Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Android Community

Android Community

Motorola DROID 4 Hands-on and Unboxing

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 11:04 AM PST

Say hello to the Motorola DROID 4. Just arriving on our test bench we decided to quickly snap some photos and look over the latest iteration in the popular DROID line before giving it a full rundown. At first glance you’d almost mistake this for the new DROID RAZR, only the screen is slightly smaller and we have that all important keyboard. Coming in with specs similar to what the DROID 3 should have been, the D4 has some impressive power under the hood in more ways than one.

In case you somehow missed the countless leaks of this smartphone here are the details. We have a very similar overall device as the RAZR, only less screen real estate and a few other goodies. With the D4 we have a 4.0″ qHD AMOLED display, a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor under the hood, 1GB of RAM, a beefy 8 megapixel camera around the back and a front camera for video chat. Last but not least is Verizon 4G LTE — the first DROID slider to rock this much requested feature.

For those that want a hardware keyboard, this is as good as it gets. With a new edge-lit QWERTY keyboard, and 4G LTE this is the best slider on the block — and probably will hold that crown for some time. Unless Verizon releases a DROID 5 this summer of course. The keys have a great feel with a good sense of spacing and almost a chicklit style like many laptops, only in a smaller space of course. The edge-lit lighting is more than just a gimmick and makes using the keyboard in darker situations quite nice.

Similar to the DROID RAZR and RAZRMAXX the DROID 4 has a very difficult to remove back and battery door. The RAZR battery isn’t user replaceable and you’re not supposed to remove the glued on back. With the DROID 4 the back does come off, but it’s no easy task. They’ve provided a small tool (don’t lose it) inside the box as a removal tool. Under there is where you’ll find the already installed micro-SIM for 4G LTE and a micro-SD slot for extra storage. It seems Motorola really wants to take the Apple route here, but is a bit undecided or afraid of the backlash that might follow. See the ridiculous picture below to see what I mean. Yes you must have the tool, and you pull the battery cover down and off — and it’s not easy.

Overall for first impressions the DROID 4 is pretty decent. Those wanting a QWERTY slide-out hardware keyboard it is excellent, but in terms of the Android market as a whole it’s pretty average for me. Being extremely similar to the RAZR many should love this phone powered by Gingerbread. See our size comparison in the image gallery below. The DROID 4 like many other Moto devices should see Ice Cream Sandwich within the next 3-6 months. Just like the bootloader the back is also secured by a Motorola lock and key, something that I’d rather not see in the world of Android. Stay tuned for our full review soon and check out the hands on video below.

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Vonage gives free VOIP calls and texts via Android app

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 09:06 AM PST

Vonage has become a veritable player in the home phone industry in the US, thanks to ultra-cheap rates for its Voice Over Internet Protocol calling system. Now it’s making that service mobile via Android, and making a real case for VOIP-based service, if not VOIP-only phones. Customers who subscribe to Vonage at home can make domestic calls to anyone else with the app for free, and even those without an existing account can use the app to make calls to regular cell and landlines on a per-minute basis, Skype-style. The best part? It works on WiFi or mobile broadband, making Vonage a true mobile VOIP provider with no restrictions.

Other little touches surround the well thought-out app: a background service keeps an eye out for incoming calls to your Vonage number, and it integrates with your existing address book to check if you can call other Vonage customers or app users for free. Basic texting is included at no extra charge, much like the recently updated Google Voice. According to the app’s Android Market description, calls to to any number in the US, Canada or Puerto Rico will be free for a limited time… no matter where in the world your call originates.

There are a few restrictions. Calling when connected to a mobile network uses data instead of minutes, so using Vonage to completely replace your cell phone plan could get expensive fast. And the free US and Canada offer is limited to 3000 total minutes a month – though if you’re talking on the phone for 50 hours over 30 days, you’ll probably appreciate the gesture anyway. On that note, one impressive convenience feature is that you can add pre-paid calling credit directly from your Android Market account. Download the Vonage app for free here.

HTC catches a break: Velocity likely to be first LTE Android phone in Europe

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 08:27 AM PST

News from HTC has been mostly gloom and doom as of late, after some poor 2011 results and gloomy Q1 2012 predictions. But today the struggling manufacturer finally gets a bit of good PR: it’ll be the first to launch an Android phone with an LTE connection in Europe. The Unwired reports that the HTC Velocity (better known to US Android enthusiasts as the Vivid) will launch on Vodafone Germany soon, making a milestone for the currently small LTE options on mainland Europe.

In case you haven’t kept a carbon copy of our HTC Vivid review in the back of your mind like a good Android fan, let’s refresh quickly. The Velocity skews towards the higher end of HTC’s line up, with a 4.5-inch 960×540 LCD display, 1.5Ghz dual-core processor and Gingerbread (sigh) with HTC’s Sense UI tacked on. We came away impressed with the phone thanks to its solid feel and conservative styling, but gave Samsung the nod when the Vivid went head-to-head with the Galaxy S II Skyrcocket, mostly because of the former’s dim screen, extra weight and shorter battery life.

Vodafone wasn’t forthcoming about an exact price or release date, but assures customers that the Velocity will be available in the next few weeks at the latest. Also, it comes in the spiffy white that all the cool manufacturers seem to be adopting these days. HTC hasn’t said anything about wider availability, but you can expect the Velocity or something similar (perhaps shown off at Mobile World Congress) to start appearing on the few European carriers with LTE capability, or a planned rollout of the same.

Chrome to Mobile extension adds device-specific link sharing

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 07:37 AM PST

By now you’re probably familiar with Chrome to Phone, Google’s link-forwarding Chrome extension and Android app that debuted with Android 2.2 Froyo. While it’s great for getting a page to your phone quickly, it’s also somewhat limited, especially if you use more than one Android device – it’ll send the link to every phone and tablet on which you’ve installed the app. Along with the Chrome for Android beta, Google has added a totally new extension to the desktop version of the browser, called Chrome to Mobile Beta.

The biggest change in the new extension is the ability to send links to devices selectively: you can finally pick which Android phone or tablet you need to send the link to. (This seems tailor-made for jaded mobile reviewers who are logged in to a couple of dozen devices at a time – thanks, Google!) You can still use the service to send phone numbers or texts, but wait, there’s more: now the Chrome to Mobile function can also send an offline version of the page directly to your Android device, making it accessible later when you don’t have a connection, such as on a plane or in the subway.

Unfortunately the service isn’t interchangeable with the old Chrome to Phone app, just the new Chrome browser. That means that this new toy is just for Ice Cream Sandwich users for the time being. On the plus side, once the link is sent you can open it in any Android browser - good news for those who aren’t impressed with Chrome Beta’s somewhat lacking initial feature set. Once the connection is set up, you don’t need the old Chrome to Phone on either your desktop or mobile device, so feel free to uninstall them both.

Steam updates for performance and stability, 3rd-party apps return with new names

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 05:57 AM PST

While PC gamers like yours truly were ecstatic when Valve finally released its official Steam app on the Android Market, the software itself left a little to be desired in its initial version. Of course that’s to be expected in a beta release, but the combination of closed access and slow, protracted animations even on high-end phones made for a frustrating experience at times. Valve solved one problem when it opened the beta app up to everyone, then another today, with the application of its latest update.

The 1.0.3 version of Steam includes better support for Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich’s native graphical acceleration, which should make for some speed improvements on the applicable devices. Stability enhancements should make it run better on older phones as well, especially 2.1 phones, where store browsing is now enabled. A few UI tweaks like automatic links in chat make for smoother use all around. Based on a few minutes of tinkering with my own Steam account the overall app seems very much improved, and more like the ubiquitous desktop version – kudos, Valve.

You can download the app for free in the Android Market for just about any Android phone or tablet. Of course, your choices in Steam access are significantly curtailed after dozens of third-party Steam apps disappeared from the Market without notice. Valve still hasn’t commented on the removal, but a few have come back under different names: the unofficial ”Steam for Android” app that we previously covered is now “Vapor for Android ” (nice), and can be downloaded in the Market for free once again. This solidifies the idea that Valve objected to other Steam apps on copyright grounds.

Motorola MOTOLUXE gets a hands-on and a UK debut in late February

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 05:29 AM PST

If you’ve been intrigued by Motorola’s uniquely-styled mid-range phone the MOTOLUXE, and you happen to live in the UK, you’re in luck. The company has announced plans to launch the phone in late February in the United Kingdom, with Clove assigning a price point of £21 before taxes (about $340). SlashGear got an in-depth preview of the device as well, coming away impressed if not dazzled. The MOTOLUXE attempts to bring a little luxury (natch) to the SIM-free budget crowd.

As far as hardware goes, you get a combination of a decent screen and low power in the phone’s somewhat unique shell. a 4-inch 854×480 LCD display runs over an 800mHz processor and 512MB of RAM. That won’t be setting any benchmark records any time soon, but for Gingerbread 2.3.7 it’s fine; an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade seems unlikely at this point. A single gigabyte of user-accessible data isn’t much, but it can be supplemented with a MicroSD card. Sadly, the phone’s cellular radio is limited to HSDPA (aka basic 3G) speeds. Motorola’s standard 8MP camera hangs out on the back of the device.

More interesting than the numbers is the design itself. The MOTOLUXE uses the soft-touch plastic of previous Moto phones like the DROID X, but abandons the industrial look for a more rounded, beveled appearance. Most striking is the LED notification light hidden in a recessed horizontal dip just below the capacitive buttons. This makes alerts glow in a unique fashion – it probably won’t turn heads, but it should get a few interested glances at the very least.

The MOTOLUXE is the first phone to receive “MotoSwitch 2.0″ interface, which we suppose is what they’re calling the Blur UI this week. The reviewer wasn’t impressed, and we tend to agree – unlike TouchWiz and Sense, Motorola’s custom interfaces tend to be little more than an icon and palette swap which still manages to hamper performance. At least Moto’s added some lockscreen shortcuts.

All in all, the MOTOLUXE is a decent choice if you want a reliable mid-range phone and don’t want to spend the pounds to reach into the high end. For the UK’s unlocked networks, you could do worse – and if you’re willing to shell out more initial money, you could do a lot better, too. The MOTOLUXE will be on sale at online and retail locations within a few weeks.

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LG Optimus Vu exposed in video clip, touts 5-inch display

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 10:40 PM PST

LG has released a teaser clip of their upcoming Optimus Vu straight from their YouTube channel, and left us to ponder its specifics. There isn’t much information to go by, except that it’s rocking a 5″ display with a 4:3 aspect ratio. This is quite uncommon, and is the only other smartphone to come close to the Samsung Galaxy Note’s screen size.

Actual specs are unknown, but it is said to sport a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm WPQ8060 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of ROM. The massive display could have a 1024×768 resolution, and the rear shooter is an estimated 8MP. We could also see NFC implemented, a technology thats taken quite some time to make it into the entirety of devices. It is unclear if this phone will host 4G LTE, but it’s possible. Either way we know it requires some sort of SIM card from the sneak shot below.

My best guess is the Optimus Vu will ship with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), and won’t see 4.0 until later down the road. Unlike the Galaxy Note, there doesn’t seem to be a built in stylus – which could be useful with such a large display. We will probably find out more at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain – so stick with us!

EDIT: There actually does seem to be a spot for a stylus from the clip – it’s quick and blurry, so no promises.

[via TheVerge]

Autonome demonstrates a wireless charging concept for all smartphones

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 09:21 PM PST

Lets start off by saying this unique idea looks as if it has already gone into production. The concept completely rebuilds the way a manufacturer would design their product, and even looks like an improvement. Many of us struggle with making sure our smartphones can last throughout our busy day until we can finally plug them back into the charger. And with new 4G LTE smartphones, battery drain is probably your worst enemy.

What Francois Rybarczyk did was re-evaluate how smartphones should be tailored to our lives, rather than conform to their limited battery life. As you can see, his concept implements an easily removable external battery that can be removed and attached directly to an outlet – without affecting your smartphone at all. After it’s done charging, just slip it right back into the phone for extended battery life.

It seems simple enough, but would a manufacturer actually implement this into an initial design? I actually prefer using a USB cable to charge my device; it’s easy to find a power source, and still operational while charging. This concept would require one to plug the entire phone into an outlet for a complete charge. What do you think? Would you prefer a device with features such as these, or would that extra empty space bother you while the external battery is charging?

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[via CNET]

Microsoft OneNote makes its way to Android

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 08:32 PM PST

Isn’t it odd having to install third-party applications like DocsToGo to open Microsoft Word documents or Excel spreadsheets? Well, Microsoft has started porting over its entire suite of Office programs over to Android – one by one. First up, we’ve got Microsoft OneNote.

Bear in mind, these applications are more basic than their fully fledged counterparts. OneNote syncs with the documents located on Microsoft’s SkyDrive. You can still format text, images, and create bulleted lists – but the best part is it renders your projects perfectly. OneNote is also available free of charge in the Android Market

The application is not yet configured for tablet use, although it’s still possible to install – it’s just not tablet optimized. It seems they’d perfect a universal version of the Android app, considering how long its taken to see any member of their suite on the Android Market. Those interested in giving it a try, navigate here.

[via IntoMobile]

Android Community Evening Wrap-Up: February 7, 2012

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 08:00 PM PST

We had quite a few great stories hit the feed today, especially when Google announced their Chrome browser’s Beta release! At this time it doesn’t have Adobe Flash support, but it is blazing fast – and offers a great tabbed browsing experience. You can check out our hands-on with it here. We give it a try on both the Galaxy Nexus and ASUS Transformer Prime.

Today, RIM claimed BlackBerry applications make more money than those on Android. I do agree with them on this issue, yet it’s important not to lose sight of the one billion apps that were downloaded from the Android Market from just December to January. So to clarify – per application, a BlackBerry app may create more revenue; but Android is profiting from many more applications and at a much faster rate.

Motorola’s DROID 4 will hit Verizon this Friday, and they’ll even offer BOGO RAZR’s upon its release in stores everywhere. Coincidentally, Verizon will also be bringing back their double data promotion the same day. It seems they’ve more than enough data to go around, so why not share the wealth?

And those of you HP TouchPad owners will be glad to know that HP has released the source code from its internal Android kernel to the CyanogenMod team! If only this was initiated a few months ago, it would have saved countless hours of work from many developers that were running the project.

DreamBook Z97 brings ICS, Tegra 3 and 128GB storage to Australia

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 06:16 PM PST

Pioneer Computers (not to be confused with Pioneer Electronics of car stereo fame) has had its hat in the Android ring for some time now, though you might not now it. Their latest entrie is a doozie: the DreamBook Z97, yet another high-end tablet with Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 3 processor and a full gigabyte of RAM powering it. Combine that with Ice Cream Sandwich, and you’ve got yourself a contender – at least if you live in Australia.

The tablet comes in storage capacities from 8GB to an incredible 128GB, thanks to an SSD drive you can configure on the company’s website. The base model starts at $499 AUD, with the 128GB version running an extra $229 – not bad, all things considered. Externally the tablet has a 9.7-inch display with an unfortunate 4:3 1024×768 resolution, essentially mirroring the iPad for size and DPI. Communications options include the standard Bluetooth and WiFi, plus an optional 3G radio. You get HDMI, USB 2.0 (with host capability) and MicroSD card slots, though the proprietary DC-in jack is a bit of a let down.

While Pioneer isn’t a household name, it’s trying awfully hard to make itself one. The combination of a relatively low-resolution screen with Tegra 3 is puzzling, but no doubt someone will find the 4:3 aspect ration appealing. Their PR says nothing about Google apps, so we’re forced to assume that the DreamBook Z97 does not include native access to the Android Market. If you’d like one delivered to your neck of the Outback, you can check out their ordering page here for storage, wireless and accessory options.

HP releases source code for its internal TouchPad Android kernel to CyanogenMod

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 05:53 PM PST

Right about the time that HP ran its now legendary TouchPad fire sale, a few lucky customers received TouchPads inexplicably running Android. Apparently the PC manufacturer had been testing Gingerbread builds on its tablet (which runs Palm’s WebOS natively). As a show of solidarity to the development community, HP has now released the source code for its own internal version of the Android kernel to the CyanogenMod team. CyanogenMod maintains the most popular TouchPad Android port, CyanogenMod 7 Gingerbread, as well as the new CM9 Ice Cream Sandwich. You can read all the juicy details over at RootzWiki.

Giving away the kernel source is in addition to moving the entire WebOS software platform to an open source model, granting HP some very real cred with aftermarket developers and modders. Though the supply of retail TouchPads is now effectively zero, it’s still one of the most popular tablets out there for bargain hunters and techies. While not a supertablet by any means (it’s roughly the equal of the original iPad as far as specs go) it makes a fine start for Android enthusiasts looking to try out the tablet form factor.

What can the CyanogenMod team do with HP’s help? For starters, they’ll probably use the kernel to iron out some of the most consistent problems in their custom Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich builds, including HD video and camera issues. Past that, they should be able to make changes to CPU and memory handling for a smoother and more stable experience – not that the ROMs are particularly bad now. The Gingerbread ROM is currently at the Alpha 3.5 stage, while the ICS ROM is still on Alpha .6. Adventurous modders can flash the ROMs without affecting their current WebOS partitions.

Chrome for Android Beta hands-on [Video]

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 04:57 PM PST

Google has released their first ever version of Chrome for Android today. Bringing their full-fledged browser to the world of Android smartphones and tablets. While currently only available for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich devices (and a beta) we were excited to give it a quick try. Below you’ll see our first impressions, hands-on pictures, video, benchmarks and more.

To start I’d like to mention again that this was only released today. It is still in beta although is widely available to the public right now in the Android Market. This is a great start but in some ways it does feel a little like a beta product, but we have a feeling it will grow into much more and soon replace our stock browser for Android. First the bookmark icons don’t display much and the UI is extremely ugly. On the other hand you toss it on a tablet and it looks amazing.

So yes this is very much still a beta (and you see what I mean when it crashes in my video) but for a first try and initial release it’s pretty freaking awesome. I’ll start with the video below in which you’ll see the Galaxy Nexus and ASUS Transformer Prime giving Chrome for Android a try. I cover a few neat new features, the “cards” style tabbed browsing and more.

Chrome for Android Beta hands-on

First, lets talk about Sync. The fact that we can now seamlessly sync from device to device, and from computer to device is awesome. I’ve waited for something this simple for a long time and so far it works great, but I don’t see any settings to tweak this option. In the video you can see it shows the sync between the Prime and the Nexus — showing it was just synced 5 minutes ago. This is awesome and highly impressive. Not only does it show me what I was browsing on the other device, but it loads them in the background and I just tap “devices” and chose what I want. You can run out of the office and be right where you were in a few seconds flat.

Other browsers offer this and Honeycomb sort of had this where it backed up bookmarks, but this real-time live sync is convenient to say the least. I’ve not found a way to get it to manually sync but it seems to check every few minutes. Hopefully more options will be adding to that later.

Next I want to compare a little between the stock Android 4.0 ICS browser, and Chrome. Both are very similar, and are about the same in regards to look, feel, and speed although both have their advantages and disadvantages. Here is a side-by-side comparison.

Chrome left, ICS right

For one, Chrome doesn’t support Flash as we mentioned earlier today, so that might be a concern for many users. HTML 5 support will continue to grow but in the meantime no flash here, so you’ll have to use something else on mobile if that matters to you.

We also ran a few Sunspider benchmark tests just to see how she performed and I was actually quite impressed. Between Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and Chrome we scored under 1,900. Most devices in the past struggle to get under 2,100. The screenshot below again shows Chrome for Android on the left, and stock ICS browser on the right (full size images in the gallery below).

Chrome scored 1880 while stock ICS was at 1912. So pretty dead even. Performance across the board seems to reflect a similar result with actual real-world usage too. Overall the stock Android browser has a better and more friendly UI in general, but the few tweaks to tabbed browsing and the “cards” effect in Chrome are awesome. If we could have a nice blend of these two I’d be in heaven. I have a feeling that is exactly where Google is headed — so it’s only a matter of time.

Now to wrap things up I want to mention the lack of “Quick Controls”. A feature in the labs section of the Android browser that I’m missing dearly. Obviously Chrome is its own browser and not integrated into Android, but we have a feeling it will be the main browser in the future. Same goes for the UI. While it has some extra polish, smooth animations, and a decent design it doesn’t resemble Ice Cream Sandwich other than the menu layout. Hopefully this will get blended together.

We have a few issues and shortcomings so far but the awesome features and overall polish make this my new default browser. Syncing everything from my PC over really has sealed the deal for me. Once they work out the bugs, make things a bit prettier, and enhance the overall experience nothing will come close and all those 3rd party browsers will be permanently replaced for me.

Get the Chrome for Android Beta in the link below, and check out the gallery for the rest of our images. Feel free to let us know what you think in the comments below. Do you like Chrome? Will it replace your stock browser on mobile?

Chrome for Android Link

Screenshot_2012-02-07-15-32-56 Screenshot_2012-02-07-15-33-24 bench Screenshot_2012-02-07-12-43-50 Screenshot_2012-02-07-15-01-06 Screenshot_2012-02-07-15-01-17 Screenshot_2012-02-07-15-11-03 Screenshot_2012-02-07-15-14-45 Screenshot_2012-02-07-15-33-04 sidebyside chrome

Galaxy Nexus LTE custom ROM users: flash 4.0.4 radios here

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 04:36 PM PST

On the day past, the Android 4.0.4 software update for Verizon’s Galaxy Nexus leaked, and lo, there was much rejoicing across the Android nation! And yet, those users running custom ROMs did cry verily, “Well crap, now I gotta wait for the dev to update before I can get better reception.” Then a voice spake: “Nay, Android power user! I have for you a flashable ZIP file, which does include both new radio basebands and a bootloader besides. Go forth and spread the good word: adrynalyne of XDA hath delivered you mildly better 3G and 4G data performance! Huzzah!”

In case you weren’t following along: a kind XDA member has posted just the radio and bootloader updates for the CDMA Galaxy Nexus, bringing the baseband up to date without affecting your current ROM. This is especially useful for users of heavily modded Nexus ROMs, like the popular Android Open Kang Project. Just download the file in the source link to your 4.02 or 4.03 CDMA ROM, reboot into your recovery, and flash the ZIP file. There have been no issues reported thus far, but it’s always a good idea to make a Nandroid backup just in case. NOTE: The radio in the XDA thread DOES NOT work with the international GSM version of the Galaxy Nexus.

Users are reporting improved signal by about 10% in previously spotty areas, and the hand-off between 3G and LTE connections seems to be smoother as well. Of course, you won’t get access to some of the more flashy tweaks in Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4, but if you’re reading this, odds are pretty good that you keep your custom ROM up to date. Developers have already started updating their ROMs, and the nightlies and betas should all be ready by the end of the week. Happy flashing!

Samsung’s March 22nd event is not, repeat NOT the Galaxy S III

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 03:41 PM PST

After the disappointing news that Samsung is electing not to grace Mobile World Congress with the presence of its much-anticipated Galaxy S III, many jumped on its French event slated for March 22nd as the possible stage for the phone’s unveiling. Alas, this is not the case: The Next Web heard it straight from the source that the March 22nd event will be more of a showcase for those devices that are displayed at MWC. Also, not to be the person that goes “I told you so”, but.. I told you so.

The French event will serve as a second showing for whatever Samsung shows off in Barcelona in late February and early March, essentially giving local and regional press a second chance at hands-ons for… whatever. But what will that be? Certainly the latest announced phones, like the Galaxy S Advance, will make a showing. There’s been a lot of talk about Samsung’s upcoming 11.6-inch Galaxy Tab, expected to have a high-resolution display and a next-generation Exynos processor. We’ll find out more about a whole range of devices in Spain, except, you know, that one.

Despite months of rumor mongering, there’s still very little that can be said about the Galaxy S III. it will almost certainly have a Super AMOLED display that meets or beats the Galaxy Nexus, and will likely be faster and more capacious that the Galaxy S II. Ice Cream Sandwich with Samsung’s TouchWiz is a possibility that becomes more and more likely as its announcement is pushed back. We’ll probably see the phone released internationally sometime in the summer, but past that, we’re chasing after the wind.

[via SlashGear]

Motorola wants to keep us moving, new MOTOACTV update March 7

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 02:17 PM PST

Not only does Motorola want to keep us active, but they are staying plenty active themselves and today have just announced another update for their MOTO ACTV device. Announcing that it will be released worldwide and free starting March 7th bringing tons of new features to the Android-powered smartwatch.

The MOTO ACTV is more than just a smart wristwatch. From the image above you can see it’s also mountable on bikes and can do tons of different tasks. The update set to hit March 7th will bring even more features and functionality. According to the blog post from Motorola we can expect to be able to track performances and stats across over 40 new activities including yoga, Pilates, dancing and martial arts to name a few.

The update back in December brought new clock faces, stopwatch support, and increased battery life severely. We can expect a few more improvements to overall performance and battery life with this upcoming update as well. With the option to track yoga, Pilates and all these other new activities we’ll need all the battery life we can get.

Other changes include being able to activate the display by the flick of your wrist, and even enable and change WiFi right on the device. Stay tuned for more details on the impending update.

[via Motorola]

AT&T may begin throttling “unlimited” users soon: it’s time for some answers

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 02:03 PM PST

Android users are a data-hungry bunch: we download music, movies, games, and no small amount of regular web and other data. Of course, we pay the same as regular mobile Internet users, for the most part – a fact that’s led both AT&T and Verizon to abandon their formerly unlimited data plans for more rigid tiers. But if you’re lucky enough to have had an unlimited plan when the change went into effect, you’re grandfathered in… much to the dismay of both company’s accounting departments. For AT&T at least, it looks like they’re finally taking steps to encourage users to change their “data hog” ways. A Wall Street Journal writer got hit with a warning that he was in the top 5% of users on his iPhone, and his service would be intentionally slowed soon if he didn’t change his ways.

We’ve known this is coming for months, but that doesn’t mean we’re happy about it. Truth be told, we’re not particularly pleased with the tiered data system, which implies a mobile bandwidth crunch without any empirical data to back it up. The simple fact is that on AT&T and Verizon, those with grandfathered unlimited plans can get a lot more for their dollar (in both cases, $30 a month) than can those customers who A) want more than 2GB of data a month and B) signed a new contract after the changes went into effect. To punish unlimited users for using their unlimited connection isn’t just disingenuous, it implies that they’re doing something wrong, as if the Internet itself was a non-renewable resource and they’re taking more than their fair share.

I must stress that AT&T limiting high-bandwidth users isn’t illegal in any sense. T-Mobile already does this with their “unlimited” plans, even though the smaller company is actively marketing them. In legalese, the “limit” (or lack thereof) applies to the amount of data transferred, not the speed at which it’s delivered. All that being said, limits of any kind on a service that was marketed as unlimited, however long ago, rubs power users the wrong way. This is doubly true considering how wireless service and its various satellite charges have become more expensive, even as the larger carriers seem to be raking in the money more than ever before. Even Verizon’s “Double Data Deals” come off as cheap attempts to lure in new customers with a “better value”; just remember when you’re paying $80 a month for 20GB of bandwidth that a small portion of Verizon users can go over 100GB and beyond for just thirty bones.

The good news is that if you receive a warning letter or email from AT&T, it’s probably grounds enough to get out of your current two-year contract if you so choose. The change in AT&T’s interpretation of their own rules is enough to make the huge ordinary early termination fee waivable, at least if you press your point with the right customer service agent. (Dropping a few names like the Better Business Bureau and The Consumerist couldn’t hurt.)

Even so, the pressure from a provider to alter its customers’ behavior to suit its own ends is not encouraging, especially when that provider does not offer the service that said customer originally paid for to others. AT&T’s recent attempt to buy out T-Mobile (instead of, for instance, spending several billion dollars on its own often disappointing 3G network) only serves to alienate them from American consumers wary of cellular companies. AT&T, Verizon: if you don’t want smartphones to devour gobs and gobs of data, why do you advertise them streaming music, HD movies and generally being the awesome connected devices that they are?

Here’s the gist of my little rant: AT&T needs to either offer truly unlimited service or quit implying that it wants its customers to enjoy the “freedom” that web-connected devices allow. Don’t tell us we’re unlimited, or even how great your service is, if you want us to use WiFi all the time. Failing that, give us real, concrete reasons why the current tiered system is absolutely necessary – because from our consumer standpoint, its only purpose is to net you some extra gotcha fees when we go over. (That goes for you too, Verizon.) Warning customers that they shouldn’t be using their phones as much is a great way to drive them to somebody else – or at least it would be, if more carriers offered real unlimited service.

You get that, nationwide carriers? Whoever offers real unlimited service again, on a carrier that’s reliable and available, gets the dollars of power users. You know, the ones who are always first in line to pay those ridiculous subsidized smartphone prices.

T-Mobile Valentine’s Day Sale official, All phones free February 11

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 02:02 PM PST

T-Mobile is at it again and are gearing up for the holiday although this time it isn’t a Christmas sale. Instead they want you to stay close to the ones you love this Valentine’s Day and to help you do so they’re offering all 4G smartphones completely free. The catch here is the sale’s for one day only — so you better hurry.

A few days before V-Day on February 11th T-Mobile will be offering all 4G smartphones and their best selling Android tablets completely for free. Obviously there is a small catch or two here and you’ll be required to sign a new 2-year contract agreement, but that was to be expected.

Nothing says “I love you” like a 4G smartphone from T-Mobile

The quote above is their official term for the holiday season and they’ve even released a little video with some humor and a cupid for the all new 2012 Valentine’s Day sale kicking off on the 11th. There is however one more catch that is worth noting. The devices aren’t actually free out of the gate, you’ll have to pay the $199 or whatever price up front and wait for a mail in rebate. So while this deal wont save you money this week that you can use on chocolate or flowers — it will save you in the long run once that mail in rebate returns.

Who will be getting struck by cupid this year and getting their loved one a new 4G phone from T-Mobile?

[via TmoNews]

Adobe: Flash support not included in Chrome for Android

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 01:02 PM PST

Just like many of you, I downloaded the new Google Chrome for Android this morning and quickly realized that Adobe Flash was not supported. I had a feeling it wouldn’t be, and now after confirming its lack of support Adobe has made an official announcement basically following up on earlier announcements that they weren’t supporting Android moving forward. That was fast!

Chrome for Android Beta doesn’t support Adobe Flash and according to Adobe we shouldn’t be all that surprised by that. Within the first few lines of their official comment they quickly got down to what they had to say, and here it is:

Adobe is no longer developing Flash Player for mobile browsers, and thus Chrome for Android Beta does not support Flash content.

They do however mention that they still support flash in the stock browser, and will continue to do so as they promised back in November. Other comments suggest they are actively working to move HTML5 forward, and will continue to support that community, as well as Adobe Air for Android.

Does this come as a surprise to anyone? Will this make you abandon the new and impressive Chrome for Android until we have more options available? Google worked so hard with Adobe to make Flash a feature but quickly things have changed and it will no longer be present moving forward. If you need Flash keep those alternative or stock browsers folks, because Chrome wont be getting it.

[via Adobe]

Google Voice update brings new ICS icon, interface, and tablet click-to-call

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 12:35 PM PST

A mystery update for Google Voice has just landed in the Android Market this afternoon. Google is busy today and has just released Google Chrome for Android, and now we are getting a redesigned Google Voice app with awesome UI improvements and tablet features. The updated Icon is being shown in the market but apparently the update isn’t pushing out yet, but we were able to quickly install it through the web Android Market here.

First off, the entire user interface, icon, and menu’s have all been updated to go along with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Complete with the color changes and all as you can see from the new cyan blue icon. Then in the image above you can see the new click-to-call feature that has been added to Android 4.0 tablets. We gave it a quick try and it worked great. The phone interface has also received these same changes, obviously, and looks pretty nice and more in line with what we’ve seen from Google lately.

The tablet version has also received the People app from ICS and you can initiate a Google Voice call right from the contacts tile, or image inside your People tab in Ice Cream Sandwich. Everything else from the what’s new list was all included with previous updates and we still have yet to receive the new final change log. Once this update starts rolling out officially we should know more. If you have troubles downloading the new update try it on the web market linked to below. Even if it says “installed” give it a click and get the latest. Someone didn’t do something right that is for sure, but we are enjoying it anyways.

Market Link

Screenshot_2012-02-07-11-56-15 Screenshot_2012-02-07-11-59-04 voice

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