Verizon, Sprint Update Four Android Smartphones; Galaxy Note Up Next

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Sprint and Verizon both announced minor software updates to several of their handsets on Monday. These handsets included Sprint's years-old Evo 3D (which recently got an upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich), and Verizon's HTC Rezound, Droid Incredible 2, and LG Spectrum. The software updates patch minor bugs, and in some cases add new features to the older handsets.

Meanwhile, Samsung has begun rolling out an Android operating system upgrade to the international Galaxy Note "phablet," which adds substantial new features and performance. This update is so far only being deployed in Germany, but according to David Ruddock of the Android Police blog, this is "quite typical of Samsung's OTA [over the air] distribution practices," in which it tests updates in the German market first. David expects that the update will "be rolled out on a wider basis … in the coming weeks."

The Sprint update

The HTC Evo 3D was set apart by its 3D camera when it debuted almost two years ago on Sprint's network. It's since made its way to prepaid carrier Virgin Mobile, although there's no announcement of an update on Virgin's network.

According to Sprint, the update includes a "Sprint Connection Optimizer." This periodically scans for WiFi signals and may load itself when you don't want it to. It also fixes bugs involving how long it takes to load the text messaging app, and how AVI movies couldn't be streamed from your computer through DLNA.

The Verizon updates

The HTC Rezound and Droid Incredible 2 are getting an unspecified "HTC Device Enhancement." Verizon won't say what it does, but "Verizon Wireless and HTC encourage you to download this upgrade."

Verizon's information about the LG Spectrum update is a little more specific. This update adds the feature to reject incoming calls, will let you take pictures while making a call, adds "Improved dialer performance," and removes a number of previously impossible-to-uninstall Verizon apps, such as the long-defunct V CAST Apps store. This will free up space on the phone and its app launcher.

The Samsung Galaxy Note update

The original "Phablet," the Samsung Galaxy Note has been stuck on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich for a while now. Samsung confirmed in December than an upgrade would bring it features previously reserved to the Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S III, called the "Premium Suite," including a popup note-taking app and the ability to run two apps at once. The premium suite also includes an upgrade to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which uses Google's "Project Butter" technology to make the device run more smoothly.

Samsung hasn't announced when the U.S. update will be available, but again, it's now being rolled out internationally.

Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.

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