iPhone OS 4.0: The great Android 2.1 imitator

April 14, 2010

Source: http://www.googleandroidblog.com/news/iphone-os-4-0-the-great-android-2-1-imitator

Yesterday Apple introduced iPhone OS 4.0. Once the subject of endless speculation and a mountain of rumors, we now know this summer’s newest OS release will feature multitasking, new revenue opportunities for developers and better enterprise support, to name just a few of the new offerings. What struck me about the Apple presentation, however, was not the ingenuity or the originality of the new features. No, what struck me is that I had seen almost all of them before in Android 2.1.

Last year I wrote an article, which explored the nature of the rivalries between the big three: Google, Apple and Microsoft. In that article, I posited that Google’s entry into smartphones, the development of Chrome, and the firm’s titanic efforts in the cloud and with advertising not only obsoleted Microsoft’s presence in these spaces, but elevated Google to Microsoft’s old role as Apple’s arch nemesis.

Nine and change months later in 2010, it has never been more apparent that Apple is out to kill Google, which continues merrily along in the enviable position of legitimately threatening the expansion of Apple’s most lucrative business: The iPhone. You see, it’s a cold day in Hell when Apple deigns to play the “me too” game with another company. With the iPod and more recently with the iPad, Apple conjures a massive, willing market from thin air, and leaves companies like Microsoft and HP scrambling to catch up with the Zune and the Slate, respectively.

While the iPhone has taken a similar course since its 2007 introduction (everyone now has an app store, after all), iPhone OS 4.0 added virtually every feature Android currently wields as an advantage, and little else. That’s rather rare form for a company that regularly impugns other firms for struggling to provide the innovation that Apple has exhibited seemingly at every turn. To support this hypothesis, the following table outlines the new features described by Apple in yesterday’s OS 4 presentation, as well as the status of those features in the Android ecosystem.

Feature

iPhone OS 4.0

Android 2.1

Tap to focus
In-app SMS API
Home screen wallpaper
5x digital zoom Varies by phone
Playlists
Bluetooth keyboard API
Data-only settings
Multitasking
Picture/video API
Recent searches
Alert/SMS font sizes
Background location API
Background task completion
Push notification API Google services only
Location notification API
Suspended background apps
Desktop folders
Home screen wallpaper
Lock screen wallpaper
Unified inbox
Multiple Exchange accounts
On-handset attachment opening
Threaded emails
iBooks
Encrypted email Possible with API
Encrypted email attachments Possible with API
Centralized device management Possible with API
Exchange 2010 support
SSL VPN
Administrative app distribution
Ad infrastructure Only if the FTC approves the Google/AdMob deal
Social gaming network

Based on the body of evidence, I suggest that it is rather difficult to ignore the suspicion that OS 4 is little more than a “me too” update and a check against Android. Diving further into the post-presentation Q&A session, we see several answers from Jobs and other Apple employees that tacitly target Google. For example, on the target of task management, Jobs said that any company that makes users multitask with a task manager has already failed. Guess what Android uses?

Next, on the topic of advertising, Jobs was clearly bristling that Google swooped in and purchased AdMob as Apple was trying to court the company for mobile advertising. Apple was forced to buy the much smaller Quattro Wireless instead. Jobs also defended against a request for unsigned applications by obtusely citing a porn app for Android, rather than the many amazing apps that have been made possible by the open development environment.

Final thoughts

Though the iPhone has lorded over the land for nearly three years as the reigning king of smartphone sales, Android has grown from a plucky upstart to a serious concern for Apple. In fact, as of February, 2010, Android more than doubled its market share to 9% in a span of just three months, and it continues to climb. This incredible growth comes primarily at the expense of Windows Mobile and webOS, but it’s also one of the few times the iPhone has failed to gain ground; the iPhone actually fell 0.1% in the same time period.

Another study conducted by ChangeWave in December showed that future smartphone buyers considering Android for their next purchase more than tripled to 21% over the course of four months. Customer satisfaction, too, was at an all-time high of 72%, just five percent less than that of the iPhone. This is a serious breach of mindshare for Apple, which once stood alone in these respects.

Finally, Android represents a cultural threat to Apple, as it too attracts affluent, Internet savvy consumers that are more likely to pay for frequent upgrades. This makes Android a concern in a way Palm and Microsoft are not, even if the latter is also flush with cash.

With Google closing in on Apple’s customers, prestige and revenue, it’s no surprise that Apple cracked and played follow the leader with iPhone OS 4.0. It had to. Android is a threat that Cupertino no longer has the luxury to ignore.

[via Icrontic]

 

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Is Steve Jobs Ignoring History, Or Trying To Rewrite It?

April 14, 2010

Source: http://ping.fm/be6KB

Very few people get the chance to make history. Even fewer get the chance to make it twice. Perhaps that is why it is so fascinating to watch Steve Jobs as he tries to usher in the era of mobile touch computing today, just as he ushered in the era of the personal computer three decades ago. But I wonder whether he is repeating the very same mistakes which relegated Macs to a niche market. Or did he learn from those mistakes so that Apple comes out on top this time?

Jobs is once again pitting Apple’s complete product design mastery against the rest of the industry, except this time he thinks he will prevail. Whether it is his repeated moves to keep Adobe’s Flash off the iPhone or his growing rift with Google over Android, Jobs is making the iPhone and iPad a relatively closed system that Apple can control. All apps need to be approved by Apple, the ads shown on the apps will also start to go through Apple, and no matter how hard Adobe tries to open up the iPhone to its Flash developers Apple will keep blocking all its efforts.

Developers and pundits can cry foul all they want about Apple’s lack of openness. But remember, companies are only open when it is convenient for them. The fight with Adobe has always been about making developers play by Apple’s rules. And right now they can make those rules because they have all the customers.

In the desktop era, Windows had the most apps, which translated directly into sales. Today on mobile, the iPhone has the most apps and Jobs wants to keep it that way. Allowing Adobe or Microsoft to port apps developed for other devices to the iPhone devalues the iPhone, which is why Apple is cracking down so hard on Adobe. It is not about Flash, it is about developers. As John Gruber writes:

The App Store platform could turn into a long-term de facto standard platform. That’s how Microsoft became Microsoft. At a certain point developers wrote apps for Windows because so many users were on Windows and users bought Windows PCs because all the software was being written for Windows. That’s the sort of situation that creates a license to print money.

But how long will that license last? The iPhone faces a growing threat from Google’s Android phones, which are the PCs of the mobile world. Only Apple makes the iPhone, but many phone manufacturers make Android phones just like many PC makers produce Windows PCs. Slowly but surely, those Android phones are getting better. And already Android sales are collectively catching up to iPhone sales.

Of all people, surely he sees what is coming. Is he ignoring his own history, or does he know it so well that this time he is going to try to rewrite it by changing the outcome? As long as the iPhone remains the leading smartphone, he can try to lock out Google’s ads and lock in developers with their apps (and, by extension, customers who want those apps).

Still, it seems like history could repeat itself, with the rest of the industry closing the innovation gap with Apple fast. With Google subsidizing the mobile OS, other phone manufacturers have an economic advantage as well. Jobs is trying everything he can to hold back the Android advance, including suing HTC, the largest manufacturer of Android phones. He is fighting Google with everything he’s got—undercutting Google’s pending acquisition of AdMob by entering the mobile advertising market and creating fear among Android partners with his patent lawsuit.

In the end, it is the victors who write history. Right now, Jobs is winning. Can he keep winning or is history against him?

[via TechCrunch]

 

Nexus One Android Smartphone Review

March 24, 2010

Source: http://www.googleandroidblog.com/phones/nexus-one-android-smartphone-review

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Now I know how the Bachelor and Bachelorette feel because I’m in love with two… smartphones. I’ve been using an iPhone on and off (on since last July when I purchased the 3GS) since it was originally released and our relationship has been sort of love hate. Love because of the apps. Hate because it does not have dedicated call send and end buttons. I haven’t been exclusive to the iPhone though. I am guilty of flirting with other phones, but they meant nothing to me and I continue to come back to the iPhone after a brief tryst. The G1 hit my radar over a year ago and although I found it interesting, it didn’t go much farther than that. But things have drastically changed in the past year. As Apple continues to alienate users, Android has been gaining momentum. I thought it was high time I gave Android another try to see if it could win my heart from the iPhone. I purchased the Nexus One and now I find that I’m torn between two phones.

Hardware Specs

Processor: Qualcomm QSD 8250 1 GHz
Operating System: Android Mobile Technology Platform 2.1 (Eclair)
Memory: 512MB Flash, 512MB RAM, 4GB Micro SD Card (Expandable to 32 GB)
Cellular: UMTS Band 1/4/8 (2100/AWS/900), HSDPA 7.2Mbps, HSUPA 2Mbps, GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
Wireless: Wi-Fi (802.11b/g)
Bluetooth: 2.1 + EDR, A2DP stereo Bluetooth
Display: 3.7-inch (diagonal) widescreen WVGA AMOLED touchscreen, 800 x 480 pixels, 100,000:1 typical contrast ratio
Camera: 5 megapixels, Autofocus from 6cm to infinity, 2X digital zoom, LED flash, Video captured at 720×480 pixels at 20 frames per second or higher, depending on lighting conditions
Dimensions: 119mm x 59.8mm x 11.5mm
Weight: 130 grams w/battery, 100g w/o battery
Battery: 1400 mAH battery, Charges at 480mA from USB, at 980mA from supplied charger
Talk time
Up to 10 hours on 2G
Up to 7 hours on 3G
Standby time
Up to 290 hours on 2G
Up to 250 hours on 3G
Internet use
Up to 5 hours on 3G
Up to 6.5 hours on Wi-Fi
Video playback
Up to 7 hours
Audio playback
Up to 20 hours

Package Contents

Nexus One smartphone
AC adapter
USB cable
Earbuds
Extra earbud covers
Quick Start guide

The Hardware

Note: Many of the images in this review can be clicked to see a larger version.

The Nexus One is much sleeker than the G1 ever dreamed of being. The metal frame has a Titanium finish that’s very stylish. The sides of the Nexus are rounded and smooth. The phone is very comfortable in hand and has a nice heft to it. It’s very solid and had no problems passing the Gadgeteer squeeze test. No creaks, cracks, or flexing was noticed.

The majority of the phone’s front is taken up by the gorgeous 3.7″ touch display. Below the display is a strip of backlit touch buttons and below them is the combination trackball, status LED.

Flip the phone over and you’ll see the 5mp camera lens and LED flash. The cover slides off to reveal the battery, microSD and SIM card slots.

The battery cover is plastic with a soft rubberized coating that keeps the phone from feeling slippery in your hand.

The volume rocker button is located on the Left side of the phone. This button has a low profile and weak tactile feedback, that makes it a bit difficult to locate blindly with your thumb during a phone call.

The bottom of the phone has a micro USB connector and electrical contacts for the optional desktop dock. The microphone is also located on the bottom. It’s the Black dot in the picture above. It’s interesting to note that the Nexus has an additional microphone that is located on the back of the phone.

The clickable trackball can roll in any direction without stopping. It can also be pressed to select items. In addition, it is an LED that will pulse to let you know that you’ve received an email, text message, etc.

On the opposite end you’ll find a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and the power button.

I mentioned the desktop dock above… It’s a $45.00 optional purchase that is a nice accessory to have. It will let you easily charge the Nexus, which is no surprise, but the cool thing is that the Nexus will enter a special screensaver mode when it’s sitting in the dock.

First of all the Nexus just rests in the dock. You don’t have to plug it in like you do an iPhone. The dock has 3 contacts that press against duplicate contacts on the bottom of the phone. When you place the Nexus in the dock, it will turn on and display the image you see on the Left. The time and weather are displayed. You can use the Nexus as a clock and alarm clock in this mode. You can also play slide shows of the images stored on the phone and play music. The dock even has an audio-out connector and comes with a 3.5mm to RCA cable if you want to connect it to external speakers.

If you leave the phone in the clock / weather view, it will time out and switch to the clock view that you see on the Right. Nifty :)

Let’s talk about the display. It’s a very nice one. It is physically larger than the iPhone’s display and has a higher resolution. But as far as the whole AMOLED thing, if I set the iPhone and Nexus side by side, the displays both look equally great to me.

The main difference I notice is that the N1’s Black’s are darker and the colors are more vibrant. But when I compare the sensitivity of the touch screen, I give the edge to the iPhone hands down. To me, the action of flicking, scrolling, swiping and tapping feels easier and more accurate on the iPhone. Regarding the strip of touch icons below the display, they don’t feel nearly as sensitive as the rest of the screen. I constantly find myself stabbing at them in frustration sometimes when they don’t want to recognize my taps. Then sometimes I can barely touch them to activate them. I’m hoping a firmware update can fix this issue.

The Camera

The Nexus One has an above average (for smartphones) 5 mp camera that has auto focus and a built in LED flash. It would have been nice if there was a dedicated camera launch / shutter button on the phone, but you can use the trackball to snap pix, or use the onscreen shutter button.

Here are a few sample pics:

Macro capability is very good. I wish you could tap the screen to focus on a specific spot though (like you can with the iPhone – sorry).

By default, using the phone’s AGPS receiver, the location where a photo was snapped will be saved along with the photo. Unfortunately I found that the accuracy of the location data was really bad. Sometimes more than a few miles off. Not sure what the deal is.

Video is recorded with the .3gp format, at 720×480 pixels at 20 frames per second.

Video recording sample

Not sure why they didn’t go with mp4.

Phone Performance

I tested the Nexus on the AT&T network with 2G only. Yeah, yay me – not. AT&T call quality with the Nexus is just as crappy as call quality on all the other phones I test with the same network. I had my share of clicking, weird audio glitches, dropped calls, etc.

All that said, I had many good calls with good volume, clarity, etc too. So the bottom line is that I don’t know if the Nexus is any better or any worse than other GSM phone when it comes to using it as a phone.

Battery and Overall Performance

I haven’t been overly impressed with the battery life on the Nexus One. Even with 3G turned off, I am not able to get through more than 1-1.5 days without having to dock it for a recharge. This may should fine to most of you, but I don’t make many calls, don’t surf much and don’t watch video on the phone. My main activities are checking the time, reading a few emails, texting, browsing the marketplace for new apps and mostly reading eBooks with the FBreader app.

I did notice something really cool though… You can see what app or feature is using the most juice.

The About Phone option in the Settings app shows a scrollable list of things using battery life and the percentage used. Even more details can be found by clicking on the individual items. Nice touch!

System performance is snappy – as well it should be giving the 1GHz snap dragon processor that powers the Nexus. Apps launch very fast, scrolling lists is fast, going from app list to home screen is fast, it’s all fast. I have no complaints at all with performance.

The Software

So all in all, the Nexus One hardware is fantastic and I have few complaints. Now let’s get to the software. As most people will say, a device like a smart phone is only as good as the software that powers it. I’m a firm believer in that belief.

I’ve been very impressed with how much slicker Android 2.1 (Eclair) is over the original version of Android that I first played with on the G1. The difference is like night and day.

I appreciate the little details like the ability to turn the speaker on and off on the idle screen. Stuff like that make me happy.

But the #1 thing that makes me love Nexus One more than my iPhone is the ability to customize the 5 home screens. There are live wallapers like the one shown above, that animate and change depending on the time of day, widgets that give you instant access to important info like weather, news and upcoming appointments. You have the power to move widgets around, create a screen just of widgets or a screen with your favorite apps. The only thing you can’t do is have a different wallpaper for each of the 5 home screens. Seems odd that they left out that feature.

If the #1 thing I love about Android is the customization of the home screens, then the #1 thing I hate about Android is the quality of 3rd party apps. I felt the same way when I reviewed the G1 last year. Of course there are so many more apps available now than there were before. But, the overall quality of most apps still lags considerably behind apps for the iPhone. They just aren’t as polished. I’m not saying all apps are crummy… not at all. But when I went looking for comparable apps from my iPhone in the Android Marketplace, I came away disappointed. That said, with the surging popularity of Android, I’m very confident that this won’t be a problem for long.

While we’re talking apps, I have another complaint… The Nexus One only has 512MB of user storage for apps. Even though you can add a microSD flash card to the phone, you can not specify where apps are saved when you install them. This is a really big deal if you ask me. Yes, apps are small. But I haven’t installed all that many on my N1 and right now I only have 110mb free. Not good.

Unfortunately, my software related complaints aren’t confined to 3rd party apps. I found a few things that annoy me with the functionality of the stock apps. One biggie for me is that the built in Search app doesn’t search your google calendar items. Another is the lack of visual voicemail if you’re using the phone with AT&T. There’s also no notepad app to record quick text notes. No way to sync podcasts (I tried Google Listen, but it won’t let me sign in with my google for domains account).

Conclusion

Choosing between the Nexus One and iPhone is difficult for me because I really do love them both – for different reasons. I love the N1’s hardware. I love the size and feel in my hand,  the display, microSD card and customization. But the touch screen and touch strip really frustrate me. I can actually learn to deal with the last two things, but when it comes down to it, I find myself missing the iPhone apps. For that reason, I’ll be putting my SIM back into the iPhone. I’ll be keeping my eye on the Android scene though. Heck, I may even root my N1 and install a home baked ROM. The Nexus One and Android definitely haven’t seen the last of me.

[via the gadgeteer]

Nexus One Android Smartphone Review

March 24, 2010

Source: http://www.googleandroidblog.com/phones/nexus-one-android-smartphone-review

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Now I know how the Bachelor and Bachelorette feel because I’m in love with two… smartphones. I’ve been using an iPhone on and off (on since last July when I purchased the 3GS) since it was originally released and our relationship has been sort of love hate. Love because of the apps. Hate because it does not have dedicated call send and end buttons. I haven’t been exclusive to the iPhone though. I am guilty of flirting with other phones, but they meant nothing to me and I continue to come back to the iPhone after a brief tryst. The G1 hit my radar over a year ago and although I found it interesting, it didn’t go much farther than that. But things have drastically changed in the past year. As Apple continues to alienate users, Android has been gaining momentum. I thought it was high time I gave Android another try to see if it could win my heart from the iPhone. I purchased the Nexus One and now I find that I’m torn between two phones.

Hardware Specs

Processor: Qualcomm QSD 8250 1 GHz
Operating System: Android Mobile Technology Platform 2.1 (Eclair)
Memory: 512MB Flash, 512MB RAM, 4GB Micro SD Card (Expandable to 32 GB)
Cellular: UMTS Band 1/4/8 (2100/AWS/900), HSDPA 7.2Mbps, HSUPA 2Mbps, GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
Wireless: Wi-Fi (802.11b/g)
Bluetooth: 2.1 + EDR, A2DP stereo Bluetooth
Display: 3.7-inch (diagonal) widescreen WVGA AMOLED touchscreen, 800 x 480 pixels, 100,000:1 typical contrast ratio
Camera: 5 megapixels, Autofocus from 6cm to infinity, 2X digital zoom, LED flash, Video captured at 720×480 pixels at 20 frames per second or higher, depending on lighting conditions
Dimensions: 119mm x 59.8mm x 11.5mm
Weight: 130 grams w/battery, 100g w/o battery
Battery: 1400 mAH battery, Charges at 480mA from USB, at 980mA from supplied charger
Talk time
Up to 10 hours on 2G
Up to 7 hours on 3G
Standby time
Up to 290 hours on 2G
Up to 250 hours on 3G
Internet use
Up to 5 hours on 3G
Up to 6.5 hours on Wi-Fi
Video playback
Up to 7 hours
Audio playback
Up to 20 hours

Package Contents

Nexus One smartphone
AC adapter
USB cable
Earbuds
Extra earbud covers
Quick Start guide

The Hardware

Note: Many of the images in this review can be clicked to see a larger version.

The Nexus One is much sleeker than the G1 ever dreamed of being. The metal frame has a Titanium finish that’s very stylish. The sides of the Nexus are rounded and smooth. The phone is very comfortable in hand and has a nice heft to it. It’s very solid and had no problems passing the Gadgeteer squeeze test. No creaks, cracks, or flexing was noticed.

The majority of the phone’s front is taken up by the gorgeous 3.7″ touch display. Below the display is a strip of backlit touch buttons and below them is the combination trackball, status LED.

Flip the phone over and you’ll see the 5mp camera lens and LED flash. The cover slides off to reveal the battery, microSD and SIM card slots.

The battery cover is plastic with a soft rubberized coating that keeps the phone from feeling slippery in your hand.

The volume rocker button is located on the Left side of the phone. This button has a low profile and weak tactile feedback, that makes it a bit difficult to locate blindly with your thumb during a phone call.

The bottom of the phone has a micro USB connector and electrical contacts for the optional desktop dock. The microphone is also located on the bottom. It’s the Black dot in the picture above. It’s interesting to note that the Nexus has an additional microphone that is located on the back of the phone.

The clickable trackball can roll in any direction without stopping. It can also be pressed to select items. In addition, it is an LED that will pulse to let you know that you’ve received an email, text message, etc.

On the opposite end you’ll find a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and the power button.

I mentioned the desktop dock above… It’s a $45.00 optional purchase that is a nice accessory to have. It will let you easily charge the Nexus, which is no surprise, but the cool thing is that the Nexus will enter a special screensaver mode when it’s sitting in the dock.

First of all the Nexus just rests in the dock. You don’t have to plug it in like you do an iPhone. The dock has 3 contacts that press against duplicate contacts on the bottom of the phone. When you place the Nexus in the dock, it will turn on and display the image you see on the Left. The time and weather are displayed. You can use the Nexus as a clock and alarm clock in this mode. You can also play slide shows of the images stored on the phone and play music. The dock even has an audio-out connector and comes with a 3.5mm to RCA cable if you want to connect it to external speakers.

If you leave the phone in the clock / weather view, it will time out and switch to the clock view that you see on the Right. Nifty :)

Let’s talk about the display. It’s a very nice one. It is physically larger than the iPhone’s display and has a higher resolution. But as far as the whole AMOLED thing, if I set the iPhone and Nexus side by side, the displays both look equally great to me.

The main difference I notice is that the N1’s Black’s are darker and the colors are more vibrant. But when I compare the sensitivity of the touch screen, I give the edge to the iPhone hands down. To me, the action of flicking, scrolling, swiping and tapping feels easier and more accurate on the iPhone. Regarding the strip of touch icons below the display, they don’t feel nearly as sensitive as the rest of the screen. I constantly find myself stabbing at them in frustration sometimes when they don’t want to recognize my taps. Then sometimes I can barely touch them to activate them. I’m hoping a firmware update can fix this issue.

The Camera

The Nexus One has an above average (for smartphones) 5 mp camera that has auto focus and a built in LED flash. It would have been nice if there was a dedicated camera launch / shutter button on the phone, but you can use the trackball to snap pix, or use the onscreen shutter button.

Here are a few sample pics:

Macro capability is very good. I wish you could tap the screen to focus on a specific spot though (like you can with the iPhone – sorry).

By default, using the phone’s AGPS receiver, the location where a photo was snapped will be saved along with the photo. Unfortunately I found that the accuracy of the location data was really bad. Sometimes more than a few miles off. Not sure what the deal is.

Video is recorded with the .3gp format, at 720×480 pixels at 20 frames per second.

Video recording sample

Not sure why they didn’t go with mp4.

Phone Performance

I tested the Nexus on the AT&T network with 2G only. Yeah, yay me – not. AT&T call quality with the Nexus is just as crappy as call quality on all the other phones I test with the same network. I had my share of clicking, weird audio glitches, dropped calls, etc.

All that said, I had many good calls with good volume, clarity, etc too. So the bottom line is that I don’t know if the Nexus is any better or any worse than other GSM phone when it comes to using it as a phone.

Battery and Overall Performance

I haven’t been overly impressed with the battery life on the Nexus One. Even with 3G turned off, I am not able to get through more than 1-1.5 days without having to dock it for a recharge. This may should fine to most of you, but I don’t make many calls, don’t surf much and don’t watch video on the phone. My main activities are checking the time, reading a few emails, texting, browsing the marketplace for new apps and mostly reading eBooks with the FBreader app.

I did notice something really cool though… You can see what app or feature is using the most juice.

The About Phone option in the Settings app shows a scrollable list of things using battery life and the percentage used. Even more details can be found by clicking on the individual items. Nice touch!

System performance is snappy – as well it should be giving the 1GHz snap dragon processor that powers the Nexus. Apps launch very fast, scrolling lists is fast, going from app list to home screen is fast, it’s all fast. I have no complaints at all with performance.

The Software

So all in all, the Nexus One hardware is fantastic and I have few complaints. Now let’s get to the software. As most people will say, a device like a smart phone is only as good as the software that powers it. I’m a firm believer in that belief.

I’ve been very impressed with how much slicker Android 2.1 (Eclair) is over the original version of Android that I first played with on the G1. The difference is like night and day.

I appreciate the little details like the ability to turn the speaker on and off on the idle screen. Stuff like that make me happy.

But the #1 thing that makes me love Nexus One more than my iPhone is the ability to customize the 5 home screens. There are live wallapers like the one shown above, that animate and change depending on the time of day, widgets that give you instant access to important info like weather, news and upcoming appointments. You have the power to move widgets around, create a screen just of widgets or a screen with your favorite apps. The only thing you can’t do is have a different wallpaper for each of the 5 home screens. Seems odd that they left out that feature.

If the #1 thing I love about Android is the customization of the home screens, then the #1 thing I hate about Android is the quality of 3rd party apps. I felt the same way when I reviewed the G1 last year. Of course there are so many more apps available now than there were before. But, the overall quality of most apps still lags considerably behind apps for the iPhone. They just aren’t as polished. I’m not saying all apps are crummy… not at all. But when I went looking for comparable apps from my iPhone in the Android Marketplace, I came away disappointed. That said, with the surging popularity of Android, I’m very confident that this won’t be a problem for long.

While we’re talking apps, I have another complaint… The Nexus One only has 512MB of user storage for apps. Even though you can add a microSD flash card to the phone, you can not specify where apps are saved when you install them. This is a really big deal if you ask me. Yes, apps are small. But I haven’t installed all that many on my N1 and right now I only have 110mb free. Not good.

Unfortunately, my software related complaints aren’t confined to 3rd party apps. I found a few things that annoy me with the functionality of the stock apps. One biggie for me is that the built in Search app doesn’t search your google calendar items. Another is the lack of visual voicemail if you’re using the phone with AT&T. There’s also no notepad app to record quick text notes. No way to sync podcasts (I tried Google Listen, but it won’t let me sign in with my google for domains account).

Conclusion

Choosing between the Nexus One and iPhone is difficult for me because I really do love them both – for different reasons. I love the N1’s hardware. I love the size and feel in my hand,  the display, microSD card and customization. But the touch screen and touch strip really frustrate me. I can actually learn to deal with the last two things, but when it comes down to it, I find myself missing the iPhone apps. For that reason, I’ll be putting my SIM back into the iPhone. I’ll be keeping my eye on the Android scene though. Heck, I may even root my N1 and install a home baked ROM. The Nexus One and Android definitely haven’t seen the last of me.

[via the gadgeteer]

Five Ways Google Android Phones Beat Apple iPhones

March 18, 2010

Source: http://ping.fm/Y4irw

The app store deck is stacked heavily in the iPhone’s favor to the tune of 150,000 iPhone apps to Android’s 20,000 but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things Android has over the iPhone, especially  the fast and high resolution Nexus One. Here are some things we think Android has over the iPhone. Feel free to share your opinions and tell us about Android features and applications that make those smartphones look better than iPhones.

1. Better Twitter Apps

There is no shortage of Twitter apps for computers and smartphones but a recently launched version of Seesmic for Android and BlackBerry phones has been getting glowing reviews from everyone who tries it. It supports multiple accounts, has a built in spellchecker and a slick interface that makes it easy and fun to use. Other highly rated Twitter apps on Android you might want to check out are Twidroid Pro and Tweetcaster which have also received good reviews.

2. Great Google Apps like Google Voice and Google Maps
The competition has heated up between Apple and Google so we don’t expect to see a lot of support for Google apps on iPhones like these apps which look particularly great on the new Nexus One.

Google Navigation

Google Navigation is based on Google Maps and is free on Android phones. It offers turn by turn navigation and looks very good on the higher resolution screen and zippier processor of the Nexus One. Google Sky Map on the Nexus One is also very cool.

Google Voice

Even though it’s available on some Android phones by invitation only (Nexus One buyers get an account with their phone), it’s not available at all on iPhones. Not only can you save a lot of money on international calls but Google Voice offers many cool features like message transcriptions. Check out this one minute video:

More from Google Labs
We didn’t even mention Google Goggles that adds information about what the phone’s camera sees. We suspect we’ll see more cool stuff like language translators and other Android apps emerge from Google Labs.

3. Cool Home Screen Apps Like Slidescreen

No question, the iPhone OS is fun and doesn’t interfere with getting things done but you have to admit paging around all those apps can be a drag. With this very cool new Slidescreen app, you not only get a directory of apps but lots of very accessible info about everything going on with your phone.

4. Apps That Turn Your Phone into a WiFi Hot Spot
Yes, we know you can tether an iPhone to a 3G phone as long as you’re willing to jailbreak your iPhone but with apps like PdaNet you can use your 3G connection to get online for free (PdaNet also sells a version to access secure sites) via USB or Bluetooth. Here’s a video on how to set up PdaNet on the Motorola Droid:

5. Cool and Fun Apps
Yes, we love all the fun apps available on the iPhone and have written about many of them but that doesn’t mean we’re not impressed with some of the cool apps available for Android.

Recognizr

This augmented reality app from the Swedish company, Polar Rose uses their mobile face recognition library from FaceLib to turn your Nexus One into a Cyborg.

Ringoid

Ringoid is an app that lets you create your own ringtones from all kinds of sound files. It’s simple to use with a “record” button that lets you save recordings and turn them into ringtones.

 

[via Retrevo]

 

Nexus One Flopped, but Android Didn’t

March 17, 2010

Source: http://www.googleandroidblog.com/news/nexus-one-flopped-but-android-didn-t

A new report from mobile analytics firm Flurry reveals some interesting numbers about Google’s first attempt to sell its own custom branded Android device, an HTC-built phone called the Nexus One. It’s a flop. After 74 days, the same amount of time it took the original iPhone to sell its first million units, the Nexus One sold only 135,000.

But before you read too much into these numbers, thinking that it has any meaning with regard to the Android ecosystem as a whole, think again. Android market share is growing fast – it more than doubled from September to December of last year, for example. Oh, and the Droid, Android’s fastest-selling phone to date? It actually beat the iPhone by day 74, Flurry says. All this new data shows is that Google is no Apple when it comes to marketing their own device.

iPhone Killer? Hardly

In January of this year, Google hosted a press event to showcase its new Nexus One phone, a HTC device sold exclusively by Google on its own website in both a carrier-specific and unlocked version. When asked if the new phone was meant to be an iPhone killer, Google Director of Mobile Platforms Andy Rubin simply replied that “choice is a good thing.”

Prior to its launch, many technology insiders suspected (or rather, hoped) that the new “Google phone” would be exactly that – a killer, the first real rival to challenge Apple’s dominance in the smartphone market. With features like support for multitasking, Google’s own GPS navigation application, Google Voice (the VoIP app Apple banned from iTunes), a 3D photo gallery and, of course, heavy integration of Google services, the Nexus One had a feature lineup that Apple’s iPhone couldn’t beat.

nexus one sales chart.png

Why Did the N1 Flop?

So what happened? Why don’t the sales numbers match up with the excitement surrounding the device? The problem likely has to do with the fact that the phone is sold online only. You can’t march into a store and purchase a Nexus One and, apparently, that’s how most customers want to shop. Another problem is that the U.S. carrier for the N1 is T-Mobile, a much smaller network than either AT&T (iPhone) or Verizon (Droid). Also, the N1 isn’t available worldwide like the iPhone is.

However, don’t count the N1 out just yet. According to Google’s website, it will arrive on Vodafone in Europe by spring 2010, and, in the U.S., Verizon will get a version of the device at the same time. Given how well the Droid has done for Verizon, the Nexus One may have a shot at boosting its sales soon.

Meanwhile, Android, as a platform, is doing quite well even if the Nexus One isn’t. The Droid recently became the fastest-selling Android phone to date, beating myTouch 3G sales by more than four times; the Android market share has been growing by leaps and bounds; Android’s application store is now the second largest, second only to Apple’s iTunes; and, finally, some companies found their Android website visitors increasing by as much as 350% over the past year.

In the end, the Nexus One may not have succeeded the way Google had hoped, but clearly, Android itself has.

[via ReadWriteWeb]

 

Google Android users annoyed with different versions on mobile devices

March 17, 2010

Source: http://ping.fm/uXepV

Google Android users annoyed with different versions on mobile devices

Google Android has become one of the most exciting mobile platforms in the industry today.

The product is available for no cost to companies aiming to develop new phones.

The only problem is that new phones available in the market today are still being sold with versions that are outdated.

And Google and other developers are releasing apps that are only compatible with the recent editions of Android.

Google on their part have not stated if they are going to release updated Android editions for all the users on older Android versions.

Some of the early devices that were sold in the market might not be powerful enough to handle the new features.

This is one of the biggest worries for customers who are planning to switch from their existing phones to a smartphone based on Android.

The safest option currently is to either go for a Google Nexus One model that comes with Android 2.1 release or wait for the new devices that would feature a similar Android version.


[via TechWhack]


Management Centralized by Citrix, Android Added with XenApp 6

March 16, 2010

Source: http://www.googleandroidblog.com/apps/management-centralized-by-citrix-android-added-with-xenapp-6

Official reports have confirmed that Citrix Systems has introduced the version 6 of its XenApp, which is a platform for centralized application delivery that also features centralized management, in addition to complete access to Windows application from smartphones which are Android-based and computers from the house of Apple.

XenApp allowed users to gain access to the programs which run on a server, while applications can be streamed to the client. Also, it can be effectively used as an integrated part of XenDesktop, which is the company’s platform for “desktop virtualization“.

Added to the list of devices which are now compatible with Citrix’s Receiver client are smartphones which are equipped with the Android OS and Macs. All the details have been shared by Citrix Nordic’s Product Marketing Manager, Magnus Toft.

The Receiver client was introduced in May of 2009, and it utilizes carious plug-ins in order to effectively support different features like online and offline application usage, management of passwords, WAN accelerations, and more.

“This version is about trying to drive IT as more of an on-demand environment”, shared Alicia Rey, Director of Product Marketing.

 

[via TOPNEWS]

 

HTC Desire or Google Nexus One? The BIG Android Question

March 15, 2010

Source: http://ping.fm/Fpcck

The Android powered Nexus One manufactured by HTC for the search engine giant Google has a new competitor on the block, the new HTC Desire is the manufacturers own version of this powerful new smart phone and incorporates some new features that may sway a potential customers handset choice.
Firstly, the HTC Desire offers the manufacturers own Sense user interface running over the top of the Android operating system, users of HTC device will recognise this as a smooth way to navigate the phones menu system and also makes for a great web browsing experience.

Secondly, the Desire offers support for Flash 10.1 already incorporated, this gives extra support for flash driven websites which the Google Nexus One is not currently able to view.
Lastly, and on a physical level, the Nexus One uses a trackball located under the main screen for navigation of the phones features and menu system, the new HTC Desire does away with this ‘older’ technology in favour of a new optical pad as found in the recently released HD2 model which means you simply slide your finger across the pad rather than having to physically move it.

This may not sound that important until you speak to an existing user of this technology, many Blackberry owners and even HTC Hero users have experienced wear to their trackball after repeated use and in some cases these have had to be replaced, the Desire will continue with no wear to this function.
Whether the Google name will help sell the Nexus One remains to be seen but the original hype surrounding the release of this latest Android phone seems to have ebbed very quickly with some voicing their disappointment at the device dubbed the ‘super phone’.

Availability is also an issue, the Nexus One is currently only sold by Google themselves rather than via the networks as with the Desire, currently consumers can connect the HTC Desire to both Vodafone and T-Mobile pay monthly deals with network subsidies making the phone free on some tariffs. Those wanting to purchase a Nexus One have to buy the device as a SIM Free phone for the ‘real’ price of the handset and then use a network SIM card to connect to a network.

HTC looks to have cornered a market after watching feedback from Nexus One customers and also NOT dubbed their new phone as ‘super’, the result is a well thought out design incorporating many of the same features but without the niggles present in the Nexus One.

The Desire is being released released alongside two more new models from the manufacturer, the new HTC Legend which is a Hero upgrade and the HD Mini which is a smaller version of the HTC HD2 are set for release over the next few days.

For further information about HTC Desire deals and the new HTC Legend please visit our website – Phones Limited.

[via mynewsdesk]

Apple’s HTC patent suit: Can it derail Google’s Android devices?

March 6, 2010

Source: http://ping.fm/LZJX7

Updated: Apple said Tuesday that it is suing HTC for infringing on 20 patents related to the iPhone and pursuing a permanent cease and desist order that could derail a wide range of Android devices.

Specifically, Apple is suing HTC in a Delaware district court and the U.S. International Trade Commission for violating patents related to “the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.” Apple didn’t detail the specific patents involved.

In a statement, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said:

“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

Funny that’s what everyone in the smartphone food chain says. The ITC is going to be quite busy evaluating all the patent lawsuits against various mobile phone players.

HTC wasn’t commenting until it reviewed the complaint.

Also see: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes’ take and court documents (PDF).

For those keeping score at home, here’s the ITC’s plate:

The big question is whether Apple’s first serve against HTC will escalate into a bevy of countersuits like the Nokia patent war has. It’s unclear that HTC has the history or intellectual property to countersue Apple into a cross-licensing pact. Apple signaled that it wouldn’t let competitors run off with its intellectual property a little more than a year ago and hasn’t disappointed.

Apple vs. Android

It’s hard not to take Apple’s HTC suit as an indirect shot against Google. HTC is a big partner of Google and is launching an army of Android devices that are clearly aimed at the iPhone. Bottom line: Google’s Android encroachment is the biggest threat to the iPhone and a patent suit could be a nice way to distract HTC. Would it be surprising if Apple also sued Motorola too?

Email alerts: Smartphones, Google, Apple

Indeed, Apple’s complaint mentioned Android just as much as it does HTC. Devices targeted by Apple include HTC’s Nexus One, Dream, Magic, Droid Eris and Google G1 among others.

Should Apple be successful it could derail the marketing and importation of many Android devices in the U.S.

In a footnote to its complaint, Apple said:

The categories listed are a shorthand summary of products currently accused of infringement by complainants. These descriptions, and the examples given therein, are not intended to exclusively define or otherwise limited the categories of accused products. Respondents have announced their intention to release additional products in the future that will infringe the asserted patents.

Then as an example Apple mentions that HTC will sell the HD2 in early 2010.

It’s also notable that Apple hasn’t sued Google directly. By going after device makers individually Apple could hamper the hardware partners that Google needs to bring Android to a bevy of devices.

A look at the patents

Apple’s suit involves a bevy of patents ranging from user interface features such as scrolling and scaling to touch screen methods to power consumption to graphics.

The laundry list:

  • ‘331 Patent, entitled “Time-Based, Non-Constant Translation Of User Interface Objects Between States”
  • ‘949 Patent, entitled “Touch Screen Device, Method, And Graphical User Interface For Determining Commands By Applying Heuristics”
  • ‘849 Patent, entitled “Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image”
  • ‘381 Patent, entitled “List Scrolling And Document Translation, Scaling, And Rotation On A Touch-Screen Display”
  • ‘726 Patent, entitled “System And Method For Managing Power Conditions Within A Digital Camera Device”
  • ‘076 Patent, entitled “Automated Response To And Sensing Of User Activity In Portable Devices”
  • ‘105 Patent, entitled “GMSK Signal Processors For Improved Communications Capacity And Quality”
  • ‘453 Patent, entitled “Conserving Power By Reducing Voltage Supplied To An Instruction-Processing Portion Of A Processor”
  • ‘599 Patent, entitled “Object-Oriented Graphic System”
  • ‘354 Patent, entitled “Object-Oriented Event Notification System With Listener Registration Of Both Interests And Methods”

What to watch going forward

As we look ahead to the next chapter in this Apple-HTC spat the following questions pop out:

  • What other Android bandmates of Google will be targeted? Motorola seems like a potential target.
  • Will there be a chilling effect on the Android ecosystem?
  • Will the discovery process in the HTC patent suit reveal whether there’s Apple code in Android? While HTC, a hardware company is being targeted, most of the named patents have a software component and could tie into Android.
  • Does HTC have the intellectual property portfolio to countersue Apple? Let’s face it these patent suits usually turn out to bring both parties into a big co-licensing deal. Nokia, Motorola, Palm and others have the portfolios to countersue Apple. Does HTC, which was founded in 1997, have the history or patent portfolio to compete?

[via ZDNet]