Archive for December, 2009

Vodafone Prices for iPhone Released

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

iphone_vodafoneMany Vodafone users have been waiting for the release of the iPhone under their carrier. With the device already available from O2 and Orange (as well as Tesco), and January just a couple of weeks away, there are big hopes that Vodafone’s iPhone launch will be raising a pleasant little price war for the much coveted 3Gs.

Price wars simply mean that carriers will start offering a combination of better deals and lower prices. Though more often than not, the prices of a single device costs basically around the same across different carriers. Still, one cannot help but hope that the addition of another competitor would be good news for consumers.

Anyway, they will push through with the January 14, 2010 release date for their iPhone 3Gs deals on Vodafone. Along with the release date, they have also confirmed pricing details on a per-plan basis. At the moment, the cheapest per-month deal offered by Vodafone is the 30 Pound per month tariff good for 24 months. This will give users 300 minutes of talk time, unlimited messages, 1GB of data, unlimited WiFi and the 32GB iPhone 3Gs for 239 Pounds (the 8GB version is only 56 Pounds and the 16GB version is available at this deal for 149 Pounds).

The 32GB iPhone is free in Vodafone’s 80 Pound per month plan (18 months). The tariff is a hefty price but it nets you 3000 minutes of talk time (still 1GB of data and unlimited messages and WiFi).

It is surprising to see so many people still clamoring for the iPhone in this day and age. When just over the horizon are a mass of high-end Android smart phones that support SD cards and have removable batteries. Truly, the status of owning an iPhone is priceless value that will be hard for any phone to match.

DROID Eris on Sale

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

HTC-DroidErisChristmas is certainly the season to spend lavishly on great deals. Electronic purchases are no exception; such is the case with the HTC DROID Eris.

The HTC DROID Eris will be available from Best Buy Mobile with a tie up from Verizon wireless. Customers can get the device for 99 US Dollars under a two year contract. Members of Best Buy’s Reward Zone Premiere can get the phone at an even cheaper cost of 49 US Dollars.

With so many people switching to Android phones these days, it is not surprising to see Google’s acclaimed OS all over. The iPhone may be far from getting toppled over as top device, the Google is definitely getting a lot of attention. The only problem for Google is that the OS exists in so many devices; and despite Google launching its own device, it will still face competition from other Android phones; unlike the iPhone in which all users use Apple devices.

Anyway, the promotion is very timely, with the Android OS growing constantly, everyone wants to be part of the growing wave.

According to Scott Moore, Vice President of Marketing for best Buy Mobile: “We have worked really hard to bring all of our customers closer to the most innovative mobile devices in the market by offering choice, value and support. This unique offer on the DROID ERIS is a perfect example of that. The fact that we are able to bring this amazing offer to our most loyal customers is really important to us. It’s a way for the company to express gratitude to those customers and help them take advantage of incredible savings in time for their holiday shopping.”

It is still a few days away before Christmas, and if you are looking for something to give to yourself, they why not get a DROID Eris for the holidays?

Beautiful Widgets are Back

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

htc-sense-1A few days back, HTC issued a “cease and desist” order for LevelUp Studios. This was because the Studios have created a widget that would give users a home screen similar to the HTC Sense and TouchFLO user interfaces.

This order is very important, considering that HTC has devoted much to developing not only mobile phones but their own blend of UI as well. Despite the fact that HTC’s interface is basic; the fact that no one else implanted anything like it shows how great HTC has become at designing UI.

Just recently, LevelUp Studios have returned to offering the widget after the C&D. This time, the layout got a little tweaked, but still retained the general idea of the HTC Sense/TouchFlo home screen. Obviously, the cease and desist order does not cover this as HTC would have done something about it.

While consumers will feel very happy about this, there is that lingering notion that HTC got the bad end of the stick. After all, the interface they designed for their phones are present in other devices just because of a widget. This is an insult to the many innovative design pioneers at HTC. As said, the home screen is far from an artistic work of genius, but it has its high value in terms of practicality (and for some, it really does look good).

This is the current problem with applications. Phone manufacturers work so hard to find those extra functions that users would want and need in a mobile device. But when these features come in the form of an interface design, software functions or other replicable forms – downloadable applications will make it possible to exist in other phones.

It is somewhat shameful to see people supporting the Beautiful Widgets application. The fact that LevelUp Studios complied with the C&D is an acknowledgement to the claim that they did copy the Sense UI/TouchFLO UI.

The Rogers Revolution Ends

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

htc-dream-magicPoor Rogers’ owners; the HTC Dream and HTC Magic have finally reached the end of the line. With all the news these days about the new Google phone and all the other Android devices getting much needed updates to the newer 2.0 and 2.1 versions, it is sad to see to major devices of old getting left behind.

When the HTC Dream and HTC Magic were first announced to be released under Rogers, they were heralded as to of the best Android phones of that time, sporting Android 1.5 Cupcake. The marketing blurb for the two phones stated that they are part of a revolution (for the new OS) -that status has long been taken away, with newer Android devices (HTC Hero for one) taking away the limelight and moving on to better things.

Better things being new OS versions. The HTC Hero, also originally an Android 1.5 phone, will be receiving updates to the newer Android 2.0/2.1 –fully skipping 1.6 Donut. The HTC Dream and Magic however, will not be receiving an update.

Some might say that this is HTC’s way of ensuring that their newer Android devices still get good sales next year. With the HTC 2010 lineup already leaked, it is easy to see that the company has invested a lot with Android devices –they have 5 phones already lined up. With Google launching its own phone (through HTC –the Nexus One), it would be good for HTC is users of their old devices upgrade to the newer HTC Android phones.

The real reason is more technical than abandonment. The HTC Dream and HTC Magic phones are not Google-branded devices, but are HTC products through and through. As such, the two phones were designed and engineered only for use with version 1.5. Unlike the G1 or other Google-branded devices which can use version 1.6, the Rogers phones will be permanently using version 1.5.

Verizon’s Unorthodox DROID Solution

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

motorola-droidThe Motorola DROID is one of the most anticipated devices of 2009. Everyone wanted to see what the new Android 2.0 OS would look like; aside from that, many knew that with its large capacitive touch screen, physical keyboard and futuristic design, the DROID would be a device worth getting. Anyway, the device has been out for while now, much to the delight, and slight dismay of some fans.

The dismay comes from the fact that version 2.0, despite being ahead for its time, was actually suffering from a lot of bugs and side issues. Nothing as crippling as the problems that shook up the Satio though; most of the problems encountered are software based and are deemed to be quite fixable –mostly through updates like the recent 2.0.1.

To sum it up, the DROID is a very wonderful Android smart phone and US mobile provider Verizon has struck gold with this exclusive phone (the DROID was never launched anywhere else, but in the UK, where it was re-named the Milestone). Of course, it is not all good news; the DROID has its own little quirks. Aside from the (fixable) bugs, the mobile is suffering from a slight design mistake on its slip-on battery cover –causing the battery to get dislodged out of the device entirely on occasion. DROID owners are all too familiar with the feeling of having to retrieve the errant battery.

Failing to see that this is actually a hardware issue, many DROID owners often bring their Android devices back to Verizon for fixing. Despite not being obliged, the mobile phone carrier provides DROID owners with a quick-fix: a Verizon Sticker on the back to keep the cover in place. While the solution may seem a little crude, it is effective in its own way; though the sticker does tend to accumulate dirt on the edges.

iPhone Helps Bring Better Kills

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

iphone_3g_1The mobile world revolves around a very cut-throat industry and the Apple iPhone is on top of it all. The iconic mobile phone has been sold to hundreds of thousands (and unofficially –possibly millions) all over the world. One of the nicest things about the iPhone is that you can look up, buy, download and install applications on it, allowing you to add much needed functionality that is not pre-built into your phone. This makes an iPhone a very personal device.

Now, military tech developer Raytheon is about to turn the iPhone into something even more. A new “situational awareness application” is being developed by the company in order to give the iPhone a more combat-functional capability, The app will allow soldiers to keep real time geographical data on locations of friendly units and enemy targets.

Information that will be stored and accessed on the phone will include sniper hideouts, important locations, waypoints, drop zones, vantage points and many others (it’s a military-mod of GPS points of interest). The reason for developing this technology on the iPhone is simple, because the iPhone already exists, it would be cheaper to create software for it –instead of having to develop both software and hardware.

The name of the application is One Force Tracker. Obviously, this app will not be made available on the Apple App Store (let alone grant enemy targets the same technology). Raytheon will combine mobile technology, satellite navigation technology and the company’s experience in Software development. This is not the first time a military function has been converted into an iPhone app. The BulletFlight app for snipers was also made by Raytheon for the military.

The One Force Tracker app may also see usage in more civil functions, such as for organizers of events (for tracking personnel), to medical emergencies (coordinating doctors, locating victims).

Privacy Over Convenience

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Google-GogglesThere is a very fine line that security officials must tread every day, and that is their job to enforce security and the need to respect the privacy of each individual. With so many people against anything that comes close to the shadow of a big brother setup, the installation of security systems becomes a double edged sword, praised for the way it prevents crime, criticized for the way it removes privacy.

On public areas, this is very much permissible and easily accepted. But when the line is drawn over privacy and convenience, then there is a lot of new things to consider.

Such is the case with the introduction of Google’s Goggles. The image-recognition software is already capable of recognizing basic objects, landmarks and various other sights. Many are already wary that this software, compared with GPS, would allow phone users to get or upload information about them just by pointing a phone towards their home.

The biggest feature of Goggles goes beyond items. It can also recognize faces. The technology is already there, while Google has not implemented it, it is very much possible. While we probably would not mind of the CCTV surveillance cameras come loaded with the tech, but to have civilians access to the information one can get from facial recognition is downright frightening.

Google admits that it has not implemented the facial recognition software since it definitely violates human rights. The Google system can be used to look up a camera-taken portrait with images uploaded on the internet.

So far, people want to enjoy the Google Goggles for the many humorous and amusing applications that can be done using augmented reality. The whole practical side of the image recognition software still leaves too many gray areas. While it would be nice to instantly get info of anything you can point your camera at, the technology is not really needed right now.

Symbian Still Very Much Alive: Nokia Updates 3 S60 Devices

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Symbian 1Symbian devices, particularly S60 phones, are taking a bad rap in terms of reliability. Just recently the Sony Ericsson Satio got pulled off the shelves of Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U, the problem was eventually fixed, but not without people starting to doubt the device’s firmware.

Even before that, Nokia’s very own N97 started suffering from severe firmware problems. Crashing, freezing, slowdowns were all reported by users. Many reported that the device would sometimes take forever to do a simple task –such as opening an image, which took 5 minutes for a certain complaint.

With the whole fuss with the Maemo and the Bada, people started wondering if mobile phone companies are starting to abandon Symbian after all these years. Nokia has been among the first to clear up the chaos by announcing that they will continue to develop devices that use the Symbian OS and that the Finnish company would continue supporting the OS.

Apparently, the whole problem for Nokia began when the Maemo marketing people were mistakenly quoted as saying that Nokia would be completely adopting the Maemo (in truth, the Maemo will be adopted only for the N-series phones).

With that said, Nokia has just announced that it will be releasing patches for three devices, the N79, the N85 and the 5530 XpressMusic.  All three devices use the S60.

The biggest update of the three is the 140 update for the 5530 eXpress Music. The new update will give new features for Ovi Maps, the Nokia Music widget, and the Ovi store.  The N85’s patch is mostly bug fixes and tweaks while the N79’s update details are still unconfirmed.

This latest news is a testament to Nokia’s declaration that they would continue to support the Symbian OS. Sadly, they have yet to release any fixes for the N97. At the moment, interested buyers of the N97 are referred to the N97-Mini instead.

Nexus One Specs and More Rumors

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Google Nexus OneHTC’s Nexus One is the hottest topic now but the full details on this elusive little phone have been hard to pin down since the first time anyone ever said the words “Google Phone”.

The supposed launch date of the device is early 2010; some reports even go as far as saying that the device will be launched during January. With the recent news leak that Google distributed a test version of the HTC-made device to their employees for testing, it would not be surprising to see the final phone ready by January.

There are however, conflicting reports regarding price and hardware. While many articles link the Nexus One to the HTC Passion (which is then linked to the HTC Bravo), it would be easy to think that the phone will come packed with hardware that would equal or at least be close to that of the Bravo; the Bravo sports an AMOLED capacitive touch screen, a 5 mega pixel camera with 720p video recording and a Snapdragon processor. For a Google-branded phone, it is hard to ask for any less.

But there have also been news that the Nexus One will be sold with a very low price-tag, at 130 Pounds, it is unlikely that the phone would even have a single one of the features above. Of the two, it is more likely that the price is just a rumor since existing specs of the Nexus One are more in line with the Passion specs.

The only details about the Nexus’ specs are that the phone comes with “Snapdragon specific libraries” and “Qualcomm QSD8K Specific hardware Libs”. Those two lines can generate enough speculation on their own.

Anyway, aside from rumors about the specs, there is also the case of the phone’s retail availability. It has been said that Google will be having the device available directly from their site, but there are now reports that the device will be offered by both Google and selected carriers at the same time.

The World Needs less Mobile Phones? Nokia is Firing 2000 Employees

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Nokia FactoryWell, Nokia is not firing anyone, but they are terminating the contracts and jobs of at least 2000 employees from their Salo factory due to reduced sales. 2000 is a large number; they comprise 20% of the employees in the Salo facility.

According to initial reports, Nokia claims that there is less demand for mobile phones. Now, while Nokia did not specify any specific regions, we can very well assume that they are speaking in a more general manner. Nokia distributes mobile phones and telecommunications accessories and devices across the world. As such, it really is quite plausible that there are now more products being sold than what the demand currently is.

Needing less mobile phones does not mean that the there is less interest in mobile phones. In fact there is even more activity in the mobile industry these past couple of years than in the earlier years of this decade. What has changed is the number of people in market who have already bought mobile phones.

Mobile phones are made to last for one to two years. But there are people who use their devices well beyond three. While others purchase phones on a more regular basis, most people on average live out the one to two year lifespan of the product.

Anyway, this massive layoff is a follow up to the previous removal of 3% of Nokia’s Research and Development division. Whether this is the end of the layoffs remain to be seen. Nokia is currently taking extreme methods to optimize its expenses.

This news is no longer a surprise as just recently, Sony Ericsson also announced that they too had closed facilities and let go of 2000 of their workers. Two major facilities were closed and some offices in the United States also had to be shut down. Looks like some companies just had a rough 2009.