Android this week: Samsung Galaxy S II plans; Sony Ericsson updates; panoramic pics


Customers pining for the Samsung Galaxy S II handset received good and bad news, depending on their carrier of choice. While models of this popular and top-selling smartphone are expected to see AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile during a product launch next week, Verizon this week confirmed it would not be carrying the Galaxy S II. Instead, the company said it had a strong lineup already and pointed to the LTE-equipped Droid Charge as an alternative.

Verizon appears to want more handsets that utilize its next generation LTE data network; understandable after investing billions on the upgrade which not only offers faster speeds, but can help reduce any congestion on the company’s existing 3G network. Galaxy S II fans shouldn’t be too upset though: Samsung is also expected to announce an LTE version of the Galaxy S II at next month’s IFA event in Berlin. That model is slated to have a larger display, faster processor and higher capacity battery, so may be worth the wait.

Owners of Sony Ericsson Android phones are used to waiting, but for software updates more than handsets. Initially known for being slow to provide Android updates, the company looks to be improving its response to Google’s Android improvements and this week said all 2011 Xperia smartphones would get Android 2.3.4 starting in October. Although the software is mainly a maintenance release, it does bring support for Google Talk video calls, deep Facebook integration, support for USB devices and a new 3-D panoramic image capture function.

Android owners don’t need a Sony Ericsson phone for panoramic shots, though; several manufacturers have built┬ásuch functionality in to their high-end smartphones. Not everyone has the hardware to handle panoramic pic, however, as the process to stitch frames together can be processor-intensive. A new Android application in beta called 360 aims to change that.

I took 360 for a spin and found that it creates sweeping images in a relatively small amount of time. I didn’t have a low-end Android handset to test the application, but the folks at TeliportMe, which created the software, told me that it’s designed for phones with meager hardware specifications. The software also adds a social component, allowing pictures to be shared via Facebook, Twitter, or through a website specific to the application.

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