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Tom's Blog

My weird and wonderful blog…

OTA Update Center service allows devs to push updates to custom Android ROMs

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Once in a while a nice service comes along that helps those technically challenged individuals that want to run custom ROMs on their phones but are too afraid to update to a newer version or just don’t bother checking for updates.

OTA Update center allows registered devs to upload their custom ROMs, and with a few small code changes they can publish their ROM updates OTA. Devices that run the OTA Update Center app will be notified as soon as there is a new update for their ROM and allow them to download the update. Some features include:

  • Add and remove OTA Updates in a centralised database.
  • Check for updates on boot of devices.
  • Check for updates manually when the person wants to.
  • Download the rom and flash it directly.
  • Download the rom without flashing.
  • Wipe data and or cache/dalvik before flashing the update.

Best of all, this service is free to use! Check out the link at the bottom:

OTA Update Center

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Galaxy-philes, prepare to get your lips wet…

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So according to SamMobile, Samsung has started rolling out it’s Android 4.0 ICS firmware to Galaxy Tab 7.7 owners. According to Samsung’s timeline, the rest of the older line-up will be receiving the update sometime in August still (This includes the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, Galaxy Tab 8.9 and the original Galaxy Tab 10.1).

On the Galaxy S3 side, Samsung has apparently finished developing an internal test version of Android 4.1 and is now working on a public release version which means the S3 could possibly get Jelly Bean at the end of Q3, but more probably beginning of Q4. Check out more info at the awesome sauces:

Galaxy S3 Android 4.1
Galaxy Tab 7.7 ICS

Sparrow+Google = Gmail babies

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Anybody that uses Google’s iOS Gmail client app would agree that it was a pretty pathetic attempt at optimized coding. And while there were a lot of people that were hoping that Google would do something to lessen the burden, a lot of us chose to use an alternate client when it comes to getting onto Gmail. My choice (And a lot of others) was Sparrow (Which was also a popular Gmail Mac OS client). Apart from having a nicely designed UI, the app ran smoothly. There was no lag while scrolling through mails and it allowed you to have multiple accounts in the same app. Other features like letting you scroll into the next or previous mail made the app a joy to use, the only major feature that was missing was notifications.

Then along came July 20th 2012, a mail from the Sparrow team stating that they had been acquired by Google. While this news might have caught people off guard, it was by means a surprise. Sparrow (A team of 5 Devs) had effectively managed to do what a global corporation like Google couldn’t, design an awesome app. While the current users who spent the $2.99 to buy the app (Myself included) might feel ripped off since the Sparrow team will no longer provide any additional features, I think it’s the sensible thing to do. And within 11 days, the iOS Gmail app got its next update which featured, lo and behold, smoother animations and scrolling. And while the UI still needs a bit of work, I’m quite sure that the Sparrow team are working quickly behind the scenes to rein Google’s butchers in.

Thank you Google for realising what a monumental flop your app had become and thank you for choosing the best team in the business to fix it.

Google I/O 2012 Day two (Chrome! Chrome! Chrome!)

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So day two at Google I/O 2012 was more subdued. Below are the major announcements:

Chrome for iOS

Google finally announced the Chrome browser for iOS (Both iPhone and iPad). I have personally been waiting for this one for a long time, now if you could only set it as your default browser so that if you choose to open a link from an app it will use Chrome instead of the other browser…

Google Drive for iOS and ChromeOS

Google launched their Drive iOS app for the iPhone and iPad as well as for ChromeOS. It looks pretty much the same as any other cloud storage app.

Google Docs

Google announced that it’s Docs service would now be able to work offline, allowing you to work on a document without an internet connection and then syncing the changes once an internet connection has been re-established.

Apart from the above, there was nothing else to get excited about.

Google I/O 2012 Kicks off on a high

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So Google I/O 2012 kicked off with a massive bang yesterday, below are the high-lights.

Nexus 7 Tablet

First up, Google introduced it’s much rumoured/leaked 7 inch tablet made by ASUS. It’s running a nVidia Tegra 3 Quad core CPU clocked at 1.3 GHz, sports an 7 inch HD (1280×800) IPS display with 221 PPI, the GPU is a 12 core chip. The rest of the specs are pretty standard, 1 GB RAM, 8 or 16 GB internal storage, the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC specs and has a 1.2 MP front facing camera. The tab is running the latest beta flavour of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. This tab should slot nicely in the Galaxy tab space. It will be available for $199 and will start shipping in mid-July.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

So the next major release of Android was finally previewed to the world. While the version bump is a minor one, the OS features some nice improvements as well as new features.

First off, they introduced the Project Butter UI, giving the user a faster and more fluid UI experience. This includes triple buffering in the GFX pipelines to allow a consistent FPS throughout the OS. The OS basically predicts what you’re going to do before you do it, thereby loading certain parts into memory before you do anything.

Second was Google Now. Google Now is a new service that uses your search history, calendar info and location to help make your searches more relevant. If for instance you need to catch a flight somewhere and the flight gets delayed and you want to do something else, Google Now will notify you that you have enough time as the flight was delayed. It integrates with other Google services like Maps, Traffic, Calendar and Search. You can see an intro here.

Offline voice typing was also introduced, allowing you to use offline based input without having an active internet connection. Voice search has also been improved as well as more languages will be added soon.

There have been nice UI improvements with regards to Home Screen widget manipulation as well as Notification Tray updates and Google+ integration. They have also improved the Camera and Gallery apps in 4.1.

Lastly, 4.1 brings with it App Encryption whereby paid apps will be delivered with a device-specific key. Jelly Bean also brings with it Smart App Updates which will allow incremental updates (Delta changes only) to be delivered instead of re-downloading the whole app (Suck on that iOS).

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will be distributed as an OTA (Over the air) update starting in mid-July and will be heading to the Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus and the Motorola Xoom tab.

Nexus Q

Then came the surprise announcement of the Nexus Q, a matte black looking orb that functions as a home media streamer. What’s more to say? It’s a glorified AppleTV at 3 times the price…

Project Glass

This was in my opinion the standout part of the keynote. I think the fact that Google pulled this live demo off made the likes of Apple and Microsoft green with envy. The amount of things that could possibly gone wrong were staggering.

Some of you have seen the first Project Glass video, so now picture this. Skydivers wearing Project Glass glasses, jumping out off helicopters and blimps, and you are seeing the video stream from the skydivers, live. Then switch to crazy dudes on bikes driving around and hitting ramps, eventually making their way on stage, and you’re watching it from the bikers viewpoint, live…

That’s exactly what happened! Hats off to Google on pulling this live demo off, now onto the hardware:

U.S Google I/O 2012 attendees can pre-order a set of Glass Explorer Edition glasses for $1500, it will ship sometime early next year. Now while some may scoff at that price, remember, this is the birth of a new device, I’d be surprised if the price isn’t halved by the time it’s released to the consumer market (Hopefully in 2014?). For those of you interested in seeing the Skydiving demo check it out here.

Other small announcements

There were a couple of other small announcements to point out. Google’s Chrome browser is finally out of beta and is available for all Android 4.0 devices. The other announcement is the Google+ app for Android tablets. It is finally here, iOS app is coming soon for the iPad.

So that’s it, check out the various product videos from Google I/O 2012:

Nexus 7 Tablet 
Introducing Nexus Q
How Nexus Q works
Introducing Google Now 
Do Droids dream of Jelly Beans?
Project Glass live demo on The Verge

Surfaced Nokia rimmed, Jellybean anyone?

So unless you were in a self-induced coma, you should have heard by now that Microsoft are launching their own tablet. There are going to be 2 versions of the tab released, one ARM based tablet most likely running a nVidia Tegra 3 chip and one x86 based tablet running an Intel Ivy Bridge chip (And we all know which one will be better). With the ARM based tab being a hair’s width thinner than the “New iPad” and one sheet of paper heavier, all eyes will be on it to bring a challenge from Redmond.

Then came the announcements at Windows Phone Developer Summit regarding Windows Phone 8, oh how the mighty have fallen. While I’m sure that Nokia are quite happy to be building WP-only smartphones, one can only guess how Stephen Elop felt when MS told them that Windows Phone 8 will not run on any current Windows Phone 7.5 device. Sure Windows Phone 7.8 will bring some of the features across onto existing 7.5 devices, but you’d think that the Microkia partnership would’ve been more solid to realise that the next major release of WP won’t work on their hardware. With Nokia’s Drive tech being the driving force behind it’s integrated turn-by-turn navigation solution I’m sure conehead fan Steve Ballmer is brimming from ear to ear like Emperor Palpatine after using the first death star for the first time.

And finally, it’s Google I/O time again! Massive rumours about Android 4.1 Jellybean getting a reveal and a Nexus branded $199 ASUS tablet making it’s debut. Can’t wait? Check out The Verge I/O Liveblog to see your local time for a live viewing.

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We don’t need your money, Google (We buy islands). The lowdown from Oracle…

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So a funny thing happened on Friday. Oracle’s legal team announced that they are going to forego any statutory damages with regards to their infringement case against Google. According to The Verge, Oracle looked to receive a total payout of around $300,000. Now while most people would think that they’re giving up, it’s actually a good defense for the appeal they’re going to launch. It wouldn’t look good on paper if they took the money and then appealed the decision handed down in court, it’s like eating the whole cake and then asking for a refund because it’s gone bad.

And it’s not like Oracle are in any financial trouble. Right after the above announcement, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison bought the Hawaiian island of Lanai for between $500-$600 million. I wonder when Larry Page and Sergei Brin are going to buy the other island’s just to piss Mr Ellison off?

Mozilla building iPad browser that won’t suck as much as Safari

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So it looks like Mozilla have finally started building a much needed web browser for the iOS platform. While the iPhone is still neglected, there’s good news for iPad users. Mozilla is busy prototyping Junior, an iPad browser that will make Safari internet browsing eat it’s dust.

The browser will run full screen to take advantage of all the space available, there will however be no tabs on this browser. The other cool feature worth mentioning is that Junior will have the ability to create user accounts so you can keep other people using your iPad from discovering all those dodgy sites you like to visit while they’re not looking. Mozilla also believe that Google are working their asses off to get Chrome onto iOS which bodes well for those that have to suffer through Safari.

Source: http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/17/3093178/mozilla-junior-ipad-web-browser
Source: https://air.mozilla.org/product-design-at-mozilla/

Microsoft looks set to launch it’s branded tablet on 18th June?

So Microsoft have sent out invite to a “major annuncement” on Monday and it’s been rumoured in tech blogsphere that they will be launching it’s own-brand Windows 8 tablet at the event.

The event is rumoured to focus on Windows RT for ARM based tablets.

We’ll keep you posted while you sit on the toilet…

 

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