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!
Everyone's favorite social check in service Foursquare has just pushed out a notable update in the Play Store, bringing a refreshed UI, some new features and a lot of polish. The previous UI wasn't bad or ugly by any stretch, but the Foursquare team has managed to add a bit more functionality and design to this latest update. The main homescreen is now a bit cleaner, with a universal "explore" search bar at the top and options to check in, see your last location and add a photo at the bottom of the screen. A now Android-standard swipe to the right reveals a settings screen to access your profile, lists, settings and friends — although curiously there's still a very iOS-like menu slide button in the upper left corner.
The Check In screen has received a facelift as well, with some cleaner lines and little more visual flare. The text box asking "What are you up to?" is now more prominently laid over a map of the check in location with an option to add a picture still prominently set to the right of it. There's still a bit more cleaning up and unification of the UI to go, but things are looking better with each update.
PaperBoy is a quick and easy way to browse through news stories from a useful but concise list of sources. Some of us like to have our Google Reader lists filled with hundreds of RSS feeds at our fingertips, and others (read: most people) just want a casual way to browse through the day's headlines. PaperBoy caters to this market with a simple and smooth UI that presents a curated list of sources and quick snippets of information.
Read along after the break and see what PaperBoy has to offer as a minimalistic news reader.
Japan is well-known for its seriously interesting mobile products, and the Infobar A02 on KDDI doesn't disappoint on design or creativity in the least. The Infobar series has traditionally been a design-leading line, and the A02 follows along with a striking thin unibody design in red, white and blue varieties. The design continues onto the interface, which is built on Android 4.1 — although you wouldn't know it by looking at the homescreen. Closer to the paradigm of Windows Phone, the Inforbar uses a tiled interface comprised of smaller app tiles and larger widget tiles, in a vertical scrolling list.
This handset is actually manufactured by HTC, and has some top-notch specs on the inside. We're looking at a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 16GB of (expandable) storage, 1GB of RAM, 720×1280 TFT display, 2100mAh battery and of course LTE. Like many high-end Japanese handsets, the Infobar A02 is also waterproof and dustproof, and includes NFC for mobile payments as well as a 1seg TV antenna.
This is quite an interesting handset on all fronts, and worth a look at some of the materials on KDDI's product page for the phone. If you're interested, head to the source link and check out the galleries, especially the pictures showing the lineage of Infobar design for the last 10 years.
Just a day after we got our first look at the Galaxy Note 8.0 in leaked spy shots, a couple more photos of the 8-inch tablet have emerged online. Today's pics come via French Android community Frandroid, showing apparently the Note 8.0 alongside its 5.5-inch sibling, the Galaxy Note 2. As with yesterday's images, we see a tablet with a curved design and a phone-style three-button setup on the bottom bezel instead of traditional on-screen keys. And this time around we get to see the larger "S Pen" stylus, which was docked away in yesterday's images.
Yep, there's an earpiece up top for making calls, as we saw in yesterday's shots. But that's nothing new — 7-inch Samsung tablets have been doing that since the original 2010 Galaxy Tab.
Today's shots also reveal a little more about the device's software. Unsurprisingly, the Note 8.0 is running Samsung's TouchWiz UI, but it also seems to be using a "phone-style" launcher, similar to the direction taken with the stock tablet launcher in Android 4.2 (which this device is rumored to be running). The presence of floating windows suggests that Samsung's included its multi-window tech in this tablet, too. In addition, we can also clearly see a notification bar up top in both shots.
Samsung's expected to make the Note 8.0 all officially official at Mobile World Congress at the end of February. Leaked spec sheets suggest we can expect similar internals to the Galaxy Note 2 — a 1.6GHz Exynos 4 Quad CPU, 2GB of RAM and 16 and 32GB storage options, expandable via microSD slot. Stick with Android Central for full coverage of the Note 8.0 and other Samsung devices at MWC.
Following the leaked images of a new version of HTC Sense running on what seems to be HTC's upcoming "M7" flagship, another photo has emerged apparently showing Sense 5 on Verizon's Droid DNA. The shot surfaced via the user "LeakROMs" on Chinese social network Weibo, and it's a dead ringer for the software pictured on the supposed M7 device just a few hours ago. In addition to the re-worked icons, we can also see the new Sense weather widget and a home screen split into dedicated sections for social networking, news and tutorials.
Now, this is far from official confirmation that Sense 5 is headed to 2012 devices line the DNA. But it seems to show someone, somewhere is experimenting with a new version of HTC's UI on existing handsets.
Who knows what form the finalized version of Sense 5 might take, but the prevalence of this design across multiple leaks suggests HTC is re-working its software from the ground up. We'll keep you apprised of any further details, and we'll be live from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month, where HTC is expected to publicly unveil its 2013 line-up.
Source: LeakROMS; via: HTCSource
Dailymotion Streaming Video, an app that is the second largest video provider on the internet, has just updated its app substantially in both design and functionality. This newest version — 3.0.1, to be exact — has a completely overhauled UI that fits nicely into Android 4.0 and above's holo design, taking advantage of the new tabbed interface, overflow settings button and UI fragments.
As if that wasn't enough, there's also a lot of new behind the scenes fixes to improve overall responsiveness of the app. The video player is quicker, there's a new offline mode and improved search suggestions. The latest small update brought many bug fixes to keep everything smooth as well. If you want to know a little more about Dailymotion you can take a look at the press release after the break, or just head straight to the app at the Play Store link above.
Ahead of its rumored CES release, we've got a new look at the Sony Xperia Z (aka "Yuga") in a proper press image, shown above. We saw a pretty grainy angled view of the device a few days back, but this one gives us a much better look at the front of the device. We're looking at proper on-screen navigation buttons and Sony's UI customizations here, as you would expect, as well as the power and volume button layout poking out of the right of the device.
The reported specs are the same as we saw in the initial leak as well. We're looking at a 5-inch 1080P display, massive 13MP camera and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on the software front. It also looks like we'll see another variant in the form of the Xperia ZL, aka "Odin." (Earlier Sony naming schemes suggest that the ZL might be an LTE-capable version for certain markets, though we're speculating here.)
The devices are supposed to make their debut at CES 2013, which is just a week away, and hopefully Sony will bring more details on this device at that time as well.
Sources: XperiaBlog; UnwiredView
Not sure that pushing out OS updates on Christmas Eve is the wisest of moves, but we're not going to knock them either. HTC's following in Motorola's footsteps today, pushing out the Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean update for the international One S. The 612-megabyte update (jeez, that's big) brings the software version up to 3.16.401.8 (for those of you keeping track at home).
Bullet points for the update include:
We're installing now. This sucker's big.
More: HTC One S forums; thanks, @SebasB37!
There's an update to the Youtube app waiting for you in the Google Play store, and if you're using a 10-inch tablet (like the Nexus 10), you're in for a treat. The update adds a new layout for large screen devices that brings a great two-pane experience to everyone's favorite video service.
The update uses the concept of Android fragments, where both can act independently yet have influence over each other. The smaller fragment on the left allows for things like app navigation and selection, and your content appears to the right. It's a great way to build apps for large screen devices, and allows one app to have the best UI and layout for any size screen.
Hit the link above for the update, or just check your Google Play notifications.