Tag Archives | Google Android

Android for Your Wrist: WIMM Unveils Wearable Computing Modules

Of all the gadget categories that have ever failed to take off, smart watches rank among the most resoundingly unsuccessful. Microsoft’s SPOT watches were remarkably crummy, and went absolutely nowhere in the market. Fossil’s Palm OS-based Wrist PDA fared no better. Dick Tracy would not be pleased.

But a startup called WIMM is trying again with the concept of creating a computing device you can strap to your wrist. And while it’s way too early to declare it a success, the demo I got from the company last week was enough to leave me intrigued.

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That’s a Start: AT&T’s 2011 Android Phones Will Get Gingerbread

AT&T is now trying to do right by Android by upgrading all 2011 phones to Android 2.3, also known as Gingerbread.

The upgrades start today with Motorola’s Atrix 4G, followed by HTC’s Inspire 4G in a few weeks. Also on the update list are LG’s Phoenix, Pantech’s Crossover and Samsung’s Infuse 4G. The Samsung Captivate, which launched last year, will get the update as well.

Gingerbread is the latest version of Google’s Android OS for smartphones, and includes improvements to the software’s keyboard, text selection and power management. A minor update for Gingerbread phones with front-facing cameras also added native video chat through Google Talk.

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Dolphin Browser Beefs Up for Mobile Battle

Here’s a pretty good indication that competition among mobile browsers is heating up: MoboTap, the company that makes Dolphin Browser HD for Android phones and tablets, just got a $10 million in funding led by Sequoia Capital. MoboTap will use the money to hire more people, make partnerships (to get pre-loaded on Android devices, most likely) and expand to new platforms including the iPhone, TechCrunch’s Jason Kincaid reports.

Those seem like worthy pursuits to me. First-party smartphone browsers tend to be stagnant, touting speed gains and little else with each new operating system version. It’s taken Apple two OS updates to add tabbed browsing to the iPad, and neither Apple nor Google have figured out faster ways to switch browser windows on smartphones. Extensions? Gesture commands? Custom home screens? Forget about it.

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Android Uncertainty: Apple Wins a Round Against HTC

On Friday, Apple won a round in its court battle against Taiwanese phone maker HTC, when an International Trade Commission judge ruled that HTC’s Android handsets violate two Apple patents. HTC is appealing the judgement.

My two favorite tech/law bloggers are FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller and This is My Next’s Nilay Patel. Mueller thinks this court decision could be a big deal:

I have looked at those patents before and they appear to be very fundamental. They are very likely to be infringed by code that is at the core of Android. It’s telling that those two patents are also at issue between Apple and Motorola (and the ‘263 patent was also used by Apple against Nokia). A while after Apple started suing HTC, Motorola filed a declaratory judgment action against a dozen Apple patents including those two. Apple then counterclaimed by asking the court to determine that those patents are valid and infringed by Motorola. So the relevance of this goes way beyond HTC!

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Philly Papers to Try Their Hand at Android Tablets

Adweek’s Lucia Moses is reporting that Philadelphia’s Inquirer and Daily News are planning to start selling a cheap Android tablet bundled with for-pay digital content from the newspapers. It’s unclear whether the plans involve an off-the-shelf tablet, but I assume that the papers’ owner isn’t planning to design a tablet from scratch on its own. Even hardware companies seem to be having a hard time pulling that off…

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Hey, Off-Contract Smartphones Are Getting Cheaper!

As I looked over Verizon’s announcement of the Motorola Droid 3 today, one thing in particular caught my eye: Without a two-year contract, the phone costs $460.

That may look expensive next to the Droid 3’s two-year agreement price of $200, but it’s a lot cheaper than what high-end, off-contract smartphones used to cost. Last year, for example, the Droid 2 debuted for $599 without a contract. At the time, that was pretty much the standard price.

So I figured the Droid 3 was cracking the mold, until I looked around. Right now, Verizon’s Droid X2 sells for $450 without a contract, and the Droid Incredible 2 sells for $440. Over on AT&T, you can get a contract-free Motorola Atrix 4G for $450. These are all high-end phones, with dual-core processors and screens of 4 inches or higher, but you might not know it from their off-contract prices.

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Skype Video Chat Now Works on Android Phones (But Probably Not Yours)

At last, Skype’s Android app supports video calling, but it’s only available on four phones for now.

Video calling works over Wi-Fi and 3G, and is supported on the HTC Desire S, Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo, Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro and Google Nexus S. The common thread among these phones is that they all run Android 2.3, but a Skype representative told me that the company’s working to make video chat available on a wider range of devices shortly after launch.

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Hulu Plus Hits Android in Fragmented Fashion

If you’re the lucky enough to own one of six particular Android phones, you may now enjoy Hulu Plus on the go.

An app for Hulu’s premium streaming video service, which costs $8 per month, is now available from the Android Market, but only for the Nexus One, Nexus S, HTC Inspire 4G, Motorola Droid II, Motorola Droid X, and the Motorola Atrix. “We expect to add to the number of Android smartphones and will be making additional device announcements throughout the year,” Rob Wong, Hulu’s director of product management, wrote in a blog post.

The limited launch is reminiscent of Netflix’s partial Android app release last month. At the time, Netflix said that Android lacked a standard set of playback features across all Android devices, although the company previously blamed platform security issues.

Hulu’s not saying why its own Android app rollout begins with only a half-dozen devices. Except for the Nexus One and Nexus S, the devices that Hulu supports are different from the ones that Netflix supports at this time.

I guess that’s an argument for going pure Google. But with Netflix and Hulu both launching in limited fashion, it’s clear that Android needs a standard solution to make media companies happy, especially as the number of Android tablets grow. If they can’t stream media from major sources like Netflix and Hulu, they’ll have a tougher time answer the question of why you’d buy one instead of an iPad.


For Wi-Fi, PCs and Macs are Now a Minority

It’s a big week for interesting stats relating to Internet usage breakdowns by device. Comscore has released numbers that say that the iPad accounts for 97 percent of tablet usage on the Web–no shocker there. And cloud networking company Meraki has published some data based on device usage numbers from its customers networks:

Whenever I look at numbers like these, I try to remind myself that we don’t know how precisely they map to the world at large. But they’re still fun to ponder.

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Pogoplug Goes Software Only (and 200 Technologizer Readers Get the Premium Version for Free)

Pogoplug is a clever $99 gizmo that lets you plug USB hard drives into your home network, so you can access their contents–photos, music, movies, and more–across the Internet. As anyone who’s used it knows, much of the cleverness lies in the nicely-done Web-based interface (and mobile apps) you use to connect to the drives and get at the stuff on them. And today, Pogoplug is releasing a software-only version for Windows and Macs that lets you experience that cleverness without investing in the gizmo.

Pogoplug’s software-based version works just like the hardware device, except the drive it’s putting on the Web is the one inside the Windows PC or Mac the software is running on. Once you installed the application on a computer and let it index your files, they’re available to you from any Web browser and from PogoPlug’s iPhone/iPad and Android apps.

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