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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Banking on Android

Motorola Inc., whose phone business has lost more than $4 billion since 2007, is devoting most of its investment in smart-phone software to Google Inc.'s Android, aiming for a larger share of the market for Web-surfing devices.

'We're doing an entire business based around this platform," Christy Wyatt, Motorola's vice president in charge of software platforms, said in an interview yesterday. 'If you talk about the mid- to high-tier portfolio, the only platform-level investment we're making at this point is in Android."

The company, which hasn't released a bestseller since its Razr handset five years ago, said it will unveil the Android devices on Sept. 10 and expects to have two phones ready for the holiday season. Its Android line may account for half of handset revenue next year, predicts Matt Thornton, an analyst at Avian Securities LLC in Boston.

Motorola is one of at least five companies expected to introduce Android-powered units in the next 12 months to tap consumer demand for smart phones. Sales of the Web- and e-mail-equipped devices climbed 27 percent worldwide in the second quarter as mobile-handset sales overall dropped 6.1 percent, according to Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Inc.

'Android will be the dominant platform for these guys over time," said Thornton, who has a 'neutral" rating on the stock. 'They're thinking about Android in not just the traditional sense of smart phones but at all price points."

'Not Five Guys and a Web site'

Thornton predicts Android handsets will climb from zero to 30 percent of devices Motorola sells in 2010, accounting for 51 percent of revenue. How quickly Android grows beyond that depends on its popularity with customers and the success of future versions of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile operating system, used in some Motorola phones, he said.

Motorola, based in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, is interested in the 7.0 version of Windows Mobile expected next year, Wyatt said. 'We never want to close off an option."

Motorola, which also makes walkie-talkies and TV set-top boxes, spent $1.6 billion on research and development in the first half of this year and generated one-third of revenue from mobile-phone sales. The company's commitment to Android means it probably spent disproportionately on the phone unit, said Thornton.

Wyatt declined to say how many employees are working on Android devices or how much the company is spending to do so.

'It's not five guys and a Web site," Wyatt said. 'The team is probably as significant an investment if not more so than the likes that I've had when I've been at Apple or Palm."

Challenging IPhone, BlackBerry

Motorola is developing smart phones that run on Google's open- source program to help it take on Apple Inc.'s iPhone, Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry and Palm Inc.'s Pre, and to reverse a 37 percent sales drop in the past two years. Google started Android in 2007 as part of an industry effort to devise free software for phones open to programmers who want to create games or other features for it.

Android should add more applications as new handset makers come on board including Motorola, said Andy Rubin, vice-president of mobile platforms at Mountain View, California-based Google.

'That gives a bigger market opportunity for third-party developers to build their applications," Rubin said in an interview last week.

He said Android doesn't have to match the number of applications available for the iPhone. Android's marketplace has more than 8,000 applications for download, up from 6,300 about three months ago.

Palm offers 41 applications to users of the Pre, RIM offers more than 2,000 for the BlackBerry. More than 65,000 are available for the iPhone. Spokespeople for both companies declined to comment. Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Apple, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The market for smart phones is still new, said Rubin.

'Market-share wise, we all have a long ways to go," he said.

Still, Motorola's bet on Android technology may give it an edge over RIM and Palm, which vet developers, as it challenges Apple for users, said Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Co. in New York.

'The name of the game is going to be applications going forward in terms of which smart phones sell best, and the two contenders are the iPhone and Android," Wolf said

Saturday, August 22, 2009

HTC Click video

Several intriguing Android-based handsets have rolled out recently, such as the HTC Hero and Samsung Galaxy, but the market demand for a more affordable Android device that would appeal to the broad public has been growing steadily. There's a good chance that the HTC Click, featured below, will be just that.

The handset has already caused some tongues to wag, but we hadn´t seen it action before the video appeared. Thanks to its creators, the Tihn Te website, we know more about the much anticipated device.

The HTC Click will feature smaller display than the Magic. The overall design is pretty appealing, although I think the owner himself is responsible for the fine dragon pattern details visible on the back panel.

The video reveals the software version is 1.50.999.0 and that the Click will come equipped with a 3.5mm jack. Unfortunately, it won´t be running Sense UI, but the standard Android interface that we know well from the Magic and G1.

The Magic that the Click is compared to in the video footage is running the HTC´s personalized interface.

Google Listen: a podcast app for Android

There are several apps for following podcast content available on Google's Android Market, but most of them are not free.

It´s a good thing that the company that developed the operating system has decided to come up with their own, free version - Listen.

The program allows users to search, sign up for and download podcasts directly onto their Android devices and store the content on both the built-in device memory or expansion card.

As a whole, Listen looks quite appealing and Google´s webpage dedicated to the app suggests we might see video podcast support in the next versions.

Different renderings of T-Mobile Pulse (Huawei U8220) surface

Regardless of what it ends up LOOKING like, the potential specs are more widely agreed upon although much like the design/date/price, still just a rumor:

* 3.5 inch touchscreen
* 320 x 480 pixels resolution
* HSDPA 7.2 Mbps and HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
* Wi-Fi
* Microsoft Exchange support
* Bluetooth 2.0
* 3.2MP camera
* MicroSD slot

Samsung's second Android phone leaks out

A tipster with phandroid has come across some snapshots of the Samsung InstinctQ, which is very likely to be a Sprint 2009 Android smartphone release. October 11 and “early November” have both been given as rumored release dates, but no solid information has come down the pipe yet.

The “Q” in InstinctQ likely stands for “qwerty”, in reference to this device's sliding full QWERTY keyboard. This new offering from Samsung looks great, although we have no information about its hardware and specs. The Hero is expected to hit Sprint around the same time, so I'd say we have good odds of the two phones being roughly equal in terms of power. From the in-action screenshots, we can see that the InstinctQ is a Google Experience phone...and that's about it.

This would be the first phone in the Instinct line with a hard keyboard and only the 2nd overall Android Phone with a hardware keyboard:

No hard info on price or release date has hit yet, but if the October 11 launch rumors prove true, we should see more news about this bad boy leak by mid-September.

Software Update Fixes the HTC Hero's Only Real Problem

Well, this changes things. Right after it came out, Matt from Gizmodo called the HTC Hero "tragically flawed."

Why? Because the otherwise fantastic Sense UI was realllly slooooow.
HTC, presumably run by competent, rational human beings, has fixed this. The new update, illustrated above, shows the now beautifully fluid UI experience.

Well done HTC!

Glass Platform: Android Desktop Phone For Business

We’ve seen the consumer targeted Android Hub concept and although it hasn’t yet come to fruition, we’re sure it will. Take that same “next generation deskphone” idea to the business world and you have what Cloud Telecomputers is calling their Android-based Glass platform.

The prototype model has an 8″ touchscreen, tap to dial, Email via Outlook integration, Bluetooth, Voice dialing, Voice notes, HD Speakerphone and runs on Android.

“Glass makes the desk phone relevant again. It thoughtfully integrates business applications with IP telephony to bring the office phone into the 21st century. It’s a technological leap forward in terms of applications and usability, helping professionals to be more productive and informed in their everyday communications.”

With Android, this new age business deskphone can rise to a completely different plateau. Because of its open nature, third parties can write applications for the Glass Platform designed specifically for different types of business settings.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Layar augmented reality app now available globally

Following a Netherlands-exclusive release back in June, SPRXmobile has now taken its so-called Layar "Reality Browser" for Android to the global stage and advanced it to version 2.0 in the process.

Perhaps the first commercial augmented reality app to launch on a large scale, Layar's got a good amount of momentum behind it -- the company claims that 100 developers are already hard at work developing reality layers that users can toggle, and an additional 500 developers are being added into the mix with the latest release.

Version 2.0 adds favorite layers (because we're sure you'll be stalking friends and foes all too often using the Tweetmondo layer), map and list views, and enhanced search capabilities, but the real secret to Layar's power might ultimately lie in the third-party ecosystem if they can get enough content providers on board.

We grabbed Layar off the Market and took it for a quick spin; we're having trouble getting it to aim correctly, though Google Sky Map is having the same issues, so we're fairly certain that we're dealing with a phone or location problem rather than a Layar one. The key thing with an app like this is going to be speed and fluidity, and even on the Magic's relatively lightweight 528MHz core, it's plenty usable.

Dell Mini i3 - proof of concept, shiny concept

Another big name in the computer industry is dipping their toes in the mobile phone market - Dell unveiled the Dell Mini 3i at an event on which China Mobile presented their online mobile store.

Dell have officially called the Mini i3 only "a proof of concept". According to the manufacturer the name has been made up by our fellow tech journalists over at Engadget and even Dell themselves don't have a name for the displayed device.

All the listed specifications are not final or even confirmed and Dell have simply intended to spice up the China Mobile event by "waving around" a prototype.

For now Dell still don't have any current smartphones on the market - be it in China or elsewhere. So have that in mind please, while you're going through the photos below - those are officially "unofficial".

The spec sheet of the Dell Mini 3i is a bit self-contradicting. First off, it runs the China Mobile developed OMS - Open Mobile System, which is based on Android with TD-SCDMA phones in mind (TD-SCDMA is China's own 3G brew).

The Mini 3i isn't 3G capable, just 2G GSM and doesn't count on Wi-Fi or WAPI - Chinese equivalent of Wi-Fi (those Chinese sure like homegrown solutions). Bluetooth is the only local wireless connectivity method.

China Mobile launched an online store offering media, games and apps, which makes the lack of any sort of fast connection to the Interned a real downer.

The store will cater a list of manufacturers including Nokia, Samsung and LG - plus apparently Dell. You can find the store at

The screen of the Dell Mini 3i is 3.5" capacitive touchscreen with 360 x 640 pixels resolution. This resolution is a first for Android (OK, technically this isn't pure Android but still).

While the touchscreen nature of the device sets the tone for the design, there's something interesting about the front of the Mini - no keys.

Vanilla Android is usable without the keys, but just barely, so the OMS interface will probably be very different - reportedly, it's inspired by the iPhone (rather unsurprisingly).

An ambient light sensor adjusts the backlight automatically.

The camera on the Mini 3i is a 3-megapixel one with LED flash. There's a microSD card slot for storage. If OMS is anything like Android, it'll have a really tough time doing almost anything without a card so the slot is pretty much a necessity.

A miniUSB port handles PC connectivity but whether it will be able to charge the phone is still not known.

The specs so far read as rather low-end, save for the screen, so the built-in GPS comes as a pleasant surprise, and one of the Mini 3i's saving graces.

It's hard to tell if we'll ever see the Dell Mini 3i outside China, the launch date is not know either. Perhaps it depends on how well it performs, but more likely, it will stay China-only and Dell's next attempts will be the ones that manage to get across the Great Wall (if any).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Upcoming Motorola Android phones specs leaked?

Motorola Morrison Specs?

Expected on T-Mobile's network, the Motorola Morrison is rumored for an October 21 release. We haven't yet heard of a price for Morrison, but in comparison to myTouch 3G, T-Mobile's latest Android offering (in stores now), the Morrison packs in a better camera (5 megapixels) and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack.

The guys over at Android and Me claim to have the full specifications of the Morrison from one of their trusted tipsters as following:

  • CPU: Qualcomm MSM7201A 528 MHz
  • Memory: 256MB RAM
  • Flash Rom: 512 MB
  • Memory Card Type: microSDHC, Class 6, 32 GB supported (max)
  • Display: 320×480 (HVGA)
  • Accelerometer: 3-axis, Four-way screen rotation
  • Magnetometer; Proximity Sensor; Ambient Light Sensor
  • Voice Bands: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, W-CDMA 900/(1700 or 1900)/2100
  • Wireless: 802.11 b/g, WEP, WPA, 802.11i (WPA2)
  • Bluetooth Version: 2.0 + EDR
  • Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, GAP, HFP 1.5, HSP, SDAP, SPP
  • USB: USB 2.0 High Speed, Micro USB connector
  • Headset Jack: 3.5mm, Stereo out, Mic
  • Camera Resolution: 5 megapixels
  • Image Capture Resolution (max): 2560×1920
  • Camera Features: Autofocus, White Balance, Geotagging, Color Effects
  • Camera Digital Zoom (max): 5.4x
  • Video Recording Resolution: 320×240 (QVGA)
  • Video Recording Frame Rate: 25 fps
  • Location Services: Standalone GPS w/ internal antenna, Assisted GPS, E-Compass

Motorola Sholes Specs?

The Motorola Sholes is said to come on Verizon's network and is deemed as the flagship Google Android device this year. The Sholes will also be Verizon's first Google Android phone. One of Sholes' main strengths will be its 3.7-inch screen, which would be larger than the iPhone's or HTC's Android offerings.

The Motorola Sholes is rumored to ship with Eclair (probably Android 2.0), featuring many user interface enhancements and a focus on gaming and multimedia. The expected retail price for the Motorola Sholes (with a Verizon contract) is $199 and speculation puts a launch date for the device sometime in November.

Again, the Android and Me guys leaked some specifications of the Motorola Sholes, as following:

  • CPU: OMAP3430 - 600 MHz ARM Cortex A8 + PowerVR SGX 530 GPU + 430MHz C64x+ DSP + ISP (Image Signal Processor)
  • Dimensions: 60.00 x 115.80 x 13.70 mm
  • Weight: 169 g
  • Battery: Li-ion 1400 mAh.
  • Standby 450 hours, talk time 420 minutes
  • 3.7-inch touch-sensitive display with a resolution of 854×480 pixels, 16 million color depth. Physical screen size is 45.72 mm by 81.34 mm.
  • 512MB/256MB ROM/RAM
  • microSD / microSDHC expansion slot
  • Camera: 5.0 megapixel with autofocus and video recorder
  • Connectivity: USB2.0, 3.5mm audio jack, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, Wi-Fi
  • Supported audio formats: AMR-NB/WB, MP3, PCM / WAV, AAC, AAC +, eAAC +, WMA
  • Supported video formats: MPEG-4, H.263, H.264, WMV
  • GPS navigation

Monday, August 10, 2009

Amazon releases App for Android

Android took a giant leap into the mainstream this week with the release of an app for mobile phones running on the Google Android OS. With it, now Android phone users can comparison shop on Amazon while on the go.

The Amazon App for Android utilizes the Amazon Remembers technology, which essentially lets users search for things they want to purchase by taking pictures of them. Snap an item you’re looking to buy and Amazon will search its store and the inventory of some 9,000 other online merchants to find it or something like it. Or if you have a specific make and model in mind, use the phone’s camera to scan its barcode, and Amazon will search for it that way. And if you do find what you’re looking for, the app uses the same secure online purchase system as Amazon’s web site.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Archos Internet Media Tablet with Android?

If you don’t know what Archos is, then you’ll be happy to find out that it’s a France-based manufacturer which is very well known all around the world for developing innovative portable media players. The company has just announced that it decided to join the family of those who are trying to design and develop devices based on the Android mobile operating system.

First of all, we’re not talking about a common smartphone, but about an Internet Media Tablet (also known as IMT) that comes with mobile phone capabilities, indeed. The reason for something like this to happen is that the device is a mixture between the “Google’s Android telephony stack and the Archos’ multimedia framework”. Then, you should know that the IMT is equipped with the OMAP 3 platform, which is created by Texas Instruments Incorporated.

If you’re curious about the features of this Archos Internet Media Tablet, here’s what you can find on board: a 3.5 inch touchscreen display, support for Adobe Flash and Flash Video, full screen, unlimited access to TV, movies, photos, music, games, 3.5G 7.2 Mb/s HSUPA, High-class TV recording and High Definition (HD) playback and up to 500GB or memory. Measuring only 10 millimeters in thickness, the Archos IMT is equipped with a powerful battery that provides up to 7 hours of video playback.

“Archos was proud to announce the introduction of its ARCHOS 5 HSDPA IMT last year with SFR. We are continuing to advance our efforts in the IMT space with the introduction of this new product”, said Henri Crohas, CEO and ARCHOS founder. In addition, he said that “support for an Android-based device represents a historical opportunity for ARCHOS to combine all the best of our IMTs with a phone in a single device delivering high quality video and a full web experience in true mobility”.

Archos and Texas Instruments say that the Android mobile operating system based device will become available starting the third quarter of 2009.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

iRiver Plans Android iPod Touch Rival, E-Book Reader, Web Tablet

Some exciting details of iRiver's possible upcoming product range have leaked online due to an Australian-based product dealer. reports that the local product manager outlined details of an Android-based device, possibly called the K2, that would go head-to-head with Apple's iPod Touch. The K2 would have a 3.5 inch touchscreen, Wi-Fi, a built in Web browser, accelerometer, Bluetooth, and maybe even a digital TV tuner.

The report says that the "project is not yet 100 per cent signed off", and decisions on storage capacities and screen type still have to be made.

The product manager went on to tease that iRiver is also working on an e-book reader and Crunchpad-style Web tablet, but provided no further details. With the Financial Times reporting that an Apple Tablet could launch in September, these holidays could be lots of fun for gadget fans.

Android to aim at businesses

Google Inc plans to include support for business users in its Android operating system as soon as this year, pitting it against BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, a senior executive said.

Andy Rubin, Google's top Android executive, said on Friday that as well as expanding consumer features like social networking and gaming, future Android versions would support businesses who give phones to employees working on the road.

"Today, we don't support many enterprise applications but in the future, I think enterprise will be a good focus for us," Rubin, vice president of engineering at Google, told Reuters. He added that he expected to this to happen this year.

By year-end, phone makers will have launched 15 to 20 Android phone models, Rubin said. But he declined to say when manufacturers would release models with the new business software.

Any technology company could have a tough job entering the mobile enterprise market as Rim's BlackBerry is the favorite for many information technology managers, who have to support applications such as mobile email.

But Rubin said Google can compete by incorporating Android with existing Google apps like email, documents and calendars.

For example, corporations could cut costs on hardware for data storage if they give workers Android phones that support business applications connected to Google's data centers.

"You can, from an enterprise perspective, dramatically control your costs," Rubin said. "You don't have to build out infrastructure any more. Google's already doing it,"

Part of the strategy would be giving IT managers control over the phones their employees use.

"It's how do you put the control in the hands of the IT manager and give him the tools to deploy all his enterprise applications on the phone, and how does he manage the phone for security?" Rubin said.


Earlier this month Google announced the development of its Chrome operating system, which overlaps with Android in netbook computers, raising questions about the future of Android. But Rubin is already developing three new versions of Android.

Google will release two versions of Android this year: Android 1.6 code-named Donut and Android 2.0 code-named Eclair. The third version is code-named Flan.

Rubin said there will be a fourth version.

He declined to discuss specific functions in Donut or Eclair except to say that they would take advantage of the most powerful processors on the market for features like 3D gaming.

Citing the Snapdragon chip from Qualcomm Inc as an example, Rubin said it would give Android phones the same processing speed as the desktop computers of four years ago.

"They're really closing the gap and you're really starting to carry around a small computer in your pocket," he said. "You can start really thinking about serious gaming like you would on a Nintendo DS or a PSP handheld."

Rubin also said social networking services would be a key consumer focus for Android. Most advanced phones already support for social networks like Facebook and microblogging service Twitter, but Rubin said he is aiming for integrating social services deep into the operating system.

Some of the innovations rival Palm Inc's high-profile Pre phone includes the way it keeps texts and instant messages with a given contact in one place as well as its integration of Facebook contacts in the address book.

Rubin described this as "a step in the right direction." In comparison, Android options will include having Facebook contacts' photos and status updates appear on your phone when they call, potentially changing how a conversation starts.

Phone communications should pivot around the people you know, Rubin said, instead of separate folders and files with different things such as addresses and photos of those people.

"I want it just to be part of the system. I want it to be a stream of data that any (app) can tap into if it makes sense," he said. "I want to make that data available to anything, including third party developers."

This would only happen with the user's consent, Google spokeswoman Katie Watson, said, adding that Rubin was referring to future developments.

"This is stuff that's never been done before," he said.

The Motorola Sholes Android phone

The Motorola Sholes was recently spotted and is rumored to be equipped with the following specifications:
  • 3.7″ touchscreen display at 480 x 854 resolution,
  • 512MB internal memory,
  • 256MB RAM,
  • microSDHC memory card slot,
  • 5-megapixel camera with autofocus,
  • GPS navigation,
  • USB,
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • Wi-Fi connectivity,
  • Multimedia playback support,
  • CDMA and EVDO Rev A supported .
Estimated start of sale - October 2009 with an 8GB Micro SD card.
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