Google Currents Gets A Major UI Overhaul

Google Currents, the app which was apparently the culprit behind all the lag on the Nexus 7 and other Android devices running Android 4.2, has got a major update from Google. The v2.0 update brings with it a completely over-hauled UI for the app, along with a major improvement in the performance and stability of the app.

The app had got a slight UI makeover back at Google I/O this year, but this new update brings about a completely new UI. Google Currents now has a sidebar UI, which is slowly and steadily becoming a standard in all quality Android apps, that allows for quick access to different topics or feeds. There is also a new re-designed widget, which is much more useful at display data than the previous version. Below is the full change-log of the update -:

* Edition sidebar – quickly access your editions within categories such as business, sports, etc.
* Fast scan – Vertical swipe to scan an edition, horizontal swipe advances to next edition
* Edition-section chooser – Choose “Customize” to filter out sections
* Unread marks – Read stories are marked. (Setting to hide)
* Breaking stories – ranked by Google News. Links to full length content.
* Saved stories – star for future reference
* New catalog design
* Widget

The update is already live in the Play Store and can be downloaded from here.

GTA: Vice City Re-Released On The Play Store

A few days ago, Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on the iOS App Store and the Play Store. However, the Android version of the game was buggy with most people who purchased the game unable to even download the extra required files or the game failing to even start.

Thanks to all the 0-star ratings and negative reviews, Rockstar pulled the game from the Play Store but promised that it will bring it back soon with all the bugs fixed. Today, the company has once again re-released GTA: Vice City on the Play Store with all the bugs fixed.

Before you get excited, keep in mind that the game is incompatible with quite a few popular Android devices out there including some variants of the Galaxy Note 2, some U.S variants of the Galaxy S2, all Tegra 2 based phones and a few other devices.

If you get an incompatibility error, I will suggest you to email the Rockstar support team. Rockstar has also uploaded the whole 1.4GB+ of game files to the Play Store so the 15-minute refund window of the Play Store will start only after the game has finished downloading.

BBM7 Now Available In The App World; Brings BBM Voice Along With It

Research In Motion (RIM) has released the 7th version of its popular messaging app – BBM – on the BlackBerry App World. The new version of the app brings with it quite a few changes, including the ability to initiate a voice call to all your BBM contacts over Wi-Fi or 3G.

Other new features include new emoticons, improved notification and overall improved stability. Below is the official change-log of the update -:

  • BBM upgrade notifications – BBM will notify you when there are updates to download straight from within the app
  • BBID Synchronization – your BBM profile, Groups and Contacts are linked to your BlackBerry ID
  • 16 Additional emoticons – even more choice for those times when words just aren’t enough. Can you spot the new ones? *Drool*
  • Multi-tasking with Split-screen feature – Customers can do more while they talk, such as check other BBM text chats, check email, or navigate to other apps while engaged on a BBM Voice call. They can start a call in an instant, and switch between texting and talking, or text and talk at the same time. They can also for example, send a picture to a contact while they are talking with them.
  • Clear Visual Indicator – Customers can see when contacts are available for a voice call.
  • Convenient Compatibility with Accessories – Customers can use their favorite accessories, such as a Bluetooth or wired headset, or use the BlackBerry smartphone’s speakerphone.

The update is already available in the BlackBerry App World for all BB owners to enjoy.

AOSP Browser On Nexus 4 Benchmarked; Performs Faster Than Chrome

The Nexus 4 is the first Nexus handset from Google to pack top-of-the-line specs. The handset sports the absolute fastest mobile SoC available at the moment, a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro clocked at 1.5GHz, an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM.

However, even with such high-end specs, the Nexus 4 performs poorly in benchmarks. Many reviewers blamed this on apps and benchmarks not optimized for Android 4.2. In browser based benchmarks, the Nexus 4 performs poorly mainly because of the new stock browser in Android 4.2 — Chrome — which is not as optimized as the AOSP browser was.

Android users have a love-hate relationship with Chrome. For some the browser is super smooth, while on some devices it lags horribly. While Chrome is very smooth on the Nexus 4, I still prefer the stock AOSP browser, and hence, installed a custom ROM which includes the AOSP browser.

While most people will be content with Chrome’s performance on the Nexus 4, I actually wanted to see how the AOSP browser performs on the Nexus 4. So, how does the AOSP browser perform on the Nexus 4 compared to Chrome?

I will let the screenshots below do the talking -:

Chrome on the Nexus 4 scores roughly 1857 in SunSpider, 1272 in Octane, and 23191 in Kraken. Head over to AnandTech’s Nexus 4 review if you want to compare N4’s AOSP browser performance with other devices. The Nexus 4 with the AOSP browser comes pretty close to the iPhone 5 in browser based benchmarks.

Theoretically, the AOSP browser should load pages faster on the Nexus 4. In real world usage, the scenario remains the same. The AOSP browser definitely loads the pages faster, but the difference in speed is not very noticeable. On heavier sites like The Verge, the AOSP browser is super-smooth while Chrome definitely lags a bit especially when panning or during pinch-to-zoom.

Galaxy Note II Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean Update Rolling Out

Samsung has been on a roll lately! The company recently started rolling out the Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean update for the Galaxy S3 that brought with it tons of new features including Multi-View multitasking, Smart Rotation, a new low-light mode for Camera and more.

Today, the Korean company has also started rolling out the Android 4.1.2 update for the Galaxy Note II. The update does not bring many new major features, but does bring some minor changes and enhancements that would be appreciated by Note 2 owners.

Below is the list of changes in Android 4.1.2 on Galaxy Note 2 via SamMobile -:

  • Android 4.1.2 – JZO54K
  • New Additions in Notifcation Toggles
  • Notification Panel can now be customized
  • Brightness Slider in Notification Panel Can Now Be Disabled
  • Multi-View Can now be disabled
  • Browser Is Smoother Then Before
  • Status Bar has been changed from Grey to Black
  • Continues Input in Samsung Keyboard (Like Swipe or Android 4.2 Keyboard)
  • New Ink Effect On Lockscreen
  • New Group Cast Application

The firmware update is only available in Poland as of now, and will be rolled out to other regions by Samsung slowly over the next few weeks. The update is being rolled out only for the international Galaxy Note II (N7100), along with the LTE variant (N7105). Note 2 owners in the United States need to wait until the update is approved by their carriers.

Gameloft Releases Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour For $6.99 On The Play Store

Gameloft — known for releasing games eerily similar to some popular gaming titles out there — has released Modern Combat 4 on the Play Store. The game is the company’s own copy of the popular Call Of Duty series for mobile devices. The game was released on iOS a few days ago, and was released on the Play Store just a few hours ago today.

Arm yourself for FPS action!

The #1 Action FPS game is back on smartphone with a new chapter to push the boundaries of mobile gaming even further. In the wake of nuclear warfare, the only chance to avoid global devastation is in the hands of the few elite soldiers who must track down and rescue the world’s leaders from a frighteningly familiar terrorist group.

Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour is a typical Gameloft game with below-average controls — at least on smartphones, stellar graphics, a $6.99 price tag and requires a whopping 1.8GB+ of free space on your device. Considering that the game downloads the additional file from Gameloft’s own server, making the 15-minute Play Store refund window useless.

The game will work on any Android 2.3 Gingerbread+ devices, but considering the quality of graphics, make sure you have a decently powerful smartphone or tablet before spending $6.99 on it.

 

ASUS Padfone 2 Jelly Bean Update Rolling Out

ASUS has started rolling out the Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean update for the Padfone 2 in certain regions of the world. The company had released the Padfone 2 back in October and promised to update the device to Jelly Bean before the end of this year.

The Jelly Bean update for the Padfone 2 brings some Project Butter goodness, Google Now, enhanced notification bar, and more. The Padfone 2 runs on a relatively light skinned version of Android, and the Jelly Bean update does not change that. The usual ASUS applications are all included in the update including free 50GB of cloud storage space.

The Padfone 2 is one impressive handset, especially when coupled with its dock. However, the handset cannot be termed a success mainly because of its limited market availability, and the high pricing.

With the Jelly Bean update for the Padfone 2, ASUS continues its impressive track record of providing timely software updates for its devices. The company has already updated its tablets to Jelly Bean, and is working hard on bringing the Android 4.2 update to them before the year-end.

Via – Paul O Brien

Samsung Galaxy S3 Premium Suite Upgrade Part 2 Features Posted; Brings Paper Artist, Low Light Shot And More!

Last week, Samsung listed all the new features that will be coming to the Galaxy S3 with the Android 4.1.2 Premium Suite upgrade. Today, the company has posted the second part of all the new features that the Premium Suite upgrade will bring including a a new low-light mode for the Camera, Paper Buddy and more.

Below is the second list of all the new features that the Premium Suite Upgrade brings to the Galaxy S3 -:

Powerful Multimedia

(1) Paper Artist: You can make a picture like a pop artist! Change the moods of your pictures whenever you want!

(2) Camera, Low Light Shot: It’s always tough to take pictures in dark places. So the GALAXY S III with Premium Suite has a Low-Light-Shot  function. Get your hands on one and check out the difference!

(3) Camera, Best Face: The problem with group pictures? Somebody always, ALWAYS blinks. Well, Best Face is your solution to that.  Best Face takes 5 consecutive pictures and lets you choose the best face for each person among those shots.

New Features & Better Accessibility

(1) Easy Mode: For first-time smartphone users and/or those who are really really, well, lazy. This function helps you set up the most five frequently used widgets on the home screen, so you don’t have to be tired of looking everywhere to find those apps.

(2) Sound Balance: You can adjust the balance of volume one each side of earphones.

(3) Setup Wizard: After turning on your cell phone, you can see the accessibility menu right away on the screen.

(4) Camera Easy Snap: With ‘talk back’ and ‘face detection’ on your settings menu, the GALAXY S III tells you how many faces it can detect on the camera preview.

The Korean company has started rolling out the Premium Suite upgrade only in Poland and other neighboring regions for now, but should start the update on a wider basis sometime soon.

Samsung Hints At Something New For CES; No, It’s Not The Galaxy S4!

“Get Ready” – That’s the title of the teaser video that Samsung has posted on its blog, Samsung Tomorrow. The teaser video from the company hints at “something new” from the Korean giant at CES 2013, which is to be held from January 8-11th at Las Vegas.

The video does not show or hints at any new device in particular, but most people are assuming that Samsung might just unveil the Galaxy S4 at CES. Considering that the Galaxy S3 was unveiled only in May this year, it is highly unlikely that Samsung will unveil the Galaxy S4 so soon. If the company was going to unveil the Galaxy S4 at CES, at least some amount of info would have leaked about the handset, which has not, clearly indicating that the S4 is not coming to the market anytime soon.

The company’s CEO had earlier hinted that Samsung will be going through a huge brand make-over and the teaser video might just be hinting about that.

Below is the teaser video for our readers to decide for themselves -:

So what do you think? Is Samsung going to unveil the Galaxy S4 or a new tablet at CES, or will it be something completely new and revolutionary or just a brand make-over?

Sony Xperia P, U, go And Sola Get A New Bug-Fixing Firmware Update

Sony has started rolling out a new firmware update for its mid-range Droids – the Xperia P, U, Sola and go. The update does not bump up the firmware version but includes improvements to Wi-Fi performance, NFC, Camera, Messaging and more. There is also an overall improvement in the performance and stability of these handsets, thanks to the new update.

Owners of the above handsets can install the latest update on their handset directly via OTA (Over-The-Air), or can alternatively use Sony’s PC Companion.

 

Xperia U, go and Sola owners will automatically be notified about the update being available, if they are already running Ice Cream Sandwich on their devices. If not, then they will have to use Sony’s PC Companion app to update to Ice Cream Sandwich first.

Xperia P owners will get the OTA update depending on their region and carrier’s approval, which might take sometime.

While the Xperia Sola, go and U will not be upgraded to Jelly Bean from Sony, the Xperia P will get the update sometime next year.

Via – Sony Mobile