There's something magical about the idea that, in the space of a few minutes, your smartphone or tablet can look dramatically different and do some cool new things, to boot. That's why operating system updates can be oddly exciting, and Android's latest upgrade -- known as version 5.0 or Lollipop -- is the firmware equivalent of opening a stack of presents on your birthday. The upcoming release, which is now available on the Nexus 9 and heading to dozens of mobile devices in the coming months, brings a fresh design and no shortage of new features. Join me as I unwrap Google's latest gift to the wireless community.

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GERMAN-ELECTRONICS-ENTERTAINMENT-LIFESTYLE-IT-FAIR-IFA

IFA is one of the largest consumer electronics trade shows in the world, and it's also one of the most unique. The annual show, held this week in Berlin, has a knack for announcing new washing machines, sewing machines and kitchen appliances alongside the latest smartphones, smartwatches and tablets. Here at Engadget, we're primarily focused on the latter (though who doesn't love a free fruit smoothie sample from time to time?), and there's a lot to cover. Let's head straight into what new gadgets and devices we can expect to see announced at this week's event.

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Google Developers Event Held In San Francisco

Don't let its DevCon facade fool you: Google I/O has plenty of interesting stuff for everyone. Most of the company's big announcements come during the day one keynote, which we'll be liveblogging tomorrow morning. This year's theme is "Design, Develop, Distribute," a slogan that doesn't reveal any major clues about what we can expect (aside from the fact that Google is focused on new design, which we'll cover in more detail later). But that's what we're here for -- to figure it out! We've compiled a handy guide that discusses what to expect -- and not expect -- to see at San Francisco's Moscone Center this week. Your first order of business should be to bookmark this link and join us on Wednesday at 12PM ET as we liveblog I/O's opening keynote.

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 25:  Visitors take pictures of a new Nokia device during the first day of the Mobile World Congress 2013 at the Fira Gran Via complex on February 25, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. The annual Mobile World Congress hosts some of the world's largest communication companies, with many unveiling their latest phones and gadgets. The show runs from February 25 - February 28.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

If you care about the latest smartphones, you need to pay attention to Mobile World Congress. The annual show will be held in Barcelona next week, and it's going to be filled to the brim with handsets, tablets and wearables of every shape, size and color. We've compiled all of the major rumors, teasers and official company announcements to give you a glimpse at what's to come. For more from Samsung, Nokia, LG and beyond, follows us after the break and keep it locked here next week for more from MWC.

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SONY DSC

Jolla's self-titled and first smartphone launched in partnership with Finnish carrier DNA this week, with a few hundred handsets finding their way to early pre-orderers. Today, a couple of familiar faces from the company stopped off in London to let us play with the final hardware and get to grips with Jolla's Sailfish OS, which is based somewhat on Nokia's old MeeGo platform. If you caught our tour of the Jolla prototype earlier this year then you've got a good idea of what the handset looks like. In fact, the only differences we can see aesthetically are slightly smaller bezels above and below the screen, and that the rear camera has moved from right flank to center stage. Internally, the core specs are: A 1.4GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 (MSM8930), 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage space (expandable), a 4.5-inch, 960x540 (qHD) IPS LCD display, an 8-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel shooter on the front. We only had a few hours to probe Jolla's first device, but head past the break for our initial impressions.

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Microsoft's Windows Phone Preview Program to give developers early access to updates

Microsoft wants to not only make life a little easier for Windows Phone devs but encourage more of them to come into the fold as well, and a new addition to its development program known as the Windows Phone Developer Preview may help nudge a few third parties (not to mention dedicated enthusiasts) in the right direction. The Preview program gives registered developers early access to the latest OS updates -- for right now, that means GDR3 -- before it begins rolling out to the eager public. To take advantage of the preview, you'll need either a Dev Center account, an App Studio account or a phone that's registered and unlocked to developers; you also run the risk of bricking your device if you don't do things exactly right. The program will become available tomorrow, so if you're one of the interested folks but don't meet the criteria, you'll want to make sure you get your ducks in a row today.

Update: It looks like the Developer Preview is now live.

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DNP IFA 2013 preview what to expect

CES 2013 was a decidedly sleepy show by most accounts, but this year's IFA is shaping up to be anything but. Devices set for a reveal are still under proverbial lock and key, but chatter, teases and leaks have painted a fairly full picture of what we can expect to see in Germany: smartwatches and wearables, Haswell hardware and phones with 4K shooters. Join us past the break to get up to speed on what Berlin might dish out this week.

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Sony Xperia Z Ultra handson redux previewing its camera and benchmark performance

You may have already read our Sony Xperia Z Ultra hands-on last week, but since then we've also been able to spend a tiny bit more time with a pre-production unit (with firmware build 14.1.B.1.277). Instead of going over again how hilariously large this 6.4-inch, pen-friendly phone is, this time we'll focus on some early benchmark results, camera performance and Sony's very own UX features.

As you'll see after the break, many of the benchmark scores aren't too far off from what we saw on the MDP phone with the same Snapdragon 800 SoC, and the final units should be optimized with higher numbers. While we didn't manage to get CF-Bench and Quadrant running on the phone, the higher-than-before 3DMark score did cheer us up, meaning either Sony or Qualcomm's managed to fine tune the latter's new Adreno 330 GPU.

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Smartisan OS unveiled in China, takes a fresh approach on Android UI design

Following the likes of Meizu and Xiaomi, another star is born in the Chinese smartphone market. In fact, some may already know the man behind this new Android-based Smartisan OS: Luo Yonghao, a self-taught ex-English teacher (and later becoming the principal of his own English school until last August), as well as the founder of influential blogging platform Bullog.cn (now Bullogger.com) and the chairman of Chinese font studio Redesign. Luo is also a relentless consumer advocate, with his most notable act being his fridge-smashing protest outside Siemens' Beijing headquarters in November 2011, in order to highlight the company's refusal to acknowledge their faulty fridge doors (all explained in the "More Coverage" link at the bottom).

Already a bit of a legend in China, the 40-year-old serial entrepreneur announced last April that he had formed Smartisan Co., Ltd. to work on a smartphone OS, and that it would shame all manufacturers with its revolutionary user experience. Having missed the December target that he promised, Luo eventually stood in front of some 3,000 people -- many bought tickets -- in Beijing last week to spend well over three hours going through the thought process behind his Smartisan OS, so bear with us here.

Update: Smartisan has now provided a subtitled video of the event. Check it out at the bottom of this article.

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Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview now available for supported Nexus devices

Canonical's preview of a smartphone- and tablet-friendly flavor of Ubuntu has finally arrived for folks willing to flash a Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4 or a Nexus tablet. Shuttleworth and friends stress that the release is intended for developers and enthusiasts -- not those eyeing it as a daily driver, mind you -- and that it's not yet kitted out with its complete functionality. As of now, the Ubuntu touch dev preview contains the shell, core applications, WiFi networking, support for front- and rear-facing cameras and Android Developer Bridge tool connectivity. In addition, the operating system allows Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 handsets to connect to a GSM network, make phone calls and send texts. Along with the sneak peak, the Ubuntu SDK has been badged with the alpha moniker since it's flaunting a host of new features, including the ability to deploy and execute apps straight from the IDE. Ready to download the OS image and development kit? Hit the neighboring source link to get cracking.

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Developer preview of Touchbased Ubuntu is called that for a reason handson video

Ubuntu's Touch Developer Preview was originally put forward as something for "enthusiasts" as well as developers. Well, having been hands-on with the code that will be made public tomorrow, we'd say it requires enthusiasm a-plenty -- perhaps even amateur coder quantities of the stuff. That's because a lot of core functionality is still missing from the OS, such as the ability to play music files or import real-life contacts, and there's a long way to go if it's to be signed off as "code complete" in October.

On the other hand, this is really just a statement of the obvious. Canonical has been pretty clear that the main purpose of this early release is to lure in developers and get them to contribute to the fundamental stages of the project. Furthermore, the video after the break shows that there are many aspects of the OS which work fine -- such as the gallery and video apps, the "side stage" and HUD features, and also general performance on the Nexus 10's hardware. The UI merges some Kindle- and Windows 8-esque features with things that are totally original -- like responsive design which allows the exact same OS and apps to run on a phone, tablet, TV or desktop. We certainly hope it generates interest -- not only among developers but also among device manufacturers who want to do more than just talk about differentiation.

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Touchbased Ubuntu preview coming February 21st, will work on Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4

It's not like we didn't have ample warning, so by now anyone wanting to try out the new Ubuntu smartphone OS should have gotten hold of a Galaxy Nexus to be their test device. Still don't have one? Then you'll be pleased to know that a Nexus 4 will actually serve just as well, and you have six days to get equipped. The Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview will be made public on February 21st alongside the open source code and all the tools necessary to flash those two devices.

The official aim is to help devs and enthusiasts learn the platform and start building software for it, whether for core functions or for when a full third-party app store eventually goes live. The bigger picture is that, by the time Ubuntu 13.10 launches in October, an app written in this platform's Qt/QML lingo should be able to run on any Ubuntu device -- whether it be a PC, TV, tablet or smartphone -- with no porting required. Rest assured that we have a couple of Nexii at the ready and we fully intend to give this newcomer a thorough hazing / write-up as soon as possible.

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Distro Issue 72 The CES 2013 preview

After a week off to take advantage of the holidays, the Distro crew is back in action. In the latest issue of our tablet mag, we run down all of the major categories with a preview of what our editors expect to see -- or not see -- when CES cranks up in a few days. On top of that, Eyes-On has a look at a Lomography panoramic camera, Hands-On offers impressions on some of the latest gadgetry and tech writer Taylor Hatmaker drops by for the Q&A. Once the annual Las Vegas tech madness gets started next week, we'll be publishing daily issues of this e-publication beginning Tuesday, January 8th to keep you up to speed with all of the happenings in the desert. Arriving just in time for the events, our Windows 8 Distro app is now available and can be procured like its Android and iOS counterparts, via the download links below.

Distro Issue 72 PDF
Distro in the iTunes App Store
Distro in the Google Play Store

Distro in the Windows Store

Distro APK (for sideloading)
Like Distro on Facebook
Follow Distro on Twitter

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With CES looming like an electrically charged storm of news and announcements, it's time for us to give you our best bets on what you'll see come January. During the month of December, we'll bring you a series of CES preview posts, forecasting what you can expect when the news deluge begins. For more of what's to come, check out our hub.

Engadget's CES 2013 Preview Smartphones

It goes without saying that smartphones are now an integral part of the consumer electronics industry, and each January plenty of them are exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. While many companies are understandably silent about their plans for the massive trade show, we've been able to gather a pretty solid idea of what we can expect to see as the show descends upon us. Join us after the break as we tell you what types of products will delight or depress us at next month's event.

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Engadget's CES 2013 Preview

The sudden rush of device announcements and hands-on posts that come with the advent of each CES can feel a bit overwhelming if you don't know what to expect. And while we can't predict what's to come with unfailing precision, we're more than happy to give you an idea of what's on our radar this time around. During the month of December, we'll bring you a series of CES preview posts, forecasting what you can expect when the news deluge begins. The road to CES 2013 starts here, so go on and click the available category links after the break and stay tuned for more.

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