Tech News

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Update - 292



Posted: 24 Mar 2012 03:49 PM PDT
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CyanogenMod is the most popular ROM out there. Supporting a plethora of devices, this team of developers has managed to reach a great percentage of root and ROM users. But there is so much to learn about the team and the ROM’s development. This is why the CyanogenMod team has recently posted a Q&A document, covering most topics you could think of.
The questions are broken down in three categories: Device, development and “General Malarkey.” As you can expect, the device questions are all pretty much the same – Is my device getting this? Is my device getting that? When? And the best question: “Will there be a version of CyanogenMod 9 available for my cheese sandwich?” To which the answer is “yes, with added bacon.”
It seems that flow chart they released was not good enough. But once we move past that usual and never-ending madness, things get interesting during the development questions. It includes topics like the launcher, Jelly Bean, how the community can help and CyanogenMod updating devices faster than manufacturers, among many other things.
The document is rather long, but it is worth the read if you are a CyanogenMod fan. We are sure it won’t stop people from asking the same things over and over again, though. You can check it out via Google Docs, so have at it.
[Source: CyanogenMod Via: Android Central]

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 03:05 PM PDT
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After a long, very long wait, Instagram finally decided to give its fans something to look for, earlier this month. Co-founder Kevin Systrom took the stage at SXSW to show a bit of the Android app, and let us know that it was finally soon to be released. And it seems that day is now getting much closer, as an official sign-up page has just gone live.
You can go ahead and sign up for notifications at instagr.am/android. After that, you will be notified as soon as the app becomes available.
It is important to note that this is a good app to look forward to. Instagram has over 27 million subscribers on iOS alone, so you can be sure that many of your friends will already be there waiting for you. But aside from that, Systrom mentioned at SXSW that "in some ways, it is better than their iOS app."
We do not exactly know what better aspects or features the Android app could have. But it is rather impressive to hear someone say that. One of the main complaints about Android revolves around applications, which can be poorly developed, and many times not as good as iOS apps.
When this app shows up, we might have a great way to edit and share our images with all our friends. And probably even better than the iOS team, if Systrom happens to be right. Of course, there are already many ways to edit and share images, but the amount of subscribed users makes it a much more enticing application (much like Facebook).
Go sign up and let us know what you think! Are any of you waiting for Instagram Android app?
[Source: Instagram Via: Instagram (Twitter)]

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 02:47 PM PDT
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A leaked picture of what could be the Motorola DROID Fighter showed up last week. Showing off a design that has become typical of the latest Motorola devices (Droid RAZR-like). But the DROID Fighter is not showing up alone. The same source has just released new images of another device, which seems to follow the same design patterns.
There are some noticeable aesthetic differences, though. The Kevlar looks like it is extended through the whole back, almost reaching the sides and top (camera area). The front also sports a much more prominent chin. Aside from such differences, the device looks very similar Motorola’s latest smartphones.
The Droid Fighter looks like it did not have room for any buttons, though. Making it seem like it would sport on-screen buttons. But this device has a significant amount of space between the chin and the screen. And if one looks closely, it almost looks like they could have been blurred out (which is weird).
This smartphone also has an HD camera and large speaker grill on the back, along with an LED flash. Other than that, the specs and details continue to be a mystery. But as the guys from Droid-Life mention, users were calling it the “Blade” in the forums. Which could be a very fitting name, but might also be an issue with the translation of “RAZR.”
Regardless, we might see this device showing up at some point. So stay tuned if you are starting to like it.


[Source: MFUNZ Via: Droid-Life]

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 01:56 PM PDT
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Everybody and their mom is purchasing iPads. The third-generation tablet was recently released, and Apple sold over 3 million just over the weekend. But us hardcore Android fans most likely didn’t go wait in line for it (or ordered it). But if one of you did, here is a little extra something the device could be used for!
In this humorous video, an old parent found an ingenious way to use that brand new device. He probably has a good Tegra 3 tablet somewhere, that he actually uses. The video is in German, but here is my short translation:
  • Daughter: “Yo, dad! How you liking that iPad we got you?! It must be treating you nice.”
  • Dad: “Yeah, it’s all good. I found I can use it for a bunch of things!”
Ok, so maybe my German isn’t exactly the best. But you get the gist of it. Check out the video and let us know what you think? What else would you use an iPad for?

Thanks, Droid Tran!

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 01:38 PM PDT
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The US Army has just released a web-based app marketplace prototype that will offer a variety of apps for smartphone and tablet users. The app market place is meant to easily provide important information to all users, further helping them prepare to serve the country.
The list of apps include the Soldier’s Blue Book (entry training guide), Army Values, Army Social Media Handbook and Developing a Performance Work Statement.
“Training aids, planning tools and other apps in the Marketplace give Soldiers easy access to information we need to keep current” – Sgt. 1st Class Nannete Williams
The marketplace is currently limited to iOS devices. But Android devices will be included soon. Devices have to be approved by the Army’s Common Operating Environment on the Army network. So don’t go trying to access it if you are not allowed to (already tried), as it won’t work. But this is a great step to integrate mobile technology to a soldier’s life.
Said apps were developed by Army training schools, so it would also be a great way for aspiring soldiers to get more details about their future. Users can access the marketplace prototype at www.marketplace.army.mil.
[Source: Army Via: Engadget]

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 01:06 PM PDT
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It seems there is a market for everyone, including those that believe 10.1-inch tablets are just too tiny. Toshiba has been working on the AT330, which is a 13-inch monster. But how big is that, exactly?
We know 13 inches sounds big, but it is hard to tell if it is too big or not just by looking at images and videos. And there are no other Android tablets out there of this size. So we do not exactly know how a 13-inch device must look and feel in the hands.
The guys from Techblog have a few images for us, better giving us an idea of what this titan is like. In the images, the Toshiba AT330 is compared to a Toshiba Excite 10 LE and a Toshiba AT270. These are sized at 10-inches and 7-inches, relatively.


Most of us have felt a 10-inch device, as well as a 7-inch one. So we are familiar with the feel of said screen sizes. But as we can see here, a 10-inch tablet simply looks like a baby compared to a 13-inch tablet. And many of us believe that 10 inches is already too much. But Samsung is also aiming the larger tablet market with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 11.6.
Of course, some people might love it, as it also offers TV capabilities. Not to mention its awesome specs, which include a Tegra 3 processor, Android 4.0.1, 32 GB of internal storage, a 13-inch 1920×1200 display, a 5 MP rear-facing camera and a 1.3 MP front shooter.
As for me, it is simply too large. I prefer 7 to 9-inch tablets. And would not know what to do with such a large Android device. But what do you guys think? Would you consider buying a 13-inch tablet?
[Source: Techblog Via: Talk Android]

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 12:25 PM PDT
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I hate studies. No, not that stuff I do at college (though I absolutely hate that too), but rather the alternative dictionary meaning, " to investigate or examine, as by observation, research, etc."
I understand that hate is a very powerful word, and I admit that systematic analysis of data can be a very powerful tool, but the unfortunate issue is that more often than not, the "studies" that gain mainstream attention always, always have a company with something to gain funding it. That’s the reason every other news channel you’ll see shouts out that they’re the "Number 1 News Channel in <put your location here>."
The latest "study" that has ticked me off was conducted jointly by IDC and Appcelerator. You might know IDC as the well respected brand when it comes to such researches, you might not have heard of Appcelerator.
They’re the guys behind the cross-platform development platform Titanium. And according to them,
78.6% of developers were interested in creating apps for Android smartphones during the first quarter of 2012, down from the 83.3% in Q4 of 2011 and down from around 87% in Q1 of 2011.
Now, you might be wondering why Appcelerator would want to show interest in Android development as waning. The reason is that HTML5 has been highlighted a lot, and HTML5 is the foundation for most of the cross-platform tools, including Titanium. The key mention for HTML5 is “78% of app developers surveyed say they will integrate HTML5 in their apps this year.”
The reason given for the decrease in interest? No prizes for guessing: fragmentation. While I do agree that developing on Android comes with its fair share of challenges, there are some fabulous advantages that come with the platform that others cannot offer.
Additionally, former Gartner analyst Mike King and now Appcelerator’s principle mobile strategist, has been quoted as saying developers are lukewarm on Ice Cream Sandwich. And that, by far, is by far the most laughable excerpt of the entire piece.
Every developer I’ve spoken to absolutely loves ICS. Which developer won’t love an OS that allows them to create an app that is optimized for a tablet and a phone, and hell, possibly even a TV, with one single package?
And let’s remember firstly, a developer using HTML5 will face way more fragmentation issues than one developing native, especially when you take into account targeting tablets as well as phones. As I’ve stated in another article before, I have spent the last half year doing some web development and I now find Android development to be a vacation.
Unfortunately, the numbers produced after surveying 2100 developers, which is less than 40% of the expected attendees of the upcoming Google I/O event, have been thrown about as "another sign of weakness" for the Android platform. Just google "Android development news" and you’ll see a herd of sheep reporting on the survey, having eaten up the propaganda.
I wish I had the numbers to back up my arguments, but I just don’t have the resources to accomplish something like that. I did, however, take a survey when I helped kick start a mobile development group in my college, and from about 150 responses, only two individuals showed no interest in developing for Android.
I do accept that certain socioeconomic reasons play a major factor in the overwhelming level of interest Android generates in India, where I live. However, I just don’t see why developer interest would decrease in a platform that could potentially reach a point where a million new devices are being activated each day some time this year.
As we’ve seen in the Mac vs PC fight, developers do go where the numbers are. They’d be foolish not to.

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 12:22 PM PDT
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iPhone devices are no longer exclusive to AT&T, and other carriers are starting to see the benefits of offering the popular device. And even though Sprint has been known for having a great relationship with Google, its investment in Apple’s products has shown great results. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has recently stated that iPhone customers are more profitable than others (including Android), which may bring a bit of a difference in the future of our favorite platform.
According to Hesse, iPhone devices bring a much heavier subsidy. Not only that, but the device has been bringing many new customers; more so than other platforms. 4 out of 10 Sprint iPhone customers are opening new lines. This happens to be about twice what other platforms are bringing.
Furthermore, Sprint CEO states that “iPhone customers have a lower level of churn, and they actually use less data on average than a high-end, 4G Android device.” Of course, iPhone devices are currently not 4G enabled. It comes as obvious that they do not use the same amount of data – They simply can’t. Especially considering Sprint’s 3G data speeds.
Sprint’s $20 million investment in bringing the iPhone on-board may show profitable now. But Apple has already started to make the move to 4G LTE, with its new iPad. Once this faster data technology is embedded into iPhones, the tables are sure to turn. We surely remember how the large quantity of iPhones affected AT&T’s network, just a few years ago.
Surely, those 1.8 million iOS devices sold during Q4, 2011 will not look so enticing then. The devices will have the ability to suck as much data as our 4G Android smartphones. Which is why we doubt the validity of the following statement:
"The marriage made in heaven is unlimited plus the iPhone. My plan is to continue for as long as we can, hopefully forever."
Forever? Definitely not. Especially if the next iteration of the iPhone gains LTE connectivity (probably will). iPhones will consume as much data as our Android devices and a substantial amount will be sold. If anything, the iPhone could partly be the reason why Sprint stops offering unlimited data in the future.
[Source: Mobile World Live Via: Washington Post]

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 11:33 AM PDT
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Home automation is a technology that has been almost impossible to own, unless your bank account is bursting with cash. As it becomes more affordable, large companies like Google and Amazon have be planning on becoming part of the game. But another soon-to-be competitor is Motorola, along with Verizon.
In collaboration, these companies are making home automation possible for the general consumer. All will be made possible thanks to the Connected Home Gateway, which has just made its rounds through the FCC. Meaning that it will probably be hitting the market anytime, soon.
We saw this system at CES, and we have to say it looks promising. This bad boy will allow customers to control their home and appliances straight from a smartphone or tablet. One will be able to turn appliances on and off, change the thermostat settings, turn lights on and off, lock doors and even set macro settings (profiles).
This will soon be part of Verizon’s Z-Wave Home Monitoring and Control system. Which is pretty much the same, but more focused on security.
Personally, the home automation systems are very exciting. And Google has been taking its sweet time with Google@Home. I don’t ask for much, and those promised Android light bulbs would make me happy for now. But since we don’t see any of that coming soon, Motorola might very well be another viable option.
What do you guys say? Looking forward to the connected home? Let’s hope no hack allows criminals to control our homes!

[Source: FCC Via: Engadget]

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 11:05 AM PDT
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Those that haven’t been living under a rock will know that 4G LTE is today’s technology. It is here to stay, and manufacturers and carriers across the globe are investing all their dimes and nickles to move to the faster data speeds it offers. But currently we find ourselves in the middle of the transition, and LTE device shipments are said to multiply by 10 this year.
According to a study held by Strategy Analytics, 2012′s LTE unit shipments will grow to reach 67 million. This comes as a huge leap, as 2011′ LTE device shipments only reached 6.8 million. Such numbers are global calculations, but we can see this phenomena taking place even here, in the US.
Major carriers in the US, like Verizon and Sprint, are planning on releasing mostly (if not only) LTE smartphones and tablets from now on. Except for T-Mobile, who won’t be jumping on board until 2013. Odds are that anyone getting a smartphone with Sprint, Verizon and AT&T soon, will be purchasing an LTE capable device. And the same will apply for T-Mobile soon enough.
LTE’s faster speeds come with a few caveats, though. For one, battery efficiency is not optimal in this network. My battery almost doubles when I turn off my 4G LTE radios. But this is an issue that manufacturers have been starting to improve. Devices like the Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note and Droid RAZR Maxx are reporting a full work-day of battery life. Even when connected to the 4G LTE networks.
We have also seen Verizon’s many issues with the network. Country-wide LTE blackouts started to become more usual than they should be. But this is something that is starting to disappear, as well. As the technology advances, we will start seeing all these flaws disappear. With LTE becoming the standard in mobile communications.
And these shipment numbers will especially increase once the “almighty” iPhone gets LTE connectivity. Which is something we should expect to see with the upcoming iteration of the popular iOS device. Apple has already released LTE versions of the iPad, something that should come as a signal of faster speeds to come to iPhone fans.
Until then, we will have to sit back and see how LTE technology evolves. I am starting to see more and more LTE users walking around my city. And things are not about to slow down, whether we like it or not.
How are you guys enjoying the 4G LTE speeds? Do you see a great future with LTE, or do you think it should be dumped?
STRATEGY ANALYTICS: Global LTE Phone Shipments Will Surge Tenfold to 67 Million Units in 2012
Boston, MA - March 23rd, 2012 -- According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global LTE phone shipments will grow tenfold to reach 67 million units in 2012. It is a breakout year for 4G technology. Companies leading the growth spurt will include Apple, Samsung, HTC and others.
Neil Shah, Analyst at Strategy Analytics, said, "We forecast global LTE phone shipments to grow tenfold from 6.8 million units in 2011 to 67.0 million in 2012. Major countries driving LTE growth this year will include the United States, Japan and South Korea. Multiple operators, such as Verizon Wireless, NTT Docomo and SK Telecom, are aggressively expanding their LTE networks. Key vendors leading the push into LTE phones will include Apple, Samsung, HTC, LG, Nokia, Motorola, Pantech and Fujitsu."
Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, "The mobile industry is entering a breakout year for 4G LTE technology. Multiple operators and multiple phone vendors will be launching dozens of LTE models across numerous countries worldwide. LTE has quickly become a high-growth, high-value market that no operator, service developer, device vendor or component maker can afford to ignore."
Tom Kang, Director at Strategy Analytics, added, "The LTE phone segment is expanding at a rapid rate this year, but there will undoubtedly be growing pains in this early phase. Many LTE phones and data plans will be relatively expensive, which means operators will need to invest generous subsidies to make 4G more affordable for subscribers. Meanwhile, consumers will be concerned about LTE usability issues, such as shortened battery life, excessive device weight or sudden bill shock caused by high data consumption."
[Via: BGR]

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 10:47 AM PDT
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Not going to say much. Just that you can get the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (the international GSM version) unlocked for $459.50 via Negri Electronics, with free ground shipping. Here’s the link.
You do have to live with a NTT DoCoMo logo on the back cover.
Update: As AceCurry and the guys behind the offer, Negri Electronics, have both confirmed in the comments below, 3G data will work for those on T-Mobile. I had erroneously stated that it won’t. Sorry about that, everyone.
Thanks, Kenny!

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 10:36 AM PDT
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Looking for the power of a smartphone but the freedom of a no-contract, pre-paid connection? Well, dear sir (or madame), AT&T can offer you the Huawei Fusion. For $125, you can get your hands on the Gingerbread phone with 3.5", 320 X 480 pixel screen, a 3.2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.1, FM Radio, 32 GB MicroSD support.
[AT&T via Engadget]

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 05:53 AM PDT
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Unlike most Android manufacturers, Samsung seems intent on retaining its strategy to manufacture hundreds of variants of devices that vary in the tiniest of manners. After creating something like a gazillion tabets in the 7-to-9 inch range, they seem to be interested in testing the upper limit on tablet sizes if the rumors of the 11.6 inch tablet are to be true.

Although there hasn’t really been any solid basis for the rumor, which first originated at BGR,  Android and Me found this picture on Samsung’s webpage detailing the Exynos 5250 processor. There are striking similarities with the Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the tablet will make its way to the market. It could easily be a mock-up or a reference device for the processor platform.
How many of you would be interested in the larger 11.6 tablet? Personally, I’m someone who prefers a smaller one, and will probably sell my Galaxy Tab 10.1 and get the Nexus Tablet (if it does roll out) or the Asus MeMo once they are available. I think an 11.6 will be too large for those who use it mainly for reading purposes, and I’m not too sure if a 1.5-inch increase would be a killer feature for those who consume a ton of media or use it in conjunction with some form of a keyboard dock.
[via Android and Me]

Posted: 23 Mar 2012 09:41 PM PDT
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As an Android nerd and 2-year Sprint customer, one of the biggest cons I’ve found from being with a CDMA carrier is the sometimes painful process of swapping or purchasing used devices. Aside from the initial device I receive when signing up for a 2-year agreement, my devices are almost always obtained through face-to-face meetings with sellers on Craigslist. A few quick protips I’ve learned through the years are:
  1. Always bring a friend
  2. Have them video record the transaction from the car
  3. Call minutes before meeting up to make sure the buyer has the full amount agreed to (to avoid getting short changed at the time of transaction)
  4. And most importantly… always check ESN’s.
“ESN” is short for a phone’s Electronic Serial Number. CDMA carriers use this to track devices on their network. Unlike GSM carriers that use SIM cards like T-Mobile and AT&T, a phone on carriers like Sprint or Verizon can easily be blacklisted if they’ve been reported lost, stolen or damaged. You can see why checking a device’s ESN is a crucial step in the buying process to avoid getting burned.
But checking an ESN isn’t always easy. A cautious seller may not want to provide you with the info over the phone as to avoid the device being activated without payment. The smartest way to go about it is in a face-to-face meeting with the seller. This way you can see firsthand, the device’s ESN (typically found underneath the battery). Even then, a shyster could replace the ESN sticker with one from a different device. The most full-proof method of checking a device is jumping into the phone’s Settings > About Phone > Status. No way to fake that (unless it’s rooted).
Okay, so now you have the ESN, we can start the process of making sure it’s clean. You can do this by either calling the carrier (a tedious process that can take a lot of time), jumping online to a free ESN checking sites (in which case you’ll have to read and type out that long ESN number accurately (I always mess up). Or as Nicole Cozma on Cnet pointed out — there’s a free app that will do everything for you.
PocketESN, is a free app in the Google Play store that will check the ESN of any device it’s installed on. It’s pretty straight forward. Install. Check. Get on with your life. PocketESN comes in both a free version that will only check the phone once, or a slightly more pricey paid version for $6 that will check any device, as many times as you’d like (even comes with a handy barcode scanner for quick ESN entry).

The only problem I’ve found with the free version of the app is, in a real world situation, it would require either the buyer or seller to sign into their Google account before at the time of the transaction in order to download from the Play store. Or, you could always back up the app using your preferred cloud service and then sideload. Either way, an active internet connection would be required and not exactly ideal for every situation.
You guys do any used phone shopping on Craigslist? Got any helpful tips? Could you see this app being useful, or would jumping onto CheckESNFree.com in the browser be all around easier?
[Play Store Link]

Posted: 23 Mar 2012 07:33 PM PDT
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Nobody knows exactly why it happened, but when Samsung decided to release their official Galaxy Nexus car dock here in the states, they did so minus the 3-pin connectors that not only send the phone into car mode, but charge the device as well. Well, a handy-man over on XDA decided to take matters into his own hands put together a (not so) quick do-it-yourself project that would make Ben Heck proud.

The results? A car dock for the Galaxy Nexus (GSM) the way it should have been released. Look like a fun weekend project? Well, with a cold beer and a little elbow grease, you too could give your Galaxy Nexus the car dock it deserves. The jury is still out on whether or not this will work on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus but for more info, follow the link below for his full walkthrough.
[XDA]

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