Google releases Galaxy Nexus ad showing off panorama mode

Google just dropped a new Galaxy Nexus advertisement on the device’s official YouTube page that carries on with the aesthetic of its original “Calling all” video, which featured a small snippet from the new ad. The new ad (above) shows off the device’s panorama mode as part of Android 4.0. We found the device to be half decent, but not great, in our review. Google dropped two other Galaxy Nexus ads last month, showing off Google+ Hangouts and Face Unlock. If you missed them, both ads are available after the break.

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Barnes & Noble reports record Nook Sales, looks to create spinoff and separate Nook division

Barnes & Noble reported record holiday sales today for its Nook business, including devices and digital content.

“During the nine-week holiday period ending Dec. 31, 2011, Nook unit sales, including Nook Simple Touch, Nook Color and the new Nook Tablet, increased 70 percent over the same period last year,” said the bookseller in a Jan. 5 statement. “Digital content sales also grew briskly during the same nine-week period, increasing 113 percent on a comparable basis.”

Content sales include digital books, digital newsstand, and the company’s apps business. The retailer of digital media and educational products is doing so well, as of lately, it is even considering a spinoff.

The company announced on Thursday it is embarking on a “strategic exploration” to separate the Nook division. The retailer also wants to report Nook-related sales as a separate business segment, and it is communicating with potential partners to expand the Nook’s presence abroad…

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AT&T expands 4G LTE network to eleven new markets including New York, Los Angeles, and San Fran

We reported last month that AT&T was beginning to roll out LTE to parts of Los Angeles and today the nationwide expansion continues with 11 new markets getting access to the carrier’s 4G LTE network. President and CEO of AT&T Business Solutions John Stankey announced at Citi’s 22nd Annual conference in San Francisco that the New York City metro area, Los Angeles, and San Francisco in addition to eight other markets now bring the total number markets with AT&T LTE access to 26. Stankey commented in a statement earlier today:

“We’re building a 4G LTE network that’s blazing fast, and we offer dual layers of 4G technologies to provide customers with a more consistent speed experience. Our network, together with our unsurpassed 4G device portfolio and innovative applications, will give our customers an industry-leading mobile broadband experience.”

The 11 new markets include: New York City metro area, Austin, Chapel Hill, Los Angeles, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. This adds to the 15 markets previously with access, including:  Athens, Ga.; Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Charlotte; Chicago; Dallas-Fort Worth; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City; Las Vegas; Oklahoma City; San Antonio; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Washington, D.C.

The devices AT&T currently offers that take advantage of the network include the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, HTC Vivid, Galaxy Tab 8.9, and a handful of other Android devices. Our tests in Los Angeles showed about 18mb/s up, 5mb/s down on the Galaxy S II Skyrocket.

The full press release is available after the break.
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MetroPCS to bring local broadcast television to Android handsets, starting with Samsung

Contract-free carrier MetroPCS is teaming up with 15 major broadcasters to bring “local broadcast television” to its lineup of smartphones that mainly includes Android handsets. The content will be available through a new “Dyle Mobile TV” app, and Samsung is set to ship the first device with Dyle preloaded. That device has yet to be announced.

President and Chief Operating Officer of MetroPCS Tom Keys said this in a statement earlier today:

We’re excited to be the first mobile service provider to deliver a unique entertainment offering like Dyle, but more important than being first is our belief that this service will meet the needs of our customers and deliver an exceptional mobile experience. We know that our customers have a desire to take entertainment with them wherever they go and understand that they want premium services at an incredible value, which we will continue offering by supplying services like Dyle.

MetroPCS partnered with 15 broadcast groups to provide content, some of which include Cox Media, FOX, NBC, and Gannett Broadcasting. The carrier plans to make more than 72 stations available to 32 markets at launch, accounting for more than “50 percent of the U.S. population”.

Markets to have access to the service include: Atlanta, Ga., Boston, Mass., Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, Detroit, Mich., Jacksonville, Fla., Las Vegas, Nev., Los Angeles, Calif., Miami, Fla., New York, N.Y., Orlando, Fla., Philadelphia, Pa., Sacramento, Calif., San Francisco, Calif., and Tampa, Fla.

MetroPCS and Samsung will be showing of the Dyle app at CES in Las Vegas Jan. 10 to 13. The full press release is available below.
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Android platform distribution statistics updated: .6-percent or around a million devices on ICS

The latest Android platform versions distributions chart was announced yesterday after the Android Developers’ website collected data for two weeks, and the share results reaped a few surprising figures.

Gingerbread gobbled 55 percent of the share, and Froyo landed at second place with 30 percent. However, according to last month’s results, Gingerbread increased from 50.6-percent while Froyo decreased from 35.3-percent. The statistical difference may be due to Froyo smartphones receiving an upgrade or Gingerbread smartphones seeing an increase in activations over the holiday season. Google recently announced it added 3.7 million devices on Christmas.

Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich, is making the biggest amount of noise with these latest results. Ice Cream Sandwich devices -only the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S for now- account for just .6-percent of the share of all of the devices that have called the Android market in the last two weeks.  If that total is near the 200 million that Google announced in November, that means over a million Galaxy Nexus Devices have been activated in the few weeks since release.

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Unlocked 16GB Samsung Galaxy Nexus on sale for $559 for limited time

If you still have not picked up a Samsung Galaxy Nexus on contract, one of the best prices we have seen for an unlocked version of the device is currently offered through DailySteals.com. For just the next 10 hours, the website is offering an unlocked 16GB Galaxy Nexus for $559.99, down from their usual list price of $749.99 – a savings of $190. Head over to their website now and grab it while the sale lasts.
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Android 4.0 default ‘Holo’ theme required by Google for Market access

When Google unveiled Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, we quickly learned that a refined version of the “Holo” system theme would be used throughout the operating system. Now, Google has announced in a blog post on the Android Developers website that it will require vendors to use the theme to gain access to the Android Market and Google apps and services. Android Framework engineer Adam Powell explained:

In Android 4.0, Holo is different. We’ve made the inclusion of the unmodified Holo theme family a compatibility requirement for devices running Android 4.0 and forward. If the device has Android Market it will have the Holo themes as they were originally designed. This standardization goes for all of the public Holo widget styles as well.

The benefit, according to Google, will be easier to implement future updates for vendors. As The Verge pointed out, “it most definitely does not mean that Google is enforcing usage of the theme on” third-party developers. It will, however, allow developers to avoid using the system themes of TouchWiz and other third-party skins, and instead they can utilize Holo. Powell wrapped up Google’s final thoughts on the decision below:

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Getting featured on Android Market boosts RunKeeper app’s downloads by 637 percent

Have you ever wondered just how much being highlighted as a “Featured” application in any given category within the Android Market increases downloads for an app? According to one developer’s account, being featured could provide more than a 600 percent increase to daily average downloads.

The developer’s of the free fitness-tracking app “RunKeeper” were more than pleased to find out their app was featured in the Health and Fitness category of the Android Market. According to RunKeeper’s blog, the news came at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and three days later the app experienced a 637 percent increase in daily app downloads. It also catapulted from the mid 20s to No. 3 within the Health and Fitness category, and it currently ranks No. 288 in the Market as a whole.

According to Google Product Manager for Android Market Fernando Delgado, Google has a “team of editors and category managers that proactively look at new apps being released on Android Market. If an app is determined to have high potential, it is thoroughly reviewed to make sure it meets the high bar for being featured.” Read more

‘ICS Browser Plus’ application adds more functionality to stock Android browser

A new application available on the Android Market called “ICS Browser Plus” adds a bit more functionality to the Galaxy Nexus’ stock browser. ICS Browser Plus is currently available in beta on the Market and includes two main features. The first feature, as you can see above, adds a quick launcher to the side of the screen where you can reload the page, open a new tab, stop the page from loading, and add the page as a bookmark, and more. For those of you who have used Honeycomb, this will feel very familiar.

The second feature will allow you to change the user agent of the browser. In other words, you can tell a website you are loading the page from an iPad, rather than a Galaxy Nexus.

ICS Browser Plus is currently only available on the Galaxy Nexus and other devices that support Ice Cream Sandwich. The developer hopes to continue adding more features, but in the mean time you can download the free app.

Galaxy Note receives Ice Cream Sandwich port, thanks to CyanogenMod 9

While it has not hit the United States yet, Samsung’s Galaxy Note tabphone has been frolicking around Europe since the fall. Samsung announced last week that sales in Europe have topped 1 million. Sadly, the device still has not seen an official Android 4.0 build from Samsung (as promised), but luckily, developers have worked to fix the dilemma. Maui on the XDA-Developer Forums released an experimental port of Android 4.0 for the Galaxy Note using CyanogenMod 9. Older and more stable versions of CyanogenMod were also used to port Ice Cream Sandwich onto other devices like the Kindle Fire and HP TouchPad.

It is worth noting that this build is unstable. However, if you have a Galaxy Note and are ready to try Ice Cream Sandwich, this might be worth the effort. Current known bugs include the camera not working, unstable BlueTooth, battery usage not working, and MTP mode not working. What does work, however, is Wi-Fi, 3G, touchscreen, and sensors. Go to the XDA-Developer Forums for the full instructions on how to install this port.

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Samsung has an Ace up its sleeve for the sub $100 smartphone market

Samsung just announced a new low-end addition to the Galaxy smartphone lineup with the new Galaxy Ace Plus. Although there does not appear to be plans to ship it in the United States, it seems Europe and most other markets will be able to get their hands on the device starting this month.

The Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus packs in a 3.65-inch HVGA TFT display, 1GHz processor, 5 megapixel main cam with flash, and TouchWiz on top of Android 2.3. It also comes with 512MB RAM and 3GB onboard memory (expandable to 32GB via microsSD).

The full press release from Samsung is available after the break.

“Samsung Mobile is opening 2012 with the introduction of the Samsung GALAXY Ace Plus, which will help enhance the GALAXY brand following the huge success of the GALAXY S, GALAXY SII, GALAXY Ace and GALAXY mini. The GALAXY Ace Plus benefits from the Android™ Gingerbread platform and Samsung services, which provide a better mobile experience for more consumers,” said JK Shin, President of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics. “In 2012, we will continue to make every effort to create an easy and fun mobile experience by expanding our incredibly popular GALAXY smartphone range, which is now one of the most recognized and successful mobile brands in the world.” Read more