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4 years ago

Xperia Sola gets an early hands-on, shows glove-friendly touchscreen


The Sony Xperia Sola has been official for just a few hours, but already an early hands-on video has surfaced, showing the (dual-core) mid-range smartphone's unique profile and "floating touch" technology. As we said in our announcement post, this is an extension of touchscreen technology which allows the device to sense when your finger is hovering over the screen. Sony's been keen to show off how this can allow you to use your finger like a "cursor" in the web browser, but the hands-on video shows a different use -- allowing touch input through clothing (i.e. gloves), even using non-capacitive materials.

We've got no idea what kind of black magic Sony is channeling to make this work, but we'll admit to being impressed. And we're hopeful that many more uses of this tech will present themselves as the Xperia Sola approaches its Q2 release window.

We've got the video embedded after the break.


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4 years ago

Next wave of Galaxy S II ICS updates begins March 19


If you weren't lucky enough to be part of the initial roll-out of Ice Cream Sandwich updates for the Samsung Galaxy S II, then you shouldn't have too long to wait. The long-awaited update started pushing out to Galaxy S II owners in Poland, Hungary, Sweden, and Korea this morning, and more European countries should start to see it from next Monday, March 19.

The news comes from Samsung by way of British tech site Pocket-Lint​, and the good news for anyone in the UK is that it'll apparently be a part of this second wave of countries. Of course, if you're not afraid to tinker with your device, you could always just change your CSC code and update through ODIN. (If you don't know what any of that means, it's probably just best to wait for the OTA.)

Source: Pocket-Lint

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4 years ago

Nova Launcher Prime [Android App Review]


YouTube link for mobile viewing

The first time we took a look at Nova Launcher, I could only pine away for the day I'd actually have a phone that could run it. Finally that time has come, so after consulting the Google+ populace to make sure I was making the right choice, I installed Nova Launcher and upgraded to the full, Prime-laden version. Let me tell ya, it was so worth it.

If Nova Launcher by itself is a completely superior launcher to the stock Ice Cream Sandwich launcher (and it is), Nova Launcher Prime takes it up to 11. When you upgrade to Prime you unlock swiping gestures for your phone, app hiding in your app drawer, dock swiping, and a whole host of cool scrolling effects.

Nova Launcher by itself is unbelievably awesome because it's so darn fast. Scrolling is fast, menus are fast, screen previews are fast. It's like the Speedy Gonzales of Ice Cream Sandwich launchers. And on my Galaxy Nexus, Nova Launcher Prime absolutely screams.

Nova Launcher Prime is also incredibly customizable. You can change how many homescreens you have, change the amount of icons on the dock, change the screen transitions, the folder background shape, how many docks you have, well, the list goes on and on. If you're a bit OCD about how your launcher operates (or just about what size your grid is), Nova Launcher will help you keep everything in check.

Last but not least, there's also a backup and restore function included, so in the event you lose everything (or get a new phone or do a ROM wipe or something), you can easily restore all of your settings that you so painstakingly put together once and save yourself both the heartache and time. It might seem like a small thing, but once you restore a launcher once, you'll wonder why you ever bothered to manually set one up again.

My final verdict? Nova Launcher Prime is the real deal. It's easily the best launcher for Ice Cream Sandwich that's out right now, and if you're rocking a phone with Android 4.0, at the very least, Nova Launcher (free) should be installed. It's that good. TeslaCoil Software knows how to produce great Android apps, and with Nova Launcher, they've kept their streak going.

Nova Launcher Prime is $4 in the Android Market Google Play Store. We've got download links after the break.

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4 years ago

Virgin Mobile officially announces the Venture


The Virgin Mobile Venture is now official, a day after it went up for preorder. The phone is manufactured by Alcatel and is going for $99. It's got a 2.7-inch touchscreen and full QWERTY keyboard, a 2MP camera and runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. It's got the Virgin Mobile version of the Sprint ID pack, so you can theme it out in a number of ways.

Source: Sprint

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4 years ago

Verizon data struggling this morning? Sound off here!


Been getting e-mails from a bunch of you folks this morning saying that Verizon's data network is again struggling. Doesn't look like it's a nationwide outage, which is good, but we've heard from enough of you, suggesting that this may be a thing. So who's having issues, and where are you?

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4 years ago

Sony unveils Xperia Sola with 'floating touch' technology


Sony has today revealed the Xperia Sola, a new 3.7-inch Android smartphone similar to the Xperia P and Xperia U, which were unveiled a couple of months ago. If you've been following the rumors over the past few months, you'll recognize this as the MT27i "Pepper".

The Xperia Sola is packing a brand new technology called "floating touch", which allows the screen to sense when there's a finger hovering over it. The main use case highlighted by the manufacturer is web browsing -- on the Xperia Sola, users will be able hold their finger over a web page like a cursor, before touching the screen to select. It's an interesting concept, but we'll have to spend some time with the device before we're completely sold on it.

The Xperia Sola also sports a different profile to most of Sony's other 2012 smartphones. There's no clear element near the bottom of the device, and the screen protrudes from the base, likely due to whatever extra tech Sony's crammed in behind it to facilitate that "floating touch" feature.

Internally, the Xperia Sola closely matches the Xperia P -- there's a 1GHz dual-core ST-Ericsson chip inside, a 3.7-inch "Reality Display", and all of Sony's usual software stuff on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread (an update to ICS is promised for "Summer 2012"). You also get NFC support, which lets you use Sony's "SmartTags" to automate certain tasks when they're in range.

The Xperia Solai will launch globally in black, white and red during the second quarter of the year. We've got today's full press release, alongside some introductory videos, after the jump.

More: Xperia Sola gallery

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4 years ago

A number of European developers left waiting for Google Play payouts


Admittedly we're not all that versed on the ins and outs of how Google pays developers for apps purchased from the Android Market Google Play. But one thing we do know is an angry mob (editors are particularly good at spotting them), and one appears to be growing in the Google Checkout Merchant forums. In a nearly week-old thread with more that 100 posts, it seems a growing number of European devs have yet to receive payment for February. Almost worse is that they apparently aren't getting much in the way of explanation.

Developers are the lifeblood of any platform. (Perhaps you've heard.) Let's hope this gets straightened out soonest.

Source: Google Product Forums

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4 years ago

Late-night poll: Do you run a custom ROM?


OK guys and gals -- I'm doing a little leg work here for a project I have in the works. You might have seen my question on Google+ asking folks with a stock Android phone if they use a custom ROM (if you haven't seen it, and you can answer, please do!). Tonight I'm tapping the collective mind of our AC faithful and asking a similar question:

Do you run a custom ROM on your phone?

The poll is below, and whether you do or don't, or even if you're not the rooting type, let me know. Share the link with your friends who use Android, they can vote as well. I need as much data as possible. If you have anything to add, by all means let me know in the comments!

My answer? Yes. On a stock vanilla device I usually just run stock AOSP, which technically counts as a custom ROM, and on devices that aren't stock I'll pick one of the great Android developers out there who has stripped out the bloat and cleaned up the base and use his or her work. I do it because I can, I'm nerdly like that. Now let me know what you all do.

Do you run a custom ROM?

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4 years ago

Vizio Tablet Honeycomb update rolling out


The Honeycomb update for the Vizio VTAB1008 looks like it's rolling out a bit broader, bringing the VTab to version V.I.A. Plus 2.0 and Android version 3.2.1. We first heard it was slowly pushing out earlier this afternoon, and have been checking our own VTab here every hour or so, but by now we've heard it enough times to know it's not a fluke. Reports say that you will lose the capacitive buttons around the bezel in favor of on-screen soft buttons, but to balance that out custom launchers like ADW (seen above) now work and you can make your VTab feel more like stock Android. 

It's too early to know any serious bugs, or what sort of impact this will have on battery life, but anytime a "legacy" tablet sees an update to Honeycomb we're happy. If you're using a VTab, be sure to check for updates (menu>settings>about device>Vizio update service) before you hit the pillow. There's a couple other pics after the break.

Thanks everyone who sent this in, and thanks Dale for the pics!

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4 years ago

Ice Cream Sandwich available now for Galaxy S II in Europe and Korea


It's official -- The Samsung Galaxy S II is getting the Ice Cream Sandwich starting today in parts of Europe and Korea. Folks in Poland, Hungary, Sweden, and Korea should soon see the OTA update they have been waiting for. Samsung also states that the update will roll out in other markets gradually, and to expect ICS for the Galaxy Note, Galaxy S II LTE, and Tab 10.1 and 8.9 versions "soon".

Of course for those who have a carrier branded Galaxy S II, "the availability and scheduling of the software update and specific models upgradable to Android 4.0 will vary by market and wireless carriers’ requirements". In other words, we're at the mercy of folks at Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile here in the U.S. Hopefully we'll soon hear something specific. If we do, you all will be the first to know.

Source: Samsung; via @SamsungMobile

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4 years ago

Android Central weekly photo contest: Photo filters and effects


With word that Instagram will soon be heading to Android, we all had better get ready for the invasion of photo filters and effects. It's not really new, we've been able to edit our pictures with hipster filters on Android for quite some time, but Instagram is sure to become hugely popular on Android -- Rene hits it right on the head as to why.

To prepare, this week's photo contest is all about the hipster effect. Grab a picture, grab an app, and get to work applying filters and/or effects -- or both. Some great free apps to do it with are PicsArt and PicSay from Google Play, and there are plenty of others -- I'm partial to LightBox myself -- so everyone can get in on this one. 

This week's prize is something new and cool that I want for myself -- the Smart Phone Sleeper. It's a universal stand that holds your phone just about anywhere, and would be perfect for a little night-time Netflix viewing or Youtube surfing. Winning one is easy:

  • Use an Android device to take a picture of something cool.
  • Use any method you like to apply some filters or effects to it.
  • Send it to, along with a name we can use and the model of Android you used to take it. Let us know what effects or apps you used, too. We like knowing this kind of stuff.
  • If you send in more than one, or send me a link instead of an attachment, your entry gets filed in the trash folder, so don't do that. I hate it when I have to do that.
  • Get me the pictures before the end of the night on Friday.

We'll pick the best 11 of the entries, then decide on the best of the bunch. We'll show you all of them Sunday afternoon. Now head down to the closest bodega, find something ironic, and take us a picture!

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4 years ago

Incredible ICS, Google Play accounts [From the Forums]


Another week is upon us and while things may have been shaky out the gates this morning with DST and all, things seem to be getting back to normal. We managed to gather up quite a bit of news, even for a Monday so if you missed out -- get caught up and don't forget to hit the forums.

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

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4 years ago

Why privacy matters


Privacy is a hot subject across the Internet lately, and we think it's high time to dissect the mountains of information and pick out what's relevant amidst all the FUD and nonsense out there. You'll see a series here this week about privacy issues and policies, and the best way to kick it all off is to discuss why it matters in the first place.

The fact is, if you use and enjoy Google services you have to give up some privacy to get the most out of them. Things like Gmail and Google Voice don't cost money, but in order to make ads that are lucrative Google mines some of your data and can sell ads targeted at things you like. Advertisers love this, as it keeps big nerdy guys in West Virginia from seeing ads about women's shoes that they will just ignore, and instead shows ads about Android, computer parts, and fishing guides. Google has made this a huge business, and to keep it working, Google needs your data. Google does not sell mail or search -- it sells ads. For the most part, this isn't too intrusive. The data about you is kept in some odd string of computer generated numbers and is only used to display things you are likely to want to see. None of it is sold to anyone else, that would disrupt G's business model. That data is their cash cow. 

We trust Google to do the right thing with our personal information, and for the most part they have done so. But Google isn't the only game in town that's collecting data about you. Other ad networks, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and your cell carrier collect a good bit of information as well. We want to trust the big players, and don't think Facebook or Apple will sell your data away to some spammer (or worse), but when we get to the lower tier, where ad networks and smaller companies collect and store your information, things get a little muddy. If these can't be trusted (and we're not saying they can't) why is it important?

Imagine how you would feel if you lost your Android phone and didn't have it password locked. I could find it at Five Guys, open it up and look through everything. Besides the horrible things I could do with your pictures and accounts, I'd also have access to your contacts, your Internet history, your search history, and message archives. Even if you have nothing to hide, you wouldn't want me rifling through all that data. When apps and services have the same access, it's the same thing. I do not want the ad company that is being used in my favorite Android game to look through my Internet history. They would be bored, and find nothing incriminating, but I still don't want it to happen. Nor do I want some rogue app developer to steal that data and send it off to China. It's my data, and I want to know it's being treated properly. When I imagine it happening to my daughter, I get a little angry. Thankfully, those types of scenarios are few and far between. But they do happen

Data collection isn't inherently evil. It's a standard practice in today's digital world, and we've come to terms with it in some ways. It does need to be done correctly and handled securely, though. That's where the real issue lies -- we know the data is being collected, so can we trust those doing the collecting? That's a question each of us has to answer for ourselves -- we just want to spark the conversation. 

Look for plenty more on security and privacy coming up this week.

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4 years ago

Motorola updates 'ICS list' -- RAZR to get ICS in Q2 everywhere but the U.S.


Motorola has updated their ICS "due date" page, and if you're in the U.S. you probably won't like the news very much. There are a few changes, and we see a few more devices slated to see Ice Cream Sandwich eventually, but what really stands out is the RAZR. In the Asia Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Korea, Japan, China and Canada the RAZR is set to see ICS in Q2 of this year. In the U.S., it's still in the "evaluation and planning" stage. 

Granted, CDMA and LTE probably make a huge difference in the code as well as the hardware, but I have to hope that Motorola has enough resources dedicated to the Droid RAZRs to get them updated quickly, and more importantly, free of any show-stopping bugs.

Of course the RAZR isn't the only device on the list, but it is the one that sticks out like a sore thumb. The good news is that most newer model Motos haven't been ruled out of anything just yet, and that Motorola cares enough to even make a chart that's bound to get them some grief. Updating an OS isn't easy folks, no matter what you might think. Hit the source link to see the full details.

Source: Motorola. Thanks, IceDree for the tip!

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4 years ago

Facebook updated, presumably fixes something


Android's Facebook app got an update today. Presumably something has been fixed in Version 1.8.4. But just like the last update, there's no changelog to be found, and Facebook's Android page just redirects to the Android Market Google Play.

(Aside: Seriously, developers. Enough of that shit. If you update your app, you tell us what's new. And Google, perhaps apps that update without changelogs shouldn't get your "Editor's Choice" badge of honor.)

Anyhoo. We digress. Download links are after the break if you need 'em.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in.

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