News: 7″ Amazon Fire, Microsoft and Samsung sign a deal, Cyanogenmod and Xperia, Google Voice, Google+, Skype, Hipmunk, Google Wallet and more

It’s been a while since the last news update, so this roundup of the most interesting news from the past few weeks covers a lot:

  • 7″ Android-based Amazon Fire tablet was unveiled and will start shipping in US for $199 on Nov 15 . The main selling point besides its low price will be access to the vast library of books, movies and music from Amazon. No 3rd party reviews are available yet, but This Is My Next has some photos and videos from the brief demo. Reportedly, Fire is running highly customized version of Android 2.3, which was originally designed for phones. Android apps can be installed via Amazon Appstore. Notably absent are any Google services, such as Android Market, Maps, Gmail.
  • Microsoft and Samsung signed a cross-licensing deal. The details are confidential, but reportedly Microsoft will receive royalties for Samsung’s Android-based smartphones and tablets. Another major Android manufacturer, HTC previously signed a similar deal with Microsoft.
  • Most popular custom Android ROM Cyanogenmod will support all 2010 and 2011 Xperia phones, such as Xperia Arc and Xperia Play. Coupled with unlocked bootloaders, this makes Sony Ericson one of the most mod friendly Android manufacturers.
  • Google Wallet was launched for Sprint Nexus 4G. It is a new tap-to-pay service that allows storing credit card information on the Android phone and making payments using the phone.
  • Hipmunk for Android has launched. Hipmunk is the easy way to search for flights and hotels.
  • Google Voice for Android update fixed the annoying self-pause and delayed notifications bugs.
  • Google+ signups are now open to everyone. Google+ for Android added a lot of features including hangouts (video chat with up to 10 participants) support.
  • Skype 2.5 added official support for video calling for 14 more Android devices. Click on More button under the app description for the full list of supported devices. Generally, video calling should work on any Android 2.2+ device, but on devices not officially supported it needs to be enabled in the settings.
  • Voice Actions for Android now available in UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. Voice Actions can be used to speak into your Android phone and dictate texts and emails, get directions and launch turn-by-turn navigation, listen to music, set alarm clock, call businesses and contacts, and browse the web.
  • Nielsen published a list of Top 20 Android apps by active reach in the US. Top 5 apps: Google Maps, Gmail, Facebook, Google Search and Youtube.
  • For new users, Spotify now requires a Facebook account to sign up.
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