Sony Rolls Out The Android 4.0 Update For Xperia Arc S, Neo V And Ray In India

Sony has already announced that all the Xperia smartphones launched in 2011 will be updated to the latest Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) Operating System. However, there was a long delay due to some unknown reasons. Last week, we posted that Sony finally started rolling out the much-awaited Android 4.0 update for the popular Xperia Arc S, Xperia Neo V and Xperia Ray in Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Norway.

Sony has also promised that the company will roll out the Android 4.0 update for Xperia smartphones in other countries over the next 4-6 weeks. Xperia smartphone users in India has a reason to cheer. Sony has finally started rolling out the Android 4.0 update for the Xperia Arc S, Xperia Neo v and Xperia Ray smartphones in India.

xperia ray

The latest update comes with improved performance, Face Unlock, re-sizable widgets, improved web browser, new widgets, new dialer, new task switcher, improved lock screen, data Consumption monitor, quick response for incoming calls, group calendar, group Phonebook, voice search, take screenshot without any app and much more.

Sadly, this update is not available via OTA (Over-The-Air). You will need to manually update your device using the PC Companion suite. After updating the device, flash support will be disabled, but this can be easily fixed by downloading the latest Adobe Flash player from the Google Play Store.

Other Xperia smartphones such as the Xperia Arc, Xperia Play, Xperia neo, Xperia Mini, Xperia Mini Pro, Xperia Pro, Xperia Active and Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman will get the Android 4.0 update before the end of Q2 of 2012. Stay tuned for more updates!

Facebook For Android Updated To v1.9; Brings Performance Improvements and New Shortcuts

Earlier today, Facebook rolled out a new update for its official Facebook for Android (v1.9) app in the Google Play store, which brings some much needed enhancements and changes to the app. First and foremost, the new version of the app performs much much better than any of the previous version. The laggy scrolling in the timeline and the friend’s list of the app is finally gone now!

The updated app will also add two new shortcuts to your phone’s app drawer – camera and messages. The Camera app will allow users to directly snap a picture and share it on Facebook, while the Messages app will allow them compile a new (group) message to their friends.

Below is the full change-log of the update from the Facebook team itself -:

-Improved performance and various bug fixes

-More messaging features like creating group messages and adding friends to existing group conversations

-Shortcuts to share photos and messages right from your home screen

Hopefully, we can expect a major re-design of the Facebook for Android app with tons of new features in its next version (v2.0).

Angry Birds Updated To Add 15 New ‘Surf and Turf’ Levels

Over the last couple of years, Angry Birds went from being just a popular iOS game to a following. In fact, the game became so popular that even a movie was made based on the game – Rio. As time went by, Rovio updated the original Angry Birds with new levels, released it for free on Android, and later on released many different versions of the game with a different theme like Angry Birds Seasons, Rio and the latest version, Space.

With so many versions of the game, not many people thought that Rovio would update the original Angry Birds to add new levels to the game. However, last night Rovio updated the original Angry Birds to add 15 new levels to the game. The new levels are called Surf and Turf, and as the name implies, the theme will be based on beach.

In other app related update news, Google also updated two of its apps last week, Google+ and Google Wallet. The updates for both the app don’t bring any new features or changes, but mainly aim at improving the security and performance of the app. The Google+ app update also supports hash tags in stream, along with better sharing with third party apps. Both the apps can be downloaded from Google Play for free.

 

Good Old Games Now Stocks Good New Games As Well!

Before we start this article, let’s take up a quick check list. Do you like good games? Do you like good old games? Do you like new indie games as well? Do you like them all DRM free? Of course, you answered yes to all of the questions here, especially the last one I’m sure.

So you shall be pleased to hear that GOG.com, the DRM free digital distributor of classic PC video games, has undergone a little sea of change and will now stock indie games as well! The games will be stocked at the newer price block of $14.99 (GOG.com usually has games for $9.99 and $5.99). The new games currently announced are Legend of Grimrock, SpaceChem, The Whispered World, Machinarium: Collector’s Edition, Darwinia and Trine. All amazing games (especially Trine and Machinarium!). Of course all of these games will come bundled with the signature goodies from the distributor such as the original soundtrack, wallpapers, avatars and lots more. Straight from the horse’s mouth:

GOG.com, the DRM-free digital distributor of PC games for download, is getting “Bigger, Fresher, and Newer” today, ushering in a number of updates to both the brand of GOG.com and the service as well. GOG.com is no longer only classic PC titles; starting today the distributor will be actively releasing newer titles into its catalog of 400+ games of all ages. The distributor has now signed a variety of indie game developers as partners of GOG.com

Is this excellent? I believe this is most excellent.

Swype For Android Updated; Now Supports Ice Cream Sandwich and Integrates Dragon Go!

Swype, the popular Swyping keyboard for Android, has finally been updated to add support for Ice Cream Sandwich. Since the product is still in beta, and this is the first build that supports Ice Cream Sandwich, the company warns that users may find some hard-to-replicate or find bugs.

Other than the support for Ice Cream Sandwich, the new update also adds quite a lot of new features including Dragon Go! Integration. For the less known, Dragon Go! is a service, similar to Siri, and is much more accurate and advanced than Google’s Voice Actions. The bad news is that the Dragon Go! integration in Swype is only available to Swype users residing in the United States.

Additionally, the update improves the prediction accuracy, and is also optimized for WXGA resolutions. The Emoticon key in SMS apps has also been enabled after quite a few Swype users requested it to be brought back.

Swype users who own a Galaxy Nexus or are running Ice Cream Sandwich on their handset are recommended to disable the in-built spell-checker on ICS for optimum user experience. As always, the latest version of Swype beta is available to only those people who had signed up for the company’s beta program.

(Source)

LG Optimus 3D Gets The Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread Update At Rogers

Last year, LG announced its first 3D smartphone, the LG Optimus 3D at the CES 2011 in Las Vegas. This handset was shipped with the old Android 2.2 (Froyo) Operating System. The international SIM-free version of this handset has already received the Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) update. However, the owners of some carrier-specific variants are still waiting for this update. Rogers and LG recently started rolling out the Android 2.3.5 update for the Rogers’ Optimus 3D variant in Canada. Check out the complete changelog below.

lg optimus 3d

Changelog:

Enhanced HSPA+ Network Speed

  • Faster data speeds from 14 Mbs to 21 Mbs

Enriched 3D Experience

  • Improved video playback in 2D and 3D
  • 3D Video Editor with the abilitu to create new projects (Video timeline, Adding video clips, images and sound and Cropping and trimming length)
  • 2D to 3D conversion for videos and images
  • 3D to 2D conversion supports both images and videos
  • Easy to convert Open-GL games from 2D to 3D—Most apps are built on the Open-GL platform which is an open, standardized language for writing apps.

Improved Multimedia

  • Improved video recording quality to 12 Mbs HD
  • Improved battery life with low-power modes during music playback
  • Video stabilization support for both 2D and 3D
  • Upgraded sound quality with Dolby Mobile Effect when a user has the ear jack/BT Headset (Stereo)
  • Improved camera loading and switching time from 2.5 seconds to 1 second
  • Improved 3D depth with 720p camera

It is advised to backup all your data before updating the device. You should also make sure that the battery is fully charged before updating your phone. Sadly, this update will not be available via OTA (Over-The-Air). You will need to manually download the update from the LG Canada’s support site and update your phone. If you find something new in this update, then let us know in the comments below.

Nokia Still Showing Love to the N9 – PR1.2 Right Around the Corner

Even though Nokia has gone full tilt to Windows Phone 7, and in the process, taken the design of the recently announced Lumia 800/900 from the N9, they are adamant in providing updates to the dead-on-arrival handset.

Just shy of 2 months from the PR1.1 update, Nokia Developer has announced that PR1.2 will become available for registered developers and participants in the N950 Developer Program. It will be in a beta stage for testing and provided to ensure application compatibility before full public launch on the N9.

Among the 3,500 expected changes, the ability to create folders on the homescreen, copy and paste in the browser, and face recognition within the camera, are the top additions. Although no official changelog has been released, likely due to the fact that the OneClickFlashers for the N950 have not been released, screenshots from an N9 already running PR1.2 have been shared online.

While Nokia does have a fairly strong track record of providing updates and fixing serious bugs on released devices, some have indicated that PR1.2 will be the last update for the N9, as the company moves forward headstrong with Windows Phone 7. Hopefully the update also brings with it, the much requested (and promised) ‘open-mode’, giving developers more low level system access — which will also allow the community to continue updating their devices when Nokia stamps it as EOL.

If you’re a lucky (or unlucky) user of an N9, you’ll likely be waiting anywhere from a few week or a few months until PR1.2 is officially released for your N9. Hang in there, this might be the last hurrah for you and your coveted MeeGo device.

Windows Phone Executive: It’s “Business as Usual” with Windows Phone Updates

Windows Phone Blurry

In a blog post yesterday, Microsoft indicated that going forward there were two changes coming to Windows Phone updates: That they would put out an update which carriers could request, and that the weekly updates they used to post about the extent of deployment of the phone updates, were ending.

Needless to say, Windows Phone users and enthusiasts (including yours truly) did not like it. There was an uproar on twitter, as well as in the comments on the blog post, about how this was a regression. It was generally thought that Microsoft has in fact got push back from the carriers and OEMs who did not like being publicly held responsible for delayed updates to their customers.

However, Mary-Jo Foley says in a blog post today at ZDNet, that per Microsoft, it is business as usual. Greg Sullivan, Senior Product Manager with Windows Phone clarified in a phone call with Foley that nothing has changed as far as relationships with carriers is concerned. He said that carriers always had the choice of requesting an update to push to their customers’ phones. He also clarified that with the number of phones as well as carriers increasing, maintaining the detailed list of where the updates are per country, per carrier, per phone, would become unwieldy. As a result, they decided not to publish the granular updates anymore.

Personally, I understand both these points. In fact, as far as updates are concerned, we knew around the time of the initial launch that carriers had the right to skip one (and only one) update, and since all Windows Phone updates were cumulative, customers would get the older updates in the next cycle. Given that Windows Phone is going to expand in terms of markets served, carriers supporting it and OEMs building devices for it, I also completely understand that maintaining the list on a weekly basis would in fact be an extremely painful exercise.

The issue clearly then, is communication. Why were these two points not included in the original blog post? It would have helped put some color to the decision they made, rather than create unnecessary angst among the public and lead to irresponsible speculation about the actual cause of the change.

While I do understand these points, I am still absolutely not ok with the lack of understanding where my update is, and how responsible my carrier is about getting me the latest fixes. Given that the carriers have absolutely no interest in putting more time and effort in servicing customers within contract, I am going to assume they are guilty until they prove themselves innocent.

AT&T, are you listening? Man up, and send the updates out to us. Yes, that includes the earliest adopters on 1st generation phones like Samsung Focus.

Windows Phone Updates Are Now Completely Opaque

Windows Phone Opaque

Windows Phone behind a frosted glass

After the “NoDo” update mess, the Windows Phone engineering team took a major u-turn and did several things right. They became more transparent by having a blog and a site dedicated to providing the latest status of a certain update by carrier, by phone model, by country/geography. Secondly, they got together with the OEMs and the carriers to do a coordinated deployment of the first major update, Windows Phone 7.5 (codename Mango).

So, why do I say they have become opaque? This afternoon, over at the Windows Blog, Eric Hautala, General Manager of Customer Experience Engineering announced that going forward they are going to discontinue the constant, weekly updates they were putting out on the blog. Instead, they will provide news of updates on the main Windows Phone blog. Also, that this update (and presumably others, going forward) is going to be up to the carriers to request from Microsoft and provide to end users.

The update, available to all carriers that request it, is part of our ongoing maintenance of Windows Phone

What? The carriers have to request the update? Why would they? If they request the update, they’d have to run a long test cycle to validate the update. Then they’d have to roll it out to their users. It takes a lot of engineering effort on the part of the carriers to undertake these tests. Why would they, unless it is a huge issue like a major security vulnerability or if phones are becoming useless (“bricked”)? Absolutely no reason.

Microsoft has to push the carriers (and OEMs) to push the updates to the phones that are impacted. Sometimes not all phones on all carriers are impacted, but instead of relying on the carriers to request the update, Microsoft should be the one pushing the carriers to force the updates to the users. Unfortunately, unlike Apple, which treats you and I as their customers, Microsoft treats the carriers as their customers. That is not to say that the end customer is irrelevant to Microsoft, but clearly, the customers that pay Microsoft are the carriers and the OEMs.

I have mocked Android before, for being extremely slow in updating phones, but in that case at least, Google has admittedly washed their hands off the entire process by making Android free to use. Their argument could very well be that they have no control over the OEMs and therefore, it is futile to push the carriers who may have to do even longer testing because of the large variety of Android phones that are available. In Microsoft’s case though, all OEMs are known because it is a not a free license. The updates could be coordinated, as we saw in the case of “Mango”, among the various OEMs and carriers. That they have made a conscious decision not to mandate the carriers, shows that behind the scenes, something has changed politically which has led to this decision.

I am disappointed at these moves: first, the move to let the carriers request the update, but second and more importantly, the lack of the detailed communication regarding various updates, going forward. So, going forward, it will not only be unclear if you will receive the update, but also, you won’t know how far along your specific carrier is with the update deployment.

I can only imagine that the transparency did not go down well with Microsoft’s partners since it clearly exposed the OEMs (Samsung in particular) and carriers (Telefonica is an example) which were holding up the updates. However, the end user is the one who gets the short end of the stick here – not because they don’t receive the update, most normal customers don’t even care – mostly because their phone experience suffers. In the most recent update, there is an annoying, oft-occurring bug which has been fixed (“disappearing keyboard”). If AT&T does not pick it up and push the update out in the next few weeks, this Windows Phone user will definitely start watching the next iPhone rumors more closely.

Microsoft Releases Out-Of-band Update to patch .NET Framework

Microsoft has released an infrequent, out of band update to fix a security hole in .Net Framework.

Usually, Microsoft updates its software regularly through Patch Tuesday program. But in certain situations like this one, where the risks of exploitability are high, they try to patch it immediately.

Incidentally, this is also the 100th security update released by them this year and will probably be the last with just a day left for New Year.

The MS11-100 update patches four vulnerabilities in .NET Framework – one publicly disclosed and three privately reported.

According to Microsoft Security Bulletin,

The most severe of these vulnerabilities could allow elevation of privilege if an unauthenticated attacker sends a specially crafted web request to the target site. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take any action in the context of an existing account on the ASP.NET site, including executing arbitrary commands. In order to exploit this vulnerability, an attacker must be able to register an account on the ASP.NET site, and must know an existing user name.

The security update addresses the vulnerabilities by correcting how the .NET Framework handles specially crafted requests, and how the ASP.NET Framework authenticates users and handles cached content.

The update is available for all supported version of Windows such as XP SP3, Windows Server 2003 SP2, Vista SP2, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and is rated critical. For those who have Automatic Update enabled, no user interaction is necessary as the update will be automatically downloaded and installed. For everyone else, I recommend installing this update as soon as possible since this is an out-of-band update and hence the risk level is high.

As always, the update can be acquired through Windows Update or downloaded from Microsoft Update.