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Hottest Google Android news and rumors for the week ending Oct. 19

It's always fun when you have a good idea of how the weekly Android roundup is going to look, and then Google throws something at you late and you get to completely restructure it.

LAST WEEK: Hottest Android news and rumors for the week ending Oct. 12

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That happened last night, when Google's colorful media invites fluttered into the inboxes of media types around the globe, announcing that there would be a seemingly major event taking place on the morning of Oct. 29 in New York. Everyone quickly reached a general consensus that it will herald the arrival of the new LG Nexus 4, based in part on an earlier leak to that effect first published, interestingly enough, by the French newspaper Le Figaro.

I'm a big fan of Nexus phones -- vendor-skinned versions of Android are often riddled with terrible bloatware that I never use, plagued by "change for the sake of change" modifications to the vanilla Android user experience, or both. Belarusian website the Onliner (at least, I think that's its name) apparently got its hands on a prototype earlier this month.

A Nexus 4, boasting Android 4.2 and hardware similar to manufacturer LG's own estimable Optimus G, would help cement LG's re-entry into the top echelons of the Android world. If the company could just get sued by Apple, it would really have it made.

That said, the event invitation's wording ("The playground is open") seems designed to make me think that this event will be headlined by news from the Google Play store -- the Goog has done some serious work on the Play store recently, launching a browser-based reader for magazine content and updating in-app purchasing and carrier billing features.

Still, it's probably just a reference to the openness of the Android ecosystem. Like pretty much everyone else, then, I'll be looking for an LG Nexus 4 on Oct. 29.

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Rumors continue to swirl around the possibility of an entry-level version of the Nexus 7 tablet, which, according to the latest from DigiTimes, will use a single-core processor and a cheaper display to knock the cost all the way down to $99. While I agree with Android and Me founder Taylor Wimberly that it's not something I'd be into, he also points out that it could help grow the Android tablet user base.

Personally, I think if you dumb down the hardware on these things too much, you compromise the experience too badly for them to have much appeal -- tablets aren't a necessary part of daily life and productivity like phones, they're mostly luxury devices at this point. But meh, it's all speculation at this point anyway.

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American Galaxy S III owners excited for a Jelly Bean update might have to wait awhile longer. Despite the newest Android version being rolled out across Europe, the Examiner reported that U.S. GS III users likely won't get the update until 2013. Drag. (Hat tip: Android Central.)

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The HTC J Butterfly is an Android smartphone being released in Japan that has a 5-inch, 1920x1080 display. That's better resolution than I had on my main PC monitor until like last year, and at that size, that means a pixel density of 440 ppi. For comparison, the highest-ppi version of Apple's much-ballyhooed Retina display is 326 (iPhone 5, latest-generation iPod Touch.) While I still think HTC needs some work on naming its devices, it clearly needs no help with making wildly impressive displays.

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Apparently, the relationship between Samsung and Apple isn't very good. I, for one, am terribly shocked. What's next, is someone going to tell me that Linus Torvalds is less than diplomatic at all times?

(Hat tip: The Next Web.)

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On that note, the BBC reports that a U.K. appeals court has denied Apple's contention that the Samsung Galaxy Tab infringes on its copyrights, complete with (presumably straight-faced) statements from judges, noting that the Apple logo is on the back, while the Samsung logo is on the front and other such weighty legal matters.

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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