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4 years ago

Late night poll: Do you keep your phone for the duration of its contract?

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It seems like there's a new Android phone coming out every week.  As with all things electronic, the new stuff looks better than the old stuff.  It's enough to drive anyone, especially an Android blogger, insane.  But it's darn near impossible to justify buying a new phone, off contract and at full price, every couple of months.  And let's face it -- sometimes we just love what we have.  A lot of people stuck with the first Droid, or the Nexus One because nothing else has caught their eye just yet.  There's a lot of variables, and there could be a lot of answers.  So the logical thing is to just ask.  Let us know in tonight's poll.

 

 

Do you keep your phone for the duration of its contract?

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4 years ago

The best Australian Android phones - As of Feb. 4, 2012

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We're back for another look at the best Android Phones, and this time we're heading down under. We've teamed up with our pals at Ausdroid.net for this one for the best Android smartphones available in Australia. 

So without further ado, let's get to it. And be sure to check out our other Best Phones lists below.

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4 years ago

What is tethering? [Android A to Z]

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What is tethering?  Besides the grounds for a giant debate about ethics (the kind that you can only find on the Internet) tethering, in this case, means to share the Internet connection from your phone with other devices. There are several ways to accomplish this -- connecting your phone to your computer via USB, setting up your phone as a wireless hotspot and router, and sharing a data stream over Bluetooth. All these connection types are built into Android, with native Bluetooth tethering new in Ice Cream Sandwich. Of course, different manufacturers can, and have, modified things so that these options are excluded -- at the behest of the carrier, of course. We'll talk more about why in a few minutes.

Tethering itself is pretty easily done.  USB tethering involves installing device drivers (Windows only) and plugging in your phone to a high-speed USB port on your computer, then using your computer's built-in connection manager to use the phone or tablet as a USB modem. Bluetooth tethering will need the phone paired with the computer, and the connection type set up correctly in your computer's Bluetooth settings. Wifi is the easiest way -- you just turn it on and connect as you would any other wireless hotspot.

Except that many carriers, especially in the United States, have blocked tethering this way.  

You see, your carrier wants to charge you a premium to use your data plan from any device besides your phone.  Nobody likes it, but it's in the terms you agreed to when you signed up. They have all sorts of ways to block tethering on their end, and they are pretty diligent about it. Android hackers and developers also have found ways to work around these blocks, and it's a big cat and mouse game. An inside source with one the the biggest cellular carriers in the world has specifically told me that if your usage pattern draws suspicion, there is no current method that can't be detected by you carrier, including the newer VPN methods. If you do it a lot, without paying the extra fees associated with it, you'll get caught.

We're not going to judge anyone, and a few of us here at Android Central think charging extra for tethering is silly -- especially with data caps. Just know what may happen before you start so you don't get caught unaware.

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

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4 years ago

Screen brightness, Advanced WiFi settings [From the Forums]

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Another full week coming to a close but we'll be here for you all through out the weekend as well. In case you missed anything from this week, get yourself caught up on the blogs and in the forums. Plus, stay tuned for our weekend conent which is always great to read through:

If you're not already a member of the Android Central forums, you can register your account today.

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4 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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4 years ago

ZEN and TECH 32: Mobile Nations health and fitness kickoff

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Georgia and Rene are joined by CrackBerry Kevin Michaluk to kickoff Mobile Nations Fitness Month. We break down how best to get started, set attainable goals, and get results, and address some of the most common questions and misconceptions. This is ZEN and TECH!

And while you're at it, check out Phil's introduction to Mobile Nations Fitness Month, and swing by our Health and Fitness forum.

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4 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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4 years ago

Erase your Android device before getting rid of it [Android 101]

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With the news today that Motorola accidentally shipped out 100 refurbished Xoom tablets without properly wiping the previous owners' information, it's worth a reminder of what you need to do when selling, returning or otherwise disposing of an Android device.

With any electronic device -- computer, tablet, smartphone or whatever -- it's important to keep your personal data secure. That means within your control, not just floating around for anyone to see. And that means not just tossing something in the trash when you're done with it. Or selling a device in the same state as it was when you finished with it.

You must remember to wipe.

Android makes it pretty easy to wipe -- or hard reset -- though it can vary slightly from device to device, hiding the rest option under strange menus. The best thing to do is to go to your settings menu and look for a reset option.

  • On the Galaxy Nexus with Ice Cream Sandwich, it's under the aptly named "Backup and Reset" option. Choose "Factory data reset," and you're done.
  • On recent Motorola phones, look under the "Storage" option in the settings menu. That's also where it is on the new LG Spectrum.
  • On Samsung phones, go to Settings>Privacy and choose factory reset.
  • On Honeycomb tablets (like the Xoom), it's under >Settings> Privacy.

Point is, the option to hard-reset is there, you might just have to look for it. (Note to manufacturers and carriers: Let's standardize that, shall we?) If you'd prefer, you can also wipe from the stock recovery, but that really happens when you reset from the menu. (Read our Android A to Z listing for recovery for more on that.)

And this is important, too -- don't forget your microSD card. Data on it -- including pictures and videos, as well as some application data -- generally isn't erased with a factory reset. Some phones give you the option to format the SD card at the same time you erase the rest of the device. If not, you'll want to connect the device to a computer and format the card. If you're really paranoid, use one of those overwriting formatting programs. Or at the very least, just take it out of the device you're getting rid of.

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4 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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4 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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4 years ago

Motorola warns that some refurbished Xoom tablets might have old users' info

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Ready Cory H just dropped word that he's received an e-mail from http://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=http%3A%2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.com%2Ffs-bin%2Fclick%3Fid%3DJAF5WzpxbKM%26subid%3D%26offerid%3D437846.1%26type%3D10%26tmpid%3D20609%26u1%3Ddac%26RD_PARM1%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.woot.com%252F%26ourl%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.woot.com%252F&token=p-6k_4K5 with some slightly troubling news, but also with a very cool resolution. Cory purchased a refurbished Motorola Xoom tablet from Woot last year. They've been sold off and on for deep discounts, and it's a pretty good deal. Only, it turns out that Motorola might not have properly refurbished them all -- mainly that user data from the previous owner might not have been erased. That's a pretty big whoopsie. 

In its own press release, Motorola says that 100 tablets out of a batch of 6,200 refurbished units might not have been wiped. Woot, in its e-mail, identifies them as having been available for purchase between Sept. 29, 2011 and Dec. 4, 2011. (For some context, Motorola has said it sold 1 million Xooms in 2011.)

Motorola's looking to get the unwiped Xooms back, will provide a pre-paid shipping box and rush your device back in three or four days. And they're sweetening the deal with a $100 American Express gift card, at least in Woot's version of the e-mail.

And Motorola hasn't forgotten about the 100 users who might have had their information sent on to new owners. For those who purchased and returned a Xoom between March and October 2011 at http://Amazon.com, Best Buy, BJ’s Wholesale, eBay, Office Max, Radio Shack, Sam’s Club, or Staples and a few other independent retailers, Motorola is offering a complimentary two-year membership of Experian’s ProtectMyID service.

All in all, it's a good response from Motorola (and Woot, too). Even if its only 100 tablets, someone's user data should be left behind on a refurbished model.

Read Motorola's full press release here, and we've got Woot's e-mail after the break.

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4 years ago

MAGIX Camera MX allows you to add photo filters in real time

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Youtube link for mobile viewing

We all want to be photographers, right? While out and about we love to whip out the camera, snap some pics of where you are or what you are doing, but having the time to go back later and edit them can be a struggle. The ability to add real time effects to the pictures as you are about to take them would be amazing, and that is where MAGIX Camera MX steps up to the table in a big way. On iOS you have a plethora of applications that allow you to add these real time effects, but up until now Android has been left high and dry and MAGIX wanted to be the first to change that.

The application is rather simple to use, all you have to do is launch the app, select your effect and take the picture. Camera MX offers 16 various affects that can be applied with all of your common favorites such as Lomo, Sepia, Negative and various others. The editing ability does not end here, if you want to further tweak the image you can do so after the image has been captured with some more advanced abilities. Also included is the ability to adjust saturation, white balance, contrast and other image calibrations.

Once you have the image tweaked to your liking you are then able to share the photo from the application to your favorite social networks such as Twitter and Facebook or you can upload it directly to their site. Each user is given 500MB of free storage on the MAGIX website where you can store and organize your photos and even create slideshows. With all of the power that this application has to offer you are probably left waiting for the price tag and how much it is going to hurt your bank account, but you will be pleased to know it can be downloaded from the Android market for free. Be sure to hit the break for download links and get yourself ready to enter the next photo contest!

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4 years ago

Win an HTC Sensation XL with Hyperbees, Android Central and HTC

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The Android Super Challenge on HyperQuiz

How'd you like to win one of two HTC Sensation XL smartphones by proving your superior Android knowledge in the leading quiz game for Android? We're giving you the opportunity to do just that, as part of a new contest in partnership with game developer HyperBees and HTC.

Behold the Android Super Challenge on HyperQuiz! To enter, simply download HyperQuiz and select the "Contest" game mode. From there, it's up to you to work for the highest score between now and 11pm GMT (6pm EST) this Sunday, Feb. 5, by answering questions about Android!

First and second place winners will each receive a Sensation XL, and first through fiftieth placed winners will be rewarded with in-game currency (creds). We've got the Android Market link after the jump, along with the full terms and conditions for the contest.

Be sure to check back next Tuesday, Feb. 7, to see if you've won!

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4 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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4 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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