Samsung Nexus S 4G
Google today began pushing Android 4.2.1 to the Nexus 4, Nexus 10, and other Nexus-branded devices. The minor update fixes a bug that eliminated the month of December from the contact application. The update is being rolled out gradually over the air.
Google today announced version 4.1 of its Android OS for smartphones. Nicknamed "Jelly Bean", the new OS is designed to be faster overall, and revamps keys parts of the interface. The new pull-down notifications shade lets users interact with notifications without leaving the notifications area. Interactive widgets are now easier to place on home screens, automatically resizing to fit available space. Android's voice recognition features have been improved to work offline and deliver faster results when searching. Also in search, Google Now delivers search results that are location-specific and up-to-the-minute, including information such as transit schedules, flight status, sports scores, and your personal schedule. Google search results also have a new, more visual look. The camera and gallery apps have also been revamped to make it easier to browse photos you've taken. Android Beam has been updated to make it easier to share photos and pair devices by tapping two NFC-enabled devices together. The new Google Play app store can now update apps by only downloading changed code - instead of the whole app - saving time and bandwidth. Android 4.1 will be available in mid-July for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, and Motorola Xoom.
Samsung today announced the availability of TecTiles, small, programmable near-field communication stickers that can be used to activate certain actions on NFC-equipped smartphones. Using a separate Android application, the tags can be programmed to change device settings, such as join a Wi-Fi network or set the phone to silent; to initiate communications, such as a text message or a phone call; as well as to interact with social networking sites, such as to set Facebook status updates or send a message to Twitter. Users hold the phone against the tag, and it registers with a quick vibration, letting the user know that the phone read the tag. The TecTile tags can be programmed multiple times. The TecTiles work with a number of Samsung phones, including the Galaxy S III on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon; the Galaxy S II on T-Mobile; Galaxy Nexus on Verizon, Sprint and global; the Nexus S 4G on Sprint; and the Galaxy S Blaze 4G on T-Mobile. The TecTiles are sold in packs of five for $14.99, and can be purchased at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless retail stores. The TecTile Android application is available for download from the Google Play Store.
Sprint announced that it will start pushing Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich to the Samsung Nexus S 4G starting today. The update will be delivered in waves over the course of the next month. It can be downloaded over-the-air and installed without plugging in to a computer. Android 4.0 will bring a significant number of new features and tools to the Nexus S 4G. Users will be notified when their device is ready for the update.
Google has released a minor update to Google Wallet, its mobile payment tool. The updates include user interface changes, improved management of Citi Mastercards, and more flexible prepaid card top-ups. The update is compatible with the Sprint Nexus S 4G and unlocked versions of the Galaxy Nexus running with AT&T SIM cards. The updated software is free.
All of the Long Term Evolution 4G devices released by Sprint this year will use only its 1900MHz spectrum, said Sprint spokesperson David Owen in an interview with Phone Scoop. Right now, Sprint doesn't have access to Clearwire's spectrum nor LightSquared's spectrum for LTE services, so it will repurpose its 1900MHz spectrum assets to handle both its current CDMA voice/data network and future LTE data network. Sprint plans to launch the LTE network, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and LG Viper at approximately the same time, but couldn't commit to a specific date. Sprint believes its LTE roll-out will be complete by the end of 2013, though Owen wouldn't say how Clearwire and LightSquared's spectrum and LTE networks will play a role in that final 4G picture. Clearwire will not, however, expand its WiMax network beyond what it already covers and will eventually transition to LTE. Owen said that Sprint's goal is to offer smartphones and mobile hotspots that provide good battery life and fast internet speeds, no matter what network technology is being used. The new tri-network (CDMA, WiMAX, LTE) mobile hotspot offers that for data-hungry customers. Owen said that tri-network phones are cost prohibitive, so it will offer CDMA/WiMax and CDMA/LTE devices at the same time as it completes its transition from WiMax to LTE 4G networking technologies.
Google today announced that its Google Wallet mobile payment service has added a new partner in NJ Transit. NJ Transit operates trains and buses that travel between New Jersey and New York City and are responsible for carrying hundreds of thousands of commuters daily. According to Google, Google Wallet users will be able to use their phones to make payments at vending machines in New York's Penn Station, at the rail station at Newark Liberty International Airport, and on bus numbers 6, 43, 80, 81, 87, 120, and 126. Earlier this week, Google Wallet expanded the number of retailers that accept its NFC-based mobile payments on the Samsung Nexus S via Sprint's network to include American Eagle Outfitters, The Container Store, Foot Locker, Guess, Jamba Juice, OfficeMax and Toys'R'Us.
Google today announced that a larger selection of retail locations are now accepting its Google Wallet-based payment service. The service, which ties a phone-based near-field communications chip to a credit card account, has been up and running at Subway and Walgreens locations in New York City and San Francisco for about a month. Today they are joined by American Eagle Outfitters, The Container Store, Foot Locker, Guess, Jamba Juice, OfficeMax and Toys'R'Us retail locations. In addition to the retail expansion today also said that these stores can redeem coupons and/or earn rewards points at these locations. Some of the coupons will be available from within the Offers tab of the Wallet application. Google Wallet is currently only available to the Samsung Nexus S on Sprint's network.
A quick tour of Google Wallet in action, using a Samsung Nexus S 4G for Sprint.
The GSM version of the Samsung Nexus S may receive access to the just-announced Google Wallet service, but Google will work with T-Mobile to bring the service to market for that phone, according to Google VP of Payments Osama Bedier. Mr. Bedier ruled out circumventing carriers like T-Mobile in bringing Google Wallet - and compatible phones - to market. The GSM Nexus S has the same NFC chip required for Google Wallet as the Nexus S 4G that the service is being trialled with today. Google expressed optimism that more carriers would support Google Wallet soon, and that many more phones would include the necessary NFC chip going forward.
Sprint today announced that the Samsung Nexus S 4G will go on sale starting Sunday, May 8, for $199.99 with a new contract. The Nexus S 4G hasa 1GHz processor, 5 megapixel camera, and includes WiMax 4G for faster mobile data.