The Google Play Store is getting a fresh coat of paint beginning today with the release of the official 4.0 update. What's so great about Google Play 4.0? Well, for starters, the images are larger, making it easier to see what exactly your about to download. Content grouping has also been improved, providing better recommendations of other items you might be interested in, and the checkout process also sees a slight overhaul as well. Google Play 4.0 starts worldwide rollout today, and may take a couple of weeks before hitting your particular device. It'll run on any smartphone or tablet running Android 2.2 or later.
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Intel has been working on designing a tablet, dubbed the Studybook, that focuses and built primarily on educational needs. The tablet would run on Windows 7 or Android 3.0, powered by the Atom Z650 processor, feature a front and rear-facing camera, 1 GB of RAM, and all the versatile ports such as USB 2.0, HDMI, and a microSD slot. It would fall into Intel’s line of educational computers, such as the Classmate Convertible, which is used by 7 million students over the whole world.
Now, you might be cringing thinking about how quickly students will destroy the tablets, but Intel has designed the Studybook to withstand abuse. It’s made of durable plastic and can withstand a drop from about 2 feet or so.
The StudyBook is to come with preinstalled educational software, such as the Kno e-reader and LabCam suite for science. It’s reported that the tablet should sell around $200, but no word of when its official release and availability date will be.
Instagram is the massively popular photo-sharing social network that's garnered over 25 million users, and up until this point, it's only been available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users. That changes today. Instagram for Android works on any Android device running version 2.2 or higher, as long as they support OpenGL ES 2. Similar to the iOS version, you can share your Instagram posts to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Foursquare. Soon, Flickr will be an option as well.
You can download Instagram for Android right now from Google Play, completely free.
The following is a column sent to us by Skip Ferderber. We though it hit home on a lot of points, and decided to republish it with his permission:
Let’s start with a popular tech-talk premise especially among Apple iPad afficionados: Among the reasons Android tablets come up short is because there are only a handful of apps specifically optimized for them.
If there’s no big bucket of optimized Honeycomb apps, then it’s too soon to get an Android tablet ... not when you can get an iPad with more than 100,000 tablet-optimized apps.
The tech blogosphere (including yours truly) reported early on that only 10 apps were specifically redesigned to take advantage of the Honeycomb operating system, the Android software specifically engineered for a new generation of powerful tablets with heavy-duty processing power and bright high-resolution screens such as the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. A March Wired article reported it had found only 50 Honeycomb-optimized apps.
Well, hold on there, buckaroos.
What happens when non-optimized apps — the same apps you use on your Android smartphone — are run on a Honeycomb tablet? What’s the user experience like? Can you live with it? I decided to find out.
Back when the Logitech Revue was first announced for about $300, we knew the device wouldn't sell. Google TV was a new, unproven product, and Google wasn't even the company that was technically doing the selling of the devices. Yet somehow, Logitech didn't realize that, and the Revue has sold very, very poorly. So poorly in fact, that there's a major shakeup going on at the company as its now seeking a new CEO. The official word is that people have been returning their purchased Revue boxes faster than others are buying new ones, and that's just not good. In an effort to increase consumer adoption, Logitech has slashed the price of the Revue down to $99--a $150 reduction in price. So, anyone plan on picking up one of these? Hey, it'll be getting an Android Honeycomb update sometime soon.
Motorola Mobility, recently split off from Motorola Solutions, also shipped 4.1 million smartphones in the first quarter of 2011, the company said Thursday. In all, Motorola Mobility said it shipped 9.3 million mobile devices in the quarter, beating analyst expectations.
Motorola split into two independent public companies in January with Motorola Mobility generally considered a spin-off. Motorola Solutions—which makes bar code scanners, police radios and other products—also reported earnings Thursday and had net income of $497 million, up from $69 million in the first quarter of 2010.
The Wi-Fi version of the Motorola Xoom will be available at various retailers starting March 27, the company announced Wednesday.
The 10.1-inch tablet will be at Amazon.com, Best Buy, Costco, RadioShack, select Sam's Club locations, Staples, and Walmart - both in-store and on their Web sites.
The Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi with 32GB of memory will cost $599.
Motorola said the Xoom Wi-Fi will also be available to commercial IT channels and regional retailers through a distribution agreement with Synnex Corporation, and regional carriers through Brightpoint.
Google on Thursday expanded its Fragments API to applications running older versions of Android, meaning apps that are compatible with Android 1.6 or higher can tap into Fragments to create apps that work on larger-screened devices like tablets.
Though Android has been growing in popularity recently among handset and tablet makers, the main complaint about the OS has been its fragmented nature. At this point, about 57.6 percent of Android devices are running version 2.2, followed by 2.1 at 31.4 percent. About 6.3 percent are still on Android 1.6, according to the Android Developers site.
To address this, Google introduced the Android Fragments API in early February as part of Android 3.0 Honeycomb.
"Android 3.0 further helps applications adjust their interfaces with a new class called Fragment," Dianne Hackborn, a Google software engineer, wrote in a February 3 blog post. "A Fragment is a self-contained component with its own UI and lifecycle; it can be-reused in different parts of an application's user interface depending on the desired UI flow for a particular device or screen."
Apple's March 2 event is all but guaranteed to bring us the iPad 2, most likely with dual cameras and a revamped OS. It arrives two months after CES 2011, to a landscape littered with tablets from scores of manufacturers, most of them with one thing in common: they are running Google's Android OS. But only a handful of them run Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), the first Android tablet OS. Can tablets like the Motorola Xoom—the first Honeycomb device—take on the iPad?
If the past is any indicator, it doesn't look good. This has less to do with quality of product, however, and more to do with the manner in which the product is brought to the public.
The clear advantage Apple has over just about every competitor—except perhaps for RIM—is that it relies on no external manufacturers for its products. To clarify: of course Apple needs to farm out production of the components that make up its devices to OEMs, but when you see a new iPad, it is from Apple, running an Apple OS, for sale at the Apple store. The closest Apple comes to working with other companies is its partnerships with Verizon and AT&T for the iPhone and iPad. For the most part, however, Apple is its own, self-controlling entity. With no company—other than the carriers and OEMs— with which to coordinate, Apple can create a realistic product release timeline and stick to it.
We've got the Verizon Wireless 4G Motorola Xoom, and in this episode we give you a nice, thorough walkthrough of the device. We show you the hardware, alongside a look at Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Get a look at the music player, YouTube for Android tablets, the front and rear cameras, multitasking, widgets, the built-in Google Books reader, and much more in our Xoom review. In case you missed it, we also have a video of our Motorola Xoom unboxing.