Samsung Galaxy S5 teardown highlights 16MP camera sensor, biosensor and fingerprint scanner

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Chipworks managed to get its hands on a Galaxy S5 ahead of Samsung’s new flagship handset officially going on sale on 11th April, and has been taking a look inside. The model it obtained was a Korean one, thanks to several carriers releasing it early. We’ve also noted third-party suppliers on Amazon advertising it as available in 1-2 days.

While Chipworks has only just begun its analysis, it does provide a sneak peek of the innards, together with a steer on three of the elements it plans to examine in detail: the fingerprint sensor, heart-rate chip and camera sensor.

The company says that the fingerprint sensor is split into two parts, a touch sensor embedded in the home button, and a second part connected to the touchscreen. It isn’t yet clear whether the screen simply detects a touch and switches on the sensor, or whether data from the touchscreen forms part of the identification process.

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Android distribution data updated for April, KitKat usage doubles to 5 percent

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As it does at the beginning of every month, Google has just updated the Android Distribution data to reflect data collected during a 7-day period ending on April 1, 2014. Notable this time around is that Android 4.4 KitKat usage more than doubled, rising from 2.5 percent last month to 5.3 percent. Of course, that’s still a very small percentage of the total user base, but growing by double in a month signals that KitKat updates are finally starting to make their way to the masses. 

With the rise in KitKat usage came a slight decline in Jelly Bean numbers from an even 62 percent to 61.4 percent . Ice Cream Sandwich declined to 14.3 percent from 15.2 percent last month, while Gingerbread continued to slow demise, going from 19 percent to 17.8 percent.

With this new data, 81 percent of all devices are now running a version of Android 4.0 or greater. This seems respectable, but it’s important to note that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was originally unveiled all the way back in 2011. So it’s apparent that Google can still do even more to improve the Android update progress. But things are improving and that’s what matters.

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‘My Play Activity’ feed now rolling out to Google Play website, shows all your +1s and ratings

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Back in December, Google updated the Play Store app on Android with a new activity feed that was a stream of Play Store activity, connected via your Google+ profile. This afternoon, Android Police has discovered that the activity feed is now live on the web version of the Play Store, as well.

The My Play Activity page is accessible via the navigation sidebar on the online Play Store. The feature is still rolling out at the moment, so the page only loads sporadically. It could take a little while to hit your profile. Once you load it, you will be able to see a stream of all your recent Play Store activity, including +1’s, rates, and more. As the feature continues to rollout, you will be able to access other people’s Activity Page via Google+, which will be great for discovering new apps and content.

The My Play Activity page is rolling out slowly and is accessible at the link below. You should be able to refresh it a few times and get it to load. The link in the sidebar should propagate to everyone soon, as well.

Link: My Play Activity

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BT Sport support coming soon to Chromecast in the UK

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Just weeks after the device became available in the UK (among others), Google has already started rolling out more UK-centric channels to the Chromecast. Joining the BBC iPlayer app, BT Sport has just announced that it too is planning to add Chromecast support for its channels in the coming weeks, as well.

As you would expect, you’ll have to be a BT customer in order to access the sports coverage. BT Sport is one of the largest sports providers in the UK. It has exclusive live TV rights to the English Premier League, in addition to owning the UK ESPN channels and broadcasting a plethora of other sports.

There’s no official release date for the BT Sport rollout on the Chromecast, but it is certainly great to see Google working so diligently to bring UK content to the Chromecast. This news comes just days after Google also added Vudu, Crackle, and Rdio support to the Chromecast. The open SDK is certainly paying off.

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Google once again offering 25% off Nexus 7 and Nexus 5 accessories

Google 25% off deal
Amid all of its April Fool’s day jokes, Google has done one legitimate thing today. The company is holding another sale on the Play Store that cuts the price of official Nexus device cases by 25 percent. Google’s cases are notoriously overpriced, so this is certainly a great deal.

Not every accessory qualifies for this deal, but most of the popular ones do. The Nexus 7 sleeve will now run you $22.49, while the case and folio for the device currently cost $37.49, as does the QuickCover for the Nexus 5. The Nexus 5 bumper is on sale for $26.24.

Those cases are still somewhat pricey for what you get, however, and many accessories for the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7, are a lot cheaper on Amazon. For official LG and Google accessories, though, you can’t beat 25 percent off.  Read more

Report: Google working on standalone Android camera app w/ refreshed UI, third-party filters & more

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According to a report from Engadget, Google is apparently in the process of testing an updated version of the Android camera app that includes a revamped UI and few new features. The report claims that the new camera app would include “a background-blurring effect for portrait shots,” as well as high-resolution Photo Sphere and panorama modes, and a lens blur mode that offers a shallower depth of field. There are also apparently fixes in the works for existing issues with the app: Read more

Microsoft announces OWA for Android coming later this year

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Microsoft made some announcements related to upcoming Office features and the evolution of its email products today and within the blog post announced an upcoming OWA app for Android.

OWA, that’s Microsoft’s Outlook Web App that is already available on Windows Phone and through an iOS app, will arrive later this year as a native Android app. That doesn’t mean that Microsoft won’t continue working directly with Android manufacturers to integrate Exchange support, but the app will give Android users access to the latest OWA features whenever they are ready to roll out.

Microsoft didn’t provide any other details but said that OWA for Android along with other email features announced in the blog post will roll out to Office 365 subscribers later this year.  Read more

MLB At Bat app updated for 2014 season w/ new expanded instant replay feature

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This season will be the first that Major League Baseball uses a new expanded instant replay system that it first announced back in January. Now, the MLB At Bat app for Android devices has been updated with support for the 2014 season and the new replay system. That means that users of the app will be able to view “every decisive instant replay video clip and review explanation,” the same footage the umpires review, through the app’s Gameday feature. 

A little more on the new replay system from the MLB’s announcement: Read more

Samsung Galaxy S5 “best smartphone display ever tested” by specialist test company DisplayMate

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DisplayMate Technologies, which makes display test kit for every major screen manufacturer in the world, has declared that the new Samsung Galaxy S5 has “the best performing smartphone display that we have ever tested” with “a long list of new records.”

While OLED screens have long been considered to be playing catch-up with LCD, DisplayMate says that the S5 demonstrates that the race has now been won.

In a span of just four years OLED display technology is now challenging and even exceeding the performance of the best LCDs across the board in brightness, contrast, color accuracy, color management, picture quality, performance in high ambient light, screen uniformity, and viewing angles …

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Android shows significant growth in last three months, led by success of Moto G and LG G2

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Kantar Worldpanel has released its latest report on smartphone marketshare for the last three months. Android share is up significantly compared to a year ago, with Kantar calling out two devices in particular for their contributions to this increase: the Moto G and the LG G2.

In the US, Kantar says that Android has a 55% share of smartphone OS sales share, up from 51.1% in February 2013, an increase of 3.9 percentage points. This compares favourably to iOS’ performance, which fell 4.9 points year-on-year to a 38.7% share. Incidentally, Windows Phone was the only other platform to grow in the US, rising from 4.1% in 2013 to 5.3%.

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Is Android the real target of latest Apple vs Samsung patent battle that starts today?

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Pieces in the NY Times and the WSJ suggest that the real target of Apple’s second courtroom patent battle with Samsung may be Android.

Some features in Samsung devices that Apple objects to are part of Google’s Android operating system, by far the most popular mobile operating system worldwide, running on more than a billion devices made by many manufacturers. That means that if Apple wins, Google could have to make changes to critical Android features, and Samsung and other Android phone makers might have to modify the software on their phones …

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