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4 years ago

Daily news roundup: April 3, 2013

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All the news that's fit to blog

Today was quite a day in the world of Android: Google, Mozilla, and Samsung were busy shaping the browsers of tomorrow, we got a firsthand account of HTC's camera strategy, new phones were announced while old ones were updated, and multiple heavy-hitter apps got updates while new ones premiered. If you missed any of today's news, now's the time to get caught up.

App launches and updates

Devices and accessories

Industry news

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4 years ago

Samsung and Best Buy bringing 'Experience Shops' to 1,400 stores

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Samsung hopes to capture all the hearts and minds with a new retail presence at Best Buy stores across the US

Samsung and Best Buy are getting together and setting up Samsung Experience Shops in 1,400 locations across the US. 900 sites will launch this month, and the full 1,400 will be in service by this summer. The shops will showcase Samsung's products -- including phones, tablets, televisions, cameras, and accessories -- and provide customers an opportunity to get some hands-on time with each and every one.

A retail presence is something we've seen before from Samsung, but nothing on this scale. It's also a very different way of going about it than we've seen from Apple and Microsoft. We're not exactly sure how successful this will be, as every Best Buy shopper knows you can find a better price online. Of course, allowing folks to get a new Galaxy S4 in their hands will lead to plenty of instant-gratification buying. We'll have to see how things play out.

Be on the lookout for Samsung's presence in your local Best Buy, and hit the break for the full press release.

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4 years ago

HTC One Australian availability announced

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HTC and carriers announce on-contract availability on Optus, Telstra, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile

The HTC One is headed down under, and pre-orders start as early as April 5, and general availability is stated to be April 23. Prices and details are outlined below.

Telstra: With a 2-year contract at $60 per month, you'll have a $10 monthly handset payment. The full cost off contract is $768. Customers who pre-register before April 23 will receive a free set of Beats Solo headphones. The registration page is here.

Optus: With a 2-year contract at $60 per month, you will have a $3 monthly handset payment. Optus pre-orders start April 5.

Vodafone: With a 2-year contract at $60 per month, you will have a $5 monthly handset payment. Vodafone has the HTC One listed on their site here, but the pre-order button is currently disabled. Vodafone is also offering the Beats Solo bonus for pre-orders.

Virgin Mobile: The $59 monthly 2-year contract comes with a $3 monthly handset payment. Their pre-order page is here, but as of now it is disabled.

Now that we know the dates and prices, are any of our Aussie readers ready to buy? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Ausdroid

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4 years ago

LG Optimus G Pro now available in Japan

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LG packs a 5-inch screen and powerful Snapdragon 600 into a smaller frame for the Japanese market

LG and NTT DOCOMO have announced that the Optimus G Pro is now available in Japan. It's a beast of a phone, with a 5-inch 440ppi display, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600, and a feature-packed UI to run it all. For the Japanese market, LG has chosen to release the smaller 5-inch display (it's still 1080p) versus the 5.5-inch display used on the Korean version.

We're not sure exactly which size LG will choose to roll out to the rest of the world, but we do know it's coming to more markets -- including the US -- sometime in the second quarter of 2013. We're looking forward to it either way! Skip past the break for the full press release.

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4 years ago

Spotify updated with improved data handling and stability fixes

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The latest version fixes getting stuck in offline mode and adds an option to clear local data

Now pushing to devices through the Play Store, the newest update to Spotify should fix problems users have been having with previous versions. Getting stuck in offline mode -- which rendered streaming useless -- has been fixed, along with crashes associated with running low on memory and loading artists in the radio.

The way Spotify stores data on your device has changed, with the app claiming to now "store your data in the most efficient location on your phone/device," which only applies to first-time installations. A little more control is also given over stored data via an option in settings, which allows the clearing of temporary data and downloaded songs.

Get the update now through Google's Play Store. A handy link is waiting for you at the top of the post.

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4 years ago

Google Search update adds new card functionality, improved search results

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Real time package tracking from select carriers and subtle UI tweaks make it into this update

The Google Search app, better known for its transition into the Google Now interface on Jelly Bean devices, has been updated with a few more features today. The first improvement is what Google calls "real time package tracking", which should give you a better indication of the package status, rather than simple "package shipped" cards that have been there previously. The new functionality is only available for select carriers, but it isn't specified which ones at this point.

Also included is a visual redesign of the "settings" key that appears in the top right corner of every card, which has turned into an "i" (information) button. Instead of just popping up a settings option to take you deeper into the app, it expands the current card to let you toggle quick settings related to it. For example tapping the "i" on a sports score card gives you quick options to follow or not follow a team, while tapping "i" on a stocks card lets you choose which stocks you would like to always see.

It's a visual improvement that will be instantly noticeable as a better choice for managing Google Now settings. Be sure to grab the update from the Play Store at the top of this post if you've got a device running Jelly Bean.

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4 years ago

Google Maps brings navigation to 9 new countries in Europe and Africa

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Voice guided, turn-by-turn navigation available for millions more people today on Google Maps for Android

The Google Maps team has taken to Google+ and announced the addition of voice navigation for 9 new countries today. Users in the following countries will be able to use the Google Maps app on their Android phone with the new (to them) feature, starting right now:

  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • Senegal
  • Estonia
  • Bulgaria
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Slovakia

There was no word on when to expect the same for other locations, nor about how the process is done. We tend to take Google services for granted in Western Europe, and especially, North America, but for many folks Android devices are missing some of what makes them so special. We're glad to see Google address this issue, even if it's a bit slower than we would like.

Source: +Google Maps

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4 years ago

Droid Bionic Jelly Bean soak test invites rolling out now

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Turns out that Motorola support page may have been right after all

After a puzzling update to Motorola's support documentation for the Droid Bionic that indicated it would receive Jelly Bean in Q2 2013, soak test registration emails are being sent out to some users for the update. Soak tests, if you're not familiar, are a last level of testing with a small portion of users willing to give new firmware a try before it moves out to everyone. Like previous soak tests, this is a good indication that we're headed towards an official release of the update to the general public soon. 

Remember though, Q2 just started a couple of days ago, so if previous updates are any indication we may be waiting a little while to see it all out there officially. The soak test registrations go out to a small number of people and won't be available for long, so keep an eye on your inbox if you're expecting to see one.

More: Droid Bionic ForumsThanks, shayne6717! 

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4 years ago

Google forks off WebKit to create new rendering engine 'Blink'; will power Chrome and Chrome OS

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Initial work focuses on internal improvements and brings very little change for web developers

Update: Chrome developer Alex Russell has an excellent read on this for those interested.

On the Chromium blog, Google just announced that they have split off WebKit to create and further develop the open source Blink rendering engine. Blink will, over time, diverge away from WebKit and evolve in "different directions" with a focus on speed and stability. If all goes according to plan, developer channels of Chrome and Chrome OS should see a Blink-powered version in short order.

The reason behind the decision, according to the Chromium blog post, is that Chrome handles all the different processor architectures a bit differently. Forking their own model will alleviate future issues in both the WebKit code and Chrome itself.

Chromium uses a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit-based browsers, and supporting multiple architectures over the years has led to increasing complexity for both the WebKit and Chromium projects. This has slowed down the collective pace of innovation - so today, we are introducing Blink, a new open source rendering engine based on WebKit.

Because WebKit is open source, Google has long been one of the main contributors. Blink will also be open source, and qualified developers will be able to become "official" contributors if nominated by the group. 

On the surface, Blink won't bring much, if any, visual change. The changes are under the hood, and users should see no difference. Of course, with software anything can happen. This is a big undertaking, and we wish the best of luck to the entire Chrome team.

And yes, Blink sounds very Google Glass specific. There is no mention of the wearable device, and we're not going to speculate.

Source: Chromium blog

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4 years ago

Shadowgun: DeadZone 2.0 update hits with loads of new features

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Game adds localization for several new languages; remains free-to-play for everyone

As one of the most popular mobile-only online multiplayer games, Shadowgun: DeadZone is keeping the experience fresh with a 2.0 update in the Play Store today. The update brings new maps, weapons and stat boosters for things like armor, damage and accuracy. Also new is a "friends" menu that lets you invite friends to your game or view real-time stats while they play. First time players will like the new "tutorial" mode to help get acquainted with the game.

The update also localizes the game for several new languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese. If you haven't yet given the multiplayer version of Shadowgun a try yet, now may be the time.

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4 years ago

Google Play Sound Search now available in the UK

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"What's this song?" working in Google Now as well

Google's Sound Search, which lets users identify music tracks and artists by letting their phone listen to them, is branching out from the U.S. to include users in the U.K. In addition to the stand-alone app and widget for Sound Search, the same functionality also seems to be working within Google Now for U.K. users. Saying "What's this song?" then letting it listen will field results.

While the app's changelog hasn't been updated to reflect it, there has been an update in the Play Store and our own Alex Dobie in the U.K. is confirming that it does work now. Head to the Play Store link above to grab your download and test it out, and let us know in the comments if it's working in any other new countries.

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4 years ago

Chrome for Android gets password and auto-fill sync in latest update

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Chrome 26 for Android hits the stable channel, also brings improved performance and bug fixes

Google Chrome for Android has hit version 26, bringing with it the ability to sync passwords and auto-fill data from the desktop browser. If you've been running the beta version of Google's browser then this may sound familiar, as it's been in testing in the beta channel for a few weeks now.

Chrome 26 also fixes a bug where a blank page would be displayed instead of the requested URL. In addition, there's the standard assortment of performance improvements -- and we have to say Chrome for Android feels pretty speedy on this latest build.

Head to the Google Play Store app to update, or hit the link above if you're a first-time installer.

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4 years ago

Wallaby: Get the most out of your credit card rewards

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A wallet full of credit and debit cards, each with different rewards; Wallaby shows you which one to use

When you have several different credit and debit cards in you wallet, it can be hard to choose which one to use to maximize the rewards and savings associated with it. Each restaurant, shop or store you visit may have a particular card that will work out to your advantage -- so how do you choose?

Wallaby hopes to help solve the problem by giving you recommendations as to which card to use to maximize value when you shop, and it's doing so in a much cleaner way with version 2.0 of its app. Read on past the break and see what the new Wallaby has to offer.

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4 years ago

Sony Xperia ZL goes on sale in Germany

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€549,99 inc. VAT or subsidized on contract, now available at Phonehouse.de

After going on sale in Canada yesterday, Germany now gets a chance to order Sony's premier smartphone, as the Xperia ZL is currently shipping from Phonehouse.de in black only. Those looking for a red or white version of this phone will have to wait a little longer, as is stock listed as "available soon." The phone is priced at €549,99, but can also be purchased with various subsidy prices on contract.

Potential buyers only have one option at present, because Phonehouse.de is the only retailer taking orders for the ZL at this time. Amazon.de has no launch date listed on their site, and Cyberport.de is reporting they will start taking orders and shipping phones in May.

While we here in the states are still waiting for our launch, time can be well spent looking over a close relative of the Xperia ZL, the Xperia Z, in our detailed review. Be on the lookout for a our review of the Xperia ZL, in the near future.

Source: XperiaBlog

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4 years ago

New Nexus 4 accessories debut on Google Play

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Headphones with line mic, charger and microUSB cable now available separately

Google has launched three new accessories for the Nexus 4 through the Google Play devices store. Well -- of the three, only one is really new -- the wired headset with line mic -- but it doesn't hurt that the official charger and microUSB cable are now available alongside it.  The charger and cable are exactly like what you'll find boxed up with your Nexus 4, while the headset is a new addition, consisting of earphones and a flattened cable containing a mic for calls.

A quick breakdown of pricing in the U.S., U.K and eurozone --

The Nexus 4 bumper is also still available, priced $19.99, £15.99 or €19.99

via Android Central Forums

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