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Android this week: LTE for Nexus 4; Skype 3.0; Google’s AirPlay

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Many reviewers of Google’s(s goog) Nexus 4 smartphone have appropriately pointed out the handset lacks support for fast LTE networks. Some have called this a fatal flaw, but as I explained in my own Nexus 4 review, the phone still provides a fast mobile broadband experience in certain coverage areas. It turns out that in very particular regions, the phone actually does work on LTE networks.

Nexus 4 in handA teardown of the phone by iFixit showed a 7-band Qualcomm(s qcom) LTE chip inside the Nexus 4. But the chip alone won’t bring speedy LTE service to the handset that’s otherwise limited to HSPA+. It turns out that there are power amplifiers for one particular LTE band, however.

AnandTech noticed this and did some additional testing: Indeed, on the 1700 / 2100 MHz ranges — AWS or Band 4 — the Nexus 4 does work with LTE when users switch a single setting. That doesn’t really help Nexus 4 owners in the U.S. but some in Canada will benefit as some carriers there use the AWS band for LTE.

While not everyone gains LTE on their Android phone this week, they do get a Skype update. Version 3 improves voice quality thanks to Skype’s SILK codec and tablets gain an optimized interface for larger screens. The tablet version is limited to landscape use only and in my testing I had some issues using the app in portrait mode on my phone, illustrating the challenge to create Android apps that work across the entire range of available devices.

Google can’t do much about that, but it can help Android devices stream media content to large screens. The company is working on an AirPlay-like feature that has already been implemented in part: You can now shoot YouTube videos from a Android device to a Google TV. But there’s more to it than just that as my colleague, Janko Roettgers, explains:

“And it’s not just about remote control functionality and beaming a video from your mobile phone to the TV we are talking about. The new protocol makes it possible for data to flow in both directions, Drayson explained, which would enable developers to build second-screen experiences that correspond to what’s happening on live TV as well. Also on the roadmap: beaming content from your laptop to your TV screen.”

I like the idea of second screen experiences as I often use two, three, or even four screens, when watching sports, for example. Enjoying the actual content is great, but having supplemental content on a phone or tablet can enhance the experience.

16 Responses to “Android this week: LTE for Nexus 4; Skype 3.0; Google’s AirPlay”

  1. both metropcs and cricket use the same AWS LTE band.

    it will be interesting if they offer services plans that work on this phone, even better if it is possible to pull a SIM card out of a metro and/or cricket phone and it works right away in the nexus(after enabling LTEthrough hack)

  2. So basically, Google got #1 place in enabling new smartphones for a while now. Its fair to give them a score at this point. They are at the top. From my Canadian subjective point of view:
    1. They don’t bring me content. They have movies here. But lack mostly music and tv shows!
    2. They don’t provide Canadian phone numbers in Google Voice. Recently its possible to add one for the forwarding list if you have an American number registered. But no Canadian numbers as the GVoice own number still. It may happen soon. But atm its a no.
    3. They give very poor shopping experience. The Nexus 4 saga is appalling at best. The fact that people still bare it is very typical for the community.
    4. LTE as a hidden feature. Again shows something about their channel and mentality.
    5. New versions plagued with bugs. The rumor on the street is that the low number of N4 is due to that directly.
    6. Tablet apps are a joke at this point.
    7. And related to this post … air play is an OLD feature. About time. But its currently just talk. They seem to be following and not innovating.

    Now as much as I HATE (in a geeky way, not literally) Apple, when they provide something, Canada is always included. I could have consumed content with them till now but refused out of principal. They have a consistent and very efficient buying experience which I am very happy with. They have a stable OS. And plenty of tablet apps. They do lack telephony solution, but if I had to guess its on their immediate radar!

    Anyway, I am not throwing my Google account, and not stopping to pay for some of their services. But I am also on the preorder of a Mini with Cellular. And I decided that media content wise, I am marrying with iTunes. Actually will not hesitate to pick Apple services from now on in general. Enough waiting for me. Google frustrate me.

    • some of the specs rumored for the next Google exenriepce phone, which until now had been dubbed the Nexus 4G. Now more rumors are circulating about the first Android phone to run Ice Cream Sandwich, including

  3. Lots of false hype as Google’s Nexus 4 was available for about 5 minutes before they sold out. I have yet to be notified as a pre-registered buyer. That was November 13, 2012. Very poor execution!

    • Adam Smith

      I never received an notification (ie I asked to receive an email when it was available).

      I ordered 4 minutes after it became available, received an email confirmation two minutes later, then for almost a week Google Play support couldn’t tell what was going on, I received a ship notice 3AM Nov 20th (3 hours after my last phone call), and they sent it Next Day Air to just make the window before they had to waive shipping charge.

      So it arrived at my door just 6 hours after my first notice from Google (beyond the confirmation email)

    • Adam Smith

      Using the speedtest app on a variety of servers, I get 15-20mpbs down 3-5 mbps up on my Nexus 4, and that’s with Nexus reporting HSPA+10 or HSPA+15.

      I’m using tmobile unlimited for $30/month, I don’t care if LTE is a little faster or not, it beats the point spread easily. I’m not paying $100/month for LTE service.