Happy Holidays from Android Community!

We at Android Community would like to take the time to wish all of our readers and community members a happy holiday this year no matter what your celebrating. We hope everyone gets to celebrate this holiday season with their family or some of your closest friends. Nothing is more important that being with the ones you love. We want everyone to be safe and responsible out there when ringing in the New Year this year. Hopefully those of you who are wishing for the T-Mobile G1 will find it wrapped up in a shiny box. Tell us what your plans are this holiday season, for those who celebrated Christmas what did you get? Are there any amazing destinations planned over the next two weeks?

HKC Pearl runs Windows Mobile and Android

Every time we turn around China is getting another Android-powered handset. Which one is it this time you ask? The HKC Pearl is reportedly going to be running a dual boot of Windows Mobile 6 and you guessed it Android. The HKC Pearl does not look very advanced, in fact is surprisingly resembles the Velocity 103. This handset has a 2.8-inch QVGA, 256MB of ROM and 128MB of RAM. The 2-megapixel camera is really nothing special and of course this device is Wi-Fi enabled, as if we would expect anything less. Engadget Chinese has managed to score some hand on pictures to pacify us for a while. Obviously China is accepting the Android platform with open arms, but why in the world are the specs of every single phone lacking? What we need is a Nokia quality device with the Android operating system. If someone could port Android to the upcoming N97 I would be set for life. [gallery] [Via Engadget Chinese]

Winners of the Android Community Holiday Giveaway

As the holidays glow closer we have just announced the winners of the Android Community Holiday Giveaway. There were about 280 entries all together but unfortunately we were only able to select six. Congratulations to the six who will walk away with Plantronics Discovery 925 Bluetooth headsets. Be sure to stop by and congratulate them. We would like to thank Plantronics for providing the headsets for this contest. Better luck next time for those who did not win. Due to the success of this giveaway we decided that we are going to continue to bring our members the goods. Not all of our giveaways will be announced on the front page so be sure to keep an eye out in the forms for your change.

aTrackDog flawed and deceiving

The new applications aTrackDog is designed to help users make sure that their applications are up to date. This application in theory would be a perfect solution to a flawed update system on Android. aTrackDog works by sending information about your currently installed apps over to the a0soft.com servers then checks all available applications for updates and notifies you if there are any. aTrackDog though has a “MAJOR” design flaw, if a beta tester is also an aTrackDog users then all users of aTrackDog will get a notification that there is an update when in reality the application is up to date.  The guys over at Big In Japan learned this first hand when they received plenty of email stating that users could not download the newest version of ShopSavvy.
“Starting on Friday we began getting emails from aTrackDog users who complained that they could not download the latest release of our software.  Our current version is 3.0.0, but aTrackDog showed that our most recent version was 3.0.5 (an internal alpha version).  We DO have a public beta running at 3.0.4, but the most recent public/stable release (i.e. the one in the Market) is 3.0.0.  aTrackDog is listing 3.0.5 as our latest release so each aTrackDog user receives an alert that they need to update their version of ShopSavvy.  Our users are becoming more and more frustrated as their emails reveal.”
aTrackDog’s only suggestion to developers at Big In Japan was to suggest users to select ‘Not Track this version’ in the aTrackDog settings. aTrackDog needs to really step it up a notch here because developers should not have disclaimers and notes for each conflicting application that is later released. Developers do not have any control over what their beta testers use on their phones. Rylan went on to say in an email to aTrackDog developers:
“I think your method of version tracking is very clever.  You managed to let your users’ phones do the difficult data-collection for you.  Unfortunately your strategy is not 100%, it’s not sustainable.  When there are 10,000 applications in the Market and half of them are releasing private versions how will you handle the flood of support emails and admin emails coming your way? I recommend that you change your model such that it includes some sort of review process first.  When a new version is submitted to your database, before you notify the world, you should go verify its existence first.  This would include either finding it in the Market or updating the URL for manual download.”
Big In Japan believes the real purpose of this application is for gaining data market intelligence. With this application they are able to see how many people are using which applications. Data such as this is “VERY valuable” and should compensate those giving the data in some way rather than give false information to users about current versions. Big In Japan, as do I suggest that you uninstall this application as it isn’t useful and will likely cause confusion. [Via BigInJapan]

Google gives employees “Dream Phones” for holiday bonuses

When one thinks about a holiday bonus they usually think about a large paycheck helping families in need during an expensive time of the year, but what happens when the holiday season comes rolling around and you get a gift rather than cash? Employees over at Google didn’t experience a swell in their paycheck, but rather a “Dream Phone.” How many presents can you buy your family with a T-Mobile G1? Of course these G1s are not just your everyday run of the mill handsets, these have a special “droid” on the back to sweeten the deal. You can probably expect a lot of these “special edition phones” on Ebay in the next few weeks. This must be Google’s way of converting their team. Google did manage to at least make these handsets unlocked so that team members can use any carrier they would like. There are a few countries that Google’s legal team could not “work their magic.” These countries include India, China, Brazil, Korea, Israel, Russia, Argentina, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Egypt, Chile, and the Ukraine. The employees in those countries will receive the cash equivalent (about $400) in their December paycheck. Google has even attached a Q&A to the letter for anyone who has any more questions.
The full employee letter: Googlers, The holiday bonus is a Google tradition - it’s a great way to thank everyone for their hard work. In the past, we’ve done this in cash. This year, we’ve decided to give Googlers a different kind of present - a Dream phone (this is the same device T-Mobile (NYSE: DT) markets as the G1). We’re really excited about getting the phone to more Googlers in more countries, and also seeing all the cool new things you do with it. Shipping these special edition phones in such a short time frame (they were designed especially for Googlers with a ‘droid’ on the back) and making sure they would work anywhere in the world was no small feat. So a big thank you to the Android and Legal teams for making this happen. While these phones do not have SIM cards, they are unlocked so they can be used with the network provider of your choice. Plus - thanks to more fancy footwork from the Android team - they’ll work immediately as WiFi devices! Sadly, despite all our best efforts, there are some countries - India, China, Brazil, Korea, Israel, Russia, Argentina, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Egypt, Chile, and the Ukraine - where even our legal team could not work their magic. Googlers in these countries will receive the cash equivalent of the phone in their December paychecks, which is about $400 USD. Overall though almost 85% of Googlers globally will be able to receive the phone - including the United States, Western and Central Europe, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Japan. The holiday gift team in your office will be sending out an email with logistical information on distribution shortly. We know that some of you are already on your holidays - don’t worry - your phones will be waiting for you when you come back! For more information, check out the FAQ here. Some of you will of course be wondering why we decided to change from a cash bonus to the Dream phone. Here are the reasons. First, we’ve never developed anything like the Android software before and this represented a unique opportunity to celebrate that achievement. Googlers globally have been asking for the Dream phone and we’re looking forward to seeing all the different things that you do with them. This is a chance for us to once again dogfood a product and make it even better! Second, as we discussed in our email this week, the current economic crisis requires us to be more conservative about how we spend our money. We felt that giving the Dream phone would be a great holiday present - something we could all celebrate. Thank you for all that you do to make Google the company that it is. We hope that you will enjoy using your Dream phone in 2009 and have a very happy holiday! …and the Q&A that followed: Q: What is the holiday bonus for 2008?
The holiday bonus is a Google tradition. In the past, we have chosen to make this a monetary gift. This year we decided to try something different: on December 19th, we will begin distributing free Dream phones to Googlers worldwide. Q: I already have an Android phone. What happens to my holiday bonus?
These phones are a personal gift. We hope you will put them to good use! Please do not resell them as this is against Google [policy link removed]. Q: Why did we decide to give Dream phones as our holiday bonus this year?
The launch of Android was one of this year’s highlights for the company. When the Android phone was announced, Googler interest was extremely high - we had scores of TGIF questions, misc threads, and just general buzz about how Googlers could get a phone of their own. After seeing the amount of interest in the Android phones from Googlers, we agreed that every Googler should have one. Q: Will all Googlers get phones?
It was a huge task to ensure that the phones would work around the world and we want to thank the Android team and Legal team for making this happen. We’re proud to say that almost 85% of Googlers globally will receive Dream phones, including Googlers in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Japan. Q: I’m not getting a Dream phone because I don’t live in an eligible country. Do I still get a holiday bonus?
Yes, Googlers who live in countries where it was not currently feasible to distribute Dream devices will be getting a cash equivalent gift in your paycheck in December. This includes people in India, China, Brazil, Korea, Israel, Russia, Argentina, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Egypt, Chile, and Ukraine. For more information, please see [removed]. Q: I do live in an eligible country. Can I opt for the cash equivalent gift instead?
Only those Googlers in countries where it was not currently feasible to distribute Dream devices will be getting the cash equivalent gift. All other Googlers will receive a Dream phone. Q: Can I resell my phone?
Googlers should not resell any item given to them by Google. Please review our Personal Transactions policy [removed]. Q: Will I be able to take my SIM from my Google managed Corporate Mobile device (BlackBerry (NSDQ: RIMM)) and use it in my new Dream phone?
No, this is against policy and Google could incur significant overage charges. Placing a Blackberry SIM into a Dream device may cause the data plans to be disabled and break data for both the Dream and the Blackberry. Please review [link removed] for more info. Q: Are there tax implications to this?
Google is covering the taxes for this gift; there will be an extra payroll run before the end of the year to cover the taxes. If you have further payroll or HR-related questions about this gift please email [address removed].

Garmin releasing their own Android-powered device in 2009

The Android platform recently got AndNav2, the first turn-by-turn navigation application for Android without the need for a monthly subscription plan. We suspected that Garmin was going to release their Garmin mobile turn-by-turn application for Android sometime in 2009. Our members are already very excited about Android reaching out to other types of devices as Google has promised. Now Garmin has finally announced that they will be releasing their own Android-powered devices sometime in the second half of 2009, shortly after the company’s delayed nuvifone. According to Asia Pacific marketing director, Tony An, the nuvifone will hit the Taiwan market in Q2 2009, with self-developed Android devices coming later. There are still very few details as to Garmin’s Android-powered handset. But what we do know is the device will be completed exclusively in-house by Garmin and only manufactured externally. An went on to say that the company expects sales to jump as much as 50 percent next year due to the growing market for navigation systems.  Garmin recently joined the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) as one of the 14 new members. No one knew whether they would be writing software for current devices or creating devices of their own.  We will bring you more information on this device as it becomes available. [Via SlashGear]

Video demo of new on-screen keyboard for T-Mobile G1

With the new Android “cupcake” update there are going to be a lot of additions including video recording. What we did not know was the cupcake branch of Android which reportedly was made available a software keyboard on Nokia's line of Internet Tablets. A video of the on-screen keyboard working on the T-Mobile G1 has popped up on YouTube and we just had to share. We cannot tell you how excited we are to see that there is a full-blown working on-screen keyboard on the T-Mobile G1. This means that you wont have to slide out the keyboard to message someone and say hi, or quickly search for the nearest burger joint. The video shows the black full QWERTY keyboard being used in the Google search bar at the Homs screen and throughout the native browser. From what we can see the keyboard is very responsive and easy to use. Laid out much like the keyboard on the iPhone it seems to work well with your fingertips. While we cant vouch for the authenticity of this video, it certainly makes up excited. For now this will remain an unconfirmed rumor. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4Nvy3iRffM[/youtube]

Extended life battery for those experience less than desired G1 battery life

There have been complaints about the T-Mobile G1 battery life since we first unboxed it and hit the road with it. Well for those of you who are looking to replace the included 1150mAh battery with something that last a bit longer you are now in luck. Everyone could use a little extra battery life no matter what phone you currently have. Now you can go over to Seidio.com and pick up the Innocell 1400mAh Extended Life Battery, which has just started shipping for $42.95.  Hopefully now users can dig out a few extra hours of battery life out of their T-Mobile G1. The Innocell 1400mAh Extended Life Battery claims to pack up to 15 percent more juice than that of the standard battery. One of the best features is the battery is the exact same size so there is no need for a modified battery cover that makes the device larger. If anyone decides to go over and grab one please let us know how it works for you. We are in dire need of more battery life. [Via SeidioonLine]

Android Community Week in Review – Week 51 2008

This week we learned that only a month before the new Kogan Agora and Agora Pro are set to release the handset underwent a few minor but annoying changes. First the good, the directional pad has been tweaked and appears to be easier to use now. Now for the bad new, the screen was made smaller to give a widescreen appearance. That’s not all that went wrong here, the softkeys also took a hike. My Maps Editor hit the Android Market so now you can bring your desktop maps wherever you want and even edit them on the fly. With this applications users can create, edit, share, and view personalized maps on your Android-powered handset and synchronize them with the My Maps tab on Google Maps. Just before Jeffrey Sharkey headed to Google he gave us one more little gem called OilCan.  This application is basically Greasemonkey on steroids. Users can run scripts to modify many things from the way a web page is laid out to being able to touch and hold an application to uninstall it. Mocana’s NanoPhone has provided Android users with more security options for those who are finding it hard to trust the built-in browser after recent security issues. Interestingly enough this service does not compromise battery life at all. We also got a few more shots of the new Lenovo “Ophone.” The more we see of this new Android-powered handset, the more we like. We can’t wait to get our hands on this device so we can bring you a full review. HulloMail has come fourth and brought visual voicemail yet again to the Android. This however is a UK based service so not everyone can try it out unfortunately. The top ten downloaded applications for Android have been announced and it took us by surprise that the number one spot was filled by a game. It was an easy guess just which game made the spot, the Namco classic Pac-Man has been a number one classic for years. There is a new update for Android in the works and it goes by the name “cupcake”.  Included in this update are plenty of features that you would be crazy not to love. The most notable change in this update is video recording! The T-Mobile G1 maintenance guide found its way to the internet this week providing anyone with teardown, troubleshooting and repair tutorials. There are going to be plenty of voided warranties after this move.  T-Mobile has also chosen to drop the $18 upgrade fee for the holidays; there is no word just how long this promotion will last. Android Community is giving away 6 Plantronics Discovery 925 Bluetooth Headsets for the holidays this season. All you have to do is register and create a post telling us what is on your Christmas list. Couldn’t be simpler. Huawei has announced that they will release Android-powered handset in 2009. There is still not many details on this handset, but we are certainly glad to hear that another Android-powered handset is in the works. Android has gotten the first turn-by-turn application this week, the really catcher though is the price. With the help of in application ads, AndNav2 will remain free to all users. This certainly beats out the turn-by-turn subscription costs of most services. Samsung is also set to release a touchscreen Android-powered handset for release in late 2009. Lets hope this touchscreen does not resemble the others, which are milky and hard to see in the sun. CellphoneSignal fabricated a story about the new T-Mobile G2 coming in late January 2009. Of course the specs seemed a little off including video calling features. This turned out to be false as we suspected. Sorry for any confusion there might have been.There are more reliable rumors, but even then theyare just rumors.

T-Mobile G2 rumors get a little clearer

As more and more tips come in regarding the T-Mobile G2 it gets harder and harder to sift through and decipher what is true and what is not. So all information as of new should be taken as nothing more than a rumor. Here is what a tipster told The Boy Genius Report. All of the specs that CellphoneSignal reported are very wrong and the launch date could not be more off.  The device is a fully touch handset and as much as we would like, does not have a physical full QWERTY keyboard. Yes there is a trackball at the bottom; they simply could not let it go. The launch of the device has been delayed from late February to April due to uncontrollable software issues. The T-Mobile G2 will actually be launched on another global carrier with a different name, as T-Mobile G1, G2 and G3 are trademarks of T-mobile. The tipster did not see the G3, yes there apparently is a G3 and it is reportedly coming not long after the G2. We hate to drown you with more rumors, but we felt that we should give you the most reliable rumor out there right now. [Via BGR]
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