When Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, arrived on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone last November, it marked the most radical change Google’s hugely popular mobile operating system had undergone since its debut. It was also the best thing to happen to Android so far. It was the first version of Android designed for both phones and tablets, and it was the first version of Android that was truly beautiful to look at and fun to use. But of course, Android can be improved. On Wednesday, Google is expected to kick off its Google I/O developer conference by introducing Android 4.1, dubbed Jelly Bean. Unlike version 4.0, which featured a top-to-bottom redesign of Android, version 4.1 is expected to bring a number of incremental changes. Rumor has it the new OS could even debut on a Google-branded, Asus-built Nexus tablet, and it could land on Google’s developer-friendly Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone as well. Whenever it arrives, we’re expecting new features and bold moves. Here are a few things we’d like to see in Jelly Bean. Ditch Browser, Go With Chrome Android has two web browsers, both built by Google. The boringly named Browser is the default entry point to the web installed on every Android phone going back to the first version. The thoroughly modern Chrome, however, has only been available as a download from the Google Play store since its debut on Android in February, and it only works on ICS devices. Chrome is still a “beta” product — Google is killing bugs and polishing off the app. But Chrome’s time has come. When the world thinks of Google’s web browser, it thinks of Chrome. Android’s Browser app is an afterthought. Chrome is the better browser in absolutely every way: user interface, tab handling, speed and support for web standards are superior, and Chrome can sync your bookmarks and browsing history between all your Chrome installations across all devices and platforms. Not to mention that Google is extending the Chrome brand beyond just the browser, with the Chrome OS and devices like theChromebook and Chromebox. It’s time to simplify things, Google — go with Chrome and ditch Browser. Unify Messaging Another example of multiple apps that do the same thing: messaging. Google could ease the lives of Android users by delivering one unified messaging app. Currently, Google offers a stand-alone text messaging app (Messaging), a separate app for chatting over Google Talk (Talk) and yet another for sending notes to Google+ contacts (Messenger). Three apps that all do the same thing — that’s more complicated than it needs to be. It’s time to take a page from Apple’s playbook and offer just one messaging app. All three services could be rolled into just one app — call it Messages or Messenger or Messaging or Talk or anything you’d like. When a user messages a phone number, it can be sent via text message. When a user messages an e-mail address, as they do via Talk or a contact on Google+, that message can be sent using web data as opposed to a standard text message through the wireless carrier. The app could even recognize when a user is sending a message to another Android phone and send that message using web data as well — just like Apple’s iMessage app in iOS. One app for all three services. This is the way to go. Program Your Own Gestures We’d like to see Android give users the ability to create their own gestures, specific swipe combinations for opening up apps or forcing their devices to perform specific actions. Google already has a patent for this, and no other platform — iOS, Windows Phone or the different flavors of BlackBerry — currently offers this feature. If you’ve ever used Android’s gesture-unlock feature, you already have an idea of how this might work. Essentially, your phone would record a specific swipe or gesture that’s unique, and launch an app or action of your choice whenever you perform that gesture. Apple already has a number of multitouch gestures, such as the five-finger pinch-to-close gesture found on the iPad. But so far, Android is largely devoid of this sort of thing. The ability to program your own gestures would bring a level of personalization to Android that’s unmatched. To make things easy, Google can throw in a couple multitouch gestures of their own for those who don’t want to customize their devices, but still want a shortcut to popular apps. Add More Built-In Apps Ice Cream Sandwich has no built-in apps for audio and voice recording, to-dos and reminders, or weather. Other operating systems — namely iOS — do. So this update seems like a no-brainer. Integrating with Google Drive for saving audio files, or re-purposing Google Calendar’s Tasks to handle to-dos and reminders are easy wins. As for weather, Google’s desktop search engine delivers forecasts from the Weather Channel, Weather Underground and AccuWeather. It’d be nice to see these three options show up on the ground floor of Android as well. If Google had to go with one, we’d like to see it pick Weather Underground, which offers crowdsourced weather reports down to the neighborhood in many cities. Do Not Disturb Apple introduced a “Do Not Disturb” feature for iOS 6 at its Worldwide Developer Conference just two weeks ago. Android should match it. OK, so it’s a bit lame to see operating systems ripping off their rivals off — iOS’s Notification Center if a notable offender — but a good idea is a good idea. And Do Not Disturb is brilliant. You walk around with your phone in your pocket (or very close by) all day. When you get home, you’ve still got your phone on you, and you might have a tablet kicking around, as well. Having the ability to take a break from text messages, alerts, e-mails and phone calls would be welcome. Of course, like the iOS version, Android’s Do Not Disturb should still allow you to get all of these messages and notifications, only later, when you want them. But during the Do Not Disturb period of your choosing, your gadget should remain silent with out a ring or vibrate to bug you. Exceptions are a must, too. This way, select friends, family and even bosses can reach you if you decide. Or, if someone calls multiple times — maybe you can decide what the threshold is — the call or message will go through, alerting you that this time, it’s urgent and your attention is needed.
Mozilla has recently released the latest version of Firefox 14 for Android devices. Mozilla has revamped the user interface of Firefox 14, making it easier for users to browse multiple tabs with a list of thumbnails of opened tabs from a dropdown box. Searching or keying the web address is a breeze now with the enlarged address bar in Firefox 14. Similar to Chrome, the Firefox 14 has a new start page that shows your top four most visited sites on top of the page, followed on by the last visited tabs and a list of recommended Add-ons. In addition, Firefox 14 supports Flash and Add-ons, which are the features that Chrome on Android does not offer. Other features include HTML 5 support and performance improvements. Firefox 14 works on Android devices running on Android 2.2 (Froyo) and above. You can try out the new browser by clicking the linkhere
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Apple's new iOS 6 comes loaded with new features. From completely new Maps to a new version of the voice-activated personal assistant Siri to Facebook integration. And Passbook—Apple's new app that controls coupons, boarding passes, cards and coupons—is really neat. This version looks quite sweet. These will be the new features of your iPhone and iPad. 1. Siri Siri keeps being updated. The new version on iOS 6 does sports scores and stats. You ask what was the score for the Giants and she will reply that they were downed by the Rangers. It will also tell you about batting averages. Siri is being integrated with Yelp and OpenTable. You could ask for a good italian restaurant near you and she will tell you about the best ones using Yelp information and allow you to make a reservation with your voice using OpenTable. It's also bringing movies with IMDB for reviews and information, and Fandango for tickets. You can ask for a movie that stars your favorite star or director, and she will find them for you. The result screen is quite nice, with integrated Rotten Tomatoes ratings. I wonder how much more useful this will make Siri. Would people use it more now that it has some neat integration with these useful services? Tell us in the comments. Siri is also being updated to other languages. They are adding Canadian French, Spanish for Spain, Mexico and the US. Also Italian in Italy and French, German and Italian dialects for Switzerland. Plus Asian languages: Korean plus Mandarin and Cantonese in China. She will be available on the iPad. Many auto makers—including BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda—will also integrate Siri in their cars. 2. Facebook integration Facebook is now completely integrated with the iPhone. You will be able post to Facebook from Apple's apps, just like you can do with Twitter. That includes images directly from the Photos albums. Or location from Maps. It's even integrated with Siri. And the Calendar application, so birthdays and events are automatically synchronized at all times with Facebook. 3. New Phone features This is a welcomed surprise: they are updating the Phone application, which has remained almost frozen for all this time. I like this feature, which Nokia already had some years ago: you can reply automatically with a message when someone calls you. The phone will show you a list of messages like "I'll call you later" or "I'm on my way" that you can click and automatically send while rejecting a call.
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SIM-free and unlocked HTC One XL is now available in Australia. Currently, Oz residents can only purchase the black version for AU$850 (€660). It will work on every GSM carrier in Australia and on Telstra’s LTE network. In case you are thinking of importing one over, you'd be glad to find out that the HTC One XL supports the needed European GSM and 3G bands as well. There's even support for some of the upcoming LTE networks in Europe working on the 2600MHz band. HTC One XL is similar to the One X we already reviewed, save for the chipset. The One XL uses a Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 SoC with a 1.5GHz dual-core Krait CPU and Adreno 225 GPU. The NVIDIA’s quad-core Tegra 3 does not offer native LTE support, which caused the chipset swap. This makes Australia the second country to get a Krait-powered One X after the US, whereAT&T offers it. We already covered its chipset performance and found that it's often doing better than the Tegra 3 in the One X. In fact we are currently putting the final touches to our HTC One X for AT&T review. It should go live later tonight so stick around if you want to learn more about it.
It looks like the Samsung Galaxy S III will be launched here in Malaysia in the very near future, why do we say so? Because our local telcos, or DiGi at least, is readying its preorder page for the device. Over the weekend, DiGi accidentally opened up its ROI page for the upcoming Samsung flagship mobile device that generated a whole load of hype. At the worldwide announcement which happened earlier this month, Samsung revealed that the device will be available in Europe starting from 29 May 2012 while the Malaysian launch is expected to be in early June but from the looks of it, we might be getting it earlier – on the European launch date perhaps? While we’re letting the telcos, presumably all three or even four of them – DiGi, Maxis, Celcom and U Mobile – get their stuffs ready, do stay tuned to Lowyat.NET because we will be getting one in for review very, very soon; ahead of the launch of course. I’m personally psyched, while I’m not a fan of the device because of its shape, it’ll be interesting to see how it performs.