Feb 28, 2011

BlackBerry PlayBook Android app support mentioned during demo at MWC, old BlackBerrys show up in ShopSavvy's Android logs

As far-fetched as it may seem, rumors that RIM is working on some sort of Android app support for its QNX-based PlayBook tablet have persisted in various forms for months now -- and they've turned up once again in a video posted by development community MobileMonday's Rio chapter taken at MWC earlier this month, where a RIM rep seemingly says "we will also support Android apps" after talking about Java-based offerings. Of course, this could've been staged by some rabble rousers or a rep could've simply been echoing back the rumors he's seen on the interwebs -- but regardless, it adds fuel to the fire. Follow the break to see the video of that.

But it gets weirder. ShopSavvy -- which makes versions of its app for iOS and Android -- has started turning up a couple of older BlackBerry devices in its Android build's usage statistics on Flurry: the Curve 8300 and 8520, to be specific, along with an 8600 model that doesn't exist (at least, not yet). The 8300, in particular, is pretty ancient at this point and we're having a hard time wrapping our brain around RIM's game plan in porting Dalvik (or a Dalvik-like) VM and associated libraries over to it; if anything, Flurry could be confused. Then again, a next-generation full-touch BlackBerry that just happens to run a full suite of Android apps in a sandbox could be a pretty compelling product, indeed.

Motorola Atrix 4G launched in Pakistan by Homeshopping for Rs. 74,990/-

Pakistan's premium online retaliler has launched the most cuttting edge smartphone available today by any manufaturer in the world, the Atrix 4G for Rs. 74,990/-. It is one of the first Android smartphones with Nvidia Tegra2 inside (a dual core processor of 1GHz for every core). Specifications are quite impressive and this gadget will be a benchmark for the first part of 2011. So meet 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of in-built memory coupled with microSD memory cards of up to 32 GB. You can find the details of the Atrix 4G here. If you want to buy it, you can find the direct link to the online retailer at the source link below.

ViewSonic intros dual-SIM V350 smartphone, Windows 7 / Android dual-boot ViewPad 10Pro tablet

First up is the V350 smartphone shown above, a dual-SIM creature with a 3.5-inch HVGA capacitive touchpanel, Android 2.2, five megapixel camera, a microSD card slot, WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1 and A-GPS to boot. By supporting a pair of SIMs, it allows jetsetters to carry two SIMs from two operators in order to take advantage of different plans and networks for voice / data in different countries. 

Moving on, there's a highly intriguing new tablet in the waiting -- the ViewPad 10Pro. This 10-incher (shown after the break) is a "professional" slate with dual-boot functionality, enabling users to tap into Android 2.2 or Windows 7 Professional at their leisure. It's also one of the first tablets to utilize Intel's long-awaited Oak Trail platform, and it'll ship with a 1024 x 600 LED-backlit capacitive multitouch screen, inbuilt 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth and a battery good for six or so hours of life. Finally, the ViewPad 10s -- which was just unveiled at CES -- is seeing a gentle update in Barcelona, with the ViewPad 10s 3G (predictably) gaining integrated 3G functionality. Mum's the word on pricing and release, but as always, we'll be prying for more once we touch down at BCN. Hit read more for pictures.

INQ launches Facebook-focused Cloud Touch and Cloud Q phones

We've been hearing a fair bit of buzz about INQ and Facebook getting all cozy-like and creating aFacebook phone. Well, that's only half right: INQ has made its first Android 2.2 device, really focused on Facebook integration, and seem to have really nailed it. The two devices are the INQ Cloud Touch (pictured above) and a QWERTY device with exactly the same specs -- but, with a QWERTY keypad, of course -- named the Cloud Q. Features include triband HSPA for the European folks, 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display, 5 megapixel autofocus camera, all manner of mail support including Exchange, what appears to be legendary Facebook support, and Spotify onboard as the de facto music app with a dedicated key. Hit read more for details.


Joining Gordini versions of the Twingo and Clio small cars, Renault has unveiled the Wind Roadster Gordini. Touted as a “true driver’s car”, the Wind Gordini is finished in Malta blue with twin white racing stripes. The coupe/roadster also features 17-inch black diamond wheels, Glacier white accents on the door mirrors, grille and rear wing, a gloss black roof and, of course, special “G” badging. Hit read more for details and pictures.

Google Translate for iPhone hits the App Store

iPhone users have been able to use a mobile-optimized HTML5 version of Google Translate for some time now, but they can now finally also get an honest-to-goodness app of their own just like their Android-using friends. That brings with it a number of enhancements over the basic web app, including a speak-to-translate feature with support for 15 languages, the ability to listen to your translations in 23 different languages, and a full-screen mode that lets you show your translated text to others with large, easy-to-read text. Google is still keep a few features exclusive to the Android version, however, including the still-experimental conversation mode that allows for some on-the-fly translations -- both apps are also still lacking a much-needed beatbox mode.

Dropcam app comes to Android, lets you monitor your security cameras from afar

iPhone users have been able to keep watch on their Dropcam security cameras from the convenience of a dedicated app since the Dropcam Echo launched last summer, but Android users have unfortunately been left with no other option than to simply use the standard, less-than-mobile-friendly web interface. The company's now finally corrected that oversight, however, and released a full-fledged app for Android smartphones running Android 2.2 or higher. The key advantage with a Dropcam setup -- as we noted in our review of the camera itself -- is that it's entirely cloud-based, and doesn't need to be connected to your home computer to record or share video (unfortunately, that convenience comes at quite a cost). As for the Android app, it will let you receive things like motion and audio alerts, and of course let you check in on a live stream or access recordings -- those just looking try the service can also simply access some public webcams to test it out.

Feb 27, 2011

Nexus S 2.3.3 update adjusts screen's color temperature

We've been hearing reports about Nexus S' Android 2.3.3 update adding a yellow tint to the screen and even washing out its colors, but according to Google's Ry Guy, said patch is indeed intended to tweak the display's color temperature. Here's the full quote from Google's support forum:

"With your new OTA complete, you may notice a slight difference in the way colors are displayed on your Nexus S. For Nexus S, we have adjusted the color temperature settings to more accurately reflect darker colors at all brightness levels. The Gingerbread UI being darker, we found that the colors were not as accurate when the device was being used at lower brightness levels. For example, some users reported that the initial color temperature was too high leading to some darker greys having a reddish tone; with the new color temperature this is no longer the case."
So while this display tweak is well-intentioned, it looks like many commenters on both the forum andXDA-Developers aren't too happy with this. Being curious geeks that we are, we went ahead and manually updated our own Nexus S (and by the way, be sure to match your build number with the appropriate patch). As you can see in our comparison photos (shot with the same manual camera settings and medium screen brightness), the new overall color temperature is no doubt subtly warmer, although the dimmer brightness settings no longer suffer from the aforementioned red tone. Interestingly, we actually approve this change, and the Super AMOLED display certainly doesn't look washed out to us, nor do we see any noisy dithering that some have reported. Surely we can't be alone. Well, there's only one way to help solve this mystery: if you happen to be a fellow Nexus S owner who's applied this update, why not chime in below?

Nexus S and Nexus get Android Gingerbread 2.3.3, fixes random reboots and writes NFC tags

Your Nexus One is a second-class citizen no more: Today, Google's rolling out Android 2.3.3 to both its premier smartphones. The latest build, still referred to as Gingerbread, brings even more NFC goodies than foretold, as the Nexus S will soon be able to write (not just read) rewritable NFC tags as well as act as a glorified NFC tag itself. (You can see both possibilities in the three screenshots above.) What's more, Google tells us Android 2.3.3 will fix the random reboots that have plagued the Nexus S as of late, and offers other random bugfixes as well. You'll find the whole kit and kaboodle streaming to your phones over the air during the next few weeks to come. We're also hearing that integrated Facebook contacts will be treated differently in Android 2.3.3 -- we've reached out to Google for more information.

Samsung Galaxy S 4G now available from T-Mobile

Samsung's Galaxy S 4G might not have the very latest version of Android or too much hardware differentiation from the original T-Mobile Vibrant, but hey, it brings a front-facing camera and HSPA+ connectivity, so of course it costs $200. T-Mobile will have disappointed many with its clarification that the Galaxy S 4G will cost a pair of Benjamins on contract, exactly as much as its Samsung-built predecessor did seven months ago, and not as the carrier had originally indicated, $150. Also similar is the fact that T-Mo is launching this phone with an Android build that's one iteration behind the cutting edge, meaning the Froyo update headaches of last autumn may return in the form of Gingerbread jitters this spring. All the same, if the Magenta team sees fit to chop the Galaxy S 4G's price the same way it'sbeen doing with its other Android handsets, we could be in for a fine bargain in the near future. 

Motorola Atrix 4G Laptop Dock demo units have multitouch trackpads

We were crestfallen to discover that our review unit of the Laptop Dock for Moto's Atrix 4G didn't have multitouch capability, making scrolling a rather old-fashioned affair -- and considering that a desktop build of Firefox figures prominently into Webtop's capabilities, scrolling is something you'll be doing quite a bit of. Well, this is where it gets weird: a number of people on xda-developers are discussing the fact that in-store demo units of the Laptop Dock seem to mysteriously have multitouch added in, and at least one poster notes that a Motorola rep that visited his local store a while back had multitouch working as well. That means one of three things: either these units are physically different hardware, they're running a prerelease firmware upgrade, or they've got a feature that was pulled at the last minute, possibly because it didn't work very well. Unfortunately, the latter seems plausible because Motorola has indicated to us that the Laptop Dock's hardware doesn't support multitouch and it's not something we can expect to be added in down the road -- but we can hope.

Nokia sneaks a look at new Symbian UI during China event

Perched behind Nokia's head of smart devices, Jo Harlow, at a recent event in China is what appears to be a new home screen on an N8, yet more evidence -- hot on the heels of the company's MWC event -- that Espoo still has plenty of love in the wings for its dead-platform-walking. Notably, it appears they're looking at migrating key information to the top of the screen to create a dedicated status bar, which would presumably stay visible as you navigate from screen to screen -- akin to most other platforms on the market -- accompanied by a string of soft button icons at the bottom. Interestingly, the UI in some respects mirrors what we saw on the leaked shots of the apparently killed N9 -- small black status bar and icons along the bottom -- which would seem to tell us one of two things: either the N9 was a Symbian device all along, or the company had planned on standardizing UI elements between its future Symbian and MeeGo roadmaps. Either way, this looks like a nice improvement... and in all likelihood, a far cry from what we'll see when these guys start busting out Windows Phone 7 devices.

Microsoft details Windows Phone 7 update problem, 'small number' of Samsungs affected

Redmond is opening up and offering a few facts, stats, and tips around its first update to Windows Phone 7 -- an update that didn't go smoothly for everyone -- and it sounds like there are at least three distinct failure modes, two of which are pretty simple to fix. The company figures that somewhere around 10 percent of users attempting the upgrade encountered a problem, but of those, "nearly half" failed because they lacked a proper internet connection or enough disk space (turns out the update process takes a backup of the phone's contents just in case something goes horribly awry). Most of the remainder may have been swept up in the issue affecting "a small number" of Samsung devices, an issue that the company says it's working to fix as quickly as possible -- and in the meantime, they've turned the update off for those models. 

Put simply, when you get prompted to install the update, Microsoft simply recommends that you've got plenty of hard drive space on your PC (you can't do this one over the air) and a solid connection to the interwebs; some 90 percent succeeded in installing the new code, which isn't too shabby considering this is the very first update to the platform they've attempted so far. Let's just hope that brick rate is down to zero by the time the good stuff comes, right?

Must Watch Video: Android activations mapped geographically, chronologically, breathtakingly

Do you ever wish for an easier way to show your uninitiated friends what you mean when you say Android is growing? Well, here's the video for you: a Google-produced map of the world that throbs with Android activations over time, highlighted by some truly eye-opening flourishes in the immediate aftermath of marquee handset launches. The Google guys have even given us handy countdown timers -- "Droid launch in 3, 2, 1..." -- and broken things down by continent for easier viewing. Only thing missing is a soundtrack, so just have your Tron: Legacy OST loaded up and ready before jumping past the break.

LetsTalk goes out in a blaze of glory, sells Atrix 4G and Laptop Dock bundle for $250 as AT&T partnership ends

We can totally picture how this went down: AT&T appears to have made it not worth LetsTalk's time (orWirefly's time) to sell its phones anymore, which means they're parting ways staring next month. LetsTalk -- wishing to end its AT&T relationship in the most spectacular fashion imaginable -- has elected to sell the Motorola Atrix 4G / Laptop Dock bundle for $250 on contract after rebates, essentially half of what you'll pay through AT&T directly (LetsTalk runs Walmart's wireless store portal, which we've linked). The fire sale might not fix some of the dock's flaws... but it certainly makes them a little less painful.

iPad 2 Event Scheduled For 2nd March

If you thought the iPad 2 was going to be unveiled today then I'm afraid it's a date with disappointment for you because Apple have been sending out press invites for a 2nd March event that should see the device officially announced.

The event will of course be held in the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, an Apple staple, at 10 am PST. Recent rumours had pegged the iPad 2 as being delaye duntil at least the summer, but that's been safely debunked now.

Videos: Microsoft's Future Of The Interface

Windows Phone 7 doesn't even have copy/paste (yet), but Microsoft are looking ahead to future features and admittedly they do look pretty awesome.

It's not just specifically Windows Phone 7, but computing in general, but of course with advances in interface technology the ever present smartphone becomes part of that. So, for example, you see someone taking a picture and then putting the phone down on a surface to instantly transfer that picture (like the Pre 3 does at the moment it should be said). Hit read more for the video of the smartphone interface!

Feb 25, 2011

Microsoft pulls Windows Phone 7 update from Samsung phones until it can resolve issues

Such a big load of trouble for such a small update. Microsoft's first WP7 firmware refresh has been causing some unfortunate brick-like behavior in Samsung Omnia 7s and the company has wisely decided to pull the new software back until it can correct whatever's going wrong. An official communiqué toWinRumors says Microsoft has identified the issue at hand and is working to correct it and redistribute the update as soon as possible. For any Samsung WP7 phone owners who haven't been able to resuscitate their device yet, the advised course of action is to go back to the store and swap it for a livelier one.

Forget the white iPhone 4, white iPhone 5 rumors begin!

It's the perfect rumor: the officially delayed and frequently tattled white iPhone 4 has reemerged as the white iPhone 5 riding a horned stallion through virgin rumor fields. According to the Economic Daily News, the previously unheard of white iPhone 5 will feature a touch panel supplied exclusively by Wintek. If true, then the white iPhone 4, officially scheduled for a spring 2011 launch, should be available just prior to the launch of the next generation white iPhone 5, anticipated for a summer launch in keeping with Apple's typical launch cycle. Not exactly ideal, but hey, it's only the first of many related rumors to come. 

Microsoft pushing small update to Windows Phones to prepare for copy and paste update later on

Don't get too excited when you see this update notification pop up -- as far as we can tell, it's got nothing users will notice -- but we've just been told by Microsoft that the company is getting ready to send out the first software upgrade to Windows Phone 7 devices in the field early this week. It's being billed as a "minor update to help prepare" for the copy and paste stuff(which we're assuming is still targeted for early- to mid-March, per Ballmer's MWC keynote), though the exact timing of this first one will vary a bit depending on carrier. Oh, and a note before you hook up to try to grab it: it also required a recently-pushed update to the Zune software (or the Connector for Mac OS), so you'll need to get that first before restarting the app and looking for the phone firmware.

AT&T Motorola Atrix 4G now on sale, $149.99 at Amazon or RadioShack (update: $129.99 at Walmart)

The hotly reviewed and already rooted Atrix 4G is now on sale at AT&T. As expected, the privilege of buying direct from the carrier will set you back $199.99 with a two-year contract in the range of $39.99 per month for the Nation 450 on up to $69.99 for the Nation Unlimited with another $15 per month for a 200MB DataPlus plan or $45 per month for a Data Pro 4GB + tethering plan. Or shop on over to Amazon (or RadioShack) who lists the same HSPA+ device for $50 less with a 24-hour ship time. Remember, if you just have to have the laptop dock then you'd best do it now while it's offered with the handset in a $499 bundle (after $100 mail-in rebate and purchase of the Data Pro plan with tethering add-on) -- the same laptop dock purchased separately will cost you $499.99. No, really. Walmart is offering the Atrix 4G handset for a measly $129.99 for those of you activating a new account before Thursday.

Video - Researchers steal iPhone passwords in six minutes

Losing your smarpthone is bad enough. But if you lose your iPhone and don't issue a remote wipe command (available for free with the Find My iPhone app) then you could find yourself in a world of hurt. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute Secure Information Technology (Fraunhofer SIT) can jailbreak and decrypt passwords from the iPhone's keychain -- for say, your Gmail account, corporate VPN, home WiFi, and MS Exchange -- in about six minutes using existing, known e

Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo video

The rumored Xperia Neo still isn't official -- we think we're probably looking at MWC next week for that -- but there are enough floating around at this point so that they're getting tested pretty thoroughly (or, at least as thoroughly as you can test a pre-production device). The latest tidbit comes via a series of videos and stills that put the phone's 8.1 megapixel sensor through its paces; frankly, they look a little washed out, but it's really common for camera performance to improve by leaps and bounds through firmware updates right up until a phone's commercial release so we don't want to sound the alarm quite yet. My Android Life has also thrown together a quick video walkthrough of the UI, where you see that Sony Ericsson seems to be standardizing on the same experience first seen on the Xperia Arc and later on the Xperia Play -- highly widgetized with a Gingerbread core. All things considered, it seems the Arc's a higher-end device -- but if the price is right, this Neo could win some hearts as well. Follow the break for the UI walkthrough. 

TI announces OMAP 5: two high-performance and two low-power cores, devices next year

Were the Dual core 1GHz processors for phones too much for you? Than how do you feel about 2GHz smartphone processors? We're still waiting for the first OMAP 4 devices to hit the market, but TI's planning ahead -- way ahead -- with its announcement today of the OMAP 5 platform that really kicks things into high gear. The headline feature would be the inclusion of two Cortex-A15 cores, each running at up to 2GHz; Cortex-A15 is the fastest architecture ARM has announced to date, featuring performance roughly 50 percent better than Cortex-A9 at the same clock speed. What's more, there are another two Cortex-M4 processors along for the ride, ready to take over less intensive tasks at much lower power consumption to improve device responsiveness. The platform can support up to four cameras operating at the same time, offer 3D playback, recording, and 2D upsampling to 3D at 1080p resolution, and control up to 8GB of RAM. The chips start sampling to device manufacturers in the second half of this year with retail devices expected in the second half of 2012.

Aava Mobile reportedly set to reveal Medfield-based Android / MeeGo phone at MWC

Want Android and Meego on the same phone? Will that be a dream come true? Well if you'll recall, Intel briefly showed off a Medfield-based phone late last month, and now we're hearing that Aava Mobile -- the same company responsible for a WoW-crunching Moorestown demonstration at Computex -- is poised to release a real stunner in Barcelona. Slashgear has it on good authority that Aava's second-generation Core design will be officially rolled out in a matter of days, complete with Intel Inside, an 8.9mm-thick chassis, Android and MeeGo. You read correctly -- both mobile operating systems will be supported. It's said that Aava doesn't actually plan on hawking these to consumers; instead, they'll be shuttled off to developers in order to promote its integrated ACPU and modem platform. 


Few automakers are better positioned to offer vehicles to buyers in frigid climates than Subaru, so the Japanese brand says it plans to capitalize on the strong Nordic market by upfitting its vehicles with compressed natural gas at a plant in Sweden. The automaker says it has signed a deal with Italy’s BRC Gas Equipment to convert brand new Subaru Legacy and Subaru Outback models to environmentally-friendly CNG and it is in talks with Saab about using a vacant facility owned by the Swedish automaker. Saab would not be involved in the project beyond renting out one of its holdings to Subaru. Hit read more for details.

Verizon iPhone 4 gets torn apart, Qualcomm MDM6600 chip found inside

Not exactly a huge surprise here, but the folks at iFixit have gotten their hands on a Verizon iPhone 4, and they've already torn it apart without even bothering to make a phone call. In addition to the expected differences, they found that the phone packs a slightly lighter battery than its counterpart (same capacity, though), that the mechanical vibrator has been redesigned and moved from the top right corner of the phone to the bottom left and, most notably, that it boasts a Qualcomm baseband chip, which lines up with what we've been hearing since last month. That's a Qualcomm MDM6600 chip, to be specific, which supports HSPA+ data rates up to 14.4 Mbps, and is the same chip used in the Droid Pro. Yes, that also means that the chip technically supports both GSM and CDMA, although Apple has apparently decided not to take advantage of that capability for one reason or another -- iFixit speculates that it may have been easier to design antennas for a CDMA-only phone. 

Google's 3rd Feb event full video! On Honeycomb on the Xoom, Android Market website, in-app purchases, and Cee-Lo Green

There was plenty about Google's Android event that didn't make headlines but was worth noting. Hardware acceleration of both 2D and 3D UI elements -- shown off to great effect by Google's Hugo Barra, who managed to scroll through three lists simultaneously without inducing any lag on the Motorola Xoom -- should make Honeycomb as delicious to look at as it sounds, while our personal favorite, the new tablet-specific email interface, should be part of Gmail yesterday. The email UI is built out of elements Google calls fragments, which will supposedly be easy to transition down to smartphones, so thumbs up all around. The video above also runs you through the big news of the day, namely that Android Market can now be accessed via a dedicated website and apps downloaded to your device remotely, along with the equally important (for devs) addition of in-app purchases. Finally, Cee-Lo Green pops in for a video chat session from wherever he is on the internets, and we're all treated to an exhibition of lag-afflicted, awkward conversation. What's not to love? Hit read more for the full video!

iOS no accounts for over 2% of GLOBAL internet traffic!

After the desktop stalwarts of Windows 7 and Mac OS, the world's third most popular platform for web browsing turns out to be Apple's iOS. The software that makes iPhones, iPod touches and iPads tick has been identified by Net Applications as responsible for over two percent of the global traffic data analyzed in the web statistician's latest report -- the first time iOS has crossed that threshold. The UK and Australia had more than five percent each, while the USA clocked in at 3.4 percent. Leaving operating systems aside, Chrome has continued its steady growth on the browser front and now stands at a 10.7 percent share, more than doubling its slice from this time last year. Internet Explorer overall has dipped to its lowest level yet, at 56 percent, however Net Applications indicates IE8 is showing nice growth. So at least it's looking like we're finally ready to bury the zombies known as IE6 and IE7, whatever other browser we choose to migrate to.

Agility Saietta unveiled, the decidedly unconventional electric sports bike

Agility Saietta unveiled, the electric sports bike with unconventional styling
A new player has entered the electric motorcycle game, joining the likes of Brammo's Empulse but doing it with rather more... unconventional styling. It's the Agility Global Saietta, an all-electric sports bike that will come in two flavors: the 50 mile range Saietta S and the 100 mile Saietta R. The latter of the two will be quicker than the first, getting to 60 in under four seconds, whereas S riders will have to wait another tick of the stopwatch. Naturally that extra range and speed will cost you: £9,975 for the S and £13,975 for the R, figures that equate to roughly $16,200 and $22,650. Hefty sums, both, but nobody said being on the cutting edge of the humpbacked sport bike trend was going to be cheap. We weren't given any specific horsepower or weight figures, but we're told the power to weight ratio is 675hp per ton. You can make your own guesses about weight to try and get a firm power figure, but it certainly should be peppy enough. Hit read more for details.


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