Virgin Mobile USA has announced their very first phone to ever come with NFC and Google Wallet, the Optimus Elite by LG. Virgin Mobile is a no-contract carrier that offers unlimited data and messaging plans for $30/month, and with their newest Android device going for only $149.99, they are sure to get some buyers. The Optimus Elite comes with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and 800MHz processor, and a 3.5″ screen. While we wouldn’t consider this a high-end device, with a no-contract carrier and a low price, it’s sure to be worth what you will be paying. The Optimus Elite is available for preorder now, and will launch on May 15 on Virgin Mobile. Anyone looking for a solid Android device on a carrier that doesn’t rope you in to a contract should definitely check this offer out on May 15.
Let’s face it, iOS users have been skimped on Google+ since the beginning. First they didn’t get an app, and when they did, it wasn’t exactly the most functional in the App Store. Google did, however, stick to Android by updating and improving the application often, frequently adding features and improving on the app. Heck, they’ve even overhauled the desktop site a few times without even touching the iOS app. Now, the iOS is the firstto receive the Google+ update, and it’s a pretty hefty one.
Google has said in their blog that was posted with the update, that they are looking to make the Google+ mobile experience much simpler, and much more aesthetically pleasing. And, from using it so far, they have succeeded. The iOS app has received a complete UI refresh, bringing a very sleek black interface, but it’s a lighter black than we are used to. The photos have been enlarged, there’s less abstract colors, and it’s really starting to look like a professionally done, beautiful mobile application. The Google team had this to say about their mobile application improvements:
To be clear, we’re not interested in a mobile or social experience that’s just smaller. We’re embracing the sensor-rich smartphone (with its touchable screen and high-density display), and transforming Google+ into something more intimate, and more expressive. Today’s new iPhone app is an important step in this direction—toward a simpler, more beautiful Google.
On top of an amazing new UI, Google has also finally added the ability to join a Hangout via Messenger to the mobile G+ app for iOS. This feature has long been missed by iPhone users, and it is definitely a welcome feature. The Google+ team has also said that the Android app will, in fact, be updated as well to match the new mobile user interface. We’ll be sure to let you know when this update is released, and iOS users can grab the update now in the App Store.
Source: Google Blog
Today, Google Maps was updated and with it some nifty little features were brought in. First, Google Offers now show up on the map whenever you are looking at locations, and point out places where you can get a deal on whatever you are looking for. This is really cool because having a way to save money that is built right into the app really makes things easier, and can make deciding where to eat or where to buy something a much faster process as well.
Indoor directions have also been added, and panorama views of restaurants and stores help people figure out exactly where they are and where they need to go. Of course, this is only available in the US and Japan right now, and even then you have to be in a large city to take advantage of such features. However, when this feature gets more spread throughout the country, it will really be cool to be able to go anywhere and get indoor directions, even outside of large cities. The update is live in the Play Store now, so go ahead and grab it if you haven’t already.
Instagram has been bumped to version 1.1 in the Google Play Store, and they have FINALLY added the tilt filter to the rest of the mix. I have been waiting for this feature since the app’s release, and have been very jealous of the iPhone counterpart. This filter has been used by iOS users since the beginning, and I’m really not sure as to why they didn’t include this in the first place. Tilt/Shift is personally one of my favorite effects that Instagram offers, and I’m very glad to see that it’s finally on board. Be sure to grab the update and check out the full changelog below:
What’s in this version:
- • Added Tilt-Shift effect for supported devices – gives your photos depth of field and realistic blur
- — Look for the droplet icon when editing your photo
- • Filter screen fix for GT-S5830C devices
Along with the HTC DROID Incredible 4G announcement today, HTC has also told us that their entry-level One V will be hitting the US this summer. As the cheapest and the smallest One series device, the Ove V probably won’t appeal to everyone, but it definitely brings a lot to the table just by running Android 4.0. The specs are pretty average, with a single-core 1 GHz processor and a 3.7″ screen, but Sense 4 and Ice Cream Sandwich give people a reason to pick the device up without a doubt.
The One V has a 5 MP camera coupled with HTC’s ImageSense software for beautiful shooting, and Beats by Dre brings a sound experience that only an HTC device can. HTC hasn’t announced which carriers will get this device or what the price will be, but it will most likely be lower than the competition, given that this device isn’t really considered “high-end.” Still, for the Legend-esque build and fantastic hardware, the HTC One V is definitely still a device to keep your eyes on. The HTC One V will be hitting the US this summer, though we still haven’t been given a specific carrier. On top of that, it really could be any carrier at this point, as HTC has already updated their device lineup for every major US carrier with the announcement of the Incredible 4G today. Be sure to check back with us for more updates on this device, the pricing, and where it will be headed when it hits the US this summer.
Back in 2010 when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, Google found themselves in a bit of trouble over some usage of Java. The problem was that Google hadn’t gone through the proper steps when using Oracle’s API’s, and that this usage was infringing on Oracle copyrights. Fast forward to 2012, and we find ourselves right in the middle of the Oracle vs Google court case with some closure…sort of.
After dealing with a jurer accused to have discussed the case with a family member, the case had been put on hold earlier today. This suspended deliberations, but was cleared up when the jurer explained that she hadn’t necessarily about the case issues itself, but more of patents and the dealings with them. However, she had received some wrong information, which was explained when she was put on trial. When this was deemed a non-issue by the rest of the jury, the case began to proceed.
The jury decided that Google was definitely infringing on Oracle’s patents when developing Android. Google has stood their ground in their statement that they have done no such thing, but several lines of code and some internal documents lead many to believe that things may not be the way that Google has been describing them. So Google was found guilty, doesn’t this mean that the case should be finalized with a verdict? Not necessarily. While the jury agreed that Google was infringing, they could not agree on whether this fell under the rules of fair use. Because of this, the case will continue, with Google moving for a mistrial on the grounds of the jury’s indecision. This leads us to believe that after a few more months of discussion in court, the case will eventually end in a pretty large out of court settlement between Google and Oracle. Android is in no real danger at this point, at least from this specific case.
HTC and Verizon’s Incredible 4G has been leaked for quite a while now from pictures to specs, and today at CTIA in New Orleans the device was finally announced officially. The DROID Incredible series has been going strong on Verizon for a while now, and they have stayed true to the form factor with the 4G Incredible as well. The screen is still 4″, straying away from the larger phone trend that is taking over the market as of late, and also retaining the plateau-style back that we all have come to know and love on a DROID Incredible.
This Incredible 4G is the follow-up to the DROID Incredible 2, which was a 3G only device, and as far as specs go is a large hardware and software upgrade. This device isn’t likely going to replace everyone’s device on Verizon, but people who are die-hard Incredible fans or in search of a smaller screen may find themselves right at home with the Incredible 4G. The DROID Incredible 4G features, as I said earlier, a 4″ super LCD qHD display which is smaller than most devices available. The device also has received a processor bump to a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 with 1 GB of RAM, meaning it will likely run ICS at blazing fast speeds. Sense 4 will come on top of Android 4.0, bringing everything that we have seen from the One series on the software end of things. ImageSense will be complementing the device’s 8MP camera, and a standard VGA front facing camera is on board as well. Beats Audio will be bringing you all of the sound for the device, but sadly Beats headphones do not come with the purchase like they did withe the Rezound.
The biggest improvement on this device compared to the Incredible 2, however, is obviously the addition of 4G LTE, something that many will agree should have been present on the Incredible 2 in the first place. Hopefully the 1700 mAh battery will be able to sustain this device for a full day on LTE, and the smaller screen size may make up for what is a somewhat small battery size. HTC has also allowed for the removal of the battery on this device, so you may want to pick up a spare battery depending on the device’s battery life.
Just a quick friendly reminder that while the the newly announced GSIII supports NFC, Samsung has said nothing about Google Wallet throughout the event. The official press release has a list of “supported Google Mobile Services”, and amongst many of the standard Google Apps, Wallet is nowhere to be found.
While this may mean nothing to some, others will be very upset if Google Wallet isn’t supported by this next-gen device. Of course, nothing has been confirmed by Samsung, but the press release clearly states that mobile payment support is available, but we can’t seem to find any mention of Google Wallet is anywhere in the press release. We will be sure to reach out to Samsung and bring you guys an answer as soon as we hear back, and feel free to check out the press release below for the GSIII after the break.
Good news Wallet users, you now have 4 new phones to choose from that all support the mobile payment service. Three of these devices happen to be on Sprint’s network, with the other being the unlocked Galaxy Nexus available fromt he Google Play Store. Google has also added that for a limited time, when starting a Google Wallet account and using a prepaid card, Google gives $10 for using any of these devices and $50 for using the Sprint Nexus. The following list is the devices that have been added to the (not very long) list of devices that have full Google Wallet support:
- Galaxy Nexus on Sprint
- Unlocked Galaxy Nexus on multiple carriers
- LG Viper 4G LTE on Sprint
- LG Optimus Elite on Sprint
Source: Google Wallet Team
Today in London, Samsung announced the latest addition the their ever-popular Galaxy line of devices. We were there live covering the whole event, as you may have seen from our liveblog, and Samsung really brought a lot of changes with the newly announced Galaxy S III–but don’t worry because in this case that’s a good thing. Samsung really hit the nail on the head last year with the Galaxy S II, and the device became their best selling phone line ever. This makes the follow-up to that, the GSIII, one of the most anticipated devices of the year, and as Samsung calls it, the most anticipated device in the last 20 years of Samsung’s products.
Samsung was clearly inspired by the success of the Galaxy Note, and you can see it in the sheer size of the GSIII. The device packs a HUGE 4.8-inch HD Super-AMOLED 720x1080p screen. And my friends, this is a beautiful screen. Last year the Galaxy Nexus by Samsung and Google was criticized by some for being too big with its 4.6-inch screen, but clearly this didn’t effect Samsung because they went even bigger on their next flagship device. They also brought the goods with a 1.4 GHz Samsung Exynos quad-core processor, the same one that was rumored to be with the device a few months ago. An 8MP camera on back with 720p shooting capabilities compliments a 1.6MP camera on the front for high quality video chatting. The battery capacity is 2100 mAh, larger than devices such as the HTC One X, and will likely be needed thanks to LTE being on board for these devices. Samsung stated that LTE and HSPA+ will be coming to the states via the GSIII, and we were all relieved to hear so as LTE is at this point the standard in the mobile world. Thankfully Samsung has kept the notification light, and two hardware buttons will be on the face of the device as well. The GSIII has rounded edges and overall a very rounded body similar to the Epic Touch 4G GSII variant for Sprint, and it makes the largeness of the screen a little less obvious when viewing the hardware of the device.
The Galaxy S III comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with an improved version of TouchWiz that Samsung dubbs “inspired by nature.” The lockscreen ripples when touched, and elements of wind and light effect the device when sliding through the homescreens or switching applications. Ice Cream Sandwich is still the obvious OS version, but Samsung has not attempted to “lighten” the presence of TouchWiz much at all, and much of it looks very similar. From the hands-on and videos shown however, the device runs very smoothly and TouchWiz doesn’t seem to be an issue at all. S Voice is basically Siri for the GSIII, and different functions will be able to be performed from that service as well as Google’s own preloaded voice commands. One other thing that we noticed on the software side of things however, is that Google Wallet is missing from the list of supported Google Mobile Services, and we have not yet heard from Samsung as to whether the GSIII will have Google Wallet at launch.
The Galaxy S III will be available in Europe by the end of May, and will roll out to the rest of the globe this summer. No pricing or carriers have been announced as of yet, but we will be sure to keep you updated.
Samsung Galaxy owners will be pleased to hear the their devices will be receiving Ice Cream Sandwich starting today. Samsung Canada released a presser stating that receiving the update will depend on your market and carrier, however, there is still a list of the devices that are supposed to be receiving the update.
US and International customers are still left in the dark on when their devices will be receiving the newest version of Android, and even the Wi-Fi only tablet models have been left off the list as of right now. The Galaxy Note, Galaxy S II, and multiple variants of the Galaxy Tab are on the list to receive the update, and those of you in Canada should start receiving the update immediately according to Samsung, but that is all dependent on whether your carrier has given the go-ahead. The full list of devices is below, and to our readers in Canada: feel free to shout out in the comments as to whether you’ve received the update or not.
Devices eligible for an ICS upgrade include:
Samsung and Apple’s patent war has been going on for quite a while now, and the two companies have really been going at it, especially Samsung, when it comes to advertisement. Samsung has not been light-footed when it comes to attacking Apple whenever they can, and the iPhone has been a huge focus of their latest ad campaigns. Samsung has already spent millions of dollars in advertising, whether it’s against Apple or not, marketing their Galaxy devices, and continues to do so.
Today, Samsung hired a group of protestors to stand outside of an Apple store in Australia and relentlessly repeat their motto “Wake Up.” This wake up call is to Apple customers who are specifically looking to purchase iDevices, but other than that they really aren’t saying much. A timer is present with a countdown to the GSIII launch, and we’re not really sure if this group is planning to stay until the timer hits zero, or whether they will call it a day.
In my opinion, hiring a protesting group is money spent that probably should have gone to Samsung’s actual products. Is Samsung’s hardware as completely sound and perfected? No. Is TouchWiz an ICS launcher replacement that we just can’t live without? Definitely not. And if all of this is true, Samsung may need to rethink their marketing strategy. Sure, it’s not all bad, but stunts like this are not only ineffective, but also embarrassing for the company and Android itself. Most of the people walking into the Apple store that day either had no clue what these protesters were talking about, or didn’t care, because obviously Samsung’s products didn’t divert them from the Apple store the first time. While a commercial or two may be fine, Samsung is crossing the line with a full protesting team that is doing exactly what Apple wants in the first place: generating press. If Apple products aren’t good, why would Samsung attack them? Cupertino couldn’t be more pleased.
What may be Google’s worst kept secret of all time, Google Drive, was finally announced today. Google has already had storage options available in other Google services (Google Docs, Google Music, Picasa, etc), but today they unveiled Drive as the unified waynto manage just about anything you need to store. Google has been known to launch way too many products at a time instead of focusing on one, central service, so it’s nice to see them begin to implement unification into their ecosystem.
Much like they’ve done with the Play Store and Google+, Google is clearly trying to simplify all of their products down to one, easily-marketable line of products. In fact, Google Docs now redirects to Google Drive, and Google has stated that all previously available features will be there from the start. Google is also working on incorporating Google Drive into it’s products so they can dig files, photos, and anything else attachable by email into it’s services that interact with others, such as Google+ and Gmail.
Anyone who wants to can grab 5GB of Google Drive space for free, but getting anything over that will cost you a monthly subscription. 25GB will cost you $2.49, 100GB will be $4.99, and 1TB is $49.99. Google is also throwing in 25GB to your Gmail when you start paying them for Drive, which is also a plus (no pun intended). Google has released clients for Android, Mac, PC, but Apple’s iDevices have been left out for now with “clients on the way.” Google Docs has been updated to be the Google Drive app, so any users with it installed just have to go grab the update, but other than that be sure to check out all of the clients for your devices, and let us know what you think of Google’s new storage service in the comments below.
With Facebook for Android’s recent update to version 1.9, a few things in the app were changed that have to do with messaging, but these changes also may play a bigger role in overall app development for the company. The update included some bug fixes and performance updates, but the real kicker was the updates to the messaging portion of the official Facebook app. Last year, Facebook released similar features to the Android Market (at least that’s what it was called last year), but they weren’t in the official Facebook app, instead they were released to a side-project dubbed Messenger.
Messenger offered a much smoother UI for messaging and chatting with friends, but it also offered a smoother UI than the entire Facebook app users had installed on their devices. This left us thinking “Why wouldn’t Facebook just incorporate these features into the main app itself?” The answer was right in our app drawers. Google+ had just started getting big and the Android app gave users not only a “G+” icon in the app drawer, but Huddle was a shortcut also added when users downloaded G+ and quickly brought them to the group messaging/chat portion of G+. It was never official, but many believe this is the reason Facebook released their Messenger app–to compete with Google+’s Huddle (which was soon changed to ‘Messenger’ as well” or just to make sure they offered everything G+ did in the mobile realm.