More trouble for Android, Apple granted Slide to Unlock patent

Today we have more news regarding some of those Apple patents. This morning after being filed way back in December of 2005, The US Patent & Trademark Office issued a patent grant to Apple regarding their familiar Slide to Unlock gesture. This has actually been officially granted to Apple, no longer is this pending, the deed is done.

HTC Sense 3.0 Style Unlock Ring App Perfected in Agile Lock

So you're all about that unlock screen you saw on the HTC Sensation 4G, right? You saw how awesome it was to bounce around a ring that's able to open either the whole of the phone or a single app at your command, and you're pumped up about having access to such a lockscreen asap! Your wait is over, unofficially, with Agile Lock, an app made by the developers at SunPengfei, as they've created an app version of the lockscreen so similar to the original, you'll want it on all your devices.

NTT Docomo to allow unlocking phones via SIM

One great thing about third tier companies is that often they use out of the box thinking to not only gain market share, but to challenge the conventional wisdom of their industry which is usually holding the market back. Such is the case with Japanese wireless company NCC Docomo, which today announced that after April 1st, any phone bought through their service will be able to be unlocked with a simple switching of a SIM card. Customers will have to pay an additional $38 unlocking fee, but after that, users can swap out SIM cards as much as they want. In addition, NTT Docomo will offer SIM and micro SIM cards for sale for customers who want to use a non-Docomo device on their  network.

Samsung Galaxy S 4G unlocked at XDA

With the results of JD Power's customer satisfaction survey being most unkind for T-Mobile, Samsung Galaxy S 4G fans may want to try and bring their phone elsewhere. Thanks to XDA developer SanFranX415, users can. All they need is root access, a hex editor, and plenty of patience to find the unlock code buried deep in the Android OS. There's a thread here that will walk users through the process, but it's always important to remember that having to root a phone may cause your warranty to be voided.

Samsung Galaxy S unlock hack is easiest to date

Samsung's Galaxy S series may be relatively special in the US for being a smartphone launched - in various identikit forms - across multiple carriers at the same time, but what if you want to use your AT&T Captivate on T-Mobile USA's network?  Happily Samsung seem to almost be conspiring against their carrier partners by apparently including unlock codes for the Galaxy S series in files actually on the smartphones themselves. The clever souls over at xda-developers have come up with a tool to extract said-codes from the .BAK files in which they lurk, and have put together a full guide on how to use it.  Since you don't need to root the Galaxy S in order to unlock it, and there's also a relock system, you can even restore the phone to as-delivered condition should you need to send it back to your respective carrier. As ever, doing any modifications of this sort leaves you facing the risk of a bricked handset, but so far reports on the process seem positive.  It works on both the US versions of the Galaxy S - e.g. the T-Mobile Vibrant and AT&T Captivate - as well as the European Galaxy S model. [via TechTicker]

HTC Magic phone dressed up in Black and going on sale in Taiwan for $640 USD

Folks across the pond will have the luxury to purchase the hot new HTC Magic on May 15th for $640 USD without a contract.  This black version going on sale in Taiwan is almost identical to the one available for Vodafone customers.  The left and right hand side is covered in a darker shade of red. If anyone can read Taiwanese/Kanji, feel free to help translate the article on ePrice the rest of the community.

Google Developer G1 loses paid-app access

Google has blocked access to paid Android applications to the very people who most likely would have vested interest in accessing them: developers using the officially-sanctioned unlocked G1.  Google released the Developer version of the G1 back in December 2008, priced at $399, making it available to anybody willing to pay the $25 developers' registration fee.

As well as being SIM unlocked, the Developer G1 is also hardware unlocked, giving access to the root folders usually off-limits to consumer G1 handsets.  That's where the paid-apps issue comes in: such applications are saved to a private folder on the G1, inaccessible to regular owners but not to developers, rather than encrypted with any sort of DRM.  That would allow users to copy the files and store them elsewhere, take advantage of the 24hr refund policy in the Android Market, and then replace the files from the backup to use the software again.  Google's preventative stance appears to be based on the possibility that the Developer G1 could be used to spread pirated copies of paid-apps. Bizarrely, though, it means that developers behind paid-apps are unable to even see their own software in the Market.  Meanwhile, unofficially unlocked T-Mobile G1 handsets are capable both of browsing paid-apps and accessing their supposedly-private files.  Google is yet to officially comment on the situation, aside from confirming that the change in policy was a recent one.

Google gives employees “Dream Phones” for holiday bonuses

When one thinks about a holiday bonus they usually think about a large paycheck helping families in need during an expensive time of the year, but what happens when the holiday season comes rolling around and you get a gift rather than cash? Employees over at Google didn’t experience a swell in their paycheck, but rather a “Dream Phone.” How many presents can you buy your family with a T-Mobile G1? Of course these G1s are not just your everyday run of the mill handsets, these have a special “droid” on the back to sweeten the deal. You can probably expect a lot of these “special edition phones” on Ebay in the next few weeks. This must be Google’s way of converting their team. Google did manage to at least make these handsets unlocked so that team members can use any carrier they would like. There are a few countries that Google’s legal team could not “work their magic.” These countries include India, China, Brazil, Korea, Israel, Russia, Argentina, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Egypt, Chile, and the Ukraine. The employees in those countries will receive the cash equivalent (about $400) in their December paycheck. Google has even attached a Q&A to the letter for anyone who has any more questions.
The full employee letter: Googlers, The holiday bonus is a Google tradition - it’s a great way to thank everyone for their hard work. In the past, we’ve done this in cash. This year, we’ve decided to give Googlers a different kind of present - a Dream phone (this is the same device T-Mobile (NYSE: DT) markets as the G1). We’re really excited about getting the phone to more Googlers in more countries, and also seeing all the cool new things you do with it. Shipping these special edition phones in such a short time frame (they were designed especially for Googlers with a ‘droid’ on the back) and making sure they would work anywhere in the world was no small feat. So a big thank you to the Android and Legal teams for making this happen. While these phones do not have SIM cards, they are unlocked so they can be used with the network provider of your choice. Plus - thanks to more fancy footwork from the Android team - they’ll work immediately as WiFi devices! Sadly, despite all our best efforts, there are some countries - India, China, Brazil, Korea, Israel, Russia, Argentina, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Egypt, Chile, and the Ukraine - where even our legal team could not work their magic. Googlers in these countries will receive the cash equivalent of the phone in their December paychecks, which is about $400 USD. Overall though almost 85% of Googlers globally will be able to receive the phone - including the United States, Western and Central Europe, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Japan. The holiday gift team in your office will be sending out an email with logistical information on distribution shortly. We know that some of you are already on your holidays - don’t worry - your phones will be waiting for you when you come back! For more information, check out the FAQ here. Some of you will of course be wondering why we decided to change from a cash bonus to the Dream phone. Here are the reasons. First, we’ve never developed anything like the Android software before and this represented a unique opportunity to celebrate that achievement. Googlers globally have been asking for the Dream phone and we’re looking forward to seeing all the different things that you do with them. This is a chance for us to once again dogfood a product and make it even better! Second, as we discussed in our email this week, the current economic crisis requires us to be more conservative about how we spend our money. We felt that giving the Dream phone would be a great holiday present - something we could all celebrate. Thank you for all that you do to make Google the company that it is. We hope that you will enjoy using your Dream phone in 2009 and have a very happy holiday! …and the Q&A that followed: Q: What is the holiday bonus for 2008?
The holiday bonus is a Google tradition. In the past, we have chosen to make this a monetary gift. This year we decided to try something different: on December 19th, we will begin distributing free Dream phones to Googlers worldwide. Q: I already have an Android phone. What happens to my holiday bonus?
These phones are a personal gift. We hope you will put them to good use! Please do not resell them as this is against Google [policy link removed]. Q: Why did we decide to give Dream phones as our holiday bonus this year?
The launch of Android was one of this year’s highlights for the company. When the Android phone was announced, Googler interest was extremely high - we had scores of TGIF questions, misc threads, and just general buzz about how Googlers could get a phone of their own. After seeing the amount of interest in the Android phones from Googlers, we agreed that every Googler should have one. Q: Will all Googlers get phones?
It was a huge task to ensure that the phones would work around the world and we want to thank the Android team and Legal team for making this happen. We’re proud to say that almost 85% of Googlers globally will receive Dream phones, including Googlers in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Japan. Q: I’m not getting a Dream phone because I don’t live in an eligible country. Do I still get a holiday bonus?
Yes, Googlers who live in countries where it was not currently feasible to distribute Dream devices will be getting a cash equivalent gift in your paycheck in December. This includes people in India, China, Brazil, Korea, Israel, Russia, Argentina, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Egypt, Chile, and Ukraine. For more information, please see [removed]. Q: I do live in an eligible country. Can I opt for the cash equivalent gift instead?
Only those Googlers in countries where it was not currently feasible to distribute Dream devices will be getting the cash equivalent gift. All other Googlers will receive a Dream phone. Q: Can I resell my phone?
Googlers should not resell any item given to them by Google. Please review our Personal Transactions policy [removed]. Q: Will I be able to take my SIM from my Google managed Corporate Mobile device (BlackBerry (NSDQ: RIMM)) and use it in my new Dream phone?
No, this is against policy and Google could incur significant overage charges. Placing a Blackberry SIM into a Dream device may cause the data plans to be disabled and break data for both the Dream and the Blackberry. Please review [link removed] for more info. Q: Are there tax implications to this?
Google is covering the taxes for this gift; there will be an extra payroll run before the end of the year to cover the taxes. If you have further payroll or HR-related questions about this gift please email [address removed].

Google now offering special unlocked version of the G1 to developers

Google has released a special unlocked version of the T-Mobile G1 to help developers develop their applications. This version is going to run you $399 and is both SIM unlocked as well as hardware unlocked. You must first be registered as a developer to be eligible to purchase this handset; registrations fees will run you $25. Now developers don’t have to purchase this phone from T-Mobile and wait for ages after requesting an unlock code. This development version also has a bootloader that does not restrict the device to officially signed firmware builds. It looks like this may be a way for countries to legally get their hands on one as well. This version is currently available to Japan, Germany, India, France, Taiwan, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Hungry, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, the US and the UK. Google plans to expand the regions in the future.  Although this handset is meant specifically for developers, consumers can register and have these devices shipped right to their door. Is this what it takes to get one in a country that does not currently have the G1? [Via XDA]
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