At today's Unpacked event, Samsung announced its new S Pen-powered Galaxy Note 3, a bigger version of the large smartphone, with much improved internals. Aiming to end the talk of people complaining about the cheap plastic feel of Samsung devices, the company has given the Note 3 a faux-leather backing. You get a 5.7-inch 1080p display (up from 5.5 on the Note 2,) and the device will support the new LTE Category 4 as well as the new Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch. You get a 13 megapixel camera on back, with a 2 megapixel version up front, and the rear camera can record in up to 4K resolution at 30fps, a first for a smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will start shipping on September 25th rocking Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, available in black, white, and pink.
If you're rocking a Samsung Galaxy S III or Galaxy S 4 and are wondering when you'll be able to get in on the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update, today's Unpacked event made it clear that the software is coming to your handheld sometime during the month of October, around the same time as the update that will enable Galaxy Gear functionality. No word on when Android 4.4 KitKat will be made available.
Google Android (and Chrome) head Sundar Pichai has announced the next version of Android: KitKat. Yep - Android 4.4 will be known as KitKat, a name Google got the rights to use in partnership with Nestle, and continues the tradition of Android versions being named after sweet confections. While Google had been using the name "Key Lime Pie" internally for Android 4.4, "very few people actually know the taste of key lime pie," according to Android director of partnerships John Lagerling. Not sure why that matters, but obviously KitKat is a bigger marketing play.
No new features of KitKat have been announced just yet, but at least we know the name, and have a new Android icon with integrated chocolatey KitKat goodness integrated in.
Google is currently running a promotion that lets buyers of specially-marked KitKat packs to have a chance to win a free Nexus 7 or some Google Play credit.
Read More | Google Android KitKat 4.4
With Apple expected to release the lower-cost iPhone 5C next month, Google has just cut the price of the Nexus 4, dropping it to $199 for the 8GB model without contract--that's $100 less than it cost just a day ago. If you prefer the 16GB version, you can get that one for $249. These prices are a steal for the Nexus 4, which is widely seen as the best current Android smartphone, even thought it lacks LTE. This is a much more inexpensive way to get the pure Google experience in a smartphone than it would be to buy the Google Play editions of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S 4. The price cut is now live in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Korea, the United States, and the UK.
Read More | Google Nexus 4
Rdio is one of Gear Live's favorite things, and the recent revamping of its Stations feature has brought the music streaming service to a whole new level. Rdio users can now create up to ten different stations that focus on an artist, song, or one of 400 different sub-genres of music. Additionally, there's a custom station called You FM that takes cues from your listening history, Facebook likes, track votes, and Twitter follows to create a station that is specifically tailored to what you like. When listening to You FM, you can also choose between five levels of familiarity, allowing you to stick with what you know, or be more adventurous when you want to discover something new. A player redesign rounds out the rest of the update, which applies to the iOS, Android, and Mac apps, as well as the in-browser experience.
If you're an Rdio user (and you should be,) be sure to follow Gear Live's Rdio station.
Read More | Rdio Blog
The HTC One Mini has finally been given a release date, and you can get your hands on the 4.3-inch version of what we deemed the best current-generation Android smartphone in just four days on August 23rd. The HTC One Mini boasts a 720p display, 1.4GHz dual-core SnapDragon 400 processor, 1GB RAM, 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera, 1,800mAh battery, and runs Android 4.2 out of the box. You'll have to be an AT&T customer for the priviledge, and you'll need to be willing to drop $99 and sign a two-year contract to make it all happen.
Both the Ultra and the Maxx have 720p displays on 5-inch non-PenTile displays. The only visibly distinct difference between the ULTRA and the MAXX is that the latter is a bit thicker due the bigger battery, hence the name. The Droid Maxx boasts an insane 48 hours of battery life. Remarkably, the Ultra is razor thin--as thin as the original famed RAZR flip phone. Meanwhile, the Droid Mini features a 720p 4.3-inch display with comparable features for smartphones of that size. All are using this techy kevlar designed back plate. The Droid Ultra will cost $199, Droid MAXX $299, and the Droid Mini will be $99, all with two-year contracts with Big Red. Here's a full list of them for all you spec lovers.
Read More | Droid Does
Dubbed Ubuntu Edge, the phone will be able to boot into PC mode when docked, with a monitor featuring the full-fledged Ubuntu desktop OS. 128GB of onboard storage is also in the mix, something that the next iPhone is also purported to have. Other key specs include a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass 720p display, instead of the Corning Gorilla Glass used in many smartphones today. Early backers can now opt for the day-one price of $600 and then, after initial sale goes public, the price will jump to $830 when the devices launches in May 2014. Here's the full run down of the Ubuntu Edge specs and a video preview:
Read More | Indiegogo
Take a gander behind the curtain of how Facebook designers created the Facebook Home launcher for Android. The forty-five minute video essay shows the evolutionary process of cover feed, chat heads, and the premise of mimicking the real world experience with a software operating system not based on apps, but focused rather on people.
On May 8th, the designers behind Facebook Home (Justin Stahl, Francis Luu, Joey Flynn and Mac Tyler) presented a behind-the-scenes look at their work at the Bluxome Street Winery for a small crowd. In this four-part talk, they discuss how they combined their high-level goals with an iterative process and interactive design tools such as Quartz Composer to bring the first version of Home to launch.
It appears that Samsung is prepping for its first annual Samsung Developers Conference boasting a "cross-product, cross platform" event on October 27-29 in San Francisco. Perhaps, Samsung is shifting gears by lessening its dependence on Google's Android mobile operating system and blurring the lines of its long line portfolio of successful products with developers. The South Korean conglomerate has been working on different mobile OS like Linux based Bada and Intel processor based Tizen, which is a spin-off the abandoned Meego OS project by Nokia. Samsung promises more information to follow leading up to the event. Samsung and Google have had major successes as partners but, in the recent acquisition of Motorola, something that Google previously stated it wouldn't do and Samsung focusing on diminishing Google presence from its products have shown the relation is more stressed than first perceived.
Read More | Samsung Dev Con
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