Wednesday, February 29, 2012

HTC brings Bluetooth audio to (almost) any car stereo [MWC 2012]

Smartphones make great media devices, housing tons of music (and even more in the cloud) that you can take on the go. Having access to that music can mean the difference between a nerve-racking commute and one full of chill tunes and good vibes, but unless you own an iPhone it can be hard to find quality accessories to interface a handset’s audio player with your car stereo. HTC is making an attempt to solve that problem with the introduction of a new Bluetooth dongle here at Mobile World Congress 2012.
The device itself is tiny, about the size of a thumbdrive, and features only a port for charging (microUSB) and buttons to power on and pair with an Android smartphone. The business end sports a 3.5mm jack that can plug into the auxiliary port on a car stereo. Yes, you will need a stereo that features such a connection and the ability to select to play music from an auxiliary source, but the functionality has become fairly commonplace and is more likely to be found in most car stereos than a Bluetooth receiver. The use of a 3.5mm jack also means this device will technically be compatible with any stereo, whether it is in a car or not.

Set up is as easy as pairing the device and plugging in. Playback is still controlled from your phone, and in this case HTC has provided an updated interface for their new One series of phones. Maps and navigation are available from a docked mode as well as your full music library and a tuner for finding internet radio stations. The UI always presents playback controls for music as well as current track information, making it easy to pause or skip a song without moving away from a navigation screen.
HTC’s Bluetooth audio dongle is a great idea and addresses a very real problem, but it isn’t an all-encompassing solution. While the equipment needed to take advantage of audio streaming is becoming common, not every car will feature a stereo that can easily take advantage. On the other end, because the device uses Bluetooth it shouldn’t be limited to only HTC’s phones, making it appealing to a wide audience. No pricing or release date has been announced, but expect to see this later in the year.
by Kevin Krause on February 29th, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Major North American carriers join global SMS spam reporting service

The GSMA Tuesday announced that AT&T, Bell Mobility, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon have adopted the GSMA’s Spam Reporting Service. The measure will help US carriers keep spam out of the inboxes of their customers, and share intelligence globally. Customers will be able to report spam messages through short codes to carriers, which will then be used globally to block future messages.

Grab the official Android MWC app from the Android Market

Google @ MWC
Not at Mobile World Congress but still want to follow along? Google has now released their official Mobile World Congress app in the Android Market. Of course, it is meant for attendees to use but it's still an awesome app to download and check out. Some of the features:
  • Event information
  • Booth & partner maps
  • Information on partners featured at the booth
  • Google Mobile apps featured at MWC
  • Android Pin checklist
  • Photo Notes
You can jump on past the break for the download link and stay tuned for more Mobile World Congress coverage right here on Android Central. Thanks, Gordon!

Monday, February 27, 2012

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850,000 Android Devices Activated Each Day

Google: 850,000 Android Devices Activated Each Day, More than 300 Million Total – 450,000 Apps Available Too

Andy Rubin took to the Google Mobile blog this morning to announce the next milestone in Android’s growth. As of today, 850,000 Android devices are activated each day, bringing the total in the wild to over 300 million. Back in December, you will remember that this number stood at 700,000, so you can clearly see that the platform is still in full-on growth mode. The year-on-year growth sits somewhere around 250%.

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In related numbers, Rubin also dropped app growth on us. In one year, the number of apps available in the Android Market more than tripled to 450,000. At last year’s MWC, Google announced that there were 150,000 available. Impressive, to say the least.

by: Kellex | posted 02.27.12 |

Sunday, February 26, 2012

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Samsung reveals 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 2, Galaxy Beam phone with built-in HD projector

Samsung reveals 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 2, Galaxy Beam phone with built-in HD projector

Samsung reveals 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 2, Galaxy Beam phone with built-in HD projector
February 26, 201Devindra Hardawar

Samsung kicked off its Mobile World Congress presence by revealing two new devices this morning: a larger 10.1-inch version of the Galaxy Tab 2 Android tablet, and the intriguing/baffling Galaxy Beam, an Android smartphone with a built-in projector.

Given Samsung’s propensity to delivering tablets of many different sizes, the larger Galaxy Tab 2 doesn’t come as much as a surprise. The Galaxy Beam, on the other hand, is a bit of a head scratcher.
The Beam is a traditional Android smartphone, aside from the projector aspect. It has a 4-inch display, a 1 gigahertz dual-core processor, and runs Android 2.3. Honestly, it sounds like a phone that would have been announced last year, not something that Samsung would save for the biggest mobile event of 2012.
But the Galaxy Beam’s real claim to fame is its powerful built-in projector, which Samsung says can project HD up to 50-inches wide at 15 lumens. You’ll be able to project photos, videos, and games using a special Samsung app. Like the Galaxy Note, the Beam appears to be a very niche device, but it’s the first step towards Samsung bringing projectors to its future mainstream devices (it’d certainly be a nice addition to next year’s Galaxy S lineup).
The 10.1-inch version of the Galaxy Tab 2 is clearly Samsung’s volley to stay competitive with the iPad 3, which could be announced as soon as next week. It sports a 1280 by 800 10.1-inch display, Android 3.0, and 1 gigabyte of RAM. It’s only 9.7 millimeters thick and will come in 16 gigabyte and 32GB varieties.
Samsung is also expected to announce a 10-inch version of the Galaxy Note this week, so it’ll be interesting to see how it fits into the company’s tablet lineup. I found the Note to be iffy as a phone, but the S Pen stylus has a lot of potential in larger screens. It’s certainly one way for Samsung to stay a step ahead of the iPad 3.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Android, iPhone users get new privacy protection

Android and iPhone apps will offer more disclosure about their use of personal data. Undera  new deal between California and six tech giants, users of Android, iPhone, and other mobile devices will get disclosures before they download mobile apps.

By Gerry Shih, Reuters / February 24, 2012
California Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks during a news conference Wednesday in San Francisco after signing a deal with six tech giants over privacy disclosures for mobile applications. Under the deal, mobile apps will come with disclosures before users of Android, iPhone, and other mobile devices download them.

Six of the world's top consumer technology firms have agreed to provide greater privacy disclosures before users download applications in order to protect the personal data of millions of consumers, California's attorney general said on Wednesday. 

The agreement binds AmazonAppleGoogle , MicrosoftResearch In Motion, and Hewlett-Packard -- and developers on their platforms -- to disclose how they use private data before an app may be downloaded, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said.
"Your personal privacy should not be the cost of using mobile apps, but all too often it is," said Harris.
  Currently 22 of the 30 most downloaded apps do not have privacy notices, said Harris. Some downloaded apps also download a consumer's contact book.
Google said in a statement that under the California agreement, Android users will have "even more ways to make informed decisions when it comes to their privacy".
Apple confirmed the agreement but did not elaborate.

Harris was also among U.S. state lawmakers who on Wednesday signed a letter to Google CEO Larry Page to express "serious concerns" over the web giant's recent decision to consolidate its privacy policy.

The policy change would give Google access to user information across its products, such as GMail and Google Plus, without the proper ability for consumers to opt out, said the 36 U.S. attorneys general in their letter.
EU authorities have asked Google to halt the policy change until regulators can investigate the matter.

California's 2004 Online Privacy Protection Act requires privacy disclosures, but Harris said few mobile developers had paid attention to the law in recent years because of confusion over whether it applied to mobile apps.

"Most mobile apps make no effort to inform users about how personal information is used," Harris said at a press conference in San Francisco. "The consumer should be informed of what they are giving up".

The six companies will meet the attorney general in six months to assess compliance among their developers. But Harris acknowledged "there is no clear timeline" to begin enforcement.

The attorney general repeatedly raised the possibility of litigation at some future time under California's unfair competition and false advertising laws if developers continue to publish apps without privacy notices. "We can sue and we will sue," she said, adding that she hoped the industry would act "in good faith."

There are nearly 600,000 applications for sale in the Apple App Store and 400,000 for sale in Google's Android Market, and consumers have downloaded more than 35 billion, said Harris.

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There are also more than 50,000 individual developers who have created the mobile apps currently available for download on the leading platforms, she said.

These figures are expected to grow. She said an estimated 98 billion mobile applications will be downloaded by 2015, and the $6.8 billion market for mobile applications is expected to grow to $25 bil

Smarter Apps Releases Google+ App for BlackBerry With Instant Photo Upload and More

Smarter Apps has just launched a beta version of its Google+ app for BlackBerry. One of the coolest features of the app is that it lets you automatically upload images to Google+ that you take with your camera. Generally, we don’t hear of many people using Google+ and it seems like a pretty lackluster social network, but perhaps this BlackBerry app will bring some new interest in the social network from #teamblackberry.
Google Plus for BlackBerry by Smarter Apps
Features of the app include:
  • Circles let you determine who you are going to share information with. Create and view circles and add people to your circles using your BlackBerry
  • Photos lets you view your Google+ photos as well as the pictures of people in your circles.
  • Visit the stream to get updates from your circles or see what people are saying nearby.
  • Instant Upload automatically uploads photos to your own private album on Google+, making sharing a snap.
  • Messenger is not included in the first version of Google+ for BlackBerry but is coming soon!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Box Offering 50GB of Free Cloud Storage To Android Users For A Limited Time

by Chris Chavez on February 23rd, 2011
After giving iOS users 50GB of free storage for simply existing, Android users are finally getting the same treatment if you download Box’s new and improved app from the Android Market. You only have until March 23rd to call dibs on your special piece of the cloud, so hurry. The steps are easy, simply download the app, log in or create a new account and enjoy your 50GB of online storage.
And for those who are truly appreciative, feel free to spread the word using using the hashtag #Box50GB on Twitter to tell the world what you’re going to do with this ridiculous amount of storage.

T-Mobile Commits to Launching 4G LTE Service Next Year

T-Mobile has just announced that it is going to upgrade its cellular-wireless data network so it can offer 4G LTE service. This should significantly improve the speed and bandwidth of this carrier's wireless data service.
T-MobileThis will begin in 2013. Eventually, T-Mobile expects to offer LTE service in the "vast majority" of the top 50 markets and 75% of the top 25 markets in the U.S.
All of this won't come cheaply. The company will put $4 billion over time into network modernization and LTE deployment, with approximately $1.4 billion of that coming in the next two years.
From One 4G Standard to Another
T-Mobile will be upgrading its network from 4G HSPA+ a faster standard. It's also one that has been chosen by all of its biggest rivals: Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. Even smaller regional carriers are deploying this 4G standard. 
Although T-Mobile didn't make any promises about the speed of its LTE network, its rivals are seeing real-world download download speeds between 5 and 12 megabits per second and upload speeds of  2 to 5 Mbps.
"Today, we operate America's Largest 4G Network delivering a fast and reliable 4G data experience with HSPA+," said Neville Ray, T-Mobile's chief technology officer.. "Launching LTE next year lets us take advantage of technology infrastructure advancements and benefit from a more mature LTE device ecosystem while continuing to meet the growing demand for data with a powerful 4G experience."
The only smartphones on the market today with LTE run Google's Android OS, but that will change eventually. BlackBerrys and Windows Phones with this feature are scheduled for later this year, and the next iPhone is widely expected to offer this 4G standard, although this has not been officially announced.
Tough Times
There were questions whether T-Mobile would join the LTE bandwagon. This company hasn't been profitable for years, and its parent company, Germany's Deutsche Telekom, tried to sell this U.S. subsidiary to AT&T last year. When that deal fell through, no one was sure what the next move for T-Mobile would be. 
Although the U.S. government blocked AT&T's buyout attempt, T-Mobile still benefited -- as part of the contract between these two carriers, because the deal fell through Deutsche Telekom received $3 billion in cash and another $1 billion worth of wireless spectrum in important markets across the U.S. This spectrum will be used to deploy 4G LTE service.

OnLive Desktop Plus gives iPad superspeed Flash

OnLive Desktop may have stumbled upon the best way to get Flash content on an iPad: host the CPU-hungry tech on a server as far away as possible from your tablet, and simply stream over the results. In an update to the OnLive Desktop remote access app, first released last month, OnLive Desktop Plus adds gigabit-speed accelerated browsing with full Adobe Flash support, delivering what the company says isn’t just the fastest full-browsing experience when mobile, but the fastest experience on any platform.
“You can expect even the most elaborate Flash websites to load in seconds, even if it would have taken your home computer minutes to load the same page” OnLive CEO Steve Perlman promises. ”Animation, video and sound come through impeccably and instantly. And, large cloud storage files and Web email attachments—even 50 MB PowerPoint presentations—to upload or download in less than a second.”
Apple has always strongly defended its decision not to allow Flash on its iOS devices, blaming Adobe for never releasing a version of the software that’s efficient and streamlined enough to meet with iPad and iPhone owners’ approval. Adobe seemingly agreed, and announced it would cease development of mobile Flash efforts and instead concentrate on HTML5.
Still, even with HTML5 gaining traction, there’s still plenty of Flash-based content out there on the internet. Some is simply video and gloss, but other sites use Flash-based UIs that render them impossible to navigate on an iOS gadget. That’s what OnLive Desktop Plus will help address, and the company says that because it’s servers are running all the Flash content and merely pushing on-screen changes to your device, your bandwidth use might actually decrease.
All of that comes at a price, however. Unlike the original OnLive Desktop service, which is free, Desktop Plus will demand a $4.99 monthly subscription. That does at least get you access to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Adobe Reader, along with 2GB of cloud-based storage to use.
Meanwhile, OnLive has promised that a version of OnLive Desktop for Android tablets is “coming soon,” along with Android smartphones, PCs and Macs, and even monitors and TVs hooked up via an OnLive MicroConsole thin client.
Chris Davies, Feb 23rd 2012