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5 years ago

Free Android Wallpaper of the day - Cobblestone


Today's Free Android Wallpaper comes from member dchawk81, who uploaded this shot of a cobblestone square, bench and doorway in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. (Franklin County represent!)

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5 years ago

Kindle Fire video gets the best, worst of Viacom TV in new streaming deal


Amazon today announced that it's reached a streaming agreement with Viacom that will bring television shows from MTV, Comedy Central, Nikelodeon, TV Land, Spike, VH1, CMT and Logo to Amazon Prime subscribers -- and that means to the Amazon Kindle Fire as well. 

That pretty much runs the gamut from the worst television has to offer -- Jersey Shore, The Hills, The Real World -- to the best of Comedy Central (Chappelle's Show and The Sarah Silverman Program are mentioned; here's to hoping The Daily Show is included as well) and Nikelodeon, including Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants and Yo Gabba Gabba.

All GTL kidding aside, this is yet another big deal for Amazon, which already has a killer streaming offering through Amazon Prime. Package this up with perhaps a slightly higher-resolution Kindle Fire, and we're going to go through the roof.

Full presser's after the break.

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5 years ago

HTC, Vodafone Germany to launch first 4G LTE phone -- the HTC Velocity


Vodafone Germany customers will soon be able to pick up the network's first 4G LTE smartphone, the HTC Velocity, according to reports from German site Computer Woche. The device will be familiar to readers in the U.S., as stateside it's known as the AT&T HTC Vivid. As well as supporting the insane speeds we've come to expect from LTE networks, the Velocity also sports HSPA+ connectivity up to 42.2 Mb/sec, alongside good old-fashioned 2G and 3G.

Internally, the device is similar to many of HTC's other high-end smartphones. There's a 1.5GHz dual-core chip inside, along with a full gigabyte of RAM, a 4.5-inch qHD (960x540) screen and Android 2.3 Gingerbread, backed up by HTC Sense 3.5. Frequency-wise, the HTC Velocity supports LTE on 800/2600MHz in addition to UMTS/HSPA on 900/2100MHz, meaning it should work on other LTE networks across Europe once they start rolling out.

So it's an HTC Vivid for Europe. Speaking of which, you can check out our review of that device to get an idea of what you'll be dealing with if you pick up an HTC Velocity in the future. We'll keep you posted with any release date or pricing info as it becomes available.

Source: Computer Woche; via: Engadget Mobile

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5 years ago

Taking an Android eye around BlackBerry Devcon Europe


There are increasingly more and more stories that cross the boundaries between Android and BlackBerry of late. It is no secret of course that the forthcoming update to the BlackBerry Playbook  to OS 2.0 will bring with it the Android Runtime feature. Allowing Android developers to repackage their applications for distribution in the BlackBerry App World, is just one of many different new development strategies that are being opened up ahead of the launch of BlackBerry 10

In the Android community, there are a lot of mixed feelings around this. On the one hand, some feel that it is almost begging in trying to get Android applications on board. On the other hand some see the better (and real) side to it all -- it offers another opportunity to make money from selling your apps. There are a lot of amazing Android developers out there who deserve to be making as much money as possible from their work, and with minimal effort on their part the BlackBerry platform is opening a door to them. 

Being at BlackBerry Devcon Europe in Amsterdam this week has really opened my eyes to how this is all going to work. The event sold out two weeks beforehand, with around 2000 eager developers from a variety of backgrounds descending on Amsterdam to learn for the future. Among those in attendance were a surprising amount of Android developers. Free PlayBook in hand, these guys are starting to get really excited about being able to distribute their already built apps to a whole new audience with minimal work. The sessions dedicated to working with the Android Runtime were so popular, that an extra session had to be scheduled on the first day to cater for the incredible amount of interest. 

The guys from the App World team pointed out that in no way, shape or form are any of the submitted applications to be marketed as Android apps. To the average consumer, there will be no obvious difference. This is how it should be done. They aren't trying to market an Android tablet -- they would have probably just made one if that was the case. Once the repackaged Android apps are submitted to BlackBerry App World, the Android connection ends. Developers are registered as a BlackBerry developer. 

The underlying message surrounds the simplicity at which apps can be repackaged. An apk file can be repackaged in a few different ways -- utilizing Eclipse, command lines or even simpler than that, through a web browser. To use the web browser requires little more than requesting some signing keys from BlackBerry, the Gingerbread SDK, and following the steps. Gingerbread or below only for the time being, as the Runtime is based around Android 2.3.3. But with Ice Cream Sandwich having been open sourced, dedicated tablet apps are likely to work with future builds. 

We're not expecting Android users to flock to the PlayBook as a cheaper alternative to a fully featured Android tablet, the functionality you would be looking for is desperately lacking in some areas -- but then it isn't an Android tablet. There is a list of features API's that aren't supported at present within Android Runtime. A lot of these are hardware specific, so anything that needs NFC or the Camera for example probably won't work. There are a lot that do work though. 

The App Express booth walked interested Android developers through the steps to repackage their apps and sent them away with a working bar file to use on their Playbooks. Of all the apk files put through the process on the first day, just one was incompatible.

All in all, the guys at RIM are welcoming developers from across the board with open arms, not just from Android. But there was a definite buzz around the conference. Nobody is begging for anything from anybody. There will always be different platforms, and competition between the platforms. But Android developers will continue to make killer apps for Android, and continue to deserve to make money from it. We should all be supporting our developers to further success by moving into BlackBerry 10 as well.

Interested developers not at Devcon Europe should remember that you can still get a free PlayBook to try out your apps on. Submit your apps to BlackBerry App World by Feb. 13 to take advantage of the offer. 

Android Central's Richard Devine has been lending a hand at the BlackBerry Devcon conference in Amsterdam this week.

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5 years ago

Galaxy Nexus now available on Videotron, C$150 on contract


Just as planned, Quebec-centric carrier Videotron has today launched the Samsung Galaxy Nexus on its network. Canadians wanting to use Samsung and Google's flagship smartphone on Videotron can now pick one up for the subsidized price of C$149.95, with a qualifying service plan of C$40 or more per month. Or if you don't fancy paying 40 dollars per month for the next three years, Videotron's also selling it on its own at the retail price of C$599.95.

Videtron is the latest in a long list of Canadian networks currently offering the Galaxy Nexus. This includes the big three -- Bell, TELUS and Rogers -- as well as smaller players like Fido, Mobilicity and WIND. Hit the source link for more on Videotron's Galaxy Nexus deals, and check out our review of the thing if for some reason you're still on the fence.

Source: Videotron

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5 years ago

Should poor manufacturer earnings reports matter to Android consumers?


There hasn’t been much to cheer about on Wall Street lately when it comes to Android manufacturers' earnings. HTC and Motorola have both issued relatively disappointing quarterly results for long enough to annoy the investment community. In the case of Motorola, the big GOOG has come to their rescue anyway.  Motorola didn’t even hold a conference call to discuss its latest quarter (because of the Google deal, it said). They’re getting assimilated into the Google unless something goes haywire with the merger. 
But HTC is still an almost perfect pure play on the Android smartphone market. Yeah, they support Windows Phone too, but almost all the volume is on Android right now, and I think it’s a safe be that this will continue to be the case in 2012.

Neither Motorola or HTC seem to be performing very well. Motorola can’t seem to get enough volume shipped to make a profit on phones, while HTC’s profitability has slipped considerably. The latest quarterly forecast from the Taiwanese giant is for an operating margin of only 7.5 percent.

So what does all this mean to investors and consumers?

I think investors need to keep in mind that Android vendors don’t have much ability to differentiate on software. Especially with the release of ICS, the features and capabilities of the OS are much improved and there is less of a need for vendors to mess around with something that is already very good.

This leaves vendors to compete on hardware. And even there, it’s a challenge.  Most of the volume is for the same old sheet-of-glass form factor that we’ve all grown to love since the launch of the iPhone back in 2007. So we watch vendors compete on gigahertz, megapixels, screen resolution, size, milliAmp hours, and so on.

And of course they compete on price. All of the big Android vendors make good hardware, and carriers are naturally interested in reducing the subsidies on these small computers. Especially those who also get stung by the massive subsidies that are applied to iPhones. The iPhone 4S, for example, is believed to cost carriers more $600, meaning there is a massive $400 subsidy for a device that fetches the carrier a two-year contract. (Something Sprint alluded to in its earnings call Wednesday.) Apple makes the money. Carriers just help them do it. 
So the Android vendor community is under immense pressure to cut costs, and this means fewer dollars of profit on the latest phones. 

Making matters worse for HTC and Motorola (and others) is the necessity to fight against Samsung, a vertically integrated vendor who just so happens to make its own screens, memory and the exynos processors. (Along with being more diversified in the electronics space.) Vertical integration often allows vendors to produce at a lower price, or at least the illusion of lower price depending on internal corporate accounting.

My belief is that we’ve moved past the big innovative period in the smartphone market. RIM got things interesting with the QWERTY-focused BlackBerry lineup. Then iPhone changed the game entirely, and finally Android brought in some much needed competition and, of course, openness. 

The hardware battle is now all about cost. The Android vendors are probably not the best way to play the trend. In a war, people on both sides of the fight die. But it’s the arms dealers that make money. 

My good friend Ed Zabitsky from ACI Research, and co-host of Mobile Nations Stock Talk has been educating me on exactly what’s happening within this supply chain. I find it fascinating. We’ll definitely be talking about this in the next live podcast.

So does this mean most Android vendors are doomed? No, of course not. It just means that people who compete on hardware are likely destined to earn the kind of margins that PC vendors make.  There’s always a profit to be made by someone even if it’s thin. So long as there is demand for Android smartphones, there will be enough companies who can get by on slim margins to make them. The stock market will value these companies the way they should be valued in the long run.

Should consumers worry? Nope. Not any more than they worry about PC box makers disappearing. There are always enough competitors to supply our needs. 

Chris Umiastowski is a former sell-side equity analyst at Orion Securities and TD Securities. Before that, he was an engineer for Nortel Networks. Chris is co-host of the Mobile Nations Stock Talk podcast.

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5 years ago

Sprint adds 1.6 million subscribers in Q4 2011, posts a $1.3 billion net loss


Sprint this morning announced its Q4 2011 earnings, which, basically, were all about the iPhone and the revamping of its entire network. It added 1.6 million net subscribers in the fourth quarter -- the best three-month result in six years, Sprint says, with the bulk of that being from wholesale and affiliate outlets.

Despite that, Sprint still posted a $1.3 billion loss for the quarter, due to a variety of factors that outweigh the addition of new subscribers, record average revenue per user -- and the sale of some 1.8 million iPhones. Major changes to Sprint's network is costing a lot of money, and the company continues to cut costs on the operationsi side.

Source: Sprint

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5 years ago

Sprint adds Baltimore, Kansas City to its upcoming LTE roster


Sprint this morning announced that Baltimore and Kansas City will be the beneficiaries of its new LTE network when it launches later this year. That's to go along with Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, which were named previously.

Baltimore and Kansas City have some historical significance, with the former being the carrier's first Wimax city (way back in the XOHM days), and the latter being its backyard. Oh, and the two cities also will be getting enhanced 3G speeds. So they've got that going for them, which is nice.

Still no firm date on when we'll see the LTE network launch ("mid-2012" is all anyone's saying), but we do know we've got the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the LG Viper waiting for us when it does.

Source: Sprint

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5 years ago

White HTC Sensation XE revealed, due Feb. 20 in the UK


Last week we saw that HTC's planning to launch a white HTC Sensation in parts of Europe from the beginning of next month, and now it seems its big brother, the Sensation XE, will also be getting a fresh coat of paint.

UK retailer Clove Technology sends word that it'll be stocking a white version of the Sensation XE from Feb. 20, with SIM-free prices coming in at £408 (~$640). The Sensation XE, which first launched towards the end of 2011, is a refresh of the original Sensation. It's got a faster 1.5GHz dual-core CPU (up from 1.2 in the original), a larger battery and Beats Audio support, complete with bundled earphones. While the dimensions are the same, the XE comes with red accents and Beats branding, which we have to admit looks a lot better on the white version than it did on the original grey model.

With HTC expected to launch a range of new handsets just a week later, we're not sure whether too many people will be lining up to part with £400 for Sensation XE. But if you do, you'll be getting a pretty powerful dual-core phone, with an ICS update on the way in the months ahead.

Source: Clove Technology

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5 years ago

Sony Tablet P started life as a wallet, almost ran Windows


Sony's Honeycomb-powered clamshell device, the Tablet P, isn't what you'd call a conventional Android tablet. So it should come as no surprise that it had a fittingly unconventional path to release, with a variety of different sizes and form factors being considered before everything was finalized.

According to Engadget Chinese, which was recently given a tour of some early Tablet P prototypes, the device started life as a mock-up made out of a cheap wallet, before a host of more practical designs were considered. These included various 5 to 7-inch setups, and during the height of the netbook craze, Sony was even considering going with a Windows/Intel x86 combo for the device's hardware and software base.

Eventually, due to battery life and heat dissipation issues, that idea was dropped, paving the way for the Tegra and Honeycomb-based device that we're all familiar with today. The Tablet P may not have set the world alight just yet, but at least the story of its development shows how Android's versatility can leads to all kinds of unique products finding their way into being.

Source: Engadget Chinese

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5 years ago

BaconReader gets major update, adds Android Beam support, scrollable widget and more


If you frequent Reddit, you may be aware of BaconReader, a highly polished and fully-featured Reddit client for Android that launched late last year. Today sees developer OneLouder release a substantial update for the app, bringing some major improvements across the board.

BaconReader 1.25 introduces performance improvements, including hardware acceleration for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich devices. Honeycomb and ICS users will also get access to a scrollable homescreen widget, and the existing 4x1 static widget has been redesigned to better fit with the Android 4.0 design language. And Android Beam support has been added, allowing you to share Reddit posts over NFC the same way you can with videos, web pages and other content on certain devices.

It's great to see BaconReader going from strength to strength with each update, and we're sure all you Redditors on ICS devices will appreciate this latest update. If you've yet to give the app a try, we've got Android Market links to the free version after the break.

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5 years ago

HP releases Android TouchPad kernel to CyanogenMod team


Remember how we saw some HP TouchPad devices mysteriously show up running Android, and the ensuring HP investigation as to how they ended up in the hands of consumers? Well, there was no conclusive answer as to how that happened, however HP has now released the kernel source code for that version of Android for the Touchpad to the CyanogenMod team.

Wifi drivers aren't included, but this is still great news for those toiling away to bring the latest version of Android to TouchPad owners. The information derived from the kernel brings some interesting info to light, as RootzWiki user Green notes --

"It seems to be a totally separate development from the webOS kernel (this was suspected from the very beginning), but now the comments in the code seem to imply that HP had another team working on Android port to Touchpad and that team appears to be totally separate from the webOS team. I wonder if that means there was a plan to ship the Touchpad with Android that were then preempted by webOS plans after Palm purchase."

What it all amounts to in the long run isn't really known just yet, but hopes are that portions of it will be adopted into the CyanogenMod 9 Android 4.0 port for the HP TouchPad. Bugs aside, the TouchPad make a great little tablet when Android is loaded on it (and, some would argue, when it's not).

Source: RootzWiKi; via: webOS Nation

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5 years ago

Steam beta for Android updates with hardware acceleration, stability fixes


Valve Software has updated its Steam beta app for Android, bringing the application up to version 1.0.3. There's a sizeable list of changes in this latest update, including stability fixes and hardware acceleration for Honeycomb and ICS devices, which should fix some of the jerkiness that's been reported. Czec and Thai language support has been added too, in addition to Bulgarian, Dutch, Greek, Hungarian Norwegian, Polish and Turkish, which came in version 1.0.2.

Steam for Android is a community app that gives gamers access to Steam community news and chat, along with the all-important Steam store for impulse PC and Mac game purchases on the go. We went over it in more detail a in our hands-on feature a few weeks back.

If you've yet to grab the Steam for Android, it's now open to all Steam account holders, so you can pick it up using the Market link after the jump.

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5 years ago

Motorola confirms UK Motoluxe launch for late February


Motorola has confirmed its UK launch plans for the Motoluxe, a new Android smartphone that aims to deliver an attractive, lightweight design at an affordable price point. In line with what we heard at the device's CES unveiling (and later from retailers), Moto is planning to bring the Motoluxe to British shores from late February. There's no official price point provided alongside today's announcement, but earlier reports indicate it'll set you back around £260 (~$400) SIM-free. As such, we're sure to see it it offered for free on-contract when it eventually hits the carriers.

Under the hood, the Motoluxe provides a modest hardware package -- an 800MHz CPU, 4-inch screen, 8MP camera and Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread backed up by Motorola's MotoSwitch UI (which seems to be the new name for PhilBlur MotoBlur in Europe). As we saw at CES, the device incorporates a unique grid-shaped widget that provides links to your most-used apps and contacts. All in all, it's not going to knock your socks off, but it looks like a decent mid-range Android smartphone.

For more on the Motoluxe, be sure to check our CES hands-on feature from the show floor.

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5 years ago

LG Optimus Vu teases a 5-inch display with 4:3 aspect ratio


The first half of 2011 was all about 3D displays for Korean manufacturer LG, with the likes of the Optimus 3D and the Optimus Pad. Looks like LG has something new cooked up for 2012. The LG Optimus Vu has bade an early appearance on LG's Youtube channel. And, yeah. It looks a little squat there. That's a 5-inch display you're looking at with a 4:3 aspect ration. Not something you see every day. 

Other hardware features we've been able to glean from the video are a couple buttons (or maybe screws?) on the top bezel (perhaps three, actually), along with a USB port that appears to be hidden behind a door, and a headphone jack. The volume rocker appears to be on the right-hand side.

Other unofficial specs are said to be a 1024x768 display, a dual-core Qualcomm WPQ8060 processor running at 1.5GHz, 1GB or RAM, 8GB of ROM, and an 8MP camera.

Interesting here is that most of the phones we've seen leaked for the first half of the year have gone to three capacitive buttons -- including the already released LG Spectrum on Verizon -- presumably in preparation for an Ice Cream Sandwich update. We've got no idea when an Ice Cream Sandwich update might be in store for the Optimus Vu (though it's said to be destined for one), nor if it's intended for any markets outside Korea.

Check out the video for yourself after the break, and stay tuned, as we're willing to put money down that we'll see this guy at Mobile World Congress in a few weeks.

Source: LG Blog (Korea); via Datacider (translated), The Verge

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