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3 years ago

Swiftkey gets the XKCD treatment

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Swiftkey -- the Android Central 2011 Editor's Choice for third-party keyboard -- today has received an honor most of us can only dream of, having been immortalized as an XKCD comic by the genius Randall Munroe. The comic actually centers on the Swiftkey 3 beta, the shining feature of which is the ability to type without worrying about hitting that pesky space bar. The prediction engine takes care of that for you, going as far as completing sentences that you never started in the first place. And, as you can see, hilarity ensues.

Swiftkey's also asking what your default sentence is. Just hit the middle of the three prediction keys and see what you get. You'll need to actually be using Swiftkey, of course. (And if you're just getting started, expect to see "I am a beautiful person." You can share your result here.

Source: XKCD; download the Swiftkey 3 beta

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3 years ago

Samsung TecTiles brings new rewritable NFC tags solution

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Looks like it's time for NFC tags to hit the big time. Samsung tonight announced TecTiles, its own rewritable NFC tag solution. 

For those of you new to the game, NFC stands for "Near Field Communication" -- think of it as very short-range wireless data transfers where you literally tap your phone against something to initiate the transfer. NFC tags are little stickers that, when touched by an NFC-enabled device, can then cause an action to happen. 

We got the opportunity to give them a spin last week in New York City and, guess what -- they're rewritable NFC tags. But they're going to be pretty darn handy.

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3 years ago

Three UK launch new EU data roaming deal

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Following on from fellow UK carriers O2 and Vodafone, Three UK has pulled the wraps off their own EU data roaming deal, known as the Euro Internet Pass. Todays announcement is huge news for Three customers, and is made possible by the recent EU legislations on mobile roaming

So, what exactly is on offer? Your data, only in Europe, put simply. There is no tethering included, so even if you're on the almighty One Plan, you will not be able to take advantage of your tethering capabilities when abroad. Other than this, you have unlimited access to data for just £5 per day. There are some exceptions to valid countries, for example Norway and Switzerland aren't included. In contrast, in countries that aren't supported or if you haven't activated your pass, data is charged at £1.28 per MB. If however, you're heading to one of the countries below, you're in luck:

  • Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal (incl. Azores & Madeira), Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (incl. Balearic & Canary Islands), Sweden, Vatican City, Monaco.

Not supported is:

  • Aland Islands, Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey), Croatia, Cyprus (North), Faroe Islands, French Guiana, Georgia, Gibraltar, Guadeloupe, Iceland, Isle of Man, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Martinique, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Reunion, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine, Turkey, Netherlands Antilles and the Rest of the World.

Activating your pass is incredibly simple too, with nothing to do back in the UK before you leave. Upon activating your phone in one of the supported countries, Three will send you a text message containing a link within. Clicking the link takes you to purchasing information, and from there you're all set until Midnight UK time that day. It can also be obtained by visiting http://mobile.three.co.uk/europass on your phone.

Source: Three UK

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy S III will launch on time, Apple's push for early injunction hearing denied

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Apple won't be able to hold back the Galaxy S III tide in the US, as their request for an early injunction hearing against Samsung's latest has been denied by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose. Because her calendar was so full she had no time to hear the case before the June 21 Galaxy S III launch, effectively dashing Apple's hopes to keep it out of your hands. This does not affect the trial itself, which will go on as planned -- just not when Apple wants it to.

This is a big deal to both sides. The Galaxy S III is expected to sell well, and many users will be under a new two-year agreement when Apple releases their next model sometime later this year. According to analyst Dan Levine (read the source link), postponing the launch of the Galaxy S III was a major part of Apple's strategy in the battle for smartphone dominance, and we have to agree. Once users get the new Galaxy S III in their hands, they may not want to look at any other phone for a while. 

Source: Reuters

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3 years ago

Sony announces the Xperia Miro

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Sony's countdown timer has reached zero (a good week or so ahead of the original date), and the manufacturer has announced its new mid-range, social-focused smartphone, and the Xperia Miro.

Unveiled initially on Sony Mobile's Facebook page, the Xperia Miro takes some design cues from the Xperia Sola. It's a sleek-looking 3.5-inch device with a 5MP camera, and that's about all Sony's saying on hardware for the time being. On the software side you've got Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, backed up by Sony's UXP NXT software. Based on the promo video that Sony's just published, there's been some expansion of the company's "Facebook Inside Xperia" initiative, bringing even closer integration between the phone and the social network (and it also explains the Facebook-centric promo campaign, we guess).

The Xperia Miro looks to be a Europe-only device for now, and there's no word on US availability just yet. As you'll see from our image above, the Miro is a colorful beast, coming in silver, black, pink and gold. If you want to see more, we've got a few extra pictures after the break, along with Sony's announcement video.

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3 years ago

Ice Cream Sandwich wins Gold Prize for best platform experience at Parsons' 2012 UX Awards

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Matias Duarte and team have reason to be proud this evening, as Ice Cream Sandwich has won the Gold Prize for best platform experience at Parson's School of Design's annual user experience awards show. We all demand a beautiful and functional interface on our smartphones, and Android really stepped up with Ice Cream Sandwich. As Durate's first real work with Google, it implements all the good from previous versions along with good looks and effects that make it stand out. 

The video you see above was the clip reel shown to the audience, which really does embody the eye for design and simplicity that went into Ice Cream Sandwich. Congrats, Matias and team on an award well deserved!

Source: +Matias Duarte. More: Android developers on Youtube

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3 years ago

Are you ready to Party Your Apps Off?

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So there's a little event coming up in a couple of weeks in San Francisco. It's called Google IO, and if you somehow haven't heard of it, it's Google's yearly app developer conference. Lookout Mobile Security is hosting their annual "Party Your Apps Off" event at a top secret location in downtown San Francisco on the night before Google IO begins, June 26. Last year's party was amazing with free food, unlimited drinks, tons of Android giveaways, and of course awesome people to mingle with. This year is going to be even better, because on top of the free food, drinks, and incredible giveaways, the Lookout team will have some passes to the exclusive Ninja Party at DefCon in July to hand out, as well as a photobooth, one of the city's best Food Trucks, and more! You never know, you might even run into Phil or one of the other Android Central guys at the party!

Lookout has provided us with 20 passes to the Party Your Apps Off event to pass on to you guys. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below telling us why you should be chosen, we'll pick winners Sunday night and announce them on Monday. The lucky winners will receive two passes to the party (so you can take a friend, yay!) but that's it. This is not a pass to the conference, and it doesn't come with a hotel room or transportation. If chosen you are responsible for all of those things so keep that in mind. You don't have to be attending Google I/O to attend the party, but you do have to be in San Francisco on June 26th. Also, the party is 21 and older only, so take that into consideration.

That's it. Let us know in the comments why we should pick you! 

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3 years ago

Pentile, Kernels, ROM's and Verizon's new data plans [From the Forums]

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Just in case you missed out on some of the Android news today, now is the time to go ahead and get yourself fully caught up. Here on the blogs and in the Android Central Forums, there is plenty to talk about. Have some questions? Need some help or just looking to chat Android? You know where to go, check out some of the threads below.

If you're not already a member of the Android Central forums, you can register your account today.

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3 years ago

Android A to Z: Multitasking

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Multitasking is a word you'll hear a lot around here and at other places on the Internet that talk about smartphones or other tech. It doesn't mean what it used to, back when dinosaurs with long beards first dreamed up computers, but it still makes a very big difference for some folks and can be the deciding factor when picking a smartphone operating system. Let's have a look and see what the fuss is all about, and how it relates to Android.

A long time ago, in a laboratory far, far away, some Jedi masters decided that computers should do more than one thing at a time. They really already were doing plenty of things behind the scenes, but to the user it was a case of entering a command, and waiting for it to finish. Using threads and schedulers, and probably a little magic and a lot of luck, engineers were able to work up an operating system that could run more than one user command at a time, and multitasking was born. When you switch to a new VT (virtual terminal) on a Unix box with no GUI, you're multitasking. When you have more than one window open on your Windows or Mac or other computer that does have a GUI, you're multitasking. You're doing more than one thing at a time, and the computer is running more than one user task at a time. You can now read Android Central while your completely legal torrents are downloading in the background.

On a smartphone, multitasking is a bit different. We don't have the luxury of a 20-inch monitor, so showing more than one "thing" running at a time isn't a big deal. Samsung is testing the waters and trying it with the Galaxy S III with the Pop-Up Play feature, but for the most part whatever we're doing takes the whole screen to do it. We also don't have tons of RAM and video memory available and have to watch the power usage. This means smartphone multitasking has to be a bit, well, smarter. 

Smartphones have been multitasking for a long time. All the mobile operating systems do it a bit differently -- some suspending all other apps in the background, some saving the state and closing the app itself, and others just letting everything run. The way Android does it is to let threads and processes run depending on their priority. If you're using Google Play Music, the processes that make the sound come out of the speaker have a high enough priority to stay running when you switch away from the app. Not all of it is running in the background, but enough of it is to keep the tunes playing. Other apps can be killed if they aren't being used, and some apps get "frozen" (for lack of a better word) and restore themselves when brought back to the foreground. What's important, and prioritized, is decided when the application is written and compiled so the end user doesn't have to worry about it. It's not perfect, but it follows the very strong multitasking model from Linux and tweaks it for Android. It's all open-source, so manufacturers and ROM builders can (and have) tweaked things to allocate memory the way they want it allocated. Sometimes the tweaks are great, sometimes not so much

In the end, remember the next time you open an app and start up where you left off that you're seeing multitasking at work. 

Check out the complete Android Dictionary

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3 years ago

Songkick [Android App Review]

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Apps that genuinely fit into your life are always the best. There are those that you genuinely cannot function without, and those which fill a void you never knew you had until it was filled. With the release of Songkick today, a void I never realised I had, has now been filled. Filled to the point I just found out that Lostprophets -- who I happen to adore -- are playing in my home town this November. A good end to the day for sure. 

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3 years ago

SGP Kuel H12 stylus review

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The SGP Kuel H12 is a great alternative to using your finger for everything from navigating and activating your icons to playing a game of Draw Something.

 

The beautiful screen on the new Android phones calls out to be touched. But maybe not by your fingers. We have all found, at one time or another, that touching the screen leaves fingerprints and grime on the screen. We have also found that our fingers are fat and clumsy when it comes to painting and writing.

So, we need something with a capacitive end or nib to touch the screen in a far more precise way to really take advantage of some of the newer apps. Enter the SGP Kuel H12 stylus. It's got the look and feel of a pen, minus all the messy ink. For this review, we're going to use apps like Sketchbook Mobile, Note Everything and Handwrite to judge the overall qualities of the stylus.

Read on for our full H12 stylus review!

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3 years ago

Contest: Take Lloyd on an adventure and win 1 of 4 Samsung Galaxy S IIIs!

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*UPDATE* The contest is closed, and we're sorting through the approximately 200 entries now. We'll have a blog post up in the next couple of days with the announcement of who won!

Lloyd likes to travel, and with summer upon us he is itching to break out and see the world. Last year he jumped in your suitcases and pockets and traveled to all sorts of fun places, our favorite being the Googleplex in California, his birthplace if you will. So we think it's time to help curb Lloyd's craving for adventure in far off places, and at the same time give you guys a chance to win the brand spanking new Samsung Galaxy S III. But wait… we're not giving away just one of these, we're giving away FOUR of them! That's right, four Samsung Galaxy S IIIs are on the line one for each of the major carriers releasing the phone in the coming weeks. (That'd be Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile).

So how do you enter? It's easy. Maybe too easy.

  • Download Lloyd from this link, then print him out and put him on a stick or something. Do not just Photoshop him into a picture.
  • Take a picture with yourself and Lloyd. No, not just Lloyd. We want to see you, too. If you're not in the picture, you're not in the running.
  • If you submit a picture of yourself in a Lloyd T-shirt, we'll accept that, too. Buying a shirt's not a requirement for this contest, though.
  • E-mail your shots in. Use the subject line "SGS3 Contest".
  • You may email us more than one picture, but this is a contest, so make sure you send in the best of the best.
  • We'll accept entries through June 27. That gives you a little over two weeks to get your shots in.
  • We'll pick our favorites, or we'll put it up to the group for a vote if we get a lot of great entries, which I'm betting we will.
  • Remember, we're giving you a phone -- you're on your own for service.
  • The winners will get to choose which SGSIII they want and we'll ship it out after the contest ends. The contest is open internationally, however please note the carrier choices. It's on you to pick which model will work in your country and take care of any unlocking that may be required. We are also not responsible for any customs duties/fees that may arise.

So that's it. Grab Lloyd and head out into the wild. Show him a good time. Then win a Samsung Galaxy S III. Epic. 

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3 years ago

Sony Xperia Go and Samsung Galaxy Beam headed to the UK in July

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The latest update to the Carphone Warehouse's "coming soon" page brings news of the UK launch window for two new Android phones from Sony and Samsung. The Galaxy Beam, Sammy's pico projector-equipped phone, and the Xperia Go, Sony's waterproof and dust-resistant 3.5-incher, are both expected on British shores from July.

The Xperia Go is the follow-up to last year's Xperia Active, with IP67-rated water resistance, a dual-core 1GHz CPU and Android 2.3 Gingerbread, upgradable to Ice Cream Sandwich later in the year. Meanwhile, Samsung brings to market the first smartphone with a pico projector in the Galaxy Beam, along with a similar 1GHz dual-core chip and Gingerbread-based software. Prices for the beam are expected to start at around £350-370.

Source: Carphone Warehouse

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3 years ago

LG Optimus Vu non-unboxing unboxing

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You've gotta hand it to LG. The Korean manufacturer knows how to package a smartphone, at least when U.S. carriers aren't involved. 

Here we have the LG Optimus Vu. It's the crazy 5-inch, 4:3 aspect ratio half-phone/half-tablet mutant we first got our hands on at Mobile World Congress back in February in Barcelona. Now we've got it in our hot little hands, and we can easily say we've never seen a smartphone -- or tablet, or even the Samsung Galaxy Note -- packaged quite this way. And this isn't the first time LG's gone all creative on us -- you'll probably remember the excellent book that came along with the Optimus Black.

So kudos to LG for making our usual boring job of opening up a smartphone box and proving that there's a charger and maybe a set of earbuds inside just a little more fun.

And we'll have plenty more on the Optimus Vu coming right up.

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3 years ago

Accessory Tip: BlackBerry Premium Charger rapid-charges Android phones, too

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The Mobile Nations World Tour continues, and this time instead of asking Android Central readers for accessory advice I'm offering up a tried-and-true BlackBerry tip that also works for Android phone owners. Specifically, if you own an Android phone with a microUSB connection and are in the market for a spare charger, you may want to give the BlackBerry Premium Charger a try.

 

RIM released this charger last year with the launch of the BlackBerry PlayBook, and to keep the juices flowing with the bigger battery they cranked up the charging rate to 1.8 amps (most phone chargers that ship in the box tend to be in the 750 mAh to 1 amp range). We quickly put it to the test on our BlackBerry Smartphones and found we could charge them almost twice as fast!

On Android Central Podcast 98 we found out that both AC's Jerry Hildenbrand and Chris Parsons have been using this same charger with their microUSB Android devices for a long time now with great success. If you're going to spend the money on a spare charger, you might as well invest in one that charges at a higher amperage rate. Not every phone will allow for rapid charging, but for the ones that do you'll be glad you have a charger that takes advantage of it (and no, you won't damage your phone even if it doesn't make use of the higher amperage). In the last two days I've already receiveda hand full of tweets and emails from Android Central podcast listeners who went out and bought the BlackBerry Premium Charger after listening to the show and they are loving it. Good stuff.

Win a Free Charger Courtesy of CrackBerry Kevin: The BlackBerry Premium Charger has a MSRP of $39.99 but you can get it for a lot less at ShopAndroid.com. But just to share some Mobile Nations World Tour love, I'm going to give a lucky Android Central member a chance to win one for free, on me. To enter, just leave a comment to this post and you're in. Contest ends this Sunday at Midnight PT. Good luck.

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