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HTC wants to replace bad gifts with good HTC Ones

htc-one-gold

HTC wants to replace your bad gifts with a free HTC One this Christmas.

A new contest from HTC lets Instagram users show off their “bad” gifts and hopefully win a brand new phone from the company. To enter the contest all you have to do is follow HTC on Instagram, post a picture of the offending bad gift to the service, explain why its so bad in the caption with the hashtag #ReplaceMyGift, and tag HTC in the photo. Okay, so maybe the contest is a bit more complicated than some others, but it’s still relatively simple.

The contest will run until 11:59 p.m. PST on January 5, 2014. After that, HTC’s judges will view all of the photos submitted and evaluate them to see who gets the free HTC One and who doesn’t. The company will give away total of 12 phones in the contest. Six of those will go to Americans, and the other six will go to fans outside the U.S.

HTC asks that nobody mention other companies or products in their posts, so try to talk around why you aren’t a fan of that iPod touch somebody gave you without mentioning Apple.

The contest seems like a fun way to get people talking about and excited about HTC, but it could potentially cause a few problems for users. Nobody wants to see their gift put online as an example of a bad gift. Unless it’s intended to be a bad gift, in which case you might end up getting a laugh and a free phone.

Will you try your hand at the #ReplaceMyGift contest? Here’s the full list of rules and stuff to know if you’re going to enter!

Also, we’ve got giveaway happening here every Sunday on Android Authority, and we always make them international. Good luck guys, Happy Holidays!

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Winamp will shut down for good next month

Winamp will be shutting down next month. This news comes following 15 years of being available and has arrived as little more than a mention on the Winamp download site. There was no specifics given as to the reason for the shut down, however speculation suggests lack of popularity at this point.

7a917ed053id 5401.jpg1 Winamp will shut down for good next month

The folks behind the Winamp app, Nullsoft were acquired by AOL in 1999 and while there are Mac and Android apps available for download — things never seemed as good as the early days when Winamp was highly customizable and available only for Windows. Before we get all nostalgic here, we can look towards the brief statement from Winamp.

“Winamp.com and associated web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download. Please download the latest version before that date.”

With that having been said, now appears like a good time for the trip down memory lane. Looking towards Wikipedia and we learn that Winamp was created in 1997 by Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldrev. The early days of Winamp had it available as freeware/shareware and with support for a variety of file types and customizable with plugins and skins.

Winamp was integrated with SHOUTcast for streaming radio and also once found use as a podcatcher. All that aside, Winamp appears to have reached the height of success in 2005 when the user base grew to more than 52 million. But while the software will only be going away for good in December 2013, it seems the writing on the wall may have began 10 years earlier, in 2003. That was when Winamp saw a near-simultaneous departure of both Justin Frankel and the original development team. As a result, Winamp (Nullsoft) became a division of AOL Music.

SOURCE: Winamp

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Is Google’s increasing control over Android good for users?

Friday Debate aa (1)

On this edition of the Friday Debate, we discuss a topic that generated hot disputes in the Android community in the past week: Google’s power play on Android. Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica recently published a thought-provoking piece where he outlines the way Google moved more and more of the features that were once part of AOSP into its own proprietary applications, thus increasing its control on the Android ecosystem and making it more difficult for other companies to fork it.

Some say that’s a perfectly justified move, others decry it as a betrayal of the ideals of open source software. The bigger question pertains to the effect of the move on consumers – sure, Google provides a great user experience through its apps, but competition is healthy and ultimately a diverse ecosystem may prove more benefic for users than a centralized one.

So, is Google’s increasing control over Android ultimately good for consumers? Is the move from open source to proprietary worrying you? How should other companies react?

Join us in the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments!

Robert Triggs

Offering Android as a free and open platform was certainly beneficial to Google as much as it was to consumers looking for alternative products to Apple’s. Google has clearly done well out of it, and it’s hard to deny that its huge stack of resources makes it virtually impossible for anyone else to re-invent Android in another image.

If you’re wearing your skeptical cap, this could be viewed as an attempt to muscle out competitors and tighten its grip on Android. But I’m not convinced that this is Google’s intention, yet.

The company clearly has a vision for Android, and that necessitates the production of some proprietary software and services. It’s impossible for Google to open up all of its software to the open-source crowd, as this would deprive it of the fruits of that investment. As much or as little as the people at Google may believe in open-source, profits from closed software pays for investments in new projects to drive Android forwards.

Equally, there’s nothing, bar costs, stopping third party developers from competing with the vast majority of Google’s products, and many companies do. Google is certainly the benchmark to beat, but it’s not enforcing a monopoly. The company is simply ploughing the most resources into the project, which was always going to make it a tad lopsided.

However, consumers, developers, and Google should all be weary of the risks posed by a monopoly, mainly that of stagnating innovation. The greatest argument in favour of open-source projects isn’t that they’re “free” or that they fulfil a programmer’s Marxist fantasy, but that they are often cutting edge and sustained by the ease of access granted to developers. But by the same token, we must understand that smaller contributors and consumers shouldn’t be able to dictate how the resources of others are allocated, as this too stifles innovation.

With all that being said, if Android becomes an overly difficulty market to compete in, developers will, and should, look elsewhere, and everyone will lose out. We’ve all seen what happens when companies become blinded by their own vision, I’m looking at you Blackberry, so it’s in Google’s best interest to keep the playing field somewhat level.

Overall, I think that Android, and consumers, are better off thanks to Google’s efforts, but I’m undecided whether or not its dominant position will be detrimental to the platform in the long run. I’ll be eagerly watching Cyanogen Inc as a test of Google’s and consumers’ attitudes towards open-source.

Joe Hindy

Oh my there is a lot to talk about. First and foremost, Google closing source on Google Apps is not Google closing source on Android. The OS, insofar as I can tell, remains as open as it ever was with the same rules and restrictions it’s had for years now. So I don’t believe it’s Google trying to control Android, but more like Google trying to control their proprietary applications.

This makes sense because other OEMs (read: Samsung) have begun to wage open war on the Google part of the Android ecosystem. By creating their own mail, translation, voice assistant, browser, etc, Samsung is showing that you can have Android without Google Apps. Of course, this is no lesson that Amazon hasn’t been teaching for years. With Amazon releasing their Google apps alternatives and Samsung releasing theirs as well, it only makes sense that they take what makes their variant of Android special, putting it closer to the vest, and closing the source so they can make faster, bigger, and better changes.

To put it absurdly, even the Nexus has an OEM skin. As many Google engineers have said, when you’re running a Nexus, you are not running stock Android, you’re running Google’s version of Android. It’s no different than Touchwiz, HTC Sense, MIUI, and others. True blue Android wouldn’t have any Google software included. Imagine flashing CyanogenMod without flashing GApps. That’s what stock Android actually looks like.

So here’s how I see it. Google is keeping their proprietary apps closer to the vest so they can better compete with Samsung and Amazon, who are doing essentially the same thing with their Android experience apps. At the end of the day, it’s 3 giant companies competing for our love. That bodes well for us, the consumer, because all 3 are trying to make their experience better. That means all 3 experiences get better and we get better experiences.

Including Google Apps in with Android is, well, wrong. They are two different things. Android is Android. The Play Store, Gmail, Google Now, etc, is not Android, it’s Google. So Google keeping Google’s apps closed source makes sense, especially since Android itself remains as open as ever!

Andrew Grush

Google isn’t a charity. Android needs to be a profitable endeavor, or else it doesn’t matter to the Google that Android is the leading mobile OS.

For Google, that means one of its top priorities is getting folks addicted to its first party apps and services. Of equal importance is Google’s ability to keep its manufacturing partners loyal to Google’s vision for Android.

Google accomplishes the former by making sure its services are the very best, and the latter by imposing manufacturer restrictions on the use of its first party apps and forbidding its partners from using unauthorized forks of Android.

So yes, Google controls the direction of Android through the Open Handset Alliance and by leading the platform with killer apps. Is that the same as having absolute control over the platform? No, it’s not.

Google is a business and puts its own agenda at the forefront, but it has done very little to stifle the overall spirit of Android’s open platform.
For those that have ever used Windows Phone, Blackberry or iOS – you already know how these companies do there best to place limits on what developers and consumers can and can’t do. Third-party apps stores? Good luck with that, unless you want to jailbreak your device, it isn’t happening.In contrast, Android not only allows third party app stores, launchers, lockscreens and more – Google even allows these kinds of apps onto its official Play Store. In fact, Google allows just about anything to come to the Play Store, even if its relatively similar to an existing Google service.

Sure there have been some exceptions, but for the most part Google is very open with its store front.

In contrast, Apple does whatever it can to prevent anything that’s similar to its first party services from making it to the app store. The same goes for Windows Phone and even Blackberry OS, though to a lesser extent than Apple.

Do I feel that Google is working to create an iron grip over Android? Not necessarily, though it’s something to watch out for. I love the fact that Android gives me freedom to make my Android device whatever I want it to be, and if that ever changed, I’d certainly have something to say about it.

For now, I believe there is little to fear but I will admit that could change in time.

Adam Koueider

If anyone is even contemplating the thought that Android is going to become closed source, they shouldn’t. One of the stipulations that the Chinese government attached to Google’s purchase of Motorola was that Android would remain open and free for at least the next 5 years. That means that you won’t have to worry about that scenario for at least another 4 years.

Now let’s start answering the questions raised. Is Google working to gain more control over Android? Yes. Is that good or bad for consumers? It’s a great thing for consumers. The fact is that control and order are good things to have, to a certain extent. You can’t have one pie being pulled in 14 completely different directions, because all you’re going to end up with is a bit of pie on everybody’s faces.

The fact that Google is muscling everybody into a general direction for Android is great for consumers simply because we have an overall idea of where the platform is headed. This means that developers have an idea as to the way their apps should look and function to keep a sustainable app ecosystem, and so that people have a general idea of what to expect when they pick up an Android phone.

Sure Google’s taking Android in a general direction, but that doesn’t mean OEMs aren’t slightly deviating from the Google plan. OEMs still offer MicroSD slots despite Google’s disdain for them, and they still offer physical buttons. We aren’t losing any freedom or choice by Google gaining more control over Android, and the developer community is probably at (or nearing) its peak with the recent Cyanogen Inc. and Paranoid Android announcements.

How should OEMs react? Well they’ve been reacting since the very beginning. OEMs realise that if they want to prosper they need to have a reasonably good relationship with Google. HTC was the first to develop its relationship with Google and even though Samsung has appeared to have loosened its ties with Google it still has made the most Nexus devices and it even created a Google Play Edition variant of the Galaxy S4.

Samsung has also taken appropriate steps to distance itself from Google as well. Nobody wants to be fully dependant on another company to dictate how they’re going to move forward and Samsung, being such a behemoth in supply line management, has started building its own app ecosystem much to the disdain of some.

Am I worried that Android has become less open compared to two years ago? No, because Android has also become a much more mature and developed operating system in those two years as well, and the fact that Google has taken more control of Android has definitely been a factor in this trend. Now all I ask of Google is to stop those fake apps on the Play Store feeding off of the popularity of games and apps like BBM and Dead Trigger 2.

What do YOU think?

Join us in the comments and vote in our poll.

Is Google’s increasing control over Android good for users?

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How good is your driving? Try out Road Trip for BlackBerry 10

Games like Road Trip have been around on other platforms for a long time and in fact there are alternatives in BlackBerry World, although I think they are all Android ports and possibly not even by the same developers as on Google Play. We now have a official native BlackBerry 10 game and it’s really good.

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Can you keep everyone in a good mood with Smirkers for BlackBerry 10?

Smirkers for BlackBerry 10 is a fun, colorful game which you can download for both the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10. It’s a bit of a strange concept but once you grasp it it’s actually pretty addictive.

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5.2-inch LG Nexus 5 leaks, sounds too good to be true

lg-nexus-5-prototype-rumor-1

Now that the Galaxy S4 is out we’ve seen a variety of reports hinting at other smartphones that could be launched in the future, with most of them focusing on Google’s X Phone. But there’s also a new wild LG Nexus 5 rumor out there.

From an untrusted source, Android and Me has gotten a hold of a leaked picture of an LG device that’s a candidate for the Nexus 5 position. The leak for this LG Megalodon – apparently that’s its codename for now – includes specs and features as follows:

  • 5.2-inch OLED Display with 1920 × 1080 resolution
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 @ 2.3 GHz
  • 3GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • 16/32/64GB of internal storage
  • 16MP rear camera by OmniVision (4k video recording @30FPS, 1080p video recording @60FPS, Real Time HDR & HDR video recording, optical image stabilization, BSI 2.0)
  • 2.1MP front camera (1080p video recording @30FPS)
  • 3300mAh Lithium Polymer battery
  • Front positioned stereo speakers
  • Qualcomm RF360 (LTE 150 Mbps & HSPA+)
  • Integrated DVB-T / ATSC-antenna
  • Gesture like controls (navigation, zoom, etc)

Naturally, we’re advising you to take everything with a large chunk of salt for now, as this Nexus 5 sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

At the same time, this isn’t the first LG Nexus 5 rumor we’ve seen, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see LG get the Nexus 5 contract after all, no matter whether today’s leak proves real or fake.

In case we’re looking at the real deal, this LG Nexus 5 is said to arrive in October, so there’s plenty of time to find out more details about the handset.

The post 5.2-inch LG Nexus 5 leaks, sounds too good to be true appeared first on Android Authority.

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Would a Galaxy S4 failure be good for Android?

galaxy-s4-unpacked-new-york-livestream-invitation-2

We all know it’s coming. The Samsung Galaxy S4 event is right around the corner. The Galaxy faithful are chomping at the bit, while the rest of the world waits in curious anticipation. We’ve already told you how this could be nothing but a failed fireworks show, but what if it just falls flat? What implications does a failed Galaxy S4 have for Android? It could be good… but it could also be a disaster.

Why it would be bad

Failure is never an option, but this fervor surrounding the Galaxy S4 is perhaps too much to live up to. At this point, we expect it to make coffee for us in the morning. We want for too much, and expect even more. We need to slow down a bit to accept what the device is. We’re not doing ourselves, or Android, any favors by going wild with anticipation.

The S4 is still Android

As much as the Samsung fanboys drive some people nuts, the S4 is still going to be Android. The Galaxy S3 accounts for a huge portion of Android sales, and the S4 shows no sign of slowing that trend. Toss in the Note 2, and other Galaxy devices, and Samsung is a juggernaut. The Galaxy devices are the first Android handsets that people actually anticipate on a large scale, even more so than the Nexus line. All that desire for one line still leads back to Android, and that’s good for everyone.

samsung-android-logo

Market Share

With Samsung being such a large part of Android sales, that also means it comprises a huge portion of the worldwide market share Android dominates. If more people have Android, more developers will make cool apps. More movie studios and record companies will get media to the Play Store. More features will be added, and more awesome devices will be made. It’s a cyclical symbiosis, but an important one. Without a strong Galaxy device, it may be like taking a step back for Android.

Why it would be good

Samsung is pulling further away from Android all the time, so maybe a failed device would be a good thing. A big slice of humble pie may show Samsung how fortunate they are to have the success they enjoy with Android. Samsung is a big part of the current Android landscape, but they have a few other contenders willing to take their place.

Proprietary nonsense

All this S-Beam and S-Voice stuff is just S-illy. With Samsung making features available only on their devices, it closes the door slowly on what got them there. It’s a bit myopic to think the world operates on Samsung, or to make it an “us or Android” fight… and make no mistake, they are doing just that. Consumers are more often than not turned off by features that won’t work with other devices, meaning that course of action may end up backfiring.

Samsung-Galaxy-S4

Identity theft

Galaxy is more searched for than Android, and it makes us wonder if Android is losing itself to the biggest partner it has. The Galaxy line is full of great devices, but they don’t define Android. It speaks more to a great marketing strategy than anything else, this search conundrum. I’m sure people search for “Kleenex” more than “facial tissue”, also. Consumers sometimes are unaware of the difference, though. Technology is a tricky thing for most people, so the concern is that “Android” will get lost in “Galaxy”. Our beloved OS is nothing to sneeze at, but Kleenex is.

Tizen

While Tizen, a new OS Samsung is heavily invested in, is targeted for the Asian market, it does show Samsung’s true desire. They want to move away from Android to start their own ecosystem and operating system. Tizen is the biggest indicator that, ever so slowly, Samsung wants to break away from Android. Samsung, in many ways, is a Trojan Horse inside of Android. Many believe Tizen is a bad idea, and Samsung should stick with Android. An S4 failure may show them just how important Android is, and how tough it can be to make it on their own.

times square samsung galaxy s4 launch billboard (1)

Conclusion

How do we define “failure” when it comes to the Galaxy S4? It’s a hard metric to gauge. On one hand, we expect an S3-like adoption, and the fawning over the device like we see with the Note 2. The other side of that equation is not so simple, though.

People may love their S3 or Note 2… but they’re probably under contract. Is the Galaxy S4 going to be so great people will want to break their contract to get one? Probably not. Over time, it will be the natural upgrade path for many, but it has some stiff competition. Excellent Android devices are released all the time, so standing out becomes much more difficult. Samsung is also pretty defiant about their product line, and that may turn some away from them.

Will it fail? That’s doubtful. It will be a very good device, and turn a lot of heads, but it could leave us all wanting. When you create such a frenzy, and there’s no blood in the water, the sharks will find another source of food. The biggest benefactor to a Galaxy S4 failure may just be all the other Android manufacturers.

The post Would a Galaxy S4 failure be good for Android? appeared first on Android Authority.

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Good news for Samsung: Judge Lucy Koh cuts fine for Apple patent infringement from $1B to $599M

Apple-vs-Samsung-lawsuit

This will be good news for Samsung and its stakeholders — including investors and Samsung device users. Judge Lucy Koh, who presided over the Apple vs. Samsung patent lawsuit that was decided in favor of Apple in August of 2012, has cut down the damages that Samsung was ordered to pay.

Originally, the jury found Samsung guilty of patent infringement and ordered it to pay Apple US.049 billion in damages. However, Judge Koh said the jury made a mistake in computing for damage. Specifically, they made two errors.

  • First, they used Samsung’s profits in computing for damages accounting for Samsung’s infringement of Apple utility patents. This would be acceptable if the patents being discussed were design patents, but said computation was for utility patents.
  • Secondly, the jury made an error in the time frame in which the infringement occurred. Apple argued that it had met with Samsung about their potential infringement in August 4, 2010, and the jury based its computation from that starting point. However, this included Apple’s “381″ scrollback patent, which it did not present to Samsung until April 15, 2011. Apple included additional devices to the list on June 16, 2011.

See also: Apple vs. Samsung: No ban on Samsung products but the billion penalty stays

This adds up to a cut of US0,514,650. Judge Koh has encouraged both parties to go through the appeal process in order to arrive at a more acceptable resolution (or re-computation, if necessary) rather than go to trial anew.

Samsung actually requested Judge Koh to unilaterally compute for the damages. However, she declined to do so, as she is unable to determine the jury’s intent and process, and will not be able to adjust for the errors based on these.

Samsung is not yet off the hook, though, since Judge Koh said it will still be liable for infringements done after the August 2012 decision. Still, Apple and Samsung plan to battle it out in court come 2014, so the patent litigation drama is not yet over. This time, it will be for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which Apple had requested a ban of in some markets, with some success.

If you’ve just tuned in to the Apple vs. Samsung patent mess, you can check out our Apple vs. Samsung archives for an idea of the issues involved, the legal decisions, the market reactions and official company statements.

The post Good news for Samsung: Judge Lucy Koh cuts fine for Apple patent infringement from B to 9M appeared first on Android Authority.

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New mobile malware threat report has some good news and some bad news

securityandroidA new report, which looks at the security threat that mobile devices pose to corporate networks, has some good news and some bad news for smartphone users. More and more business smartphones are representing a convergence of personal and corporate needs. This means that corporates face the new challenge of keeping up with the proliferation of mobile devices while trying to impose some form of control with regards to malware and security.

First the good news for worried business managers (and, in fact, every smartphone user). At the moment the majority of mobile threats are still largely mischief-ware in the sense that they are used to earn money through the unauthorized sending of premium messages or by stealing potentially useful personal information. They aren’t as yet overly malicious. Most mobile attacks use the classic tactics of scams, spam and phishing. These attacks work on iOS, Android and in fact any device that can receive email and access the web. From the criminals point of view these attacks are easy to deploy, but they should also be easy to spot and most users using common sense won’t be affected.

However, campaigns waged against mobile devices are becoming more active. Cyber-criminals are increasingly using botnets (or malnets as the report calls them) as the backbone of their operations. In 2012  nearly two thirds of all web-based attacks employed a botnet.

Blue Coat - Targeting Android graph

Blue Coat Systems 2013 Mobile Malware Report

The report, which was published by Blue Coat Security Labs, goes on to say that the freedoms enjoyed by Android users, in that there are dozens of app markets available and a large diversity of Android powered devices, means that cyber-criminals have a greater success rate targeting Android compared to other smartphone platforms. In the July-September 2012 quarter alone, the company saw a 600 percent increase in Android malware when compared to the same period in 2011.

The best thing for Android users, both private and corporate, is to only download apps from trusted sources and stay vigilant when visiting web sites using your smartphone. If an offer is to good to be true, it normally isn’t true!!! It is also worth running an anti-virus app on your phone, check out our review of the best anti-virus apps for 2013.

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