Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sony Announces Waterproof Android Phones, the Xperia Go and Arco S


Sony Xperia Go
Sony's Xperia Go will launch as the Xperia Advance in the U.S., and run on Android Gingerbread. Photo: Sony
Finally, a couple of phones that can survive soda spills and even accidental drownings.
Sony announced two waterproof smartphones on Wednesday. They both run dual-core processors, but one of the new handsets will ship with an outdated version of Google’s Android operating system.
The Xperia Go and the Xperia Arco S are both set for release in the third quarter of this year, though Sony officials haven’t yet said how much the phones will sell for when they launch. The Xperia Go, which will be called the Xperia Advance in the U.S., will ship running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), though an upgrade to Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is promised.
The Xperia Arco S will ship with Sony’s skinned version of Android 4. The latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, debuted last November on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and six months later, top phone makers such as Motorola, HTC, LG and Sony are still struggling to offer software updates to consumers. The Xperia Go’s use of Gingerbread is simply the latest example of this.
The Go is aimed decidedly at the low-end of the smartphone market, with a 3.5-inch touchscreen sporting a 480×320 resolution. Inside, the Go will house a 1GHz dual-core processor and a 5MP rear camera. The Go will be sold in either black, white or yellow.
The Arco S is aimed toward the high-end, with a 1.5GHz dual-core CPU, NFC connectivity, a 12MP rear camera and a 4.3-inch 720p display. The Arco S will be offered in black, white and pink. Both the Go and the Arco S feature scratch resistant screens and, impressively, the ability to track finger input even when covered in water — something most waterproof gadgets can’t do.
Sony Xperia Arco S
The Sony Xperia Arco S is waterproof. Photo: Sony

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rightware Android benchmark lists “Google Asus Nexus 7″ device


In one inconspicuous little benchmark table, two previously unconfirmed rumors seem to be more than likely as though they’re the real deal – first, that Google is in fact working on putting its stamp of approval an an Android tablet, and second that the tablet in question will be manufactured by Asus. Rightware’s Power Board now lists a “Google Asus Nexus 7″ device with an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and 720p resolution that sure looks like what we’ve been expecting.
It’s believed the device will carry the “Nexus” name, which has been used in the naming of every Android phone that Google has had an active hand in developing. Although the Nexus phones are seen as one streamlined line of devices, they’ve been made by different manufacturers and available on different carriers so Google doesn’t look like it’s playing favorites.
It’s been rumored for some time that Google was also toiling behind-the-scenes to come up with a Nexus-branded tablet, but the question of which manufacturer would get the honors has been largely mysterious. Earlier this year, it came out of the woodwork that Asus might the manufacturer of choice, since it is well known for creating low-cost electronics. It was also reported that the tablet is likely to cost between $150 and $200.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

GameStop Pitches Android Tablets to Gamers


As gamers are slowly abandoning their portable consoles in favor of smartphones and tablets, it might come as no surprise that GameStop, the top U.S. games retailer, is now turning to Android tablets to boost sales. The retailer announced a variety of tablets running on Google’s mobile OS are on sale at more than 1,600 of its U.S. stores, from manufacturers such as Acer, Asus and Toshiba.
There aren’t as many games and apps for Android tablets compared to the iPad, so GameStop will pre-load a bunch of free games with each tablet sold, including Sonic CD, Riptide, a free issue of GameStop’s gaming mag, Game Informer, and the Kongregate Arcade gaming app that GameStop acquired.
GameStop’s Android tablets offer starts from $230 for a 7-inch Acer Iconia 8GB tablet, all the way up to $400 for a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 16GB and to $500 for an Asus Transformer Prime 32GB. The Toshiba Excite 10 should be available later for $450 and GameStop also stocks pre-owned iPads, starting at $300.
If you’re short on cash but have a pile of old games you’re not playing anymore, you can buy one of these tablets from GameStop with trades of games, consoles and even an old iPod, iPhone or iPad, or use the trade-ins as credit toward the purchase.
Last year, GameStop president Tony Bartel said in an interview the company is considering making its own tablet if it can’t find an Android tablet that is great for gaming. Later in 2011 the company began trialing selling a limited number of Android tablets at some 200 stores, leading up to the latest push of several models across most of its stores.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Android on a budget: Kogan launches 'cheapest tablet on the market'


Kogan Agora
Entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan claims his Agora tablet is the cheapest on the market. Picture: Kogan
  • Kogan puts tablet sellers in the hotseat with budget model
  • Agora tablet costs $179 and runs Ice Cream Sandwich OS
  • "The Kogan Agora 10 is the cheapest, by a long shot"
AUSTRALIAN consumer electronics manufacturer Kogan has launched a budget Android tablet it says is the cheapest in its category.
The Agora 10-inch tablet  retails for $179 and runs Android's latest Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 operating system.
A 16G version is also available for $199.
"For a multi-touch screen like this with these features and Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich, the new Kogan Agora 10 is the cheapest, by a long shot," Kogan founder Ruslan Kogan said.
"There were lots of really cheap tablets on the market, (but) some don't have a capacitive touchscreen, often have really old CPUs, smaller screens, and they definitely don't have Android 4.0."
Most 8GB, 10-inch tablets sell from between $219 to $430 according to data from the Get Price comparison site .
The Agora contains a 1.2GHz processor, 1G of RAM and has two 2MP cameras on the front and back.
Mr Kogan said he was thinking of his mum when he decided to include a USB and microSD port for easy data transfer.
"My mum has an iPad and she thinks it's awesome and easy to use, but she would always ask me: 'How do I put movie on here, or take music off?'" he said
"The iPad closes you off in that regard, so the USB and microSD input make it a bit easier."
Although the operating system was open source, Mr Kogan said he and his developers didn't fiddle with it too much, and that they were purely motivated by cost.
"The main feedback we heard from our customers on tablets is that I want one, but I don't need one," he said.
Mr Kogan said he had fixed some of the problems that plagued some of his previous products.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Motorola releases official demo videos of its Android 4.0 skin


Motorola is getting ready to update some of devices to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. In preparation, they have released a series of videos showing off their latest version of their custom UI formely known as MotoBlur. The series of videos shows off the new Webtop 3.0, the new lock screen, screenshots, the browser, notifications, and much more.
Of course, if you’re one of the people running a leaked build of ICS for your Motorola device, then you’ve probably seen some of these features already.
Although Motorola has kept their custom UI in their ICS update, it looks like they’ve added some useful features and have gotten rid of some useless features. Overall, things are skinned so badly that you don’t even recognize that you’re running Android 4.0 ICS.
The new lock screen features for shortcuts that let you access messaging, the dialer, the camera, or simply unlock the screen. On the top of the lock screen, there’s a new toggle that allows you to quickly silence your device. When it comes to social networking, Motorola has gotten rid of its all-in-one social networking app and is encouraging users to download Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn apps instead.
Based on these videos, it looks like Motorola is trying to do good things with its custom UI. There’s still no word on what will happen now that it has finally been acquired by Google. Either way, things are looking good.
Those of you with upgrade-able Motorola devices, are you looking forward to the new custom UI? Let us know in the comments below.

Navigating Around Android 4.0:



Mobile viewing link

Webtop 3.0 Basics:



Mobile viewing link

Lock and Home Screen:



Mobile viewing link

Taking and Sharing Screenshots:



Mobile viewing link

Camera:



Mobile viewing link

Face Unlock:



Mobile viewing link

Notification Window:



Mobile viewing link

Buttons and Icons:



Mobile viewing link

Browser:



Mobile viewing link

Dialer and Contacts:



Mobile viewing link

Placing Shortcuts and Widgets:



Mobile viewing link

More Widgets and Shortcuts:



Mobile viewing link

Folders:



Mobile viewing link

Social Networking:



Mobile viewing link

Data Usage:


Facebook purchase, Android app up Instagram uniques


Instagram Facebook
Instagram's Facebook page, filtered through Instagram. (Los Angeles Times / May 26, 2012)

A month after two of its two most important moments -- its jump to Android and its acquisition by Facebook -- Instagram has already reaped some of the rewards, seeing its number of unique visitors grow by 78%.
The dramatic gain in traffic placed the little photo filtering mobile app at the top of the web for growth in April, according to  ComScore Inc., which released the statistics Thursday. 
Instagram brought in nearly 14.6 million different individuals to its service in April, making the app the 106th-most visited property on the Internet.
By comparison, the app grew by just 19% in March with 8.2 million uniques, leaving it No. 204 on the most visited list.
Instagram's uptick was undoubtedly tied to the start-up's expansion onto Google's platform of Android phones, the leader of the smartphone market. The Android Instagram app arrived in early April, and at that time Instagram had about 30 million users.
After April's growth, Instagram is now believed to have more than 50 million users, according toVenture Beat . And of course, the mainstream exposure it received following its Facebook pick-up couldn't have hurt.
The social network giant bought Instagram just a few days after it added its Android app for the sum of $1 billion. The purchase is seen as a step by Facebook to expand its success to the smartphone platform and begin generating revenue from its mobile users.
But after Facebook released its own camera app this week, it will be interesting to see how Instagram's growth in May and June will be affected. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Smartphone competitors fail to make up with IOS and ANDROID


Smartphones running Apple’s iOS platform and Google’s Android operating system are outshining the rest of the smartphone market, says a new report from market researcher IDC. Both Android and iOS have seen their share of the smartphone market grow progressively over the last twelve 
months, with Android accounting for 59% of the smartphone market and iOS 23%. During the first quarter of 2011 Android and iOS accounted for a combined share of 54.4%.
"The popularity of Android and iOS stems from a combination of factors that the competition has struggled to keep up with," says Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program. "Neither Android nor iOS were the first to market with some of these features, but the way they made the smartphone experience intuitive and seamless has quickly earned a massive following."
Previous market leader Symbian saw a sharp decline over the last year as Nokia transitioned to Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. BlackBerry was also on a downwards spiral falling from 13.6% of the market in 2011 to 6.1% in 2012.
While Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile currently accounts for just 2.2% of the market, the platform is expected to show moderately increased growth in the latter half of the year and beyond as both Nokia and Microsoft boost WP7 sales volumes. IDC notes that platform growth will be slow until “Nokia speeds the cadence of its smartphone releases or more vendors launch their own Windows Phone-powered smartphones.”
A separate report from analyst firm ABI Research suggests shipments of “phablets” -- devices that are bigger than smartphones but smaller than tablets -- such as the Android-powered Samsung Galaxy Note will exceed 208 million units globally by 2015.
“One of the chief drivers for phablets is the amount of time people use their smartphones for web browsing, reading articles and newspapers on the go, or simply navigating their journeys,” says senior ABI analyst Joshua Flood. “The larger screen sizes make a significant difference to the user’s experience when compared to conventional-sized touchscreens between 3.5 to 4 inches.” Additionally, new phablet-styled devices provide an attractive two-in-one device proposition and are beginning to see the competition between these larger smartphone form factors and smaller media tablets (less than seven inches)."

Will Android in-app subscriptions attract magazine and newspaper apps?


Android in-app subscriptions
Glu Mobile's games will be using Android in-app subscriptions from launch
Google introduced in-app purchases on its Android Market store in March 2011, but that feature has now been expanded to include auto-renewing subscriptions as well as one-off payments.
Android developers distributing their apps through what's now the Google Play store can sell monthly or annual subscriptions, with Google handling the transactions. Android users can view and cancel subscriptions from within the Google Play Store app on their devices.
In a blog post  announcing the news, Google Play product manager Ibrahim Elbouchikhi stresses that this isn't just about magazine and newspaper apps.
"Developers can use them to monetize premium dynamic content such as journals and magazines, but they can also use them to sell access to bundled products, game levels, music and video content, value-added services, or any other digital content."
Indeed, the sole launch developer mentioned in the blog post is a games company, Glu Mobile, which will be using Google's subscription billing to sell "custom VIP currency packages" for some of its freemium Android games.
The subscription billing isn't just for digital publications, then, but that's the area where it could have the biggest impact. The ability to charge for six or 12 months at a time rather than just single purchases removes one of the barriers that has stopped more publishers porting their digital editions from iOS to Android.
Note: one of the barriers. A number of print publishers remain spooked by Android fragmentation (device screen size, OS version, etc – these concerns are well known, and Google has been working on the problem ).
The sheer size of the addressable Android smartphone market – 89.8m handsets shipped in Q1 2012 alone for a 59% market share according toIDC's latest stats  – is what's persuading publishers of other kinds of apps to stop complaining about Android fragmentation and start the necessary investment to deal with it.
Is that true of magazine and newspaper companies? I'm not so sure: even for those who offer smartphone and tablet versions of their digital editions, it's the tablet that is foremost in their minds when planning strategy. It's good that Android tablet owners can now pay with subscriptions, but it's a case of when there will be enough of them to make this a valuable business.
Which is not to say that magazine and newspaper publishers aren't keen on Android. It's more accurate to say they're keen on specific Android devices.
Numerous times recently when I've talked to currently-iOS-only publishers and asked them about Android plans, the conversation has rapidly become one about Amazon's Kindle Fire and (for US publishers) Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet.
And, of course, both of these are tied into those companies' billing systems rather than the Google Play store. Where Google's new billing will have an impact is when other Android tablets – Samsung's Galaxy Tab for example – have wide enough install bases to make tempting targets.
In other words, don't expect an immediate rush of digital magazines and newspapers onto the Google Play store. Still, in-app subscriptions are one of the key building blocks required for Android to rise up print publishers' priorities lists.
Note: as an external freelancer, I don't have inside information on The Guardian's Android tablet plans; nor does this blog post represent the newspaper's thinking on the matter.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Google announces in-app subscriptions for Android apps


The new in-app subscription feature should open up new revenue opportunities.
(Credit: Google)
Google today announced a new feature for Android  applications offered through the Google Play store. Available immediately for Android developers, in-app subscriptions will allow users to pay for monthly or annual subscriptions directly inside of apps. And as detailed  by Google, the feature is set to auto-renew by default with transactions managed by the Google Play store.
In addition to adding a new level of convenience, the move opens the door to added revenue streams  and even new types of content through Google Play. Looking forward, today's announcement could entice magazines and news journals to offer subscriptions to consumers directly through Google Play.
After introducing in-app billing  a year ago, Google now says that it has become quite profitable for developers. According to the Android Developers blog, 23 of the 24 top-grossing apps in Google Play take advantage of the feature, and the total revenue generated from in-app purchases exceeds that from traditional in-store purchases.
The first apps to implement the in-app subscription feature are expected to arrive in the coming days. Glu Mobile, a popular Android game developer, advises that it will release updated versions of its top titles  with subscriptions through custom VIP currency packages.
Developers interested in offering in-app subscriptions are encouraged to log in to the Android dashboard and review the in-app billing documentation. Google advises that it has already enabled back-end support for devices running Google Play 3.5 or higher and that users can begin buying subscriptions immediately.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fake Android apps scam costs £28,000 till now


Malicious Android apps posed as Angry Birds and Cut the Rope in a scam that used premium rate text messages to defraud customers of £27,850.

A HTC smartphone and an Apple iPhone are displayed for the photographer at a mobile phone shop in Taiwan
Malevolent smartphone apps were 'trojanised' by posing as Angry Birds or Cut the Rope Photo: Reuters
The attack took place at the end of last year and affected 1,391 mobile numbers in the UK. Although regulator PhonepayPlus received just 34 complaints, all those who lost money will automatically be refunded. The most any individual is thought to have lost is £80.
The fake apps were planted in the Android Market, posing as Angry Birds, Assassins Creed, Cut the Rope and other popular titles. The ‘Trojanised’ attacks gained access to users’ phones when they were downloaded and then sent three premium rate text messages each time the app was opened, without the users’ knowledge. The total cost was therefore £15 each time the app was accessed, and a number of users attempted to start the app several times before realising it wasn’t working as the real apps would.
Although Google removes malicious apps from the Android Market, now called the Play Store, it does not vet apps before they are uploaded. PhonepayPlus found evidence of the app in 18 countries.
Premium rate SMS Trojans account for 36.4 per cent of malware on smartphones, the second largest form of malware after spyware, according to figures from Juniper Research. These Trojans sent premium rate messages without consent, providing direct revenue to criminals, PhonepayPlus claimed.
The malicious apps were posted to the Google Android Market in mid November and the first complaint was made to PhonepayPlus on November 28. The regulator requested immediate suspension of the text message shortcodes on December 16.
source: the telegraph

Samsung Galaxy S III is the most pre-ordered Android phone ever


Samsung Galaxy S III running Android Ice Cream SandwichLaunched earlier this month, the handset is already smashing records set by the Samsung Galaxy S II, the crimson-coloured operator has let slip.
A Vodafone spokesperson told The INQUIRER that demand for Samsung's latest flagship Android smartphone has been off the charts since it kicked off pre-orders. It said, "We've been really encouraged by our customers' response to the Samsung Galaxy S III."
"With over a week to go until launch, it's already the most pre-ordered Android device we've brought into our smartphone line-up to date and our limited time offer of 2GB of mobile data and 100 free music tracks is being snapped up."
The Carphone Warehouse echoed these remarks from Vodafone, saying yesterday that it has also seen huge demand for the third generation Galaxy phone. Graham Stapleton, the retailer's chief commercial officer said, "The Galaxy S3 is without a doubt the fastest selling pre-order of 2012 so far. We're gearing up for an exceptionally busy launch day at the end of the month as the handset lands on shelves at our stores across the UK."
It's not all that surprising that the Galaxy S III is already flying off the shelves, given its impressive specifications. The phone boasts a 4.8in AMOLED touchscreen, a quad-core processor, an 8MP HD 1080p camera and a pebble-like polycarbonate chassis that supposedly feels 'natural' in the hand.
Check back next week for our Samsung Galaxy S III review.
Source: 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Android Malware Spikes in 2012


Android malware SW
According to McAfee the number of malicious Android apps surged from the hundreds to the thousands in the first quarter of 2012, compared to the same period last year.
In "McAfee Threats Report: First Quarter 2012" the company reported that the number of mobile threats on Android reached 7,000 samples, while Symbian, Java ME (mobile edition), and "others" combined reached only 1,000.
Adam Wosotowsky, messaging data architect at McAfee Labs, attributed at least half of the newly detected malware to McAfee's better detection methods, such as identifying more third party app stores and improving its scanning technology. Even taking this into consideration, he estimates Android malware has "definitely more than doubled" since the same time last year. 
Not the "Year of Android Malware" Yet...The figures are alarming, but it's still fairly easy to keep your Android devices clean of malware. For starters, steer clear of third-party app stores (outside Google Play or Amazon App Store for Android). Unlike in the PC environment where worms can spread without any user involvement, mobile infections still rely on users installing malicious apps. Most Android malware still originates from and targets users in China and Russia, and gets distributed through non-official app stores.
However, attackers are becoming more sophisticated in their methods. In early May, Lookout Mobile Security reported a primitive sort of drive-by download, where attackers used compromised websites to trick Android users into installing the "NotCompatible" Trojan. When a user visited a compromised website, the malicious app would automatically begin downloading. However a user would still be prompted to install the app before it could exploit anything. 
McAfee also found "significant amounts" of new adware, which even security-conscious Android owners can catch from official app stores. 
Mobile adware refers to code within ad networks that can access more data perform more functions on your device than you're probably aware of. For example in January, vendors Symantec and Lookout squabbled over the the shade of grey of one particularly aggressive ad network being used to monetize free Android apps. Symantec initially identified it as malware called "Android.Counterclank," but hours later, Lookout Mobile Security said the SDK in question was really an aggressive ad network called "Apperhand" that placed a search icon on your mobile desktop without your permission, and pushed ads through the notice bar. 
Google Play doesn't block adware (after all it runs one of the most ubiquitous ad networks, AdMob) which can be a bigger problem for Android owners.
Fortunately, many vendors now offer ad network detectors that explain what the ad network dropped in your Angry Birds Lite can do. Check out Lookout Ad Network Detector or TrustGo Ad Detector for such tools. 
As far as mobile security suites go, Lookout for Android is PCMag's Editors' Choice for Android security, but other high-performing malware detectors include F-Secure Mobile Security 7.6 and McAfee Mobile Security 2.0. All have free versions that include a quick malware scan.

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HTC clears air on Android 4.0 updates, none for phones with less than 512MB of ROM


HTC has updated the timeline of Android 4.0 release for their smartphones and tablets today. The new timeline gives a clear schedule of update roll-out. Company has also cleared the air on which devices will not be getting the Ice Cream Sandwich update and why.Here is the schedule of HTC Android smartphones in India and when they are expected to get the ICS update.
  • HTC Desire S - June-July
  • HTC Desire HD - July-August
  • HTC EVO 3D - June-July
  • HTC Incredible S - June-July
  • HTC Sensation - March-June
  • HTC Sensation XE - March-June
  • HTC Sensation XL - April-Jun
  • HTC Rhyme - June-July
Company has stated that HTC ChaCha, HTC Salsa, HTC Wildfire S, HTC Explorer, and others smartphones with less than 512MB of ROM will not be receiving the ICS update. It also added that HTC Flyer will remain on Android 3.2.
For those of you wondering about the HTC Sense version available with the Android 4.0 updates, it is HTC Sense 3.6. Some aspects of Sense 4 require dedicated hardware that is why it is not available on all devices, stated HTC.

Five Android apps worth paying for


Many apps in the Google Play store are free, but if you limit yourself to free apps you’re missing out on some of the best that Android has to offer. Here are five apps that I bought myself and can personally recommend. Prices vary over time and by country, but none of them are currently over $4.

9GAG+ by Jan Grewe

9gag is a quirky, amusing, and often rude web site that will have you in stitches in no time. While there are, um, a “gaggle” of apps that can be used to browse the site, this is the best one I’ve found. Navigation is amazingly quick, and stays out of your way. Simply touch the left or right side of the screen, or use the volume up or down controls to go to the next or previous page. The gags are zoomed automatically to fill your whole screen whether you are in portrait or landscape mode.
If I have any complaint about the app, it’s that sharing gags with your friends is not as easy as it could be.  A free version with a few less features is available, but it’s worth buying the paid one once you get hooked. Keep in mind that not all the gags are safe for work. Challenge accepted.

Asteroid Defense 2 by Deonn Games

It’s Asteroids meets Tower Defense in this brilliantly executed arcade game. You start off small, but quickly build a large space station to fend off the rocky attack. Different units provide shields, power generation, maintence bots, and a wide variety of weapons. Here’s a hint: try to build a V shape to trap and destroy the asteroids before they make it through your front line. Watch out for space dragons!

Jelly Defense by Infinite Dreams

If you like Tower Defense games, Jelly Defense is a must buy. Even if you don’t like TD’s, you will after you try this one. Jelly monsters are trying to steal your crystals, so what do you do? Build Jelly blasters and bombers zappers to keep them at bay. But watch out, because at the end of each level, a Jelly boss lumbers out on the screen. He’s so cute you almost hate to put him down. Almost.
The graphics on this game are stunning, especially on a high saturation display like a Samsung Galaxy Tab. And do yourself a favor - plug in your headphones to enjoy the music and hilarious sound effects. Best played on a big screen, but works on any modern device.

Bubble Pro Live Wallpaper by Xllusion

Do you like playing with bubbles? Sure you do. With this live wallpaper you can pop all the bubbles you want without having to worry about spilling the soap. Bubbles form at the bottom of your screen and slowly float to the top, where they pop against the edge of your display. If you tilt the screen left or right, the bubbles will start going in that direction. The program is highly customizable, and even has a game mode where you can pop bubbles for points. You might want to turn your sound down for that one, though. A Lite version is available, but it’s worth a few coins just to get the Ninja Droid and Bat Droid bubbles.

SystemPanel by NextApp

SystemPanel is so much more than a task manager. It gives you access to a wealth of information about your Android device and its inner workings. Need to monitor CPU and battery usage over time? SystemPanel does that. Curious about how many of your cores are being used, what clock rate they are running, and how hot they are? SystemPanel does that. It also can keep backup copies of all versions of your apps so you can go back to older versions, without requiring root access.
This is one of the most impressive Android apps I have ever seen. I use it almost every day, and it’s the first app that I install whenever I get a new phone or tablet. You can try out all the features in a Lite version before you buy if you like, but for developers and power users, SystemPanel is an absolute must have.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Amazon's Android Appstore Allows Users to Test Apps on Phones


You no longer need a PC browser to test out apps from Amazon’s Appstore for Android. The online retailer recently announced that you can try out apps before you buy them by using the company’s new beta feature, Test Drive for Android. All you need is a compatible device and the Amazon Appstore for Android app version 2.6.53 or higher.

Amazon's Android Appstore Allows Users to Test Apps on PhonesThe company said only select Android devices will be able to use the new feature at launch, but did not elaborate on which phones were compatible. If your phone is compatible, a green “Test Drive” button will appear on an app’s product page above the “Save for Later” and “Share” buttons. Amazon said more devices will be able to use the new feature in the coming months.

Amazon has more than 5,000 Android apps ready to use Test Drive, and it aims to make the entire Appstore catalog available. At launch, only apps that use basic touchscreen features and device accelerometers have Test Drive enabled. Apps that require multitouch, a keyboard, microphone, camera, gyroscope, near-field communication (NFC), or GPS are not yet available.

Unlike Google Play’s 15-minute refund policy, Amazon’s beta version of Test Drive for Android does not require you to purchase the app first to try it out. Instead, the company puts the power of the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) servers to work. Whenever you try an app via Test Drive, a version of the app is launched on Amazon’s EC2 servers. Your taps and other inputs are sent to Amazon’s servers, and all display and audio outputs are sent back to your device. You can purchase an app at any point during your test drive.

Amazon's Android Appstore Allows Users to Test Apps on PhonesTo check if your phone has the latest version of Amazon Appstore for Android, open the app’s settings. You should see the version of your app under “Version and Release Notes.”

Amazon originally launched Test Drive as a PC-only feature in early 2011 with the debut of the Appstore for Android. The company said it has enabled more than 16,000 apps for the PC-based version of Test Drive since then.

 

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