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HP TouchPad running Android 4.0

The HP TouchPad may have left the factory running webOS, but that hasn't stopped developers from shoe-horning Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich onto it. The Cyanogen Mod team has been hard at work getting a version of Android 4.0 working on the TouchPad, and, for the most part, they have been successful.

Though important things like the camera, microphone, and hardware-accelerated video are not yet working (read: no Netflix or HD video playback for now), most everything else is. If you use your tablet to read, browse the web, and handle email as I do, then Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich CM9 Alpha 6 certainly works well for that.

 

 

Performance is quite impressive, even better than many of the official Android 3.x Honeycomb tablets that I have used. Apps open swiftly and panning around the homescreens has virtually no lag. Installing CM9 on the TouchPad might not be for the faint of heart, but if you have installed a custom ROM on an Android smartphone in the past, its certainly something that you can probably handle.

RIM extends free Playbook offer for developers

In an effort to increase the number of apps available in their app market, Blackberry App World, RIM has decided to prolong a special promotion which aims to give developers a free Playbook in exchange for porting over their Android app(s) to Blackberry OS. The offer was originally available between February 2 to 13 but has been extended until March 2.

RIM stated there has been overwhelming interest in the promotion. The company claims it has been working around the clock to approve apps and kindly asks developers to be patient. RIM says the approval process is taking longer than usual as a result of the increased number of submissions.


Over 6,600 new developers have registered since the promo began and more than 1,500 app submissions have been made although prior figures to form a basis of comparison are mostly unknown. With some help from this extension, those numbers can only grow.

According to RIM, App World currently holds 60,000 apps and serves an average of about 6 million downloads per day. While these paltry sums are nowhere near the Android or iPhone app markets in terms of sheer volume, that still leaves plenty of room for useful, high-quality apps. Let's hope some of the apps ported over to Blackberry OS are some really good ones which the community would like to see.

The company featured a set of repackaging tools which aim to simplify the porting process, although RIM makes it apparent they've encountered a few potentially reoccurring issues as a result of the process:

To help speed up the approval process of your application, we strongly recommend the following:Before submitting your application to BlackBerry App World, please make sure to remove all mention of the word “Android” from your application – both in the application description and the application itself.Please remove all links to Android Marketplace from within your application.When submitting your Android application to BlackBerry App World, please make sure to select a minimum OS of 2.0.Please make sure your application is signed. For more information on code signing, please view the code signing documentation on the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps webpage.

Apple working with suppliers on 8-inch iPad

Apple is widely expected to announce a new iPad early next month, tentatively known as the iPad 3. If recent rumors are to be trusted, it will likely look and feel very similar to the iPad 2 but with a faster A6 processor, improved graphics, support for Siri, improved cameras, and an ultra high resolution display running at 2048 x 1536. That's all pretty much standard fare (except for the higher-resolution display), but according to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is also working on a smaller version of its popular tablet.


 

The paper cites people familiar with the matter and close to Apple's suppliers, who have hinted at the existence of a smaller iPad with a screen size of around eight inches. It supposedly packs the same 1024×768 resolution as the iPad 2, which would bump the pixel per inch (PPI) count from 132 to 160 on the smaller tablet.

This new report is in line with earlier rumors of a 7.85-inch iPad with the same display resolution as the iPad 2. Although the Wall Street Journal says Apple is not far along in the build process, it also notes that the company works with suppliers to test new designs all the time, so the existence of an 8-inch iPad doesn’t necessarily mean it will ever see the light of day.

An "iPad mini" has been rumored for quite some time, and according to the report Apple has played with various tablet sizes in the past, despite its late founder Steve Jobs’s public disdain for smaller tablets.

Android 5.0 Jelly Bean coming Q2 2012, dual-boot alongside Windows 8?

The Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich honeymoon could be over before it even started. The latest from the Google rumor mill suggests that Android 5.0 Jelly Bean could arrive as early as the second quarter of 2012, a move that many will see as premature given the fact that ICS has only reached 1 percent of Android devices thus far as of February 1, 2012.


 

According to Taiwan-based supply chain makers as reported by DigiTimes, ICS has fallen short of Google’s initial expectations. With Microsoft planning to launch Windows 8 in the third quarter, Google may want to release Jelly Bean to tablet, notebook and netbook makers sooner rather than later in an apparent push to have the OS dual-boot alongside Windows 8.

It’s unclear whether or not this would work, however. As SlashGear notes, Windows 8 hardware requirements prevent a second OS installation on ARM-based PCs by users via a locked Secure Book system. No word yet on whether or not OEMs would be able to do so before the devices leave the factory.

Android 5.0 is said to be further optimized for tablets which could allow the user to switch between two operating systems without having to power cycle the device. But because ICS hasn’t done as well as expected, many of Google’s downstream partners are said to be taking a conservative approach with 5.0 Jelly Bean.

iOS allows contacts to be uploaded without consent, Apple promises fix

Apple has finally responded to privacy concerns following a recent discovery which shows some iOS apps have been silently uploading contact lists to remote servers. Apple intends to change this behavior though by prohibiting unfettered access to contacts from any app without explicit user permission.

Android, on the other hand, evades the issue entirely. While installing any app that requires access to your address book, Android gives users a warning prompt. However, as PCWorld points out, we can certainly do a better than this.


About two weeks ago, an unsuspecting developer discovered that his entire address book was being uploaded by Path, a seemingly innocuous photo-sharing app. Presumably, the intentions of Path were benevolent as the app uses your contacts to figure out who you'd like to share photos with. However, the app did so without any indication -- no warnings, prompts or agreements.

Path's developers quickly issued an apology, removed the uploaded contact information from their servers and updated the app so that it now requires consent before touching your contact list. While Path's reaction seems responsible and even commendable, less scrupulous developers may not act so honorably.

This incident sparked a new public awareness about the dangers of third-party software on such increasingly personal devices. That spark then ignited into a fire which two members of Congress may be aiming to extinguish. They issued this written inquiry to Apple:


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