Yesterday evening Google announced a bit of a game changer. For ages now iOS has had Flipboard, an awesome app that is, essentially, an RSS reader with a single distinguishing feature: it’s like you’re reading a magazine. Alas, that’s how Google’s Currents differs from all those other RSS readers on Android. Firstly, it’s Google’s baby so support will come fast and hard. Secondly it has a number of high profile launch partners that will provide content optimised for this new platform. Thirdly, it works with any RSS out there. You can, for instance, follow Techno-Speak on Currents. Just saying, you know? Read on past the break for our impressions. …
Thanks to the enterprising folks over at XDA the Ice Cream Sandwich keyboard (with a lot of supported languages) is available as an apk file for download. It is the full ICS keyboard, except for the new fangled voice-input/dictation system.
It works well and far better than the Gingerbread offering, despite looking quite similar. There a few differences, such as the flat-gradient coloured keys and soft blue accents, and it is also a wee bit faster in operation too. I’m keeping it on my Desire Z even after my Galaxy Nexus arrives, how about you?
You can download it here.
So a guy goes ahead and orders a Nexus S from ebay, right? Well, he gets the phone, plus a little something extra to the side. You see, this particular Nexus S did not have Gingerbread installed. Not Froyo either, perhaps as some cruel joke. This Nexus S had Ice Cream Sandwich. A little too good to be true? Perhaps, but it seems too grand a prank to pull.
Anyway, it seems to be an early build and from the settings this particular build is the same as that we saw leaked in photos a few months back. The UI really does look like a cross between Gingerbread and Honeycomb, with some cool neon blue highlights and redesigned icons. The task switcher looks cool too, but seems to be a little TOO Honeycomb-like. It just seems added on, and there are apps out there that can pull off the same trick. Take a look at the video yourselves after the break. …
This was quite a surprise. An anonymous user on 4Chan posted quite a detailed, albeit amateur, hands on of the upcoming and HIGHLY anticipated Nexus device. Without further ado here are his own words (or her, no gender issues here):
Alright so these Samsung representatives dropped by work today and gave our team a heads up about their mobile division and their flagship phones coming out in the near future. Basically they came in with the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus. They said it was a beta model, but it looked like a proper retail version. They talked about that phone, their Galaxy S II, it’s success and the Galaxy S III next year which is already in R&D.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus:
– Samsung representatives showed a working a working model of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus but not the Galaxy S III. They passed around the Galaxy Nexus phone, and we got about an hour to play with it while they were here. The phone looks similar to the Sprint variant of the Galaxy S II, with a round-edged body, but also similar to the Nexus S with a curved screen. It’s a good size, not too big if you’re used to Android phones. It’s a monster compared to iPhones though.
– Reps said that Verizon passed on the SGSII to have an exclusive deal with Samsung to stock the Galaxy Nexus.
– The SGN will run on Samsung’s Exynos dual core CPU clocked at 1.5 GHz, 1 GB RAM, Super AMOLED Plus 4.65-inch 1280 x 720 HD display, 16 GB internal memory (with SD card slot). It’s 8.8mm thick with a metal body and a 2000 mAh battery (the same as the new one that’s being released for the Galaxy S II).
– It is heavier than the SGSII, weighing in at around 130g-140g because of the metal casing. It feels nice and has got decent weight.
– The phone is blazingly fast; I guess it’s as fast the SGS II. It has no issues with general use and opens apps, drawers, etc. instantly. No lag. I tried opening a whole bunch of apps, but it was still running smooth and would auto-kill once it got overloaded anyway, so you never feel the performance taking a hit.
Ice Cream Sandwich:
– Ice Cream Sandwich is very nice. It works like the current Gingerbread OS but has gotten a major facelift. The menus are a lot nicer and smoother, screens have a ‘glassy’ look to them. It just feels more polished with more animations (fast and smooth) when accessing things on the phone.
– On the demo unit, the Android version was 2.4.1, not 4.0 or whatever people were expecting.
– The app drawer has three sections at the top that you press and it goes to the drawer for your selection. There are sections for apps, games and widgets. The apps section is what we are all used to. Just a drawer for all the apps on the phone. The games section is just a drawer for all the games you’ve downloaded; the widgets section shows all the apps that have widgets available. The cool thing is you can click the widgets in the widgets section to get a view of what they look like. So you don’t have to screw around with applying a widget on a homescreen, seeing you don’t like it, deleting it, doing it again with a slightly different setting, etc. to see the difference. On ICS you get a visual representation of the widget, you can swap easily between the widgets the app provides, change the settings in real time, and then you can go ahead an apply it on a homescreen.
– Best of all with the drawers is that you can create and name your own app drawer if you want. I think the ICS comes with three standard drawers mentioned above (apps, games and widgets). The demo phone had app drawers created called “Sports” and “News” that contained all the sports and news related apps that you download. I’m not sure if the sports apps you download automatically go to the sports drawer (with some setting like auto push sports apps to drawer “Sports” or something) or if you have to put it there manually. Either way, it was very good and reduced the amount of searching for an app. With the Galaxy phones, if you didn’t know where the app was–which page it was on–it would take a while to search through it, because they weren’t in alphabetical order; they were just in the order you downloaded them. This is a LOT cleaner, more organized and feels more polished.
– I’m not familiar with Honeycomb, so I don’t know really what it pulled from there. I’m guessing quite a bit, because visually it’s quite different to current Android phones. I always thought that Android phone manufacturers made great phones, but the Android software lacked polish and user-friendliness. I was told the glassy look is from Honeycomb. There are a lot more blues and purples on the phone, rather than green. The icons look different, more shiny. The marketplace app is the same as the current one. Not sure if a new one is being worked on.
– The Gmail app is a lot better looking than the current one. If you flip the phone to the side, it has the preview pane, like how Outlook works, with the emails on the left and the message on the right. It looks really nice. Vertically, it works similarly to the current Gmail app, but looks a lot cleaner. In an email the reply button says “reply” rather than having that arrow. There’s a down arrow next to the reply button that has “reply all,” “save as draft,” etc. The threads are smaller (could be due to the higher resolution screen) and around 10-12 threads can fit on the screen. Other than visual tweaks, it’s the same thing.
– Calendar app is revised, a lot less cluttered, glassy bluish look. New calendar widget available.
– The internet browser is leaps and bounds better than what you currently get. It has a completely revamped interface, and the icon is no longer the blue earth icon. The icon is now an Android behind the earth, which is green and blue. Name is still “Internet.” But it’s really easy to use. I personally hated the stock browser for Android, but I’d actually consider using this. It has its tabs at the bottom of the screen now, similar to Opera Browser mobile. The pinch to zoom is better than before, the rendering is excellent, no checkerboards. Zoomed out the text is pristine. Really liking the browser app.
All in all it’s shaping up to be quite a device but I, personally, can’t help but feel that this is more of a Nexus S than a Nexus One. Meaning, this is going to be an upgraded and rebadged Galaxy SII, a product that has already been proven to be a runaway success in the US of A. The Nexus One was a Google Phone first, an HTC Desire later. Still, only time will tell, right?
Things seem to be going well for Google’s development team as their latest iteration of Android is on track for that Q4 release date promised four months ago. Rather surprisingly, given the excitement for ICS, only four screenshots have been leaked which don’t really show much in terms of fresh UI. Even these screens, upon closer examination seem to be fake as some key elements from the UI are taken straight from Cyanogenmod and one of its many themes. You can read more about the leaks here.
We still have no idea of what’s coming other than that Ice Cream Sandwich shall unite elements from Gingerbread and Honeycomb together in a one size fits all OS. ICS should also have special dev tools which will allow them to scale their apps for different screen sizes, resulting in little or no different between tablet and smartphone versions.
The oft rumoured and lusted over HTC Puccini Honeycomb tablet has finally been announced, at least on the Yanks’ side of the pond, as the Jetstream. To be honest, the specs look good but we can’t help but feel that this has come too late. Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich is just round the corner, but we’ll go into that at the end of this post.
The Jetstream is quite the looker and seems to be a blend of Motorola Xoom and HTC Flyer. It has a 10.1″ display of 1280×800 resolution with a 1.5GHz dual core Qualcomm CPU purring away underneath as it powers Honeycomb 3.1 with HTC’s Sense layer on top. The Jetstream also supports the Flyer’s Scribe technology and a stylus will be included in the package for a limited time only. The device also supports AT&T’s 4G and 3G bands along with the customary wifi.
No word yet on European availability, indeed we were expecting a reveal in tonight’s event, but it shouldn’t be too long now. As we said in the beginning this is running Android 3.1, not even 3.2, and will probably make it to market in the rest of the world around the time when quad core, Kal El toting Ice Cream Sandwich tablets will be announced. AT&T’s pricing also doesn’t help, it’s available from $699 WITH a 2 year contract. We’ll just wait and hope that an ICS update won’t take too long to push out.
Just a few days after information about the Vigor surfaced we have two photos of the device. Rumours have pegged this, first and foremost, as HTC’s first Beats Audio device, a product of their latest partnership with Beats by Dr Dre. Secondly? This device is rumoured to have that 720p display we’ve all been hearing about, 1GB or RAM, 1.5GHz Dual Core and Sense 3.5 running on top of Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread. Here’s our first post on the Vigor, and there’s one more picture after the break. …
When it comes to manufacturer’s faux pas it doesn’t get any bigger than this. Samsung’s legal department sent a Cease and Desist letter to a person claiming to be in possession of leaked Nexus Prime firmware. Sammy, quite rightly of course, wants its property back as it is indeed Samsung’s unique property and hasn’t yet been released to the public.
So there you have it. The Nexus Prime is indeed being made by Samsung, dashing dreams of a newborn Nexus One everywhere. At least, judging by the Nexus S’ success, it’ll sell well this time round. You can find details of the initial rumours here with more evidence to support the purported 4.5″ HD screen here. You can also take a look at the letter right here, down below.
A few days ago HTC made a staggering announcement that they had just “invested” $300 million in one of the most innovative audio and sound companies in the world, Beats by Dr Dre. What does this mean for us? For one, better audio on our HTC smartphones. Another area could be new audio oriented accessories, maybe better headphones (both optional and packaged) as well as some new speakers or sound docks, iPhone style. Now, just a day ago, sharp eyed tipsters spotted what could be HTC’s first Beats device, the HTC Vigor. …