5 years ago

The week in international Android news - Jan. 5


Happy New Year! CES is literally days away from us now, and with Alex en-route to Las Vegas as we speak, it falls to me to round up the weeks international Android news. CES leaks and rumors have dominated the headlines as we might expect since we returned from the holiday break, but there's been plenty to talk about since our last international round up.

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5 years ago

Play Magazines now offering 'free for print subscribers' option


According to a Google Play support document -- and confirmed when we browse to some magazines -- Google is now offering a "Free for print subscribers" option for certain magazines in the Play Store. When browsing many popular magazine subscriptions in the Play Store that have a print component, tapping on "subscribe" offers you three options. On top of the regular monthly or yearly subscriptions, you now have the option to get the digital version for free if you're already a print customer.

Google has likely signed some kind of content deals to make this happen, but however it happened it's a good thing. Many different publishers have offered this feature for their own websites and magazines, but its nice to see Google offering the same option with a digital subscription through the app as well.

Source: Google; Via: Android Police

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5 years ago

New 'Amber Brown' Galaxy Note 2 shows up again, this time in real photos


Quickly following on the heels of leaked renders of two new colors of the Galaxy Note 2, we've got some real hands-on images of the Amber Brown version of the device. The device seems to be all the same as the other Note 2 varieties, but now covered in a deep brown color. This is probably going to be a bit of a polarizing color -- either love it or hate it -- if we have to be honest, but more options are always better. This model is a Japanese version for the carrier NTT Docomo but it's feasible that we could see this color, along with the new "Ruby Wine" (aka red) color, come to other markets also.

We've got one more look at the device for you after the break. The source link below has several more with pictures of the box, accessories and color-matched brown flip cover as well.

Source: GizChina

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5 years ago

Sprint confirms own-branded prepaid service launching Jan 25


Following some rumors of a new prepaid option, Sprint has confirmed today with FierceWireless that it will be launching the new service under its own brand name on January 25th. Cleverly named "Sprint As You Go" will offer unlimited talk, text and data for $70 per month on smartphones or $50 on featurephones, with no annual contract required. The prepaid service will not throttle data, unlike its subsidiaries Boost and Virgin which have set plans to throttle data usage after 2.5GB.

Also unlike its other prepaid carriers, Sprint will only be selling these new Sprint As You Go plans in its own retail stores rather than with third party partners. The carrier is positioning these plans as a higher-end option that offers users most of the same features of the postpaid plans, but without a contract.

Sprint will unfortunately be limiting these new plans to just four phones right now, two of which are smartphones. The LG Optimus Elite for $150 and Samsung Victory for $250 are the smartphone options, the latter having LTE data connectivity. It's understandable that the new plans should launch with a limited selection of lower end devices, but we surely hope that this opens up quickly. Sprint is going to have to do something special to compete with other prepaid GSM carriers that offer similar (or lower) prices and a vastly wider selection of devices.

Source: FierceWireless

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5 years ago

New antenna from SkyCross hopes to alleviate LTE band fragmentation


You've heard tech pundits talk about the absolute mess that is LTE frequencies before I'm sure. Even Apple was forced to break the tradition of "one phone for all" when they decided to incorporate an LTE radio, and Apple never likes change. The problem is that there are 38 different frequencies with active LTE networks or planned LTE networks world wide. That means that your LTE phone set up for one carrier probably won't work on another. It's a big problem that needs a solution, and quickly.

Enter SkyCross. They just started shipping an LTE antenna that can support up to 12 different frequencies on one piece of hardware. That's just the type of hot hardware injection the future of LTE needed -- as things are about to get worse. I'm going to use US examples, but this applies world-wide (none of you are safe). 

Verizon has been the fastest at rolling out LTE. The currently use the 700MHz band for their LTE network. The issue is that spectrum isn't infinite, and Verizon also has to buy and repurpose 2100MHz spectrum. They will have to bond both frequencies together in what's called aggregation, and any antenna they use will have to support both bands. Now compound this for manufacturers trying to make a device that runs on multiple networks, as we all hope that will be the future of LTE. In the US, the big four will need an antenna that supports up to eight different frequencies to make it happen. We're going to need better antennas that can handle it.

SkyCross plans to officially announce things at CES, and they say we should see their gear in phones this year. We'll keep an eye on this one.

Via: Gigaohm

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5 years ago

More Sony Xperia Z leaks show off an apparent promo video confirming full HD display


Sony device leaks are nothing new, and indeed we've recently seen plenty of the forthcoming Xperia Z. The device, known as Yuga for some time, is expected to be unveiled officially next week during Sony's CES press event in Las Vegas. We've already seen some leaked photos of the device, swiftly followed by leaked press renders. Now, we're treated to a series of slides obtained by ePrice that appear to be from some form of promo video. 

We're expecting from the leaks and rumors seen thus far that the Xperia Z will be a 5 inch, 1080p device. What we're seeing here most definitely backs that up -- well, the 1080p part at least. Other slides make mention of the "skeleton frame structure" giving a good look at the sides and back of the device. In short -- it looks nice. It looks really nice. 

The 13MP Exmor RS camera is also mentioned, and it looks to have fast capture and HDR on board for videos as well as pictures. And, like some of Sony's 2012 Xperia devices, the Xperia Z is also water resistant. 

We've got a pretty good picture by now of what the Xperia Z is all about, but needless to say, Android Central will be live from Sony's press conference to bring it all to you as it happens. 

Source: ePrice via Xperia Blog

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5 years ago

T-Mobile to offer truly unlimited data on Monthly 4G prepaid plans


Just a few months after debuting its truly unlimited data plan for contract customers, T-Mobile will begin offering the same service option to Monthly 4G prepaid customers as well. Prior to this, the highest tier of the Monthly 4G service was $70 for unlimited talk, text and data -- with a throttle after 5GB of usage. It seems that this level will be replaced by a plan of the same price with truly unlimited, unthrottled data. This is a great move for T-Mobile, especially as it moves more of its spectrum to the 1900MHz frequency for HSPA+, which opens up possibilities to a whole host of new unlocked devices. Monthly 4G plans are prepaid, require no credit check or contract and can be used with any unlocked GSM device that supports its frequencies.

TmoNews claims the service will go live just a few short days from now on January 9th, and we'll be sure to check back in and see if that is the case. We've got a picture of the marketing materials for the plans for you to check out after the break. There's another image and more information at the source link below as well.

Source: TmoNews

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5 years ago

AT&T launches several more 4G LTE markets in Michigan


AT&T is continuing its nationwide 4G LTE rollout today with several new markets going live with the service. As was the case with Verizon before it, AT&T is reaching the point where it has expanded its network to many of the major markets in the U.S. and is now rolling out to some of the lesser populated areas. Users in the following markets in Michigan should see the service live now:

  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Beverly Hills, Michigan
  • Birmingham, Michigan
  • Monroe County, Michigan
  • Kent County, Michigan
  • Ottowa County, Michigan

We'll start to see more and more of these small rollouts throughout 2013. Have any of you in these areas noticed AT&T LTE go live yet? Let us know in the comments.

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5 years ago

Jelly Bean update now pushing out to HTC One X on O2 UK


A quick heads up to our friends in the UK rocking a HTC One X on O2. A tasty treat has begun to push out in the form of the much awaited Jelly Bean update, confirmed today by HTC UK on their official Twitter feed. As is so often the case with these things, the update is being pushed out in batches, so not everyone will get it right away. To check if you're one of the lucky ones be sure to head into Settings>About>Software Updates>Check Now. 

The update is pretty hefty in size at 365MB, so you'll want to be connected to WiFi. The 4.1 update for the One X has been rolling out internationally for a few months now, and while O2 customers will no doubt have been chewing their fingers off in anticipation, at last their patience has paid off. In addition to all the benefits of Jelly Bean like Google Now and Project Butter, the update brings with it the latest version of HTC's Sense software, known as Sense 4+. If you've managed to snag the update today, be sure to share your experiences with us in the comments below. 

Source: HTC UK (Twitter), O2 Customer Support Forums

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5 years ago

Oh noes! Google Maps isn't working on Windows Phone


Our Windows Phone-loving pals at WPCentral have found themselves in quite the pickle. First there's the whole to-do over YouTube and the fact that Google's not opening up its metadata to Windows Phone, so third-party apps can't search videos as well as we can on Android. (Or in the iOS YouTube app, for that matter.) Now they can't even use Google Maps. Not that there's been an official Windows Phone version of Google Maps -- nor do we really expect one anytime soon -- but for some reason pointing Internet Explorer to maps.google.com redirects back to the mobile verison of Google's home page.

Shenanigans? Or Gremlins? We're willing to bet it's just a hiccup and that Google's not shutting out Windows Phone from Google Maps, but it's an inconvenience, to say the least. And Gizmodo says this actually has been the case from the start. (Though that's apparently not true.) On the other hand, WPCentral's Daniel Rubino questions "why you would want to use Google’s less-than-awesome mapping service through a browser." With an attitude like that, pal, don't expect the boys and girls at Google to bend over backwards for you on a Friday.

More: WPCentral

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5 years ago

Pebble smartwatch to be officially unveiled at CES, ready to be shown off to the world


Kickstarter has spawned some pretty interesting products over the past 12 months, one of which is the Pebble smartwatch. It's some time now since Pebble first hit Kickstarter with a $100,000 goal that eventually became $10million. Having originally been slated to ship in September, this was missed, with seemingly no end to the wait in sight. 

Press invites have started to roll out to a Pebble event on Jan. 9 at CES in Las Vegas, where we're promised that the company CEO, Eric Migicovsky, will not only unveil the much anticipated product, but will also offer a full walkthrough of the finished article. 

The Pebble smartwatch is an intriguing device. Featuring an electronic paper display allowing for great viewing outdoors, the watch will pair to your Android device via a downloadable application. The app will allow you to choose a watch face to match your tastes, and will also push notifications to the watch for email, phone calls, Facebook notifications, calendar events, Twitter, weather and alarms. Additionally Pebble will have the ability to receive text messages from your phone. The watch itself will also be able to run specially designed applications, opening up a whole world of possibilities. 

The event goes down at 09:00 PST on Jan. 9, and Android Central will be on the ground to bring you all the news. The event will also be live-streamed over on the Pebble website.

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5 years ago

Acer Iconia B1 pictured in the wild ahead of any official announcements


We saw the first official looking news of a new budget tablet from Acer, the Iconia B1, just yesterday. Expected to be shown off at CES, and coming to market as just the Iconia B, it looks to be a budget Jelly Bean tablet that so far we've heard is heading to India. A Bulgarian tech site called Tablet.bg has laid their hands on one of the pre-release versions of the tablet and has put it through its paces. 

As you might expect, the Iconia B doesn't set the world on fire. We'd already seen from Acer's website listing for the tablet that it would be a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, with 8GB of on board storage, 512MB of RAM and a 1024x600 resolution display. According to Tablet.bg the software on board is Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, so not the latest version, but not far off and it looks pretty much like stock Android too. The front facing camera is a 2MP shooter capable of 720p video, so potentially not bad for video chat. 

While the reasonably low end specs might scare some away, the review goes on to praise the software performance. They say it works perfectly smoothly, and there's no noticeable lag. The low RAM will no doubt become an issue in some regards, but it sounds like Jelly Bean's enhancements in the form of Project Butter may not be lost. 

The price in Bulgaria doesn't look that favorable when converted to Dollars or Pounds, as it looks to be the same price as the Nexus 7. However, we should remember that this may well be targeted at markets where devices like the Nexus 7 aren't available, or are extremely expensive due to importing costs.

Source: Tablet.bg (Translated)

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5 years ago

CEO Peter Chou talks about HTC's future


It's no secret that HTC's worldwide market share in smartphones is small -- and declining -- but CEO Peter Chou seems optimistic for the future of the Taiwanese manufacturer. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Chou expressed that although HTC has been outpaced in smartphones by the likes of Samsung and Apple since 2010, the worst is behind the company now. With international market share of about 2.2-percent, the numbers just don't reflect the high-quality products Android OEM has to offer. HTC's relatively small size and cash holdings put it at a disadvantage to the larger companies out there, but the Chou explains that a refocusing on proper marketing -- with a new marketing chief -- will be the key to improvement in 2013.

"Although we don't have as much money to counter [Samsung and Apple], the most important thing is to have unique products that appeal to consumers."

The quote from Mr. Chou fits with what many HTC fans have been saying continuously, but unfortunately the general consumer market hasn't reflected that. He hopes that the upcoming changes and reorganizations (no specifics given) inside the company will let it react quicker to changing markets to bring more compelling products to consumers in the future.

Source: WSJ

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5 years ago

Amazon adds more TV content to Prime Instant Video service


Amazon is working to improve its Prime Instant Video service today by signing a content deal to bring more TV shows from major networks. The latest deal with A+E Networks will bring previous seasons of popular shows from A&E, Bio, History and Lifetime to the service. Amazon says it has more than doubled the number of show and movie offerings on its service last year, with over 33,000 available in total.

There's still no proper Amazon Prime Instant Video app in the Google Play Store for Android devices, but if you happen to be using a Kindle Fire -- or another device such as a set top box -- with the service you can go enjoy these newly added offerings.

Source: Amazon

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5 years ago

Google confirms ASUS Google TV device for CES


ASUS Qube Google TV dongle coming next week?

In an update on the official Google TV blog, Google has confirmed that ASUS will be joining the Google TV fold with a new device at next week's CES in Las Vegas. In addition, the company says we can expect new Google TV products from Chinese manufacturers Hisense and TCL, as well as LG, Vizio, Sony, and "others." (You might recall we went hands-on with the Hisense Pulse Google TV in Berlin last August.)

There's a strong chance that the device from ASUS will be the "Qube," a Google TV dongle which passed by the FCC last month. The nature of this product remains a bit of a mystery, but given ASUS's strong track record with Android-based mobile devices, we're curious to see what the manufacturer's been able to do with its GTV add-on.

Stay tuned in the coming week for full coverage of everything Android at CES 2013.

Source: Google TV blog

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