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Rumor: Google Plans On Tightening Its Grip On Android To Reduce Fragmentation And (Hopefully) Get Rid Of Unwanted Custom UIs

For everything that we love about Android – openness, customization, large selection of devices, etc. – there are things that we hate about it, too, like fragmentation and manufacturers pre-loading devices with crapware and (some) custom UIs. It seems, though, that Google is looking to change all of that. Insiders from companies “in the Android ecosystem” have told Businessweek that Google is starting to crack down on changes that manufacturers are allowed to make to Android.

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Verizon's Spring Roadmap Leaked, Shows All Kinds Of Android Goodness

If there is one question that I get asked nearly everyday, it’s “When is [insert device here] coming out?” Fortunately, that question is now a little bit easier to answer because our friends over at Phandroid have gotten wind of what’s coming down the pike for Verizon this Spring and, if this leak is legitimate, it’s going to be Android-filled. Here is a breakdown of what to expect:

  • April 7, 2011 – Casio Commando, Samsung [DROID] Charge
  • April 14, 2011 – Sony Xperia Play
  • April 28, 2011 – HTC Incredible 2
  • May 5, 2011 – LG Revolution
  • Later in May – Motorola Droid Bionic, Motorola Droid X2, Samsung Galaxy 2 (is this what they're calling the S2?)

It is noted that the Bionic, the Droid X2, and the Galaxy 2 are all going to be 4G devices, with the Incredible 2 simply tagged “Global.”

From the looks of things, this year's "Summer of Droid" will arrive to Verizon early.

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48 Best (And 2 WTF) New Android Apps, Games, And Live Wallpapers From The Last 2 Weeks (3/16/11 - 3/29/11)

Welcome to the weekly roundup of the best new Android applications, games, and live wallpapers that went live in the Market or were spotted by us in the previous week 2 weeks or so. Due to CTIA last week, we decided to postpone last week's roundup and roll all the apps into one big 2-week post.

Get ready - the list is quite massive and may freeze up your browser while loading - I suggest you open up links in new tabs to avoid page reloads.

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Breaking: Download Leaked DROID 2 Gingerbread (Android 2.3.3) Update

TeamBlackHat has publicly released a leaked official Gingerbread (Android 2.3.3) software update build for the Motorola DROID 2. To install the update, you must have the DROID 2 Bootstrapper by Koush. Instructions and download links below:

Installing Firmware
1. Download this file from the TBH app or download below
2. Use Bootstrap to get your phone into recovery.
3. Create a backup (This is not compatible with new firmware)
4.

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Breaking: Download Leaked DROID X Gingerbread (Android 2.3.3) Update

TeamBlackHat has publicly released a leaked official Gingerbread (Android 2.3.3) software update build for the Motorola DROID X. To install the update, you must have the DROID X Bootstrapper by Koush. Instructions and download links below:

Installing Firmware
1. Download this file from the TBH app or one of the mirrors below
2. Use Bootstrap to get your phone into recovery.
3. Create a backup (This is not compatible with new firmware)
4.

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Motorola XOOM Wi-Fi Root Now Available (Sans Bricking Feature)

In typically blisteringly-quick fashion, the hackers at XDA have managed to root a Wi-Fi XOOM in no time at all - good news, considering that the root method for the regular XOOM was bricking the Wi-Fi models. It's worth noting that unlocking the XOOM's bootloader (which is required for root) wipes the device.

The current method does require some ADB commands, but certainly nothing tricky. Still, for those who are hesitant, it's likely that an automated method won't be far behind.

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Launcher Wall For Android Review: A Poor Man’s Windows Phone 7

Are you one of the many that likes the look of Windows Phone 7, but doesn’t want to give up your existing launcher in lieu of a WP7 lookalike? If so, we have an app for you. It’s called Launcher Wall and feels similar to Windows Phone 7, without duplicating the interface.

snapshot-1

Launcher Wall is an interactive live wallpaper comprised of customizable, animated tile-style icons with an animated background. It is pretty straightforward; each tile corresponds to a user defined app in which you can change the size, placement, angle, size, transparency, and animation.

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WiFi-Only Motorola XOOM Will Be Available At Costco March 27 (Sunday) For $599

Great news for those of you holding out for that WiFi-only XOOM of your dreams: Costco has moved up its availability date for the LTE-less version of the tablet from April 1 to this coming Sunday, March 27. So if you walk into your local Costco this weekend, presumably the WiFi XOOM will be there to greet you for the reasonable price of $599.99.

But, if you order online, you'll get a couple of perks (even if it does mean you won't be getting your XOOM on Sunday).

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New Leak Details Specs Of HTC EVO 3D, EVO View 4G, Confirms Sprint-Bound Motorola XOOM

The rumor mill has been abuzz with gossip about Sprint's CTIA event lately, and if BGR's sources are to be believed, the speculation was spot-on: the conference will indeed be centered around the HTC EVO 3D and EVO View 4G, with a WiMAX version of the Motorola XOOM making an appearance as well.

EVO 3D

First up, we have the EVO 3D - HTC's first foray into three-dimensional territory - which will reportedly feature:

  • A 4.3-inch qHD (960x540) autostereoscopic 3D display
  • 4GB of RAM (I'm thinking this is a typo - even powerhouses like the XOOM and the Atrix only have 1GB of RAM)
  • 1GB of ROM
  • A 1.2GHz Qualcomm 8660 Snapdragon CPU
  • Dual 5MP rear cameras; dedicated camera button included
  • A 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • A 1730mAh battery
  • Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with HTC's Sense UI
  • Blockbuster on-demand
  • YouTube 3D

EVO View 4G

Just as expected, the EVO View 4G is almost exactly the same tablet as the (admittedly underwhelming) Flyer that HTC demoed at MWC.

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Pics Of Slimmed-Down Droid 3 Leaked

A couple of super-sneaky members over at Howard Forums have leaked some photos of the upcoming Droid 3, and it's looking much thinner than its most recent predecessor. The Verizon phone, which has not yet been officially announced, popped up in three different pictures today.

As you can see below, the second sequel to Motorola's popular Droid has a thinner top piece to conceal the customary full QWERTY keyboard. Not much else is known about the phone at this point, but this could be shaping up to be a much more attractive offering than its ancestor in the Droid line.

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