Archive | June, 2010

Android 3.0 aka Gingerbread gets detailed, gels well with our theory

30 Jun

Eldar Murtazin strikes again! The editor of Russian site Mobile Review and the guy who gets the dope before even many product managers inside companies has just detailed Google’s plans for Android 3.0 aka Gingerbread in a podcast. While we are no native Russian speakers but thankfully our good friends at Unwired View are and they have translated his podcast.

If Murtazin is to be believed (we believe him), Google will for the first time release a minimum spec requirement for Android 3.0. Of course, modders will hack and port it into devices with lower specs but essentially any phone to run Gingerbread needs to have at least a 1 GHz processor, 512 MB RAM and at least a 3.5 inch display. If the requirements sound familiar, well these are almost the same that Microsoft wants in phones running Windows Phone 7 OS.

Google will be announcing Gingerbread sometime in October (Murtazin claims October 15 or 16), with first devices ready to hit shelves in time for holiday shopping. Gingerbread will also come with a new UI throughout menus that would leave handset vendor skins like HTC’s Sense UI and Motorola’s Blur useless, but we doubt if Google would bar vendors from adding their own skins, like Microsoft has done with Windows Phone 7.

Google is also working on making the OS work with devices having displays bigger than 4.0 inches and resolutions as high as 1280×760 pixels, which means that Android might finally do more, much more, on an Internet Tablet device.

So essentially, what we have over here is that Gingerbread would be the OS for high-end Android phones, while lesser mortals would go as far as Android 2.2 aka Froyo. This is exactly what I had written in a post almost a month back:

Considering that there are all sorts of phones at all possible price points and hardware configuration, it would help Google (and Android) if it classified which categories of phones run on which version of Android. This could be based on the processor/memory configuration of the phone. What this would do is ensure that the highest-end segment of phones run on the most advanced OS version while the phones in the lower-end of the spectrum run on a more basic/lite version that gives most features but skips the processor-intensive stuff. By doing this, users will get a more refined user experience suited to their choice of hardware, which has been one of the main reason for the iPhone’s success. It would also mean that developers will be able to target high-end devices with better quality apps.

Well, it seems like Android might finally come of age this holiday season!

Download time! Glu slashes game prices to sub-dollar levels

30 Jun

It is the best way of celebrating Independence Day that we can think of. Nope, not just the US independence day but the film of the same name that garnered millions at the box office fourteen years ago. Well, the folks at Glu have decided to mark fourteen years of that particular blockbuster by offering a number of their Palm, iPhone and Android games for $0.99 from July 1-6. Available for this bargain price will be iPhone and iPad worthies like 1000 – Find Them All, Bonsai Blast, and Deer Hunter 3D, as well as Android game goodies like Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 and World Series Poker – Hold’em Legend.

Now, if that is not a great bargain, we do not know what is. Download time beckons, if you love mobile games. Or heck, even if you do not.

RIP: First Else Phone

30 Jun

It took our breaths away at MWC this year and now it is nothing but a cool concept that never took off. Else Mobile’s First Else phone has now been laid to rest as the company failed to secure any carrier partnerships to launch the phone.

A press release from its group company, Emblaze, announced the demise of the intuitive phone:

Due to critical delays in deliveries and the current status of the project, the board has now decided to cease any further investment towards manufacturing of the First ELSE mobile device and to concentrate efforts only on licensing the ELSE Intuition platform and technology in order to realize its potential upside.

I’m not surprised by the way things have unfolded for First Else, considering the juggernaut of Android phones that have the backing of not only their manufacturers but even Google. The best opportunity the First Else phone would have had was to try and implement its ‘Intuition’ user interface on a low-cost touchscreen phone that would excite the first-time touchscreen phone users. Well, these guys should certainly start talking to one of our homegrown handset brands, who could be interested in the UI.

In the meanwhile, jog down the memory lane and see the First Else in action from our MWC coverage…

When do you browse the Internet on your phone?

30 Jun

Opera, the Norwegian browser maker, has analysed the time-trend of mobile web usage around the world in its latest State of the Web report. The browser vendor has studied at length the Opera Mini usage during the course of the day in the top 10 countries – Indonesia, Russia, India, China, Nigeria, Ukraine, South Africa, the United States, Vietnam and the United Kingdom. The results have indicated that in each of these countries, the highest usage of the Opera Mini browser is recorded at the tail-end of the day – from 8 PM to midnight.

The United Kingdom thrives on mobile web early in the morning…: Compared to the users in other top 10 countries, users in the UK appear just as likely to be browsing with Opera Mini between 8 AM and noon.

…while America indulges over-night: Compared to users in the other top 10 countries, users in the United States are more likely to be browsing with Opera Mini between midnight and 4 AM.

India browses more during the afternoon hours: Compared to users in the other top 10 countries, users in India are more likely to be browsing with Opera Mini between noon and 4 PM.

In general, evening browsing (between 4 PM and midnight) is more common than daytime browsing (between 8 AM and 4 PM) in every country, except for China and the UK where daytime and evening usage is about even.

Skyfire 1.X will no longer be supported outside of North America and Western Europe

30 Jun

Skyfire, an alternative mobile web browser, today announced that it won’t be supporting its Symbian and Windows Mobile versions (Skyfire Version 1.X) outside of North America and Western Europe, citing low ad revenues in those countries that don’t cover the cost of operating. Skyfire’s original version was a proxy architecture, much like Opera Mini, where pages are downsized and rendered at a back-end server before they are pushed to the device.

In February, Skyfire acquired ‘kolbysoft’, a company that had created a webkit-based browser for Android called Steel, which changed Skyfire’s product offering. Instead of remaining just a proxy-based service, Skyfire evolved into a complete webkit browser that also had cloud-based services. The company then released the Skyfire browser for Android that could also play Flash videos, which has been downloaded over 600,000 times.

Skyfire’s CEO, Jeff Glueck, today announced that the company is now totally committed on Skyfire 2.0 and will soon submit an iPhone version for review. The company is also working with OEMs and handset vendors to have Skyfire pre-installed on their devices. Skyfire will also come to Symbian and Windows Mobile soon.

BlackBerry messages land England football team in hot water!

30 Jun

As if being booted out in a humiliating manner from the World Cup was not enough, the English football team is now in hot water, courtesy two of its BlackBerry toting players. First off, defender Ledley King allegedly clicked a picture with his Berry of his teammates relaxing with beers and cigars after the 4-1 drubbing by Germany and shared it with his friends. Then fellow defender Ashley Cole compounded matters by posting, “I hate England and the f***ing people”  as his status message on his BlackBerry messenger. Needless to say, both found their way into the media or more accurately, The Sun.

As the excreta hits the fan, we reckon it won’t be long before Fab Capello outlaws BlackBerries from the dressing room too (he dumped Twitter, remember?). You can read the complete stories here and here.

HTC Hero finally getting updated to Android 2.1 in India

30 Jun

Months after it was first promised, HTC is finally rolling out the Android 2.1 update for the Hero in India. HTC Hero users will get a prompt on their phones to download and install an firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) update. The approximately 6 MB download is just the first package that updates the YouTube Player as well as the FOTA client residing on the phone. This update is necessary for the next package which will update the firmware to Android 2.1. We received our first update package yesterday and are now eagerly waiting for the final package for Android 2.1. For the record, this is likely to be the only updates the Hero will get as HTC would be providing Android 2.2 updates only for smartphones launched in 2010. Well, in our case, this Android 2.1 update will ensure that our Hero sticks around for another couple of months or so before it we pass it on to someone more needy than us.

Google releases Docs Viewer for Android and iOS devices

29 Jun

Google has released a new feature for Android phones as well as the iPhone and iPad that will enable users to view documents stored on their Google Docs account without having to first download the files to their phones.

The Viewer will support pich-to-zoom on the iPhone and iPad. Users can also switch between pages quickly. With Docs Viewer, users will be able to view files in PDFs, .ppt, .doc and .docx formats.

I have been viewing MS Excel files on my iPhone via its Safari browser without downloading it for some weeks now without even realising that it is a new feature. Yes, it comes in quite handy, expecially if you have a file that has been shared with multiple people and gets edited frequently. You can try it out today by pointing your supported phone’s browser to

Source: Google Mobile Blog

Nokia N9 gets handled on video, Nokia set to abandon its weird QWERTY keyboard

29 Jun

Nokia’s next (and probably the last N-series) Symbian smartphone has received a detailed hands-on treatment on camera. Yes, it has a Nokia N97-like slide and tilt display (albeit it seems to be a bit larger), an 8.0 MP camera, an HDMI out, multi-touch and all that you can expect from a high-end smartphone.

However, what really caught our attention was the flat QWERTY keypad with the spacebar key at its proper location rather than tucked away near the right corner that made users hit the ‘m’ key instead. Unfortunately, the N9 (that’s the popular opinion for its name) is still running on Symbian S60 fifth edition, which is something that even Nokia would not be proud about.

On a personal note, I believe that most of Nokia’s recent smartphones (barring the N900) had some of the best hardware that were let down by a buggy operating system and a dated user interface. Hopefully, the N9 will bring some glory to a dying/dead (take your pick) operating system and pave the way for some high-end MeeGo smartphones.

Nokia N9 from Negri Electronics on Vimeo.

iPhone 4 gets touched by King Midas

29 Jun

Designer Stuart Hughes, after bedazzling the Apple iPad, has now embellished the iPhone 4 in gold. In collaboration with the Goldstriker International, the designer will offer two ‘golden’ versions of the  32GB iPhone 4 – the half golden version and the full golden version. In the half golden edition, the metal band around the iPhone 4 will be gold polished with either 20K white gold or 18K Rose Gold or 24K gold whereas the full golden edition will have the metal band and the backside gold polished.

For the half golden edition of the iPhone 4 (in the picture), get ready to shell out ₤1,595 (approx Rs 1,11,000) and for the full golden edition, you’ll have to spend an exorbitant amount of ₤2,195 (approx Rs 1,53,000). Have the courage to buy one? Hit here.