Live from Sony’s 2013 IFA press conference

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We’re live at Sony’s 2013 IFA press conference where the company is expected to announced new Xperia devices alongside the much rumored attachable camera lens product for smartphones that just landed on Amazon for $500. We’ll be bringing you the live blow by blow when the event kicks off in the coming minutes.

- Sony execs are talking innovation and its success in the European market with televisions and its digital camera line.

-Sony announced the next generation Cybershot RX1R

- Sony execs just briefly mentioned a new music video recorder and a new action cam- no word on Android yet.

- New 4K handycam coming later this month along with two new models of 4K tvs for the European market– still no Android.

-Sony just officially announced the Xperia Z1 (aka the “Honami” that has leaked out a lot in recent weeks.

- Exmor RS G lens and Bionz for Mobile in Xperia Z1.

- A new ‘Social Live’ feature for Xperia Z1 will let users capture video and stream it to social networks live as they are filming.

- Sony is detailing Timeshift burst, a feature that allows users to snap and save multiple photos at once.

-AR effect lets users capture images with augmented reality effects on the new Xperia. It includes an open SDK for app developers.

- The Xperia Z1 will come in black, white, and blue as pictured above

-Qualcomm snapdragon process (“and all the specs you’d expect”, according to Sony)

-will come with 100 euro worth of content from Music Unlimited and Sony’s movie services.

-Sony says its previously announced SmartWatch 2 will launch later this month.

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-CyberShot lens officially announced. Two models (QX10 and QX100) will be available for the Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z.

-On top of Xperia devices, Sony says the CyberShot lens will work with “almost any smartphone” with an attachment.

-Xperia Z1 launches later this month.

Google Play launches ‘A Rock and a Hard Place’ music promotion offering albums as low as $3.99

From 9to5Toys.com:

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The Google Play music store has kicked off ‘A Rock and a Hard Place’ promotion which offers rock and metal albums for as low as $3.99. There are a total of 90 discounted albums from the biggest classic rock and current metal groups: Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, Five Finger Death Punch, Black Sabbath, System of a Down, and more. No word from Google on how long the promo will last so if you see an album you like be sure to grab it soon.

HTC’s woes continue with arrests and alleged Chinese government conspiracy

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HTC’s former VP of Product Design Thomas Chien (photo: HTC blog)

Taiwanese company HTC has not been having a happy time of late. Senior departures, including its COO; a halving of market share since 2011; former UK execs setting up a rival company; disappointing Q2 financials; and the possibility of the first ever loss in the company’s history in Q3.

But the latest saga in the company’s troubles read more like the plot of a soap opera than real-life. First, several of HTC’s former lead designers were arrested last week on suspicion of fraudulent expenses claims and leaking of trade secrets. Now Engadget reports that one of those arrested, ex-VP of Product Design Thomas Chien, may have been involved in a conspiracy with a Chinese municipal government to use both the trade secrets are purloined cash to create a rival smartphone company in China …  Read more

Google’s clever workaround for manufacturers & carriers slow to update Android

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One of the reasons we’re keen on Nexus devices is that you’re guaranteed to get Android updates as soon as they are available – unlike many handsets where you’re at the mercy of manufacturers and carriers, who update either slowly or not at all. The effect of slow-acting OEMs and carriers has been a highly-fragmented Android market, with less than half of all devices running Jelly Bean.

Google can’t do anything about this, but arstechnica has a fascinating piece on why that doesn’t matter. First, Google has put most of the really cool stuff into new or updated apps, rather than into the OS itself. Google Hangouts, Google Play Games, Google Play Music, cloud saving of game data and so on. Nothing we didn’t know there. But the clever – or sneaky, depending on how you look at it – part of this is how Google makes this approach work, even with elderly versions of Android …  Read more

Google apparently slips unannounced Nexus phone in its KitKat video

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Earlier today, Google announced its upcoming Android 4.4 KitKat software update. In tandem with the announcement, Google posted a video that showcases the unveiling of the KitKat statue at the company’s headquarters.

At about 38-39 seconds into the video (embedded below), a Google employee is seen taking photos or video recording the statue with an unknown Nexus device (on the left).

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Close-up shot, click for larger

The backplate seems similar to that found on the new Nexus 7, and the camera lens appears to be larger than the current-generation Nexus 4. Speaking of the camera, Google executive Vic Gundotra previously hinted at major advances in the Android camera department:

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The unannounced phone also appears larger in size, so perhaps the new device will sport a bigger screen.

The next Nexus phone is rumored to debut in Q4. The video below has been pulled since this report was published, perhaps indicating that this was a true leak.

Here’s a copy of the video:

And here’s the new phone blown up:

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Thanks, Michael!

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Android 4.4 has a name: KitKat

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Google’s SVP of Android, Sundar Pichai just announced over 1 billion Android activations and the name of the next Android operating system on Twitter. Android 4.4 will be named after the Nestlé KitKat bar. A giant “chocolate” Android statue has also appeared alongside the previous Android mascots on Google’s campus.

As far as the changes in Android 4.4, Google says they are trying to “make an amazing Android experience available for everybody,” but so far there’s no indication of what that actually means.

To celebrate, Nestlé and Google have teamed up to giveaway a Nexus 7 and Google Play Store credits in specially-marked Kit Kat bars.

Nexus 4 8GB model goes out of stock, underlining expectations of Nexus 5 next month

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Just days after a $100 price-cut, the 8GB version of the Nexus 4 has gone out of stock in the U.S. at the Google Play Store. The 16GB model is still available at the time of writing and 8GB is available in the UK.

The Verge is reporting a Google source as saying that the model will not come back into stock, strongly suggesting that the company is clearing inventory ready for the expected Nexus 5 replacement next month, with some sources suggesting that 31st October is the launch-date. There are conflicting reports about whether the device will be made by LG or Motorola.

Via Droid-life

Acer claims first smartphone to record 4K video – but will sell in Europe before USA

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Smartphone manufacturers are making it hard to keep up to date these days: just as we’d got used to enjoying the ability to record 1080p full HD videos, the first handsets capable of recording 4K video are emerging. Google added 4K video support to Android in the latest 4.3 version.

Acer is claiming that its 6-inch Liquid S2 will be the first, though as the phone is being officially unveiled at the IFA this week, it may have company from Samsung’s new Galaxy Note – also rumored to have 4K recording on board. The Acer also won’t be available in the U.S. at launch, with the handset hitting Europe first …  Read more

Galaxy Gear smart watch photos confirmed as prototype as more details emerge

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GigaOM has confirmed suspicions that the leaked photos of the Galaxy Gear smart watch were indeed of a prototype device made available to developers. The actual device being launched on Wednesday will be a much more finished product.

Battery-life was also added to the things we now know about the watch.

  • High quality OLED displays will show the full spectrum of colors.
  • The display will be around 2.5 inches diagonally (and 3 inches diagonally including the case.)
  • It will be powered by a dual core processor, probably a Samsung Exynos 4212 dual core 1.5GHz with Mali-400 MP4 GPU.
  • It has a camera and a microphone integrated into the strap and even tiny speakers.
  • It has Built in NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • The Gear is powered by Android 4.3, with keyboard featured turned off.
  • The device won’t have a browser and will need the phone to tether to the Internet.
  • It will need a Samsung device with a watch-focused app store to install apps on the watch.
  • It has a built-in accelerometer and other sensors that will allow it to act has a quantified self device.
  • Expect battery power to be 24 hours with modest use, but around 10 hours with more active usage …  Read more

Purported photos of Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Gear fitness-oriented watch leak out

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As Samsung’s September 4th unveiling of its Galaxy Gear smart watch approaches, some purported photos of the device have been obtained by VentureBeat. The device is expected to carry a 2.5-inch display, dual-core processor, and fitness functionality.

According to VentureBeat‘s report the watch is a “smartphone companion” that is meant to compete in a world of Nike Fuel Band-like devices. The design is described as fairly basic:

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