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4 years ago

Using the Samsung Galaxy S4 with stock Android

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After two months with TouchWiz, what's it like to go 'stock' on Samsung's latest smartphone?

The running joke whenever we discuss the Google Play edition Galaxy S4 is that you can sum things up in just one sentence — it’s the Galaxy S4, with stock Android. Really, if you understand the vanilla “Nexus” UI, as it exists on the Nexus 4, and you understand the Galaxy S4’s hardware, as it exists on the Samsung version, then you already know everything you need to about this product. There are no real surprises lurking. What you see is what you get. It’s the Galaxy S4, with stock Android.

I’ve been using the GS4 in some form or another since I reviewed the Sprint version in New York City in April. Back then the device had some serious software issues, not least of which was the persistent, maddening lag that plagued the Samsung UI. Since picking up the European version I’ve watched things improve with successive software updates, and Samsung’s flavor of Android is now as speedy as I’d expect it to be — almost as fast as stock, in fact. So how does that compare to the vanilla, unblemished Google experience? Read on to find out.

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4 years ago

Take control of your Google Play application settings

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The Google Play application on your phone or tablet is your gateway to all the content Google has to offer. You'll use it often, whether you're looking at apps, books, magazines or any other digital content you can buy or rent from Google for your Android device. Needless to say, it's important to take a quick check of the general settings to make sure you have things just the way you like them.

We've already looked at password protecting your account to protect against unauthorized purchases, and how to manage your automatic update settings to control the way you use your data. Those an important subjects, so they each get their own section in our primer on Google Play. But there are other settings as well, and you should take a minute and set things up. Jump past the break, and we'll have a look.

Visit our Google Play page for everything Google Play

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4 years ago

Start your week with the Greatest Android Podcast in the World!

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Catch this week's Android Central Podcast? If you're looking for the lowdown on the Google Play edition devices, you don't want to miss this episode. We've got the GPe Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Plus, we tear into an Android 4.3 leak, and answer more of your questions. 

The Android Central Podcast is your weekly peek into the world of Android, where we break down the news that really matters, and explain what's just a bunch of hype. Plus, we answer your e-mails and voicemails. You don't want to miss it. Check out the Android Central Podcast.

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4 years ago

Verizon HTC One pictured

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4G​ LTE branding gives away Big Red's HTC One

Prolific Twitter leaker @evleaks has just posted an image of Verizon Wireless' HTC One — and unsurprisingly it looks like an HTC One, on Verizon. In fact, the only thing to give away this HTC One as belonging to Big Red is its 4G LTE logo in the status bar. Besides that, there's no front-facing indicator that this is a Verizon phone — the space between the phone's two buttons is still occupied by HTC's own branding. We're willing to bet there'll be some Verizon signage around the back, though.

Unfortunately here's still no indication as to when we can expect the Verizon HTC One's arrival.  The carrier has announced that it'll offer the One for sale starting "later this summer," but that's as specific as anyone's getting. Fingers crossed that Verizon customers will be able to pick up the phone before the early September date in today's leaked render.

Source: @evleaks

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4 years ago

Three UK launches new, lower PAYG rates

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3 pence per minute, 2 pence per SMS, 1 pence per MB of data

UK mobile network Three has overhauled its Pay As You Go pricing, introducing new, lower rates for prepaid customers who don't sign up to one of its monthly "add-on" packages. From today, customers with PAYG credit who aren't using an add-on will pay 3 pence per minute for calls, 2 pence per SMS message and 1 pence per megabyte of data.

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4 years ago

New EU roaming caps coming into place

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New caps take effect today — 45 cents per MB, 24 cents per minute, 8 cents per SMS

European mobile subscribers will enjoy lower roaming rates for calls, texts and data within the EU from today, as new price caps come into effect. The new roaming price limits kick in a year from the start of the original EU roaming caps, a move which saw an end to excessive intra-European roaming prices.

Here's a breakdown of how things will change for Europeans roaming within Europe —

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4 years ago

From the Editor's Desk: Bringing the kids into the Android fold

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I think I've switched my nearly 7-year-old daughter from iOS to Android.

She came willingly, which was a bit of a surprise, and truth be told I don't think she's knows the difference between one platform and another. She just knows that she's got a cooler-looking phone, and that I've told her it'll be much easier for me to get new music on there for her. (And cheaper for me, thanks to Google Play All Access.)

Still, for as cool as I think it is to see her using this new phone like she did her old inactive iPhone 3G, I can't help but wonder if I've turned into that parent, who doesn't give a damn that their kid suddenly has leaped forward a couple generations in personal tech hardware, all before her 7th birthday. That this new phone is all of a year old, and any one of our Android Central readers would be happy to have it. That I've just spoiled the hell out of my kid — and that she doesn't even really know it — is not lost me. (To say nothing of giving her one of 10 coveted device slots for my Google Play Music account.)

But the really scary thing is that unlike her old iPhone, I'm leaving this phone connected to the Internet. Again, that's mainly to make getting to Google Play Music All Access, and because occasionally there are some apps that love to crash on startup when they don't have an Internet connection. That's bad code, but whatever.

This is not unfettered access, though. I didn't just set my child loose on the Internet. This is a bit of an experiment as well.

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4 years ago

Qi wireless charger showdown

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We take a look at three popular Qi wireless charging solutions and put them head to head in Jerry's bedroom

Qi (pronounced Chee, and is totally a word no matter what Words with Friends says) is a wireless standard developed in 2009 by the Wireless Power Consortium. The standard itself covers inductive power transfer over short distances -- up to four centimeters -- and uses a electromagnet embedded in a transmission pad to induce current in a coil on the back of the thing you're charging. In our case, that means a Nexus 4 smartphone.

With big-name device makers like Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola and Nokia (as well as others) using the standard, it is slowly emerging as the winner in the obscure wireless charging war that goes on in cubicles all over the world. Long live Qi! On a serious note, it's an open standard with over 100 companies in Asia, Europe and North America cooperating to set a good standard that everyone can implement. That's good for business, and good for consumers in the long run. Of course, there will always be companies that buck the trend and take another path, but for now if you're going to spend your hard-earned money on a wireless charger that you should be able to use for the life of multiple devices, Qi charging is the way to go.

Because it's a standard, there are quite a few different companies making the base stations (a fancy term for the charging pad). I took a look at the three most popular and put them head to head to see which one I'd recommend. While I used a Nexus 4 for my tests, these chargers should work for any Qi-compatible phone with a flat back. Jump past the break and see who wins the Qi charger showdown.

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4 years ago

Sprint finally shuts down iDEN, but how fast will it translate into improved LTE?

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New cash and spectrum give Sprint lots of potential, but it still needs to execute on its (Network) Vision

We've known about the impending shutdown of Sprint's legacy iDEN network for a long time now, and this is finally the last full day of service for the network. There are likely very few handsets, and even fewer running Android, up and on the iDEN network today, but Sprint flipping the switch is still an important story. Sprint's post-iDEN plan is to quickly repurpose the spectrum from the old network for its steadily expanding LTE offering.

The iDEN network was running in extremely valuable 800MHz spectrum as well, adding to the importance of this transition. With an influx of cash from an all-but-complete SoftBank merger, Sprint needs to put its new found resources to work and do it quick. While the Now Network has been talking up its LTE network since its launch, customers and potential customers alike haven't been encouraged by its progress.

Moving through the second half of 2013, Sprint has the opportunity to seriously improve its shaky network -- let's see if it can follow through.

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4 years ago

Vine now available for the Amazon Kindle Fire

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You have a Kindle Fire from Amazon. You want the Vine app. Today is your lucky day. 

The Vine for Android app is now available on the Amazon app store, and is compatible with the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD. That means you can now take all the six-second selfies your heart desires, and share them all with the rest if the civilized world. 

Or you can freak out over ... Gummy Worms. 

Anyhoo, it's nice to see the folks behind Vine haven't forgotten about everyone with a Kindle Fire. Grab your copy (it's free) from the app store on your device, or click the link below.

Vine on the Amazon app store

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4 years ago

Reminder: June 30 is the last day to get Google Play Music All Access for $7.99 a month

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Save two dollars a month by signing up before Monday

Attention music fans! Google Play Music All Access will move from $7.99 per month to $9.99 per month starting July 1. If you want to save $2 a month on the life of the service you'll need to act before Monday rolls around. Signing up is easy -- just point your browser here (or click on the link with your phone) and follow the instructions for a free 30 day trial to see if the service works for you. Next month, your Google Wallet account will be billed for $7.99 for the next 30 days. Things continue until you cancel the service through the Google Play store or the Google Play Music app.

We've had a good long look at the service, which you will want to read if you're not familiar with how it works. In a nutshell, your 8 bucks gives you unlimited access to every song in Google Play, and you can stream them, pin them to your Android device, or play them through the web player as often as you like. When you find something you like, you can add it to your music library if you like for easy access the next time you want to hear it. In addition, you have access personalized radio stations with unlimited skips, and can see smart recommendations based on your listening history.

$2 every month adds up over time, so be sure to act if you think you'll be interested. Use the 30 day trial wisely, and if the service works out for you you'll be saving a nice chunk of change in the long run.

Read: Google Play Music All Access will be my first paid music subcription service

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4 years ago

Apps of the Week: Financial Times, NewsBlur, Blank Lockscreen and more!

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Another great set of apps to wrap up this month's Apps of the Week posts

It's Saturday afternoon, and that means it's time for another Apps of the Week post where we show off a few of our (currently) favorite apps. A handful of the Android Central writers have chimed in this week with an app that keeps them productive, entertained or just solves a problem that's bothering them on a particular device.

This week we have a couple ways to read the news, a great game choice and a few tools. Stick around after the break and see how we did.

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4 years ago

Google Reader shuts down July 1, be sure to export your feeds

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Whether you've found a replacement service or not, be sure to get your feeds from Google before the shutdown

Monday will be a sad day indeed, as Google Reader will finally shut its doors and stop operating as an RSS feed aggregator. We've covered some alternative (and free!) choices over the past week, but whether you've made up your mind on where your RSS feeds will live post-Google Reader or not, you need to remember to export your feeds before the service shuts down. We can assume Google might hold onto that data for a little while after the shutdown, but there aren't any promises being made.

As we cover in our tutorial on moving over to Feedly, Google Takeout makes it dead simple to get a single file containing all of your Google Reader data. Takeout will provide several different files as part of your Reader export, but the important one will be an XML file called "Subscriptions". You will be able to use this file to import your entire list of feeds to another service later on down the road, and also keep it as a "last good copy" of everything you had. You can even edit it before importing to another service.

You can find that tutorial, along with a few other important posts about choosing a compatible and useful RSS client for both the web and on your Android device, below.

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4 years ago

Google brings Microsoft Office document editing to Chrome OS developer track

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If you look back about a year ago, you'll be reminded that Google purchased the mobile office suite Quickoffice. We finally see the fruits of the purchase, but not exactly how everyone expected to see it. Using the Microsoft Office compatibility built into Quickoffice's document editing, users on the Chrome OS developer build track can now edit both Word and Excel files without any hassles, right from their Chromebook.

Of course, being in the developer track means there is bound to be bugs. But Google has been fairly swift with pushing features through the dev and beta tracks, and we're seeing new features and additions roll into the stable branch with every release. Still, things may not be ready for prime time just yet.

To give this a try for yourself, you need to switch to the developer track of Chrome OS, and set an experimental flag. Point your browser at chrome://flags, and find the "Enable document editing" entry. Enable it and restart your Chromebook. There's a place to report any and all Quickoffice bugs right here, so be sure to report any difficulties you run into. Here's to a happy test phase, and we're looking forward to seeing Microsoft Office file editing in the stable branch soon.

Source: +François Beaufort

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4 years ago

Win an Android tablet ... from CrackBerry.com?

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Our pals at CrackBerry.com have had a tough day. Their beloved PlayBook tablet — you know, the only BlackBerry Tablet in existence — won't be upgraded to BB10. Not exactly a shock, especially to those of us who are used to seeing 2-year-old devices be put out to pasture with even less fanfare. At least these guys got a warning.

Anyhoo. CB's giving away a tablet — anything other than a PlayBook, we s'pose — with a contest running through the end of July 1. Seeing as how so many of you fine Android Central readers jumped ship way back when (and we know who you are), might as well lend a hand here.

Good luck!

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