Google Play Books Goes Live In India

Earlier today, Google’s Play Books service went live for Android users in India. Play Books will allow users to purchase and read eBooks right on their Android device.

The whole Play Books service is tied with the Play Store itself, thus if you have already added your Credit or Debit card details to your Google Wallet, you are all set to start buying eBooks from the Play Store.

The Play Book does have a vast library of eBooks available including some of the classics and nearly all the books from Indian authors. While users can grab some of the Books for cheap on Play Books compared to say Flipkart’s eBook service, some books are comparatively much costlier than their print edition.

It is quite surprising that Google launched the Play Books service first in India, and not its other two popular Play Services – Music and Movies. Hopefully, it will also launch Play Music and Movies in India soon.

Apple’s iTunes Music store went live in India back in December last year and allows you to buy music and rent or purchase movies directly.

PowerAMP And Pocket Casts Receive Updates On Play Store

PowerAMP, one of the most popular music player on the Play Store, has received a major update to build 524. The new update brings a number of improvements and bug-fixes including support for paid themes in Android 4.2 running devices.

The update also adds support for MusicFX API and Huawei Dolby Mobile support wherever available, along with support for Android 4.2+ lock screen widget. The developer has also added support for multi-window allowing Galaxy S3 and Note 2 owners to simultaneously run PowerAMP with any other app side-by-side. The direct volume control bug that has been plaguing Android 4.2 users has also been fixed.

The full change-log is below – :

– fixed issue with 3rd party skins flashing
– updated localizations. Huge thanks to all translators!
– Route Media action bar button (JB 4.1.2+)
– JB 4.2+ lockscreen widget
– MusicFX API support (Settings-Audio-Advanced Tweaks)
– Huawei Dolby Mobile support (where available)
– full support for skins on JB+
– experimental multiwindow support for Samsungs
– Poweramp lockscreen rotation (large screens)
– fix for playlist/library being reset sometimes
– few other issues fixed

If you have not already, head over to the Play Store and try out PowerAMP now. It is feature rich, has a decent UI and is backed by an excellent developer.

Pocket Casts, a Podcasting app from Shifty Jelly, also got a major update to v4 today. The new version brings with it an absolutely stunning UI, a new tablet optimized UI, the ability to backup and restore the apps settings and much more. It also brings a bump in price to $4 (previously $3).

The update definitely makes Pocket Casts the best podcasting app out there, even though it still lacks Google Reader integration.

HTC Sense 5 Will Be Coming To One X, One X+, One S And The Butterfly

HTC has confirmed on its Facebook page that it will be bringing its latest version of Sense to quite a few of its existing handsets. Sense 5 from HTC is a radically different than the previous versions of Sense with a new Blink UI for Homescreen, and system apps that follow the Holo guidelines. HTC has even done away with its iconic Weather/Clock widget, and given the whole UI a very flat feel.

HTC states that over the next few months global variants of HTC One X, One X+, One S and the Butterfly will be getting the Sense 5 update. However, software features that are available on the HTC One due to its specific hardware will not be available on these devices. It has also been confirmed that HTC will be bringing Sense 5 to the DROID DNA.

Whether the carrier variants of the above handsets like the AT&T One XL or the EVO 4G LTE will get the Sense 5 update or not, depends on their carrier’s approval.

Before you get too excited, keep in mind that HTC may reconsider its decisions down the line and may not bring Sense 5 to one or any of the devices mentioned above.

ASUS PadFone Infinity Packs A 5-inch 1080p Display And Snapdragon 600 SoC

Yesterday at MWC in Barcelona, ASUS announced the third generation of the Padfone, the PadFone Infinity. Like the previous Padfone(s), the PadFone Infinity is packed to the brim with features and power. Internally, the PadFone is powered by a 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC, and 2GB of RAM with either 32 or 64GB of on-board storage.

ASUS has also bumped the display size on the Infinity to 5-inches and increased the resolution to 1080p (1920*1080) as well. On the connectivity and sensors side, the PadFone Infinity includes everything that is possible including GLONASS, DC-HSPA+, GPS and NFC. ASUS has used a 13MP sensor on the back of the PadFone that consists of a five-element plastic F/2.0 lens. There is also a 2MP snapper in the front for all your video calling needs. The 2400mAh battery inside the PadFone will be more than enough to get you through a day on 3G. Do keep in mind that the PadFone uses a nanoSIM instead of a microSIM. The handset will be running a near stock version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean when it will be released.

Like always, ASUS has unveiled the PadFone with a dock – the FonePad – that complements the handset. Using the FonePad, PadFone owners can easily convert their handset into a full-blown tablet.

ASUS does not expect to release the PadFone in the United States, and will be selling the PadFone+FonePad bundle for £799 / €999, when it releases the device in Europe this April.

WSJ: Google Anxious Over Samsung’s Success With Android

The Wall Street Journal today reported that Samsung’s success with Android has created an anxiety over at Google. While Google is pleasantly happy with Samsung’s success, they are afraid that Samsung may use its position to demand ad-revenue from Google for all the money they are making for Internet giant. While Google does not directly sell Android, it makes revenue through all the ad impressions and Play services.

It might be even possible that if Samsung does not have its way, they will fork Android and ship it on their devices, something like what Amazon does.

To avoid this, Google is working closely with some of the top-level Motorola engineers to launch a true Galaxy competitor rumored the X Phone.

If Google/Motorola are able to release an Android device that has DROID RAZR MAXX class battery life with Nexus 4/HTC One like specs, and a decent camera quality, they may very well be able to put challenge Samsung’s Galaxy series. While the Nexus 4 is a huge upgrade compared to the Galaxy Nexus, it is still lacking in some departments, which the Motorola X Phone can definitely fill in.

Via – WSJ

Latest Firefox Beta Brings Per-Tab Private Browsing And Adds Support For Older ARM v6 Devices

Mozilla today released an exciting update for Firebox Beta on the Play Store. The update brings a lot of under the hood improvements along with support for more lower-end devices.

One of the most useful features for all NSFW and porn addicts out there will be the per-tab private browsing mode. This feature will allow Firefox mobile users to open a new private tab, along with other normal tabs, instead of switching completely to private mode.

With the new beta, Firefox will also be available to some of the older ARM v6 devices with QVGA resolution and 384MB of RAM. Other important changes include H.264/AAC/MP3 hardware decoding for pre-Android 4.0 devices.

The official change-log is as follows -:

– Per-tab private browsing
– Gingerbread and Honeycomb support for H.264/AAC/MP3 hardware decoders
– Top Sites in about:home are now customizable
– System requirements have been lowered to 384MB of RAM and QVGA displays
– <canvas> now supports blend modes
– Various <audio> and <video> improvements
– getUserMedia implemented for web access to the user’s camera and microphone (with user permission)
Learn more:

The beta is already live on the Play Store, and can be downloaded from here.

ZTE Unveils The Grand Memo; Powered By Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 SoC (Update: NOT)

ZTE has surprised everyone at the Mobile World Congress by announcing the ZTE Grand Memo, a 5.7-inch competitor to Samsung’s Galaxy Note. The surprising part about the Grand Memo is that it is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 SoC running at 1.5GHz. The Snapdragon 800 SoC was initially expected to show up in devices in the second half of this year, but ZTE states that it will be launching the Grand Memo in March in China, and a month after that in Europe.

The 5.7-inch display on the Grand Memo is a disappointment though, as it has 720p resolution compared to 1080p, which is quickly becoming the norm nowadays. The 8.9mm thin phablet sports a 13MP shooter at its back, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, LTE connectivity and a beefy 3200 mAh battery. The Grand Memo runs on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean out of the box with ZTE’s own MyFavorite UX on top of it.

ZTE plans to aggressively promote the Grand Memo and have its presence feel outside of China. However, the Chinese OEM does not intend on bringing the Grand Memo to the United States anytime soon.

UPDATE: Either ZTE lied or there was a huge confusion that led to this huge blunder. The ZTE Grand Memo does not sport Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC, and is instead powered by the S4 Pro (APQ8064) — the same SoC that powers the Nexus 4, DROID DNA and Butterfly.

Samsung To Unveil The Galaxy S IV On March 14th; Sends Out Press Invites

Samsung has confirmed that it will be unveiling the next Galaxy S handset at an event to be held in New York on March 14th. The company just sent out media invites for the event in New York. This is perhaps the first time that Samsung will be holding a Galaxy S launch event exclusively in New York. Samsung even handed out paper invites to its March 14th event at its booth in Mobile World Congress.

Rumors have suggested that Samsung will be using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC inside the Galaxy S IV, instead of its own Exynos SoC. Rumors also suggest that the Korean giant may even ditch its Super-AMOLED screen in favor of a 4.99-inch full HD So-Lux LCD. Other specs of the Galaxy S IV are rumored to include a 13MP camera, a new and hopefully less cartoonish version of TouchWIZ, microSD card slot, and a removable battery.


HP Slate 7 Is A Sub-Par Budget Tablet That No One Is Going To Care About

Last night at MWC, HP announced its first Android tablet – the Slate 7. However, the 10.7mm thick Slate 7 fails to impress in every way. The 7inch tablet sports mediocre specs – a dual-core 1.6GHz Cortex-A9 processor, 1024*600 resolution, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, microSD card slot, Bluetooth 2.1, shooters in the front (VGA) and back (3.1MP) and Wi-Fi b/g/n.

The Slate 7 also packs in a couple of front-facing stereo speakers with Beats audio branding and is capable of providing up to five hours of video playback. The suggested retail price of the Slate 7 is around $169, and will be running on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box.

Compared to the Nexus 7, the Slate 7 may be slightly cheaper and sport a microSD card slot, but is inferior in every other way. Plus, the Nexus 7 successor is just around the corner, which makes the Slate 7 a not so tempting deal. If anything, HP’s Slate 7 is going to meet the same fate as all other recent offerings from HP in the mobile market.

Lenovo Announces A Trio Of Low-End Budget Oriented Android Tablets

Lenovo today kicked off the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona by unveiling a trio of low-end Android tablets. The S6000 is the highlight of the three with Lenovo touting it as a “Home Entertainment” center.The tablet has a sleek design with a disappointing 10.1-inch screen with 1280*800 resolution screen.

Internally, the S6000 packs in a quad-core 1.2GHz MediaTek SoC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, micro HDMI port and optional HSPA+ connectivity. The press release states that the tablet is capable of providing more than 8 hours of battery life. Lenovo was pretty vague in its press release and at the moment, this is all we know about the S6000.

Next in line is the A3000, which sports a 7-inch 1024*600 IPS screen, a 1.2GHz MediaTek quad-core processor, and is “only” 11mm thin. Apart from optional HSPA+ connectivity, there is also a microSD card slot and the usual bunch of sensors and connectivity options. Lenovo states that the A3000 has been optimized for web browsing, gaming and video playback.

Last but not the least is the A1000. The tablet sports the same screen as on the A3000 (7-inch 1024*600 IPS), and comes with large speakers surrounding it in the front. The device is also certified as Dolby Digital Plus thus being “perfect for music lovers and those seeking a pocket studio”. The tablet will also come with 16GB of internal memory and a microSD card slot that will be expandable up to 32GB. Out of the box, the A1000 will be running on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

All the three tablets from Lenovo are expected to be available sometime in Q2 of this year. The company did not mention anything about the prices of these tablets, but expect them to be cheap.