Headlines

4 years ago

Android over 52% of the U.S. market as of October, Samsung still leads OEMs

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U.S. still dominated by Samsung and Apple handsets

Mobile analytics company comScore has just released its monthly report on U.S. smartphone market share, and as expected Android is still on top. Keeping in mind that these numbers represent market share as of October, 2013, let's jump into the analysis.

As you would expect, Android is on top of the U.S. market with 52.2 percent of devices, up 0.4 percent from three months previous. Apple makes up much of the rest with 40.6 percent, also up slightly in the period. BlackBerry and Microsoft naturally round out the other meaningful OS market shares in the states.

In terms of manufacturers, it's the Samsung and Apple show yet again. Since no other manufacturers make phones with Apple's iOS, of course it has the largest single manufacturer market share at the same 40.6 percent of the market. Following up a somewhat-close second place is Samsung, with 25.4 percent of the market, up 1.3 percent. Motorola picked up a miniscule gain to 7 percent market share, and both HTC and LG lost share to dip under Motorola.

At this point it seems it'll take something monumental to get a single manufacturer to move any considerable amount in a three-month period — maybe things will mix up a bit more around the holidays.

Source: comScore

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4 years ago

Qualcomm Toq unboxing

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Thought $299 was too expensive for a smartwatch? Well, it's time to dig even deeper into the old wallet with the Qualcomm Toq smartwatch. This guy's $350 but is the first to feature Qualcomm's Mirasol display, which we've seen in products in fits and starts over the past couple years. But it's never quite caught on.

Perhaps Toq will change that. We'll see.

Regardless, a quick unboxing is in order, as there's a lot going on here. For its first smartwatch, Qualcomm's done quite a nice job with the packaging. And while we knew what to expect with the wireless charger, it's still a pretty interesting device. It opens up like a little jewelry box, with a couple hidey-holes for loose change (which you might or might not have laying around after you pony up for this thing) or for the Toq Headsets that are coming eventually.

We'd recommend looking through all the quick-start material as well, as there are a few steps you'll need to take before the watch is ready for your wrist.

We'll have more on the Qualcomm Toq as we get to know this guy.

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4 years ago

Google Play Music updated with SD card cache support

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Cached music can now be handled on external storage

There's a new update for Google Play Music rolling out from today, and it brings a pretty big feature addition for anyone using Google's music app on a device with an SD card. The new Google Play Music version 5.3 introduces the ability to store cached or pinned music on external storage — i.e. a microSD card — as an alternative to internal storage. The app has always been able to play music from external storage, but until now cached music from online libraries was limited to internal storage.

It's a pretty big deal for the many users of Android phones with an SD card slot but limited built-in storage, for instance most Samsung phones and lower-end devices from other manufacturers. Cached music can quickly chew through precious internal storage, and so offloading it to an SD card wherever possible makes a lot of sense. It's a curious decision, however, given Google's stance on SD cards, and the lack of external storage on current Nexus devices.

As usual, the new version of Google Play Music is being pushed out to devices gradually as part of a staged rollout, so watch out for it in the days ahead. The new option to change your cache location can be found under Music settings > Download > Storage location.

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4 years ago

Fleksy keyboard exits beta, now available on Google Play

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New keyboard free to try for first month

Fleksy is a new Android keyboard that's been in private beta testing for the past several months, and now it's out on Google Play for all to try. With large keys and an emphasis on prediction and auto-correction, Fleksy is designed to allow users to type without necessarily looking at the screen — just hammer the keys with your thumbs and use swipe gestures to toggle through corrections and delete words. It's an example of the kind of thinking behind the autocorrect feature of most on-screen keyboards taken it its logical extreme — often you can miss every single letter and Fleksy will do a reasonably good job of piecing together what you mean.

Fleksy is free to try for the first thirty days, after which it'll cost you $3.99. Grab it using the Google Play link above.

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4 years ago

Android 4.4.1 update coming with Nexus 5 camera fixes [update]

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Update to bring faster camera with improved autofocus and contrast

Update: The official Nexus Google+ page has put out a post confirming that Android 4.4.1 will be rolling out to the Nexus 5 starting today, bringing the aforementioned camera improvements.

Original Story: The Nexus 5's camera has been one of the major points of contention for the device. As we pointed out in our review, it wasn't necessarily bad, just weird. The camera of Google's new Android flagship tended to be slow to focus, slow to launch end even slower to take photos — even if it was capable of producing great-looking images in HDR+ mode.

And it appears Google's been busy in the month since the device's release, as new details emerging today reveal that significant work has been done to speed up the device's image capture speed while also enhancing photo quality. The Verge reports that Google has overhauled a number of aspects of the Nexus 5's camera software in the upcoming Android 4.4.1, improving camera app launch times and shortening shutter times to give faster capture speeds. Increasing the camera's frame rate also allows autofocus to work faster, eliminating some of the frustrations many have experienced on the current firmware.

In addition, HDR+ mode has grown a progress indicator to give users a better idea of how long things are going to take. And photos taken with the new camera software are less washed out than before, with more vibrant colors and more contrast, as well as more accurate white balance.

So it certainly appears that Android 4.4.1 — said to be rolling out in a matter of days — could be a significant update for the Nexus 5, addressing one of its biggest pain points.  As always, though, the real test will come when thousands of regular users get their hands on Google's improved camera app.

Source: The Verge

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4 years ago

The Cyber WEEK Savings continue at ShopAndroid.com - Save 25% on all Android through Friday night!

Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year is now over (this being Thursday and all), but we're not stopping the savings just yet. If you've been itching to buy something from ShopAndroid.com and missed Cyber Monday, you can still get the savings through this Friday!

Until midnight PST Friday night, you can save 25 percent on all Android cases and accessories at ShopAndroid.com. If you haven't visited our store for a while, be sure to click over and take a browse. The selection is HUGE: cases, chargers, batteries, screen protectors, touchscreen-friendly gloves and more... you name it, you can buy it from our awesome store.

To take advantage of the Cyber Monday savings, all you need to do it use coupon code CYBER13 during the checkout process. It's as simple as that. Also a reminder that earlier this week we announced support for Bitcoin, so if you're sitting on a pile of Bitcoins now you can get it on the savings.

Thanks for supporting the Android community!!

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4 years ago

AT&T adds new Mobile Share options, with more savings if you're off-contract

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AT&T today announced a handful of new options for its Mobile Share plans — including an 8GB bucket. But the bigger news is that the cost of your device is being separated from the service. And that means if you're not going with a subsidized phone — either because you're buying outright or are bringing your own device — you'll save $15 a month. And once your contract's up, you'll automatically moved to that cheaper, off-contract pricing. Not a bad thing at all.

And starting Dec. 8, AT&T's adding an 18-month upgrade option through its AT&T Next program. Payments are spread out over 26 months, and you can get a new phone every year and a half.

Source: AT&T

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4 years ago

Broadcom announces Bluetooth software stack for Android automotive connectivity

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Chipmaker Broadcom has today unveiled a new Bluetooth software stack designed to enhance in-car connectivity for Android devices. The company claims its Android Automotive Bluetooth stack delivers improved audio quality for calls and streaming music over the wireless standard, while boasting Bluetooth Smart (a.k.a. Bluetooth Low Energy) support, allowing battery-efficient connectivity with wearable devices.

The new software stack is an extension of Broadcom's contributions to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), and is available now to qualified customers — i.e. auto manufacturers, not end users. More technical details in the press release after the break.

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4 years ago

Samsung resumes international Galaxy S3 Android 4.3 updates

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New firmware being pushed out starting today in parts of Europe

The Android 4.3 firmware rollout for Samsung's Galaxy S3 didn't go exactly to plan, leading to the manufacturer suspending the rollout to investigate numerous issues reported by S3 owners. Now it appears Samsung has completed its work squishing bugs in the 4.3 firmware as a new update is being pushed out to international Galaxy S3 (GT-i9300) owners in parts of Europe.

According to reports from SamMobile and XDA, the new firmware carries the build number I9300XXUGMK6, and was built on Nov. 28. Early reports from forums suggest that the performance and stability issues affecting the earlier update have been fixed in the latest build. As before, the 4.3 update also brings Samsung's KNOX enterprise security platform, as well as support for the Galaxy Gear smartwatch.

As always, the OTA will likely take at least a few days to filter out to all users; if you've got a European Galaxy S3, hit the comments and let us know if you've got this latest update.

Source: SamMobile, XDA

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4 years ago

Assassin's Creed Pirates now available on Google Play

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Arrrrr

Ubisoft's latest mobile plunderer, Assassin's Creed Pirates, is now available to purchase through Google Play. The game takes place in the same universe as the Assassin's Creed console titles, but sees players taking on the role of Alonso Batilla, sailing the seas in search of treasure as the Templars and Assassins play out their ancestoral war.

Our own Paul Acevedo had the chance to preview the game at Ubisoft's San Francisco HQ recently. Here's a snippet from his hands-on impressions:

"After the introductory cinematic wraps, players will set sail towards their meeting with La Buse at Scorpion’s Reef. Steering the ship takes place in a first-person perspective, just as in Assassin’s Creed IV. Swipe left or right along the ship’s wheel in order to navigate the waters and avoid obstacles.  Buttons at the bottom-right corner of the screen control acceleration and deceleration.

Ship battles consist of attack and defense phases. Drag left or right to aim your cannons. You’ll have to lead a little to compensate for the opponent’s movement, but firing too far ahead can lead to a miss too. Cannons take a little time to recharge, so all the more incentive to fire carefully."

Hit the Google Play link above to get started. The game sells for $4.99 in the U.S. and £2.99 in the UK.

More: Assassin's Creed Pirates preview

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4 years ago

Deutsche Telekom and Twitter enter strategic partnership

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T-Mobile customers in parts of Europe will get home screen widget in 2014

Twitter and Deutsche Telekom, the German telecommunications giant behind T-Mobile, have entered into a strategic partnership that'll give the microblogging service more prominence on certain T-Mobile Android devices in parts of Europe. Under the agreement Twitter will "create a unique experience for Deutsche Telekom devices," including what sounds like a Twitter home screen widget preloaded on certain Android handsets from 2014. In return DT will get "early access to new tools and innovations on the technical side" and help with integrating Twitter into its marketing campaigns, according to a statement given to GigaOM, potentially giving the company a leg-up over the local competition.

The agreement will initially cover only Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, Greece and Croatia — a small subset of Deutsche Telekom's global reach. But as recent stats from PeerReach reveal, Germany in particular is an important market Twitter has yet to fully conquer, with just 1 percent market penetration in that country versus 11 percent in the UK.

Source: Deutsche Telekom; via: GigaOM, PeerReach

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4 years ago

AT&T and T-Mobile expected to bid for Verizon's 700MHz spectrum

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Valuable block of spectrum could net Verizon a big profit on the sale

Verizon may be considering a sale of its 700MHz "A block" spectrum, and its no surprise that T-Mobile and AT&T are both in line to make a bid for it. Although Verizon continues to actively use the 700MHz spectrum, it has indicated previously that it would part with the valuable piece of airwaves for the right price, naturally. It purchased the rights to the A block for $2.4 billion, and has indicated that it won't part with it for less than $2.75 billion.

Reportedly both AT&T and T-Mobile are poised to bid for the spectrum. AT&T already holds the rights to adjacent 700MHz spectrum, and certainly has the cash to buy it if necessary. T-Mobile on the other hand operates its network primarily in the 1900MHz and AWS (1700/2100MHz) frequencies, and the 700MHz spectrum is undeniably more valuable than what they hold now.

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4 years ago

Google Play Books now available in 5 new countries

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Google's book store now available in 44 countries around the world

Google Play Books is expanding to five new countries starting today. If you're in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru or Venezuela, you'll now have access to the Google Play Books ecosystem, bringing the total number of countries up to a staggering 44.

If you're in one of the above countries and want to check out the reading collection that Google Play has to offer, head to the Play Store and pick up a couple of good reads.

Source: Google Play Support

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4 years ago

Weekly Photo Contest: Transportation

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It's time to show us how you get from here to there

Planes, trains and automobiles — we're always moving around for one reason or another. At least around this time of year, we're more likely to be traveling than not. "Transportation" is the prompt for this week's photo contest, but that doesn't have to mean a big hunk of metal moving at high speeds — we all get around more modestly sometimes. If you think about it, there are plenty of ways to express the concept of "transportation."

This week we'll have a single winner for this contest, and for their efforts they'll receive a Sony Cyber-shot QX10 lens camera accessory.

Entering is easy. Just drop your entry in a forums post at the link below. Tell us what Android you used to get the picture, and any back story you want to add to it. We'll pick a winner Tuesday (December 10) night at 11:59 PM ET, and announce them on the blog with next Wednesday's contest.

Enter this week's photo contest

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4 years ago

Google search now includes the data from installed apps

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Relevant results from your own data now included

You've been able to search for installed apps by name for a while now, but today Google opened up a feature we first heard about when KitKat was announced — search hits from your installed app data.

You won't have to do anything, but developers of third party apps will. Some are ready, with names like IMDB, Wikipedia and Open Table already displaying relevant results. For these apps, the search result will include an "open in app" button that does exactly what you think it will — open the app with the relevant information ready for you. 

In addition, searching for apps will now show relevant results. A search for downhill ski app (Google's example) will show results from Google Play with a handy button to go fetch them.

Google is actively working with developers to get more apps included. If you're a developer and want in on the action, visit here to get started.

Source: Google

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