The first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet hits stores Thursday for $600 -- and missing a couple of popular features
The Motorola Xoom (or XOOM for you brand-conscious folks) is the first of the next generation of Android tablets to hit the market. It runs the new Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" version of the operating system, which was tailor-made for larger screens.
If you're just catching up, here's the deal: The Motorola Xoom goes on sale tomorrow, Feb. 24. It's a 10.1-inch Android tablet with a 1280x800 resolution display, powered by the new Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. And it's a dual-core processor at that, much like what you'd find in many laptops today. That means it can do more things at once -- like rendering graphics or outputting video -- and not have to work as hard to do it. And that means better battery life.
Other hardware specs you need to know are 32GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, a 5MP camera on the back and a 2MP camera on the front for video calling. The rear camera will record in 720p high-definition, and the Xoom can connect to your television and output movies in full 1080p.
But the Xoom also will eventually be able to take advantage of Verizon's new 4G LTE network, with really fast data speeds. It's not launching with 4G (though it does have 802.11 b/g/n Wifi for when you're near a hotspot), but it'll be upgradeable in about three months, according to an unofficial screen shot. The really bad news is that you'll have to physically send your Xoom to Motorola to be upgraded -- it's not just a software thing. That's pretty much unheard of for any smartphone or tablet, and we've got our fingers crossed that it doesn't become a logistical nightmare.
To hear Verizon talk (erm, Tweet) about it, that the Motorola Xoom tablet will have to be taken into the shop (for free!) to be upgraded to LTE is a feature waiting to happen, not a feature missing at launch. Maybe our glass is half empty, but we're not exactly looking forward to handing over new our $600 (or $800 off contract) tablet for a week's worth of work. On the other hand, it is free, and we're very much fans of Verizon's LTE data speeds thus far.
That's not to say the Xoom is a disappointment -- far from it. The LTE upgrade's going to be a hassle, but it's coming. And Flash will be here in short order. Other than that, we've been very impressed with the Xoom.
But at this point, the same old tablet question remains: For $600 (or $800) do you really need that form factor? And does the prospect of having to physically send away your Xoom for an LTE upgrade make you want to hold off? We'll find out this week as they finally go on sale nationwide.
While I often bounce back and forth between browsers on my device, I always like to check in on Firefox and see how their beta is doing. As of beta 4 I wasn't prepared to make it my default browser yet but the latest build, beta 5 is now out for everyone to test out. Some improvements have been made to the overall workings of this build so I'm going to give it a good go. Check it out the improvements:
Increased responsiveness to panning and zooming
Faster start up and page load times
Major stability improvements
The new beta 5 version is available in the Android Market right now; you'll find the download just right after the break. Leave some comments on whether or not this build is working better for you. Curious to see how many of you all out there are putting it to the test.
A minor update to Android's Gmail app has hit the Market that fixes custom labels and improves copy/paste in Gingerbread. If you have custom labels in Gmail with custom colors, they wouldn't properly sync. With this update, that should be fixed. Also updated is the ability to long-press to copy text with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).
Here is the full update log:
Enable long press to copy text on Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) devices
Sync custom label colors
The Market link for the Gmail app is available after the break.
A new video on the official Android Developers' YouTube channel offers a fascinating look at the rise of Android since the release of the first handsets running the OS. The data spans the entire globe and shows spikes coinciding with the launch of popular phones like the Motorola Droid in the U.S. and Samsung Galaxy S worldwide. Be sure to check it out above -- it's a staggering reminder of just how far Android has come in a relatively short amount of time. [Android Developer on YouTube]
The U.S. gets it first taste of the new HTC Sense and AT&T's 4G network
The HTC Inspire 4G is AT&T's first foray into 4G data, and the carrier picked a very nice package for the debut. The Inspire is beautifully constructed with high-grade materials, and it shows the world that the Captivate wasn't just a fluke -- AT&T is seeing the light and getting on board with Android in a big way.
But like everything else, it's not perfect. Hit the break and see my impressions of the HTC Inspire 4G after using it for a week, and decide if you like what you're seeing.
Motorola really went overboard with this one. Moto has posted thirty videos online that outline all the features of the highly anticipated, Motorola Atrix 4G. The videos cover everything from entertainment, importing contacts, using webtop to print, setting up corporate email, etc.
If you've been itching to see the Atrix in action, but don't want to leave your computer, you'll want to check out all the videos after the break.
Although most of us love our Google Maps Navigation, it never hurts to have a second option. MapQuest has unveiled their Android app, which brings free turn-by-turn navigation with voice guidance for both walking and driving, voice search, and live traffic updates. It also brings along OpenStreetMap, which allows users to make changes and updates to the map on the fly virtually anywhere. It's available for all phones running at least Android 1.6, so head on over to the Android Market to get your download on. Direct download link after the break. [MapQuest]
After a highly promoted launch on the iPad earlier this month, News Corp's The Daily digital newpaper is heading to Android tablets in the second quarter of this year according to All Things Digital. During the announcement event (read our sister site TiPB's coverage) it was noted in Q&A that the paper would make the jump to other platforms, but that "this year, next year belong to Apple."
Even so, it is encouraging to see such a prominent app making its way to Android tablets so soon after its initial launch. Head on over into the Android Central Forums and let us know if you intend to check it out. [All Things Digital]
It's time for all you carrier-locked Dell Streak owners to celebrate -- you're getting Froyo. As was announced on the Dell community blogs today, you all should start seeing Froyo on your next reboot if you are using either Rogers or AT&T. Once alerted, you can simply follow the on-screen instructions and you will be well on your way to some Froyo goodness. Rather interesting what Dell chose as highlights of the update:
Flash support: Sure, down the road, HTML 5 will play a heavier role in mobile browsing, but the fact is that many sites on the web still use Flash.
Twitter: Simply put, the recently-updated version 2.0 of the native Twitter client rocks.
Skype: Video calling may not be an option yet, but if you use the app on your desktop or notebook it's a no-brainer to use it on Android. Plus, it's a useful option for cost-effective global calls.
All kinds of browser options: Dolphin HD is great if you like to browse with several tabs open. Skyfire 3.2 is a great option if you like to share a lot of content. Mozilla's Firefox for Android which is in beta now also look to be a promising option. Most of these higher-end browser options require Android 2.0 or later.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and give your device a reboot to see if it's ready for you. You can check out the source link for further details and instructions of you need to. [Dell] Thanks, Brodie!
Word on the street is that "Thunderbolt" is what Apple's calling the new LightPeak -- as in fast, fast, FAST 10Gbps -- port on an upcoming MacBook Pro refresh. It's a port on a laptop -- not a smartphone.
But if Apple starts throwing around the world "Thunderbolt" on Thursday -- the same day we might finally see the Verizon smartphone be released -- well, it's bound to be repeated by just about anyone who's at Steve Jobs' beck and call. So things could get a little interesting. [Fscklog via MacRumors, TiPb]
Not really feeling up to cooking tonight? Try out MenuPages. MenuPages can help you find worthwhile restaurants in your area. Covering eight cities (New York City, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, South Florida, and Washington, D.C.) MenuPages allows for in-depth searches to help you break down your options in dining. Be it by popularity, distance, rating or price MenuPages covers all the information you need and now it's available in the Android Market. Head on past the break for their press release and download link.
Although QR codes have been used for a few years in other countries, in the U.S. we're still learning how to put them to work for us. In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking them to the streets and buildings of his city. Soon, QR codes will be on all Department of Buildings permits.
New Yorkers expect to be able to gather information instantly, and the use of QR codes will allow them to get all information about construction work while standing on the sidewalk,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The QR codes will provide more efficient access to government data, help the public know what’s being built in their neighborhoods, and it will allow people to make more informed decisions about things from renting an apartment to making a complaint. This is another example of how we are using the latest advances in technology to increase accountability and provide more information to the public.
After scanning the codes Mayor Bloomberg is putting in place, New Yorkers will have access to the building permit history of whomever is attached to the permit. Pretty cool to see such a use case for QR codes being put to work. [Mike Bloomberg]
Great news for Samsung Captivate owners! The Android 2.2 upgrade is coming tomorrow! We’ll post a link here to the Samsung site with instructions to install the upgrade tomorrow.
The official update comes on the heals of that leaked KB1 update, which we showed you mere hours ago. And chances are it'll be the same as what gets pushed out. Stay tuned this week for complete install instructions.
Every year, Hollywood gathers for The Academy Awards to celebrate movies and the talent that comes with them. Actors and actresses walk across the red carpet with big smiles and designer clothing. But this year will be a little different. Hollywood's talent will be given something else to show off at the Academy Awards. Motorola will be giving out gold Motorola Xooms to the hosts and the nominees in the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Director categories. The snazzy Xoom will also come with a custom leather case, too.
As for the rest of us, we can just pick up the regular all-black Xoom this Thursday. [Engadget]
Want to add a drop of Honeycomb to your phone, desktop or tablet? You can now find nine new wallpapers from the latest Android 3.0 SDK build over on the Android Central forums. The images are all at least 1920x1280 resolution, so there's plenty of pixels to go around. Eight of the images are brand new, while one is a higher-quality version of one of the wallpapers from the earlier SDK preview.
A few have been seen over the past couple of months on Honeycomb tablets like the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, while some haven't been shown in public before. Head on over to the Android Central forums now to get your hands on this latest cache of pretty pictures.
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