The European Commission has given Sony the OK to take full control of Sony Ericsson, three months after Sony paid €1.05 billion for Ericsson's share of the partnership. Along with the entire company, the hefty sum also earned Sony an IP cross-licensing agreement, as well as ownership of five patent families. If you'll recall, upon announcement of the buyout, Sony said that the acquisition was fueled by the need to integrate SE smartphones into its existing network-connected devices, including TVs and tablets. The European Commission's approval is a major stepping stone in the acquisition process, which will likely be finalized in the coming weeks.
What does the buyout mean for consumers? As Sony said, it will likely begin focusing on how its smartphones can mingle with its current line of products. Back at CES, Sony showed off its idea of a "connected home", an environment in which its line of smartphones will almost certainly thrive. Who knows, is a smartphone that acts as a Playstation controller too much to ask for?
Our LG Spectrum review comes at an interesting time for both the smartphone manufacturer as well the carrier on which it resides, Verizon. On one hand you have LG, which has brought us some excellent high-end Android smartphones as well as a surprising low-ender in the Optimus line. And then you have Verizon, whose 4G LTE network is starting to mature at the ripe old age of 1 but at the same time can appear to have a glass jaw.
And now, we have the LG Spectrum. It's the U.S. version of the LG Optimus LTE -- the Korean manufacturer's second foray in to the latest in high-speed mobile data -- and cousin to the LG Nitro HD on AT&T. (The LG Revolution was one of Verizon's fledgling LTE smartphones.)
Join us after the break as we put the phone through its paces and see if it has what it takes to help carry Verizon deep into 2012.
Fast processor, fast data and a lot of customizations to make things easy for new(ish) users. Has a bright, high-resolution display.
The level of tweaks and customizations may turn some off. Battery life isn't stellar, slight UI lag in places.
The Spectrum is a solid phone for Verizon, but the highly skinned user interface is starting to look a bit cartoonish. The display is a strong positive, but yet again we're left waiting for the promised upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
What is open source? Open-source software is software that makes the source code freely available, for anyone to see and use. There are different open-source licenses that have different use conditions, from the GPL (GNU General Public License) -- which allows "free distribution under the condition that further developments and applications are put under the same license" -- to more liberal licenses like the Apache License, which doesn't require modifications to be open and have the source code available. Android uses both of these licenses, and we'll have a look at them in turn.
The Linux kernel that is used in the OS is covered under the GPL. This means that any changes made to the source code must be made available when a binary (geek-speak for a compiled, executable piece of software) is released to the public. This means manufacturers like HTC, Samsung, Motorola and the rest must release the kernel source-code for any devices they sell at the same time they begin selling them. For the most part, hardware manufacturers are pretty good about doing so, but they often miss the time frame and release the source code a little later than we would like. These are the code releases you see us mention -- the kernel and other open-source "bits" that are covered under the GPL.
The Android OS source code is released mostly under the Apache License. Anybody is allowed to download the source code and change it however they like, but they are not required to make their changes available in source code form to the public. This is why we can't change and recompile things like HTC Sense or MotoBlur -- the changes to the base Android source code aren't available to us. While many folks (myself included) don't like this situation very much, it does make sense from a business standpoint. If manufacturers had to share all of their secrets, there wouldn't be as much monetary incentive to innovate, so the source was offered with a far more liberal license. It certainly worked, as we see devices from many major players in the electronics world.
The expansion pack is a direct update to the original app, and brings with it 4 whole new levels among a bunch of other cool new features. We're not going to bore you with details, because we know you'd rather be playing this. Hit the break for download links, and a trailer for "The Leftover."
ClockworkMod developer Koushik Dutta has shown off some early progress in bringing touchscreen functionality to his popular custom recovery image for Android. In a video posted on his Google+ page, Koush demonstrates the ability to navigate through menus using touch, rather than the regular volume rocker/power button combo required by current ClockworkMod builds.
A custom recovery image is an important tool for anyone wanting to use custom firmware on their Android device, so it's great to see advanced functionality like touch headed to a popular recovery like CWM.
This isn't the first time we've seen early implementations of touch support in custom recoveries, though. Previous efforts have included an unofficial version of ClockworkMod for the Galaxy Nexus, which uses on-screen keys instead of old-fashioned clicky buttons. The important difference with Koush's implementation is that it allows you to touch and scroll anywhere on the screen to select the item you want, just like when you're browsing through menus in Android.
The developer points out that the version shown in the video is still a "rough cut", with plenty of work yet to be done. But based on what we've seen in the video, things are already looking very promising.
Well, look at that. New on the shelves at ShopAndroid.com is the Verizon Galaxy Nexus Spare Battery Charging System. It includes a spare 1850 mAh battery, plus a spare battery charger, so you can make sure you've always got a fresh one ready to go. Ours also comes with a microUSB travel charger, so there are no excuses in keeping your phoen ready.
While we're at it, let's give one away to our U.S. Verizon Galaxy Nexus owners. Just leave a comment on this post and we'll pick a winner later this afternoon. Good luck!
Behold, the ZTE V66 Android tablet, apparently destined for Verizon at some point. The tablet as already been submitted to the U.S. FCC, and now a thumbnail picture (we've blown it up a tad here) has been listed on the Bluetooth Special Interest Group's site.
What we're looking at in the V66 is a 7-inch tablet with some pretty rounded corners, Android 3.2 Honeycomb and 4G LTE data, along with the usual CDMA, Bluetooth, Wifi, and all that jazz.
We can also see a custom lock screen here, for what it's worth. And we're trying not to read too much into the "Sunday, February 2X" date -- it could mean anything or nothing, or it could be smack in the middle of Mobile World Congress. You don't typically see U.S. announcements come out of MWC, but then again we don't ZTE devices in the states yet to base that one, and there's no reason why Verizon couldn't be part of a larger launch.
Anyhoo, we'll be at Mobile World Congress if and when the V66 -- and we don't expect that to be the name Verizon ultimately bestows on it -- is announced stay tuned.
This week RIM has undergone probably its most important change since realizing SurePress wasn't a sure thing -- co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie stepped down as co-CEOs, and chief operating officer Thorsten Heins has taken their place in the head office. There have been calls for RIM to adopt Android. There have been calls fro RIM to adopt Windows Phone. Really, everybody seems to know what's best for RIM.
Our pals at CrackBerry got some one-on-one time with Heins this week, and we're learning a little more about his position on Android -- mainly that he's unimpressed with the hardware on which it's running. "They are all the same," he says.
Here's what Heins told CrackBerry's Kevin Michaluk:
Kevin: I keep reading these articles that BlackBerry should build on Android, but I just don't understand them. Thorsten: Just take a look where the Android OEMs are. I leave this to you. Take a look at their recent announcements and what you will immediately see is there is just no room for differentiation because they are all the same.
We've seen a lot of Android devices over the past year. Some good, some not. A lot of black slabs, to be sure. But also a dual-screen phone. Two phones with 3D screens. BlackBerry-esque phones with tiny screens and quint little keyboards. Thinner, lighter, faster, with web browsers that actually work and games you're not ashamed to play in public. Android hardware manufacturers might be guilty of too many models, but you certainly can't say they haven't experimented, even if it led to failure.
Before Heins bemoans the "sameness" of Android hardware, perhaps another look at RIM's own stable is in order.
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