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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Multi-touch appears on G1 Android

The T-Mobile G1 Android phone was missing one key ability that iPhone competitors are expected to have, multi-touch. The hardware is capable of supporting multi-touch features like the famous “zoom pinch” but it was missing from the phone in its released form. Given the recent saber-rattling between Palm and Apple about multi-touch and patents it’s easy to see why it was easier to avoid that whole debate and leave it out.

The primary difference between the Android platform and all the others is how it is based on an open source OS. This means that third-party developers can extend the platform in any way they wish without official support from any company. Today a developer has released a very preliminary form of multi-touch on Android which shows just how powerful an open source platform can be. The video showing multi-touch on the G1 is totally cool when you understand that the developer had to tap right into the OS kernel to get multi-touch enabled. This means it’s not a trivial install but is a great example of the power of open source with Android.

.. from jkOnTheRun

Sunday, January 25, 2009

HTC Sapphire = G2?

Earlier in the week the above spy photos were leaked, reportedly (and apparently) confirming the even more substantial HTC roadmap leak. For all intents and puposes, the above photos appear to show the below upcoming HTC Sapphire running our favourite mobile OS.

Details so far are no keyboard, 3.2 MP camera and a due date of mid May.

Presenting the upcoming 2009 lineup from HTC

Presenting the upcoming 2009 Roadmap from HTC

(lets see how true this is)

From :

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Android 'Cupcake' update

Notable changes introduced in cupcake:

  • MMS
    • New features
      • Save attachments from MMS.
    • Significant bug fixes
      • Faster conversation list scrolling
  • Email
    • Significant bug fixes
      • Accounts that were marked "never check" are not auto-checked.
      • Date & time displayed using user preference (e.g. 24 hr vs. AM/PM).
      • cc: displayed in message view.
      • Relaxed POP3 parser rules so it works with non-compliant email servers.
      • Password quoting bugs in IMAP. Makes it work for users with funny chars in their password (e.g. spaces).
      • Various sources of errors in auto & manual account setup.
      • Improvements on how we report various connection errors. Makes it much easier for user to diagnose failed account setups.
      • New-mail notifications for POP3 accounts.
      • Properly recover from POP3 connection failures, so that the next connection has a chance of working properly.
      • Remove automatic accounts setup entries that were broken or not testable. Minor fixes to a few of the remaining entries. Improvements to warning dialogs used for a few special cases.
      • New accounts are now set to check every 15 minutes (instead of defaulting to "never").
      • Fixed a bug causing approximately 1 in 25 outbound messages to freeze up the IMAP connection (to a Gmail based server) when transferred to the Sent folder. This broke the entire connection so new messages could not be downloaded either.
      • Unit test framework so Email can be extended & tested more reliably.
      • Fix IMAP manually-created accounts so message delete works properly.
  • Alarm Clock
    • Significant bug fixes
      • Alert now plays audio/vibe directly, rather than through AlarmManager. AlarmClock alert starts playing audio/vibe in its IntentReceiver, rather than on activity start. These changes should prevent alarms from being blocked by modal dialogs.
  • Package Installer
    • Significant bug fixes
      • Bugs related to replacing existing applications.
  • Settings
    • New features
      • New menu option to list running processes in Settings->ManageApplications.
  • Music
    • New features
      • Music playback fades in after suspending for phone call.
      • New media search intent allows for 3rd party apps to launch or respond to media searches based on artist, album, or title.
        Affects: Music Player, YouTube, Browser applications.
  • Browser
    • New features
      • Updated WebKit browser core, synced with Nov 2008 WebKit version.
      • Support for new, optimized JavaScript engine (SquirrelFish).
      • Copy / paste is enabled in the browser. To copy with touch, press and hold the shift key and select the text. Releasing the shift key or ending the touch drag copies the text. To copy with the trackball, press and hold the shift key, move the cursor to the selection start, click the trackball, and move the trackball to the extend the selection. Releasing the shift key, or clicking the trackball a second time, copies the text.
      • Find is enabled in the browser. To find text, choose it from the menu and type the text to find.
      • Drawing has been sped up substantially by supporting partial content invalidates and partial screen invalidates. Pages with animations are 5x faster.
  • VoiceDialer
    • New features
      • VoiceDialer supports 'open app' command
  • Camera/Gallery
    • New features
      • Video recorder mode
      • Share intent for videos
      • Video thumbnails
      • Local file playback
Download manager
  • New features
    • Support for HTTP codes 301, 302, 303 and 307 (redirects).
    • HTTP code 503 is now handled, with support for retry-after in delay-seconds.
    • Downloads that were cleanly interrupted are now resumed instead of failing.
    • Applications can now pause their downloads.
    • Retry delays are now randomized.
    • Connectivity is now checked on all interfaces.
    • Downloads with invalid characters in file name can now be saved.
  • New features
    • Support of touch events in WebView.
    • New JavaScript engine (SquirrelFish) in WebView.
    • Input method framework, for soft keyboards and other on-screen input methods. Includes new APIs for applications to interact with input methods, and the ability for third party developers to write their own input methods.
    • Access to the raw audio data for playback and recording from application code.
    • New PendingIntent.FLAG_UPDATE_CURRENT option.
    • Support for top-level boolean resources.
    • Tactile feedback to the LockPatternView. Tactile feedback can be enabled/disabled by going to Settings > Security & location and then checking/unchecking "Use tactile feedback". Note that this can be used independently of the visual feedback of the lines ("Use visible pattern"). Thus it gives users a middle ground between showing the lines on the screen and having no feedback at all.
    • PackageManager changes to support un-installation of partially installed applications. Added new flag PackageManager.GET_UNINSTALLED_PACKAGES to include partially installed apps in all relevant PackageManager api's. ManageApplications screen now lists such partially installed apps and the user can uninstall these applications completely.
    • Support third party updates of system applications. New menu options in Settings->ManageApplications to list updated system applications.
    • Framework support to list current running processes. New API in ActivityManager.
    • Framework feature to declare required configurations by applications. New manifest attribute uses-configuration in android manifest.
    • Hardware accelerated video encode (video recorder) in opencore.
    • Simplified SREC speech recognition API available.
    • Streaming audio I/O for applications.
  • Significant bug fixes
    • Fixed issues with saving state in the view hierarchy, so that you can properly subclass from something like TextView and create your own state that inherits from that provided by TextView.
    • TextView now implements onKeyMultiple(), so that flinging the trackball will result in accelerated scrolling. This required some changes to movement methods, and included some improvements to the acceleration computed when flinging.
    • Framework bug fixes in PackageManager to share/un-share permissions for applications with shared uid's.
    • Significant rework of Settings->ManageApplications Performance and UI enhancements.
    • A number of settings in android.provider.Settings.System were moved to android.provider.Settings.Secure. Only system software can modify these settings. Additionally, a new permission, WRITE_SECURE_SETTINGS, is required to access these settings. The old constants in Settings.System have been deprecated. It is possible to read settings values via Settings.System using the deprecated constants. However, attempts to modify these settings via Settings.System will result in a log message and the setting value will be left unchanged.
    • Many bug fixes in the media framework

  • New features
    • Support for A2DP & AVRCP profiles.
  • Significant bug fixes
    • First connection after pairing always fails on many carkits.
    • Mini Cooper and some late model BMW cars fail to use Bluetooth or take 2 minutes for Phone Book transfer.
System software
  • New features
    • New kernel based on Linux 2.6.27.
    • Improvements to the wakelock API.
    • Work to transition to the USB Gadget Framework underway.
    • Basic x86 support.

Radio & Telephony
  • New features
    • SIM Application Toolkit 1.0.
    • Green CALL button is no longer a shortcut for "add a new call". This has been a rarely used feature and confusing if triggered accidentally.
    • Longer in-call screen timeout when using the speakerphone.
    • "Show dialpad" / "Hide dialpad" item added to the in-call menu, to make it easier to discover the DTMF dialpad.
  • Significant bug fixes
    • An obscure case where the Phone UI could cause the device to not go to sleep on its own. This would happen if user bails out of the in-call screen by hitting HOME, followed by the call disconnecting remotely.
    • Don't allow a single tap to open the in-call dialpad. It is now required to touch and drag it. This makes it much harder to accidentally open the dialpad by touching the screen with your face.

Developer Tools
  • New features
    • Enable handset manufacturers to extend the Android SDK with add-ons. SDK add-ons will include:
      • system libraries to let developers use additional APIs provided by handset manufacturers or from other 3rd party vendors that handset manufacturers chose to include
      • emulator system images, skins, and hardware configuration to let developers test their applications on their Android implementation
This is work-in-progress. Please note that the latest Android SDK (Android 1.0 SDK, Release 2) is not compatible with the SDK plugin in the new branch, please use ADT 0.8.0. SDK add-on support is planned for future SDK release.

Build System
  • New features
    • The functions in build/ should be much more useful

Saturday, January 10, 2009

NIMble: $300 Android Desktop Phone Designed by iPhone Engineer

We've all heard about the prospects of Android in the mobile-phone market, but the NIMble is an Android phone meant for actual desktops.

By Touch Revolution, the NIMble features a 7-inch multitouch screen (800x400)—that's roughly 4x the screen area you'd see in the G1 loaded with 2.5x the pixels. In person, that's sharp enough to my eyes.

Other features include a 624MHz Marvel processor, SD expansion (to supplement unspecified internal storage), Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

As for Android itself, that's fully functional. But Touch Revolution has built their own software on top of the platform for entertainment and home networking stuff.
Operating the NIMble was speedy enough, though I had some responsiveness issues from the glass touchscreen. I'm pretty sure these issues will be fixed by the device's September release, since Mark Hamblin, Product Design Lead on the original iPhone's touchscreen, is busy ironing out the kinks. He explained that the touch gestures within Android need to be scaled to a larger screen.

So what about multi-touch? Hopefully the NIMble will have that capability at launch as well. But right now, Touch Revolution is busy building multi-touch architecture into Android itself. They're also pretty eager for others to jump on the bandwagon.

The photos here aren't of the final NIMble unit, but the finished product will look very similar...though we're fairly certain that we'll see a handset attached at launch.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Kogan Agora released (updated)

Update: the Kogan Agora has now been delayed indefinitely due to 'incompatibilities', apparently it had too low a screen resolution to enable it to run anything but the more basic of Android apps. ..(more details here)

QVGA resolution 320 x 240 as the Kogan Agora, which postponed its release due to that resolution limitation - in comparison the G1 has HVGA 320 x 480 resolution.

Kogan is a small company in Australia. What it does is sell (not make), electronic gadgetry.
How does a small Australian firm make a breakthrough phone like this? The Agora is the only the 2nd Android-powered mobile phone released in the world, behind the now venerable HTC?
The answer is it doesn’t.

It goes to China and gets someone to make it.

Got your own ideas? How do you find a manufacturer you ask?

You do not even have to physically go to China. Go to Alibaba at and then work your way through the menus. Go to Consumer Electronics then to Mobile Phones.

Start scanning down and you will see a load of knock-off devices, plus some quite genuinely innovative machines. The majority of the good stuff is made in Shenzhen, which is near Hong Kong, so you can confine your searches to there.

Now sort out something that looks a bit like the Kogan Android and drop them a line saying you want an unique machine and your initial order will be 1,000 units and there will be a bank guarantee. Having done that you are a breakthrough Android mobile phone maker. No risk.

In an age that is moving towards more personalised, even desktop manufacturing (see 3d printers), this is a smart move for budding entrepreneurs to take note of.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Android on Asus Eee PC 1000H netbook

I've posted previously on how the Android platform is destined to be not just limited to just mobile phones, now I see it has been made to run on an Asus Eee PC 1000H netbook, just because :).

Two guys at VentureBeat found it a snap to get Android up and running on the Eee PC 1000H, even offering the support required for functional computing such as sound, graphics and even Wi-Fi connectivity.
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