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2 years ago

How to download maps data on Google Maps

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One of the more interesting (if less publicized) additions to Google Maps 5.7 is the ability to download map data locally to your phone. That's a godsend if you're traveling somewhere that has a spotty connection, or if you're overseas and trying to avoid roaming charges.

To enable downloading map data, you'll need to go into the Labs section of Google Maps. Hit the menu button, then More, then Labs, and tap on the Download Map Area section, like you see above.

You'll be able to download a 10-mile radius from any point. Hold your finger down on the map or choose a saved location, then tap Download Map Area. It's simple.

Need more? We've got video after the break. Bon appetit.

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2 years ago

Best Buy ad gives us a look at the redesigned Droid Bionic

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It's no secret that the Verizon Droid Bionic was sent off for a refreshing in the design department before it's launch, which could be coming on August 4. The extent of that refreshing wasn't really known but some new Best Buy promo materials have now turned up and while it's nothing like going hands-on with one, it does show us that device has now taken on a more squared off shape. Nothing insanely drastic but it's still a change, and a change that some may not prefer. You all can sound off in the comments and let us know if you love or hate the new look.

Source: This is my Next
More: Droid Bionic Forums

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2 years ago

Editorial: How long can Google and Android afford to remain silent on patents?

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No, you didn't wake up in the Fringe universe, this is really Rene from TiPb posting on Android Central. I've been using Android since the G1, had a Nexus One until recently, and will be getting whatever the next-generation Nexus is as soon as it's out. I'm also all in on Google services, with two paid accounts and very nearly more Gmail, Calendar, and Docs, and Google+ circles than I'm comfortable thinking about.

And I'm getting nervous about Google and their continued silence on mobile and mobile-related patents.

Now, the patent system as it currently exists is broken beyond the point of embarrassment.  If you have an idea and enough money, you don't even have to invent anything. You can just troll – or sell out to a patent holder to troll – people and companies that are actually making things and pretty much extort settlements and licenses out of them. It's a terrible system, but it's the system we're stuck with. And it's the system Google is stuck with as well.

Cases in point:

Winstron just became the fifth Android manufacturer to agree to pay Microsoft licensing fees for using Android. They follow on the heels of HTC and General Dynamics, among others. Motorola and Barnes and Nobles are currently in litigation over the same licensing. And Microsoft is now seeking the same concession from Samsung.

The terms of the licensing agreements haven't been disclosed, but Citi analyst Walter Pritchard has previously claimed HTC pays Microsoft $5 for every Android device they ship, and rumor has it Microsoft might want $15 from Samsung. That's what Microsoft reportedly gets for a Windows Phone license. (By contrast, Google gets nothing for Android licenses -- it's offered freely.)

Why are some manufacturers paying Microsoft for patent protection under Microsoft's IP portfolio? Because Google lacks any significant mobile patents of their own, which means they can't provide "mutually assured destruction" protection themselves. They could offer indemnification but that puts them in the legal crosshairs of competitors and trolls alike.

Google could have addressed their currently anemic mobile patent portfolio by making a serious run at the recently auctioned Nortel patent portfolio. Instead, after a strong initial entry, they rapidly devolved into a series of perplexing bids based on the value of Pi, the distance to the sun, and other mathematical constants that led to their seriousness being questioned.

Now, according to Robert Cringely's sources, Apple's $2 billion share of the $4.5 billion winning bid will get them ownership of Nortel's LTE 4G patents, among others. Apple is already suing Android manufacturers, including HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Any bets on whether LTE patents get added to the suits?

Google could try and stall the purchase or make anti-trust challenges, or even try to buy their way back into the fight by purchasing an established mobile company like BlackBerry maker RIM (since Palm and Nokia are off the table). But as of right now, we haven't heard anything from them, or seen them do anything to help their platform partners.

Several Android developers have now either been sued, or threatened with suit, by patent troll Lodsys, which is also suing Apple iOS developers. It's extremely expensive to litigate patent suits, both in legal fees (even if you win) and damages (should you lose). That means developers are pressured to settle regardless of the merit of the suit, and that has a chilling effect on development, which hurts the platform.

Apple, while failing to provide indemnification for developers, has at least filed a motion to intervene in the Lodsys lawsuits. It's a good, strategic motion because Apple can argue small developers are not financially able to protect Apple's interests. It also provides no guarantee of future intervention or help from Apple legal beyond this specific suit. (Win/win for Apple legal, nerve racking for Apple developers.)

As far as we know, Google hasn't said a word or offered anything to Android developers.

And they haven't said anything about VP8 -- the new video standard, which they're pushing as better than OGG Theora and free-er than H.264 -- but which also faces possible patent action by H.264 licensor, MPEG-LA.

Add to that the Oracle lawsuit over the use of Java in Android development, and Google is displaying an almost reckless attitude when it comes to patents. 

Perhaps they simply don't care if Microsoft and Apple go after their manufacturers -- perhaps they feel that's the manufacturer's problem. Google doesn't make direct money off of Android anyway, so that's certainly a possibility.

But what if, instead of licensing fees, Microsoft's terms required the exclusive use of Bing for search and advertising? What if Apple's settlement terms made it financially more viable for ODMs to switch to Windows Phone? Would that give Google greater motivation to step up to the plate in these, and future patent wars to come?

I hope not. I hope they act sooner. I really want that next generation Nexus, with the tastiest Ice Cream Sandwich filling Andy Rubin and Matias Duarte can cook up, and the fantastic hardware HTC, Moto, and Samsung can manufacture. And the one after that, and the one after that. And I don't want to have to worry about patent litigation stifling innovation, hurting ODMs, or dissuading developers along the way.

Google currently enjoys the most powerful and popular platform on the planet, but with that comes responsibility. You can't be free or openy on manufacturers' and developers' dimes. Not when you're one of the richest and most influential companies in technology.

More: FOSS Patents

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2 years ago

Spotify finally coming to the United States

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Yes, we know -- you've heard this before and things never really panned out but this time around it might be a little bit different. Streaming music service Spotify, which has had great success in Europe has now updated their website and are asking that users submit their email addresses for an invite to the US version of Spotify. No other info was given but just to be on the safe side if you're interested in free, streaming music anytime, anywhere -- best to get your email added to the list.

Source: Spotify

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2 years ago

Google Maps 5.7 brings public transit navigation, better search, improved Places

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Google Maps just got a sizable update, with a slew of new features that those of you in major metro areas are going to want to check out. First and foremost is the addition of Transit Navigation. It's in beta (of course), but gives you directions via public transit in more than 400 cities worldwide, tying it all into turn-by-turn directions.

And speaking of directions, you're getting easier access to the nav button (anyone who's ever used it will be thankful for this). Also, Google Places are easier to get to, and they're better integrated into the search results. Also, photos are now integrated into Places results.

Here are the bullet points you'll see after updating:

  • Get GPS stop-by-stop public transit directions in Navigation (beta)
  • Receive search suggestions based on previous direction destinations and visited Place pages
  • Get directions in fewer clicks with the updated directions experience
  • Improved battery power management for Navigation (beta)
  • Browser photos of Place pages in a gallery view
  • Use the Download Map Area lap to save map areas for offline viewing

Google's demo video and Market links are after the break. Get to updating, everybody!

Source: Google Maps Blog

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2 years ago

Android Quick App: Earth Live Wallpaper

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As long as I'm on a kick with live wallpapers, I figured I should show you guys one of the biggest and best, Earth Live Wallpaper. And trust me, I know what you're thinking. "Live wallpaper, again?" Trust me, you'll like it.

Earth Live Wallpaper is a pretty stock live wallpaper. You've got our beautiful blue home planet set against a backdrop of stars, and there's even the moon orbiting, to boot. Water is blue, clouds are white, and all is well with the wallpaper.

Then you open up the settings menu and realize this is an incredibly full-featured wallpaper that has absolutely no intention of limiting you to just Earth, and also simultaneously proves the developer has a great sense of humor.

Diving into the settings menu, you're presented with a few sub-menus. You've got things like globe aspect (for changing aspect and position), globe behavior (how you interact with said globe), maps, background, starfield, and foreground. The aspect and behavior menus are fairly straightforward. Want to move the position of the globe? That's the way to do it.

The part of this wallpaper that really won me over was the maps section. I was thinking, "Maps? Of what, highways and things?" Oh no, if you think like me, prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

Maps aren't different map overlays of our fine planet, but actually different skins for the otherwise generic globe to don and show off. You've got the standards, like a few for Earth, the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and the like, but the developer really stepped things up a notch with their incredibly long and otherwise creative list of nonexistent planets and/or heavenly bodies.

In my perusing of the list, there's such greats as the Death Star (both versions), the Earth from Futurama, Krypton, Cybertron, and even their own take on Hades. There's a slew of Star Wars planets to pick from along with some Star Trek ones alongside, so there's something for everyone.

In terms of performance, I didn't notice any hiccups regardless of skin I'd chosen, so if you want to get your geek on live wallpaper-style, I'd seriously suggest this as one way to do it. Earth Live Wallpaper is free, so nothing lost if you change your mind, but it's still fun, even for a little while.

Download links and more pictures are after the break.

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2 years ago

HTC ChaCha review (Three network)

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The persistent rumors of an Android-powered “Facebook phone” culminated in the unveiling of the HTC ChaCha and its larger sibling, the Salsa, at Mobile World Congress back in February. With its full QWERTY keyboard and slightly silly name, the ChaCha drew attention for being the first phone to put the social network at the center of the user experience. Avid Facebookers were promised hardware and software to help them stay in touch with their legions of friends and followers -- a dedicated Facebook button was introduced, along with a specially-customized version of HTC’s Sense UI.

We’ve spent the past couple of weeks getting to grips with the HTC ChaCha on Three UK, which is available on Pay As You Go for £199.99, or for free on contracts starting at £20 per month. Read on to find out if we ‘Like’ the ChaCha, or whether we’d rather unfriend it and go our separate ways.

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2 years ago

Microsoft reportedly demanding $15 per Android phone from Samsung

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Microsoft and Samsung reportedly are in discussions over licensing fees concerning the latter's Android smartphones. Reuters, citing "local media," reported that Microsoft was "demanding" $15 per smartphone. Samsung reportedly countered with $10 per phone in exchange for "a deeper alliance with Microsoft for the U.S. company's Windows platform."

And thus the world continues to work as it's intended to. It's important to note that just as when HTC started forking over licensing fees to Microsoft, we're talking Microsoft and Samsung here, not Microsoft and Google, or Microsoft and Android. OK, maybe indirectly. But there are countless lines of proprietary code in Android, and any number of ways that code -- or, yes, possibly code from the Android Open Source Project itself -- could infringe on another company's patents. Problem right now is that nobody's saying which toes are getting stepped on, just that there's pressure on the foot.

Source: Reuters

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2 years ago

Sam's Club looking to get Samsung Conquer by July 24

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And, finally, we round out the Launch Date Leakapolooza with Sprint, and the Samsung Conquer. That's the mid-level Android smartphone that a brief appearance on Sammy's website last week before being yanked. Specs, as you'll recall, include:

  • 3.5-inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen
  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 3.2MP rear camera, 1.3MP front facing camera
  • Android 2.3 (without TouchWiz and with Sprint ID)
  • Tri-Band CDMA (including the 800MHz frequencies)

So, we may well see the Samsung Conquer by July 24. Also note that the Motorola Photon appears to be slated for July, which narrows things down a little more than just "coming soon."

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2 years ago

European HTC Sensation gets first over-the-air update

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HTC is now pushing out its first over-the-air update for unbranded European Sensations, according to reports from users in several European countries. The update package reportedly weighs just under 27MB, and brings the Sensation up to software version 1.35.401.1 -- the exact same version which leaked last week in the form of an RUU (ROM update utility).

The general consensus seems to be that this is a small, incremental update consisting mostly of bug fixes and the like. The new software is still based on Android 2.3.3, and there's no sign that the bootloader has been unlocked in accordance with HTC's new bootloader policy. However, there are unconfirmed reports that the new software remedies some of the lag that users have been experiencing in the Sensation's homescreen launcher which, if true, would be very welcome indeed.

If you've got an unbranded European HTC Sensation, head over to 'Settings' -> 'About phone' -> 'Check for updates' to grab the new firmware, and report back to us in the comments if you notice any changes.

Source: XDA

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