Sprint and Samsung have started rolling out the Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean update for their variant of the Galaxy S2 – the Epic 4G Touch. The update will bring with it quite a bunch of new features as seen on the international Galaxy S2, including Smart Stay, Direct Call and more.
The usual Android 4.1 Jelly Bean enhancements are also present including Google Now, Project Butter for buttery-smooth UI, enhanced speech-to-text with offline mode support, and expandable notifications among other things.
Samsung is not rolling out the update via OTA, and Sprint SGS2 owners need to use KIES on a Windows XP or Windows 7 based PC to get the update. The update needs to be manually downloaded from here, and weighs in a whopping 520MB+. Your data will be left untouched, but it is highly recommended that you make a backup before proceeding with the update. While KIES does not officially support Windows 8, the application and the update process works flawlessly on the latest OS from Microsoft.
Hopefully, AT&T and other U.S operators will soon release the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update for their variant of the Galaxy S2 as well.
Last night, Google released an update for its Google Translate app introducing the ability to translate text even in offline mode. The new feature supports more than 50 different languages including Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, French and Spanish.
Users will need to manually download and install the offline language pack for each individual language. The size of each language pack varies between 150-200MB. Keep in mind that these offline language packs won’t be as accurate as the online version, but still should be enough to get the job done. This new feature will work on all Android devices running Android 2.3 or higher.
Apart from this, Google also updated the Play Movies and TV app to add support for info cards. Info cards automatically show relevant information about the characters on-screen, their age, recent work etc. whenever a user pauses a movie while watching it. As of now, this feature will work with hundreds of movies, but Google is working on adding support for thousands of them and on Android 4.0+ devices only.
Both the app updates are already live in the Play Store, and can be downloaded right away!
Today, HTC has released an official statement regarding the availability of the One in major markets and its delay. The company states that it “has seen unprecedented demand for and interest in the new HTC One” and will be making the handset available in the UK, Germany and Taiwan next week. Other major markets including Europe, North America and most of Asia-Pacific will get the One “before the end of April.”
“HTC has seen unprecedented demand for and interest in the new HTC One, and the care taken to design and build it is evidenced in early reviews. The new HTC One will roll out in the UK, Germany and Taiwan next week and across Europe, North America and most of Asia-Pacific before the end of April. We appreciate our customers’ patience, and believe that once they have the phone in their hands they will agree that it has been worth the wait.”
When HTC had unveiled the One back in Feb, it had hoped to make the handset available in most markets by March. However, things have not really gone as the Taiwanese maker had planned with delays due to shortage of supplies of the handset’s camera components.
By the time the HTC One will be available in nearly all the major markets, the Samsung Galaxy S4 would have also hit shelves in the major markets, which will definitely make things tough for the Taiwanese maker. While the HTC One may have a better in-hand feel and other nice features compared to the Galaxy S4, it lacks the marketing and brand presence that Samsung’s Galaxy S series enjoy nowadays.
Forget regular chats, it might be time to babble. And soon, if Google has its way.
At one point or the other, faithful Google users must have felt that the disparate facilities offered by Google – Google Talk, Google+ Hangout, Google Voice and Google Drive – would be much better off if merged into one giant facility. That is where Babble comes in – it’s the promised unification of all these above-mentioned facilities.
What will that give you? That will allow you to use the same chat window as Google Talk and start a Hangout, while still editing a Google Drive file. You will be able to Hangout with anyone in the contact list.
Geek.com reported this story here and it’s drawing quite a bit of attention. Google is not launching a new product in this as it is just bundling up its old services into one master service and that has a lot of users excited.
What about Skype and AIM, which are similar services but not under the Google umbrella? Unfortunately, they will continue to be out of the shade as Google will integrate only its own services under the XMPP, a message-oriented communication protocol originally launched as Jabber.
The most exciting aspect of the grand unification plan is the promised quality. Geek.com reports that Babble will have exceptional voice and video quality.
Google has however not released any comment on any of the above issues. Maybe, the initial rollout will be quiet and on an experimental basis, like Google+. The interest is quite high, and the same can be said about the imminent launch of the new Android OS ‘Key Lime Pie’.
Google has recently released some excellent commercials for its Nexus products and Google Now. Continuing this tradition, the company today released a new advert promoting its Nexus 10 tablet. The advertisement is so good, that it made me feel like buying the tablet at that very instant, even though I own an iPad.
The advertisement is about a couple who are expecting a baby, and how they use their Nexus 10 with its multi-user feature support to share their happiness with the world.
Google has done an excellent job with this commercial, and I cannot imagine Samsung coming up with such a brilliant commercial like this, even though they technically make the Nexus 10.
Apple has been known to come up with brilliant advertisements, and slowly and steadily, Google is also reaching that level with its Nexus series of commercials.
Over 500,000 ex-Google Reader users have switched to Feedly, a web-based RSS reader. Feedly announced this statistic on its blog and has stated that its highest priority as a company is keeping its servers up and running during this massive influx of new users. Because of this, the company has increased its bandwidth ten-fold and has added new servers. During this time, the company’s iOS app rose to the number-one most downloaded free app on Apple’s App Store. The company also promised to bring new features to the service every week.
The reason for such a high influx of new Feedly users is due to the fact that Google announced last week that it will be shutting down Google Reader on July 1st, 2013. This announcement was met with outrage as over 100,000 Google Reader users signed a petition to keep the service alive. Google Reader is a web-based RSS reader that allows Google users to read content from various news sources in an easy to read feed. The service was originally launched as a Google Labs project in 2005 and graduated to a full-fledged Google project in 2007.
Earlier today when Samsung announced the Galaxy S4, it did not mention anything about the inbuilt SwiftKey like keyboard. Rumors had suggested that Samsung has got the SwiftKey keyboard inbuilt on its latest Galaxy S flagship, but the lack of any word from Samsung on this matter left a doubt on everyone’s mind.
SwiftKey has now gone ahead and made the news official with a press release. This is the first time that SwiftKey will come integrated in a smartphone. In the words of SwiftKey’s CTO, “Samsung has chosen SwiftKey’s innovative keyboard technology to be at the heart of its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4. This is fantastic progress for our vision of bringing the best touchscreen typing experience to as many people as possible.”
However, the company does state that while Samsung does use SwiftKey’s prediction engine, the keyboard has been customized by Samsung and is not exactly the same version of the keyboard that is available on the Play Store.
Just a day after we learnt that Google Now is making its way to the Chrome browser and OS, Engadget is reporting that Google is also working on porting its Siri challenger to the iOS. Apparently, a short promo video featuring Google Now for iOS appeared yesterday on YouTube. The clip was quickly pulled down, but not before several enterprising viewers managed to save a copy. Here’s one of the many such copies currently available on YouTube.
While we can not vouch for the veracity of the video, it does look pretty convincing. Even the voice actor seems to be the same as the original Google Now announcement video. Due to restrictions imposed by Apple, Google will not be able to integrate its personal assistant into the system in a manner Siri is on the iOS. Instead, Google Now will live inside the Google Search app, which already features voice recognition. A quick swipe up from the main screen will bring up the Google Now interface.
The big question is how many iOS users, who already have the charming and cute Siri, will find a need for Google Now. Google’s personal assistant app does have its own set of advantages including the ability to offer neat nuggets of information pre-emptively through several pre-defined cards. It might also be compatible with a wider range of iOS devices than Siri, which only supports iOS 5 and later. However, Google will not be able to offer the deep system level integration that Siri features. That being said, there is clearly a segment of iPhone users that want Google Now, as evident from the popularity of the NowNow mod for jailbroken iPhones.
It has hardly been a week since Mobile World Congress got over, but LG is not yet done announcing new handsets. The Korean company today unveiled a new LTE enabled smartphone for its home market, and the successor to the Optimus LTE and Optimus LTE II, the Optimus LTE III.
The Optimus LTE III sports pretty mediocre specs including a 4.7-inch 720p IPS HD display inside a 9.6mm thin body, and is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Krait processor. Other specs include 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage space, microSD card slot, NFC, GPS with A-GPS, Wi-Fi b/g/n, and Bluetooth.
The rear of the Optimus LTE III sports an 8MP camera with an LED flash, and is accompanied by a 1.3MP snapper in the front. On the software front, the Optimus LTE III runs on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with LG’s own custom skin on top of it. The handset will be available in Korea on S K Telecom network begging from tomorrow in black and white colors.
HTC today held an event in Kolkata, India giving bloggers and enthusiasts in the city a chance to play around with the One. HTC marketing folks did a remarkable job at the event, and it was for the first time I heard a marketing PR actually talk sense, rather than boast about the quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM or the 1080p display.
One of the talking point about the One has been its 4MP ‘UltraPixel’ camera. I managed to click a bunch of pictures from the One, and even ran Google’s Octane benchmark on the handset.
I am no expert in photography here, but the One definitely has an impressive camera. Even in the dimly lit room, the One has done a remarkable job of capturing decent amount of details and light. However, the 4MP camera definitely shows its limitation with some pictures appearing grainy.
I also ran Google’s Octane benchmark on the HTC One, along with my Nexus 4 running CM10.1 and Franco Kernel. Surprisingly, my Nexus 4 scored higher than the One. Keep in mind that I used Google Chrome (v25) on my Nexus 4, and the stock HTC browser on the One.
The first thing that strikes you about the One is how sleek it is. After using only Samsung branded Android devices and the Nexus 4, the One felt so remarkably premium to hold and feel. The stereo speakers in the front are remarkably loud as well.
Overall, the HTC One is a really decent smartphone, and if priced right and marketed properly, can definitely help in HTC regaining some market share from Samsung and Apple.