A redacted version of the HTC-Apple patent licensing agreement was published in the public record today as part of the Samsung v. Apple trial, and AllThingsD has a copy. It's 143 pages long (to be fair, only about a fifth of that is the actual settlement), so let me give you the skinny.
First, what has HTC agreed to? Well, it's actually not super complicated to distill down: basically, HTC can use Apple's functional software patents under the license, except those covered under an "anti-cloning" rule and which are part of the "distinct Apple user experience" - unless those features are part of the core Android OS that HTC does not control.
Ok - here's the deal. A Google Search update happened, which means it's teardown time. Normally I post about unreleased, work-in-progress stuff, but Google Now is so context dependent, that it's pretty much impossible for me to tell if something is implemented or not. The one thing I've learned from my months of using Now is that Google Now is in charge, and you're just along for the ride. So, for today's post, we're just going to shoot for "new things that didn't make it onto the 'What's New' list." If you can get them to show up, awesome.
If you've been lusting after Samsung's S-Memo functionality (found on numerous Samsung devices like the Note II, LG has something similar too), but for any piece of Android hardware, a new app called Ink Over Apps is definitely worth looking into. Its functionality is pretty limited at this point, but what it does, it does well. And what it does is let you draw on your screen and then save a screenshot of what you've drawn.
Back in August, Archos announced its then-upcoming GamePad, a tablet which looks to "revolutionize" gaming on Android. Featuring built-in physical game controls and custom button mapping software, the GamePad removes the need for touch controls, giving mobile gaming a more console-like feel, while its 7" display still keeps it portable enough to toss in your bag and take on-the-go. And now, it's finally available.
The GamePad is on sale in Europe for 149.99€, with North American availability coming in early 2013.
SoundCloud may not be the most famous app around, but when it comes to sharing a simple audio clip or a song, it's hard to beat. Now, the company's mobile app is getting an overhaul and with it comes a shiny new interface that doesn't suck. The UI upgrade makes use of the action bar, side navigation panel, notification controls and all the other fancy new features that we've grown used to since Ice Cream Sandwich and beyond.
It's no secret that Sony has been a long-time supporter of the custom ROM community, but now the company has released a tool that lets owners of bootloader unlocked Xperia devices easily return back to stock firmware from a custom ROM. According to Sony's blog post, this tool has been oft-requested by the community, so it's good to see Sony deliver on that.
As mentioned, use of this tool requires the bootloader to be unlocked on supported Xperia devices, but past that, it seems pretty simple and intuitive to use.
As if the news out of Google couldn't get any hotter today, the company decided to just casually announce that it has over 500 million users with Google+ accounts, 235 million of whom are active "across Google" which means anything from +1ing things in various Google products to "connecting with friends in Search"...whatever that means. The most important stat, though, is 135 million users are active in the stream. That means, if we can assume past definitions are still true, those users either visit plus.google.com or use the mobile app to view content.
There are no shortage of image editors on Android. Even Adobe, which makes the class-leading Photoshop, has a version of its editor on the platform. Today, though, Google gets one of its very own: Snapseed. You may recall this particular piece of software when it was demoed by NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang at CES this year. At the time, it was only available on the iPad where it had won App of the Year in 2011.
One of the biggest problems with Google+ has been its inability to create a group wherein all peers are equal. You can create a hashtag that everyone can post to but you can't control the membership of, or a Page that a few moderators can share to, but it's difficult to add users to (for non-public posts, Pages can only add users to circles once they add the Page first). Communities finally fixes this problem by creating public or private groups that anyone within can share to.
Back in late October, SwiftKey announced a new feature called Flow for its hyper-intelligent keyboard. SwiftKey Flow takes everything you (and I) love about SK, and combines it with gesture typing, like that of Swype, or the Android 4.2 stock keyboard. Then, just a few days ago, they debuted the newest feature that would be available in Flow - called Flow Through Space - which allows users to swipe through full sentences without having to lift their finger from the keyboard by sliding down to the spacebar after each word.