Earlier today, Google started slowly rolling out an update to Maps with version 7.2. This is a point release, up from 7.1, so I expected more than just minor changes. While not as big as the quiet Drive update yesterday, Maps 7.2 brings a few notable changes to the table that Google has not yet (or won't ever) itemized in the changelog. Upon getting my hands on the APK, which you can find at the bottom of this post, I hopped onto the teardown couch and dug in.
No one likes to be last. The LG G2 was originally slated to become available online from T-Mobile on September 18th, nearly a week after competitors Verizon Wireless and AT&T were to start offering the handset. AT&T already jumped the gun when they started offering sales online a week ago, and now T-Mobile is offering the G2 at the same time as everyone else, at least online.
Unlike AT&T and Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile offers the G2 for $99.99 upfront.
It doesn't take very long for new phones to go on sale these days, especially if you're savvy enough to check Amazon. For example, the AT&T version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is now just $108 for new customers, or $118 for those who are eligible for an upgrade. (You can also add a new line and get the phone for $108.) Want something a little tougher? Amazon is offering the ruggedized Galaxy S4 Active at the same prices.
When it comes to Android tablets with detachable keyboards, one name comes to mind: Transformer. There's no denying that ASUS has carved out a pretty specific niche in the Android tablet/laptop convertible category. HP is looking to change that with the SlateBook x2, a 10.2-inch Android tablet with a keyboard dock that essentially converts it to an Android-powered laptop. It's small enough to fall into the "netbook" category, but that's a dirty word I try to stay away from.
The Kindle Fire isn't the type of Android tablet that sends enthusiasts running to the store in droves, but that shouldn't diminish all that the tablet gets right. It remains one of the best-selling Android tablets out there, and if you aren't turned off by ads - excuse me, special offers - it's one of the best new tablets you can find at such a low price. Amazon will offer a refreshed version of their popular tablet anytime now, but new leaked photos may just spoil the surprise of what the company's upcoming tablet will look like.
This is the app roundup. The game roundup from last week can be found here.
The Motorola DROID Ultra is a strange beast, at once a preview of Motorola's Google-centric future and a connection to its recent independent past. While its specifications and software features are nearly identical to the ubiquitous Moto X, a unique design and Verizon exclusivity (along with the DROID Mini and DROID MAXX) means that it shares a market position with previous DROIDs... a position that's somewhat irrelevant these days.
So why would you choose a DROID Ultra over the Moto X?
Good grief AT&T, there's such a thing as restraint, you know? After launching the Galaxy Tab 3 7-inch and taking online orders for the LG G2 and preorders for the Galaxy Note 3 late last night, Ma Bell has one last device up its metaphorical sleeve: the carrier's first ASUS tablet. The ASUS MeMO Pad FHD LTE 10.0 is now available for order from AT&T's online store and through business channels with free shipping thrown in for good measure.
LG is hoping to step out of Samsung's shadow a bit with the new G2. Having dropped the Optimus naming scheme, the G2 is the company's 2013 flagship, and it has the specs to earn the name. If the raw numbers don't get you, it's always got those back-facing buttons.
AT&T is asking $199 for the G2 on a 2-year contract, or $575 without subsidy. If you want to save a little scratch up front, AT&T Next gets you the phone for $27 per month.
These days, it seems like everybody is trying to make Android more secure. As usual, rooting and modding are often casualties of this effort. Just over a month ago Android 4.3 broke the existing model for root, forcing updates to existing methods, and now Samsung is rolling out updated Android 4.2.2 firmwares for the Galaxy S 4 which fully enable the company's heavily secured KNOX environment. Fortunately, Chainfire is already on top of it and has updated his popular root software, SuperSU, to be compatible with the new system.