Tech News

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Update - 238



Posted: 17 Mar 2012 04:26 PM PDT
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As I sit here with my beat down HTC Thunderbolt, I can’t help but to think of how much 4G LTE devices have improved. On this date, a year ago, the first US 4G LTE smartphone was released, and its age is showing.
We have gone a long ways since then. It can be said that the device was Verizon’s guinea pig for testing its brand new 4G LTE network. It ran into many issues, such as update delays and numerous bugs. Not to mention its 3-4 hour battery life when using LTE’s faster speeds.
Current 4G LTE smartphones are much more polished, with more stable software and improved battery life. We have the Galaxy Nexus, the Galaxy Note and the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX, among others. All show great improvement in all categories, and surely leave the good ol’ Thunderbolt in the dust.
Surely, it was great to be one of the first to experience 4G LTE speeds, though. Those loading times and download speeds seemed to fly. Something that we have grown accustomed to – going back to 3G is simply no longer an option for most of us.
Verizon and Sprint recognize this (and we are sure the others do, as well), and both companies are set on releasing only 4G LTE smartphones from now on. As Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile continue to expand their networks by adding LTE connectivity, many of the issues will continue to disappear. Just as they have been, recently.
As my Thunderbolt gives its last breaths, I plan on getting a new device within the next month. In a few days my thunderbolt’s purchase anniversary will come. It is still kicking, and it made it a long way. But it is time for a change.
Technology is advancing faster than ever, so let’s stay tuned to see how 4G technology evolves. How many of you still own the first 4G LTE device in the US? Are you ready for a change?
[Via: Reddit]

Posted: 17 Mar 2012 03:42 PM PDT
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One can’t speak about multi-tasking without the new Galaxy Note 10.1 popping up in conversation. MWC was full of great devices, but this tablet really called my attention (you can see our hands-on video for a demo). The specs might not be too impressive (while still great), but what makes this tablet stand out is its multi-screen functionality.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 lets users work on various applications simultaneously. This is possible by dividing the screen area to show both applications at once. It provides a true multi-tasking experience, similar to that of a computer. A feature that I (and surely, many of you) have been wanting for quite some time, now.
This made Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 one of the most exciting and innovative products at MWC. No other Android manufacturer has done this yet, and the reason is not very clear. Such feature would really make a tablet much more efficient, in a world where tablets are considered a luxury. Check out minipcpro’s video to see a demonstration of the feature:

But we would like to reach out to our readers and see what they think of the multi-screen feature. Please participate in the poll and hit the comments section to let us know what you think. Are you with me, and believe that more manufacturers should adopt multi-screen functionality? Am I crazy and this feature is nothing but a gimmick?
Take Our Poll

Posted: 17 Mar 2012 02:30 PM PDT
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Multi-tasking has been one of Android’s strongest lures. Some believe that the feature needs a bit more polishing, though. Many users don’t take full advantage of said feature. If you need more efficient, simple multi-tasking, Taskbar Task Switcher is bringing a refreshed approach, by using the notification bar and pull-down menu.
The app remembers your most recently used applications and puts them in your pull-down notification menu. One can pick how many tasks are remembered, ranging from 3 to 8. After pulling down the notification list, the most recent tasks are listed as notifications would be.
One can also select which apps should be excluded from the list, text color and whether you want the app to start on boot or not. The settings and functionality are simple and to the point, which is what makes it enticing.
After using the app for some time, it becomes a very intuitive feeling to just bull down the notification menu and switch apps. It is similar to modifications that manufacturer UI overlays utilize. Some just add the most recent apps to the notification window, already. But if you are missing such feature, this might be your best bet.
The app places discrete dots in the notification bar to display the recent tasks. This can become a bit annoying if you prefer keeping your notification bar clear. A good addition to the app would be an option to turn those off, if possible.
I honestly don’t have much use for it. Honeycomb/Ice Cream Sandwich users probably won’t either. The new Window button is very good at getting the multi-tasking job done. But it does feel more intuitive than pressing and holding the Home button, which is what other Android versions turn to.
The app is free and has no ads. It is definitely worth taking a look at if you want to be more efficient while multi-tasking. Just head over to the Gogole Play Store and check it out. Don’t forget to let us know how you like it. What do you guys think is the best way to multi-task on Android.
[Via: XDA Developers]

Posted: 17 Mar 2012 01:27 PM PDT
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Twitter’s latest innovations are not everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you are an avid tweeter. But it seems like the popular social network is bringing some goodness for those that prefer the older interface. After acquiring Tweetdeck last year, the company has recently decided to release a new version of the Twitter client for Android and iOS.
We have no official details just yet. Tweetdeck has started looking for new team members, though. The job listing was posted recently, stating the following:
The TweetDeck team, working from London, is looking for new team members to work on our cutting edge Android app. We’re building the next generation of a suite of clients that millions of people love and use everyday. You’ll work on our small team, own the projects that you work on, and have a great time shipping products which change the way people communicate.
This will come as good news if you are not a fan of the official Twitter app. After its most recent changes, the Direct Message section has been hidden. The social network is now focusing on new adopters’ growth by focusing on the “Discover” section. Tweetdeck could be considered an official app, as well – It is now under Twitter’s ownership.
If you are not liking the hidden Direct Message section and random popular tweets, just sit tight. This Tweetdeck update should get started soon. The company seems to have already filled positions for the iOS team, and the Android team will should be ready soon.
But just out of curiosity – What do you guys think of the new Twitter setup? Do you prefer the older style, or are you liking the Discover section and new interface? Do you prefer the Twitter app, or Tweetdeck?
[Source: Twitter Via: TechCrunch]

Posted: 17 Mar 2012 12:52 PM PDT
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In the midst of patent wars and court pandemonium, we have a small win for the consumer. Last month, AT&T lost in a small claims court in California against Matt Spacarelli. AT&T was all set for appealing the ruling, but it seems it have decided to skip all of that and just pay up.
Spacarelli has received a check for $935, as Simi Valley, CA judge has found Ma Bell’s throttling practices to be against its terms of service. But what most upset customers was not the throttling. It was the fact that they were being throttled after using too little data.

Users have been reporting slower data speeds after using 2 GB or less in a month. Tiered data plan subscribers are never throttled, and have the option to pay the exact same amount for a 3 GB data plan. Gradfathered unlimited data users feel like this is unfair of AT&T.
AT&T claims that only the top 5% heavy users get throttled. So everything changes in a monthly basis. But this represents a great victory, and proves one of the following: Either AT&T just doesn’t feel like dealing with this, or they know their approach is unfair and has decided to just pay the customer.
Regardless, AT&T has recently decided to set “limits,” instead. A change that was made due to customers requesting more transparency regarding the matter. Now, users will only be throttled after crossing the 3 GB threshold. 4G LTE users are the exception, as they will be able to go up to 5 GB.
This change could be AT&T’s way of avoiding more lawsuits. Meaning a regular Joe like Spacarelli was able to walk away with a victory, not only for himself, but for all AT&T customers. After getting his check, Matt has decided to use the money to cancel the contract. He is now with Straight Talk, which offers unlimited everything for $45.
[Source: Matt Spaccarelli (Twitter) Via: Mashable]

Posted: 17 Mar 2012 12:04 PM PDT
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The Motorola DROID Pro may not be our dream device. But when it comes to good keyboards, it is definitely ranked among the best. If you haven’t been completely happy with the business-centric device, though, an update has just started rolling out, bringing a variety of improvements and bug fixes.
The new software version is named 4.7.3.XT610.Verizon.en.US. Below, you will find an image of the official document, which provides details about the update. If you have not been prompted yet, this might be the time to start hitting the settings to try to get it.

[Source: Verizon Via: TalkAndroid]

Posted: 17 Mar 2012 11:28 AM PDT
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Most of us are Android fans, but how many of us love rice, as well? Panasonic has decided to mix the best of both worlds and just announced the SR-SX2 rice cooker. This is no regular appliance, though. It comes with some cool features and can be operated with an Android device.
The gadget runs on RFID technology, and is compatible with all FeliCa Smartcard (Sony technology) enabled smartphones. After downloading the app, one can simply modify the settings from a compatible smartphone. Settings include type of rice, temperature, timer and other rice science option. The user is then able to tap the device on that blue icon and the magic starts.
With so many features, your rice will probably come out even tastier. But if cooking isn’t your thing, the app also includes recipes. All for the humble price of 89,800 yen, which translates to about $1075 US. That is quite the investment. Some people must really love their rice.
The SR-SX2 will be released in June for the Japanese market. So if our Japanese readers have some extra money just waiting to be spent, this could be an option. What is next, though? Android-operated toilets? This is cool and all, but we can find no justification for paying over $1000 for the SR-SX2. I will be sticking with my good ol’ $40 rice cooker – Will you?
[Source: Panasonic Via: Gizmodo]

Posted: 17 Mar 2012 10:52 AM PDT
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Sprint’s highly anticipated Galaxy Nexus made its rounds through the FCC a couple of days ago. As customers wait patiently for any official announcements and releases, we have a bit of info from the rumor train to consider. And Sprint customers will be happy to know that the Ice Cream Sandwich device might be released next month, on April 15th.
The rumor comes from s4gru.com, who claims that an inside Sprint source has confirmed this information. According to the sources, Sprint has internally decided to launch the Nexus device on said date. It happens to be a Sunday, though. Which S4GRU even accepts that it is an unlikely day for a device release.
This makes the news a bit hard to believe, as the very site that released this information is doubting its certainty. But there are some extra interesting details. Apparently, the Sprint Galaxy Nexus will support LTE, but the device will come with 3G connectivity mode as default.
Sprint’s 4G LTE will be within its first stages when the device goes for sale. And the sources claim that Sprint has decided to not completely depend on the new network just yet. Instead, it will work like it has with WiMAX, where one has to toggle 4G on and off.
Regardless, this could probably be seen as a feature. LTE is known for being a battery hog, so users might prefer the idea of it not being on at all times. After all, a 4G LTE on/off toggle has been a popular request for Verizon’s devices.
As always, do take this with a spoon-full of salt. S4GRU is a relatively new site, and the details seem a bit shady. But with enough luck, we might be seeing that Galaxy Nexus finally being released next month. Are any of you holding up for the Sprint Nexus device?
[Via: S4GRU]

Posted: 17 Mar 2012 10:38 AM PDT
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Sensing the Carrier IQ mess is sufficiently in the past, Verizon acknowledged in the changelog for the LG Revolution that it will be adding a remote diagnostic tool to the phone.
However, a significant difference of this tool from Carrier IQ is that Verizon only retrieves data when the user explicitly gives permission to a customer care representative while requesting help. Once the rep has the permission he/she can "remotely view the user’s device for troubleshooting and application demonstrations.”
Whether or not this tool finds its way to other Verizon devices is something we’ll only get to know about in the future.
The other changes coming to the LG Revolution are:
Device Enhancements
  • Resolved reboot issue found during operating system upgrade from Froyo
  • to Gingerbread.
  • Playing AVI video files through HDMI no longer causes display to flicker.
  • Placing an alarm on snooze while on a voice call will set snooze to 5 minutes.
  • Dolby presets have been updated to use loudness, bass and spaciousness
  • to improve the user’s experience.
  • When placing the device into Airplane Mode, the 4G icon no longer appears.
  • Email, Messaging & Web
  • Sending a text message to a 7 digit number will display as sent and received.
  • Improved device messaging to fix delays or incomplete sends.
  • Pressing the back key while browsing will take the user back to the previous page.
Applications & Widgets
  • Verizon Video is now preloaded.
  • Calendar widget now displays correct month for November.
[LG Revolution Changelog | via Android Central]

Posted: 17 Mar 2012 09:07 AM PDT
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Android and lawsuits, unfortunately, go hand in hand. For possibly the first time, though, I got to side with the plaintiff. Dodd Harris and Stephen Sabatino are suing Google regarding the 15-minute refund window, stating that it is unfair and often doesn’t leave enough time to demand a refund.
This isn’t the first time the 15-minute window is causing legal problems for Google. If your memory is sharp, you would probably remember that Google was handed a fine from the Taiwanese government that wanted them to provide a 7-day trial period. Google declined, simply choosing not to sell apps in the country.
As stated earlier, I agree with Dodd Harris and Stephen Sabatino on this issue. Fifteen minutes is ridiculously low, especially considering how app sizes are getting larger which means more download time. Some developers do give refunds if you contact them yourselves, but that’s a rare case and the official method needs to be remedied.
In my eyes, there should either be a 12 or a 24 hour period, or some method where developers can set refund windows or its simply proportional to the download size.
What’s your opinion? Are you happy with the 15-minute window, or would you like to see a change, too?
[via Android Police]

Posted: 17 Mar 2012 08:33 AM PDT
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We’ve just received a tip that IceMonkey.com is selling the GSM version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus for $520, inclusive of shipping. There are limited quantities, so you might want to hurry up. You can get the deal here.
Update: Or, as QuantumRand in the comments has mentioned, you can get it from Amazon for $525 (with shipping).
I must mention, though, that I can’t vouch for the website. This is the first time I’ve heard of it, so I’d prefer that someone who’s dealt with the site before mentions his/her experience in the comments.
Thanks, jk.

Posted: 17 Mar 2012 07:07 AM PDT
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Chris pointed out a couple of days back that the international version of the Samsung Galaxy Note was available on 1SaleADay for $580. If you were interested, but missed out on that deal, don’t beat yourself up about it. You can get the phablet from Ben’s Outlet for the same price over here.
Thanks again, Molo!

Posted: 17 Mar 2012 06:22 AM PDT
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The significant changes made to the Android source code for Ice Cream Sandwich meant that creating a fully-functional, smooth as silk custom ROM has been a significant challenge to even the most talented developers.
The modding community took to Qualcomm’s forums, asking for any kind of assistance, and fortunately for the entire Android community, Qualcomm answered their call. The binaries for all the Adreno 2xx series GPUs have been made available, which should help developers significantly when it comes to enabling hardware acceleration.
Developers can get their hands dirty over here.
[via MoDaCo]

Posted: 17 Mar 2012 06:01 AM PDT
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Briefmobile have reportedly stumbled across a Samsung Galaxy S III leaked image, and appear confident that it could be legit. Their reasons? The ICS TouchWiz interface, and the Weber Shandwick logo (I don’t understand why that adds any real credibility).
My two cents? It’s a fake. Firstly, it’s based off a Reddit thread, so you have to take that with a grain of salt. Secondly, see both the views of the phone. It’s white on grey in the face on view, and grey on white in the side view. Now, the bezel does seem to have a bit of depth to it, but I doubt Samsung would add even a fraction of a millimeter of thickness to the phone just to put the screen in a bit of depression.
What are your thoughts? Like the looks? Noticed something that I didn’t which makes you believe it probably is legit? Have your say in the comments.
Thanks, Karl!
[Reddit via Mobilebrief]

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