As we all know, Facebook had an announcement earlier this week. The most pervasive social media outlet on the planet announced Facebook Home – a product that essentially amounts to a highly integrated launcher for your Android phone. It also announced the HTC First, a phone optimized for Home, offering a fully Facebook-ed experience.
The launcher is actually pretty nice – features like the unfortunately-named Chat Heads are almost enough to sell this writer on the idea of making an Android hamburger out of a phone, with Facebook Home serving as the top bun (or maybe the lettuce).
Talkray, from the makers of the incredibly popular touch-talk app TiKL, is an ambitious app – it looks to be your one-stop shop for mobile communication on the go, communicating through text, pictures, videos, and voice all for free. Until now, though, the app has had a fatal flaw – its design. While not the worst design we've seen, Talkray had, shall we say, unfortunate looks. Inconsistent styles, gradients mixed with flat elements, and Gingerbread-style tabs abound.
Facebook is throwing an Android event at its headquarters in Menlo Park in exactly a week - on April 4th at 10am Pacific to be precise. We've just gotten our invite, and from the looks of it, so has the majority of the Android and tech press. Needless to say, Facebook wants as many eyes as possible on whatever it's about to announce, be it a new Facebook-heavy phone, another app, or maybe even a full-fledged Android-based Facebook OS not tied to specific hardware.
Yesterday, T-Mobile officially announced its new "UNcarrier" plans to much fanfare and profanity. The idea is simple: you pay one price for your service, and a separate price for your device. You can either choose to pay the full cost of your phone up front, or pay a deposit at first and then a monthly fee after that.
"But wait," the entire tech world cried, "That monthly fee is still a contract, right?
As with any exciting new flagship device, it was only a matter of time before Samsung's recently-unveiled Galaxy S4 got the system dump treatment. Sharing the goodies this time (having already leaked S Voice, wallpapers, and ringtones) is SamMobile.com, who claims to have an "insider" that provided the leaked dump. According to SamMobile, the system dump is based on the S4's latest test firmware, affectionately called I9500XXUAMCH, built just a few days ago on March 23rd and based on Android 4.2.2 JDQ39.
Released last fall, Samsung's Galaxy Express is a plucky mid-range handset with – for those who don't know – a 4.5" Super AMOLED display (constrained by an underwhelming 480x800 resolution), a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, and a gig of RAM.
If you happen to be carrying around a Galaxy Express, listen up – AT&T, in a post to its Consumer Blog, announced today that an Android 4.1 update has begun rolling out to users, bringing with it everything you'd expect, from Google Now and rich notifications to Samsung-specific enhancements like Easy Mode, Blocking Mode (to keep unwanted calls and texts at bay), and a lock screen news ticker.
Today, Sony announced two new handsets to add to its existing smartphone lineups, led by the new SP. This handset has a 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 Plus, 4.6" 'HD Reality Display' and Android 4.1. It's not the most awe-inspiring spec list we've seen, but certainly good enough to stand next to other highish-end handsets.
Here are the full specs for the Xperia SP:
1.7 GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ S4 Plus dual core processor
Adreno 320 GPU
1 GB RAM
4.6” 1280x720 display
Android™ 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
8MP camera with HDR
In addition to the SP, Sony also announced the Xperia L, which is closer to a mid-range handset.
Last month, HTC announced a smartphone trade-up program, offering potential customers the chance to trade in their old cell phone for a $100 prepaid VISA card or the value of the phone (whichever is greater) after buying a new HTC One. The decision was a good one, especially for a phone that – while technically great – is badly in need of some effective marketing.
The deal was set to expire March 31st, but HTC has decided to extend the offer all the way up to April 26th.
We've mentioned a couple of times on this site that when it comes to the battle of HTC versus Samsung, advertising is of paramount importance. Why? Because people who don't read blogs with names like 'Gizmondo,' 'Android Cops,' or 'The Precipice' have no idea what makes the Galaxy S IV better than the HTC One or vice versa. In fact, more often than not, the average Joe looking to buy a new item in a field he has no expertise in has just one question: what's a good brand?
In a post to its official blog today, the team behind Chameleon Launcher announced version 2.0, which simultaneously hit the Play Store. The update, which is – for now – only available to Kickstarter backers and pre-order customers, brings a handful of popularly requested features. Perhaps the biggest of these is optimization for the small screen. Yes, Chameleon is now specifically optimized to work on your smartphone as well as it does on your tablet.