Tag Archives | Smarthphones

Windows Phone Woes: Is it the Name, Stupid?

Lots of buzz on the Web today about a fascinating question: Why isn’t Windows Phone catching on? You can read thoughts from Robert Scoble, MG Siegler, and former Windows Phone honcho Charlie Kindel, among others. Everybody has a different set of theories.

And Daring Fireball’s John Gruber makes a parenthetical remark that I find intriguing:

(And, as I’ve said before, I think the “Windows” brand hurts them here. Windows Phone 7 doesn’t sound like a new platform. It sounds like an old one. They should have called it Metro 1.0.)

Windows Phone’s market failure to date surely stems from a confluence of obstacles rather than one overriding issue. But there’s no denying that “Windows Phone 7″ and “Windows Phone 7.5″ are willfully mundane monikers for operating systems that aren’t the least bit mundane. They suggest business as usual, when what Microsoft actually did–rather bravely–was to start from scratch.

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Is Carrier IQ As Bad As It Seems?

The controversy over the nature of Carrier IQ’s phone-monitoring application is deepning, with Minnesota Senator Al Franken demanding answers over what the company is doing with the information it collects. Carrier IQ’s code is apparently on millions of devices, and is known to be currently used by at least one manufacturer, HTC, and two carriers, AT&T and Sprint.
 
Apple chimed in, and says it used Carrier IQ in “most” of its pre-iOS 5 products. It says the code will be removed completely in a future software update, and the submission of diagnostic data is opt-in.
Franken asks Carrier IQ to provide details on what exactly the software records, where the data is transmitted to, and whether or not protections are in place to protect the security of those affected. He is also calling upon the company to give consumers a method of opting out of the process.

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Smartphone Spyware Kerfuffle

Android developer Trevor Eckhart says that Carrier IQ, a piece of software preinstalled on millions of smartphones to help wireless carriers monitor the quality of their service, secretly monitors users’ activities, records keystrokes, and transmits them to the company. I’m not a security expert, so I can’t judge the accuracy of his claims. But I do know this: The Carrier IQ folks need to clearly and honestly explain what’s going on. So far, their response has consisted mostly of threatening Eckhart and releasing a defensive-sounding statement that’s rife with buzzwords.  
How about a calm, plain-English FAQ on what the software does and doesn’t do?


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Hands on With the Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich

Over at TIME.com, I’ve written about my experience with Samsung and Google’s new Galaxy Nexus phone–and in particular its operating system, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Overall, I’m impressed. Lots and lots of little refinements add up to the best Android handset to date. And while Ice Cream Sandwich doesn’t utterly eradicate Android’s geeky, ungainly feel, it makes it far more pleasant. If you like big screens and want LTE, this is the Android phone to get.


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Apple Patches iOS 5 Battery Bug

Apple has released iOS 5.0.1, its first update to iOS 5. It fixes a few things–most notably the bug(s) that left some users finding their batteries draining at an unnaturally rapid clip. See the screen shot above for other issues it addresses.

I haven’t installed it yet, since the battery glitch didn’t seem to affect my devices (and, last time I checked, I wasn’t Australian.) But I’m intrigued by the fact that it’s the first iOS update that most folks will get that’s installable over-the-air, with no need to download it to a computer first. (Until iOS 5 came along, over-the-air updates were a nifty feature that Android users had and iOS ones didn’t.) If you’ve snagged the update–either wirelessly or with a computer as middleman–let us know how it went.


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Please, Apple–More iPhone Carriers!

Verizon iPhoneI’m a little behind on this, but the Wall Street Journal is reporting that AT&T’s exclusive deal to sell the iPhone in the U.S. expires next year, and that the carrier is working furiously to get an extension until 2011. The company is selling millions of iPhones a quarter and luring plenty of customers from its rivals, so its interest in remaining the only source of iPhones makes perfect sense. But I can’t wish it well here–I think it’ll be a fabulous day for consumers when iPhones are available from one or more additional carriers.

I’m not engaging in AT&T-bashing here (you can find plenty of that elsewhere on the Web). I just like competition. I think that happy Verizon and Sprint customers shouldn’t have to dump their carrier to get iPhones. I’m hopeful that multiple carriers would mean lower prices for both the handset and the services associated with it. I believe that AT&T would have the greatest possible incentive to fix some of its network problems faster if its goal was to be the best iPhone carrier rather than the only iPhone carrier.

Unfortunately, consumers don’t get a say in the negotiations between AT&T and Apple. The wheeling and dealing will presumably boil down to whether AT&T is willing to wave enough money in Apple’s face to prevent it from striking deals with other carriers. If it does, the iPhone will remain an AT&T exclusive. But I hope that Apple asks for a boatload of money, and that AT&T blinks. And I’m curious to know just how hard it would be for Apple to have an iPhone ready that would run on the Verizon and/or Sprint networks.


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The T-Grid: Palm Pre vs. Apple iPhone 3G

Yesterday night, we didn’t know much of anything about Palm’s new phone based on its next-generation platform for sure. And then Palm unveiled it today at CES–and while there are stray bits and pieces of information that may still be missing–including the price–we now know an awful lot about the phone, even though it’s still months from release. Ultimately, I think this phone is going to be judged primarily on its user interface, which looked damn impressive in today’s demo. But it’s worth recording the specs, facts, and figures we know so far, and comparing them to Apple’s iPhone 3G is irresistible.

Quick summary: The Pre has tons of features in common with the iPhone, but it also has a formidable list of items the iPhone lacks, including a real keyboard, copy and paste, tethering, and a camera with 50% more megapixels. After the jump, a T-Grid comparison.

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