Foursquare Android app updates with Android Beam and ICS support, VP teases multiplatform NFC expansion

Social check-in network Foursquare updated its Android app to encompass Android Beam and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich support.

NFC support on Android products, dubbed the “Android Beam” P2P service, allows devices to exchange data through a small tap/wave gesture over short distances. Foursquare’s upgrade subsequently gives users with Android 4 smartphones the ability to share social discovery information by tapping any two NFC-enabled devices together, and the app embraces NFC tag-reading capabilities for check in’s. NFC is available on Foursquare’s Venue, Lists and Me pages.

“The user experience is great. You just hold your phone against the tap [point]. The check-in screen automatically pops up with the right venue. You’re basically shaving very valuable seconds off the check-in process,” said Foursquare’s Vice President of Mobile International Holger Luedorf during a recent Untether.tv audio interview

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Images of new HTC device running Android 4.0 leak ahead of MWC

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With the Mobile World Congress set to kick off later this month Feb. 27 to March 1 in Barcelona, Spain, PhoneArena (via BGR) posted alleged leaked photos of an unannounced HTC device running Ice Cream Sandwich. Your guess is as good as any when it comes to what the device will market as, but we do learn much about the mystery Android 4.0 smartphone’s specs.

The hardware information screen from one of the images indicates the device will sport a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, an 8-megapixel main camera (VGA on front), 1GB of RAM, and LTE capabilities. The report said sources claim the device has an AMOLED display and runs Sense UI 4.0 on top of ICS.

As for the device’s physical design, there are not many clues as to whether this is an upgraded model or a new product line. PhoneArena noted the backside of the device appears similar to the DROID Incredible 2, which led them to speculate it could possible be the HTC DROID Incredible 3. The design is not a huge departure from most of the company’s current smartphone offerings.

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Verizon rolls out updates for Droid RAZR, RAZR Maxx, XOOM LTE and XYBOARD tablet

Verizon Wireless began to roll out updates today for a slew of its devices. Motorola’s Droid RAZR, RAZR Maxx, and XOOM LTE users are witnessing a mass update to version 6.12.73 that includes improved data stability on hotspot, V CAST app preloaded, and more. Both versions of Motorola’s XYBOARD tablet are also experiencing an update today. The update “1.6.0M_279″ is almost the same, except for a stylus improvements that affect the 10.1 version. Like always, if you are not seeing the update, simply go to “Settings>About phone>System” to push them through.

Official release notes are available after the break (via Droid Life):

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Google rolls out small change to Navigation Bar

Google rolled out its new black navigation bar in November 2011, and today it is seeing a small update. Google just detailed the change over on the Official Google Blog. The update includes links to top Google properties, a more unified look for the search box, and sharing to Google+, as detailed in the photo above.

The biggest change is that we’ve replaced the drop-down Google menu with a consistent and expanded set of links running across the top of the page. 

Google said users should see the change soon; it will roll out in the next few weeks.

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WSJ: ‘Google Android entertainment system’ coming later this year

A Federal Communications Commission filing from Google last week requested permission to test an unspecified “entertainment device” that would connect to home networks over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Today a report from The Wall Street Journal claimed the company is developing a Google-branded “home-entertainment system” for wirelessly streaming music.

Google Inc. is developing a home-entertainment system that streams music wirelessly throughout the home and would be marketed under the company’s own brand, according to people briefed on the company’s plans. The effort marks the Internet company’s first full-fledged effort to design and market consumer electronics devices under the Google brand, and represents a sharp shift in strategy.

Citing “people briefed on the company’s plans,” the report said the Android team leads the project, and it has been in development for several years. WSJ said the “Google Android entertainment system” would allow users to download content, possibly not limited to music, and stream it to other devices and Google-certified accessories. There was also a mention of controlling the device with a smartphone or tablet. WSJ’s source said the device would launch later this year.

Update: Silicon Filter points out the possibility that Google could have shown off prototypes for the new streaming device at Google I/O last year. Google stressed that they were “conceptual examples”. You can see the video from I/O after the break.

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Rumored Google Drive already being referenced to in Google Docs code

Rumors about Google Drive claim the product is Google’s new cloud file storage service. WSJ reported last night it is launching Google Drive in the coming weeks. Flickr user Sebastien Fuss (via GigaOm) discovered today that Google Docs is referencing the product through a code viewable in any browser, which reads: “Add to My Drive.” There is not any physical button in Google Docs, but the code reference is definitely interesting.

It should not be long before we see something out of Google. The Google Drive product will most likely integrate on Android and throughout its other services, like Google Docs and Google Plus.

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White version of the Galaxy Nexus shipping February 13th

The white version of the GSM Galaxy Nexus will ship Feb. 13 from retailer Negri Electronics for $659, according to Android and Me. Specs for the white version remain the same. The front of the white Galaxy Nexus feature some black, as we showed you in January, which is depicted in the gallery below. Just as comparison: Amazon offers the black version for $629.99.

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Google+ now half the size of Twitter


Marketing research firm Compete released a study depicting Google+ as half the size of Twitter, and it suggested the +1 button is now available everywhere on the Internet.

Click to enlarge.

Google’s social platform launched June 28, 2011 and quickly sought to combine personal search, custom social networking, and significance to any website with a new +1 feature (similar to Facebook’s “like” button). The Mountain View, Calif.-based Company saw $37.9 billion dollars of revenue last year— an appropriate correlation to its swelling Google+ service.

The social network reached a high of 20 million unique visitors, 50 million visits, and 200 million page views in December 2011, according to Compete. Those statistics corroborate recent estimates that peg Google+ as gaining 750,000 users daily.

“It is now safe to say that Google+ is becoming an enormous success, with nearly half of the unique visitors of Twitter (40,411,065 unique visitors in December),” announced Compete…

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Google Wallet cracked again, this time without root access

We told you yesterday that security firm zVelo was able to demonstrate a hack that would allow a user to bypass Google Wallet’s PIN verification system on a device with root access. We followed up with reports that Google was working on a fix for the bug. Now, a new hack posted online claims to allow access to Google Wallet without the need for root access, which further allows anyone to easily access funds in a few steps. TheSmartphoneChamp reported (via AndroidandMe):

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How to share screenshots of Google Earth explorations with your Google+ circles

The Google Earth team announced today on the official Lat Long blog a new feature that makes it easy to share attractive screenshots depicting Google Earth explorations with Google+ circles. Run the recently released Google Earth 6.2 program, find a place you like, zoom in on the best possible scene and hit the “Share” button. This sends a snapshot of the 3D view to your Google+ stream. Note that you must sign into your Google Account in the Google Earth application to share screenshots with Google+ circles.

Note: Google Earth is on Google+, too!

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HTC details phones that will get Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades next month

Following its November promise, Taiwanese handset maker HTC today detailed through its Facebook page the devices that will get Ice Cream Sandwich in March. The first round of upgrades will roll out by the end of March for the Sensation, Sensation 4G, and Sensation XE. The Sensation XL will upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich “soon thereafter,” the company noted. Additionally, other devices will get Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades “later this year,” including the Rezound, Vivid, Amaze 4G, EVO 3D, EVO Design 4G, Incredible S, Desire S, and Desire HD.

After posting a 26 percent profit drop for the holiday quarter, HTC warned it will scale back its 2012 roadmap to focus on flagship devices rather than spread itself thin developing, manufacturing and marketing dozens of short-lived phones. The company will make announcements at Mobile World Congress that runs Feb. 27 to March 1 in Barcelona, Spain. The rumor-mill thinks HTC will launch the Ville and Edge handsets at the show; the latter being billed the world’s first quad-core smartphone. The device should run Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip sporting four processing cores clocked at 1.5GHz.

 

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Galaxy Camera trademark hints Android-based digital cameras and camcordes from Samsung

A new trademark filing submitted to the United States Patent & Trademark Office suggests the South Korean conglomerate may have plans to take the Galaxy brand beyond smartphones and tablets. Samsung, of course, has an established digital camera business. The new “Galaxy Camera” trademark covers “Cameras and camcorders” and it could indicate that Samsung is developing a family of Android-based digital cameras and camcorders.

This makes a lot of sense, if you ask us. One could argue this category is ripe for a change. Moreover, Android is the perfect fit, because it is a software platform conceived to power all kinds of digital devices—not just smartphones and tablets. Finally, the timing could not be better as incumbents like Kodak phase out digital cameras, camcorders and digital picture frames from its portfolios. Besides, Samsung certainly has the manufacturing capabilities and market power to deploy Android successfully across this product category.

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