Feb 19, 2011

Acer jumping on the Windows Phone 7 bandwagon this fall

Acer jumping on the Windows Phone 7 bandwagon this fall?
One manufacturer who has not boarded on the Windows Phone train to commerceville is Acer, who is certainly all over when it comes to Android. Why no WP7 love? No word on that front, but we're told that may be changing this fall. The company is reportedly looking at releasing one or more handsets for the platform to coincide with the first major Windows Phone update, currently given the saucy nom de guerre "Mango." That's right about when we're expecting our first Nokia WP7 handsets, which means things could be getting interesting in Microsoftia this September.

Nokia shareholders and unions fight back against Microkia

Nokia shareholders are not very happy right now with NOK taking a 25 percent hit since the announcement of the Microsoft marriage. Stephen Elop, Nokia's first foreign-born CEO, is taking heat on multiple fronts even as he prostrates himself to the media in hopes of getting his message out. Already, we've heard numerous conspiracies calling Elop a "trojan horse," sent by Steve Ballmer to sabotage Nokia from within. Conspiraloons are quick to point to records showing Elop holding a significant number of Microsoft shares -- a situation that Elop says is temporary (and outdated) having already sold a majority of his Microsoft position with plans to sell off the rest in favor of Nokia stock just as soon as he's free to do so under regulatory moratoriums meant to prevent insider trading. Nevertheless, Nokia will be facing at least two very real showdowns on its near-term horizon. Hit read more for details.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb emulator has traces of smartphone support

Thought Honeycomb was just for tablets? Well, it's not! Sure, tablets might be Google's main thrust with the release, but we've been able to dig up enough evidence in the preview SDK's emulator released yesterday to suggest that these guys are still keeping their eyes on the smartphone prize.

Here's how it works: the emulator can be set to load at an arbitrary screen resolution. By default, that's WXGA, 1280 x 768 -- perfect for tablets, but obviously a wee bit large for even the biggest smartphones. Well, it turns out that setting the emulator to WVGA (like you might find on a modern mid- to high-end smartphone) triggers a moderately different shell UI that lacks most of the whiz-bang home screen stuff Google's shown on the Honeycomb tablets. In fact, the default launcher crashes out entirely, which means you need to install a replacement (Launcher Pro works nicely) just to play around. Hit read more for details.

Stanford researchers demo social NFC applications on the Nexus S

To hear most mobile companies tell it these days, you'd think that NFC (or near field communications) is only for mobile payments. That's not the case at all, of course, and a group of researchers at Stanford's MobiSocial lab have now thrown a few new ideas of their own onto the table after getting a pair of Nexus S phones to play with. After first making a few tweaks to overcome some of Gingerbread's limitations -- it only uses NFC for reading tags -- they were able to develop a few social-minded applications that make use of the P2P functionality possible with NFC. That includes one example that lets you share photos simply by pressing two phones together, and a second that lets two phones share an application -- collaborative whiteboard, in this case. Unfortunately, those aforementioned tweaks to Android mean you can try out the apps yourself just yet, but the researchers are hopeful that similar applications will eventually be supported by Android and other platforms. Head on past the break to check them out on video.

VZ Navigator Version X breaks cover, adds 'virtual city' maps, social features, and more

Paying a monthly fee -- or any fee, for that matter -- for turn-by-turn navigation on Android devices has felt pretty unpalatable ever since Google Maps Navigation happened, but Verizon's still trying to make things interesting with the latest version of its VZ Navigator product. A quick feature rundown of its new "Version X" is up on YouTube right now, and we'll admit, we're a little intrigued by some of this stuff: realistic 3D buildings in major cities (unlike the nondescript boxes in Google Maps, we imagine), some form of dead reckoning capability for those times that you don't have GPS reception, satellite maps, overhead street signs, social integration for letting folks know where you are, and a whole bunch of views for customizing the experience. We're assuming service is the same $9.99 a month that Big Red charges currently, but there'll also be a free version -- VZ Navigator Maps -- that dispenses of some of the crazier features. We're hearing this might be officially announced in a few hours, so more details will presumably be in tow; in the meantime, follow the break for the teaser video.

Deutsche Bank ditches BlackBerry for iPhone, Apple puts chink in RIM's enterprise armor

For years, suit-and-tie circles have bowed to BlackBerry as the king of corporate communication, but iOS has been creeping in on enterprise territory, calling into question RIM's sovereignty in the boardroom. The folks at Deutsche Bank Equity Research struck the most recent blow to RIM's enterprise dominance with the announcement that they'll buck BlackBerry for iPhone, following a trial using Good Technology's secure email app. The company tested the app in conjunction with Microsoft Exchange Server, delivering AES 192-encrypted email and calendar data to employees, and, according to the firm's research analyst, the iPhone proved an easier and faster solution to BlackBerry. Last summer, AT&T announced that 40 percent of iPhone sales are enterprise, and we just reported on RIM's possible move to devices beyond the BlackBerry. We're not saying it's off to the guillotine with the old standard bearer, but it definitely looks like there are new contenders for the enterprise crown.


Although most vehicles built in the United States don’t normally make it any farther than Canada, Ford has announced it is exploring a plan to export U.S.-made vehicles to China.

Ford signed an agreement to explore the possibility of exporting U.S.-made vehicles to China earlier on Thursday. “Ford Motor Company is evaluating opportunities to import vehicles to China from the U.S., subject to our business plan and to Chinese regulatory approvals governing vehicle imports,” the automaker said in a statement. Hit read more details.

Google Latitude joins check-in game with Maps 5.1 for Android

We're honestly surprised it took this long, but Google is finally employing a social hook that so many of its peers (Foursquare, Facebook, Yelp, and so on) have long embraced: the location-based check-in. Coming to Google Latitude with today's Maps 5.1 for Android, the company hopes to set itself apart from the competition with features like check-in notifications (disabled by default), automatic check-ins for your most frequent establishments (case-by-case activation), and "check out" that detects when you leave a location. Hit read more for details.

LG G-Slate fully detailed by T-Mobile: 3D viewing and recording, available March

Though it was technically announced back at CES, T-Mobile just barely talked about the LG G-Slate there, spending more time chatting up Dell's Streak 7 and letting Motorola's Xoom get virtually all of the Honeycomb attention. Well, that's changed today with a handful of official new details: turns out the G-Slate features a 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor, 32GB of internal storage, both a gyroscope and accelerometer, and -- this is key -- stereoscopic rear-facing video cameras capable of 1080p 3D capture, one of which doubles as a 5 megapixel still camera with LED flash. There's also a third 2 megapixel camera up front for video chat over T-Mobile's HSPA+ network or WiFi. Going back to that 3D business for a moment, you'll need glasses (it's unclear if they're active or passive) to enjoy recorded or downloaded 3D content on the G-Slate's 8.9-inch display -- but you'll also be able to output 1080p video over HDMI to the external display of your choice. Pricing is still an open question, but the companies are now comfortable enough to say that we can expect it "this spring," so go ahead and start thinking about all the blooming springtime plant life you'll be filming in three glorious dimensions. Follow the break for the full press release.

Update: While T-Mobile hedges its bets with a "spring" launch, LG says that it'll be hitting US soil in March as one of the first Honeycomb tablets. The honor of being first will almost certainly go to the Motorola Xoom -- Google's in-house "dogfooding" tablet.


Marking the third-generation of its ultra efficient concept, Volkswagen has taken the wraps off its XL1 Super Efficient Vehicle at the Qatar Motor Show. The XL1 follows in the footsteps of the One-Liter and L1 concept cars.

Highlighted by its sleek body shape, the XL1 registers a coefficient of drag figure of just 0.186. The XL1 has an overall length of 156.3 inches and, at 46.6 inches tall, is comparable in height to the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. Hit read more for details and pictures.


Aston Martin has taken the wraps off its driver-focused Vantage S model. Aston Martin says the new Vantage S was influenced by the recently introduced Vantage GT4 racecar.

The Vantage S uses Aston Martin’s familiar 4.7L V8, but power has increased from the Vantage V8’s 420 horsepower to 430 horsepower. Torque is also up, increasing from 346 lb-ft to 361 lb-ft. But the Vantage S is about more than just power tweaks, with the car featuring a number of other improvements. Compared to the standard Vantage V8, the Vantage S features a faster steering ratio, larger diameter front brake disc with new six-piston front brake calipers, revised springs and dampers, wider rear tires, a new stability control program and Hill Start Assist. Hit read more for details and pictures.

Microsoft posts Cloud Services SDK preview for Windows Phone 7

Tying into its cloud computing initiatives from the past couple of years, Microsoft has released a preview version of its Cloud Services SDK for Windows Phone 7 with the goal of enabling devs to tap into online computation, storage, notification, and security capabilities exposed by some of the other cloud projects that Redmond's already working on. The main thrust of this seems to be Project Hawaii, which is being spearheaded by Microsoft Research to build cool and interesting mobile-focused stuff that rests atop the company's cloud services. The first two of those services are called Relay and Rendezvous; the former enabled phone-to-phone communication to the cloud without the need for static IP addresses, while the latter is some sort of aliasing system for assigning human-readable names to cloud service clients, which really sounds like a generalized form of Relay. Clearly, it's going to be a while before commercial products are built on this SDK, but it's an interesting space to keep an eye on in the meantime.

Canalys: Android overtakes Symbian as world's best-selling smartphone platform in Q4 2010

One day somebody will write a book called "The rise and rise of Android" and this moment will be highlighted in bold. Canalys' latest smartphone sales figures show that Android phone makers managed to shift a cool 33.3 million handsets in the last quarter -- more than any other smartphone platform out there, including the previous leader, Symbian, which sold 31 million units. That's a mighty leap from the 20.3 million Android devices the stats agency estimates were sold in Q3 2010. Symbian itself grew from 29.9m in Q3 to 31m in Q4, but Android's pace of expansion has been so rapid as to make that irrelevant.
 NPD's numbers are in as well, indicating that Google now has a 53 percent share in the US market, while Windows Phone 7 has managed to nab only two percent so far.

Facebook For Android Gets Location Based Ads

Facebook for Android has another update available and this time it's bringing you location based deals.
It's pretty simple really; you check-in with Facebook Places, which was rolled out in a December update, and if any local business has an offer for you it shows up with a yellow icon next to its name. Hit read more for details.


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