Tag Archives: Google

Vlingo takes on Google Voice Actions, goes free – and does not need Froyo!

15 Aug

All right, we literally love the sound of this. Vlingo, the folks who have given us some really super voice to text software, have made their Android application free. What’s more, unlike Google Voice Actions, you do not need a Froyo-running phone to use it – it works just dandy on Android 2.1 and 2.0. The decision comes within a day of Google releasing Voice Actions, ensuring that the Android platform is set to see quite a battle in the sound-to-text sphere.

While Dave Grannan, President and CEO of Vlingo, congratulated Google on Voice Actions on the official Vlingo blog, he also tactfully pointed out the advantages Vlingo offers over Google’s offering:

“For all the appeal of Voice Actions, we think we still have something compelling to offer the market by virtue of Vlingo being an independent provider of voice-enablement: namely we don’t have to preference any particular content. So just as our product runs across all smartphones (iPhone, Android, RIM BlackBerry, Nokia Series 60, Windows Mobile), we also mash up with content other than Google content. Our current Android product leverages Facebook and Twitter for example (and here’s a hint—look for more such mash ups coming out very soon in our Vlingo for Android product). And of course we also have other features not yet present in Voice Actions, such as our SafeReader feature that reads your incoming text and email messages to you.”

In case you have been living on a really non-appy planet (Vlingo is also available for the iPhone and BlackBerry), Vlingo is an app that lets you send texts, mails, dial numbers, update Twitter and do a few more nifty things by just speaking into your handset. Well, it actually works. So well that if you have an Android handset running version 2.1 or above, we are going to mark you down for suspected insanity.

Tata DoCoMo launches daily and weekly prepaid plans for its BlackBerry users

26 Jul

Tata DoCoMo has launched two new daily and weekly prepaid plans for its BlackBerry users – BlackBerry MaiLite and BlackBerry Internet Service. Under the BlackBerry MaiLite service plan, users will get unlimited access to e-mails and IM services. Users can also access up to 10 e-mail accounts such as Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, Google Mail and chat on popular services like Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger and BlackBerry Messenger.

The BlackBerry Internet Service plan will offer all the services which are offered under the BlackBerry MaiLite plan with addition to unlimited access to social networking sites and Internet browsing.

Check out the daily, weekly and monthly charges of these new plans in the table below:

Tata DoCoMo plans BlackBerry MaiLite plan BalckBerry Internet Service plan
Daily charges Rs 12 Rs 35
Weekly charges Rs 85 Rs 250
Monthly charges Rs 299 Rs 900

Android Market close to getting operator-based billing

26 Jul

It seems that Android Market might finally get carrier billing as an option to support paid-for apps. Google has changed a couple of terms and conditions in the Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement to provide new payment options to developers. One of the terms (Section 13.1) adds ‘authorised carriers’ as an indemnified party.

Till now, users can only buy paid-for apps from Android Market using Google Checkout, a service that is not available in many countries, including India. Having an option to pay for those apps along with your monthly subscription bill would be the ideal thing.

However, it won’t be easy for Google to implement carrier billing in a country like India, where carriers do not sell phones. Moreover, most carriers have their own application stores where they get as high as 70 per cent of the revenues generated and pass on just 30 per cent to the developer. Hence, they might not have any incentive to provide the billing infrastructure for someone else’s app store and just get 20 per cent of the revenue.

Nokia is a good example of how Indian carriers are averse to becoming just a billing gateway for others in the ecosystem. Nokia enjoys over 50 per cent market share in India and yet, it could not secure a carrier billing partnership with any carrier in the country for its Ovi Store.

Google needs to become a bit more flexible when it comes to paid applications and should enable users to pay for them via credit cards, just like other players in the business. Yes, it won’t bring in as many users as carrier-based billing, yet it would at least ensure that people get an option to buy Android apps rather than having to wait till Google launches Checkout in their country.

Image Courtesy: Android Developers Blog

Rumour: Motorola set to launch XT720 in India?

13 Jul

Motorola Milestone XT720 India launchAfter the Milestone, Motorola is apparently planning to introduce the XT720 Android multimedia monster in India. The XT720, which will compete with the recently introduced Samsung Galaxy S and the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10, has the same 3.7 inch, 480×854 pixel display as the Milestone but has an 8.0 MP camera with Xenon flash that can shoot videos at 720p HD and supports HDMI out. The XT720 is expected to be launched for Rs 30,000 in India very soon. The detailed specifications of the Milestone XT720.

via Fone Arena

Low-end Moto WX445 running Android makes an appearance

13 Jul

Motorola WX445 low-end AndroidThis is what the doc had ordered – a low-end, cheap Android phone. Well, it is Motorola, which seems to have done the trick, but too bad it is headed for Verizon Wireless in the US. Belonging to Moto’s entry-level WX-series, the WX445 runs on Android 2.1 and has a display between 2.6 and 3.0 inches. No word on its camera’s megapixel count, but we would like to go with 2.0 MP (cannot see anything less than that and it seems too cheap to carry anything superior. Nevertheless, if Moto can bring this one to India as a GSM phone and price it at, let’s say, Rs 6,000, we’d be lining up for it as our spare phone.

via Engadget

Android App Inventor lets 'you' make your own apps!

12 Jul

Google has released a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) app maker tool for Android that would enable just about anyone (they really mean ANYONE) to create apps for Android. App Inventor allows users to visually add elements that they want in their app and the software takes care of the rest for them. So even if you have no programming skills, you can still create your own app. (Check out the video at the end of this post)

While it certainly sounds interesting, we wonder what will happen to the already cr-app crowded Android Market when just about everyone and their grannies start creating apps. Yup, Google might be able to overtake Apple in numbers of apps but it surely will be one ugly application store. Probably, rather than letting just about anyone to upload their apps to Android Market, it would be wise for Google to hold a competition and allow the top 10 (or even 100) apps to its application store.

Certainly, that ain’t going to happen considering how Google is championing the open source cause (don’t get me wrong, I’m all for it). But Google certainly needs to start policing Android Market or it won’t be long before the number of available apps lose their relevance once the place start stinking of cr-apps and consumers start looking elsewhere.

Review: Samsung Galaxy S (Part One)

12 Jul

With Android being the flavour of the season and every handset brand trying to outdo the others by launching high-profile smartphones, it is becoming difficult to keep a track of which phone deserves to be crowned “the best of the best.” In March, I gave that title to the Motorola Milestone, which offered the best combination of form, function and features at a great price. And three months down the line, it seems the Milestone is likely to be dethroned by the new phone in town – the Samsung Galaxy S.

Samsung Galaxy S Android Smartphone The Galaxy S i9000 starts to overwhelm right from the word go. First impressions are formed while checking out its specifications that scream out a 4.0 inch display, a 1 GHz processor, a 5.0 MP camera that can shoot videos in 720p HD and all this in a frame less than 10 mm thin and weighing just 118 gram! Yup, this one is ready for the runway. While the front is dominated by the display and a couple of soft-touch keys and a ‘home button’; the back is made of glossy plastic that houses the 5.0 MP camera and a tiny speaker.

Customized Widgets in Samsung Galaxy SWith specifications out of the way, let’s take a look at the extent of customisation that Samsung has done on the stock Android UI. While I tend to prefer the stock Android UI like the one found on the Milestone, I understand that there are lot of people out there who’d prefer having something more fancy and attractive. Samsung has done a fair bit of skinning on top of Android though not as much as HTC’s Sense UI, which I believe is a good thing. On the bottom of the display are four non-configurable shortcuts – phone, contacts, messaging and applications – making it easy to access the phone functions from any screen. The applications shortcut basically opens the ‘drawer menu’ in the stock Android UI. Rather than having applications open in one never-ending vertical scroll UI, Samsung has customised it to open in horizontal pages with each screen housing a maximum of 16 icons. However, users cannot change the order in which these icons would appear (it turns out the the location of icons can be customised by pressing the menu button and selecting edit while in the applications menu). Samsung has also added some cool widgets like the ‘Accuweather Clock’ widget shown in this pic and a ‘Buddies Now’ widgets where you can add your buddies and see their latest Facebook status messages, comment on their status and call or text message them directly from the home screen.

The Galaxy S runs on Android 2.1 aka Eclair and though this version of Android automatically links your phonebook contact’s Google and Facebook (among other social networks) identities, Samsung adds more customisation to it. Not only can you choose which Facebook friends you would like to see on your phone but you can also see their recent updates and media uploads from a variety of places. Apart from the phonebook, you can also see the latest updates of all your friends from the phone menu or only selected friends through the ‘Buddy Now’ widget. In short, one does not really require a standalone Facebook app on the Galaxy S.

This is the end of the first part of our Samsung Galaxy S review. In the next part of the review, we will cover our user experience of the device and its multimedia capabilities. If you have any queries regarding the Galaxy S, do let us know in comments below and we will try to answer them in the next part of the review.