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All posts tagged "android"


Monday, July 23, 2012

Notes from an iOS User: My Week with a Google Nexus 7

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Android Slates/Tablets & Accessories" @ 01:30 PM

"My first Android experience has been very, very positive, thanks to Google's Nexus 7 and Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). I received my tablet a week ago, and also received a $25 Google Play credit as an early purchaser. My initial thoughts were that I'd use the tablet primarily as a reader - but it's much more than a Kindle (Fire) replacement."

As a longtime iOS device user, and like most modern device users, I have my biases, and have kept them firmly in mind when using an Android device for the first time. But, maintaining objectivity has been easy with this tablet. I'm guessing that skipping the earlier Android releases have saved me from some amount of frustration, just as skipping earlier iOS versions would have in the iDevice world. The bottom line is that so far I'm not finding much missing from Android.

I have several "must haves," including Banking, Browsing, Calendaring, Contacts, Dropbox, Email, Facebook, Foursquare, Kindle reader, LinkedIn, MS Office-type apps, PDF reader, Search, Skype, Text editing, and Travel apps. All present, and arguably equal to the iOS versions. Not as many app choices from Google Play, but all I need is one of each.

Things that I like so far, in no particular order: Android 4.1.1 - already one patch automatically downloaded to Jelly Bean; Battery life is very good; Customization is as simple as the iPad - the home screen is easy to configure; the display is very, very good - not quite up to the new iPad, but excellent for much less money; Sound quality is good; Security is good - face recognition login authentication can be configured to require a blink, making security stronger; Performance is excellent - I haven't noticed anything crapping out or any lags in performance, at the app or UI level; Shutting down running apps is a breeze, much simpler than iOS; Removing apps is easy; Reading is a breeze on this form factor - no more carpal tunnel holding and reading an iPad. Comfortable to hold and use. Many pros to this device!

Things that are less than stellar (and I admit freely that maybe I just don't know enough about Android yet): Apps on the home screen cannot be ordered or arranged for a whole screen - must be dragged and bumped individually; Setup options are not as rich as iOS; iCloud mail is handled a bit better in iOS, as one would expect; Google Play Store doesn't seem to have an easy way of selecting "tablet-only apps," aside from Staff Picks for Tablets. A pretty short list of cons.

Overall, a very positive experience so far, and, while I'm not dumping my iPad, my Nexus 7 is already getting more use than my earlier small tablets, a Nook tablet and a Kindle Fire, both of which were too restrictive for me, and were sold pretty quickly. For the money (I got the 16GB model), this is a superb tablet, and the Android experience is a pleasure. I like the fact that it is not "carrier specific," so it has none of the bloatware associated with subsidized devices. The Nexus 7 is a keeper!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Google Improves Android Security with Jelly Bean

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 09:30 AM

http://arstechnica.com/security/201...ard-to-exploit/

"In an analysis published Monday, security researcher Jon Oberheide said Android version 4.1, aka Jelly Bean, is the first version of the Google-developed OS to properly implement a protection known as address space layout randomization."

Diagram showing attacker overwriting a return address with a pointer to the stack that contains attacker-supplied dataWikipedia

It's great to know that Google is taking mobile security seriously and working to improve it. This sounds like a large step in the right direction. I was also surprised this was the first I had heard of this change being in Android 4.1, Jelly Bean. Another feature new in Jelly Bean I heard of recently is a "Safe Mode" to make sure a problem you're having is not app related.

What's your favorite new feature in Jelly Bean?


Friday, July 6, 2012

The ASUS Google Nexus 7: A Performance Beast

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 09:00 AM

http://www.wired.com/reviews/2012/0...y-number-7/all/

"Note to all tablet makers not named Asus: This is how you make a 7-inch tablet.

The Nexus 7, the first tablet to wear Google's Nexus brand, sets a new standard for smaller slates, proving that just because it isn't as big as Apple's iPad doesn't mean it can't be just as useful, as fast, or as fun. If you've been on the fence about Android, or tablets in general, this is the tablet you've been waiting for."

Most of the initial hands-on reviews for the wifi-only Nexus 7 are positive, and this one is no exception. The biggest complaint so far has been the lack of tablet applications for Android, so, for example, the user can be "stuck" with up-sized phone apps for popular apps like Facebook and Twitter. The near-IPS quality 1280x800 screen, at about 216ppi, is superb, and the quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 coupled with 1GB of RAM and either 8GB or 16GB of storage, is, as the author puts it, a beast. The first Android 4.1 Jelly Bean tablet screams, with none of the earlier OS hiccups, and the price is right, at $199 for 8GB, and $249 for 16GB. Out of the box, the tablet is obviously Google-centric, but can be tweaked, and the full Google Play store is available. Early purchasers (I was one) receive a $25 credit for the store, so I'll be able to add my obligatory "MS Office" equivalent. Shipping is scheduled for mid-July 2012 (I hope) so check back here as we review more real world experiences with the Google Nexus 7 from ASUS.


ARCHOS ELEMENTS 97 carbon Tablet Announced

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 12:00 AM

"ARCHOS, an award-winning innovator in consumer electronics, is pleased to introduce the ARCHOS 97 carbon, the first of its new tablet range called "ELEMENTS", an entry-level line up of 7, 8, and 9.7 inch tablets that combine ARCHOS design and engineering with full access to Google PlayTM and a full suite of Google apps at an affordable price."

Interesting to see the new tablets coming to market at consumer-friendly prices. This 9.7-inch tablet sports an IPS screen, plays 1080p HD video, weighs 21.8-ounces, and is 0.45-inches thick. With a 1-GHz processor (no further processor details were available), 1GB RAM, and 16GB storage, the Carbon 97 is running Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) 4.0 and is set to debut this July (2012) with a price of $249.99 or less. Interesting to also note that the carbon 97 supports expandable memory via SDHC cards up to 32GB and (or?) USB flash drives from a full-sized USB port. It'll be interesting to see if ARCHOS can crash the tablet party, and give the bigger players some competition at this price point.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Samsung Wants Everyone In Your Family to Have a Different Galaxy Tab

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 03:00 PM

http://gizmodo.com/5901142/samsung-...-little-cheaper

"And now there's the Galaxy Tab 2, with two models (7.0 and 10.1) that are very slightly improved, but not enough to justify a few hundred bucks."

There are two more tablets from Samsung that are not a lot different from the others. With the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 they are coming in at a nice low price point of $250. The 7.0 has a 1024x600 display and the 10.1 has a 1280x800 display - both are PLS (Samsung's form of IPS) LCD displays. Maybe the biggest change compared to previous Galaxy Tabs is that they both come with Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0). Samsung did add a MicroSDHC slot to both the 10.1 and the 7.0 models. They're also using TI dual-core processors which, while they're great, they're generally a little slower than Samsung's own Exynos processors that were in some or all older models. The camera's are nothing to brag about with a 3MP in the back and VGA in the front. If you're not sure, VGA was good in about 1992. At least the 3MP is good enough to do 1080p video which both tablets can record at 30fps. One interesting feature on both Galaxy Tab 2's that apparently isn't new to Galaxy Tabs is an IR port for controlling your home audio and video equipment.

Really, you'd think Samsung could have just put Ice Cream Sandwich on some of their older Tabs that haven't sold and lower the price but I guess "newer" is "newer". Lots of people love their Galaxy Tabs so maybe there is more of a market for these than it seems. What do you think?


Mobile Office Suite for Android Announced: Office Mobile 2012

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Android Software" @ 09:30 AM

http://www.softmaker.com/english/index_en.htm

"German software vendor SoftMaker today announced the immediate launch of the public beta test of its new mobile office suite SoftMaker Office Mobile 2012 for Android. Boasting impeccable compatibility with Microsoft Office, it is poised to become an excellent choice for demanding users of Android phones and tablets."

A (free-to-try) beta has been announced by SoftMaker, and includes TextMaker word processor, PlanMaker spreadsheet, and SoftMaker Presentations. The suite promises Office 2010 compatibility (docx, pptx and xlsx formats) and will be sold and priced individually, at about 10 Euros (or equivalent dollars) per app. Highlights include: direct PDF export/save; syncing with Dropbox, Evernote and eventually Google Docs; multi-language spell checking that underlines errors in red; supports track changes in a format familiar to MSO users; plays presentations with full transitions and animations; and supports adding TrueType and/or OpenType typefaces. Sounds promising!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Google Currents 1.1 Translates and has Off-Line Reading

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android Software" @ 10:00 AM

http://www.engadget.com/2012/04/11/...upport-offline/

"Google has today rolled out version 1.1 of [Currents] for Android and iOS, which makes the service available worldwide with support for 44 languages, and adds a number of other improvements including the ability to select which editions have images for offline reading, instant online sync, translation for 38 languages and a promised 7X performance boost."

I haven't used Google Currents but it looks like a great app. I may have to try it out! The fact that it does translation is cool and off-line reading could be just what some WiFi tablet owners are looking for! It's free on the Play Store and supports phone or tablet form factors.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Amazon Appstore Adds In-App Purchasing

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android Software" @ 10:00 AM

http://www.engadget.com/2012/04/10/...app-purchasing/

"...devs can now take advantage of the familiar revenue booster already available in the iOS App Store and Google Play, through the use of the Amazon Appstore In-App Purchasing API."

One of my favorite things about Android is the way you're not forced to get apps from one place. Amazon Appstore has been around for just over a year now and it's come a long way. It seems to have tons of apps and now with in-app purchasing it should be attractive to some developers who may have been holding out. Another feature they added recently was the ability to up the download limit over 3G from 20MB to 50MB. It's still 20MB by default but instead of just smaller options, they have added a 50MB option.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Instagram Update Adds Better Tablet Support and App2SD

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android Software" @ 09:30 AM

http://www.engadget.com/2012/04/06/...pdated-tablets/

"The latest one to hit today (1.0.3) promises expanded support for tablets and WiFi handsets, app installation on the SD card for storage-limited users and fixing an audio mute bug during capture."

I'm not sure I can think of an App, maybe Angry Birds, that had as much hype as Instagram. Those who use Instagram seem to love it and that number grew a lot last week when it was finally released for Android. With the latest version including better tablet support and support for App2SD I'm sure the number of users will grow even more.

It's great to see a developer not just putting their product out there but responding so quickly to what people want and quickly releasing updates that address the issues.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coby Releases a Bunch of ICS Tablets

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 10:00 AM

http://androidcommunity.com/cobys-c...lable-20120327/

"It’s a sad but nonetheless true fact that small and sometimes unconsidered manufacturers can often get their act together faster than larger and well-regarded ones. So it is with American low-end electronics maker Coby, which has just made its latest round of Android tablets available for purchase, according to Liliputing."

Many of these have strange and/or poor displays like 9.7" 1024x768 or 8" 800x600 but the 9" and 10" models with 1280x800 resolution could be just what you're looking for. While only a single core CPU they still have 1GB of RAM, MicroSD slot, HDMI port (I'm guessing it's MicroHDMI), and USB port (I'm guessing MicroUSB here too). Not sure about the GPU but it should be something respectable for an ICS tablet. I'd be more concerned about the GPU then having a dual-core processor as far as it being a useful device. One down side, they don't have access to Google Play Store but it comes with GetJar installed for you to find your favorite apps. The Amazon Appstore is always an option too.

So, would you buy a tablet from Coby? For only $279 to get the best model that's not a bad deal. Of course there are deals out there on dual-core tablets from last year that could come close to this price.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Google Talks About Android App Security

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android Talk" @ 11:30 AM

http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/20...d-security.html

"The last year has been a phenomenal one for the Android ecosystem. Device activations grew 250% year-on-year, and the total number of app downloads from Android Market topped 11 billion. As the platform continues to grow, we’re focused on bringing you the best new features and innovations - including in security."

I've never had a problem with a bad app doing serious damage. The worst problem I had was an app that was giving me advertisements as notifications. It wasn't hard to find the app and after I removed it the notifications stopped. This blog post explains some of the safeguards that are in place to protect your Android phone. One thing they highlight is the "Bouncer" service that Google developed to scan the Android Market and look for bad apps. It's good to know that however bad this problem is on Android Google is taking it seriously.

Have you ever had a problem on your Android device caused by a virus or malware?


Friday, February 3, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7: Great Tablet w/Ice Cream Sandwich

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 11:30 AM

http://pocketnow.com/android/samsun...-77-wifi-review

"Samsung wants to make an Android tablet for everyone, which is why they have four screen sizes: 7.0", 7.7", 8.9", and 10.1". For many, their 7.0" and 7.7" tablets provide an excellent level of portability while also giving you plenty of screen to warrant a great tablet experience."

A super AMOLED Plus screen with a pixel density of about 196 ppi (iPad 2 is about 131 ppi, for comparison) at 1280x800 makes this tablet a delight to the eyes. Two models are currently shipping: one with wifi and one with wifi and unlocked GSM/UMTS bands. A 4G LTE version is planned for 2012 from Verizon. An unusual (but interesting) feature, the Tab 7.7 has an earpiece, making phone features a possibility, bit it is not yet enabled in the software. Overall, this is a great tablet, but is currently hampered (per the reviewer) by Android 3.2's quirkiness. Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) is expected sometime in 2012 Q1. Battery life is outstanding, thanks in part to the Super AMOLED Plus screen's efficiencies. There are currently several resellers, and costs start at $572 for the wifi-only version, or $668 for a version that'll work with an AT&T SIM. With Android 4.x onboard, this may be getting close to the perfect tablet: long battery life, beautiful screen, and fast!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Open Files Off-Line With The New Google Docs

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android Software" @ 11:00 AM

http://lifehacker.com/5881349/googl...-offline-access

"Google has released a pretty useful update for their Android version of Google Docs, providing offline access for your files and a better overall experience for tablet users by providing high-resolution versions of your documents."

This was a much needed update! To not have access to files when you have no network is just dumb. Large collections of media or things you don't need often, maybe that can stay in the cloud, but small text files, documentation, or notes, I want available all the time. It sounds like the synchronization is done well also. I played with it a bit and it's easy enough to save a file locally as shown in the screen shot above. Improving the app for tablet owners was a very smart idea as well. Really, I think that should have been done when the first Xoom was released but better late than never.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

ASUS Transformer Prime: Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) Improvements

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 11:30 PM

http://www.businessinsider.com/fina...used-to-2012-1#

"I've been hanging on to the Asus Transformer Prime for the last month for a reason.

Even though the tablet launched a few weeks ago, the real news was that Asus was going to push out a major update to the new version of Google's Android called Ice Cream Sandwich."

Looks like a very good Android tablet has gotten better with Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) - better performance, better multitasking, and the hardware just feels faster. In fact, the author states that swiping between screens is now faster than on the iPad2. Improved browser performance is another advantage, and there is now a control panel "for controlling stuff." Unfortunately, quality tablet apps are still lacking, according to the author, and there appear to be bugs in the ICS update process, and with the tablet's GPS. Despite these improvements, again according to the author, the iPad2 still is ahead in the overall user experience, but this is the best Android tablet to date.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

ASUS Announces New High-End Tablets

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 11:30 AM

http://www.engadget.com/2012/01/09/...former-prime-t/

"Flustered with the original Transformer Prime you just purchased? We'd advise you to have a seat. ASUS just took the wraps off an all new Transformer Prime (the TF700T) here at CES, which is presumably designed to rival Acer's newly-announced Iconia Tab A700."

There are tons of new devices being announced at CES right now! How about a new ASUS Transformer Prime TF700T. It's a 10.1" quad-core tablet but with a 1.3GHz Tegra 3 CPU/GPU and a 1920x1200 Super IPS+ display!!! It also just weighs over a pound and will come with Ice Cream Sandwich! It will be compatible with the current tPrime keyboard/battery dock and is due to hit North America next quarter.

If you've been eyeing up the Kindle Fire you may want to consider the ASUS Eee Pad MeMO (ME171). It has a 7" 1280x800 IPS display and a 1.2GHz Qualcomm CPU/GPU along with 1GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of built in storage. The Eee Pad MeMO will also ship with Ice Cream Sandwich.

Make sure you check the article for all the details on both of these tablets. Does either of these look like what you've been waiting for?


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

ASUS Announces Bootloader Unlocking Tool and ICS for Transformer Prime

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 02:00 PM

http://www.slashgear.com/asus-trans...nlock-03205655/

"ASUS has announced that due to the response they’ve had on the subject, they’ll be releasing a bootloader unlock tool for the device as well! Developers and hackers alike will be able to work with their NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core toting Transformer Prime on an intimate level, and will be able to do it with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich as well, starting on January 12th, 2012!"

In case you missed it there was a public outcry due to the locked bootloader on the Transformer Prime over the weekend. Because of that ASUS said it will release a bootloader unlocking tool on January 12 and also start pushing out Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) to the Transformer Prime at the same time!!! This should make everyone happy! I'm impressed that they'll have ICS ready for the Transformer Prime so soon. Hopefully this will push other manufactures to get on the ball and release ICS for their devices sooner rather than later.


Saturday, December 31, 2011

Engadget Reviews the New Toshiba Thrive 7"

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android Talk" @ 06:00 AM

http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/27/...hrive-7-review/

"Indeed, the Thrive 7" looks near-identical, and even packs the same Tegra 2 chip, 16GB of storage and vanilla take on Honeycomb. Still, it brings an LED flash, keeps its big brother's 1280 x 800 display and costs less than the original did when it first came out."

There were a few things I liked about the 10" version of the Thrive. For one thing it had a full size SD slot, as well as full size USB and HDMI ports! It also had a mini-USB (oddly not micro-USB) and a Toshiba developed "Resolution+" technology for scaling phone apps and making them look decent on a tablet. The Thrive 7" drops the full size ports as you may expect but it does keep the Resolution+ and the 1280x800 screen - which gives it a high dpi for a tablet of 216. Unfortunately it sounds like performance isn't very good, the screen isn't great, and battery life is poor for a current tablet. Still, depending on your needs this could be the right tablet for you. Check out the full review for the details.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Google Announces Scribbles for Gmail on Mobile Devices

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android Software" @ 06:00 AM

http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2011/...e-creative.html

"Now you can quickly convey that eureka moment to a colleague, or simply brighten a loved one's day with a personal scribble in Gmail for the mobile web browser and the Gmail app for iOS. In the compose view, click on the scribble button to open up the drawing window."

This is for phones and tablets. It works from in your mobile browser. What a great idea! Sometimes it's just easier to draw a quick doodle for someone rather than explain it with words. Now you can do that right from within Gmail! Give it a try and let us know what you think!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

ARCHOS 70b Internet Tablet for $199 in January 2012

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Archos Tablets" @ 09:30 PM

"DENVER, CO – (December 20, 2011) – ARCHOS, an award-winning innovator in consumer electronics, announced today the upcoming availability of the first android 3.2 ‘’Honeycomb’’ tablet under $200, the ARCHOS 70b internet tablet. The new ARCHOS 70b IT is an enhanced version of the ARCHOS 70 IT Gen 8 that features an upgraded capacitive touch screen and a powerful processor at 1.2 GHz."

With Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), 8GB storage, full access to the Android Market, 1024x600 capacitive LCD, and a fair complement of ports, this may be a good buy for those that don't like (or want) the Kindle Fire's training wheels (UI). With "only" 512MB RAM, I don't expect lightning performance, and the lack of details as to the nature of their "powerful processor" is a bit puzzling. I've seen ARCHOS products in retail stores, but haven't had the desire to test one, but the 70b may change my mind. I had a Kindle Fire, but wasn't impressed, and sold it, maybe this will be a better (or real) introduction to Android. Anyone have experience with ARCHOS products?


Friday, December 16, 2011

LifeHacker Updated Their Android Rooting Guide

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 11:30 AM

http://lifehacker.com/5868228/weve-...rooting-methods

"There are a ton of Android phones out there, many of which have their own special rooting methods or notes, and since updates are pushed out on an individual basis, we can't possibly keep up with it all. We recently combed through the guide and fixed everything we could find that was out of date, much of which due to lots of new phones getting Gingerbread."

Just in time for that new Android device you find under your Christmas tree LifeHacker has updated their Android Rooting Guide. They fixed the rooting directions for some older devices with new methods or notes where needed and they added new devices as well. If you want to root this is a great resource to use!


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