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Android this week: Galaxy Note updates; Android 4.0 on AT&T; New Acer tablet

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Some may think that a stylus shouldn’t be anywhere near a phone or a tablet, but Samsung is trying to prove them wrong with the Galaxy Note. The 5.3-inch Android(s goog) smartphone includes Samsung’s S Pen for note-taking  but that stylus will gain much more functionality with a software update next quarter. A suite of apps to specifically take advantage of the S Pen will be bundled with the Android 4.0 update for the Galaxy Note.

The new Premium Suite of software will add improved handwriting recognition, including a way for the phone to translate written math functions. Eight new folder templates bring customization for specific annotations, such as recipes, sketches, diary entries and more. The software can also recognize and correct drawn shapes; useful for flow charts or other brainstorming activities:

Although Samsung is taking a chance with the stylus feature of its Galaxy Note, it can help the device stand apart from the crowd; some specific tasks actually are well suited for a stylus. But the software has to support such a hardware accessory, so it’s good to see Samsung trying to add value with improved stylus apps.

Google itself is trying to add more value to the Android platform, adding improved integration between the Google Voice and native phone apps. With the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android, voicemails from Google Voice appear in the phone’s call log and can be reviewed directly in the phone application.

Unfortunately, Android’s ability to support user interface skins and other customizations may interfere: The new voicemail feature doesn’t work on the HTC Vivid, AT&T’s(s t) first phone to get the Android 4.0 update. That issue aside, AT&T this week announced which phones will see the Ice Cream Sandwich update: Nine in all, as well as the Galaxy Tab 8.9 slate. The carrier says these updates will be available in the coming months.

While waiting for Android 4.0 on those devices, you can now get it on another tablet. Acer updated its Iconia line with the new A510; the company’s first quad-core slate. Priced at $449, the 10.1-inch tablet offers 1280 x 800 resolution, support for 1080p video capture at 30 frames per second (after a software update), a gigabyte of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage and the ability expand capacity through a microSD card slot. Unlike the Acer Iconia Tab A500 I reviewed last year, this new model drops the full-sized USB port in favor of micro USB.

8 Responses to “Android this week: Galaxy Note updates; Android 4.0 on AT&T; New Acer tablet”

  1. The Acer A510 sounds like it’s going to be a pretty strong tablet. But with a Nexus tablet in the rumor mill with the competitive rumored $150-$200 price tag, I think other android tablet manufactures are going to have to find a way to compete with the Nexus tablet if it is released later this year. Which could mean cheaper tablets for those of us who want a powerful Android tablet without the $500 price tag.

  2. A stylus? Yikes a giant step backward for phones, for tablets, just the same old thing for me to lose. Somebody please tell me and don’t be nasty, why are phones getting so big, so big they don’t fit in your pocket? I mean fine if you have a purse or pocket book but it’s like hauling a tablet around. I had to return my Note because it was so unwieldy (and the update never showed) just before the 90 day policy ran out… Shouldn’t we be told the “truth” about updates, rather than just lies? Apple may be just as “full of it” but at least they give out regular updates…

    • “Truth”
      Why are they getting bigger? Simple, the manufacturer has to constantly evolve their product line and look for their niche in the market. End result, the consumer has more choices and sometimes better choices. Ask Apple, they’ll tell you about how did it with the iphone.
      Why didn’t you like it? Who knows, but voted with your feet by walking away from it. Great to have that kind of liberty don;t you think. Others love the Note, couldn’t live without it. Maybe they has bigger pockets and bigger hands to cope with the size. I enjoy mine because of poor eyesight – I can actually see the screen and all that’s on it! I travel a lot and can now ditch my old phone and Galaxy Tab plus two chargers and assorted cables and replace it with one simple and highly usable device.
      I’m happy with my Note, upgrade or no upgrade. If the upgrade ever comes out, a bonus. If not, tough. I’m still happy. Each to his own, eh?

  3. Ok I drank the Kool Aid and bought a Note. ICS was suppose to be available 1st quarter, now I have to wait for some time 2nd quarter, which we all know means end of June. Just in time for Jelly bean to be released. It’s a shame that the Note wasn’t released with ICS and I have to wait 6 months for a upgrade. Now Samsung tells me, we have this great suite for your phone when my phone is upgraded. Nice!