Android news and rumor roundup for week ending Aug. 10

Is the phablet the next big battleground for Android? And is Ouya going to live up to the hype?

It's been a comparatively slow week in the world of Android, and one almost gets the sense that a lot of major players are starting to batten down the hatches for the rumored release of that other smartphone in about a month. No doubt it's difficult to make a dent in a news cycle featuring the next iPhone.

IF YOU'RE JUST CATCHING UP: Android news and rumor roundup for week ending Aug. 3

Still, remember that I used the word "comparatively." Plenty of rumors have been flying around, not least about the growing competition in what I regret I must refer to as the "phablet" market. (Seriously, if anyone out there has any ideas for a better term to describe mobile devices that fall between a phone and a tablet in size, I'd be all ears. Email me at jgold@nww.com.)

The consensus seems to be that Samsung's planning to roll out its much-anticipated Galaxy Note 2 at the end of this month. A report from the Korea IT Times suggests that it will have a flexible AMOLED display - and before you ask, no, that doesn't mean you can bend it around, while information at GSM Arena indicates a 1.7-GHz Exynos processor and 1.5GB of RAM. (Confusingly, GSM Arena shows an Exynos 5250, but running in a quad-core CPU configuration. Maybe they were talking about the quad-core GPU, instead.)

However, despite earlier rumors that the Galaxy Note 2 would ship with Jelly Bean, several recent stories have suggested that Samsung might actually release the device with Ice Cream Sandwich instead. Laggard OS updates are nothing new to the Android ecosystem, but I can't help echoing Gotta Be Mobile's contention that device makers are "hobbling" their products by putting less-than-latest versions of Android on slick new hardware. Maybe Samsung's just waiting for BlackBerry 10 to come out so they can use that, instead. I'm kidding, of course.

At any rate, HTC is trying desperately to make up ground against Samsung, and the latest rumor is that the Taiwanese company is planning a direct competitor to the Galaxy Note 2. The Droid Guy says that the HTC entry could sport a slightly smaller, but higher-resolution display, up to full 1080p, which would be powered by a Tegra 3 quad-core processor. That would mean a higher-res display than the larger Nexus 7, backed by the same processing power, which would be pretty impressive. DigiTimes says the device could be released in September or October.

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Nobody seems to be able to decide whether the open-source Android-powered gaming console Ouya is going to revolutionize home entertainment or flop like unfortunate Olympic diver Stephen Feck. While there are a brave few who have gone out on a limb to give an unequivocal thumbs up or down on the innovative platform's prospects, their numbers are dwarfed by the sheer volume of "Will Ouya succeed?" stories. Although the Kickstarter project's funding period is over - the console having dramatically overrun its initial goal of $950,000 to raise $8.6 million - we won't actually see the final device until March.

For the moment, I'm going to chicken out and join the "wait and see" brigade - while Ouya has the potential to be a world-beater, a lot of things have to fall into place to make it happen.

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Sprint could release the Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE as soon as Aug. 19, according to a report from Phone Dogs, as Sprint has apparently begun training its staff on the device. So if you're looking for a current-generation smartphone with 4G and a physical keyboard, you're likely to get one soon.

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For the ROMantics - if you've been looking for a way to push OTA updates to rooted devices the same way the carriers do, while avoiding the need for specialized hosting, you're in luck - OTA Update Center just officially launched.

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Verizon GNex Jelly Bean watch - nope. While the upgrade can't be far off, there's still no solid date to be found. Google's got to be getting a little ticked that it's spent all that time touting fast upgrades for Nexus devices, only to have Verizon's slow update process muddy the waters.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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