All posts by Rajesh Pandey

Rajesh is a 19 year old nerd, currently pursuing B.Com Hons from Bhawanipore college in Kolkata, India. He loves everything tech, especially Android. You can follow him on twitter @ePandu or mail to him at [email protected]

Motorola Fire is a Low-End Android Messenger; Headed To Germany This September

Motorola has released a new mid-range budget oriented Android smartphone, the Fire. This fiery handset from Motorola sports a 2.8-inch screen with QVGA (240×320) resolution. The handset has a candy-bar form factor with a four-row QWERTY keyboard up front as well.

Other key features of the Fire include Wi-Fi b/g/n, A-GPS, microSD card slot, a LED for notifications, FM radio with RDS and a 3.5mm audio jack. The usual array of sensors like Accelermeter, Ambient light sensor and proximity sensor etc. are also on-board. At the back of the handset is a 3MP fixed-focus camera.

The Fire also comes with a new version of Moto’s Switch UI, which seamlessly allows switching between friends-centric and work-centric mode. Even though the Fire is a budget-oriented handset, it runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

The handset is powered by a 1420mAh battery, which is capable of providing a standby time of 30 days or eight hours of talk-time.

The Motorola Fire will hit the retail stores in Germany sometime in September. The handset will cost 189 euro, inclusive of taxes and excluding any contract.

 

Google Search App for Android To Get a Major Update

Google will soon release a new version of the Google Search app for Android, which will pack in a lot of improvements. The update will also come with a tweaked UI to make it more in line with the Gingerbread/Honeycomb look and feel.

Google_Search

The new Google search app groups the search result by type, with the suggestions from the Internet being at the top. The app now also shows country-specific suggestions and search results. The new version is also faster and smoother, compared to the previous version(s). All Android users, running Android 2.2+ can install the app on their handset, when the update goes live.

Google posted a blog post about this new version before pulling it back within a few minutes for some reason. I guess they found some issues with the latest version of the app, and so had to push back the launch.

Here is the full blog post :

We’ve released a new version of the Google Search app for Android with a number of improvements:

  • Suggestions grouped by type, with web suggestions at the top.
  • Country-specific suggestions and search results for all countries with Google domains.
  • Long press to remove history items.
  • Faster, smoother performance, with an updated and simplified user interface.

Search history, search suggestions and on-device results

Here are some additional tips we’d like to share:

  • Tap the arrow to the right of a search suggestion or history item to edit it before searching.
  • Get suggestions from other apps on your phone – check out searchable items in Search settings.
  • Long press on homescreen to add the Google Search widget if you don’t have it already.

Hopefully, the new version of the Google search app should go live sometime soon! (Possibly today!)

Motorola XOOM Android 3.1 Honeycomb Update Rolling Out in Europe

Motorola has finally deemed the XOOM owners in Europe worthy enough for a software update. While XOOM owners in the U.S. started receiving the Android 3.2 Honeycomb update this weekend, European owners will be getting the Android 3.1 HC update now.

motorola_xoom

The Android 3.1 Honeycomb update mainly aims at improving the core stability of the apps, along with improvements in 2D rendering. The update also brings scrollable widgets, and removes the 5 app limit from the multi-task switcher.

Motorola is rolling out the update in stages, so it will take quite some time before some XOOM owners get the update. I am talking about weeks and not days here.

I guess XOOM owners should not even think about the Android 3.2 Honeycomb update before in the next couple of months. Impatient XOOM owners in Europe can always head over to XDA forums, and download and install the Android 3.2 Honeycomb ROM.

The XOOM was the first Android tablet to launch with Honeycomb on-board. However, it is among the slowest tablets out there to get updated to the latest version of Honeycomb. The most popular Android tablet, Asus EeePad Transformer, got its Android 3.2 Honeycomb update a couple of weeks ago!

HTC Inspire 4G Android 2.3 Gingerbread Update Rolling Out Now

HTC has started rolling out the Android 2.3 Gingerbread update for AT&T”s version of the Desire HD, the Inspire 4G. The software update brings a number of enhancements and features, including enhancements in Sense UI and the usual Gingerbread goodies.

HTC_Inspire_4G

Sadly, the update does not include the latest version of Sense (v3.0), which supports widgets and shortcuts on the lock screen. HTC however has tweaked the Sense UI to include toggles on the notification bar, along with an updated app drawer. The copy-&-paste method and battery life of the handset have also been tweaked.

Here is the full changelog from the folks over at Phandroid:

  • Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread
  • New HTC Senseâ„¢ features
    • Updated Application Tray features
    • Updated FriendStreamâ„¢ features
    • Added Quick Settings in the Notifications window
  • Improved Power Management function
  • Improved media experience
  • Various minor bug fixes

Inspire 4G owners can either wait for the OTA update to hit their phone, or they can manually download and install the update from here. Alternatively, they can pull the update from AT&T’s server by going to Settings->About Phone and selecting the Check for updates’ option.

Nokia X7 and E6 Firmware Updated To V22

Nokia has released a new software update for the recently released Symbian Anna running handsets the E6 and X7. The firmware updates for both the handsets are minor in nature and mainly fix some bugs and bring about the usual improvement in performance and stability.

Nokia_E6

The new software update (v22.014) also updates the core applications of the phone. The Web’ app has been updated, with improvements in Kinetic scrolling, and page rendering. The Social’ app now sports a new icon as well. There are also minor improvements in USB connectivity and Mail for exchange.

The new software update is available either via OTA (Over-the-Air), or by using Nokia Ovi Suite/Software Updater. Both the handsets feature UDP, so users don’t need to make a backup of their data before proceeding with the firmware update. However, it is always recommended to make a backup of your important data before proceeding with the firmware update. You never know when things can go wrong, and you end up bricking your phone!

The update is not yet available in all regions, so X7 and E6 users need to be a bit patient before they get the update.

T-Mobile Version Of Samsung Galaxy S II to Sport a 4.5-inch Screen

People in the United States have been eagerly waiting to get their hands on the hottest phone on the planet right now, the Samsung Galaxy S II. At first, it was uncertain whether the SGS2 will make it to the state-side or not. However, Samsung confirmed that the Galaxy S II is coming to the U.S in August.

clip_image001

Now, pictures of the T-Mobile variant of the Samsung Galaxy S II, dubbed as the Hercules has leaked online. The folks over at TmoNews have got their hands on some quality pictures of the Hercules.

Unlike the European version of S2, the Hercules will sport a mammoth 4.5-inch Super-AMOLED screen. Other specifications of the Hercules remain the same as its European sibling. The TmoNews tipster also tipped that the handset is fast, blazing fast! He also mentioned that Netflix will be pre-installed in this phone. The handset will come with Gingerbread on-board, with Sammy’s TouchWiz 4.0 UI running on top of it.

Also, from the leaked images, it looks like the Hercules will actually be known by its original name the Galaxy S II. The handset will also be the first to support T-Mobile’s blazing fast HSPA+ 42Mbps network.

The T-Mobile Hercules/Galaxy S II will be announced sometime this month, along with other operator variants of the SGS2.

Motorola XOOM 3G Android 3.2 Honeycomb Update Rolling Out Now

Google released Android 3.2 Honeycomb without much fanfare. The Asus EeePad Transformer, which is the most popular Android Honeycomb based tablet out there, got the update last week. Now, Motorola and Verizon have started rolling out the Android 3.2 update for the first ever Honeycomb tablet, the XOOM 3G.

Motorola_XOOM

The Android 3.2 update brings some new features, and some much needed performance and stability improvements for the core apps. First and foremost, HC 3.2 brings a screen scaling compatibility mode, which is similar to the one found in iPad. On a single tap, users can double the pixel of the incompatible app, making it usable to a certain extent. Something is better than nothing, after all!

Post this update, XOOM owners can also finally make use of the SD card slot present in the tablet. There are also improvements in Google Movie rentals, streaming support and Exchange ActiveSync.

Motorola has already started rolling out the update, and aims to complete the roll-out within the next 2 weeks. Impatient XOOM owners can find the required files to update their tablet to Android 3.2 Honeycomb, over at XDA forums.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Wi-Fi TouchWiz Update Rolling Out Now!

Samsung has started rolling out a new software update for the Wi-Fi model of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The new software update brings the TouchWiz UX to the 10.1-inch Tab, along with some new services including Media Hub and features like Social Hub.

Galaxy_Tab_10

The new version of TouchWiz is optimized for the tablets, and includes some nifty features like Live Panel, Mini Mode Tray, and Indicator Quick Panel. The Media Hub service will allow users to enjoy movies and TV shows on their Galaxy Tab from all the popular channels including NBC Universal, Paramount, MTV, Warner Bros., CBS and FOX.

The software update will also pre-install certain apps and games like Amazon Music Cloud Player, Amazon Kindle and Words with Friends. Swype will also be installed, which can be freely moved around the screen and resized as a user wishes to. Certain Enterprise features will also be added like support for Cisco VPN, Exchange ActiveSync (v1.4) and on-device encryption.

Once a user install this TouchWiz update on his 10.1-inch Tab, he cannot go back to the old stock Honeycomb UI, even if he wishes to. So, choose wisely whether you want to install the update or not.

The whole changelog, and the required steps for installing the update can be found here.

[Review] UberMusic For Android – One Sexy Looking Music Player

The developer behind Launcher Pro Fedrico Carnales has released another quality app on the Android Market, UberMusic. The application was in an open beta testing phase for quite some time, before it was released on the Android Market, last weekend.

As its name implies, UberMusic is one uber cool music player for Android. The main question is does UberMusic stand a chance against the current best music player for Android PowerAMP? Well read my short review of the app to find out!

UberMusic_1

UberMusic_2

I have absolutely no doubt in saying that UberMusic for Android is the best looking music player available for the platform. The app looks gorgeous, and has a very polished feel to it. The best feature of the app is the dynamic background of the Now Playing screen. The background of the now playing screen automatically changes to display the image of the artist or the album of the song. The app pulls the required album art from Last.fm. Pretty cool, eh?

UberMusic also has other basic features like Last.FM scrobbling, and headset controls. Sadly, the app lacks some very important features like a lock screen widget, an equalizer, and the ability to resume or stop music playback when a headset is connected or disconnected. Compared to PowerAMP, UberMusic lacks a lot of advanced options including buffer tweaks, and lyrics support.

Fedrico has said that he is working on an equalizer and a lock screen widget, and hopefully, the next update of the app will include these two features.

UberMusic_2

Music quality is another area where UberMusic disappoints. It was just nowhere near PowerAMP’s level. While PowerAMP uses the ffmpeg decoder to playback music, UberMusic uses the native Android decoder. Due to this, the sound output of UberMusic is not as good as PowerAMP.

Where UberMusic trumps PowerAMP is its support for skins. These skins completely change the look and feel of the app, unlike the ones for PowerAMP, which just change the UI color. Right now, there are not much themes available, but whatever are, are of top-notch quality. The Metro’ skin imitates the WP7 music player, and looks visually stunning.

In the end, I recommend UberMusic to anyone who just wants a visually stunning music player, with basic features. For the hardcore audiophiles out there, stick with PowerAMP.

UberMusic can be downloaded from the Android Market for $3.49.

Control Your Canon DSLR Using Your Android Handset/Tablet

Chainfire one of the most talented developers around over at XDA developer forums has released a new app dubbed DSLR Controller. As the name suggests, the app allows users to control their DSLR directly from their Android handset and/or tablet.

Below is a video of the DSLR Controller app in action :

Here is the full list of features which the app packs :

– Live View
– Auto Focus (tap Live View)
– Manual focus adjustments in Auto Focus mode
– Histogram
– Zoom control
– Grid display
– Bulb capture
– Continuous capture
– Extensive modification of settings
— Shutter speed
— Aperture
— Exposure Compensation and Bracket
— Flash Compensation
— ISO speed
— Auto-Focus Mode
— Focus and Zoom area (tap-and-hold Live View)
— Picture Style
— Drive Mode
— White Balance
— Color Temperature
— Auto-Lighting Optimizer
— Metering Mode

How is this even possible, you ask? Well, this app makes use of the USB O-T-G feature found on the latest Android Honeycomb based Tablets. At the moment, there is only one Android phone which supports USB O-T-G and that is the beastly Samsung Galaxy S II. There is another catch, only Canon’s EOS series of DSLR are supported. However, with time, I am sure the app will be compatible with DSLRs of various brands. For the former problem, I expect the next version of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich) to have USB host capabilities.

The app is already available in the Android Market for download, for a whopping €5.99. Since the app is a very early phase of testing, users should keep in mind some bugs and crashes are to be expected.