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It's Time To Let The Phrase "Stock Android" Die (Opinion)

Sundar Pichai made a series of statements at recode's Code Conference yesterday that seem to have the internet aflutter. Pichai claimed that Google would be adding more software features to future Nexus devices, specifically: "You’ll see us hopefully add more features on top of Android on Nexus phones... There’s a lot of software innovation to be had."

Some have taken this to mean that "stock Android" on Nexus phones is no more. That Google will begin to differentiate just like its partners, with proprietary features and software, and that this marks a move away from a "purer" interpretation of Android. This makes sense until you actually think about it, because Nexus phones haven't run "stock" Android in years, and it's time for us to have a conversation about what that word even means, let alone the idea that Google's interpretation of Android is somehow "purer."

For starters, all of the following applications that ship on Nexus phones today are closed-source.

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Will A Samsung Galaxy S4 "Google Edition" Be Unveiled At I/O 2013?

Among dedicated Android fans, there is a consensus that stock Android is the best experience. That being said, not everyone is smitten with the Nexus hardware. A new option for conflicted users is rumored to be dropping tomorrow at Google I/O. A version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 – dubbed the Google Edition – could be released with the latest version of stock Android on board.

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If this is indeed true, it wouldn't be the first time Google has created a new variant of a Samsung product. Back at I/O 2011 Google handed out a special edition Galaxy Tab 10.1 with stock Honeycomb.

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AT&T Drops The Price Of The HTC First To $0.99, Probably The Best Damn Phone You'll Find For A Dollar

When I reviewed the First, I realized it was much, much more than just a Facebook experience device. Sure, it's sporting Home out of the box, flashes a Facebook logo during the boot process, and is adorned with that same logo on the back, but it's not just about Facebook. This little diamond in the rough is running stock Android 4.1.2 beneath Facebook Home, so you're quite literally three (or so) taps away from a Nexus-like experience.

No quicker than I could say good things about this device, however, people were trying to shoot it down, with the price playing a pretty large factor in that.

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[CES 2013] Vizio Announces New 7" (Tegra 3) And 10" (Tegra 4) Tablets Running Stock Android

If you like Nexus tablets, Vizio is gunning for your wallet. Today, the company announced a duo of tablets running stock Android. The first is most similar to the Nexus 10: a 10" display with the same retina-melting 2560x1600 resolution, only this one is powered by a Tegra 4 processor. Kal-El may not be a slouch, but let's be real. It's hard to not envy the 72 GPU cores that Wayne is packing.

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Here are the known specs for the device:

  • 10" 2560x1600 display
  • Tegra 4 SoC
  • 32GB storage
  • Front & rear cameras
  • Mini USB (Yes, mini not micro; see center photo below)
  • Micro HDMI
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (model shown running 4.1)

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As if that wasn't enough, the company also announced a direct Nexus 7 competitor.

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Sony Xperia Play Review: Finally, An Android Phone For Gaming - And Not Much Else

It's been quite some time since we first heard rumblings of the PlayStation phone. The concept - a high-end Android phone mashed together with familiar PlayStation controls - seemed like one that could revolutionize gaming on Android. In theory, this device could have done just that.

Unfortunately, in a world where dual core devices are becoming more and more the norm, the Xperia Play's single-core Snapdragon processor (as fast as it is) is already incompatible with some high-end games, such as those optimized for Tegra 2 devices. And it's hard to justify purchasing the phone when the rest of the device has taken a backseat to the all-important gamepad.

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[Hands-On and Initial Review] Xperia Play: The PlayStation Phone Hits The U.S.

Note: Most of the pictures in this hands-on were taken by a second Xperia Play unit, so you can use those to judge the quality of the camera.

The saga of the PlayStation phone has been a long one, but we finally have the device in our hands. Some I/O attendees received their own, but now Verizon customers can get the device for themselves. A full review will be available in the coming days, but for now, here are my initial thoughts on the Xperia Play.

First, a refresher on the specs:

  • 4.0" LCD, 854 x 480 display
  • Android 2.3.2
  • 1 GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon processor
  • 5 megapixel camera with flash
  • Front-facing camera
  • 512 MB RAM

The first thing I noticed when holding the phone was the thickness and weight.

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[Deal Alert] Samsung Nexus S 4G For $99 From Wirefly

If you've been thinking about picking up the Nexus S 4G on Sprint, then now is the time to go for it, because Wirefly has a deal that's hard to resist. You can get this stock Android beauty for $99 with a new two year agreement, or by adding it as a new line on a family plan. This is indeed a killer deal on an amazing piece of hardware.

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If you need a refresher on the specs of this gem, here you go:

  • 4 Inch Super AMOLED display
  • 1GHz Hummingbird Processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 16GB Built-in storage
  • 5MP Rear camera with 720p video capture
  • VGA front camera
  • Stock Android 2.3

The same phone will set you back $199 at the Sprint store or $150 at Best Buy, so there really isn't a comparable deal out there right now.

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