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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Android Modder Attempts to Outmaneuver Google

The creator of a popular souped-up version of Android thinks he's found a way to avoid a further tussle with Google over distribution of the company's mobile applications.

Google recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to Android guru Steve Kondik asking him to stop distributing applications such as Gmail with Cyanogen, his modified version of the open-source Android operating system. Cyanogen adds a load of enhancements such as an MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) shortcut and support for the FLAC audio format.

People are allowed to modify and redistribute the Android operating system because it is open source software, but Google's mobile applications are not. They're available through the Android Market online apps store, and are preinstalled on some Android devices under the name Google Experience. But by bundling the applications with his modified software, Kondik violated Google's copyrights, the company said.

"We make some of these apps available to users of any Android-powered device via Android Market, and others are pre-installed on some phones through business deals," wrote Dan Morrill on the Android developer blog.. "Either way, these apps aren't open source, and that's why they aren't included in the Android source code repository. Unauthorized distribution of this software harms us just like it would any other business, even if it's done with the best of intentions."

Kondik has backed down but thinks there is a workaround that may allow users of his software to continue to access Google's applications such as Maps, GTalk, Android Market and YouTube, while keeping Google's lawyers at bay. Installing Cyanogen means reflashing the phone, a process which erases the original software before reinstalling the modified version of Android.

He now intends to release a "bare bones" version of Cyanogen without the applications, leaving it to modders to make a backup copy of the Google applications that shipped with their phone for later reinstallation before hacking away at the Android software.

"The idea is that you'll be able to Google-ify your CyanogenMod installation with the applications and files that shipped on your device already," Kondik wrote. "I will include an alternative app store (SlideMe, or AndAppStore, not decided yet) with the basic ROM so that you can get your applications in case you don't have a Google Experience device."

Google did not have a comment on the plans.

The first Android phone was released about a year ago by T-Mobile, and up to two million of the phones may have been sold, according to analysts. Up to a dozen Android devices may be on the market by the end of the year. Cyanogen is one of the more popular versions of Android, with up to 30,000 active users, according to Kondik.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Acer A1 Android phone listed for pre-order with 768MHz processor

The rumour mill has been working overtime with stories that Acer's new Android-based A1 smartphone would be hitting this month, and while we still haven't heard anything official, it's just gone up for pre-order at Expansys.

The spec sheet is rather intriguing, since it lists Android 2.0 Donut and a 768MHz Qualcomm 8250 processor, which is a 240MHz bump over every other Android set on the market right now.

• Processor: Qualcomm 8250 768 MHz Qualcomm 8250 768 MHz
• Operating System: Android 2.0 (Donut)
• Memory: ROM: 512 MB / RAM: 256 MB ROM
• Display: 3.5-inch touch-sensitive screen with WVGA resolution
• Network: HSPA/WCDMA: 850, 1900, 2100 MHz - Up to 2 Mbps up-link and 7.2 Mbps down-link speeds
Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz Quad-band GSM / GPRS / EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
(Band frequency and data speed are operator dependent)
• GPS: Internal GPS antenna
• Connectivity: Bluetooth® 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for wireless stereo headsets. Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi ®: IEEE 802.11 b / g, 3.5 mm audio jack 3.5 mm audio jack
• Camera: 5.0 megapixel color camera with auto focus
• Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. Capacity: 1350 mAh, Talk time: Up to 300 minutes Talk time: Up to 300 minutes, Standby time: Up to 400 hours. (The above are subject to network and phone usage)
• Expansion Slot: microSD ™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)
• Dimensions (LxWxT): 115 x 62.5 x 12.5 mm 115 x 62.5 x 12.5 mm
• Weight: 135 grams with battery 135 grams with battery

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Live Pics and Impresions Of The HTC Tattoo

The guys over at the HD Blog got their hands on a HTC Tattoo. The Tattoo will be the second Android Phone with HTC Sense and it should be launching at the end of October… apparently with 1.6 Donut according to the article.

They said the software version they had and used was “immature” until they got an update recently that greatly improved things. Exactly what the means I don’t know, but they put it through paces and said battery lasted 96+ hours.

They also enjoyed the integrated FM radio and said the resistive display sensitivity is good (but no multi-touch). While it is destined to be a mid to low-level Android Phone, it still remains in the Smartphone class because, well… that’s what Android is all about.

Motorola Cliq Android Phone : Extensive Preview

We all know that Motorola is nowhere near the dominating force in the cell phone industry as it has been in the past. There are so many other competitors these days, so it’s harder than ever for Moto to rise back to the top. The Motorola CLIQ is supposed to be one of the biggest new offerings in quite some time, but how does it stand up to scrutiny?

The Boy Genius Report was lucky enough to get a review unit, even if it may not be the final production version. While it’s not nearly as groundbreaking as the RAZR was in its day, the CLIQ is said to be a “decent phone with a great concept.” Unfortunately, the execution of this concept isn’t as good as it could have been.

Rather than appealing to business users and high-end consumers who are eyeing devices like the HTC Hero, the Motorola CLIQ could be more suitable to a “young teen market” that may have otherwise chosen something like the LG Voyager or T-Mobile Sidekick. That left-aligned d-pad could be great for gaming.

Going through the hands-on preview by BGR, we learn that this phone is kind of clunky and annoyingly slow at times, but the “connected lifestyle” concept is certainly attractive. It may not be a huge boon for Moto, but the Cliq could represent a quantum leap in the right direction for the StarTAC-maker.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

First Look at the Archos 5 Android Internet Tablet

The brawny Archos 5 tablet packs a variety of multimedia features into a slim, portable design.

The past couple of weeks have been exciting for Android fans. Last week Motorola announced its entry into the Android game with the Cliq, the first phone to run the company's Motoblur user interface. Hot on Motorola's heels, LG announced its first Android phone, the LG-GW620. But the latest Android device isn't a smartphone--the Archos 5 is a full-featured Internet tablet.

This slick device does just about everything, from speedy Web browsing to HD video support. I got some hands-on time with one of the flash-drive models, and its slim size and light weight impressed me. It sports a fairly minimalist look, with a 4.8-inch 800-by-400-pixel display dominating its face and power and volume buttons at the top edge.

Oddly, the 3.5mm headphone jack is on the side of the tablet, rather than the top or the bottom. This makes the player awkward to hold, since the headphone plug jabs into your palm if you're holding the device. The first player we reviewed in the Archos 5 tablet family, which ran Linux, also had this design flaw; it's unfortunate that the company didn't fix this.

The Archos 5 Internet tablet supports a wide range of media files, including HD video. Right now, it is the only Android device that supports video formats in HD, which opens up some interesting possibilities for Android app developers who want to explore high-def territory. In my tests, video looked smooth, with bright and accurate colors, when played on the device and on an HDTV.

The browser on the Archos 5 supports Adobe Flash 9, and will be compatible with Flash 10 when that becomes available. Multimedia-rich pages such as those at loaded quickly and looked great on the large screen. One nice thing about viewing Web pages on tablets rather than on smartphones is that you can see their full width rather than having to shrink the pages down or scroll them.

Preloaded on the tablet is a suite of Android applications such as eBuddy for instant messaging, Twidroid for using Twitter, Deezer for streaming music, and Tinksfree for viewing Microsoft Office files. You can, of course, download more apps from the Android Market or from Archos's own AppsLib store for the Archos 5 and future Android tablets to come.

One of the most intriguing apps is the TeleAtlas application. The software has not only the usual GPS features (such as turn-by-turn directions and voice assistance) but also a 3D Photo Realistic mode. In that mode the maps use multiple angles and zoom levels to show landmarks and streets as accurately as possible. You get a free 7-day trial of TeleAtlas; afterward, unlocking the software will cost $50. Each 3D Photo Realistic map of a city will cost $5 when the option becomes available in the United States in the first quarter of 2010.

The Archos 5 is available today from and from the Archos Web site in two models: The flash 8GB model (expandable up to 32GB with a microSD card) costs $250, while the hard-drive 160GB model costs $430. The tablet will ship with earphones, a DVR station adapter, and a standard USB cable.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X3 Android phone to drop in January 2010?

Sony Ericsson still haven’t admitted to the existence of the XPERIA X3, their Android smartphone previously known by its “Rachel” codename, but that hasn’t stopped the speculation about when it might drop. According to MobileCrunch, it’s likely to be sometime in January 2010.

They’re quoting an unnamed source who has it on “good word” that the 4-inch touchscreen smartphone will arrive early in the new year. Previous leaks have tipped the XPERIA X3 as having an 8-megapixel camera, dualband 900/2100MHz HSDPA (10Mbps) and HSUPA (2Mbps) as well as Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi b/g and A-GPS.

There’s also a distinctive new UI, which Sony Ericsson are tipped to have developed in-house to sit on top of Android; you can see a video demo of that here. It’s all certainly possible – and as we’ve said before, we’ll never argue with new Android devices – but until we hear word from Sony Ericsson themselves (or another well-connected mole) we’ll have to take all this with a pinch of the proverbial.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Android 1.6 (Donut) SDK released, adds several new features

The developer kit for Android 1.6 is now available here. Android 1.6, also known as the Donut build, includes several new features and optimization tricks designed to greatly enhance the next version of Android. The SDK and the Android Developers blog have revealed some interesting previews of those features.

Quick Search

Android has universal search in Donut, which will scan all areas of a phone’s data – e-mail, SMS messages, and even third-party apps that are “searchable.” The system is able to recognize which results are most important to users, so contacts or apps that have been previously clicked will move to the top of future searches.

Improved Camera, Camcorder, Gallery

The Android Camera, Camcorder, and Gallery apps have been updated with an interface that makes it easier to navigate between each. Switching from camera to camcorder is easier, and the camera moves 39% faster than previous versions. There is also a 28% improvement in speed when taking one photo and moving along to next.

New Android Market

We knew this was coming but I bet you’re still happy to see there is a noticeable improvement. The Market has a new interface; options to pick between most popular paid apps, most popular free apps, and newest apps; screenshots if the app developer added them.

Text-to-speech engine

The multi-language/accent “Pico” will make Android speak text in English (American or British), French, Italian, German, and Spanish. From the description, I’d gather that this is better than the current TTS library previously seen on Android. G1 or Dream users will have to download the new engine once it is released.


App developers can now take advantage of in-app gestures. Swipes in any direction would perform any function that the developer ties to those movements.

There is also a new Battery Usage Indicator, support for CDMA (Sprint and Verizon networks), expanded support for different screen resolutions and densities, and a new version of OpenCore with audio codecs.


Monday, September 14, 2009

LG GW620 official, its first Android phone

Though, as we reported, it was first seen at IFA in Germany a few days ago, LG has just officially announced its very first Android phone -- the LG GW620 landscape QWERTY slider.

Interestingly, the "Etna" name seen at IFA is missing from the official press release, but otherwise, the 3-inch touchscreen mentioned lines up nicely with what we'd previously known.

Camera specs aren't mentioned here, but as far as we know, it's going to clock in at 5 megapixels (and anything less would look a bit paulty for a newly released phone nowadays) and the phone looks to be loaded with the standard Android build, so no customised interface like the HTC sense UI as seen on the HTC Hero.

Look for the GW620 to start showing up in "select European markets" in the fourth quarter of the year.

Wow, those Android phones sure are starting to pour out of the woodwork now aren't they..

Friday, September 11, 2009

Motorola unveils 'Cliq' Android Phone, Aims at Social Networks

Motorola today introduced the Cliq, the company’s first phone based on the Android mobile operating system. The device will have a custom interface called Moto Blur that will bring together e-mail messages, text messages, Facebook and Twitter feeds, and photos into a single interface.

The phone has a touch screen and a physical slide-out keyboard, a 5-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, 3G connectivity, the ability to shoot video at 24 frames per second, a standard headphone jack and GPS capability. The phone will be available on T-Mobile’s network in the fourth quarter. Motorola officials did not disclose the price for the phone and would not let any attendees at the Mobilize conference, where they announced the phone, examine it closely.

“This is the first phone with social skills,” said Cole Brodman, chief technology officer at T-Mobile. “Cliq and Moto Blur is the start of the next chapter of Android and shows significance of the platform.”

The phone will also be available internationally under the name Moto Dext.

Motorola also plans to introduce another phone in the next few weeks, in time for holiday season sales.

Motorola needs a hit. Financial problems over the last two years have forced the company to slash its workforce. The company has said it will focus on creating Android-based handsets but this is the first glimpse of what the company has been working on.

The Cliq also helps establish momentum for the Google-designed Android operating system. Last October HTC and T-Mobile released the first phone based on the new OS. Since then HTC has announced three more phones that run Android OS. Other handset makers such as Sony and Samsung are also reportedly working on Android phones.

The new Motorola phone’s biggest asset will be its custom-designed user interface, Moto Blur.

“The Blur makes text, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter feeds and photos from sources like MySpace, Gmail, Yahoo and corporate e-mail appear in a single stream and sync them together with no different logins,” says Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola. “This means you can focus on what people have said instead of how and where they said it. ”

The Blur also backs up user contacts, log-in information, home-screen customizations, e-mail and social network messages on Motorola’s Blur servers. If you lose your phone, Motorola says you’ll be able to locate it through their online portal using the integrated GPS, and you can even wipe its data remotely. Both features are similar to what Apple offers iPhone users through the Mobile Me service.

Motorola is not the only handset maker that’s seeking to piggyback on the popularity of social networking sites among consumers. While Apple may have kicked off the mobile apps trend, the iPhone puts different services into different buckets and fails to offer its users a smooth and easy way to access all information. For instance, the iPhone makes it difficult for users to get their Facebook and Twitter feed in a single screen.

Apple’s rivals see that lack of integrated social media features as the iPhone’s Achilles heel. And they are trying to fight back by integrating information and add social context for their customers.

Earlier this year, U.K.-based INQ released a phone designed around Facebook. Palm has also designed the user interface in its recently introduced Pre phone around integrated contacts, messaging and Facebook feeds.

But the Moto Blur and Cliq goes one step further. “The phone is really cool,” says Sean Galligan, vice-president, business development at Flurry, a mobile analytics company that has partnered with Motorola.

“We have seen apps and other handsets take on content aggregation and deliver personalization to users but the Blur offers a level of deep integration that is not available in other devices,” says Galligan.

Motorola is also counting on the success of the Android apps marketplace to attract customers.

“By the year end we will have a really good idea of what the consumer thinks. The Android apps are there and growing and social aggregation is clearly the new trend in mobile phones,” says Galligan. “But the true test will be when the consumer decides whether to buy these devices or not. ”

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Android Phone Owners Get Facebook App

Phones powered by Google Android now have an official Facebook app

Phone owners who have a smartphone powered by the Google Android operating system can now access Facebook using the long-awaited app available in the Android market.

Previously, Android users likely used Facebook Lite -- a mobile version of the site -- but its buggy interface, limited functionality, and overall difficulty to navigate the site didn't make it worth the hassle.

Phone owners can now update their Facebook status from the Facebook home screen, view news feeds, look up phone numbers, and share photos using a new GUI that looks very well-designed. When a person taps and holds on a Facebook wall item, a new menu of shortcuts opens up, allowing users to have easy access to multiple features.

Even though early rumors doubted whether the new app is official from Facebook, officials from the No. 1 social networking site that it supports the new Android app.

The app still has some issues, with some testers saying it's extremely buggy and randomly closed for no apparent reason. Furthermore, a search box to let users search for friends or other things wasn't available -- and inbox and Facebook Chat features aren't working very well.

Google is now attempting to increase the number of apps available through its app store, which Android phone owners applauded.

Pandora App Arrives on Android Phones

BlackBerry and iPhone users have had access to Pandora's mobile app for quite some time, and now Android users can get in on the action. The Internet radio station announced Wednesday that Android users can now download the Pandora app directly from or the Android Market.

The app is now available for the myTouch and the G1, and Pandora is currently working with Sprint to make sure it works with the HTC Hero when that phone is released next month, Pandora's Tom Conrad wrote in a blog post. The Android version works much like its BlackBerry and iPhone counterparts, but also incorporates many core Android features, Conrad said.

"You can control playback from a home screen widget, 'deep tap' any artist or song in the standard Android music player and jump into Pandora to discover other similar artists, make a smart folder to get quick access to your stations from the home screen, buy tracks you discover from the Amazon MP3 application, use your Android address book to share stations with your friends, and of course listen in the background while you're doing other things on the phone," he wrote.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Samsung i5700 Galaxy Lite Android phone leaked

The blog has revealed the Samsung i5700 Galaxy Lite, a "lite" version of company's first Android phone, the Galaxy.

The Lite has a flashless 3.2MP camera and 1GB of memory, very "lite" compared to 5MP and 8GB for its brother.

All other specs seem to be the same, including the touch AMOLED screen.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

HTC Click introduced as the HTC Tattoo, a phone that can be personalised both inside and out

"Everyone wants their own phone to feel like it was specifically made for them. The Tattoo, with HTC Sense represents an easy way to shape your own distinct mobile experience and really make it your own,” claims Peter Chou, HTC's CEO. 'The HTC Tattoo ensures that you can create the most engaging and appropriate mobile experience through simple yet powerful personalization.'

Of course much of that is via the Sense interface, first seen on the HTC Hero and offering the option of several customisable homescreens, along with live feeds of essentials like Twitter and Facebook, plus email and weather (amongst other things) at a glance. Your life on a small touchscreen, no troublesome menus to flick through to stay informed.

If customising the screen isn't enough, how about doing the outside too? Yes, you can design and purchase your own unique covers or search and select from popular cover designs, although the latter doesn't quite offer the same uniqueness.

The phone itself is pretty compact at 4.17 inches tall by 2.17 inches wide by 0.55 inch thick and 3.99 ounces. The HTC Tattoo features a 2.8-inch QVGA resistive touch screen and comes with a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack, a microSD expansion slot, and a 3.2 megapixel camera. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also onboard.

Of course, it's also an Android phone, which means apps a-plenty, now including Spotify on the go, along with a top-notch web experience and if you have Gmail, email that's hard to beat.

So when can you get one? Well, the HTC Tattoo should be available in Europe first at the beginning of October, heading around the rest of the world in the months following. No news on a network as yet, but expect that information in a matter of days.

Presenting the Etnea: LG's first Android phone

LG has discreetly unveiled their first ever Android phone, the LG Etnea, at IFA 2009 in Berlin.

it comes with a slide-out full QWERTY keypad to complement its 3-inch touchscreen display. We’re not sure what its complete specs are, but it is confirmed to feature a 5-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity. The keyboard itself looks nice and spacious.

LG has publicly stated that it will have at least three Android phones ready to ship before the end of 2009.

Nice work LG!

Monday, September 7, 2009

STC to release Middle East's first Android Powered Phone

yes, i know this is probably Indian, but give me a break.. it's a cool photo..

HTC Corporation has announced that Saudi telecom service provider STC will be the first operator in the Middle East to introduce the region's first Android(TM)-powered phone HTC Magic to Saudi customers.

The introduction of the HTC Magic in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the result of a successful relationship between STC and HTC.

STC, the largest telecommunication provider in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, covers an area of two million square kilometers, providing coverage to more than 100,000 kilometers of highways and 98 per cent of inhabitant areas across Saudi Arabia.

It has a larger customer base than any other provider in the Middle East - more than 19 million GSM, four million land line and one million DSL customers. To date, STC has won telecom licenses in Kuwait and Bahrain and acquired shares in companies in Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, and South Africa and is continuing to develop its outreach to become a global service provider.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rumour: HTC Touch HD2 will be an Android phone?

Original Touch HD on right, compared to iPhone

Looks like the successor to the Touch HD could be an Android phone with 3.8" Touchscreen and a 628MHz Qualcomm chip:

According to RegisterHardware, the device will get a faster Qualcomm processor at 628MHz instead of the 528MHz that HTC usually employs in its flagship devices and surprisingly, ditching WinMobile 6.1 (and the upcoming 6.5) to go with Google’s Android.

The Touch HD 2 will also allegedly feature a massive 3.8-inch touchscreen (no word on resistive or capacitive, but it is Android, so hopefully capacitive). There wasn’t any information revealed about future availability or pricing, but we’re sure that won’t be too far off now.

Here are the (rumoured) specs :

* Phone: GSM850, GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900, UMTS900, UMTS2100.
* GSM and HSDPA connectivity.
* Screen 3.6 (some say 3.8) inch WVGA touchscreen display transflective TFT, 65536 scales.
* CPU: speed 628Mhz Qualcomm processor.
* Memory: 256MB RAM and 512 MB ROM.
* Slot: Micro SD.
* Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR.
* Wireless LAN: 802.11b, 802.11g.
* G Sensor.
* Headphones: 3.5mm.
* Main Camera: 8MP

..More details as they come to hand.

Android Market undergoes makeover

Android Market is soon to undergo a bit of a makeover.

New features in Android Market for Android 1.6 that will improve the overall experience for users, with developers now able to provide screenshots, promotional icons and descriptions that will better show off applications and games.

Also added are four new sub-categories for applications: sports, health, themes, and comics. Developers can now choose these sub-categories for both new and existing applications via the publisher website.

Last but not least they have added seller support for developers in Italy. Italian developers can now go to the publisher website to upload applications and target any of the countries where paid applications are currently available to users.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More revealing pics of Dell Mini i3

Dell Mini i3 on the right, compared to Apple's iPhone, like you had to be told.

Dell is apparently edging into the cellphone business with its Mini 3I, and here are the best pictures of the incoming handset yet. Seen here running the China Mobile oPhone version of the Android operating system, the phone is still supposedly only a tech-demo according to Dell.

Given Dell's proven design chops, this could be a first-rate cell phone, with a 3.5" 360 x 240 capacitive touch screen, 3-megapixel camera and a microSD slot.

I hope Dell go into production with this, the lines have the svelt, tampered appeal of the Nokia E-series phones don't you think, with a 25th century slant to it all :

While I'm sure that shiny, shiny finish will age, it sure looks sexy right now.
Dell, bring it.

LG GW880 Android Phone will soon hit stores in China

Chinese markets will soon welcome another handset by LG dubbed the GW880, according to Engadget. It is supposedly the first Android phone by the company operating on China Mobile’s OPhone platform. OPhone reportedly stands for Open Mobile System, the name for China Mobile's customized version of Google's mobile operating system.

The device will feature a 3.5-inch 480*800 WVGA touchscreen along with 512MB ROM, 256MB RAM, GPS, a five megapixel camera with flash, front camera for video conferencing and CMMB / MBBMS Mobile TV.

As for the phone nothing apart from these details are known. LG is also apparently expecting to release the GW880 in other parts of the world besides China in the future.

Presumably if that is the case, the Chinese oPhone operating system, which is based on Android, will be replaced with the standardised Google Android.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cool Augmented Traffic Views application from Canada

Check out this Augmented Reality Application running on a HTC Magic.

Originating from Canada, this application allows you to see additional layers of information about traffic conditions ahead.

It also supports an automated predictive tracking mode - see traffic cameras in the direction you are heading well in advance, and real-time traffic maps and automated proximity Alerts (speed traps, red light cameras from your favourite POI source including PhantomAlert).

Apparently you can also add your own custom POIs (point of interest) onto the overlay.

Cool huh?

More Androids head towards Australian shores

A new breed of Androids is about to touch down in Australia as handset makers put the iPhone's dominance to the test with new smartphones built on Google's mobile operating system.

While HTC is the only company to have released Android handsets in Australia, Samsung will unveil its first Android offering next week with the launch of the Icon Galaxy.

The Galaxy taps into the desire to customise and personalise phones and integrate them with applications used elsewhere Tyler McGee, telecommunications vice-president at Samsung Australia, said.

"People are now buying their fifth, sixth or seventh handset, so I'd say, globally, the smartphone category is moving fast into the mainstream," he said.

The Galaxy has an organic LED screen and 5-mega-pixel camera, and 8GB of internal memory (which is upgradeable to 24GB) also helps to boost its smartphone credentials.

The launch of the Galaxy will be followed closely by HTC's Hero, which is due in Australia before October. No stranger to the Android platform, HTC launched the G1 Dream in Australia last February and its HTC Magic followed a few months later.

"We've certainly taken leadership with Android. We believe that in the next 18 months to two years that the cloud [where you store all your contacts and photos etc] will have a determinate factor on what devices you choose," Anthony Petts, HTC's regional sales and marketing director, said.

He said the Hero would offer better functionality and an improved user experience with a new capability, called "scenes", that allows users to group weekday or weekend usage profiles using widgets that are live and intuitive.

"We are continuing to expand the Android portfolio of products and strongly believe end users are looking for different sizes, form factors and keyboards, so we're giving them a variety of choices," he said.

While no other handset makers have formally announced new Android models for the Australian market, Motorola is reported to have two phones close to completion and set for release to some markets in September, although the company declined to provide specific timings.

"Motorola can confirm that we will be launching Android handsets but can't disclose any details at this time," it said.

Like the iPhone, one of Android's key selling features is the mass of third-party applications being created for the platform. The Android market now has 8000 applications for download and the fact that these can be built on open-source technology has made it a popular platform among developers.

Petts said Android applications delivered a unique level of depth, integrating tightly with functions such as cameras and maps, exemplified by the popular Sky Maps application, which can locate a position using the GPS to map out constellations visible from a particular location.

But interesting applications may not be enough to win over the mainstream smartphone market, Robin Simpson, a research director at Gartner, said.

"Success in the smartphone market is all about usablity and cool design. Google doesn't control the hardware so if phone makers don't come up with the good designs, that will make the platform less attractive."
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