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Android news and rumor roundup for the week ending Aug. 24

Releasing a new flagship Android device within even a few weeks of the upcoming iPhone 5 is probably not the greatest idea in the world, and that has cut into the amount of blockbuster Android goodness you can expect from this column. Nevertheless, plenty is going on in the world of Google Android.

MORE MOBILE: 100 million tablets to ship in 2012: report

LAST WEEK'S ROUNDUP: Android news and rumor roundup for the week ending Aug. 17

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The exception to that rule is Amazon, which may be planning to announce a 7-inch successor to the Kindle Fire and a brand-new 10-inch device on Sept. 6. 

That's pretty brave, but Amazon definitely has its work cut out for it, given the success of the Google/Asus Nexus 7 on what was the Kindle Fire's home turf and the continuing rumors that a mini-iPad will hit the shelves by October. Maybe precipitate action was called for.

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Rather than rolling out completely new designs, Samsung's apparently planning to release modified versions of existing Android phones -- a smaller, cheaper Galaxy S III and a bigger, badder Galaxy S II. The ever-industrious SamMobile site reported earlier this week that the GS III mini will "try to fight the Apple iPhone 4S with a 5-megapixel camera, dual-core processor and 4.0" Super AMOLED screen with WVGA resolution," and cost a relatively reasonable $300, presumably unlocked. The hypothetical overhauled edition of the Galaxy S II was not detailed by SamMobile, but both are apparently slated for release at the end of 2012.

Personally, I'm having trouble seeing the point of an upgraded Galaxy S II -- couldn't you just get an S III? -- but the mini GS III sounds like it could be a winner, particularly if the price is right.

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LG, for its part, isn't even bothering to tinker with its re-releases -- the Optimus Vu ... sigh ... phablet is rumored to be coming to America as the LG Intuition, according to a report from Droid Life. The 5-inch not-quite-a-phone-not-quite-a-tablet will cost $199 with a two-year deal on Verizon.

The original Vu's stylus might not make it to the U.S., according to Engadget.

UnwiredView says it'll have 1024x768 resolution, 32GB of storage, 1GB of RAM and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor. Oh, and it should have Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box. Solid stats, but I remain unconvinced by the odd "tweener" form factor.

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But that's not all LG is up to -- rumor has it that the Korean company will show off a new Optimus G smartphone next month at Berlin's IFA trade show, according to Pocket Droid. Citing a report from Asia Today, the publication says that the Optimus G could be a real flagship phone, with 2GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 4.7-inch True HD screen.

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Some news that I think we can all agree is pretty excellent -- Google's bringing its semi-skippable "TrueView" YouTube ads to the Android platform. "TrueView," if you weren't aware, is the ad platform that offers you the option to skip ads after watching the first five seconds or so, so you can hear about some new pharmaceutical without having to listen to an actor list its various side effects for 25 seconds. While I personally think even five seconds of pre-roll ad is pretty irritating, it's better than the alternative, I guess.

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For the ROMantics -- sorry, but Motorola announced on Twitter that its boot-unlocking plans don't extend to older phones like the Droid Bionic and Droid 3. In fact, the only devices that ARE supported, according to a Moto help page, are the Photon Q LTE on Sprint, RAZR developer edition in Europe, Xoom on Verizon and Xoom Wi-Fi. Still, this could ensure that entertaining bounty programs -- like the one that eventually awarded more than $3,800 to the developer that cracked the Verizon Galaxy S III's bootloader -- continue to spring up.

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Facebook released a new version of its official Android app this week, adding event creation and a better photo uploader. Oh, and improved Emoji. Now sharing all your personal information is more fun than ever!

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

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.


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