks world wide. That means that your LTE phone set up for one carrier probably won't work on another. It's a big problem that needs a solution, and quickly.

Enter SkyCross. They just started shipping an LTE antenna that can support up to 12 different frequencies on one piece of hardware. That's just the type of hot hardware injection the future of LTE needed -- as things are about to get worse. I'm going to use US examples, but this applies world-wide (none of you are safe). 

Verizon has been the fastest at rolling out LTE. The currently use the 700MHz band for their LTE network. The issue is that spectrum isn't infinite, and Verizon also has to buy and repurpose 2100MHz spectrum. They will have to bond both frequencies together in what's called aggregation, and any antenna they use will have to support both bands. Now compound this for manufacturers trying to make a device that runs on multiple networks, as we all hope that will be the future of LTE. In the US, the big four will need an antenna that supports up to eight different frequencies to make it happen. We're going to need better antennas that can handle it.

SkyCross plans to officially announce things at CES, and they say we should see their gear in phones this year. We'll keep an eye on this one.

Via: Gigaohm

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3 years ago

More Sony Xperia Z leaks show off an apparent promo video confirming full HD display


Sony device leaks are nothing new, and indeed we've recently seen plenty of the forthcoming Xperia Z. The device, known as Yuga for some time, is expected to be unveiled officially next week during Sony's CES press event in Las Vegas. We've already seen some leaked photos of the device, swiftly followed by leaked press renders. Now, we're treated to a series of slides obtained by ePrice that appear to be from some form of promo video. 

We're expecting from the leaks and rumors seen thus far that the Xperia Z will be a 5 inch, 1080p device. What we're seeing here most definitely backs that up -- well, the 1080p part at least. Other slides make mention of the "skeleton frame structure" giving a good look at the sides and back of the device. In short -- it looks nice. It looks really nice. 

The 13MP Exmor RS camera is also mentioned, and it looks to have fast capture and HDR on board for videos as well as pictures. And, like some of Sony's 2012 Xperia devices, the Xperia Z is also water resistant. 

We've got a pretty good picture by now of what the Xperia Z is all about, but needless to say, Android Central will be live from Sony's press conference to bring it all to you as it happens. 

Source: ePrice via Xperia Blog

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3 years ago

T-Mobile to offer truly unlimited data on Monthly 4G prepaid plans


Just a few months after debuting its truly unlimited data plan for contract customers, T-Mobile will begin offering the same service option to Monthly 4G prepaid customers as well. Prior to this, the highest tier of the Monthly 4G service was $70 for unlimited talk, text and data -- with a throttle after 5GB of usage. It seems that this level will be replaced by a plan of the same price with truly unlimited, unthrottled data. This is a great move for T-Mobile, especially as it moves more of its spectrum to the 1900MHz frequency for HSPA+, which opens up possibilities to a whole host of new unlocked devices. Monthly 4G plans are prepaid, require no credit check or contract and can be used with any unlocked GSM device that supports its frequencies.

TmoNews claims the service will go live just a few short days from now on January 9th, and we'll be sure to check back in and see if that is the case. We've got a picture of the marketing materials for the plans for you to check out after the break. There's another image and more information at the source link below as well.

Source: TmoNews

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3 years ago

AT&T launches several more 4G LTE markets in Michigan


AT&T is continuing its nationwide 4G LTE rollout today with several new markets going live with the service. As was the case with Verizon before it, AT&T is reaching the point where it has expanded its network to many of the major markets in the U.S. and is now rolling out to some of the lesser populated areas. Users in the following markets in Michigan should see the service live now:

  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Beverly Hills, Michigan
  • Birmingham, Michigan
  • Monroe County, Michigan
  • Kent County, Michigan
  • Ottowa County, Michigan

We'll start to see more and more of these small rollouts throughout 2013. Have any of you in these areas noticed AT&T LTE go live yet? Let us know in the comments.

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3 years ago

Jelly Bean update now pushing out to HTC One X on O2 UK


A quick heads up to our friends in the UK rocking a HTC One X on O2. A tasty treat has begun to push out in the form of the much awaited Jelly Bean update, confirmed today by HTC UK on their official Twitter feed. As is so often the case with these things, the update is being pushed out in batches, so not everyone will get it right away. To check if you're one of the lucky ones be sure to head into Settings>About>Software Updates>Check Now. 

The update is pretty hefty in size at 365MB, so you'll want to be connected to WiFi. The 4.1 update for the One X has been rolling out internationally for a few months now, and while O2 customers will no doubt have been chewing their fingers off in anticipation, at last their patience has paid off. In addition to all the benefits of Jelly Bean like Google Now and Project Butter, the update brings with it the latest version of HTC's Sense software, known as Sense 4+. If you've managed to snag the update today, be sure to share your experiences with us in the comments below. 

Source: HTC UK (Twitter), O2 Customer Support Forums

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