Available today from Samsung, $15 for pack of five tags
Samsung has announced the availability of its second-generation TecTiles tags, tiny writable NFC stickers that can be used to trigger various actions on a smartphone. For example, used with the TecTiles app, they can be programmed to check in on social networks, or toggle various settings on the device when it's within range.
TecTiles 2 are compatible with all NFC-enabled Samsung phones, and the company says they may work on other Android-based phones with NFC too, though it's making no promises. Unlike first-gen TecTiles, TecTiles 2 are fully compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S4. (Go figure.)
The tags are available today from Samsung's online store, priced at $15 for a pack of five, and they'll be starting to appear in brick-and-mortar stores from June. Hit the Google Play link above to grab the TecTiles app, or the source link below to buy the tags themselves.
Component supply issues behind it, HTC ramps up production of flagship device
Despite suffering some early setbacks due to camera component shortages, HTC is looking to ramp up production of its flagship HTC One handset. HTC North Asia president Jack Tong told Taiwan Focus that production will double in May and rise further in June to meet "strong demand." Speaking at a news conference, Tong added “We are optimistic about our high-end sales during April and June.”
Tong also highlighted the HTC Butterfly (the global version of the Droid DNA sold in Asia) as a strong performer, noting that sales had increased by as much as 50 percent since a price cut made it free on-contract in Japan. The Butterfly, Tong says, should also be getting a software update with Sense 5.0 and new features like BlinkFeed before the end of the month.
A shortage of specialized camera components resulted in shortages of HTC One stock around the phone's European launch, which had the knock-on effect of pushing back the U.S. release slightly. After a pretty dismal few months of financial results, HTC will be hoping that this increased demand for its phones will result in a stronger set of numbers in Q2.
"Growing buzz" moves up pre-order date for gaming handheld
NVIDIA has announced that it's moved up the pre-order date for its Shield handheld gaming device, due to "growing buzz" from partners in recent days. That means you can now pre-order NVIDIA Shield right now, either directly from NVIDIA or through one of its retailer partners -- Newegg, Gamestop or Canada Computers. Pre-orders are live three days ahead of the planned May 20 date.
As was announced a few days back, Shield sells for $349.99, and devices pre-ordered today should be arriving "by the end of June." Alongside the console itself, NVIDIA's also offering pre-orders on the carrying case, which costs $39.99, and carbon fiber and glossy black replacement lids, which go for $19.99 each.
We might have to wait a while for native Bluetooth 4.0 support to make it into the Android code base, but while OEMs are shipping phones with their own implementation of the wireless standard, app developers seem more than willing to hop onboard.
As such, the Fitbit app for Android has today been updated to take advantage of Bluetooth 4.0 syncing on the Samsung Galaxy S4, with all the improvements in efficiency that it brings. As Bluetooth 4.0 support isn't yet standardized in Android, Fitbit says custom development work is required for each new handset. Naturally, Samsung's big-selling flagship was an early priority.
Here's hoping support will follow for other BT 4.0 handsets like the HTC One. In the meantime, you can grab the latest version of Fitbit for Android over at the Google Play link above.
Samsung's continuing its Android tablet push with the Galaxy Tab 3 series, and it looks like there might be an 8-inch variant on the way alongside the current 7-incher. SamMobile obtained the shot you see above, which it claims shows the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0.
According to a spec sheet released alongside the image, the 8-incher will come in Wifi-only and 3G flavors, and run Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean on a 1280x800 panel. On the inside, it's supposedly an unnamed 1.5GHz dual-core CPU doing the number-crunching, with 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and a microSD slot. A 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and 5-megapixel rear shooter are also listed. The dimensions are also a point of interest, with a thickness of just 6.95mm being reported, potentially making this an extremely thin tablet.
The shot itself appears to be little more than a mock-up, but if accurate it would indicate that the 8-inch Tab 3 is running a the latest version of TouchWiz, and is also lacking the earpiece of its 7-inch counterpart. No release date is reported just yet, but we imagine it'll appear sometime after the 7-inch Tab 3's roll-out, due to take place over the next month.
Galaxy S4 could pass the 10 million mark twice as quickly as the S3
JK Shin has told the Korean press that he expects the Samsung Galaxy S4 to pass 10 million units sold next week. Speaking with the Korea Times, the Samsung co-CEO said he was "confident" the milestone would be met, adding "it is selling much faster than the previous model S3."
The Galaxy S4 benefits from having launched across three major U.S. carriers at the same time as the global launch. By contrast, the U.S. release of the S3 took place several months behind the initial European launch. That device passed the 10 million mark in late July 2012, having begun shipping a little under two months earlier. If the S4 hits 10 million next week, it'd mean S4s are being shifted twice as fast as last year's S3. It'd also make it Samsung's fastest-selling smartphone, the Korea Times notes.
The last set of shipment numbers reported in the Korean press suggested 6 million GS4s had shipped as of May 10. Today's Korea Times article refers to units sold, not units shipped, so it's possible the distinction may have been lost in translation. Either way, that's a lot of Galaxy S4s.
We're back for the second day of the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco, with more of the new services and features for Android that are rapidly changing the game for our fair mobile operating system.
Strap in, folks. Some of the top brass from Google's Android team are about to take the stage here at Google I/O, and maybe we'll get answers to a few of the burning questions from this year's conference. Plus, it's a chance for developers to chat directly with the other folks who make the magic happen.
It kicks off at 8:20 p.m. on the east coast, and 5:20 here in the west.
Pricing set in retail and online at RMB 3,299 for Chinese launch
We've been getting looks at the latest high-end Intel device from Lenovo, the K900, since all the way back at CES and it's finally ready to make its debut in China. Starting today both online and in retail stores, the K900 will go up for sale for 3,299 Yuan (about $536). If you'll recall back to our previous hands-on with the device, the K900 has a very flashy stainless steel construction with a couple of cool color options, and has many of the high-end specs you'd expect. We're looking at an Intel Atom Z2580 dual-core 2GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, a 5.5-inch 1080P display and 13MP (f/1.8) Sony Exmor camera sensor. For software, Lenovo is shipping the K900 with Android 4.2 on-board, which is a good sign, along with its own set of customizations integrated.
Lenovo says that the launch is just in China for now, where it has done pretty well in the past, but that there are additional international markets that will see the device as we move through the summer. Given Lenovo's previous device launches, we still wouldn't expect to see this one head to the U.S. in any capacity.
Have a little fun discovering hidden clues around Moscone Center
It's not all crazy long keynotes and intense developer sessions at Google I/O, sometimes you get to have a little fun too. Google just published an app called "Google I/O Hunt" in the Play Store today to let attendees of this year's conference have some fun exploring everything around I/O. As the name suggests, this is a scavenger hunt game you play around the Moscone Center to try and find "Alex the Android Dog" by following instructions and finding clues. You'll answer Google trivia questions, scan hidden NFC tags with your phone to get clues and unlock achievements throughout the game.
Now of course you won't be able to play if you're not at Google I/O, but hopefully at least a few of you out there get a chance to see what Google has you running around the conference for. The Google I/O Hunt trail starts off from the Google+ Office Hours counter.