Thursday, 29 December 2011

Android Community

Android Community


PSA: Gameloft’s holiday sale starts today, all games only 99 cents

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 11:16 AM PST

I’m sure many have a brand new Android smartphone or tablet after the holiday exchanging of gifts so there isn’t really a better time to have a sale. For those that might have missed the news, or are new to Android (gasps) today is your lucky day as one of the best game developers for Android is having a massive sale. Gameloft should be a household name for any gamer and today every single amazing Gameloft offering is just $0.99 ¢ — break out those AMEX gift cards and snatch a few up.

The details were confirmed earlier in the week as Gameloft themselves tweeted a few times hinting at something special for the holidays. Then following up with the stellar news that every game would be under a dollar. Now my first reaction was to immediately run and download their highly popular and hotly anticipated Modern Combat 3 — and that is exactly what I did (and I’m sure I’m not alone). Sadly that is not part of the holiday sale but we are hearing it will be 99 cents for 24 hours at some point, we just don’t know when.

With some of the best games around and my personal favorite — Asphalt 6, Gameloft’s array of games is most definitely worth checking out. If you just got a brand new device or have been using Android since the G1 days (this guy) feel free to run down to the Android Market and enjoy some holiday savings. I’d have to recommend Asphalt 6, NOVA 2, 9mm HD, and even UNO. Now go and get some games to enjoy.

Gameloft Market Link

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CyanogenMod 9 continues custom apps with expanded music player

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 09:58 AM PST

The CyanogenMod family of custom ROMs has always been popular for its speed, stability, and not least its tweaked additions to the core Android experience. You can get a taste of CyanogenMod 9, the Ice Cream Sandwich release, with the customized Trebuchet launcher app. But that’s certainly not the only thing Steve Kondik and his army of coders is cooking up. The new ROM will have a brand-new Music player app, with a considerable amount of extra functionality.

 

The new music app springs from the one found in Android’s AOSP code, not to be confused with Google’s proprietary Music app that you can download from the Android Market. While the core app is perfectly serviceable, it’s always been a little bare-bones, and in previous releases CyanogenMod added some visual and functional tweaks. But in CM9 they’ve outdone themselves, incorporating features from a handful of popular third-party alternatives to make a truly excellent built-in player.

The interface gets the most attention. An exciting new feature is the “Shake” function, which utilizes the accelerometer to perform user-defined actions. By default it can be set to advance to the next track when you shake your phone or tablet. You’ll be able to customize the controls that appear in the notification area (the ICS Music app defaults to play/pause, back and forward), integration with the Music section of the Android Market, and a custom theme engine independent of Android and CyanogenMod.

Unlike Trebuchet, you can’t try this one out just yet. I just happened to try out a modified CM9 ROM today, and unfortunately it looks like the new music app hasn’t made it into the source code just yet. But there’s good news for non-modders: developer Andrew Neal says he’ll be releasing the app independently on the Android Market (presumably for free) so that everyone can have access to the new features. The official version of CyanogenMod 9 is expected to be available in January or February, but don’t ask them for an ETA.

[via The Verge]

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The 10 highest-rated Android apps of 2011

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 09:29 AM PST

As the end of the year draws nigh, just about everyone is putting together their wrap-up stories that are, let’s be honest, pretty predictable if you’ve been following tech news for 2011. But at least one story caught our eye this morning: Mobilewalla‘s app scores. Mobilewalla is one of many app aggregation services, though unlike a lot of Android specific sites, it doesn’t distribute its own apps. Instead it keeps a close eye on the various app platforms and offers up an updated database of apps that anyone can use. This year, the top ten list is dominated by games.

The top ten breakdown is as follows:

Pixlr-o-matic: 97.5 out of 100

Super Stickman Golf: 97.5 out of 100

Smurfs' Village: 97 out of 100

Crime Story: 96.4 out of 100

Marvel Comics: 96.3 out of 100

MADDEN NFL 12 by EA SPORTS™: 93.6 out of 100

Dragon, Fly! Full: 92.3 out of 100

Earth And Legend: 92.4 out of 100

Great Little War Game: 92.2 out of 100

SHADOWGUN: 91.8 out of 100

Note that these scores aren’t based on downloads, but a sliding scale of user reviews, position within the app category, and social media buzz. Interestingly, the top five rated apps are free, while the bottom five are all paid games. High-profile titles seem to be the order of the day, with the only real surprises being Smurfs Villiage. (Really? Smurfs?) There’s only two non-games included on the list, though they’re highly placed. Retro camera app Pixlr-o-matic dominates with a nearly perfect score of 97.5, and Marvel Comics gets a lot of attention, considerably more so than ComiXology.

If you’re looking for some less obvious app recommendations, be sure to check out our picks for new Android smartphones and tablets. Naturally we feature new cool apps every day, but for the best of the best, our App of the Week is sure to bring up a useful, fun or just plain cool app every Friday.

[via TechCrunch]

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Verizon’s 3rd 4G outage this month ends, activation servers may be down now

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 08:58 AM PST

Verizon Wireless customers have a lot to be angry at for the moment. The carrier posted on Twitter that the latest of its 4G outages is over, with the added message that 3G data and normal call functions weren’t affected. The half-day interruption in service was the third in December ,and the problem is becoming an increasingly black eye on Verizon’s reputation as “America’s most reliable network”. Add to that a new foible for Verizon: an increasingly irate comment thread at the carrier’s support forum says that new phones aren’t activating via Verizon’s servers, something that’s been echoed in our own comments section.

The problem has persisted for at least 24 hours for some users, and at this point it can’t be blamed on the 4G outage. It’s leaving new and upgraded users out in the cold without any sort of phone or Internet connection, an irritating prospect for a company that’s already battling considerable negative press. The Christmas holiday could be contributing some considerable load – millions of new Android devices were given away this weekend, so perhaps the strain on Verizon’s servers was too much. That probably isn’t any comfort to customers who have brand-new $300 MP3 players, at least for the moment.

Adding insult to injury, Verizon recently changed its payment terms to add a superfluous $2 charge for any online or phone payment. You have to pay, to pay, unless you’d care to set up an automatic recurring payment. Verizon is positioning the extra $24 a year charge as a “convenience fee”, further cementing their other reputation as the most expensive carrier in the United States. No doubt about it, December is turning out to be a long month for Big Red’s service department, not to mention public relations.

[via Phandroid]

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The amalgamated Android user: you guys really like blue jeans

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 08:02 AM PST

Generalizations are bad, especially when applied to people. (Generally speaking, of course.) But every once in a while they can be a lot of fun, too. To that end BlueStacks, the makers of the popular proprietary Windows software that runs Android apps, have  put together the amalgamated Android man. It’s a statistical view of the Android userbase, or at least the male portion, in a fancy infographic posted to their main site. The source of their information isn’t revealed, but the presentation is interesting enough in its own right.

According to BlueStacks, Android users are overwhelmingly t-shirt and jeans people, with 71% preffering the former and 62% the latter. Almost 20% of us have big heads, almost 40% wear glasses, and almost half wear watches. We’re getting into some seriously stereotypical data here, but there’s a few that buck expectations: 63% of polled users are married or in a committed relationship, it’s about a 60-40 split for play versus work users (you can’t be both?) and the average user eats up just 582 megabytes of bandwidth every month.


North Americans still dominate Android usage with over a third of the world’s active userbase. Almost one third of users never install a paid app, which helps explain why so many apps on the Android Market are ad-supported.On the other hand, 13% of users install more than 50 apps, helping to reach that 10 billion app milestone. And surprisingly, almost ten percent of Android users have an Android tablet, but not a  smartphone. Interesting stuff, BlueStacks – now where’s Mrs. Android?

[via AllThingsD]

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IP expert says Apple could earn $10 for every Android device

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 07:29 AM PST

Apple’s been pretty ruthless when it comes to Android litigation, even if their success rate has been hit or miss lately. After suing Samsung and HTC in the United States and everywhere else they can send a legal team, they’ve become the bane of many an Android OEM. In an interview with Bloomberg, intellectual property guru Kevin Rivette notes that the licensing fees that Apple earns on its patent lawsuits could be as high as $10 per device – a figure that could seriously impede manufacturers, especially on cheap low-margin phones.

To be blunt, that seems extremely unlikely. Apple has proven that it’s unwilling to negotiate with just about anyone, instead taking the all-or-nothing approach and going for a sales ban, as in cases with Samsung in Germany and Australia. In the latter Apple flat-out denied a settlement that surely involved patent licensing, a decision they probably regret now that their case against the design patents in the Galaxy Tab 10.1 have been dismissed. Samsung and HTC have already found ways around Apple’s legal eagles in the other cases: in Germany, Samsung released a revised Galaxy Tab 10.1N that the German court recognized as significantly different than the original, and HTC says it already has a work-around to Apple’s software patents in their United States case.

The simple fact is that Apple’s been too hard-headed to accept any sort of compromise thus far, to its detriment. This position probably stems from the late Steve Jobs, who vowed to “destroy” Android, which he saw as a stolen product. (“We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.” -Steve Jobs, 1996.) Now that they’ve been handed defeat in Australia and the US and companies have found ways around their overly vague patents, they may be more  amenable to licensing, as Microsoft already is. Microsoft is reputedly making more than $400 million a year in Android licensing fees, and earns $5 from every HTC sale, though that’s the only company whose specific deal with Redmond is publicly known.

Will Apple settle for licensing? Probably not. If they had tried the standard sue-then-settle tactic a year ago they might have been successful, but at this point every major manufacturer has been preparing work-around to their patent trolling. We’ll see what they can cook up in 2012 – and how many Ice Cream Sandwich features magically make their way into iOS 6.

[via Ubergizmo]

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Samsung says Galaxy Note is coming to America soon

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 06:49 AM PST

Samsung’s plus-sized Galaxy Note smartphone has proven to be a surprise hit, as the company announced today that they’ve shipped a whopping 1 million units worldwide. For an expensive and ostensibly niche phone, that’s a gigantic figure, especially considering that it’s only available in Europe, South Korea and a few other markets. US fans still have to import a Galaxy Note if they want to try out the 5.3-inch monster for themselves, but that may change soon enough: the company noted in its congratulatory announcement that it will be coming to the US in 2012.

Previously we’d only seen the barest hints that the Galaxy Note was headed stateside, in the form of a pair of FCC filings with AT&T bands. That’s indicative but not definitive - we’ve seen plenty of devices go through the FCC without ever getting a US release, particularly with AT&T’s internationally compatible radios. But if Samsung thinks the Note is coming to America, we won’t argue, and with consumers’ desire for bigger and bigger screens it could be a veritable hit.

For the uninitiated, the Galaxy Note represents the middle ground between Samsung’s high-end smartphones and tablets. The star of the show is a 5.3-inch 1280×800 screen using Samsung’s much-loved Super AMOLED display technology, with the added benefit of a Wacom digitizer and stylus. The specs are no slouch, either, with a dual-core 1.4Ghz processor and a full gigabyte of RAM underneath. Reviews from overseas have been overwhelmingly positive, despite the large size, and Korea is currently enjoying an LTE variant. We’ll be keeping a very close watch on the Galaxy Note, anxiously awaiting its US debut. A Note to Samsung: shipping it with Ice Cream Sandwich would be a great way to justify the wait.

[via The Verge]

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Verizon may charge a $2.00 convenience fee to pay your bill

Posted: 28 Dec 2011 09:55 PM PST

Big corporations try their best to make it easy on themselves to operate while still offering services at affordable prices to consumers – except Verizon. Sure, $2.00 isn’t much to tack on at the end of a bill, but it does add up when paying for Verizon’s ‘not-so-cheap’ 4G plans. And when consumers build their plans, they construct them to be as cost-efficient as possible. That’s why it’s hard to just let this one go.


There are a few ways to dodge this tiny bullet. The first, is to pull out that dusty checkbook and mail in your bill. The second, is sign up for Verizon’s ‘Auto Payment’ option to automatically withdraw funds through a monthly cycle. Then again, if your bank has their own automatic bill payment methods, that’s an option as well. Verizon Wireless gift cards are also not subject to the convenience fee.

I’ve been on many other carriers, and Verizon’s 4G LTE network has been the fastest by far – but that is expected when paying their steep prices. It’s not that you’re forking over another $24 a year to Big Red, it’s that your bill was already more expensive than the average cell phone company – and that’s when the nickels and dimes start to count. The $2.00 will not make me change carriers, but if their 4G LTE outage continues – that’s another story.

[via Droid Life]

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DROID RAZR can now be restored to stock via fastboot

Posted: 28 Dec 2011 09:14 PM PST

It’s always nice to know that once you “brick” your device, there is a way to bring it back to life through fastboot. Just yesterday, leaked fastboot files for the Motorola DROID RAZR surfaced over at XDA Developers and DroidRZR.com. Both sources claim that they have successfully flashed the files to their devices, so don’t feel like you have to be the guinea pig!


Another great use for the leaked files is to restore your phone to factory settings to maybe sell later on. But more importantly, developers will push the RAZR further knowing their device is now essentially “un-brickable”. We should even more development down the road.

Don’t forget to pick up the RAZR’s computer drivers if you haven’t done so already. Also needed will be RSD Lite, a program used for software upgrading and feature programming Motorola products. And last but not least, navigate here to download the necessary files to bring your RAZR back to life! And if this is your first time flashing a fastboot set, read through the original post very carefully and even through the subsequent ones so you’ll know exactly how/what to do.

[via Android Police]

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Verizon to update Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 OTA

Posted: 28 Dec 2011 08:39 PM PST

Verizon’s Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 should see an OTA (Over-The-Air) update very soon and will mainly consist of UI changes to their increasingly popular TouchWiz UI, and of course a batch of security patches. Many of the widgets have been updated too, so your Galaxy Tab 10.1 will certainly look fresh after the update. For those of you that currently use a home replacement launcher – you may not notice any change at all.


Aside from the UI upgrades, a nice fix has been incorporated to help an irritating bug that caused email to remain bold even after the user read it. Also added was Bluetooth 3.0 support, DivX media files can be played, and additional WiFi routers are now compatible. Business users will also benefit from this update, as it incorporates built-in support for VPN clients.

This recently appeared on Verizon’s Support tab, and only lets us know that it is “Coming Soon”. So those of you that want this update ASAP can try forcing a system update throughout the day(s) until it finally arrives. To do this simply navigate to Settings >About Tablet > System Updates. Also, be sure to let us know how you like it! I hadn’t been a big fan of Samsung’s original TouchWiz interface, but it has certainly started to grow on me after each update.

[via Phandroid]

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LG factory strike may make HD displays scarce

Posted: 28 Dec 2011 06:00 PM PST

If you’ve been enjoying the 720p screen on AT&T’s LG Nitro HD, savor the experience – it may become rare in just a little while. At LG’s primary LCD factory in Nanjing, China, a labor strike involving 8000 workers is threatening to bring the company’s screen manufacturing plans to a grinding halt. That spells trouble for a lot of Android phone and tablet manufacturers, chief among them being (naturally) LG.

The workers tried to reach an amicable compromise today, but the negotiations ended in failure, and at present there’s no end in sight. They’re demanding better pay, equitable to what employees in LG’s native South Korea get, as well as year-end benefits. The strike has been going on since Monday, with irate employees breaking glass and a decorative Christmas tree outside the factory offices. LG is the second-largest manufacturer of LCD panels in the world, supplying internals for dozens of electronics manufacturers who don’t produce their own screens. More comprehensive companies, like Sony, Sharp and Samsung, shouldn’t be affected.

LG’s home office assured The Korea Herald that its operations wouldn’t be drastically affected, as other factories can modify their production lines to fill the missing demand. LG is one of three suppliers rumored to be producing panels for the iPad 3, so any interruption of service could give their competitors a major advantage. If the strike continues for a considerable period, supplies of existing phones from LG and its partners could dry up, and future models may have to make due with lower-resolution displays that have already been manufactured.

[via AsiaOne]

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MIUI for the HP TouchPad enters beta, download it now

Posted: 28 Dec 2011 05:40 PM PST

Though it’s almost impossible to find an HP TouchPad at this point (at a reasonable price, anyway) the Android mod community is still rolling full steam ahead on the abandoned platform. Though the MIUI version of Android isn’t as far along as CyanogenMod 7 for the TouchPad, it’s reached the beta stage first, aftera short alpha introductory period. You can download MIUI for the TouchPad over at RootzWiki.

MIUI brings its distinctive UI to the HP hardware, which is appropriate enough, since in many ways it resembles HP’s WebOS as far as visual style goes. The ROM is mostly functional, with just a few bugs including MIUI’s standard Launcher2 modification. GO Launcher is included in the beta ROM as an alternative. The menu system is a little tough to work with the TouchPad’s single iPad-style button, but downloading SoftKeys or Button Savior should fix things right up. Beyond that, everything seems to be working properly, including MIUI’s theme engine. You can flash the ROM via ClockworkMod, just like CyanogenMod.

There’s been a surprising amount of news in the TouchPad  world lately. Since HP’s nobly decided to open source WebOS, you should start seeing some heavily customized versions of the TouchPad’s original software very soon, and perhaps a few ports to Android hardware. Even so it’s a sad end – WebOS was a solid and extremely friendly operating system, even if the developer support never materialized. Just yesterday we got a solid look at the unreleased 7-inch TouchPad Go, which revealed it to be a surprisingly awesome little tablet.

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Popular strategy game Majesty gets bigger with The Northern Expansion

Posted: 28 Dec 2011 04:43 PM PST

Not so long ago real-time strategy games were the bee’s knees on PCs. Triple-A franchises like Age of Empires and Command & Conquer got at least as much exposure as the latest “shoot until you’re out of bullets then punch whatever’s left” action game.  Android’s still a young platform, and at least one developer seems intent on giving it its own RTS franchise. Herocraft’s hit Majesty: Fantasy Kingdom Sim now has a sequel (not an expansion) titled Majesty: The Northern Expansion. It’s available now in the Android Market for $2.99.

If you didn’t play the original, it plays a lot like the aforementioned strategy games: for each mission you’re given a set amount of troops and buildings and an objective, usually killing something that richly deserves it. Direct your forces with cunning and utilize your Hero units well, and you’ll crush your enemies. Pull stupid maneuvers or match the wrong troops to the wrong foe, and General Custer will laugh at you from his grave. New features include a greater variety of soldier and baddies, adapting terain and weather, and of course a new campaign in a new land.

Check it out below:

Unfortunately the game doesn’t officially support Ice Cream Sandwich yet. Combine that with a few early bugs reported in the comments, and you might want to wait for the next update before laying down your three bucks. But in some good news for owners of older devices, the simple but effective graphics should run on just about anything. In the meantime you can buy the original Majesty (if you didn’t pick it up during the 10 Billion Apps promotion) for just $.99.

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Verizon Galaxy Nexus is only $229 from Wirefly

Posted: 28 Dec 2011 04:20 PM PST

We waited and waited for what seemed like forever for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus to hit the shelves with big red’s 4G LTE speeds and since then I haven’t heard much. I know almost everyone here ran out and picked one up, or hit Costco for their small savings. Wirefly has the Verizon Galaxy Nexus for just $229 — a cool $70 cheaper than Verizon.

After being delayed a while and finally hitting the shelves it’s been selling like hot cakes — especially anywhere with a good price. Online retailers such as Amazon offering lower prices have been sold out, or sell out within a few hours. Over at Wirefly the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is available, in stock, and at a lower price than Verizon.

This awesome phone needs no introduction with its bright and beautiful 4.65″ Super AMOLED display so I won’t mention the specs much although the full details (including our review) are below in the all new Android Community timeline. As usual with Wirefly this deal is sadly for new customers only and will not give you that great price for an upgrade. This would be a good time to switch to Verizon though with the 4.0 ICS rocking Galaxy Nexus and their blazing fast 4G LTE speeds. If you’ve been waiting for another deal and are sick of waiting for Amazon to have more stock feel free to hit the Wirefly link below and get your own today. Enjoy!

Wirefly Galaxy Nexus Link

Update: Target still has it for $249 also

Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : GALAXY Nexus 4G [Verizon]
    Manufactuer : Samsung
    Carrier : Verizon
    Announced Date : December 14, 2011
    Release Date : December 15, 2011
    Also Known As : Nexus Prime
Display
  • Screen Size : 4.65 Inch
  • Resolution : 1280x720
  • Screen Type : Super AMOLED
Dimension & Weight
  • Height : 5.33 Inch
  • Width : 2.67 Inch
  • Depth : 0.37 Inch
  • Weight : 150 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 1850 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : 150 hours
Software
    Android OS:
  • 4.0.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AAC+
  • AMR
  • MID
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • WMA
    Video Playback:
  • h.264 / AVC
    Messaging:
  • SMS
  • MMS
Hardware
    CPU : OMAP 4460
    CPU Clock Speed : 1200 Mhz
    Core : 2
    Ram : 1000 MB
    Internal Storage : 32 GB
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution :5 MP
    Camera Features:
  • Auto focus
  • Flash
  • 1080p Video Recording
    Sensors:
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light
  • Proximity
    QWERTY :
Cellular Network
    Network Technology:
  • CDMA
    CDMA Band:
  • 900
  • 1900
Device Connectivity
    Wi-Fi:
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
    Bluetooth:
  • Bluetooth 3.0
    Location Features:
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Cellular location
  • Wi-Fi location
    FM Radio :
    NFC :

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All new HTC phones get unlockable bootloaders, don’t ask Verizon or AT&T

Posted: 28 Dec 2011 03:54 PM PST

Earlier today we reported that HTC’s official bootloader unlock program on HTCDev.com had been updated to work with the Evo View 4G and the MyTouch 4G Slide. That’s true. A few users have found that the update also works with AT&T’s HTC Vivid and Verizon’s HTC Rezound, though those models don’t appear anywhere on HTCDev’s documentation. Now the company has come right out and said it: all devices released after September of 2011 are unlockable using the official method.

Presumably this generous policy extends to all future devices as well, at least for the time being. And if that’s true, then very well done, HTC. (I say “very well done” because if you write “WOOOOOOO HELL YEAH” they take away your Professional Blogger badge.)  The company promised to do so earlier this year and they’ve followed through, even if they’re being somewhat surreptitious about which phones work and which ones don’t. This is probably at the behest of AT&T and Verizon, who famously aren’t all that down with geeks messing around with their phones. That they bought. With their money.

Since HTC is generally pretty quick to release the source code for their devices, this opens up practically unlimited options for custom ROMs and mods. And since HTC is second only to Samsung in the number of high-end devices it releases and you can pick one up on just about any carrier, that’s very good news for advanced users. Get ready for an inundation of custom kernels and ROMs for all recent HTC devices. Motorola: are you watching this?

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DROID 4 shows up in Best Buy ad, nowhere else

Posted: 28 Dec 2011 03:03 PM PST

Man, it’s starting to turn into a seriously frustrating wait for those who want a Motorola DROID 4. Since a large number of original DROID owners are past their two-year contract term with Verizon, there’s a decent amount of pent-up demand for a current generation QWERTY successor. Verizon apparently had a handful of dates ready before postponing the phone, possibly as late as February 2nd. At least one of them is probably the reason that you can spot a DROID 4 on Best Buy’s Rewards Zone site right now.

These sort of slip-ups have become common from Best Buy, but then, unexplained delays from Verizon are nothing new, either. One date that seemed likely from multiple sources was December 8th, just a week before the Galaxy Nexus launch. And given Verizon’s surprising turnaround for the first Android 4.0 device, they may want to give the DROID 4 a little space to breathe in the release schedule. In any case, there’s no indication that the phone itself is coming any time soon. An unveiling at either CES early next year seems likely.

There is at least one nice thing about the delay: we’ve go the specs of the phone pretty much nailed down. A 4.0-inch QHD LCD screen is front and center on a DROID RAZR-style tapered body, with a 1.2Ghz processor and 1GB of RAM providing the number-crunching power. Gingerbread is the order of the day, a fact that may become increasingly annoying the longer it takes Verizon to push this one out. A large 1785mAh battery will help the LTE radio to last, while Motorola’s ubiquitous 8MP camera rounds out the package. Who’s ready for the 4th-generation DROID to hit stores?

[via Droid Life]

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Samsung Galaxy Tab and Galaxy S II possibly headed to US Cellular

Posted: 28 Dec 2011 02:49 PM PST

While almost every carrier available has some sort of Galaxy S II variant US Cellular doesn’t have that amazingly sleek and sexy phone in their lineup just yet. According to some leaked screenshots it appears that their inventory system is showing both the Galaxy S II and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 — leading many to believe they will get those devices soon.

The regional carrier hasn’t announced anything for either of these devices but thanks to a few anonymous tips it looks like both the above mentioned Android powerhouse devices are headed to US Cellular. Showing up in their ESN (Electronic Serial Number) and Mobile Identifier system recently.

US Cellular does offer a few decent smartphones like the Motorola ELECTRIFY we recently reviewed, but the Galaxy S II would be an awesome addition that I’m sure a few would love to purchase. Their tablet offering is also somewhat lacking so seeing the Galaxy Tab 10.1 possibly headed that direction is a plus too. With these devices already on the market for some time I do worry this could be a bit late. More options are always better and I’m sure US Cellular’s customers would agree.

If they make any official announcement we’ll be sure and update with pricing and release date information.

[via androidcentral]

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Roll your own CyanogenMod with CMC Compiler

Posted: 28 Dec 2011 02:30 PM PST

Custom ROMs are part of what makes Android awesome, and there’s a sufficient variety to satiate everyone. Well… almost everyone. Have you ever wanted to remove certain features from a ROM before even installing it, making for a lean, mean software machine? If you’re a user of the popular CyanogenMod family of custom ROMs, now you can, with a new compiler tool from XDA member “lithid-cm”. The Cyanogenmod Compiler (“CMC”) allows almost anyone to pick and chose from a variety of CyanogenMod features and compile their own ROM on your computer – no supermodder skills required.

The tool is still in the early stages, and if you’re not comfortable with a command line, odds are that you’ll feel a little lost. But anyone who knows their way around ADB commands can probably figure it out. Imagine it as sort of an Easy-Bake Oven for the casual modder. The tool automatically downloads the source code from the latest version of CyanogenMod 7 or 9 (Ice Cream Sandwich), then allows the user to select their make and model phone. To save space, you can remove unwanted languages, live wallpaper, and apply your own CyanogenMod-compatible theme, if you wish. You can then name your creation (please be tasteful folks – I’m tired of seeing crazy ROM names) then sit back and wait for it to output. This could take a while.

Finally, you can push your ROM to your device over ADB. The developer has big plans for this little tool, and if initial reaction is anything to go by it could become a very big part of the vibrant CyanogenMod community. A number of enhancements are already in the works, like a true installer, automatic updater and a plug-in system. It’s all a bit shaky in the initial release, but very promising. What are you waiting for? Go download it and start cooking your own ROMs already.

Thanks, J0hn! 

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Samsung Galaxy S III camera sample leaks, tagged GT-I9500

Posted: 28 Dec 2011 01:49 PM PST

Now that the Galaxy Nexus finally is here for most of the world it appears everyone has moved on to the next big thing — and with good reason. The next big thing being the Galaxy S III from Samsung. We all love their top of the line hardware, not to mention those AMOLED screens and today we have what could be our first leak from the Galaxy S III’s camera.

While camera EXIF data can be changed and faked we have good reason to believe this could be real. According to PocketNow the image you so kindly see above was taken with what the EXIF data is calling the Samsung GT-I9500 — the highest numerical value for a smartphone Samsung has used. Not only that but the location data also tracks this sneaky little image back to Suwon, South Korea, which is also home to a huge Samsung factory. Now this could very easily be a fake but we’ll just hope that it indeed is real.

Just for an idea on naming — the original Galaxy S was labeled with GT-I9000, the Galaxy S II was GT-I9100 and the Galaxy Nexus is rocking GT-I9250. We could see some other handsets in the meantime fill that numerical gap until the Galaxy S III gets revealed or this could be fake. Anyone notice the “Samsung” label on the back of that TV or whatever is pictured?

Earlier rumors suggest the Galaxy S III will be rocking 3D so this could also make sense that the EXIF data only shows the camera to be 5 megapixels. Maybe we’ll have an awesome camera like the 5 MP Galaxy Nexus — only two of them on the SGSIII for 3D. I was hoping for an improved 8 megapixel camera or maybe even 12 but we’ll all just have to wait and see. Interesting indeed!

[via PocketNow]

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Ballistic Shell Gel Case for Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch hands-on

Posted: 28 Dec 2011 01:05 PM PST

For those needing some serious extra protection for that smartphone we have exactly what you need. Today we have a quick hands-on and unboxing with one of the best drop protection and durable cases for the Samsung Galaxy S II. That being the Ballistic SG (Shell Gel) series for the Epic 4G Touch.

Now at first thought you’ll probably think that it makes this sexy and sleek phone fat and chunky — and it does. While this definitely doesn’t appeal to everyone — for those that need the extra protection or are overly cautious this is as good as it gets. Coming in for around $34.99 this is no cheap purchase — but is it worth it? That is the question. Check out our hands-on video for a better idea of how simple and easy this case works with your smartphone.

Ballistic SG case hands-on

What makes the Ballistic unique — and worth the money is the design and durability. With reinforced corners for extreme drop protection and more these cases offer complete protection. The entire body is wrapped in a thick and protective gel-case that covers every aspect of the device (as seen in video). Then they offer another level of protection and durability with the shell snap on cover that not only adds strength, but also gives you an easy and comfortable grip.

Ballistic has made sure they kept every port, speaker, and microphone pinhole open and fully accessible while still adding the extra level of protection and strength on the corners. The gel-case is very strong and of extreme quality, as is the rest of the case and it feels worth the price once in your hand. Then if you happen to drop your phone, or toss it out a window you’ll know it was worth the price when it comes back basically unharmed.

You can see our thorough review of the Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch right here, along with plenty of pictures and a link to purchase this awesome and highly durable protective case below. Get it for 20% off during the holidays using “YOLO17″ code during checkout until January 7th.

Ballistic SG Gel-Case Link

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Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : Epic 4G Touch
    Manufactuer : Samsung
    Carrier : Unknown
    Announced Date : August 31, 2011
    Release Date : TBA
    Also Known As :
Display
  • Screen Size : 4.5 Inch
  • Resolution : 480x800
  • Screen Type : Super AMOLED Plus
Dimension & Weight
  • Height : 5.1 Inch
  • Width : 2.70 Inch
  • Depth : 0.38 Inch
  • Weight : 129 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 1800 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : NA
Software
    Android OS:
  • 2.3.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AAC+
  • MP3
    Video Playback:
  • h.263
  • h.264 / AVC
  • MPEG-4 (MP4)
    Messaging:
  • SMS
  • MMS
Hardware
    CPU : Exynos
    CPU Clock Speed : 1200 Mhz
    Core : 2
    Ram : 1024 MB
    Internal Storage : 32 GB
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution :8 MP
    External Storage:
  • MicroSD
  • MicroSDHC
    Camera Features:
  • Auto focus
  • Flash
  • 1080p Video Recording
  • 720p Video Recording
    Sensors:
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light
  • Proximity
    QWERTY :
Cellular Network
    Network Technology:
  • CDMA
    CDMA Band:
  • 800
  • 850
  • 900
  • 1700
  • 1900
  • 2100
Device Connectivity
    Wi-Fi:
  • 802.11a
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
    Bluetooth:
  • Bluetooth 3.0
    Location Features:
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Cellular location
  • Wi-Fi location
    FM Radio :
    NFC :

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