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How Big Is Too Big? Samsung’s New Galaxy Note Said To Sport 5.5-Inch Screen

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I don’t know too many people who would look at the Galaxy Note and its 5.3 inch display and say “y’know, it would be great if this thing was just a little bigger,” and I now I know why. As it turns out, those people live in Korea, work for Samsung, and may have decided just that.

According to their usual unnamed sources, Korea’s MK Business News reports that Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 will sport an even larger 5.5-inch display when its unveiled at Germany’s IFA 2012 trade show in August.

Naturally, the display isn’t all they’re said to be upgrading here. The next-gen Galaxy Note is also rumored to pack an unspecified quad-core processor (most likely an Exynos 4 Quad), and a 12 or 13 megapixel camera around the back instead of the 8 megapixel shooter as seen in the original. To top it all off, it’s said to run on Google’s newly-revealed Jelly Bean version of Android, though it’s unclear at this point how the company will be tweaking their UI to account for Jelly Bean’s new features.

So how much of a handful is thing going to be? Well, while the display has been stretched out a bit, the device itself isn’t expected to be significantly larger than the current Galaxy Note. Frankly, this seems like both a blessing and a curse — users who can comfortably wrap their mitts around the original model should do just fine, but that slightly larger display may make one-handed operation even less feasible than before.

Now I’m all for pushing limits and whatnot, but this just begs an obvious question: how big is too big? Most tablet manufacturers are loath to dip below the 7-inch barrier, and if this report holds true then Samsung is eagerly chipping away at the other side of that limit. Samsung’s success with the Galaxy Note has also prompted companies like LG to take up the super-sized phone challenge, so it’s very possible that phone screen sizes haven’t topped out just yet.


How Big Is Too Big? Samsung’s New Galaxy Note Said To Sport 5.5-Inch Screen

The Rise Of Instagram: Tracking The App’s Spread Worldwide

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The industry just can’t stop analyzing the Instagram success story, and this month, it’s app store analytics firm Distimo’s turn to take a crack at it. The company, which typically releases reports revealing notable mobile app and app marketplace trends, has turned its focus to the rise of Instagram. In its latest report, Distimo looked at how Instagram became successful, how it spread across the world, how the app’s usage compares to the number of downloads it received and more.

Instagram was launched about a year and a half ago, in October 2010. At the time, Distimo says the app was seeing under 10,000 downloads per day in the U.S. However, by April 2012, Instagram was generating well over 100,000 downloads per day in the iTunes App Store in the U.S.

Using data from real-time photo search engine Skylines in conjunction with its own, Distimo charted the app download increases from May 2011 to April of this year, and found that the cumulative downloads of Instagram were about 7 times higher in March 2012 than in May 2011. Instagram shares on Twitter had also increased more than 12 times – a metric that matters even more than downloads to some extent, because it points to active users and the average number of shares per user increasing.

After the release of the Android app and the Facebook acquisition, Instagram downloads increased to become around eight times higher than in May 2011. Shares also spiked to increase more than 20 times over May 2011.

Distimo then examined how the app fared outside the U.S. by analyzing trends in the top non-U.S. markets: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea and the U.K. Combined with the U.S., which alone accounts for 25% of the free downloads in the App Store for iPhone, these countries generate around 72% of the free app downloads.

Interestingly enough, Instagram is not equally successful in all these markets. It took Instagram only one day to reach the number one position in the Photography category in the App Store for iPhone in the U.S., but it took it over a year and a half in Korea and nearly two months in China. The reason for the slower rise is that these markets showed a preference for apps like Instagram, but that allowed sharing to local networks like Sina, QQ Space and me2day.

Instagram never reached the Top 300 apps list one day post-launch in China and Korea, and in Germany it only made it to position #288 one day post-launch, then disappeared off the top 300 list for a week.

In English-speaking countries, however, the app followed the same general course as it did in the U.S. It rose in popularity during the first month, dipped in December 2010, then rose again gradually during 2011, eventually becoming the most popular app in the whole iTunes App Store.

During March and April 2012, Instagram has never been ranked lower than the top 35 overall app in English-speaking countries. In Australia, the U.S. and Canada, it never dropped out of the top 25 during the same time.

Meanwhile, in Italy, Instagram followed the same general pattern as in the U.S. over the past year, but in France, Germany, China and Korea, it lagged behind in popularity when compared with the U.S. Instagram has been fairly popular through the entire period in Japan, but its popularity grew less there over the year than it did elsewhere, with its average monthly rank between 35 and 85.

In Japan, Italy and Australia, Instagram became a top 10 app within a month of its launch. In Germany, the U.S. and Canada, it took around 350 days. The moment it reached that spot coincided with when Instagram announced it reached 10 million users. Twitter sharing had also increased, with over 200,000 pictures posted to the network in one day via Instagram – 14% more than a week prior.

In China, Instagram never made it into the top 10 position. The highest it has been there is #12, which it reached on April 11, 2012.

While most of Distimo’s report looks into iTunes trends, Instagram did launch on Android on April 3, 2012. When Google’s algorithm began ranking the app a few days post-launch, it was already a huge success. By April 6, it was #3 in the U.S. Google Play store. Similar to iPhone trends, the app was most popular in the U.S. and less popular in Korea and China. It never made the top 300 in Korea and ranked #48 in China. In all English-speaking countries and Italy, Instagram reached the #1 spot in days and in France, the Android version became more popular than the iPhone version, reaching spot #9. In Germany, however, Instagram only reached #51.

The industry, media, pundits, and critics alike have been analyzing Instagram’s phenomenal rise over the past months, and debating whether it was worth the $1 billion price tag Facebook paid. Distimo says Instagram certainly “made its mark on the app market,” noting also that Instagram is a new kind of social network – one built entirely from an app. That alone was reason enough for Facebook to take interest, we’d say. Adds Distimo: “Instagram definitely proved the app store economy is something everybody should keep an eye on as the next big thing might just come from an app store.”


The Rise Of Instagram: Tracking The App’s Spread Worldwide

Ustream For Android Hits 2.5M Downloads, Rolls Out Ad-Free App For Those Who Pay

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Ustream is celebrating reaching 2.5 million downloads of its Android app today with the release of a major new version, Ustream 2.0. It’s been a long time coming for Ustream to hit this milestone – the original Android app was launched back in 2009, and the Android tablet version arrived just last year.

With the update, the company is finally providing a way for users to disable the banner ads within the app – news whose timing is critical, given the recent reports about Android ads and the related battery drains.

Explains Ustream of its in-app ads: “to maintain its development, the app is supported by unobtrusive banner ads appearing at the bottom of some screens.”

How “unobtrusive” those ads may be, however, is certainly subjective.

And with the report (PDF) that ads in these so-called “free” Android apps drain the phone’s battery at incredible rates – some even use twice the power they actually need to operate – any ad-disabling option will be a welcome addition for regular users.

Starting today, Ustream users can choose to purchase a premium membership, available to buy both in the app and on Ustream’s website, in order to have access to an entirely ad-free version.

While that’s the biggest news with Ustream 2.0, the app has also received a makeover as well as a new “quick broadcast” widget, as a part of the overhaul.

The updated user interface now offers a dark theme, and supports device rotation to landscape mode, swiping-based navigation, an improved “actionbar” (the screen header) functionality and other minor improvements.

Also new is a “Quick Broadcast” widget which Android users can place directly on their homescreen. When you see something you want to record, just tap the widget to immediately begin live streaming.

Although of lesser importance to stateside users, but of strategic importance to the company itself, version 2.0 of the Android app now supports the Korean language too, in addition to English and Japanese. This comes on the heels of last week’s announcement of Ustream’s launch in Korea. The company had partnered last fall with KT Corporation, a leading telecommunications provider in South Korea, while simultaneously raising an additional $10 million funding round from Japanese telecom provider Softbank. Korea is the second non-English platform for the company, following Ustream Asia, which launched in January 2010.

The updated version of Ustream for Android will roll out to the Android Market Google Play store today. For those who already have the app installed, just check for updates.


Ustream For Android Hits 2.5M Downloads, Rolls Out Ad-Free App For Those Who Pay

A 4.6-Inch iPhone With 4G LTE? I’d Buy That

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Alright. So you have your new iPad. You’re breathing easy knowing that the hectic, crazy part is over and you can simply relax and browse the interwebs on that stunning Retina display.

But not so fast. The iPhone rumor mill started picking up the pace before the iPad was even announced, and now that big brother tablet is out and about, speculation is revving up. Today, the rumors include a 4.6-inch Retina display on the next-gen iPhone, as well as 4G LTE connectivity.

Pulling from a Korean newspaper called Maeil Business Newspaper, Reuters is reporting that “Apple has decided on the bigger 4.6-inch display for its next iPhone and started placing orders to its suppliers.” By suppliers, we assume that references LG and Samsung within Korea, but the unnamed sources declined to confirm.

There are also rumors of a 4-inch iPhone display that have been swirling around for much longer. This I feel a bit more comfortable reporting on. Making a 4.6-inch display would mean that the size of the iPhone itself would be much larger than it currently is. John Gruber of Daring Fireball agrees with me:

Longer and wider? Sounds like bullshit. I can see Apple putting a bigger display on a device of the same size. I can’t see them making a bigger device.

A 4-inch display could possibly fit on to the iPhone at its current size, especially considering the fact that the next-gen precious will probably undergo a redesign of some sort.

Then we have the matter of 4G LTE connectivity to deal with. This is pretty… duh. If Apple felt comfortable enough to put LTE on the iPad, they should feel alright about slapping it in the iPhone. Of course, by the time the iPhone launches, AT&T’s 4G LTE network should be much more built out, and Verizon’s should be much more reliable.

But if connecting the dots doesn’t seem firm enough for you, the folks over at iDownloadBlog have something a bit more substantial. After receiving screenshots and detailed information from iOS 5.1 from a tipster, they replicated the 5.1 jailbreak on an iPhone 4 using iFile.

Come to find, certain strings in iOS 5.1 (which do not reside in iOS 5.0.1) make reference to 4G LTE connectivity. Yeah, yeah, I know. The iPad has 4G LTE and runs iOS 5.1, so of course there will be mention of 4G. But, before you rush to the comments section to call me an idiot, check out this screen grab:

“Enabling 4G will end your phone call. Are you sure you want to enable 4G?”

I’m sure, Apple. Let’s do this.


A 4.6-Inch iPhone With 4G LTE? I’d Buy That

Samsung Galaxy S III To Launch In April?

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While not launching the next Samsung flagship at MWC in Barcelona was probably the right choice for Samsung, that doesn’t change the fact that we’re itching with anticipation over when the Galaxy S III will show its pretty little edge-to-edge face.

We know most of the specs (well, rumored ones at least), which means we know we’ll see a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, a quad-core Samsung Exynos CPU running at 1.5GHz, and a little 4G LTE icon. What we don’t know, however, is when we’ll see any of this.

But reports are now leaking out of Korea, citing Samsung’s global marketing and advertising agency Cheil Worldwide, claiming that the phone we hate to wait for should show up in April. Things don’t get any more specific than that unfortunately, but this still gives us plenty to work with.

For one thing, we already knew that launch date rumors were circling around the March/April time frame. Secondly, Samsung itself confirmed that the phone would arrive “before Summer,” which leads us to believe that narrowing the launch period down to April seems correct.

We’ve also heard that the S III will launch simultaneously in over 50 major markets, rather than seeing an incremental roll-out like the S II. This means that whatever launch date is given will likely apply to us in the States, instead of Samsung’s home team getting early access.


Samsung Galaxy S III To Launch In April?