Apr 29, 2011

Fring Group Video goes live, enables four-way mobile video calls for free

If you missed the opportunity to get your hands on Fring's limited Group Video beta, fret not, because the free service has just gone live for everyone on this planet. What this means is that all Fringsters on compatible iOS 4.x and Android 1.5+ devices (1GHz and above recommended) can now have up to three friends on one video call, and as before, you can do so over either WiFi, 3G, or 4G. Hit your nearest app market for the software update to join the fun, and head past the break to see how Group Video works.

Apple officially answers questions on location tracking, says it doesn't do it

1. Why is Apple tracking the location of my iPhone?
Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.

The big hubbub that arose last week around location tracking within the iPhone has now received its due response from Apple itself. Firstly, the Cupertino company claims it does not, and has no plans to, track users' iPhones. What it's actually doing is "maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location," which are then used to provide speedier calculation of your position when you want to use the device's maps or other location-based services. The data collection that was recently brought to the public attention represents, according to Apple, the location of WiFi hotspots and cell towers around you, not your actual iPhone. Still, the fact iPhones have been shown to store as much as a year's worth of data is considered a bug by Apple, who plans to limit that period to a week in a future software update. The additional issue of data being collected after users turned off Location Services is also a bug, also to be fixed by Apple in that upcoming update. Left unanswered, however, are the questions of when Apple "uncovered" these bugs, as it claims, and why the fix for them is only coming now. Specialists have known about this behavior since at least September of last year. Either way, the software remedy is promised over the next few weeks, while the next major iteration of iOS should encrypt the cache file that's been the subject of all the scrutiny. You'll find the full Q&A after the break.

P.S. -- One of Apple's answers seems to disclose an extra bit of new information: "Apple is now collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database with the goal of providing iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years."

HTC bumps Sync software to 3.0.5517, adds support for Incredible S and Desire S

HTC's last Sync software release (version 3.0.5511) finally saw one package supporting most of HTC's new sets in one build. The launch of version 3.0.5517 while shattering that unity adds support for both the Incredible S and Desire S to the mix. Of course there's nothing new and terribly thrilling here, just your run-of-the-mill Outlook -- and Outlook Express -- sync for contacts and calendar and the ability to whisk all your movies, music, pics, and other sync-ables to your newfangled handset. Interested? Sure you are, and the installation joy is but a quick click away. 

Asahi's new slim glass substrate for touchscreen displays gives smartphones svelte silhouettes

We all want our handhelds to have copious computing power and bountiful battery life, but thin is in, and most users are looking for a device that's less Marilyn Monroe and more Kate Moss. To keep new phones and tablets runway-ready, Asahi developed a thinner glass substrate for use in touchscreen displays. This new 0.28mm soda-lime glass is 15% thinner than the company's existing offerings, and Asahi will begin mass producing it by the end of April. The skinny new substrate will strut its stuff at SID next month -- paired with some durable Dragontrail, no doubt -- so we're looking forward to getting handsy with the company's new slim and trim displays. Mostly, we're just thrilled that our future phones won't look as fat in our jeans. 

Facebook Investors Trying To get rid of Facebook shares!

Reuters are reporting that a group of Facebook investors are trying to offload their stake in the company with the sale of their shares estimated to net $1 billion. That would value Facebook as a whole at approximately $70 billion.

Whilst the headline grabbing figures are significant in their own right the interesting part of this is that with this group of investors seeking to sell off such a large number of shares it could represent a wariness amongst those who invested in the company. That wariness, it seems, is borne out of a concern that Facebook simply cannot keep up its pace of growth in relation to the high market valuations it has received.

Indeed the group of shareholders initially tried to sell their shares for a higher price, a price that would have seen Facebook as a whole valued at $90 billion. To put that figure into perspective, Time Warner and News Corp combined aren't worth $90 billion. Investors have been looking to sink money into Facebook ahead of an expected IPO next year. However, some investors have been declining to get onboard the good ship Facebook over fears that it's valuation is hyped and that it cannot sustain its growth. Reuters cited Tim Draper, a venture capitalist, as having told them that he had passed up on investment in Facebook because of 'unattractive valuation'. Oppenheimer & Co Managing Director Todd Walker summed it up "For Facebook, the larger you get, the harder it is to have that explosive growth."

Samsung Expects To Sell 10 Million Galaxy S II

Samsung are gearing up for a massive launch event for the Galaxy S II i900. Like the original Galaxy S Samsung wants a huge launch taking in as many people as possible and to that end the plan is to launch the Galaxy S II in 120 countries on 140 different mobile networks. The handset is already available in South Korea on three different networks.

With such a big launch involving so many networks Samsung are predictably hoping for some success in sales figures with the expectation being that 'at least 10 million' units will be sold globally. That would match the level of success enjoyed the original Galaxy, which was on of last year's biggest selling handsets.

Apr 26, 2011

Exclusive! Instant messaging gains popularity as TXTing declines, BBM to blame

Apparently, those young'uns just love their BBM. According to a report by the research group Mobile Youth, young folk (read: those of you between 15 and 24) are increasingly abandoning SMS in favor of instant messaging apps, with texting expected to drop off 20 percent over the next two years. The main culprit? BlackBerry Messenger, which now boasts over 39 million users, many of them living outside the US. In fact, it's in the UK, Indonesia, South Africa, and Brazil -- all popular markets for BBM -- that Mobile Youth expects texting to dwindle the most. And if BBM is to blame, well, that drop-off could be just the beginning.

AT&T's new cell tower can fit in a suitcase, help restore networks after natural disasters

Whenever a natural disaster strikes, phone companies are typically forced to patch up their own networks with fleets of trucks that serve as temporary cell towers. It's a process that involves plenty of manpower and, most importantly, plenty of time. AT&T has a more portable solution: a cell tower small enough to fit into a suitcase. The company's new Remote Mobility Zone is comprised of an antenna and accompanying satellite dish, both of which can handle up to 14 simultaneous calls placed within a half-mile radius. Any AT&T phone can connect to the makeshift system, which will sell for anywhere between $15,000 and $45,000 (plus some monthly fees), though emergency workers will need a generator to get it up and running. They'll also have to live without 3G data, which sounds like a reasonable compromise to us.

Apr 25, 2011

ARM predicts dual-core Cortex-A15 devices in late 2012, quad-core variants 'later on'

Smartphones and tablets, the two hottest categories of consumer devices right now, are dominated by ARM processor designs, so when the company speaks up about its product roadmap, we're inclined to listen in close. The next generation of ARM system-on-chip has been dubbed Cortex-A15 and was expected to ship in 2013, but that's now been accelerated slightly to late 2012, which is when we're told to expect actual devices on sale with A15 silicon on board. Single- and dual-core variants will get us started, before quad-core options start filtering through in 2013. ARM promises a stunning fivefold improvement in performance over current Cortex-A9 SOCs and already has NVIDIA, Samsung, ST-Ericsson, and Texas Instruments signed up as licensees for that new hotness. So now even Samsung's "desktop-class" 2GHz dual-core chip that's slated for 2012 has a reason to look over its shoulder. Happy times!

Apple sues Samsung: here's the deal

So we all know that Apple's suing Samsung alleging myriad IP infringements, but you may not know what all the fuss is about. On one hand, the lawsuit is surprising because Apple gets much of the goodies it needs to build its iconic iPhones, iPads, and Macs from Sammy, and common sense dictates that you don't bite the hand that feeds you. On the other hand, however, folks in Cupertino don't take too kindly to copycats, and while it's hard to put a dollar value on the brand equity Apple currently enjoys, this lawsuit shows it's valuable enough for Apple to risk upsetting its relationship with Samsung and jeopardizing its supply chain. Having given the court docs a good read, here's our rundown of what's going on.

According to Apple's complaint, phones from Samsung (particularly the Galaxy S variety) and its Galaxy Tab are eroding the efficacy of Apple's carefully crafted brand. That brand is built, in no small part, upon the trade dress (aka the appearance and packaging) of its iDevices and its trademarked iOS icons, and Apple has spent over two billion dollars on advertising from 2007-2010 to stake out a little space in everyone's brain that associates the iPhone's looks and its progeny's derivative forms with Apple. It's worked quite well too, as Apple revealed (for the first time) in its complaint that it has sold over 60 million iPod touches, 108 million iPhones, and 19 million iPads total. Problem is, Apple views the Galaxy devices, their TouchWiz UI, and packaging -- with their Apple-esque appearance -- as illegal infringers on its hard-earned mental real estate, and it's suing Sammy to stop the squatting and pay for its IP trespassing ways.

Of course, Apple isn't just dragging Samsung to court for cashing in on the iPhone image in our hearts and minds -- Jobs and company have accused Sammy of infringing several of their patents, too. Apple asserts that TouchWiz and the Galaxy S infringe upon its iOS home screen and iPhone 3G design patents. Additionally, the complaint says Samsung has run afoul of several Apple utility patents for: the iOS instant messaging interface, the "bounce back" effect you get upon scrolling too far in a list or window, control and status widgets, UI status windows that disappear a set time after being opened, and scrolling and ellipse multi-touch gesture recognition. In light of these alleged mass IP infringements, Apple's asking the court for preliminary and permanent injunctions to take Samsung's Galaxy devices off the market, in addition to the usual request for punitives, triple damages and lost profits. We've already heard that Samsung will "respond strongly" to Apple's show of legal force, but time will tell if Sammy's strong response comes in, or out of court. 

Apple beats estimates with Q2 earnings: $24.67 billion revenue, $5.99 billion profit

Apple just announced its earnings for the second quarter of the year, and it's once again beat estimates, with it reporting earnings of $6.40 a share, a total of $24.67 billion in revenue, and a net profit of $5.99 billion. As for the sales breakdown everyone's waiting for, Apple says it sold a whopping 18.6 million iPhones in the quarter (up 113 percent over the previous year, and ahead of estimates of 16 million), plus 4.69 million iPads (actually less than the expected 6.29 million, apparently due to supply issues), and 3.76 million Macs, which represents a 28 percent jump over the same quarter a year ago. Not surprisingly, iPods are the one area that continues to slow, with sales of 9.02 million representing a 17 percent decline over the previous year -- the iPod touch accounted for more than half of those sales. One other big bright spot for the company is the Asia Pacific region, where it saw revenue grow a staggering 151 percent year-over-year.

Interestingly, Apple isn't providing any specific sales numbers for the iPad 2 -- it's only saying that it sold every iPad 2 it could make in the quarter, and that it's working hard to get it into the hands of customers as fast as it can. It didn't add much more when pressed on the issue later during its earnings call either, with it only going as far as to say that the iPad has the "mother of all backlogs."

US Army developing Android-based smartphone framework and apps

The US Army is calling upon Android app developers to help make military life a little less stressful -- and, perhaps, a lot safer. Under a new Army framework known as the Mobile/Handheld Computing Environment (CE), third-party developers will be able to create and submit tactical Android apps, using the military's CE Product Developer's Kit. The framework, originally prototyped by the folks over at MITRE, represents the latest phase in the Army's ongoing campaign to incorporate smartphone technology on the battlefield. Any app operating under the CE system will be interoperable across all command systems, and, as you'd expect, will be tightly secured. The kit won't be released to developers until July, but the Army has already begun tinkering with its baseline suite of Mission Command apps, which includes tools designed to facilitate mapping, blue force tracking, and Tactical Ground Reporting. On the hardware side of the equation, the Army is planning to deploy a new handheld known as the Joint Battle Command-Platform, or JBC-P. The two-pound JBC-P is essentially a military-friendly smartphone designed to run on a variety of existing radio networks, while supporting the full suite of forthcoming apps. The JBC-P will be tested this October, and will likely be issued on a wider basis in 2013.

Exclusive: White iPhone 4 lands at Vodafone UK

Well, would you have a gander at that? That, friends, is Apple's long-awaited, hardly-forgotten white iPhone 4, and so far as we can tell, this is actually the real deal. We've seen retailers making space for the elusive handset over the past few months, and earlier today, we heard that Vodafone UK's inventory systems were showing the white iPhone 4 as shipping in. Now, we've secured a few images of a 16GB model from a separate source that has seemingly made its way into the hands of one lucky customer (read: bloke) over in Britain. 

As the story goes, the salesperson rang it up as a black iPhone to help facilitate the transaction, and shortly after the sale went down, Voda sent out a notice to halt sale of these gems "until next week." Just so you know, the MC604B/A model number shown here is particularly interesting when compared to our own in-house UK iPhone 4; the latter, which is also a 16GB edition, sports a model number of MC603B/A. We suspect we aren't going too far out on a limb by suggesting that the "3" and "4" are there to represent hue variations, and if you'd like to stretch the theory one step further, MC605B/A represents the 32GB black iPhone 4. In other words, don't be shocked when the white 32 gigger rolls in as MC606B/A. So, is this the first legitimate sign that a white iPhone 4 is but days away from going on sale? We're hardly experts in meteorology, but it sure felt like spring in Londontown today.

P.S. - 9 to 5 Mac suggests that it'll be landing on April 27th, at least in the Netherlands.

Rugged, Android-powered Casio G'zOne Commando coming to Verizon on April 28th

After releasing a long line of rugged dumbphones, it looks like Casio has done the inevitable and given its durable G'zOne handsets the Android treatment. According to screen grabs sent in by two anonymous tipsters, the G'zOne Commando C771 combines a macho design with a 5 megapixel camera and unspecified version of the OS -- all while meeting military specifications for water, shock, and dust resistance, of course. No word on pricing, but both shots reveal it's slated to go on sale April 28th.

Froyo hits Motorola Defy, leaves a lasting impression

Until now, the best way to get Froyo on your Defy was to drop the thing while eating at a TCBY -- thankfully, the water and drop-resistant Motorola handset could take the abuse. Things are a bit easier now, however; the company announced today that the rugged handset is finally getting an Android 2.2 update, hot on the heels of Verizon's Samsung Fascinate -- half a year after the operating system first hit the market and a bit later than originally rumored.

Apr 23, 2011

Desire HD and HD2 try on Sensation's Sense 3.0 suit, needs some tailoring for it to fit

So you got all excited after seeing HTC's latest UI on the Sensation, but were dismayed to discover your hoary handset wouldn't be getting the same Sense 3.0 love? As usual, the folks at xda-developers have just the tonic for what ails you... as long as you own a Desire HD. Yup, a clever fellow by the name of capychimp took the Sensation's ROM and ported it to yesteryear's HTC European flagship phone. The port isn't perfect -- those who dive in will lose camera support and the images need some resizing to properly fit on the HD's 800 x 480 display -- but brave souls who hit the source link for the download still get all those mellifluous movements that Sense 3.0 provides. See all the smooth scrolling in action after the break. XDA-developers have also given the HTC HD2 a quick Sense 3.0 hug, along with Android 2.3.3 in a similarly incomplete custom ROM. 

Nokia X7 with Symbian 'Anna' now official on Three UK

So, it's official. The Nokia X7, unfit for a US launch, has finally found a home with Three in the UK. Theheavily leaked stainless steel handset runs an updated Symbian^3 "Anna" (aka, PR2) OS that finally introduces a vastly improved browser and portrait QWERTY with split-view data entry among its 50 new enhancements. Rounding out the specs are an 8 megapixel cam with dual-LED flash, 4-inch OLEDClearBlack display, HD video recording, and 256MB RAM / 1GB ROM with an 8GB memory card tossed in the box. You'll find the press release, video, and more pic after the break. Nokia tells us that the X7 features 720p video recording, and a 680MHz CPU -- presumably the same old (and we mean old) ARM 11 proc and found in the N8 and E7. Oh, and it's the same Broadcom BCM2727 GPU and 8 megapixel EDoF camera we reviewed in the E7. The X7 will be available in Q2 with a price set at €380 before taxes and subsidies.

Android & iOS Grab More Gaming Revenue

Android and iOS are increasingly gobbling up marketshare from the traditional portable gaming options according to new figures from Flurry and NPD. Back in 2009 iOS held a 19% share of portable gaming revenues, but a year later that figure had jumped to 34% whilst Android also entered the frey with a 9% share. That's bad news for Nintendo, which saw its DS's share of revenue drop from a very commanding 70% share in 2009 to 57% last year. Now to be fair the figures shown here are only for the current portable options and don't factor in newer options like the NGP and 3DS. Even so it does suggest an upward trend for smartphone gaming.
To put this into greater context though let's look at the overall games market in the U.S. Here we see a different story with the overall portable gaming revenue share (both smartphones and dedicated portable options) actually decreasing from 2009 to 2010; from 29% to 24%. That comes about as consoles increased their share of revenue from 71% in 2009 to 76% in 2010. So even if the likes of Android and iOS are grabbing more revenue from the portable market the overall games amrket is still very much dominated by consoles and if anything portable is losing out. Hit read more for another chart.

HTC Leakage: HTC Mazaa

It's a day for HTC rumours it seems with pictures of another purported handset appearing over at XDA Devs, this time the HTC Mazaa (yes it is a daft codename and you are right to mock it).  Sadly specs are for this handset are not in abundance, but current thinking is that the screen is 3.7 inches and will no doubt be a capacitive effort. There are three capacitive buttons at the bottom of the screen, the usual Windows Phone malarky e.g. back, home and search.
Turning to the back of the device there's a LED flash, a camera and an external speaker. Not much to go on, but the camera is supplemented by a front facing camera so expect video calling support. The chap leaking the images did mention the possibility that the handset would come with DDR2 (double rate synchronous dynamic RAM). If true then performance should be nippy to say the least.

Apr 19, 2011

Researchers use GPS, accelerometers to boost smartphone data rates

Well, this might be a good reason for The Powers That Be to know your exact whereabouts. According to a team of MIT researchers, speeding up data rates on mobile devices could be as easy as tapping the various motion sensors found in run-of-the-mill smartphones. The scientists believe our wireless infrastructure is at the root of bottlenecks, with a handful of weak transmitters clumsily "handing off" data to one another as you move out of range. The solution: use GPS radios, accelerometers, and even gyroscopes to infer where you're headed, and then choose an access point near where you're likely to end up. The difference, they report, is dramatic: a 50 percent boost in throughput, along with improved success in choosing the best bit rate. To boot, if a base station is armed with location-based info, it can better predict when the devices connected to it are on the verge of losing contact. That's all good news, but sadly we doubt any amount of promising science is enough to make the pink lady go away.

Fujitsu and DoCoMo's new dual-boot handset: Windows 7 and Symbian together at last?

Ever wished you could have a Microsoft main course with a side of Symbian? We haven't either, but if the rumors are true, Fujitsu and DoCoMo are teaming up to unleash a dual-boot device this year that can go from Windows 7 (the desktop OS, not WP7) to Symbian at the flip of a switch. According to the always untrusworthy interwebs, the LOOX F-07C will come with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a four-inch 1024 x 600 display, an Intel Atom CPU, and a 32GB SSD. We don't know if this latest handset with multiple personality disorder is real or not, but we do know its odd couple OS pairing has piqued our somewhat morbid curiosity.

Google Latitude, now with 100 percent more check-in deals

A couple of months back, Google brought check-ins to Latitude, its location-sharing service, throughGoogle Maps 5.1 for Android. Naturally, iPhone users only recently received the same functionality, but some would argue they should be grateful to be included at all. (Kidding. Sort of.) Now, Latitude's inching closer to direct competition with Foursquare and Groupon by offering check-in deals at retailers like RadioShack, American Eagle, Quiznos, and Finish Line. Google is currently namechecking over a dozen nationwide partners, and that list will surely grow as the bandwagon approaches Mach 5. Curious as to how this all works? Check in at RadioShack, for example, and you might receive ten percent off an in-store purchase. Offers are tied to check-in frequency, building on Latitude's three-tiered status system; higher status means better deals. If you'd rather peek nearby offers before you decide to leave the house, head to Google's official check in page in the source link below.

Nokia's Ovi Mail relocates to Yahoo, takes the scenic route to get there

Nokia's mantra for 2011 is change, and lots of it. A full-on shift to Windows Phone 7 ain't the only thing making waves in Espoo, though, as the overlooked Ovi Suite appears to be facing a plethora of alterations as well. Starting this month, Ovi Mail moved from its own platform and began migrating to Yahoo, the fruits of a "worldwide strategic alliance" between the two companies announced in May of last year in which Yahoo agreed to offer its Mail and Chat services to nine million registered Ovi users in exchange for access to Nokia's navigation and map services. Ovi Mail users have the option to either agree to the new terms of service with Yahoo within 90 days, or face the haunting reality of having the mail account nixed forever. For those who bite, the good news is that you'll now have access to Yahoo Chat as well as every other Yahoo service. The downside? Your contact list and emails may not all show up right away. 

According to Nokia's Ovi blog, the massive amount of information being moved to Yahoo has been causing delays, and many users are being left in the digital dark -- you know, completely without their contacts and emails. It could be anywhere between several days and a couple of weeks (!) before the missing data is accessible again, so we'd suggest using this golden opportunity to act on those vacation dreams you've been having. If we had to guess, we'd say you'll never be this hard to get in touch with ever again.

Video - White Nexus S with AT&T

Apr 12, 2011

Gordon Brown Blocked Steve Jobs' Knighthood

Reports are circulating that Steve Jobs was in line to receive a knighthood back in 2009, but that the honour was blocked by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The knighthood would have been an honourary one and Jobs would not have been able to use the title 'Sir Steve Jobs' because he is an American. Only British subjects and other subjects of Her Majesty the Queen e.g. Canadians, Jamaicans, Australians, etc can receive a full knighthood and use the title.

The knighthood was allegedly blocked because Jobs declined to appear at a Labour Party conference in 2009. Apple were seemingly aware of the intent to confer the honour, but comment was declined by the former Prime Minister's office other than to say that the former Prime Minsiter did not block the knighthood.

Smartphone Users Are Avid Gamers

A new survey from PopCap Games is highlighting how mobile usres have become  gamers in recent years.
The survey was concudcted amonst American and British adults with the finding that approximately a quarter of those surveyed had played a game on their phone within the past week. PopCap says this means they are 'avid' gamers although I'm not sure whether the survey actually looked at continuing patterns or just one game played within a week.
Unsurprisingly the figure baloons to 83% when the survey is restricted to just smartphones. Of the smartphone users some 45% say they play a game on their device every day. As I said it's hardly surprising given the massive growth in mobile gaming over the past two or three years and of course the parallel growth in hardware, which is now more capable than ever of running relatively high-end games on mobile devices.
Interestingly though 55% of smartphone owners say they use their smartphone to play games most of the tim compared with 22%, less than a quarter, who say they do most of their gaming on their computer.

Microsoft Ups Marketplace Free App Limit To 100

Microsoft have relaxed their rules on free apps (opened the floodgates some might say) by allowing developers to now submit up to 100 free apps instead of the previous limit of 5 apps.
In the past a developer had to stump up $20 if he wanted to have more than 5 free apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace. That may seem restrictive, and it is I guess, but with good reason because you only have to look at both the iPhone and Android to see copious amounts of crap in their app stores. Many an app is essentially useless, just there to garner some ad revenue dollars and quite frankly a waste of space in terms of its usefulness to the end user.
The Windows Phone Marketplace is much newer than either Apple's App Store or the Android Market and hasn't reached the stage of having hundreds of thousands of apps, but it is growing quickly and with Nokia now onboard the pace of growth will likely pick up further.
It isn't necessarily a bad idea to raise the limit though because even though crapware is bound to creep in there are also plenty of great devs out there who can potentially use this opportunity to get more superb apps out to users. Sadly the latter is almost certainly going to be outnumbered by the former.

Sony Ericsson details Xperia Play development: buttons easy, touchpad just a little trickier

In a post on Sony Ericsson's Developer Blog coinciding with the official launch of the Xperia Play atMWC earlier this month, the company clued in developers on how to take advantage of the game-specific controls they'll be dealing with on that glorious slide-out board. In short, it's insanely straightforward for the most part: the hard buttons just generate standard key codes, which explains why existing games worked so well with the unit we'd previewed. The only tricky part comes into play with the center-mounted touchpad, which can't be accessed through the standard Android SDK -- for that, you'll need to turn over to the NDK, the native-code escape hatch that Android devs use when they need higher performance and want to get closer to the hardware. SE's published a 16-page guide on getting to the touchpad through the NDK, and it seems straightforward enough -- and plenty of game developers are well acquainted with the NDK already, anyway -- so we're guessing it won't be much of a hurdle. Getting devs to support an input method that's only available initially on a single commercial device might be a bigger hurdle... but we digress.

Windows Phone's new UI and Xbox games are most exciting aspects of Microsoft deal, says Nokia poll

In search for feedback on its momentous decision to dump Symbian in favor of Windows Phone, Nokia has put up the above poll on its Conversations website canvassing opinions about what users anticipate most out of the new deal. There's no consensus choice, with the equivocation of reactions being underlined by the fact that the "Other" option was the modal response, however of the given categories, a UI refresh and Xbox-related gaming boons turned out to be most important. No surprises there, Symbian's touchscreen UI shortcomings are well known about while the Xbox tie-up has been one of Microsoft's big selling points for Windows Phone 7 since its start. We'd just ask Nokia to be quick about delivering on these things -- spending too long in anticipation mode won't be good for our health.

Video - Ixonos shows off windowed UI for Android

When your tablet needs a windowed UI, has it crossed some undrawn, implied boundary that makes it too complex for the kinds of casual tasks you'd want to accomplish on a tablet? Hard to say, but the mobile developers at Ixonos took to MWC last week to showcase a windowed build of Android on top of a tablet developed by Aava -- so at the very least, we know it's possible. The system is built atop Froyo and allows apps to continue running in the background -- they don't suspend, which means you can, say, play a video while you're off composing messages. The company also demonstrated the software on a dual-screen 7-inch tablet, allowing apps to be launched on either screen and transferred between them -- all seemingly without any customizations needed to individual apps, which is going to be key for a system like this to gain any market traction. Follow the break for Ixonos' press release and demo video. 

Samsung Galaxy S II gets upgraded to 1.2GHz, delayed until May or June

Well, it looks like there's some good news and some bad news for those holding out for a Samsung Galaxy S IIGSM Arena is reporting that Samsung has decided to upgrade the phone's dual-core processor from 1GHz to 1.2GHz, something that was first revealed on Samsung Estonia's Facebook page and has apparently be confirmed by GSM Arena itself from an "internal source." The bad news is that it seems you'll also have to deal with a bit of a delay. Some UK retailers are now listing a release date of May 6th, while Samsung India has tweeted that the phone's global launch has been delayed by "at least" a month, and that it won't roll out before June. There's no indication as to how this upgrade will affect the Tegra 2 version of the phone, which was confirmed to be on track last month.

Google intros Maps 5.3 for Android, displays your life in pie charts

Just as Google Maps 5.2 was getting used to life on your Android phone, it will soon find version 5.3 moving in to take its place -- now enabling Google Latitude fans to visualize their social habits in scrutinizing statistical form. Those who enjoy digging through Google's services might recognize this feature, noting visual data have been available on the Latitude website for some time. Also, privacy advocates should take solace that Google's opt-in Location History must be enabled to partake in this fun, which may be deleted at any time -- if you've been somewhere you'd rather forget. Now that this technology is cemented, we'd love to see a 'funny pages' display in the next release, preferably with a thick dotted line depicting our travels across town (extra points for cartoon renderings). So, Google -- what's it going to be?

HTC's market capitalization reaches $33.8b, overshadows Nokia and RIM

Nokia once said that going with Android was like "peeing in your pants" for temporary warmth. Well, even if that warmth doesn't last forever, it has now helped one of its upstart competitors, HTC, to rise beyond Nokia in terms of market valuation. This is a somewhat beguiling metric to compare companies by -- market cap measures the value of a company's shares available on the market, and not every company has the same proportion of its overall value available in stocks -- but it illustrates well the diametrically opposite directions in which the two mobile phone makers are moving. Bloomberg informs us that HTC's stock has risen by 33 percent this year, while Nokia's has shrunk by 19 percent. Surpassing Nokia now means HTC is the world's third most valuable smartphone maker. Of course, neither Nokia nor RIM is sitting idly by and letting the Taiwanese whippersnapper have things its own way, however both companies' roadmaps for re-conquering the smartphone high-end seem to stretch far off into the 2012 distance. As for HTC, we expect it to launch another Sensation of a device on Tuesday.


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