Posts Tagged something

New chip gives nose to smartphones

Apple Maps on iPhone 5 running iOS 6

Computers have advanced a lot. Few decades back it was just a machine that was used to calculate numbers, but today these machines are able to do a lot more than that. Computers can do things with great accuracy, better than humans for that matter, but they can do only things which we program them to do. The speculation is that soon computers will be able to do things on their own, and some of the robots designed by various firms are able to act somewhat humanly. Anyways, they cannot think like humans, and they can’t smell either, but if we take a look at the newest innovation in the industry, computers will be indeed be able to smell.

Talking of phones, or smartphone to be exact, they have the ability to see (camera), hear (mic) and feel (accelerometer or gyroscope), and the only thing remaining is smell and taste, and a tiny San Francisco startup, Adamant Technologies, is trying to give your iPhone the senses of smell and taste, too. They were adamant about their aim to give nose to computers and seems like they have reached their goal. According to the reports, the company has managed to create a computer chip that functions with help from bunch of tiny sensors that “can take the sense of smell and taste and digitize them,” explains Sam Khamis, Adamant’s founder and CEO.

So how can we use this new chip? Well, it’s not about turning your smartphone into a scratch-and-sniff device, but it will definitely allow medical equipment or computers to smell on their own and use the values to process a final result. Having a computer smell can be tricky, though we have sensors that can identify variety of chemicals lurking in the air, but when you mix several of them, we get a confused computer. An average human nose has 400 tiny “sensors” which identify various chemicals in the air and feed the input to the brain, which will finally identify the smell based on complex calculations. Human brain is very clever, but same doesn’t hold good for computer processors, and hence Adamant has put 2,000 sensors on the chip, which is equivalent to number of natural sensors present in a dog’s nose, and we know dogs are very popular for their sharp nose.

The company is backed by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, who is known to invest in companies which aim to do something unique. The San Francisco based company is planning to manufacture a consumer device that plugs directly into an iPhone, and there will be apps which will be able to take inputs from the connected device and deliver results. The apps could be something like bad breath tracking or your iPhone may be even be able to check the alcohol levels in your breath and determine whether you should drive or not. The company is aiming to have the device retail under $100 mark.

The possibilities of this sensor are vast. What are your thoughts on this?

via BusinessInsider

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Weekend project: Customize your home screen with UCCW, the ultimate custom widget

UCCW

Anytime you see folks discussing the virtues of Android, you hear the word custom being thrown around in one form or another. We're not talking about ROMs or kernels or anything like that, we mean the built in options to make your Android phone look like no other phone — widgets. Specifically UCCW, the ultimate custom widget.

Ultimate is a pretty bold claim for any developer to make, especially when you're talking something as personal as the way our phones look. UCCW works it though, and is a way to change the look and feel of your home screen in a way only limited by your imagination. It's a "master" widget, which is simply a blank canvas that's painted the way you decide, either through your own talent or from themes (called uzips) that other talented folks have created.  Hit the jump, have a look, and get customized.

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HTC’s New Year’s Resolution: Bring Unique Products To Market

HTC isn’t blind. The Taiwanese manufacturer can see the gap between itself and some of its competitors is growing. They’ve responded by promising to focus on bringing “unique products” to market in 2013. Judging by their declining sales numbers, HTC needs to do something. Chief Executive Officer Peter Chou believes innovation and not marketing is the key to an HTC rebound.  He said, ”Our competitors were too strong and very resourceful, pouring in lots of money into marketing.

HTC needs an angle, a market strategy for success despite being squeezed between Apple and Samsung. Sammi’s Galaxy S III topped the iPhone to become the best selling phone of 2012 Q3. The iPhone 5 did its thing. Chou said, ”Although we don’t have as much money to counter, the most important thing is to have unique products that appeal to consumers.”  HTC’s One X was well received in 2012 but failed to generate traction and certainly did little to threaten the iPhone or Galaxy S III. HTC is in a tough spot and they know it. Now let’s see what they do about it.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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HTC’s New Year’s Resolution: Bring Unique Products To Market

HTC isn’t blind. The Taiwanese manufacturer can see the gap between itself and some of its competitors is growing. They’ve responded by promising to focus on bringing “unique products” to market in 2013. Judging by their declining sales numbers, HTC needs to do something. Chief Executive Officer Peter Chou believes innovation and not marketing is the key to an HTC rebound.  He said, ”Our competitors were too strong and very resourceful, pouring in lots of money into marketing.

HTC needs an angle, a market strategy for success despite being squeezed between Apple and Samsung. Sammi’s Galaxy S III topped the iPhone to become the best selling phone of 2012 Q3. The iPhone 5 did its thing. Chou said, ”Although we don’t have as much money to counter, the most important thing is to have unique products that appeal to consumers.”  HTC’s One X was well received in 2012 but failed to generate traction and certainly did little to threaten the iPhone or Galaxy S III. HTC is in a tough spot and they know it. Now let’s see what they do about it.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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What I used in 2012: Andrew Martonik

Andrew's Picks

We cover a whole lot of news here on Android Central, from phones and tablets to apps, accessories and a whole lot more. We put these products and services through their paces harder than most, so when something stands out enough to be used by one of the writers daily, it's usually the cream of the crop. Stick around after the break and see what I used throughout 2012.

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Phones4U offering Google Play gift cards with Galaxy phone purchases

Android Central

Today brings further indications that Google Play gift cards may be about to hit stores in the UK, as a recent Phones4U promotional offers a free £20 gift card code for customers purchasing a Galaxy S3, S3 Mini or Note 2. The offer is available via a Phones4U promotional page, where owners of these phones can claim their code by entering their name, contact details and IMEI. According to P4U's terms, the promotion is good until Mar. 15.

While Google missed the holiday window for getting Google Play gift cards out into British customers' hands, the card redemption page has been live in the UK for several weeks now. Only problem is the cards themselves have been unavailable so far, something which may be changing with the emergence of promotions like this.

If you've seen Google Play gift cards hiding out anywhere else in the UK, be sure to let us know in the comments.

Source: Phones4U promo page

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Want to learn basic Android programming? The Linux Foundation wants to help

Eclipse

The fine people at the Linux Foundation have started a little project that deserves some attention — some tutorials teaching beginning Android programming. So far things are pretty basic, but the beginning is always the best place to start. They have the basics of setting up a development environment covered, and will get you on your way to writing your first Android app.

Android is Linux after all, and it's great to see the traditional desktop users excited about Android and jumping in to make it better. While you won't learn how to build the next Angry Birds game, you will get some pointers and basic information that leads you on the road to building something of your very own. Remember, everyone started at the beginning. If you've got the inclination, hit the source link to get started.

Source: The Linux Foundation

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LG may announce Optimus G2 at CES 2013

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Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2013 is right around the corner and we have a lot of manufacturers launching new devices in the smartphone segment. Samsung is expected to launch something big, most probably the Galaxy S4, and now even LG is rumored to have something new to offer at the CES event.

If you are into smartphone news, LG was incredibly quiet at last year’s CES, the CES 2012. They showcased only the devices which were already launched in the market and chose to wait until Mobile World Congress to launch new flagship devices. We had a report yesterday saying that LG was working on a 5.5 inch 1080p flagship phone for 2013 and is considering launching the device at Mobile World Congress that is going to take place in February and that the device would start shipping during the same month. The rumor originated from a Korean website called ETNews. Today we have another popular news site named DigiTimes come up with another rumor. According to them, the device is apparently the Optimus G2, which is a successor of the popular Optimus G.

LG was previously on the news that it is working on a sequel to the Optimus G that could be released as early as May 2013, but if go by DigiTimes claim, we should be seeing the device in a few days. The news of Optimus G2 story emerged first 0n a Korean website MK saying LG is already working on the device. Last year LG Electronics held a discussion with its subsidiaries including LG Display and LG Innotek and decided to unveil Optimus G2. The device was proposed to include an ultra high resolution or full high-definition (HD) display.

According to the current rumors, LG Optimus G2 will be will have screen size of between 5 to 5.5-inches with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (440 ppi), LTE-enabled and has a 2 GHz quad-core processor. Here’s a quote from DigiTimes:

“South Korea-based LG Electronics plans to showcase the Optimus G2 Android smartphone, with a 5.5-inch screen, and Qualcomm quad-core S4 Prime MSM8974.”

If launched at the CES, Optimus G2 would be a quick follow up device because the Optimus G made its debut in the Korean market in August, and was launched here few months back. LG Optimus G comes with a Qualcomm MDM9615 SOC which includes a Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait CPU, Adreno 320 GPU, 2 gig of RAM, 32 gig ROM and 13 MP/8 MP (depending on the market) camera. That’s some interesting specs and Optimus G2 is expected to have even better specs since it’s a sequel. Optimus G has a 4.7 inch screen, but Optimus G2 is expected to have a bigger screen, most probably a 5.5 inch one and it will be a 1080p HD display. We’ll be seeing a lot of devices with 1080p displays in the near future, thanks to HTC Butterfly for starting the game. What are your thoughts on G2? Let us know.

source: Digitimes

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The HTC M7 Rumored to Arrive at CES 2013

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HTC’s poor run from 2011 continued into 2012, despite having top notch smartphones like the HTC One X and the One X+ (late 2012) on offer. There’s nothing that the company has done wrong to be honest, but still it just hasn’t managed to please the customers as much as Samsung has. Its faltering fortunes were expected to change with the announcement of the Butterfly J for the Japanese markets and the Droid DNA in the U.S. But these two markets only make for a limited number of its sales and HTC would definitely have to appeal to the global customers to make a bigger impact, something which Samsung has done exceedingly well. With that in our minds, we started hearing of the HTC M7, the alleged new flagship from the company which would feature specs to topple the best of the best out there. There has been an element of doubt about the exact launch of the device, or if it’s actually real. But now, according to a new rumor (grab a jar of salt right about now), the smartphone could be unveiled at the CES 2013 event next week. As with most cases, the rumor generates from Twitter and this time from a user named Football4PDA. He claims to have access to insider information from HTC and also mentioned that the new device would feature onscreen buttons instead of the standard hardware capacitive keys at the bottom.

The HTC M7 is believed to have a 4.7-inch 1080p display, a 13MP camera sensor accompanied by a 2MP front facing camera, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of onboard memory, the 1.7 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset, a 2,300 mAh battery and of course, Beats Audio support. There is little information on the device itself so the M7 could merely be an early name given to the device. What HTC decides to call it is still not known to us. The specs seem pretty fancy for a 4.7-inch device, and it would certainly be an attractive option for users looking for a top end smartphone.

As for the rumor, we won’t come to conclusions until the CES is concluded. There’s a high possibility that HTC is looking to launch the device earlier than expected to get a head start from competitors launching their devices at MWC. However the company should be wary of the fact that Huawei has tough contenders lined up for launch at CES, so that will be something to look forward to. Regardless of when HTC launches the device, the company desperately needs a decent sales figure to last in the exceedingly competitive market. Failing which, it might be heading down the same road as LG which was virtually non-existent in the smartphone arena before the arrival of the Nexus 4 (despite having smartphones like the Optimus 2X, Optimus 4X HD etc). Let’s hope the M7 could change the fortunes for HTC, because we all know they make really good smartphones.

Source: Twitter (@Football4PDA)
Via: Slashgear

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Hackulous closure prompts rise of portals that allow bootleg iOS apps without a jailbreak

Hackulous closure prompts rise of portals that allow bootleg iOS apps without a jailbreak

The somewhat unexpected shutdown of Hackulous’ community, and the corresponding departure of related tools like Apptrackr and Installous, left iOS app pirates in something of a panic: many of those who jailbroke their devices expressly for ill-gotten goods suddenly lost one of their main sources. While they haven’t earned much sympathy, they’ve also triggered a surge in services that don’t require a jailbreak at all. Months-old pay service Zeusmos has seen a spike in popularity, but more recent upstart Kuaiyong is drawing the most attention. It’s offering others’ commercial releases through the web, for free — and on a scale into the thousands of bootleg installs per app, suggesting that it may be abusing enterprise policies rather than Zeusmos’ apparent reliance on developer slots.

There’s no immediate sign of a crackdown, but those app writers concerned about their revenue might take consolation in knowing that the risks might outweigh the rewards. iTunes syncing breaks the moment a pirated app reaches a device, and there’s no guarantee that every copy will be malware-free. Zeusmos also claims to be clamping down on questionable sources in an attempt to steer users towards homebrew apps. Even with those disclaimers, it’s still possible that Hackulous’ end may have created more problems for some developers than it solved.

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Via: Gizmodo

Source: The Next Web, Pastie.org

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Some Nexus 4′s shipping without “glittery” backing – Is yours affected? [POLL]

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With high-demand for the reasonably priced Nexus 4, LG has been kicking their factories into overtime, pumping out as many devices as they can to minimize wait time for eager backorders. But sometimes when you ramp up production, quality control can suffer as a result.

We’re not sure if that’s what’s going on today, after reading reports from some users who received the “2nd batch” of Google’s Nexus 4′s only with something missing. Namely, the flashy backing of the device featuring a glittery pixel pattern. Apparently, now it’s a lot less… bedazzled. In fact, attempting to view the design from any angle, in any lighting, no longer yields a glint or shimmer anywhere. Of course, depending on your preference, this could actually be a good thing.

Still, some are wondering if this was an intentional move by LG to address concerns of the back glass cracking without much effort. It’s possible LG could be using a different material than the original (read: extremely fragile) glass backing found in the initial batch. As a result, the glitter just doesn’t shine like it used to. Of course, there’s still the very real possibility that glitter doesn’t come cheap and they’re merely pulling back to avoid a world wide glitter shortage. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to live in a world like that.

But we’re curious. If you received a Nexus 4 from the infamous “2nd batch,” are you finding it difficult to find the glitter on the back of your device? Is it there at all? Let’s take a quick poll:

Take Our Poll

Thanks, YourMainDude!

[via Autoomobile | XDA]

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The 2012 Android Central Reader’s Choice Awards

Android Central Awards

Having already presented for your approval (or not) our 2012 Android Central's Editor's Choice Awards, it's now time to turn to something even more important — the Reader's Choice Awards. These are the best smartphones and tablets and apps for which you voted. Over the past few weeks we saw thousands and thousands of votes pour in. Some went as you might expect. Others threw a little bit of a curveball. 

So let's not waste any more time. After the break are your choices. Your picks. Your favorite smartphones and tablets and apps for the past year or so, with a little commentary from your's truly.

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Ubuntu to announce a new product in 2 hrs

countdow

Linux is considered to be mother of all operating systems. It’s free and used almost everywhere, though not many people notice it. Linux is used in majority of web servers and most of the supercomputers also make use of Linux. For desktop use, there are a lot of free distributions available, but the most popular flavor has got to be the Ubuntu from Canonical.

Canonical is always working on Ubuntu in order to make it a better open source operating system, and seems like it has got something new to offer to the community this time. Canonical has put up a countdown teaser for an “all-new Ubuntu product” on Ubuntu.com. At the time of writing this post, the countdown timer reads 2 hours and 10 minutes. We’re not sure what exactly folks at Canonical will be launching, but the teaser reads “So close, you can almost touch it”, which indicates that it has got to do something with mobile touch screen devices.

Since Ubuntu is all open source, there is little to no room for surprises. Everybody knows everything, and if we take a note of all the products that are in development currently, it would be apt to say that the product that will be launching in few hours is Ubuntu for Android. There’s no doubt that open source is the future, and also mobile devices are also the future of computing, so combining them would be the best thing to do. If we take a look at Android, which is an open source mobile operating system that is Linux based, it has grown exponentially since its launch and much more than companies like Apple predicted it would.

It is also possible that the announcement is about Ubuntu phone or tablet, but again it is unlikely because folks at Ubuntu have just started optimizing Ubuntu for mobile devices, and also Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth had said specifically that the OS wouldn’t be ready for use on phones or tablets until 2014. Since Ubuntu phone is not ready, Ubuntu for Android should be a stop gap measure until a full touch based OS is released.

Talking of Ubuntu for Android, an official Canonical engineer showcased a Google Nexus 7 running Ubuntu recently, and it looks pretty amazing. The basic idea of Ubuntu for Android is that since both are linux based, there can a tight integration with the Android service layer. So basically, the phone or tablet will run Android as usual, but when the device is docked, a full-fledged Ubuntu instance will be shown on an external monitor, and the user will be able to continue performing tasks that he was doing on Android, from continuing the same music, to opening the same browser tabs, so the transition between two environments is seamless.

In every dual-core phone, there’s a PC trying to get out. We’ll soon find out what Ubuntu has to offer us this time, but we hope it is Ubuntu for Android. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Apple Patents Active Stylus for Use on Future iOS Devices

active-stylus

The Apple iPhone is a smartphone loved by many around the world, and it also has its fair share of critics as with any smartphone out there. But there are certain things that Apple has been very clear about right since the inception and launch of the first iPhone. And one of them is the implementation of styluses. Back in 2007, manufacturers were pretty eager to get styluses on their smartphones as most of the display panels back then made use of the resistive touch function in comparison to the capacitive displays we have today. So while a stylus was provided with most resistive touch smartphones, people always used their fingers to use the device, albeit with increased pressure. And since the Apple iPhone made use of the capacitive display tech, there was no need for a stylus, which is something the Late Steve Jobs proudly bragged of. But today we’re learning of Apple filing for a new “Active Stylus” patent which isn’t exactly the stylus from yesteryears, but an evolution of that (somewhat of an evolution of the S-Pen).

This new Active Stylus apparently would react faster to the touch compared to other capacitive styluses out there today (including the S-Pen) as it is capable of sensing touch on its own making input faster and quicker than ever. As with all things Apple, there will certainly be a unique feature tagged along with it, so this is one of them. It’s strange though as to how market conditions can make manufacturers change their original stance and policies. With this Active Stylus, Apple basically wants to eliminate the lag we see on the S-Pen despite it being pretty smooth most of the times. It is said that the iPhone and the iPad can make use of this Active Stylus somewhere in the near future. But we can’t say for sure if Apple would get it in production in time for the next iPhone or the iPad. There is a strong possibility that Apple would make this available as a third party accessory rather than bundle it with the device, which could in fact be a blessing in disguise.

Since the S-Pen is currently the king among all styluses, it would behoove us to think whether it’s time for Samsung to up the ante. Sure, the S-Pen does a lot more than your regular stylus, but now with Apple stepping into the scene, I’m sure Samsung would have something new in store for its customers. In all fairness though, the S-Pen is merely a luxury in most cases and people still prefer actually using their finger, except for features like Air View and other gesture based functions which make full use of the S-Pen.

Source: Patently Apple
Via: Redmond Pie

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Best Android Smartphones of 2012

The year is almost over (in fact, we’re less than 24 hours a way if your calendar hasn’t been working as of late) and it’s time to take a look at what the best devices of 2012 have turned out to be. There were many heavy hitters from the camps of Samsung, Motorola, HTC and more, but only five — yes, five — make the cut for Phandroid’s year-in review. Let’s dive in!

Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX HD

When Google completed the purchase of Motorola in 2012 it promised the company would continue to run as a separate entity for quite some time afterward. Still, it was hard to believe Google wouldn’t have any influence on the future of Motorola’s smartphone line even if that influence didn’t come right away.

While we can’t say for sure Google had much to do with the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX HD in body (after all, the overall package is an incremental improvement over the 2011 relaunch of the RAZR family), it does appear the company got Motorola to ease up on MOTOBLUR (or whatever they are calling it these days).

With a 4.7 inch HD display, a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon Plus chipset, 1GB of RAM and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean this smartphone reads off like most high-end offerings from 2012, but some of its more unique bits give it the #7 spot on this list. Subtleties like the Kevlar backing, the device’s long-lasing 3,100mAh battery and its slim profile make it a device worthy of recognition this year.

LG Optimus G

LG had to deal with some costly plunders in 2011, but the Korean OEM looked to bounce back quite nicely in 2012. One of the results of LG’s desperation (the company was losing money hand-over-first) was the LG Optimus G, a fine device if I do say so myself. It’s a quad-core monster of a phone that has Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro and 2GB of RAM.

Despite its good looks and powerful innards, though, it’s the software improvements that earns LG’s flagship a spot on this list. Optimus UI 3.0 was a big focus of LG’s, and the time and money spent to perfect it showed up in quality form. Things like Q-Slide, QuickMemo, voice-activated controls and LG’s motion controls made it quite the significant package.

The biggest improvement was the lack of experience-breaking bugs that plagued the Optimus 2X before it, and had LG not cracked down on the software letdowns of yesteryear it might not have gotten the nod for this list. Kudos.

HTC One X+

The original HTC One X was a great device in and of itself, but this revision completely overshadowed it. Courtesy of AT&T, it was the first Sense device here in the US that came with NVIDIA’s quad-core Tegra 3 processor as well as 4G LTE radios. It didn’t change much else over the original HTC One X, but that particular phone was already fine enough on its own merit.

This device also brought 64GB of internal storage goodness, something that’s quite unheard of in the land of Android these days. It’s something we were mightily grateful for as HTC and AT&T understood not everyone is willing to move over to the cloud, and that internal device storage is still something many of us value quite a bit.

It houses the same 8 megapixel f/2.0 BSI HD camera with an HD front-facing camera, a 4.7 inch 720p SuperLCD2 display and all the other great bells and whistles found on the original, and all of that still remains some of the best smartphone tech available today.

Samsung Galaxy S3

Ah, yes — Samsung’s mother load. The Samsung Galaxy S3 doesn’t command the top spot of this list, but perhaps that’s due to its untimely release. Samsung brought its wares out earlier in the year, and that allowed other devices (even some of their own) to outclass it in many different ways.

Still, this is one iconic device that has significantly changed the landscape of the mobile wars. It broke sales records on its way to helping Samsung become the second biggest smartphone OEM, and the biggest mobile phone OEM in all. It was the first device that really gave the iPhone a run for its money in terms of success, and we all know it was a force to be reckoned with when it came to features.

The Galaxy S3 in America housed more modest internals due to LTE-compatible Exynos chips not being ready for prime-time at the time of its launch, but the 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 still performed quite well. The beautiful 4.7 inch Super AMOLED HD display, 2GB of RAM, 8 megapixel HD camera and 2 megapixel front-facing camera all came together to create one of the most cohesive devices you’ll ever see. Oh, and TouchWiz finally stopped sucking with this release.

Sure, it was made out of plastic and it didn’t come to most markets as a quad-core behemoth, but the Samsung Galaxy S3 was the finest phone out for the money, and it still holds its own up against more compelling offerings as we head into 2013.

HTC DROID DNA

The significance of the HTC DROID DNA is not lost on me — any device that can boast a 1080p display with just 5 diagonal inches to pack all those pixels into deserves a badge of honor in my book. While this may not have been the smartphone that kept HTC’s device lineup from going stale — you can thank the original HTC One X for turning that tide — it definitely pushed the company further than we thought it would be at this point.

The device also featured Qualcomm’s 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset, a powerful solution that didn’t guzzle a ton of juice. 2GB of RAM, a very nice 8 megapixel camera and Verizon’s 4G LTE radios made this one of the hottest devices in the coldest of months. HTC Sense 4+ brings a very debloated suite of enhancements, and it’s one of the first times we can say that HTC Sense isn’t a total downer on top of pure Android.

Nexus 4

What, you thought a “best phones” list would go up without a Nexus device sitting somewhere? The Samsung had a nice run with the Nexus line of phones, concluding with the Galaxy Nexus for now, but it’s time to let someone else step up to the plate. That someone else happens to be our friends at LG who left their stamp on what is known as the Nexus 4.

This device obviously gets brownie points for its lack of a custom user interface on top of pure Android 4.2 goodness, as well as for that very attractive starting price of $300. Shipping snafus aside, this is a fine device that not many can contend with this year. It has all the makings of a superphone, including the 4.8 inch HD display, 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 8 megapixel camera, and more without the heinous costs usually associated with owning these beasts.

But even with all those juicy specs it’s worth taking time to acknowledge and admire the work that’s gone into the engineering work. LG has arguably crafted its best device ever with the Nexus 4 with the beautiful glass covering the chatoyance texture on the back, and the tapered edge-to-edge glass covering the display.

Other bits and pieces, like Qi Wireless charging, NFC, and more make it a no-brainer for our #2 spot. Even with some annoyances — like the limited storage space, lack of microSD card slot, and a non-replaceable battery — this phone was the cream of the crop for 2012.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

I’ll admit it — the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is not for everyone. That 5.5 inch HD display makes this one weird device to hold, and depending on the size of your jeans it could be hard to stuff into your pockets. Still, Samsung has concocted one of the most compelling devices we’ve seen not only this year, but ever.

Samsung took a huge gamble with the size of this device, but what it allowed them to do is quite stunning. For starters, he Wacom-enabled digitzer embedded into the display comes together with an improved S Pen to make everything — from art to natural writing — way more feasible than it’s ever been on a smartphone. The S Pen also enabled some nice productivity features, like the ability to hover over your calendar entries and email headers to see more without having to jump into them.

The bigger chassis allowed Samsung to cram a 3,100 mAh battery inside which makes for all day battery life on moderate usage. The bigger screen allows you to use two apps at the same time. No, really. And what’s all that multi-tasking without a quad-core 1.6GHz Exynos processor and 2GB of RAM to keep up with it?

TouchWiz has never been anyone’s favorite skin — we all like pure Android around these parts — but if you had to be stuck with one OEM-made interface then you’d want it to be this. Coupled with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Samsung has created a very functional and useful suite of tools for your pleasure.

It’s hard to think that something within Samsung’s own ranks could completely outclass the Samsung Galaxy S3, but by gosh they’ve done it. Again, this is more of a circumstance of timing than anything else. This device released much later than the Galaxy S3, so Samsung was afforded access to the latest technology to stuff inside this beast.

And the most beautiful thing is that Samsung knows all the little details still matter. People still want removable batteries, microSD card slots, et. al and Samsung delivers on that quite nicely with this package. It’s needless to say, at this point, that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is our top smartphone of 2012, and we’d be surprised to see many of you folks disagree.

How about you?

This list is by no means definitive, of course. Be sure to chime in below and let us know what your best smartphones of the year were. Perhaps the contents of your list are the same but ordered differently? We totally want to hear about it. Leave a comment below, and let’s carry this healthy discussion into the glorious year of 2013!

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CM nightlies start the year with a new widget – ‘Chronus’

Chronus

If you're running CyanogenMod nightlies on your Android device, you'll notice a little something new in this evening's builds. Aptly named Chronus, it's a widget that's a conglomeration of the clock, weather. and calendar, and it's fully customizable. The idea of more information in one widget isn't anything new, but this one looks like it is very well done. Hopefully the clock typography is one of the custom settings.

It will sit happily on either your home screen or lock screen, and display differently based on the size. On your phone, the lock screen widget is like the standard Android clock widget, meaning that you'll need to swipe down to see it all, but on the home screen you can set the size as you would expect. Tablets display the full size lock screen as they do with the standard Android clock.

This is why open-source wins. Google releases a bare-bones version with all the necessary information for folks to take it and create something great from it. For now, you'll need to run a CM nightly to have this one, but we expect someone to pull it out and publish on Google Play for all devices if possible. Be sure to grab tonight's build for your device and check it out.

Source: +David van Tonder

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Galaxy Note II Red and Amber Brown colors coming soon

Samsung’s Galaxy S III is now available in a wide array of colors after initially launching with only two. The same situation apparently has played out for their impressive Galaxy Note II 5.5-inch smartphone tablet hybrid. After hitting the shelves in Pearl White or Titanium Grey, it looks like Samsung’s set to offer a few new colors.

noteiicolors

Samsung’s Galaxy Note II leaked last week in a new black color option, but we’ve been hearing that was just a faked image. Why you’d fake something so simple as a color beats me, but to each his own. Today however it appears that a real leak has surfaced showing the Galaxy Note II in two brand new colors.

The Galaxy S III was made available limited to AT&T in Garnet Red, and we could be seeing the same thing for the Note II. New images show the large smartphone in both the Red color option, as well as the recently introduced Amber Brown. Although the Note II won’t be Garnet Red, this is being called “Ruby Wine” and is a much darker red color.

According to Unwired View a Korean Ad had the image you see above, clearly showing Samsung preparing some new colors in their home country. In the coming weeks we could see the Note II offered in white, black, blue, as well as the red and brown shown here today. That or just buy a colorful flip case of your choice. Does the color matter to you, or will you just throw a case on it anyways?

Device Specifications and Information
Device Info

    Device Name : Galaxy Note II
    Manufactuer : Samsung
    Carrier : NA
    Announced Date : August 29, 2012
    Release Date : TBA
    Also Known As : GT-N7100

Display

  • Screen Size : 5.5 Inch
  • Resolution : 1280×720
  • Screen Type : HD Super AMOLED
Dimension & Weight

  • Height : 5.95 Inch
  • Width : 3.17 Inch
  • Depth : 0.37 Inch
  • Weight : 180 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 3100 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : NA
Software
    Android OS:
  • 4.1.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AAC+
  • AMR
  • MID
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • WMA
    Video Playback:
  • h.263
  • h.264 / AVC
  • 3GP
  • MPEG-4 (MP4)
  • WMV
    Messaging:
  • SMS
  • MMS
  • IM

Hardware

    CPU : Exynos 4412
    CPU Clock Speed : 1600 Mhz
    Core : 4
    Ram : 2000 MB
    Internal Storage : 16 GB
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution : 8 MP
    External Storage:
  • MicroSD
  • MicroSDHC
    Camera Features:
  • Auto focus
  • Flash
  • 1080p Video Recording
    Sensors:
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light
  • Proximity
    QWERTY :
Cellular Network
    Network Technology:
  • GSM
    GSM Band:
  • 850
  • 900
  • 1800
  • 1900
Device Connectivity
    Wi-Fi:
  • 802.11a
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
    Bluetooth:
  • A2DP
  • Bluetooth 4.0
    Location Features:
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Cellular location
  • Wi-Fi location
    FM Radio :
    NFC :

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Samsung Galaxy S III Mini Ships With Android 4.1.2 In Asia

galaxy-siii-mini

Those who are looking to purchase a Samsung Galaxy S III Mini in Asia or more specifically, Indonesia and Vietnam, will be ecstatic to hear that Samsung has started pre-installing Android 4.1.2 on the smartphone. The device was originally loaded with Android 4.1.1. In general, Android 4.1.2 isn’t a huge update. There is a few bug fixes, some added features, and that is about it. Samsung has been doing something different with Android 4.1.2 for their Galaxy devices though. In most cases, most updates to Android 4.1.2 have included the company’s Premium Suite.

All that said, Galaxy S III Mini users can expect to see a plethora of new features like Multi Window, Paper Artist, Smart Rotation, Page Buddy and a whole slew of other features.

The Samsung Galaxy S III Mini released back in October in order to compete with the iPhone 5 and was also another option for those who did not like the size of the larger Galaxy S III. Unfortunately the device will not make its way to the U.S., as Samsung never had plans to do that. Not only that, but Apple recently dropped patent claims against the device since it would not be sold in the U.S. market. Then again, a mere lawsuit never stopped Samsung from releasing anything in the U.S., so it is accurate to assume that Samsung never had plans to release the device in the U.S.

via: Phone Arena

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Zynga Closes 11 Games In Cost-Cutting Efforts

As part of its cost-cutting scheme, the weakening social gaming giant Zynga is officially ceasing to offer eleven of its games. This was announced by the company’s CEO, Mark Pincus.

Zynga

Some of these games have already been removed from app stores whereas others have stopped accepting registrations and have closed or on their way to closing between this month and January. The list of games include Petville, Mafia Wars 2, Fishville, Vampire Wars, Treasure Isle, Indian Jones Adventure World, Mafia Wars Shakedown, Forestville, Montopia, Mojitomo, and Word Scramble Challenge.

The shutdown of the games has elicited many negative responses from the gamers on Facebook, some of whom have spent much time and/or money on the games.

One gamer says: “OH NO my Pet has gone,can’t even get into the game .All that time and effort that I put into feeding and clothie had.” Meanwhile, another gave a suggestion: “Zynga, please offer Petville players a chance to play this game elsewhere or charge us a fee to play. Simply deleting a game with many loyal players is disgusting. There would be thousands more people playing still if you hadn’t decided to drop support 1 1/2 years ago; even through the endless bugs many of us kept playing our favorite game.”

2012 has not been a good year for Zynga in general, after many of its gamers reportedly ditched the games for those offered by other mobile game developers.

The company was also believed to have made a bad move when it acquired the game developer OMGPop and the game Draw Something for large sums of money. Draw Something!, it would be noted, was a well-liked game, but its popularity eventually waned.

Zynga’s share price has fallen to only $2.33, marking a 3.52 percent decline from its IPO price of $10 in 2011.

Apart from shutting down games, Zynga has also closed offices and laid off over 100 employees.

Zynga to date continues to offer around 30 game titles, including Bubble Safari, Cityville, The Ville, Farmville 2, Words With Friends, Zynga Poker, Legends: Rise of a Hero, JamJam, Fashion Designer, Ruber Tacos, Ruby Blast, Go Slots, Castleville, and Chefville, among others. Zynga’s games are available on Android, iOS, Facebook, MySpace, some social media websites, and the Zynga official website.

via 1, 2

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If you are looking for some trouble, download some apps from “apkdeveloper”

The term ‘super’ generally brings happy thoughts. But in the case of one Android developer going by the name of “apkdeveloper” — the term suggests something not so good. Maybe say, super shady. On that note, without getting any further in, we offer this warning. If you have any apps installed by said developer, go ahead and remove them now.

apkdeveloper-apps

The apps are all listed in the Google Play Store showing the same icon which is an Android robot along with a shopping cart and signs that say hot and sale. You can also distinguish the apkdeveloper titles by the ‘super’ in the name. For example, the copy of Temple Run is called Temple Run Super. In this case, we may go as far saying that the real version of Temple Run is super, but Temple Run Super — not so super.

Fun with words aside, lets get into some of the reason for caution here. Take the real and fake versions of World of Goo.You can tell the difference by the name, World of Goo vs. World of Goo Super. Perhaps key here are the permissions. The real World of Goo requires full network access and view network connections — both of which sound logical for a game such as this. The fake World of Goo Super required (as in past tense, this app has since been pulled) full network access along with the approximate location, precise location, read phone calls, mod or delete data on your SD card, find accounts, test access to protected storage, run at startup and more. Simply put — shady.

Of course, the key and problem here — we suspect that many users simply ignore the permissions and choose to install regardless. And in this case, the descriptions and the screen shots were simply lifted from the original apps making it harder to tell the difference. Finally, when you do come across apps such as these, remember, there is a way to report them to Google.

[via Reddit]

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17.4 million New Android/iOS Devices Activated on Christmas

ipad-mini

Christmas day is always a fun time for everybody. Wrapping presents, opening them and the fun followed afterwards is all what the Christmas spirit is all about (and yes, eggnog too). But it’s the time of the year when electronics manufacturers sell their devices in large numbers as there are tons of people gifting gadgets and other electronics, mainly because it’s convenient and something which everybody uses. This was evident during the recently concluded Christmas sales, as according to Flurry Analytics, over 17.4 million Android and iOS devices were activated on December 25th. This, in comparison to the 4 million Android/iOS devices activated on an average each day during the first 20 days of December.

There are no numbers for each platform, so it’s hard to pin point towards one platform which sold well during Christmas. It is however quite clear that Apple was the major winner during Christmas, at least in terms of tablets as the iPad Mini and the large sized third gen/fourth gen iPad sold fairly well. Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD was also among the top selling tablets during Christmas. A marketshare of 51% for tablets was reported on Christmas day. Sadly for Google, its Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets are only available in the Google Play Store, with the Nexus 10 not even in stock there. So it is not surprising that these two devices are missing from the list.

When we speak of app downloads, it also saw a substantial increase on Christmas day. Beginning from 9AM as compared to the average download times between 7PM to 10PM, people reportedly downloaded over 328 million apps in one day. In comparison, the average downloads per day during the first 20 days of December was 155 million each day. Here again, there’s no way to know which platform sold more apps, but a collective 328 million apps were downloaded by Android and iOS devices. This speaks volumes of the large volumes of sales manufacturers/app developers see during the holidays and also a lesson for Google to stock up on its devices during this crucial time of the season.

Apple made the most of the tablet sales and deservingly so as there was no major competition to stand up against it. I guess the introduction of the iPad Mini has gone a long way in making the iPads more appealing to the general public despite featuring slightly low end specs. Expectedly, the likes of the Surface RT are missing from the list as it has only recently made its way to retail stores. That’s not to say that the device might not have sold at all though.

Source: Flurry
Via: Phone Arena

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Android Overload: Sony Xperia Z coming to CES 2013, 50% off sale on Hyperdevbox games, and more

This image has no alt text

The Android Overload is where we stash all of the stories/articles/news bits that didn’t make it onto our front page from throughout the day. But just because they weren’t featured, doesn’t mean they aren’t worth taking a look at. In fact, there’s almost always a little something here for everyone. So, take a look around and let us know if you find anything of interest.

  • Hyperdevbox Studio discounts $14 strategy RPG’s to $7 – That’s half off! [Google Play]
  • 17.4 million iOS and Android devices activated on Christmas. Smashes previous record. [Flurry]
  • Sony Xperia Z to be unveiled at CES 2013. Top of the line specs, 5-inch 1080p display. [ePrice]
  • 1 in 4 Americans now own a tablet. [Pew]
  • Hyundai announces NFC unlockable automobiles. [Slashgear]
  • Pebble Watch gets torn down by the FCC. Launching imminent? [WirelessGoodness]

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Win a $10 Google Play Gift Card because it’s Dec. 27

Android Central Stocking StuffersNow some of you may think that we forgot about today's $10 Google Play Gift Card giveaway. And that's not entirely true. We remembered it. About 6 hours ago. And then we forgot about it. But then we remembered it again, and all is right in the world.

So, in the end, we're giving away another $10 Google Play Gift Card today as we march toward 31 of 'em — yes, one for each day in December.

What can you do with a Google Play Gift Card, you ask? You can buy apps, for one. Music for another. Magazines, movies and TV shows for three for and five. Or just flash one around in public and let people know what's up. 'Cause you're a baller.

To enter, just leave a comment in this post. A comment that rhymes will stand out the most. If Line 2 sounds like Line 1, you'll know that you're done, and increase the chances that you will have won. Or something. Just leave a rhyming post. Good luck!

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New Toshiba camera sensor lets you refocus after the shot, plans 2013 launch in smartphones and tablets

New Toshiba camera sensor lets you refocus after you take the shot, plans to launch in smartphones and tablets next year

Hoping for some after-the-fact focusing in your next smartphone camera? Well, you’ll have to wait around a year, but Toshiba‘s planning exactly that with a new module that houses an array of 500,000 tiny lenses. Within a 1cm-thick unit, these lenses are layered in front of the camera sensor, which can capture slightly different images from each lens arrangement. Those picture can then be combined in a “complete” picture using Toshiba’s own software. Apparently, the camera will also be able to measure the distance between objects in the shot — similar to how 3D images are captured — with the user then able to shift focus between close and distant detail, or even create images that are in-focus throughout. Toshiba says the module will also be able to capture video with a similar degree of focus management — something that Lytro hasn’t got around to just yet. The sensor is still a work in progress, but the manufacturer plans to commercialize the module before the end of 2013. Toshiba is looking to ally itself with multiple smartphone (and tablet) makers — and here’s hoping that it finds its way into a device outside of Japan.

[Thanks Franck]

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Source: Asahi Shinbun (Japanese)

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LG Display is bringing Ultra HD TVs in multiple sizes, high res mobile screens and more to CES

LG Display is bringing Ultra HD TVs in 55, 65 and 84inch sizes to CES, high res mobile screens too

The manufacturing white label behind products from LG Electronics and many, many other companies, LG Display will have something new for us in Las Vegas as well. In a press release, the company announced it will show off Ultra HD (4K) panels in 55-, 65- and 84-inch sizes (shown above), complete with its FPR passive 3D tech built in. Since LG Display makes panels for quite a few of the HDTVs on shelves, it follows that we’ll be seeing actual products shipping in those sizes in the coming year from several brands. It also will show off its work in other areas, with a 30-inch 4K monitor, a 5.5-inch 1080p screen for smartphones, a 1,920 x 1,200 7-inch tablet display, and a new QSXGA (2,560 x 1,700) screen destined for laptops that packs all of those pixels into just 12.9-inches.

PPI isn’t everything however, and LG Display is bringing several displays notable for their tiny bezels as well, including a 23.8-inch monitor in its Neo-Blade Series, a 13.3-inch laptop screen with a 2mm bezel, and a 4.7-inch mobile screen with a 1mm thick bezel. Finally, the new year also brings tweaks to its OLED displays, which will show off an ultra light and thin design at just 3.5kg and 4mm thick — and hopefully actually being released in the US this year. Check out the release after the break for the full list of goodies, we’ll be getting our own look at them in just a few days.

Continue reading LG Display is bringing Ultra HD TVs in multiple sizes, high res mobile screens and more to CES

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Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (GT-N5100) benchmarks spotted

We have seen previous rumors about a 7-inch Galaxy Note coming from Samsung. In fact, earlier this month we saw some NenaMark 2 results for the GT-N5100, the device believed to be the Note 7. And well, flashing back to the present day and it looks like we now have another set of benchmarks for the GT-N5100.

note-7-benchmarks-540

This latest round comes by way of GLBenchmark and while it has not revealed a bunch of new information, it is confirming those previous details. For example, this GLBenchmark filing is also showing a device with a 7.7-inch display at 1280 x 800 and begin powered by a quad-core 1.6GHz processor. The processor is believed to be an Exynos.

Other goodies include the device running Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. And from the previous filing, we also know that the tablet will have ARM Mali 400 graphics. Of course, assuming this is indeed Note branded, we would also expected it to also have the S Pen.

All said and done, there is obviously still lots to learn. We need something official from Samsung, which at this point — even an official confirmation would be nice. In terms of an announcement, there is always CES and Mobile World Congress coming up, however we suspect Samsung may end up announcing the Note 7 at an event of their own.

[via SamMobile]

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Archos announces 97 Premium tablet, unquestionably mimics Apple’s iPad

French electronics powerhouse, Archos, has long proven that it can consistently build quality Android tablets at affordable prices, but this time around it appears as though the company has gone too far. The manufacturer  announced today a brand new entrant into its luscious tablet offering, effectively bringing its portfolio full circle.

Despite just being announced, the Archos 97 Premium is nothing new. The device’s sole purpose is undoubtedly to compete head-to-head with Apple’s popular iPad. And while competition is a good thing, the 97 Premium is almost a direct copy of Cupertino’s slate, something you could only expect from a Chinese manufacturer selling $50 tablets on eBay.

Interestingly, as the name suggests, the device sports a 9.7-inch display–the same as the iPad. What’s more is that both tablets share the same “Retina” display resolution of 1536×2048. Sure, these things may not be enough to qualify the 97 Premium as a direct copy, but let’s take a look at the all-too-familiar design. Like the iPad, Archos has outfitted the 97 Premium with an unpainted, anodized aluminum backing, as well as curvaceous, protruding metallic edges.

I’m not saying that Apple should be allowed to hold a patent on rounded corners, but it’s time for companies to start becoming more innovative. Archos’ GamePad is a prime example of innovation at its best. It may not be the sleekest or sexiest device on the market, but boy does it function.

In all fairness, Archos has made a few subtle changes to deter Apple lawyers. The front-facing camera has been allocated to the top left-hand corner, while the company has tatted its own name in the center above the display. The corners are also slightly more rounded, though we all know this probably won’t make a difference when Apple inevitably takes it to the courtroom.

Source: Archos
Via: AndroidPolice 

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Archos announces 97 Premium tablet, unquestionably mimics Apple’s iPad

French electronics powerhouse, Archos, has long proven that it can consistently build quality Android tablets at affordable prices, but this time around it appears as though the company has gone too far. The manufacturer  announced today a brand new entrant into its luscious tablet offering, effectively bringing its portfolio full circle.

Despite just being announced, the Archos 97 Premium is nothing new. The device’s sole purpose is undoubtedly to compete head-to-head with Apple’s popular iPad. And while competition is a good thing, the 97 Premium is almost a direct copy of Cupertino’s slate, something you could only expect from a Chinese manufacturer selling $50 tablets on eBay.

Interestingly, as the name suggests, the device sports a 9.7-inch display–the same as the iPad. What’s more is that both tablets share the same “Retina” display resolution of 1536×2048. Sure, these things may not be enough to qualify the 97 Premium as a direct copy, but let’s take a look at the all-too-familiar design. Like the iPad, Archos has outfitted the 97 Premium with an unpainted, anodized aluminum backing, as well as curvaceous, protruding metallic edges.

I’m not saying that Apple should be allowed to hold a patent on rounded corners, but it’s time for companies to start becoming more innovative. Archos’ GamePad is a prime example of innovation at its best. It may not be the sleekest or sexiest device on the market, but boy does it function.

In all fairness, Archos has made a few subtle changes to deter Apple lawyers. The front-facing camera has been allocated to the top left-hand corner, while the company has tatted its own name in the center above the display. The corners are also slightly more rounded, though we all know this probably won’t make a difference when Apple inevitably takes it to the courtroom.

Source: Archos
Via: AndroidPolice 

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