Android netbooks from ODM Compal in development

Taiwanese ODM Compal Communications are preparing to develop Android-based netbooks, according to the latest reports in the Commercial Times.  Compal, who were tipped to take over manufacturing of the Acer Aspire One, and are believed to be the ODM for the Dell range of Inspiron Mini netbooks, are supposedly in negotiations with several notebook vendors regarding the project. Details on the netbooks themselves are slim, with neither DigiTimes nor the Chinese-language paper suggesting what specifications Compal have in mind.  One possibility is that the ODM will use the somewhat traditional Intel Atom platform; Android has already been shown to run successfully on the Atom N270-based ASUS Eee PC. Another possibility is that Compal could turn to ARM's chipset range, selecting either a more basic processor or something HD-capable such as Qualcomm's Snapdragon.  Android-based Snapdragon devices are expected to launch this year, complete with 1080p support and high-speed WWAN connectivity.

Huawei confirm T-Mobile G3 for Euro Q3 launch

Huawei have confirmed that they will be supplying T-Mobile with their Android-based smartphone, which will launch in Q3 2009 as the T-Mobile G3.  An Huawei spokesperson has told reporters that "I can confirm that Huawei will be releasing the third Google phone on T-Mobile this year", with the handset in question presumably the full-touchscreen device the manufacturer showed at Mobile World Congress in February 2009.

The handset is expected to have a 5-megapixel camera, headphone jack and integrated WiFi.  Huawei's demo unit was a non-functional model, and the company refused to remove it from the glass casing during the show. According to the reports, T-Mobile are angling the Huawei device as a low-cost handset, although specific pricing has not been confirmed.  It will launch in the UK sometime after July 2009, trailing the HTC Magic which sees its European Vodafone launch in May. [via Electricpig]

Android home-phone & tablet from T-Mobile in 2010

According to the NYT, T-Mobile USA are planning both a home phone and a tablet computer that will run the Android OS.  The former will have a recharging docking station, that handles data synchronization. As for the tablet, that apparently resembles a 7-inch netbook only without the keyboard section.  The touchscreen is used to access internet-based data, such as weather reports, or "managing data across a variety of devices in the home", which makes it sound like an intelligent remote. T-Mobile USA themselves have declined to comment on specific rumors, but spokesperson Peter Dobrow did confirm that the carrier has plans for "several devices" based on the Google open-source platform.  According to the leak source - "confidential documents obtained from one of the company's partners" - the home phone will launch early next year (2010) with the tablet coming shortly after.

First Samsung Android phone in June; two US devices later in 2009

The Samsung Android smartphone spotted last month could arrive sooner than expected, with the first Google OS handset from the company now shipping in June.  According to Dr Won-Pyo Hong, executive VP of global product strategy for Samsung's mobile division, the plan is to release their preliminary Android device - outside of the US - in June, as opposed to the original July estimate. Hong also confirmed that the Samsung Android devices would be significantly customized with the company's own spin on the OS, together with the preferences of the European carriers.  Samsung categorize this as the distinction between phones that use Android and "Google Experience" devices, the latter of which are heavily loaded with Google apps. Later in the year, US customers will have two Samsung Android smartphones to choose from, each "totally different" to the other according to Hong.  That's down to US operator preference; the expectation is that one device will go to Sprint and the other to T-Mobile USA.

DataViz Documents To Go, free RoadSync beta released

DataViz have launched a version of their Office file editing app Documents To Go for Android.  Promised back in December, Documents To Go can open Microsoft Word and Excel files and attachments, as well as allow editing and creating of them, up to and including Office 2007 files. Rich formatting is supported, such as bold, italics, underline, font color, alignment, bullets and numbered lists, together with tables, bookmarks and comments. Documents To Go will also display footnotes, endnotes and track-changes, while the Excel part of the app supports a full 111 functions, together with cell formatting, row and column preferences and auto-fit options. There's also integration with DataViz's new RoadSync Beta, which brings Exchange ActiveSync push email to the Android platform.  Currently a free beta in the Android Market, RoadSync supports both email and Exchange contacts.  It'll be free until May 31st; full pricing is yet to be announced, but as a guide RoadSync is priced at $29.99 for PalmOS and $49.99 for S60. As for Documents To Go, that's normally priced at $29.99 but, as a launch offer, it's just $19.99.

Google allowing tethering apps for non-T-Mobile users

After performing a mass sweep of tethering applications from the Android Market earlier this week, Google have backtracked.  Rather than a total ban, their suggestion is to leave tethering software available to "users outside the T-Mobile US network":
"We inadvertently unpublished your application for all mobile providers; if you like, we can restore your app so that all Android Market users outside the T-Mobile US network will have access to your application" Google statement to WiFi Tether for Root Users developer
It looks as though, as we suggested, Google has a filtering system which allows them to limit Android Market content depending on carrier.  It's arguable whether that's good news or bad; one perspective is that at least developers can promote Android software that, while perhaps falling foul of some carriers' Terms of Service (ToS), would still be usable by those with unlocked devices on different networks.  However, a different view might maintain that by giving in to carrier pressure, Google has set a precedent which could significantly impact future software, such as VoIP apps.  The layering of ToS and distribution agreements involving users, carriers and Google themselves makes keeping track of which apps will be permitted, whether partially or totally, difficult, and it'll only get worse as more carriers sign up their own Android devices.

Sipdroid promises Android WiFi VoIP [Video]

While there's already a Skype client available in the Android Market, it's doesn't offer true VoIP: instead of using WiFi, it relies on your minutes and data plan.  If you want VoIP over WiFi, you may have to wait until the Sipdroid project reaches fruition. Sipdroid uses a WiFi connection to make VoIP calls between devices - in the video below, the second phone (non-Android) is called from Sipdroid running on the G1.  According to the comments at YouTube, Sipdroid is on target for a May release; dates aren't certain, as while the project started out open-source it's now been moved to closed development. While that's all very exciting, we've a feeling Sipdroid will fall victim to the same distribution agreement terms & conditions as tethering apps have.  Just as Google pulled tethering software from the Android Market because it contravenes T-Mobile's ToS, most carriers also have non-VoIP clauses in their contracts.  That could be enough reason for Google to block Sipdroid. [youtube][/youtube] [via Phandroid; thanks Nikotttin!]

Vodafone UK HTC Magic launching May 1st

Contrary to initial reports (and Vodafone UK's own website), the HTC Magic is set to launch in the UK on May 1st.  The handset, announced back at Mobile World Congress in February, will be the second Android device to go on sale. According to the report, the HTC Magic will be free providing the buyer signs up to a £25 contract or higher.  There's no detail on specific price-plans, but we're assuming an unlimited data package will be pushed. The HTC Magic has the same 3.2-megapixel camera, capacitive touchscreen and HSDPA/GPS as the T-Mobile G1.  However it lacks a hardware QWERTY keyboard, instead having a new on-screen keyboard.

Exchange Contacts & Calendar sync app gets price-cut

Microsoft Exchange support for Android is one of those things that can't come too soon for many enterprise users, but until then there are apps that promise at least partial functionality.  Wrike's ContactsCalendarSync is one such program, bringing contacts and calendar synchronization between an Exchange server and your Android device. Up until now, though, it's been a not-inconsiderable $24.95; more than many would like to pay, especially as it doesn't include email support.  Wrike have answered with a limited discount: from Thursday April 2nd through to April 16th, ContactsCalendarSync will be available for $9.95 through the Android Market. Obviously you'll need an Exchange server and the Exchange Web Services feature enabled in order for this to be of any use.  Back when we tried it in October we found it pretty straightforward, though not without glitches, but a more than 50-percent price cut certainly takes the edge off them. [via jkOnTheRun]
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