Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Android Community

Android Community


FBI seizes three Android App piracy websites

Posted: 22 Aug 2012 10:49 AM PDT

Whoa, this news came out of nowhere. This morning the Department of Justice and the FBI have confirmed that they have seized three Android App pirating websites. These are well known pirate websites that are taking away the hard earned dollar of our developers. Sites listed today include: applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com and this is only the start.

A press release from the DOJ confirms all the details, and explains just what these sites were doing — although I’m pretty sure you all understand just fine. The three sites listed above were hosting hundreds or thousands of paid copyrighted Android apps and were allowing the illegal distribution of said apps. All three are now in the governments control.

We are also seeing a few other popular pirate sites such as Blapkmarket.com hitting the fan too. They aren’t listed by the DOJ and FBI, but surely isn’t up and running as of this morning. During the FBI’s sting operation they downloaded hundreds of paid apps and were then issued 9 warrants — although some of the sites were hosted overseas.

Pirating is nothing new. From the music and video industry to now Android. This has been a growing problem for months and months and it appears that the DOJ is finally starting to take action. This is the first of its kind against the growing Android app world, and surely there will be more to follow. There was no mention of arrests in the case but we’ll be hearing more soon.

Buy those apps and support our developers guys!

[via CNET]


T-Mobile launches true unlimited data plans September 5th

Posted: 22 Aug 2012 10:17 AM PDT

While most carriers are looking for a way to charge us more and milk us for every dollar, T-Mobile is here to offer something else. Today they’ve officially announced a truly “unlimited” 4G data plan. This means no unlimited with 5GB max in the fine print. This is truly unlimited data with no caps, throttling, or slowdowns. Well played T-Mobile! More details below.

We heard chatter about this earlier in the week but now the details are finally official. While T-Mobile doesn’t have an actual 4G LTE network, their HSPA+ 4G is rather fast in many parts of the country. Starting September 5th users will be able to sign up for a truly unlimited data plan, and add it on to their voice plans that are unlimited too. Looks like we have a new unlimited everything budget option.

This data plan features no data caps, no speed limits or bill shock, and offers the "ultimate worry-free experience" according to T-Mobile. We’ve seen unlimited before but they all come and go, and many have caps or get slowed down if used too much — not here. I guess T-Mobile Carly is becoming a bad girl because this just whooped the rest. This is T-Mobile saying “Peace” to the competition.

Starting September 5th these plans will go live and you’ll be able to add unlimited data to a traditional voice and text plan for only $30 a month. If you don’t use too many minutes that’s a pretty amazing deal. Then value plan customers get unlimited data for only $20 per month. A classic unlimited everything plan is only $89 — sign me up! T-Mobile might not have 4G LTE yet but they are rolling it out in early 2013. I’d love to have completely unlimited data for when that rolls around, especially at this low price.

Who’s making the move?

t-mobile-4g-580x257 t-mobile-ad-iphone-4s-att t-mo-unlimited

[via SlashGear]


Archos 101 XS Tablet Review

Posted: 22 Aug 2012 09:18 AM PDT

Today Archos announced their brand new keyboard rocking Android tablet to the world previously teased as the Archos G10. This new 10-inch tablet will be known as the Archos 101 XS and lucky for us we already have one. Complete with what Archos calls a “coverboard keyboard” all for the low price of $399. Can this compete with the ASUS Transformer lineup, or is it just another tablet? Read on for our full review.

Right out of the gate lets get a few things straight. This brand new 10-inch dual-core tablet comes complete with a keyboard all for one low price. The keyboard isn’t optional like other tablets in the market, and instead is an all-in-one package priced at $399. Archos certainly took a different direction from their previous tablets, and this is even a different direction than ASUS models. Read on to see if this budget tablet can be your back to school device.

Hardware
Just like the ASUS Transformer line the Archos 101 XS transforms into a full out typing machine, only with less weight and thickness to it. Everything is lightweight and thin, but it also feels quite cheap too. As for specs Archos has equipped this tablet with a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 resolution display, a Texas Instruments 4470 dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. Thankfully we get a micro-SD for extra storage, and they opted to remove the rear camera to help keep cost down. To get a better idea of what we’re working with check out our in-depth unboxing and keyboard hands on below.

This thing is thin, and extremely lightweight. Built using a rather cheap plastic we weren’t expecting the heft of most tablets, although they do have some lightweight aluminum panels to keep it sturdy on both the tablet and the coverboard. Yup, in case you skipped the video above Archos is calling the included keyboard a coverboard. Mainly because it is a 4-in-1 accessory that covers the tablet, doubles as a keyboard, and also a dock and stand.

The Archos 101 XS is only 8mm thin being both lighter and thinner than the new iPad by around 15%. It is even 35% thinner than the Transformer with its keyboard option. To be completely honest I’m not too fond of the hardware, but then Archos has never really been a top-tier hardware brand. They’ve always released lower end devices for the budget crowd. While this new 101 tries to blend those lines, it still doesn’t have that premium feel.

On the bottom is two magnets to easily slide it into the coverboard keyboard, as well as the contact pins for the input. On the right the device is rather clean only housing the power button and a volume up/down rocker. They do have a green LED for charging notification too. Pushing both of these buttons is actually quite hard because the design has a slight overhang. Archos says this was based on feedback to make the buttons not so easy to accidentally hit. I don’t enjoy the implementation but did get used to it quickly. Off to the left is the important side. We have the micro-USB, micro-SD, mini-USB, and 3.5mm headphone port.

DSC_0033 DSC_0036 DSC_0034

We don’t really feel the need for a rear facing camera on tablets, but considering ASUS has them for a similar price point it’s a shame they aren’t present here. The Nexus 7 doesn’t have a rear camera — but it’s only $200. We do have a 1.3 front camera that is more for video chat but can take pictures if truly in need. Overall Archos has taken huge steps to improving their overall designed, feel, and build quality but in the end this certainly still feels like an Archos device. You won’t get the polish and premium level of others, but it comes close.

Software
Software is thankfully a completely stock version of Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, and Archos has promised Jelly Bean later this year. Other than their own music, video, and file manager everything is completely stock Android. While not buttery smooth, usage with and without the keyboard was rather decent. The TI dual-core processor kept things moving along rather swiftly, although the unlock screen always had a little lag — which seems to be common on Archos tablets.

As far as bloatware we don’t have anything unwanted for the most part. Archos has pre-installed Asphalt 6 for some racing fun, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Netflix, Spider-Man, Zinio Reader, and B&N NOOK’s app. Everything else is Google or Archos apps. The software is nothing new and as long as you’ve used an Ice Cream Sandwich device in the past you’ll feel right at home.

Screenshot_2012-08-21-15-34-35 Screenshot_2012-08-21-15-36-50 Screenshot_2012-08-21-15-35-04

Performance
The dual-core processor keeps things moving along relatively smooth. Other than the few quirks with the lockscreen mentioned above we didn’t notice any issues. Performance with the keyboard was another story all-together but we’ll get to that below. As far as performance we did run the usual benchmarks and they turned out better than expected. Beating most Tegra 2 devices available the dual-core managed to hold its own quite well. Scoring over 4000 in Quadrant but again graphics struggles with AnTuTu.

Coverboard Keyboard

The “coverboard” as Archos calls it is a unique and unexpected idea. Personally I loved it on first use but the more I toyed with it the less I liked it. As far as a cover that doubles as a stand — that idea is simply genius and everyone should do the same — but the keyboard implementation was severely lacking. As you saw from my video above sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The magnets need a very good connection or the keyboard simply won’t work, or sometimes even only half would send the signal. Once you figure that out a quick wiggle gets back in action.

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This certainly isn’t as good of an implementation as ASUS, but for the price they’ve done a good job with it. The key difference here being the weight and the price. The Archos is lighter in your bag, and on your wallet. As you can see above we have an engineering sample so this could possibly have a few tweaks later on, but so far the dock has been easy to work with. Whether the stand can handle continuous abuse in a college environment remains to be seen.

Battery Life
While Archos hasn’t provided exact details on battery size, we’ve still managed rather impressive performance for daily use. Having a efficient dual-core processor should certainly help things out. Not to mention anytime you have the tablet docked in the coverboard keyboard it can easily be charging via the included micro-USB port. We experienced a few random drops/increases in battery readings but averaged just over 6 hours of continuous video playback. Casual use will easily net you 24-36 hours of battery life.

Wrap-Up
Archos has certainly brought a new approach to the world of Android tablets when you consider the included coverboard keyboard. That aside this is a pretty generic budget tablet. The price could be lower, but considering you get 16GB of internal storage and the coverboard all for the low price of $399 it isn’t bad. The Transformer Prime certainly costs a bit more, especially after you add in the keyboard for another $149.

Perhaps a better comparison would be with the more budget aimed Transformer Pad TF300, but then again you’ll be spending more once you buy the keyboard. For those that think the Nexus 7 is too small but a Transformer costs a bit much, this could be a good compromise. The only problem is Archos isn’t releasing this to the US until November — so that rules out any back-to-school sales.

The Archos 101 XS tablet with included coverboard keyboard will hit Europe next month, and we can expect it to arrive stateside early November for $399. Hopefully by then it will be shipping with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. In closing: it might not offer the best build quality, or be the prettiest from the pack but it certainly is a step in the right direction for Archos. We enjoyed the overall design and direction they chose with this device. Those on a budget should enjoy this tablet/keyboard combo.

archosmain Screen Shot 2012-08-21 at 4.26.47 PM DSC_0032 DSC_0025 DSC_0024 DSC_0029 DSC_0027 DSC_0026 DSC_0033 DSC_0030 DSC_0036 DSC_0034 Screenshot_2012-08-21-15-34-35 Screenshot_2012-08-21-15-36-50 Screenshot_2012-08-16-14-07-54 Screenshot_2012-08-16-14-01-56 Screenshot_2012-08-21-15-35-55 Screenshot_2012-08-21-15-35-21 Screenshot_2012-08-21-15-35-04
Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : 101 XS
    Manufactuer : Archos
    Carrier : NA
    Announced Date : August 22, 2012
    Release Date : September 15, 2012
    Also Known As : Archos G10
Display
  • Screen Size : 10.1 Inch
  • Resolution : 1280x800
  • Screen Type : TFT
Dimension & Weight
  • Height : 6.7 Inch
  • Width : 10.7 Inch
  • Depth : 0.31 Inch
  • Weight : 600 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : NA
Software
    Android OS:
  • 4.0.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AAC+
  • MP3
  • WAV
    Video Playback:
  • h.263
  • h.264 / AVC
  • MPEG-4 (MP4)
Hardware
    CPU : OMAP 4470
    CPU Clock Speed : 1500 Mhz
    Core : 2
    Ram : 1024 MB
    Internal Storage : 16GB GB
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution : NA
    External Storage:
  • MicroSDHC
    Sensors:
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light
    QWERTY :
Cellular Network
Device Connectivity
    Wi-Fi:
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
    Bluetooth:
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • A2DP
    Location Features:
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Wi-Fi location
    FM Radio :
    NFC :


Play Store update finally adds gift card options – redeem them now [Download]

Posted: 21 Aug 2012 10:13 PM PDT

After getting a few tips that Google had finally pushed full support for gift cards to the Play Store this evening we gave it a try and sure enough the options are finally live. For those that were able to pick up a gift card to the Google Play Store last week at Target or other locations the “Redeem” option is available starting today.

Last week Google updated the Play Store and hidden underneath the pretty icons and design was full support for gift cards — something that has been seriously missing on Android for far too long. Then late last week they finally started appearing at retailers nationwide. This morning Google officially rolled them out, and confirmed $10, $15, $25, and $50 options available.

As you can see from my own screenshot above they’ve pushed full support to the store. I’m showing the redeem option on multiple phones as we speak. This is happening with no tweaking or hacking like reported last week, and just works. Most likely Google just had these options hidden and now it’s being pushed out in stages.

If you don’t have the “redeem” options quite yet but are running the latest Play Store version 3.8.16 (or .17) it should be arriving shortly. Just like changes to the Store in the past it is all server side and Google is probably rolling this out in stages. If you want to give it a try feel free to run down to the nearest Target tomorrow and buy a few gift cards, then enjoy some purchases on the Play Store. If you aren’t on the latest Play Store thanks to OMGDroid you can download it now from the link below.

Download: Play Store v3.8.17.apk


Nikon Coolpix S800c Android smart camera gets official for $349

Posted: 21 Aug 2012 09:52 PM PDT

It’s official: Today the folks over at Nikon have beat Samsung and many others to the punch by announcing their all new Android powered smart camera known as the Coolpix S800c. This 16 megapixel shooter surely will beat anything else in your pocket running Android, oh and did we mention it’s a Nikon?

We pretty much knew this was coming after countless leaks over the past few weeks all but confirmed the smart camera. Then late last week we got our first actual photos of the phone which match what Nikon has posted up on their site. At first glance this is just a regular point and shoot camera, but on the back is a 3.5-inch touchscreen powered by Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

It rocks GPS so you can Geo-tag and upload all those photos to the ever popular Instagram or Twitter, and of course has WiFi so you can access and transfer images to your smartphone or tablet. The big question after all the rumors was the Google Play Store, and Nikon has confirmed full support to all the Android apps. Sadly that means that yes you can play Angry Birds on your Nikon camera — but that also means there’s some serious potential for app developers.

The new Android-powered Nikon Coolpix S800c has 10x wide optical zoom and 1080p video capture. Other than the camera details we don’t fully know what’s “under the hood” as we call it in the smartphone world. Yes they confirmed full Play Store support but other than the 4GB of internal storage what will be powering these apps. Can we actually really play Angry Birds if we’d like? Those questions remain unanswered for now. For those interested in an Android smart camera the Coolpix S800c will be available in black or white for $349 starting next month. Who’s buying?

Screen Shot 2012-08-21 at 9.46.24 PM agh433 asfds whitevea

[via Nikon]


HTC ThunderBolt Ice Cream Sandwich build leaks

Posted: 21 Aug 2012 04:43 PM PDT

We have great news this evening for all those fans still rocking the HTC ThunderBolt. Yup, Ice Cream Sandwich is finally here thanks to an official build that was apparently leaked. The actual update to Android 4.0.3 was leaked and a few awesome developers have made it into an easy to flash ROM for those interested.

Thanks to team BAMF you can enjoy the sweet and tasty treat before it melts waiting for Verizon to send it out. Ice Cream Sandwich ThunderBolt style is here right now. The folks from Droid-Life got word that this was finally available and we figured you’d all like to finally take a look at ICS.

So far everything looks pretty standard here and in line with other HTC devices that have received Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the recent past. You’ve been bumped to HTC Sense UI 3.6 but sadly no 4.0 like the One series. Also team BAMF was nice enough to remove all that HTC spyware and get rid of some of the bloat.

For now the HTC ThunderBolt crowd is still waiting for an official update from HTC and Verizon although it should be coming soon. Earlier this month HTC confirmed the update was still on track for “August” so we have a little more than a week at most of waiting — and hopefully nothing more. It’s worth noting this build is not rooted, so you’ll have to take those usual steps should you want root. Feel free to wait it out or give this a try from the link below.

Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : ThunderBolt
    Manufactuer : HTC
    Carrier : Verizon
    Announced Date : January 06, 2011
    Release Date : March 17, 2011
    Also Known As :
Display
  • Screen Size : 4.30 Inch
  • Resolution : 480x800
  • Screen Type : TFT
Dimension & Weight
  • Height : 4.75 Inch
  • Width : 2.44 Inch
  • Depth : 0.56 Inch
  • Weight : 177 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 1400 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : 330 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 : 1000 Mhz
    Core : 1
    Ram : 768 MB
    Internal Storage : 8.192 GB
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution : 8 MP
    External Storage:
  • MicroSD
  • MicroSDHC
    Camera Features:
  • Auto focus
  • Flash
  • 720p Video Recording
    Sensors:
  • Accelerometer
  • 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 :

[via BAMF]


HTC announces $35 million investment in Magnet Systems

Posted: 21 Aug 2012 02:28 PM PDT

Despite the fact that HTC is currently going through some financial difficulties, it has made a $35.4 million investment in Magnet Systems. The investment in the US-based start-up is also apparently bringing a shift in strategy for HTC, as it will likely begin to focus on the enterprise market after this deal. The investment was revealed in Taiwan Stock Exchange filing made by HTC.


That $35.4 million nets HTC a 17.1% stake in Magnet Systems, a deal which the company points out will “bring social, mobile, and cloud capabilities to HTC’s portfolio.” HTC is apparently aiming those new capabilities directly at enterprise customers, with Gartner analyst CK Lu telling PCWorld that HTC sees an opportunity to capitalize on the gap left in the enterprise market by RIM, which has been on the decline for some time now. Lu also says that we may soon see more Android and Windows Phone manufacturers look to break into the enterprise market like HTC is doing.

Trying its hand at enterprise might not be a bad idea, since HTC is currently struggling with the consumer market. It wasn’t always this way for HTC, but with Samsung on the rise, the company is having a difficult time keeping up. That’s thanks to a number of bad investments too, with HTC recently announcing that it lost a $40 million investment when OnLive sold off its assets last week. Not good, especially for a company that was already experiencing a financial rough patch.

So, now we’ll see how HTC performs in the enterprise space. It’s unclear exactly how HTC will use Magnet Systems – which offers an app to make coordination within sales teams easier – in the enterprise market, but it’s pretty obvious that HTC is eager to jump in. Let’s just hope that this investment works out well for HTC, because the company can’t take too many more financial hits.


Google Nexus rumors suggest phones from Samsung, LG, and Sony this year

Posted: 21 Aug 2012 01:49 PM PDT

The time for those Nexus device rumors to start heating up is now. Earlier today we saw a leaked spec sheet claiming Samsung was preparing another Galaxy Nexus-like device, possible the Galaxy Nexus II, and now we have an entirely new spin to the rumor. Do you think we’ll see multiple “Nexus” phones this year? Read on to find out.

Back in May the WSJ suggested Google could be offering as many as 5 Nexus devices this year from multiple hardware partners. We already have the Nexus 7 from ASUS, and new reports are now suggesting more this fall from Samsung, LG, and even the folks at Sony. A new report from AndroidNoodles claims NTT DoCoMo has three different Nexus branded devices all on their roadmap for this winter.

If the Wall Street Journal statement that Google opened the Nexus program to five different OEM’s was accurate, then this new report could confirm just that. For now all we have is a roadmap devised of simple text that could easily be faked, but the Wall Street Journal isn’t exactly known for outlandish rumors. First we’ll start with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus II as that makes perfect sense and lines up with the leak earlier today. Next they list a Sony Xperia Nexus, followed by an LG Optimus Nexus.

That’s it folks. That is the rumor in a nutshell because we have zero other details. For now we are going to seriously consider this nothing more than a rumor until we see or hear some solid concrete evidence, which we have a feeling is long way away. Personally I’d rather see another HTC Nexus device (loved my Nexus One) or even something from Motorola before LG and Sony get a shot. The original report was 5 OEM’s so Motorola could round out the five and we could be hearing more on that front soon.

If five certified “Nexus” devices all arrive this winter and are available on the Play Store for purchase things could really get interesting. Thoughts?


PopCap announces Plants vs. Zombies sequel

Posted: 21 Aug 2012 11:51 AM PDT

Perhaps unsurprising given the immense success of the first Plants vs. Zombies game, PopCap has announced that a sequel is in the works. Plants vs. Zombies 2 has a release window of “late spring 2013″ at the moment, with PopCap not getting any more specific than that. In fact, PopCap’s announcement was painfully slim on details, other than the developer noting that players can expect “a bevy of new features, settings, and situations.”


Truth is, fans of the first Plants vs. Zombies probably don’t need details to get excited, as were sure the knowledge that new PvZ game is on the way will suffice for now. It seems pretty safe to assume that players will be given a handful of new plants to use as they fight off the invading zombies, and we’ll probably be treated to some new zombie types as well. Other than that though, it’s difficult to say where PopCap will go with this one.

For those of you not in the know, Plants vs. Zombies offers a unique twist on the tower defense genre. The basics of the genre are still present, but in Plants vs. Zombies you’re defending your backyard instead of some keep and you’re doing so by using an array of plants. Like most of PopCap’s games, it became extremely successful and can get pretty addicting at times, sucking away hours of time when you probably should have been doing something more productive. If that sounds like something you want to get in on, it’s available now on the Google Play Store, along with pretty much every other platform imaginable.

So now we have nothing to do but to sit back and wait for this late spring window to roll around. Judging from that far-off release window and PopCap’s hesitancy to share any real details, it sounds like work on the sequel is just getting underway. Expect some more media on Plants vs. Zombies 2 soon, because with as successful as the first game was, you know Electronic Arts is going to market the sequel like there’s no tomorrow.


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