Saturday, 25 February 2012

Android Community

Android Community


Android Community Weekly: February 25, 2012

Posted: 25 Feb 2012 10:29 AM PST

It’s time for another weekly roundup of the top Android tech news for the week. With Mobile World Congress only a day away, we’re sure you’re dying to see what the near future of mobile devices holds. We’ve put together an article on what to expect, so it would be a bit easier to keep an eye out for breaking news. There still could be some surprises, but we’ll just have to wait and experience the event for ourselves.


Android 5.0 (Jelly Bean) was recently rumored to see an official release this summer, but we still hadn’t known too much about what to expect from it. Now sources say we could see the inclusion of WebTop-style desktop modes, standard, built-in the 5.0. This seems like a valid claim, as we just saw Canonical bring Android and Ubuntu together. It is practically flawless, and for a better idea of how they work together be sure to check out this hands-on.

Early on this week, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 received its first official CyanogenMod 9 pre-alpha. And just days later, the CyanogenMod team finally brought us the official new CM9 logo and boot animation. The official CM9 nightly ROMs are also ready for the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, and Motorola XOOM. Their entire team has definitely been hard at work lately, and it shows.

Google Docs for Android was recently updated to include real-time collaboration, as well as a slightly improved user interface. Real-time collaboration is one of Google Doc’s most unique features, and is why so many University classes rely upon it around the country. Another application now available is SlashGear v2.0 for Android. It brings the latest mobile version of our sister site SlashGear to your mobile device, right before MWC 2012. You’re now able to ‘offline’ articles for easy on-the-go reading, so check it out!


Samsung Galaxy S III rumored to have 4.8-inch screen and ceramic case

Posted: 25 Feb 2012 09:04 AM PST

So, the Samsung Galaxy S III won’t be making its grand entrance at Mobile World Congress in just two days. Bummer. But that gives us another few weeks or months to entertain rumor and wild speculation about its hardware – if you like that sort of thing. BGR does: they’re reporting an anonymous source that says the next iteration of the main Galaxy line will have a screen that stretches all the way to 4.8 inches, and a back panel that eschews Sammy’s typical plastic construction for a reinforced ceramic material. It goes without saying (but we’re saying it anyway) that none of this is even remotely confirmed. It’ll also have a “simultaneous global launch”, though with the state of American and Canadian carriers, that seems downright fantastic.

The 4.8-inch screen seems the more likely of the two: the Galaxy Nexus, which many are considering a sort of intermediate step between the Galaxy S II and III hardware, already has a 4.65-inch screen. New flagship phones like the HTC One X (rumored) and the LG Optimus 4X HD (confirmed) both have 4.7-inch 720p displays, so the various Android OEMs seem to have reached a consensus that 4.7 inches is as big as you can go without having to seriously reconsider the ergonomics and user interface, a la the Galaxy Note. The latest rumors don’t mention a resolution or panel type, but a 720p Super AMOLED screen is the obvious choice.

Ceramic backing? It seems like a plausible idea, and more likely than some of the other rumors we’ve heard like a waterproof casing or 3D screen. As well as Samsung is doing (and they’re doing very well) we’ve heard complaints of the flimsy plastic construction of their phones and tablets on more than one occasion. A hardened ceramic might be a way to bring a more upmarket feel to the Galaxy S III while retaining relatively light weight and durability. Heck, it’s a better idea than putting glass on the back of a device that goes in and out of your pocket all day – cough, cough.

That said, I’m going to call bull on the latter. Plastic and metal are popular materials because they work, and ceramics are neither easy nor cheap to produce en mass. And since Samsung intends to sell at least as many of the Galaxy S III as the original and sequel, a whopping 20 million each, profitability will be a major consideration. Samsung has been doing a great job of keeping the actual hardware away from prying eyes – the GSIII has yet to be caught by a camera, so at this point, anything’s possible. We’ll just have to wait for the unveiling event, expected sometime in early summer at the soonest.


Samsung Galaxy Note to show up on the Three UK network

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 10:36 PM PST

The Samsung Galaxy Note has been an extremely hot topic here in the US as of late, but overseas its been out for quite some time. However, that doesn’t mean every carrier is offering it. The Note is set to show up on the Three UK cellular network sometime soon. This was just announced by the carrier themselves, and that they’ll be carrying the white version.


You all probably know the Note for its amazingly large display, but do you know what the insides consist of? The Note has an 800×1280 pixel resolution, 1.4GHz dual-core Exynos processor, 1GB RAM, and 32GB of built in storage. It comes with a generous 2500mAh battery that should last you 13.5 hours talk time on a single charge; not bad for a device that has to power a 5.3″ display.

We have a hands-on up of the recently released AT&T model, and a more in-depth review available as well. It’s a spectacular device, and though it doesn’t fit in the palm of every hand out there, we agree it’s worth taking a look at if your carrier offers it. We have no idea on when Three UK will be releasing it, but it’s great to know it’s on the way.

[via TalkAndroid]


ASUS releases another teaser video before MWC

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 09:32 PM PST

Just yesterday, ASUS dropped a ‘Teaser video II’ that doesn’t give much away, except that we should expect “twice the detail” in one of their upcoming products at MWC. With only two days until the actual event, you’d think they would ease up on the teasing and just let us painlessly await their press conference. Alas, that wasn’t their plan, and they have just dropped ‘Teaser video III’.


This one focuses on ‘colors in transformation’, and could be taken that ASUS may have added a few extra color options to their Transformer Prime. It’s not too farfetched, but at the same time the 17 second commercial was rather vague so anything is possible. It’s also unknown whether the previous teaser relates to this one; could they be depicting two different products – or do they describe the same one?

We know the ASUS Padfone is on its way this MWC, but could we see these features in the TF300T? This device will be an upgraded version of the original Transformer. While all of these assumptions will go unanswered until they unveil their devices, we can at least gather that we’ll see drastic visual improvements.

[via TalkAndroid]


Android Community Evening Wrap-Up: February 24, 2012

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 07:52 PM PST

It’s finally Friday, and I’m sure you’re ready for the weekend. Well, here’s a few of today’s top stories to ready you for the weekend – and of course our live coverage of MWC in Barcelona, Spain. Early this morning there was a rumor that the Samsung Galaxy B will have a bezel-free AMOLED display. It would be amazing if this trended into future devices across their line.


NVIDIA outed the first quad-core mobile processor, and it seems Qualcomm isn’t in a hurry to catch up. They’ve announced we shouldn’t expect a Qualcomm quad-core chip until Q4 of this year. They are more focused on making their current generation hardware more power efficient. This efficiency paired with massive batteries like the one found in the DROID RAZR Maxx will be just what Android users needed.

Official CyanogenMod 9 nightly ROMs are now ready for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, and Motorola XOOM. It would be great to see it ported over to a Nexus tablet in the future as well, especially since the 7″ model is expected to start production in April. There’s not much known about the product, except that it’s “a tablet of the highest quality”.

Pictures of the HTC One X have leaked right before MWC, and it looks simply amazing. It’s supposedly supposed to sport Android 4.0 and a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, but expect the entire list of details in a few days during its official announcement. And wrapping up, make sure to download the new SlashGear v2.0 application for Android – available now in the Android Market! It will be the easiest way to access MWC coverage while on the go, and even offers the ability to “offline” articles for reading later.


AOKP ROM’s coolest new feature: Fast Torch

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 06:11 PM PST

As a hardcore custom ROM user, I tend to update my current “daily driver” about once every couple of weeks or so. Since CyanogenMod was taking its sweet time in getting here (nightlies just started arriving yesterday) I gave a shot to a very popular up-and-coming ROM for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, Android Open Kang Project. AOKP has been one of the fastest and most stable of the new ICe Cream Sandwich ROMs, and it’s gaining quite a following. When I saw one of the features snuck into the latest build (24), I just had to do a quick demonstration.

It’s called Fast Torch, and you can activate it by going to Settings>ROM Control>Lockscreen options. The Fast Torch is a way of activating your Galaxy Nexus’ camera LED quickly, without touching the screen at all. Just pick up your phone in the “off” position and hold the power button for two or three seconds, and the LED activates, giving you a near-instant flashlight without having to look at your phone, or messing with secondary apps or widgets. This is great for someone like me who’s used to carrying a small flashlight – I couldn’t give it up for a phone LED because sometimes it just took too long to activate. Now I can leave my AAA Maglight at home. Observe:

The implementation is a little wonky at the moment – random variables seem to keep the LED from firing about 30% of the time. And to be fair, I don’t know if the AOKP team came up with this feature first or if they borrowed it from someone else, as is often the case. Either way, if the next build gets the reliability up it’ll be a great addition to any ROM, and enough to keep me on AOKP over the likes of CyanogenMod. These little tweaks and additions are part of the reason I love Android.

Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : GALAXY Nexus
    Manufactuer : Samsung
    Carrier : Verizon
    Announced Date : October 18, 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 : 0.35 Inch
  • Weight : 135 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 1750 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : NA
Software
    Android OS:
  • 4.0.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AAC+
  • AMR
  • MID
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • WMA
    Video Playback:
  • h.263
  • h.264 / AVC
  • MPEG-4 (MP4)
    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:
  • GSM
  • CDMA
    GSM Band:
  • 850
  • 900
  • 1800
  • 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 :


Malware apps spread through Facebook to bypass Bouncer

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 05:48 PM PST

After some pretty poor publicity surrounding the security of the Android Market, Google introduced the Bouncer scanning system for a more effective means of securing incoming apps. Of course, that doesn’t account for the ignorance of some Android users, which at least one malware distributor is taking advantage of… and using Facebook as an alternate delivery mechanism.  As a method of getting around the Android Market, it’s actually kind of ingenious - in a sneaky sort of way, of course.

First, you get a Facebook friend invite from a sketchy person you’ve never met (odds are it’s a young lady who looks like she’s really cold). If you accept the request, it directs you to its profile, where it presents a link for a file named “allnew.apk”. You download the file and (if you ignore your phone’s warnings about non-Market apps) you install it. At this point the app pulls the now-familiar stealth text move, sending SMS messages to a phoney number and charging your phone bill.

This malware still relies on ignorant users who don’t really understand how Android security works, but it’s a good example of the ever-evolving methods of digital thieves. If you read Android Community regularly, odds are you’re too slick for this action, but less tech-savvy users (and with 300 million, there are certainly a few) this is a real danger. Let your genuine Facebook friends know about the threat ,and report any Facebook users linking directly to sketchy apps as spam.

[via SlashGear]


HTC releases preview of ICS for Sensation and Sensation XE

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 04:42 PM PST

HTC’s big dance at Mobile World Congress is just a couple of days away, but it looks like they couldn’t resist getting some beta software out beforehand. Like Sony did yesterday, HTC has released its first “preview” build of Ice Cream Sandwich, by way of their Elevate program. The first ROMs are only accessible on the HTC Sensation and the Sensation XE, but include Sense 4.0, the ICS version of HTC’s nearly universal Android skin. Elevate members should have already received an invitation to download the software.

We’ve caught glimpses of Ice Cream Sandwich running on HTC’s Ville, now probably renamed the HTC One V. As far as navigation and features go, it’s hard to distinguish from Gingerbread thanks to the Sense layer running on top of it. A few changes in layout and new apps were revealed by an early leak, but some of them may not be in the beta software, since HTC would probably like to save at least a couple of things for their MWC press conference. Though they’re far from the latest and greatest, the Sensation models were pretty high end when they debuted last year and shouldn’t have any trouble handling ICS.

Three new phones are expected at HTC’s press event on Sunday: the One X (Edge) One V (Ville) and One S. All three are likely to run Ice Cream Sandwich and Sense 4.0, but aside from the One X detaqils are pretty scarce. Once the official unveil takes place, HTC may extend its Elevate program to more phones. In the meantime, it shouldn’t take long for the Ice Cream Sandwich ROMs to make their way to the various modder forums in flash-friendly ZIP packages soon. Everybody else can just wait a few weeks for the final update.

Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : Sensation 4G
    Manufactuer : HTC
    Carrier : T-Mobile
    Announced Date : April 12, 2011
    Release Date : May 19, 2011
    Also Known As :
Display
  • Screen Size : 4.30 Inch
  • Resolution : 540x960
  • Screen Type : qHD
Dimension & Weight
  • Height : 4.96 Inch
  • Width : 2.57 Inch
  • Depth : 0.44 Inch
  • Weight : 148 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 1520 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : 350 hours
Software
    Android OS:
  • 2.3.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AMR
  • MID
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • WMA
    Video Playback:
  • 3GP
  • MPEG-4 (MP4)
  • WMV
    Messaging:
  • SMS
  • MMS
Hardware
    CPU : Snapdragon
    CPU Clock Speed : 1200 Mhz
    Core : 2
    Ram : 768 MB
    Internal Storage : 4 GB
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution : 8 MP
    External Storage:
  • MicroSD
  • MicroSDHC
    Camera Features:
  • Auto focus
  • Flash
  • 1080p Video Recording
    Sensors:
  • Accelerometer
  • Proximity
    QWERTY :
Cellular Network
    Network Technology:
  • GSM
    GSM Band:
  • 850
  • 900
  • 1800
  • 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 :

[via PocketNow]


ViewSonic debuts a trio of dual-SIM phones

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 04:01 PM PST

Thought you’d seen all the pre-Mobile World Congress spoilers you were going to, didn’t you? Not so: the normally reserved ViewSonic has busted out with no less than three brand-new handsets, and all of them feature the newfangled dual-SIM architecture that allows a phone to connect to multiple networks and use two separate phone numbers at a time. All three are probably headed to MWC in just three short days. ViewSonic hasn’t had the best of luck breaking in to the smartphone game, and they have a habit of revealing concept hardware and never putting it into mass production, so who knows when or if they’ll become available.

The first of the three is called the ViewSonic 4S – hey, somebody stop that lawyer in the Armani suit! He’s headed for Cupertino! Anyway, the phone features a 3.5-inch IPS LCD screen, which is smaller than most Android phones and in fact matches the iPhone. Even more strange, it uses a 4:3 aspect ratio…. like the iPhone. Of course, at least one thing differentiates it: the resolution. The screen is 960×640 pixels, which is admirably high res and, uh, exactly like the iPhone 4S. Maybe just let that lawyer guy go on about his business. The 4S has a 1Ghz processor and a 5MP rear camera, and runs Ice Cream Sandwich – at least in the renders.

The ViewSonic 4E is a little more down-market, with the same 3.5-inch screen size but a reduced VGA resolution. This one has a 3MP camera. The big daddy of the lineup is the 5E, clearly taking aim at the Samsung Galaxy Note and LG Optimus Vu with a 5-inch screen and Ice Cream Sandwich. There’s no date or price mentioned for any of these phones – it could be that ViewSoinc is shopping them out as designs for other manufacturers to buy, then produce themselves. The $S obviously can’t be sold under its current moniker anyway. We’ll be sure to stop by ViewSonic’s booth at Mobile Work Congress, if only for the entertainment value.

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[via GSM Arena]


HP TouchPad CM9 graduates to Alpha 2: we go hands-on

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 03:23 PM PST

It’s been many a moon since I dusted off the old firesale HP TouchPad, but now that the CyanogenMod team has advanced its Ice Cream Sandwich ROM for the tablet to Alpha 2, I figured it was time to give the mod-friendly slate another go. TouchPad owners can download the latest ROM from RootzWiki, and after you see my experiences here, you’ll want to. The TouchPad has become a surprisingly stable and speedy platform for Android, due in no small part to the efforts of the CyanogenMod developers.

Flashing CM9 is no great feat if you’ve already got the Gingerbread-based CyanogenMod 7 running. Just copy the ROM and Gapps files over to your tablet (or download them directly) and restart, then use the boot menu to go into recovery mode. Wipe your data, flash the ROM file, flash Gapps, and you’re good to go. The first thing you’ll notice when booting up Alpha 2 is how fast it is: this thing easily outpaces even my Galaxy Tab 8.9 running Honeycomb, which should perform better with its Tegra 2 processor. Chock it up to TouchWiz, I guess.

If you’ve had the opportunity to try out an ICS tablet, there won’t be any surprises here. Aside from the 4:3 aspect ratio and comparatively small 1024×768 resolution, the interface looks like any other Ice Cream Sandwich tablet ROM. Suffice it to say that it’s much more suited to the 10-inch form factor than Gingerbread, even though some of the Google Apps aren’t correctly formatted. CM9 is currently based on Android 4.0.3, the latest open-source build from Google.

Browsing is especially nice, as the tablet browser is much, much better suited to quick and powerful browsing than the smartphone version. While my connection isn’t great out here in the sun-scorched paradise of North Texas, it was at least as snappy as my rooted Galaxy Nexus. I’d even say that the ICS browser has become much better than the WebOS browser, which is high praise for anyone who’s used the latter. And speaking of WebOS, the partition and boot environment for the most popular Android ROMs allows you to reboot into Palm’s former glory at any time. Installing the recovery and pre-boot environment doesn’t even affect your current OS, except that less of your 16GB or 32GB on-board storage partition is accessible.

There are some downsides: the camera still isn’t working, and while the YouTube app is performing well, third-party video services like Netflix are still a little wonky. The reboot function seems to be a little off (there’s no direct link to WebOS like in CM7) and the tablet is still pretty picky about which USB cables will work with it. ON the plus side, the TouchStone charging dock works like a charm.

But the bottom line is this: if you’ve got an HP TouchPad and you know your way around Android ROMs, you owe it to yourself to flash CyanogenMod 9. Come for access to Android’s hundreds of thousands of apps, stay for the awesome interface and downright shocking performance. Check out a short video of my experiences below:

Screenshot_2012-02-24-16-46-50 Screenshot_2012-02-24-16-47-22 Screenshot_2012-02-24-16-47-45 Screenshot_2012-02-24-16-47-58 Screenshot_2012-02-24-16-50-16 Screenshot_2012-02-24-16-51-22


HTC teases us from Barcelona, claim they’ve unboxed something amazing

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 03:14 PM PST

The biggest mobile event of the year is about to take place in Barcelona, Spain. We’ve been talking about it all week so it shouldn’t be a surprise. Remember that Android Community will be there live to capture everything from HTC, and everyone else. HTC has started getting prepared for the big event on Sunday and are already teasing us with a few pictures and comments to keep us interested.

We have big hopes for HTC’s unveiling this year, and so do they. With a new quad-core phone in the HTC One X, and plenty of Beats Audio inspired phones and more. Apparently most of their showing will be Android, and I wont complain about that. Over on the new HTC Blog they are saying “Greetings from Barcelona” and have teased us with a few mystery pictures. Not only are they setting up with white and green chairs, but they have tons of packages too.

If you notice the first picture in the gallery below they have tons of packages that are hiding something special. Whether that will be the usual USB sticks and goods they hand out at every event, or something better we don’t know. Hopefully we’ll all leave with a shiny new phone — but that is asking a bit much. However, while unpacking HTC did mention they have “unboxed something amazing” but didn’t share any other details. Most likely they are referring to that quad-core HTC One X that we can’t wait to get our hands on.

Make sure you tune in right here to Android Community for all the news from HTC and everyone else. Hit the links below to see what we are expecting to see, and follow along at our MWC 2012 Portal.

Unpacking MWCSetUp htc-brilliant


Google shows off Android pins for MWC, invites you to make your own

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 02:37 PM PST

In case you guys didn’t know, the guys from Google enjoy having a little fun with things like the Google Doodle and such. At the biggest mobile event of the year, Mobile World Congress, Google gave out limited edition Android pins last year. This year they are showing off the pins they’ll have for us, and are inviting Android fans to create their own.

Just like last year Google has designed around 85 pins that will be tossed around, traded, and scattered throughout Mobile World Congress and all the booths. Android lovers, bloggers, and everyone else will be gathering them up and trying to collect them all. If I see any special edition ones I’ll be sure to snatch them and run — I’ll fight people off if need be.

For those of you that wont be wandering the halls of Mobile World Congress in Spain we have some good news. Google is hosting a little fun for you too and are open to designs from anyone and everyone. Over on Google Plus +Android has posted a template and are looking for designs. Add your favorite artistic creation and share them with +Android and they’ll post their favorites during the MWC 2012 event this coming week. Get the template from the +Android link or from our image gallery below. If I manage to save up enough pins I might have to give some away to our loyal readers when I return.

Get to making those pin designs and show us what you come up with.

AndroidPinTemplate 2012 Android Pins

[via +Android]


SlashGear v2.0 App for Android available now! [Video]

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 01:44 PM PST

Good news folks, just in time for Mobile World Congress our sister site SlashGear has just launched their all new SlashGear v2.0 app for Android smartphones. If you head over to the Android Market today you’ll find a brand new SlashGear App for Android. They are completely dedicated to all things gadgets, and should be your number one stop to feed that gadget and tech obsession. For the latest gadget news they have you covered, and we’ve taken a first hand look at the all new Android app.

While you’ll want to stay here for all things Android related, they cover everything else you can imagine. Including those other mobile phones, tablets, cameras, laptops, video games — you name it. SlashGear v2.0 is a huge step for their mobile application and brings it up to par with latest OS enhancements in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. This is the initial release and more features and improvements (like tablet support) will be coming soon, although it sure is awesome already. Hopefully we’ll have something similar for AC shortly.

The new application is designed to simply and easily display the latest news, headlines, video reviews, and columns all from the SlashGear team. Up top you’ll notice the Android Market style tiles showing the latest Must Read and Featured articles, then neatly below are the rest of the headlines.

They’ve added quick access to stream all the latest reviews and hands-on videos, save, and even share your favorite articles in this latest release. The entire app from overall usage to streaming video has received a huge boost in speed and performance. Helping users read all the news they’d like even faster! SlashGear has added the usual Android share menu, font options, and save for later all conveniently in the menu options.

For all the latest gadget news today, tomorrow, during Mobile World Congress, and beyond make sure you have the SlashGear for Android app. Enjoy my hands-on video, then hit the link or scan the QR code from the gallery below to get get it today.

Download: SlashGear for Android

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