Hottest Android news and rumors for the week ending August 31

The 'verdict' didn't help the Android cause

It's fair to say that the verdict in the landmark Samsung vs. Apple case could have been better for the Android manufacturer, as the jury dealt it a billion-dollar blow. Many pundits are already saying that the case could have broad ramifications for the rest of the Android world, scaring off hardware makers that couldn't absorb such a whopping judgment as easily as Samsung and forcing product redesigns that avoid potentially damaging legal trouble.

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

IN PICTURES: 18 great IT tools for Android

Despite losing a reported $12 billion in market value as a result of the case, however, Samsung's already getting back up off the mat. Numerous questions have been raised about the validity of the jury's verdict, based on public statements from jurors like foreman Velvin Hogan - who admitted that prior art, the foundation of Samsung's case, wasn't even considered. There are other potential problems with the verdict, most of them centering on the jury's possible disregard of Judge Lucy Koh's instructions. (Groklaw, though it can't really be called a neutral source, nevertheless has an excellent write-up of the flaws in the decision.)

An appeal hearing on Dec. 6 will be one to watch - Judge Koh will hear argument on both Apple's injunction against the sale of eight Android devices, as well as Samsung's motion to override the jury's verdict. __________________________________________

Samsung marches on, however, debuting the Galaxy Note 2 as well as a new Windows Phone 8 device at the IFA conference in Berlin this week. Mercifully, the company seems to have altered the Note 2's (ugh) phablet form factor slightly, thinning out the bezel to make the device narrower while simultaneously adding screen real estate. (It's also got slightly lower screen resolution.)

But hey - it runs Android 4.1 (a.k.a. Jelly Bean), so what's not to like? Besides the word "phablet?" According to Android Guys, the Galaxy Note 2 will come to Europe in October and the U.S. before the end of the year.

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Speaking of Jelly Bean, the long wait for Verizon Galaxy Nexus users could be coming to an end - a pre-release version of Jelly Bean for the device has appeared in the wild, Droid Life reported. While Verizon hasn't made any official statement, this could well be a final testing phase before the official update is rolled out. Hey, it's only two months late, right?

Samsung also announced this week that it would be updating the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note 10.1 to the latest version of Android "very soon."

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A new set of Intel-powered Android devices are coming to European markets in September, including a Motorola offering that is said to be the first product in a long-term deal between the two companies, according to AllThingsD's Ina Fried. Reuters says that Chinese manufacturer ZTE is also planning to release an Intel-based Android phone for the European market, based on the company's existing Grand X devices, ZDNet says.

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The first update to the Google Now Android assistant was announced Wednesday night, adding sports information, movie details and emergency alerts.

I'm a little surprised they didn't just have Google Now mine my search history to add teams automatically - I'm pretty sure that this would have, accurately, led the system to conclude that I like the Boston Bruins quite a lot - but I guess it's nice that they opted for manual addition of sports teams. It's a lot less creepy. (FYI: Some teams are listed under weird names like "Foxborough New England Revolution.")

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Amazon's app store is now available in the U.K., France, Spain, Germany and Italy, giving Android users in those countries a new way to download Angry Birds - as well as paving the way for its presumptive release of the Kindle Fire 2 on Sept. 6.

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

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