Friday, 2 March 2012

Android Community

Android Community

T-Mobile switches to Huawei for next-generation MyTouch phones

Posted: 02 Mar 2012 09:49 AM PST

Huawei has been making waves in the Android world for some time now, and according to PocketNow, they’ve got a new feather in their cap when it comes to T-Mobile. A new image has been found of a pair of new entries into the carrier’s line of custom-branded MyTouch phones, presumably replacing the current MyTouch and MyTouch Q by LG. The MyTouch line has been T-Mobile’s staple line for affordable mid-range devices since HTC launched it way back in 2009; assuming that these two phones are alone, that would make the second major change of manufacturer in less than a year.

Like the LG MyTouch and MyTouch Q, the Huawei phones (U8680 and U8730) look identical except for a slide-out keyboard on the latter. Aside from a 800×480 screen resolution and what is almost certainly skinned Android 2.3 Gingerbread, there’s no further information available. In following with previous entries in the MyTouch line, you can expect these two to be in the 4-inch area for screen size and not too far north of the $100 mark as far as price goes. This appears to be a completed press shot, so a release within the next six weeks is likely.

US carriers like to rebrand devices with their own names, especially if the manufacturer isn’t particularly well-known in America – T-Mobile’s already done so with the Huawei MediaPad, re-christened the T-Mobile Springboard. But given Huawei’s well-publicized push to the high end section of the market with its new Ascend D Quad and MediaPad 10FHD from Mobile World Congress, who knows what name will be showing up on the bakc of these two. Also, T-Mobile picking Huawei for its in-house brand is a pretty good indication that they might want more high-end phones and tablets further down the line.

LG Optimus L3 to get Europe launch this month

Posted: 02 Mar 2012 09:27 AM PST

The lowliest of LG’s Mobile World Congress reveals is still a pretty slick little device, and those of you in Europe won’t have to wait long to get your hands on it. The company announced that the budget-minded Optimus L3 will gets its debut in Europe later in March, with Asian and American releases to follow. There’s no word on a price tag, though the unlocked version should be priced well below the going rate for Android phones, given its light emphasis on specifications.

Speaking of which: the Optimus L3 is the smallest of the L-series, with a 3.2-inch LCD display running at just 320×240 pixels. It’s powered by an 800mhz single-core processor – fast enough for LG’s customized version of Gingerbread, but don’t expect it to fly. The camera on the back is just 3.2 megapixels. The big draw for the L3 (and in many ways the other two L-series phones) is the styling, which apes LG’s previous partnerships with PRADA to make a squared-off sleek look. IN the realm of low-end Android phones the L3 is certainly a looker, which should help buyers look over its lack of advanced wireless.

Strangely, LG has said nothing of the Optimus L5 or Optimus L7, the much more powerful and (for most) desirable parts of the stylish phone series. Considering their concurrent announcement the phones can’t be too far apart in production, but the superior components and unique chassis of the larger phones may be throwing roadblocks on their path to release. It’s also interesting that LG is choosing Europe as the primary market, at least for the L3: one would expect them to release it in their home territory of South Korea first.

[via Androinica]

Rumor: Galaxy S III coming in April with NFC

Posted: 02 Mar 2012 09:08 AM PST

Another day, another fleeting rumor of the ever-elusive Galaxy S III. After skipping out on Mobile World Congress tro throw its own party Apple-style, Samsung still hasn’t mentioned when it intends to bring the Galaxy S III to market. The CHEIL Worldwide Marketing company thinks they know, according to ZD Net Korea: they say that Samsung is planning a huge promotion for April, when they expect the phone to launch in multiple markets worldwide. The 2012 Summer Olympics will reportedly play a large part in the initial promotion.

The reasoning for the Olympic tie-in is a deal between Samsung, credit card company Visa and the IOC, launching a new NFC-based payment system with the Galaxy S III as the flagship device. NFC certainly makes sense – Samsung has been including it with most of the high-end phones it’s announced in the last few months. The April release seems a little dubious, to be honest: there’s already a Samsung event scheduled for later this month in France, so they’d need to get the product finalized, announced and delivered in a span of just a few weeks.

There’s very little information about the Galaxy S III that can be verified. A large screen, fast processor and Samsung’s TouchWiz version of Ice Cream Sandwich seem like a given, but every analyst and insider between here and South Korea seems intent on getting a word in edgewise. At the moment about the only thing we can say for sure is that a successor to the incredibly popular Galaxy S III is on its way – some time, somewhere.

[via SlashGear]

Motorola strategy won’t change after Google acquisition, says executive

Posted: 02 Mar 2012 08:09 AM PST

Hoping for a brand new Motorola after it’s done being bought out by Google? You’re not alone. Take comfort in that, because you’ll have good company for commiserating: Motorola vice president of product management and portfolio Alain Mutricy told Fierce Wireless that the company won’t make any big changes after the acquisition. This mirrors statements from Google itself, which has indicated that it’s mostly interested in Motorola’s extensive patent portfolio, and intends to allow it to continue operating as a separate entity.

Of course, there’s already been at least one big change: Google’s booted out Motorola’s CEO Sanjay Jha and intends to promote a currently unknown Google executive to the position to help ease the transition. Even so, the two companies have made a point of staying separate as much as possible in the interim to put on their best face for regulatory agencies, fearing accusations of monopolistic practices. “”I don’t see a very short term, complete change of the product direction,” said Muticy. “I think that we have a business to run, and therefore I think that there is continuity to be expected for 2012.”

While that might be a sound strategy for avoiding the feds, it’s not likely to make Motorola’s customers very happy. Over the past six months poor quality control, slow software updates, continued use of the Blur user interface and all too many locked bootloaders have earned the original DROID maker the ire of Android enthusiasts. Motorola’s relationship with Verizon in particular has drawn criticism (more than a bit of it from yours truly) over expensive tablets and locked bootloaders on the DROID RAZR. Motorola complies with Verizon’s locked bootloader policy, which Samsung and HTC have avoided where possible. Motorola has also delayed Ice Cream Sandwich updates for basically all of its high-end phones until the second half of 2012 at least.

When Google announced its intention to buy Motorola, many Android enthusiasts assumed that Moto would be come the “official” brand for Android, finally making stock software phones and tablets with speedy updates available, and curing the malaise of poor refresh cycles that hangs over the platform. It looks like that’s just not going to happen – enjoy your patents, Google.

[via BGR]

Minecraft sells a million on Android

Posted: 02 Mar 2012 07:35 AM PST

Ah, Minecraft. Not since WoW have we seen a gaming experience so effortlessly addictive, not to mention appealing to the obsessive-compulsive in all of us. As testament to that fact, Minecraft Pocket Edition has now sold over one million copies on the Android Market since its introduction just six months ago. That doesn’t even come close to the game’s success on the PC side, but it’s incredibly impressive nonetheless. Minecraft developer Danuel Kaplan confirmed the news on his Twitter account.

One million copies of an app isn’t an unheard of achievement in the Android Market – Angry Birds has over fifty million so far. But Minecraft has an important difference: not only is it a paid app, it’s a full $6.99, double or triple the cost of most paid games available on the Market today. Taking Kaplan’s statement at face value, he must be combining sales from the Xperia Play version and copies sold via the Amazon Appstore and other third parties, since the current Android Market stats show no more than 500,000 in sales.

Developer Mojang isn’t letting the success go to their heads. Minecraft Pocket Edition has seen steady updates since its introduction, slowly adding familiar features from the desktop version into the mobile game to recreate the full open-world experience for its players. The latest update three weeks ago added the popular Survival Mode, plus wandering mobs of sheep and zombies. (No word on zombie sheep.) If you want to see what all the fuss is about, you can download the free demo in the Android Market – just don’t say we didn’t warn you.

OnLive expands Android offerings with free virtualized Windows 7 access

Posted: 02 Mar 2012 07:03 AM PST

As surprisingly utilitarian as Android tablets are becoming, there’s still a few things you’ve just gotta have a desktop for. Or do you? OnLive already allows access to top-of-the-line PC gaming over the Internet via its remote service, but the latest addition to their service is aimed squarely at getting some real work done. OnLive Desktop works a lot like is gaming service, but instead of a PC game you get a real live Windows 7 desktop, virtualized across the web without ever needing to touch your own PC. The best part? The entry-level version is totally free.

OnLive is combining a couple of very old software technologies to do this: virtualization and remote access. First, the company sets up a virtual machine on its server, a copy of Windows running completely on software and likely next to hundreds of copies of itself. Next it establishes a remote connection with your Android tablet, then gives you control of the cloud-based Windows machine running inside its server. It’s a lot like setting up a remote connection to your own PC, without the PC.

Naturally they aren’t doing this out of the kindness of their hearts. The basic version isn’t useful for much, with access to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Adobe Reader, plus 2GB of remote storage. Upgrade to the $4.99 a month plan and you get accelerated speeds and a full Flash-enabled web browser. The $9.99 Pro version adds another 50GB of cloud storage and the ability to load your own programs onto the virtual machine. OnLive Desktop Plus and Pro are not included in a subscription to OnLive’s gaming service.

Domain buys indicate Google’s Nexus tablet could be called “Google Play”

Posted: 02 Mar 2012 06:25 AM PST

Evidence of an Android tablet commissioned by Google, Nexus-style, continues to mount – if you’re not particularly picky about how you get your evidence. The latest comes from a series of domain registrations traced back to Google, all of which include the term “Google Play” or some derivation thereof. The scuttlebutt is that this indicates Google’s first-party tablet, currently expected to be a low-cost 7-inch Kindle Fire fighter, could come to market under this name.

Keep in mind there’s no direct evidence of a link behind the registrations and any hardware – aside from rumor and speculation from the likes of hardware providers and pundits, the only real indication that we’ve got is Eric Schmidt’s off-the-cuff remark about Google producing “a tablet of the highest quality” sometime this year. Not that it doesn’t make sense: Google’s used either a new or existing device to show off every new incarnation of Android thus far, and with Ice Cream Sandwich playing double duty as both a smartphone and tablet OS, the Galaxy Nexus seems like only half of the equation.

Here’s the full list of registered websites. Looks a lot like the marketing for a Kindle or Nook, no? Then again, it could just be a media-centric extension of Google Plus.

Component suppliers have been more vocal than anyone about the erstwhile “Google Play”, saying that it’ll pack a 7-inch 720p screen. Production could start as early as next month for a summer debut. Pricing is up in the air, but many are guessing that Google intends to hit the sweet spot of $199, where the bulk of Android tablets are sold – currently running heavily modified versions of Gingerbread. If Google intends to set the standard for tablets as it has for high-end smartphones, consumers like us would surely be grateful. There’s been a rash of tablets like the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and the Toshiba Excite that look good on paper with the notable exception of a price tag.

[via SlashGear]

Samsung Galaxy S Advance arrives at the FCC

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 10:25 PM PST

The Samsung Galaxy S Advance has just made an appearance at the FCC, and the device is shown supporting AT&T bands. Reports show that it has also been approved for WCDMA bands 850/1900, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC. Near the beginning of February an Advance was spotted in the wild, but before then we had heard a bit about the device’s rumored specs.

It will sport a 1GHz dual-core processor, 4-inch Super AMOLED display, 768MB RAM, and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). You’ll also find it has a 5MP rear shoot and 1.3MP front-facing video cam. From these specs it’s obvious this device is a perfect median between the earlier Galaxy S line and more recent Galaxy S II’s. We predict it should retail around the $536 range, and potentially less depending on its launch date. Eric Schmidt informed the public that Android devices would reach the more affordable margin soon, and when that takes place it’s only time until the mid range devices decrease in price too.

We had said earlier that this phone was scheduled for a February release in Russia, but it turns out we should assume an international release is taking place in the next couple of days. We hadn’t seen any proof of it hitting the US until now, so AT&T customers can look forward to having another mid-range device to check out before deciding on a purchase. It could very well be upgraded to Android 4.0 down the road too, as it has decent enough specs to run it smoothly. Plus, as new release it is more likely to be served before previous devices.

[via WirelessGoodness]

Samsung Galaxy Note hits 2 million unit milestone

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 09:55 PM PST

There were certainly those that had little faith in how well a device such as the Samsung Galaxy Note would sell, especially with the many other screen sizes currently available on the market. Nevertheless, we can now say that the Note has done better than expected. It had shipped 1 million units after two months, and has now hit 2 million after four months.

Bear in mind, these are just units shipped and not units sold. It is no where near the 20 million Galaxy S II devices they managed to ship in 9 months, so it’s safe to say the Note appeals to a more particular market rather than the average individual. But more importantly, its innovation has compelled other manufacturers to follow suit, and produce their own 5-inch+ devices. Heck, it’s hard to believe the stylus has made such a quick comeback.

We recently had some hands-on time with the larger 10.1 version of the Galaxy Note. It looked practically identical to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 2, and did not have the ability to dial out like a cellphone. Yet, the improved pressure sensitive digitizer makes using the pen more enjoyable. It’s tough to say how well this other Note is going to do, but we’ll just have to wait and find out.

[via MobileWitch]

Android applications flaw can allow photo access

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 08:36 PM PST

Ever wonder if the photos you snapped with your Android device were safe from others to see? Well, I’m sure you hadn’t considered it, but it turns out they’re not. Developers have the capability to see users photos right after they allow them to access their local information! This little glitch can occur without any notice to the user as well.

Once you allow the developer access to connect to the Internet, they could potentially upload your pics to any server right under your nose. There is no information leading us to know if Android applications currently do this, but there is always that chance. Google has responded to the matter, and let us know that this feature was designed in the earlier stages of the OS when photos were stored on the SD card rather than the internal storage we find in newer devices.

In Google’s word’s they are “considering a fix”, so hopefully they take it as serious as the Google Wallet security incident. The Wallet application had an update just yesterday that supposedly blocks hackers from accessing your information, and I suppose it will take an equal amount of time for Google to tend to this issue. In my own opinion, this vulnerability trumps the Google Wallet issue – as it potentially affects everyone.

[via SlashGear]

Desktop favorite VLC now available for Android

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 05:17 PM PST

If you’re as adamant about your desktop computer as you are about your Android phone (and if you’re reading this, then odds are pretty good you fall into the latter category) then you’ve probably heard of Video LAN Player, colloquially known as VLC. The Swiss army knife of desktop media players has been on its way to Android for quite some time, but you can try out an unofficial build of the open-source video app now. This version is compiled using published code from the Linux desktop version – a more official app from is planned later this year.

Just as you’d expect from VLC, the app handles dozens of file types and codes without complain. The user interface isn’t exactly amazing (par for the course for VLC) but it’s functional and it gets the job done. This breakoff from the VLC code base is currently in its beta release for ARM11, Cortex 8 and Cortex A9-class processors. Video performance is largely contingent upon the power of your phone or tablts CPU/GPU combo, and each one will react differently. But in general terms, the faster your processor is , the smoother your video playback will be at any given quality. Some devices still don’t have hardware acceleration properly configured.

It’s hard to know exactly which version of the beta app you need. Have a gander at this handy guide created by the developers:

  • Snapdragon S1 → ARM11
  • Snapdragon S2/S3 → Cortex-A8/NEON
  • Snapdragon S4 → Cortex-A9
  • Tegra 2 → Cortex-A9
  • Hummingbird → Cortex-A9 (Current gen. only)
  • OMAP3 → Cortex-A8/NEON
  • OMAP4 → Cortex-A9

The basic interface is actually surprisingly good, borrowing here and there from the stock Music app with the handy addition of a visible index bar. Search functions make finding one song in a thousand pretty easy.  If you’re not sure what kind of CPU architecture your Android phone or tablet has, look it up on Remember that this isn’t a final, or even official release – have fun playing local music and videos, but don’t be too upset if something goes bang.

Check out the Google Android Pod form Mobile World Congress

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 03:56 PM PST

It’s hard to overstate how cool Google’s digs at Mobile World Congress were. Just like last year they went big and provided a ton of entertainment for all comers, making an unmistakable impression that Android rules in Barcelona. The “Google Pod” played host to dancing Androids, Ice Cream Sandwiches, a moving parade of the latest Android phones and a whole lot more. Of course, not everybody can hop a cross-continental flight just to play around (well, we can, but that’s kind of our jobs) so we thought we’d share the experience with you.

With thousands of square feet in the Fira de Barcelona convention center, two stories and about a billion gallons of green paint, Google rocked the house and made its case. The main desk is where you check in and hunt down the various Android pins made specially for the conference, plus bag some candy – not that you won’t have that opportunity later. Running all along two sides of the booth is a powered conveyor belt holding protected Android phones and tablets from dozens of manufacturers.

Booths populate the entire area with apps and featured devices, interspliced with art booths, tech demos and the return of a full slide. A few demonstrations include an android-powered bejewled machine that creates custom backs for the Galaxy Nexus, an old-school claw machine, and a wall full of textile demonstrations. There’s enough at the Google Pod to keep kids of any age occupied for hours – it’s just a shame that we had a ton of other things to check out too.

So ends another year at Mobile World Congress. The Android Community team is safe and sound back in the States, wishing we all had smoothie bars in our houses as well. We hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Samsung Rugby Smart hands-on

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 02:50 PM PST

Easily one of the best things about Android is its ability to cover the entire market: whatever your hardware or budget needs are, you can probably find a phone that fits them. The Samsung Rugby Smart is now on sale at AT&T, and it presents a fascinating little section of the market: mid-range hardware and specifications combined with a true ruggedized chassis for a small but tough Gingerbread phone. Samsung was kind enough to send us a review unit, and we immediately set to trying the Rugby Smart out.

Two years ago the Rugby Smart might have been a top-of-the-line phone, but today it’s in the shallow end of the Android pool. And speaking of pools, this little guy might be the perfect companion for a day in the sun: its water and dust-resistant frame can be submerged in up to a meter of water for thirty minutes without damaging the internals. Samsung manages this with a design that locks all the essential ports and pieces underneath swinging tabs and a back battery plate with a turning lock – yes, even with all that, you can still replace the battery yourself.

Aesthetically the phone isn’t much – it looks kind of like what an M-16 would if it were a phone. A 3.7-inch 480×800 screen is surrounded by impact-resistant plastic, and the familiar Android navigation buttons are real buttons, something I haven’t seen on a slate Android phone since the Droid X2. They’re pleasantly coated with the same rough, bumpy texture that covers the back. Other than the tank-like build, it’s a typical Samsung phone, with the power button on the right side and the colume on the left. The rear camera is 5 megapixels and shoots 720P video, while the front-facing cam is a generous 1.3.

Removing the back cover can be tricky – it’s possible to do it with your thumbnail, but a handy coin will make it a lot easier. Once you get it off the bay for the 1650mAh battery presents itself, along with a precariously empty MicroSD card slot. It looks like the card is actually held in place by the weight of the battery above it, which might be tricky to line up. Thankfully the camera gets the standard LED flash, so the Rugby Smart can take better pictures and double as a flashlight.

Inside you get a single-core Snapdragon processor running at 1.4Ghz, backed up by 512MB of RAM. That’s not going to smoke any of the recent superphones, but it’s more than enough to get around Gingerbread and TouchWiz. There’s no word on Ice Cream Sandwich, and with the target market it could take quite some time. The phone runs on AT&T’s HSPA+”4G” network, and comes with just 4GB of internal memory, though you can add a MicroSD card for more. As usual, the Super AMOLED panel is excellent, with bright, rich colors and great viewing angles.

Check the video below for the unboxing experience, and stay tuned next week for our full review. If you’r already convinced, the Samsung Rugby Smart is going for $99.99 with a two-year contract at AT&T stores.

IMG_5618 IMG_5621 IMG_5622 IMG_5637 IMG_5651 IMG_5652 IMG_5656 IMG_5666 IMG_5608

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