Sunday, 15 April 2012

Android Community

Android Community


Motorola DROID 2 software update rolling out now – not Ice Cream Sandwich

Posted: 15 Apr 2012 10:29 AM PDT

Verizon and Motorola have finally started pushing the latest software update for the Motorola DROID 2. We received some information on this update a few weeks back, but today the update details have finally been released by Verizon and the update is rolling out now. This is a small update, only 14MB in size and we have the full changelog below.

The DROID 2 Global received an update back in March and now it’s the regular D2′s turn for some improvements and bug fixes. According to Verizon the update mainly is for some security patches provided by Google, as well as Google App updates. Along with those changes we also see a fix for out of memory errors, and random restarts while playing or streaming music from the device.

The full changelog can be seen from the full-sized image in the gallery below, but we don’t have anything major here although a few with these issues should be happy to have them finally resolved. Motorola has also fixed a problem where the DROID 2 was randomly turning on without user interaction, a weird problem indeed. The update brings the D2 to build 4.5.621 and is essentially the same as the update the R2-D2 received a few weeks back.

The update is rolling out now or you can manually pull it to your device by going to settings > about phone > check for updates and give it a go yourself. Enjoy, and let us know if you see any issues after the update.

d2-540x388 Screen Shot 2012-04-15 at 10.16.09 AM
Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : Droid 2
    Manufactuer : Motorola
    Carrier : Verizon
    Announced Date : August 10, 2010
    Release Date : August 11, 2010
    Also Known As :
Display
  • Screen Size : 3.70 Inch
  • Resolution : 480x854
  • Screen Type : TFT
Dimension & Weight
  • Height : 4.58 Inch
  • Width : 2.38 Inch
  • Depth : 0.54 Inch
  • Weight : 169 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 1400 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : 315 hours
Software
    Android OS:
  • 2.2.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AAC+
  • MID
  • MP3
  • WAV
    Video Playback:
  • h.263
  • h.264 / AVC
  • MPEG-4 (MP4)
  • WMV
    Messaging:
  • SMS
  • MMS
Hardware
    CPU : TI OMAP
    CPU Clock Speed : 1000 Mhz
    Core : 1
    Ram : 512 MB
    Internal Storage : 8.192 GB
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution : 5 MP
    External Storage:
  • MicroSD
  • MicroSDHC
    Camera Features:
  • Auto focus
  • Flash
    Sensors:
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light
  • Proximity
    QWERTY :
Cellular Network
    Network Technology:
  • CDMA
    CDMA Band:
  • 800
  • 1900
Device Connectivity
    Wi-Fi:
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
    Bluetooth:
  • Bluetooth 2.0
    Location Features:
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Cellular location
  • Wi-Fi location
    FM Radio :
    NFC :


Next Issue magazine app review

Posted: 15 Apr 2012 10:17 AM PDT

The idea of reading periodicals on a tablet-like device is in fact older than the current crop of tablets. But the reality has thus far left something to be desired, mostly because translating an essentially analog experience to the digital world is a major UI feat. Dealing with content that seamlessly integrates text and photos is a lot more difficult than simple words. The latest company to have a go is Next Issue Media, and they’ve got some of the biggest magazine publishers in the US behind them: Hearst, Meredith, News Corp, Time Inc and Condé Nast. The format and pricing of the Next Issue service present a compelling front, so we decided it deserved a full review.

Content

There’s a lot to see in Next Issue, and depending upon your personal tastes, you may want all of it or just a little. At present there’s 32 magazines on offer with up-to-date issues, and back issues stretching to the beginning of 2012. Highlights include Time, Sports Illustrated, People, Fortune, Entertainment Weekly, Popular Mechanics, and many more. For a full list of titles, check out the Next Issue Google Play Store page. There’s a lot to be had here, though I must say it skews female at the moment – not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Next Issue representatives say they’re continually working to add new magazines.

Odds are pretty good that there’s something in Next Issue that you want to read, but the question is, what and how often? While the service retains the ability to buy single issues and subscriptions (between $2 and $10 a pop) the real draw will be the “all you can eat” unlimited plans. The Basic plan gets you all the monthly magazines, included at $9.99 a month. The Unlimited Premium plan adds weekly magazines (Entertainment Weekly, People, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker and Time) for $14.99, granting you access to about three dozen full magazines with four months of backlog (at the moment). That’s hundreds and hundreds of issues a year for less than $200.

But there’s a bit of a wrench in the works for these unlimited plans. Some magazines only format their content for certain Android tablet screen sizes and resolutions. Better Homes and Gardens, Car and Driver and Elle are only available on 10-inch tablets, while Time and The New Yorker are only available on 7-inch tablets. This seems to be determined by screen resolution rather than actual devices, using 1024×600 as the 7-inch standard and 1280×800 as the 10-inch. So for example, if you use a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, you’ll get access to the 10-inch exclusive magazines but you won’t be able to access the 7-inch ones. It’s an annoying limitation to be sure.

Interface

What sets Next Issue apart from other apps and services is the fact that all of the magazines on offer have been reformatted specifically from the source files. There’s no pinching and zooming here: it’s as if you’re reading a periodical designed exclusively for the tablet format. The magazines themselves are wrapped in an interface that’s heavy on the visual flair but retains a surprising amount of utility. Magazines are separated into “stacks” of dated issues, and you can download and read each issue one at a time, or get them automatically synced with your device. If you use one of the unlimited plans, you add magazines to the front page of your app in a format that’s similar to the Kindle archive method.

Managing space and downloads is important, since each magazine is several hundred megabytes of rich media. If you tap on a magazine that you haven’t read before, it automatically begins downloading from the cover. This is a little slow on my 3G connection, but on 4G or WiFi, you shouldn’t see any problems. You can zoom to any page in the magazine at any time and have it load up automatically – a very nice touch. The Settings menu allows you to set which magazines are automatically delivered, how long a downloaded magazine will stay on your device, and which ones won’t be automatically deleted. The only management option that’s missing is SD card support, but that’s coming in a future update. Navigating individual magazines is done via a combination of article headlines and a CoverFlow-style viewer.

The periodicals themselves are surprisingly easy to read. Each and every bit of text has been specifically formatted for the screen size and resolution, making for an experience that’s much more comfortable even than web browsing on a tablet. In-line linked content like Contents pages flow dynamically, and though they shift from one periodical to another, it’s easy enough to get the hang of things. If you’re someone who seriously reads any of the available magazines “for the articles”, you’ll be a happy camper.

Pictures are another matter. Because most of these magazines are delivered in a portrait-only format, you’re limited on how much and how often you can view photos. Some magazines allow for a “blown up” view of specific images, but they’re still stuck in the portrait format, squeezing down to fit in the viewer pane. (If you’re a fan of men’s interest magazines, get used to seeing only half a centerfold at one time.) Most videos suffer from this tiny viewer problem as well. This rigid adherence to a single resolution and a lack of natural tools, like orientations switching and pinch-to-zoom on large photos, really drags the experience down.

Dynamic content is interesting. You get the expected contextual links, but some magazines also throw in extra content that’s only available on the app. One surprising and pleasing example was a cover of Parents Magazine, which had an animated cover of rain that gradually faded away to sub-headlines linking directly to articles. Ads are present, of course, but the vast majority of them are just static images and a link – there’s been almost no effort to make them fit into the digital format.

Value

If you’re a regular reader of the weekly magazines on offer, the $14.99 Unlimited Premium plan is a steal. Likewise if you pick up more than three or four of the standard magazines every month, $9.99 is a solid price for the content. If you’ve subscribed to any of the magazines on offer, you may or may not be eligable for a discount on the backlog of titles – some even let you access all of the titles for free if you’ve already subscribed. And in a move that’s definetely consumer-friendly, you can cancel Unlimited plans any time.

Of course, these scenarios assume that you’ve already got an Android tablet running Honeycomb or later. And since not all titles are available on all tablets, even on Android, you’ll have to take a serious look at which ones you can access to determine if the service is worth it. If Next Media can add even more titles (and presumably keep the same price) it will continue to become more valuable, a la Hulu Plus or Netflix. Next Issue is not available on smartphones of any size.

Wrap-Up

Next Issue doesn’t replace the experience of a paper magazine, but it comes as close as I’ve seen yet to doing so, and presents some impressive value-ads at the same time. If your coffee table is littered with months of People back-issues, you cold swap them out for your tablet and actually have room for your coffee. Likewise the idea of having hundreds of issues in your bag or purse, in a format that’s actually enjoyable to use, is compelling.

Is it worth it? It depends on what you read, and how often. The reader who picks up Popular Mechanics twice a year probably won’t see a serious benefit with Next Issue, but if you’ve got a box of ten years of Vanity Fair back issues, you’ll definitely want to give it a try. In either case, you can access the entire catalog on your Android tablet free for 30 days before paying. If you’ve got an Android tablet and you’re an avid periodical reader, it’s definitely worth a try.

Check out a video hands-on below:

capture_01 capture_02 capture_03 capture_04 capture_05 capture_06 capture_08 capture_09 capture_10 capture_11 capture_11 capture_12 capture_14 capture_17 capture_18 capture_19 next issue


LG Optimus L7 coming this month, L5 to arrive in May

Posted: 15 Apr 2012 09:35 AM PDT

LG and their new Optimus L series is finally ready for the mainstream and will be available later this month. After initial reports and rumors suggested a May release according to new details provided by LG France the new L7 will be available in late April, with the L5 series coming later in May. The L7 being their higher-end L model it comes with attractive pricing, and styling.

In case you missed the LG L series announcement, they have three phones with the L3, L5, and L7 all coming with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and unique PRADA styling. The L7 being the best of the three comes offering a 4.3″ IPS display and Android 4.0 ICS. The rest of the specs are quite mild and outdated however, coming with a 1.0 GHz single-core processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of internal memory.

The L7 does come with a micro-SD slot for expanded storage, and a 5 megapixel camera. The best feature is the price and will be free on contract, or €319 unlocked ($420 USD.) If the new LG Optimus L7 is something you’re interested in you can expect it to arrive in France and other parts of Europe later this month. No details on exact dates, or the L5′s price were released.

[via Unwired View]


Sony starts ICS for Xperia arc S, neo V and ray rollout in Nordic countries

Posted: 14 Apr 2012 06:50 PM PDT

True to their word, Sony has begun issuing Ice Cream Sandwich updates for its Xperia line in their final forms. The first phones to get Android 4.0 are the Xperia arc S, Xperia neo V and Xperia ray (which make may Shift key feel neglected each time I write about them). Right now the updates are limited to northern Europe: Demark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. According to Sony’s official blog post, these three phones will get updates around the globe over the next six weeks.

The arc S, neo V and ray phones were the first to get Sony’s official beta releases of Android 4.0, surprisingly released to developers and the public directly from Sony’s website. This kind of openness and commitment to appeasing power users is rare – and commendable. Sony’s also promised to upgrade each and every Xperia phone released last year to Ice Cream Sandwich, something that can’t be said for any other phone company that we know of. Sony might be a little late to the Ice Cream party, but they’re bringing the favors for sure. If you’re waiting on an update for these three phones but don’t live in one of the Nordic countries, give the beta a try.

The flagship Xperia S shouldn’t be too far behind, so you can expect its update to start coming out in the next few weeks. According to Sony’s previous posts, they should have all of their phones updated sometime this summer, presumably in all territories. Sony’s taking a unique approach to Ice Cream Sandwich updates: you won’t see them appear as an over-the-air alert, like most updates. Instead you’ll need to manually download the software from Sony’s update page, which you can find here.

[via DroidGamers]


LG renames Optimus LTE to Optimus True HD LTE to highlight non-Pentile screen

Posted: 14 Apr 2012 04:07 PM PDT

When it comes to Pentile matrix displays, there are three major opinions: those who don’t know, those who don’t care, and those who absolutely can’t stand them. LG seems to be squarely in the third camp, and they want to make sure that Chinese customers know exactly where they stand. To that end they’ve renamed their current flagship Optimus LTE (known as the LG Nitro HD and the LG Spectrum here in the States) to “Optimus True HD LTE”, highlighting the fact that their 4.5-inch IPS 720p panels use a standard matrix layout. The first market to see the change will be Hong Kong.

Why is this a bid deal? Well, to save a little on production costs, some AMOLED display panels (including most of the ones from LG’s in-country rival Samsung) use a Pentile layout. Pentile screens differ from standard screens in that each green sub-pixel shares either a red or blue subpixel with the cells to the immediate right or left. When compared to a more traditional LCD display, which has each subpixel using the standard red-green-blue layout across all display cells, it’s technically less sharp by about 30%. See the illustration below:

Samsung and LG extend their rivalry to the television market, where they square off for the Best Picture title among videophiles. And having seen 4.5-inch 720p displays using both types of panel, I can say that normal users won’t be seriously impacted one way or the other. But if you must, must have the absolute best technical fidelity, LG’s technically in the right here. LG also took the time to criticize the color saturation on Samsung’s displays (which can be a much more visible problem for some users) and their more rapid power draw, something we’re not equipped to verify. It’s also worth noting that the Samsung Galaxy S III will probably be using a Super AMOLED HD + screen, with a standard, non-Pentile layout.

Too bad LG couldn’t put all that effort into getting an Ice Cream Sandwich update out for the Optimus True HD LTE…

[via Engadget]


DROID RAZR locked bootloader gets an early work-around

Posted: 14 Apr 2012 03:29 PM PDT

Hands-down the biggest dissapointment of the Motorola DROID RAZR launch announcement was the fact that despite Moto’s commitment to more open bootloaders, the flagship phone would be locked down just like previous Motorola-Verizon devices. Even after considerable customer backlash and unlocking the bootloader on the international GSM RAZR, not to mention the fact that both Samsung and HTC have provided unlocked bootloaders for their own Verizon phones, Motorola has stood frustratingly firm. Now a pair of modders have found away around the locked bootloader, opening up the possibility for true custom ROMs.

The mod comes from Eternity Project forum users “kholk” and “[mbm]“ using what’s known as a kernel execution or “kexec”. This loads up a secondary kernel directly into a device’s memory, running on top of the original “locked” kernel. This is significant because it will allow users to run custom kernels instead of relying on the latest kernels delivered by Motorola and Verizon. While custom ROMs and recoveries are possible on devices without an unlocked bootloader, they’re always something of a hack job, and must rely on older kernels. This usually means that ROMs of newer operating systems, e.g. Ice Cream Sandwich, are severely limited in their utility, stability and performance.

Not that the current project is perfect. After the custom kernel is executed, only one of the DROID RAZR’s 2 CPU cores will work, and some phones just seem to reject the mod entirely. This is probably due to some component being supplied by two or more OEMs, but there’s no way to be sure. The installation is easy, assuming you’ve already got some kind of custom recovery installed, but you may want to wait until the kinks are worked out before trying this solution. It carries a higher than normal chance to brick your DROID RAZR. On the plus side, waiting a few weeks for a more complete version should allow ROM devs to gets some fancy new versions of Android ready for the DROID RAZR and DROID RAZR MAXX.

Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : DROID RAZR
    Manufactuer : Motorola
    Carrier : Verizon
    Announced Date : October 18, 2011
    Release Date : November 03, 2011
    Also Known As :
Display
  • Screen Size : 4.3 Inch
  • Resolution :
  • Screen Type : Super AMOLED Advanced qHD
Dimension & Weight
  • Height : 5.15 Inch
  • Width : 2.71 Inch
  • Depth : 0.27 Inch
  • Weight : 127 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 1780 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : 8.9 hours
Software
    Android OS:
  • 2.3.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AAC+
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • WMA
    Video Playback:
  • MPEG-4 (MP4)
    Messaging:
  • SMS
  • MMS
Hardware
    CPU : OMAP 4430
    CPU Clock Speed : 1200 Mhz
    Core : 2
    Ram : 1000 MB
    Internal Storage : 16.384 GB
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution : 8 MP
    External Storage:
  • MicroSD
  • MicroSDHC
    Camera Features:
  • Auto focus
  • Flash
  • 1080p Video Recording
    QWERTY :
Cellular Network
    Network Technology:
  • CDMA
    CDMA Band:
  • 800
  • 850
  • 900
  • 1700
  • 1900
  • 2100
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 Droid-Life]


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