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Ice Cream Sandwich revealed with refined Multitasking and improved UI

October 20th, 2011

Ice Cream Sandwich revealed with refined Multitasking and improved UI

Google’s Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” looks to be the best version yet whether it’s installed on a smartphone or tablet. Tuesday night Google finally unveiled Android 4.0 aka “Ice Cream Sandwich,” the latest version of its OS which now sports an “evolved” UI that’s actually similar to the company’s tablet-oriented build, Android 3.x “Honeycomb.” This new version will reportedly also make it easier on developers to write apps for both smartphones and tablets, possibly preventing much of the fragmentation that currently plagues the Android platform across the board.

To be honest, Ice Cream Sandwich is the best-looking build of Android to date.

The list of changes and improvements implemented into the new OS is impressive. New features include revamped home screen folders to group apps and shortcuts together by dragging one onto another, resizable widgets, new lock screen actions allowing users to take pictures or pull down the notifications window without unlocking the device, and improved text input and spell-checking (cough). There’s also a “powerful” new voice input engine that offers a continuous “open microphone” experience and streaming voice recognition, and new swipe actions for dismissing browser tabs, tasks and notifications.

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Ballmer: Computer Scientists needed to use Android

October 20th, 2011

Ballmer: Computer Scientists needed to use Android

During the annual Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was asked to compare the appeal of a phone powered by Windows Phone to one with Google’s Android OS installed. Naturally Ballmer removed the gloves and used his fists of steel against the rival operating system, indicating that users need to be a computer scientist to navigate through its interface and sea of icons.

“You don’t need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows phone and you do to use and Android phone,” he said. “It is hard for me to be excited about the Android phones.”

Recent numbers seemingly disagree. In August, around 43-percent of smartphone owners actually owned an Android device. During a three month period prior to that, 56-percent of smartphone buyers chose an Android device followed by 28-percent that chose Apple’s iPhone. Trailing behind Google and Apple was RIM’s BlackBerry with a 9-percent share. Microsoft’s Windows Phone and other mobile operating systems fell within the “Other” 6-percent chasm.

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Android 4.0 update will arrive weeks after Galaxy Nexus

October 20th, 2011

Android 4.0 update will arrive weeks after Galaxy Nexus

Those not interested in the Galaxy Nexus but itching for a taste of Ice Cream Sandwich don’t have long to wait. Google and Samsung yesterday used the AsiaD: All Things Digital event to launch the Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich. Though the two companies were more than happy to talk about Android 4.0 on the Galaxy Nexus, neither mentioned when users with other Android devices can expect to get their hands on Ice Cream Sandwich.

Luckily, part of the the All Things D event was an interview with the father of Android, Andy Rubin. Walt Mossberg sat down with Rubin to talk about Apple, Samsung, Motorola and, naturally, Android. In the course of the interview, Mossberg tried to get Rubin talking about the Galaxy Nexus’s launch in the United States. Though Andy wouldn’t say whether or not the phone would launch on Verizon first, he did give away a little information about the general roll-out of Android 4.0. Specifically, Rubin said the ICS roll-out is scheduled for ‘a matter of weeks after the Samsung device’ launches.

That leads us to the all-important question of when the Galaxy Nexus device will be launching. Google and Samsung are keeping quiet about that for now, though we do know that it will be arriving sometime in November. Japan’s NTT DoCoMo yesterday leaked specs and other information relating to the phone ahead of the event, and with that information was a November 20 release date. It’s not yet known if this will be a worldwide release, or if other regions will get the device before or after Japan. However, it looks like we will be getting some Ice Cream Sandwich love before old St Nick preps his reindeer for take-off.

SOURCE via All Things D

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Rubin: Google Music will have “A Little Twist”

October 20th, 2011

Rubin: Google Music will have

Google’s music service has been a highly-covered topic as of late, and there were hopes that the company would reveal the retail aspect last night during the introduction of Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. But that didn’t happen, and we’re still left with little bits and pieces of what seems to be a massive launch in the near future.

Based on recent reports, there may be a good reason why Google is having difficulty in working out deals with record labels — at least, there seems to be more to the story than what we’ve heard thus far. Ever since the company’s initial failure to launch a full-fledged service earlier this year, sources close to the situation have reported that negotiations have been problematic due to financial reasons and an uncertainty that Google will address the labels’ concerns over piracy.

And because Google was unable to reach a deal, the company launched its virtual music locker instead and named is Music Beta. But Android boss Andy Rubin has indicated that Google is looking to launch something else other than an iTunes clone. In fact, the virtual storefront will arrive soon with “a little twist.” Naturally he wouldn’t explain the “twist” aspect, leaving room for speculation that more is going on behind the scenes than dealing withuptight record labels fighting over rights and revenue.

“I think we’re close,” Rubin said onstage at the AsiaD conference in Hong Kong when asked when the MP3 store will actually launch. “[It] will have a little twist. It will have a little Google in it. It won’t just be selling 99-cent tracks.”

He went on to explain why negotiations fell apart in the beginning, saying that media companies in general haven’t been able to figure out what Google is up to. Just like Apple Computer evolved into simply Apple, Google is morphing into its own brand of gadget-based Power Ranger. After all, Google has transformed from a simple search engine to an OS developer and online retailer.

“Google is in the very, very early phases of adding consumer products to our portfolio,” he said. “The media industry didn’t see us as that. They saw us as a search company.”

Reports concerning the launch of the actual MP3 store have varied, ranging from the end of October to a broader Q4 2011. But once that finally arrives, Google will seriously need to consider selling video content if it wants to tackle Apple on all fronts.

SOURCE via All Things D

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Motorola brings RAZR back with Android and KEVLAR

October 19th, 2011

Motorola brings RAZR back with Android and KEVLAR

The Motorola RAZR is a legendary phone. It is the highest-selling clamshell phone in history, and soon a phone with that same name will be arriving in November.

Motorola today announced the new RAZR, which will be known as the DROID RAZR in the U.S. market as a Verizon exclusive. It earns its name with the thin profile at 7.1 millimeters thick. Powering it is a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor.

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Google Wallet updated

October 19th, 2011

Google Wallet updated

Google has updated its Wallet service to provide a SingleTap experience, offering loyalty credit and retailer discounts. But what’s the point if only one phone is NFC compatible?

Tuesday Google said that American Eagle Outfitters, Bloomingdales, Champs Sports, The Container Store, Foot Locker, Guess, Jamba Juice, Macy’s, OfficeMax and Toys”R”Us are now Google Wallet “SingleTap” merchants. Customers can now pay, redeem offers, and earn loyalty credit simply with a single tap of an NFC-enabled smartphone.

“With Google Wallet in hand, you can walk into a Jamba Juice, American Eagle Outfitters or any other partner store,” said Google’s Spencer Spinnell, Director, Emerging Markets. “Once you’ve ordered that Razzmatazz smoothie or found the right color Slim Jean, head straight to the cashier and tap your phone to pay and save—that’s it. You don’t have to shuffle around to find the right coupon to scan or rewards card to stamp because it all happens in the blink of an eye.”

In addition to the SingleTap merchants, other North American retailers have already signed on to serve as “Tap and Pay” merchants using the MasterCard PayPass system including CVS, Walgreens, RadioShack, Sunco, Jack In The Box and seven others. These Tap and Pay merchants are different from the SingleTap retailers in that they currently don’t offer loyalty credit or special offers.

Consumers interested in checking out the Google Wallet experience can enter their zip code in the “Where It Works” section of the Google Wallet website. This will pull up other participating retailers like McDonald’s, 7-11, BP, Rite Aid, The Home Depot, Petco, Best Buy and many more. Chevron, D’Agostino, Pinkberry and Subway plan to support Google Wallet in the near future, the company said.

However the drawback to Google Wallet, at least for now, is that it’s only available on one phone: the Sprint Nexus S 4G which Google says is receiving the new feature through a software update. Payments also rely on a Citi MasterCard or a virtual Google Prepaid Card (which is funded by your credit card). Users with non-NFC phones can reportedly obtain a special sticker from Google, but reports also indicate that it’s limited — it’s no “quick-and-dirty fix” to make a smartphone NFC-capable. That said, Google Wallet is a great tool in simplifying purchases, but extremely limited. Still, it’s a start.

Tuesday Google said that the Wallet app’s “Offers” tab has been updated to include a new “Featured Offers” section with discounts that are exclusive to Google Wallet. “Today, these include 15-percent off at American Eagle Outfitters, 10-percent off at The Container Store, 15-percent off at Macy’s and an all-fruit smoothie for $2 at Jamba Juice,” the company said in a blog. “There are many more Google Wallet exclusive discounts to come, and you can save your favorites in Google Wallet so they’ll be automatically applied to your bill when you check out.”

Google launched the Google Wallet app back on September 19 which works with over 300,000 MasterCard PayPass merchant locations. VISA licensed its payWave NFC system to Google the next day, although there are no signs of VISA-based participating retailers listed on Google’s website.

SOURCE via Google

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Samsung crashes iPhone 4S block party, lures Aussies with $2 Galaxy S IIs

October 19th, 2011

Samsung crashes iPhone 4S block party, lures Aussies with $2 Galaxy S IIs

Apple boldly rejected Samsung’s settlement offer in Australia, and so the cat fight just keep going. The latter certainly isn’t afraid of striking back in its enemy’s front yard you see. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Samsung’s set up a pop-up store merely meters away from Apple’s Sydney store, all for just stealing the thunder from the iPhone 4S launch last Friday. The campaign? For the first ten customers each day up to Friday, the Korean giant’s offering its Galaxy S II for just $2 sans contract — no wonder the line’s already longer than Apple’s, according to the Herald. But of course, Samsung’s also effectively funding some of these folks for their iPhone 4S from next door, so it’s pretty much a win-win situation for both companies. See? There’s always a happy ending.

SOURCE via The Sydney Morning Herald

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Google Earth Typhoid reveals disease outbreak secrets

October 19th, 2011

Google Earth Typhoid reveals disease outbreak secrets

British researchers have found a new way to track the spread of diseases in locations that lack traditional mapping support.

Google Earth has become a scientific tool for tracking in areas that do not allow health workers to record infections that are tied to street names and house numbers. Researchers from the British Wellcome Trust used Earth and GPS data to pinpoint the presence of Typhoid in Kathmandu, Nepal, which adds to the ability to track mutations of a disease via DNA sequencing.

The researchers found that the typhoid infection rate is not related to the density of the population. Instead, the study showed that the likelihood of infection increased the closer people lived to water spouts and the lower the geographic elevation. Typhoid, which is caused by the two bacteria salmonella typhi and salmonella paratyphi, is believed to be connected to faecal contamination of ground water during the monsoon time. The researchers discovered a particular strain of the salmonella paratyphi was spreading downstream from the focus area, which indicated that people at lower elevations are at higher risk to contract typhoid.

When the scientists analyzed the bacteria and their variations and their appearance, they found that typhoid infections are transmitted predominantly through the environment and not through people. They concluded that “improvements in infrastructure are fundamental to the control and elimination of typhoid.”

As long as people are exposed to poor water quality, vaccines may have little effect and there is little chance that a community can get rid of the infection carriers. “Without integrating improvements in infrastructure alongside other control measures such as diagnosis, treatment and vaccination, it is unlikely that typhoid can be adequately controlled in places like Kathmandu in the long-term,” they said.

SOURCE via Eureka Alert

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Chrome climbed above Firefox in market share ranking

October 19th, 2011

Chrome climbed above Firefox in market share rankingStatCounter data suggests that, on a global basis, the number of people using Chrome exceeded those who were using Firefox last Sunday. Chrome beat Firefox with a market share of 26.22% versus 26.16%. It’s not much and it was just one day, but it is a significant event as Chrome has caught up with Firefox on weekend days.

Chrome has substantially higher market share on weekends than during the week and the current data implies that the browser needs about four to six weeks to catch up with any number on a weekend on an average market share basis. If this trend holds up, then we should be seeing Chrome match average Firefox market share by mid- to end-November.

For the first half of the month, Chrome averaged 24.85%, which is more than 1.2 points up from last month, while Firefox is slightly down to 26.68%. IE has fallen for the first half of the month below the 40% mark and was estimated at 39.99%.

Chrome market share is, just as it is the case with all other browsers significantly fragmented across the world. In North America, for example, Chrome share is only 20.01%, while it is at 40.82% in South America, according to StatCounter.

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Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus gets official

October 19th, 2011

Samsung's Galaxy Nexus gets official

Wait no more. Google and Samsung have just made the long-awaited Galaxy Nexus (no longer the Nexus Prime, as we’d once heard) official in Hong Kong, and the specifications are downright drool-worthy. Those with bantam hands need not apply, as this 4.65-inch behemoth is bound to bring back talk of Sidetalkin’.

Naturally, Ice Cream Sandwich is onboard, with Google finally revealing the version number as 4.0. Other specs include an HD Super AMOLED display (1,280 x 720), a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 5 megapixel rear camera (with LED flash), a 1.3 megapixel front-facing cam, 1080p30 video recording and playback, a newfangled panorama mode, a 3.5mm headphone jack and Bluetooth 3.0.

You’ll also find USB 2.0, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, an embedded NFC module, accelerometer, compass, gyro, proximity sensor and even a barometer — yeah, a barometer. Finishing things out, there’s 1GB of RAM, 16 or 32GB of internal storage space and a 1,750mAh battery. As for radios? There’s an HSPA+ model on tap, while an LTE version will “be available depending on region.” There’s nary a mention of carrier in the press release, but based on earlier leaks, a 4G build for Verizon Wireless seems a lock.

Focusing on Ice Cream Sandwich for a tick, Android 4.0 will bring “an entirely new look and feel to Android,” boasting a redesigned user interface, bolstered multitasking / notifications, full-on NFC support and a new People app, which enables users to browse friends, family and coworkers’ photos whilst peeking their status updates from Google+. ICS also introduces Face Unlock, which taps into facial recognition protocols in order to unlock your handset. And then there’s Android Beam, an NFC-based technology that allows you to “quickly share webpages, apps and YouTube videos by simply tapping two phones together.”

According to Google, the “lock screen, home screen, phone app and everything in between has been rethought and redesigned,” and this is quite the beastly phone to launch with.

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