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25 Dec 12 Giada announces compact ARM-based Android desktop


A company known for making downsized PCs has announced two ARM-based desktop computers that will be shipping “soon” with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

Giada has made its ARM desktops, the Q10 and Q11 very compact. Both measure 7.48-by-5.87-by-1.0 inches and, when mounted in the vertical position don’t take up much more space on a desktop than a typical router.

The pint-sized desktops are built around the Allwins A10 ARM processor, which runs at 1GHz, and have Mali-400 MP4 graphics.

Inputs/Outputs include five USB 2.0 ports (four rear, one front), VGA and HDMI ports, an SD/MMC card reader, RJ45 jack, a fast Ethernet port, and support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Both units have 1GB of DDR3 RAM but the Q11 has 8GB of NAND Flash storage, while the Q10 has only 4GB of flash storage.

The Q11 also has a rechargeable battery that lets you disconnect the computer and move it to another location without shutting it down. It would also come in handy during a power outage.

If Android doesn’t strike your fancy, you should be able to get a version of Ubuntu or Bodhi Linux to run on the systems, according to Brad Linder, writing for Lilliputing.

While Giada says at its website that its ARM desktops will be “coming soon,” prognosticators are predicting the units will be showcased at CES next month.


Motorola CloudBB

Giada isn’t the only company interested in Android desktops. Google’s Motorola subsidiary introduced in September a “home entertainment terminal” only for the Chinese market that has an “all in one” PC look.

The Motorola offering, called the CloudBB, runs Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) with a Freescale i.MX53 ARM Cortex A8 processor running at 1GHz. Like the Q10, it has 1GB of Ram and 4GB of NAND flash. However, its guts are located in an 18-inch LCD touchscreen display, which comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

Google’s intentions to bring Android to desktops and laptops is no secret. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the Search Goliath had filed for a patent in the United States for mapping touchscreen events to a trackpad, which would allow computers without a touchscreen to use Android.

Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2023289/giada-announces-compact-arm-based-android-desktop.html

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10 Jun 12 Android this week: Toshiba’s small slate; Galaxy S III details; patent wars worsen


Here in the U.S., Android was front and center early in the week as five carriers announced they would be selling Samsung’s Galaxy S III. Verizon, Sprint, ATT, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular are all prepping pre-orders or hyping their launch dates for Samsung’s flagship phone. Some may start selling this month, while others will deliver the goods in July. Either way, this launch differs greatly from last year’s Galaxy S model, which first launched overseas in May but didn’t arrive in the U.S. until 4 to 6 months later, depending the carrier.

Perhaps more interesting is Samsung’s “one phone for all” approach. Instead of multiple Galaxy S III models with slight carrier tweaks, Samsung has taking an Apple-like approach and created one singular design for the phone.

That means, for example, that the U.S. models will have the same hardware button on the front as the international versions. The only differences for the U.S. are the chip that powers the phone and the amount of memory. Since Samsung’s quad-core Exynos processor doesn’t yet have LTE integration, the company is using Qualcomm’s dual-core Snapdragon S4 for all U.S. Galaxy S III handsets and boosting the RAM from 1 GB to 2 GB. I haven’t yet used a U.S. version of the Galaxy S III, but I expect this combo to be similar in performance to the international version.

Samsung has been in Apple’s sights in the courts lately — Cupertino is already trying to stop the Galaxy S III from being sold in the U.S. — but the bigger target seems to be HTC and its Android phones. Last month, Apple’s legal efforts were enough to hold up shipments of various HTC One models in the U.S., which forced HTC to make a change to its software. That change was enough to get shipments flowing again, but this week, Apple said that’s still not enough to solve the problem. This entire situation is worth watching because the alleged patent infringement — as I read it, that is — could apply to any Android hardware maker. In some sense, Apple is indirectly fighting with Google by aiming at the smaller targets: The handset makers themselves.

Just as the week came to a close, I received a review unit of Toshiba’s Excite 7.7 tablet; one of the few that ships with Android 4.0. The device is a Wi-Fi-only model, which may disappoint some, but the positive is that there’s no monthly bill for mobile broadband. The Excite 7.7 is physically very similar to the Galaxy Tab 7.7 I purchased earlier this year and has the same 1280 x 800 resolution using what Toshiba calls a “Pixel Pure AMOLED Display”. I see little difference between the two screens.

Where I can see variance is in the overall experience and performance. Toshiba opted for Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip, which keeps apps, games and video moving quickly. Plus, I find the tablet experience to be improved with Android 4.0; my Galaxy Tab 7.7 is still stuck on Android 3.2. Toshiba didn’t hide Android with a skin either; it’s generally a pure experience; the only exception being some apps grouped in folders on the home screen. I’ll have a full review soon, but the key data point that stands out is the price: $499 which may be too much for a small slate. Here’s my first look so you can start to decide for yourself on the value.

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Article source: http://gigaom.com/mobile/android-this-week-toshibas-small-slate-galaxy-s-iii-details-patent-wars-worsen/

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02 Jun 12 Jobs’ vow to destroy Android fair game at Motorola trial


Steve Jobs’ incendiary comments about Android  in his biography have been ruled fair game for Motorola’s lawyers in its upcoming trial versus Apple. The presiding judge laid out some of the ground rules for the case this week, many of which were not in Apple’s favor.

On Thursday, federal Judge Richard Posner, who’s assigned to the trial set to begin later this month over a series of alleged smartphone patent violations, refused a request by Apple’s legal team to exclude quotes from Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography accusing Google of stealing from Apple. Some examples:

  • “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong.”
  • “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

Reuters reports that on Thursday Posner “rejected Apple’s request without explanation.”

Then a day later the judge essentially instructed Apple not to try to win points with jurors based on sentimentality over the late Apple founder, his popularity, or that of Apple. FOSS Patents records Posner’s words from Friday:

“More broadly, I forbid Apple to insinuate to the jury that this case is a popularity contest and jurors should be predisposed to render a verdict for Apple if they like Apple products or the Apple company or admire Steve Jobs, or if they dislike Motorola or Google.”

The trial is scheduled to start on June 11 in the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois. That’s not to be confused with the other trial involving Apple and Samsung, which is set for July 30. It’s going to be an interesting summer for Apple’s legal team.

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Article source: http://gigaom.com/apple/jobs-vow-to-destroy-android-fair-game-at-motorola-trial/

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24 May 12 Microsoft wins Motorola Android ‘ban’ in Germany


Just days after Google closed its purchase of Motorola Mobility, Microsoft is seeking an injunction to ban the sale of  Android device sales in Germany.

The suit is based on Motorola’s alleged infringement of a text message patent held by Redmond. Of course, it’s also part of a German tit-for-tat battle between the companies — last time round it was Motorola that won a ‘ban’ on Microsoft’s Windows and Xbox sales.

The latest decision came through on Thursday afternoon from the Munich regional court. As usual, it won’t mean anything concrete until Microsoft tries to enforce it, which would require posting a €25 million ($31 million) bond. No word yet on whether Microsoft will do that.

What Microsoft spokesman Thomas Baumgartner did tell me was this:

“We are pleased the court agreed today that Motorola has infringed on Microsoft’s intellectual property and we hope Motorola will be willing to join other Android device makers by taking a license to our patents.”

Text messaging functionality is pretty fundamental stuff, but this isn’t one of those standards-essential patents that are supposed to be unusable as legal weapons.

It should be noted that Microsoft also won a U.S. import ban on Motorola’s Android devices in the last week, although the ITC also decided Moto deserved a ban on Xbox 360 imports a few days after that. The ITC rulings were preliminary rulings that do not go into force unless they are uphold by a large panel and then by the President.

In the past, the ITC has delayed the implementation of import bans in the mobile sector in order to allow companies to develop workarounds.

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Article source: http://gigaom.com/europe/microsoft-motorola-ban-germany/

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16 May 12 Google Shifts Tack on Android


Google Inc.

is shifting its strategy for its Android mobile operating system, in a bid to create a united front with smartphone and tablet makers to take on rivals like Apple Inc.

and prevent wireless carriers from controlling the devices.

Enlarge Image

ANDROIDANDROID

Getty Images

A Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone is seen on display at a Sprint store on San Francisco last month.

Google plans to give multiple mobile-device makers early access to new releases of Android and to sell those devices directly to consumers, said people familiar with the matter. That is a shift from Google’s previous practice, when it joined with with only one hardware maker at a time to produce “lead devices,” before releasing the software to other device makers. Those lead devices were then sold to consumers through wireless carriers or retailers.

The expansion of direct sales marks a bid to exert more control over key features and apps that run on Android-powered phones and tablets, thus reducing the influence of wireless carriers over such devices, these people said. Wireless carriers typically handle marketing and sales of devices and thus can exert some control over the services that run on them.

The plan also aims to assuage concerns of smartphone and tablet makers that build devices using Android, many of whom are wary of Google because of its pending acquisition of device-maker Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.,

these people said.

Many manufacturers fear Google will try to boost Motorola’s business at their expense, something Google has said won’t happen. Under its new model, Google could give Motorola early access to Android software without putting other partners at a disadvantage, said a person familiar with the matter.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

Android is the No. 1 smartphone operating system, but Google’s model for the software has sometimes upset device makers that aren’t chosen to work with Google on a lead device, said some industry executives.

Now Google will work with as many as five manufacturers at a time to create a portfolio of “Nexus” lead devices that include smartphones and tablets, said a person familiar with the matter. Google also plans to sell the gadgets directly to consumers in the U.S., Europe and Asia through its website, and potentially through some retailers, this person said.

The devices will run on Google’s forthcoming version of Android called Jelly Bean, and it hopes to have the full portfolio of devices ready for sale by Thanksgiving, this person said.

Google also hopes the effort will help rev up sales of Android-powered tablets, which have lagged behind Apple’s iPad and Amazon.com Inc.’s

Kindle Fire, said one person familiar with the matter.

Selling devices directly to consumers online is challenging, particularly in the U.S. Many consumers prefer to test phones or tablets in a store before purchasing. The cost of most smartphones is also subsidized by wireless carriers, which sell the devices with multiyear contracts.

The new Nexus smartphones are expected to be sold unlocked, meaning they would come without a wireless contract and can run on multiple wireless networks by inserting a SIM card. Selling an unlocked phone could cost $150 or $200 more than a contract phone, and consumers would have to buy a contract separately. Google in April began selling Samsung Electronics Co.’s

Galaxy Nexus on its website for $400, or about twice the amount it costs to buy the phone with a contract. Such an approach is common outside the U.S., however.

For Google, circumventing wireless carriers has many benefits, including preventing them from blocking certain apps. Currently, Verizon Wireless doesn’t allow the Google Wallet app on Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus.

A Verizon Wireless spokeswoman declined to comment.

Carriers also are sometimes slow to push through software updates to phones, and they preload apps of their own choosing on devices. By avoiding carriers, Google and its hardware partners can get devices to market faster, often by several months.

Rajeev Chand, head of research at Rutberg Co., said Android has become a kind of “Wild West” in which app developers have struggled to make sure apps are compatible with hundreds of different Android-powered devices. Both device makers and carriers have left their imprint on devices, meaning the “consumer experience is highly variant,” he said.

Mr. Chand said Google’s shift appears to be a move “to create a more standardized experience for consumers and app developers,” similar to that of Apple.

Google’s current Android partnerships include Motorola, Samsung, Sony Corp.,

HTC Corp.,

and Asustek Computer Inc.

Asustek has been working with Google on a co-branded tablet that could be sold online to consumers, people familiar with the matter have said. Asustek previously declined to comment. Other partners include China-based ZTE Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co., which are becoming more important players.

Any manufacturers participating in Google’s new Android program will each be able to have about a dozen employees working out of the Internet company’s Mountain View., Calif., headquarters to get access to Android and work with Google programmers, a person familiar with the matter said.

While Google is adding a new revenue stream by selling devices directly to consumers, including a 10% to 15% operating profit per sale, according to past estimates by analysts, the company primarily generates mobile revenue from the sale of ad space on mobile websites and apps, including its search engine. The search engine is preloaded on the vast majority of Android devices.

Google also generates some revenue through sales of some mobile apps and digital media such as books, music and movies through its Google Play store on Android devices. But Google stands to generate a much higher cut of such sales if it sells directly to consumers.

The company has said it is on pace to generate more than $2.5 billion annually in mobile revenue, or around 5% of total revenue. That figure includes sale of ads on Apple devices, on which Google’s search engine is preinstalled.

Mobile researcher Horace Dediu recently estimated that Google generates around $2 in revenue per Android device per year and that the vast majority of mobile revenue comes from ad sales on Apple devices. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Chinese government is currently conducting an antitrust review of Google’s Motorola deal, which both companies have said they expect to close this quarter.

Write to Amir Efrati at amir.efrati@wsj.com

A version of this article appeared May 16, 2012, on page B4 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Google Shifts Tack on Android.

Article source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304371504577406511931421118.html

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16 May 12 Google Changes Tack on Android


Google Inc.

is shifting its strategy for its Android mobile operating system, in a bid to create a united front with smartphone and tablet makers to take on rivals like Apple Inc.

and prevent wireless carriers from controlling the devices.

Enlarge Image

ANDROIDANDROID

Getty Images

A Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone is seen on display at a Sprint store on San Francisco last month.

Google plans to give multiple mobile-device makers early access to new releases of Android and to sell those devices directly to consumers, said people familiar with the matter. That is a shift from Google’s previous practice, when it joined with with only one hardware maker at a time to produce “lead devices,” before releasing the software to other device makers. Those lead devices were then sold to consumers through wireless carriers or retailers.

The expansion of direct sales marks a bid to exert more control over key features and apps that run on Android-powered phones and tablets, thus reducing the influence of wireless carriers over such devices, these people said. Wireless carriers typically handle marketing and sales of devices and thus can exert some control over the services that run on them.

The plan also aims to assuage concerns of smartphone and tablet makers that build devices using Android, many of whom are wary of Google because of its pending acquisition of device-maker Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.,

these people said.

Many manufacturers fear Google will try to boost Motorola’s business at their expense, something Google has said won’t happen. Under its new model, Google could give Motorola early access to Android software without putting other partners at a disadvantage, said a person familiar with the matter.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

Android is the No. 1 smartphone operating system, but Google’s model for the software has sometimes upset device makers that aren’t chosen to work with Google on a lead device, said some industry executives.

Now Google will work with as many as five manufacturers at a time to create a portfolio of “Nexus” lead devices that include smartphones and tablets, said a person familiar with the matter. Google also plans to sell the gadgets directly to consumers in the U.S., Europe and Asia through its website, and potentially through some retailers, this person said.

The devices will run on Google’s forthcoming version of Android called Jelly Bean, and it hopes to have the full portfolio of devices ready for sale by Thanksgiving, this person said.

Google also hopes the effort will help rev up sales of Android-powered tablets, which have lagged behind Apple’s iPad and Amazon.com Inc.’s

Kindle Fire, said one person familiar with the matter.

Selling devices directly to consumers online is challenging, particularly in the U.S. Many consumers prefer to test phones or tablets in a store before purchasing. The cost of most smartphones is also subsidized by wireless carriers, which sell the devices with multiyear contracts.

The new Nexus smartphones are expected to be sold unlocked, meaning they would come without a wireless contract and can run on multiple wireless networks by inserting a SIM card. Selling an unlocked phone could cost $150 or $200 more than a contract phone, and consumers would have to buy a contract separately. Google in April began selling Samsung Electronics Co.’s

Galaxy Nexus on its website for $400, or about twice the amount it costs to buy the phone with a contract. Such an approach is common outside the U.S., however.

For Google, circumventing wireless carriers has many benefits, including preventing them from blocking certain apps. Currently, Verizon Wireless doesn’t allow the Google Wallet app on Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus.

A Verizon Wireless spokeswoman declined to comment.

Carriers also are sometimes slow to push through software updates to phones, and they preload apps of their own choosing on devices. By avoiding carriers, Google and its hardware partners can get devices to market faster, often by several months.

Rajeev Chand, head of research at Rutberg Co., said Android has become a kind of “Wild West” in which app developers have struggled to make sure apps are compatible with hundreds of different Android-powered devices. Both device makers and carriers have left their imprint on devices, meaning the “consumer experience is highly variant,” he said.

Mr. Chand said Google’s shift appears to be a move “to create a more standardized experience for consumers and app developers,” similar to that of Apple.

Google’s current Android partnerships include Motorola, Samsung, Sony Corp.,

HTC Corp.,

and Asustek Computer Inc.

Asustek has been working with Google on a co-branded tablet that could be sold online to consumers, people familiar with the matter have said. Asustek previously declined to comment. Other partners include China-based ZTE Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co., which are becoming more important players.

Any manufacturers participating in Google’s new Android program will each be able to have about a dozen employees working out of the Internet company’s Mountain View., Calif., headquarters to get access to Android and work with Google programmers, a person familiar with the matter said.

While Google is adding a new revenue stream by selling devices directly to consumers, including a 10% to 15% operating profit per sale, according to past estimates by analysts, the company primarily generates mobile revenue from the sale of ad space on mobile websites and apps, including its search engine. The search engine is preloaded on the vast majority of Android devices.

Google also generates some revenue through sales of some mobile apps and digital media such as books, music and movies through its Google Play store on Android devices. But Google stands to generate a much higher cut of such sales if it sells directly to consumers.

The company has said it is on pace to generate more than $2.5 billion annually in mobile revenue, or around 5% of total revenue. That figure includes sale of ads on Apple devices, on which Google’s search engine is preinstalled.

Mobile researcher Horace Dediu recently estimated that Google generates around $2 in revenue per Android device per year and that the vast majority of mobile revenue comes from ad sales on Apple devices. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Chinese government is currently conducting an antitrust review of Google’s Motorola deal, which both companies have said they expect to close this quarter.

Write to Amir Efrati at amir.efrati@wsj.com

Article source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304371504577406511931421118.html

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23 Apr 12 Android this week: Cheaper Asus Transformer Pad reviewed; HTC One S impresses


The popular Asus Transformer Prime now has a cheaper cousin called the Transformer Pad TF300 and reviews are starting to trickle in. Asus opted to cut a corner or two to reduce the price on the Pad, but it still offers a similar form factor: A capacitive touchscreen tablet running Google Android 4.0 with an optional $150 keyboard dock. The Pad tablet alone retails for $380 with 16 GB of internal storage and a 32 GB model is available for an extra $20.

Instead of the 1.3 GHz Tegra 3 found in the Transformer Prime, the Pad uses a 1.2 GHz Tegra 3 chip. Additionally, Asus saved on some of the Pad’s hardware cost by using a lower quality LCD display as compared to the Prime: Don’t look for a bright, Super IPS panel on this lower priced model. This less expensive model is also a tad heavier than the $499 Prime, weighing about one-tenth of pound more than the prior tablet version. On the plus side, the 8 megapixel camera offers a wider aperture — f/2.2 vs f/2.4 — and the Pad includes faster DDR3 RAM.

Early reviews generally appear favorable. Here’s a sampling:

CNet: “The TF300 doesn’t lose much compared with the Prime and actually gains in a couple areas. At $380 ($400 for 32GB) it’s cheaper than even an iPad 2, but unfortunately, the Android OS still lags way behind in app support compared with iOS. Still, if Android is your thing, the TF300′s price makes it the current best value for a full-Android tablet on the market.”

PC Mag: “The Transformer Prime was a top-notch tablet when it was released last year, and the TF300T, which isn’t vastly different, except that it’s less expensive, carries that torch. But it seems like a placeholder while we wait for the Infinity Prime, with its 1080p high-resolution display.”

PC World: “In spite of the stability issues I encountered, the Asus Transformer Pad makes for a good, large-screen value Android tablet. The extra storage you’ll get will come in handy, but you’ll have to be willing to sacrifice niceties like a subwoofer, rear-camera flash, and super IPS display to go with this lower-cost model. If you like the idea of extra storage and saving some bucks, the Transformer Pad makes a good choice.”

When I reviewed the Asus Transformer Prime, I thought it was the best Android tablet available due to the device performance and docking station that adds a keyboard, additional ports and extra battery life. Starting at $120 less, the Transformer Pad TF300 sounds like it’s worth a look for those seeking an iPad alternative.

On the smartphone side of Android, I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the HTC One S for T-Mobile. It may be the nicest Android hardware I’ve held yet. HTC Sense on top of Android 4.0 is generally favorable and should appeal to fans of Sense and new smartphone owners alike due to ease of use.

As a T-Mobile customer, I considered replacing my Galaxy Nexus for a One S, but opted to stick with my current phone. I prefer having total control over my choice of software and I can also use the Nexus on either T-Mobile or ATT. Still, if you’re on T-Mobile and want a premium Android experience, the One S should be atop the list of phones to check out.

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Article source: http://gigaom.com/mobile/android-this-week-cheaper-asus-transformer-pad-reviewed-htc-one-s-impresses/

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17 Apr 12 Samsung brings Android 4.0 to unlocked Galaxy S II models


Samsung Galaxy S II handsets not tied to a specific carrier no longer have to wait for their Android 4.0 upgrade. According to a tweet from Samsung’s UK Twitter account, unlocked Galaxy S II phones can now download and install the software, known as Ice Cream Sandwich. Orange and T-Mobile customers with a Galaxy S II in Europe remain on Android 2.3, but Samsung says these will “follow as soon as possible.”

SlashGear caught the tweet and notes that the Android 4.0 upgrade can be found through Samsung’s Kies software. Here in the U.S., carriers typically push the software over the air after they’ve tested and tweaked the platform. For that reason some people purchase unlocked handsets, with the reasonable thought that these would be among the first to see updates. Unfortunately, with the Galaxy S II that hasn’t been the case as some carrier models already received Android 4.0.

Along with the updated Google Android software, Samsung has added a Face Unlock feature; similar to that found on stock Android 4.0 devices, such as the Galaxy Nexus. Also included is Samsung’s latest TouchWiz user interface to correspond with Google’s own software updates. It appears that Samsung is pushing the updates out ahead of a May 3 product launch event; likely to be the Galaxy S III.

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Article source: http://gigaom.com/mobile/samsung-brings-android-4-0-to-unlocked-galaxy-s-ii-models/

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