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Android Community Week In Review: Week 8 2009

The Android platform finally got entrance of paid applications into the market this week, which many believe will finally give Android the edge it needs to compete with other smart phones. Purchase and payment takes place through Google Checkout. Of note, purchases can be "returned" within 24 hours of purchase (not of install) for a refund, something that the iPhone's App Store doesn't allow. Reports are that the paid apps have been trickling into users' Market apps over the past week, though availability at this time is limited to the US. Also being reported is that the Android Developer phones (identical to the G1 in functionality) do not have access to paid apps copy-protected apps from the market. The reasoning for this is not known at this time, and some users of these phones are still able to access paid apps copy-protected apps.

T-Mobile G1 eats some Cupcake: Video demo

With the furore over the HTC Magic, T-Mobile G1 owners might be wondering whether the halo has shifted from their original QWERTY handset to this new HTC usurper.  While the external hardware is obviously significantly altered, under the hood it's a case of different software, not different components, the most obvious being the new on-screen QWERTY keyboard.  Over at they've been playing around with the latest Cupcake build of the Android OS on the G1, and have shot video of not only the keyboard but the Linux shell and the game Snake. Somewhat worryingly, tester Brian Jepson reports that the on-screen 'board proved trickier than expected, describing it as difficult to use one-handed and "definitely a bit buggy" .  The former is hopefully a symptom of the G1 form-factor - as you can see from our gallery, the Magic is considerably thinner and more hand-friendly than the G1 - whereas we can only assume that tweaking in some extra stability is top of HTC's priorities before the Magic's Q2 2009 launch. Still, it only crashed when trying to use the video app - which, when we saw it demonstrated on the HTC Magic, didn't encounter any problems - and generally felt stable.  Check out the video for all the details. [youtube][/youtube] [gallery]

Android Market Now Accepting Pay-For Applications

According to an e-mail sent to registered Android developers, the Android market is now accepting submissions of paid-applications. Initially, the market will allow US buyers to purchase apps directly from their device "starting mid next week," according to the e-mail.

Moto Android-based eBook reference design: Video Demo

The Moto Development Group have created an Android-based e-ink display, which could eventually become an e-book reader based on Google's open-source platform.  The reference design uses an E-Ink Broadsheet development kit, complete with a 6-inch display panel, interfacing with an OMAP-based dev kit running Android. Moto - not to be confused with Motorola, the two are different organizations - is currently developing customized versions of Android suitable for embedded applications such as this.  In fact it's likely to be one of many developers doing a similar thing: the recent rumors out of the Android camp, which tipped China as a hot-bed of Android development, likely stems from the cost advantages of moving away from Windows CE licences to the free Google platform. Right now the reference design needs some work before it could enter prototype stage, not least to address e-ink's screen-blackout when refreshing.  However it does suggest a new generation of internet-connected ebook readers that, like the Amazon Kindle, can download content but, unlike the Kindle, aren't hemmed into a relatively closed information ecosystem. [via Engadget]

Exclusive review: TeleNav GPS Navigation Service for T-Mobile G1 Android phone

T-Mobile G1 owners will soon be able to use the feature-rich TeleNav GPS Navigator.  TeleNav made the official announcement this morning that their award winning software will be released on February 24th via their website, and will be available in the Android Marketplace later this year.  Android Community was given the opportunity to test out the program in advance of its release.

Samsung Android phone delayed until 2H 2009; no show at MWC

Samsung will no longer be bringing an Android-based device to Mobile World Congress next week, and has reportedly delayed the release of its first Android smartphone to the second half of 2009.  The company was originally expected to showcase at least one new device, running the open-source platform, in Barcelona, prior to a release tipped for Q2 this year. According to Younghee Lee, head of marketing at Samsung's mobile device division, the company is "planning internally" for a release in the second half of the year, and that Samsung is in negotiations with a number of operators interested in carrying the phone.  Younghee Lee also confirmed that there would be nothing Android-based demonstrated at MWC from the company.  Samsung originally claimed that their Q2 2009 target release was the result of carriers requesting the Android handset earlier; as a result, the company's development team scaled up to bring forward the smartphone's availability.  We're waiting on an official comment from our sources at Samsung as to what they can tell us over the cause of the delay, and we'll update once we hear back.

Android Market to get paid apps this week?

Paid applications will be arriving on the Android Market sometime this week, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.  The news - which would tie in with Google's own public timescale of Q1 2009 - is likely to encourage developers to code new apps or port existing ones over to the Android platform; up until now, downloads have been free of charge. While the paper does not quote its sources, only "people familiar with the matter", T-Mobile has been pushing out the latest RC-33 to US G1 owners which includes new tools for the Android Market.  The company is believed to be aiming to have the update completed by February 15th, which might suggest that they'll flick the switch on paid apps straight after. Google's exact Market terms for developers wishing to charge for their applications are unclear.  We're also not sure about what charges developers may face; back in October, Google's Andy Ruben laid out the bandwidth fees for free apps, but there's still no official word on any upcoming changes.  [via Gizmodo; thanks Derek!]

Google axed Android multitouch at Apple’s request

Multitouch support was dropped from the Android platform, and therefore the T-Mobile G1, after Apple requested it not be included.  That's the latest rumor, apparently confirmed by an unnamed Android team member, who described the arrangement as an attempt by Google to avoid the IP aggression we've recently seen between Apple and Palm. While the G1's capacitive touchscreen certainly recognizes multitouch input - as recent hacks have demonstrated - and earlier builds of Android code included what's believed to be Google-written, but subsequently disabled, multitouch support, the functionality did not ship in the released device.  At the time, this was generally put down to Google's ambitious launch schedule, promising an Android device by the end of 2008, and that lack of timing meaning that multitouch fell by the wayside.  However it now looks as though its omission was purposeful, with Google prioritizing their good working relationship with Apple - and, some might say, common foe in Microsoft - over the handset's eventual capabilities. The unnamed source also confirmed the rumors that Intel is expending great efforts in supporting Android netbook development, suggesting that the chipset company is keen to be further involved in open-source budget ultraportable hardware.  While Intel's specific plans are unknown, the Android team member revealed that there are many different Android-based netbooks - as well as other, non-phone and non-netbook hardware - in development at present.

Archos Android-based Internet Media Tablet MID coming

Archos have announced plans to develop an Internet Media Tablet that will use the Android platform for wireless connectivity, voice and applications.  Based on Texas Instruments' OMAP 3 platform, the device - which has been described as ultra-thin at just 10mm- will support high-definition video playback as well as run the standard applications available for download through the Android Market. In effect, Archos are creating the first Android MID.  That means a high-resolution 5-inch touchscreen, DivX playback, TiVo-style video recording with possibly DVB-SH digital TV, full-screen Adobe Flash and Flash video support, and large-capacity storage.  Archos appear to be using a traditional hard-drive, as in their current Internet Media Tablet range, with up to 500GB mentioned.  Battery life should be good for 7hrs video playback, and the device will have 3.5G/7.2Mbps HSUPA. TI are providing the OMAP3440 applications processor (for "laptop-like" performance), connectivity and analog products, and that Archos is aiming to get the device to the market fast.  The Archos Android Internet Media Tablet - which is yet to have a definite name - is expected to launch in Q3 2009.  [Thanks Charbax!] Press Release:
ARCHOS combines its multimedia framework and Android telephony stack to deliver a new type of breakthrough Internet Media Tablet The new IMT will integrate voice capabilities to deliver robust, powerful mobile phone tablets addressing both entertainment and communications needs DALLAS and IGNY, France, Feb. 9  -- Providing new ways for consumers to access feature-rich content and connect with others, ARCHOS, an award-winning technology innovator and leader in the portable media player market, announced plans to extend its product line with a new ultra-thin Internet Media Tablet (IMT) combined with a mobile phone, by merging Google's Android telephony stack and the ARCHOS' multimedia framework. This new IMT will also incorporate the OMAP(TM) 3 platform from Texas Instruments, Incorporated (TI) . Android provides the IMT with all the functionalities of a premium smartphone and access to its fast-developing applications environment with ARCHOS' rich and proven multimedia framework will deliver the best entertainment and web-browsing experience. With the integration of voice, ARCHOS is looking to expand beyond portable media players to provide solutions for the converged space, where a foundation in high-quality video content delivery is a benefit. In addition to Android functionality and voice support, the new ARCHOS' IMT will offer: ARCHOS selected TI's OMAP 3 applications processor, connectivity and analog products not only for offering low-power, high performance solutions, but to leverage the company's experience in developing compelling, highly-competitive products based on the Android telephony platform. The level of software investment made by TI on the Android platform allows ARCHOS to quickly and cost effectively deliver an Android-based device that supports advanced features such as the newly integrated voice capabilities. "ARCHOS was proud to announce the introduction of its ARCHOS 5 HSDPA IMT last year with SFR. We are continuing to advance our efforts in the IMT space with the introduction of this new product," said Henri Crohas, CEO and ARCHOS founder. "Support for an Android-based device represents a historical opportunity for ARCHOS to combine all the best of our IMTs with a phone in a single device delivering high quality video and a full web experience in true mobility." "TI remains committed to helping ARCHOS advance its product line and deliver a new class of devices that builds on a history of delivering rich multimedia experiences," said Remi El-Ouazzane, vice president and general manager for TI's OMAP platform business unit. "The OMAP 3 platform, with its support for the Android OS, is a powerful tool to support HD video, high quality multimedia and connectivity anytime and anywhere. ARCHOS' use of TI technologies, including connectivity and analog solutions, helps to push the boundaries with new products and as we see today, new business models, to be a leading innovator with its new IMTs." ARCHOS is marrying its rich digital media history with voice functionality to tackle new markets. ARCHOS' new Android-based IMT with voice functionality will be released in 3Q 2009. ARCHOS released the first pocket-sized HD-based MP3 player with the Jukebox 6000 in 2000 and since that time has revolutionised consumer electronics devices. The company invented the portable media player in 2003 and was the first to bring television recording, wireless and touch screens to Portable Media Players. ARCHOS have also introduced the Internet Media Tablet range - the 5, 5g and 7 - offering users instant, uncompromising access to the internet, media content and TV. Established in 1988, ARCHOS has offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. ARCHOS is listed on Euronext Paris, Compartment B, ISIN Code FR0000182479. Texas Instruments helps customers solve problems and develop new electronics that make the world smarter, healthier, safer, greener and more fun. A global semiconductor company, TI innovates through manufacturing, design and sales operations in more than 25 countries. For more information, go to OMAP is a trademark of Texas Instruments Inc. All other registered trademarks and trademarks belong to their respective owners.

Android Community Week In Review: Week 6 2009

The Android platform saw quite a bit of noteworthy news this week. The most notable was the release of RC-33, the latest update to the Android OS, pushed over-the-air to G1 devices. This update adds a few new features, though blatantly missing are the famed "Cupcake" features such as the on-screen soft-keyboard. RC-33 now allows the user to save MMS attachments to their SD card, utilize Google Voice Search, and check for new software updates directly from the device. Also included in the RC-33 update, and being pushed to other devices with Google's Maps application, is Google's Latitude. It utilizes a device's AGPS and other wireless location-based networking abilities to show where your contacts are in the world on the included Maps app. Latitude is also being deployed on other platforms such as Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and Palm. It is expected to make its way to the iPhone in the Google Mobile app or possibly integrated into maps with the next software release. Followed closely by the official release of RC-33, JesusFreke and others have cooked up JFv1.41-RC33, a custom build of the latest software. It includes all new features of RC-33, and builds in previous hacks to enable an implementation of multi-touch, auto-rotate using the accelerometer, and allows easy access to the root file system of the phone. Notably missing from the cooked update is the RC-33 radio firmware update, which is instead included as a separate install file. Broadcom has announced availability of a driver compatible with Android for their combination wireless chips. The chips combine WiFi, Bluetooth, and an FM radio tuner into one compact component, allowing manufacturers to add more functionality on a smaller footprint. Finally, we got wind of new Android handset possibilities for 2009. Samsung is highly anticipated to release an Android handset at MWC '09, and Motorola has announced their new focus on Android as a mobile OS for their 2009 handset lineup.
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