We’ve been hearing about the Jelly Bean update for the HTC One S since July this year. While the One X received the update last month, the Taiwanese manufacturer seems to have kept up with its promise by beginning to roll out the Android 4.1 update for the One S. The update is available to select UK users of the device.
According to Android Central, the OTA update is rather large at 612.27MB and carries version number 3.16.401.8 and lists Android 4.1.1 as the software version. It brings along major Jelly Bean elements to the device along with a new version of HTC’s Sense UI, Sense 4+.
The Sense 4+ UI available as part of the Jelly Bean update, has several new features like HTC Get Started, HTC Watch 2.0, changes to the Gallery app and views, tweaks with the Camera app and much more. As of now, Sense 4+ is available to HTC One X (Review I Pictures) and HTC One S (Review I Pictures) users post the update. The HTC One X+ comes with Sense 4+ straight out of the box.
Other features as part of the update include a fix for battery issues that users have been complaining about as well as accessing the power saver option from the Notification menu.
Apart from the One X and One S, HTC had also confirmed its plans to upgrade the One XL with Jelly Bean. Now that two of the three have received their updates, we hope to see One XL users to be part of the Android 4.1 fraternity soon.
As a reminder, Jelly Bean aka Android 4.1 brings several performance improvements including Project Butter, which aims to make the user interface smoother. It also comes with Google Now and updates to Android Beam functionality.
We list five important reasons why you should want Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) on your next phone or tablet. If your phone manufacturer is doing its job, you may not have to wait long, either.
It has been seven months since the release of the release of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), the operating system that is supposed to unify all devices running Android, whether they be phones or tablets. Android 4.0 is great — we love it — so why is it installed on only 4.9 percent of Android devices? We are finally starting to see non-Nexus devices being released with the frosty treat, and ever so slowly older handsets are getting updated. It is easy to say that there is a nearly endless list of great new features on ICS, but in reality, most of these new additions won’t be used by the majority of Android users. So if your phone or tablet is getting updated from Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) to Ice Cream Sandwich in the near future, we’ve rounded up five reasons why you should want Android 4.0.
One of the strong points of the Android operating system has always been its multitasking capabilities, but one of the real weaknesses of previous versions was that you couldn’t see which apps are running, nor could you easily close those apps without digging through the Settings menu. ICS has changed this; not only is it easy, it is also extremely satisfying. There are only three navigation buttons on Android 4.0 devices: Back, Home, and Applications. When you press the Applications button you will be presented with a visual list of all the apps currently running on your phone. With a simple swipe of your finger, you can close each app. There is a real sense of accomplishment when you whittle away running apps using your Fruit Ninja swiping skills. (Though sadly, there are no sound effects like in Fruit Ninja.) Besides being fun, the benefit of closing unused apps is that you can really save battery life, so it is always a good idea to check what you have running. If an app is acting up, closing it and restarting it through this method can also save you some grief.
It is unbelievable how much the camera app has changed from Android 2.3 to 4.0. Even with exactly the same hardware, it is as if you have a brand new camera. You can take pictures instantaneously, with absolutely no shutter lag no matter how slow your previous camera operated. No longer do you have to wait for the exact perfect moment to take your picture; you can just continuously press the shutter button until you get the shot you want. This is also a great way to impress friends who have iPhones, or have yet to upgrade to ICS.
Technically, the notification system on ICS hasn’t changed much from previous versions of Android. How you manage your notifications is where Android 4.0 really shines. Now you are able to view your list of notifications and simply swipe away any that you want to ignore, or are unimportant. Granted it wasn’t too difficult to press the little X on the right side of each notification in previous versions of Android, but there is just something visceral about swiping away notifications. If you have never tried it, find someone who has an ICS device and ask to try it, you will never want to go back to clicking away notifications. Swiping is better than tapping.
One of the big challenges Google is facing with making an interface is making sure that applications designed for phones can work properly on tablets while still looking good. There still aren’t many apps that are fully 4.0 compatible, but the few that are available look and feel great. Google is also taking a cue from Apple and has issued a style guide for ICS apps in hopes that future apps will share a similar look feel. As the library of ICS-specific apps increases, this feature will only become more and more beneficial.
Chrome Browser is an example of one of the unified applications we just talked about. Google’s Chrome browser is in beta and doesn’t come pre-installed on any device, but it can only be installed on devices with Android 4.0 — and only devices with 4.0. Personally, we haven’t really had any issues with default Android browser; it got the job done and didn’t get in the way. Chrome, on the other hand, is the best mobile browser we’ve used. Unlike the other mobile browsers we’ve used, it is able to handle multiple tabs flawlessly. You can view your open tabs visually like cover flow, and swipe to remove tabs that you no longer need. Chrome the first app you should download when you get ICS.
The actual list of improvements packaged inside of ICS is quite extensive, but most of the benefits will go unnoticed by the average consumer. Some highly anticipated features like Face Unlock and Android Beam have been big letdowns functionally, but are still neat gimmicks to show off to your friends. Hopefully your device is scheduled to be updated in the not so distant future so you can enjoy some of these features. If you are currently using Ice Cream Sandwich and your favorite feature was left off this list, let us know.
(Awesome header image via TechnoBuffalo)
Samsung executives claim that their new Galaxy S III was “enhanced with nature and human emotion.” While we can’t exactly verify that claim, we can take a look at some of the specifications and features on Samsung’s latest smartphone. (See also “Samsung Galaxy S III: A Visual Tour.”)
ANALYSIS: Android 4.0: A rundown of key features
In no particular order, here are four things you should know about the Samsung Galaxy S III:
It has killer hardware. As expected, the Galaxy S III comes complete with a 1.4GHz quad-core processor that is top-of-the-line for smartphone hardware. Other key hardware features include an 8MP rear-facing camera, a 1.9MP front-facing camera, a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display screen with a resolution of 1,280×720 pixels, and a 2,100mAh battery. And for good measure, the phone’s design is both light and thin, as it weighs 133 grams and is just 8.6 millimeters thick. In all, the new Galaxy’s hardware is about as cutting-edge as you can get right now.
It comes with software that “knows you.” One of the more innovative features of the new Galaxy phone is its ability to actually watch, listen and respond to you through its camera and voice software. For instance, the device’s camera can see when you’re looking at it and will respond by keeping the screen lit up so you don’t have to periodically touch it to keep it from blacking out. Similarly, the new Galaxy’s “S Voice” voice recognition software is a Siri-like feature that lets you give your phone commands without touching it. In other words, if your phone alarm goes off, you can just shout out “snooze” to get it to shut its yap rather than fumbling around trying to press the “off” button. Similarly, you can use S Voice to write emails, check the weather, take pictures, etc.
It will not initially support LTE. Quad-core processors are pretty fast, but they’re also pretty large and Samsung apparently couldn’t fit an LTE chipset in with its super-speedy CPU. So when the device hits the shelves in Europe this month and in the U.S. next month, it will have HSPA+ connectivity and standard Wi-Fi options, but no LTE. For U.S. consumers this means that the initial version of the device will likely be available on ATT and T-Mobile, both of whom have nationwide HSPA+ networks, but not on Verizon and Sprint, which both rely on the CDMA-based EV-DO Rev. A for their 3G technology.
Samsung has said it will release an LTE-capable version of the device sometime this summer so you might want to hold off on buying it if you absolutely must have the fastest mobile broadband technology available.
Yes, it runs on the latest version of Android. Like all the new Android devices hitting the market, the Galaxy S III runs on Android 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”) that has been designed to deliver the same user experience across different smartphones and tablets. Among other things, the newest version of Android features a home screen that can unlock using facial recognition software; Android Beam, technology that lets users send contact information, directions, Web pages and more via near-field communications by tapping their phones together; and integration with the Google+ social network that lets users host online video chats among their circles of friends.
Read more about anti-malware in Network World’s Anti-malware section.
Samsung Galaxy S IIIAfter all of the rumors and speculation, the Samsung Galaxy S III is finally here but you probably have a few questions about this new Android phone.
Samsung is the master of flash and flare at its press conferences, but we’re here to help you get to the nitty gritty of why you should care about this phone. The Galaxy S III will go on sale in Europe on May 23. No official word yet on a U.S. launch, but it could come this summer.
The Samsung S III really wants to be your new best friend–your new psychic best friend. According to Samsung’s somewhat creepy commercial (shown below), the S III “follows your every move.” Scared yet?
In reality, the Samsung S III can do things like predict when you want the screen awake by using the front-facing camera to monitor your eyes. If you’re watching a movie on your phone and happen to fall asleep, the phone’s display will turn off.
The S III also has a feature called S Voice, which is a customized voice-recognition system. Hmm, sound familiar? Like Apple’s Siri, S Voice can recognize a variety of commands. For example, you can say “snooze” when your alarm goes off and buy yourself a little more sleeping time. You can also say “direct call” and ring somebody while you’re in the middle of a text. You can also control the volume of your music, organize your calendar, and launch the camera via voice commands.
However, there’s no word, so far, on whether S Voice works with third-party applications. S Voice works with eight different languages, including British English and American English. A few of my friends from across the pond have complained about Siri’s difficulty in understanding them so I guess this is good news there.
Samsung confirmed before today’s announcement that the Galaxy S III phones will be powered by the company’s own quad-core 1.4GHz Exynos 4 Quad processor. Oddly, however, the processor specs were not in the press materials we received today. I have a suspicion that the Samsung quad-core processor is not compatible with U.S. LTE networks. If true, we might see a different processor on the S III phones in the United States. Samsung would not comment on what sort of processor the U.S. versions will have when I asked.
HTC pulled a similar trick with the One X. The global version runs on an NVidia Tegra 3 processor, while the U.S. phone uses a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor. NVidia’s quad-core processor was not yet compatible with ATT’s LTE network at the time of the One X’s manufacture. In our benchmarks, however, the U.S. version of the One X did quite well despite having fewer cores.
According to our sources at Samsung, the 4G (HSPA+/LTE) versions of the S III will come to North America this summer. Samsung said it will optimize the phones for the LTE and HSPA+ networks. Timing, pricing, or carrier partners have not yet been announced.
Samsung made a big deal about the ease of sharing from the S III, but from what I can tell, it looks like you can only share from your S III to another. Samsung has enhanced Android Beam, which allows large files to be transferred between phones quickly. Now called S Beam, you can share music, photos, and up to 1GB of video from your S III to your buddy’s S III.
To help you understand, here’s how Android Beam works on the Galaxy Nexus.
Samsung also enhanced its DLNA service for sharing content from your phone to your TV. AllShare Cast lets you wirelessly connect your Galaxy S III to your TV, tablet, or PC and share files over WiFi. However, you’ll have to buy the separate All Cast Hub accessory in order to use this feature (see the Accessories question below)
The 3.4-inch-thick S III has a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display with a 1280-pixel by 720-pixel resolution. This is the same display technology we saw on the Galaxy Nexus. The Galaxy S II had Super AMOLED Plus, which is actually based on a PenTile pixel structure in which pixels share subpixels.
The Galaxy S II phones, on the other hand, have full RGB displays in which the pixels have their own subpixels. This means that HD Super AMOLED displays have lower overall subpixel density, which could translate to reduced sharpness and degraded color accuracy.
When we compared the Galaxy Nexus to the Galaxy S II, however, we didn’t notice a huge difference in display quality. The only quality different we detected was color accuracy, especially with whites (they appeared to have a yellowish tint). I have yet to see the Galaxy SIII up close and personal, so I’m not sure if it suffers from this same issue
One cool thing is that despite the Galaxy S III having a larger display than its predecessor (4.8 inches versus 4.3/4.5 inches), it isn’t much bigger. There’s very little bezel around the phone as the display takes full advantage of the hardware real estate.
Battery life is the bane of every tech user. Samsung claims that it won’t be an issue with the S III as it has a larger 2100mAh battery. For comparison, the Galaxy S II has a 1560mAh battery, while the Galaxy Nexus has a 1750mAh battery. The granddaddy of phones with long battery life, the Droid Razr Maxx, has a 3300mAH battery.
I fear that Samsung’s all-seeing front-facing camera might put a strain on the battery life, however. Also, phone manufacturers still haven’t worked out all the kinks with battery conservation on LTE networks. Battery life will depend on what sort of processor Samsung is packing into its S III phones for the United States and, as we’ve learned, this is still very much up in the air.
The Samsung Galaxy phones have always performed quite well in our PCWorld Test Center camera subjective tests. While I haven’t personally gotten my hands on the Galaxy S III’s 8-megapixel camera, I can tell you a little bit about its new features.
According to Samsung, the Galaxy S III will have zero shutter lag. The company also claims that the camera will start in “less than one second.” The S III will also have a burst-shot mode, a feature we saw on HTC’s One phones.
The S III camera also will have a feature called “Best Photo,” which will automatically select your best photos out of a series of eight photos taken in succession. But do you really want your phone to be your photo assistant?
Samsung Galaxy Note S PenSamsung announced a slew of accessories, including a C Pen stylus (which seems pretty similar to the S Pen on the Galaxy Note), an AllShare Cast Hub for wireless streaming, a docking station for your desk, a wireless charger, a car kit, and an HDMI adapter.
Samsung also announced the S Pebble “music companion” MP3 player. Why does this accessory look so familiar? Oh yes, in 2009, I reviewed the Samsung Pebble MP3 player which looks strikingly similar to the S Pebble.
Samsung Galaxy NexusNo, relax. It might not have as many cores as the S III, and the display might be a little smaller, but don’t feel bad if you just walked out of the store with a brand new Galaxy Nexus. Your Galaxy Nexus is still an excellent, current phone and offers something the Galaxy S III does not: A pure, untouched Android experience.
Have more questions? Sound off in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer them for you.
Google appears to be taking to an aggressive update schedule with Chrome for Android, today releasing a small Beta 1.1 update to the browser. Among the changes are Android Beam support for Chrome, support for additional countries, some system prerequisite checks to ensure requirements for Chrome are met (which might be responsible for breaking compatibility with some custom ROMs), and bug fixes. For the full changelog and known issues, see the source link to the Chrome Releases Blog.
The update bumps Chrome for Android to 16.0.912.77, up from the initial release version of 16.0.912.75. The core version of WebKit stays the same, at 535.7, but V8 takes a minor bump to 188.8.131.52. Thankfully this is all easy to obtain now straight from the About tab on Chrome. The update also doesn’t change Chrome for Android’s HTML5 score, which is still 343 and 10 bonus points, nor does it change performance in SunSpider 0.9.1 or BrowserMark.
One of the problems with the Android stock browser in the past was that delivering updates to the browser required a full update of the entire OS. Decoupling the browser from the core OS will continue to let Google rapidly improve the browser experience on Android.
Gallery: Updated Chrome for Android
Source: Chrome Releases Blog
Google slipped a bit of an upgrade into the Android Market today. The mobile version of Chrome received a seemingly minor version bump and, much to our chagrin, left no changelog behind for us to peruse. Most of the tweaks are under the hood and, in our unscientific testing, pages appeared to load much faster and the interface was more responsive. Our immediate impressions were backed up by benchmarks — the updated version of Chrome scored a 1,846.8 on SunSpider. The most welcome addition, though, was the ability to recognize links associated with applications. For example, the initial release never offered us the opportunity to open search results in the Google Maps app, it went straight to the mobile site. That quirk hasn’t been fixed completely, as YouTube vids still stream inline with no immediately apparent option to launch them in the app. Still, it’s nice to see Google improving integration with the OS and working towards making Chrome an acceptable replacement for the default browser.
Update: Some of you out there are reporting that the upgrade has broken the browser for rooted devices and custom ROMs. While that limitation doesn’t appear to be affecting our Nexus, we’ve gotten enough response to believe this is a legitimate issue. So, update at your own peril.
Update 2: Alas, a changelog is here! You’ll find it at the more coverage link. One new feature we missed was support for Android Beam, but, with no other Nexuses around, we haven’t been able to test it.