One of the cool new ways we can interact with applications in Honeycomb is with "fragments." Have a look at the Honeycomb event video, then check them out in real world use in CNN's new Android app and the upcoming Sports Illustrated app. From the videos, it looks like the perfect way to handle a lot of content in an organized and easy to navigate way.
But that's all geared towards honeycomb's new tablet interface. What about smartphones? Googler and Android software engineer Dianne Hackborn let us in on how fragments are going to work on your phone in a new post on the Android Developers blog. There's a lot of technical information there, and if you're even the least bit inclined you should make sure to read it all, but the nutshell version is that fragments are coming to smartphones. Google has spent time to make them easy to program, even giving an excellent tutorial developers can use with the Android 3.0 preview to get started. And the best news? The plan is to make the new APIs backwards compatible to Android 1.6, so most phones (sorry Moto Cliq users), even older models, will reap the benefit.
The last big question is, "when is all this coming?" -- Dianne has answered us in advance:
We don’t have a firm date for when this library will be available, but it should be relatively soon. In the meantime, you can start developing with fragments on Android 3.0 to see how they work, and most of that effort should be transferable.
With all that Sports Illustrated and CNN have done right with their Android tablet applications, The Economist ... well, it went a different direction. That's not to say it is completely devoid of merit -- the magazine's covers are nicely displayed, and stories are well categorized. But individual story pages lack any sort of design flare, and you likely won't enjoy reading stories at their full width in landscape mode. Let's just call it Version 1.0 and move on.
If you're into running your own blog on Blogger then you'll be pleased to know they have just released the first version of their Android application to the Android Market. They've taken their time in releasing the app due to the fact they wanted to ensure a great experience when using it and they've taken a lot of the features of Blogger and integrated them nicely:
Multiple accounts and blogs: You can easily switch between different accounts and blogs that you have author rights to. Simply choose your account and blog and you are all set to go.
Write and save/publish: You can write a post, assign labels, and then either save it as a draft or immediately publish it. Saving as draft is handy if you need to wait until you have Internet connectivity.
Photos from camera and gallery: If you see something interesting, you can take a photo directly from the app and include it in the blog post. You can also browse your gallery to include the ones you like.
Sharing to Blogger from gallery or browser: Blogger is one of the available sharing options. If you come across a photo in the gallery, or a website while browsing, you can share the content to the Blogger app directly from the sharing menu.
Share location: You can share your location by activating the location bar and selecting the correct location. This information will be included in your post
View saved/published posts: By switching to the List View, you can view all your drafts and published posts that you wrote using the app. By performing a long-press on a published post you can invoke a menu that includes the option to view your post in a browser.
Given that it is the very first release, users are advised to use the feedback forum if you're having any issues or just want to suggest some new features to the Blogger team. You can find the download after the break. [Blogger Buzz]
We've had a few people ask us recently if it's possible to have one on-screen keyboard appear for a certain app, and another keyboard appear for a different app, automatically. As it stands now, you have long-press and go through a couple menus to switch keyboards, and that makes it a bit of a pain.
But in Android 3.0 Honeycomb, the process has been significantly improved.
But that's why we made the Sideload Wonder Machine
Oh, by the way. In case you were hoping AT&T had changed its ways when it comes to locking its phones into the Android Market -- not so much. There should be an option in the picture above on the HTC Inspire 4G that says "Unknown sources - allow installation of non-Market applications." But, obviously, there's not.
That's not to say there aren't ways around it. The Android Sideload Wonder Machine was designed for phones like the Inspire 4G. So don't forget who's got your back. (Hint: It's us.)
The OtterBox Defender is one of the toughest cases you can buy for your precious Droid Incredible. The case comes in four separate parts, two of which snap together to directly encase the phone. This is made of hard plastic and the front-facing one has a thin, clear plastic screen that covers the entire face of the phone. There is a tiny cutout around the optical joystick, which you can see in the picture above.
Around this hard inner shell goes a thick rubbery layer that also servers to provide both protection and access to the various ports on the phone. Both the micro USB port and the headphone jack on top are given ample space when needed. The case also comes with a holster complete with a clip on the back for latching it onto your belt or nearly anything else. The clip felt very strong and durable during the time I used it. A great feature of the holster is that it is designed in such a way that you can have the screen facing inward for maximum protection of have it exposed for all to see. This is a feature not found on most holsters and is a definite plus for those who make constant use of holsters.
The overall build quality was top notch and what you would expect from someone like OtterBox. The device feels great in the hand if you are used to large cases and the buttons didn't require too much effort to press. The one big issue I had was that the clear screen has a very small opening for the optical joystick and was very uncomfortable to use. Anyone that uses that optical joystick on a regular basis may want to look for something with an open face. That being said, the OtterBox Defender is overall a great case for anyone looking for maximum protection for their DInc. You can buy it right now from the Android Central Store for $47.95.
The HTC Inspire 4G won't be available on AT&T until Feb. 13. But we've got one in our hot little hands, and it's time to put the phone through its paces. For all intents and purposes, this is a Desire HD for us here in the United States. And that's a good thing. Even better: It'll be just a mere $99 on contract.
It's got a 4.3-inch TFT LCD display, a 1GHz processor, the latest version of the HTC Sense user interface, an 8MP camera with dual flashes -- and the auspicious fortune of being AT&T's first "4G" device. We'll deal with the whole data thing later. For now, check out the quick hands-on video after the break.
When Sports Illustrated showed off its plans for an HTML5-based tablet-type app last year at Google IO, we lauded it as a shining example of how print publications should move into the digital world. And while the iPad got its version first, the upcoming Android Honeycomb version is just as good (and pretty darn similar).
If someone asks how a magazine should present itself in the mobile space, this is the app you should show them. Videos and photo galleries are dynamic and played well on the story pages. SI's web-only content is a special treat.
About the only other thing we could hope for is to see it on a higher-resolution screen, but that's not the app's fault, and we'll see that happen in due time.
AT&T officially announced the launch details for the highly anticipated dual-core Motorola Atrix 4G -- and its gang of uber-cool accessories. Let's just break it down in bullet points, shall we?
The phone itself will cost $199 after rebate and two-year contract.
Presales start Feb. 13, the phone will be available March 6 "or earlier."
You have to have a minimum data service that costs $15 a month.
The Atrix and Laptop Dock can be purchased as a package for $499.99 -- after contract and a $100 rebate.
There's also an Entertainment Access Kit -- with the HD Multimedia Dock, a Blueooth keyboard and mouse, and remote control. That costs $199.
The Laptop dock by itself costs $499.99. (Better to buy it with the phone.)
That's a lot of money, no matter how you look at it. But it's a lot of phone, and a lot of accessories to go with it. Check out our hands-on if you haven't already. For more deets, find the press release after the break.
A bizarre new commercial for the perpetually-leaked (but as yet still unconfirmed) Sony Ericsson Xperia Play has emerged on Norwegian site Droidnytt. Showing the Android mascot with creepy stitched-on human thumbs, the ad proclaims "Android is ready to play".
What's also interesting is that the footage of the device seems to show it running the stock Gingerbread launcher and UI, whereas a leaked prototype obtained by Engadget last month was running Sony's TimeScape UI.
Rumored and leaked since the dawn of time, the Xperia Play is expected to be officially unveiled at the 2011 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month. Check out the commercial for yourself after the jump. [Droidnytt]
Can't say we didn't see this coming, but Motorola's now made it official: T-Mobile's Cliq XT won't be getting an official upgrade past Android 1.5. Ever.
Moto Matt, in the Motorola Support Forums, dropped the bombshell, which also has been posted on Motorola's updates chart:
"After comprehensive testing of the Android 2.1 upgrade for the CLIQ XT, we have concluded that this device will remain on Android 1.5. We realize many of you were anxiously awaiting this upgrade, but we aim to deliver software upgrades only when it will provide a better customer experience."
Something about lipstick on a pig comes to mind, we guess. To Matt's credit, though, he goes into a little more detail about the process -- something we'd love other manufacturers to do:
For many of you on our forums, I know this is disappointing news. Mark and I were optimistic about the outcome of the CLIQ XT development process and were also disappointed in the final result.
Our product team members worked for months to attempt to create a version of Android 2.1 that would perform well on the CLIQ XT. When the software could not meet the basic performance standards required, they went back to the drawing board multiple times. They gave it everything they had. We even took the unprecedented step of investigating the benefits of code provided by the independent developer community to try to improve XT performance. In the end, we were not able to develop a version of Android 2.1 for CLIQ XT that would deliver an optimal customer experience.
Some of you will wonder why we didn't announce this sooner. For one, we didn't learn about this all that long ago. Then, it has taken some time to coordinate with T-Mobile and alert our call center agents and others of the decision.
We recognize that many of you will be frustrated by this news. As always, you are free to post your comments, but please keep them civil and within the bounds of our site rules.
It certainly sucks that the Cliq XT won't be going any further down the Android path, but kudos to Motorola for being up front about it. [Moto Forums, Upgrade chart]
Say what you want about CNN -- and between the new "HLN" and Nancy Grace, I could say plenty -- you have to hand it to whomever designed its new Honeycomb tablet app. It's a model for how to deftly handle an overflow of news without completely overwhelming the senses.
That's not to say I don't continue to chuckle at the main screen, which can display thumbnails of some 300-odd stories and as nicknamed the "broadsheet" -- an old print term. But for the most part, it's a very well done news app. You have nice thumbnails of stories, which take you to nicely designed story pages. There's plenty of rich content to go around, including video and photo galleries.
For you budding "iReporters" -- don't get me started on that one, either -- you can record and upload "iReports" (sign) straight from the tablet, as it should be.
So while the quality of the news ain't exactly Daniel Schorr anymore, the quality of the CNN tablet app does more than enough to prop it up.
Verizon and Samsung are about to push EA28, which fixes the emergency calling thing and includes everything else from the DL09 update (minus the bug). Will it fix any other complaints you guys have had with DL09? We'll see. And, Verizon, we haven't forgotten about Froyo. [Verizon via Android Central Forums]
Update: sources from Barnes & Noble have stated (unofficially) that this was merely due to a brief supply shortage of Nook Colors. It looks like this was most likely a false alarm and they'll keep happily selling you Nook Colors.
According to the folks over at Good E-Reader, B&N is pulling its entire stock of Nook Colors from the shelves for the next two weeks. Initial rumors were that this was to prepare for the promised Froyo update, but now sources within Barnes & Noble are apparently saying that this is to install some sort of anti-rooting measure. While the reasoning behind their pulling the Nooks is still unconfirmed at this point, it appears to be fact that all Nook Colors are being systematically removed from shelves and online orders for about two weeks.
Despite having solid hardware specs for an Android tablet, the main reason the Nook Color has been so popular is because it's priced at a modest $250. While this is great for us, the Android tablet junkies and hackers, from Barnes & Noble's business perspective, this could be seen as a big problem.
After a recent teardown of the Nook Color, it was estimated that the total cost of the parts of each NC add up to somewhere around $200. While a $50 profit is better than a loss, it probably isn't considered worthwhile for a massive book chain trying to compete with amazon.com and Borders. So they're obviously counting on the sale of digital content from within the Nook Color to make their real profits.
Of course the Nook Color is also capable of running ROMs off of SD cards as well, since it looks first to boot from there. If nand-locking rooting preventions are being taken, will they also disable the ability to boot from the SD card?
It seems unlikely to me that B&N would pull their stock of Nook Colors just to get a Froyo software update ready. That's two weeks of people deciding that they might rather have a Kindle or iPad than wait for their stock to be replenished, so a move like this isn't to be taken lightly.
We'll be keeping an eye on this one for sure, and we've contacted Barnes & Noble for comment. What has Barnes & Noble told you? Sound off in our Nook Color forums. [Good E-Reader via cnet]
Update:a reader sent us a tip that, according to "a B&N worker," a system receiving error is responsible for the halt. I highly doubt they'd intentionally pull their hottest item because of a receiving error, but if their stock was already low, this could be an explanation . . . We're still waiting on a response from Barnes & Noble.
Typing on a tablet can be a bit of a challenge. It's not as finger-friendly as a smaller smartphone, and it's not as tactile as a traditional physical keyboard. Swiftkey has long been one of our favorite keyboards, in no small part due to its excellent text prediction.
Swiftkey's tablet keyboard does something new in that it splits the keyboard in half, with half the letters at the far left, the other half at the far right, and a numerical keypad in the center. It takes a little getting used to, to be sure.
But the text prediction remains top-notch, and dual space bars make things that much faster. We'll give this keyboard the what-for when Android tablets are officially released (and the app, which is still in development, is ready). For now, check out the video.