'Quality and consistency continue to be top priorities,' says Google's VP of Engineering
Andy Rubin -- the father of Android -- has taken to the Android Developer blog to shed a little light on what's happening regarding Honeycomb, any changes in Google's open-source policy, and fragmentation. The post is titled "I think I'm having a Gene Amdahl moment," referring to the former IBM exec who coined the phrase "fear, uncertainty and doubt" -- aka FUD. You'll definitely want to read the entire post, but we'll break it down here:
"We don’t believe in a 'one size fits all' solution. ... Quality and consistency continue to be top priorities."
"As always, device makers are free to modify Android to customize any range of features for Android devices."
"Our approach remains unchanged: there are no lock-downs or restrictions against customizing UIs. There are not, and never have been, any efforts to standardize the platform on any single chipset architecture."
"We continue to be an open source platform and will continue releasing source code when it is ready."
Again, those are just bullet points cherry picked by us. Read the entire post. And then take a deep breath and read it again. And while you might not like the answers -- or maybe you don't think really Rubin answered anything at all -- Rubin, and by extension Android and Google, did one thing we called for in last week's Android Central Podcast: cast a little transparency on what's been a bit of a murky period for Android's "open" nature. [Android Developer Blog]
If you're on T-Mobile and are looking for an above-average mid-level phone off contract, check this out: The above screenshot we just received tells us the T-Mobile Optimus T (that's Magenta's version of the LG Optimus One) will soon be available from Radio Shack for $175 -- without having to sign a contract. That's about $65 off the current no-contract "retail" price and is a deal we can get behind.
It doesn't appear to say what kind of data plan you'll need. But, again, you won't be tied down to a monthly contract. So if you want out, you get out. That's the way it should be, folks. Thanks to anon, who submitted via the official Android Central App.
Our pal Derek over at PreCentral has shown off some screenshots from the webOS 3.0 emulator today received today from an anonymous source. It sure looks like great news for webOS fans, and a few things there will make Android fans do a double take.
We're not about to sit here and say anyone copied anyone else -- there's only so many ways to do things right, and it looks like webOS 3.0 is doing most of them. There's a nice full screen browser with a minimalistic navigation and control area at the top, and the virtual keyboard looks nicely spaced and doesn't force capitalization on you when you don't want it. The chat application looks very nice. It's a multi-pane interface with a big area for your message content, and we assume that your buddy list will populate the left pane. Google has done the same for the native Talk app in Honeycomb, and it works wonderfully.
The quick settings area brings up an interesting thought -- you can see the influence Matias Duarte had on both webOS 3.0 and Honeycomb. They aren't exactly the same, but there's plenty of similarity there (check out a comparison after the break). This isn't a bad thing, because they both look great. Easy access and functionality combined with sleek looks is something fans of both platforms can appreciate.
The last thing worth noting, and it doesn't come as a surprise considering HP's strong relationship with Microsoft, is that webOS 3.0 is using Bing for their maps application. Love it or hate it, HPalm will make for a strong partner for Bing maps, and Derek speculates that HP may partner with Bing in the search space as well. Anyone who has used both Bing Maps and Google Maps knows it's their loss, and I wouldn't rule out a tablet optimized webOS 3.0 version of Maps direct from Google if the market is big enough to justify it.
All in all webOS 3.0 is looking like a nice upgrade for the platform, and even I am curious to see how it runs on HP's new TouchPad. [PreCentral]
Right then, half way through the week and here we are at hump day. A lot of tablet news this week has been hitting the blogs, the Motorola Xoom has now touched down in Canada, Honeycomb on the Evo View 4G has come up and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer has been getting some attention. Not to mention, the Samsung Galaxy Tab WiFi arriving April 10 for only $349. Seems we'll be doing more tablet then phone reviews soon. If you're looking to pick bones over which tablet to get, hop on into the forums for some tablet talk.
The Seidio Innocase II Surface for the HTC Thunderbolt will give you great protection for your phone, and doesn't hit your wallet too hard. It's two-piece sliding design is easy to put on and off, with a soft interior so you don't scratch your Thunderbolt while using it. The locking mechanism is nice and tight, and seems to be the improved version like we have seen for the HTC Inspire, so this one isn't going to come apart in your pocket. The case is made from a hard plastic material, and has a soft touch coating that feels very nice in your hand while using it.
All your ports and controls are easy to access, with precision cutouts that are well designed and large enough to use the buttons and ports without any trouble while the case is on. The corners and edges wrap around the front of the phone, and give enough of a lip to keep the screen off the surface of whatever its laying on. I'm especially liking the way the power button was cutout, as often hard cases leave you fumbling to hit the button -- not so this time around. There's even a cutout below the kickstand for the magic antenna button.
Possibly the nicest aspect of the Seidio Innocase Surface series is the matching Seidio Innocase Holster. It's hard plastic with a felt lined interior, and it's face-in design makes for a great way to carry your phone with no fear of bumps and scratches. The retaining clip is large and easy to operate, and while the phone is in the holster you still have access to the power button, volume rocker, and USB port. The swiveling belt clip offers a choice of carrying options, and the clips are easy to open while still having a strong grip.
While Android users have become pretty accustomed to having to root their devices in order to get screenshots to work outside of using the Android SDK, some devices have the ability to do so without root. The Motorola Atrix 4G, however, had no screenshot apps that worked on it at all. Rooted or unrooted -- they just simply did not work and returned errors when running most popular screenshot apps.
Having received my Motorola Atrix 4G just yesterday, I went looking again to see if this situation had changed and low and behold -- it had. Two apps that have the ability to take screenshots on the Atrix. One is a free app from XDA forum member mindphaze called Screengrabber. The other, called Screenshot it, is a paid app that was updated in the Android Market and now available with a free trial. Both of which work without having the need to root your device.
I tried both out thus far, and while Screengrabber is still in beta form and has very few settings available to it, it is in my personal opinion the one to have if you can get it installed since, AT&T blocked unknown source apps. Screenshot It works as advertised and has more options but the screenshots it takes are a little irregular as they seem to miss a portion of the screen when capturing. Something that hopefully the developer can fix at some point. Jump on past the break for an example of what I mean. Screengrabber can be downloaded via the XDA source link and Screenshot It is in the Android Market. [XDA and Android Market]
Just got slipped the screen you see above, and it looks like we may see the T-Mobile G2X (that's the LG Optimus 2X for those of you playing at home) as soon as April 15. That's a tad sooner than the April 20 date that's been floating around. But the sooner we get that hot little dual-core Tegra 2 phone in our hands, the better.
Oh, and there's the T-Mobile G-Slate (aka the LG Optimus Tab) mentioned as well, priced at $529 on contract and rebate. Its release is listed as being "soon."
And do note that release dates absolutely are subject to change, but it does seem that we're getting close, boys and girls. Thanks, anon!
Last night in New York City, Samsung and Boost Mobile officially announced the Samsung Galaxy Prevail. The Galaxy Prevail is a mid-level Android smartphone that will be exclusive to Boost Mobile. This new addition to Boost Mobile will cost you $179.99. With Boost's unlimited plan, you can get talk, text, and internet for only $50 a month. Not bad, not bad at all.
As a parting gift, we were given a review device to take home. Here is our first initial hands-on video with the Galaxy Prevail. Can't watch the video? Read our written hands-on here. Check back in a few days as we will have our full review.
Some many moons after we first heard it was coming, Samsung has finally announced release information for a Wifi-only version of the 7-inch Galaxy Tab. It'll be available starting April 10. And the best part is the price is right: $349. That's $349 with no contracts, no monthly bills. Just seven inches of Android 2.2 goodness.
It's currently listed as being available at TigerDirect, which may up the price a tad with tax, depending on where you live. The full press release is after the break, folks. [Samsung]
Samsung has announced that the launch of the Galaxy S 2 has been delayed, so Android users around the world will have to wait a bit longer to get their hands on the device. Samsung Mobile India announced the delay on Twitter and gave a new launch target of June at the earliest:
"Due to delay in the global launch of SGS2 the device won't be launched before June. And, its not just India but its delayed all over."
In addition, the company announced on its Estonian Facebook page that the phone's processor would be receiving a speed bump from 1.0 GHz up to 1.2 GHz. Increasing the clock speed uses more power, so hopefully Samsung found a way to ensure the device's battery will last through the day. India, Estonia, now how about some U.S. love, Sammy? [Samsung Mobile India Twitter, Samsung Estonia Facebook via SamsungHub]
Here's the deal regarding which version of Android the Sprint HTC EVO View 4G will launch with: The devices we saw at CTIA were running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, because that's the most recent version that Google has released. And so at the time, we were told that it'd launch with Android 2.3 and be upgraded as soon as possible to Android 3.0 Honeycomb.
And that's still true. So what about that little "This just in" page on Sprint's website? Well, sure enough it says "Android 3.0 just for tablets" next to the EVO View 4G, leading some to believe it will launch with Honeycomb. Problem is, Sprint and HTC still don't have the Honeycomb code, and they don't yet know if they'll have it in time.
Sprint spokesman Mark Elliott tells us "Our plan is to offer Honeycomb, it's just a matter of when. It's too early to determine whether or not Honeycomb will be available at launch."
Elliott also let us know that the "This just in" page will be tweaked (Update: And indeed it has been, now reading "Latest version of Android") as to not cause quite as much confusion. But at this point, you should not take it to mean the EVO View 4G will launch with Android 3.0.
So there you have it. Maybe the EVO View 4G will launch with Honeycomb, and maybe it won't. Our money's on the latter, but we'd be happy to be surprised.
Not sure which is more telling -- having the federal government shut down, or having an app that brings you the latest news and status of the shutdown. But, of course, there's an app for that. It pulls in news and pulls up the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's Operating Status and Schedules page, telling federal employees whether they have to report to work.
Of course, a 99-cent app that aggregates free news and merely pulls up a web page you can see anytime in a browser -- again, for free -- is a bit, well, as ridiculous as the government having to shut down in the first place. Anyhoo, links are after the break. Thanks, Dave.
A follow up on Sprint and the ESPN text alerts tiff: Sprint's issued a statement about exactly what's going on, confirming that it was, in fact, ESPN that cut off the service in response to a Sprint fee. Here is Sprint's statement, in its entirety:
As many of you have noticed, ESPN SMS text alerts are no longer available to Sprint customers. This is not an action that Sprint took directly but we believe it is due to a fee Sprint charges aggregators for text messaging programs such as the ESPN alerts. This fee is a cost recovery measure designed to allow Sprint to continue to support the billions of text messages that businesses like ESPN send each year as part of mobile marketing campaigns, alerts, etc. The fee affects commercial use of Sprint’s text messaging platform only and is not charged by Sprint to our customers. We are disappointed ESPN has chosen to discontinue offering free text message alerts to our customers.
Sprint has made no changes to the way text messages are delivered to our customers. Sprint customers continue to enjoy unlimited messaging included in Everything Messaging and Everything Data plans.
While text alerts are no longer available, you can still get ESPN content on your Sprint device, for example by visiting the ESPN Mobile website available through the mobile Web on all Sprint data-enabled phones, downloading the ESPN ScoreCenter app for Android phones, or installing ESPN ID Pack available on Sprint ID-capable phones.
Just as we figured, indeed it's a money thing. But at least Sprint's being up front about it. [Sprint]
The original HTC Desire hit in spring 2010, and was part of the Android boom that saw the OS’s market share explode in just a few months. Twelve months later, HTC offers up the Desire S -- a device which it says is an evolution of the phone that gave many users their first taste of Android.
Just launched in the UK, the Desire S lies in the center ground of HTC’s European line-up for early 2011. It’s not as large (or expensive) as the Incredible S, but it’s just as fast. And it outperforms the upcoming Wildfire S, while still being easily pocketable.
We've just spent several hours getting to know the HTC Desire S, so join us after the break to learn more about it, and read our first impressions of HTC's first Gingerbread phone...
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