If you had to pick one of the most influential smartphones of the past year or so, there's little doubt the HTC EVO 4G would be high up on the list, if not atop it. It was the first 4.3-inch smartphone. The first 4G smartphone. And it it brought with it that sense of style that is a trademark for HTC.
Donn Koh was a designer with San Francisco-based One & Co. from November 2008 to May 2010. This was the design firm that gained notoriety with the Windows Mobile HTC Diamond and was later purchased by the Taiwanese manufacturer. Koh was the lead designer on the EVO 4G and has done a beautiful job breaking down the design of the device, which he says took a good 12 months from start to finish.
Koh tells of the team working directly with HTC's engineers, and of the challenges faced in combining large components while keeping it relatively (and deceptively) thin. In particular, Koh said, the EVO 4G's 8MP camera component, and how its design was incorporated into future HTC phones. Writes Koh:
While it was a requirement to highlight this key feature, it shouldn’t feel unnaturally big or loud. To create this balance, I needed to find an aesthetic solution that would somewhat mask the component size, and one that would look honest and purposefully ‘camera-like.’
This led to a spherical design that partially protrudes the outer surface of the phone. It created an interesting and iconic character akin to an eyeball sitting in a socket. I liked that it had the notion of the phone as a housing for powerful, intelligent, internal components.
This is a must-read if you're at all curious about what goes into smartphone design, and it should make you appreciate that little wonder in your hand that much more.
Update: The blog post referenced here has been made private; image and links removed by request.
These days, it seems as though everyone wants to make a tablet so a new rumor suggesting the Tribune Co. is looking to release one doesn't really come all that much as a shock. It does however all sound rather, well -- silly.
The story as it goes, claims that the Tribune Co. will releases a modified version of Android and that the Tribune will "offer the tablet for free, or at a highly subsidized price, to people who agree to sign up for extended subscriptions to one of its papers and possibly a wireless-data plan with a partner cellular carrier" So who is helping the Tribune Co. with this tablet? According to the article -- Samsung.
Sounds more like a subscription-based package to us. Buy a subscription, get a free tablet and gain access to all of the Tribune Co.'s publications. At least that would make more sense then Samsung developing actual hardware just for the Tribune.
Sadly, it isn't the infamous playground of the rich and famous, but their latest Android device to be released sometime this weekend on Orange UK.
The Monte Carlo was first seen during MWC in Barcelona earlier this year, in its other guise as the ZTE Skate. As with the San Francisco, it will come pre-loaded with goodies from Orange such as HD voice (as seen on the Xperia Arc) and a whole host of their own apps.
Squarely aimed at the lower end of the market, the follow on to the San Francisco packs a 4.3" screen, 800mhz processor, 5MP camera and comes fresh out of the box running Gingerbread. We're also looking at the latest 2.3.4 version, and all this for £149 ($242) off contract.
Hopefully we'll be getting one soon to have a proper look at, but in the meantime take a look at the video after the break.
After having been spotted in a few leaks before now, the Samsung Admire has finally hit MetroPCS in official form and will arrive on the scene just in time for back to school.
"The Samsung Admire is the latest device in our growing Android smartphone lineup and delivers the right set of features at the right price for students as they head back to school. And the best part is that customers will continue to save money year-round with MetroPCS' affordable, unlimited service plans," said Tom Keys, president and COO, MetroPCS"
Those features are of course the 800MHz processor, 3.2MP camera , Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS all wrapped up in some TouchWiz UI. Still no pricing details revealed or an exact launch date but as noted before, we can't see this one going for more then $150. Full press release is beyond the break.
Weeds is one of the most popular shows on TV today. The Showtime series that centers around a widowed mother who sells pot to provide for her sons now has an official Android app. With the app, fans of the show can enjoy a good experience on their mobile device.
When you first open the app, you’ll see four main tabs at the top as well as a scrolling home screen that displays the latest features. For example, you’ll see a picture of Mary-Louise Parker that contains an Animated Recap of the last episode. This is all under the Home tab.
The next tab, The Show, provides extensive information about all aspects of the series. You can read the premise for the current season, sift through an episode guide, see when the show will air on Showtime and view the main cast list with full biographical information.
The third tab, Videos, contains a full episode that users can view for free as well as various video clips to browse through such as interviews and short snippets from the season.
The final tab is the Photobooth option which offers the most user interaction. It allows consumers to insert a photo of their choosing into a Weeds-themed background which can then be shared with friends. Themes include: Mugshot, Case File, Passport, Baked, Jail, Subway, Photocopy and Airplane.
This app is perfect for the ultimate Weeds fan. If you haven’t gotten into the dark comedy yet, now is the time to start. The app is free from the Android Market and links to it can be found after the break along with more screenshots from the app.
Down here in Texas, the heat is so sweltering and the air so dry, everything is reduced to an unfortunate shade of brown. Fortunately, I can still see some green grass and lively nature in the Spring Zen HD live wallpaper.
Spring Zen HD is pretty simple at first glance, giving you a nest with eggs in it, falling leaves, a bench, and the occasional butterfly. Occasionally the whole scene pans around a bit, giving you a better look at the bench, leaves, and nest.
It runs incredibly smoothly and the graphics are fairly top-notch. Everything has a soft glow to it, and the colors are vibrant. The paid version also boasts a considerable settings menu.
The settings menu gives you two preconfigured themes: Sakura and Maple. Sakura is the pink-flowered one, Maple is a maple leafed one.
From there you can choose to randomize the entire scene every time you turn on your screen, or you can specify very criteria, like what tree type, bench type, or egg color. You can also toggle things such as a butterfly, falling flora, sun beams, and the river.
Overall, Spring Zen HD is a pretty, aesthetically pleasing live wallpaper that performs well. It only sets you back a dollar, and for those who don't want to pay, there's also a free version, but it lacks the settings menu entirely.
More screenshots and download links are after the break.
Now that HTCDev.com is up and running, it's time to see what sort of secrets it holds. And Android Central reader Kevin's found this tasty little tidbit in the OpenSense documentation -- more of the Sense customizations of Honeycomb.
Note that the picture above (and we've got more after the break) mostly matches up with what we saw from the purported HTC Puccini tablet screenshots leak, though the multitasking button in the bottom left was swapped out for a traditional menu button. No telling yet if one (or both) is correct, an early dev version, or what.
Otherwise, fonts is fonts, skins is skins, and it's probably pretty safe to say we'll see HTC Scribe on a Honeycomb tablet.
And here's yet another pic of the upcoming Motorola Droid Bionic (suffice it to say it's deep in the throes of testing among average Joes at this point). So you see some speed test action going on here, and that's some fine LTE data speed. But what's got us interested is YodaDroid's follow-up, where he declares "battery life improved once again," and that he's seeing more than 15 hours of use, with push e-mail and widgets running full-bore.
Let's certainly hope so. Battery life has been the Achilles' heel of LTE devices. And if Verizon puts out one that can last past lunchtime, it'll make all this hype (and that Pentile screen) worth it.
Looks like Sprint's got quite the mouthful coming to its stable in the coming months, according to a leak received by Engadget. The U.S. carrier's version (previously codenamed "Within") of the Samsung Galaxy S II will go by Epic 4G Touch, or Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch, if you're man enough for it.
The official YouTube app has been updated to v. 2.2.14, which brings a host of improvements. Prior to this update, users were limited with what they could do with their uploaded videos. Now, they are able to customize them much more, such as editing the title and tweaking privacy settings. Also welcomed is the ability to edit and delete playlists with your mobile device, which was frustrating before.
Here is the full changelog:
Edit the title, description and privacy of your uploaded videos
New uploading UI integrated into the app
Create/Edit/Delete playlists on the go
Bug fixes and performance improvements
If you haven't received the update yet, hit the Market link after the break.
Google's director of Android global partnerships, John Lagerling, addressed the issue of patent lawsuits against Google's partners while speaking at a Pacific Crest investor conference. At a time when everyone under the sun is suing everyone else, I assume Mr. Lagerling felt the need to explain to investors that Google does have a strategy to assist and protect Android from legal issues, though he didn't give much detail. His take on the subject:
Without going into too much detail, I do think that we have very strong paths that we can take to protect the values of Android that we have built through the open-source Apache 2 license with our partners. Obviously, Google doesn’t build — we don’t build phones and devices, but we had a vested interest in protecting the values of the Android ecosystem.
So when our partners are being attacked by aggressors, which we see as materially unfounded, it’s something that we join up together with our partners to resolve. And we have, I think, several options that we can take that will help protect the values of Android.
So again, we want to protect innovation. Patents were supposed to be there to enable innovation and monetization of innovation. When it’s being used in a prospective which is more to, as we see it, stifle innovation, it’s not something that is good for consumers.
Android is the only operating system, modern smart-phone operating system, that exists on devices that cost $200 or less. That is what is enabling the next billion of users of the Internet on mobile in the world. There might be players that are not so excited to see the margins and the prices go down like that and the variety that Android enables, but I think we are very convinced that we will be able to continue and create and protect the value of Android.
This echoes what Eric Schmidt and Larry Page have said, while saying just as little. It stands to reason that Google has a strategy to protect the interests of their partners, and we can only assume that we'll see it when the time is right. Or on Twitter.
Right then, another Monday is now passing and we've got quite a few things lined up for the rest of the week for you all. Make sure you stick with us to keep up to date on all things Android be it here, on the blogs -- or in the Android Central forums:
If you're patiently waiting for an update for your LG G-Slate, we've got good news. According to a moderator at the official LG community forums, the Honeycomb 3.1 update for the G-Slate should start pushing out as early as Aug 8. Carrier versions should follow soon thereafter, with Docomo in Japan already having scheduled their update to start Aug 10. Of course things can change, and we're only sure once it actually happens. We have no word when T-mobile is to begin sending out any update for their version, but have reached out to them asking for any information they can share. We'll let you know what, if anything, they have to say.
We've seen the Droid Bionic leaked out in a handful of blurry pics, topless shots, and even the FCC gave us a little teaser. But today we see a couple that give a good look at the phone without the eyestrain. If you look past Katy Perry, and the task killer this tester is running, you'll see the 4.3-inch qHD display at work, as well as some LTE action going on in the status bar. GottaBeMobile also has a nice pic showing off the back of the phone, as well as a few standard blurry shots of the profile -- you'll wanna visit the source link to check those out.
Pictures are nice, and we all love seeing them, but what everyone really wants is a date -- even a blurry one.
Oops. Somebody's inadvertently gone and started a rational discussion on Google+, about whether kids should be allowed to play with our expensive toys. There's no right or wrong answer (until the inevitable happens, we suppose) -- to each his (or her) own.
So, let's hear it. We know you love your Android smartphone or tablet. Do you love your kids enough to let them play with several hundred dollars worth of hardware?
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