In today’s mobile news roundup: Google Play celebrates its 1st birthday with free apps and discounts; Xperia TaoShan spotted; Galaxy SIV to stick to its plastic roots; and Nokia sold over 200M Lumias in China.
Google Play celebrates 1st birthday with free apps and discounts
Google reinvented the Android Marketplace last year by turning it into the ultimate online shop where people can purchase Google devices, e-books and magazines, movies and TV shows, music, and of course applications for Android devices.
Google Play turns a year old, and its weeklong celebration offers special deals such as free books and music, discounted movies and TV rentals, and even Android-themed additions to some games. The special deals vary from regions or countries. In the US, Gnome Village, Royal Revolt and Yumby Smash have new free levels, discounts on in-app purchases or exclusive characters available for a limited time. Fancy, Hotels.com and Gyft are all offering discounts on in-app purchases or giving away free gift cards to be redeemed in-app as well.
Check out more deals on Google Play’s birthday page.
In other Google news, the Google Play Gift Cards have landed in the UK and consumers can now purchase the Gift Cards in £10, £25 and £50 denominations in “all” Tesco and Morrisons stores.
See the full news reel below, from this morning’s NewsDesk show with Kristin Feledy:
Xperia TaoShan spotted
Sony is said to be releasing a slew of devices to add to its Xperia line this year. Some of them are already out, with others still in the works.
The Xperia L or the C210X, codenamed TaoShan, has been spotted in the wild and was seen with the following features, a 4.3-inch 480×854 touchscreen, 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 8MP Exmor RS camera, 8GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, and a 1,700 mAh battery. The device will come preinstalled with Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean.
Other Xperia devices in the works such as the C670X will be more powerful than TaoShan with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor with a clock speed of 1.8GHz and an Adreno 320 graphics chip, and will have 2GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage. It will have a 4.8” display with 1080 X 1920 pixel resolution, a 13MP camera and run Android 4.2.
Galaxy SIV to stick to its plastic roots
We’re only a few days away from the Samsung Unpacked 2013 event. If you haven’t seen the teaser with the kid, catch it here.
It was reported that the Galaxy SIV will feature “Eye Scroll,” or the ability to track the user’s eyes to know which way to scroll the page. This is a huge improvement on the SIII’s Smart Stay feature, which allows the screen to stay active as long as the user is looking at the screen because the eye movement is being tracked.
But if you’re expecting the SIV to have a more metallic body like most high end phones such as the iPhone 5 and the HTC One, you’ll be disappointed because Samsung is sticking to its plasticky roots. Samsung argues that the plastic cover in the back makes their devices much durable since it is able to bend and absorb the impact if accidentally dropped. Still, shiny plastic isn’t too nice to look at.
Nokia sold over 200M Lumias in China
A report from Chinese web portal Winp.cn states that Nokia Lumia achieved over 200 million activations in China in the period of December 5 to March 5. The number would have been bigger if the Nokia Lumia 920 had more inventory available to Chinese consumers, but it was frequently out of stock during the period.
The feat was celebrated by Gustavo Eichelmann, Nokia’s global vice president and head of Nokia China, with the Nokia China team.
Sales of Lumia handsets are expected to go even higher, as the Chinese version of the Nokia Lumia 520 and 720 will be coming out in a few weeks.
In other news, the Lumia 720 may be launching in US soon as the device has been spotted “running through the hoops at the FCC,” which is a prerequisite for a device to be deemed appropriate for US sale. The Lumia 720 features a 4.3” display with 480 x 800 pixels, Gorilla Glass 2, microSD, 8GB internal storage, 2GB RAM, 6.7 MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics and LED flash, 1.3MP front camera, runs Windows Phone 8, 1Ghz dual-core Qualcomm processor, and comes in white, red, yellow and cyan/black. It charges wirelessly and has a 3G standby time of 520 hours, 13.4 hours of talk time on 3G, 23.4 hours of talk time on 2G, and can play music up to 79 hours on a single charge.