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Weekly Poll

Google I/O 2012, Google’s developer conference, is next week! The schedule’s pretty packed, with sessions on Android, Maps, Google TV, Chrome, Drive, Google+ and more.

As with any tech event, the rumour mill is working overtime. Here are a few that I’ve heard we might see:

  • An offical 7-inch Nexus tablet.
  • Android Jelly Bean (which will be Android 4.1, not 5.0).
  • Google Assistant, Android’s answer to Siri.
  • Project Glass being worn by presenters.
  • Cross-platform games (Google+, Chrome, Android).
  • A set of Nexus handsets (as many as five at once).

There’s a great, detailed rundown over at Android Police: The Ultimate Google I/O 2012 Preview.

Vote in the poll to share what you’re most excited about seeing – and if you’ve heard any other rumours, please let us know in the comments!

You can get the official Google I/O 2012 companion app here.

As you’ve no doubt heard, Apple iOS 6 was announced this week. Many of the upcoming features are actually already present in Android – turn-by-turn navigation, reply by text, Facebook integration – but a few are new (or at least only available in third party apps).

I’m particularly interested in Passbook, an app that will keep track of tickets, coupons, and loyalty cards. When you step into an airport, it’ll automatically present you with your boarding pass, for example, which you can use to check in. Yes, it’s a similar idea to Google Wallet, but a lot simpler and without relying on NFC (or on retailers to get their act together and support mobile payments).

How about you? Vote in the poll and leave a comment to share your thoughts!

Weekly Poll: Are You Excited By the Android News at E3?

This week, Los Angeles is hosting the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, the major trade fair for the video games industry. As you can imagine, plenty of Android-related announcements have been made:

I think this is all great news (and I’m sure there are even more announcements that I’ve missed) but then, I’m a gamer. What do you think?

(In other game-related news, we’ve recently started a new Steam group for Android.AppStorm readers and writers. If you play games on Steam, join in with us!)

Rumor has it that Google has a 7-inch Android 4.1 tablet lined up. Apparently, it’s named (or codenamed?) the Nexus 7, and will have a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and a 1280×768 resolution. I’m sure we’ll learn much more about it at this year’s Google I/O.

It’s great that Google is finally creating an official flagship Android tablet, but still… 7 inches? That’s smaller than, say, the Xoom (which Google originally used to demonstrate Honeycomb), it’s smaller than the high-budget Android tablets, and, of course, it’s smaller than the iPad. But it’s the same size as a lot of the lower-budget Android tablets – including Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the most popular Android tablet.

So is it sensible for Google to start out small (literally) by launching a Nexus tablet that doesn’t directly compete with the big hitters, or is it weird that they would bother launching this as a Nexus device? Let us know what you think.

So, it’s finally official: Google has acquired Motorola Mobility, after a lengthy process that began last August. Back then, Joe Casabona looked at why Google might have done this (aside from picking up some patents); today, I’d like to see what you’re hoping the news will mean.

Personally, I hope we see some quality handsets running vanilla (and up-to-date) Android. The Galaxy Nexus is great and all, but a whole range would be fantastic. Given the rumours from last week, I think this is quite likely.

I’m also keen to see Eric Schmidt’s goal being reached: for smartphones to get as cheap as feature phones.

What about you? I’ve put a few ideas into the poll already; feel free to add new ones, and clarify them in the comments below.

The Nexus One, Nexus S, and Galaxy Nexus are all flagship Google phones, each being the first to use the then-latest version of Android (2.2, 2.3, and 4.0, respectively), each being free of any third-party UIs like TouchWiz or Sense, and each being the only flagship phone at any one time.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google might change how it handles that last point. Apparently, rather than partnering with one handset manufacturer at a time to create a single, de facto flagship device, Google might work with up to five manufacturers at once, to create a whole stable of Nexus devices – including tablets.

For more details, read the original article. Do you think it’s a good idea?

After months of speculation and rumors, the Samsung Galaxy S III was officially announced last week. This is a big deal mainly because it’s predecessor, the S II, garnered rave reviews throughout its lifetime – even a year after its release, it still remained one of the best Android phones money could buy.

So the S III has a lot to live up to, then, and despite it not even being on the shelves yet (you’ll have to wait till the end of the month), some people are not happy with it. Know Your Mobile complains that it fails to deliver, for instance. Android Police wrote a great article arguing that the design of the handset was heavily influenced by the iPhone – heavily influenced in the opposite direction, that is, so as not to get into any more trouble over patents and trade dress.

Naysayers aside, this certainly looks like a great phone on paper. It has top specs: 4.8 inch 1280x720px screen, up to 64GB in-built memory plus support for a 64GB microSD card, 8MP rear camera and 1.9MP front camera, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC, and slim and light as well. It’ll run Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box. And Samsung has been working on some new interface gimmicks, like the ability to detect when you’re looking at the screen and keep it on if so. Plus – I may be the only reader excited by this – it has an optional stylus accessory.

If I hadn’t just updated my phone recently, this might have been a day one purchase for me. As it is, I’ll wait for the first month’s reviews before deciding whether to trade my handset in. What about you?

Google’s long-awaited answer to Dropbox has finally been released. Google Drive lets you keep a section of your hard drive in the cloud – like Dropbox – but with a few extra features that tie in to Google’s existing ecosystem.

For instance, rather than dragging and dropping a file into Gmail to add it as an attachment (and then waiting for it to upload), you can add it directly from your Google Drive. Google Chrome apps will be able to access files from your Drive. And, of course, there’s an Android app

But some people are concerned about privacy, precisely because Google Drive ties in to the ecosystem so well. Thanks to Google’s terms of service, the company technically has access to all the files you upload to it. This is not necessarily any worse than the other cloud storage companies’ terms, but it’s more worrying because Google is so big and ubiquitous anyway.

What do you think?

There are a lot of photography apps on Android. And, thanks to Instagram being iOS-exclusive for so long, many of these apps compete exclusively with it.

I must admit, I didn’t “get” Instagram until someone explained to me that it was like Twitter, except instead of having 140 characters to communicate, you have one square photograph at a time. The actual app side of it (the filters, the frames, the interface), while nice, seems to be second to that social networking aspect. That explains why Facebook paid $1 billion for it, then.

Personally, I’m not interested in joining yet another social network unless it has a really compelling reason, and while I can see why a network centered around photography would appeal to some, it doesn’t appeal to me. Without that, what remains is a selection of decent effects and an easy interface – and although these are cool, they’re not cool enough to make me embrace Instagram as the One True photo app.

So that’s why I’m not using Instagram. But I know that many people love it! What about you?

I keep seeing reports about this: ICS is only on ~3% of Android devices, despite having been released way back in October. Alongside these reports almost always comes the assumption that this is a terrible thing, and that so many Android users are being left in the dust with some obsolete dust.

But hold on. Is that true? See, my Samsung phone doesn’t have ICS yet, but it does have a stable version of Gingerbread, which is already a great mobile operating system that I’m very happy with. Aside from the more gimmicky features like a stock panoramic camera and a facial recognition unlock screen – which I can get apps for anyway – the biggest deals to me are the new UI and the hardware accelerated rendering.

But I can already customise the heck out of my phone’s UI, and chances are that when my phone gets its official upgrade the UI will still look like classic TouchWiz rather than Holo. As for hardware acceleration, that’s already built in to TouchWiz, so I’m not missing out on too much there, either.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to getting ICS at last. But I’m not greatly inconvenienced by not having it yet. What about you?

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