At 400,000 Apps in the Android Market, Google Closes in on iOS’s 500,000

Google’s made some pretty big strides with Android in recent years. Adoption rate exploded through the roof and it’s on track to become the number one smartphone operating system worldwide in just a few short years (it’s already taken more than 50% in the US market).

With more users comes more developer support because no one wants to develop for a small crowd. That’s a big reason why the Android market was so empty starting out and why there aren’t nearly as many apps available for WebOS as there are for other platforms.

To the point, though – Android now has 400,000 applications in its market, only 100,000 shy from iOS’ count of 500,000. Not all apps may be quality (in fact, some have turned out to be malicious offerings) but there is still a huge abundance of quality applications available from top developers and even some smaller independent developers. Let’s hope 2012 brings many more to the table! [Distimo via The Verge]

Playing Skyrim on the ASUS Transformer Prime [CES 2012]

The NVIDIA Powered ASUS Transformer Prime is a quad-core Tegra 3 beast and we just found out last night it’s getting the Android 4.0 update. While that’s certainly a reason to rejoice, gamers might find the following even more exciting: at CES 2012 we played Skyrim on the Transformer Prime.

NVIDIA has a new application called Splashtop THD which enables the magic you see in the video above. It only works when you combine an NVIDIA GeForce powered desktop computer with an NVIDIA Tegra 3 tablet, but the combination is impressive to say the least. Splashtop packetizes the video and delivers it via Wi-Fi to the Transformer Prime’s screen with minimal loss in video quality. With an XBOX remote connected directly to the Transformer Prime, we were playing Skyrim on our Android tablet as if it were no big deal.

There was obviously some loss in frame rate and the video wasn’t perfect. All the buttons didn’t map properly either, which we found out when unable to change perspective, causing a dragon to totally toasted our skulls. But don’t worry, we hacked up some villagers to make up for it.

At any rate, the fact that this is Skyrim running on an Android Tablet is generally cool. It’s no surprise NVIDIA is the company showing it off, either… these guys are gaming gurus. We also played several other games on the Transformer Prime, including GTA3 and multi-player Shadowgun, using an XBOX controller as input. Can’t wait to see what else NVIDIA has in 2012!

Samsung Closed Out 2011 With Bang – Hit Record High Of $4.72 Billion In Profit

Looks like Samsung had a great year in 2011 and really, was anybody surprised? During an earnings call today, the South Korean company reported that they were able to hit .72 billion in operating profit and billion in sales for Q4 of 2011, lining up with the company’s previous estimate earlier this month.

This is an all time high for Samsung who’s numbers represent a 76% increase in profits over 2010’s holiday season reflecting a high demand for their smartphones totaling a record 35 million shipments (roughly 40% of their total sales) and their flourishing semiconductor business which pulled in billion. Samsung’s television business did pretty well as well with a 20% increase from the previous year, bringing in .6 billion.

Samsung’s senior vice-president Robert Yi said in a statement,

“Despite intensified competition amid the global economic slowdown, our telecommunications businesses continued to post solid earnings with an enhanced line-up of high-end smartphones, resulting in higher average selling price.”

That’s because, no matter how bad things get, people gotta have their Android smartphones. No longer a luxury — it’s become a necessity. Let’s see if Samsung can do it all over again with the Galaxy S III.

[Via Reuters]

Shared family data plans may becoming to Verizon sooner than expected

Verizon has hinted at shared data for their family plans sometime in 2012, and a newly leaked look at Verizon internal training software seems to suggest we could be seeing such plans sooner rather than later. The new training materials includes an overview of “account level data plans” that consist of a single monthly charge for data bandwidth along with a .99 charge for each line using the data, though it may be too soon to read into the exact pricing. But there you have it, shared data coming to a Verizon family plan near you.

[via Engadget]

Motorola MOTOLUXE headed to the UK in late February

The Motorola MOTOLUXE, part of a pack of international handsets we got a first-look at during CES, will soon find a home in the UK. The handset is being touted as a stylish choice for fashion-conscious types wanting a phone to match their flair. With some sharp lines and a slim profile, the MOTOLUXE should be a great choice for those looking for a mid-range handset that doesn’t look cheap. It features a 4.0-inch display, 800MHz single-core CPU, and 512MB of RAM coupled with an 8MP camera with 0.3MP front-facing camera and 1GB of internal storage. Pricing details were not revealed.

Motorola Mobility’s MOTOLUXE™ Smartphone to Launch in the UK

Ultra-stylish, ultra-vogue smartphone from Motorola Mobility coming soon to UK fashionistas. At a price that looks good, too.

Feb. 08, 2012

LONDON – Feb. 8, 2012 – Calling all British style gurus! Get ready to flaunt your fashion flair with the ultra-vogue, rail-thin MOTOLUXE™ from Motorola Mobility UK Limited, expected to be available late February.

When it comes to panache, this Android™ 2.3 powered smartphone sets the bar high. With a 4-inch touchscreen that’s perfect for writing emails, surfing the Web and watching movies, you’ll always be connected, clued-up and entertained – whether at work, hanging out with friends or out on the town.

For photo buffs, an 8-megapixel autofocus camera with flash lets you shoot like a pro. You can even instantly share the pics with friends and family using the phone’s pre-loaded social networking apps.

But there is a reason this is called a smartphone! Incorporating Motorola’s MotoSwitch user interface, the MOTOLUXE learns who you talk to and which apps you use the most, and puts all that information front and center.

The Social Graph feature gives you easy and fast access to the people who really matter. It learns who’s most important to you and uses that information to populate the home screen. The more frequently you communicate with someone, the bigger their icon becomes. The Activity Graph focuses on your app habits; automatically changing to reflect the apps you use the most to provide customised menus.

With Music Now you can now play your favorite music while the Smart Gallery feature displays your favorite pictures as collections.

When you’re on the go, MOTOLUXE’s GPS technology will point you in the right direction and make sure you get to where the action is. If that isn’t enough, the phone is Bluetooth®1-enabled, as well as your portal into the Android Market™ where you’ll find thousands of games, apps, music, books and movies.

MOTOLUXE also sets itself apart with a lanyard slot that lights up. So you can see when you’ve missed a call, received a text or have an email waiting for you.

“By combining sleek style with Android brains, MOTOLUXE is ideal for people who want the latest technology in a sophisticated package,” said Marcus Frost, senior marketing director, Europe, Motorola Mobility. “Not only does this smartphone have a big screen and the latest, greatest entertainment tools, it’s affordable and won’t take a bite out of your budget.”

Price and Availabily

Motorola MOTOLUXE is expected to be available from authorized Motorola resellers from late-February.

Motorola Announces MOTOLUXE and DEFY MINI for World Markets

Motorola today announced two new Android 2.3 smartphones for China, Europe and Latin America. The Motorola MOTOLUXE and Motorola DEFY MINI each aim to please their own niche of users, from the style-conscious to the urban adventurer. The MOTOLUXE is an “ultra-vogue, very slim” device with a 4-inch display and 8MP autofocus camera. We’re not sure what constitutes “very slim,” but Motorola is pushing the style factor of this one. The DEFY MINI picks up from previous members of the DEFY family by providing a capable phone with a tank-like exterior, most notably the 3.2-inch Gorilla Glass display. Both phones fall into lower pricing tiers and are aimed at folks mostly concerned with email, messaging, and web browsing. Both will be on display at CES, and we’ll be sure to check them out from the show floor. Find the full press release below.

Motorola Mobility Introduces Two Stylish Smartphones That Break Boundaries, but Won’t Break the Bank

Motorola MOTOLUXE™ and Motorola DEFY™ MINI coming to Greater China, Europe and Latin America this spring

Jan. 05, 2012

LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. – Jan. 5, 2012 – This spring, Motorola Mobility, Inc. (NYSE: MMI) is helping you flaunt your individuality by adding two stylish and unique Android™ 2.3 (Gingerbread) powered smartphones to its growing budget-friendly portfolio. MOTOLUXE is a hip, slim touchscreen device and Motorola DEFY MINI is dustproof and water-resistant, making it the ideal “life proof” phone for active users. And they come in different shapes, sizes and colors – so you can choose a phone that best reflects your personality.

No matter what device you choose, Motorola’s MotoSwitch user interface changes the way you manage your life. With MotoSwitch, your smartphone learns who you talk to and which apps you use and keeps all of that information front and center. The Social Graph feature gives you easy and fast access to the people who really matter. It learns who’s most important to you and uses that information to populate the home screen. The more frequently you communicate with someone, the bigger their icon becomes. The Activity Graph gives you quick and easy access to your favorite apps, automatically changing to reflect the apps you use the most. With Music Now you can easily play your favorite music while the Smart Gallery displays your favorite pictures as collections.

With Google Mobile™ services you’ll be able to search for anything with Google Search™, chat with your friends using Google Talk™, or find your way anywhere you want to go with Google Maps™ with navigation.

Strike While the Iron Is Hot

The ultra-vogue, very-slim, MOTOLUXE sets the bar high in terms of style with a 4-inch edge-to- edge touchscreen display. This hip device is perfect for writing emails, surfing the Web and watching movies. And, for the amateur photographers out there, the 8-megapixel autofocus camera with flash lets you shoot like a pro and capture life clearly and fully.

MOTOLUXE also sets itself apart with a lanyard slot that has a lighting effect. So you can see when you’ve missed a call, received a text or have an email waiting for you.

Other cool stuff includes:

Front-facing VGA camera for video chatting with friends and family
Available in licorice or white
1400 mAh battery for up to 6.5 hours of talk time, 19 days of standby time
Strong and Sturdy

Water-resistant, dust-proof and with a scratch resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass display, Motorola DEFY MINI is the ideal smartphone for active users who need a device as resilient as they are. With a 3.2-inch touchscreen good for emailing, texting and browsing the Web, and a long battery-life, you can keep this phone on and by your side all day long no matter where you go, so you’ll never miss a beat.

But wait… there’s more:

3MP rear-facing camera with flash
Front-facing VGA camera for video chatting with friends and family
Easy access to all your favorite outdoor apps with the “Instrument Dashboard”
1650 mAh battery for up to 10 hours of talk time, 21 days of standby time
You can get your hands on MOTOLUXE and Motorola DEFY MINI at Motorola’s booth (LVCC, Central Hall, Booth NO. 8644) at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show, January 10 – 13, 2012.

Pricing and Availability
Both devices are expected to be available in Greater China, Europe and Latin America starting this spring. MOTOLUXE is already available in China under the name Motorola XT615 and is expected to be available in Greater China, Europe and Latin America starting in February. Motorola DEFY MINI is expected to be available in China under the name Motorola XT320 and in select countries in Europe and Latin America starting in February.

Find those pesky Ad-pushing apps with Lookout

I never use ad-blocks. Not on my phone, or my computer. I completely understand that a developer has put in a ton of effort to create something that I’m using for free, and the least I can do is let them try to make money through advertisements.

But I have one golden rule: Keep those ads out of my notifications. I don’t care how good the app is, if you do that, I am going to uninstall you and give you a 1-star rating.

Only problem is, it can at times get extremely difficult to realize which app, in particular, is sending those notifications. Especially after downloading a substantial amount of them. Luckily enough, Lookout has us covered with their new Push Ad Detector.

The process is quite simple – just install the Detector and run a scan. It’ll give you a list of which apps use push-ad networks. the service also lists the networks used and helps you opt-out of these networks.

However, I don’t opt-out of them. I simply uninstall them. I’m not going to give a service private information, such as my IMEI, to stop them from spamming me.

Sony Ericsson Posts Vague Photos of Device(s) to be Announced at CES

Sony Ericsson’s teasing us again. As you know by now, they’ll have a pretty strong presence at this year’s CES and are preparing to announce some interesting new devices. We, of course, want nothing  more than to see the Sony Ericsson Nozomi or the Arc HD.

Sony Ericsson hasn’t given a clue as to how many devices they’ll be announced exactly but if history repeats itself it’ll certainly be more than one – maybe even more than two.

The photos above (grouped into one actual image), posted on Facebook today, may not all be the same devices for all we know. Or it could just be one device. And that’s the beauty of a teaser – give us a lot of nothing and make us suffer with anticipation. We’ll just have to subdue that anticipation until next week, I suppose. [Thanks Joseph!]

ZTE Plans To Double Smartphone Shipments in US For 2012 – Will Focus On High-End Devices

If you’re living here in the states and have never heard of Android OEM, ZTE — I wouldn’t hold it against you. Despite being the #4 handset maker in the world, ZTE has largely been absent in the US market but it looks like could soon change. In an interview with Reuters, ZTE’s head of handset strategy said the company plans to double it’s smartphone shipments in 2012 starting with the US and China.

Largely known for their entry level Android smartphones like the Blade and Skate, ZTE mentioned high-end devices will be a key focus in 2012 saying,

“If we say ZTE started out as a contractor, like those building mass housing that are value for money, then we want to be a developer of luxury high-end estates.”

Of course, that’s easier said than done. ZTE has a lot of catching up to do if they want to remain competitive with Samsung and HTC currently dominating the US market. As it stands, many an Android fanboys/girls wont even consider a device unless it comes with an HD display powered by a quad-core processor. But I always say, the more, the merrier. So, with that. Welcome, ZTE. Don’t forget to bring the Ice Cream.

[Via Reuters]

HTC to renew focus on hardware in 2012, expect less new handsets

For the past year or two, HTC has been pumping out new smartphones almost as quickly as those crazy Duggars have been popping out children. That’s not to say that other Android manufacturers aren’t guilty of the same (looking at you, Moto), but HTC is among the first to finally say enough is enough. The company’s UK CEO Phil Roberson acknowledges a link between the quantity of devices produced and the quality of those devices. The majority of HTC’s releases last year were perfectly acceptable, if not among the best in their class, but when a product lineup becomes so crowded it becomes harder recognize the gems and differentiate them from the pack. So in 2012, look for things to change slightly. Roberson wants to refocus on efforts on producing great hardware rather than simply blanketing the landscape in an endless sea of indistinguishable unibody handsets. We’ve already caught wind of a few devices we expect to see at Mobile World Congress, and we’re sure to get a better idea of how things may play out once that event rolls around. For one, tablets don’t seem to be a priority for 2012, an understandable change in direction after HTC couldn’t seem to crack the market last year. I’ve always been a staunch believer in quality over quantity, and so salute HTC for putting an end to the madness. In the meantime I have a pitch for a new TLC show: 19 Phone and Counting. Chew on that for a minute.

[MobileMagazine via Engadget]