Saturday, 15 February 2014

Samsung Releases KitKat Kernel Source For Sprint Galaxy S4

gs4

While no US carrier-branded variants of the Galaxy S4 have received an official update to Android 4.4/KitKat yet, Samsung has dropped the KitKat kernel source for the Sprint's model. While that by itself is really only of interest to developers, its implications will matter to a much larger audience. Generally, Samsung does not release kernel source for builds that aren't official. Historically, once source code is made available, official OTA updates follow in reasonably short order.
sprint_gs4_kk_source
The new firmware build number is L720VPUFNAE. Currently, there is no official word from either Samsung or Sprint on when the accompanying OTA update will roll out, but if building kernels and hacking are your thing, go have fun.

Verizon "More Everything" Launches Tomorrow - Increased Data Caps, Lower Prices For Edge Subscribers

large
The big US carriers are currently falling all over themselves to tweak their plan offerings to be more competitive with each other. After changing the upgrade window of its Edge plans last month, Verizon is now preparing to offer more data on some plans, reduced prices for Edge customers, and more.
The More Everything campaign starts tomorrow, and we've got the promotional material sent out to representatives. The 500MB, 1GB, and 2GB Share Everything plans are getting boosted to 1GB, 2GB and 3GB caps. Edge customers are also seeing a price break of $10 for plans on 8GB or less of data, and $20 for 10GB or more. Existing Share Everything users will automatically be migrated to the new plans too. Verizon is also following AT&T's lead and offering Edge early upgrades to on-contract customers who purchased a phone prior to 11/13/13. This offer is only good through the end of March, though.
wm_IMG_20140212_112146
Part of this "More stuff" approach includes doubling network bandwidth in markets across the country – the scale of this upgrade isn't clear. Verizon will also throw in 25GB of Verizon Cloud storage space for free. All plans will also include international messaging from the US as a part of More Everything.
Verizon just posted a #More tease which seems to confirm this program. Keep an eye out tomorrow for official announcement.
[Thanks, anon]
 
 

Samsung Announces Pricing And Availability Info For The Galaxy Note And Tab PROs In Canada

NotePRO
Compared to 7 or 8 inches, 10 may seem like a lot to work with. But you know what? Boom, here's 12. These extra 2 inches come to us courtesy of Samsung. The company unveiled the new Galaxy Pro series at this year's CES, and the devices have gradually percolated to consumers throughout the world since. Today Samsung has shared pricing and availability information for Canada. The Galaxy PRO devices will roll out to various retailers starting now until the end of March.
The largest options, the 12.2-inch Galaxy NotePro and Galaxy TabPRO, go for $769.99 and $669.99 respectively. If those are just plain too big, the TabPRO 10.1 costs $519.99, with the TabPRO 8.4 being the most affordable option at $419.99. You can expect to find these products at Best Buy, Costco, Future Shop, The Source, Staples, Target, and or Walmart in the days ahead.
TabPRO
MISSISSAUGA, ON, Feb. 12, 2014 /CNW/ - Samsung Canada, market leaders of innovation and progressive design in the mobile industry, today announced the Canadian availability of the Galaxy PRO Series, allowing Canadians to Play More, Do More and Share More. Rolling out to retail shelves at the end of February through to the end of March, the PRO Series offers a superior viewing experience and unmatched productivity tools that will make Canadians feel like a PRO in every situation. The GALAXY PRO Series includes the GALAXY NotePRO which comes with a 12.2-inch screen as well as the GALAXY TabPRO which comes with a 12.2-inch, 10.1-inch or 8.4-inch screen.
"The GALAXY PRO Series showcases Samsung's continued commiment to groundbreaking innovation and setting new benchmarks in the tablet industry," said Paul Brannen, Senior VP, Enterprise and Mobilie Solutions, Samsung Canada. "The GALAXY NotePRO and TabPRO offer top of the line productivity tools as well as the best viewing experience possible. This series is truly game changing and further establishes Samsung's leadership in the mobile space."
The GALAXY NotePRO 12.2 and GALAXY TabPRO 12.2 are the world's first tablets to employ a 12.2-inch WQXGA Widescreen (16:10) display, which offers more than 4-million pixels and a crystal clear resolution (2560X1600) for the ultimate Full HD viewing experience. Equally impressive, the GALAXY TabPRO 10.1 (2560X1600) and GALAXY TabPRO 8.4 (1600X2560) screen resolutions allow users to experience their favourite content like never before. Combining premium style with powerful performance, the new tablets are perfect for every type of user and integrate seamlessly with Samsung smartphones and UHD TVs to create an unparalleled second screen experience.
PROductive:
  • With the GALAXY NotePRO's next-level S Pen, Samsung has made its signature feature even better. A modern evolution of classic note taking, the S Pen helps Canadians do and share more with the push of a button
  • The Enhanced Multi Window feature available on all PRO Series devices gives users the power to boost productivity by simultaneously running four different apps for the NotePRO 12.2 and TabPRO 12.2 and two apps for the TabPRO 10.1 and 8.4 on the same screen without having to toggle between functions and apps
  • Ideal for the on-the-go mom, the Scrapbook and Screen Write features on the GALAXY NotePRO let you instantly capture content wherever you are and add personal touches so you don't forget a single moment
PROgressive:
  • See more of the big picture with the GALAXY NotePRO and GALAXY TabPRO's WQXGA display, giving users plenty of space to work and incredible HD playback for all your favourite content
  • A true workhorse, the GALAXY PRO Series features the largest battery of any tablet. The GALAXY NotePRO 12.2, GALAXY TabPRO 12.2 and GALAXY TabPRO 10.1's octa-core processor and the GALAXY TabPRO 8.4's quad-core processor keep all your apps running at peak performance
  • Millennial consumers looking for a truly personal experience will appreciate the customizable Magazine UX, which combines your work, personal and social information in a highly visual, easy-to-use interface that is tailored to the user's individual needs
PROfessional:
  • Hancom Office, your on-the-go work suite, delivers the best in professional features by giving users the power to compose and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations in 42 supported languages right from your tablet
  • PRO Series users can now share more with Remote PC, which lets users find and transfer data remotely from their PC to their tablet whenever and wherever they need it. Similarly, Screen Mirroring makes it easy to display the tablet screen on a Samsung Smart TV through Wi-Fi Direct®and share content directly from the tablet onto the big screen
  • Samsung KNOX separates the GALAXY PRO Series into personal and work containers, giving business professionals and IT managers peace of mind knowing that their data is always safe
Pricing and Availability:
The GALAXY PRO Series of devices will be rolling on to retail shelves in Canada from late February to the end of March through select Canadian retailers including: Costco, Best Buy, Future Shop, Staples, The Source, Target and Walmart. MSRP is as follows:
  • Samsung GALAXY NotePRO 12.2-inch - $769.99
  • Samsung GALAXY TabPRO 12.2-inch - $669.99
  • Samsung GALAXY TabPRO 10.1-inch - $519.99
  • Samsung GALAXY TabPRO 8.4-inch - $419.99
*Note: All GALAXY PRO Series models may not be available at all retailers.
Perfect for Every PRO, the Ultimate User Content Gift Package:
For additional value and productivity right out of the box, the Samsung Galaxy NotePRO and TabPRO will feature premium pre-paid, long-term subscription offers from best-selling news, social media and cloud storage providers, including: Bitcasa, Bloomberg Businessweek+, Blurb, Cisco WebEx Meetings, Dropbox, Easilydo Pro for Tablet, Evernote, Hancom Office for Android, LinkedIn, LIVESPORT.TV, NY Times, Oxford Advanced Learner's A-Z, and Sketchbook Pro.
Exclusive to Canadian consumers, Samsung GALAXY Pro customers receive a special offer to access three months of Next Issue Canada, which offers readers easy, unlimited access to a catalogue of more than 125 popular Canadian and U.S. magazines, including Maclean's, FLARE, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Sports Illustrated and Chatelaine, plus their back issues, all in one app.
Designed to extend productivity even further, the following optional accessories are also available for purchase with the Galaxy NotePRO and TabPRO: Various Book Covers, USB LAN HUB, Universal BT Keyboard and S Action Mouse (accessories may vary by product model).

Hands On With Blu's Life Pure Mini: A Decent Mid-Ranger With A Simplistic Interface

wm_IMG_0663
Back in December, Blu released its first 1080p phone, the Life Pure. It's a drastically different device than other Blu phones, in that the launcher and primary interface are very iOS-like. While most Android users probably scoff at that, it's actually a pretty good option for anyone looking to make the leap from iPhone to Android, as it eases the transition. With that said, the five-inch display may be one thing holding some users back from making the jump to the Life Pure, and with that, Blu released the Pure's little brother, the Life Pure Mini. The screen size isn't the only difference, however – like Samsung's "mini" devices, it took a hit in the spec department compared to its larger sibling.
  • Display: 4.5-inch 1280x720 (326PPI), with Nex Lens and Infinite View Technology
  • Processor: Quad-Core 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6589T
  • GPU: PowerVR SGX544
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Camera: 8MP rear shooter, 2MP front
  • Storage: 16GB
  • Ports: microUSB, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Wireless: 3G 850 / 1900 or 850 / 2100 (microSIM); Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • OS: Android 4.2.1
  • Dimensions/Weight: 130 x 64.4 x 8.9 mm / 149g
  • Colors: Black, White
  • Battery: 3000mAh
  • Price: $249 unlocked
After looking at the specs, it's pretty clear that this is another mid-ranger from Blu. But it doesn't feel like the others, which applies to both software and hardware.
Right out of the box, there's one comparison that's hard to deny: the Pure Mini looks quite a bit like an iPhone 5c. I wouldn't necessarily say that's a bad thing, as I personally find the 5c to be a nice little device from an aesthetic perspective. Like the 5c, the Pure Mini features a one-piece wrap-around polycarbonate body, which is very sleek. I actually wish more devices would go for this sort of design.
The layout of the phone is nothing out of the ordinary: the power button and headphone jack are on top, the microSIM card slot is on the right, microUSB port on the bottom, and volume rocker on the left side. The power button and volume rocker both share the Life View's machined aluminum styling, which exposes a bit of the silver aluminum on the outside edges. That's a nice touch.
wm_IMG_0665 wm_IMG_0667 wm_IMG_0669 wm_IMG_0670
One thing worth noting about this device is that it's quite rigid and feels incredibly solid. Thanks to the 3,000mAh battery, it actually packs a bit more weight than other devices this size, yet still manages to stay at a sleek 8.9mm thin. All the seams are very tight and flush, which gives the phone a feeling of being more expensive than it is. I would easily and readily call the build "premium."
In a world where nearly every device I look at is five inch or greater, I had forgotten how nice 4.5 feels. I realize that's very subjective, but the size just feels excellent for one-handed use. That feeling isn't exclusive to the LPM, of course, but it's definitely worth mentioning. The 4.5" form factor was definitely refreshing for me personally.
The rest of the experience is pretty typical of Blu at this point. The display looks really good – colors are vibrant, text is sharp, and the like. Despite "only" being 720p, text looks very nice, and images are crisp. I've actually been criticized for speaking highly of Blu's displays, as many users have a hard time believing that a budget device can have a display that competes with the major players. I don't know exactly what sort of voodoo magic Blu uses on its handsets, but the display is something that has to be seen to believe considering the devices' price points. The Life Pure Mini is no different.
wm_IMG_0673
On the performance level, the LPM packs enough of a punch to get the job done for everyone outside of the most extreme power user. The quad-core MediaTek chip isn't the fastest (or the most loved due to GPL violations), but it handles day-to-day tasks readily enough on this device, which is nice for those who buy it without realizing all that goes on (or doesn't go on) behind the scenes from MediaTek. That's really a different story for a different day, though, and I don't want to turn this into a something about MediaTek and its wrong-doings in the Android community.
Like I've said of other devices, it's hard to tell this device only has a single gig of RAM, unless you're doing a lot of multi-tasking. At that point, it is noticeable. Again, however, I don't see this as a device for power users, but rather something for the "average Joe" or what have you.
The software experience is basically identical to that of the larger Life Pure, though for some reason Blu decided to stick with the blue battery and clock instead of changing it to white like on the Pure. In a nutshell, it's very iOS/MIUI-like, in that all the apps are just thrown onto the homescreen (there is no app tray), leaving no room for widgets. There's a persistent weather widget at the top of the homescreens, but it's neither replaceable nor removable.
wm_IMG_0655 wm_IMG_0658
Next to an iPhone 5c, for comparison.
There's, of course, the option to install another launcher, like Nova. That works as expected for the most part, save for one detail: the wallpaper remains blurry. Because all icons are just tossed onto the homescreen in the stock launcher, the wallpaper is blurred to make everything in the foreground easier to see. This doesn't change with other launchers, which is odd and slightly annoying. Live wallpapers don't have the same issue, so using one of those is a must if you can't handle the out-of-focus backdrop.
Overall, the Life Pure Mini comes in as a good choice for those converting from iOS, are new to the smartphone world, or need to replace their existing phone on the cheap. The 4.5" display looks very crisp and sharp, and the size keeps the overall footprint of the phone quite comfortable for one-handed use. The build quality is solid, with the massive 3,000mAh battery giving the unit some heft. If you can get past the overly-simplistic interface (or don't mind using a custom launcher), the Life Pure Mini is a solid choice in the $250 price range.

Google Play Music 5.4 Update Finally Brings 'My Devices' To Android, Adds Offline Radio Caching And 'Play Next,' Fixes Duplicate Chromecasts Bug, And More [APK Download]

wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-10-34-32
It's Update Wednesday, so get ready for a new round of Google app updates today. To start off, we have a new version of Google Play Music - 5.4.

What’s New

My Devices interface

Most importantly, today's update finally adds the ability to manage and deauthorize devices without having to go to the web interface - a feature we've longed for ever since discovering the 10-device limitation. While 10 devices may seem like a lot, once you factor in a few rounds of phone upgrades, various tablets lying around the house, and Google TV, you may just find yourself running into the limit soon. I know I already have numerous times in the past.
 wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-10-34-23
wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-10-39-37 wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-11-05-02

Offline Radio

A pretty big addition to Play Music 5.4 is the ability to pre-cache entire radio stations for offline playback. A new option called Keep on device, previously not available for radio stations, is now available from the contextual menu.
Note: The I'm feeling lucky radio station is a notable exception.
wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-11-28-43 wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-11-29-20

Refresh Music option

Another new option to trigger a refresh of your music from the cloud has been added to the settings.
wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-10-34-32_2

Duplicate Chromecasts bug is fixed

Remember the annoying issue with duplicate Chromecasts showing up in the Cast menu? Well, it's been brutally murdered. Yay!
wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-10-59-22 wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-10-59-16
Left: Play Music 5.3. Right: Play Music 5.4

Play Next

A Play Next button has been added to songs and albums so that you can more conveniently play stuff you want without clearing the playlist or dragging stuff around. Just hit Play Next, and your playlist will be updated immediately.
wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-10-42-28 wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-10-57-34

New location for the Cast button

The Cast button has been relocated to be much closer to where your fingers usually hang out, i.e. bottom of the UI. It's now reachable even on large devices.
wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-11-17-30 wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-10-37-37
Left: Play Music 5.3. Right: Play Music 5.4

More options in the sidebar

The sidebar now has a more convenient access to the app's Settings, Help, and Send Feedback. Previously, you needed to use the Menu or overflow buttons (depending on your device) to access Settings, for instance.
wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-10-36-29

Floating Playing From bar

The Playing From bar in the playlist now floats. It existed previously but scrolled away as you went down the list. This bar tells you what radio or album the current song is playing from, which I find quite handy. It also lets you reshuffle upcoming songs when playing a radio station.
wm_Screenshot_2014-02-12-10-41-49

Shuffle option added to Listen Now

In addition to Play Next, Shuffle has been added to albums and radio stations in Listen Now (thanks, miri!).
Screenshot_2014-02-12-13-23-24 Screenshot_2014-02-12-13-23-23
Left: Play Music 5.3. Right: Play Music 5.4

Crash fix?

The last several versions of Play Music were force closing nonstop for me. So far, version 5.4 hasn't crashed, which seems to indicate the bug was fixed. Sweet!
Screenshot_2014-02-10-12-41-59 Screenshot_2014-02-10-12-41-52
Bug in Play Music 5.3 that seems to be fixed in 5.4

Have you found anything I missed? Drop a line in the comments and let me know.

Download

The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.
File name: com.google.android.music-5.4.1409N.1014766.apk.
Version: 5.4.1409N.1014766 (Android 2.3+).
MD5: fa24be6435c74be8e966893d5bf1287c.
  1. AndroidFileHost mirror
  2. MediaFire mirror
  3. ZippyShare mirror
  4. MEGA mirror
  5. Yunio mirror 
Thanks, @Kourou59!

[Hands-On] Nine Is A Clean And Attractive Email Client Aimed At Exchange

Nine4

Two days ago I took a look at CloudMagic's Android email client, and I have to admit, it's a well-designed piece of software. Its blazing fast searching is its claim to fame, but even without this functionality, it's an attractive, holo-friendly app with support for multiple accounts and a unified inbox. But - and for many, this is a big but - the app indexes your mail on CloudMagic's servers. Deal breaker? In that case, here's another email client that might just fit your needs, assuming you have an Exchange account, another service pushed by Microsoft, or a Google Apps account. Nine isn't quite as versatile, but its attractive interface alone makes it worth a look.
Nine1 Nine2 

What's Nine All About?

Nine is skewed towards professional use, but there's no reason you can't rely on it for personal messages. Actually, there's one big one. Nine supports various email services, but Gmail doesn't make the list (unless you're using a Google Apps account). There's also no support for Yahoo either.
Supported servers:
  • Exchange Server 2003 SP2/SP3 and above
  • Office 365
  • Hotmail
  • Outlook.com
  • Gmail (Google Apps account only)
  • Other servers supported Exchange ActiveSync
This will prohibit a large number of us from relying on the app right out of the gate, but that doesn't mean there isn't something worth seeing here. Unfortunately, I won't have too much to show you. Since Nine doesn't support any of the accounts that I actually use, I created one at Outlook.com just for the sake of testing things out. So here it is, the one email in my inbox, along with its presence in my notification drawer.
Nine6 Nine5
Nothing here is going to blow your mind, but that's part of the point. Nine isn't flashy, it isn't trying to revolutionize email, and it isn't trying to do more than deliver your messages. If you don't want gimmicks, this is a serious option that presents the necessities without sacrificing style in the process.
Nine8 Nine9 Nine10
Nine7 Nine16 Nine13 
Many of Nine's settings are context aware. That means if you want to edit the way the app handles searching or tweak the options available when composing a new message, you hit the settings button while you're on the relevant screen. It's far from a revolutionary concept, but it works really well here. Dividing preferences up prevents them from getting too overwhelming.
Nine11 Nine14 Nine17
This is good, because Nine has even more options tucked away elsewhere, and they're pretty in-depth. You can handle what should happen after deleting a message, toggle sender image, enable swipe-to-delete, tweak sync schedule, limit email download size, choose message formats, set custom ringtones, determine sync ranges, and much more. The app supports rich-text editing, syncing calendar and contacts with stock apps, and some unexciting features that are, again, geared towards professional users.
Nine18 Nine19 Nine20
Nine21 Nine22 Nine23

Should You Download It?

As clean and usable as Nine is, it just isn't the app for your average user. Setting aside the privacy concerns inherent in letting a third-party index your mail, CloudMagic is just more compelling out of the box, even if it comes with far fewer options. The supported services are too limiting, with the lack of general Gmail accounts eliminating this option for most people I know personally.
But that's not the point. Nine is an app for Exchange users, and if you've been struggling to find something that doesn't freak out when trying to access your Exchange account, this app is tailored made to fill that role. Except, there's one more thing - Nine isn't free. You can use it without paying for two weeks, but after that, it costs $9.99 to keep installed.
Nine - Exchange ActiveSync
Nine - Exchange ActiveSync
317 ratings
by 9Folders Inc.
5,000 - 10,000 downloads
 
Thanks, Ben!