Google Nexus 4 hits Videotron on January 30th

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Jan 232013
 
Videotron

Videotron today revealed exactly when it will begin offering the Google Nexus 4. Last week, it put up a banner that said that it was “coming soon”. Today we learned that soon means January 30th.

No such tweet in English but basically the tweet reads: “It’s January 30th that the Google Nexus 4 will be offered by Videotron. Are you ready?”

With no other Canadian carrier having announced plans to launch the Nexus 4, Videotron appears set to become the first to offer it here.

Pricing information is still not available.

Read more: Videotron [via Twitter]

Rumour: Google to launch upgraded Nexus 10 tablet at MWC 2013

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Jan 212013
 

Google Nexus 10You can now add another device to the list of rumoured announcements expected at MWC 2103 next month. According to Bright Side of News, Google will unveil an updated version of the Google Nexus 10 tablet.

With its 10.1-inch WQXGA (2560×1600) display, the original Google Nexus 10 has a reputation for pushing its 1.7GHz dual-core Cortex-A15 Samsung Exynos 5250 with Mali-T604 GPU to the limit leading to performance lag. To address this shortcoming, Google and Samsung are reportedly going to bump it up to a multi-core processor paired to a new 8-core Mali-T678 GPU. A prototype seen at CES 2013 allegedly ran significantly faster with the performance difference between the two being described as “night and day.”

Other specifications of the revised tablet are not expected to change. Even the form factor will remain the same despite the fact that both Google and Samsung admit that it lacks some “wow factor.” That will apparently be worked on for the next version.

Despite the rumoured announcement at MWC 2013, the tablet may not be available until the fall for either the same price as the current model or slightly more.

Read more: Bright Side of News

Google Nexus 4 “coming soon” to Videotron

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Jan 162013
 

Despite LG’a assurances that there are no production issues, the Google Nexus 4 has remained sold out at the Google Play Store pretty much since it launched except for a few short periods of frenzied buying action. If you are still looking to get your hands on one and live in Quebec, you may be in luck soon. A banner on the Videotron is proclaiming today that the regional carrier will soon carry it:

Videotron Google Nexus 4 coming soon

Videotron could well become the first Canadian carrier to offer the latest Google Nexus smartphone. It is hopefully a sign that other carriers are also gearing up to offer it in the near future.

Videotron has not provided specific availability and pricing details yet.

Read more: Videotron

Google Nexus 5 and Nexus 7.7 by LG to be announced at Google I/O?

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Jan 162013
 
Google Nexus

If the latest rumours are true, LG will continue to be Google’s manufacturing partner into 2013 with at least two more devices. According to a forum post on the Korean website Ruliweb, Google will announce both the Google Nexus 5 and Google Nexus 7.7 at the upcoming Google I/O 2013. Both will be manufactured by LG.

The Google Nexus 5 will be powered by NVIDIA’s new Tegra 4 processor. It will come with a 5-inch Full HD (1920×1080) display with 1 millimeter bezels, 2GB RAM, a 13MP rear camera and 3MP front one. Onboard storage is listed at 8GB. If so, a 16GB option is also likely.

The Google Nexus 7.7 will be very similar. It will also come with the NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, 2GB RAM, and 8GB of onboard storage. As the name implies, it will have a 7.7-inch Full HD (1920×1080) display with a thin bezel (although perhaps not as thin as that of the Nexus 5) and a 5MP front camera.

With Google expected to unveil the next major version of Android at the event, it is possible although not stated in the post that both will come with latest Android version rather than Jelly Bean.

Both could sell for as low as US$299 in their 8GB configurations.

Google I/O will take place from on May 15th to 17th. Ticket prices and other registration details will be announced in February.

For now, take it all with a grain of salt until some corroborating evidence surfaces to give these rumours some more credibility.

Read more: Ruliweb (in Korean) [Google translation] (Source: AndroidAuthority)

LG denies Google Nexus 4 availability issues

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Jan 152013
 

Google Nexus 4The Google Nexus 4 remains an elusive smartphone. Despite remaining sold out in both Canada and the U.S., LG indicates that production is on track. An LG Electronics spokesperson told the Korean Chosun Ilbo that production at the Pyeongtaek factory is proceeding “without a hitch” and that “there is no problem in supply.”

The report contradicts earlier an earlier statement that confirmed that LG was struggling to meet the “huge demand.” For its part, Google has described the supply situation as being “scarce and erratic.”

As far as consumers are concerned, it looks like the Google Nexus 4 will remain as scarce as it has been so far. Worse, it does not appear that the situation will improve any time soon.

Read more: (in Korean) [Google translation] (Source: The Verge)

Android 4.2.2 spotted on Google Nexus 4

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Jan 112013
 
Google Android

Google may be readying to push out an Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update in the near future. Reports of devices running Android 4.2.2 have surfaced in both Malaysia and Brazil.

In Malaysia, Lowyat reviewers received an 8GB Google Nexus 4 review unit with Android 4.2.2 preloaded. Upon initial assessment, it does not appear to come with any major differences over Android 4.2.1, the current official release. The build number is new and comes with the “dev-keys” tag, suggesting that this could be a developer build.

Android 4.2.2 spotted

A second device running Android 4.2.2 has also been found in Brazil. Much like the Malaysian unit, it appears to have come with Android 4.2.2 preloaded. There is no word if it also sports a build number with the “dev-keys” tag.

Android 4.2.2 spotted

Google Android 4.2.1 has not been without its bugs and issues, including random reboots (experienced on our Gadgetorama unit when location services are turned on). Hopefully Android 4.2.2 will focus on fixing these issues.

Read more: Lowyat and Adrenaline Brazil (Source: PocketNow)

Nokia CEO on Android: “Anything is possible”

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Jan 072013
 
Nokia

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop had some surprising words in an interview published today by Spanish El Pais. At one point, the conversation turned to Android. Elop explained why Nokia chose Windows Phone over Android (concerns about differentiation and domination by other manufacturers) when planning its turnaround. But he left the door open for the future. When asked about whether he dismissed launching an Android phone next year, he answered that “anything is possible.”

While this puts into question Nokia’s commitment to Windows Phone, Elop explained that the company remains fully committed to both Microsoft and Windows Phone but that he was keeping an eye on the future. Elop suggests that HTML 5 could eventually make any mobile operating system irrelevant:

“In the current ecosystem wars we are using Windows Phone as our weapon. But we are always thinking about what’s coming next, what will be the role of HTML 5, Android… HTML5 could make the platform itself—being Android, Windows Phone or any other—irrelevant in the future, but it’s still too soon [to tell]. Today we are committed and satisfied with Microsoft, but anything is possible.”

Nokia is pushing to grow its market share to double digits in 2013. Not only will it need to continue to battle against the dominant Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems but some new players in 2013, including BlackBerry 10 and Tizen, could also make things more interesting.

Read more: El Pais (in Spanish) [Google translation] (Source: Gizmodo)

Google to restore Google Maps access for Windows Phone devices

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Jan 052013
 
Google Maps

Windows Phone users started reporting yesterday that they could no longer access Google Maps. They were instead redirected to Google’s mobile search page. Initial suspicions ranged from some sort of technical issue to Google willfully blocking access. When Google initially responded, it explained that Google Maps was optimized for WebKit browsers and that other browsers such as Internet Explorer would not be able to access it. Confronted by howls of protest and proof that this was a new development rather than something that had always been true, it appears to have changed its tune somewhat.

Google today issued the following statement to The Next Web:

We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users.

In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to Google.com where they could at least make local searches. The Firefox mobile browser did offer a somewhat better user experience and that’s why there is no redirect for those users.

Recent improvements to IE mobile and Google Maps now deliver a better experience and we are currently working to remove the redirect. We will continue to test Google Maps compatibility with other mobile browsers to ensure the best possible experience for users.

As Google points out, the version of Internet Explorer found in Windows Phone 8 handles the Google Maps much better and it will remove the redirect it has put in place.

Google is well within its rights to decide to support or not support non-Webkit browsers. But it should have been more transparent about its recent decision to redirect IE traffic to its main search page. The move follows Google’s recent decisions to stop supporting Microsoft ActiveSync and statements that it had no plans to develop Windows Phone version of its apps.

Read more: The Next Web

Jelly Bean now on 10% of Android devices

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Jan 032013
 

Android Jelly Bean (Android 4.1 and 4.2) adoption has picked up substantially since Google last published numbers a month ago. It can now be found on just over 10% of devices that accessed Google Play during the 14-day period ending today. That’s up from 6.7% a month earlier.

Android version distribution charts
Click for a larger version

Ice Cream Sandwich saw a modest increase and Gingerbread (Android 2.3) finally fell below the 50% mark, falling to 47.6%. Combined Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich numbers (39.3%) are finally catching up to Gingerbread and will likely finally pass it this year as more OS upgrades get pushed out and new devices continue to launch with newer versions.

There is also one casualty to report: Cupcake (Android 1.5) has completely dropped off the list and Donut (Android 1.6) should not be far behind.

If nothing else, it looks like good steady progress over the holidays (likely due in part to the number of Android devices found under the Christmas tree)…

Read more: Android Developers

One of these could have been the Android mascot

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Jan 032013
 

In the days leading up to the launch of Android (back in 2007), Dan Morrill, head of developer relations for the platform, took some time to doodle up some “eye candy” for some presentation slides. He came up with four early Android mascot designs.

My job was developer relations, but I took a much-needed break of a couple hours and spent some quality time with Inkscape to create these… things.

See, we were prepping for an internal developer launch (meaning, we were going to ask Googlers to start fooling with the APIs and give us early feedback), and I had no eye candy for the slides we were putting together. Hence these guys.

Early Google Android mascots

The “Dandroids” as they became known became the first proposed mascots for Android. Despite some “minor popularity amongst the team,” another design, that of the bugdroid, (fortunately?) became the official Android mascot.

Morrill also revealed that the internal developer launch was called “R2-D2” which stood for “Release to Developers 2.” Given the small issue of many robot names being trademarked, Google eventually opted for the dessert naming scheme.

Check out Dan’s post for one more design!

Read more: Dan Morrill [via Google+]

Microsoft ‘disappointed’ by Google’s Exchange ActiveSync decision

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Jan 022013
 
Microsoft

In a statement to The Verge, Microsoft said today that it is “surprised and disappointed” with Google’s decision to stop offering its Google Sync service to new devices as of January 30th, 2013.

Like many, we are surprised and disappointed that Google wants to make it more difficult for customers to connect their accounts to their devices. If you want better email, especially for your phone or tablet, now is a perfect time to join the millions who have already made the choice to upgrade to Outlook.com. Windows Phone users will still be able to sync their Google email via IMAP.

Microsoft’s new Outlook.com service supports Exchange ActiveSync.

Today’s statement suggests that Microsoft will not support Gmail contacts and calendar sync at this time. It also remains to be seen if Microsoft will support CardDAV and CalDAV on Windows Phone to allow for such synchronization.

As for Google, it will continue to support existing Google Sync connections. It will also continue to fully support Google Sync for Google Sync for Google Apps for Business, Government and Education.

Read more: The Verge

Google Play names best apps and games of 2012

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Dec 272012
 
Google Play

With 2012 about to wrap up, a variety of ‘Best of 2012’ lists have begun to appear everywhere. Google is no exception. It has published both the ‘Best apps of 2012’ as well as the ‘Best Games of 2012’ lists.

First a look at Google’s Best Apps of 2012:

These are some of the best apps available in Google Play. Some launched in 2012 while others issued updates that achieved a great combination of utility, beauty and accessibility. Almost all of them are available globally and offer a great user experience on both tablets and phones. From excellent tools to objects of beauty, each of these applications represents the best of Google Play.

And then there are the games:

2012 has been a wonderful year for games on Google Play. While it was difficult to select only a few, these games represent the best and brightest releases from indie developers and industry leaders alike. The selection covers everything from cute and innovative casual games to the latest blockbuster racing title. Search the stars for humanity’s last hope, assume the role of the funniest anti-hero in gaming or join friends in a multiplayer shooting deathmatch and experience the best in gaming today.

Here are Google’s choices:

If nothing else, these lists are sure to spur some discussion. Are there any that Google missed or perhaps should not have put on its lists?

Read more: Google Play apps and Google Play Best Games of 2012

17.4 million Android and iOS devices activated on Christmas Day

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Dec 272012
 

It appears that a few people asked Santa Claus for smartphones or tablets and Santa appears to have come through in a big way. In fact, it was a record-setting day with 17.4 million Android and iOS devices being activated on Christmas Day according to Flurry Analytics.

More iOS and Android devices are activated on Christmas Day than on any other day of the year. This year was no exception. On this Christmas Day 2012, more iPhones, iPads, Galaxy’s, Kindle Fires, and more, were activated than on any other day in history. Moreover, as soon as we could tear the wrapping paper off our cool new devices, we started downloading a record volume of apps.

As the graph below shows, Christmas is a day like no other. Christmas Day 2011 held the previous record of 6.8 million Android and iOS device activations. This year’s Christmas was a mighty 2.5 times larger!

Android and iOS activations on Christmas Day 2012

Interestingly, whereas smartphone activations dominated the first 20 days of December, tablets caught up and accounted for roughly half of Android and iOS devices found under the tree.

Tablet and smartphone activations on Christmas Day 2012

As soon as all those devices were unpacked, they were used to set a record download day. 328 million apps were downloaded, over 100% more than the average day in the first 10 days of December.

Read more: Flurry Analytics

Google extends free Gmail calling in Canada and U.S. through 2013

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Dec 272012
 
Google

Google yesterday announced that it will continue to offer free domestic calls in Canada and the U.S. through Gmail through 2013. The service that lets Gmail users call standard phone numbers has been free since it launched in 2010.

Many of you call phones from Gmail to easily connect with friends and family. If you’re in the US and Canada, you’ll continue to be able to make free domestic calls through 2013. Plus, in most countries, you can still call the rest of the world from Gmail at insanely low rates.

As the Gmail team also indicated, international Gmail users will also continue to benefit from low rates to make international voice calls using Google Voice. For example, Google indicates that the “leading internet telephony provider” charges US$0.20 per minute to call France whereas it charges only US$0.10.

Google may be keeping its Gmail calling service free for another year in a bid to catch up to other voice and video services such as Microsoft’s Skype. To do so, it will need to continue to improve it as it seems more prone to poor transmission quality issues than its competitors.

Now if Google would only integrated Gmail calling with Google Voice or Google Talk…

Read more: Official Gmail Blog

Motorola nabs key Samsung marketing executive?

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Dec 222012
 

Motorola MobilityEarlier this week, we got our first sign that Google has some big plans in 2013 for its recently acquired Motorola business. The rumoured Motorola Phone X is meant to take on flagship devices from other smartphone manufacturers. But an impressive device alone is likely not enough. A strong marketing campaign will also be needed to make sure that the Phone X is not drowned out by the hype and media attention that will follow the launch of new flagship devices from smartphone business heavyweights Apple and Samsung. Who better to lead this effort than one who has already done this for one of these two companies.

According to AllThingsD, Google has hired Brian Wallace who was Vice President for Strategic Marketing at Samsung Telecommunications America to take on a similar role at Motorola. While many may not be familiar with his name, they are familiar with the famous campaign that poked a good deal of fun at Apple and its devoted customers. The last such ad was the following:

Wallace was with Samsung for about a year. Before that, he was RIM’s Vice President, Global Digital Marketing and Media.

Will we now see Motorola ads poking fun at both Apple and Samsung in the near future?

Read more: AllThingsD