3 years ago

What is USB? [Android A to Z]


What is USB?  USB stands for Universal Serial Bus, and is a standard for connectors, cables and protocols used for data transfer and power between a computer and another electronic device.  It was developed in 1995 to allow a single connection method for things like computer keyboards, mice, and printers as well as connected devices like mp3 players and cameras. A standard USB interface has four wires (USB 3.0 has eight for double the data transfer), with two acting as power leads and two for data transfer. Commercial applications have up to eight wires and connection points, and can also provide 12- or 24-volt power in addition to the normal 5 volts. You'll see these sort of systems in cash registers and commercial barcode scanners.  

What we're most interested in is the implementation in mobile devices.  Most mobile devices in the world use USB 2.0 for data transfer and/or power supply. In China, laws have been passed making manufacturers keep to the USB standard for data transfer and power, and in December 2011 a law was written that all mobile phones will be able to use the same charger, with micro-USB as the standard, by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation. This only affects phones -- tablets and laptops are exempt because they have different power requirements.

Most new Android phones you'll buy have a microUSB (like the picture above) connector. The data cable will have a small plug to insert into the phone on one end, and a standard USB connector to plug into your computer. This cable will allow for data transfer -- to copy pictures or music or do a little hacking, as well as 5 volts to charge the device.  Some older models have a miniUSB connector, which does the same thing but with a different, slightly larger, port. MicroUSB is a more robust connector, being rated at 10,000 "insertion cycles" so both the port on the phone as well as the cable should last longer. Some devices need a non-standard USB connector, like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (or nearly every other Android tablet). Internal design doesn't permit a standard microUSB connector to fit on the board, so a wider, thinner plug and port combo was used.  Also, some tablets can't get power fast enough to charge via a USB connector and use a separate DC socket and adapter for charging. For devices like the iPhone that have a non-standard connection port, an adapter can be made to allow them to comply with European mandates of a single charger solution.  

Lastly, some phones use the microUSB interface for other things besides data transfer and power.  Seeing HDMI output provided through a MHL (Mobile High-definition Link) is becoming pretty common, and allows a special adapter to be used to provide high definition video to stream out to televisions or computer monitors. These adapters can be purchased for about 15 dollars (US) and allow a standard HDMI cable to connect to your phone.  

We've seen other connection methods come and go, and new ones are always being worked on, but USB offers relatively high-speed data transfer, is adaptable for various power needs, and is likely to stick around for a long time.

Previously on Android A to Z: What is tethering?; Find more in the Android Dictionary

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3 years ago

Enter to win a Galaxy Nexus by Samsung and 6 months free service courtesy of Mobilicity and Android Central!

To mark Mobilicity’s recent launch of the Galaxy Nexus by Samsung, and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Mobilicity wants to give one lucky person a small token of affection: a Galaxy Nexus by Samsung and 6 months of free unlimited talk, text, and data service on Mobilicity’s $40 Super Savings plan (a $55/month value)!

We want to make this contest interesting, so we want you to declare your love for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. And it might not hurt if you threw in some Android Central and Mobilicity affection as well. In the forum linked below, write a poem, a love letter, a limerick -- whatever suits your fancy -- showing us just how much love you have. Heck, you can even sing a song or make a video and upload it for all to see! It's all fair game.

Unfortunately, there are rules, but they are short. The contest is only open to those living in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa (Mobilicity’s unlimited zones). Keep your entries family friendly, as normal forum rules apply. The contest begins right now, and ends Sunday night at midnight PST so get those entries in!

Enter to win a Galaxy Nexus from Mobilicity!

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3 years ago

Quebec's Videotron sets its Galaxy Nexus launch for February 8


Following fellow regional carriers WIND and Mobilicity's lead, Québec-based Videotron will launch the Samsung Galaxy Nexus this Wednesday, February 8. Still no word on pricing, though we'll keep our ears peeled the closer we get to Wednesday. The flagship device will be compatbible with Videotron's "4G" network, which boasts download speeds of up to 42 Mbps.

Videotron covers most of Québec's largest metro areas, including Montréal and Québec City. It is just the latest in a long list of Canadian carriers to snag the device, which includes TELUS, Rogers, and Fido to name a few. Hit the source link for the Videotron's product page, where you'll be able to snag the device once hump day rolls around.

Source: Videotron


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3 years ago

Fresh HTC Ville pics give a clearer look at HTC Sense 4.0


Last Monday we got out first look at the HTC Ville, an upcoming handset that we're expecting to see unveiled at Mobile World Congress in a few weeks. Today four new photos of the phone have appeared over on Chinese forum ePrice, giving us a closer, clearer look at the currently unannounced device.

Judging by the icon placement, location, date, time and background, it looks like these images come from the same original source as last week's leaked video. However, unlike the video, these are of (reasonably) decent quality, showing off the chassis of the phone and HTC Sense 4.0's redesigned, geometric stylings.

Today's photos seem to confirm that version 4.0 will give HTC Sense it's biggest visual overhaul yet. The classic Sense dock is gone, replaced with ICS-style icons. And the iconic clock widget had undergone a few changes too, with more clean lines and less translucency. The lockscreen, however, seems to be more or less unchanged from Sense 3.x -- you've still got the familiar metal ring and four shortcuts. And in terms of industrial design, it's clear we're looking at a pretty thin device, with what seems to be slightly raised areas at the top and bottom of the back panel.

As with any unofficial leak, things can, and likely will change as the unveiling and eventual release approaches. We've got our fingers crossed for more HTC Ville goodness at MWC later this month. You'll find two more photos after the jump.

Source: ePrice; via: Phandroid

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3 years ago

Swype promises it's almost ready for Ice Cream Sandwich


Here's one of those good news/bad news things, which we're going to tell in reverse. The bad news is that Swype, the uber-popular third-party keyboard that lets you trace your finger from letter to letter instead of pecking, still isn't ready for Ice Cream Sandwich devices, never mind that they've been available for a few months now.  The good news is that ICS is still only on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S. (Officially, anyway.)

The gooder news is that Swype's got an update waiting in the wings that will finally enable it on the latest version of the Android operating system. It's "only days away," Swype says on Twitter. And along with the Ice Cream Sandwich support, Swype's promising "more goodies" as well.

Here's to hoping one of those goodies is a release in the Android Market. While we understand Swype's decision to stick with a business model where it's preloaded onto devices by the carriers and not available in the Android Market, it's getting a little old. Having to run to the Swype website to get our "beta" copy (nudge nudge, wink wink, know what I mean?) hasn't gotten any more fun. We're not going to bet that we'll see a shift in that sometime soon, but we can certainly hope. 

Anyhoo, stay tuned. Swype for Ice Cream Sandwich is on the way.

Source: @Swype 1, 2


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3 years ago

There's no way Verizon's VDay Confessions contest could get risque, is there?


Oh, this could get good. Verizon's cooking up a little Valentine's Day contest, wherein you can win a Motorola DROID RAZR. (Not a new RAZR MAXX? Lame.) The contest kicks off Feb. 13 and runs through Valentine's Day. To enter, you'll have tweet a "creative" Valentine's Day confession -- poems and pics are suggested -- and tag the stories with #tweetheart.

So, ya know, you could say something nice about your sweetie, something about along romantic dinner, maybe a walk through the park. Or we could well see sordid tales from the Red Light District. Because this is, after all, the Internet. 

Find out next week, we suppose.

More: @vdayconfessions

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3 years ago

Free Android Wallpaper of the day - Iowa Sunset


Today's free Android Wallpaper comes to us from reader jcarley0830, who snapped this sunset on Jan. 31 in Altoona, Iowa, with a Canon T2i and an 18-55mm lens. 

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3 years ago

Latest Galaxy S III rumors suggest May launch, 7mm thickness



We now know it won't be at Mobile World Congress, but that hasn't stopped the steady trickle of rumors relating to the Samsung Galaxy S III. The latest round of unconfirmed, unverifiable info comes from Korean site ETNews, which cites its own "industry insiders."

According to these sources, the phone includes such previously-rumored specs as Android 4.0, a quad-core CPU and LTE support -- none of which is particularly unsurprising for a Samsung flagship product in 2012. However, the most interesting rumor concerns the device's dimensions -- it's said to measure just 7mm thick, thanks to the introduction of thinner internal components. At 7mm, the Galaxy S III would still be a hair thicker than Huawei's P1S, but considering its souped-up internals, it's still incredibly impressive. That figure would see Samsung shave almost a millimeter and a half off the girth of the Galaxy S II, which measured 8.49mm.

Other rumored specs for the Galaxy S III include a 2MP front-facing camera and 8MP rear-facing shooter, which apparently protrudes slightly from the back of the device.

Looking further ahead, ETNews suggests that Samsung, apparently undeterred by lukewarm uptake of other 3D phones, may be planning to launch its own 3D smartphone later in the year.

Today's rumors indicate a possible May 2012 launch for the Galaxy S III, which certainly wouldn't surprise us, and would fit within the Samsung's previously-announced timeframe. In any case, we're expecting to hear more about the Galaxy S III sometime after Mobile World Congress.

Source: ETNews; Thanks, Erich!

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3 years ago

Kayak abandons BlackBerry, will support 'Googlerola phone' -- or other Android devices


It's bad enough that when Kayak.com announced it was dropping support for its BlackBerry app that it said it was a "practical decision." That's gotta sting, right? (Even if it's true. Or especially if it's true.) But what really gave us a chuckle was Kayak's line about devices it will continue to support. 

"If you're thinking of switching to an iPhone, Googlerola phone, other Android device, Windows Phone 7 device, or a Nokia device, we will continue to innovate and maintain our free apps for you," Kayak's billo wrote on the company's news section. "Googlerola phone." Heh. Looks like we're not the only ones chomping at the bit to see what what comes out of the proposed merger (acquisition, really -- Motorola's getting about $12.5 billion out of it) between Google and Motorola. And Kayak, like many of you, is of the mind that soon enough in the future you'll have two classes of Android -- Googlerola, and everything else.

Google's Andy Rubin, of course, has said otherwise -- that Motorola continue to operate as a separate company, and that it doesn't have a lock on future Nexus phones. (Of the major smartphone manufacturers, HTC and Samsung have been tapped for the three Nexus devices.)

"We don't expect that to change at all," Rubin said back in August 2011. "The acquisition is going to be run as a separate business. They will be part of that bidding process, and part of that lead development process. And obviously Android remains open to other partners to use as they are today."

The two companies expect the merger to be finalized "in early 2012," meaning any time now, once regulatory approval is received.

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3 years ago

Rdio app updated with new interface, lock screen track control


Rdio, a big-name streaming music service (and my personal favourite out of the bunch), today updated their Android app with some significant changes. The last update was this summer, and simply optimized the app for Ice Cream Sandwich. With the latest version, the home landing page is now a lot more helpful, offering quick links to trending tracks, new releases, and recommendations. Thanks to Android Ice Cream Sandwich, the app also lets you control tracks and view album art from, the lock screen. The app is also getting a bit more sociable; now you can also search for users, view their collections, and add them as friends from the app. That feature in particular is great, because I consider the social element the biggest benefit of Rdio. Search has been further tweaked so that you can filter results for only what's cached locally - ideal for those times that you want to get your tuneage, but don't want to kill your battery with streaming. 

As always, Rdio for Android lets you build up a personal collection of music out of a 12 million-track library, stream individual songs and playlists, sync up some songs to your phone for offline access, and discover new music through friends that are also using the service. Up here in Canada, we don't have access to Spotify and Pandora, so Rdio and Slacker are our only options for sharing mobile music to the Facebook stream. Slacker has some solid tailor-made stations, but I tend to side with Rdio for being more personal. 

Interested? You can find a download link and video demo of the update after the jump. Just keep in mind that you have to shell out $10/month for mobile access. 

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3 years ago

HTC posts final Q4 2011 financials, expects weaker Q1 2012


HTC has published its final Q4 2011 financial results, confirming the 2.49% year-on-year slip in earnings revealed in last month's unaudited numbers. In the fourth quarter of last year, HTC brought in NT$101.42 billion, down from NT$104 during the same period in 2010. There was also a gloomy outlook for the first quarter of 2012, with projected revenues of NT$65-70 billion (down from NT$104.16 billion in Q1 2011), and a much lower operating margin of around 7.5%.

The manufacturer said the Q4 slump, and expected weakness in Q1 2012, were a "temporary phenomenon" due to its current "product cycle transition", as it looks to unveil new handsets at Mobile World Congress later this month.

HTC faced strong competition in late 2011, with a resurgent Apple launching the iPhone 4S, as well as growing dominance of the Android space by Korean rival Samsung. The company has recently indicated its plans to do more with fewer models in 2012, focusing on stronger "hero" devices.

New models unveiled in Barcelona in a few weeks are expected to include the "HTC Ville", which leaked last week, and the quad-core "HTC Edge."

Source: HTC

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3 years ago

Monday Brief: WP8 Features, Fitness Month, Free PlayBooks, and an iPad 3 Giveaway

3 years ago

ShopAndroid Daily Giveaway No. 1: Galaxy Snap-On Cover, Galaxy SII Extended Battery & more!


We're kicking off this week's ShopAndroid Daily Giveaway with a closer look at the Qmadix Galaxy Nexus Snap-on Cover, a Rezound Hard Shell, the Seidio Galaxy SII Extended Battery, and the Droid RAZER Case-Mate Tough Case.

Leave a comment stating which one of the featured accessories you'd like to have. We will pick a winner from each daily post Sunday at midnight. Pretty simple, right? Let's get this thing started.

Qmadix Snap-On Cover for Samsung/Verizon Galaxy Nexus

The Qmadix Snap-On Cover is form-fitted to your Samsung or Verizon Galaxy Nexus and features a textured rubberized exterior to allow a firm grip on your device.  The case is lightweight, and fairly thin-- keeping your Galaxy Nexus' slim profile as close as possible.  The Snap-on cover features cutouts for all of the Galaxy Nexus features, and leaves the screen exposed for full functionality. 

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3 years ago

White Galaxy Nexus is official, coming to the UK from Feb. 13


Following reports from some online retailers early last month, we now have official confirmation from Samsung that the white Galaxy Nexus is the real deal, and will be going on sale next week in the UK. Sammy promises that the white (GSM) Galaxy Nexus will be making its way to "a range of stores across the country" from next Monday, Feb. 13.

Like last year's white Nexus S, the white Galaxy Nexus switches up the color of the chassis, rather than the bezel surrounding the screen. That means you'll get a classy white finish on the back and sides of the device, while the front is furnished in the same black glass as the original. Internally, it's the same Galaxy Nexus we all know and love.

So far we've heard nothing about any possible North American release for the white Galaxy Nexus, however our fingers are crossed for the launch of the Sprint LTE version later in the year.

We've got Samsung's press release after the break.

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