Hottest Android news and rumours for the week ending Dec. 7

The latest Android news and rumours

Is HTC going to turn its recent run of strong releases into meaningful, long-term pressure on Android market leader Samsung? It's certainly starting to look that way, thanks to a new burst of rumors about the Taiwanese company's possible M7 flagship being set for a March release - which could mean that it beats the heavily hyped Samsung Galaxy S IV to market.

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Chinese-language website Inpai.com reported that the M7 will be one of two new flagship phones from HTC coming out next year. The M7, according to Inpai, will sport a 5-inch HD screen, one-piece metal unibody construction, and a quad-core Snapdragon processor, while the second device - due sometime in the first or second quarter - will be the first phone to use Nvidia's Tegra 4 system-on-a-chip.

If this all turns out to be more or less correct, the M7 could easily prove to be the latest in HTC's recent line of impressive new flagship-class Android phones. Both the AT&T-exclusive One X Plus and Verizon-exclusive Droid DNA provoked plenty of "oohs" and "aahs" at launch. But the sharp reversal of fortune the company's hoping for hasn't yet materialized (though it's still early,) so what gives?

If you'll excuse the pun, my sense is that HTC has been lacking in branding and marketing savvy for some time. The recent hire of a new chief marketing officer in Benjamin Ho, however, signals that the company may be starting to pay more attention to such concerns.

Personally, I hope HTC's sales start gaining steam - if for no other reason than to make the Android smartphone market just that little bit more competitive.

(Hat tip: HTCSource.com)

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The M7, however, might have its work cut out for it competing against the Samsung Galaxy S IV, which, appropriately enough, seems to have the busiest rumor mill this side of the iPhone. It'll have an eight-core processor, says IBTimes. It'll have a 1080p screen, or maybe a 720p one, according to whichever Asian rumor site you believe! Nothing new is actually known, of course, but the Galaxy S IV continues to stir a lot of gossip.

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Also, Samsung's just opened its first showroom/retail store in Paris, which means that you've got options for getting your fix for swoopy, quasi-futuristic design beyond Le Defense and the Apple Store next time you're in the City of Lights.

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Nokia swears it's not planning to expand its Android operations, according to a spokesperson's tweet. "Our recently posted job is linked to our HERE maps support for other platforms," said Doug Dawson. The company remains focused on Windows Phone projects.

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Speaking of Windows, Microsoft targeted Android on social media this week with a campaign aimed at getting the hashtag "#DroidRage" trending. It was about as successful as you might expect, given Redmond's well-known skill at managing its public image.

Still, it could've been worse.

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Google Now is getting even more creepily involved in your every move, this time with an update that automatically calls up a host of travel information, including your boarding pass, as soon as it detects that you're heading to the airport. No word on whether it nags you about forgetting your cell phone charger.

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Finally, Google set a date for next year's Google I/O developers conference - it'll take place May 15 at its usual place in the Moscone Center in San Francisco. While there's been no confirmation of this, many are saying that Google will use the opportunity to launch Android 5.0, also known (almost certainly) as Key Lime Pie.

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

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