Google Nexus smartphones are known for a few good things -- they tout the latest unadulterated version of Android, the hardware inside is decently fast, the build quality is surprisingly good, and the price doesn't burn a hole in the pocket. But if there's one area where no Nexus smartphone shines, it's definitely in the camera department.
As a Galaxy Nexus owner I have often faced a camera dilemma -- do I shoot bad pics just to have them, or stick with taking a mental snapshot. More often than not the latter seems to be the way to go. It's not that the cameras are overly bad, it's just that in order to take a remotely-decent picture I'd have to fiddle around with the software and by the time I found the good setup the perfect moment will have already passed. And don't get me started on noise or clarity. But it appears that will soon change as Google is finally making the camera a priority.
Canonical says it will be publishing images and open source code for the Touch Developer Preview of Ubuntu for Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 on Thursday 21 February. So if you have a spare compatible handset -- or you don’t mind converting your existing phone -- you can try out the fledgling mobile OS in time for the weekend.
The aim is to encourage developers to create apps for the new operating system, but enthusiasts are welcome to take it for a spin too. According to Canonical, tools that manage the flashing of the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 will be available on the same day as the images, along with detailed installation instructions.
I can't say if rumors flashing across the InterWebs yesterday are true about Google opening retail shops this year. Not that it matters. The search giant should open stores -- and lots of them. Timing is right, too, and who could have imagined two or even three years ago.
Make. No. Mistake. In the 22 months since returning as CEO (following a 10-year hiatus), Larry Page has injected new vim, vigor and vibrancy into the Google empire. The company is now one of the most disruptive forces across techdom. Android Market branding to Google Play, Google+, Google Now, Nexus tablets, low-cost Chromebooks and stores selling them inside major retailers all debuted during his watch. Then there is ever-tightening cross-integration of products and services creating one of the most formidable cloud applications stacks available anywhere. Google Now, Google Play and Android and Chrome OS devices are reasons enough for retail stores, because the company has a digital lifestyle to sell.
Google, in conjunction with LG, released the Nexus 4 on November 13 2012 and it has largely been difficult to get ever since. At the time of writing the Google Play store claims the device will ship in "1-2 weeks". However, Google would like to help out potential customers who are looking to get the handset a bit sooner and, to that end, the company has created a way to get a Nexus 4 today.
The search giant has launched a finder web site to aid you in locating a Nexus 4 close to home. Of course, this means the locations of T-Mobile stores around you, but at least you learn where the device is actually in stock. Customers can choose from distances ranging from five to fifty miles, depending on how far you wish to drive to grab your new phone.
Three days ago, Google released the much-anticipated Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean update, containing security improvements as well as Bluetooth-related bug fixes. Making Nexus owners even happier (well, at least some of them), the search giant also updated the factory images with the latest green droid iteration.
Among other purposes, the factory images can be used to restore Nexus-branded devices to a stock state after previously running custom green droid distributions, or update them to the latest version of Android. At a quick glance, for my Galaxy Nexus smartphone, the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean factory images ship with a newer radio (XXLJ1), as well as a more recently-dated kernel (version 3.0.31, with a November 28 time-stamp). The "userdata.img" file is also freshly-dated with a February 8 build date.
Valentine's Day is all about romance, but whom -- or what -- do you really love? The stereotypical geek fawns over his or her gadgets and spends hours on PC (smartphone or tablet) instead of being with family or friends. Surely that describes you, and me, for that matter.
On this day of Cupid's arrows, I confess where they struck gadgets and other goodies and bound us in everlasting love. Take my wife, please, but leave my tech toys. She'll understand -- ah, right?
If you really want to part with $59.99 (plus shipping and tax), the long-anticipated Orb is for sale. Timing coincides with fairly consistent Nexus 4 availability (about time for that) from Google Play. Forgive my total lack of enthusiasm. Gimme a Nexus 10 dock or something else useful rather than just geek.
My wife and I both now own Nexus 4, but neither of us pines for Orb. One of the phone's features (I wouldn't say benefits) is wireless charging. You slap the handset down on the half-sphere, which juices the battery in Stargate Universe-like fashion. I've got a chord for that, free with the phone, that charges faster than the four fraking hours Google claims for Orb. That said, there is something Star Trek-cool about using the phone round and about, while charging, without actually being plugged in.
In the United States, Google Play has both Nexus 4 models available for sale -- after nearly two months stocked out. The bumper is available, too. If you're one of the gadget geeks looking for this smartphone, get it while you can, and that might not be for long.
Google launched Nexus 4 on November 13, but sold out in just hours. The phone reappeared on November 27. A day later, Google Play redefined "sold out" by listing shipment date as 8-9 weeks. From a retail distribution perspective, Nexus 4 is pure disaster. It's anyone's guess how many could have sold over the holidays, but greedy gadget geeks couldn't get the phone short of paying extortion-like prices.
Investors rewarded Google today, pushing shares up close to 6.5 percent soon after the opening bell and staying in that range. At 12:09 PM EST, the stock traded at $748.23, up 6.45 percent. Google opened at $735.83, up from yesterday's $702.87 close.
After the closing bell, on January 22, Google delivered fourth quarter and 2012 results that clearly satisfy someone. For the year, Google revenue reached $50.18 billion, up 32 percent from $37.9 billion in 2011. Motorola contributed $4.14 billion. Net income: $10.74 billion or $32.81 earnings per share. Average analyst consensus was $41.41 billion revenue and $39.73 earnings per share. Oh, the wiles of investors. Yearly EPS missed the Street, as it did for the quarter.
Today, I formally begin covering Google earnings, as I have done for Microsoft (a decade) and Apple (about six years). This first report won't be as thorough as the others, as I get my head around the financials, which share little in common with APPL and MSFT other than money. Today's earnings announcement is refreshing respite from third quarter's, when an incomplete press release pushed out early and while the market was open.
For calendar fourth quarter, revenue rose 36 percent to $14.42 billion, year over year; net revenue, excluding Traffic Acquisition Costs, was $9.83 billion, up from $8.13 billion. Net income climbed to $2.89 billion up from $2.71 billion. That's $8.62 earnings per share, including costs associated with discontinued operations. Operating income was $3.39 billion, down from $3.51 billion year over year.
Keeping up with recent CyanogenMod tradition, the team behind the popular green droid custom distribution unveiled the first monthly release based on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The build is designed to offer users a stable experience, more suitable for daily use compared to the usual nightly builds.
CyanogenMod 10.1 M1 is currently available only for a limited number of devices, including the Google Nexus lineup (Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7 including the 3G variant, Nexus 4 and Nexus 10), the US variants of the Samsung Galaxy S III, the Samsung Galaxy S (codename "galaxysmtd" and "galaxysbmtd"), the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (versions P3100 and P3110), the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (versions P5100 and P5110) as well as the Hardkernel ODROID U2 open development platform.
The Nexus 4 was anything but a secret long before Google officially raised the curtain on October 29, last year. Impressive specs, affordable price, the promise of timely upgrades, all were compelling arguments as to why I must buy one when sales start. However, Google didn't care about my enthusiasm and had other plans in mind, offering the smartphone only to a limited number of markets. Lucky me, I'm not invited to join the party. So what can I do?
Like any passionate, but patient, enthusiast my first thought was to buy one from the German Play Store, the closest one to my location and with the lowest prices as well, instead of moving to another country or shelling out more than $500 or $600 on eBay. So I asked a colleague of mine to help me out. I would pay for the Nexus 4 and he would send it my way after receiving the package. Easier said than done, obviously, as I shortly found out that Google only accepts credit cards issued in Germany. That was Plan A, by the way. OK, but now what?
What interesting timing. Earlier today, I wrote about my very good experience exchanging a defective Nexus 7 HSPA+ at Google Play. My unit came with an AT&T SIM, but I pointed out the device also supports T-Mobile's data network. Either I missed, or Google Play added later today, an option to get a T-Mo SIM, too. Price is same for both: $299 plus tax (if applicable) and shipping.
Nexus 7 by far is my favorite tablet, by just about every measure: Performance, comfort in the hand, portability and all-around usefulness for consuming content and communicating (my preferred device for email social networking).
I often hear "Apple Store" stated as reason someone chooses iPad over another tablet. The Genius Bar is there for troubleshooting and even replacing defective products. Where do you take Android? It's a valid question, and I can personally attest to amazing Apple customer service. In 2008 and 2011, I had two different MacBook Airs fail. As in dead. I walked out of the local shop with brand new computer each time. That's hella good, eh?
That said, over the last decade, I've only ever exchanged Apple products -- no failures from any other manufacturer (there was fast battery discharge from a Samsung phone, but we kept it). Well, until last week. My 32GB Google Nexus 7 HSPA+ stopped working. No amount of troubleshooting or fancy pressed-key combinations could rivive it. I prepared for the worst, expecting that Google, operating on the Internet, could never give good retail customer service. Was I ever wrong. Apple couldn't have done better.
Later this month, I plan to jump cold feet into the next computing era by making a tablet my primary PC. I was all primed to start last year, but improved Google Chromebooks derailed the experiment. New year is here and good time for a computing resolution. Already, I made major computing platform shift in 2012 -- ARM, Android and Chrome OS. I'll write about the journey, which surely will tumultuous, at least to start.
I won't go alone. Yesterday morning, my wife asked about trading up to a larger tablet (she used the Nexus 7 I bought her in July). The request was totally unexpected. I added her as another user to my Nexus 10 and let her play around. She likes! She likes! So I ordered her the larger tablet, planning to sell the older one (and some other gear, to cover cost). The idea: We would together go tablet as main devices, with Chromebook as backup (hey, sometimes you need Flash, for example). We will share my Nexus 7, which has HSPA+ radio, to carry around when out and about (me sitting in the man chair while the women shop; she while, say, waiting for her dad at the doctor's office). But both of us will primarily use our own Nexus 10s.