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3 years ago

What is Stock Android?

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There's Nexus and Google Play editions and experiences ... Just what exactly is 'Stock Android' anymore? (And does it even matter?)

The term "Stock Android" gets thrown around quite a bit — particularly with the introduction of these Google Play edition devices — and has earned a level of reverence that's pretty unparalleled in the Android world. Even the words get a capital letter, so you know it's something that people care about. The (very vocal) minority of us have even forced HTC and Samsung's hand to release their latest and greatest with all their hard work removed and the mighty Stock Android in place. But Stock Android itself is a misnomer, and it's almost impossible to define.

Webster's tells us that "stock" is the original from which others derive. In that sense, it does describe Android as Google intended it. But we don't apply a direct definition to most things when they work their way into daily use, so Stock Android (with the capital S) needs some further explanation.

I'm not preaching from my virtual soapbox here; I'm every bit as guilty of muddling things as anyone else is. But that doesn't mean we can't discuss it, right? 

Let's do that, then.

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3 years ago

Google Play Books, separate 'Games' section now available in Ireland

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Two new categories arrive in the Play Store for Irish users

Google Play users in Ireland should now have access to both the Play Books store as well as a separate "Games" section on their devices starting today. As pointed out to us by one of our eagle-eyed readers, the Play Store in Ireland now offers four different sub-categories for users to choose from, adding to the previous availability of both paid apps and Google Play Music in the country. Unfortunately the Play Store for Ireland is still lacking both Magazines and Movies & TV, but it's a step in the right direction at least.

The Google Play Help pages, which have been updated today, also indicate that Play Books are now available in Ireland. We haven't tracked down an official post from Google indicating whether or not the full book catalogue will be available to Irish users just yet, but we would guess that the service would not launch without all of the proper deals in place.

More: Google Play Help; Thanks, John!

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3 years ago

US Cellular launches ZTE Imperial for $0.01 on-contract

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Another standard low-end device to round out the carrier's LTE lineup

U.S. Cellular is adding the 14th LTE-capable device to its lineup starting today with the ZTE Imperial, a low-end device selling for just $0.01 on-contract. The Imperial is an Android 4.1 Jelly Bean device with a 4-inch WVGA (480x800) display, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, sizeable 2500mAh battery, 5MP camera and 4GB of on-board storage (with SDcard support). The software appears to be a relatively basic interpretation of Jelly Bean, along with three capacitive navigation keys to control it.

The ZTE Imperial rounds out the low-end of U.S. Cellular's lineup, with an off-contract price of just $299 although most will end up grabbing it with a 2-year agreement for just a penny. The carrier says it is targeting the device at the first-time smart phone user, and it has a price and feature set that reflects that.
 

Source: U.S. Cellular

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3 years ago

US Cellular and NQ Mobile strike deal to provide security apps to customers

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Two branded security apps to help keep customer's smart phone data safe

In an effort to offer better comprehensive security to its customers, U.S. Cellular announced today that it will partner with NQ Mobile to provide security apps to its 5.2 million customers. The partnership expands on a previous program that offered an app called "NQ Family Guardian" to customers, with two new apps called "U.S. Cellular Mobile Data Security powered by NQ Mobile™" and "U.S. Cellular Privacy Protector powered by NQ Mobile™". The apps will be free in the Play Store as branded options limited to the carrier's customers.

Together the apps aim to give customers protection from viruses, malicious URLs and other outside threats along with a security suite that offers secure encryption for photos, videos and other data users want to keep safe. On their own, NQ Mobile's self-branded versions of the apps have done well in the Play Store with high ratings and reviews, so U.S. Cellular certainly seems to have made a good choice here.

Source: U.S. Cellular

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3 years ago

Google Now update brings new cards for TV shows and Google Offers

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Google improves location-aware and voice-controlled features for Now

An update to Google Now is bringing two new types of cards, TV shows and Google Offers, to users starting today. For those who have an internet-connected TV on the same network as their mobile device, Google Now can now listen to the show you're watching and offer more information -- such as actor or show details -- right on your device. For Google Offers users, Google Now will show reminders for upcoming saved offers when you're near a store that you can use the offer at, which expands on Google's current location-aware shopping and research cards.

Additionally, the latest update also includes a new voice action to play music from Google Now. You can now say "Play [artist name]", and a prompt will pop up letting you select your preferred music app from the ones you have installed. The app will then open and begin playing from the artist you asked for.

The new TV show card is U.S.-only for the moment, but the other new features should be available for everyone. You can grab the latest updated Google Search (which is Google Now) app from the Play Store link above.

Source: +Android

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3 years ago

Recon Instruments announces Recon Jet HUD glasses for $499

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Serious athletes now have their own version of Google Glass

Building on its previous efforts in the HUD (Heads up Display) market, Recon Instruments announced today that its latest Recon Jet HUD will be available for $499. These Android-powered glasses are targeted directly at cyclists and triathletes, providing extremely useful information just a glance away. You can think of the Recon Jet as a distant cousin of Google Glass, targeted at a sports-minded wearer to show information such as heart rate, cadence and power output through a suite of on-board sensors. Athletes will be able to track their speed, pace, distance, time and ascent/descent throughout a race or training session.

Just as is the case with Google Glass, the Recon Jet pairs with a phone over Bluetooth for connectivity and can display caller ID and text messages as well as upload details of their current activities to social networks. The Jet has a 1GHz dual-core processor, dedicated graphics chip, Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS and a camera on the front along with the aforementioned sensors. Recon notes that the components of the glasses are evenly distributed to both sides, adding just 14 grams in weight to each side of the sunglasses.

While the Recon Jet is focused on a core set of features for serious athletes, the company is making an SDK available for developers to write apps for the platform. Recon says it is already in talks with major health and fitness companies to make new native apps for the device.

In its current form, the Recon Jet is offered in an early "Pilot Edition" for $499 from now until July 21st. This Pilot Edition is for willing early adopters to give a try several months before full production begins. After the July 21st cutoff the pre-sale price will jump to $599. Hang around after the break to see a few more pictures showing off the Recon Jet and HUD interface.

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3 years ago

Batman: Arkham City Lockdown and Scribblenauts Remix come to Android

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Available in the Play Store for $5.99 (Batman) and $0.99 (Scribblenauts)

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is bringing two of its biggest mobile games, previously only available on iOS, to Android. Batman: Arkham City Lockdown and Scribblenauts Remix are now available on the Google Play Store, for $5.99 and $0.99, respectively.

In the action-adventure game Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, players set out to defeat some of the Dark Knight's most infamous enemies, along with their armies of henchmen. Jumping rooftop to rooftop and exploring Gotham City, Batman fights one-on-one with villains like The Joker, Two-Face, and Deathstroke.

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3 years ago

Google rebranding of Motorola continues with a new logo

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Motorola has a new logo and it looks much better than its predecessor; it even includes the words: "a Google company." Since Google acquired Motorola Mobility, there haven't been too many visible changes in branding or products. This is likely due to existing product deals that had to be met and contracts that likely needed to be fulfilled.

However, it appears Google is ready to move forward with Motorola's handset business and rebrand it in a big way. Logos are a big deal and the most visible aspect of the brand, for better or worse. If a company has suffered, its logo is going to carry the weight of that and vice versa. It is a good move by Google to redesign it and it looks great, in my view.

After the logo comes the products, so might we see the rumored Motorola X sometime soon? What do you think of Motorola's new logo? Will it help a diminished brand or not make much of a difference?

Source: The Verge

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3 years ago

NVIDIA Shield delayed as 'mechanical issue' pushes launch to July

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No new shipping date given for portable Android gaming console/controller

NVIDIA Shield — the graphics company's ambitious move into the consumer hardware space — will miss its June 27 shipping date because of a "mechanical issue" that popped up during final testing, the company announced today.

It did not say when the handheld gaming device would finally hit customers' hands.

An NVIDIA spokesperson told Android Central:

“During our final QA process, we discovered a mechanical issue that relates to a third-party component. We want every SHIELD to be perfect, so we have elected to shift the launch date to July. We’ll update you as soon as we have an exact date.”

NVIDIA would not disclose the nature of the issue, or which third-party component was the culprit. "Mechanical" sounds like moving parts, however, and there aren't many of them on Shield. (Buttons, the joysticks and d-pad, exhaust fan and the clamshell hinge come to mind.)

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3 years ago

Google Play edition HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 now on sale!

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HTC One runs $599, Samsung Galaxy S4 is $649

Today's the day, and now's the time. The Google Play edition — that's the official name, by the way — Samsung Galaxy Galaxy S4 and HTC One are now on sale directly from Google Play.

These are full-price devices, each upwards of $600, running "stock"-ish Android 4.2.2, which is the latest version of Android released. We say "stock"-ish because, well, "stock" Android means all sorts of things. Anyhoo. You get the Android experience in the purest sense of the word with these devices, and with a couple extra thrown in. (Namely, Beats Audio on the HTC One, and the Samsung flip cover clock on the Galaxy S4.)

The 32-gigabyte HTC One costs $599, and the 16-gigabyte Samsung Galaxy S4 runs $649. You can order both from the devices section at Google Play. And it's worth mentioning that Google Play has a pretty horrible track record when it comes to up-time during major device launches. So if your order starts to hiccup, hang tight, and be patient. It's also worth a reminder that these are U.S.-only for now.

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3 years ago

First look: Google Play edition HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4

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Here they are, folks. The "Stock Android" HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. otherwise known as the new "Google Play edition" devices. Two phones we know quite well, seeing as how they've been available for weeks, if not months. But these are different. They are, more or less, Google's.

Gone is HTC's custom software, Sense 5. Gone is Samsung's TouchWiz. Instead, we've got Android 4.2.2 (which Samsung has on its stock GS4, but HTC doesn't on its One) and Google's own svelte user interface. We've also got easily unlockable bootloaders, for those who like to tinker. 

And we've got hefty price tags, at $599 for the HTC One, and $649 for the Galaxy S4.

We've only had these phones for about 24 hours now. Not long enough for a full review, but certainly long enough for some initial impressions, especially since we're already intimately familiar with the hardware. If you're on the fence about ordering and curious about what you'll be getting, read on.

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3 years ago

New stock camera app debuts in Google Play edition GS4 and HTC One

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Redesigned radial menu makes it easier to see all your options

We've got our our hands on the "Google Play edition" Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, and we've been putting both devices through their paces. For the most part, it's hardware we already know running software we've seen before on the Nexus 4. But there's one subtle change we've noticed that could make it a little easier to control your photographic options on the new Googlified devices.

The camera app that ships on the Google-branded GS4 is later than what's on the Nexus 4 (version 1.1.40012 versus 1.1.40001, if you're keeping track), and the UI has been somewhat redesigned. The big circular menu on the Nexus is replaced with an arch-shaped menu on the Google Editions, making it easier to see all your options without your thumb getting in the way.

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3 years ago

Sony Xperia i1 'Honami' poses for family photo

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First leaked image allegedly shows upcoming 20-megapixel Sony 'cameraphone'

We've heard a good deal about the Sony "Honami" already — an upcoming camera-centric Sony smartphone said to pack a 20-megapixel Cyber-Shot camera and re-vamped camera software. The name "Xperia i1" has also been thrown around in reference to the device, which sources have told us is due to make an appearance sometime in Q3.

Today we could be getting our first look at the "Honami" — or Xperia i1 — courtesy of Brazilian site Techtudo. The outlet has snapped a couple of images of what it says is the Xperia i1, complete with 20-megapixel rear camera.  The hardware shown seems to employ Sony's "Omnibalance" design language — note the trademark trim design and rounded power button — while not matching any Sony phones we're familiar with.

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and Mega now in stock at Clove

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Both phones available in black and white, earliest shipments arrive June 30

Both the biggest and smallest siblings in the new Galaxy family, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and Galaxy Mega (6.3) are becoming available to order in the United Kingdom.

Clove announced today they're accepting orders for both the Galaxy S4 Mini and the Galaxy Mega, priced at £376.80 and £454.80 respectively, including VAT. Both devices can be ordered in either black or white. While orders can be placed today, none will be dispatched until Friday, June 29, with shipments arriving no earlier than Saturday, June 30. That's to keep everything in line with the official Samsung launch date.

Full specifications are available for both the Galaxy S4 Mini and Galaxy Mega — also be sure to check out our first hands-on with the S4 Mini from last week's Samsung Premiere showcase event.

Source: Clove

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3 years ago

British Airways relaxes electronic device rules

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Devices may be used after plane leaves runway under new rules

From July 1, British Airways will change its electronic devices policy after landing, allowing smartphones, tablets and other gadgets to be used immediately after the plane leaves the runway, reports BBC News. Under the existing rules, BA passengers must wait until the plane has stopped at the terminal building before powering on their devices.

BA will be the first European airline to bring in relaxed rules for electronic devices after landing, after the British Civil Aviation Authority said the move presented no safety risk. But the changes won't affect restrictions in place around take-off, which require passengers to turn off all devices until they reach 10,000 feet.

Over in the U.S., the FAA is reportedly looking at taking things a step further and relaxing its own blanket ban on electronic device usage below 10,000 feet. A formal decision from the aviation authority is expected this fall.

Source: BBC News

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