It looks like Xoom users have something to get excited about. Droid Life is reporting that the Android 3.2 update is rolling out in small batches, and it finally makes that SD card slot useful on your Xoom tablet.
The Android 3.2 update will bring the Xoom to build HTJ85B. It adds the zoom compatibility mode that we told you about yesterday, which offers a new view mode to make non-Honeycomb apps run better on Honeycomb tablets. But, the bigger news may be that it also finally turns on the SD card support for US Xooms. So, now that you finally have expandable storage functionality, what will you do with it?
Android 3.2 will also bring support for 7″ Honeycomb tablet screens, but that doesn’t really mean much to Xoom users. And, as a bonus for any devs out there, the Android 3.2 source is available right now in AOSP.
It’s time again for a round of “Parse the Rumor”! Yesterday, we had a good time deconstructing the likely false rumor about the Nexus Prime having a dedicated Google+ button. And, today we get to sort out some interesting tweets by the Samsung Mobile Romania team about production for the Nexus Prime.
Originally, there were two tweets sent out by the Samsung Mobile Romania Twitter account. The first seemingly confirmed that the next Nexus phone will feature the Samsung AMOLED Super HD (720p) screen. The second claimed that production would begin in late 2011. Since then, a tweet has been sent out on the account claiming that the two Nexus tweets were uploaded by mistake, and are based on rumors not official Samsung statements. It seems someone got a little overeager, but let’s look at the rumors anyway.
First, the screen. At this point, the most credible rumor surrounding this whole thing is the inclusion of the Samsung AMOLED Super HD screen. Even with the recent move to qHD screens, Android devices in general have been lagging behind the iPhone 4 display, and there is no doubt that Google would like to see screen quality improved in the ecosystem. Whether that means that the Nexus Prime will feature a qHD, or the Samsung Super HD is yet to be seen. However, Google has been a big proponent of AMOLED screens, even adding an overall darker look to Gingerbread in order to boost battery life on devices with OLED screens (and we can confirm around 45 minutes extra per day on the Nexus One since that update.) So, it seems more likely that Google would want the Samsung screen, and that may point to a higher likelihood that Samsung will in fact be the manufacturer of the Nexus Prime.
Secondly, the timeline. This just sounds completely wrong to us. It seems like Google wants to claim the holiday season as the window for their Nexus device launches. The Nexus One looked like it was going to hit the holiday season, but slipped into early 2010. The Nexus S was pushed out just in time for Christmas. And, Google has repeatedly pointed to Q4 of this year as the release window for Ice Cream Sandwich. So, the idea that production of the Nexus Prime wouldn’t even start until late 2011 seems incredibly suspect.
Granted, Nexus phones are inherently niche devices and developer handsets, so Google doesn’t need to produce amounts on par with say the Samsung Galaxy S II, but if the device is going to be launched in Q4, which seems to be what Google is aiming for, then production needs to get going earlier than “late 2011″. Of course, if the Super HD screen will cause delays in manufacturing, it would be interesting to see if Google keeps to their current timeline, or delays the device.
What do you guys think? Would you rather a qHD Nexus device in time for the holidays, or a Super HD device in time for Valentine’s Day? Sound off in the comments!
IMDb has always been an invaluable resource for movie nerds, or just people who can’t remember the name of that one actor who played the guy in that movie that time. Now, it’s aiming for a completely new audience. A major update for the IMDb app has hit the Android Market. Version 2.0 of the popular movie database app is bringing support for Honeycomb tablets and also expands the functionality of the app to compete with movie showtime apps like Fandango and Flixter.
The UI for Honeycomb looks great. It’s intuitive, easy to navigate and although the overall tone is dark, that only serves to have the movie poster thumbnails pop. The update also allows users to login and rate movies, create watch lists so you can follow your favorite TV shows or interesting upcoming movies, and of course the new movie showtime features.
The app adds options to filter nearby movie results by date, specific location, or an adjustable radius around your current location. On top of that the app adds the ability to purchase movie tickets through movietickets.com. Unfortunately, to purchase tickets, the app will bounce you into the browser to buy tickets from the website. This works well, but it is nowhere near as nice and streamlined as the in-app purchasing system found in apps like Fandango.
The IMDb app is available for free in the Android Market.
There’s no kidding about it, but landscape QWERTY sliders are all too common with Android smartphones nowadays, which is evident by prominent devices like the Motorola DROID 3.
Fortunately, the good people of China are being subjected to the still rarely used portrait style QWERTY form factor with the Motorola XT316 – a device that looks similar to the Motorola DROID Pro and XPRT in the US. This affordably priced handset features a 2.8” QVGA display, 600MHz Qualcomm MSM7227-1 processor, 3-megapixel camera, 256MB of RAM, 512MB of ROM, microSD card slot, 1,420 mAh battery, HSPDA, Wi-Fi, and Moto Switch UI running on top of Android 2.2 Froyo.
Unlike its stronger and more equipped siblings, the Motorola XT316 plays it safe by flaunting an inexpensive price point, which appears to hover around $230. Currently, it’s available in China and will soon be making a trip to Europe and Latin America where it’ll be known as the Motorola Fire and Motorola Spice Key respectively.
Interestingly enough, the handset will be packed with Android 2.3 Gingerbread when it launches in the European and Latin America markets – while retaining an alluring price point.
Okay, it may not be among the slimmest and lightest tablets on the market, but the Acer ICONIA TAB A501 packs enough potential to compete with pretty much every Honeycomb tablet around. The only thing that has been missing so far, however, has been 3G connectivity, which might have made more than a few people looking for a decent tablet to go with a different make.
Well, UK retailer Clove has the 3G-enabled Acer ICONIA TAB A501 in stock and ready to ship. Unfortunately, it comes with a rather steep price tag of roughly $850, which seems like a bit too much for what you are getting, namely a dual-core Tegra 2 chipset, 10.1-inch display with 1280 by 800 resolution, 32 gigabytes of storage, and Android 3.0 Honeycomb running the show. The ICONIA TAB A501 also packs a 5-megapixel main and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a standard size USB 2.0 port.
If you have your mind on the Acer ICONIA TAB A501 and the lack of 3G is not a dealbreaker for you, the nearly identical, Wi-Fi-only ICONIA TAB A500 is available at Best Buy for as low as $450. On the other hand, if you absolutely insist on being connected to the Internet at all times, just sit tight and be patient as AT&T and Verizon are expected to have the tablet on their shelves sometimes soon.
A few days ago, we reported that Verizon’s support site was listing the instructions and changelist for the update that includes Android 2.3 for the HTC Droid Incredible 2. We are happy to tell you that as we suspected, all of that information was posted on the site for a reason. Update 2.18.605.4 for the device is now here to suck up 116.306MB of your phone’s storage space.
Besides updating the OS on your HTC Droid Incredible 2 to Gingerbread, the download also adds many features and improves others. One thing that will make you over the moon with joy is the improved battery life that comes from the update. A new download manager app is also included along with a new and improved method of word selection and copy functionality. The download will improve “device stability”, adds a desktop dock app and also lets you charge your handset wirelessly.
Of course, some improvements are more important than others. Once you have downloaded the update, the New York Times web site will be able to be listed on your browser’s bookmark list, mobile IM performance should show improvement and alarm notifications will turn off in emergency mode. So go ahead and install the update on your HTC Droid Incredible 2. Your handset will thank you for it.
HTC’s last year and CES 2011 handsets, plus the HTC Flyer are listed by Apple as infringing on five of its key patents, new info about the ITC complaint it filed recently reveals.
HTC’s official reaction is also in, and Grace Lei, its general counsel, says: “HTC is dismayed that Apple has resorted to competition in the courts rather than the market place. HTC continues to vehemently deny all of Apple’s past and present claims against it and will continue to protect and defend its own intellectual property as it has already done this year.”
We have two issues here – first, why is everyone using the phrase “vehemently deny” in these cases, and, second, why are we forced to become knowledgeable about patent law? We kid, but if the next step is HTC filing a counter-suit with the ITC, we could already start from the bottom in an IP law firm.
The phones Apple insists are infringing on five of its patents are all of HTC’s 2010 and CES 2011 crop, from the HTC EVO 4G to the HTC Thunderbolt, plus the HTC Flyer tablet. The patents cited by Apple to be dragged through the mud by HTC are “application programming interfaces for scrolling operations”, “list scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display”, “programmable tactile touch screen displays and man-machine interfaces for improved vehicle instrumentation and telematics”, “double-sided touch-sensitive panel with shield and drive combined layer”, and “portable computers”. Some of these patents overlap with the complaint against Samsung Apple filed last week.
We don’t want to stir controversy here, but the HTC devices listed are entirely of the Android variety, we have a hard time believing that the company’s Windows Phone 7 handsets are not infringing on the exact same patents, as specified above, yet nary a say on those in the complaint. Not to mention HTC’s had some of these features on its phones since the dawn of WinMo, and certainly before 2007. Fun stuff, and Apple’s chief patent man rumored to be leaving the company makes it even funnier.
Google Talk on Honeycomb tablets is receiving image stabilization during video calls, which should help with jerky picture while moving or walking around. The system is being provided by SRI, a California-based non-profit research institute, whose inventions range from the ultrasound to automatic checks processing. It’s been about 10 years in the making, but only now are mobile devices powerful enough to allow for the software to work in real time.
The folks at SRI explain the magic behind the video image stabilization that is to grace Google Talk on your Android Honeycomb slate:
“Video chat applications capture video from the front-facing camera on smartphones and tablets. Once an image is acquired by a camera, it is compressed before it can be transmitted. In video compression algorithms, the bandwidth used to encode the video increases with the amount of motion in the scene.
By stabilizing the video, SRI’s software compensates for scene motion and allows the video compression algorithm to improve image quality by using fewer bits to encode the video. There is increased mobile device efficiency when an image is stabilized before compression, and there is less work for a device’s video compression engine to perform.”
So besides less jerky videos. we’ll be getting ones that hog less bandwidth – hopefully that will help with video chats over slower 3G connections. As for the whole image stabilizing thing, we haven’t seen a software solution that can beat a good optical image stabilization, but we’ll spare judgment for until we see the results SRI and Google have arrived at.
We are pretty sure you would agree if we say that being able to charge your smartphone’s battery wirelessly is a pretty neat feature to have. No more looking for that pesky charger and dealing with entangled wires – just put your handset on the inductive charging dock and let science take care of the rest. Unfortunately, there are only a few gadgets out there that support inductive charging right now, and the technology has yet to hit the mainstream.
Thankfully, the list of smartphones that can be charged wirelessly has just become a little less short after Verizon expanded its line of inductive battery covers for its high-end handsets. Three additional devices can now take advantage of the technology, namely the Motorola DROID 3, the LG Revolution, and the HTC DROID Incredible 2. However, there is a catch – even though the carrier’s inductive battery covers sell for $40 the most, you will need to purchase an inductive charging dock separately, which will cost you another $70. Fortunately, the costly accessory should be compatible with any gadget that has a compatible wireless charging back cover so it might be worth its price in the long run.
Those of you who are interested in going wireless can check out Verizon’s accessories page at the source link below. It seems like a couple of the inductive battery chargers are out of stock already, which means that demand for them might be high.
Back in May, we described the Samsung Hercules for T-Mobile, as being like a Samsung Infuse 4G on steroids. Like the Infuse 4G, which is available to AT&T customers, the Hercules offers up a huge 4.5 inch WVGA Super AMOLED display. Other specs for the Hercules include Android 2.3 on board and a Qualcomm 1.2GHz dual-core APQ8060 processor under the hood.
This phone will fly with 42Mbps HSPA+ connectivity making the device a category 24 HSDPA and category 6 HSUPA. Speaking of connectivity, there will be support for AWS plus the 850/1900MHz frequencies for T-Mobile. If the AT&T/T-Mobile deal goes through, the Samsung Hercules is supposed to receive support for AT&T’s 4G network. An 8MP camera on the back captures video at 1080p and a front-facing shooter takes self-portraits and works with video chat software. The model will offer NFC support.
The Samsung Hercules is equipped with 16GB of internal ROM, 1GB of RAM and microSD memory can be expanded by as much as 32GB. According to a T-Mobile roadmap that we reported on, this monster could launch on September 26th. Whether or not it launches as the Samsung Hercules or the Samsung Galaxy S II is still unclear. As we had told you, the remaining three of the top four carriers in the country are expected to offer the Samsung Galaxy S II as the Verizon Function, the AT&T Attain and the Sprint Within.