Google Surprises Android With KitKat

Android KitKat

Google names each Android operating system with the name of a dessert in ascending alphabetical order. Previously Android 4.4 was scheduled to be named Key Lime Pie but today Google announced that instead it will be named KitKat. The Verge has the story behind the decision for this delicious partnership:

There’s no exchange of money involved, but there is a significant promotional element: 50 million KitKat bars in 19 countries will have prominent Android branding and offer buyers the chance to win a Nexus 7 tablet and Google Play gift cards. All those wrappers started production two months ago in secret so they would be ready for the promotion; not even Google employees knew about the new name. “We kept calling the name Key Lime Pie internally and even when we referred to it with partners,” Lagerling told the BBC. Adding to the air of intrigue, Nestle is commemorating the partnership with 500 specially-produced KitKats in the shape of the Android logo that the company claims took “weeks” to create in “a secret location in Europe.”

But secret meetings in Barcelona and commemorative chocolates aside, the deal did have some wrinkles. Nestle owns and control the KitKat brand throughout the world, but Hershey’s licenses the brand and manufactures the candy in the United States — obviously a key market for Google and Android. As the deal began to take shape with Nestle, Google also had to reach out to Hershey’s and work out an arrangement. And while sources say the final deal is entirely between Google and Nestle, Hershey’s KitKats and new KitKat minis in the United States will indeed carry the Android logo and giveaway information.

So why the name change? A Google spokesperson tells The Verge that KitKats have long been Android engineering head Hiroshi Lockheimer’s favorite candy bar — his Gmail avatar was a KitKat icon several years ago. At one point in 2010, the Android team even decorated Lockheimer’s entire office door with KitKats, pictured here. Given the wide variety of new wrappers and branding that will appear on KitKats throughout the world, it appears that another opportunity will soon be well at hand.

Well, I do like KitKats more than Key Lime Pie so I’m fine with the change. I had wished for a very slight difference under J, instead of jelly bean. Approaching the 50th Anniversary year of Doctor Who I had thought the obvious choice for J would be jelly bellies. That would also go along with the start-up animation on my rooted Galaxy Nexus: The TARDIS flying in the time vortex.

Now that K is settled we can start looking forward to L. I suspect lime is out. Will it be lemon drops, lollipop,  licorice, or something else?

Turning the Nook Tablet Into A True Android Tablet

The announcement of Amazon’s plans to sell the Kindle Fire at only $199 created hopes of an inexpensive yet useful Android tablet becoming available. The hopes did come true, but not from Amazon. While the Fire has many problems, which Amazon is promising to fix, the real bargain in Android tablets came from Barnes& Noble.  The Nook comes with both more internal memory than the Fire plus allows use of internal memory cards to expand this further.It’s benefits are well worth the price which is $50 higher.

Both the Fire and Nook are being sold at loses in the hopes of promoting additional sales. While I greatly prefer the Nook, I actually spend many times more money as a member of Amazon Prime than I do at Barnes & Noble. I have been using a black and white Nook as my main eb0ok reader for the last several months because, wanting to avoid being limited to any one company’s device, I found that it is easy to side load ebooks from any source onto the Nook (using Calibre to convert to epub format if necessary). It didn’t take long to find that downloading an Android program with the browser provided access to a hidden menu option to allow side loading of programs from outside sources to the Nook. I quickly added the Amazon Market, as well as the Amazon programs to play the free Prime videos and all the music in Amazon’s cloud where I have unlimited storage. (The increase in storage for the year came with the purchase of a single album at the cost of $1.)

This already provided an Android device capable of handling my material from Amazon and other sources far better than the Kindle Fire was capable of. I also added many other programs, including ones from the Android Market and ones copies from my Droid. I added a custom launcher, and found a program to ensure that my launcher loads instead of the stock Barnes & Noble one. The built-in browser is ok, but it is an even more powerful (and fast) browser after adding Dolphin.

This was all done quickly without rooting the Nook Tablet. It is possible to have a useful Android tablet with rooting, but rooting provides far more. Rooting was necessary to add all of Google’s material, including their Market, and to add custom keyboards, making this a full Android tablet. Amazon did set their video player so that it will not stream free Prime movies on a rooted device. I’m not sure why as someone’s  goal was to try to capture the videos I would think this would be far easier to accomplish when playing on a pc as opposed to a small tablet. Regardless, there are two ways around this. The videos will play in the browser regardless of whether the tablet is rooted, and the program OTA RootKeeper, which is available on the Market will temporarily unroot an Android device. Netflix and Hulu Plus work well, regardless of whether it is rooted. HBO GO isn’t working, but I believe that is a common problem with all Honeycomb devices. I’ve read claims that getting this to work is a high priority at Barnes & Nobel

It takes a little work to download and install these programs, many of which can be found through the xda developers forum, but it is well worth the effort if you desire a powerful Android tablet for only $250.

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Sarah Palin Almost Makes Sense In Her Attack On Mitt Romney

Sarah Palin is not right very often, but I will give her credit for some consistency in her (limited) thought process here.  I’ve often criticized Ron Paul for supporting limitations on the federal government while promoting a states’ rights view which could lead to increased restrictions on civil liberties on the state or local level. Mitt Romney has been trying to get away with attacking Barack Obama’s health care plan, which is largely modeled on Romneys health care plan in Massachusetts, by arguing that a mandate is okay on a state level but not on a national level. If, for the sake of discussion, you accept Palin’s opposition to mandates (a view I’m not entirely unsympathetic towards) at least she is brighter than Romney. If you outright oppose a mandate, then you should oppose the individual mandate regardless of whether it is imposed by a state or the federal government.Palin attacked Romney before he announced he is running:

“In my opinion, any mandate coming from government is not a good thing, so obviously … there will be more the explanation coming from former governor, Romney, on his support for government mandates,” Palin told reporters today.

When a reporter followed up that Romney has distinguished his state mandate from the federal one President Obama signed into law in 2010, Palin responded that even state mandates are problematic.

“He makes a good argument there that it does. States rights and authority and responsibility allowed in our states makes more sense than a big centralized government telling us what to do,” she said.

“However, even on a state level and even a local level, mandates coming from a governing body, it’s tough for a lot of us independent Americans to accept, because we have great faith in the private sectors and our own families … and our own businessmen and women making decisions for ourselves. Not any level of government telling us what to do.”

Of course there is still the problem that her ideas will do nothing to solve the health care crisis. I’d have far more respect for her if she opposed the mandate out of principle, but promoted an alternative  solution which would actually work. It is possible to do, but any solution would still require more government action and regulation of insurance companies than Palin would ever accept.

Attacking Romney today led to speculation that Palin does still plan to run,  but this is hardly conclusive proof. She might plan to run, but there is also another plausible explanation. Palin is primarily interested in publicity which increases her income. Leading people to believe she still plans to run keeps her in the news, and she has no qualms about making news by attacking her party’s front runner.

Actually Jay Leno had a pretty good idea in putting  both Romney and Palin on the same ticket:

“I think Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin would be the perfect ticket. She can’t answer basic questions, and he has two answers for every question.”

Xoom A Flop So Far

Business Insider reports that the Xoom is a flop with only 100,000 selling so far. Personally I’d wait longer before buying any tablet because I expect more powerful, less expensive ones to be out in the next several months. That’s the advantage of an open system, but also means it will take longer for a lot of people to buy one. However, if it is a flop, they could always sell it at a loss and I’d pick up a cheap one now.

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