In a surprisingly quick update, the Android Open Kang project has reached its fifth Android 4.2 release, complete with some worthy additions to the list of supported devices. The much-demanded Samsung Galaxy S III international version leads the pack, with the Verizon and Sprint variants of the Galaxy Note II also making for some pleased users. (S-Pen support has been added for these models specifically.) The LG Optimus LTE, plus its American variants the Nitro (AT&T) and Spectrum (Verizon) round out the pack.
The Galaxy Note 10.1, old as it may be, is still the de facto standard if you're looking for an Android tablet with a built-in stylus and at least some custom software to support it. Now, it's cheaper than ever to get your hands on it with Woot offering the 32GB model with a bonus leather pouch for $409. The slate has also received some updates in some regions since it first came out, so there's never been a better time to give it a second look.
We know that at least a few of you have been eagerly waiting for Samsung to release its stylus-packing Galaxy Note 10.1 in a more wireless flavor here in the States. Starting on Thursday, March 7th, you'll get your surprisingly specific wish: Verizon will start selling the tablet online and in stores for $599.99. For six Benjamins, you'll get the pleasure of the Note's S-pen function and related TouchWiz apps, plus the honor of promoting Big Red through what is quite possibly the most gaudy, ostentatious carrier branding in the history of mobile electronics.
Now that Android has matured to the point of being solid in its own right, manufacturer skins don't rely so much on fixing the problems with the OS as they do creating their own platform. In order to differentiate from the competition, the new Galaxy S needs to do things the One series doesn't. While HTC focuses on improving its audio and visual performance, Samsung is attempting to boost its wow factor by improving on its eye-tracking technology.
It's not Jelly Bean yet. Well, I mean it is. It's the older Jelly Bean. Not the newer Jelly Bean. I'm sure this isn't confusing. However, Verizon is getting ready to roll out an update to the Galaxy S III that will bump the phone from 4.1.1 to 4.1.2. Unfortunately this isn't the 4.2 upgrade most users were likely hoping for. Among the listed improvements are a better keyboard and the ability to take pictures while on a call.
At this point in the smartphone wars, it's not enough to build an awesome handset. You need to market it. That's the trouble that the One X had last year and the One faces this year. Well, so far the One has opened with its initial shots of BoomSound®, Ultrapixels and Zoe. So, what is Samsung returning fire with? A small, blonde-haired boy named Jeremy.
For those unable to watch the video at work (thanks for spending your time with us instead of doing your job), here's the gist: a young boy's butler drives him to a board room where he is told he will be the "secret messenger" for the Galaxy S IV by a title screen.
Samsung seems to have gotten the hang of updating phones besides the major flagships. While it's still coming about nine months after the release of Jelly Bean and nearly six months after the release of the handset, the Galaxy Stellar will be upgraded to 4.1 "soon", according to these Verizon support docs. The OTA will bring the much-beloved Google Now as well as expandable notifications and all the other goodies of the newest tasty treat.
Earlier this month, The Now Network pushed an update to its version of the Samsung Galaxy S III with a few small fixes in it. That update was build L710VPMA6. Today, the company is sending another update to the Galaxy S III that is essentially the same update, plus one addition: 3rd party software licensing. This one's build L710VPMB1, will hit your device regardless of whether or nor you installed the previous update.
Its smaller 8-inch cousin is getting all the attention at Mobile World Congress (for better or worse), but the plus-sized Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 still has a few fans. At least one of them works at regional carrier US Cellular, because the device is now their second 4G LTE tablet, behind the original Galaxy Tab 10.1. The Galaxy Note 10.1 is available now from US Cellular's website and retail stores for $499.99; it requires a 2GB data plan, but not a long-term contract.
Passbook is one of the few features on iOS that I feel a bit envious of (even if it doesn't do payments like Google Wallet). Apparently Samsung had similar thoughts when it was announced, because the company unveiled a brand-new in-house platform this morning called Samsung Wallet that does basically the exact same thing.
Samsung didn't provide a launch time frame for the service, but we're guessing this was just a taste of the new software features we'll be seeing in the Galaxy S IV announcement on March 14th.