News: 7″ Amazon Fire, Microsoft and Samsung sign a deal, Cyanogenmod and Xperia, Google Voice, Google+, Skype, Hipmunk, Google Wallet and more

It’s been a while since the last news update, so this roundup of the most interesting news from the past few weeks covers a lot:

  • 7″ Android-based Amazon Fire tablet was unveiled and will start shipping in US for $199 on Nov 15 . The main selling point besides its low price will be access to the vast library of books, movies and music from Amazon. No 3rd party reviews are available yet, but This Is My Next has some photos and videos from the brief demo. Reportedly, Fire is running highly customized version of Android 2.3, which was originally designed for phones. Android apps can be installed via Amazon Appstore. Notably absent are any Google services, such as Android Market, Maps, Gmail.
  • Microsoft and Samsung signed a cross-licensing deal. The details are confidential, but reportedly Microsoft will receive royalties for Samsung’s Android-based smartphones and tablets. Another major Android manufacturer, HTC previously signed a similar deal with Microsoft.
  • Most popular custom Android ROM Cyanogenmod will support all 2010 and 2011 Xperia phones, such as Xperia Arc and Xperia Play. Coupled with unlocked bootloaders, this makes Sony Ericson one of the most mod friendly Android manufacturers.
  • Google Wallet was launched for Sprint Nexus 4G. It is a new tap-to-pay service that allows storing credit card information on the Android phone and making payments using the phone.
  • Hipmunk for Android has launched. Hipmunk is the easy way to search for flights and hotels.
  • Google Voice for Android update fixed the annoying self-pause and delayed notifications bugs.
  • Google+ signups are now open to everyone. Google+ for Android added a lot of features including hangouts (video chat with up to 10 participants) support.
  • Skype 2.5 added official support for video calling for 14 more Android devices. Click on More button under the app description for the full list of supported devices. Generally, video calling should work on any Android 2.2+ device, but on devices not officially supported it needs to be enabled in the settings.
  • Voice Actions for Android now available in UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. Voice Actions can be used to speak into your Android phone and dictate texts and emails, get directions and launch turn-by-turn navigation, listen to music, set alarm clock, call businesses and contacts, and browse the web.
  • Nielsen published a list of Top 20 Android apps by active reach in the US. Top 5 apps: Google Maps, Gmail, Facebook, Google Search and Youtube.
  • For new users, Spotify now requires a Facebook account to sign up.
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News: Google to acquire Motorola Mobility

A big news for the Android ecosystem: Larry Page announced today a 12.5B acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

This acquisition will have a significant impact on many aspects for the Android world: from its Nexus brand, carrier availability, and better OS integration with hardware to a better defense against recent patent attacks on Android.

More reaction to follow.

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Nexus S comes to AT&T on July 24

A great news for potential Android phone buyers: on July 24 Best Buy will start selling Nexus S phone fully compatible with AT&T network for $99 with 2-year contract. AT&T joins T-Mobile and Sprint in supporting Nexus S, which leaves Verizon as the lone carrier without Nexus branded phone. Nexus S ships with the latest version of Android (2.3.4) called Gingerbread and has 4” Super AMOLED screen, a 1 GHz processor, front and rear facing cameras and support for NFC (overview of specsfull specslist of features). Best Buy Nexus S page is not showing AT&T version of the phone yet, but it will be available for pre-order soon.

The most significant advantage of Nexus S is that it provides a pure Google experience, which means stock version of Android and no carrier or manufacturer bloatware. Another significant benefit of stock Android is built-in support for USB tethering and portable Wi-Fi hotspot for no extra charge (at least, that’s the case on T-Mobile network). Google experience also means that Nexus S will be the first phone to receive future Android OS updates.

Read More »

Posted in Android, Mobile, News | 1 Comment

News: Android Market update, live Google Maps traffic coverage in 13 European countries, 550000 daily Android activations

Catching up with the last week’s news:

  • Roll out of the major upgrade to Android Market for phones has began. User interface has been redesigned from scratch to improve discoverability of apps and games.  If you are in the US, this version adds ability to rent movies and buy books from Android Market. Android 2.2+  phone is required for the update. You can also install the update manually by following this link.
  • Google+ client for Android has been updated with few nice new features:
    • Customize the main stream view to show streams from individual circles
    • Fixed some issues encountered by users with the Swype keyboard
    • Set permissions for who can start a huddle with you (Anyone, Your Circles, Extended Circles)
    • If someone you’ve never huddled with before invites you to a group huddle, you can now dismiss the invitation
    • New UI allows adding multiple people or entire circles to a huddle
    • Set photo as wallpaper
    • Performance improvements and bug fixes throughout the app
  • Google Maps added live traffic coverage for 13 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland. This is a great news, since Google Maps is one of the best Android apps and its turn-by-turn navigation puts regular GPS devices and most other navigation apps to shame. The new traffic information is available in Google Maps for Android, iOS, and mobile browsers.
  • During Google’s Q2 earnings call, Larry Page mentioned that 550,000 devices running Android are activated each day. That’s up from 500,00 daily activations just 3 weeks ago.
  • VMWare View client for Honeycomb has been released for a free tech preview. The app allows to remotely access your computer using an Android tablet running Honeycomb.
  • Google Shopper app for Android has been updated. As a part of the pilot program, residents of Portland, Oregon, San Francisco Bay Area or New York can take advantage of the Google Offers, with other cities to follow. This update is available for Android 2.1+ devices.
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News: offline maps and transit navigation in Google Maps, Skype video calling, Google+ launch

Recent news:

  • Google Maps for Android was updated to version 5.7. New features include turn-by-turn transit navigation (beta), photo viewer for Place pages, and streamlined user interace for getting directions.
  • Google Maps update also added a very useful add-on to the Labs: offline maps download. To enable the add-on, open Maps -> More -> Labs and select “Download map area”. To actually download map tiles (10 by 10 mile region), long press on any point on the map, click on the pop-up window with the address, and select “Download map area”. After download is completed, outline will show regions where offline map is available.
  • Skype released version 2.0. New version includes redesigned user interface and video calling for selected Android phones. Unfortunately, as of now video calling is available only on the following phones: Google Nexus S, Nexus S 4G, HTC Desire S, Sony Ericsson Xperia neo, Sony Ericsson Xperia pro. The good news that video and audio quality during calls over 3G is excellent. Source: Android Police.
  • Google launched its social network called Google+ to private beta. First reviews are overwhelmingly positive with praise for such features as circles and hangout (group video chat with up to 10 participants). Service is currently in beta and requires invitation to sign up, but you can add your email to the wait list.

Notable articles:

  • An extensive article by Fortune magazine on how Android conquered the smartphone world titled 100 million Android fans can’t be wrong.
  • A comparison by Mika Mobile of experience with Battleheart game Google Market and Apple App store. The takeaway: ”Daily revenue from Battleheart on Android is fairly close, within 80%, of it’s iOS counterpart at the moment.”

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News: Android Google Talk audio and video calling now works over T-Mobile’s 3G network

Ever since Google Talk added video and voice chat support for Android phones in April, T-Mobile has been blocking Google Talk calls over its 3G/4G network. Calls worked, of course, over Wi-Fi and cellular networks of other carriers, such as Verizon.

This has changed today and both video and audio calling now works flawlessly over T-Mobile’s cellular network. Google Talk video and audio chat requires Android 2.3.4+.

Source: Android Police.

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Tip: how to avoid duplicate notifications when using custom SMS app

Android stock SMS Messaging app is quite good and does its job nicely, but some Android users like to get fancy with their SMS apps. Enter Handcent SMS app, which supports MMS with picture, video and audio attachments, great customization, group send, themes, different ringtones and LED notifications, 20+ languages, SMS history search, message password protection, schedule sms delivery and much more.

However, once a custom SMS app such as Handcent SMS is installed, you will start receiving duplicate notifications for each received text message: one for the stock messaging app and another one for the custom sms app. To fix this, go to Messaging app -> Settings and uncheck Notifications.

How to disable notifications in stock Android messaging app

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Tip: how to fix a launcher that is stuck in Force Close loop

I personally have never ran into this problem, but a friend of mine just did and found a very nice solution which is worth sharing. The launcher on his Verizon Samsung Fascinate (a variant of Samsung Galaxy S) went into a permanent Force Close loop, which means that the launcher would crash every few seconds  not allowing to launch any apps, including settings. The displayed error message: “The process has stopped unexpectedly. Please try again.” Rebooting and removing the battery did not help.

In this case, however, notifications did work. The solution was to go to in the computer’s browser and install a 3rd party launcher to the phone (ADW.Launcher in this case; LauncherPro is another popular option). He was then able to pull down notifications on the phone and start ADW.Launcher and forget about the stock launcher.

Not only did this solve a problem of the stock launcher being stuck in the Force Close loop, but he is now enjoying multiple advantages of the ADW.Launcher and wondering why he didn’t try it earlier. For few examples of the ADW.Launcher niceties see this post.

Posted in Android, Mobile, Tips | 12 Comments

News: Swype 3.0 released with Honeycomb support and resizable keyboard

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Swype. Despite it’s permanent beta status for Android phones that do not have Swype preinstalled, it is by far the best onscreen keyboard that I’ve tried. Swype is the reason I almost never miss physical keyboard.

The secret to Swype’s success is that it is a word based text entry. In a single motion you draw a path over the letters of the word and swype figures out which word you meant. As a result, Swype is very forgiving of inaccuracies: you don’t need to hit each letter precisely - getting near the letters of the word is usually good enough.

Once I started playing with Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (thank you Google I/O 2011), my first reaction was: “Where is Swype”? Swype 2.x did not support Honeycomb and typing using stock keyboard on a 10″ device turned out to be much more exhausting then typing on regular Android phone with Swype. Well, Swype 3.0 has just been announced and it adds support for Honeycomb devices (Android 3.0 and 3.1). Here’s the list of new features:

  • Swype v3 introduces two major new features: Tap Correction and Horizontal Word Choice List
  • Our Tap Correction engine utilizes many of the concepts that make swyping so accurate. Seamlessly go from typing to swyping and back without missing a beat!
  • The Horizontal Word Choice List replaces our popup word choice window, giving users an experience more in-line with evolving Android standards. It also makes dictionary control and word selection faster and easier.
  • Swype v3 is available for devices with HVGA, WVGA, FWVGA, QVGA, WQVGA, WSVGA, qHD screen sizes
  • Introducing a special Honeycomb-only WXGA version for Android tablets, with features like “moveable keyboard” that you won’t find anywhere else!

When I thought about using Swype on a tablet, one thing was very clear: there’s no need to utilize the full width of the 10″ tablet  in either landscape or portrait mode for the onscreen keyboard. And I’m very glad to report that Swype got it right and 3.0 supports 2 modes: full-size and condensed:

Swype 3.0 in full size mode in landscape orientation (Honeycomb) Swype 3.0 in condensed mode in landscape orientation (Honeycomb) Swype 3.0 in condensed mode in portrait orientation (Honeycomb)

Swype supports 11 languages: Chinese, Dutch, English UK, English US, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Get it at

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13 tips for Android beginners

If you just bought your first Android phone, here are some useful tips on using phone’s buttons, Home screen and customization.

1. You can install apps to your phone from the computer’s web browser. Open in your computer’s browser, login to your Google account, find an app, click Install. The download of the app will start automatically on your phone.

2. Press mic icon in the onscreen keyboard to talk into any text field.

3. To assign custom ringtones and alarms you have two options. First, you can create a folder on phone’s sdcard called “ringtones” and copy the music files that you want to use as ringtones there. Same trick works for “alarms” and “notifications” folders. To assign a custom ringtone, open a contact, select Menu -> Options -> Ringtone -> Android System.

Second option is to install Tone Picker app. Once it is installed, open a contact,  select Menu -> Options -> Ringtone -> Tone Picker -> Music and select a ringtone from a list of all tracks found in the phone’s media library.

4. You can install additional input languages by going to Settings > Language & Keyboard > Android keyboard >Input languages. To switch between languages in the stock Android keyboard, slide the space key sideways.

Using the phone’s buttons

5. Normally, the Back button button navigates from the current screen to the previous one. But when the onscreen keyboard pops up, first Back button press hides the keyboard.

6. The Menu button opens a context menu for the current screen. Usually, advanced menu items for the current screen are located in the context menu to save space.

7. When viewing the Home screen, the Search button searches your phone and the web. But you can also use it for searching contents within applications. Simply press Search while inside an app to see if it supports search functionality.

Full details on using buttons can be found at Google’s mobile help article.

Using the long presses (aka, press and hold)

8. Long press on the Home button shows the list of 8 recently launched apps.

9. Long press on the Search button launches Voice Actions, which allows you to send email, sms, control music player, launch navigation and much more with voice commands. Check out this introductory video of Voice Actions on youtube and full list of voice commands.

Android Voice Actions Navigate Android Voice Actions Send Text Sms Android Voice Actions Listen to Music

In general, if you are looking for advanced options and don’t see them on the screen, long press on UI elements. For example, long press on entires in the list will usually show selected item’s context menu with advanced options.

Using the Home screen

10. To add application shortcut from the Launcher to the Home screen, long press on the app icon in the launcher and then drop it to the Home screen.

11. Long press on the Home screen to add shortcuts, widgets, folders and customize wallpapers. For details on how to use shortcuts for direct dialing, navigation and bookmarks, see this earlier post.

12. To move an app shortcut from one Home screen to another, long press on the app icon and drag it to the edge of the current Home screen. The Home screen will slide allowing to drop icon in the new screen.

13. To remove an app shortcut from the Home screen, long press on the app icon and once the trash bin pops up, drag the icon to the bin.


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Google I/O 2011 recap: 18 months of Android updates, Music, Movies, [email protected], Honeycomb 3.1 update, USB Host support and more

The amount of Android news at Google I/O 2011 was impressive. Let’s recap the most important announcements from the conference.

Alliance of hardware manufacturers and providers

This is possibly the most important news for Android users: the alliance of hardware manufactures and providers announced that new devices will receive the latest Android platform upgrades for 18 months after the device is first released. The alliance is ”working together to adopt guidelines for how quickly devices are updated after a new platform release, and also for how long they will continue to be updated”. The participating partners are: Verizon, HTC, Samsung, Sprint, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Motorola and AT&T.

This is a big deal. With the exception of the Nexus phones (Nexus One, Nexus S, and Nexus S 4G) and Motorola Xoom, timely Android updates are an issue. Galaxy S owners in the US learned the hard way how long OS updates can take and any agreements that set strict guidelines are very welcomed. Until more details are available, it’s hard to say how successful this initiative will be.

Goolge Music beta

Cloud-based music service from Google opened for beta testing (US only). The service is similar to Amazon Cloud Player and allows uploading unlimited number of songs to Google’s servers and playing them back on any computer or Android device. The service is free during beta period and invitations can be requested here. The service is optimized for offline use: recently played music automatically stored to the device and users can make specific albums or playlists available offline. As opposed to Amazon offering which allows purchasing songs from its MP3 store, Google Music doesn’t have a music store.

Google Movies

Movie rental service Google Movies went live and is now a part of Android Market (US only). Movie rental starts at $1.99 and is available for Android 3.1 only. Support for Android 2.2 and above is expected to roll out soon. After renting a movie, users have 30 days to start watching and 24 hours to watch it once playback starts. Movies can be streamed or downloaded to the device for watching offline.

[email protected]

The goal of the home automation project [email protected] is to move Android OS beyond phones, tablets and TVs and control any electrical device in the home: light bulbs, light switches, washing machines, speakers, thermostats, etc. New Android Open Accessory protocol and development kit allow hardware accessories to work with Android devices. All components of the Android Open Accessory Development Kit are available for download:

The Android Open Accessory Development Kit (ADK) provides an implementation of an Android USB accessory that is based on the Arduino open source electronics prototyping platform, the accessory’s hardware design files, code that implements the accessory’s firmware, and the Android application that interacts with the accessory. The hardware design files and firmware code are contained in the ADK package download.

As a demo, project Tungsten was previewed which creates distributed audio solution similar to Sonos ZonePlayer.

Honeycomb 3.1 update

Android 3.1 update includes numerous bug fixes and performance improvements, resizable widgets, full support for Adobe Flash player 10.2 and most importantly, USB Host support. USB devices such as keyboards, game controllers, mice, video cameras and others can now interface Android devices. During one of the demos XBox 360 game controller was used to play games on the Motorola Xoom tablet. The update already rolled out to Motorola Xoom.

Google TV will get updated with Honeycomb 3.1 and will then get an Android Market.

During fireside chat with the Android team, Dan Morrill acknowledged that there are no plans to open source either Android 3.0 or 3.1.

Future Android releases

Next major Android release is scheduled for Q4 and will be called Ice Cream Sandwich. It has an ambitious goal of merging Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) into one OS that works on all Android devices: phones, tablets and TVs.

All Google I/O sessions are online

All Google I/O 2011 sessions are available in HD on youtube. Keynote on the first day of the conference was dedicated solely to Android:

P.S. Few pictures from the conference by Tim Bray.

Posted in Android, Honeycomb, Mobile, News | 2 Comments

Google I/O 2011

Google I/O 2011 starts tomorrow. The session schedule is impressive and contains 9 tracks: Android, App Engine, Chrome, Commerce, Dev Tools, Geo, Google APIs, Google Apps, and Tech Talk.

If you are one of many developers who wanted to attend, but won’t (registration sold out in under an hour), you can watch main events live. Both keynotes (about Android and Chrome) will be streamed via I/O live. Keynotes start at 9AM PST on Tuesday and 9:30 PST on Wednesday.

Video from the two biggest session rooms will also be livestreamed at I/O live. Room 3 will be streaming Chrome videos and room 11 - Android videos. All videos will be captioned and translated using Google Translate. Videos of all Google I/O sessions will later be available online in HD (last year Google I/O 2010 sessions were recorded in 480p).

You can also register and attend Google I/O Extended, which is a series of free viewing parties of Google I/O worldwide.

For those attending the conference in person, official Google I/O Android app is available to help plan your day. Google I/O hash tag is #io2011.

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News: native Google Docs app for Android is released

Over the last two years Google has added capability to edit Google documents and spreadsheets using Android and iOS mobile browsers. Today Google took the next step and released a native Google Docs app for Android 2.1+ devices.

The native app makes it very easy to access documents, spreadsheets and presentations from different Google and Google Apps accounts. It has few features that are unavailable with the mobile browser version such as ability to share items with contacts and rename items. My favorite new feature is that you can now take a photo of a text and convert it to a Google document using OCR (optical character recognition).

Now the bad news: editors for both documents and spreadsheets are not rich native editors one might expect, but mobile editors packaged in a WebView. As a result, editing experience is exactly the same as in the mobile version, which means that many basic editing features such as formatting are not available. Let’s hope that this is just the first version and rich editing capabilities will added down the road.

Native Google Docs app for Android

Source: Google Mobile blog.

Download link: Android Market.

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Update Skype for Android to fix privacy vulnerability issue and get 3G calling

On April 14, Android Police revealed Skype for Android vulnerability issue, which would theoretically allow malicious third-party application to get access to Skype’s profile information and chat logs. The issue was acknowledged by Skype the next day. The vulnerability was caused by Skype using wrong file permissions of the cached profile information and not encrypting profile data. Today Skype announced that the issue has been fixed, so please go to Android Market and update to the latest version. As a bonus, 3G calling is now available in the US.

There are two lessons from this story. For Android developers, the lesson is to be careful with storing user’s private information. For bloggers, Android Police demonstrated how not to publicize vulnerability issues.

Android Police a one of the better Android blogs out there and it is disappointing how they handled this issue. Justin Case, the author of the story, says that Skype was notified, but they didn’t respond. It is unclear how long Android Police waited before publishing the story. Even if no response from Skype was received, maybe more efforts should have been put into trying to get Skype’s attention behind the scenes. And even if publishing the story was the only way to bring attention to the issue, it was irresponsible for Android Police to include full details on how to exploit the issue.

In the comments to his post, Justin Case stated that he believes in full disclosure and thinks it is the only way to get big companies to act. This is not the first time such full disclosures happened at Android Police either: previously, full details of breaking Android License Verification library were published. It is clear that Android Police doesn’t believe in a responsible fault disclosure, which was nicely outlined by Jeremy Ellsworth in the comments. Let’s hope that as Android Police popularity grows, their sense of responsibility grows as well.

Skype logo

Posted in Android, Mobile | 1 Comment

CyanogenMod: 30, Android manufacturers: 4 (CM7 is released)

Congratulations to CyanogenMod team on achieving a major milestone: CM 7.0 got released last night! CyanogenMod is a firmware based on the open-source Android operating system and CyanogenMod 7 is the first stable Gingerbread-based release.

The number of cell phones that run official version of Gingerbread (Android 2.3) is currently 4. Those are Nexus S, Nexus One, Sony Xperia Arc and Sony Xperia Play.

The number of cell phones and tablets supported by CyanogenMod 7.0 is 30. Here’s the list of the supported devices:

  • Google Nexus One (Passion)
  • Google Nexus S (Crespo)
  • HTC myTouch 4G (Glacier)
  • HTC Incredible
  • HTC Desire (Bravo) GSM/CDMA
  • HTC Desire HD (Ace) / HTC Inspire
  • HTC Desire Z / G2 (Vision)
  • HTC Evo (Supersonic)
  • HTC Evo Shift (Speedy)
  • HTC Hero (CDMA/GSM)
  • HTC Aria (Liberty)
  • HTC Click / HTC Tattoo
  • HTC Legend
  • HTC Slide (Espresso)
  • HTC Wildfire (Buzz)
  • Geeksphone Zero
  • Geeksphone One
  • ZTE Blade (San Francisco, Sapo A5)
  • Commtiva Z71 (Boston, G1305, XT502, A60, Blaze)
  • Barnes & Noble Nook Color (Encore)
  • Viewsonic G-Tablet (Harmony)

Stable CM7 is not ready yet for such popular phones as Motorola Droid and Samsung Galaxy S, but nightly builds exist, so stable version may be coming soon.

So what does the 30:4 score tell us about the state of Android ecosystem? First, manufacturers of the phones are slow to release updates, which is not news. This should become less of a problem as Android OS matures and Google reduces number of major Android releases per year. However, manufacturers should do a better job of managing upgrade expectations, so when customers buy an Android phone they know how long they can expect to receive future upgrades.

Second, having an open source of the operating system is extremely useful. Not only CM7 is available on phones that may never get an official Android 2.3 release, but CM7 includes numerous features that are not part of official Android 2.3.

If you already use CyanogenMod ROM, consider donating to support this great open source project (donate button is at the bottom of this page).

If you want to start using CyanogenMod (or any other custom ROM), you need to root your phone first. Installing CyanogenMod is easiest using ROM Manager. Remember to do a full backup before modding the phone (e.g. using Titanium Backup). If you have questions or run into trouble, CyanogenMod forum or xda-developers is the place to get answers. Enjoy!

CyanogenMod Logo

Posted in Android, CyanogenMod, Gingerbread, Mobile | 9 Comments

Tip: how to prevent Swype keyboard from disabling on reboot

Swype is a very fast way to type on a touchscreen and once you get used to it going back to the regular keyboard is impossible. One nagging issue I’ve been having with Swype was that it was disappearing from the list of keyboards after reboot. As a result I had to re-enable it in Settings -> Language and Keyboard and then select it as a default keyboard.

It turns out that this was caused by Swype being moved to SD card. Once I moved it back to the phone memory, the problem disappeared.

The reason I moved it to the SD card in the first place was to free internal phone memory: Swype is over 3MB for English and Spanish and over 12MB for full version (English, Spanish, Chinese, German, UK English, Dutch, Portugese, Italian, Russian and French). But if any app is worth keeping in internal phone memory, it’s Swype.

Swype beta is currently open to all Android users.


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Sony Ericsson will allow to unlock the bootloader in Xperia smartphones

Karl-Johan Dahlström of Sony Ericsson announced today that starting this spring unlocking the bootloader on Xperia phones in a “secure and legal way” will be allowed.

It will be possible to unlock the boot loader for certain releases of our 2011 Xperia™ phones, such as Xperia™ arc, Xperia™ neo, Xperia™ pro and Xperia™ PLAY.

This is a great news for Android world. Until now only Nexus One, Nexus S and Motorola Xoom officially supported unlocking of the bootloader with the “fastboot oem unlock” command. Let’s hope Sony Ericsson will set a trend to be followed by other Android manufacturers.

There will be some restrictions, e.g. SIM lock protected phones won’t support bootloader unlocking. This probably means that only phones not subsidized by the carriers will support unlocking, which is not an ideal scenario for the US market. Nevertheless, this is a great move both for Sony Ericsson and Android ecosystem.

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Old Google documents can now be upgraded to the latest version

If you are an active user of Google Docs, you probably remember a major update a year ago with great new features such as real-time collaboration, advanced formatting tools (ruler, margins indentation, tab stops) and improved revision history. Later, another update brought ability to edit documents in the browser of mobile devices, such as Android, iPhone and iPad.

However, the major problem with those new features was that they were available only in the newly created documents and there was no way to upgrade old documents to the new format, except by exporting and re-importing files. Finally, conversion to the new version is now available.

If you open your old Google document, you should see the following message right above the menu bar:

Updade Google Docs to the latest version

The two formats of the Google Docs are quite different: old Google Docs format allows direct editing of HTML and CSS, which is useful for web publishing. New version looks more like a standard word processor with more advanced formatting tools, but without ability to edit HMTL or CSS of the document. Some conversions may be imperfect and that’s why Google Docs first prompts you to preview the document in the new version and only then to upgrade it if you are happy with the results.

Update Google Docs

Few things to bear in mind before performing the upgrade:

  • New version does not support editing of HTML and CSS.
  • The revision history of your document will not be carried over when you upgrade.
  • Once you upgrade a document, you can’t open it again in the older version of Google documents.
  • You need to upgrade each individual document that you want to use in the new version of Google documents (you need to be the owner of the document). You cannot upgrade all old documents in one operation.

The good news about the upgrade process:

  • Old URLs will still redirect to the document after upgrade.
  • The sharing settings of the original document won’t change after upgrade.

SourceGetting to know Google Docs: Upgrade a document to the new version of Google documents

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Google Maps now automatically routes you around the traffic

Google Maps for Android just got better: Navigation mode now uses real-time traffic information to automatically route you around the traffic. No update to the Google Maps app is required, as the change has been made on the server side.

In the blog post announcing this change, Roy Williams says that “before today, Navigation would choose whichever route was fastest, without taking current traffic conditions into account. It would also generate additional alternate directions, such as the shortest route or one that uses highways instead of side roads.” Having used Navigation extensively, I don’t think that’s quite true.

From my experience, prior to this change the default choice for directions in the navigation mode was the shortest route. To pick the fastest route based on the current traffic conditions users had to go to Route Info -> Alternative Routes, where traffic-based driving times were displayed. The main difference is that with this update the default route selected by Google Maps Navigation is the fastest one calculated based on the curent traffic conditions. It’s possible that routing algorithm has also been updated to more accurately use traffic information.

After using Google Maps Navigation, regular GPS devices feel ancient. With the high-resolution screens, detailed and up to date maps, great user interface, and most importantly extensive real-time traffic information for most freeways and major streets, Google Maps Navigation is a joy to use. Did I mention it’s free?


Google Maps Navigation showing driving times based on the real-time traffic conditions

Google Maps Navigation showing driving times based on the real-time traffic conditions


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