Archive for December, 2010

Android Devices Take the Spotlight

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

LG is bringing music and class to the Optimus 2X (and a few other LG smart phones) this coming January.

According to reports, the Korean phone maker has signed up composer, musician and maestro Ennio Morricone to provide specially made music for their handsets. The scores, totaling 15 in all, are going to be originally composed by the music genius who brought life to many great movies (“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, “A Fistful of Dollars”, etc). Aside from the 15 original tracks, about 10 scores from his movie audiography will also be made available. These tracks are going to be used as ringtone options for the devices –which means that the Optimus 2X will not only look good, it will sound good too.

For those of you wondering when the 2X will finally be available, the official word is that the phone will be coming this January of 2011. No word yet as to which networks will be getting the device first, but January is the official UK release of the handset. So those of you who are hoping to get this dual core processor equipped handset (running at 1.5GHz no less), might want to start prepping up for the pre orders.

Motorola has a bit of sad news for Milestone owners: the update for 2.2 Froyo will not be around until later in Q1 2011. The update has been recently just a while back and is getting plenty of negative reactions already. Motorola is assuring the European markets that they are working on being able to bring the update to users as soon as possible. Originally, the update was supposed to come out these last few months of 2010 (Q4).

Lastly, for those of your who have been lucky enough to get a Nexus S (or are planning on getting one), Google has made a quick list of useful tips and functions of the Gingerbread and the new smart phone. Head over straight to the official Google blog and see what they have in store for Nexus S owners.

Future Forecast: Mobile Phone Cameras

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Chances are, you have already seen the initial images of Sony Ericsson’s latest gizmo: a smart phone loaded with a 16 mega pixel camera. Sure, there is another Sony Ericsson made handset that is making the headlines a lot, but the XPERIA Play (or Zeus Z1) is taking the phone to a direction that not too many people are hot about. Cameras on the other hand, are here to stay –and being the first with a 16 mega pixel cam on the street is certainly earning SE plenty of ‘cred’.

Since the very first VGA resolution cameras came out on mobile phones, people found the combination of the gadgets to be the perfect blend. Much like MP3 playback and radio are now considered to be staple features of most devices, so is the inclusion of a camera. This accessibility to a digital image recorder lets anyone take a quick snapshot of people, events and things that they would like to keep for memories or share with friends and family –for nostalgia or even just a couple of laughs.

These days, the norm for smart phones is a 5 mega pixel camera with 720p HD video recording capability. It may seem a little much, but with the HDTV slowly becoming a standard, it will not be hard to imagine what our regular will be like in the next few years.

In the meanwhile, phone manufacturers are all racing to get the highest mega pixel counts. But that is not the only future for the camera. While the general conception is “more pixels the better”, there are also some other functions that many companies should focus on such as steady shot features, non digital zooming, better flash technology (though Xenon flash is already pretty decent) and more.

Not surprisingly, Sony’s Cybershot team is leading the race in both mega pixel count and hardware features –this makes us wonder when the first 3G, texting and voice call-capable DSLR device will be coming out

Motorola Stingray Teaser Video Released

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

It is all fair sport in the advertising world, and companies can and will point fingers at each other and laugh if it helps boost their products. Motorola has taken a quick jab at both Apple and fellow Android supporters Samsung on their tablet devices as the company prepares the world for their upcoming Stingray unveiling at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show this coming 2011.

According to the advertisement, the iPad is basically a giant iPhone. While it was meant to be a criticism, a second look at the tech specs reveals that Motorola was a bit off. Calling the iPad a giant iPhone gives it more credit than what is due. For one thing, the iPad lacks texting and calling capabilities, and of course, the lack of a camera on the tablet is pretty evident.

The Galaxy Tab on the other hand, was called an Android OS device, but using an Android OS for a mobile phone –which is more on the spot and actual state of the device. Even Google has specifically stated that the pre-Honeycomb versions of the open source platform are not optimized for use with tablet devices.

Where this criticism fails is in forgetting the fact that Samsung could easily update the tablet to the latest version of the OS (unless Motorola paid off a very expensive exclusivity deal on the Honeycomb –or at least, a time delay before a multi-device patch comes out).

So are we excited about the Stingray? For all accounts, we are pretty much expecting another Galaxy Tab that simply has an updated Android OS. Aside from that, the specs are pretty much what we would expect to see from a high end tablet these days. What would change the game is if the Stingray provided us with a faster dual core processor and impressive graphics capabilities as well as a high internal memory capacity –of course, all of that would still need to be complemented by a whole new line of made-for-tablet apps in the Android Market.

HTC Wildfire Updated, SWYPE for Android and Nexus One Gingerbread

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

We have got a triple Android update today and here’s the quick rundown of how things are.

First off, owners of the Google branded Nexus One smart phone will be happy to know that the Gingerbread update for the handset is about to arrive. As expected, the made-for-developers handset is getting the update well ahead of all other Android smart phones –most likely because of the fact that this is a Google device and as such, the folks at Mountain view are already familiar with the architecture. In any case, expect to see the 2.3 update to the OS to arrive sometime around the next couple of weeks (though there have been some hints that we might have to wait until next year).

The Android OS itself is getting a quick update from none other than Swype. The folks behind the massively popular touch screen typing aid are bringing out the best part about touch screen keyboards: intuitive typing. While physical QWERTY keyboard have long lorded over their virtual, onscreen counterparts, the new Swype is an innovation that can only be pulled off by a touch screen. Expect to be churning out replies and status updates faster than ever with this little add-on. The Swype add-on for the Android OS already available so for those of you who have yet to try it out, now is the perfect time to get it.

Finally, the HTC Wildfire social networking smart phone has been confirmed as getting an update to the Android 2.2 Froyo. Users under Vodafone UK and T-Mobile are getting the update pretty soon. According to reports, the Froyo update is expected to become available before the end of this week. Users of the impressively small HTC Android smart phone under other networks will have to wait a while longer –it has been estimated that all networks will be covered by February of the coming year

Mobile Updates: AR Translation App for iPhone, Nokia Looking at WP7

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Augmented reality applications are starting to become more and more commonplace these days, and the Apple iPhone is a great platform for launching such apps –to be precise, developers enjoy launching great apps on the iPhone as the iTunes store brings apps to more users that actually purchase apps (the Android on the other hand, is a greater hit for those who love free stuff).

The Quest Visual Word Lens application is simple to use and quite impressive; take a picture of a sentence, word or phrase and the application will translate the content into a wide variety of languages. Granted that the app’s language packs are a little limited in terms of what languages it supports, it still manages to get the job done. And in terms of usefulness, it is hard to deny the fact that the being able to figure out what is written on that product instruction label would as a pretty useful bit of information.

Naturally, the app still pales in comparison with Google’s Goggles translate function –especially considering that the Word Lens app lacks the ability to figure out messages in slightly shaky shots (so expect to need a tripod or a very steady pair of hands). Even worse is the fact that this is a paid app (it is the iPhone after all). But since iPhone owners do not have much of a choice, expect to see Quest Visual’s app to hit the top ten lists pretty soon.

Nokia has confirmed that they are looking into developing mobile phones for other operating systems –that much they have already let known pretty early on. While the Finnish phone maker seems pretty adamant about not making an Android device, there have been hints that Windows Phone 7 is under consideration. Microsoft software has already appeared several times on Symbian platforms and for Nokia to adapt WP7 fully would not be hard to imagine.

Google’s Nexus S Pushes NFC Technology Forward

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

While the real life applications of near field communications technology have yet to become common (as they are in Japan), many companies are already showing early support for the technology. Google’s Nexus S is a high profile smart phone that clearly advertises its NFC capabilities, but it is not alone. Apple has already invested in the innovation early this 2010 –though it has yet to update the hardware on its devices. Nokia is also known to be a supporter of the technology.

But what good is having NFC technology around especially for folks who simply do not believe in the concept of e-commerce and electronic locks? –which are the two most often cited examples of NFC technology application. With the buzz about the need for digital security, it would be a very difficult sell for tech companies to say that their mobile devices are more secure than their key chains (after all, a mobile phone is more likely to be stolen).

NFC is not only used for secure transactions, the technology can also be used for a wide variety of functions as well. The most basic one is to confirm a person’s presence or proximity. NFC phones can be used as a substitute for membership cards in certain establishments – pretty much like Foursquare without having to activate your GPS. What makes this even better is the fact that you have to be literally in the exact place (not just the same building) as the close proximity of NFC requires it.

Advertising will also change thanks to NFC. Pass your mobile phone over that little ad poster in the market and you will get a URL to see further details. The same application of NFC technology can be used to deliver other relevant information about a wide variety of products and services instantly.

The Google Nexus S: What Can You Do With It?

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Samsung and Google have both teamed up to bring to the world the amazing Nexus S smart phone, but appreciating this beauty of a phone is not quite the only thing one can do. The device is filled to the brim with features and functions; and here is a quick list of some of the simplest things you can do to make the experience a lot better.

First off, bring back the comma to the onscreen keyboard; this is an issue since a new button, the “voice input” button, has taken over the spot where the comma originally was. Good thing is, there is a simply setting that one can adjust to fix this. Simply go straight to the Android keyboard settings and turn off the voice input keyboard button.

If you tend to keep an eye on your phone’s energy consumption; Google allows users to see an in-depth view of how the phone makes use of the battery. There is a graph you can check at the “About Phone” menu and click the battery icon to see the full breakdown.

For many, managing apps is one of the biggest chores in any smart phone (even for the iPhone). Fortunately, there is one menu in the Android OS that lists down everything you have downloaded and installed, and it also provides a one hit button for un-installation procedures: the Android Market. Oddly enough, this online menu still keeps a great deal of content, even telling you of apps you installed but have forgotten.

Anyway, we may have suggested that the voice button be removed from the virtual keyboard, but the bottom line is that voice is the big new function for the handset. There is voice search, voice commands and even voice dictation for writing down long notes. It is fast and surprisingly easy to do, not to mention the fact that Google’s hardware and software for detecting voice is uncanny.

Today’s Top Mobile Headlines

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Nokia is suing Apple for 24 counts of patent infringement. The case has been filed in several countries counting the UK, Netherlands and also in Germany as well. As expected, Apple has responded to the lawsuit by filing a counter lawsuit against the Finnish phone maker. With this being their fourth legal battle against each other, the process is starting to look familiar, hopefully, this case gets resolved as soon as possible.

RIM has announced that they have shipped a massive 14.2 million units, and the company has also reported a massive growth of 40% in profits. While the BlackBerry brand still remains a niche name, many are hoping that the new QNX powered BlackBerry Playbook might change the reputation of the company name.

Microsoft has confirmed that the Windows Phone 7 mobile platform will be receiving a massive update. According to reports, the new update will be coming in the summer of 2011 (around August and September), and by massive, we mean large enough to warrant getting a name. Aside from adding HTML5 and better Silverlight compatibility the update is expected to bring many more features to the OS. The new update has also been nicknamed as the Mango.

Speaking of the Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is not planning a new version of the OS until much later; which means that the currently announced 7.5 update will be all that users can look forward to next year. It is believed that the new version, Windows Phone 8 will be launching on 2012.

Google’s Android Honeycomb has been designed specifically for touch screen tablets. So far, there is no confirmation yet on when the OS version will be released (especially with 2.3 Gingerbread being just released just a while ago). At this point, many believe that the Honeycomb OS will be designated with version 2.4.

Mobile Phone News: Today’s Headlines

Friday, December 17th, 2010

The Optimus 2X, LG’s super smart phone has been announced in Korea just a while back. Now, we are happy to know that the device is definitely headed to the UK. According to reports, the handset will be released Q1 2011, but LG still has yet to disclose an official date. In any case, many are expecting to see the smart phone shown off at the CES this coming January. The Optimus 2X is officially the first handset in the market to make use of the NVIDIA Tegra 2 CPU.

NVIDIA has certainly been able to make the new holy grail of the smart phone industry by providing us all with a CPU that is both high speed and energy efficient, and many engineers would tell you that energy efficiency is far more important than sheer speed. The Tegra 2 chip is so highly regarded that even Samsung has put in an order for over £200 million worth of the processors.

Many believe that these chips will be used in a wide array of Samsung’s devices, ranging from tablets to smart phones and even some of their smaller netbooks.

Did we mention that the Android OS is going to overtake the Symbian platform in a few years? According to IDC, we’re wrong, the Android will overtake the older platform by the end of this coming 2011. Considering that the Symbian OS is losing plenty of ground (and the fact that very few devices using the platform will be coming out), there is little doubt that the Android’s fast growth and distribution will be able to easily keep up.

Also, the fact that the Symbian Foundation is now a licensing organization means that the development of the OS takes a backseat priority. Nokia will also be focusing on their Intel co-developed MeeGo platform too.

This Year in Mobile Phones

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Has time flown by that fast? Time really has a way of creeping up on us and showing us all how many changes can happen in a span of twelve months. For those wondering how this year has been for the smart phone industry, here’s a quick rundown of all the big highlights that has passed us by.

First off, the year started out with a bang that was the launch of the Google Nexus One. This is the first Google branded handset and also showed off what the Android mobile platform could really achieve. Despite the relatively slow sales of the device, Google succeeded in setting a new bar for smart phone technology. Phones such as the HTC Desire, XPERIA X10, Galaxy S and others soon followed the path that Google paved.

Microsoft made the biggest surprise at the Mobile World Congress by giving us all a teaser of the Windows Phone 7 mobile platform –with none other than Andy Rubin giving the demonstration. As awed as we were, the actual release of the platform this October proved to be the real surprise for all.

Apple once again managed to antagonize plenty of folks in the tech industry. Mostly starting with the whole fuss with Adobe; after the iOS 4.0 SDK rules came out, it became pretty obvious that Steve Jobs was cutting off all possibilities of Flash support –and thus encouraging Adobe to support other platforms instead. The whole Apple fiasco did not end there. Despite the extremely successful sales of the iPhone 4, the device’s launch was marred by the fact that the antenna on the handset was very faulty.

Nokia on the other hand did not have much of a good year. The N8 handset was delayed for several months (from April to October) and lost Nokia plenty of market interest and of course, sales. The sudden lack of support for the Symbian OS by Samsung and Sony Ericsson also affected the Finnish phone maker badly as well.