Source Code Says LG’s G-Pad Tablet Will Get The Google Play Edition Treatment

gpad-large

Google and LG have been getting awfully cozy lately — the web giant tasked the Korean company with delivering its two most recent Nexus smartphones, and if you’re the type to put stock in rumors, it seemed like a new Nexus tablet (bearing the model number “LG-V510″) would be the next fruit of their union.

Well, according some files posted to LG’s own site, it isn’t. Not exactly, anyway. Some industrious redditors (via Droid-Life) discovered that LG posted a source code update for that very device on its Open Source Code Distribution page, and a little bit of unzipping revealed the truth of the matter. The tablet in question isn’t a shiny new Nexus model, it’s a version of the company’s 8.3-inch G-Pad that’s getting the Google Play Edition treatment.

gpad-googleplay

Google launched the Google Play Edition initiative earlier this year with special versions of the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S 4 that featured nearly-stock versions of Android instead of the highly-customized builds that their cousins ship with. I’d argue the benefits only really appeal to the real nerds and tinkerers among you — being SIM unlocked is nice, but more importantly those GPE phones generally get updates awfully quickly to boot. Granted, the update process isn’t quite as fast it is for members the Nexus line since their software build contains small additions to power non-standard features like the One’s BoomSound speakers.

Still, this is a pretty big deal for a company that doesn’t have much experience in crafting tablets and seems to speak to how closely the Google-LG relationship has grown in recent years. Like the One and the Galaxy S 4 before it, the G-Pad is no slouch: it sports an 8.3-inch IPS display running at 1920 x 1200, along with a Snapdragon 600 chipset, and 2GB of RAM. If LG’s source code files are legit and not some intricate prank, the tablet won’t be the speediest thing to grace the Google Play store, though early reviews of the thing are generally positive. I’ve reached out to Google for comment, and will update this story if/when they respond.

Source Code Says LG’s G-Pad Tablet Will Get The Google Play Edition Treatment

gpad-large

Google and LG have been getting awfully cozy lately — the web giant tasked the Korean company with delivering its two most recent Nexus smartphones, and if you’re the type to put stock in rumors, it seemed like a new Nexus tablet (bearing the model number “LG-V510″) would be the next fruit of their union.

Well, according some files posted to LG’s own site, it isn’t. Not exactly, anyway. Some industrious redditors (via Droid-Life) discovered that LG posted a source code update for that very device on its Open Source Code Distribution page, and a little bit of unzipping revealed the truth of the matter. The tablet in question isn’t a shiny new Nexus model, it’s a version of the company’s 8.3-inch G-Pad that’s getting the Google Play Edition treatment.

gpad-googleplay

Google launched the Google Play Edition initiative earlier this year with special versions of the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S 4 that featured nearly-stock versions of Android instead of the highly-customized builds that their cousins ship with. I’d argue the benefits only really appeal to the real nerds and tinkerers among you — being SIM unlocked is nice, but more importantly those GPE phones generally get updates awfully quickly to boot. Granted, the update process isn’t quite as fast it is for members the Nexus line since their software build contains small additions to power non-standard features like the One’s BoomSound speakers.

Still, this is a pretty big deal for a company that doesn’t have much experience in crafting tablets and seems to speak to how closely the Google-LG relationship has grown in recent years. Like the One and the Galaxy S 4 before it, the G-Pad is no slouch: it sports an 8.3-inch IPS display running at 1920 x 1200, along with a Snapdragon 600 chipset, and 2GB of RAM. If LG’s source code files are legit and not some intricate prank, the tablet won’t be the speediest thing to grace the Google Play store, though early reviews of the thing are generally positive.

There are still plenty of questions surrounding this thing, not least of which is when it’ll officially see the light of day for the first time. CES 2014 is right around the corner and LG has snapped up the very first press conference slot on the pre-show press day so it would have a captive audience of reporters to show the thing off too. Then again, Google was in charge of unveiling both previous Google Play Edition devices, so the tablet may wind up headlining its own event. I’ve reached out to Google for comment, and will update this story if/when they respond.

The Nexus 5 Gets A New Color And A New Rumored Launch Date

nex8usu45whited-1

There really isn’t much we don’t know about Google and LG’s new Nexus 5 at this point – a leaked service manual blew the door open on plenty of technical details, and Google even “accidentally” outed the device in the Google Play Store, giving us a $349 price tag for the base 16GB model.

Now, thanks to the one and only @evleaks, we’ve gotten yet another glimpse of the forthcoming phone in some decidedly different livery. Rather than the bog-standard matte black finish we’ve seen on and off for the past few months, this newly leaked image shows off a white version of the device ahead of its official launch… whenever that may be.

In case you haven’t been keeping up with the Nexus 5′s long journey from rumor to actual product, the Android 4.4 KitKat device is said to sport a 4.95-inch display running at 1080p and a quad-core Snapdragon 800 chipset clocked at 2.3GHz. Oh, and let’s not forget 2GB of RAM, an active LTE radio, and a mildly improved 2300mAh battery – all told we’re looking at a pretty solid update.

Arguably more important than that new chromatic choice is the latest in a long line of purported release dates for the Nexus 5 – this time it looks like November 1 is the day to circle on your calendars. For a while there it looked like we would get our first official glimpse at the Nexus 5 on October 15, a day that came and went with nary a peep from Google. Then there came word of a small Google Play event slated for the evening of the 24th in New York City, which ultimately turned out to be little more than a meet-and-greet for certain members of the press.

Couple that with a separate report from the folks at MobileSyrup forecasting a launch on October 31 and it’s starting to seem very likely that the Nexus 5 will make its grand debut at the end of the month. Of course, that’s only a few days away and there’s still no smoking gun – Google hasn’t started distributing invitations – so we’ll see just how much longer this not-so-secret secret winds up staying under wraps. Curiously enough, the Nexus 5 may not be alone when it hits the Google Play Store for real. An LTE-enabled version of the Nexus 4 put in an appearance in the Bluetooth Special Interest Group’s device certification listings.

Nexus 5 Gets Bluetooth Certification Ahead Of Rumored Oct. 15 Launch Date

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Google’s next Nexus Android reference smartphone is likely just around the corner, and today the Bluetooth SIG published a certification of a device that matches its model identification code. The “LG-D821″ is already essentially confirmed as the new Nexus 5, and its approval today by the Bluetooth SIG means that it’s probably on track for a rumored launch early next week.

Reports from CNET UK suggest we’ll see the Nexus 5 make its official debut on October 15, and that the next version of Android, version 4.4 or ‘KitKat,’ will arrive on the same day. KitKat is so-named thanks to a cross-promotional effort between Google and Nestlé, but it’s been rumored to be a relatively minor update, and TechCrunch has heard separately from a well-placed source that indeed, KitKat will be mostly business as usual compared to version 4.3, with the next update down the line offering up much more substantial changes.

Google’s Nexus 5 is said to have a 4.95-inch 1080p display, along with a Snapdragon 800 2.3GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1.2 megapixel front shooter, LTE support and Bluetooth 4.0. It’s all powered by a 2300mAH battery, which is just slightly more capacious than the 2100mAH battery on the current Nexus 4. It’s also powering a much more powerful device, so it’ll be interesting to see how that affects what kind of mileage you get on a single charge.

If it’s priced right, a new LTE-capable Nexus in time for the holidays could be a very good option for buyers looking to get a strong smartphone for relatively little money upfront. Last year, supply was very constrained early on, however, so if you’re interested in one, it’s probably a good idea to be ready to order when they do get made official.

Google, SAP, Cisco & Samsung Among Potential Tech Buyers For Some Or All Of BlackBerry, Says Reuters

blackberry-q5-

Google, SAP and Cisco are among a number of technology companies interested in buying up portions — or all — of BlackBerry’s business, according to Reuters, which cites several sources close to the matter. BlackBerry has also apparently asked for preliminary expressions from Intel, LG and Samsung, by early next week. Portions of the business of most interest to potential technology buyers are BlackBerry’s secure server network and patent portfolio, according to the sources.

None of the companies named by Reuters provided comment on its report.

Other tech companies, including Microsoft, Huawei and Lenovo, are notably absent from the list of prospective buyers. Redmond unsurprisingly so; despite being previously linked with a possible BlackBerry bid, Microsoft is now tied up with its own $7.2 billion bid for Nokia’s Devices & Services business. Meanwhile Chinese telco Huawei has faced difficulties in the North American market over national security concerns about links to the Chinese military — likely making a bid for a company that supplies phones to government officials a difficult sell.

An enterprise-focused bidder — such as SAP or Cisco — might make the best fit for BlackBerry’s security-focused messaging handset business at this point, with the consumer smartphone marketplace now primarily centred on Android and iOS. That said, the BYOD trend has been steadily eroding BlackBerry’s enterprise reach, so even here its appeal is increasingly niche.  (Albeit, it does have its own mobile device management software that seeks to tap the BYOD trend, with the ability to manage iPhones, Android-powered devices and BlackBerrys).

Late last month, days before BlackBerry reported a $965 million quarterly loss (due mostly to a writedown on unsold Z10 devices), it signed a letter of intent to go private. Its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings, is the prospective buyer, tabling a $4.7 billion bid for the company.

Going private also opens up the possibility that a new owner might look to break up the company and sell off its constituent parts, although Fairfax claims it has no plans to do so. But, according to Reuters, BlackBerry is actively shopping itself around to potential strategic buyers anyway — as an alternative to the Fairfax deal. That deal, which values the company at $9 per share, has faced some skepticism from financial analysts — who believe a $7 per share price is more realistic — which may explain why BlackBerry is apparently looking elsewhere now.

Technology buyers are not the only potential bidders for the BlackBerry pie, with private-equity firms also asking the company to provide additional financial details about its various business segments, according to two of Reuters’ sources. However they said BlackBerry is currently focused on taking bids from industry peers.

Despite Google et al apparently agreeing to talk, it’s unclear how much serious interest there is in buying BlackBerry or which, if any, parties will bid. Potential bidders are apparently proceeding with caution, given the level of uncertainty around BlackBerry’s business and questions over the future value of its business assets.

Google’s interest is likely to be in BlackBerry’s patent portfolio. Android has faced renewed legal attacks in recent weeks, with Nokia’s lawyers scoring a preliminary win against HTC‘s Android-powered One flagship device in the U.S. last week. Google’s 2011 acquisition of Motorola was also widely touted as a patent-focused purchase aimed at bolstering Android’s IP defences. So it’s due diligence for Mountain View to at least take a closer look at BlackBerry’s patents. Samsung may also be eyeing those.

However, Reuters notes that the value of BlackBerry’s patent portfolio and licensing agreements is diminishing rapidly — likely to halve over the next 18 months. Which may temper any interest there.

BlackBerry’s patents are estimated to be worth between $2 billion and $3 billion, and its security-focused messaging system services business is likely worth $3 billion to $4.5 billion. The company also has $3.1 billion in cash and investments — however with revenues sliding and more loss-making quarters looming, that cash is going to get eaten up pretty quickly. Reuters cites Bernstein analyst Pierre Ferragu’s prediction that the company will burn through almost $2 billion over the next year and a half.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry’s long-touted plan to extend the reach of its consumer mobile messaging service, BBM, to Android and iOS – perhaps with the hope of creating another business asset it could shop around to buyers – has stalled.

BBM was initially slated to launch on the new platforms globally late last month but the rollout was halted after a leaked version of the Android .apk overloaded its servers. The company has since said it remains committed to launching BBM on Android and iOS but given no new timeframe for when this will happen. In the event, it may be that BlackBerry’s bits get broken up and sold off before BBM is able to make the leap onto other platforms.

Nexus 5 Could Get LTE, 5-Inch Display And Snapdragon 800 Processor, Per FCC Filing For New LG Device

nexus-5-render

Rumors about Google’s next Nexus device are heating up in the wake of a perceived leak via the company’s own promotional video for Android KitKat earlier this week. Today, a filing from the FCC (via Engadget) that details a new, unreleased LG device making its way to the U.S. offers up what could be some more granular information on Google’s next Android reference smartphone.

The Nexus 5 could be the “D820″ from the filing, a chance made more likely by the fact that the images shared with the U.S. wireless standards regulator line up closely with the sneak peek revealed in Google’s video, and by the knowledge that it contains wireless charging based on the Qi standard, a feature of its forerunner the LG Nexus 4. And per the filing, this supposed Nexus 5 would offer 7-band LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking, a 5-inch display, and come with Android 4.4 preloaded (which is named “Key Lime Pie” in the filing’s firmware name string, a sign the KitKat arrangement was one made late by Google).

Measurements of the device place it at 131.9mm tall and 68.2mm wide per the document, which is slightly thinner and shorter than the Nexus 4 despite the 0.26-inch larger diagonal display, so expect top and bottom bezel to be shaved slightly with the Nexus 5 if these reports do indeed describe that smartphone. The new Nexus phone as seen in the commercial can be seen in the screenshot below from 9to5Google, and a fan-made render by Philippine site Yugatech, pictured above, provides a better idea of what that device might look like up close.

Google started selling the Nexus 4 way back in November 2012, after announcing it at the end of October, so it’s nearly due for a refresh. At the time, the lack of LTE was a noteworthy admission, so the fact that its successor could get fairly broad LTE band support is big news, and the Snapdragon 800 is definitely no slouch in the processor department. We’ll likely have to wait a while yet to see what shape the next Nexus takes, but if this is it, and if Google can keep unlocked pricing in the same ballpark it managed for the Nexus 4, this could be a very good option for Android smartphone shoppers.

Windows 8.1 Coming in October and Other News You Need to Know

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Welcome to this morning’s edition of “First To Know,” a series in which we keep you in the know on what’s happening in the digital world.

Today, we’re looking at three stories from the tech world you may have missedMicrosoft will roll out Windows 8.1 to device-makers in late August, and to existing machines and new devices in October. Facebook just acquired Mobile Technologies, a voice recognition and translation company. Details of the acquisition are not yet clear, but Facebook says it hopes to use the technology for mobile and web navigation. And 20 people were hurt at an LG promotional event in North Korea when the company offered smartphones to anyone who could catch vouchers attached to helium balloons. Read more…

More about Facebook, Microsoft, Lg, First To Know Series, and Tech

Zuckerberg Tours Samsung: Is a Facebook Phone Coming?

Zuckerberg-tours-samsung

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News of Mark Zuckerberg‘s trip to South Korea is resulting in widespread speculation that Facebook is working with Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone-maker, to build a phone specifically tailored for the social network.

In April Facebook launched Home, a software tool geared to make the site’s features easier to use and more integrated on mobile, and Samsung was one of the first companies to integrate that feature on devices such as the Galaxy S4. Reports from South Korean news outlets suggest that Zuckerberg’s real objective is to ask Samsung to craft a more Facebook-friendly device. That move could in part be precipitated by disappointing sales of the HTC First, the Android-powered Facebook phone made by the Taiwanese company HTC (AT&T has since dropped the unit because of poor sales). But this mix, as well as Samsung’s close ties to Google, could make a future partnership with Facebook a murky proposition. Read more…

More about Facebook, Android, Samsung, Lg, and South Korea

Nexus 4 Owners Estimate One Million Handsets Have Shipped Since November 2012 Launch

google-nexus-4

Last month we reported how Android enthusiasts on the XDA Developer forum had worked out a method to estimate the smartphone’s production run based on each device’s IMEI number. Going into the end of 2012 the estimate suggested LG had produced about 400,000 devices in total. Now, according to a post on the same forum by member draugaz, Nexus 4 production has passed the millionth device.

Google declined to comment on Nexus 4 sales figures when contacted by TechCrunch but a source close to the company indicated that Mountain View is very happy with the take up so far.

The XDA post, put up on the forum late yesterday, indicates that the 999,998th Nexus 4, a black device apparently sold in Turkey (although Google Play does not currently offer the device in that market), was produced on February 5th. The post notes:

Ladies and gentleman, we just reached the millionth device!

(of course just judging by serial number, i.e. minus gaps)

ATURBK 302KPSL999998 20130205 TURKEY

Which means, IMEI prefix 35391805* is now officially complete and the next one will be started.

Google’s LG manufactured Nexus 4 smartphone has been in and out of stock since going on sale in November. The two companies have continually declined to comment on the quantity of available units so it’s been hard to quantify the level of demand for what is a high end 3G device made all the more attractive by its mid-range pricing (£240 for the 8GB version direct from Google Play in the UK; $199 from T-Mobile US, for example).

The quad-core (Snapdragon S4) smartphone which, being a Nexus device, runs the latest flavour of Google’s mobile platform (Android 4.2 Jelly Bean), packs in a 4.7 inch display with a resolution of 320ppi, has 2GB of RAM, an 8 megapixel rear camera plus a front-facing lens, along with NFC, wireless charging and a 2,100 mAh battery.

If correct, one million Nexus 4 units sold in a little over two months is not bad for a device that targets Android’s enthusiast, power user fringe, especially considering limited stock levels have meant it has been frequently listed as out of stock and — crucially — the fact that in most markets it is only being sold direct from Google, rather than being stocked and marketed by carriers in their retail stores.

Google Play currently offers the Nexus 4 in seven markets:  Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Canada, the U.K. and the U.S.

Using the production estimates in the XDA developer forum thread, members have also estimated Nexus 4 production run totals by month — which appear to show production ramping up considerably in January. The estimates break down as follows:

  • October: 70,000
  • November: 90,000
  • Dec: 210,000
  • January: 550,000+

Here’s how Nexus 4 owners are crowdsourcing their IMEI numbers to generate the estimate:

If you take this link and put your IMEI number at the very end, this LG site will spit back out the IMEI followed by a long string of characters that looks something like this: “LGE960 ACAGBK 212KPHG188745 20121206 GLOBAL/GLOBAL N N”

If you break this string apart, you get:
LGE960 = phone model
A = ?
CA = Country where the device was sold. (Others include ‘US’ for the U.S., ‘HK’ for Hong Kong, ‘AU’ for Australia and so on.)
G = Storage (G = 16GB, 8 = 8GB)
BK = Color
2 = Production year (2012)
12 = Production Month (December)
K = Production Country (Korea)
PHG = ?
188745 = The line or production number, showing that phone was the 188,745th device made.
2012121206 = The production date in YYYYMMDD format

Google Gets Its Act Together: New Nexus 4 Orders Reaching Customers In As Little As 48 Hours

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Google is apparently doing a good job of improving its supply stream issues and making good on promised delivery times for customers for new Nexus 4 orders – better than good, in fact. UK customers are reporting this morning (via CNET) that the Nexus 4 devices they ordered when Google released its latest crop of phones this past Wednesday are already arriving at their doorsteps, less than 48 hours later.

Google had predicted that phones would take 1 to 2 weeks to arrive at the homes of those placing new orders when the phones went on sale, but it clearly seems to have done something right, either on its end or in terms of getting LG to deliver more consistently. A 48 hour turnaround not only blows that out of the water, but also represents a 180-degree change in direction from the lengthy six-, seven- and eight-hour waits customers were running into just before the new year.

U.S. orders also went live again earlier this week, but no word on whether or not those devices are being shipped out yet. Let us know if you’re receiving or have received your new Nexus, but from the looks of what’s happening in Britain, Google has learned a few lessons about being the purveyor of an in-demand piece of hardware, and looks to actually be able to manage supply. Which isn’t to say it’s able to meet demand yet; in fact, we’re probably still fairly far off from that, given how quickly the Nexus 4 sold out and how stock continues to be a bit of a mixed bag internationally, I doubt that Google has reached supply equilibrium quite yet.

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