Posted: 26 Mar 2012 11:12 AM PDT
In case anyone managed to miss the news, Registration for Google’s popular I/O event is tomorrow but there is only a small limited number of available seats and registration so you’ll have to hurry if you want to get in. Previous years the event sold out literally in minutes so we urge you to read on below for the time and details.
This year Google I/O was extended to three days and moved to June 27-29th in San Francisco, at the Moscone Center. As mentioned above, registration will be open starting tomorrow at 7:00 AM PDT and will probably sell out in minutes. The pricing has increased from previous years to $900 ($300 for students) but with all the good news, details, and treats from the event it’s totally worth it. Hopefully they’ll give out a few of those rumored Nexus tablets.
If we remember right, around 5,500 people will be able to enjoy the show, so you’ll want to be ready to click register right at 7 AM and I’d have my credit card out and waiting if I were you. We expect some great news from Google this year. Hopefully about Android 4.5 or 5.0 Jelly Bean, and possibly even more on Android@Home or some of the other things they’ve been working on the past year. Hit the link below to find out all the details on how to register.
As a reminder Android Community will be there live for all the action so you’ll want to stay tuned right here should you not be able to attend yourself. We’ll be sure to update with all the news and plenty of pictures and video as the event goes on. Who’s excited?
[via IO Registration]
Posted: 26 Mar 2012 10:35 AM PDT
One of the most popular ROM’s for the world of Android along with CyanogenMod is MIUI, and today we have good news regarding their development of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and the Galaxy Nexus. MIUI has been available for multiple devices for a long time and we’ve seen a few hacked or ported ROM’s for the Galaxy Nexus but now the official MIUI ICS for “toro” the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is available in all its glory.
Originally MIUI started off looking a bit like iOS and still holds true to that with no actual app launcher, but it has evolved into a beautiful and popular version of Android. Their lockscreen shown above, for example, is awesome and gives users more options than anything you’d ever need — and we love it. This is Android 4.0.3 ICS but it has been improved and tweaks for the ultimate user experience, look, and speed and anyone that has tried MIUI in the past should know what to expect.
Obviously this is a custom ROM, you’ll need to be rooted, unlocked, and all that other good stuff but we’d suggest giving it a try. This coming direct from the MIUI team, not a kang, and it appears to be fully functional with just about everything working. The RootzWiki thread has a few issue reports but for the most part it seems to be running great for everyone. If you’ve not tried MIUI yet, or wanna give something other than CM9 a try feel free to hit the Rootz link and give it a try today. Let us know what you think of the speed and performance.
Dimension & Weight
Battery & Power
Posted: 26 Mar 2012 09:47 AM PDT
At present there’s a lot of RAZRs going around – Motorola’s got the original DROID RAZR on Verizon, the international Motorola RAZR, the DROID RAZR MAXX with its extended battery, a couple of local Chinese versions and a mystery phone that’s probably coming as the DROID Fighter. Add one more to the pile: The RAZR MAXX XT910 is an international GSM version of the DROID RAZR MAXX, currently on sale in China. Aside from a new radio and some branding, the RAZR MAXX XT910 is identical to its American cousin.
We’ve been hearing requests for an international version of the DROID RAZR MAXX ever since it launched – that massive 3300mAh battery is an enviable feature. Motorola ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie, either: we gave the DROID RAZR MAXX a torture test over a three-day business trip, and it just barely managed to make the whole thing on a single charge. In addition to the bigger battery and slightly bigger body, the RAZR MAXX XT910 keeps the 4.3-inch AMOLED screen, 16GB of on-board storage and 1.2Ghz dual-core processor. The phone is still running Motorola’s customized version of Android 2.3.
The release of this phone is good news for our international readers. While this particular model is unique to China, it demonstrates that Moto isn’t keeping the MAXX line in the United States. Cramming a gigantic battery into a phone that’s still quite slim and manageable is an impressive feat of engineering, and I’m glad to see it spread to more models. If Motorola can start releasing more and more phones with these extended yet concealed batteries, it just might gain a reputation as the longest-lasting phone manufacturer around.
Posted: 26 Mar 2012 09:12 AM PDT
HTC’s One series is inching closer, though it seems like it’s a lot closer for those across the pond. Customers of British telcos Vodafone and Three can now reserve their very own HTC One X or One S. Both companies are now taking pre-orders for both phones, so whether you want the crazy-powerful One X or the svelte One S, you’re covered. Three says that the HTC devices will be available next Wednesday, April 4th, but Vodafone is somewhat mum – we’d expect the phones to be available on both carriers at the same time.
If you don’t know about the HTC One series by now, you need to find lodgings somewhere besides Bedrock. The One X is the daddy of the line, with a massive 4.7-inch 720p screen and a NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor. The One S is a little smaller with a 4.3-inch qHD screen and a Snapdragon S4 processor, but it makes up for it with a Super AMOLED display and a super-skinny body. Both phones get a unibody aluminum frame, Beats Audio, 8 megapixel cameras with impressive f/2.0 lenses, and Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC’s Sense UI 4.0.
Three is offering both phones on a variety of plans, from £24-38 a month subsidized. Vodafone is offering the One X from £41 and the One V from £36, but both phones get a free pair of urBeats headphones when pre-ordered. The HTC One X is headed to the States on AT&T (minus the Tegra 3 processor for LTE connections) and T-Mobile gets the One S, but neither company has been forthcoming with an exact date. The smallest phone in the One line, the One V, will launch on a few regional US carriers.
[via Know Your Mobile]
Posted: 26 Mar 2012 08:25 AM PDT
Android gaming has finally come into its own, and major publishers are starting to take notice. This includes gaming legend Sega, which has graced Android with its Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Monkey Ball franchises, along with a few others. But they’re not anywhere near finished yet: Pocket Gamer reports that Sega’s online RPG franchise Phantasy Star Online will be heading to Android in late April as a closed beta. Phantasy Star Online 2 will be released for Windows, PlayStation Vita and iOS as well. The good news is that the game will be free (with in-app purchases). The bad news? It’s only confirmed for Japan so far.
Phantasy Star Online debuted as the Sega Dreamcast’s one and only online RPG way back in 2000. It was a more action-oriented update to the previous Phantasy Star games going back to 1987. (Think of them as Final Fantasy with spaceships.) The team-based multiplayer action won its share of fans even as the Dreamcast was dying, and expansions and sequels have remained popular on consoles and PCs ever since. Phantasy Star Online 2 will be the first game in the series with a major mobile component, though Android and iOS players won’t be able to play with PC and PS Vita players simultaneously.
There’s still no confirmation of the game being released outside of Japan, where final versions are expected for the PC in summer and mobile platforms this winter. Sega says that the Android and iOS versions of the game will need significantly reduced graphics and character creation options, so presumably you can’t just sign off of the PC version and into the Android version. What are the odds of PSO2 coming to Europe or North America? Hard to say – while Sega is usually more than happy to spread their properties around, the Phantasy Star series has a pretty sizable culture gap that needs to be overcome, and higher than average localization costs.
Posted: 26 Mar 2012 08:00 AM PDT
Bluetooth headphones have not become the ubiquitous accessories that I hoped they would years ago. A lot of that’s due to the shortcomings of the standard itself, but it’s got more to due with the fact that the price has remained high. That trend is starting to reverse, however, and the new Tenqa REMXD are just a little pricier than standard earbuds at $39.99. At an impulse-buy price, they’re hard to resist, so we asked Tenqa for a pair to review.
The REMXD headphones use an on-the-ear design; smaller than the “DJ” around-the-ear designs, but not anywhere near as portable as standard earbuds. All the controls rest on the left cup, with a combined Play-Pause button and another Answer-End button for calls. An old-school analog power switch sits next to s rocker that works for both volume and forward-back functions.
On the right cup sits only a 1/8-inch port, which rather cleverly combines charging (via USB cable) and standard audio. When the headphones run out of charge you can plug in an audio cable and keep going. I’ve seen this technique on other headphones, but it’s a nice touch. The construction is solid without being extravagant; the only method of adjustment are tension rods on either side.
Pairing is simple: just turn on the headphones and hold down the Play button to put them in pairing mode. Music functions are a little more tricky. To turn the volume up, you slide the volume knob up and hold, reverse to lower the volume. but to advance a track or go back, you have to tap and release the dial. This isn’t helped by the fact that the dial itself goes into the cup when you press it. Working these controls takes a lot of getting used to, especially when you’re wearing the headphones.
The audio quality is as good as I’ve seen for A2DP, which is to say, good enough. The Bluetooth streaming protocol isn’t really suited for high-fidelity listening, though it’s more than enough for podcasts or audiobooks. The nice thing about the headphone/charging port is that you can switch to wired listening at any time.
Once you do, the large drivers make for loud, clear listening that’s suitable for anything but the most demanding of audiophiles. Bass is a little flat, but at this price that’s nothing to complain about. Standard phone calls are clear through the headphones, though without a microphone boom, callers on the other end of the line may find you a little hard to understand if either of you has a poor signal. You can walk a solid 20-25 feet away from the source before seeing any sort of signal loss.
But easily my favorite feature of the REMXD headphones is the battery life. Bluetooth headsets and headphones generally have plenty of juice, but Tenqa’s choice of a larger form factor gave them plenty of space for a bigger battery. I’ve gone days between charges with constant listening. You could easily go an entire day with regular use, and used sparingly, two or three.
The Tenqa REMXD Bluetooth headphones aren’t amazing in any particular respect. They're not overly hi-fi or particularly flashy, and the controls take some getting used to. But for forty bucks, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better deal with better sound. Awesome battery life and flexible audio options just sweeten the deal. The REMXD headphones are available in black and white options, from Tenqa’s website or online retailers.
Posted: 26 Mar 2012 07:28 AM PDT
Alright Android nation, ready your torches and pitchforks. Santa Clara resident and Android enthusiast Sahas Katta mozied on down to the Microsoft Store to participate n the Windows Phone Challenge on Sunday. The challenge is simple: if you can perform a given task faster on a non-Windows smartphone (in this case Katta’s stock Verizon Galaxy Nexus) you win a free $1000 special-edition laptop. Long story short: Katta performed the task faster, but Microsoft representatives refused to award him the prize. Their reasoning? “Just because.”
The contest was to see which phone could display the weather for two separate cities the fastest. Katta was in luck here, since he happened to have weather widgets for two separate cities sitting on his homescreen. When the challenge began, Katta turned on his phone and shouted “Done!” Since he’d disabled the Android lock screen before coming into the store (a feature that’s built in to the OS) that was all he had to do. The Microsoft employee had to turn on her phone and perform the slide-to-unlock function. Katta won by a split-second, thanks to Android’s ability to disable the lock screen.
When he claimed his prize, Katta was told that he had lost, without a real explanation as to why. He demonstrated the weather or two separate cities using widgets, the same way that the Windows Phone 7 device had with its Live Tiles interface. After pressing for an answer as to why he had “lost”, the representative finally said, “Just because.” When Katta went up the chain he was told that the rules stated that he had to show the weather for two different cities in two separate states, something that was never mentioned at the outset.
Katta left the store without his rightful laptop. While his story is gaining traction on Reddit and other social networks, he hasn’t contacted Microsoft to try and get them to honor the contest. But he was asked to pose for a photo in front of a banner on his way out of the store, emblazoned with the somewhat erroneous phrase "My phone just got smoked by Windows Phone".
UPDATE: Microsoft’s Ben “The PC Guy” Rudolph (a pretty infamous Android detractor himself) has reached out to Sahas Katta via Twitter, offering him his just reward: a free laptop and an apology. And a free Windows phone, too, though it’s hard to see why Katta would want one – it did get smoked, after all.
Posted: 26 Mar 2012 06:56 AM PDT
If you haven’t heard that Rovio’s released an update to its Angry Birds franchise yet, congratulations: you’ve managed to avoid online, print, television (both cable and local) and word-of-mouth news for the last few days. And you haven’t been to Seattle. But just about everyone else knows that Angry Birds Space is now available for download, because they’ve been playing with zero-gravity avians all weekend. Across iOS and Android platforms, the game has been downloaded an incredible 10 million times already.
Rovio sent out the info in a tweet, which didn’t give much time for extrapolation. Unfortunately the download statistics haven’t cached in the Google Play Store, but if we extrapolate based on the number of reviews, the free version of Angry Birds Space has probably got somewhere between 500,000 and a million downloads on Android, plus a few thousand more for the HD tablet version and the ad-free Premium version. Everybody gets 60 levels, but Samsung owners get early access to the 30-level Danger Zone DLC.
If you’re still on the fence about downloading Angry Birds Space… why? It’s a free download on Android, after all. If you need more convincing, check out our hands-on review. Long story short, if you’ve ever enjoyed Angry Birds, you’ll find even more to love here. If you haven’t been impressed thus far, give it a shot: the radial gravity effects and strategic new birds may surprise you. And besides, it gives you a good excuse for dusting off your old Muppet Show tapes.
Posted: 26 Mar 2012 06:26 AM PDT
When AT&T started sending out the Ice Cream Sandwich for the HTC Vivid, we got more than a few readers asking where was the update for its LTE launch partner, the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket. The Skyrocket was released back in November with the Vivid, and AT&T has included it on its list of ICS updates. Just like HTC’s LTE phone, a leaked version of the Skyrocket’s Android 4.0 build has found its way onto the Internet early. You can download and apply it over at RootzWiki.
The Skyrocket is AT&T’s slightly tweaked version of the standard Galaxy S II with 4G LTE. That being the case, it’s a little surprising that we’re seeing an official update leak before the standard model – especially since Samsung has already sent out Ice Cream Sandwich updates to Galaxy S II units in most international markets. The fact that AT&T charges a premium for the Skyrocket probably has something to do with it, though that won’t be much comfort to GSII owners who have been waiting more than four months for an update. Samsung’s TouchWiz is basically unchanged after the ICS upgrade, so at least they’re not missing much from the UI standpoint. The build is dated March 14th, so even if it’n not final, it’s relatively recent.
When the HTC Vivid’s ICS update leaked, it was only a matter of days before AT&T went ahead and issues the software upgrade over-the-air. We can hope (but not necessarily expect) that this will be the case with the Galaxy S II Skyrocket. And before you try, no, this update won’t work with the standard AT&T Galaxy S II, or T-Mobile’s variant, or Rogers’ Galaxy S II LTE. But since the update is coming from a Samsung source, complete with ODIN PC flash tool, it can’t be too long before the various LTE flavors of the GSII get their own updates.
Posted: 25 Mar 2012 04:22 PM PDT
With the Ides of March fully behind us, the folks at Android Community are looking forward to summer… and all the drool-worthy hardware it brings. The last week saw quite a bit of activity in that space, with new hardware being announced and leaked steadily. Of course there’s plenty of movement on the software front as well, with more and more devices getting upgraded (or at lease getting the promise of an upgrade) and the first hints of Android 4.0.5, the latest version of Ice Cream Sandwich.
First, hardware news. Sony’s flagship smartphone the Xperia S is now available “worldwide”, and it’s coming to Canada soon as well. The Xperia S is lacking an Ice Cream Sandwich update, but the Xperia neo L isn’t, and will be Sony’s first ICS phone when it launches in China. Huawei’s quad-core Ascend D Quad will be available in July, though we’re not sure where, and the company’s take on T-Mobile’s MyTouch is coming to America, but we’re not sure when. Acer finally made its Iconia Tab A510 official in the US with ICS and a Tegra 3 processor, and it’s up for pre-sale for just $450. Toshiba showed off a massive 13.3-inch prototype tablet christened the AT330, likewise running ICS and using a Tegra 3 processor. A pair of upcoming Verizon LTE phones showed their faces: the Motorola DROID Fighter (which looks like a bigger, meaner version of the DROID RAZR MAXX) and the LG Lucid, a mid-range phone with no price or date just yet.
The oh-so-elusive Samsung Galaxy Tab 11.6 may have been unintentionally leaked on Sammy’s own website. Non-leaks out of Samsung include the pico-projector-packing Galaxy Beam, due for release in April in international markets, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which is now the first LTE device for regional carrier US Cellular. Of course you can’t talk Samsung without mentioning the Galaxy S III. This week the rumor mill churned out a Samsung executive who claimed the GSIII will have a quad-core Exynos processor, another (Chinese) exec who claimed it’d be released in April, a spy shot of a phone identified as the “GT-i9300” (which may or may not be the GSIII) and yet another probably fake render.
On the software side of things, we’ve got the much-anticipated release of Angry Birds Space, the even more anticipated (but sadly protracted) Instagram, now in a pre-release sign-up stage, and the an expansion to Cut The Rope labelled “Experiments”. Check out our hands-on here. More gaming-related news includes the release of classic beat-em-up The King of Fighters, and Gameloft’s intention to make all of its upcoming games both social and infuriating with in-app purchases. If you want to show off your pigs slain, fighter fought or any Android app, try SeeMeGaming – it’s a gaming-oriented screen video capture app. For something a little more useful, you can try Flash Blink to enable alerts via your phone’s LED flash, or the newest version of Google Voice, which integrates voicemail with the stock ICS dialer.
Business marches on, and Google marches fast: its lawyer monkeys have been hard at work securing a creepy eavesdropping/advertising patent. Google Wallet isn’t moving so fast, which is probably why the Big G is thinking about sharing revenue with wireless carriers. In less official news, sources talking to DigiTimes claim that Android 5.0 “Jelly Bean” will be ready in the third quarter. HTC and partner/acquisition Beats Audio have snatched up subscription music service MOG Music. And Samsung showed off the latest features of its Exynos 5 family of processors, with support for USB 3.0 and resolutions up to 2560×1600.
A bevy of Android updates have been issued or planned, most notably AT&T’s HTC Vivid, which is now rocking Ice Cream Sandwich officially. The carrier promptly announced plans to update ten more phones… then LG crashed the party with a Gingerbread update for the Thrill 4G. Samsung was keen to show off the S-Pen in its Galaxy Note ICS update… which has been delayed to the second quarter. Nuts. Those using the Galaxy Nexus can expect an update to Android 4.0.5 soon, and Motorola XOOM owners (WiFi version, at least) may be getting the same. Custom ROM enthusiasts will be happy to know that CyanogenMod 7 (Gingerbread) is now available in a 7.2 release candidate, and some industrious hackers have gotten Ice Cream Sandwich running on Nokia’s MeeGo-powered N9.
Here at Android Community we had the privilege of reviewing new hardware and software. There’s the Good, the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G on T-Mobile, the Bad, the Sony Tablet P on AT&T, and the Angry… guess which one that is. Those of you looking for a great deal on one of our favorite tablets should head on over to Best Buy, where the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 WiFi is on sale for just $349.99 with a free keyboard dock. Here’s hoping you have a great week ahead of you – stay in school, don’t do drugs, and always make a Nandroid backup.