Your Samsung Galaxy Note 2 could already have SwiftKey Flow [VIDEO]

If you haven’t already heard the exciting news, the Verizon Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has launched today. As excited as I was to get the phone and start playing with it from now until whenever, I didn’t think the keyboard would be the one thing to grab me: Samsung’s keyboard is actually outfitted with SwiftKey Flow technology out of the box.

SwiftKey Flow was announced late last month, but as of now users can’t even get it in beta form, let alone on the Google Play Store. Samsung seems to have pulled the same stunt they did with Swype way back when, though, and got SwiftKey to implement trace-typing functionality into its own keyboard.

This keyboard obviously has its own Samsung-infused flavor, but you can expect SwiftKey’s offering to be much different once it hits the Google Play Store. We wanted to get an idea of what’s to come, though, and this was about as early of a look as we could have hoped for outside of SwiftKey’s own promo video for Flow.

We’re curious, though: does your Samsung Galaxy Note 2 offer the same functionality? We’ve been hearing mixed results as some people say the option presents itself in the Language and Input menu but doesn’t actually work. Some people were as surprised as we were to see the option, while others claim to have had it since the device launched.

Whatever the case may be, we’ve had nothing but trouble trying to find a hands-on video outside of the official SwiftKey Flow promo so we decided to record our own. You can be sure that we’ll have an early look at the Play Store version of SwiftKey Flow once it launches sometime down the line, but for now this is just a teaser of what you can expect in the future.

Let us know if your Galaxy Note 2′s keyboard has this feature in the comments section below as we’re curious to see why we’re hearing so many different things from the community. Be sure that you aren’t looking at Swype as that is an entirely different keyboard altogether.

Simple Wedding Invitations

I remember the days when my parents received wedding invitations. They were in slightly larger envelopes than normal. They had the family names, the future bride and groom and sometimes driving instructions to the church and reception, that’s it. These days, you get an invitation and you’d think two heads of state are uniting their nations. The envelope resembles a package and contains a dozen items. They have parchment, tissue, cardboard etc. It’s like a catalog of from a stationer. Tell me this has nothing to do with those things with the pictures of presidents on them and I’ll tell you you nuts.

New Nexus 4, 7, and 10 owners: Don’t forget your free movies, TV shows, music, and magazines

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Just a heads up for all you brand new Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 users out there. While Google’s $25 Google Play credit may have expired back in September, ‘ol Googs is still nice enough to give you guys some complimentary free goodies by way of a movie and television show download/streams (depending on your part of the world), along with a random assortment of magazines and music.

If you’re in the US, head on over to your Play Movies & TV apps to find the full length movie, Transformers: Dark of the Moon available for download/streaming, along with the 2-hour series premier of Falling Skies and an episode of Planet Earth (Nexus 4 only). The Nexus 7 and 10 swap Transformers for Ice Age, and somehow lose Falling Skies in the mix.

If you didn’t get stuck with the puny 8GB Nexus 4/7 models, you can even “pin” these videos and download ‘em straight to your device. While it may be nice to watch without an active data connection, keep in mind Transformers alone will take up a whopping 2.7GB of storage space. Thank, god for streaming.

When it comes to music and magazines, you’ll find a handful of artists (you probably never heard of), and a few magazines too. Just jump into Play Music and Play Magazines to find them already waiting for you. If Google added Cheers.

Thanks, Molo!

Google releases Android 4.2.1 factory images for Nexus devices

Just as the Android code guru with a three letter name promised, Android 4.2.1 factory images are now available for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 as well as the GSM version of the Galaxy Nexus. The release comes about 48 hours after the Jelly Bean update first started making its way to owners of the Google-branded devices. The source code was made available the same day as part of the Android Open Source Project.

Also available are Android 4.2.1 binaries for the Nexus 10, Nexus 7, and both the “toro” (Verizon) and “maguro” (GSM) versions of the Galaxy Nexus. Oddly, there is no binary available for the Nexus 4 at this time. We’re guessing that version will be available shortly.

While the newly available resources might not be immediately useful, a factory image is always a good thing to keep around should you run into any trouble with your device (especially if you are the type to root and tinker). It will make restoring your handset or tablet to working order a much easier process.

iLumi looking for funding for Android-controlled LED bulbs

We’ve seen the Phillips Hue, watched as the LIFX bulb achieved its funding goal, but there is one more contender to consider when it comes to intelligent LED lighting. iLumi has just announced a new intelligent LED bulb, which is seeking backers via IndiaGoGo.

Based around the company’s HyperLux LED technology, the bulbs, which pair with an Android or iOS smartphone app, will be available as both 100 watt and 60 watt replacement options, but will do much more than your average lamp.

Not only does the bulb provide access to millions of color and brightness combinations with a few swipes via an “intuitive interface”, but other features such as proximity recognition (automatically turning on when you enter a room), light-based notifications (your room light can change color or blink to notify you of things like weather and incoming calls, email, and texts), and the ability to support a network of up to 100 bulbs. Your whole home is covered.

iLumi supports Bluetooth and Bluetooth LE, a departure from other bulbs that tie into a home WiFi network. This does offer some distinct advantages over other brands, such as portability and lower energy consumption. The bulbs start at $59 but are listed with an expected lifespan of 20 years, meaning you might pay more up front than you would for a traditional bulb, but over time the iLumi intelligent lighting system will provide plenty of savings.

We’re excited about the future of smart LED lighting, but it has had a bit of a slow start due to pricing and a lack of familiarity with the technology. It’s nice to see another option coming to market, and one that offers a several distinct features. You can never have too many to choose from. Provided their funding goal of $100,000 is reached, the iLumi bulb will ship in April of 2013.

[via iLumi]

20 new levels added to Angry Birds Star Wars in icy “Hoth” upgrade; Princess Leia makes her debut

Well that was fast, wasn’t it? Rovio has already issued the first Angry Birds Star Wars update since the game arrived for Android about a month ago, and it comes with some great new content for the low, low price of free. This update takes you to the planet “Hoth,” an icy block of intergalactic importance for Jedi birds and Imperial pigs to fight on.

This update adds 20 new levels to sink your teeth into, but that’s not all. The rebel birds, running away from Darth Vader’s wrath, have a trump card up their sleeves (erm… feathers?) that might be too much for the evil lord’s AT-ATs and Pigtroopers — Princess Leia.

Leia (whose hair buns remind me of delicious cinnamon buns) will bring a force of power so devastating that will have even Darth Vader returning to the drawing board to plan his next move. Her eyes emit lasers so powerful that it makes AT-ATs crumble at the knees and renders them useless.

She’ll be an exciting new bird to take control of as the rebels defend their icy hideaway on planet Hoth. Rovio always seems to find a way to do just enough to make sure Angry Birds doesn’t get stale, and this update is no exception. If you haven’t already downloaded Angry Birds Star Wars then stop reading now and get over to the Google Play Store! Watch the trailer above.

Feed your nostalgia with today’s release of Jet Set Radio for Android

Sega gave us a pretty early heads up that it was coming, but the wait is over and you spray-painting bladers can get to town. I’m talking about none other than the re-release of Jet Set Radio for Android. This Dreamcast original was one of Sega’s finest titles back when the console was still relevant, and while the series proved thin for sequels many still stand by its fun music-pumped gameplay.

The overall goal is to claim areas of Tokyo-to by tagging them as any hoodlum would, all the while treating the world as your skate park as you grind on railings, steps and do more tricks with the inline skates sitting on your feet. You can tag areas with many of the game’s presets, or create your own if you want to express yourself even more freely.

You can also recruit more than 10 different members to your gang and have them tag it up with their own style. Police don’t take kindly to any of this, though, so you’ll also be looking to evade them as you make your presence known to your rivals.

Sega says 29 out of the original 30 tracks are still in the game, though they weren’t interested in telling us which track was left out. We’re sure licensing issues are to blame, but 29 out of 30 is still great and it will do well to help restore fond memories of sweeter gaming days.

The $5 asking price is not unreasonable for a decent port so we’re sure a few of you diehards won’t have a problem with getting it from the Google Play Store. Let us know how it’s treating you if you decide to strap the blades on.

Zenonia 5 for Android now available; has multiplayer and oddly requests root access

Gamevil has come to town with another entry in the fabled Zenonia series as Zenonia 5 for Android is now sitting in the Google Play Store. This series has blossomed into one of the best mobile RPGs you can find, and its initial download is available for free in the Google Play Store.

Zenonia 5 introduces four new hero classes for users to choose from, including a wizard, a berserker, a mechanic and a paladin. We can make an educated guess on what those first three classes bring to the table, but the latter is an interesting one that I suppose we’ll have to play with to see what exactly it specializes in.

The storyline reads like your typical “good fighting to overcome evil” theme, but it still has us excited. A land of peace and harmony was only allowed to last for so long until the “elite rich” started abusing their power to bring oppression for the “poor.”

One hero emerges from a small village who is destined to protect their people from those who look to control the world through money and greed. I won’t get into how much this sounds like it’s trying to mirror current events, but the premise is enough to warrant the free 40MB download that you’ll endure in the Play Store.

Zenonia 5 features the same classic action-based combat it’s always had, and global peer-vs-peer gameplay will extend the life of your game even further. I should note that the game strangely requests root access upon initial launch if your device is rooted. I decided to check its permissions to see why it could possibly need such access.

The only thing that stood out was its need to read information about other apps that are running. It could be nothing, but I couldn’t find a solid reason as to why it would need such information. I’ve reached out to Gamevil to see what insight they can provide on this, so be sure to check back here as we’ll be updating this post with anything we can gather. Take a look at the game’s trailer above and check it out for yourself at the source link ahead.

[Google Play Store]

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 now available from Verizon

The “next bit thing” has finally made its way to Verizon, and it only took them all of a month to release it. Verizon subscribers can now get their fill of S Pen action for $300 on a new two-year contract. An Android 4.1 device, the Galaxy Note 2 features a 5.5-inch display, quad-core Exynos CPU, and LTE connectivity.

The Note 2 launched with other US carriers in late October/early November, leaving many to wonder just what took so long for Big Red. If we had to guess, we’d say the HTC Droid DNA was the culprit. Given Verizon’s exclusive on the similarly-specced device, it wouldn’t make sense for the carrier to launch a non-exclusive competitor before milking as many sales of the Droid-branded device as possible.

But here you have it, another option for Verizon users craving the 5-inch experience. Plan on picking on up in store or online today? Awaiting a shipment in the mail? Remember to check out our full review and then head over to the Galaxy Note 2 section at Android Forums to join in on the discussion.