DROID OTA update boosting battery life?

A minor OTA update for Motorola DROID users earlier this week could turn out to be more impressive than expected.  Initially believed to address some basic Facebook issues on the Android 2.0 smartphone, some users are now reporting that the new firmware makes a noticeable improvement to battery life. The DROID's excellent 3.7-inch LCD display is one of its key strengths, but it's also a significant guzzler of power.  Heavy use of the smartphone can see it expire well before the day is through. The update is yet to arrive for installation on every DROID out there; anybody finding their phone has a new lease of life come the evening? [via PhoneDog]

Nexus One multitouch browser ROM hack released

The absence of multitouch on the Google Nexus One has proved a frustrating limitation for many owners - and an arbitrary one, too, since the HTC hardware itself certainly supports recognizing more than one point of touchscreen contact.  Happily what Google won't deliver, hacked ROMs will, and cyanogen has released a hack that enables multitouch in the Nexus One's browser. Actually, it's more interesting than that, as the crafty tinkerer has made sure that his multitouch framework will work not only in the browser but be potentially recognized by other applications.  That paves the way for pinch-zoom and other multitouch gesture support elsewhere across the system - Google Maps, we're looking at you - if developers decide to get their hands dirty and mod them. Installation instructions (and the ROM files themselves) are here; be sure to back up your bookmarks first, though, as loading the hack will delete them and your browser settings.  cyanogen says the mod will be rolled into an upcoming ROM designed for the Nexus One.

$45 Nexus One Dock tipped in YouTube ad

Google's official Nexus One Dock looks to be imminent, going by an advert spotted running on a YouTube video recently.  The ad suggests that the dock will be priced at $45 and support charging the Nexus One, playing photo sideshows "& more". The assumption is that placing the Nexus One into the dock will automatically kick off some sort of desktop display mode, similar to how the Motorola DROID enters a desk-clock and infostation mode when docked into its cradle.  As to the "& more", that presumably refers to the integrated Bluetooth connectivity tipped by the FCC filing. We've just checked google.com/phone and there's still no sign of any official accessories there.

Android Community App Directory launches!

One of the features we get asked for most frequently here on Android Community is an applications directory, somewhere for developers to show off their hard work, users to file feedback and make suggestions, and generally a place to go to dig up new and interesting software for your Android smartphone.  So we're pleased to unveil the Android Community App Directory, a simple - but full-featured - way to promote your software. Listings in the App Directory can be as simple or as info-rich as you want, and the whole thing is organized by category with user-ratings and commenting.  You can also see which software is getting the most attention or the most feedback. We've got a number of new features planned that should roll out over the rest of this week, again answering some of the more common requests we've had over the past few months.  Let us know what you think - we're always open to suggestions!

Fring update Android VoIP app: more stable, better audio

Fring have released a new version of their Android messaging and VoIP app, which promises reduced battery consumption, improved audio quality on the DROID and Milestone, and better support for the Nexus One.  Fring v1.2.0.25 also improves general app stability, something much requested after the software first arrived in the Android Market back in November 2009. The Android version still lags behind Symbian and other platforms in terms of sheer number of features, as you can see in this diagram.  However, if you're looking for Skype, MSN and Google Talk VoIP along with IM support, all over carrier data connections as well as WiFi, it's one of the few apps in the Market that offer it. Key changes:
  • Hide/Show offline buddies
  • Hide/Show address book
  • Privacy settings for IM signature and mood message
  • A fix for the audio issues on Motorola DROID and Milestone
  • Better support for Google’s Nexus One
  • Improved battery consumption
  • Bug fixes

Motorola DROID $110 at Amazon

Been considering a Motorola DROID but put off by the price tag?  Amazon may tip your hand; the retailer has slashed the subsidized cost of the DROID to $109.99, saving $90 compared to buying the Android 2.0 smartphone from Verizon Wireless themselves. Of course you'll need to sign up to a service plan to get that price, but just think of it as getting a month's service free.  Over at Verizon they're still offering the DROID for $199.99; however if you buy now you can get a free DROID Eris (as long as you sign up for another two-year agreement for it). [Thanks Tom!]

Garmin-ASUS Android phone due Q2 2010

ASUS have announced plans to release several Android smartphones in 2010, though unlike Motorola they're not quite ready to dump Windows Mobile.  According to Lin Zongliang,VP and general manager of the company's business unit, we should expect 4-5 devices in 2010 split roughly equally between Android and the Microsoft platform. The phones will probably arrive under the Garmin-ASUS cobrand, and the first Android handset will drop in Q2 2010.  Each device will be targeted at the mainstream range (rather than particularly high- or low-end buyers), though ASUS are still deciding whether to use Android 2.1 or a different build of the OS.

Amazon UK MP3 store hits Android

Amazon's MP3 download store has been a feature of US Android devices since the beginning, but its taken until now for the on-device media store to hit the UK.  Fresh to the Android Market, the app allows users to search and browse Amazon's MP3 catalog and purchase DRM-free music for download to their smartphone. As well as manual searches, Amazon have provided shortcut links to the top 100 albums and top 100 songs, and they say any media you can access on the desktop version of the store should be accessible on the mobile client.  That means over 9m tracks, priced from £0.29 ($0.47) upwards. You can download the Amazon MP3 store from the Android Market now.
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