As Google I/O 2012 rolls along, the YouTube team is updating its Android app to v4.0 with a load of new features, but you’ll need Android 4.0+ to take advantage of them (at least for now, see below). Available in 47 countries, the new app brings a brand new UI with support for channels that reflects the redesign rolled out on the website last year (not the circle-centric look that it is testing with a select few), and it can precache videos from your favorite channels for viewing later. All you have to do is select “preload” in the setting menu and it will pull down videos from your subscriptions and Watch Later queue when plugged in and on WiFi. To actually view them later you will still need to be online, but they’ll load instantly from the device’s storage instead of streaming.
Another new feature is integrated remote functionality to control playback on connected TVs and other devices. This apparently extends to more than just Google TV, as we’re told to “expect more updates later” on how this feature will become broadly available. If you’re not rocking the latest Android software don’t freak out yet, as the team indicates these features will come to more devices later. Developers should be excited too as there’s a slew of new YouTube APIs available, hit the source links below to check them out or download the app yourself.
Fiddling with updates this evening? If so, you may notice your Gmailapp begging for a refresh, as Google has revised its famed email program to bring the Ice Cream Sandwich experience to Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) users. Specifically, it’ll allow you to swipe to move between newer and older conversations, tap to access Recent labels, set custom notifications for individual labels and sync the last 30 days of messages so you can read and search messages faster both online and offline. As for Android 2.2 and 2.3 users, they’ll see a new labels API for third-party app developers as well as nondescript “performance improvements.” If you needed any help, the download link is waiting there in the source.
You’ve already seen this little guy in the wild, but LG has gone ahead and made its first LTE tablet very official — ladies and gentlemen, meet the Optimus Pad LTE. The 9.3mm thin slate packs a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm CPU and an 8.9-inch 1280 x 768 IPS display, along with an 8 megapixel camera on the rear and a 2 megapixel option up front. Users can expect an SD card slot that supports modules up to 32GB, and there’s also HDMI connectivity and DLNA certification for good measure. It’s powered by a 6,800mAh battery, but out of the gate, it’ll ship with Android 3.2 — no word on when the latest Pad hopes to grab a bite of Ice Cream Sandwich. The Optimus Pad LTE’s scheduled to arrive first in LG’s home territory of South Korea, but for those interested in a more complete rundown, be sure to check the PR after the break.
When Toshiba said its skinny AT200 tablet wouldn’t be available until January, anyone with a casual interest in gadgets could have guessed that meant a splashy CES launch was in order. Sure enough, everyone’s favorite trade show has rolled around, and the company is finally ready to talk pricing and availability, four months after it first announced the thing. As we’ve suspected for some time now, it’ll go on sale in the US under the name “Excite” (Excite X10, to be exact), starting at $530 for the 16GB model, with a $600 32GB flavor also available.
To recap, this is supposed to be the premium slate the Thrive wasn’t, with a 1280 x 800 Gorilla Glass display, 178-degree viewing angles, TI OMAP 4430 chip, an anti-smudge coating and a 7.7mm-thick chassis, making it the thinnest 10-inch tablet on the market. It’ll also ship with Android 3.2, though Toshiba says it’s ICS-ready. And don’t let that serious metal exterior fool you: for all its gravitas, the 1.2-pound tab is lighter than it looks. (We should know: we got hands-on ages ago.) So is a super slim design enough to make this Tegra 2 slate worth choosing over the Tegra 3-packing Transformer Prime which starts at $500 with 32GB of storage? To be honest, we suspect not, given that the Prime isn’t much thicker and is also due for an upgrade to ICS. And besides, who knows what other Android tablets will surface at CES this week?
We’ve already established that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a great tablet. Then, just recently, we summarily found that the 1.2-inch smaller Galaxy Tab 8.9 is an even better tablet — at least for anyone who wants to take their slate places. So, following that logic, the even more petite Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus should be the best of the three, right?
Not so fast. We’ve been here before, and things weren’t exactly great. The original Galaxy Tab was, of course, a 7-incher and wasn’t universally well received thanks to a number of problems — the first being a $600 MSRP. Another issue was an Android 2.2 build that tried its best but was ultimately ill-suited for tablet duties. This new 7-inch installment packs a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, a tablet-friendlier build of Android 3.2 Honeycomb and a somewhat more palatable $400 price tag.
So, it’s clearly better equipped than its predecessor, but that one shipped a whopping 12 months ago. How does the newer, fancier Tab compete in this newer, fancier present? Read on to find out.
Back in October, as you may recall, Adobe unveiled its Touch Appsfamily — a collection of six tools designed to make life easier and more tactile for tablet-using creative types. Today, those apps are finally available on the Android Market, for tablets running Android 3.1 or higher. The sextet includes Photoshop Touch, Collage and Proto, among other Adobe products, each of which is priced at $9.99. These applications will also play a central role in Adobe’s forthcoming Creative Cloud initiative, which will allow users to share, view and transfer files across multiple devices. That isn’t expected to launch until the first half of next year, while the full suite of Touch Apps for iOS users should be released by “early 2012″ (Adobe Ideas is the only member currently available on iTunes). Android slate wielders can get their hands on all the Touch Apps now, though Adobe says they’ll need at least an 8.9-inch, 1280 x 800 display to get the most out of it. Check out the source link below for more details, or head past the break for the full PR treatment.
Want Honeycomb on your TV? You can take your chances with a Google TV-enabled set from Sony, or you can get the full Android experience by adding a connected tablet to your HD mix — if Istanbul-based Ardic gets its solution out the door, at least. The Turkish company’s prototype uses a 10-inch Android Honeycomb-based tablet to power a 65-inch LCD with 1080p support for basic gestures, like pinch and zoom. The display currently has two touch sensors, but a version with four sensors is on the way, which will bring multi-touch support. The tablet is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 2 SoC, and includes 1GB of RAM, 16GB of flash memory, dual cameras, HDMI, USB, microSD and 3G and WiFi connectivity. A dock enables instant connectivity with the OEM TV, including HDMI for video and audio, and USB for touch input (a wireless version is in the works as well).
The devs customized Android to support 1080p output, and it appears to work quite seamlessly, as you’ll see in the embedded video. And this isn’t simply another goofy demo or proof of concept — the Turkish company is in talks with education and enterprise customers and hopes to bring this setup to production as a more power- and cost-efficient smart board alternative. The company eventually hopes to offer displays in a variety of sizes, that will all be powered by a pocketable device, such as a smartphone, but watch in wonder as the 65-inch proto we have today struts its stuff in the video after the break.
Transformer Prime detailed: 10-inch Super IPS+ display, 12-hour battery and quad-core Tegra 3, ships in December for $499
Panasonic’s bringing its Tough ways to the tablet front, unveiling two new Honeycomb slates that could be the most durable consumer entries to that field we’ve yet seen. First up is the 10-inch A1, running with a 1.2GHz dual-core Marvell processor backed by 16GB of integrated storage and further expansion courtesy of microSD. That display packs 1,024 x 768 pixels in a 4:3 form-factor that is said to be anti-glare and stylus-ready, the whole package clocking in at a very healthy 2.13 pounds. Remember, this is an evolution of the Tough series: it’ll have more to love — including LTE or WiMAX connectivity and 10 hours of life from a user-replaceable battery.
There’s also a 7-inch B1, which we know a little less about at this point, but both are MIL-STD-810G rated to survive drops, dust and water. You know, the sorts of things that most tablet owners buy expensive cases to protect from. But, a starting MSRP of $1,299 for the A1 might make your budget keeper recoil at least a little bit, though the presumably somewhat cheaper B1 is still lacking a price. Both will quite literally drop in 2012, so watch those feet.
It has been a long year for Google TV. The first (and only, so far) round of hardware started shipping in October 2010 and at the time, promised the Android Marketplace with its wealth of third party apps early in the next year. That clearly didn’t happen, and it quickly became most notable for what it was being blocked from doing, like streaming video from TV providers like Hulu and various network TV websites. After various false starts and delays, Sony Google TV and Logitech Revue hardware will finally receive updates to Android 3.1 Honeycomb (congratulations Google, now where’s Ice Cream Sandwich?) starting this weekend with Sony up first and Logitech “shortly thereafter.” The biggest additions are the aforementioned apps, a new interface, and a refocused system for content discovery that starts with the new TV & Movies app pictured above. Check out the gallery for more pictures of the new Google TV, while more details and videos follow after the break.
At AsiaD this week, Google’s Andy Rubin noted that there were at least six million Android tablets in use. That number included only those running Google services. One could question whether the briskly selling Nook Color — which is not open to Android apps at large — is relevant to that tally, at least from a developer perspective. It will certainly be the case, though, that the Kindle Fire — also expected to be a hot seller — will be an important addition to the number moving forward.
Still, Rubin conceded, it was a tally far behind that of the 30 million cumulative units of the iPad, which broke open the modern-day tablet category, extended its lead with the iPad 2, and will likely see another revision this coming spring. When Apple introduced its tablet device, it set a precedent for third-party developers by rewriting core applications to take advantage of the iPad’s larger display with “HD” versions. And while there are still far fewer native iPad apps than iPhone apps, Apple is far ahead in the race for native tablet software.
Nearly a month after its initial announcement, Samsung’s ready to deliver the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus to the good ol’ US of A just in time for the winter gift-giving season. The WiFi-only device, which packs a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU with 1GB of RAM, Android 3.2, 3MP camera with 720p HD video capture and a 7-inch LCD with 1024 x 600 resolution, will be begging for your credit card as of November 13th at Best Buy, Amazon and other retailers. Are you an early adopter? No prob — you’ll have the opportunity to pre-order yours at “select retailers” this coming Sunday, though no specific outlets were called out by name. The 16GB is the only version arriving so far, but Sammy told us to expect the 32GB flavor later this year or early 2012 (likely for $499, if yesterday’s brief appearance on Amazon is any indicator). No word on partnerships with carriers yet, but we’ll keep you posted on any updates. View the press release in all its glory below.
We just witnessed quite the interview between ASUS chairman Jonney Shih and Walt Mossberg at AsiaD, and outside of revealing the Transformer Prime (and affirming that the impending Padfone would ship with Android 4.0), he also dropped a few other nuggets worth mention to the audience here in Hong Kong. For starters, he finally caved to Walt’s pestering about who his main competition was, specifically related to the new Zenbook. “The Mac[Book] Air,” he stated, chuckling slyly afterwards, but quickly continuing on to plug his own machine based on its own merits. Not surprisingly, he also expressed his confidence that Android tablets still had a lot of life left in the market, and he stated that ASUS is still on track to move its target — around two million — Android tablets this year. Moving onto the topic of netbooks, Shih noted that rather than being buried, netbooks are simply “evolving.” More importantly, however, was his subtle confirmation that a new ASUS netbook is en route: “You’ll see on our new netbook, it’ll be very thin.” In fact, he even suggested that the design may follow that of the Zenbook, but just… smaller.
When asked about his thoughts on people replacing laptops less frequently, and perhaps shifting disposable income to smartphones and tablets, Jonney maintained that all of those markets were key to ASUS’ success, and that none were taking a backseat. “We believe that this a very critical time, transitioning from the personal computing era to the ubiquitous cloud computing era.” Sounds a bit like another mantra we heard, truth be told, but ASUS has been riding the cloud bandwagon long before most other consumer companies even knew what it was. The original spate of Eee PCs had next to no internal storage; rather, they relied on accessing the web in order to deliver the bulk of their functionality. Jonney also noted that ASUS is attempting to tackle an interesting problem with its products, which is that few people can truly separate work and entertainment — in other words, you need products that adequately handle both worlds. We’re guessing a Padfone + Transformer Prime + Zenbook is his preferred trifecta to do just that.
Google’s rolling in the dough in no small part due to Android’s success in the smartphone market. When it comes to tablets? Eh, not so much. Intrepid developer Al Sutton figures that only 3.4 million Honeycomb devices are currently in use, which pales in comparison to the number of slates sold by the competition in Cupertino. He arrived at the figure using Google’s data — Larry Page said that there are 190 million Android devices out there on yesterday’s earnings call, and the Android Developers website shows that only 1.8 percent of ‘droids accessing the Android Market during a recent two week period were running Google’s tablet OS. Do the math, and that’s just 3.42 million tablets running Android 3.x. It’s hardly an official figure, but it does indicate that Android’s got its work cut out for it the tablet space. That Ice Cream Sandwichbetter be mighty tasty if the bots from Mountain View are going to grab a bigger chunk of the market.