Tech News

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Update - 196



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 05:15 PM PDT
Hipster FTW
With word that Instagram will soon be heading to Android, we all had better get ready for the invasion of photo filters and effects. It's not really new, we've been able to edit our pictures with hipster filters on Android for quite some time, but Instagram is sure to become hugely popular on Android -- Rene hits it right on the head as to why.
To prepare, this week's photo contest is all about the hipster effect. Grab a picture, grab an app, and get to work applying filters and/or effects -- or both. Some great free apps to do it with are PicsArt and PicSay from Google Play, and there are plenty of others -- I'm partial to LightBox myself -- so everyone can get in on this one. 
This week's prize is something new and cool that I want for myself -- the Smart Phone Sleeper. It's a universal stand that holds your phone just about anywhere, and would be perfect for a little night-time Netflix viewing or Youtube surfing. Winning one is easy:
  • Use an Android device to take a picture of something cool.
  • Use any method you like to apply some filters or effects to it.
  • Send it to pics@androidcentral.com, along with a name we can use and the model of Android you used to take it. Let us know what effects or apps you used, too. We like knowing this kind of stuff.
  • If you send in more than one, or send me a link instead of an attachment, your entry gets filed in the trash folder, so don't do that. I hate it when I have to do that.
  • Get me the pictures before the end of the night on Friday.
We'll pick the best 11 of the entries, then decide on the best of the bunch. We'll show you all of them Sunday afternoon. Now head down to the closest bodega, find something ironic, and take us a picture!



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 04:47 PM PDT
From the Forums
Another week is upon us and while things may have been shaky out the gates this morning with DST and all, things seem to be getting back to normal. We managed to gather up quite a bit of news, even for a Monday so if you missed out -- get caught up and don't forget to hit the forums.
If you're not already a member of the Android Central forums, you can register your account today.



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 03:58 PM PDT
Privacy matters
Privacy is a hot subject across the Internet lately, and we think it's high time to dissect the mountains of information and pick out what's relevant amidst all the FUD and nonsense out there. You'll see a series here this week about privacy issues and policies, and the best way to kick it all off is to discuss why it matters in the first place.
The fact is, if you use and enjoy Google services you have to give up some privacy to get the most out of them. Things like Gmail and Google Voice don't cost money, but in order to make ads that are lucrative Google mines some of your data and can sell ads targeted at things you like. Advertisers love this, as it keeps big nerdy guys in West Virginia from seeing ads about women's shoes that they will just ignore, and instead shows ads about Android, computer parts, and fishing guides. Google has made this a huge business, and to keep it working, Google needs your data. Google does not sell mail or search -- it sells ads. For the most part, this isn't too intrusive. The data about you is kept in some odd string of computer generated numbers and is only used to display things you are likely to want to see. None of it is sold to anyone else, that would disrupt G's business model. That data is their cash cow. 
We trust Google to do the right thing with our personal information, and for the most part they have done so. But Google isn't the only game in town that's collecting data about you. Other ad networks, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and your cell carrier collect a good bit of information as well. We want to trust the big players, and don't think Facebook or Apple will sell your data away to some spammer (or worse), but when we get to the lower tier, where ad networks and smaller companies collect and store your information, things get a little muddy. If these can't be trusted (and we're not saying they can't) why is it important?
Imagine how you would feel if you lost your Android phone and didn't have it password locked. I could find it at Five Guys, open it up and look through everything. Besides the horrible things I could do with your pictures and accounts, I'd also have access to your contacts, your Internet history, your search history, and message archives. Even if you have nothing to hide, you wouldn't want me rifling through all that data. When apps and services have the same access, it's the same thing. I do not want the ad company that is being used in my favorite Android game to look through my Internet history. They would be bored, and find nothing incriminating, but I still don't want it to happen. Nor do I want some rogue app developer to steal that data and send it off to China. It's my data, and I want to know it's being treated properly. When I imagine it happening to my daughter, I get a little angry. Thankfully, those types of scenarios are few and far between. But they do happen
Data collection isn't inherently evil. It's a standard practice in today's digital world, and we've come to terms with it in some ways. It does need to be done correctly and handled securely, though. That's where the real issue lies -- we know the data is being collected, so can we trust those doing the collecting? That's a question each of us has to answer for ourselves -- we just want to spark the conversation. 
Look for plenty more on security and privacy coming up this week.



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 01:44 PM PDT
Motorola RAZR
Motorola has updated their ICS "due date" page, and if you're in the U.S. you probably won't like the news very much. There are a few changes, and we see a few more devices slated to see Ice Cream Sandwich eventually, but what really stands out is the RAZR. In the Asia Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Korea, Japan, China and Canada the RAZR is set to see ICS in Q2 of this year. In the U.S., it's still in the "evaluation and planning" stage. 
Granted, CDMA and LTE probably make a huge difference in the code as well as the hardware, but I have to hope that Motorola has enough resources dedicated to the Droid RAZRs to get them updated quickly, and more importantly, free of any show-stopping bugs.
Of course the RAZR isn't the only device on the list, but it is the one that sticks out like a sore thumb. The good news is that most newer model Motos haven't been ruled out of anything just yet, and that Motorola cares enough to even make a chart that's bound to get them some grief. Updating an OS isn't easy folks, no matter what you might think. Hit the source link to see the full details.
Source: Motorola. Thanks, IceDree for the tip!



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 01:37 PM PDT
Facebook update
Android's Facebook app got an update today. Presumably something has been fixed in Version 1.8.4. But just like the last update, there's no changelog to be found, and Facebook's Android page just redirects to the Android Market Google Play.
(Aside: Seriously, developers. Enough of that shit. If you update your app, you tell us what's new. And Google, perhaps apps that update without changelogs shouldn't get your "Editor's Choice" badge of honor.)
Anyhoo. We digress. Download links are after the break if you need 'em.
Thanks to everyone who sent this in.
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Posted: 12 Mar 2012 01:36 PM PDT
Android Central
With the One X due to launch internationally in the next month or so, HTC has revealed a limited edtion version of the handset in its home territory of Taiwan. Taiwanese site ePrice reports that the HTC One X Deluxe Limited Edition includes a set of Beats Solo wireless headphones, along with some fancy minimalist packaging.
Taiwanese retailers will start taking pre-orders for the limited edition One X starting next Tuesday, March 20. At this stage it's unknown whether HTC plans to launch this limited package elsewhere, but we saw a similar bundle with the Sensation XL in the UK last year, so our fingers are crossed.
In case you've just emerged from a month-long hibernation, the One X is HTC's flagship smartphone for 2012, with a quad-core CPU, a 720p screen and HTC's new ImageSense camera tech. We got hands-on with the device at MWC and last week's Three UK showcase event.
Source: ePrice; via: Unwired View



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 01:25 PM PDT
Roku1
An official Roku Android app has been in the works for some time and was finally released at the beginning of March. There have been many unofficial apps available but it's nice to have the one developed by Roku itself. The app is a remote for the Roku box that allows you to directly control it with your Android device, so if you ever lose the tiny remote, don't worry! In order to connect your device with the Roku box, both will need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network. It doesn't matter which Roku box you own, this app is compatible with all of them.
The Roku app boasts a large set of features, including:
  • Launch or rate any Roku channel with a tap of your finger.
  • Use a touch remote control. Includes instant replay, back and options buttons as well as a keyboard for text entry.
  • Easily browse hundreds of channels and games in the Roku Channel Store.
  • Quickly add and remove channels to/from your Roku player.
  • Control and switch between multiple Roku players.
The app is available for free from Google Play. Please find links and more pictures after the break.
Source: Roku

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Posted: 12 Mar 2012 12:41 PM PDT
Motorola Droid X2
Word on the street is that the Motorola Droid X2 is about to get another one of those update "soak tests" from Motorola, wherein a few volunteers agree to play guinnea pig. No idea what's in the update, but the mssage from Motorola is the usual.
Hi,
Thanks for joining the Motorola Feedback Network. We are inviting owners of
the Motorola Droid X2 on Verizon to participate in an early preview of a new
software release, and provide feedback. If you are not currently using a
Droid X2, please excuse and ignore this email.
Click this link to take a short enrollment survey if you wish to take part.
Note that you must be a member in good standing of the Motorola Owners'
Forums to be included. If you have not logged into the new site
(forums.motorola.com) please do not wait until the soak starts to do so, as
we will have little capacity then to help with any log-in issues
This is a confidential test under the terms of the Motorola Feedback Network.
Do not post any details or information about this on any public sites.

Thanks -- please understand that start times are always fluid. We urge you to
respond as quickly as possible but also ask for your patience if you register
but don't hear from us right away.
Matt
Motorola Owners’ Forums
Motorola Feedback Network
Don't worry, Motorola. We'll keep this just between us.
Thanks to everyone who sent this in!



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 11:49 AM PDT


ZTE Venture
Looking for a physical keyboard on Virgin Mobile? The ZTE Venture might just fill that void, and it's available for preorder now for just $99, and it's expected to ship on March 15. The Venture's got a 2.8-inch touchscreen in addition to the physical keyboard and physical buttons. We're not expecting much out of the 2-megpixel camera, but because of the screen size, the 600 MHz processor should move things along nicely. Other specs of note: It's got Android 2.3 Gingerbread and 512MB of RAM. Internal storage isn't listed, but it's got a microSD card slot (the phone comes with a 2GB card), which you'll no doubt need to use. It's also got Virgin's Mobile ID packs -- basically its version of Sprint ID.
More: Virgin Mobile; thanks, Brad!



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 11:10 AM PDT
NCAA Tournament
The greatest sports playoff system -- college basketball's NCAA Tournament -- is upon us. The games have always been played at odd times, particulalrly those in the first couple of rounds. And since so many of us will be stuck at work, it's a must to have great mobile apps to keep you up-to-date on how your bracket is stacking up or how your favorite team is performing.
We've put together a collection of some of the best Android apps to help you out during March Madness. There are a lot out there, especially scoreboard apps, but these are the few that we feel rise above the rest. Enjoy! By the way, if you don't notice from the screenshots, I'm a Syracuse fan, so go Orange! Feel free to sing out in the comments which team you're rooting for.
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Posted: 12 Mar 2012 09:27 AM PDT
Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G
For those of you waiting on pins and needles for the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G, we've finally got availability details. Starting March 28, you'll be able to pick it up for $149.99 along with a $50 mail-in rebate and two-year contract. (It'll hit "select" stores a week earlier, for what that's worth.)
We got a pretty good look at the Blaze 4G at Mobile World Congress. And while the 3.97-inch Super AMOLED display and 1.5GHz dual-core processor are nothing to sneeze at, it's still running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, you'll be left waiting for an Ice Cream Sandwich update. Perhaps T-Mobile's 42 Mbps data speeds will assuage that?
Edit: Fixed screen size.



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 08:43 AM PDT
Readability for Android
Readability is the latest app to address the double-edged sword that is the modern smartphone browser. When the iPhone arrived on the scene in mid-2007 it ushered in the era of (mostly) complete access to the world-wide-web from handheld mobile devices. Up to that point even the most sophisticated mobile browsers such as Pocket Internet Explorer 4 would present a heavily pared down view of web-sites.
However, the comparatively few people that actually did anything more than check email with their phones did so through old-school WAP browsers. Readability is now available for free from the Amazon Appstore. We've got your full review after the break.
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Posted: 12 Mar 2012 08:34 AM PDT
Welcome back for another week of giveaway's for Android accessories from ShopAndroid.com! Today we'll be featuring the HTC 2750mAh Extended Battery for HTC ThunderBolt, Smartphone Experts Crystal Case for Motorola Atrix 4G, Seidio SURFACE Holster for Droid X/X2, and the Mobi Skin Case for Motorola Droid Bionic.
After reviewing our hands-on videos of each of these Android accessories, be sure to leave your comment below stating which item you'd like to win.  Next Monday we'll announce the winner of today's giveaway. Good luck!

HTC 2750mAh Extended Battery w/ Door for ThunderBolt


The HTC 2750mAh Extended Battery w/ Door for HTC Thunderbolt significantly increases talk and standby time, and is "memory-free" so you charge up at any time. This OEM extended battery is lightweight and comes with an extended battery door which replaces the stock cover.
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Posted: 12 Mar 2012 08:25 AM PDT
I've always got my eyes peeled for the next great Twitter client on Android. Ever since I discovered Plume, I was hooked, but that doesn't mean I'm not open to the next best thing. Carbon looks like it'll give everyone a run for their money, but in the meantime, folks running Ice Cream Sandwich on their phones might want to direct their attention to Boid for Android, a Holo-themed, Android 4.0 exclusive that looks to tear you from the clutches of your favorite client and bring you to the Boid Side.
From the moment you open Boid for Android, the Holo look is immediately evident. Unfortunately, there's nothing to guide you through setup, either. After staring blankly at the screen for a few seconds, I realized the icon of a person next to a plus sign was my ticket in.
Adding an account is the same as with any other Twitter client (login via your browser into the Twitter website, grant access to the app), and from there, all the accounts you've added will show up on the screen. When you want to access a particular feed, you just tap that account. From there, the fun really begins.
You've got the requisite Timeline, Mentions, and Messages, but there's also a Trends feed on the far right. You move from column-to-column by swiping left and right. It's all very intuitive, looks absolutely great with the Holo theme, and for an alpha, is pretty darn stable, to boot. Refreshing is done via the "Pull to Refresh" mechanic made popular by other apps, and as far as I can tell, that's the only way.
At the bottom of the screen are your main Twitter commands: New Tweet, Search, and Profile. Each one of them acts just as you'd assume, and the New Tweet menu not only lets you write, but also lets you attach a picture, take a picture, and tag your geolocation. Sure, these are all standard Twitter functions, but to see it all in such an early alpha is excellent.
Tapping on someone else's Tweet pulls up a different contextual menu. From there you can reply, re-Tweet, check out their profile, or star the Tweet. When you're on someone else's profile you can also mention them, direct message them, or block them. I don't think Team Boid has yet implemented marking something/someone as spam.
Overall, I'm very, very pleased with where Boid for Android is at. For a free app, it's polished, relatively stable, and has plenty of reasons to become your next Twitter app. The developers have big plans for the future, too. Says Team Boid:
Features coming soon: save position in lists, finished tweetcomposer (media and location attachment), font size customization, background notifications for mentions and direct messages.
And later: a paid version (donation version), home screen widget (in the paid version), Twitlonger API (for posting tweets that are over 140 characters).
Not bad, right? Boid for Android is free in the Google Play Store. We've got download links after the break.
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Posted: 12 Mar 2012 08:03 AM PDT
Android Central PodcastIf you missed our triumphant return to the regular podcast rotation, you missed a lot. We took on the Google Play rebranding, more on privacy in the mobile space, where HTC is going with the HTC One line, plus more of your e-mails and voicemails!
The Android Central Podcast is your weekly peek into the world of Android, where we break down the news that really matters, and explain what's just a bunch of hype. Plus, we answer your e-mails and voicemails. You don't want to miss it. Check out the Android Central Podcast.



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 07:41 AM PDT
Samsung
After a series of false starts, it appears the long-awaited Ice Cream Sandwich update for Galaxy S II (GT-i9100) owners may be about to land. Korean mobile network SK Telecom tweeted this morning that it'll begin rolling out the software update starting 10am KST tomorrow, March 13. (That's 1am GMT, or 9pm EST today, because time zones are crazy like that.) However, the tweet in question was quickly pulled down, and now SK Telecom is telling customers to check with the manufacturer for update information.
Samsung remains coy, however, saying on its official "SamsungTomorrow" Twitter account that Galaxy S II owners should make sure they're up to date through Kies, and promising an announcement "soon."
So, possibly great news for Korean Galaxy S II owners, and we're sure it won't be long before the update goes out to owners of the same hardware in Europe and other parts of Asia, too. But Galaxy S II devices in the United States will probably have a little longer to wait, due to the differences in phone hardware from carrier to carrier.



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 07:02 AM PDT
Instagram for Android
Rene Ritchie is the editor of iMore.com and knows a thing or three about Instagram on iOS.
Why do you want Instagram on Android? Because Android users have the right to take beautiful, modern, digital pictures and filter them down to look like bad 1960s-era Polaroids just like iOS users. I kid. Seriously.
Instagram isn't Facebook or Twitter. It's not big or as broad. It's smaller and more sharply focused. More important, it doesn't exist on the web at all -- it's a purely mobile network. Sure, you can see individual Instagrams on the web, but that's all you can do on the official site -- just see individual Instagrams.
To take or upload, filter or share, your photos with the Instagram community, you need the mobile app, and right now that only exists on the iPhone. And that's a pity.
I joked about the filters at the beginning of this article, but the community is no joke. It's filled with passionate mobile photographers fully in tune with the idea that the best camera is the one you have with you, and the one you have with you is on your smartphone.
Android has some great camera phones like most everything from Samsung in the past year (save for the Galaxy Nexus), as well as some great photographers. And HTC's upcoming line looks to impress. And right now, as an Instagram user, I can't experience and appreciate their photography. I can't interact with them in place where other, like-minded mobile photographers are interacting with them without the annoyance or distraction of Tweets about politics or Likes of Bieber videos (whatever those are).
There are many iPhoneographers on Instagram whose work has elevated the medium well into the realms of art. Androidographers (live with it) deserve the same access and Instagram deserves the greater talent pool.
Android is a serious platform that's not always taken seriously by developers. It doesn't always get the great apps it deserves as fast as it deserves them. Instagram has taken its time coming to Android, but that it's coming is important. It's not as big a deal as Twitter or Facebook, but it's a much sharper deal, perhaps sharper even than Path.
Plus, Android's got gallery and sharing hooks that make some iPhone users green with envy. (Being able to share a photo as soon as you take it in the stock camera app is something you all take for granted.)
Mobile photography is a big deal. Having Instagram on Android isn't just great for Instagram or Android, it's great for us.
Now please, for the love of Ansel Adams, go easy on those '60s filters when you get 'em, will you?



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 06:48 AM PDT

Deal of the Day Grab the Qmadix Snap-On Cover for Motorola Droid RAZR for $14.95 today only. That's $15 off the list price!

The Qmadix Snap-On Case is form-fitted and impact resistant, protecting your Motorola Droid RAZR against drops and scratches.  The textured rubberized exterior provides a secure grip while leaving full access to the RAZR's ports and screen.  The included holster features a durable ratcheting swivel clip that allows for use in vertical and horizontal positions.
List Price: $29.99          Today: $14.95



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 06:34 AM PDT
Sony 'Pepper'
It's been a while since we last saw the Sony MT27i 'Pepper' a tantalizing mid-range (yet dual-core) smartphone which appeared in a couple of pre-MWC leaks, but failed to materialize at the show. However, in the past day or so the device, which is still known only by its model number and codename, cropped up on Sony Mobile China's website, before being swiftly pulled. The leaked image shows an official press shot of the device, alongside Sony's smart tags, indicating that like the Xperia P and S, the 'Pepper' will include NFC support.
Leaked specs place the device between the Xperia P and Xperia U in Sony's 2012 line-up, with a 1GHz dual-core CPU, a 3.7-inch WVGA854 display and 512MB of RAM. And an alleged 2012 roadmap for Sony smartphones which leaked back in January suggests a €300 price point. Interestingly, though, Sony's trademark clear element -- the transparent bit below the screen on Xperias S through U -- is nowhere to be seen on the 'Pepper.'
Based on the all the leaked info that's appeared, it looks like the 'Pepper' could be a solid mid-range contender for Sony. We'll keep you posted with any further details as they emerge.
Source: IT168; via: XperiaBlog



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 05:36 AM PDT
AT&T
AT&T this morning announced that it's bringing its new LTE data services to a dozen more locations over the next few months. The cities include:
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Akron, Ohio
  • Canton, Ohio
  • Naples, Fla.
  • Bloomoington, Ind.
  • Lafayette, Ind.
  • Muncie, Ind.
  • Baton Rouge, La.
  • New Orleans
  • St. Louis
  • Bryan/College Station, Texas
  • Staten Island, N.Y.
AT&T didn't give a specific timeline for the roll-out, though it did say Cleveland would be "soon," and that the other locations would launch in "April, May and into the early summer."



Posted: 12 Mar 2012 05:27 AM PDT

Mobile Nations





        Posted: 12 Mar 2012 05:07 AM PDT
        Android Central Contest Winners
        If you're a registered member here at Android Central then you know our forums always have a contest happening. And if you're not registered, well -- now is as good a time as any. This week's winners are as posted after the break, and if you were chosen watch your email as we'll be following up shortly. Stay tuned for more upcoming contests folks. Congrats to this week's winners!
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