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nexus7-refreshed

The new Google Nexus 7 is a big improvement over the original with a bunch of additions like LTE and a super high-resolution display – the best in tablets, in fact. And that’s driving a lot of first generation device owners to trade in their old Nexus 7, according to gadget buy-back site Gazelle. There was a 333 percent spike in the number of Nexus 7 tablets traded in compared to the same day last week, for example.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, that spike was even higher – a 442 percent jump in Nexus 7 tablets happened between the day before Google’s official unveiling of the new model, and the day of. The Nexus 7 trade-in activity spiked so high that it made up nearly a quarter of all trade-ins for non-iPad tablets since the site began accepting them earlier this year.

Wednesday, the day Google made its announcement, was also the biggest Nexus 7 trade-in day at Gazelle to date, beating the next biggest day by 380 percent. That previous record was set when the new Nexus 7 leaked on July 17, which clearly prompted early adopters to take advantage of a small head start ahead of the big reveal.

The news means that Google Nexus 7 owners are probably happy with their devices and eager to grab new ones, by trading in their last-gen devices to fund their purchases, but there’s another stat that tells another side of the story: Gazelle saw no appreciable increase in iPad trade-ins on the new Nexus 7 launch day. That means Google probably isn’t luring iPad owners away from the iOS fold.

It’s probably not surprising to longtime tablet space watchers that the new Nexus 7, with all its apparent merit, isn’t an iPad killer. The Apple camp seems happy where they are, but the tablet market has plenty of room to grow; we’ll see if Google can expand outward, or if it’s mostly eating its own Nexus tail with this new model.

Here it is, official as official gets: Samsung just announced the Galaxy Tab 7.7. As the name suggests, it has a 7.7-inch (1280 x 800) display – specifically, a Super AMOLED Plus panel. Like so many other 7-inchers hitting the market, it runs Android 3.2 and yes, that’s a skinned flavor of Honeycomb, with Samsung’s tablet-optimized TouchWiz UX layered on top. Inside, it runs the same Samsung-made dual-core 1.4GHz processor found in the new Galaxy Note, along with an HSPA+ radio promising theoretical download speeds as high as 21Mbps. Other specs for the 0.74-pound (335-gram) tablet include 16GB to 64GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, a 5,100mAh battery rated for 10 hours, 802.11n WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth 3.0 and dual 3MP and 2MP cameras. In a nutshell, it’s the in-between-sized do-over a lot of folks have been awaiting since the original Galaxy Tab grew stale – a slate that promises faster speeds and some seriously improved viewing angles. We’ll be the judge of that in our review, but in the meantime stay tuned for some early hands-on impressions.

Until a few days ago we’d heard surprisingly little about the Galaxy Note, a handset rumored to be launching alongside the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Wave 3 at IFA. It’s ironic, really, because of all the phones to have kept a low profile, this is a memorable one. Behold, a 5.3-inch handset with a stowaway pen for note-taking, drawing and grabbing screen captures. In other words, a Dell Streak-esque hunk of a device that blurs the lines between phone and tablet. You’re looking at a Gingerbread-running LTE and HSPA+ handset with a 1280 x 800 Super AMOLED display, dual 8MP and 2MP cameras, a removable 2,500mAh battery and the same Samsung-made dual-core 1.4GHz processor you’ll find in the just-announced Galaxy Tab 7.7. For a phone this gargantuan, it’s actually quite thin at light, at 9.65mm (0.38 inches) thick and a reasonable 178 grams (6.3 ounces). We had a few minutes to handle the phone in advance of today’s press conference, and found it surprisingly easy to grip, even in our small hands. As with the Infuse 4G -whose own 4.5-inch screen once seemed impossibly sprawling – the thin shape makes it tenable, as does the lightweight, textured plastic lining the back.

As you’d expect, Android 2.3 comes layered with TouchWiz on top and, in this case, seven home screens and a touch-optimized interface dubbed “S Pen” designed to take advantage of that pen. These include S Planner, a native calendar and to-do list app, from which you can drag and drop appointments, changing time slots without having to open an entry. S Memo for note-taking, meanwhile, accepts voice, photo, text and handwritten input. We also got a quick glimpse of Virtual Whiteboard, a more collaborative form of note-taking. On top of that, Samsung says it’s releasing the S Pen SDK to third-party developers, and the company’s banking on more apps for organizing photos and drawing, among other things. For now, this is merely a global launch: Samsung says it’s still in discussions with carriers worldwide, so depending on your neck of the woods it might be awhile before you hear anything definitive about pricing or availability. Find the some fancy press shots (and a promo vid) after the break, and stay tuned for our hands-on.

If you’ve been twiddling your thumbs in anticipation of the Andy Pad’s arrival, twiddle no more, because the budget-friendly Android slate is now available across most of Europe. Both the 8GB model and its 16GB Andy Pad Pro counterpart appeared on the British manufacturer’s website today, with the former priced at 129 (about $208) and the latter running for 179 (roughly $289). Both of the seven-inch tablets run on Gingerbread and offer up to six hours of battery life, though the Pro features a capacitive touchscreen (1024 x 600), compared with its little brother’s 800 x 480 resistive display.

app ops

As expected, Google officially confirmed Android 4.3 at its event on Wednesday with Android chief Sundar Pichai. Among the new features/improvements in the update are a redesigned camera interface, Bluetooth Low Energy support, performance improvements such as smoother animations, and multi-user restricted profiles. But there’s apparently something else that Google didn’t talk about. Android Police has unearthed a hidden app permissions manager that allows users to selectively disable certain permissions for apps.

The feature is apparently called App Ops, and lets users toggle app permissions – such as location and the ability to post notifications – on and off for individual apps. Android Police notes that a developer has already created an app (available here on Google Play if you have Android 4.3 installed) that foregrounds App Ops, and has been having a play around with it.

The basic idea of the feature is apparently to give Android users more flexibility over what apps can and can’t do, allowing them to choke off battery draining features, say, or rein in irritating notification behaviour. If Google does decide to fully implement App Ops as a user-facing feature, there are potential big benefits here, from a security and privacy point of view, being as it could give users fine-grained control over what each app can do.

Apps they might otherwise have been tentative about installing could presumably be fine-tuned to fit their tastes now – which may also have some developer benefits, if it helps drive overall installs.

However Android Police notes that while App Ops does work, the feature is clearly not ready for the prime time yet – while testing it with the Facebook app they found certain app permissions only appeared in the permissions list once the app had made use of them, for example. Such messiness likely explains why Google has hidden App Ops and wasn’t ready to talk about it on Wednesday. We’ve reached out to Mountain View to ask for its plans for the feature and will update this story with any response.

Another possible complication attached to the feature is user confusion if a user doesn’t realise that the reason a particular in-app feature isn’t working is because it has been toggled off at source. A similar problem can occur on some Android devices with the quick settings in the notification tray overriding the main setting for things like silencing sounds/ringtones. Add in per app permissions and the potential user confusion is enormous. Android Police notes that one way for Google to get round could be to include some kind of system notifications warning users when App Ops is limiting app permissions. Although that would get old pretty quick if users get nagged every time they open an app with restricted permissions.

It is also possible that the App Ops feature has been created by Google to power the multi-user restricted profiles feature it did announced on Wednesday, which allows for parental controls to be implemented on Android devices.

The Android platform also has the most malware activity associated with it of all the mobile platforms, so the App Ops feature could be something Google is lining up to help bolster security concerns attached to Android. For instance, the feature could allow users to block apps from making calls – to kill off premium rate phone call/SMS malware – or trace which apps have been making calls to identify rogue software.