Tag Archives: Mobile News

Official Minecraft on the iPhone and iPad, Android Coming Soon

Indie gaming’s underdog story of one man’s simple game taking the entire world by storm has just turned to a new chapter the mobile gaming chapter. Swedish developer Markus Persson (aka Notch) and his company Mojang Specification’s Minecraft will eventually be coming to the Apple iOS devices officially (because, yes there are a few non-official ports of the game for the devices already).

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Gamasutra’s exclusive report was further expanded upon by the creator of Minecraft himself. Before the Android public could start their outcry on the injustice, Daniel Kaplan (Kappische) tweeted:

Android is coming too of course! :)#Minecraft

On Reddit, Notch said that the mobile version of the game will not be a port it will be a fully rewritten piece of software being worked upon by the ninth (and newest) member of the Mojang family:-

Since we can’t use Java on the iOS, and we want both the mobile versions to use the same codebase, the Android version won’t be written in Java. Besides, we want the game to be made for the new devices, not just a simple port, so a rewrite is good anyway.

We hired a new guy for that, he’ll be starting on Saturday (the same day the entire office goes to GDC.

The mobile version of Minecraft is being developed by Aron Neiminen, the aforementioned new guy, and we should expect it later this year.

P.S. It also seems like the Minecraft website is down. Expectant users? New version? Who knows?

Twitter Restores Banned Ubermedia Applications

Twitter has a lot of problems with third party apps using the name Twitterin their app name. That or UberMedia fought a long and hard battle over the weekend to resolve the banning issue with the micro blogging giant.

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On the 18th of this month, Twitter announced that the then Ubertwitter and Twidroyd had been suspended for violatingTwitter’s policies. The announcement also had a plug for Twitter’s own applications on the Blackberry and Android systems. Their reasons for suspension were shortly made known to the public:-

“Today we suspended several applications, including UberTwitter, twidroyd and UberCurrent, which have violated Twitter policies and trademarks in a variety of ways. These violations include, but aren’t limited to, a privacy issue with private Direct Messages longer than 140 characters, trademark infringement, and changing the content of users’ Tweets in order to make money.”

Today, Twitter updated their original post. They lifted the ban on the two applications, stating that the applications had started taking steps to remedy the policy violations. A new update for both the applications is available on the respective markets and only a re-sign in is needed for the apps to start working as they used to.

However, amidst this chaotic weekend, the truereason as to why Twitter suspended the apps without any prior warning crept up to the surface. Bill Gross, CEO of UberMedia, the creator of UberTwitter UberSocial responded on Quora as to why the apps had been suspended. However, the best comment on the entire issue came from a user who asked the vital question without making it seem like a question:-

Yes, and it’s total coincidence that on the day they were suspended Twitter ran the promoted Tweet #TwitterMobile and that UberTwitter was never suspended before being bought by Bill Gross & raising $17.5m.

This sort of shoddy and offensive behavior on Twitter Inc.’s part is not going to win it any brownie points later. However, being confined to its bounds (being the largest microblogging platform) we see monopoly mechanics emerging from its depths, although the entire affair has dulled our opinion of Twitter as a whole.

Motorola Atrix 4G Gets Superuser Root, Custom ROMs Still a Distant Possibility

Motorola Atrix 4G, which was undoubtedly one of the biggest stars of CES 2011, is yet to be officially released, but the devs have already begun tinkering with it. BriefMobile is confirming that designgears from XDA-Developers has succeeded in gaining root (super user) access.

Root access will allow users to install essential apps like Titanium Backup and SetCPU, which require superuser privileges, besides enabling sideloading of apps (installation of apps from sources other than the official Android Market) that AT&T notoriously disables.

Motorola-Atrix

The one click root tool works on both Windows and Linux, but requires the installation of .NET Runtime (Mono for Linux). The rooting tool as well as in-depth tutorial is available here. Although the procedure is idiot-proof, the standard disclaimer regarding rooting still applies.

Like other Android handsets from Motorola’s stable, the bootloader of Atrix also is encrypted. So, custom ROMs are still not possible. However, the devs are already on the task, and hopefully, someone will soon find a way to bypass the protections put in place by Motorola.

The Atrix, which Motorola claims to be the world’s most powerful smartphone and the future of mobile computing, sports a 4-inch qHD display, and is powered by the meaty nVidia Tegra 2 chip. The handset will launch with FroYo (Android 2.2), but is scheduled to receive Gingerbread (Android 2.3) later in the year. It will be available across the US from AT&T Feb 22 onwards.

Firefox 4 Beta 4 For Android And Maemo Released; Is ‘Faster Than Ever’

It was more than a month ago that Mozilla had released the last update for Firefox 4 for mobile for both Android and Maemo. Until the last beta, Firefox 4 for Android more of a bloat ware than a decent third party browser.

The Mozilla Firefox team listened to all the feedbacks they got from the previous beta release and today, they released a new Beta of the app. The Beta 4 of Firefox for Android is now much, much better than the previous beta versions. The application boot up time has been heavily reduced and so has the page-load times. The Mozilla teams says that their benchmarks shows that this new beta of Firefox Mobile is faster than the stock Android browser in all the benchmarks they concluded.

On my Desire Z running on CM6.1.1 and OC’ed to 900MHz, Firefox Mobile did not seem to load pages faster than the stock Android browser. It was slower than the stock Android browser but not by a huge margin. Firefox Mobile was also not able to render some sites properly unlike the stock Android browser.

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Performance wise, the stock Android browser is still way faster and smoother than Firefox 4. For me, the UI response and the overall speed of the Firefox 4 needs some improvements before it can replace the stock Android browser.

The APK of Firefox 4 is a whopping 13.5MB and after installation the app footprint increases to 30MB! This won’t go down well with people who are using Android phones with low internal memory. Thankfully, the app can be moved to SD card. One big advantage of Firefox 4 over the stock Android browser is the support for plug-ins. Right now, the Mobile Add-ons gallery for Firefox 4 features more than 100 useful plug-ins.

Hopefully, with the next beta of Firefox for Mobile most of these issues would be solved. Looks like we Android users will soon have a decent alternative to the stock Android browser.

Android owners can download Firefox 4 for Mobile from the Android Market.

Android Overtakes Symbian, Becomes the Highest Selling Mobile OS

Canalys, an independent analytics firm, has disclosed that Android is now the highest selling mobile operating system in the world. According to its analysis, the total shipment of Android handsets jumped from 20.3 million units in Q3 to 32.9 million in Q4 2010. Contrary to what you might expect, Symbian, the previous leader in the smartphone segment, also saw an increase in the number of units shipped, and climbed from 29.9 million units to 31 million units. However, considering the rapid growth experienced by the entire smartphone industry, Nokia has little to brag about.

Smartphone-Sales-2010

Besides Nokia, other players who have reason for disappointment are Research in Motion (RIM) and Microsoft. Windows Phone 7 arrived too late in the quarter to make its presence felt. On the other hand, RIM continued to struggle to compete against the accelerating onslaught of Android devices. Although mid-range devices like Curve helped RIM to overtake Nokia in Latin America, it ended up shipping less than 15 million handsets.

Apple ended up in the third spot with 16.2 million shipments, and posted healthy growth rates. The availability of iPhone on Verizon is expected to help Apple in closing the gap with Symbian. However, for the moment, Android simply looks insurmountable.

Angry Birds + Rio = Motion Picture Based Casual Game!

We all know and love Rovio’s Angry Birds. Let’s face it it’s addictive, it’s free (for the most part) and the entire concept of birds kamikaze-ing into fat pigs for revengeor defenseis hilarious! Coupled with the Finnish developer’s remarkable amount of market penetration and platform penetration, it’s hard to find smartphone aficionados who have not heard about Angry Birds.

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Fox Studios have recognized this exceptional appeal that the mobile game has amongst the general populace and have partnered with Rovio for the publicity of their up and coming motion picture Rio featuring two rare macaws Blu and Jewel on a whirlwind journey through the magical city of Rio. The movie, slated for an April release, will utilize the mobile gaming platform in a delightfully new way.

In partnering with Rovio, we are combining the world’s hottest application developer with one of the motion picture industry’s premier creative forces to introduce the millions of fans of ANGRY BIRDS to the exciting world of RIO,said Peter Levinsohn, president of new media and digital distribution for Twentieth Century Fox.

The premise for the video game is that the birds are kidnapped and taken to the magical city of Rio. The birds eventually escape (by smashing into the bars of their cage, no doubt) and start a quest for saving their macaw friends. As with any Angry Birds game, Angry Birds Rio will feature replayable physics-based gameplay, loads of twists and will set the stage for the movie.

Check out the video for Angry Birds Rio here!

3G Update: Airtel Launching 3G In 1 Week, Karnataka Gets 3G From Tata Docomo

The 3G rollout to various parts of India has gradually begun and users all over India can now finally start experiencing fast mobile Internet speeds via 3G. Airtel has announced it’s plans of launching 3G service for it’s users in less than a week and Tata DOCOMO, after jumping onto the 3G Bandwagon quite early, has now unveiled it’s 3G services in yet another Indian state – Karnataka.

Bharti Airtel ‘s CEO Sanjay Kapoor told PTI that Airtel   will make the announcement for the commercial launch of our 3G service in next six to seven days. However he did not reveal so as to in what all circles is Airtel planning to launch this service initially. Bharti won the 3G spectrum for 13 telecom circles in India and has given contracts to Ericsson India , Nokia Siemens and Huawei to set up the necessary 3G infrastructure.

In other news, Tata Docomo increased it’s 3G presence all over India by launching it’s 3G service in three areas of Northern Karnataka, namely – Hubli, Dharwad & Belgaum. Tata Docomo’s 3G Network currently supports internet access with high speeds of 21.1 Mbps and the company plans to introduce more products and services with support of NTT DOCOMO.

NVidia’s Tegra 3, With a Quad-Core GPU, Might Be Announced at the MWC

At the recently concluded CES 2011, nVidia’s Tegra 2 wowed us with its impressive computing capabilities. Unsurprisingly, nVidia is already working on its next chip for handheld devices – Tegra 3. Nvidia’s general manager of mobile business, Michael Rayfield, hinted to Hexus that Tegra 3 might be announced at the Mobile World Congress, which is scheduled to be held next month.

Nvidia-Tegra

We have already seen the huge performance boost that Tegra 2 can deliver. Although the specs for the upcoming Tegra 3 chips are not available, expect similar leaps in performance from it. The rumors going around suggest that it will have a quad-core GPU and a dual-core CPU (ARM A9).

Modern chip fabrication process has reached a level of sophistication that makes it possible to pack in tremendous amount of processing power on even on the tiniest of boards. Tegra 3 will probably use a 28nm fabrication process. However, the biggest bottleneck for mobile computing is likely to be power storage. Batteries have simply not been able to keep up with the rapid improvements in other hardware components. The challenge for the manufacturers is to ramp up performance without requiring additional power. Ultimately, this will be the factor that will determine how quickly we will see quad-core and octa-core chips appearing on our mobile phones and tablets.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Gets Multi-touch, Unofficially

Although Sony Ericsson has decided against rolling out FroYo or newer versions of Android for the Xperia X10, there are still a couple of more significant updates in the pipeline. The first of them will introduce partial-multitouch (dual touch), while the other one will spruce up the Timescape and Mediascape applications. As we reported earlier, Japan’s NTT Docomo customers will be the first to receive this update. However, you don’t need to be at the mercy of your carrier or Sony Ericsson to enable dual-touch on your X10.

Sony-Ericsson-Xperia-X10

Bina4y from xda-developers forum has released a patch that should add dual touch support to any ROM for the Xperia X10. The hotfix requires the use of Flashtools, and while the installation procedure is fairly simple, it is not for the faint hearted. If you are not comfortable with messing around with Android, it is highly recommended that you wait for the official update. If you have a rooted handset, you should also follow this guide to enable dual-touch support on all apps that can make use of it.

The biggest benefit of the aforementioned hotfix is that it will enable the pinch-to-zoom gesture on apps like Browser, Angry Birds and Maps. However, Xperia’s multi-touch is broken, like Nexus One’s. Don’t expect more complex gestures like rotation (in Google Maps 5.0) to work. It will also fail wherever more than three inputs or high precision is required.

China Fighting Mobile Malware With Carrier Countermeasures

With the rampant rise of mobile phones around the world, carriers and customers have been facing an increase in malware on their devices. China plans to put an end to phone manufacturers installing covert applications, that rack up revenue by sending premium SMS text messages on behalf of the user. Knownsec, a Chinese security company, says that the majority of devices that are plagued by this problem are knock-off phones using Android – since it allows for easy installation of applications before they reach consumer hands.

The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology have issued a release in which they indicate that carriers and government agencies will begin to implement countermeasures to fight against malware, which includes inspection of handsets and product quality assurance.

A members of China’s National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team says “Traditional security threats that exist on the Internet are spreading to mobile handsets, so we must prepare for them in advance”.

Via ITWorld

Image courtesy of F-Secure Archives

Android 2.4 is going to be Called ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’

Back in October we reported that Android 4.0 might be codenamed “Ice Cream”. Since then, a lot has changed. Gingerbread turned out to be Android 2.3 instead of Android 3.0, as it was initially expected to be. Furthermore, Google went with Android 3.0 for Honeycomb, which is targeted at tablets. The next version of Android, which will be revealed this summer, is now expected to be Android 2.4, and not Android 4.0 as per our earlier predictions. Also, it’s not going to be called “Ice Cream”.

Ice-Cream-Sandwich

Andy Rubin, the man in charge of Android, has confirmed to TechCrunch that the next iteration of Android will bear the codename “Ice Cream Sandwich”. Jason Kincaid believes that Google opted not to use Ice Cream as it would have been hard to visually distinguish it from FroYo (Frozen Yogurt).

While I appreciate that Google didn’t go for something as obvious as Ice Cream, “Ice Cream Sandwich” is indeed quite a mouthful. What is your take on Google’s decision? What would you have picked? Don’t forget to let us know.

Video Calling Coming to Windows Phone

Windows Phone 7 is a fantastic operating system, one that has real potential. However, there is still a lot of work to be done, and Microsoft knows it.

In a comment to Neowin, a Microsoft employee divulged that Microsoft is currently working on a Facetime like application for Windows Phone 7.

Windows-Phone-7-Facetime

Although details are scarce, a snippet of code from Microsoft.Phone.Media.Extended.dll confirms that Microsoft is indeed working towards supporting front-facing cameras. It’s unclear if the video calling app will be added to Windows Phone 7 itself, or if it is destined for Windows Phone 8. Rumors suggest that a front-facing camera might be added as a mandatory hardware requirement for Windows Phone 8.

It’s not surprising that Microsoft is working on a voice calling app for Windows Phone 7. After all, Facetime was one of the major selling points for the iPhone 4. It was one of the features that appealed to the common man.

Sony Ericsson’s PlayStation Phone Gets Benchmarked

We have already shared with you how the Sony Ericsson PlayStation phone looks, what are its specifications, and what it might be called. Now, we even have some benchmarks to judge its performance.

A Chinese technology website managed to get hold of a PS phone with pre-release firmware for half-a-day. If you can read Chinese or don’t mind Google Translate, head over here for the details.

As we already know, the PlayStation phone ships with a single core processor – a 1 GHz Snapdragon. While this might soon get outdated due to the expected onslaught of dual-core Android handsets, the good news is that Sony Ericsson has done a very good job at optimizing its custom shell.

Sony-Ericsson-PlayStation-Phone-Benchmark

The PlayStation phone clocked in a Quadrant score of 1,733, which is admirable for any phone with default ROM. The Adreno 205 GPU also pushed the Neocore score to 59.1fps, which is once again, excellent.

The lack of cutting-edge hardware in a gaming device is surprising. In fact, one of the videos shot by IT168 shows the PlayStation phone getting beaten by another current generation phone in Dungeon Defenders. Nevertheless, at the very least, the PlayStation phone will be able to handle all current generation games. Sony will undoubtedly tap into content partners to make some big-name games available for the PlayStation phone. These games, which targeted at the device, will be accessible through a bundled app called PlayStation Pocket.

India Is Now The Largest Mobile Ad Market In The APAC Region

There is no doubt that the Mobile revolution in India has come at a faster pace than the desktop / laptop revolution. Mobile devices are cheaper and thanks to the low cost mobile internet plans from operators, Mobile phones are becoming the next hot market in the Indian scenario. Research firm InMobi’s network research data shows that the volume of mobile advertisement impressions in India has grown by 22% in just three months.

Here are the important findings worth noting from the research findings:

  • The Indian mobile ad market has grown by over 1 billion impressions (+22%) in less than 3 months, making India the largest mobile ad market in the Asia Pacific region.
  • It will take a long time before smartphones land into the hands of many! The research shows that smartphones   are still nascent in the market as almost 88% of all mobile ad impressions are served only on advanced phones.
  • Nokia still leads the device race in Indian mobile market with 12 of the 15 mostly used mobile devices being manufactured by Nokia.
  • Android & iPhone OS form only a meagre .4% share of the mobile market in India.

According to James Lamberti, VP of Global Research & Marketing at InMobi:

The Indian mobile advertising market continues to show rapid growth due to the improving ad ecosystem. Major publishers are bringing their media into the mobile channel while brands are simultaneously discovering the power of mobile advertising. This healthy ecosystem along with 3G network infrastructure improvements will position India as one of the most influential mobile markets on the globe.

Skype Buys Qik

Skype Buys QikSkype has acquired the mobile video streaming startup, Qik. Earlier, the acquisition price was reported to be around $100 million, but BI has confirmed it to be $150 million with an earnout.

Qik has been a very strong mobile player and has a huge presence in the mobile video streaming and sharing segment. It has close to 5 million users and is available on multiple platforms including Android, iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile and Blackberry.

Through this acquisition, Skype hopes to “leverage the engineering expertise that is behind Qik’s technology, which optimizes video transmission over wireless networks”. The acquisition of Qik will “accelerate Skype’s leadership in video by adding recording, sharing and storing capabilities to Skype’s product portfolio”.

Check out the official press release by Skype.