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4 years ago

The week in international Android news - Dec. 9, 2012


Between Nexus 4 phone and accessory availability, Jelly Bean upgrades and new device launches, it's been a pretty action-packed week of international Android news. Starting with Nexus news, buyers in the UK and Germany got their second chance to pick up the LG Nexus 4 at its subsidized Google Play Store price. The 8GB version of the phone soon sold out, but the 16GB model is still available to order for delivery in a few weeks. The process also seemed to go a little smoother for customers this time around, with fewer reports of technical issues with the Play Store and Google Wallet.

The first wave of Nexus 4 bumper orders also started shipping in the UK, and we've gone hands-on with the protective case in a feature published this Friday. The short version: Does a decent job of protecting the N4 from minor falls and scrapes, but it's still way overpriced for what it is. Check out our hands-on feature for more details, including pics and video.

This week's other big international feature was our round-up of the best international Android phones available. We won't spoil the surprise, except to say the winner might come as a bit of a surprise. If you've not yet checked it out, be sure to give it a read and find out which device got out recommendation.

We also got plenty of international update news this week. The European LG Optimus 2X finally got its Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update, some 13 months after the code first dropped. Across the pond, Canadian Galaxy S3 owners finally got a taste of Jelly Bean. And we got news of the first "Premium Suite" for the international GS3, which introduces many Galaxy Note 2 features like multi-view and page buddy to the Samsung flagship. The new firmware, which also includes Android 4.1.2, is rolling out now in some European countries.

And finally, some new devices. Sony brought us yet another mid-range Xperia phone, crossing off another letter of the alphabet in the process. The Xperia E will rock a single-core 1GHz CPU, a 3.5-inch screen and come in single and dual-SIM versions. Perhaps more interestingly, HTC finally unveiled the global version of the Droid DNA, which it's calling the HTC Butterfly. Right now the Butterfly is only confirmed to be coming to China, but a Taiwanese launch is also rumored, and we wouldn't be surprised to see European retailers offering imports in the near future.

That's your slice of international Android news for this week. Keep watching next week, as we'll be bringing you more hands-on coverage with the Samsung Galaxy Camera and Galaxy S3 LTE. If you've got news, be sure to tip us at the usual address!

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4 years ago

Google edits Nexus 4 online help manual, removes reference to USB gadget support


Google has edited the online help manual for the Nexus 4, removing references to USB support for mice and keyboards. Previously mentioning USB and that you might need an adapter to connect these peripherals, now it simply states

You can connect a keyboard, mouse, or even a joystick or other input device to your phone via Bluetooth and use it just as you would with a PC. USB is not supported for connecting such devices

Taken at face value this isn't that big of a deal, but any effect it may have on USB OTG (On The Go) could get a bit more worrisome. Many were counting on support for USB flash drives to supplement the 8 or 16GB of internal storage, and if the Nexus 4 can't properly power USB OTG devices that can't happen.

We're not going to say USB OTG support for the Nexus 4 is dead just yet. It's a complicated affair, needing the correct hardware and software to properly function. If this is just a software issue and is a temporary "adjustment" there is no worries, but if the hardware can't properly support USB gadgets or provide the right voltage, we're likely to be out of luck. We've reached out to Google, and hopefully someone gets back to us Monday. We'll let you know whatever we find out.

Source: Nexus 4 online help

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4 years ago

Nationwide Google Fiber service could cost $140 billion to build out


If you've been drooling over the thought of having Google Fiber service where you live, you're surely not alone. Since Google official rolled out the service to residents of Kansas City, people have been speculating as to when (or if) Google would ever continue to expand the service to other locations. According to new estimates by Goldman Sachs, it would cost Google a huge amount of money -- about $140 billion -- to roll out the service across the country.

That sounds impossibly expensive simply based on the amount of money Google has to spend, but let's consider something a bit more realistic instead. Even if it had the cash up-front, a company like Google doesn't have unlimited time and resources to roll out a nationwide network at once. If it were to begin offering Google Fiber service in other cities, it would surely be a staggered rollout. While it may not be able to afford a nationwide rollout, offering the service in a few more major metropolitan areas would be a great start.

Let's also remember that Google Fiber is actually a profitable business unit for the company. Unlike many products that Google "sells," new Fiber markets would be directly profitable as they launched. Income from new subscribers could be put right back into bringing the service to new areas. Now no one knows what Google's intentions are with its Google Fiber service, but we'd be surprised if the success of the Kansas City launch didn't compel it to look at more cities.

Source: BGR; Business Insider

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4 years ago

Apps of the Week: Add Watermark, Calvin and Hobbes Search Engine, PhotoVault and more!


We've got the usual great set of app picks for your enjoyment this week, covering all genres. You can add a watermark to a picture, keep those pictures safe from unwanted eyes, check out some classic comic strips and more.

Read on and see how we did this week. And if you see an app you like, spend a couple bucks on it -- hard working developers deserve to be paid when they make something great.

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4 years ago

Google Now appears aimed for the Chrome browser


Google just keeps on closing the gaps between its products, as today we're seeing that the Chrome team is getting ready to put Google Now into the Chrome browser. An eagle-eyed user spotted code being merged into the Chromium project that is "creating a skeleton for Google Now for Chrome implementation." We'd expect to see more being put in as the feature gets closer to a true launch.

We're not so sure how the concept of Google Now fits into the browser, but it will be interesting to see how it ends up being implemented. Surely as devices like Chromebooks become more widely accepted -- many of which have 3G data access -- something like Google Now makes sense on more than just phones and tablets.

Source: François Beaufort (Google+); Via: CNET

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4 years ago

ASUS PadFone 2 receiving Jelly Bean OTA



The PadFone 2, ASUS' successor device to that weird interesting phone inside a tablet inside a laptop contraption, is finally grabbing an OTA to Jelly Bean starting today. We were surprised when the phone was announced back in October with just Ice Cream Sandwich on board, but it's good to see ASUS following it up quickly with an update. The device keeps the skinning present in the previous version, but new features like Google Now and enhanced notifications are all included here.

According to FoneArena, the OTA is starting its rollout in Asia -- although that makes sense because the device is primarily being sold there. If you happen to have imported one of these to the states, you'll likely have a shot at receiving the update yourself with this batch.

Source: FoneArena; More: ASUS PadFone Forums

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4 years ago

What's hot in the Android Central Forums ...

4 years ago

Week 1 of our Stuff Your Stocking contest wraps up today


We're wrapping up our first week of our Stuff Your Stocking contest -- which is running all month long --  in which we're giving away a $10 Google Play Gift Card every day in December. That's 31 winners in 31 days, with an easy $10 to spend on apps, books, music -- whatever you want!

What's more is that each of the 31 winners will automatically be entered to win a free Nexus 4, which we'll choose and announce the first week of January.

We're going to change things up each week to keep it fresh. Here's the breakdown:

  • Dec. 1-8: Leave a post in the appropriate thread in the Android Central Forums.
  • Dec. 9-15: Subscribe to our YouTube Channel. (You can subscribe now if you want, but only subscriptions during that time frame will count as an entry.)
  • Dec. 16-22: Comment on that day's giveaway blog post. (Look for our hatted friend you see here.)
  • Dec. 23-31: To be announced. It'll be fun one way or another.

Week 2 kicks off on Sunday. And that's just the beginning, folks. Stay tuned for an even bigger giveaway announcement early next week!

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4 years ago

Delta updates app with a privacy policy; California is safe again


Delta Airlines has updated its Android app, bringing $2,500,000,000 worth of new features. All in the form of a privacy policy. 

It's still the same app as before, letting you check in to your flights, grab a mobile boarding pass, or even check your SkyMiles balance. If you are a frequent flier on Delta, it's probably a very useful download.

So what is this upgrade all about, and what does it have to do with billions of dollars? Good question, with an easy answer. Seems that the state of California slapped Delta with a lawsuit because the app had no clear privacy policy attached. Delta had 30 days to comply, or be faced with fines that could total up to $2.5 billion (with a b). Rather than make a large donation to California's economy, Delta updated their app today. Quick work, and the addition of the privacy policy is easy to get to -- simply tap Traveling with Us, then tap Privacy Policy. 

It's good to see a privacy policy for any app, especially one that collects your credit card info by design. It's also good on some level that the state of California looks out for their citizens, keeping them safe from those who would steal and abuse their private data.

But I can't shake the feeling that threatening a $2.5 billion fine ($2,500 per download)is the best way to go about it. Anyhoo, if you're using the Delta app go grab the update, and if you're not using it but think you should be, download it from Google Play.

More: InformationWeek

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4 years ago

Hands on with the LG Nexus 4 bumper


We finally got our hands on the LG Nexus 4 bumper, so is it worth the wait?

It's here. It's finally, finally here. Proving far more difficult to lay hands on than any accessory ever should, the LG Nexus 4 bumper has proved somewhat elusive. The order for a bumper was placed on the same day -- launch day no less -- as the phone, but while the phone arrived, the wait for the bumper went on. Emails and phone calls to Google Play customer services passed, only to discover there were stocking issues. And, all this despite -- in the UK at least -- the Play Store claiming the item was in stock to ship within 3-5 days. 

Indeed, some customers in various markets got theirs almost immediately, but for many others the wait went on, and on, and on. But, ours has finally arrived just a day after receiving the shipping notice. So, we ripped open the box, fired up the camera, and went hands on. We'll take you through it after the break. 

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4 years ago

T-Mobile testing new prepaid 'GoSmart' plan in select markets


There's no shortage of big T-Mobile news out there right now, and this one seems to fit in with what we're hearing the last couple of days. After announcing that it will no longer be subsidizing handsets starting in 2013, T-Mobile is also putting a new prepaid option through trials in select markets. FierceWireless has confirmed with T-Mobile directly that the carrier is looking to lanch a new set of plans called "GoSmart" with three different tiers:

  • $30 for unlimited voice and text
  • $35 for unlimited voice, text and 2G data
  • $45 for unlimited voice, text and "high speed" data

The first two tiers probably won't be too appealing to readers of this site, but the last one is quite interesting. T-Mobile's current prepaid offerings are a bit more complex, and you have to pay a minimum of $60 for any meaningful amount of data with unlimited talk and text. What is yet to be determined is what T-Mobile means by "high speed data" with these plans.

With its current plans, that refers to HSPA+ (or "4G" to T-Mo) and the user is then throttled to EDGE (2G) speeds after a certain point. Documentation of this new plan at this point is referring to "3G" as high speed, which leads to some confusion. T-Mobile hasn't operated its UMTS (3G) network independently for years, and has completely moved to just EDGE and HSPA+ for data services. We have to think at this point that this is just early confusion about a new plan.

Trials have begun and we'll surely know more about this plan if it ends up going live nationwide in 2013.

Source: FierceWireless

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4 years ago

Google Now making it clear that it is keeping location data


If you've got a Jelly Bean device -- say a shiny new Nexus 4 -- and open up Google Now today, you'll likely be greeted with a notice about Google's location policy. The notice reminds users that Google does keep location history in order to serve location-relevant information (like traffic and walking stats), and prompts to be granted additional access to this data. This looks to be related to those "distance walked and ran" cards users saw a while back.

Even though you're reminded of this whenever signing into a new device or starting Google Now for the first time, we don't think it's a bad idea for Google to remind users of the data being collected.

More: Google Nexus 4 Forums

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4 years ago

Apple's '949 multitouch patent tentatively declared invalid by USPTO


The US Patent and Trade Office has made a preliminary ruling that U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949 (AKA the "Steve Jobs" multitouch patent) is invalid on all 20 points. The '949 patent is considered to be the key patent in all claims of multitouch infringement, and is one of the broader patents that some feel should have never been granted,

It's also one of the patents Apple asserted against Motorola in a case thrown out this past June. In that case, a federal judge dismissed the suit, stating that large parts of the patent in question were invalid in his opinion. It appears that at some level,  the USPTO agrees.

Before people get too excited and pop a cork, know that this is just the first step and may very well be overturned higher up the USPTO ladder. Stranger things than the government not listening to the experts they have hired have certainly happened before. 

Via: FOSS Patents

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4 years ago

Samsung product page confirms Galaxy Camera with Verizon LTE


We saw a Samsung Galaxy Camera go through the FCC just a week ago with Verizon LTE on board, and now a Samsung product page has confirmed the device. The spec page only lists 700MHz as a supported frequency, as well as only listing LTE connectivity. If this device really does only have LTE and no fallback to 3G, it shows Verizon must be pretty confident about its nationwide network rollout. It doesn't get much clearer than this though, and now all we're waiting for is the pricing and availability information.

This is a very interesting development, as the model first launched in the U.S. on AT&T is only HSPA+ and not LTE. Have to wonder what compelled Samsung to make an LTE model for Verizon instead.

Source: Samsung; Via: The Verge

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4 years ago

The best wine apps for Android


With the holidays just around the corner, odds are you’ll be uncorking at least a couple bottles of wine. While you might not need any help emptying them, there are a bunch of solid Android apps out there that can help you pick out the best ones and share your experience with the wine-loving community at large. Now, I’m not a wine guy at all and usually reach for whatever’s in the bargain bin, but maybe with the help of some of these apps, we can classy things up a bit.  

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