Google's Senior VP of Engineering at Google, Vic Gundotra, took to Google+ this morning in a photography-themed post to reply to comments about the quality of Nexus phone cameras. The Nexus 4 is a pretty notable improvement in camera quality over what we saw on the Galaxy Nexus, but it's no secret that Nexus devices have lacked in the photography department. As you can see below, in response to a comment about just carrying a future Nexus device as his only camera Vic had this to say:
It's clear with Google's improvements to the stock Android camera UI since Ice Cream Sandwich — and the inclusion of Photo Sphere with Jelly Bean — that a lot of focus is being put on the camera of Nexus devices, but it takes more than just a good UI to take good pictures. It really takes the combination of a quality camera sensor and great image processing software on the back end to have the end result of great pictures. While many Android manufacturers will pay to license image processing software from camera companies — or in some cases borrow from the camera divisions of their own companies — Google has historically kept things open-source in the camera department, which conflicts with paying for closed-source camera software.
Now no one likes to just "wait and see," but it's our only option at this point. It's comments like this from high-ranking Googlers that make us hopeful for the future of Nexus camera capabilities though.
Source: Vic Gundotra (Google+); Thanks, Grant!
The recent update to Google Now has just made one of the nicer Jelly Bean features — offline voice recognition — available for third party developers to use, and voice command app utter! is the first to take advantage of this feature. Utter! is positioning itself to help accomplish most anything that could normally be done by a default Google Voice Search and go beyond that to then let you control other device functions outside of the scope of Google's own offering.
Hang with us after the break to see what utter! brings to the table in its current beta state.
If you've got an Android phone or tablet that's got Android 4.2.x and you're not using DashClock Widget, you are, quite frankly, doing it wrong. And the app that turns the Jelly Bean lock screen widgets into more than just wishful thinking — by the way, it's already in the 50,000 to 100,000 download range, and we'd be willing to bet it's on the high end of that — got an update to version 1.2 today, bringing with it a number of improvements.
First up are some new visual tweaks, allowing for custom opacity, as well as the ability to center the clock. You also can assign application shortcuts to the weather and clock widgets. Nice. Then there's the addition of extensions for missed calls and new text messages. Or perhaps you'd be interested in support for French, German, Spanish and Russian. Use Microsoft Exchange for your calendar? It's now supported. Some of this is tucked into a new "advanced" menu, so dive into the settings to see the new features.
Following the recent OTA roll-out, Android 4.2.2 factory images are now available for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (Wifi-only and 3G), Nexus 10 and GSM Galaxy Nexus ("yakju" and "takju" variants). As always, the files contain a complete backup of the base Android firmware for these devices. That means they allow experienced users to restore their devices back to stock, vanilla Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, which might be of use if you've managed to screw something up by flashing a custom ROM or allowing a root app to run amok. They're also one of the options open to folks who've not yet taken the 4.2.2 update and want to set things up from scratch.
Grab 'em directly from Google's developer site at the link below.
Source: Google Developers
It appears an incremental upgrade to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is now pushing out to several Google Nexus devices including the Nexus 7, Nexus 10, Galaxy Nexus, and Nexus 4.
The update is aptly titled Android 4.2.2 and it isn’t Key Lime Pie, but the 47MB update should provide some important bug fixes for Bluetooth and stability in general. Specifically, the Bluetooth streaming issue is known and acknowledged by Google and the 4.2.2 update should address this.
As usual, the update will roll out in waves to users running stock Android on either tablet or either Nexus smartphone (provided it is GSM unlocked). In addition, it is currently rolling out to AOSP and should be uploaded shortly.
We've heard about a refresh of the LG Optimus L-style phones coming, and LG just made things official. There aren't many surprises here, as all three of the phones look to be mid-range devices, and based on dual-SIM specification, we assume they are destined for central and eastern Europe.
First out of the gate will be the Optimus L7II, which debuts in Russia this week. It's a 4.3-inch (WVGA; IPS) Jelly Bean powered phone, with 768MB of RAM and an 8MP camera. The dual-SIM specification already mentioned is on board, and it's all powered by a healthy 2460mAh battery. On the software side, the L series II devices include LG's unique features like QSlide and QuickTranslator.
Releasing at a later date, the Optimus L5II will be a 4.0-inch version with a 1700mAh battery, and the Optimus L3II will feature a 3.2-inch display and a 1540mAh battery. You can find LG's full press release after the break.
Following Sony's official announcement yesterday, British network O2 has revealed that it's now pushing out the Xperia T Jelly Bean update. As well as bringing the device up to Android 4.1.2, the upgrade brings various Sony software improvements, including new music player, gallery and video apps, and some tweaks to the stock launcher.
It's a quick turnaround for O2, which in the past has spent weeks certifying major Android OS updates for its branded devices. If you've got an O2-branded Xperia T, head to Settings > About > Software Updates to grab the latest OTA.
For more details on what's in this new Sony update, check out our report from yesterday.
Source: O2; via: Eurodroid
The LG Viper 4G LTE has a small update coming according to Sprint. Relax, it's not Jelly Bean. It's actually even better, as the update addresses LTE network acquisition improvements. This means that your Viper 4G should find and connect to LTE towers better, improving the data connection (and as a secondary, the battery life).
While an update that isn't full of bells and whistles, or a full on OS version update, isn't very exciting, they are pretty important. Keeping the phone working the way it was advertised is the best thing any of the manufacturers can do for us. If we want more, we can handle that ourselves.
Source: Sprint. Thanks, Tommy!
The Motorola Electrify M, which has only been available on U.S. Cellular since November, is getting its Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update starting today. The update should be similar to what we've seen come out on other recent Motorola devices, taking Jelly Bean and putting some very light, but useful, customizations on top of it. You'll be getting Google Now, Project Butter and expandable notifications as well as Motorola's own tweaks.
As is usually the case, large updates like this roll out in phases and it may take some time to arrive. If you're seeing the update on your Electrify M, be sure to chime in here and let us know.
Much of the HTC-related buzz in North America and Europe may be centered on the rumored "M7" handset, but let's not forget that China is a hugely important mobile market. That's where HTC will be hoping its latest smartphone, carrying the model number 603e, will make an impact. A mid-range device with a 4.3-inch WVGA display, a 1.15GHz dual-core CPU and 1GB of RAM, the 603e has just shown up in the Chinese telecom equipment certification database, where it's been spotted by local outslet TENAA.
Other key specs for the phone include a 5MP front camera, a 2MP rear shooter, a thickness of 9.8mm and weight of 130 grams — nothing too outstanding by any means.
From a Western perspective, what's interesting about this device is its appearance. It seems to channel a few of the design cues we've seen from alleged leaks of HTC's high-end "M7" device. Note the large earpiece and prominent front-facing camera, as seen in an in-software render weeks ago. And the angled curve of the back is reminiscent of the device that HTC CEO Peter Chou flashed on stage at a recent company party. So even if we never see the 603e outside of China, this design might show in broad strokes what to expect from HTC in the future.
There's no word on release dates, branding or pricing for the HTC 603e, as it's yet to be officially announced. As an educated guess, we'd speculate that we might see more at or around this year's Mobile World Congress.
Source: TENAA; via: Engadget