android os

Android popularity increases 200 percent over last 3 months

Android usage has grown by leaps and bounds in the last several months.  According to statistics from a ChangeWave research report, usage and overall consumer outlook towards Google’s mobile operating system has skyrocketed over the last three months.  As of December 2009, the research firm's survey shows that 4% of all users now have smartphones running some version of Google’s Android OS. That's a whopping increase of 200% since the previous survey released in September.

What’s after Eclair? Froyo is next Android flavor

Cupcake, Donut, Eclair.  And now we have Froyo.  Not to disappoint our sweet-toothed readers, but according to the Engadget show, “Froyo”, (also known as frozen yogurt to the masses), is the codename for Google’s next version of the Android mobile OS.  Alphabetically speaking, many were thinking Flan.  Apparently there aren't many flan geeks in Mountain View.

Official Announcement in Russia, Samsung Galaxy Spica to Arrive on November

The little brother of the Samsung Galaxy I7500 - the Galaxy Spica - has been announced in Russia. It keeps the bright red accent on the navigation button and on the front speaker, as well as the glossy black on the chassis. Although Shane wonders why so many smartphones are just black or white nowadays. According to the press release, the Samsung Spica has a 3.2-inch display, a 128MB of memory, and a processor running at 800MHz, together with quadband GSM and dualband 900/2100 UMTS/HSPA. It'll obviously have all the usual Google applications that Android users have come to love, and it will also have access to the Android Market, so you can get more apps for it. The new Galaxy Spica will also have a 1,500mAh battery and a microSD card slot, for memory cards of up to 32GB. The Price for the Samsung Galaxy Spica when it arrives in Russia on November 2009, will be set at 14,000 roubles ($484). As of now, there's no word on US or European availability. [Via SlashGear]

Sony Ericsson planning Android 2.0 phone for “near future”

Sony Ericsson have confirmed that they're working on an Android handset that will run version 2.0 of the Google platform.  The company's Asia-Pacific VP of marketing, Peter Ang, told reporters at a Taiwan launch this week that Sony Ericsson's first Android phone would arrive in the "near future". In addition, Ang described the phone as having Sony Ericsson's unique style, a phrase which could be interpreted as the company planning a new GUI which would sit on top of the regular Android interface.  While he did not give any details, the VP pointed to the XPERIA X1 as an example of how Sony Ericsson have differentiated a broader platform (in the case of the X1, Windows Mobile). Sony Ericsson will continue to make Windows Mobile and Symbian devices, however, he continued.  The company joined the Open Handset Alliance in the second major wave of additions, back in December 2008.  Shortly after they were tipped to release an Android handset by summer 2009; given that Android OS 1.5 Cupcake is only now seeing widespread availability, that prediction seems unlikely to pan out. [via SlashPhone]

Vodafone HTC Magic review

For a long time now, Android and the T-Mobile G1 have been pretty much synonymous, defining not only form-factor but functionality of what makes a "Google Phone".  Gatecrashing that arrangement comes the HTC Magic, second Android smartphone to reach the market and the slimmer, prettier sibling to the G1, bringing with it the latest iteration of the Google OS, version 1.5 "Cupcake".  Expectations for both hardware and software have been huge; read on for the Android Community opinion. In the box there's the Magic itself, a 1,340mAh battery, 2GB microSD card, AC adapter, USB cable, wired stereo headset, hands-free adapter (for using your own 3.5mm headphones) and a leather-effect pouch.  The Magic measures 113 x 55.56 x 13.65 mm (4.45 x 2.19 x 0.54 inches) and weighs 116g (4.09oz) with the battery; that makes it shorter, slightly narrower and - most importantly - thinner than the T-Mobile G1, as well as lighter. The reason for that reduction is the absence of a hardware keyboard, of course, though in keeping with Google's Android requirements there are a fair few buttons on the curved front panel.  As well as the trackball (which lights up when messages are received) there's a Home key, Menu key, back and search, together with call and end buttons.  As for that curve, it's less pronounced than the G1's jutting chin, and cups the ball of the thumb nicely.  The only other hardware control is the volume rocker, a narrow strip on the top left-hand side. Primary navigation, then, is done via the 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen, ostensibly the same as on the G1.  It's a bright and responsive panel, evenly backlit, and the size and shape of the Magic now makes it far more reasonable to use the phone one-handed. Since there's no hardware keyboard, the Magic couldn't avoid but come with Android OS 1.5 Cupcake.  That update, preloaded on all Magic handsets, brings with it an on-screen QWERTY keyboard, usable in both portrait and landscape orientations.  Google have obviously learned from other on-screen keyboards in circulation, as the most-requested features are in place.  Tapping a button pops up a preview of that letter, visible above your thumb or finger, and you can change your selection by dragging across to another key.  As you type, the Magic suggests words in a scrolling bar above the keyboard; it does a decent job of avoiding misspellings, but unwanted corrections are easily amended by hitting the backspace key and choosing the word as-entered. Upright, it's possible to type with reasonable accuracy with one-hand, making Android far more usable when walking or holding a bag.  In landscape orientation, two-handed thumb typing - cradling the Magic in your fingers - is straightforward, and we're pleased to see the accelerometer-based screen rotation extended to many more apps throughout the platform (although it only rotates 90-degrees to the left, not to the right).  The homescreen and the dialer don't support rotation, but other than that it's pretty much spread throughout the OS.  If the inbuilt keyboard isn't to your liking, third-party versions can be downloaded via the Android Market; there are already more than a hundred to choose from. The next significant addition from Cupcake is in the Magic's imaging abilities.  The same 3.2-megapixel autofocus camera is on offer - HTC claim to have tweaked the software processing, but there's still no flash or even an LED light - but now it supports video capture and playback.  Sharing media is also made quicker, thanks to integration with YouTube and Picasa.  Enter your login details for an account with either service, and the "Share" option in the gallery allows one-touch uploads in addition to sending image/video attachments via email or MMS.  Other apps can also add their own media sharing options to that list; Twitter client Twidroid, for instance, lets you instantly create a new photo tweet from a shot you've just taken. Cupcake speeds up the camera load-time, and both shutter delay and saving time are reduced, but of most interest will be the video recording.  Shooting video is pretty much the same as taking photos - hit the record button to stop and start, tap the thumbnail to review - with the Magic recording in 3GPP format.  Quality is reasonable for a cellphone - we'll have a follow-up post with sample video and images - but won't be replacing any standalone camcorders or even the video mode on a point-and-shoot camera.  As on the G1, outdoor scenes with plenty of light produce the best results, both for stills and video.  Nonetheless, it's good to see the facility finally officially added to Android. Slightly less obvious, but no less welcome, OS 1.5 brings with it a new WebKit browser engine and JavaScript engine, reducing page render times.  What's not included is the trick circular zoom control that showed up in Cupcake preview videos; instead, since Google still won't enable multitouch support in Android, it's down to the same zoom in/out controls as before.  These work, but we'd rather have the zoom scroll bar in more recent builds of Opera Mobile, that permits more granular control over magnification level.  The address bar has now merged with the search bar, offering Google search results, entries from the history and new address entry in one place, a system which works well.  There's also a text search function, which flags up matches as you type rather than waiting for you to hit enter. In all, the browser is less impressive than Mobile Safari on the iPhone; we particularly miss the way you can double tap on a block of text, and have the page perfectly render to fit it on-screen.  The Magic almost achieves that, but there's still scrolling to be done.  Where it steps ahead of the iPhone, though, is in handling bookmarks: as well as instantly bookmarking the current page, you can scroll through your most-viewed pages and instantly add them to your bookmark list.  Finally there's a history tab, which again allows you to bookmark individual entries.  Everything is straightforward and finger-friendly: other platforms could learn a lot from Google's bookmarking system. Android isn't perfect, though.  Cupcake may add plenty of features, but it still lacks out-of-the-box Microsoft Exchange support (only IMAP and POP3 are offered) and we're not impressed by how tricky hooking up a USB connection to a PC or Mac can be.  Given how Windows Mobile HTC devices can simply show up as mass storage devices when plugged in via USB, we hoped the Magic would offer the same - instead, it took some messing with drivers and general coaxing to establish a connection.  Another obvious frustration is the lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, with HTC using their standard Ext-USB port which combines mini-USB connectivity and audio in one.  The supplied wired headset won't win any awards for musical clarity, but HTC tell us they're working with Vodafone to get adapters - which allow you to plug 3.5mm headphones into a microphone/call-answer-button dongle - included with retail packages. Alternatively, of course, there's Bluetooth A2DP, another fresh introduction courtesy of Android OS 1.5.  This worked well with the test headphones we tried it with, as did more traditional Bluetooth connections to standard headsets.  Bluetooth pairing is simple, and can be turned on and off independently of WiFi.  Similarly, the Magic's WiFi b/g connection is quick to identify new networks and re-found previous ones with no hassles. Call quality in general proved high, with no noticeable echo.  The Magic had no problem finding and keeping hold of a 3G signal in London, and we experienced no dropped calls.  It's worth noting that there's no front-facing camera for video-calls, not that Android seemingly supports it right now, but future upgrades that might introduce the facility won't be much use on the Magic. HTC rate the Magic's battery for up to 400 minutes of WCDMA talktime (450 of GSM) and up to 660hrs of WCDMA standby (420 of GSM).  With heavy use - surfing over 3G and WiFi, checking email and Twittering, texting and calling - we ran through a full charge in a day, which puts the Magic on a par with other smartphones (and better than the iPhone, which we can drain even faster with the same usage).  In a more regular routine we reckon every-other-day charges would be sufficient. Use of the Magic's media functionality will obviously have an impact on battery life, and the phone makes for a reasonable PMP.  Audio is handled by a standalone app, with options to browse by artist, album, song or playlist; once a track is playing, there's a display of album art, plus shuffle and add-to-playlist controls, as well as ID3 tags.  The menu button calls up options to set the track as a ringtone, delete it, or kick off a "party shuffle" which seemingly uses some sort of musical heuristics to throw together compatible songs.  It's all serviceable and pretty flexible, but there's none of the gloss of an iPod touch, just layers of lists to scroll and tap through.  Tracks will continue to play in the background while you use other apps, and the currently-playing song is listed in the pull-down status bar.  An optional widget can be dropped onto the homescreen with basic play/pause and ID3 control. Video files, meanwhile, are accessed through the gallery, where they show up in a separate category to images.  It's a pretty basic setup, more so than the audio app, but functional all the same.  More usable is the dedicated YouTube app, which - like HTC's program for its Windows Mobile phones - gives access to categories, favorites, searches and the currently most-popular clips.  It's also possible to upload your own videos directly from this YouTube app (including signing up to a completely new user account if you don't already have one) but, like when watching footage, it's worth finding a WiFi connection rather than steaming through your 3G data allowance. With the addition of paid applications, the Android Market is growing in content; though it may languish far behind the many thousands of titles available through Apple's App Store, there's still a decent range, many of which are free.  First-time users will probably want to pick up one of the IM clients - the Magic only comes preloaded with a Google Talk app - and then take a look at the games, which are conspicuous by their absence in its untinkered-with state.  Cupcake adds the background ability for an app to check with Android whether the device it's being installed on has the necessary hardware functionality for it to run: if, say, the phone lacked GPS then software that require that feature wouldn't install.  That may not be such a big deal on the Magic, which has basically the same hardware as the G1 and, as such, existing software should have no problems on that front, but as more Android devices are released it will make future installs less confusing.  Paired with the clear warnings about what functionality - WiFi, GPS, 3G access - an app will have access to, users have just about all the info they can handle to avoid installing malware. Something we're seeing more of with Android is location-aware software, and Google don't hold back on their own functionality.  The Magic comes ready for Google Latitude access in its maps app, offering the ability to share your geographical location with those people you've approved, and similarly see them on the map.  There's also the standard satellite and traffic view options, together with Street View.  Optionally you can switch on the Magic's internal compass and use it to pan Street View in accordance with your own physical orientation.  Directions tap into the Magic's contacts, offering either manual input or pulling addresses from those people you already have records for, but there's still no turn-by-turn guidance, only a list and a map view as you'd have on the desktop version of Google Maps. Newcomers to the HTC Magic won't necessarily know anything about Cupcake.  They may never have used a T-Mobile G1, not really know much about Google's work on Android.  The good news is that the compromises and allowances the G1 demanded are no longer present in the Magic.  Occasions where you're expected to wait patiently for a firmware upgrade, or rely on third-party apps for otherwise common functionality (such as video playback) are addressed by Cupcake, and happily the G1 early-adopters will have those gaps filled too as OS 1.5 filters out. What all that means is that the HTC Magic crosses the important boundary from geek's phone to mainstream phone.  Build quality is decent, with the handset looking slick in either gloss white or black, and Android has already matured into a usable, straightforward OS with plenty of flexibility.  The Magic still offers the openness that Apple's iPhone lacks, but now that's an optional ethos rather than a necessity to get the same functionality that feature-phones offer from the get-go.  With the Samsung I7500 around the corner, and Android handsets from other manufacturers tipped as imminent, 2009 looks to be the year that Google's mobile platform really builds its momentum.  Those new entrants will find a strong contender in the shape of the HTC Magic, though, and for now it's the Android smartphone to beat. Vodafone HTC Magic unboxing: [vms cef6730f9fd03c8125ca] HTC Magic Android OS 1.5 Cupcake Demo: [vms 1e61cb8dd3612f26d5ec] [gallery id="3374"]

Samsung Spica & Bigfoot coming Q3 2009?

Hot on the heels of Samsung's I7500 Android phone comes this pair, the Samsung Spica, on the left, and the Samsung Bigfoot, on the right.  Both running Google's Android platform, only the next-gen version currently known as Android OS 2.0 "Donut", they're expected to drop in Q3 2009. The Spica is a mass market handset with triband HSDPA (900/1900/2100) and a 3-megapixel autofocus camera, and will slot in beneath the Samsung I7500.  Onboard storage is 100MB, plus a microSD card, and there's WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0 and GPS, plus an accelerometer and digital compass.  The Spica's touchscreen display is a 3-inch WQVGA LCD, and the whole thing measures 111.5 x 52.6 x 12.9 mm. As for the Samsung Bigfoot, that has the same specifications as the Spica but throws in HSDPA (900/1700/2100) for T-Mobile USA 3G network compatibility.  It also gains some girth - 16.3mm thick, in fact - thanks to the slide-out QWERTY keyboard.  While it's too early to say, it does rather resemble the tiny render of the T-Mobile G1 v2 spotted in the carrier's leaked roadmap. Samsung are apparently giving the Spica a new version of their TouchWiz GUI, rather than leaving the handset as a standard Android handset.  There's also word that Android OS 2.0 "Donut" will support WVGA displays and have a number of new features that existing Android devices won't support (or even have an upgrade option for), the speculation being that handset manufacturers have been waiting for this new version for their first Android foray. [gallery] [via Unwired View]

myTouch 3G Android powered phone for T-Mobile

As expected, T-Mobile USA have announced the myTouch 3G, their second Android handset and the follow-up to the T-Mobile G1.  Recognizable as the HTC Magic - which Android Community reviewed in back in May - the phone has a 3.2-inch HVGA resolution capacitive touchscreen, 3.2-megapixel camera and the usual array of Google applications.

In the non-final hardware we’ve played with, the key change are the hardware buttons on the myTouch 3G’s “chin” section. The prototype has thin, sliver-style keys running under the capacitive touchscreen, together with a single button (”Menu”) to the left of the trackball. The final hardware will have four square keys under the screen, with functions switched around to leave call send/end on keys either side of the trackball.

That includes YouTube, Google Maps (with Latitude and Street View), GTalk and GMail, support for IMAP, POP and Exchange accounts and one-touch media uploads.  However, for the first time on an Android device, T-Mobile have loaded an app called Sherpa, featuring GENIE (Geodelic ENgine for Interest Evaluation), onto the myTouch 3G, which promises to recognize patterns of use and offer suggestions based on past behaviours. The T-Mobile myTouch 3G is expected to go up for pre-order on July 8th, though initially only for existing subscribers to the carrier.  National availability is expected in early August, with the handset priced at $199.99 with a new two-year agreement.  Three color options will be release: black, white and merlot. HTC Magic Full hands on demo at MWC09 by Eric Lin [vms 665ce8623e36bd4e3c7c] HTC Magic Hands on at MWC09 [vms 1059396431415e770c6d]

T-Mobile USA Unveils the T-Mobile myTouch 3G with Google Featuring Personalization Front and Center

T-Mobile and Google™ Partner Again to Deliver a New Android-Powered Wireless Experience; T-Mobile USA Customers Can Pre-Order Beginning July 8

BELLEVUE, Wash. June 22, 2009 T-Mobile USA, Inc. today announced the upcoming availability of the T-Mobile® myTouch™ 3G, the highly anticipated follow-up to the T-Mobile G1™, the world’s first Android™ powered device. T-Mobile myTouch 3G boasts a sleek look and contoured feel, plus an array of new features that builds on its popular predecessor. A touch-screen display with virtual keyboard is built into a slim, smooth and lightweight design.

myTouch empowers users to simply create a unique, individualized wireless phone and experience. With the ability to richly customize menus, wallpapers, icons and more, thousands of Android Market™ applications to choose from, plus themes and skins that let customers express their style on the inside and outside, myTouch can evolve to become a virtual extension of oneself. Adding to its refined aesthetics and customization options, myTouch will come in three colors — black, white and a distinctive merlot.

“T-Mobile myTouch 3G puts you first, so you can create a mobile experience that is truly your own,” said Denny Marie Post, chief marketing officer, T-Mobile USA. “There’s no cookie-cutter approach to myTouch.  Inside and out, there are boundless possibilities for personalization so you can put your personal touch on the phone and make it uniquely yours.”

In addition to the virtually endless ways to personalize myTouch, plus its deep integration of Google services and the latest Android software, T-Mobile myTouch customers will enjoy access to new applications that enhance their mobile lives. One such application, and at the heart of myTouch, is Sherpa™. Created by Geodelic, Sherpa features GENIE (Geodelic ENgine for Interest Evaluation), a learning engine that automatically customizes itself to the user’s preferences. Through behavior and user feedback, the application learns a person’s likes and dislikes, prioritizing recommended retailers, restaurants and attractions. Seamlessly blending behavior recognition, a recommendation engine and location relevant information, this combination of learning is exclusive to Sherpa and unlike any experience currently on the market.

“Now more than ever, customers are regularly accessing mobile applications that enhance their personal interests. Through the power of location and social discovery, T-Mobile is working closely with Google and developers like Geodelic to create experiences that are as unique as each person using it,” said Cole Brodman, chief technology and innovation officer, T-Mobile USA. “So wherever you are and whatever your passion — music, marathons, movies and more — myTouch is the phone for you.”

Today, thousands of applications are available on Android Market ranging from games to location-based social networks to on-the-go shopping. Whether it’s a marathon runner who downloads the Cardio Trainer application or a music buff who lives by his or her Imeem application, myTouch customers can find and download unique applications to expand and personalize their phone to fit their precise interests and lifestyle.

“The G1 was highly successful and captured the imagination of thousands of developers as the first Android-powered phone,” said Andy Rubin, vice president, mobile platforms at Google. “With myTouch, T-Mobile is poised to capture the imagination of consumers everywhere, and by expanding the availability and appeal of Android-based devices, they’re giving developers a bigger market for the next wave of killer Android applications.”

Designed by HTC, myTouch features a 3.2-inch HVGA touch-screen display and virtual keyboard, which orients automatically from portrait to landscape mode in most applications. It also features a 3.2-megapixel camera, a music player with a pre-installed 4GB microSD memory card, and enhanced video capabilities to make it easy for users to record and share pictures and videos, whether via e-mail, MMS or one-click upload to sites such as YouTube™ and Picasa™. The device’s powerful mobile Web experience is supported by fast data speeds via Wi-Fi and T-Mobile’s 3G network.

“With myTouch, HTC and T-Mobile are delivering not just a new phone, but the ability to create a uniquely personal product experience on top of a remarkably strong feature set,” said Jason Mackenzie, vice president of HTC America.

myTouch features multitasking capabilities and one-touch access to the Google services that millions use every day including Google Search™ by voice, Google Maps™ with Street View, YouTube™ and Picasa™.  It also provides easy access to both personal and corporate e-mail, including support for Exchange, Gmail™ and most other POP3 and IMAP e-mail services as well as synchronization with Google contacts and calendars. It also combines instant messaging support for Google Talk™, as well as AOL®, Yahoo! Messenger® and Windows Live Messenger. In addition, users can pull down the windowshade notification bar by dragging their finger down from the top of the screen, easily displaying message previews and other convenient at-a-glance notifications depending on the personalized applications users download.

Pricing and Availability

myTouch will be available to pre-order for current T-Mobile customers starting July 8 for $199.99 with a two-year agreement*; additional product features and details will be available at that time. Devices sold through pre-sale will begin shipping in late July, and national retail availability for myTouch is planned for early August.  Customers can visit http://www.T-MobilemyTouch.com for more information.

Android Community Week In Review: Week 10 2009

Big Android news this week was HTC's recently announced Magic handset getting official release windows on Vodafone UK and Orange France. Running Google's Android, the Magic will offer 3G internet, GPS, a slimmer form [than the current G1], and an on-screen keyboard for typing. Release dates are March 15th for Orange France and sometime in April for Vodafone UK. In case you're wanting to keep closer tabs on this bleak global economic state, Google has released an official app for Android to help you do just that. Google Finance is available in the Android Market now for the very appropriate price of $0.00, but only to users in the US. The software has limited stock market support (for now), though the major US indices are covered in near-real time. More companies are looking at Android as a new and powerful mobile OS for their upcoming devices. Acer has been surrounded by talks and comments regarding the possibility of Android powering their two forthcoming handsets. No concrete answer was given when asked directly if Android was the choice, but an OS other than Windows Mobile was said to definitely be in the cards. Still needing some feature bumps since its original debut in 2006, Road's S101 HandyPC is rumored to have switched gears from a Linux distro to Android as its OS of choice. Yuhua have also followed up their design of General Mobile's DLST1 handset with the Xphone-SDK concept. While only a concept at this point, the phone is limited to EDGE connectivity. Considering Android's dependence on 'cloud' computing, this may pose a problem with potential slow-downs. Potentially ground-shaking news is Android's perceived ability to give Apple's OS X Touch (iPhone) a run for its money by 2012. Industry analysts are predicting that current economic conditions paired with Android's non-commitment to a particular carrier or handset manufacturer will give it the extra boost it needs to catch up with Apple. Also considered was the fact that Smart phones have outsold notebook PCs for the first time ever, possibly signaling more powerful mobile platforms providing the majority of functionality that people need away from their desks. While OS X Touch is somewhat limited in its ability to multitask, Android can accomplish multiple things at once. This could also draw mobile professionals with the need to get more work done while on the go.

Maybe an Acer Android for Christmas

Acer smartphone boss Aymer De Lencquesaing has escalated talks today that Acer may be developing an Android phone in 2009. Previous suggestions were made at the Mobile World Congress although now developments seem a touch more solid. Acer unveiled a number of smartphones during the Mobile World Congress. Now another two are scheduled for the forth quarter of 2009. When asked whether the new models would be using an alternative operating system to Windows Mobile De Lencquesaing said, "there is a possibility, yes." Although no concrete 'yes' or 'no' was given about whether said operating system would be Android, there are not many other choices available unless Acer is looking to jump in with the Symbian Foundation. So this is what we know: Acer are bringing out another two models in late 2009, they might not be operating with Windows Mobile, this might mean the integration of Google's OS and with this, Acer becoming part of the Android Open Handset Alliance. It is only March, looks like we are in for a wait to find out. [via Electricpig]
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