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3 years ago

Xperia Z devices are randomly dying, but Sony is working on a fix

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Some Sony Xperia Z users are reporting that their device is randomly shutting down, never to turn back on again. XperiaBlog points to several different user groups that are finding their devices shut down without their knowledge, and can't do anything to have them come back to life. Although some report success doing a hard reset (holding power + vol up), this doesn't seem to be universal fix. There also doesn't seem to be a known cause either, which makes the bug even more troublesome to diagnose.

Sony's response to the issue is that it has come up with a fix for the random shutdowns, which will be implemented with the device's next software update. Our own Xperia Z seems to be going along strong and hasn't had such an issue, but then again we may just be lucky.

Source: XperiaBlog; More: Sony Xperia Z Forums

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3 years ago

Visa CEO: 'totally appropriate' to charge PayPal, Google Wallet for mobile payments

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Following previous statements from MasterCard, Visa is potentially planning to charge mobile payment operators extra fees for their transactions. Speaking at the Barclays Emerging Payments Forum, CEO of Visa Charlie Scharf stated that it would be "totally appropriate" to charge mobile payment processor additional fees for using its cards for payments. Payment systems like PayPal and Google Wallet are what's called a "staged wallet", which acts as an intermediary between credit cards and retailers that are accepting the payments. Because of this, when Visa and MasterCard cards are attached to the services they don't receive back as much information about the purchases being made.

Once relegated to just online purchases, the likes of PayPal and Google Wallet have started to put this payment system to work at physical retail locations as well. This not only directly cuts into the fee income of Visa and MasterCard, but cuts them twice when they also don't receive the valuable customer purchasing data. These additional fees, which MasterCard already plans to implement, will hopefully help in both arenas.

"Help" may not be the best descriptor though, because a new set of fees for staged wallet providers will only reduce the number of choices you have to pay with. Visa and MasterCard have a huge interest in cutting down any competing payment systems that sidestep their current ways of doing things. As many know, they have even gone so far as to launch their own mobile payment systems -- to little adoption.

We know that consumers want these types of single-wallet systems to simplify the way they pay for things every day, let's just hope that Visa and MasterCard don't have their way with this one.

Source: Reuters; The Verge

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3 years ago

New version of the Google Play app leaks, with an all new interface style

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A new version of the Google Play app has leaked, and it shows a new Holo-esque (and colorful) user interface. Droid-Life got their hands on an apk file labeled 4.0.16, and while it's clearly not ready for prime-time, it does show off a look we haven't seen before from Google.

Everything is clean, the font is all new, the icons are bigger, and the colors match the categories as displayed on the Google Play website. There are also a few changes in the settings, namely in the auto-update section which separates out Wifi from your data connection to auto-update apps.

The app is pretty broken, and they aren't making it available for folks to try themselves. That will probably change shortly, nothing stays secret on the Internet for long. And while everyone is speculating that this is the change for the next version of Android, we all need to remember that apps like Google Play can be easily updated without a system-wide change.

For now, you can head over to Droid-Life and have a look at what may be coming to everyone soon.

Source: Droid-Life

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3 years ago

Perfectly Clear app updated and now better, stronger, faster

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Perfectly Clear for Android just got a hefty update, making one of my favorite apps even better. Perfectly Clear is an intelligent photo editor, that can take a good picture and make it great. It adjusts all the color and exposure settings based on some sort of magic algorithm, and truly does make a big difference in the clarity, color, and quality of the pictures you take with your phone. With today's update, it now does it all better.

One of the major changes is a healthy speed increase, as the app has been re-written and now is twice as fast at displaying changes to your photo. Move a slider and you see the results almost instantly, especially with quad-core processors. Another is saving Exif and GPS data, especially if you use software on the computer or your Android that sorts using Exif and GPS.

But those aren't the only changes, have a look.

  • Faster! It’s now twice as fast opening and correcting images. Fine-tuning with the slider bars is near-real-time when using the latest quad core devices, such as those powered by NVIDIA Tegra 4 and 4imobile processors.
  • New, powerful memory mapped buffer. You can now save huge images (up to 40 MP).
  • A new look! We have re-designed the entire GUI.
  • Zoom. Now you can zoom into your photo to view the details as you correct.
  • One simple price. The beautify preset, is included in the app price so you only have to purchase once.
  • Bug Fix: licensing. Now you can use Perfectly Clear “offline”.
  • Now you can copy the app to your SD card.
  • Exif support. The app now retains your Exif and GPS data.
  • Quick Correct. Tap your hardware menu button and selected images will be automatically corrected and saved without going to our edit screen.

Some really nice changes to a great app. Grab it from Google Play for $2.99 if you haven't yet, or hit the Google Play app on your device to update if you have.

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3 years ago

Note taking app Google Keep now available in Google Play and on the web

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Google's own note taking app, Google Keep, has just gone live and official. The service allows users to do more than just jot down ideas and thoughts, there is annotations, the ability to add pictures, voice notes, and color coding and lists to keep things organized. The included home screen widget even lets us create and view notes from our home screen without opening the app.

To make things even better, everything it integrated into your Google Drive account. This means anywhere you have access to the web you have access to your notes. You can have a look at that here.

The app is pretty simple, but the integration with Drive is a pretty "killer feature". Grab it from the Google Play link above, and hit the break for a short video.

More: Google

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3 years ago

Fore! Super Stickman Golf 2 is here

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Super Stickman Golf 2 combines a fun golf theme with challenging aspects of side-scrolling puzzle games, and the end result is a great game that's hard to put down. As a worthy follow-up to the original game, not only do you get a chance to play through dozens of great courses, but there are also many ways to customize your gameplay and character.

Hang around after the break and see what Super Stickman Golf 2 is all about.

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3 years ago

Google Currents gets support for audio playback

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Google Currents got itself an interesting update today with support for editions that contain audio. Looks like you'll now be able to play audio from within the application itself, complete with a "media bar" with stop/start/next/previous controls. That media bar also works within the notification pane, so you can quickly pause or skip.

Here's the full changelog:

  • Audio playlist for editions with audio
  • Audio media bar in app for stop, start, next, previous
  • Story scanner audio icons for launching Audio directly
  • Status bar audio controls when Currents audio is playing
  • Syncing post read state between devices
  • Bug fixes

Being able to sync where you are within a given post is pretty good as well.

And as always, be sure to subscribe to Android Central on Google Currents! With the addition of audio controls in this update, we've just added a podcasts section. It's another great way to listen to the Android Central Podcast.

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3 years ago

Comparing the HTC One speakers

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We put the HTC One up against the Galaxy Note 2, Nexus 4 and HTC One X in a basic test

As we've been prone to do with recent phones, we're doing more speaker comparisons. This is unscientific, to be sure. What we hear may be a little different than what you hear. And while it may be cliche, you really do have to hear some of these phones in person to get the full effect.

That's especially true for the HTC One. The "BoomSound" feature is a combination of hardware and software that eventually shoots from the stereo speakers (again, two is better than one here) from the front of the phone. The placement of the speakers makes as much a difference as maybe any of the other tweaks, Beats Audio included. We've seen that in tablets, previously, with speakers on the side as well as the front. (Switching from a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 to the Nexus 7, and thus switching to a rear speaker again, took some getting used to.)

The idea of front-facing speakers on a phone isn't exactly a new one, either. HTC went with a slider setup on the Windows Phone-powered HTC Surround. An interesting idea but not nearly the same as what's on the HTC One.

Here's what our own Alex Dobie had to say in our HTC One review:

This combination of larger speakers, more advanced membranes and Beats Audio results in the loudest and bassiest sound experience we’ve heard on any smartphone, without sacrificing clarity. For music and video content, that’s great. But on anything but the lowest volume setting, it’s almost too loud for regular notifications and ringtones. Powering on the HTC One for the first time, you’re assaulted by the full force of BoomSound in HTC jingle form. And the first phone call you receive on the device will be equally terrifying if it strikes you unprepared.

I tend to agree with most of that, especially on the low end, which is better than any smartphone I've ever used. The high-end is a little easier to get away with. As you'll hear in the comparisons below, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 handles that pretty well. Maybe even better. It does decently on volume, too, but the HTC One just has a much fuller sound. It's not quite properly conveyed here, I believe. But you'll get the idea.

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3 years ago

Google Fiber service expanding to Olathe, Kansas

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Google Fiber is a service lots of us would love to have, if we could. Besides the TV service of course, there's the small matter of a Gigabit internet connection too, or even a free, much slower service. The only drawback is that to be able to use it, you have to be a resident of Kansas City. 

But, Google has now announced that Google Fiber will be extended, after the city council in Olathe, Kansas approved an agreement to bring Fiber to their city. It's not going to be an overnight process, and there's still a lot to be done before construction works can even begin. News on time scales will be coming in due course, but for the people of Olathe this is pretty big news. 

So, are you in Olathe, Kansas? Excited for Google Fiber? Jump into the comments below and let us know your thoughts. 

Source: Google Fiber Blog

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3 years ago

Samsung lock screen bypassed entirely with clever, meticulous trickery

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Another Samsung lock screen security issue has come to light today, potentially allowing someone with physical access to a Jelly Bean-based Samsung phone to bypass a pattern or PIN lock. Brought to light by blogger Terrence Eden -- who you may remember from his earlier Note 2 exploits -- this one's particularly impressive because of the clever array of tricks used to achieve the eventual unlock.

The method, demonstrated on a Galaxy Note 2 running Android 4.1.2, relies on the fact that returning from certain screens in the emergency dialer causes the previous app to be visible -- and fully usable -- for a split second. With precise timing and a bit of patience, it's possible to use these windows of usability to load Google Play, use voice search to find a screen unlocker app (yep, those exist), and run it, thus removing the lock screen security.

So in order to use this in the real world you'll need a fair bit of time alone with someone's phone, the ability to use voice search inconspicuously and the patience to correctly hit the required sequence of screen taps. Nevertheless, it's a incredibly clever way of circumventing Samsung's lock screen security, and Eden deserves credit for his ingenuity.

We've reached out to Samsung for comment on this issue, and we'll update this post with any official response. In the meantime we're not too worried about the real-world threats posed by this exploit, or any other that requires physical access to the phone for an extended period of time. Nevertheless, this is something that needs to be fixed.

We've got Terrence Eden's original video demonstration after the break.

Source: YouTube; via: SlashGear

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3 years ago

Reminder: Android 4.2.2 pushing now for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus

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Manual update file also is available

Just a quick reminder, folks, that Android 4.2.2 (Build JDQ39) is now available for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus. You get all the benefits that other Galaxy Nexus owners have enjoyed for months, including DayDreams, lock screen widgets and the new trace keyboard, among other improvements.

Folks are reporting that the update is pushing out over the air. Or if you hate waiting and want to update manually, you can snag the file straight from Google here. (via XDA) As always, hit up our Verizon Galaxy Nexus forums if you need help or have any questions.

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3 years ago

UK retailer: Galaxy S4 pre-registrations 'four times' that of Galaxy S3

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UK mobile retailer the Carphone Warehouse has announced that it's received more than four times as much interest in the Galaxy S4 compared to last year's Galaxy S3. No specific numbers are revealed, but CPW said that pre-registration figures taken shortly after the Galaxy S4 announcement event were 446 percent of last year's Galaxy S3 pre-registrations.

Given Samsung's rise to Android dominance in the past year, we're not to surprised to see higher demand than ever for its upcoming flagship, and we're sure the company will have a big marketing push planned for next month's UK launch.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is due to go on sale in the UK from Apr. 25/26.

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3 years ago

AT&T brings LTE to several more markets

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There are still major markets in the U.S. that have yet to be touched by AT&T's LTE, but the number is dwindling further as the carrier adds several more markets this week. This group is mostly located in the Southeastern portion of the country:

  • Augusta, Georgia
  • Macon, Georgia
  • Cleveland, Tennessee
  • Dryersburg, Tennessee
  • Ripley, Tennessee
  • Sebring, Florida
  • Waterbury, Connecticut
  • Meriden, Connecticut

AT&T always likes to use these network launches to remind people of how much money it has been spending to keep the rollout going. This time around the carrier points out that it has spent several billion dollars across just this handful of states on its LTE launch. Network infrastructure isn't cheap, folks.

Source: AT&T(2); (3); (4); (5); (6)

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3 years ago

Jawbone UP companion app now available for Android

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Until today the Jawbone UP has been an iOS only affair if you want to take advantage of the mobile aspect, but that has changed with the release of the Android companion app. If you're not familiar with the device, it tracks sleeping and exercise habits, and when mated with your smartphone the companion application allows users to keep track of their diet as well, making it an all around fitness and health system.

The app has just now gone live in the Play Store for users to download, so head to the link at the top of this post to take a look.

Via: Engadget

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3 years ago

Facebook updates app again, this time properly through the Play Store

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Facebook puzzled many users last week when the app began updating on its own outside of the Play Store, and today it seems to be pushing the same update through the proper channels. The changelog is the same on this update as the one that was mysteriously hitting some users devices earlier. The update lets users change their profile pictures from the app, report posts for spam and manage group messaging better. This is also a very similar changelog to the official iOS Facebook app from yesterday.

Being such a small update with just a handful of features, we're still puzzled as to why Facebook tried to do things their own way the first time around. If you haven't been notified of the Play Store update just yet, you can grab it from the link at the top of this post.

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