There's a new Gmail Labs feature that'll allow Gmail users to see which of their Google Talk contacts are using Google Talk on their Android devices. In short, it's awesome. The typical green/orange/red lights have been replaced with the cute Android robot icon we've loved since day one. In Google's words:
Turn on Green Robot, a new experiment in Gmail Labs, and you'll see a robot icon next to people who are currently using Android phones. In the case below, Shirley is online with Android, Nicolle R. is using regular Gmail chat, and Chris I. is currently away but also on Android. Slatka is not an angry robot — she's online with Android but currently busy.
We think it's a great little idea that can help Google Talk users differentiate between who's on-the-go and who's on their desktop. And on top of that, the more that cute green Android Robot pops up the happier we are!
Good news guys! Fring is now available on Android Market. For those unfamiliar with Fring, Fring for Android enables free VoIP calls over Fring, Skype, MSN, and Google Talk. Basically Fring allows you to use your 3G, GPRS, or Wi-Fi connection to make phone calls, no minutes necessary. On top of that, Fring even allows you to chat with your friends using the popular messaging platforms. You can now think of Fring as your one stop shop for all your messaging needs.
We suggest you try out Fring today! Download it from Android Market and VoIP away. This may very well be the future of making phone calls.
GSM contacts do not appear in fring's buddy list on the DROID
Call disconnection tone may be heard a few times when terminating a call
SIP and SkypeOut calls are not yet available on the DROID
As if it couldn't get any more interesting with a Google Phone, there's an updated report suggesting that the Google Phone may be a data only, VoIP device that does away with your usual voice plan and minutes. Take a step back and imagine that. If the Google Phone was to step away from the carrier stranglehold of minutes and simply route calls through Google Voice and use the recently acquired Gizmo5 as the onboard VoIP service, it truly would be the Google Phone. Your phone, no carrier influence, all delivered through data. It could work.
It's unclear how supportive the carriers would be of a data-only Google Phone considering it directly affects their primary business. In fact, the precedent of accepting a data-only Google Phone could make way for gigantic changes to the way the carriers do business. And we know how much the carriers love change. But AT&T has given Windows Mobile and Blackberry users data-only plans for quite some time (no data only option for iPhone), so it's not an impossible stretch.
The problem is of course, how the average consumer will see the move and if they'll buy into it. For us at Android Central the answer is simple, if Google does deliver a Google Phone, we're in for the ride. If it's data only and uses VoIP for calls, even better (we've been itching for data only devices anyway). But would it be too complicated for the average consumer? Could they get around the idea of leaving carriers behind and using VoIP for phone calls? Would it still be subsidized? Is this kind of Google Phone targeted to only the tech-savvy?
Also, if Google does release this data-only, VoIP Google Phone, it kind of, sort of sidesteps direct competition with its current Android-making partners. We're sure they'll still be unhappy about Google's power move but it's certainly a better scenario than Google releasing a 'true phone'.
In any case, there's a ton of questions regarding the potential of the Google Phone that can't be fully answered until Google officially announces the thing. But the data-only, VoIP version might be the scenario we love the most considering the novelty of it and the sweeping changes it might start in the industry.
According to our readers, an update for the Sprint HTC Hero has arrived. Unfortunately, it's not the Android 2.0 software update we've all been itching and crawling for but rather the 'maintenance release' we reported was coming a few days ago. Our readers told us to manually check for the firmware update (Settings > About Phone > System Updates > Firmware Update) but our Hero isn't showing it yet. What about yours?
The firmware update weighs in at around 3.7mb and supposedly fixes SMS and DST issues.
Here we go again. There's whispers going around that the device we've all been waiting for, since even before the existence of Android really, is coming early next year. Yep, the Google Phone, as in the hardware and design and all the little and final decisions that goes into building a phone is made by Google. According to the report, Google will sell the phone directly and through retailers, the Google phone was supposed to come this Holiday season but has been pushed back to early next year, and the phone will be produced by a major phone manufacturer but only carry Google branding.
Basically, it's purported to be Google's vision of what a phone should be and how it should fit with Android. Almost sounds too good to be true. The Google Phone will likely be produced by either LG or Samsung (more likely LG) and there'll be a huge ad push for it.
In theory, it all sounds great. Google gets to deliver a handset that is directly tied to the Android experience, kind of how Apple is the sole provider of the iPhone experience. The problem is, Google for all its talents and genius, has yet to ever prove it can handle hardware (or even design). It's a company filled first and foremost with engineers, albeit engineers with great talents and ideas, but engineers nonetheless. This is the company that leaves its product in Beta for years upon years! Why bother investing in a hardware device that HTC, Motorola, Samsung, LG, etc have proven well capable already? Hardware has never been Google's M.O.
And if Google does so happen build a wonderful Google Phone, it'll likely alienate its hardware partners. Why would I buy a Motorola DROID or Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 if I can get an official Google Phone built from the ground up for Android? How will companies feel if the Google Phone launches with 3.0 but every other Android device is stuck at 2.0? Will they continue to make Android devices? Google would be leaving the companies that backed Android from the beginning in the dust. Simply put, the existence of a Google Phone automatically makes third-party Android phones second-tier devices because Google's priority will shift to the Google Phone, all others second.
There's definitely a lot more questions, both good and bad, regarding the Google Phone but if it is true, Android is going to take off. Again. It's going to be an exciting year.
Through its analytics service, Flurry monitors usage of over 10,000 developers' applications on iPhone and Android. In total, Flurry tracks applications on approximately two out of every three unique iPhone and Android handsets in the market, including over 15,000 million user sessions per day. To estimate first week sales totals for the myTouch 3G, Droid and iPhone 3GS, Flurry detected new handsets within its system, and then made adjustments to account for varying levels of Flurry application penetration by handset.
Flurry also cross-checked their iPhone 3GS numbers with the ones Apple released to confirm and the total was similar. But no matter what the exact numbers are, the DROID has definitely re-invigorated Motorola and we expect them to close out the year strong. The DROID has been an out and out success.
We've seen the Dell 'Streak' Android MID before. It's a 5-inch Android-powered MID that packs a 800x480 capacitive touchscreen, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 5 megapixel camera with dual-LED flash and runs Android 2.0. Why is it news again? Because there are reports floating around that point the Dell Streak to AT&T in 2010. Yep, the US company that didn't release their first Android phone in the US and the carrier that has ignored Android altogether, are together for one device. Guess it kind of makes sense.
It is time, ladies and gentlemen, for the sixth annual SPB Survey. SPB Software House is looking to get a better look at your needs in the mobile applications, and they're doing so worldwide, with the survey going out in 10 languages.
And your time may be rewarded. Three winners, picked at random, will receive the following:
First place: A free smartphone of your choice from a major Internet retailer (such as Amazon or Expansys), valued up to $1,000.
Second place: $100 worth of accessories from Smartphone Experts (that's us), plus $100 worth of SPB Software.
Third place: $100 worth of SPB software.
So, really, you have no excuse for not taking the survey, which runs through 7 p.m. GMT Dec. 4, 2009. Take the survey now!
We're looking forward to the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 so much that we'll watch videos that basically re-hash the same features we've already seen over and over again (at least this one's in English!). The video above again showcases the 'Rachael' UI that makes us drool over the XPERIA X10 and it looks surprisingly speedy and very usable. Hopefully seeing the XPERIA X10 so polished already means that the February release date is more likely.
We're going to keep reporting any tidbit of information regarding the XPERIA X10 until we get our hands on it because we have supreme faith that this might be the next 'it' Android device. What do you guys think?
Update: Nope, the camera wasn't fixed because of a silent software update or because of wiping the lens clean (we wish!). The problem of autofocus was caused because of a 'rounding error bug'. To quote:
There’s a rounding-error bug in the camera driver’s autofocus routine (which uses a timestamp) that causes autofocus to behave poorly on a 24.5-day cycle. That is, it’ll work for 24.5 days, then have poor performance for 24.5 days, then work again.
The 17th is the start of a new “works correctly” cycle, so the devices will be fine for a while. A permanent fix is in the works.
Since we're on the 'good end' of it now, the patch releasing on December 11th should fix the issue entirely.
We know some of you have had issues with the DROID's autofocus--the issue being that it never focused right--but now it looks like there may be a fix to all your woes. According to one DROID user, if you simply clean the lens with a soft cloth, your Motorola DROID will begin to autofocus correctly. Apparently, there may have been some residue or oily film on the lens that caused the autofocus issues.
If you're having problems with the DROID's autofocus, we say you give it a try and let us know how it works. If your DROID can autofocus fine but still only takes cruddy pictures, stick to taking pictures on a sunny day, outside or hope for a software fix.
The Shack, or just Radio Shack if you've been out of the loop, will offer the Motorola CLIQ for $79 with new 2-year contract on Black Friday (November 26th). We kind of lambasted/ridiculed/tar and feathered T-Mobile for launching the Motorola CLIQ at $199, so $79 is a pretty amazing deal that'll hopefully stick longer than one day.
If you can gather your bearings after your Thanksgiving feast and compete with the loonies on Black Friday, we suggest you stop by The Shack to pick up the CLIQ. We absolutely love this new trend of Android devices being offered for sub-$100 prices--DROID Eris for $99, Sprint HTC Hero and Samsung Moment for $99 and now the CLIQ for $79.
We've seen a Creative Zii Android Device before in the Zii Egg but we haven't heard from them since. It looks like that's about to change because the first Zii Summit 2009 will be held in December and there'll be an announcement of the Zii Optimized Android Phone platform which will presumably be available in an official Zii Android phone. The details of the Zii Android Phone look pretty impressive:
Phone with Fully featured Android Platform
OpenGL ES 3D graphics
1080p HD video output
Accelerated video, graphic and imaging
Full integration with SurfaceFlinger
High Quality Audio
Enhanced User Interfaces
Accelerated Web Browsing
It looks like ZiiLabs has been focusing their efforts on a new chip called the ZMS-08 which is an ARM Cortex A8 processor clocked at 1GHz which is capable of all that good stuff. More details will surely come about before the Zii Summit so we'll definitely keep our eyes peeled for more ZiiLabs Android news in the future!
We had already reported on the potential price drop of the Sprint HTC Hero to $99.99 but now it's officially official. Best Buy has just announced that the Sprint HTC Hero and Samsung Moment will both now be priced at $99.99 with new 2-year contract. We think that having those phones at $99 is a wonderful deal that should hopefully spur other carriers to drop prices on their phones as well (ahem, T-Mobile).
If you had paid $179 for the Sprint HTC Hero or Samsung Moment at Best Buy, hopefully you can still return in and receive the difference? Let us know what happens!
We've already seen the Samsung Galaxy Spica I5700 before but now it's finally official. Samsung has just unveiled their latest Android powered smartphone and it's looking exactly like we imagined. The Galaxy Spica packs a 800 MHz processor which we're going to assume is like the Moment's, a 3.2 inch 320x480 capacitive touchscreen, and a 3 megapixel camera. One fun feature, the Galaxy Spica will be the first Android smartphone to support DivX videos.
The Samsung Galaxy Spica is already available in Europe and the CIS and will be released in the Middle East and Asia at a later date. Looks like it'll follow in the Galaxy's footsteps and not be available in the US. Oh well, guess the Samsung Behold II will have to do!
Though we're sure all you Sprint HTC Hero users would really appreciate an Android 2.0 software update right about now, it looks like HTC isn't ready to deliver Eclair to you just yet. Instead, Sprint is ramping up a 'maintenance release' that'll presumably fix well-known bugs and software issues with the HTC Hero. You should receive the update in the next few weeks. [sprint]
BGR is whispering that the Sprint HTC Hero is now available for $99 with new 2-year contract at Best Buy. We'll be looking to see if this report is true but it makes sense considering the DROID Eris, Verizon's version of the HTC Hero, is offered at that price point. $99 is a fantastic deal for such a great Android device--HTC Sense is lovely to use, Sprint rate plans are affordable, and Android 2.0 should come eventually.
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