Walmart Introduces New Contract Free Family Plan From T-Mobile – Unlimited Talk, Text and Web For $45

Walmart is proving themselves once again to be the low price leader, this time when it comes to cellphone plans. The retailer is partnering up with T-Mobile to offer one of the country’s lowest unlimited family plans to date. a month will get you unlimited talk, text and web with NO contract and adding lines is only an additional after that (a 1 time fee of per line is also added).

If you’re thinking this plan is too good to be true, you’d be half right. If you remember, T-Mobile’s definition of “unlimited” comes with some fine print attached. Families can only enjoy up to 250MB of shared data with full 3G/4G speeds and once they hit their monthly allotment, it’s all Edge (2G) from there. But wait– those who sign up before March 16th will get a much more reasonable 5GB of data to share with the fam, making this sound like one heck of a deal but after March 31st, it will go down to the normal 250MB. Tease.

What do you guys think? 250MB sounds a bit skimpy for someone who likes to stream their entire music library using Google Music but if you’re mostly on WiFi and occasionally like to update your Facebook status on the go, it might work for some. Anyone thinking of taking advantage of Walmart’s “Family Mobile” plan?

Press release:

According to a recent Harris Interactive study, 65% of smartphone users said they use their smartphone’s picture sharing capability most when connecting with family and friends. That’s just one reason why T-Mobile and Walmart recently made their Walmart Family Mobile plan better than ever – adding Unlimited Web to their already great offer of Unlimited Talk and Text. Rolling onto shelves now, the new Walmart Family Mobile Unlimited Talk, Text and Web plan is only per month for the first line and per month for additional lines and is available at Walmart stores nationwide and on Walmart.com.

Additionally, 44% of first-time smartphone buyers in 2012 say the cost of the data plan associated with a smartphone is the most influential reason they have not purchased a smartphone before. For the first time, this monthly postpaid, no-annual contract plan is offering Unlimited Web service, providing full access to Web surfing, data and social media for all lines on the account and is one of the best value options available on any national carrier. Walmart Family Mobile was designed with families in mind, and offers the most affordable way to enjoy high-quality postpaid 3G service. To encourage families to get connected sooner, customers activating the new plan now until March 16th will enjoy the first 5GB per month per line at up to 3G speeds until March 31st. Customers activating after March 16th can enjoy the first 250MB per month per line at up to 3G speeds.

For more information about the Walmart Family Mobile Unlimited Talk, Text and Web plan, please visit www.walmartfamilymobile.com or www.myfamilymobile.com

[Walmart | Via CellPhoneSignal]

BlueStacks Moves Out of Alpha – Android Apps On Your PC Move One Step Closer

BlueStacks — a program for Windows that runs Android applications — has been in the works for quite awhile now. Quentyn originally reported on BlueStacks back in April and more recently, the company released a creepy infograph highlighting a typical Android user’s appearance. They even managed to secure a “Best of CES 2012” award from Cnet.

With BlueStacks buzz in full effect, I am happy to report that BlueStacks has finally moved out of the alpha stages of testing, with the beta coming just around the bend. Users who would like to sign up for the beta can do so via the company’s signup page (linked below). Any of our readers have a chance to try out the alpha? Would love to get some user feedback.

[BlueStacks | Via TalkAndroid]

ARCHOS Announces Ice Cream Sandwich for G9 Tablets, Coming First Week of February

A bit of news worth pulling out of our booth visit to ARCHOS has everything to do with Ice Cream Sandwich. The update is headed to their 10-inch G9 tablets, with a launch currently penned in for the first week of February. The upgrade from Android 3.2 to 4.0 will apply to the currently available generation of the tablet as well as the newly announced 1.5GHz dual-core CPU upgrade. They didn’t beat Asus to the punch — the Transformer Prime received ICS earlier this week — but provided the update occurs smoothly and as expected, the G9 tablet will be among the first to run Google’s latest OS update.

 

Japanese carrier KDDI now pushing ads to Android notification bar

For many Android users, so-called bloatware is the bane of their existence. Carrier-crafted apps and game demos crowd their applications drawer and perhaps even collect data behind users’ backs. As intrusive as that sounds, nothing is quite as bad as what subscribers to Japan’s KDDI have coming. Through their pre-installed Android Market alternative, KDDI is pushing ads directly to the Android notification bar, complete with an alert.

The concept is similar to propositions by the likes of AirPush and SlingLabs that allow developers to place notification bar ads in their applications, except the KDDI market isn’t so easily uninstalled. We can’t speak for how the move will go over in Japan, but the contingent of Android fans in the US will surely want nothing to do with this sort of advertising directly from the carrier. If AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile (or even Google directly) are so bold as to follow in KDDI’s footsteps, the response will be anything but kind from users.

[Asiajin via Engadget]

Aigo Bringing Two Low-Priced Tablets to America This April [CES 2012]

We stopped by the Aigo booth to see what they were working with at CES. We were initially disappointed but left the booth surprised. The disappointed part comes from their 8 Inch M803.

It has 1280×768 resolution, a VGA front-facing camera, 8GB of internal storage, WiFi up to G and more. It does run Android 4.0 but that’s where the disappointing part comes from – it didn’t run Android 4.0 well.

The device actually has a 1GHz Cortex-A9 dual-core processor so we were surprised to see Android struggling so bad. Even just trying to go through the homescreens proved to be painful. Surprisingly there were no issues playing a 3D game so we’re willing to chalk things up to this being an early unit.

Its smaller yet seemingly more powerful brother, the 7 inch M718HD, was a much better experience. The folks at Aigo couldn’t disclose which processor was inside but we at least know that it has Android 4.0, 8GB of internal storage, a 5 megapixel rear camera, a 1.3 megapixel front facing camera, 3G radios, support for 1080p HD playback, WiFi up to G and more. It also has an 800×480 resolution. While it looks like on paper it actually didn’t seem that bad on the tablet itself.

Performance was stunning, actually, and it made me wonder why the M803 was so terrible. IF both of these units are supposed to be unfinished and one of them is this much further along than the other I think there is a problem. Anything could be blamed for the M803’s bad performance, though, so we’re giving Aigo the benefit of doubt until the product actually lands on store shelves.

Specs and performance aside the tablets were aesthetically pleasing. Usually with these budget tablets you see them skimp on the design aspect but Aigo has produced a tablet that I’m sure many people wouldn’t mind being seen with in public. Be sure to take a look at the devices yourself in the couple of videos above.

Motorola Droid Screen Protected By Gorilla Glass

Apparently Anthony Perez didn’t get the message: the Motorola Droid screen should be harder to break than the vast majority of phone screens because it is protected by Gorilla Glass. Now you’re wondering what the heck Gorilla Glass is… aren’t you? It’s made by Corning and essentially the glass is supercharged by dunking it in superhuman glass juice. Or more scientifically speaking:

gorilla-glass2Like many glasses used in these kinds of applications, Gorilla glass chemically strengthened. Glass is a brittle material. Brittle materials are extremely strong under compression but extremely weak under tension. When you chemically temper a glass, you immerse it in a salt bath and you stuff larger ions in all the surfaces and put them all under compression.

What’s unique about Gorilla Glass is that because of its inherent composition, it can allow those larger ions to penetrate the surface more deeply to increase the compression tolerance and tolerate deeper scratches.

The compression pushes a flaw back. It’s harder to break from a deeper scratch.

And if you’re REALLY interested in how all this works, you’ll probably be entertained by the following little chart that compares Gorilla Glass and Soda Lime Glass (they should rename it Sprite Glass or 7UP glass):

gorilla-glass

I originally found this goodness over at Gizmodo where their article is titled “Why Even Clumsy People Like You Would have Trouble Breaking The Display On a Motorola Droid”. But what if you’re wearing sweatpants in your Celica and your Droid slips out of your pocket as you stand up? That, my friend, is an unfortunate problem that even Gorilla Glass could never protect against.

Like I told you before… just ask Anthony Perez.

Google Indoor Maps Helps Us Navigate CES, Blackjack Tables

Navigating the show floor at CES is like completing a quest in the consumer electronics edition of Fable 4, but a recent update to Google Maps may unlock the door to a virtual cheat code. With a recent update to the omnipresent Google Maps, Android users can now navigate indoor maps for popular Las Vegas locations such as the Las Vegas Convention Center and The Venetian, the two most important locations for CES attendees.

Also included in round one are the MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, Bellagio, and The Palazzo, although I’m a bit nervous it might work too well: finding the nearest ATM after you’ve nearly gone bankrupt at the blackjack table could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

For those of you following our CES coverage from home, check out the online demo which should give you an idea how the technology works. As more and more companies and organizations submit their maps, it will be exciting to see how this technology is used and adopted by the public: there are certainly logistical challenges when trying to pinpoint locations indoors.

In addition to the obvious application of indoor navigation, it will be interesting to see how quickly this is leveraged into a gaming environment where FPS and racing games take place on levels based on real-world floor plans. If you’re doubting that this is realistic endeavor, take a look at the Navigation based game coming to Google Games in February:

Give Google Indoor Navigation a test and let us know what you think in the comments. It’s only available in select locations for the time being, but here is the full list of available locations. Do you think the ability to upload indoor maps could eventually lead to privacy concerns if 3rd parties start uploading private residences and other areas that would otherwise be off limits? Any other forseeable negative issues?

United States

  • Akron-Canton Airport (CAK)
  • Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL)
  • Boise International Airport (BOI)
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
  • Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • George Bush Houston International Airport (IAH)
  • Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
  • Kansas City International Airport (MCI)
  • Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL)
  • Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS)
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
  • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
  • Portland International Airport (PDX)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
  • DDR Corp. shopping centers in Puerto Rico, including Plaza del Atlántico in Arecibo, Plaza del Sol in Bayamon, Plaza Rio Hondo in Bayamon, Plaza del Norte in Hatillo, Plaza Palma Real in Humacao and Senorial Plaza in Rio Piedras
  • Vallco Shopping mall in Cupertino, CA
  • Brixmor Property Group including Eagle Rock Plaza in Los Angeles, CA
  • Mall of America
  • Macy’s*
  • Bloomingdale’s*
  • Home Depot*
  • Ikea*
  • Caesars Entertainment – Bally’s Las Vegas
  • Caesars Entertainment – Caesars Palace
  • Caesars Entertainment – Flamingo Las Vegas
  • Caesars Entertainment – Harrah’s Las Vegas
  • Caesars Entertainment – Imperial Palace
  • Caesars Entertainment – Paris Las Vegas
  • Caesars Entertainment – Planet Hollywood
  • Caesars Entertainment – Rio Las Vegas
  • Las Vegas Convention Center
  • Las Vegas Sands – The Venetian
  • MGM Resorts – Aria Hotel & Casino
  • MGM Resorts – Bellagio
  • MGM Resorts – Circus Circus Hotel & Casino
  • MGM Resorts – Crystals Retail
  • MGM Resorts – Excalibur Hotel & Casino
  • MGM Resorts – The Hotel at Mandalay Bay
  • MGM Resorts – Luxor Hotel & Casino
  • MGM Resorts – Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
  • MGM Resorts – Mandalay Bay – Four Seasons
  • MGM Resorts – Mandarin Oriental
  • MGM Resorts – MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
  • MGM Resorts – The Mirage Resort & Casino
  • MGM Resorts – Monte Carlo Resort & Casino
  • MGM Resorts – New York, New York Hotel & Casino
  • MGM Resorts – Signature
  • MGM Resorts – Vdara Hotel

Japan

  • Narita International Airport
  • Haneda Airport, International Terminal
  • Haneda Airport, Domestic Terminal
  • JR East in Tokyo and Chiba (main stations)
  • Tokyu Corporation (main stations)
  • Tokyo Midtown
  • Daimaru
  • Matsuzakaya
  • Tokyu
  • Mitsukoshi
  • Takashimaya
  • Odakyu
  • Isetan
  • Keio
  • Matsuya
  • Seibu
  • Tobu
  • Printems Ginza
  • Marui
  • Marunouchi Building
  • Shin-Marunouchi Building
  • Marunouchi OAZO
  • Marunouchi BRICK SQUARE
  • TOKIA Tokyo Building
  • Shibuya 109
  • 109 MEN’S
  • Miraikan
  • Roppongi Hills
  • Venus Fort
  • Tokyu Hands Ikebukuro
  • DECKS TOKYO BEACH
  • remy gotanda
  • LaLa port TOYOSU
  • The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)

[Thanks iJoe!]

T-Mobile USA Tapping Clearwire For High Speed Data?

clearwireAs some carriers make their move towards 4G, T-Mobile USA is losing some customers for their inability to even provide 3G access, something the carrier is looking to fix for their next generation network.  Rumor has it that T-Mobile is working on a join venture opportunity with Clearwire to support their 4G data network.

Two pretty interesting facts:

  • T-Mobile USA and Clearwire have headquarters right next to eachother
  • Clearwire is majority owned by Sprint

The United States mobile market is fierce right now, with Verizon and AT&T leading the way and both Sprint and T-Mobile struggling a little bit. T-Mobile essentially “purchasing” 4G data from Sprint would give their competitors a nice insurance policy.

There have also been reports of T-Mobile’s parent company buying Sprint or even spinning of T-Mobile USA or selling it. Doesn’t seem likely according to TMO CEO:

“What you never want to do is take one company that is going through challenges and take another company going through challenges.”

I guess somebody learned something from Sprint Nextel.

[Via RWW]

Firefox Mobile for Android (not iPhone)

With faster data connections and more robust hardware/software, mobile web browsing capabilities should improve drastically in the new era of wireless. Firefox will soon usher in the new era with a fantastic mobile browser that Mozilla’s Head of User Experience, Aza Raskin, provided a demo for:

Nothing short of amazing. The integration of tabs and navigation within the contsraints of limited mobile screen real estate is a huge step forward in building an experience specifically for mobile.

Keep in mind that this represents, “a possible direction,” and that, “this isn’t necessarily the exact way we’re going to go with mobile. It might look entirely different.” But they would only make it “different” to improve it further. And as it stands, this browser already kicks butt.

So will you be able to have Firefox on your Android phone? Of course. And for the iPhone-wielding readers out there? Tough luck:

For the iPhone, Apple’s licence can not install software to have an interpreted language. But Firefox includes JavaScript, which makes it legally impossible to carry on the iPhone….For Android, Webkit is integrated into the OS, and only Java applications can run. And Firefox is not written in Java. So that’s why [Fennec will not run on Android]. However, in both cases, things may change in future, but it does not depend on Mozilla.

That’s not to say Apple won’t somehow make some accommodations, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see them pushing forcing their Safari browser on users. Piece by piece, we’re starting to see the flexibility of Android in relation to competing systems where user choice is restricted and limited.

Firefox, owned by Mozilla, is currently the main source of browser innovation. Slowly but surely, more and more computer users are adopting Firefox as their default browser in favor of the majority used Internet Explorer. Since the mobile web world is so young, it’d be difficult to say any one browser is the “default” or “favorite”. But, it looks like Firefox is on track to reach that status.

[Via CNET]

ASUS Close To Finalizing Fix For Transformer Prime’s Android 4.0 OTA Update Bug

I scream, you scream, we all scream when we can’t update to Ice Cream. That’s the tune some Transformer Prime owners are singing after being unable to update their supertabs to the latest version of Android’s delectable desserts. As so often is the case when dealing with Android updates, a bug has presented itself in the T-Prime’s software that isn’t allowing the OTA to recognize the tab’s serial number. And no serial number means no update.

ASUS has acknowledged the bug and has opened up an official thread on XDA where a quick fix was given by way of a good ‘ol fashioned reboot or factory reset. This is by no means 100% effective but could help in some cases. For more help you can visit the thread on XDA where Gary Key of ASUS mentioned they are “very close to a finalizing a fix.” Hang in there, guys.

[XDA via Engadget]