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2 years ago

How to manually update your GSM Nexus S to Ice Cream Sandwich

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Want Ice Cream Sandwich on your Samsung Nexus S but down't want to wait on the update to push out over the air? The dowload location has been found, and we've got your update instructions. We've already updated our Nexus S, and it takes just a couple minutes.

Again, folks, this is the GSM verison. And, specifically, the T-Mobile version. If that's not your phone, keep out. Now, instructions:

  • Grab the OTA package here
  • Rename it to update.zip.  This isn't needed for the Nexus S bootloader, but it makes things easy, if that's how you prefer them.
  • Copy it over to the internal storage on your Nexus S.
  • Power off, then hold volume up and power to reboot to the bootloader.
  • Using the volume key to navigate, select recovery, then use the power button to confirm
  • When you see the warning triangle and arrow, hold the power button and tap volume up.  You'll see a menu.
  • From the menu, select "apply update from /sdcard", and choose update.zip from the list.
  • Let it do its thing and update your system, radio, and other partitions.  When finished, choose "reboot system now"
  • Enjoy!

That simple! Now you've got the all new Android 4.0.3.

More: Nexus S forums
Big ups to Koush and Beezy for the download location!

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2 years ago

Google starting to push Ice Cream Sandwich for Samsung Nexus S

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We've had unofficial builds of Ice Cream Sandwich on the Samsung Nexus S for a number of weeks now. But today Google announced that the GSM version of the Nexus S will see its Android 4.0 update push out over the next month, starting today. Not a bad turnaround. Now let's see some carrier-branded phones get some love, shall we?

Source: @GoogleNexus

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2 years ago

Android App Review: BaconReader

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Not too long ago we mentioned a new Reddit app called BaconReader for Reddit. The screenshots looked so clean and slick I decided I had to try it out and give it the courtesy of a full-blown review. After having spent some time with it, I'm glad I did.

If any of you members of the Android Central nation are also Redditors, you know how hard it is to find a good Reddit app in the Market. Interfaces aren't intuitive, comment threads are a mess, and clicking links opens up your browser, which takes away time from more browsing.

BaconReader manages to remedy all of those things in a tight, beautiful package. The interface is incredibly minimalist, with white and grey being the dominant colors. The monochromatic look of it gives an almost metallic look, not overbearing on the eyes while also not being boring to look at. It's so efficiently tidy, it just works.

If you tap any thread, you'll be taken either to the link it links to or the text. If there's loads of comments on it, the comment thread is not only color-coded, but also optimized for your mobile screen. Long paragraphs are neatly arranged within the confines of your display, and that's a victory in and of itself.

You can also login to your Reddit account, and from there, post or change your preferred subreddits, all from the app. If you tap the "front page" button, you'll be given a dropdown menu of all the subreddits you're subscribed to, and if you tap the "what's hot" button, you can filter your results based on what's new, rising, top, etc.

Posting from BaconReader is also a breeze. Simply tap the top-right button (that looks suspiciously similar to a generic compose button), and you're taken to the submit screen. From here you can submit a link, type in text, or upload a picture, just like you would on Reddit's full site.

There's also the ability to both check your received messages and send messages, all from inside BaconReader. Add in a fully-featured settings menu that lets you define if thumbnails are loaded, if you open links from inside the app, or what domains are black or whitelisted (to name a few), and you've got what is probably the most powerful mobile Reddit experience available in the palm of your hand.

BaconReader for Reddit is by far the best Reddit app on Android right now, hands down. The clean interface, ease of use, and powerful rendering of Reddit all put this one ahead of the pack, and if you're even a light user of Reddit, I wouldn't go without it.

BaconReader for Reddit is free in the Android Market. We've got pictures and download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Android 4.0.2 update now rolling out to GSM Galaxy Nexus

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The GSM (international) version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus has just received its update to Android 4.0.2, hot on the heels of the Verizon version, which got the update on its launch day. Several GSM Nexus owners are now reporting that they've received the new version of Android, which carries the build number ICL53F.

The update weighs just 8.7MB, and according to the update message contains "important bug fixes", most likely the same fixes detailed in Verizon's latest update statement (excluding the LTE-specific stuff, of course).

To see if your phone is ready to receive the update, head to Settings > About phone > System updates. If it's still telling you you're already up-to-date, you may have to wait a few days before it's your turn to be updated. Don't want to wait? If you're comfortable with unlocking bootloaders and fiddling around with command-line stuff, once the files URL is located you'll be able to download them from Google and use Jerry's clever manual update method.

Now we get ready for Android 4.0.3.  Isn't having a Nexus phone grand?

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2 years ago

Android 4.0.2 is so yesterday -- say hello to Android 4.0.3!

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Know that Android 4.0.2 update the Verizon Galaxy Nexus owners were so proud of yesterday? It's old news today. Google just announced Android 4.0.3 and an increase in API level (it's now 15). So what's new? Google gives us the big strokes:

  • Social stream API in Contacts provider: Applications that use social stream data such as status updates and check-ins can now sync that data with each of the user’s contacts, providing items in a stream along with photos for each. This new API lets apps show users what the people they know are doing or saying, in addition to their photos and contact information.
  • Calendar provider enhancements. Apps can now add color to events, for easier tracking, and new attendee types and states are now available.
  • New camera capabilities. Apps can now check and manage video stabilization and use QVGA resolution profiles where needed.
  • Accessibility refinements. Improved content access for screen readers and new status and error reporting for text-to-speech engines.
  • Incremental improvements in graphics, database, spell-checking, Bluetooth, and more.

So the next question is when will we start seeing it on the Galaxy Nexus? Time to start those fingers a'tappin'.

Source: Android Developers Blog; more: Platform Highlights

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2 years ago

Sprint says it's no longer collecting analytics via Carrier IQ

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Sprint today told Android Central that it is no longer using Carrier IQ to collect diagnostic data from its devices. The statement comes in response to our asking Sprint about an anonymously sourced report on Geek.com under the headline "Sprint orders all OEM’s to strip Carrier IQ from their hardware." Said Sprint spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge-Walsh:

"That report does not appear to be accurate."

Vinge-Walsh did go on to tell us that Sprint has "weighed customer concerns and we have disabled use of the tool so that diagnostic information and data is no longer being collected. We are further evaluating options regarding this diagnostic software as well as Sprint’s diagnostic needs.

"At Sprint, we work hard to earn the trust of our customers and believe this course of action is in the best interest of our business and customers."

HTC, also cited in Geek.com's report as an anonymous source, had no comment and referred us to Sprint.

Not collecting data is a far cry from "stripping" the Carrier IQ code out of its phones, but it also makes far more sense, at least in the short term. Flipping a switch to cease collecting data undoubtedly is easier (and cheaper) than rewriting ROMs for the 17 or so devices it told U.S. Sen. Al Franken contained Carrier IQ. That's not going to make the die-hard Android hackers happy, but chances are they're already stripped the ROM anyway. Not including Carrier IQ software in future updates and new releases would make sense as Sprint's not collecting the data anymore anyway.

As for the causal (read: normal) Android user, you can rest easy in knowing that Sprint's no longer using Carrier IQ to collect its analytics data. We've got Sprint's full statement after the break.

More analysis

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2 years ago

Star and Pocket Legends ring in the holiday with new content, level cap

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For all of you mobile-MMOers out there, take notice: Spacetime Studios is spreading holiday cheer to their gaming base by unveiling a slew of new content for this time of year. Depending on which game you play will determine what content you see, and Spacetime says it best:

Star Legends

  • Biggest update yet
  • Level cap raise to 41
  • Solve the mystery of the missing Governor of Volaria
  • The Galactic Welfare Society is under attack from The Screwj. Can players save the holiday season for aliens and humans alike?
  • All new items, levels and adventures including a Bonus Capture-the-Flag map

Pocket Legends

  • Seasonal Quests and battle areas
  • New holiday-only loot
  • Brand new content and surprises for players

With this much new content, we might as well say Christmas came early this year.

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2 years ago

Sen. Al Franken gets answers from Carrier IQ, carriers -- 'still very troubled by what's going on'

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U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., didn't like what he'd heard about the whole Carrier IQ saga. And after receiving answers from the analytics company, he still doesn't like what he hears. On Thursday,  Franken, chairman of the Senate Subcommitte on Privacy, Technology and the Law, issued a statement on the reponses he received.

More analysis

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2 years ago

AT&T's use of Carrier IQ extends to its own analytics app, not just embedded on phone

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AT&T's responses to questions posed by U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., over the use of Carrier IQ analytics software are probably the most interesting we've seen thus far. 

AT&T has been using Carrier IQ only since March 2011, with the Motorola Bravo the first device to have it integrated. However, AT&T has had its own analytics tool in use since 2009. Called Mark the Spot, or MTS, it differs from Carrier IQ in that it's a traditional application, downloaded and installed by the consumer and not preloaded onto the device before purchase. The idea is that if you experience a network hiccup -- like a dropped call -- you'd fire up the app and let AT&T know. 

Mark the Spot was released for the iPhone in December 2009, and for Android in June 2011. In February 2011, AT&T began packaging Carrier IQ code with the MTS application, first for BlackBerry, and a month later for Android.

Android devices that have Carrier IQ software installed include the Pantech Pocket, LG Thrill 4G, ZTE Avail, Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, Motorola Atrix 2 and the aforementioned Motorola Bravo. 

AT&T says only about 900,000 devices -- or about 1 percent of the device on its network -- have Carrier IQ on board, either preloaded or with the MTS app. And of those devices, 575,000 report back to AT&T.

AT&T also says it does not share any of its CIQ data with "any other non-AT&T company." and that it has not shared data with any federal or state law enforcement. It does, however, comply with court orders, subponeas and other legal orders.

Data collected from AT&T devices is inaccessible after 60 days from being uploaded. AT&T says it has "three downstreem systems receiving personally identifiable CIQ data from the AT&T server." One of those servers stores data for just 45 days, another has data from September 2011, and the third data from May 2011.

Like Sprint, AT&T explained that it indeed collects phone numbers "in the ordinary cource of its business" and for "Voice Call Performance and Messaging Performance metrics." It does not collect contents of e-mails, URLs of websites visited, contents of search quereies, names or contact information from address books, and none of its CIQ profiles is set to collet the content of text messages.

More: AT&T's response (pdf)

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2 years ago

Sprint: 26 million devices with Carrier IQ, but we only ping a fraction at one time

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Update: Sprint says it's no longer using Carrier IQ

Sprint, in its reponse to U.S. Sen. Al Franken over its use of the Carrier IQ software, goes into great detail about how and why it needs and uses such analytic data, reiterating that "The Carrier IQ diagnostic tool can help Sprint engineers understand the functionality (or not) of handset appliations when connecting with the network and steps that Sprint might take to improve services ..."

Sprint also told Franken that it has Carrier IQ installed on some 26 million devices, but that the Carrier IQ software doesn't actually collect any data until Sprint itself tells it to. In fact, says Sprint, only 1.3 million devices -- that's 5 percent of the 26 million total -- may be "tasked" to collect data at a given time. And, Sprint says, that number often is much lower -- 30,000 -- when responding to specific research requests.

Sprint didn't spell out exactly which of its devices use Carrier IQ -- which has been in service of the carrier since 2006 -- but we've already seen answers from HTC and Samsung. (Motorola's are forthcoming.) The phones listed thus far include:

  • Samsung: Moment, Epic 4G, Intercept, Transform, Galaxy Tab (original 7-inch), Galaxy Prevail, Replenish, Conquer 4G, Transform Ultra (Boost Mobile), Epic 4G Touch
  • HTC: Snap (Windows Mobile), Touch Pro 2 (Windows Mobile), Hero, EVO 4G, EVO Shift 4G, EVO 3D, EVO Design 4G

Sprint also told Franken that it does not share any of the data it receives with third parties, that it "is used internally for Sprint's own use, for analysis by Sprint employees and contractors to assist wtih device certification and functionality on its own network, for network maintenance and improvement." But, Sprint added, "In the course of certifying device funcationality, prior to selling phones to customers, Sprint does share and receive certain testing results with handset manufacturers." The emphasis there is ours. Anything it shares with the manufacturer comes before it's in your pocket. Sprint also indicated that it does nto share any Carrier IQ data with law enforcement.

Sprint also explained how long Carrier IQ data is stored. Carrier IQ itself stores some of the data on its services for "approximately 30-45 days." Sprint keeps some data on its own servers for 6 months or so, and stores aggregated reports from Carrier IQ for 12 months (varies depending on the analysis being conducted, Sprint says). 

Probably our favorite part of Sprint's repsonse, though, comes from a footnote in its introductary statement, wherein Sprint reminds us all that it already knows the cell site you're using, the people your calling and texting, and the websites you're visiting. It has to to be a carrier, and you're paying it to do so. Here's the full passage:

"Similarly, we know the cell site on which a phone is registering its location, which is necessary for the delivery of voice and data services. We also know the telephone numbers to which our customers initiated a call or sent a text. Such data is necessary to deliver communications services. In many cases the data collection is required by law and regulations."

More: Sprint's response (pdf)

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