Saturday, March 30, 2013

AT&T Has An 'Exclusive' On 64GB HTC One

Oh, how we loathe the word "exclusive." For those of us on the editorial side, it's become a bit of a joke. But when a U.S. carrier uses it, it means someone else is probably getting the short end of the stick. In this case, it's anyone not AT&T, which is boasting in a promo video that it's got the "exclusive" on a 64-gigabyte version of the HTC One. AT&T announced all that back in February.
That means if you were hoping for the larger storage options on T-Mobile or Sprint, you might not get it, at least not at first. That said, the vast majority of "normal users" will never come close to hitting that 32GB limit. If you're holding out for a Verizon variant of the HTC One, we'd be willing to bet that 64GB might still be on the table.
And check out AT&T's promo video.

Sprint Releases Samsung Galaxy S II Jelly Bean Update

Sprint announced yesterday that Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is available to the Samsung Galaxy S II. According to Sprint, the update adds the standard Jelly Bean features, in addition to several of the Galaxy S III's custom functions. Those are Smart Stay (keeps screen lit when eyes are facing forward); Direct Call (converts text message UI to phone UI); and Pop-Up Play (allows users to watch video content when using other apps). The update must be installed via USB cable through either Samsung's Simple Update tool or Samsung's Kies software. 

Source: Samsung

Friday, March 29, 2013

Google’s Unified Chat Actually Named Babel

Google is on the verge of releasing a unified chat service called “Babble.” This new service was rumored to have merged services  like Voice, Talk, and Google+ Messenger into a cross-platform chat solution, hopefully ending the siloed and independent chat experiences that we all currently experience. While most of those reports were on the right track, we believe that the actual name of the new Google messenger service is called “Babel” rather than “Babble,” at least internally. 
According to sources of ours, with Babel, you’ll get a seamless messenger experience across Android, iOS, Chrome, Google+ and Gmail. From what we have seen, there is no mention of Google Voice or other services outside of the five we just mentioned, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be there at some point. As of now, this is being tested internally as a cross-platform service through those five platforms (Android, iOS, Chrome, Google+ and Gmail).
Google is selling the service as having these features:
  • Access the same conversation list from anywhere
  • A new, conversation-based UI
  • Advanced group conversations
  • Ability to send pictures
  • Improved notifications across devices
So what does “Babel” mean? It has a variety of meanings, that all make sense in some round-about way. The semi-hilarious thing about the name, is the fact that the definition of the word by itself has to do with a confused mixture of sounds, voices, or languages. But if you think about the movie Babel, with Brad Pitt, the name tends to make more sense. The movie itself focuses on four interrelated situations and conversations that all eventually come together in the end through a single phone call that is played from two different perspectives from the beginning and then the final scene. When you think of a unified messenger client, this idea of merging conversations from different perspectives or places seems to make a lot of sense. Then of course, there is the biblical meaning.
Another interesting item of note there is already a chat service on Android called Babel (Play link), however, it appears to have a small international user base.
Would Google really name a service after a Brad Pitt movie? Great question. Babel could be an internal codename for all we know. Obviously, we’ll keep this as a rumor until further details surface.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Facebook Holding Android Related Event April 4th

facebook event

Facebook appears to be ready to take Android seriously, as they just sent out invites to a press event that is happening on April 4. All the invite says, as you can see, is “Come see our new home on Android.

Source: Droid Life

Sprint Galaxy S 4 Approved By FCC With Global Roaming In Tow

The FCC today approved Sprint's version of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S 4 phone. The approval documents show support for GSM and WCDMA, in additional to Sprint's CDMA and LTE networks, indicating that the phone is intended to have global roaming capability. Last year's Galaxy S III for Sprint was the only Galaxy S III for a top-tier carrier without global roaming. The FCC also approved the Galaxy S 4 variant for U.S. Cellular (and, most likely, Cricket); it does not appear to support overseas networks.

Source: FCC

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

T-Mobile’s New Simple Choice Plans Explained

T-Mobile took the stage today and very much explained its new plans in layman’s terms. There was a bit of confusion as to how unlocked devices will work and how this new “non-subsidy” approach will work out over the long term. Thankfully we took some pretty good notes and can help you work through them all. Here’s how it works:

Pick Your Plan

T-Mobile has several new plans to choose from, but understanding them is very easy. First, you can either choose from a $50 “unlimited plan” that includes unlimited text, voice and “web” surfing per month. Now make no mistake, web surfing isn't considered “data” in this case, so you’ll still need to rely on data for downloading videos and music, among other things. This entry-level plan comes with 500MB of “high speed” data. That means you can use 500MB of data per month before you fall back off of LTE or HSPA+ and to a slower network.

If 500MB isn't enough, and we doubt it is for most of you, you can add an additional 2GB, which means you’re getting a total of 2.5GB of data, for $10 extra per month. If you want truly unlimited data, T-Mobile will charge you an additional $10. All said and done, the most expensive plan is $70 per month. Keep in mind, however, that the final “truly unlimited” plan actually limits your tethering to 500MB per month. There is not a limit on the 2GB or 500GB option.

To make it easier, you can choose between a 500MB unlimited plan for $50, a 2.5GB (2GB  + 500GB) plan for $60, or a fully unlimited plan.

Pick Your Device

Now comes what seems like the “tricky” part because T-Mobile is ditching subsidies as we know them. But really it’s very simple. T-Mobile will allow you to purchase a high-end device such as the HTC One, an iPhone 5, the BlackBerry Z10 for just $99 at check-out (T-Mobile has not yet disclosed pricing for the Galaxy S4). You’ll need to pass a credit check, otherwise you’ll have to buy the device at its full cost. If you pass the credit check, you can opt to either buy the phone outright, at which point T-Mobile will unlock it, or you can choose to pay it off over 24 months. No, this isn't a contract. Basically you’re agreeing to pay either at the beginning of each month (prepaid, you didn't pass your credit check) or when you’re billed (postpaid, you passed your credit check).

So that means you’ll choose your plan above $70 at the high end then pay for your phone in $20 monthly installments each month. That means you’ll be paying a max of $90 per month for a single plan. The good part? You can walk away at any point and simply keep paying down your $20 monthly payment, buy your phone outright or trade-it in and pay the difference in “fair value.”

 Family Plans

Ok, so stuff changes a bit if you decide to add additional lines, but it’s very easy to understand. Each additional line with the entry-level 500MB plan is just $10. If you add a line to your unlimited account (the one we went over above) with 2GB of data you’ll pay $100 per month total. If you have two unlimited lines you’ll pay $120 per month, total.

Now a little math: if you’re paying for unlimited data ($70), plus your own phone each month ($20), you’re paying $90. If you have a second line with 500MB of data you’re paying an additional $10 for the new line plus $20 for the new premium phone. That totals out to $120 for two lines with two premium phones, one with a fully unlimited plan and one with a 500MB plan. If you want two unlimited plans with two premium smartphones you’re paying $70 for unlimited, plus $20 for your own phone ($90), plus $50 for the second unlimited line and $20 for the second premium phone. In total, an unlimited bill for two people with two premium phones purchased at $99 each would cost $160. Not terrible.

It might sound complicated, but it’s very simple and you can see the prices on your own on T-Mobile’s site.

T-Mobile will offer the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 is the only one that will support the carrier’s 4G LTE network, however, and will always fall back to its still-fast HSPA+ 42Mbps network. You can buy it for $99 and pay down $20 each month, or buy it outright. It’s a unique device from Apple that adds support for AT&T’s LTE network too but only if you’re unlocked! That means, however, that it supports many required bands that haven’t been in other iPhones before T-Mobile said it worked with Apple to make sure of that. So, again, you can buy the iPhone 5 for $99 which is a steal in any market, and pay it down at $20 per month, or buy it outright at the time of purchase.

Apparently Apple will be phasing out the existing version of the AT&T phone in favor of this new version of the A1428, so that may mean that phones on Ma Bell may include the support for T-Mobile moving forward. Do expect, however, for the feature to be dormant unless you unlock it.

The Gist of it All

The idea behind the new plans is that you’ll save money by not being “screwed” by your carrier. T-Mobile wants you to own your device, and it’s doing exactly that. You don’t have to worry about early termination fees because you can walk away from those aforementioned plans at any time. You just need to settle up your bill with them when it comes to the phone. And honestly, it’s not a bad deal, especially because it’s just $20 per month for a premium phone. It also allows you to upgrade more frequently, because T-Mobile, as I said earlier, is willing to give you a “fair value” price for trading it in.

So what about “unlocking” my device?

T-Mobile fully supports the idea of unlocked devices, but like other carriers it wants you to finish paying for your phone first. Unlike other carriers, however, you don’t have to continue paying your data/voice/text message fees each month. No, indeed you just have to finish paying for your phone. You can do that up front by buying an unlocked device right away (full cost and T-Mobile will give it to you unlocked) or whenever you’re done paying for it. Like other carriers, of course, you can always buy a new device without signing a contract. It’s just that T-Mobile is breaking its payments down between your actual plan and the payments you make for your device.


The biggest thing I took away from the event is what I just wrote above: you’re not buying a plan and a device and signing a contract. You’re agreeing to a plan and paying off the cost of your device over two years. You can choose to walk away from the plan, but you can’t always just walk away from the phone. T-Mobile is a business and ultimately you need to pay the price of the hardware you want to use. Thankfully, however, it’s not hiding the price of a subsidy inside its plans. Put $100 down for your premium device, pay $20 a month for 24 months ($480) and you’re done.

Hopefully this clarifies what was going on today. It’s a great idea for people who are worried they’re paying too much from their wireless bills and prefer to pay a monthly fee for a product they own. Think of it, sort of, as an interest-free way of renting your cable box. You pay for Time Warner service, but you also pay a monthly fee for the box rental. Of course, with T-Mobile, you can keep the box and move elsewhere (if you don’t like the service) and continue paying for the “box” while canceling the service.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Verizon Announces Messages For Android, iOS And Web

iMessage Clone Verizon Messages App
Verizon on Thursday announced a new cross-platform update for its text messaging app for Android and iOS devices. The application, known as Messages, allows users to send and receive a text message from a PC, smartphone or tablet. Messages are stored on Verizon’s cloud for up to 90 days or until deleted and can also be saved permanently on an SD card. Unlike services from WhatsApp, Google Talk and iMessage, the application utilizes your smartphone’s phone number rather than a username or special PIN. The service sets itself further apart from the competition with a handful of unique features such as the ability to send automated replies to a text when busy. Verizon’s Messages application is available now in Google Play and the iOS App Store. A video demo follows below.

Google Play Store link
Apple iTunes link

Google ‘Motorola X Phone’ Specs Reportedly Revealed

Google is believed to be working on a high-end smartphone with Motorola, codenamed X Phone, that is expected debut this May. Initial reports claimed the handset would include a top-notch camera, a flexible display and revolutionary software features, however most specs have remained a mystery. According to a report from Android World, the flagship smartphone will be equipped with a 4.7-inch full HD display, a quad-core Tegra 4i processor and a 16-megapixel camera. The device will also reportedly include the latest version of Android, rumored to be called Key Lime Pie, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with eye scrolling technology. Purported dimensions are said to be 131.2 x 66.7 x 7.9 mm, making the device slightly thinner than the DROID RAZR MAXX HD.

Source: Android World

HTC Sense 5 Beta Available For HTC EVO 4G LTE

HTC Sense 5 - photo stolen without credit from @_AndroidAlex_  oh wait, I just attributed it to him... darn my thieving ways
HTC Sense 5 has been ported over to the HTC EVO 4G LTE, and the first public beta has been released to the public.

There are reportedly a few bugs being beaten to death for the next release, and right now the focus, according to the development thread, is more on development than supporting a public user base. But still, a public beta is now available if you’re interested in seeing what it looks like.

There have been various leaks recently pointing to the EVO 4G LTE being on the short list to get Sense 5, but it looks like it’ll be completely here for rooted users very soon.

It should be noted that the gallery and Bluetooth don’t function correctly, and there are some sizing issues with a few things that stem from the HTC ONE M7 base image that’s being used. I would expect those to be ironed out fairly quickly after the important things are rock solid.

Unfortunately I can’t flash anything on my phone that could take it down for any amount of time for the next couple of weeks, so I’m stuck oooohing and ahhhhing at pictures and reports of the preliminary HTC Sense 5 fabulousness.

If you’re planning on trying this out, don’t expect a daily driver (although many have reported it’s quite capable), and don’t pester the developers too much on what works and what doesn’t. It’s a huge project and it’s here a lot sooner than I would have expected.

As for HTC Sense 5, it looks like quite a step in the right direction. I’ll be extremely interested to see what the end-result resource footprint of the thing ends up being in comparison to the mighty hog that Sense 4 has been.

If you give it a try, let us know how it works for you.

Source: XDA-Developers

Google Watch Could Launch By End Of Summer

Financial Times reports that Google’s Android team is working on a smartwatch. The report says the device would act as a companion to your smartphone, but there are not many details provided outside of that. Apple and Samsung are both working on smartwatches to be released later this year, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise to hear that Google is doing the same.

A Google patent application from 2011 described a smartwatch with a dual-screened “flip-up display”, “tactile user interface,” and on board camera. All or none of those features could be included in the final design.

Source: Financial Times

HTC One Launch In North America Delayed

HTC has released a new official statement regarding the global availability of the HTC One. When the device was first unveiled in the middle of February, HTC stated that the HTC One would be broadly available in North America and across the globe by the end of March. Due to component shortage issues, HTC has had to adjust the retail launch date of the phone.

While Germany, Taiwan and the UK are slated to receive their first shipments of the HTC One next week, the rest of Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific will have to wait until April before the HTC One is made available to them.

"HTC has seen unprecedented demand for and interest in the new HTC One, and the care taken to design and build it is evidenced in early reviews. The new HTC One will roll out in the UK, Germany and Taiwan next week and across Europe, North America and most of Asia-Pacific before the end of April. We appreciate our customers’ patience, and believe that once they have the phone in their hands they will agree that it has been worth the wait."

Android Rooting And Unlocking Explained

Root: Rooting an Android phone is simply adding a file to the system that allows other apps to elevate their permissions and read, write, and execute anything on your device. In this case, anything means anything -- if it is user editable or actionable, you can do it with root. This is both powerful and dangerous, so be sure to get all the answers and be clear on the subject before you do it.
SIM or Network Unlocking: This allows a phone bought for use on a particular network to be used on another network. If you buy a phone designed to only work on Orange (or AT&T for an American example), to use it on any other network, you will need to unlock the SIM programming. It's done without rooting or modifying any firmware in your phone or tablet.
Remember, the networks have to be compatible. A phone with radios designed for one carrier may not provide 3G or 4G service on another, and sometimes they won't work at all.
Bootloader Unlocking: All Android devices ship with a locked bootloader. Some are very easy to unlock, like Nexus devices, some need a little hacking to unlock (like most Samsung devices), and some are encrypted and designed to be very difficult to unlock (hello, Moto). Bootloader unlocking allows you to flash (write to your phone's "hard drive") image files that haven't been signed with the official key from the folks who made your phone or tablet. A locked bootloader can flash a new recovery provided in an OTA update because the recovery was signed with the right key. It will fail to flash a custom recovery like ClockWorkMod. An unlocked bootloader will flash anything that fits, as long as you tell it to. Once a custom recovery (or sometimes a "Super" boot image) is flashed, you can install and erase custom built system firmware at will. Again, this means you need to do your homework before you start fiddling with things.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jawbone Brings UP Fitness Bracelet To Android

UP by Jawbone

Android users can now, finally, get Up.

Jawbone’s Up, the fitness tracking wristband that has both a troubled past and a bright future, is now compatible with devices running Google’s mobile operating system thanks to a new Up Android app that hit Google Play on Tuesday night.

The Up previously only worked with Apple’s iOS, and as owners of both the $130 bracelet and an iPhone know, the wearable can be used to track steps and physical movement to calculate an estimate of calories burned throughout the day. If you wear the Up to bed, it’ll track how much sleep you got, and it can even determine how much of that was a deep sleep or light sleep. Like the iOS app, the Android app will include extra features, such as a bar-code scanner to help track the healthiness of what you’re eating and optional notifications that suggest going for a walk if you’ve been stuck at your desk too long.

The Google-friendly Up by Jawbone app, which runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or newer, is free, just as it was in Apple’s App store. Along with the new Android compatibility, a Jawbone rep told Wired on Tuesday that the Up is now on sale in Europe, and that it will hit Asia, Australia and the Middle East in April. And the iOS version of the Up by Jawbone app has been updated to support 11 new languages.

Source: Google Play Store

Google Keep Gets Official, Save What’s On Your Mind

Google Keep
Google has unveiled Google Keep, a tool that allows users to create notes and lists that are synced across all their devices. The service can transcribe voice memos automatically to create notes that are organized with multiple colors or even pictures. Google Keep is available now through the Web and for Android devices running Android 4.0 or higher. 
Google Keep is available on Google Play for devices running Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich and above. You can access, edit and create new notes on the web at and in the coming weeks you'll be able to do the same directly from Google Drive.
A video demonstration of Google Keep follows below.

Source: Google Blog

Samsung Executive Confirms Smartwatch Development

Details about the Samsung smartwatch are scarce, but rumors of the Samsung Galaxy Altius indicate that the device may feature a large 500 x 500 pixel touch-screen with a tiles UI to control music, watch faces, email and notifications. Hopefully Samsung has learned a lot from its phone watch and Bluetooth watch ventures in the past and will be able to give consumers something as intuitive and useful as Pebble and as stylish as the Sony Smartwatch.

Source: Bloomberg

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Apple Releases iOS 6.1.3

Apple releases iOS 613 to patch lock screen security hole

A month to the day after Apple issued iOS 6.1.2 in order to patch an Exchange bug, the company has pushed out iOS 6.1.3 today to seal up a security hole that allowed a complex combination of finagling to bypass one's lock screen. 

Moreover, it's said to add Maps updates for the nation of Japan, while also adding a variety of undisclosed "security patches." It looks as if all modern iOS devices (iPad and iPod touch included) are eligible, so feel free to hit up the Settings menu on your device or plug it into iTunes. 

If you aren't seeing it right away (as is the case with this particular editor's iPhone 4S), just keep trying.

Source: Apple

Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean Update Live For Verizon's Galaxy Nexus

Verizon's Galaxy Nexus is lagging behind its purebred brethren in the update department. But the delays are getting shorter and, as the carrier's just confirmed, users should begin to see Android 4.2.2 rolling out to their handsets as early as today. 

Initially released back in February, this Jelly Bean update brings with it the ability to snap 360-degree photospheres, various camera UI improvements, lock screen widgets, and a Swype-like Gesture keyboard. It's set to be released gradually, the OTA update notification takes a few days to make itself known.

Source: Verizon Wireless

Monday, March 18, 2013

Google To Kill Off Google Voice For BlackBerry

Google today announced a second round of spring cleaning that will see yet more services discontinued. The most significant mobile app being axed is the Google Voice application for the BlackBerry platform. Google recommends that BlackBerry owners still interested in using Google Voice switch to the browser-based HTML5 app, which Google says is more secure anyway. Google will end support for Google Voice for BlackBerry next week. The HTML5 app is compatible with BlackBerry Browsers version 6 and up. Other products that have limited days remaining include the CalDAV API, Google Building Maker (tool to model 3D buildings on maps), Google Cloud Connect (plug-in that helped users save Microsoft Office documents to Google Docs), Google Reader (RSS feed), the Search API for Google Shopping, and Snapseed for both Windows and Mac OS. Google says better alternatives for all these services are available elsewhere.

Source: Google Blog

Alltel To Offer Apple iPhone Starting March 15th

The iPhone 5 is already available for pre-order and the 16GB model starts at $149.99 with a two-year agreement.

AT&T is positioned to acquire Alltel’s assets and customers in their entirety in the second half of this year. It is still business as usual for the once large regional carrier, mostly bought out by Verizon Wireless.

As you may recall from that merger some years ago, Verizon had to divest several markets or work some spectrum swaps with other providers (like AT&T) in order to secure regulatory approval. The leftovers remained as the Alltel brand, operated by Atlantic Tele-Network Wireless and that is what AT&T will be taking on later in the year.

Meanwhile, Alltel continues to maintain its lineup of products and services and that includes the iPhone. In addition to the iPhone 5, Alltel will also begin selling the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4. The16GB iPhone 4S will run just $49.99 and the iPhone 4 will move for $0.99. The iPhone 5 starts at just $149.99 for the 16GB flavor, add an additional $100 for each iteration up the storage ladder for the other models.

Alltel operates a CDMA/EV-DO network in 6 states and hold spectrum licenses that AT&T will certainly be able to make use of. Though with the addition of the more expensive hardware, it will be interesting to see what route AT&T takes as it converts Alltel’s network to GSM/UMTS and LTE.

Source: Alltel

Google Keep Note Taking App Spotted

Google, as a service provider, tries to cover all aspects of an online life a person could have, providing all the services. If you think of it, the company has the best known search engine and the best known email service. There is also a very good social networking site, a very good operating system for computers and a very popular operating system for mobile device, a very powerful, secure, and stable internet browser, cloud apps, cloud services for business, solutions for almost every kind of need a business could have. When such is the situation, it will be hard at work to try its luck with other popular online services.

With the success of Evernote, it is pretty obvious that people are very serious about taking digital notes on their computers or mobile devices, and they are doing this very much using Evernote. So it is only very evident that Google would want to try this service as well, after its Notebook service failed. The service we are talking about is Google Keep.

If you have heard of this before, you are not alone. This is because we have heard the name and seen the logo before. But according to a post on Android Police, the service was briefly up on and that just means that we have to keep an eye on it. Also, the web publication features the above screenshot of the service which was submitted by a Google+ user.

Last year, the search engine giant accidentally leaked a screenshot on its Google Plus page which had a link labelled, “save to Google Keep.” Now, even though we do have anything like that, we have this official image to hold on to. And until the company makes any official announcement this is all we have.

Source: The Verge

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dropbox Acquires iOS Email App Mailbox

New email app Mailbox, which was launched by Orchestra last month, has been acquired by Dropbox. In a post on the company’s blog, the Mailbox team said that this acquisition was about accelerating growth for Mailbox.
Dropbox, the team from San Francisco who helps over $100M people bring their photos, docs, and videos with them anywhere. They’re a profoundly talented bunch who build great tools that make work friction less  and Mailbox fits Dropbox’s mission like a glove. Plus, they've got a ton of experience scaling services and are experts at handling people’s data with care. In short, Dropbox is our kind of company.
Orchestra was adamant that Mailbox would not be going away, and that this move was primarily about scaling to meet demand as fast as possible. With the Dropbox team behind Mailbox, those still waiting in line to use the app could see that wait decrease dramatically. This acquisition might allow the Orchestra team to improve on and expand the app sooner rather than later.

Source: Mailbox

Facebook Pushes Updates Outside Of Google Play Store


It looks like Facebook is bypassing Google Play by sending updates for their Android app straight to your device. While we have still to see the update arrive in our devices Liliputing has reported that the update auto downloads and will give you a notification once it is ready to download.

Another feature that is included in this update is that future updates will be automatically downloaded without the app notifying you. Included in the permissions of the recent update is the line “download files without notification.” This means that future updates will be automatically downloaded without the need for Google Play. You will still get a notification once the update has downloaded completely and is ready to be installed. Those concerned about data charges have nothing to worry about since the app only downloads updates over a Wi-Fi network and not through your network carrier.
We are really not sure as to why Facebook is implementing this new change in the way they are updating their Android app. One possible reason is they might need a faster method to deploy their updates and passing through Google Play might delay the process.
One problem that may arise because of this is that Android devices will have a greater chance of getting malware. Before you can install the updates from Facebook you will need to enable the “Allow installation of apps from unknown sources” feature. If you forget to disable this feature after installing the update then you place your device at risk from malware.

Source: liliputing

This Just May Be The Motorola “X Phone”

Imagine a world where you buy your smartphone first and then pick your wireless carrier. Picture a fantasy land where you can customize your phone’s hardware to your liking, similar to how Dell or Lenovo lets you build a PC. You can laugh and say I’m full of it, but I’m here to tell you this could be reality sooner than you think.
According to several anonymous sources within Motorola, the “X Phone” project is real, and the first retail device will go on sale this summer. Our original source said the first “X Phone” product might ship in June, but another fact checker tells us the target date is the end of July.
We have also learned that one of the “X Phone” devices has already leaked out. Remember that unannounced Motorola phone (pictured above and below) that appeared last week and was quickly dismissed as not the being the X Phone? Our source tells us the device is real, but it was an earlier prototype and the design has undergone some slight changes.

The back of the first “X Phone” is said to look mostly the same as the leaked prototype, but we have learned some additional details. The Motorola logo will act as touch sensitive button that allows you to launch commands. Motorola has included a similar feature on past phones (remember the Backflip), but it sounds like Google has something special in store for this device.
Patent Bolt just spotted a patent application from Google that covers backside device touch controls. We don’t know what the mysterious back button on the “X Phone” will do, but I speculate it could be used enable a listening mode that allows you to issue voice commands. We already reported on the rumor that Motorola is working on a new human language system, and I have a feeling it will be integrated with this button.
Most people initially dismissed this unannounced Motorola device because it didn’t feature top-of-the-line internals, but you have to connect the dots to understand Google’s strategy for these new “X Phone” devices.
Google is not focused on specs or software gimmicks (like Samsung) for their upcoming products. Instead they want to produce an ultra-affordable mobile device that connects to a bunch of wearable accessories they plan to release later this year. Google Glass and Google Watch are two examples of these accessories, and we are told more are in the works.
And when I say “ultra-affordable” mobile device, I’m talking a starting retail price of $199 or less. Google and Motorola will sell smartphones for the same prices that people are willing to pay for today’s flagships, but these devices won’t be tied to a two year contract.
To the average consumer I’m sure this whole rumor sounds a little far-fetched, but that is what Google and Motorola are banking on. As I said yesterday, people will flip out when they realize they can purchase a customized device, with the latest software, without carrier bloatware or contracts, and it’s sold at an affordable price.
Dell revolutionized the PC industry with its direct-sales model and its “build-to-order” approach to manufacturing, and now Google will attempt to do the same with smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Officially Announced

Samsung has just officially announced the the Galaxy S 4. The Galaxy S 4 trumps the S III in every way imaginable. It’s thinner, sturdier, has beefier specs and a ton of software enhancements that will differentiate it from other handsets on the market.
The full spec rundown looks like this:
  • Network – 2.5G (GSM/ GPRS/ EDGE): 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz, 3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps): 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 MHz, 4G (LTE Cat 3 100/50Mbps) : up to 6 different band sets(Dependent on market)
  • Display – 5 inch Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 441 ppi
  • 1.9 GHz Quad-Core Processor / 1.6 GHz Octa-Core Processor (depending on the market)
  • Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • 13 megapixel Auto Focus camera with Flash & Zero Shutter Lag, BIS
  • 2 megapixel front-facing camera, Full HD recording @30fps with Zero Shutter Lag, BIS
  • Video codecs include – MPEG4, H.264, H.263, DivX, DivX3.11, VC-1, VP8, WMV7/8, Sorenson Spark, HEVC
  • Audio codecs include – MP3, AMR-NB/WB, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, WMA, OGG, FLAC, AC-3, apt-X
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (HT80)
  • NFC, Bluetooth® 4.0 (LE)
  • IR LED (Remote Control), MHL 2.0
  • Accelerometer, RGB light, Geomagnetic, Proximity, Gyro, Barometer
  • Temperature & Humidity, Gesture
  • 16/ 32/ 64 GB User memory + microSD slot (up to 64GB)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 2,600 mAh
As for Samsung’s special software enhancements:
  • Camera features include – Dual Camera: Dual Shot / Dual Recording/ Dual Video Call, Drama Shot, Sound & Shot, 360 Photo, Cinema Photo, Eraser, Night, Best Photo, Best Face, Beauty Face, HDR (High Dynamic Range), Panorama, Sports
  • Additional features include – Group Play: Share Music, Share Picture, Share Document, Play Games, Story Album, S Translator, Optical Reader, Samsung Smart Scroll, Samsung Smart Pause, Air Gesture, Air View, Samsung Hub, ChatON (Voice/Video Call, Share screen, 3-way calling), Samsung WatchON S Travel (Trip Advisor), S Voice Drive, S Health, Samsung Adapt Display, Samsung Adapt Sound, Auto adjust touch sensitivity (Glove friendly), Safety Assistance, Samsung Link, Screen Mirroring, Samsung KNOX (B2B only)

Source: Samsung

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Redbox Instant Unlimited Movie Streaming Launches In Public Beta

Redbox Instant, the unlimited movie streaming service launched by Redbox and Verizon, today opened its doors to more users in the US, launching in public beta as it looks to take on its established rivals Netflix and Amazon. The service offers four one-night DVD rentals and unlimited video streaming as part of its $8 monthly subscription.
Announcing the joint-venture in February 2012, Redbox and Verizon launched an invite-only beta version of the streaming service in December, offering 4,500 movies to early testers. However, that trial has been expanded as it looks towards a full public launch.
Users can stream movies via their iOS or Android device, as well as their Xbox 360 and Mac / PC (via a Silverlight plugin). Samsung also offers access via its connected TVs and Blu-ray players. In terms of content, Redbox Instant has EPIX on board a joint venture operated by three of the major studios Viacom, MGM and Lions Gate Entertainment although we may also see Redbox and Verizon follow in Netflix's footsteps and step into the world of original programming. While Redbox seems to have a competitive service at launch, it may have a tough fight ahead of it as it moves away from the DV kiosk especially with Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Hulu, Amazon, and Walmart's Vudu already offering their own video-on-demand services.

Google's Android Chief Andy Rubin To Step Aside

Rubin reaffirmed those thoughts with a letter to the various Android partners Google deals with, otherwise known as members of the Open Handset Alliance. These members consist of the very OEMs and carriers that have helped pushed Android to where it is today. In the letter, Rubin reminded everyone that his heart is with entrepreneurship in other words, he likes a good project.

His stint with Danger to bring the legendary Sidekick OS to prominence didn’t go undocumented, and he has been with Android since the very beginning. Rubin’s track record is unmatched by many, and this is another way to say he’s bored. He wants something new to build and grow. He’s the proverbial nanny who only makes $5 an hour to take care of a crying, defecating baby, but does it out of the love of giving a baby nourishment and guidance and raising them into a fine young lad.

That’s Andy’s forte, his specialty, and his knack, so to speak. His rumored departure to the Google X team definitely fits that bill. The letter is, among all things, reassuring of the strength of Android and gives no one anything to worry about. Android is fine, folks, but it’s time for another 12 rounds with the next big innovation in tech for Andy Rubin. Read the full letter below.

"In November of 2007 we announced the Open Handset Alliance with 34 founding members. Today, I’m grateful to the over 85 OHA members who have helped us build Android and drive innovation at such an incredible pace. The Android ecosystem has seen tremendous growth since the launch of the very first Android device in October 2008. The volume and variety of Android devices exceeds even my most optimistic expectations over 750 million compatible devices and counting!
At its core, Android has always been about openness the idea that a thousand brains are better than one. Just as the ecosystem has grown, so has our team at Google. I am incredibly proud of the phenomenal group of people that spend their days (and nights) building the Android platform and services. Just look at last year…a lean yet incredibly ambitious team released Jellybean with Google Now, launched Google Play in many languages and countries and collaborated with several partners to build three new Nexus devices to help drive innovation in the ecosystem.
Today, the success of Android combined with the strength of our management team, gives me the confidence to step away from Android and hand over the reins. Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps. Hiroshi Lockheimer who many of you already know well plus the rest of the Android leadership team will work closely with all of our partners to advance Android and prepare the platform for new products and services yet to be imagined.

As for me, I am an entrepreneur at heart and now is the right time for me to start a new chapter within Google. I am amazed by what we have accomplished from those early days (not so long ago!), and remain passionate about the power of a simple idea and a shared goal an open source platform freely available to everyone to transform computing for people everywhere."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

LinkedIn Buys Pulse Newsreader For More Then $50M

According to a source familiar with the situation, business networking app LinkedIn will purchase newsreader app Pulse for a price somewhere between $50 million and $100 million. Pulse launched in 2010 and is owned by Alphonso Labs, based in San Francisco. The app has 20 million viewers that read more than 10 million stories daily. Earlier reports had Microsoft and Yahoo both trying to steal Pulse away.

LinkedIn has been trying to increase the mobile advertising it displays. Last quarter, the "marketing solutions group," which includes traditional advertising, accounted for 27% of LinkedIn's revenue. Pulse's app competes with Flipboard, Google Currents and some other lesser known names in the battle for eyeballs. One competitor, Zite, was purchased by CNN in 2011 for $20 million.

Pulse has added some new features that allow its users to share with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ Flickr, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr right from Pulse. LinkedIn has also been adding features to its service including customized news feeds for users, which would seem to fit perfectly with Pulse.

Source: AllThingsD

Google Now For iOS Demoed In Leaked Promotional Video

Alleged Google Now for iOS video leaks on YouTube, is promptly pulled
iOS fans jealous of Jelly Bean's creepy Google Now might finally have something to get excited about. An October update to the Google Search app finally delivered an updated voice recognition experience to Apple's platform, but sadly alerts and contextual cards of data were nowhere to be seen. Of course, Mountain View has never been one to keep its wares to a single platform, and many expect that it's only a matter of time before Now makes its proper debut on iOS. Those that like to dip their toes in both ponds might be interested in a video brought to our attention by a tipster earlier today.
The clip from our friends over at Engadget is allegedly a low resolution version of a promotional video for Google Now on iPhone and iPad. The video has since been pulled from YouTube and appears to feature the same voice actress as the original Now announcement. Supposedly, Now will be accessible in an upcoming iOS app update simply by swiping up from the main screen. Of course, there's always the chance that is an impressive fake or even a canceled project that's only being leaked now.

Google Now Is Coming To Chrome

We've seen hints before of Google Now-like functionality in the code for the desktop version of Google’s Chrome browser, but the feature appears almost set to launch with the most recent release. Code hound Francois Beaufort found a more or less fully-fledged implementation of the predictive digital assistant software. The only thing missing was the necessary server-side code to get it running.

It will be interesting to see how Google handles the release of such a feature. Will they time its launch with Google I/O and announce the feature to much fanfare? Or will they quietly roll out the feature to users?

The code can be seen in the latest Chromium Beta release, which is available for download if checking out code is the sort of thing that interests you. It won’t serve much use to the average Chrome user just yet.

Source: Engadget

Netflix Support Officially Arrives On Samsung ARM Chromebook

Netflix - Working on Samsung Chromebook At Last
Netflix subscribers who also own a new Samsung Chromebook on ARM can now enjoy Netflix on there Chromebook. The streaming movie giant is now officially supported on this Chromebook, around five months after the device was released.
Up until today, users who attempted to stream Netflix from the ARM-powered Chromebook were greeted with a message that Netflix was working with Google to provide access to the service “soon.” But “soon” has turned into “now,” which honestly doesn't come as much of a surprise: Google included a brand new Netflix plugin for the Samsung Chromebook in a dev release last month. Still, it was a frustrating waiting game – one that many people are now glad is over.
The hold up was due to the need for Google and Netflix to work out some DRM issues – issues that are solved by Silverlight on Windows and OS X, and by NaCl technology on Intel-powered Chromebooks. For the ARM Chromebook, DRM will be handled by that new Netflix plugin and some HTML5 magic.


FCC Approves T-Mobile, MetroPCS Merger

The proposed merger between T-Mobile and MetroPCS is one step closer to becoming the real deal, folks, as another governmental/regulatory body has approved the deal. Following the apparent nod of approval by the Department of Justice (they let the evaluation period expire with no objections, which is pretty much seen as an approval), the FCC has given its thumbs up on the $1.5 billion deal that will see Deutsche Telekom owning 74% of a new company formed by the two.

Even with the FCC’s blessing, though, there’s still work to be done. MetroPCS has to hold a shareholders’ meeting where the folks who have stake in the company will vote on whether or not they want this deal to go through. This is a step that isn’t necessarily seen as an issue, but recent murmurings suggest not everyone is on the bandwagon for this to happen. Several shareholders, including some top hedge-funds, have reportedly expressed distaste, saying MetroPCS is being severely undervalued.

The voting process will commence in another few weeks or so, and that will ultimately determine how all of this plays out. It’s worthy to note that even if shareholders vote against the merger there’s still a chance Deutsche Telekom and MetroPCS can tweak some details and flip some numbers to make everyone happy.

In other words, any fear of objections by the FCC, Department of Justice, and any other anti-competitive protection groups are gone, and now it’s all down to Deutsche Telekom and MetroPCS to make this happen smoothly. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski had this to say:

“With today’s approval, America’s mobile market continues to strengthen, moving toward robust competition and revitalized competitors. We are seeing billions more in network investment, while the courts have upheld key FCC decisions to accelerate broadband build-out, promote competition, and benefit consumers, including our broadband data roaming and pole attachment rules. Today’s action will benefit millions of American consumers and help the U.S maintain the global leadership in mobile it has regained in recent years.

“Mobile broadband is a key engine of economic growth, with U.S. annual wireless capital investment up 40% over the last four years, the largest increase in the world, and few sectors having more potential to create jobs. In this fast-moving space, of course challenges remain, including the need to unleash even more spectrum for mobile broadband and continuing to promote competition and protect consumers. The Commission will stay focused on these vital goals.”

It sounds like he’s quite excited to give T-Mobile a chance to grow and remain competitive to keep Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon from getting too big. T-Mobile will look to gain control over significant spectrum used by MetroPCS, and that should help get its LTE network off the ground. The FCC wants a faster, more connected America and giving the fourth largest carrier the digital capital to do so.

Source: FCC

HTC One Launch Delayed Until March 29TH

During its press conference in February, HTC failed to announce a release date for the HTC One. It was previously rumored that the company’s flagship smartphone would launch on March 15th, however a new report claims the phone’s release has been delayed until later this month. According to phone retailer Clove, the HTC One has been “officially” delayed in the United Kingdom until March 29th. An HTC spokesperson confirmed that the company “will start fulfilling pre-orders by end March in certain markets and will roll out to more markets as we approach April.” HTC’s new flagship smartphone is equipped with a 4.7-inch full HD display, a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and a new “Ultrapixel” rear camera.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

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