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16 Jun 12 Verizon confirms Android 4.0 for Droid Razr on the way

Razr owners who have been waiting a long time for another helping of an Android dessert will soon be served.


Motorola has promised Razr and Razr Maxx owners that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades will start sometime in the second quarter, and now it looks like Verizon and Moto are scrambling to make that self-imposed deadline.

For the past few months I’ve been reporting internal leaks from sources inside Verizon on the scheduled roll-out date that were repeatedly pushed back. Most recently, the word was updates would begin June 12. When that date came and passed, I checked back with my sources who told me the date on the internal calendar remained June 12 — the hold-up was apparently in another department.

Then today the picture got a little clearer with a text message sent to some Razr users from Verizon:

Free Verizon Message: Your phone will soon be upgraded to
Android 4.0. At that time we will remove your Verizon Wireless Mobile IM app because it is not supported in Android 4.0. Please download a new instant messaging app to use IM on your phone. Thank you for using Mobile IM!

So, so long Verizon Mobile IM — we never got to know each other very well and I’m sure you’re a very nice app, but I’m quite happy to trade you for Ice Cream Sandwich.

Thanks for the tip, Shafer!

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15 Jun 12 Sony Xperia Ion Android Smartphone Offers 4.6-Inch Display, $99 …

Sony is the latest beleaguered phone maker to
try and wrestle some market share away from Apple and Samsung.

ATT will begin selling the Sony Xperia
ion, an Android smartphone equipped with Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology, June 24 for
$99.99—a price that puts the Sony squarely on Nokia turf.

Nokia, also fighting to regain market share,
with its new commitment to Microsoft’s Windows Phone, settled with ATT on
a $99.99 price point for the Lumia 900. The price was something of a novelty
and helped the phone attract headlines and eyeballs—and likely also sales. In
April and May, the Lumia 900 was ATT’s best-selling phone behind the Apple
iPhone 4S, according to investment firm Canaccord Genuity.

If pricing doesn’t get the Xperia ion some
attention, however, Sony still has two other cards to play. One is a 4.6-inch
720p HD Reality Display with a Mobile Bravia Engine. Borrowed from Sony’s
television line, the video engine is said to offer “unbeatable HD
viewing,” according to ATT.

The other is compatibility with what Sony is
calling SmartTags—near-field communication-based tags that bring to mind the
metal circles often handed out at museums, for visitors to attach to their
buttonholes. Using a free app, users can program the tags to make the phone do
things it already does, just quicker. For example, instead of dimming the phone
and setting the alarm before going to bed each night, these tasks can be
programmed to a tag that a user simply swipes each night.

recently announced a similar offer.
Called TecTiles, Samsung’s are like
plastic stamps, sold in five-packs for $15 and are reusable. The Sony SmartTags
will be available in four-packs for $30.

The Xperia ion runs a 1.5GHz dual-core
processor and has 16GB of internal memory, plus a microSD expansion slot that
supports another 32GB. With High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) and Digital
Living Network Alliance (DLNA) technology, the phone can also support multiscreen
connectivity. It’s PlayStation Certified for high-quality gaming and features a
12-megapixel camera with an Exmor R sensor and 1080p high-definition video
recording. There’s also a 720p HD front-facing camera for video calls.

Working against the phone, no doubt, is the
curious decision to have it run Android 2.3, known as Gingerbread. While Google
has since released two other versions—Honeycomb, which is optimized for
tablets, and Ice Cream Sandwich, which offers more features and an overall more
pleasant user experience—May data from Flurry
found 70 percent of Android users to still be running
Gingerbread. Only 7 percent are now using Ice Cream Sandwich.

It’s a detail that’s frustrating for Android
developers—and one Apple was quick to point out during its Worldwide Developer
Conference keynote June 11, telling attendees that 80 percent of iOS devices
are currently running iOS 5. (Apple executives proceeded to show off the
upcoming iOS 6.)

During the first quarter of 2012, Samsung
shipped more than 86.6 million mobile phones, by Gartner’s count, followed by
Nokia with 83.2 million and Apple with 33 million. Smartphone sales were
dominated by Apple and Samsung, which together raised their combined market
share to 49.3 percent, up from 29.3 percent a year earlier.

Android phones, collectively, accounted for
more than 56 percent of shipments.

Sony, clearly building out its portfolio,
introduced the Xperia miro and Xperia tipo in the United Kingdom June 13. Both
have lower-megapixel cameras, come in a variety of colors and run Ice Cream

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13 Jun 12 Android 4.0.3 update out for T-Mobile’s Samsung Galaxy S II


Samsung Galaxy S II owners on T-Mobile can update to
Android 4.0.3, but they may have to jump through a few hoops first.

The latest flavor of Ice Cream Sandwich launched as of yesterday evening for Samsung’s Galaxy S II. Owners of the phone can learn how to install it via a T-Mobile support page. But be forewarned — the update isn’t available over the air (OTA), meaning you can’t download it directly to your phone.

Instead, you have to install it via Samsung’s Kies software, which requires you to download and install the update on your PC and then sync it with your phone.

Beyond offering ICS, the update promises improvements in performance and stability.

But wait.

Before you can scoop up a dose of Ice Cream Sandwich, you’ll need to make sure you’re running at least Android 2.3.6 on your Galaxy S II phone, which is available as an OTA update.

Got all that? Don’t worry. T-Mobile’s page describes all the steps required to reach the peak of Android. But the carrier does warn that if you run into any trouble, you’ll have to call Samsung. “The Kies update through Samsung is not supported by T-Mobile and we are unable to assist with Kies or PC questions,” T-Mobile explained.

Though T-Mobile is trying to be helpful by outlining all the steps involved, this convoluted process clearly shows why Android updates are such a mess. With Google, the device makers. and the carriers all involved in the mix, no one party is truly responsible or accountable for the entire chain of events.

Compare that with the process on iOS devices. Apple is the sole party responsible for all updates. The carriers have no involvement. Apple users can download iOS updates to iTunes and sync them with their iPhones and iPads or download and install the updates directly to their devices.

It is any wonder Android users have to wait so long for the latest version of Android and other updates?

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11 Jun 12 Android hits 900k activations per day

The announcement came from Rubin after rumors surfaced that he may be planning to leave Google. In the message, the Google executive said that he has “no plans” to do so.

Apple and Android have been wooing developers as it’s become increasingly apparent that the company that can command the widest, most useful breadth of mobile applications will have the edge in the smartphone war.

A study released last week by the team at the analytics firm Flurry revealed that developers still prefer Apple’s iOS to Android by a large margin. Of new project starts, 69 percent of developers went with Apple’s system over Google’s, though that was down from 73 percent in the previous quarter.

Fragmentation in Android seems to still be a big problem for Google, with 70 percent of user sessions still on Gingerbread, an older version of the operating system. Google is trying to fix this with the introduction of Ice Cream Sandwich, which better unifies tablets and smartphone, but has had less than a year to get its latest push underway. Samsung is clearly the most popular Android handset maker, with six of the top 10 Android devices, the study showed. Motorola and HTC make up the rest of the list, with one exception: the Kindle Fire from Amazon has 4 percent of Android’s market share.

Another problem that’s popped up for Android has been the simple fact that Apple applications seem to return more money per user. According to the study, Android developers earn just 24 cents for every dollar they get from iOS.

The combined effect of fragmentation and lower revenue, the study said, is likely why developers still like Apple.

“In short, Android delivers less gain and more pain than iOS, which we believe is the key reason 7 out of every 10 apps built in the new economy are for iOS instead of Android,” the study said.

Google’s own developers conference, Google I/O, runs from June 27-29, and Slashgear reports the company is rumored to make a tablet announcement.

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10 Jun 12 Customize Android with ‘skins’

One of the main ways Android still manages to differentiate itself from its rivals is the number of simple customization options it offers. Launchers are one of the easiest ways to add a personal touch to your Android device. You’ll find some absolutely great ones available from Google Play that can add great art and better functionality to your device.

What is a launcher?

Android launchers are effectively a skin that sits on top of the Android operating system to change its looks and performance. Unless you have a Nexus phone (known for using vanilla or untainted versions of Android), your phone or tablet already has a launcher on it courtesy of the hardware manufacturer.

Samsung’s launcher is known as TouchWiz. HTC has Sense, and Motorola has MotoBlur. These are all (generally) a good thing, since they add user-friendly features to Google’s basic Android OS. However, the great thing about Android is the choice it offers you. The ability to make your HTC One S or other Android device look and feel just right for you, rather than how Google and HTC think it should be, is a really attractive part of owning an Android device.

More from Tecca

News, how-to guides and more at to help you get the most out of your technology.

What can a launcher do?

Some launchers are designed to be minimalist and speedy, with the graphics performance tweaked to help even older devices from feeling slow. Other, more feature-rich launchers come with well-designed widgets for Twitter, Facebook, the weather, your contacts, your calendar, and so much more. Launchers can change how your app drawer looks, increase or decrease the number of icons in the dock on your home screen, or even make the dock scrollable.

One of the best things about launchers are the theme packs that can completely change the look of your phone, with new icons, new wallpaper, and a new app drawer in just a few clicks. Art choices range from sleek metallic themes to dark themes with neon highlights, space travel, floral, or pirate ships. What’s even better, a lot of the themes are free! Your phone is one of the devices you interact with most all day as well as one of the most personal, so why not make it yours and make it work just the way you like?

1. ADW.Launcher

Price: Free for basic, $3.32 for EX

This is one of the oldest launchers on Google Play and offers tons of great features, even in the free version. While it already looks great out of the box, you can still change the number of home screens you have, edit the dock, and apply some really cool transition effects to your home screens, menus, and app drawers.

One of the things ADW.Launcher is best at is resizing and editing widgets and icons via super-intuitive menus with just a few clicks. As one of the oldest launchers on Google Play, ADW has built up an enormous number of themes to suit all styles and personalities.

2. Apex Launcher

Price: Free for basic, $3.99 for Pro

If you’re lucky enough to have Ice Cream Sandwich on your phone and want to try a launcher, then you might want to give Apex Launcher a try. As well as all the usual home screen replacement features like changing the number of icons in the dock and customizing your home screens, Apex Launcher comes with a couple of unusual features: dock widgets and deeply integrated gesture support.

3. Go Launcher EX

Price: Free

Go Launcher EX is one of the top 25 downloaded free apps on Google Play across all categories. Launcher and home screen replacements are no longer niche and geeky; they’re a simple way to tailor your phone to your needs.

Go Launcher EX works great on its own, but the Go team has also crafted tons of great plugins, widgets, and lock screen replacements to give you as much (or as little) customization as you want. The launcher looks great as soon as you install it, but its simple menus and theme browsers really make it come alive.

This story originally appeared on Tecca.

More from Tecca

Ultimate beginner’s guide to Android phones and tablets

A visual tour of Android Ice Cream Sandwich’s inner filling

7 things Android Ice Cream Sandwich can do that iPhones and iPads can’t

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08 Jun 12 iOS still tops Android with app developers

Flurry Analytics)

Android‘s greater share of the smartphone market, Apple’s iOS continues to attract greater support from app developers.

Nearly seven of every 10 apps being created in the first quarter of 2012 were for the iOS platform, with the remaining three going to Android, according to new data released today by research firm Flurry Analytics. iOS generates twice as many apps as Android despite Google’s mobile operating system commanding 50.8 percent of the smartphone market compared with Apple’s 31.4 percent, according to ComScore data release last week.

One key reason for Apple’s popularity with developers is its dominance in the
tablet market. Apple’s iPad accounted for 88 percent of all tablet user sessions in the first five months of 2012, followed by Samsung’s Galaxy Tab with 9 percent and Amazon’s
Kindle Fire with 3 percent.

App authors can also expect a greater payout from iOS compared with Android, with Apple’s mobile operating system delivering developers four times the revenue as their Android counterpart per user, Flurry found.

“At the end of the day, developers run businesses, and businesses seek out markets where revenue opportunities are highest and the cost of building and distributing is lowest,” Flurry said in its findings. “In short, Android delivers less gain and more pain than iOS, which we believe is the key reason 7 out of every 10 apps built in the new economy are for iOS instead of Android.”

Flurry Analytics)

Another contributing factor to developer disparity is fragmentation in software and hardware, which Flurry said appears to be increasing, making Google’s platform more complex and costly for developers. The study notes that 17 of the top 20 Android devices in May 2012 had a share of 6 percent or less in consumer application sessions, meaning that each additional device supported by developers will deliver only a small increase in distribution.

Firmware is also a stumbling point, with Gingerbread, the third newest Android version, commanding 70 percent of user sessions, while newer versions Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich combined register on 11 percent of market penetration.

“This means that the majority of consumers are running on an Android operating system that is three to four iterations old,” Flurry said.

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08 Jun 12 Has Android lost its mojo?

One sad Android

One of the most striking differences between Computex 2011 and this years’ show is how few Android and ARM devices are being shown. There have been a few demos that highlight hardware from Qualcomm and Nvidia, or show Microsoft’s next-gen Windows 8 running on ARM hardware, but these announcements are few and far between.

That’s not to say Android is completely gone from the show — it isn’t — but the mood last year was that Microsoft had missed the boat with Windows 8. While Redmond toiled, its erstwhile partners were clambering aboard the SS Android to set sail for the land of Milk and Tablets.

Xoom tabletThat was before the boat mostly sank. Android as a whole claimed nearly half the tablet market in 2011, but the only device to break away from the pack and make a name for itself was Amazon’s Kindle Fire — a tablet that cost half of what an iPad 2 did, and one that’s sold basically at-cost as a way to hook customers on Amazon Prime. Adding insult to injury is the fact that while the Kindle Fire does run Android, Amazon did a huge amount of work to customize the experience and de-emphasize Google’s OS as a brand. Samsung was bogged down by Apple’s lawsuits, the PlayBook turned out to be pants, and the Xoom xucked.

It’s not clear if there are bad feelings between Google and the various OEMs who bet big money on Android-powered tablets, but the focus during the show is overwhelmingly on Microsoft, Intel, and Windows 8. Most of the demo hardware is x86-based, even though Windows on ARM tablets are supposedly the Next Big Thing — again, you can find them if you look, but there aren’t very many and we’ve seen most of them before. ARM tablets running ICS 4.0 or Jelly Bean 4.2 are even rarer.

This is troubling for several reasons. Microsoft’s numerous ARM restrictions make it clear that the company plans to treat ARM owners like second-class citizens. The company runs the risk of bifurcating the market by creating two de facto Windows standards. x86 devices, be they tablets or notebooks, will be able to install alternate browsers or download applications that aren’t stamped with the MS seal of approval. ARM owners can’t do either. In theory, a strong Android presence in tablets provides an option for customers who aren’t enamored of Microsoft or Apple — but only if manufacturers continue to build around the OS.

Phones: Slow uptake, or business as usual?

The phone situation is markedly different. There’s no danger of Android going anywhere; analyst firms like Gartner expect Android to hold a majority share of the phone market through 2016. What’s more interesting, particularly given the way OEMs have turned away from Android on tablets, is the way Ice Cream Sandwich isn’t gaining traction.

Android Market Share

Seven months after release, Ice Cream Sandwich holds just 7.1% of the market. We know from other sources that Android 2.3 (Gingerbraed) had roughly 40% of the market in October 2011, with another 45% still using the older 2.2 (Froyo) at that time. We consulted WayBackMachine for additional data points on how the transition looked earlier in 2011.

In early March 2011, Android 2.2 held 61.3% of the market, with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) at just 0.7%. By late June, roughly six months after release, 9.2% of phones were running a flavor of Gingerbread. Our last available data point is for July 18, but it shows devices running Android 2.3.3 – 2.3.4 at 17.6% of the market — almost double the previous month’s total. By October, Froyo and Gingerbread were running neck-and-neck.

That’s good news for phone owners impatient for the next round of Google goodies, especially after missing out on Honeycomb, but it points to a major disconnect between when Google delivers OS updates and when carriers actually start shipping them in volume. If ICS hits true to form, we should see a major spike in its usage rates beginning in July or August.

If it doesn’t, other factors may be in play. Google has rolled out updates to Android before, but Ice Cream Sandwich’s debut kicked off a flurry of requests for OS updates and a substantial amount of user unhappiness when phone companies claimed they needed 5-7 months to release an updated OS. Device manufacturers aren’t that used to interacting directly with customers or having to pay attention to their demands; quality issues and phone problems are almost always handled by the carriers long before they get back to Samsung, HTC, or Motorola. Android’s openness works to break down those walls. By de-prioritizing upgrades, carriers can send a message to Google over who’s really in charge of the OS business.

As for tablets, current evidence suggests that Android’s long-term strength may depend on how consumers respond to Windows 8 when it ships out on tablet devices. We’re hoping to see a vibrant community emerge for both devices, if only to keep Microsoft on its toes. For now, most eyes are tracking Redmond, but if Microsoft can’t counter the iPad 3 — and let’s face it, no one has a great track record there — OEMs may start paying more attention to Android again.

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07 Jun 12 Samsung Galaxy S3 to ship soon on all 4 big US carriers

The Galaxy S III is soon to land in our solar system — the American part of it, that is.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET)

Samsung’s Galaxy S III
Android 4.0 phone is generating so much buzz, you could almost forget the Olympics are being held this summer.

U.S. fans of the Galaxy S series have been closer to the back of the line this go-round, as the flagship Android phone is rolling out elsewhere across the globe while we twiddle our thumbs over elder-generation smartphones. Finally, the picture is becoming a little less cloudy as to when the S III will finally land stateside.

We already know that T-Mobile and Sprint will start selling the thin taste of Ice Cream Sandwich on June 21, but now it appears that ATT is telling customers who preorder the Galaxy S III that they can expect it to ship on June 18, according to droidmatters.

As for Big Red, Droid Life says Verizon customers who preorder are seeing messages that the phone will ship by July 9th, but there’s also evidence from Best Buy that it could be as soon as June 28.

There could be another bit of good news for current Verizon subscribers who are on one of those grandfathered unlimited data plans. Folks who preorder the Galaxy S III are being given the option to port that unlimited data plan over to the new phone without any hassle. Verizon had previously said it would begin moving off those unlimited plans as it updated to 4G plans, but it seems that may not always be the case, especially when you’re trying to push a cherry phone like the Galaxy S III. Sprint will also be offering an unlimited data option for the GS3.

Then again, these are the carriers we’re talking about, and the sweetest deals can sour pretty quickly. In fact, there’s one pretty big wild card out there right now threatening to keep our galaxies and the Galaxy S III from colliding — Apple has requested an injunction that would keep the Samsung phone from hitting U.S. shelves, claiming it infringes on two of Apple’s patents.


(Via Boy Genius Report)

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07 Jun 12 HTC’s new One phones are worth a look

When it comes to smartphones, I’m an iPhone guy. But I’ve long appreciated HTC’s Android phones.

The first Android phone I really liked was the Google Nexus One, which was made by HTC. I also was a big fan of the Nexus One’s sibling, the Droid Incredible.

But in the past year or so, HTC has struggled to make phones that stood out in the increasingly crowded Android marketplace. It has lost share to Samsung, which has focused on phones with jumbo, brilliantly lit screens.

HTC is trying to stage a comeback. It announced a new flagship line this year of phones dubbed One. The first two models in the line, the One S and the One X, recently hit store shelves at T-Mobile USA and ATT, respectively.

I’ve been testing both phones and generally like what I’ve seen. I don’t consider either one a must-have, but they are worth a serious look if you are in the market for an Android device.

Of the two, I was immediately drawn to the One S. I’ve not been a big fan of phones with screens larger than 4 inches because they tend to be unwieldy to use with one hand. But the One S is supersleek.

Despite having the same 4.3-inch screen as Motorola’s Droid Razr, the One S is lighter. It’s also nearly as thin as the Razr without having a raised bump for its camera. Instead, the One S’s back is flat with rounded edges and feels great in the hand.

With a 4.7-inch screen, the One X is noticeably bigger than the One S. Although it shares the same basic design and is only slightly heavier, its bulk makes it feel clumsy.

The two phones’ screens differ in size and in underlying technology and resolution. The One S has an organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, display, which offers richer colors and deeper blacks than the One X’s LCD display, but looks a bit dimmer in bright light.

As one might expect from a bigger screen, the One X’s shows more pixels than the One S’s, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Some apps designed for smaller displays appear stretched out or have ultratiny buttons.

Still, the One S and the One X have a lot in common. Both have fast dual-core processors, an adequate but not ample amount of storage — 16 gigabytes — and Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of Android.

On both phones, though, HTC has decided to forgo the virtual system buttons that Google built into Ice Cream Sandwich, which change in number and appearance from application to application. Instead, HTC is sticking with the permanent and fixed touch-sensitive buttons that used to be found on all Android phones. I think that’s a good choice; I’ve found the ever-changing system buttons in the latest version of Android confusing.

Both phones also run the latest version of HTC’s Sense interface on top of Android. I’ve always liked Sense, an easier-to-use interface than what ships with the standard version of Android. HTC streamlined the interface a bit in the new version and added one cool feature that helps its devices continue to stand out from other Android phones.

Recently used applications are displayed as cards rotated slightly. You can swipe left and right to access various apps. And you can close applications by swiping up. It looks a lot like the multitasking system of Palm’s webOS, which I loved, and I was happy to see HTC borrow the idea.

One of the key features HTC is touting in the One l phones is their superfast cameras.

I take a lot of pictures on cellphones, and it can be a frustrating experience. They tend to do a poor job in low-light situations, and many are too slow to capture pictures of fast-moving kids or animals.

But I was impressed with the cameras on the One phones, at least in terms of speed. They shoot photos almost instantaneously. And if you keep the shutter button pressed down, they’ll shoot continuously until you have no more storage space left, if you want to go that long. When you stop shooting, the phones will help you select the best shot; you can either keep all the ones you shot in a row, or simply the best one.

Neither phone is perfect. Thanks to its giant screen, the One X seemed to gobble up its battery power fairly quickly, even in moderate use.

Meanwhile, the One S suffers from its service provider; as I drove around the San Francisco Bay Area, I found numerous spots where I either couldn’t get T-Mobile’s service on the One S, or where I could only get its aging 2G network. The One S I tested also had a bug that caused it to mysteriously reboot several times, even when I wasn’t using it.

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04 Jun 12 Android ICS to have a shorter shelf life than Gingerbread



It will be close to nine months now, since Google announced their Ice Cream Sandwich, the successor to Gingerbread and even though it’s every bit as good as it’s advertised, the adoption rate leaves a lot be desired. Having said that, Android Developers reports that the adoption rate has gone up and is now up to 6.7 percent, as of June 1, which is a healthy growth, when you compare it to the 0.4 percent it was at the beginning of the year. However when compared to Gingerbread, which still holds the major slice of the Android distribution pie, ICS adoption has been a lot slower than expected. The delay most likely lies with the OEMs, since they have to skin the new OS, test it out to make sure nothing is broken and then release it. This ideally shouldn’t take too long, but most manufacturers have a fleet of different versions of the same phone that’s being sold in different countries and for different carriers, which is where the bottleneck comes in. It’s not like the iPhone, which is just one phone and one version that’s being sold globally. Gingerbread launched in December 2010 and according to the chart, more than 50 percent of all Android phones were already running 2.3.3 by December 2011. We are almost half way through 2012 now and the number of ICS handsets is nowhere close to that number.

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