4 years ago

Google moves Hangouts to VP8 to offer 720p HD video


Better video quality with less bandwidth and no third-party code

Some of us may have noticed an increase in Google+ Hangouts quality in recent weeks, but the bump to 720p HD video is more than a simple settings change — it's the move to a brand new video codec called VP8. Prior to this transition, Google was using the more widely-known H.264 to handle video in Hangouts but has run into issues handling multiple video streams at high quality with the codec.

VP8 is a royalty-free and open codec that brings several improvements for the end user, including higher video quality — which is rolling out to everyone now — and group video calling in the browser without any additional plugins. The overall reduced bandwidth required for VP8 video also means that Google can now serve up higher quality streams with even less data.

The other part of this move to higher-quality and lower-bandwidth video is WebRTC, which is a new video standard that Google has been a big proponent of and has integrated in both desktop and Android versions of Chrome. Google has planned to move completely to WebRTC for Hangouts but a few issues have prevented it from happening. Those issues are being solved and we could see it in the coming months.

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4 years ago

Twitter improves conversation view, ups performance on low-end devices


Easily follow and respond to conversations from the timeline view

Twitter is pushing out updates today across its apps and website to make it easier for you to track the flow of conversations in your timeline. Now when browsing through tweets, conversations will be indicated by a blue line that links up between two or more users' profile pictures. The conversation will show at most three replies in the timeline itself, in chronological order, and if there are more replies you'll be able to hit a button to expand the complete conversation outside of the timeline. You can then reply to the conversation directly from this new view.

It's an interesting change that we think is necessary to help users wrap their heads around the way conversations work in Twitter, and it will just make things easier to follow overall. It is interesting that your timeline will now not be completely chronological, as the replies listed underneath the original tweet will be time stamped differently.

Other than the new conversation feature, the latest update on Android brings the ability to report individual tweets for abuse or spam. Users with lower-end handsets should also see speed improvements and a 50 percent reduction in overall app size. You can grab the latest version from the Play Store link above.

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4 years ago

HTC One Max leaks again, this time in dual-SIM Chinese variant


Removable back, fingerprint reader and wireless charging pins also make an appearance

Leaks of the upcoming HTC One Max are coming fast and loose, and the latest comes courtesy of ePrice, who has snagged pictures of a purported dual-SIM Chinese variant of the device. Just as we've seen before the device looks like a giant HTC One, with a  5.9-inch screen and similar design and proportions to its two smaller siblings.

What's interesting about these most recent pictures is that this particular variant of the device has a removable back cover to access the two SIM slots underneath — falling in line with the dual-SIM versions of previous HTC handsets in the country. Another interesting point seen in the casing is a large square cutout underneath the camera, which is purportedly to be filled with a fingerprint reader but has the part missing at the moment.

Also notable on the back casing are three wireless charging pins, which look very similar to docking pins we've seen on previous HTC handsets. There's no indication of how many of these features are going to make it out of the Chinese market, which traditionally gets its own device variants, but it is very interesting to see another version of the One Max making the rounds.

Hit the break for a couple more pictures showing the back cover removed and a quick settings toggle for the fingerprint reader.

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4 years ago

10 phones that now cost more than the Nexus 4


The Nexus 4's new price tag makes it cheaper than a lot of entry-level phones and older models

Google’s recent, dramatic price cut for the Nexus 4 on the Google Play Store has made it one of the best value handsets you can pick up. In fact, at £159 in the UK and $199 in the U.S., the Nexus 4 easily provides the best bang for your buy when buying an Android smartphone, with just a few caveats attached.

So we decided to take a look at the phone market at large and see where exactly the Nexus 4 fits at its new price point. And it’s surprising to see the company it’s keeping at its new $200-level price. Check past the break to see ten devices that are now more expensive than the Nexus 4.

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4 years ago

Whenever, wherever: Why you can't just use any phone on any carrier - Talk Mobile


Chances are you've encountered it at some point. You go out into the country, or into a certain part of town, and you lose signal from your carrier. But another network is out there, and it picks up the slack. You're roaming.

Unlike the buffalo of yore, roaming onto other carriers isn't a carefree experience. It wasn't until recently that no-cost-to-you roaming agreements were in place for most major carriers, at least domestically. International roaming's a different beast, and as it would turn out, a very expensive one.

4 years ago

EE passes 100 4G LTE markets on eve of rivals' switch-on


Accrington named 100th LTE market, 'double-speed' now in five more towns

EE continues to expand the reach of its 4G network, and on the eve of O2 and Vodafone's 4G switch-ons, the British operator has announced that it's brought LTE to more than 100 markets. Accrington in Lancashire was named as the hundredth EE 4G town, prompting a tenuous endorsement deal from tangentially-related football personality Ian Rush.

EE also sends word that a further nine towns have been activated for 4G this month in addition to Accrington — Ashford, Bicester, Colchester, Guildford, Milton Keynes, Redhill, Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells and Woking, bringing the total to 105. In addition, EE claims 60 percent UK population coverage for its 4G network, and says it's switched on "double speed" 4G LTE in Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton, enabling more spectrum for high-speed data.

Tomorrow rival operators O2 and Vodafone will launch their 4G networks. O2 will go live in London, Leeds and Bradford, while Vodafone will launch in London only.

Source: EE

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4 years ago

The official Android Central app passes a major milestone, so let's give away something!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. We're proud to announce that the official Android Central app has surpassed, for us, a major milestone, amassing more than 100,000 total downloads. (And, quite frankly, with a keep rate that even I'm astounded by.) 

So from all of us to everyone who's tried the application, thanks! We've still got plenty of work to do with the app — features to add, items to improve and bugs to squash — but we're making great progress. Huge props to our developer Neil for all the hard work.

And as but a small token of appreciation for helping make us the No. 1 source for all things Android, we're going to give away a new Nexus 7 we've got laying around here. Still in the box, of course. To enter to win, just leave a comment on this post. That's it. We'll close down the comments at midnight Eastern tonight, pick a winner and get the tablet shipped out on Thursday, so the winner can have it ASAP.

And if you haven't already, please give our app a try!

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4 years ago

Wikipad gaming tablet arriving in the UK on Sept. 27


7-inch tablet with gamepad controls to sell for £249.99

Wikipad has announced that its 7-inch gaming tablet will go on sale in the UK from Sept. 27, priced at £249.99, following the U.S. launch a couple of months back.

The much-delayed tablet with gamepad controls will be sold via "from a number of well-known retailers at launch," through distribution partner MSE.

The Wikipad features a 1280x800, 7-inch display and is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. When it arrives in the UK next month it'll come up against strong competition in the small tablet space, not least from Google's cheaper and more powerful second-gen Nexus 7.

via Engadget

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4 years ago

Kobo announces three new Android tablets


New Android 10 and 7-inch Android tablets, including a Tegra 4-powered high-end model

E-reader maker Kobo has announced three new Android tablets, expanding its "Arc" range of products.  The Kobo Arc 7, Arc 7 HD and Arc 10 HD all support Kobo's reading platform, and come with high-end, mid-range and budget-level specs.

First up, the Kobo Arc 10 HD features an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor and a 10-inch 2560x1600 display, 2GB of RAM and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. It also comes with a special software "reading mode," which the manufacturer says can extend battery life to more than 10 days — presumably by dialing back the CPU, display and other features. The Arc 10 HD is to be priced at £299.99 in the UK.

Occupying the middle ground, the Kobo Arc 7 HD sports a Tegra 3 CPU, 1GB of RAM and a 7-inch 1920x1200 display. The manufacturer promises up to 8 hours battery life on this model, which retails for £159.99 with 16GB of storage and £189.99 with 32GB.

Finally there's the entry-level Kobo Arc 7, selling for £119.99 with 8GB of storage. That's packing a MediaTek MTK 8125 1.2GHz quad-core processor and a 7-inch 1024x600 display — pretty standard cheap Android tablet fare.

Kobo's press release states that the new tablets support content from Google Play as well as the company's own book store, which has been expanded to include a range of magazine content and kids books. All three tablets are set to launch in the UK from Oct. 16.

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4 years ago

AT&T expands LTE coverage to 9 new markets


Another weekly LTE expansion pushing towards nationwide availability

AT&T announced a couple of weeks back that it had hit a pretty big milestone of 365 total LTE markets, but that doesn't mean that the nation's second-largest carrier is slowing its rollout. This week 13 additional markets (and four expansions) are coming online with the newest high-speed technology. Users in the following markets with an LTE device and the proper provisioning on their account should see the network live now:

  • Moultrie, GA
  • Tifton, GA
  • Champaign-Urbana, IL
  • Mayfield, KY
  • Paducah, KY
  • Tupelo, MS
  • Corning, NY
  • Springfield, OH
  • Longview, TX
  • Marshall, TX
  • Tyler, TX
  • Stevens Point, WI
  • Whitewater-Lake Geneva, WI

That gives AT&T a total of 383 LTE-enabled markets.

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4 years ago

LG G2 goes to the edge of space and back, capturing pictures and video along the way


Is LG making the best phone available for taking pictures of the stratosphere?

In an effort to show off what the newly announced G2's camera is capable of, LG offered up the handset for some intense experimentation sending a weather balloon to the edge of space. As you'll be able to see from the video above, the G2 not only survived the trip up to over 18 miles above earth and back but captured some pretty great video and stills along the way.

Now this clearly isn't a good way to show off the practical application of the G2's camera hardware and software. But you have to think that if the phone is capable of taking fantastic pictures under ridiculous conditions like this, it has to be able to do something good a bit closer to ground.

Be sure to watch the video through to the end, it's really quite interesting.

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4 years ago

New Nexus 7 lands in the UK, parts of Europe, Japan


Latest Google tablet now available in more countries

Update: The New Nexus 7 is also available in France, Germany and Spain (priced at €229 and €269) and Japan (27,800 yen and 33,800 yen). Check your local Google Play Store by clicking the button on the left to see if it's available for you to buy.

Original story: Just as we had confirmed with our own sources previously, the 2013 Nexus 7 has just gone on sale in the Google Play Store for residents of the UK. Fashionably late when compared to availability in the U.S. and Canada, the new Nexus 7 weighs in at £199 for the 16GB model and £239 for 32GB.

Google is also sending out an email to those in the UK who signed up for updates indicating that the tablet should be on sale at several retailers now including Currys PC World, Amazon, Tesco, Argos and John Lewis. The email also says to contact the stores for specific availability.

No word at the moment on a mobile data version of the tablet, but if you're okay sticking to Wifi you can go place your order or try your luck at a retail location now.

More: Google Nexus 7 (2013) review

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4 years ago

Google+ gets Auto Awesome notifications


Auto Awesome — the photo enhancer built in to Google+ — just got a little more awesome. Now, whenever Auto Awesome does its thing, you'll get a notification telling you so. That saves you from having to dive into your photos and figure it out on your own. This works on the app as well as the web, of course.

A bugfix update reported is coming down for the Google+ app as well, so be on the lookout for that.

Source: +Virgil Dobjanschi

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4 years ago

Nexus 4 price drops by $100 on Google Play to $199 or $249 [Updated]


The best deal in smart phones just got better, but why is the price dropping?

Update: The official Google Play Twitter account has just confirmed the "25% off or more" sale for the Nexus 4 is active in Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Korea, US and UK.

Original story: When Google put the Nexus 4 up for sale at an unlocked price of $299 or $349 at launch, everyone knew it was an amazing price for what you were getting. Well as we come around on a year since that date, Google has just dropped those prices by $100 to $199 for 8GB or $249 for 16GB — still fully unlocked and available direct from Google Play. For our U.K. readers, the price has also dropped to £159 and £199.

That's a pretty ridiculous price considering you're getting a fantastic device unlocked for the same as what you'd pay on-contract for other phones at a carrier store. We're not entirely sure why Google has decided to drop the prices, but you may want to snatch one up now if you've been looking to get yourself a Nexus on the cheap.

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4 years ago

FCC puts AT&T acquisition of Alltel on pause, awaiting prepaid customer transition roadmap


AT&T must explain how it plans to transition prepaid customers to its network for deal to move forward

As it nears the (informal) 180 day timeline for approving AT&T's purchase of Alltel, the FCC has put a pause on the review in order to get more information about how AT&T plans to transition all of Alltel's customers to its network. If you'll recall back to January, AT&T purchased spectrum assets and 585,000 customers when it acquired the rest of Alltel for $780 million. At the time it seemed like a slam dunk purchase for AT&T, but now the FCC is worried that AT&T doesn't have an appropriate plan for Alltel's over 180,000 prepaid customers.

AT&T has offered an acceptable plan to bring Alltel's postpaid customers over to its network, but the FCC sees the prepaid customers as an important segment of the customer base that shouldn't be left disenfranchised when the deal completes. Jim Cicconi, Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs at AT&T, had this to say:

“AT&T is extremely disappointed at the FCC delay today on this small transaction.  AT&T is ready, willing and able to make significant network investments in these rural territories to bring HSPA+ and LTE services to Allied’s customers, an investment that will not occur but for this transaction.  AT&T has actively worked to address FCC concerns and will continue to work with the Commission until all issues are resolved.”

We have no doubt that AT&T will do whatever it needs to in order to get these spectrum holdings into its hands once and for all. But after seeing Verizon be forced to divest some of its holdings when it acquired most of Alltel previously, the process may not be as easy as it expected.

Source: FCC, AT&T; Via: PhoneScoop

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