(Instead of giving you a roundup of last week's news, today I'm excited to give you a glimpse into the news you're going to see at our Smartphone Experts sites over the next two months! -- Dieter)
We are pleased to announce the Smartphone Round Robin!. Each year the editors of the Smartphone Experts family of sites literally trade their phones to see what life is like on the "other side." What you're going to see over the course of the next two months is each of our five SPE Community Editors reviewing smartphones that they're not used to using. Each editor has a checklist of "Must-Dos" that ensure they're getting the full experience with each smartphone. It's quite a ride.
Read on for more on the Smartphone Round Robin and for details on how you can win one of five Smartphone Prize Packs!
So don't just sit back and watch -- participate! You can check out a full list of all of the latest Blog posts and Forum posts on our Smartphone Round Robin Updates Page. There are chances to chat and win right now as our editors have already started asking questions in our forums. Finally, if you're an RSS user, you can track the whole event from our RSS Feed or even get daily email updates.
So head on into our forums and help us out this week and every week through the end of the year -- there's no better way to both spread the word about your favorite Smartphone or to learn more about what those other smartphones are all about. Or heck, we'll kick things off here too, this is an official Round Robin post, comment here for your chance to win a T-Mobile G1
Our friends across the pond in the United Kingdom have been telling us that instead of a RC 29 or RC 30 update, they're getting a RC 8 update sent to them. Confused? Yeah, we were too until we realized that the RC 8 update is akin to combining the RC29 and RC30 builds. So, the RC 8 update that UK users are getting is the same update that US users received in two separate forms. We don't quite understand why Google named it as such, a basic 1.0.1 or 1.0.2 would have worked just as well, but we'll let them slide.
When the MySpace App for Android first released, we at Android Central immediately thought, "Where's the Facebook App?" And though Facebook told us that they weren't going to be making an "official" Android Facebook application, we had high hopes in the Android Community for pulling one off. Insert fBook.
fBook is made from the good guys over at Next Mobile Web. It is essentially the same as the mobile Facebook except that it includes picture uploading and push capabilities. Anyone familiar with the great iPhone web app should feel at home with fBook. Go give it a download and tell us how you feel!
TmoNews has reported that the white version of the T-Mobile G1 is expected to be released after the Thanksgiving Holiday. If you remember correctly, the much anticipated, in-heavy-demand white G1 suffered from paint chipping issues that delayed its release. Though TmoNews is conservative in its estimate, we at Android Central have been hearing that the white version won't release until 2009. Hopefully, we're wrong because the white is HAWT.
Other inventory updates include the bronze version being removed from my-tmobile because of heavy demand -- it should be available around November 24th. The black version is on back order online and customers who made orders after Nov 5th should expect their G1 to arrive before Nov 24th (fingers crossed).
Is anyone still waiting on their T-Mobile G1? Perhaps, the elusive white version?
There's a new ad for the T-Mobile G1! Okay, it's a bit old but it's a heck of a lot more effective! Titled "Shark", the new commercial is a follow-up to the original "Questions" spot. But instead of asking more questions without providing the answers, it shows ways that the G1 can uniquely answer them.
The G1's versatility is definitely shown off, using the barcode scanner, maps, and integrated search to answer everyday questions posed by everyday people. We at Android Central are definitely more excited about the "Shark" spot than the "Questions" ad.
Those with some iPhone experience may know what Loopt is, that lovable little app that enables you to spy and stalk your friends. Loopt is a social networking application coming to Android. It shows you where your friends are located graphically on a map (upper left). Just tap the photo of your friend and you will see where that friend is located. The photo on the right displays another feature of Loopt. Similar to other social networking apps, you can see where your friends are located, how far they are from you, and what they are doing (if they want you to know).
Of course, apps that take advantage of GPS features to broadcast the locations of people raise some privacy issues, but then again, you can choose to use an app like Loopt or not. If it's just about the people you know and care about, then an app like Loopt can be handy to keep in touch. You will know when a friend is close by around the lunch hour, for example. Keep an eye on the Android Market for Loopt - it should be coming soon.
Score one... er, G1... for the toddlers! Some creative developers have succeeded in rendering a sophisticated G1 into a baby's plaything. Available in the Android Market, Toddler Lock let's your child (or anyone else's child, if you dare hand over your G1) conjure up random shapes, colors and sounds on your G1's touchscreen with just some taps and swipes. This could very well be entertaining for some adults too!
Toddler Lock requires pressing three buttons simultaneously to deactivate to avoid errant data entry (or loss) while your G1 is a toddler's toy, but it can also serve as a creative and fun way to secure your data from adults unfamiliar with your 3-button combination.
Check out a video provided by Rob Jackson over at phandroid.com and then just make sure your toddler isn't teething before you hand over your G1!
We at Android Central pride ourselves for being straight shooters, if another phone has something we want, we'll admit so. For example, Visual Voicemail on the iPhone. It is certainly one of the best features about the iPhone because it makes voicemail palatable and your life a bit more cheery. Thankfully, we have a solution from the fine folks at PhoneFusion. Fusion Voicemail Plus for Android!
Fusion Voicemail Plus will visually detail the contact, number, and date/time for each voicemail in a list format. It's supposed to come out before the end of the year so be on the lookout for this fine and hopefully free program. Hopefully, it'll come with a better design layout than the one because that red/yellow/green coloring has got to go.
You gotta hand it to Google - they may have learned how to deliver some bugs like the big leaguers, but they also act quickly to squish them splat! Following the reported "reboot" bug where typing the word "reboot" gave users "root" access normally privileged to administrators, Google has responded with an RC30 update that addresses this problem and, apparently, some other security issues as well.
Stephen Shankland over at CNET News lays it out in much more detail, but essentially the latest two patches, RC29 and RC30, address the following issues:
Rich Cannings of the Android security team shared details about the RC29 and RC30 updates that T-Mobile began distributing to G1 customers at least as early as November 1 and November 9, respectively.
Google had acknowledged the RC29 patch for the G1 fixed a browser vulnerability that could have let an attacker use malicious code on a Web site to take over the browser. The severity of such issues is limited by Android's security design, which walls off applications into separate compartments to limit an attacker's power. But Cannings said the patch also fixed two other issues.
What are these two other issues, you ask? RC29 itself addressed a couple issues, actually. One is a universal cross-site scripting problem that could give a ne'er-do-well control of your G1's browser. The other is allowing someone to boot the G1 into safe mode, thus bypassing the locking mechanism. How nice.
The RC30 patch addresses the "reboot" problem where users could gain access to "root" privileges. Also, some troubling security issues were addressed. Again, according to Rich Cannings:
Gee, I feel safer already. Joking aside, it is nice to know that Google takes these bugs and the security issues they create seriously. Hopefully these updates will fix the problems. What do you think about the way Google has handled these issues?
Welcome to the Jailbroken Club, Google. As surely as there are hackers, so is there jailbreaking of popular and up-and-coming OS's. Even though the Android OS is an open system, Google isn't crazy about users having access to the goodies behind the scenes of the Android OS as evidenced by their statement responding to the jailbreaking issue:
We’ve been notified of this issue (Jailbreaking of Android) and have developed a fix. We’re currently working with our partners to push the fix out and updating the open source code base to reflect these changes.
Google's fix (patch) should be available in the next firmware update, RC30. Like I said, welcome to jailbreaking, Google. Be prepared for the endless cycle of patch - jailbreak - patch - jailbreak, ad infinitum. Even though the Android OS is open, there seems to be benefits for the programming diehards to jailbreak.
We at Android Central have a feeling that the battle between Google and G1 Jailbreakers will continue for the foreseeable future. After reporting that the RC30 update kills root access to your G1 which effectively limits jailbreaking, the fine folks from XDA developers found a fix. If you have yet to update your T-Mobile G1 to the RC30 update and want to remain jailbroken, well they've found a way to have your cake and eat it too. Updated already? Sorry, you'll have to wait for the next round. Check out the complicated details after the break.
The good guys at iSuppli have figured out the Bill of Materials cost for the T-Mobile G1 and place it at approximately $143.89. They used a virtual teardown method which is presumably easier than a physical teardown (which they've yet to do) and the overall price takes no account for software, research & development, manufacturing, and accessories costs.
With the $143.89 estimate of the G1, the $179.99 price under a new 2-year contract seems extremely reasonable. Those who paid more to get it out of contract may feel the burn but hey, who ever said carriers were there to help you.
What do you think? Anyone surprised by the estimate?
It looks like all that suspense and rumor building of Wal-Mart selling the G1 for $148.88 was all bunk. It's being reported that the price will be $179.99 nationwide, which is the exact price point it was on launch day in T-Mobile stores and the exact price it still is.
Oddly, on Wal-Mart's website for the G1 it states, "Prices varies by store." Not all stores will have the G1 yet and we're still unsure of what criteria the store will have to fill out in order to carry the G1. In the meantime, don't expect a discount at Wal-Mart but be on the lookout for them on the shelves!
Whoa. Though Google and T-mobile squashed root access with the RC30 update it didn't stop people from having fun with it in the few days the G1 was jailbroken. Case in point: Jay Freeman loaded Debian onto the G1. For those who don't know, Debian Linux is another OS that adheres to openness.
What's even better than simply loading Debian onto the G1 is that he managed to get Android and Debian to work together. So you can have Android for your phone purposes and Debian for everything else. A great compromise no? To be sure, the process isn't for the faint of heart so be wary of jumping into this very, very cool hack.
We at Android Central will choose to sit and admire from afar. Don't say we didn't warn ya!
Huawei Technologies has just announced that they'll be bringing an Android-powered device in the first half of 2009. Huawei has typically focused on cheaper, lower-end phones but have realigned their focus toward smartphones with customization capabilities.
Huawei will not sell phone directly to end users, which mean the branding on the phone won't be theirs. More and more phone makers and big shakers are announcing their Android plans. It looks like this Android thing will get preeetyy popular, eh?
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