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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Android-based Creative Zii Egg gets official

I knew Creative was up to something when that Zii Egg FCC application flew past earlier this month, but had no idea it would be this awesome, or this confusing.

Turns out the Zii Egg is a multitouch-wielding, HD video-playing, dual-camera-having (front and back) rival to the iPhone and iPod Touch, running on Google's Android OS (see all the official specs over at

You can grab a 32GB model now for $400, but don't expect it to be fully baked. Creative is announcing this as a "developer edition" in the hopes that the Android community will pick up the platform and run with it. Physically this looks like it has come straight out of the same factory as the iPhone.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that we may never actually see the Zii Egg released to consumers as an official Creative product. The company is looking to sell rebranded Zii Eggs directly to other manufacturers as an OEM product.

For a company that's been trickling out half-hearted products all year, it seems odd that Creative would make something with such unprecedented appeal, only to lob it to open-source developers and slap someone else's name on it.

Then again, maybe it's smart enough to know it has made a product that's potential is beyond Creative's capabilities to execute. If this thing ultimately becomes a phone (all the ingredients are there) Creative is likely just being cautious about entering the mobile phone market as a newcomer.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Android 2.0 Donut Preview Highlights Multi-touch Support and Other Enhancements

At the Google I/O conference in May, the company previewed the new Android 2.0, Google’s mobile operating system. Major highlights include the new Android search, text-to-speech compatibility and gesture support.

However, this preview has now been made available to developers through Google’s code depository. While still in testing phases and very unstable, developers can take the release for a test drive or even take key 2.0 elements and place them into the stable Android 1.5 build.

Some of the main features in Android 2.0 are:

Android Search: The search engine will allow you to search both your phone and the web through the same browser.

Text-To-Speech: If you have a Google Voice account, you can pretty soon link it to your Android phone as well.

Multi-touch Support: Like Apple’s smart phones, the Android system now allows for users to perform actions by touching the screen in multiple places at the same time, for instance, to reduce the size of an image. This functionality was left out of Android 1.0 since Google was worried about legal issues with Apple, who has pioneered this feature.

Gesture Support: Instead of having to search through the entire contact list to get to the “S” names on your phone, all you will now need to do is write the letter “S” on the screen.

With all these new features still only available in a developer’s release, it might be a smart idea for regular users to wait till the Android 2.0 is released in a slightly more stable form before installing it on their phone.

How to Root your T-Mobile G1

.. from

Philips' first Android endeavor, the V808, caught on camera?

The first shots of what certainly appears to be Philips' first Android handset have emerged from China.

The V808, as it's called, certainly looks Androidy enough, with a 3.2-inch, HVGA display, and it will supposedly boast a 3.2 megapixel camera and video recording.

In Philips fashion, we can probably expect to see it Xenium branded, but as yet, we have no other details on specs, pricing, or availability, and sadly the phone isn't powered on in any of the photos.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Boot Windows Mobile or Android with QiGi’s i6 Goal

QiGi i6 is probably the only dual OS smartphone in the world, capable of running both Windows Mobile 6.1 and Google Android.

Powered by a Marvell Monohans 624MHz processor, QiGi’s i6 Goal features a 2.8-inch LCD touchscreen display, a 2 Megapixel camera, support for GPS and a microSD card.

It also has WiFi and Bluetooth support. The i6 works with quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE but no 3G. It has been slated for a China-only release at this stage.

Several Chinese Android Phones to be released this year

At least three Chinese companies have put Google's Android operating system on mobile phones they say will launch in Europe this year.

Beyond Radio Technology, an unknown Chinese handset designer, is the latest to announce such plans. The company's Android phone will go on sale in Europe this year, and later in China and Taiwan, a company engineer surnamed Liu said by phone Friday.

The company has four partners that will brand and sell the Android phone, Liu said, declining to give their names. The partner launching the phone in Europe is a global brand, he said.

Chinese companies Huawei Technologies and Haier have also revealed plans to sell Android handsets in Europe. Huawei has said T-Mobile will launch its Android phone there during the third quarter. It first announced the 3G handset, which resembles the iPhone, early this year.

Haier, best known in China for its air conditioners and refrigerators, will release an Android handset in France around September, a marketing employee at the company said in an e-mail. A mock-up of the 3.2-inch screen phone was on display at a Singapore trade show last month.

The phone from Beyond Radio Technology has a 2.8-inch touchscreen and supports Wi-Fi, but not 3G or EDGE. A future version will support 3G, Liu said.

The phone's designer, based in the southern Chinese manufacturing base of Shenzhen, posted pictures of the phone on its Web site this week.

"We think Android is the future direction for mobile phones," Liu said, citing Android's open-source code and low cost as its strengths.

Google's Android to invade your Home

Manufacturers are putting the Web giant's Android software in home management devices and remote controls.

In a sign that Google's Android mobile platform has a future far beyond cellphones, San Francisco-based start-up Touch Revolution says a string of well-known companies will introduce a range of Android-powered household gadgets before the end of the year.

The devices will fall into three basic categories: home control devices, media control devices and home phones, says Bill Brown, Touch Revolution's vice president of marketing. All the gadgets will feature touch-screens in sizes ranging from 4.3 to 10 inches, support Android as an operating system, and connect to the Web through wi-fi or wired ethernet. Depending on their purpose, they will sport bases (for perching on a desk or kitchen counter) or have a flat, tablet shape for handheld use or for embedding in a wall.

Brown says the new devices capitalize on Android's strength as an open operating system with sophisticated communications features. The home control devices are designed to talk to major household systems, such as lights, locks, security and heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC). The media devices play a similar unifying role in the entertainment realm, allowing users to program their digital video recorders (DVRs), remotely control their stereo systems, and view TV listings directly on the gadget's screen.

Touch Revolution is calling the third category of products, "smart phones for the home." These cordless phones, meant for indoors use only, will communicate via radio waves like typical home phones or through voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) on wi-fi.

Each of these devices could be programmed to do even more. A home phone could act like a digital photo frame, for instance, given the right software. As Android devices, they will be able to access the same applications written for Android cellphones unless the companies marketing them limit that feature.

Expect to see most of the products before the end of the year, in the U.S. and elsewhere. Brown says Touch Revolution is working with "companies with major brands" on upcoming launches. Touch Revolution provides the touch screens and Android features, encapsulated in a module. Its partners then customize the hardware and software, if they choose, and bring the product to market.

Why use Android at all? Brown says its partners liked the operating system's ease of use, openness and touch-centric features. They also regarded it as a bargain since Google ( GOOG - news - people ) is distributing it for free.

Though just 17 months old, Touch Revolution boasts some flashy credentials. Founder and Chief Executive Mark Hamblin spent more than five years at Apple ( AAPL - news - people ), eventually rising to senior product design engineer.

HTC Hero reviewed at Engadget

The HTC Hero has received a reasonably extensive review over at Engadget.

Their verdict: Mostly great, a few complaints with the placement of the back button (great for lefties though, which is excellent news for me), an improved camera experience, great industrial design, a little sluggish perhaps as a result of the new HTC UI tweaks.

Click here to check it out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Motorola Morrison pictured in the wild

As rumoured, Motorola's first Android phone appears to be the QWERTY sliding Morrison. No further details at this stage, according to the previously released HTC 2009 roadmap, it's due to land between November 4th and December 31st.

Expansys exposes Sony-Ericsson Xperia Android phone

Remember those leaked screenshots of Sony Ericsson's Android interface, rumoured to appear on a product code-named Rachael? Mobile phone retailer Expansys appears to have completely spilled the beans by putting up the said phone for pre-order under the name Sony Ericsson Xperia, complete with pictures.

As previously speculated, it will come with a 1GHz processor and an 8-megapixel camera. What's also interesting is its 10Mbps HSPA support, which is faster than most other smartphones out there. Here's a summary of its specifications:

* 4-inch WVGA (800x480) display
* Quad-band GSM and dual-band WCDMA
* 8-megapixel camera with autofocus and LED
* HSPA (10Mbps uplink/2Mbps downlink)
* 3.5mm audio connector
* Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, A-GPS

So far, all Android devices come with HVGA (320x480) resolution screens. It will be interesting to see how the Google mobile OS will work with so many more pixels at its disposal. No details on pricing and date of availability were listed, so we'll just have to wait for the company's next move.

HTC: 50% of our 2010 phones will be Android

HTC has upped its predicted portion of Android phones from 30 to 50 per cent of all devices in 2010.

Following the success of its first three efforts, the G1, Magic and Hero, the Taiwanese phone maker will likely focus less on Windows Mobile and more on the mobile Google OS.

HTC Click - more details & a new pic

Ok, we reported yesterday that a device apparently known as the HTC Click. Replacing the trackball is a 5 way D-Pad.

Latest is that the Click is expected to use the Qualcomm Brew Mobile Platform and not the HTC Sense UI over the Android platform as was previously reported. That may change again, who knows in these crazy times.

The device is rumoured to emerge in September or October.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What is the HTC Click?

Is This Yet Another HTC Android Phone?

French website PointGPhone has found these pics somewhere... Alledgedly showing an entry-level Android Phone that features a 2.8 inch screen (estimated), no keyboard and no trackball, which has been a feature of all HTC Android phones up to this point.

.. Interesting. More details as they come to hand.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

HTC Magic comes to India

India’s leading telecom operator Bharti Airtel is set to launch Android HTC Magic in India.

It will be sold unlocked, however, users on Airtel will be eligible for free 100MB data access for the first six months.

HTC has finally announced Magic, India’s first Android phone in partnership with Airtel. It still is the same Magic under the hood but Airtel brings in few of its own features like Portfolio Manager, Hello Tune Manager, Weather Channel, Mobshare etc.

Jack Tong, Vice President, HTC Asia, said, "HTC is proud to partner with Airtel in launching the much-anticipated Android-powered HTC Magic in India. The HTC Magic opens up a whole new world of possibilities for people to enrich and customise their mobile phone. HTC has always been known for its industry firsts and technology advancements, and is thus a natural partner to Airtel."

The HTC Magic will be available at a market price of Rs. 29,900/- at Airtel Relationship Centres and authorised HTC resellers across 17 cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Coimbatore, Cochin, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar and Patna.

3 LG Android Handsets on the way?

LG apparently claims that they would be unveiling 3 Android handsets by the end of 2009. Now, it seems that the GW620 Eve would probably be the first Android handset from LG.

Supposedly LG are planning to release up to three different Android based devices in Q3/Q4 of this year, with a few more due to land in 2010.

According to IntoMobile, LG’s site has disclosed few specifications of its Android handset. Reportedly, the Eve seems to come with a 320 x 480 resolutions HVGA touchscreen display. The handset is speculated to offer Wi-Fi and UMTS/HSDPA connectivity. The phone will probably come with a full QWERTY keyboard. The features are similar to the other Android phones likely to enter the market.

Apparently, none of the specifications are official as of now.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

HTC Hero unboxing video and Sense UI overview

Take a look at the above unboxing review, the HTC Hero looks to be a great piece of Android goodness. Hmm... wonder when it's going to be available in Australia...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Chrome, Android Have Different Jobs, Google Says

Google's emerging Chrome operating system won't squeeze out Android, according to Andy Rubin, the company's vice president of mobile engineering platforms.

chrome osMobile device OSes have specialized jobs that other platforms don't, such as running network protocol stacks, carefully managing battery life and handling handoffs among cell towers, Rubin said.

"There's different problems to be solved in different categories of consumer products," Rubin said. "But that doesn't mean that ... one wins and one doesn't win. You need different technologies for different solutions."

Speaking at an event in San Francisco where Google and T-Mobile USA showed off the new MyTouch Android-based handset, Rubin said Google would use the Android Marketplace as a "carrot" to prevent fragmentation of the OS. He also said Google Checkout is just the first of what should be a wide range of payment platforms for the Marketplace.

androidT-Mobile introduced the MyTouch, a touch-screen device from HTC priced at US$199 with a two-year contract, on Wednesday. It's the second Android-based phone from the carrier. Though other mobile operators have expressed interest in selling their own Android products, T-Mobile aims to keep its dominance, according to Cole Brodman, T-Mobile's chief technology officer and senior vice president for technology.

"We want to go deeper with Android, faster than anybody else will, and further than anybody else will. We'll push it to uncomfortable limits that other carriers won't follow," Brodman said. T-Mobile makes a subscriber's personal and contact information portable across Android phone models and will offer applications for use on all of them, he said.

Two Android application developers who appeared at the event said they chose the platform for its openness. Geodelic Systems' Sherpa is a location-based application that provides information about a user's surroundings and fine-tunes its tips by learning the user's preferences over time. Android lets it interact with other applications on the phone, such as an ordering application used by a coffee shop, Geodelic founder Rahul Sonnad said.

Voice Text, which IT professional Alex Byrnes developed on his spare time, can convert spoken words into text messages or other written entries for various Android applications. Using the open platform, Byrnes is happy not to be tied to the fate of a particular company.

"If Google and T-Mobile shut down tomorrow, Android would go on," Byrnes said.

Sherpa is free, and Voice Text costs $1.25. One limitation of Android is that applications such as Voice Text can only be purchased with Google Checkout. Byrnes said he hasn't heard any complaints from people who wanted to use a different payment method.

Google Checkout became the payment system because it was easy for the development team to add on, Google's Rubin said. Google now plans to provide APIs (application programming interfaces) for attaching different payment platforms that are appropriate to carriers in various parts of the world, he said.

"The idea is ... not to be locked to (Google) Checkout, not to be locked to a credit card, but to basically support everything out there as a payment system," Rubin said.

Google aims to prevent fragmentation of the Android platform by controlling access to the Android Marketplace, which is where the value lies for developers, Google's Rubin said. To get into the Android Market, applications have to pass "very basic compatibility tests," available to everyone, that ensure compatibility with Android APIs, he said.

Google continues to plan for new releases of Android about twice a year, roughly for summer and the year-end holiday season, Rubin said. Sticking with the food-oriented naming convention under which it is currently offering the Cupcake version, Google will call its next release Donut and follow that with Eclair and Flan. Social networking will be a major focus of one upcoming release, which will add social elements into "every experience on the phone," he said.

Rubin downplayed the success of Apple's iPhone and App Store, which has continued to overshadow Google's platform in device and application sales since the October 2008 launch of the first Android phone, T-Mobile's G1.

"I don't feel the need to catch up," Rubin said in answer to a question about Android's position among developers. And in the long run, Android will win out with diversity, he said. Recently, a device manufacturer he had never heard of walked into Rubin's office with 18 new devices built for Android, Rubin said.

"History's shown that a single product that's a global product has limitations on how much it can scale," Rubin said.

More pics and video of Sony Ericsson Android phone leaked

Earlier this week leaked photos of the upcoming Sony Ericsson Android phone, dubbed Rachael and part of the XPERIA line, hit the Internet, along with some specs on the smartphone.

Among its excellent features, the phone uses an Android interface, Qualcomm's Snapdragon platform (allowing processor speeds of up to 1GHz), an 8.1 megapixel camera with auto-focus, 3D supporting GPU, 7.2Mbps HSDPA and a 800 x 480 pixel 4" touchscreen.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Upgrade Android icons to display unread count

Android's open nature makes it easy to customize the look and feel of your phone with widgets, themes, and home screen replacements. Not surprisingly, many have chosen to make their Android phone look and operate like the wildly popular iPhone.

Yet, Android and the iPhone differ in the way they display unread application notifications. Android places new alerts in the systemwide notification bar while the iPhone places a notification directly over the specific app. Both systems work well, but some might prefer the iPhone's system.

SMS Unread Count is a free Android widget that attempts to emulate the iPhone method. Once installed, users can replace the default messaging and dialer icons with new notifications that display the unread number. Though it doesn't provide any real functional use, it is a nice visual cue.

Adding the new widget to your Android phone is easy after installation: Just long press on an empty space of the home screen to add a new object. Browse through the available widgets and select SMS Unread Count. During the initial setup, you can change the type, counter size, and toggle show zero count.

Only messaging and dialer icons are available in the current release of SMS Unread Count, but support should be expanded over time. The developer Kanok Gems has already released several updates that added new functions.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Is Nokia working on an Android phone?

According to the Guardian, which is sourcing "industry insiders" as saying that the world's largest phone manufacturer will reveal an Android-powered touchscreen handset at its Nokia World event this September.

Though Nokia itself has never truly ruled out the possibility of working with Open Handset Alliance code, a move into Android right now would truly be an odd one -- granted, the Symbian Foundation is probably on thin ice any way you look at it, but even without S60 and its successors in the mix in the long term, Nokia still has Maemo quietly reaching platform maturity in the background with rumors of an imminent MID / superphone hybrid swirling in recent months.

It seems that adopting Android (even if only for a select number of models) would be an admission on Nokia's part that it has failed to be a Maker of Standards, despite its overwhelming size and market position -- not to mention a major bet that it can continue to win customers based on the strength of its hardware alone, since it'd now be working with a common platform adopted by dozens of companies large and small.

UPDATE: Nokia has denied today reports that the Finnish company is working on a mobile phone running on Google's Android mobile operating system.

A report this morning from the Guardian, a British daily newspaper, quoted "industry insiders" saying that Nokia would unveil in September a mobile phone running on the Google Android operating system (OS).

But Nokia has denied Guardian's speculation, telling Reuters that there is "Absolutely no truth to this whatsoever." The denial continued by quoting a company spokesman saying: "Everyone knows that Symbian is our preferred platform for advanced mobile devices."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Leaked: Sony Ericsson's Upcoming Android Phone

It is no secret that Sony Ericsson is working on at least one Android phone to be released later this year.

They told us about it themselves. And now the details start trickling out.

The first Sony Ericsson Android smartphone is codenamed “Rachael“, has got a big touchscreen display, and is built on the Qualcomm QSD8250 Snapdragon platform.

Snapdragon has some pretty amazing amazing specs – up to 1 GHz CPU, HD video decoding ,12mpx camera, GPS, broadcast TV and Wi-Fi support. Though it remains to be seen which of them make it into a new SE Android handset. Probably not all of them, since we already know that SE opted for a lower resolution – 8.1 megapixel camera on this phone.
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