Headlines

4 years ago

HTC says it's delivered its GPe KitKat code to Google

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Public release timing 'to be determined by Google'

You might remember it was 15 days ago when HTC America President Jason Mackenzie said his company would deliver Android 4.4 for the Google Play edition HTC One within 15 days — so naturally GPe device owners have today been wondering what's up with the update. The official HTC USA Twitter account has chimed in this afternoon with an update on the release's progress, effectively saying the manufacturer has delivered its code and the rest is up to Google —

"Good news, we've delivered KitKat code to Google for HTC One GPE. Timing of push via PlayStore to be determined by Google."

We can only speculate as to what Google needs to do to get HTC's update prepped and ready to push out onto devices, but at least this means it shouldn't be too much longer before the final public rollout.

Source: @HTCUSA; Thanks, Shen!

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4 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Gear manager app update brings rich notifications from any app to the Gear

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Samsung's smart watch just got a lot smarter

In tandem with a small firmware update a few days ago for the Samsung Galaxy Gear, an update to the Gear Manager app has enabled "real" notifications from any application to be read right on the Galaxy Gear itself. If you recall (if not see our review), the Gear shipped with one very big reason not to want to use it — for most applications the notification you received simply told you to check your phone.

Yeah, that sucked.

Having to take out your phone and open the notification sort of negated the advantage of having the notification sent to your wrist. It made the Gear something we just couldn't recommend anyone buy without an update to address this. 

Now that update is here. Without users having to install any sort of hack or third party programs, you can now see what you need to see, and it's all user-definable. We're going to have a look at how it all works, and hopefully update our review and recommendation of Samsung's smart watch.

To get the new update, open the Gear Manager app on your phone and you'll be directed to download the latest version from the Samsung app store.

Source: SamMobile

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4 years ago

Acer and Google release $199 C7 Chromebook

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With a price under $200, Acer and Google want to catch your eyes this holiday season

Acer has expanded their Chromebook line this morning, and the new C7 (C720-2848) is available for ordering in the US today for just $199. For your money, you're getting a package that should be familiar to folks who were interested in the prior Acer C7 Chromebook, save one line item — the RAM. 

The new C7 comes with just 2GB of RAM, but also has the same Haswell architecture, 11.6-inch screen and 16GB SSD. The current C7, which will remain available — there are no plans to replace it just yet — comes with 4GB of RAM, and a $249 price tag.

Certainly Acer and Google want to get your attention with the price, and any computer listing at $199 is worth a second look. But will new users be able to adapt to Chrome OS? For many, web consumption as a primary goal is currently done on a tablet, and being productive means getting out the laptop that can run Microsoft Office or a code editor. Shifting to Chrome comes with a learning curve, and there are still things you just can't do with it.

In the end, we think you're better served spending the extra $50 to get the 4GB version if you're buying, especially if you're planning to do any work — now or in the future as the OS matures — from a Chromebook. 

Source: Best Buy

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4 years ago

Sprint doesn't want you to forget you've got dizzingly fast Spark LTE data

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So we've gotten our first look at the new Sprint Spark data today on the HTC One Max. This, as you'll recall, is the tri-band LTE that hands off between the 800MHz, 1.9GHz and 2.5GHz bands, promising theoretical peak speeds of 50 Mbps to 60 Mbps. (Your mileage will — cough — vary .) It's also available on the Samsung Galaxy Mega, Galaxy S4 Mini and the LG G2.

And that is the continuously spinning data icon that goes along with it.

Maybe it's not any worse than the animations other operators use. But it's certainly more noticeable. And it's also spinning its little pixels off even if you're not in one of the five Spark launch cities of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami or Tampa. Odd, but whatever. Hi, little spinner guy.

More: Sprint Spark

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4 years ago

Nexus 5 review

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LG’s second Ne​xus is the best phone you can buy for $350, and an excellent platform on which to experience the new Android 4.4 KitKat — but that experience isn’t entirely free from compromises

Just what is a Nexus? The definition of Google’s homegrown gadget lineup has evolved — if not changed beyond all recognition — in the almost four years since the arrival of the Nexus One. Originally expensive, exclusive and developer-centric, Nexus is now solidly a consumer-focused brand. With wallet-friendly price tags, a Nestle-promoted launch, numerous carrier and retailer partners and new, prettier software, the LG-built Nexus 5 is more a phone for normal people than any previous Google-branded handset.

But despite the face of “vanilla” Android becoming more friendly and the Nexus line growing more accessible, these products have always garnered attention from tech-savvy enthusiasts more than average smartphone buyers. Nerds, if you will. People who value the specs, performance and the latest version of Android over shiny features and space-age build quality.

That was clearly the case with last year’s Nexus 4, which demanded users sacrifice LTE connectivity to be part of the elite Nexus club. Similarly, Nexus 4 buyers got only an average camera and unspectacular battery life for their $299. Though it was a fantastic phone for the time — and for the money, particularly in countries where LTE had yet to take off — Nexus 4 ownership was also a lesson in compromises. And so for $50 more, this year’s Nexus promises high-end internals, 4G LTE support wherever you live, and an improved camera experience with “HDR+” mode — in essence, more of what made the Nexus 4 great, with fewer bugbears.

However, hardware is only part of the equation — arguably more important is the new Android 4.4 KitKat software, the biggest step forward for the OS since 2011’s Ice Cream Sandwich release. Aside from the clear visual refresh, KitKat aims to revamp Android’s basic phone and SMS experiences, while making it easier to get to use Google Now, one of the platform’s greatest assets.

All of this for $349 (£299) sounds like impossibly good value. So can the Nexus 5 really be a slam-dunk of high-end hardware, slick, beautiful software and an unbeatable price point? And for those willing to spend more, is a Nexus still the best way to experience “vanilla” Android in a world of Moto Xs and Google Play editions? Let’s find out in the full Android Central review of the Nexus 5.

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4 years ago

Stock Talk: Android and Google+ driving profitable growth

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I can’t help but notice that Google+ is gaining momentum, and Android is a big part of the cause. My own use of Google+ is up since switching to Android about a month ago, but it’s also clear that the network is growing globally. Late last month at a special event to announce new features, Google disclosed that Google+ has seen 58 percent growth in its user base, from 190 million in May to a current level of 300 million.

Most industry observers know that Facebook is king of the hill — some 1.19 billion monthly active users (pdf) as of September 2013 — when it comes to social networking. But I have to wonder if Google will catch up over time. I wasn’t optimistic on Google+ when it first launched. I didn’t see the need for another social network.  And to be honest, I still don’t.  But Google is growing because of its strategic moves, by making Google+ an integral part of everything, nearly as much as search.

And Android is a big part of this. One simple example is having my pictures all automatically backed up to my Google+ account. On a broader level, Google is pushing everyone to have a Google+ account to do pretty much anything from commenting on YouTube to use Hangouts. The more we access Google services from mobile phones, the more Android is helping Google+ to grow.

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4 years ago

Samsung reportedly working on phone with three-sided screen

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Bloomberg reports new flexible-display handset could emerge in second half of 2014

With the recent launch of the Samsung Galaxy Round and LG G Flex, we're finally witnessing arrival of flexible, curved smartphone displays, a trend that looks set to continue into 2014. And now Bloomberg brings news that Samsung might launch a different kind of curved-display handset — one with a "three-sided" screen. Citing "people familiar with the plans," the outlet says the screen would extend all the way around the phone's sides, allowing users to view messages from an angle, with each side of the display operating "independently."

The device may form part of the Galaxy S or Galaxy Note line, or it may be the first in a new line of products, according to the outlet. The new "three-sided" device will apparently use an upgraded version of Samsung's Yuom technology, which is utilized in the Galaxy Round's curved SuperAMOLED screen.

However it's unlikely we'll get our first glimpse of this new handset anytime soon, with one source reportedly saying to expect a launch sometime in the second half of 2014.

Source: Bloomberg

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4 years ago

Sprint's HTC One Max available today for $249 on contract

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A quick reminder, folks, that Sprint's mondo HTC One Max is available today. The 5.9-inch phone — and that's just the display, folks! — will run you $249 on contract, or $25 a month with the Sprint One Up program. (You can save another $100 if you port your number over to Sprint, by the way.)

A reminder: This phone's not for everyone. It's big. Really Big. Here's how our own Alex Dobie put it in his official HTC One Max review:

The One Max is more than a big HTC One, but also a lesser phone than the HTC One. If you’re after the full HTC experience on a larger display, well, for the most part, this is that device. And right now it's the closest you're going to get to an HTC tablet. But for most buyers the smaller, better-looking HTC One, or the higher-end and more manageable Galaxy Note 3 will be better options.

So be sure to read our full take before taking the plunge.

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4 years ago

Moto G will ship with KitKat in the U.S.

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Android 4.4 to come out of the box in 'wave 2' countries

We found out earlier this week that Motorola's new budget handset, the Moto G, will be updated to the new Android 4.4 KitKat by the end of January. However the manufacturer has now confirmed that in the U.S. and other countries launching the device early next year, it'll actually arrive with Android 4.4 out of the box. Speaking with Omio recently, Motorola SVP Mark Randall elaborated on the company's international rollout plans: "Wave 2, products that we ship after Christmas, will start with KitKat [...] Wave 2 is in the US; there’s South East Asia, and other countries."

Recently launched in Europe and Latin America, Moto G is Motorola's attempt to shake up the entry-level smartphone market, with a combination of relatively high-end internals and a competitive price point. For more on the Moto G, check out our hands-on coverage from the European launch event earlier this week.

As for the Moto X, that's due to receive KitKat in "a matter of weeks."

More: Moto G hands-on, Moto G photo gallery

Source: Omio; via: AndroidOS.in

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4 years ago

New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler sends stern letter to CTIA urging phone unlocking reform

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Chairman claims carriers should notify customers when phones can be unlocked

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler hasn't completed his first week on the job, but that doesn't mean it's too early to start laying the groundwork for future policies. In a letter to the CTIA today, the Chairman urged the wireless carrier association to reconsider its opaque and frustrating stance on cell phone unlocking. Building on groundwork between the FCC, federal government and carriers previously, the letter breaks down a five point plan that Chairman Wheeler thinks is a more consumer-friendly option:

  • Provide a clear, concise, and readily accessible policy on unlocking.
  • Unlock mobile wireless devices for customers, former customers, and legitimate owners when the applicable service contract, installment plan, or ETF has been fulfilled.
  • Affirmatively notify customers when their devices are eligible for unlocking and/or automatically unlock devices when eligible, without an additional fee.
  • Process unlocking requests or provide an explanation of denial within two business days.
  • Unlock devices for military personnel upon deployment.

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4 years ago

Update brings Chrome 31 to the stable track, adds printing for Android 4.4 KitKat

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For those of you rocking the stable (ie not beta) version of the Chrome browser, be aware that an update is headed your way. Chrome 31 has been promoted to the stable track, and it brings forth the ability to print from a device running Android 4.4 KitKat (though it appears that's also in Chrome 30 on the Nexus 4 — but whatever), a better autofill/autocomplete experience, and the requisite stability and security enhancements.

And speaking of security, Google also announced it forked over (another) lump of money to Pinkie Pie after a couple more exploits were uncovered. Gotta love pwn2own.

Source: Google

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4 years ago

FCC releases speed test app to perform both active and passive mobile data tests

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In-depth mobile data metrics to empower wireless consumers

The FCC has released its own open-source speed test app in the Play Store, giving any Android user access to mobile data speed information on their device. The main goal of the app, the FCC claims, is to empower wireless customers in the U.S. to know how well their smartphone's mobile network is performing. Just as you would expect, you can perform active data speed tests, which return download, upload, latency and packet loss information. You'll also get extra info such as signal strength, SIM operator code and network operator name.

Further, by default the FCC Speed Test app will also conduct passive tests and return anonymous speed test data to the agency for analysis. The app collects absolutely no personally identifiable information, is completely anonymous and has a privacy policy that discloses everything the app is capable of.

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4 years ago

Android 4.4 factory images for all Nexus 7s now available, too

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Return to stock or update to the latest version on your Nexus 7

Along with the Nexus 4, all versions of the Nexus 7 have also received Android 4.4 factory images. Even though the OTA update to KitKat hasn't come to the Nexus 7 variants that have mobile data, all four variants of the smaller Nexus tablet have factory images available.

If you're willing to put a little time into it you can use these to update your own tablet, or just download and have them at the ready should you ever need to return to stock.

More: Nexus 7 2013 Forums | Nexus 7 2012 Forums

Source: Google Developers

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4 years ago

Google posts Android 4.4 factory image for Nexus 4

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In what should be a pretty clear sign that an over-the-air update is coming soon, Google has posted the factory image for Android 4.4 KitKat for the Nexus 4.

Factory images are  especially helpful if you bork your device playing hax0r — or if you just want an easy way to start from scratch. In the case of the Nexus 4 — which has yet to see an over-the air update — it'll allow you to update without waiting — or wiping.

Also: Don't be surprised when you flash this if you don't have what's been dubbed the "Google Experience" launcher. There's no Google Now on the far left — you'll have to slide up from the home button just like always. Also: No new wallpapers, and no transparency. Weird, but not totally unexpected.

More: Nexus 4 forums; Thanks, Cliff!

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4 years ago

ISIS Mobile Wallet now available for Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile customers

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Service requires compatible phone, enhanced SIM, ISIS app and participating store

ISIS Mobile Wallet, a competing service to Google Wallet backed by three major carriers, has finally made its official launch in the U.S. Customers with compatible phones and specific SIM cards on Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile can now download the ISIS Mobile Wallet app and get started with mobile payments.

At a time when Google Wallet is pushing away from needing any specific carrier or even a secure element in the phone, ISIS requires quite a few hoops to get started. First up you'll need to be on one of the three aforementioned carriers, and that's it. Next, you'll need a compatible phone, which in every case is a subset of carrier-branded phones currently offered. You'll also need a so-called "enhanced SIM," which carries a secure element required for the transacation. Lastly, you'll need the specific ISIS Mobile Wallet app for your carrier — although they look identical, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile each have their own app in Google Play:

ISIS has also partnered with a specific set of banks (now sans Capital One) that give the best experience with the payment processor, but luckily you can also add any back account manually if you'd prefer. And once you're set up and ready to pay, you'll have to go to a retailer that has signed on with ISIS to have the proper terminal ready as well. ISIS provides a map to look up retailers, and in our area it looks like its basically limited to carrier stores (of course), some drug stores and random merchants we've never heard of.

If you're interested in giving ISIS a try, hit the break for a full list of compatible devices on each carrier.

Source: AT&T (PRNewswire); ISIS

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