Author Archives: Chris Davies


Amazon ignores Android with new Kindle Cloud Reader web-app

Amazon has launched a new web-based Kindle app, http://read.amazon.com/, using HTML5 to offer the ereading experience within the browser. However, while the app appears to be a workaround to avoid Apple's limitations on native iOS apps containing links to external stores, it seems Amazon is also leaving Android out in the cold. Attempt to access the Kindle Cloud Reader on an Android Honeycomb tablet, and you'll get the message "Your web browser isn't supported yet" and the advice to download Chrome or Safari (the desktop versions) instead. We tried in both the native Honeycomb browser and third-party alternative Opera, with no luck in either. It's a shame, since the web app is surprisingly well put together. As well as offering access to the cloud store of previously purchased titles, which can be locally downloaded to an iPad for offline reading, it has seamless integration with Amazon's Kindle store for buying new titles. The decision not to get the app up to speed with Android is somewhat curious, since Amazon is believed to have a pair of Android-based tablets of its own in the works. The company's native Android app still supports the Kindle store - Google, unlike Apple, doesn't limit links to places people can buy content - however.

My Vodafone app for Android released: Track use, WiFi hotspots & roaming

Vodafone UK has released a new Android app, allowing subscribers to not only keep track of their accounts without ringing through to customer care, but also locate the nearest free WiFi hotspot. The My Vodafone app shows your current usage of minutes, messaging and data, and how close to your tariff limits you are. There's also information on the tariff itself, including contract end date, when you can expect the bill to arrive, and for roughly how much it will be. Those using their phone abroad can also keep an eye on any roaming charges they might be racking up. Finally, there's a map to show any nearby BT Openzone WiFi hotspots, access to which is bundled with many of Vodafone's plans. You'll need an Android 1.6 device or higher to run the app, and it's worth noting that the data isn't updated in real-time so what it says on-screen may not be the exact state of your bill. You can download My Vodafone from the Android Market. [gallery]

Samsung Conquer 4G offers WiMAX for under $100

Samsung has outed its latest 4G smartphone, the CDMA/WiMAX Samsung Conquer 4G, and the first to land at under $100 from the get-go. Built around Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a 3.5-inch 320 x 480 touchscreen and a 1GHz MSM8655 Snapdragon processor, the Conquer 4G will be $99.99 with a new, two-year agreement. As the display might suggest, the rest of the Conquer 4G's specs don't exactly live up to flagship WiMAX smartphones we've seen before. There's a 3.2-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video calls, WiFi b/g/n and GPS, along with a microSD card slot with a 2GB card pre-loaded. Mobile Hotspot functionality is supported, for up to five simultaneous clients, and the whole thing measures in at 4.57 x 2.38 x 0.46 inches and weighs 4.1 oz. Samsung reckons the Conquer 4G will run for up to six hours of talktime on a single charge of the standard 1,500 mAh battery, which is decent enough. We're not entirely impressed by the screen resolution, but otherwise you're getting a fair amount for your money when the Conquer 4G arrives on August 21. [gallery]

Motorola KORE tipped in domain buying spree: XOOM successor?

Could Motorola's next tablet be the KORE? That's certainly one possibility, after the company was spotted going on a domain-buying spree earlier this week. Fusible caught five domains - MotorolaKore.comKoreMotorola.com,  Moto-Kore.comMotoKore.com and Motorola-Kore.com - each using a variant of the same KORE name. The five purchases were only made on Wednesday this week, and so far none of the URLs link to any existing Motorola pages. While a tablet is one possibility - perhaps using Ice Cream Sandwich, which is set to debut later in 2011 - the KORE could also be a new Motorola phone, of course. Motorola's original Android tablet, the XOOM, got off to an early start as the first Honeycomb model to hit shelves, but has since been superseded by rivals like Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1. Early criticism suggested the XOOM - and indeed Android 3.0 - had been released half-baked, with a patchy OS and missing hardware support (such as for the memory card slot). Even now, the promised Verizon LTE 4G upgrade is still yet to appear.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 update going OTA now

Samsung's OTA update for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has gone live, with the 188MB software now being offered to users of the Honeycomb slate. The new firmware brings with it Samsung's own TouchWiz UI for tablets, upgrading the home screen with various new panes and a compact task-launcher for common apps. There's also a version of Swype for tablets along for the ride, together with mobile printing and several enterprise features to try to encourage businesses to consider the Tab 10.1 too. Full details of what's in the update are here. It's worth noting, however, that once you've installed the update you won't be able to remove it. Samsung has confirmed that it's a permanent thing, with no roll-back option, so if you're not sure whether you'd prefer to keep the stock Honeycomb UI - or are wary of potential bugs - then you might want to hold off until the first bug reports come in. Everyone else, hit that Update button in the Galaxy Tab 10.1's settings page to get the new firmware.

Pandigital Planet, Nova and Star budget tablet trio revealed

Pandigital has outed a trio of new Android tablets, as well as the promise of a high-end model by the end of the quarter. The Pandigital Planet, Nova and Star will all hit shelves this month, each toting a 7-inch touchscreen - 800 x 480 on the Star; 800 x 600 on the Planet and Nova), WiFi, Barnes & Noble's eBookstore app preloaded, and both WiFi and HDMI connectivity. Unfortunately, as the $159 starting price might suggest, we're not looking at Honeycomb here. Instead, the Planet and Star each run Android 2.2 Froyo, while the Nova steps up to 2.3 Gingerbread. Pandigital tells us that future firmware updates are in the pipeline, but it's unclear whether that will ever include a step up to Google's tablet-centric Android branch. Both the Planet and Star have 2GB of integrated memory, while the Nova doubles that to 4GB; there's a microSD card slot and USB On-The-Go support, though with a mini USB port you'll need an adapter if you want to plug in a regular thumb-drive or peripherals. Pandigital has struck a deal with GetJar to include the software download store on all three models - there's no official Android Market access, at least until the hacks arrive - and there are apps for email, browser, the camera (rear on all models; front-facing on the Star) for stills and video and the OfficeSuite Viewer for opening documents. The Pandigital Planet (R70A200) is on sale today for $189, while the Pandigital Nova (R70F400/ R70F452) will arrive this week for $189. The Pandigital Star (R70B200) will follow on in mid-August for $159. Meanwhile, Pandigital is promising a "flagship" tablet for September, though details won't be released until next month. [gallery]

Samsung: Australian Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales will go ahead

Samsung has denied that the launch of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is on hold in Australia, clarifying that the company's agreement with Apple only covers the US version of the tablet. According to Samsung's official statement, given to AusDroid, the original Apple complaint covered "a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 variant that Samsung Electronics had no plans of selling in Australia." The Korean company says that, as indicated in reports yesterday, the settlement between it and Apple was "a mutual agreement" rather than a court injunction. That agreement only concerns the contentious US version of the slate, whereas the Australian variant is presumably different so as to avoid infringing Apple patents. Samsung, therefore, will push ahead with its Galaxy Tab 10.1 launch schedule, saying that the 10-inch model will be released soon. A hearing in Australia has been scheduled for August 29 to review the status of the localized suit.
Apple Inc. filed a complaint with the Federal Court of Australia involving a Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1 variant that Samsung Electronics had no plans of selling in Australia. No injunction was issued by the court and the parties in the case reached a mutual agreement which stipulates that the variant in question will not be sold in Australia. A Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1 for the Australian market will be released in the near future. This undertaking does not affect any other Samsung smartphone or tablet available in the Australian market or other countries. Samsung will continue to actively defend and protect our intellectual property to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communication business.
[Thanks Dy4me!]

HTC Desire Android 2.3 Gingerbread update released

HTC has released the Android 2.3 Gingerbread update for the HTC Desire, though because of limitations of the ROM thanks to HTC's efforts to squeeze it down to suit the storage space the smartphone has, it's being released via the company's developer site rather than as an OTA upgrade. Various HTC apps have been removed - though will be available to download separately - and the official Facebook app has been stripped out and must be re-installed via the Android Market. In addition, all customizations to the ROM - including anything carriers may have installed or mandated - have been removed, and in fact even the wallpapers (bar the default) have been taken out to save space. HTC warns that some people may lose SMS/MMS functionality after upgrading too, though it sounds like that's because this is a generic ROM and may not have the carrier settings required; those should be readily added back in afterwards. Still, unlike the streamlined OTA process, installing Gingerbread on the Desire will wipe out all of your existing customizations, messages, emails, apps and other content, so HTC is recommending it for "expert users" and development purposes only. You're also out of luck if you have a Desire from Germany (Deutsch Telekom), North America, South America, South Korea, and Japan, where "concerns raised from our partners" have led to HTC not allowing the update in those regions. If you're feeling brave, you can download the HTC Desire Android Gingerbread 2.3 ROM from http://developer.htc.com/ [Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]

Samsung Galaxy S II White confirmed for September 1 UK debut

Samsung UK has confirmed the the white variant of the Galaxy S II will launch on September 1. First tipped by a UK retailer earlier this week, the Samsung Galaxy S II white will have the same hardware and software as the existing black model, but clad it all in a fresh, pale casing. Whether that's something which appeals to buyers remains to be seen, but with Samsung announcing that 5m GSII units have been sold worldwide in the smartphone's first 85 days of availability, differentiating yourself from the rest of the crowd is perhaps more of an issue. By the time the white model arrives, the Galaxy S II will at least have gone on sale in the US; that's expected to take place in August. Samsung says the GSII white will be available through the major UK networks, as well as via retailers as a SIM-free, unlocked device. No word on pricing at this stage, though we'd imagine it will come in at the same figure as the existing black version.

Toshiba Thrive update will cure sleepy tablet next week

Toshiba is readying a new firmware update for the Thrive tablet, that will address the sleep issues some owners have reported. According to the company, "a software update to resolve this issue will be available early next week and can be accessed from the Service Station utility app found on the Thrive at that time." No explanation for the cause of the issue has been given. Some users have found that their Thrive tablet refuses to resume from standby when the power button is pressed, and requires a reset in order to get it working once more; others have had to pull the battery completely in order to get the slate functional. The new firmware will also "enhance the multimedia playback capabilities of the device" though the exact nature of that change has not been specified. More on the Toshiba Thrive in the full Android Community review. [device id=567]