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2012 in Review: Google

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Join Current Editorials as we take a look back at the top trends, gadgets, and companies of 2012 in our year-end series “2012 in Review.”

Google enjoyed what I would call a blockbuster year in 2012. They made a few major acquisitions, released a successful line of new Android products, bolstered their internet services, and introduced their vision for the future of computing. In 2012, Google cemented their position as an unstoppable internet behemoth, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.

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Motorola Announces All New RAZR Line For Verizon: Droid RAZR M, Droid RAZR HD, and Droid RAZR MAXX HD

Motorola has just announced three new Droid RAZRs for Verizon: the RAZR M, RAZR HD, and RAZR HD MAXX. All three phones run on Verizon’s LTE Network and will ship with Ice Cream Sandwich and Chrome pre-installed. The phones still feature Motorola’s not-Blur Android skin, but its gotten better since the days of the Droid 2 and Droid X. It’s not as buttery smooth as stock Jelly Bean, and some of the widgets are a little annoying, but Motorola’s smart actions are genuinely useful. All three devices will ship with the same dual core processor.

The Droid RAZR HD is the highlight of the show, it sports a 4.7 inch Super AMOLED HD display. The 720p display is the stand out feature, but Motorola’s also touting faster performance. Motorola also announced a MAXX version of the RAZR HD that packs on a bit of girth to add a larger battery and more storage.

The RAZR M is a lower end device that ditches the higher resolution of its older sibling for a tiny chassis. Motorola trimmed down the M’s bezels to fit a larger screen in a body roughly the size of an iPhone 4. THe RAZR M is available for pre-order today, but, buyers should be wary of picking up the RAZR M: Motorola has a long history of using Pentile displays, which look especially bad at lower resolutions.

Press Release:

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., and LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. – Verizon Wireless and Motorola Mobility today announced that they are adding three new and exclusive smartphones, DROID RAZR M, DROID RAZR HD and DROID RAZR MAXX HD, to the DROID RAZR by Motorola family on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.

All three devices offer the power and reliability that customers have come to expect from Motorola and Verizon Wireless.  DROID devices give customers speed, power and revolutionary technology, while the RAZR design delivers a thin, compact device built with strong, top-of-the-line materials and long-lasting battery life.  The new smartphones are powered by the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network, giving customers the capability to simultaneously talk and browse the Web and also access the blazingly fast speeds that cover more than 75 percent of the U.S. population.  With three brand new options, this lineup has something for everyone.

DROID RAZR M: The Full-Screen Phone

DROID RAZR M is an unbelievably compact smartphone that puts the world in the palm of your hand with an edge-to-edge 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced display.  Customers will be amazed with the DROID RAZR M’s design, which is significantly shorter and narrower than the original DROID RAZR, yet includes the same size display, making it the most compact 4.3-inch 4G LTE smartphone.

DROID RAZR M also features powerful Web browsing capabilities by combining Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network with the speeds of Chrome for Android mobile browser for an unrivaled mobile Web experience.

The DROID RAZR M’s SMARTACTIONS feature maximizes battery efficiency with every charge, allowing customers to browse the Web and watch videos without worrying about draining their device’s battery.

DROID RAZR HD: Performance and Power

Building on the DROID RAZR legacy, the new DROID RAZR HD expands the innovation with a new 4.7-inch Super AMOLED HD display that allows movies, photos, magazines and even websites to appear with vivid clarity.  DROID RAZR HD provides customers with 78 percent more pixels for a more vibrant display and features 40 percent greater battery capacity than the original DROID RAZR.

The viewdini app is at its best with the HD display and 4G LTE speeds to watch movies, television shows and other video content.  Viewdini brings the power of Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network to the screen by streamlining access to videos from a wide range of content providers, including cable operators, websites and other popular video sources.  The viewdini app can be downloaded from Google Play.

DROID RAZR MAXX HD: Long Live the Battery

Packed with the same leading features as DROID RAZR HD, the DROID RAZR MAXX HD raises the industry standard for battery life with 32 hours of normal use.  The DROID RAZR MAXX HD is remarkably thin, yet packs sufficient battery power for 13 hours of straight video playback, enough to watch a movie trilogy without needing a charge.  Customers also have enough battery life to talk the day away with up to 21 hours of continuous talk time or browse the Web on 4G LTE for up to a full eight hours.

A Trilogy of Premium Design, Speed and Features:

·         4G LTE – customers can expect fast download speeds of 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps in 4G LTE coverage areas.

·         Interactive Circles Widget allows quick access to notifications, weather, time and more

·         Quick Settings can be accessed directly from the home screen so customers can easily manage their volume profile, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth®, GPS and more

·         Enhanced Help Guides provide interactive tutorials, help topics and tips to become a DROID RAZR expert

·         Global Ready so customers can have voice and data service in more than 205 countries

·         Business ready with enterprise grade security and data encryption, remote wipe, complex password support, IPsec multi-headed VPN client and Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync® support

·         1.5 GHz dual-core processor and 1 GB RAM

·         Mobile Hotspot – Share a 4G LTE connection with up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices

·         8-megapixel camera with LED flash and 1080p HD recording

·         Front-facing camera for video chatting

·         NFC-enabled so customers can send contacts, links, maps and more directly to compatible phones with Android Beam

·         Corning® Gorilla® Glass display, DuPont KEVLAR® fiber and water-repellent nanocoating

·         microSDcard slot with support for up to 32 GB

The new DROID RAZRs run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (upgradeable to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean by end of 2012) and come with the best of Google Mobile Services, including:

·         Chrome  for Android, giving a personalized Web experience

·         Google Play, apps and games, millions of books and songs, thousands of movies and TV shows

·         Google Maps for Android (Beta) for voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions

·         Voice Actions for Android, letting customers control their phones with their voice

·         Google+, which can automatically upload photos to a private album online

·         YouTube, watch videos in stunning HD, Preload subscribed channels or individual videos and the YouTube app will automatically download videos over Wi-Fi while the phone is charging – making them ready to watch in an instant

Pricing and Availability:

  • DROID RAZR M will be available for pre-order starting today, September 5th, at 5 p.m. ET at http://www.verizonwireless.com/droidrazrm and will be available on September 13th in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores and online at http://www.verizonwireless.com for the introductory price of $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year customer agreement.  Customers receive the rebate in the form of a debit card; upon receipt, customers may use the card as cash anywhere debit cards are accepted. The DROID RAZR M will be available in either Black or White.
  • DROID RAZR HD and DROID RAZR MAXX HD will be available before the holidays. The DROID RAZR HD will be available in either Black or White and the DROID RAZR MAXX HD will be available in Black.
  • Customers who purchase a DROID RAZR M, DROID RAZR HD or DROID RAZR MAXX HD will need to subscribe to a Verizon Wireless data plan. Share Everything Plans allow customers to add smartphones to their account for $40 monthly access. For additional information, customers should go to www.verizonwireless.com/shareeverything
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Not Getting Jelly Bean? Motorola Will Give You A Hundred Bucks

Motorola just announced at their On Display event that customers using devices that won’t be upgraded to Jelly Bean will receive a one hundred credit towards the purchase of a new Motorola phone. The committment to keeping users on the latest version of Google’s operating system contrasts starkly with the behavior of other Android OEMs, like Samsung and HTC, who do a poor job of updating their devices. Here’s hoping others follow Motorola’s shining example and do their best to keep their customers on up to date software.

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New Motorola Devices Will Ship With Google Chrome Pre-Installed

Motorola has just announced that all new Motorola smartphones will ship with Google’s Chrome browser for Android pre-installed. Chrome, which is significantly faster than the stock Android browser, has traditionally been an add on customers downloaded from the Play Store, Motorola’s smart phones will be the first to ship with Chrome as a default. Expect the trend to continue as other Android OEMs get on board with faster internet.

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Google Has Activated 480 Million Android Devices, Now Activating 1.3 Million Per Day

Image Credit: Phandroid

Eric Schmidt took the stage at Motorola’s On Display event to announce that Google has activated 480 million Android devices, and is activating 1.3 million a day. If those numbers are correct, and there’s no reason to think they aren’t, Android is the most popular smartphone platform by far. The most interesting question now is whether or not Google can translate their smartphone lead into tablet market share.

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25:43: This is How Long the Droid Razr MAXX Lasted in Real-World Usage

For the past few days — courtesy of Verizon — I have been using the Motorola Droid Razr MAXX, the smartphone with a talk time of 21.5 hours, as my main device. I am used to charging my phone during the day — which can be two or three times, as I use an iPhone 4S.  I decided to leave the charger at home and see how long I could go on a full charge with the Razr MAXX.

After tweeting, emailing, surfing the web, streaming music and video, placing multiple phone calls, and tethering to an iPhone and an iPad 2 for 30 minutes, the Razr MAXX lasted an astonishing 25 hours and 43 minutes. My 4S wouldn’t last this long if I charged it twice (usually starting at 6AM, the 4S needs to be charged by 4PM).

The problem is, no other phone comes even close to matching these numbers. This should not be a Retina Display situation, where it takes nearly two years for anyone to come even remotely close to matching the technology.

Hopefully the next wave of devices can match these numbers. I believe that the next iPhone will, and with smartphones growing in size like a teenage Shaquille O’Neal, companies like HTC and Samsung have an opportunity to catch and/or surpass Motorola.

The bigger question is, do companies like Samsung and HTC seriously care enough about battery life to make that leap, or will they just continue to make phones like Shaq is the sole member of their focus group?

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Report: Google to Name SVP Dennis Woodside CEO of Motorola Mobility, Replacing Sanjay Jha

Motorola Mobility is getting a new leader. According to Bloomberg, Google will name Senior Vice President Dennis Woodside the new CEO of Motorola Mobility, replacing Sanjay Jha, according to “three people familiar with the matter.”

Woodside, 43, replaced Tim Armstrong — now the CEO of AOL — as Google’s ad leader back in 2009. Woodside will take over the reins of Google’s newest acquisition. Motorola Mobility is expected to remain a separate entity from Google, but many expect the company to benefit greatly from a much closer relationship with the Android maker.

Woodside, a Stanford Law graduate, has been with Google for over eight and a half years. Woodside has extensive experience in Europe, establishing Google’s sales operations in Eastern Europe, and Dublin, before becoming Google’s Managing Director & Vice President for the UK, Benelux and Ireland in 2006.

Motorola Mobility SVP Christy Wyatt, and Chef Strategy Officer John Bucher were also considered, according to Bloomberg.

Current CEO Sanjay Jha, has been the head of Motorola Mobility since its split from Motorola Solutions back in January 2011. Jha had been the Co-CEO of Motorola corp from 2008 until its split.

Google purchase of Motorola Mobility for $12.5 Billion which been approved by the U.S. and EU, is awaiting regulatory confirmation from China.

Google declined to comment.

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I’ve Been Looking at Android All Wrong.

I have never really been a fan of Android, as evidenced by the editorial I wrote back in February titled “Why I’m afraid of Android”. But that is not to say I hate Android. I understand the need for competition in the marketplace, and I understand that Android is a fantastic operating system that many people love and use every day. Still, all I could see when I looked at Android were the fundamental problems surrounding software updates and never-ending hardware launches, and that turned me off.

Joshua Topolsky of The Verge recently published an interview with Android’s lead UX designer Matias Duarte about the latest version of the OS, Ice Cream Sandwich. In the article, Duarte explains that his goal was to find the soul of Android, and to bring that soul out and let it shine through in the next version of the operating system. What he and his team created was Ice Cream Sandwich – the most stunningly beautiful version of Android yet. Duarte truly believes in the power of great design, and that shows in Ice Cream Sandwich on Google’s newest flagship device, the Galaxy Nexus.

It was in reading this man’s words that I thought, “Yeah, Ice Cream Sandwich and the Galaxy Nexus are great, but we’re never going to see the OS in this form on any other device, so why bother getting all excited?” And then it hit me.

I’ve been looking at Android all wrong.

What I have been missing is that Ice Cream Sandwich (and stock Android in general) is to Google as iOS is to Apple. Google releases one “true Android” device running stock Android every year, just as Apple releases one iPhone running the newest version of iOS every year. Apple and Google are taking the same approach here: one phone, one operating system.

HTC, Samsung, Motorola, and all of those other Android hardware manufacturers are essentially releasing phones running their own operating systems, which shouldn’t really be viewed as Android. Android itself isn’t the operating system; it is the base for many customized operating systems. Duarte even calls Android “the Lego system” (Topolsky) that other companies will build their products out of. HTC Sense, Samsung TouchWiz, MotoBlur; these should all be viewed as separate operating systems, with Android hidden somewhere deep in the background. There should be no expectation for these devices to be updated to the next version of Android, but instead to be updated to the next version of their unique OS.

What does it matter if the DROID RAZR, for example, gets Ice Cream Sandwich? Do you think it will have a beautiful new UI like the Galaxy Nexus? Will it feature Face Unlock? Will the camera have an “instant shutter”? Will it have the Android Beam tap-to-share feature? Will the new ‘Roboto’ font carry over? Chances are the answer to most of these questions will be “No”. Motorola has their own way of doing Android, as do the rest of the Android device manufacturers. Ice Cream Sandwich on other devices will feature none of the soul that Matias Duarte worked so hard to infuse into this new version of Android. It won’t really be Ice Cream Sandwich.

But that is the philosophy of Android, a philosophy that had eluded me until now. To Google, Android is an operating system. To companies like HTC, Samsung, and Motorola, Android is the building-blocks with which they will build their own unique devices. Google makes Android phones. Apple makes iOS phones. HTC makes Sense phones. Samsung makes TouchWiz phones. Motorola makes MotoBlur phones.

I suddenly get Android.

This editorial was originally published on Gadget Leaf and TechnoBuffalo.

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