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17 Dec 12 U.S. Cellular’s Samsung Galaxy S III Gets Jelly Bean Friday | News & Opinion …


U.S. Cellular will ring in the holidays with Friday’s rollout of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to all Samsung Galaxy S III smartphones.

The upgrade, U.S. Cellular said, “enhances the wireless experience by making the device faster, smoother and more responsive.”

Jelly Bean comes with a number of new features, including a refined camera with built-in filters and a pause-and-resume option while recording video, as well as Easy Mode for first-time smartphone users and improved usability with multiple keyboard options.

Additionally, the new Google Now feature offers information any time — check rush-hour traffic or the subway schedule before leaving work, or find out the latest score of a sports game, delivered as a notification to your phone. Google Now also serves as a personal assistant, providing users with weather, maps, navigation, search, flight status, and other information, and can be launched directly from the lock screen shortcut, or with a long press on the menu button, from any screen.

Samsung Galaxy S III (U.S. Cellular)


Samsung Galaxy S III (U.S. Cellular) : Front


Samsung Galaxy S III (U.S. Cellular) : Back


Samsung Galaxy S III (U.S. Cellular) : Front


Samsung Galaxy S III (U.S. Cellular) : Back

Galaxy S III owners will soon have access to rich notifications, which can expand and shrink with a pinch, showing as much or as little information as the user wants. Other enhancements allow actions to be taken directly from the notifications platform, without having to launch an app first.

Customization will also get easier, with automatically resizing widgets to fit on the screen with other icons.

U.S. Cellular is the latest Samsung’s carrier partner to receive the upgrade. Since the phone maker confirmed in early October that it would be pushing Android 4.1 to its flagship Galaxy S III, Sprint, T-Mobile, ATT, and Verizon Wireless have all begun offering their customers the latest Google OS.

On Friday, Galaxy S III users can visit the U.S. Cellular website for details on the upgrade process. Owners can upgrade wirelessly, or by connecting their device to a computer via USB cable.

For more, check out PCMag’s review of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Also, see our review of the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone and the slideshow above.

For more from Stephanie, follow her on Twitter @smlotPCMag.

Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2413307,00.asp

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15 Dec 12 A screenshot tour of Verizon’s Android 4.1 update for Galaxy SIII users


Verizon Wireless finally pushed out the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update for Samsung Galaxy SIII users this week. It brings with it a variety of long-awaited Android features, including Google Now, voice search within Maps, and other nifty little touches like camera filters and contextual menus. Samsung has also bundled its premium suite of features with the update to include things like enhancements to the S-Voice personal assistant, as well as a major overhaul to the keyboard input. Verizon Wireless users will also be able to add international roaming to their plans so they can use the phone overseas. Finally, upgraded users in Salt Lake City and Austin will be able to access ISIS wallet (unfortunately, we were not able to try it out in this screenshot tour).

We’ve been waiting for this update for some time now, and although Android 4.2 Jelly Bean was recently released to various Nexus handsets and devices, any software update is better than no update at all. Let’s take a look at several of the Galaxy SIII’s new features.

Google Now and S-Voice

Galaxy SIII users now have access to Google Now, which can be engaged by holding down on the Home button for a few seconds and pressing the Google button, or by holding down the Menu button. Google Now displays pertinent information like driving times, flight information, upcoming meetings, and tracking information for shipments, and it’s all updated in real time.



Samsung also pushed forth updates to its S-Voice application, a digital personal assistant which functions a lot like Apple’s Siri and Google Now.  Its voice sounds sultrier than before, it can recognize more phrases and actions, and you can engage it from the lock screen with a voice command (more on that in a bit).



Camera Improvements

With the Android 4.1 update, Samsung also packaged up a few “premium” features, like camera enhancements. The Camera app has new filters that can be overlaid in real-time and viewed through the Preview window, and it also comes with a low-light shot function. The app also sports a “best face” setting that attempts to capture the best moment in a scene where there’s a lot of movement.





Keyboard

In addition to the standard Android 4.1 features, Samsung has also included a huge update to the Swype application, which comes natively with the Galaxy SIII. The keyboard looks much nicer than it previously did and typing is an easier endeavor. Beforehand, it used to feel like no matter the accuracy with which fingers touched the letters, it would require lots of editing before a message could go out. Now, the keyboard feels just as fluid as on stock Android. (I’m thankful that I can finally ditch the Jelly Bean keyboard plug-in I’ve been using all this time.)


Missing features

After comparing the screenshots in the video that Samsung released last week and the update that hit our own Galaxy SIII unit, we were surprised to find that the Multi-window functionality and Page Buddy did not exist in the Display options. There is no setting for customizing Notification panel, either.



As it turns out, these features are actually a part of Android 4.1.2, and the update that went out today is Android 4.1.1, so we won’t be seeing these features until that particular update hits. You can check out Samsung’s YouTube page for the videos where all the new Premium suite features are explained.

Listing image by Image courtesy of TechnoBuffalo

Article source: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/12/a-screenshot-tour-of-verizons-android-4-1-update-for-galaxy-siii-users/

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14 Dec 12 Bango adds operator billing support for Google Play


Bango’s partnership with Telstra to offer carrier billing, follows similar moves made by US and European network operators. Telefonica’s BlueVia platform has provided operator-billing for Google Play in Spain and Germany since Q3 2012. Telenor has also partnered with BlueVia to provide further support for operator billing. Verizon Wireless also recently became the last of the top four US operators to launch its carrier billing when its service went live on 31 October 2012 on Google Play.

The rise in operators offering carrier billing services underscores a growing effort from both application store owners and mobile network operators to offer alternative payment options, increase conversion rates, and utilize new billing platforms to monetise and enhance the end-user experience. Globally, payment providers and application store owners (Bango, RIM, Nokia) report 1x – 3x times revenue growth with carrier billing versus credit cards. With carrier billing platforms in place, the role of network operators shifts to address the larger connected mobile ecosystem of merchants, developers and customers.

The move is a positive one for Google, which has been improving its ability to monetise Android content throughout 2012. IHS research indicates that while Google Play still generates lower content revenue per addressable device, it is starting to close the gap on Apple’s iOS App Store. Verizon’s recent move to support billing for Google Play at the same time as it announced the closure of its own application store, illustrates how in many countries operators are recognizing the reality of their new role in the mobile content ecosystem. As operator’s own content services decline, the ability to provide billing support for other stores will be a key way for them to retain some stake in the mobile content business.

Article source: http://www.screendigest.com/news/2012_12_bango_adds_operator_billing_support_for_google_play/view.html

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13 Jun 12 Michael Gartenberg: Google polishes Chrome OS


Computerworld - A year ago, I wrote that the first Chromebooks felt more like a science project than a strategic product. They were interesting but of little practical value. A lot has changed since then, and while I wouldn’t say that Google has developed a truly compelling device, it has shown that the Chromebook and its underlying Chrome OS are evolving.

Chrome OS is Google’s attempt to create a new class of Web-based operating system, designed to work on special devices, the first of which were last year’s Chromebooks. Since then, Google has refreshed Chrome OS (the actual version number is 19) and with partner Samsung has introduced both a new Chromebook and a desktop device called Chromebox. After using both for the last few weeks, my impression is that Google did a nice job of polishing Chrome in ways that help it shine much better than it did a year ago.

The new Chromebook, called the Series 5, has a 12.1-inch display and 16GB of built-in flash storage. You can add a Verizon Wireless 3G radio, with 100MB free per month for two years. There’s a much-improved trackpad (the trackpad on the first Chromebooks was all but unusable), and the device is now powered by an Intel Celeron processor, which dramatically improves performance, especially for things like streaming high-definition video. Pricing is $449 for the Wi-Fi-only version and $549 for the 3G models.

The Chromebox Series 3 is a small, sleek box that takes some design cues from the Mac Mini. It has the same CPU and memory as the Chromebook. It doesn’t include a monitor, keyboard or mouse, but it has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support for keyboards and mice, along with DVI and HDMI output. It costs $329.99.

Both devices are good-looking and solid pieces of hardware, though I’d argue that 3.3 pounds is too much weight for a laptop that isn’t really a laptop at all. I could give you more specs, but specs don’t have that much to do with what you’re buying here. What really matters is the updated Chrome OS experience, and the newest version shows just what a difference a year makes.

One of the biggest drawbacks of Chrome OS was that an offline Chromebook was pretty much a brick with a monitor. Google has worked to address that, adding offline access for Google Docs and Gmail. Both are a little rough around the edges, but they do work. Originally, Google eschewed the idea of a file system in its operating system, but it has now abandoned that stance. The current version of Chrome OS is integrated with Google Drive, giving users a convenient way to access, store and sync content across devices, including PCs, Macs, smartphones and, of course, Chrome.

Opinions

Article source: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9227947/Michael_Gartenberg_Google_polishes_Chrome_OS

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12 Jun 12 Google polishes Chrome OS


A year ago, I wrote that the first Chromebooks felt more like a science project than a strategic product. They were interesting but of little practical value. A lot has changed since then, and while I wouldn’t say that Google has developed a truly compelling device, it has shown that the Chromebook and its underlying Chrome OS are evolving.

Chrome OS is Google’s attempt to create a new class of Web-based operating system, designed to work on special devices, the first of which were last year’s Chromebooks. Since then, Google has refreshed Chrome OS (the actual version number is 19) and with partner Samsung has introduced both a new Chromebook and a desktop device called Chromebox. After using both for the last few weeks, my impression is that Google did a nice job of polishing Chrome in ways that help it shine much better than it did a year ago.

The new Chromebook, called the Series 5, has a 12.1-inch display and 16GB of built-in flash storage. You can add a Verizon Wireless 3G radio, with 100MB free per month for two years. There’s a much-improved trackpad (the trackpad on the first Chromebooks was all but unusable), and the device is now powered by an Intel Celeron processor, which dramatically improves performance, especially for things like streaming high-definition video. Pricing is $449 for the Wi-Fi-only version and $549 for the 3G models.

The Chromebox Series 3 is a small, sleek box that takes some design cues from the Mac Mini. It has the same CPU and memory as the Chromebook. It doesn’t include a monitor, keyboard or mouse, but it has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support for keyboards and mice, along with DVI and HDMI output. It costs $329.99.

Both devices are good-looking and solid pieces of hardware, though I’d argue that 3.3 pounds is too much weight for a laptop that isn’t really a laptop at all. I could give you more specs, but specs don’t have that much to do with what you’re buying here. What really matters is the updated Chrome OS experience, and the newest version shows just what a difference a year makes.

One of the biggest drawbacks of Chrome OS was that an offline Chromebook was pretty much a brick with a monitor. Google has worked to address that, adding offline access for Google Docs and Gmail. Both are a little rough around the edges, but they do work. Originally, Google eschewed the idea of a file system in its operating system, but it has now abandoned that stance. The current version of Chrome OS is integrated with Google Drive, giving users a convenient way to access, store and sync content across devices, including PCs, Macs, smartphones and, of course, Chrome.

Chrome OS can’t do everything a PC or Mac can do, and I doubt that Google wants it to. But in the past year, the company seems to have recognized that users who invest in a Chromebook (or now a Chromebox) are going to expect to be able to do the same things they do on PCs and Macs. Google’s response to that problem has been to integrate remote PC access directly into Chrome OS. This feature is still in beta, but I was able to test the latest version and had no problem connecting to my office Mac and working with it remotely. This feature amounts to a big deal, since it removes a major impediment to adoption.

Because the Chromebox supports HDMI output, I thought it might be fun to connect it to my TV set. It worked rather well. Unlike Google TV, none of my browser content was blocked, and I had full access to sites like Hulu, Netflix and all the major networks. As far as those sites were concerned, there was nothing to block. I’m a skeptic when it comes to Web browsing on a TV set, but the Chromebox does make it easy if that’s what you want to do.

As they stand now, the Chromebook and Chromebox are transitional. They point toward potential that could eventually make them good choices for a lot of people who have embraced the concept of the personal cloud and for whom a PC is but one device among many. It’s a lot easier now than it was a year ago to see how a Chromebook or Chromebox could become a user’s additional screen.

But the price of these machines is going to have to come down for that to happen, and the hardware probably has to move even beyond the slimmed-down aesthetics of ultrabooks. The current versions of both hardware and software do suggest, though, that Google is going to keep trying to get there.

Michael Gartenberg is a research director at Gartner. The opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Twitter @Gartenberg.

Article source: http://www.cio.com.au/article/427230/google_polishes_chrome_os/?utm_medium=rss&utm_source=sectionfeed

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04 Jun 12 Motorola Xoom Android 4.04 ICS Update Release 2Day


Motorola Xoom owners will have renewed faith in Motorola for updating the 3G/4G LTE Motorola Xoom tablet To Android 4.0 ICS which is due out today, June 4 according to a Verizon spokesman Albert Aydin.

When the Motorola Xoom was first released it had higher-end features than the iPad available at the time, it took a while for it to be updated to Verizon 4G LTE network but it did happen.  On Black Friday, Verizon Wireless sold these high-end tab dual-core tablets for a mere $199.99 and we predicted that Motorola after being bought by Google would update the tablet.  Motorola has come through even though it was at a much slower pace than promised.

The upgrade features speech-to-text technology, ability to dismiss individual notifications by swiping a finger , new launch bar customization, app folders and new photo editor.  Verizon Wireless, typically for Over-the-Air updates, starts off slowly early on in the week and then pushes out in full force by the end of the week. To manually start the update at any time by going to Settings About tablet System updates. Select ”Install Now”. Your device will power off and back on and the installation process will begin.

The update IMM76, should take up to 25-30 minutes. Keep in mind that during the installation you will be unable to use your Motorola XOOM. The software update size is approximately 107.9 MB.

If the system update fails to install, you will get an error screen. However, this only means the software did not install properly. Simultaneously press the volume-up and power key to restart the tablet. The tablet will power back on with original software and will prompt you once again to install the system update.

Here are all the changes for the ICS update on the Motorola Xoom:

Enhancements Fixes with Motorola Xoom Android 4.04 ICS Update

  • Email, Messaging and Data
  • 4G LTE upgrade issues resolved.
  • Device successfully connects to 4G LTE network immediately after DUAL IMSI switch.
  • Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) policy improvements.
  • EAS security and sync fixed.
  • Optimized EAS setup.
  • Enhanced Client Conversions with EAS.
  • Email search now available.
  • Improved email folder ordering.
  • Updated Browser with faster rendering, zoom and pan features.
  • Users have the ability to save pages for offline reading and desktop versions of websites.
  • Updated “People” application to integrate with Google+ and other social networks.
  • Improved text input and spellcheck.
  • Down arrow added in browser navigation bar.
  • Improved device stability.
  • Pressing the power button locks the device when you have a pattern, pin or password lock enabled.
  • App launcher has been redesigned to allow app dragging to get information, uninstall and disable.
  • Can launch camera from Lockscreen.
  • Added effects during video recording.
  •  Single motion panorama mode.
  • Added photo editor to the Gallery application.
  •  Updated widget controls to allow expansion and contraction to show more content.
  • New system font (Roboto) for improved readability.
  • Improved screen rotation response time.
  • Optimized widget sizes.
  • Improved device stability limits the number of resets.
  • Improvements to Mobile Hotspot connectivity

No related posts.

Article source: http://wirelessandmobilenews.com/2012/06/motorola-xoom-android-4.04-ics-update-release.html

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19 May 12 Android 5.0 will launch this fall with five Nexus devices: Report


When Android 5.0 “Jelly Bean” launches this fall, it will appear first on several new mobile devices sold by Google itself as part of the “Nexus” line.

That’s according to a Tuesday story in the Wall Street Journal, which reports that Google is shifting its Android strategy so that it will not only give select mobile-device makers early access to new releases, but will also sell the resulting devices unlocked directly to consumers.

As many as five manufacturers may get privileged access to new releases of the mobile operating system, in fact, with an eye toward creating a “portfolio” of Nexus lead devices including both smartphones and tablets, the WSJ reported, citing “a person familiar with the matter.”

Google aims to sell those gadgets online and contract-free directly to consumers in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, but retailers may be involved as well, the report suggests. U.S. Thanksgiving is reportedly the target date for the launch.

So Long, Fragmentation

While Android has clearly done enormously well, inconsistency and fragmentation are among the chief complaints about the Linux-based mobile operating system. This new strategy could ensure that more Android phones are running the latest version of the OS; it could also help other manufacturers create their own custom builds more quickly.

Such a strategy would also restore a significant degree of control back to Google, which has long been at the mercy of wireless carriers for pushing updates to consumers, as well as for decisions as to which apps can be included on the devices they carry. Verizon Wireless, for example, doesn’t allow the Google Wallet app on Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus device.

In addition, the new tactic could minimize device-makers’ concerns over Google’s pending Motorola Mobility acquisition, since it won’t be just Motorola getting early access to new releases.

Not Without Risks

Bypassing wireless carriers, of course, has the potential to enrage the carriers themselves.

Then, too, there’s the proven difficulty of selling handsets online to consumers, who have indicated in the past that they prefer to be able to touch them and try them out before buying.

Still, the shift could be an exciting one, removing as it would any disadvantage Android might face in its ongoing competition with Apple, which has always been at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to controlling its ecosystem.

A more unified front could also help in Google’s ongoing legal battles over Android.

Your Move, Tizen

I spoke briefly with Google spokesman Christopher Katsaros this morning for confirmation, but he declined to comment on the story.

Meanwhile, I can’t help but wonder what effect all this may have on the other mobile players, including most notably Linux-based (and Samsung-backed) Tizen along with Mozilla’s own Boot to Gecko. If nothing else, it seems to me it might encourage them to step up their own efforts.

It looks as though competition in the mobile market just became tighter.

Article source: http://www.itworld.com/it-consumerization/277142/android-50-will-launch-fall-five-nexus-devices-report

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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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07 May 12 CTIA 2012: AT&T, Verizon Debut LTE Phones


10 Ways To Get More From Your Android Device
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The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) wireless trade show kicks off in New Orleans this week and already two 4G smartphones have been unveiled. The Samsung Focus 2 for ATT brings Windows Phone on a budget, while the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE adds to Verizon’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich roster. Here are the details.

Both phones work on the respective carriers’ LTE 4G networks, which means fast mobile broadband connections. They also support mobile hotspots so other devices can connect to the speedy networks, too.

— Samsung Focus 2. As the name implies, this Windows Phone 7.5 Mango smartphone is a follow-up to last year’s Focus. It runs the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system, but the specs date from 2010.

It has a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, which is limited to 480 x 800 pixels. It is powered by a single-core 1.4-GHz processor. If you’re worried that won’t be fast enough, relax: single-core processors are all Windows Phones need for plenty of speed. The camera is 5 megapixels and records 720p HD video. The Focus 2 also has a VGA user-facing camera for video chats.

[ Read Why Apple Must Enable FaceTime On LTE. ]

The device is being offered only in “pure white,” so if you prefer a darker color, you’ll have to use a case. It measures 10.98mm thick, which is rather beefy for a modern smartphone, but it weighs just 4.3 ounces.

The best feature? Probably the price. The Samsung Focus 2 will be available May 20 for $49.99 (with two-year agreement).

– HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE. Verizon subscribers somehow have been blocked from the beautiful One X and One S handsets from HTC and will instead have to settle for this smartphone. The good news is it shares a lot of features with the One X and One S.

The Incredible sports a 4-inch screen, but it’s a Super LCD panel with 540 x 960 pixels. It runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and also uses HTC’s Sense 4.0 user experience. Under the hood, it is backed up by 1GB of RAM and a 1.2-GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

The Incredible features an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus, LED flash, back-side illumination, and 28mm lens at f/2.2. HTC has worked hard at offering the lowest-possible aperture on its smartphones, and f/2.2 is about as low as it gets. This helps boost low-light performance. The Droid Incredible 4G LTE also features a user-facing camera for video chats, NFC for Android Beam, and Beats Audio.

It will be available via Verizon’s sales channels in the coming weeks. Pricing was not disclosed by Verizon Wireless, but I’d expect it to cost somewhere close to $199.99.

At this interactive Enterprise Mobility Virtual Event, experts and solution providers will offer detailed insight into how to bring some order to the mobile industry innovation chaos. When you register, you will gain access to live webcast presentations and virtual booths packed with free resources. It happens May 17.

Article source: http://www.informationweek.com/news/mobility/smart_phones/232901548

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