Google has rolled out a new experimental way to search – or rather, initiate a search – on mobile devices called Handwrite. Using Handwrite, it’s possible to scribble your search queries right on the Google.com home page. Handwrite is designed to work on smartphones and tablets, and it’s fully compatible with autocomplete. But don’t worry, Handwrite is intended to complement typing, not replace it.
Before you can use Handwrite, you’ll need to go into Google’s search settings and enable it. Once you’ve done that, a special icon will appear in the bottom right corner of the screen. Simply tap it and begin writing to start your search.
While there’s no reason why Handwrite couldn’t work on any touchscreen, Google has only enabled the feature on Android and iOS. Specifically, smartphones running Android 2.3 or later, tablets running Android 4.0 or later, and iOS devices running iOS5 or later. Obviously, Google recommends using Chrome on an Android device for the best experience.
With the recent launch of Google’s Nexus 7, everyone is wondering what Amazon has in store for the next iteration of its Kindle tablet. The Kindle Fire currently holds more than half of the Android tablet market, thanks to its low cost and deep integration with the online retailer’s web services. If the president of Staples is to be believed, Amazon might be going for more of a shotgun approach this fall, introducing a handful of new tablets.
Staples’ President of US Retail, Demos Parneros, claims that Amazon plans to sell “up to five or six” tablets in a wide range of sizes, including the oft-rumored 10-inch form factor. That’s a large number of devices for Amazon, which has historically only introduced a few new models every year. But with the success of the Kindle Fire, it might be interested in casting as wide of a net as possible to insure that it can meet the interests of all of its customers.
Amazon’s R&D department, Lab126, has nearly – but not quite – doubled over the last year, bringing on more than 365 new employees. The company is also rumored to be working on a smartphone.
A UK judge has ruled that Samsung Electronics didn’t copy the iPad design for its Galaxy Tab tablets, and that Apple must advertise as such in order to undo the “real commercial harm” (as stated by Samsung lawyer Kathryn Pickard) caused by the company’s claims. Apple and Samsung have been fighting a long, drawn-out legal battle over whether or not the iPad was the source of inspiration for the Galaxy Tab tablets for some time now.
According to Judge Colin Birss, Apple will have to publish a notice on the front page of the company’s UK website for six months stating that Samsung didn’t copy the iPad. The Cupertino-based electronics giant will also be required to buy ad space in various UK newspapers and magazines like the Financial Times, Daily Mail, Guardian Mobile magazine, and T3 in the hopes of reaching people who don’t visit Apple’s website.
Apple, for its part, is understandably upset by this ruling. “No company likes to refer to a rival on its website,” said Apple lawyer Richard Hacon. The fact that it’s prejudicial to the company, painting the iPad in a bad light, makes it even worse. Judge Birss, however, merely stated that “[Apple is] entitled to [its] opinion.”
I love Android devices, and all the new ways of media consumption that they—and the mobile community as a whole—have come up with. The HDMI out port has been one of my favorite features of my Android devices so far. In fact, I refuse to buy a device without one. Now, that port has gotten even more exciting. XBMC has just announced that not only is it working on an Android port, it already has a working prototype, and public beta testing should start soon. XBMC on a 10-inch Android tablet? I would have to say heck yes!
The news gets better, with XBMC announcing that this isn’t just a gimmicky remote control, but the real McCoy. “Today we announce XBMC for Android. Not a remote, not a thin client; the real deal. No root or jailbreak required. XBMC can be launched as an application on your set-top-box, tablet, phone, or wherever else Android may be found. The feature-set on Android is the same that you have come to expect from XBMC, no different from its cousin on the desktop.”
For those of you unfamiliar with XBMC—originally Xbox Media Center—it is a media player and entertainment hub along the lines of Windows Media Center, except for the part where it’s compatible with Windows, OSX, Linux, and soon Android. I am always a fan off cross-platform programs, and when you throw in it being open-source, free, extremely easy to use, and with DVD and network playback capabilities, well I’m just in heaven.
No release date has been given yet, but it is promised to be “soon,” with beta versions for the more adventurous even sooner. And of course, being open-source and all, the source code will also be available very soon. Hit the YouTube source to check out a proof of function video—albeit low quality—to tide you over until the app comes out.
ARCHOS has announced a new range of entry-level tablets, dubbed ELEMENTS, aimed at 7, 8, and 9.7-inch form factors. The French manufacturer is kicking it off with the release of the ARCHOS 97 carbon, a low-end but relatively low-cost Android tablet equipped with what, until recently, was the latest flavor of Android.
The ARCHOS 97 carbon features a 9.7-inch 5x multi-touch screen with IPS technology capable of playing 1080p HD video, set into a “stylish design with premium aluminum finish.” Cameras grace both the front and back of the device (the resolution, however, has not been revealed), and it has ports for HDMI out, microSD, and USB. Internally, the tablet is powered by a 1GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. The 97 carbon’s 16GB of internal memory comes pre-loaded with apps and games, and the available storage can be expanded by up to an additional 32GB via microSD or USB. When it’s all said and done, the device comes in at 21.8 ounces and it is 0.45-inches thick.
It’s certainly not the best Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” tablet on the market, but the $249.99 price tag might be somewhat attractive for people looking to get a relatively cheap device with a bigger screen than the Kindle Fire or Nexus 7 provide. The ARCHOS 97 carbon will be released later this month.
Amazon may have its sights set on an Xbox LIVE-like gaming experience for apps on the Kindle Fire, according to a report in Bloomberg. The online retailing giant supposedly plans to announce new social gaming features for Kindle Fire apps sold through the Amazon Appstore for Android. The official announcement of this feature might be just around the corner, with development tools set for release by the end of July, enabling developers to track high scores (e.g. leaderboards) and monitor awards (e.g. achievements).
Apple’s iOS and OS X platforms already include similar features in the Games Center, but when you think of social gaming services, Xbox LIVE always comes to mind. Microsoft pioneered the technology with Xbox, inventing achievements and creating what is, to this day, still an unparalleled service. Xbox LIVE functionality currently exists on Windows Phone and Windows 8, with integration set to improve even further this fall.
The question is whether Amazon’s own gaming service will be enough of a “killer feature” to give it an edge in the tablet market. Google is now taking the Kindle Fire head-on with its Nexus 7 tablet, while Microsoft Surface aims to compete in the high-end market against the iPad. One has to wonder whether Amazon will make its service exclusive to the Kindle Fire, or available on all games purchased through the Amazon Appstore for Android.
Android tablets haven’t gained as much traction in the marketplace as have Android smartphones. Last we heard, the Kindle Fire accounted for approximately half of all Android tablets sold. This, of course, no doubt frustrates Google, since the Fire runs a customized version of Android that has absolutely no ties to Google’s products and services. Now, if Gizmodo Australia is correct, the search giant is going to fight back. According to a leaked training document, Google will unveil a 7-inch Nexus-branded tablet at Google I/O this week to go head-to-head with the Kindle Fire.
Manufactured by ASUS, the 7-inch Nexus tablet will reportedly include a 1.3GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, an NVIDIA GeForce 12-core GPU, 1GB of RAM, nine hours of battery life, and either 8GB or 16GB of internal memory. A single 1.2MP front-facing camera sits atop the 1280 x 800 IPS display with a 178-degree viewing angle. Oddly enough, the traditional back-facing camera is nowhere to be found. Then again, do you really need one on a tablet? The Nexus will, of course, run Google’s upcoming Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS and include NFC, Google Wallet, and Android Beam. It’s expected to be released in July – at least in Australia – for $199 for the 8GB version or $249 for the 16GB model.
This pricing is definitely in the Kindle Fire-range, but the specs are arguably much better. Will the new Nexus tablet be able to regain the ground that Google lost to Amazon’s tablet?
Do you own a Toshiba Thrive tablet? If so, we have bad news for you. The Japanese manufacturer has announced that both versions of its Thrive tablet – the 10-inch and the 7-inch variety – will have to wait until this fall before the long-awaited update to Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” is ready for deployment.
This disappointing delay was made by one of Toshiba’s forum moderators, who writes that the company is “working hard to bring Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, to [its] Thrive tablets.” The mod acknowledged the update’s original spring release date and apologized for the inconvenience, noting that the update is estimated to be ready for deployment by early fall.
Toshiba, of course, already offers Ice Cream Sandwich on its more recent tablets, such as the Excite. The company is reluctant to reveal the exact reasoning behind yet another delay, but hopefully you won’t have to wait more than a few additional months.
As expected, Amazon has announced that its Appstore for Android will open for business in Europe this summer. The Appstore will initially be launched in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, but Amazon plans to expand the store globally “in the near future.”
Developers can already begin submitting apps for inclusion in the European marketplaces, and “those already participating in the program will automatically have their apps made available for sale internationally by default.” The Mobile App Distribution Portal has already been updated to allow developers to set list prices by marketplace, select countries where apps will be sold, etc. Amazon has also changed the rules which govern how much revenue app developers take in. “Starting on July 1, developers will earn 70 percent of list price on each paid app sale,” said Amazon’s press release. ”This is a change from the prior terms under which developers earned either 70 percent of the app’s sales price or 20 percent of list price (whichever was greater).” Additionally, Amazon is giving developers better control over which apps are available to Amazon customers.
Apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus have great content libraries, but they don’t have everything. Occasionally, you have to go to station-specific apps in order to get all of your content, and no app in this category is more popular than HBO GO. The app is already available on a wide range of devices from Xbox 360 to Roku, iOS, and Android phones. Android tablets, however, were conspicuously left out–until now.
Well, sort of. At this point, HBO GO is only available on Amazon’s Kindle Fire, a heavily-modified Android tablet. But with the Kindle Fire holding approximately 50% of the Android tablet market, the app is now available for a large number of people.
A premium service available only with an HBO subscription through your TV provider, HBO GO includes more than 1,400 episodes to choose from. Not everyone is into HBO’s shows, but if you enjoy them and you’ve got an HBO subscription, you’ll want to download the app from the Amazon Appstore for Android.