Have you ever wondered what it's like in the giant facilities where Google keeps all your data magically tucked away, ready at the tap of a screen? Well today, you can explore one such data center, street view style. An accompanying video will take you on a guided tour, showing you how the internet giant stores your data, keeps it cool, and destroys it when hard drives fail. Of course you can also walk around the building by yourself, and we certainly suggest you do, as there are plenty of easter eggs.
The floodgates seem be open, folks - the Jelly Bean updates for the Galaxy S III are now rolling out all over Europe. Last month, Samsung shared Android 4.1.1 with Polish users, took a break to fix some bugs, and restarted the process two days ago in Sweden. As of today, the list of countries has expanded quite a bit - France, Spain, Romania, and Austria. All signs point to a much wider rollout, and I wouldn't be surprised if even more territories and carriers show up within the next 48 hours.
The European Galaxy S III Jelly Bean update first turned up in Poland about three weeks ago. At the time, we were hoping it was a good indication that the rest of Europe would follow soon after, but that's about the last we've heard of it until today. In the meantime, Samsung did fire up the update in Korea and reiterated it would soon show up in the States.
LG was hard at work this week pimping the new Lithium Polymer battery technology used in the Optimus G. Promising higher battery density in a smaller, lighter package, word's still out on how much of an improvement it is in the real world. Obviously, though, any advances in battery tech are welcome - more battery life is never a bad thing.
One of the biggest drawbacks to buying apps on things like the Play Store is wondering if it does what you need it to do before you put your money on the line. AppSurfer, an India-based startup, is building a platform to alleviate this concern and give developers a web-based tool to let users test drive their apps before they buy. If this sounds familiar, it's because Amazon allows customers to do this very thing on its Appstore.
If you had your doubts before, they should be all but settled. The rumored LG Nexus phone that we saw the other day has changed hands and re-appeared in high-quality photos on Onliner. Of course, these aren't actually designed for release to the media, as the device still has "Not for sale" emblazoned over the back, indicating that this is a prototype and not a consumer-ready model. However, there is no shortage of brightly lit angles and, for some reason, the phone held up next to a stuffed parrot.
When it comes to the newest generation of phones, "budget" is closer to "flagship" than ever before. Two months ago, I reviewed the free-on-contract Pantech Marauder and came away highly impressed. Ron, too, reviewed the $100 Motorola Razr M and said "This is what budget phones are like now? Where do I sign up?" The old budget formula of taking last-gen hardware and slapping it in a cheap chassis has given way to current-gen hardware in a better chassis - not to mention that the optimizations and polish of Android 4.0 make the experience better than ever on virtually any level of hardware.
Buried deep within the changelog of Android 4.1.2 that arrived today is a very welcomed change to the way expandable notifications are handled by the OS. Introduced in Jelly Bean, expanding and collapsing notifications originally required two fingers to operate. Not anymore! A handy gesture now allows easy expansion and collapsing with just one finger, making it easier to perform this task while holding a device in one hand.
Collapsing is a little tricky at first and requires first pulling down and then up.
In the ongoing effort to make apps better on Android, Google has released another new guide for the developers who may be looking for guidance on just how to build a great tablet-oriented app. The piece has some fairly detailed information, including how much to adjust padding of UI elements and how to target different screen sizes and resolutions. There is also more broad guidance on how to make the most of larger screen real-estate.