Tag Archives: Mobile News

Android is More Desirable to US Consumers than iPhone

A survey conducted by Nielsen between January and March 2011 shows that Android is now the most desirable smartphone OS (operating system). About 31% of those surveyed wanted to get an Android handset, while 30% preferred the iPhone. Sure, the difference between the two platforms is quite small. However, this shows a clear trend. The same survey for July – September 2010 saw 33% of the respondents chosing iPhone, compared to just 26% opting for Android phones.

Android-More-Desirable-Than-iPhone

Android has already managed to overtake the iPhone in terms of volume. Nielsen found that “half of those surveyed in March 2011 who indicated they had purchased a smartphone in the past six months said they had chosen an Android device”. Only 25% had opted for an iOS device. Apple had a huge head-start in the smartphone segment, and at one point looked unassailable. However, Android has not only managed to catch up, but is actually storming past the iPhone.

Android-Sells-More-Than-iPhone

Typically one thing that Apple products have always had going for them is that they are highly desirable. The combination of slick design and intuitive user-interface makes almost all Apple products drool-worthy. Even though their prohibitive cost or locked down nature often forces many consumers to opt for alternative, Apple products are known for making people go “I want that, even if I don’t need that”. However, Android has succeeded in capturing the imagination of the general populace. Google’s open strategy seems to be working. Even though carriers like AT&T are trying their best to cripple Android, consumers still want to pick up an Android phone. Steve Jobs can diss Android as much as we wants; but, he knows that Android might do to Apple, what Apple did to RIM.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA Mini Pro II Gets Snapped in All Its Beauty

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro II has surfaced once again, and thankfully, this time around, Mr. Blurrycam decided to stay at home. A Chinese website has published some gorgeous snaps of the successor to the Xperia Mini Pro. The Mini Pro II is no Arc, but it’s still quite a looker.

Sony-Ericsson-Xperia-Mini-Pro-II-1
Sony-Ericsson-Xperia-Mini-Pro-II-2

While the Mini Pro will be a tad bigger than its predecessor, SE is still quite serious about the ‘Mini’ tag. Leaked specifications suggest that it will feature a 3.0 inch screen with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels. It’s expected to be powered by a capable 800 MHz Scorpion processor with Adreno 205 GPU. Considering SE’s recent trackrecord, it seems pretty obvious that it will sport Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) at launch. Other features include FM Radio, 5 megapixel camera with HD video recording, and expandable memory (up to 32 GB). Of course, the biggest attraction of this handset is its physical QWERTY keypad.

Sony-Ericsson-Xperia-Mini-Pro-II-3
Sony-Ericsson-Xperia-Mini-Pro-II-4

Samsung has been making things tough for other manufacturers by launching attractive handsets like the Galaxy Ace at unbeatable prices. However, if the Mini Pro II is priced sensibly, Sony Ericsson might have a winner in its hands.

White iPhone Will Be Launched Worldwide on April 27

Thanks to innumerable delays, the fabled white iPhone has almost attained mythical status. However, the wait might finally be over. Earlier in the week, we had spotted an white iPhone 4 running a test build of iOS. Now, 9to5Mac has obtained the inventory list of BestBuy, which lists April 27 as the launch date for the white iPhone 4. Earlier, iPhoneItalia had claimed that the much awaited variant of the original iPhone 4 will be launched on April 26, while 9to5Mac had confirmed April 27 as the launch date in Netherlands.

White-iPhone-4-Best-Buy-Inventory

In fact, one customer has already managed to snag a white iPhone, thanks to a goof-up by Vodafone UK staff. In a statement to WSJ, Apple had confirmed that the white iPhone will be launched this spring. However, the sudden flood of information suggests that retailers around the world have already started receiving shipments of the highly anticipated handset.

We would normally be cautious about getting too excited based on unconfirmed reports. However, the multitude of independent confirmations makes it likely that the white iPhone will indeed be launched next week. The pristine beauty of the white variant caught the attention of many a people around the world when it was first unveiled. However, the big question is, how potential buyers have already opted for the black edition? Apple repeatedly delayed the white iPhone 4, and failed to provide a concrete release date, or a satisfactory explanation for the delay. With iPhone 5 release being around the corner, many users might opt to wait it out.

Microsoft Apologizes for Windows Phone 7 Update Delays, Teases Us with Mango

On the second day of the MIX11 conference, Joe Belfiore, corporate VP of Microsoft, outlined what lies ahead for Windows Phone 7. One of the biggest hurdles for Microsoft has been to push out updates regularly and reliably. It infamously bricked Samsung phones through its February (NoDo) update. To make matters worse, although Microsoft had promised to deliver cut-paste feature in January, many WP7 users are yet to receive it due to careers and manufacturers taking their own sweet time.

Windows-Phone-7Going forward, Microsoft hopes to get these problems sorted out. To that effect, it has added both staff and infrastructure to the unit responsible for testing updates. If you are amongst the unfortunate WP7 owners who haven’t yet received the update, head over to the Where’s my phone update? page to check the status of the update for your handset. Microsoft has also launched a portal called Update Central, which includes a step by step guide for installing WP7 updates, and acts as a central repository for all update related information.
Microsoft expects every manufacturer to finish testing the current update by the end of April. Soon after, in May, it will release a beta version of new developer tools. The new developer tools will enable developers to create more powerful and versatile apps for Windows Phone 7.

The first major update for Windows Phone 7, codenamed Mango, is expected to be released this fall. It will rectify some of the most glaring shortcomings of Windows Phone 7. Mango will enable multitasking for third-party applications, introduce fast application switching, update the browser to Internet Explorer 9, and integrate Twitter. Mango will also introduce support for 16 additional languages, and expand the Marketplace to 35 countries (up from 16).

Microsoft has added as many as 1500 APIs to Windows Phone 7. Perhaps the most significant addition is the inclusion of APIs for raw access to camera and motion sensor libraries, which a lot of devs had been demanding. This will finally allow augmented reality apps like Layar, which was also demoed today, to arrive on WP7. Developers will also get access to Live Agents for creating Live Tiles, and accessing Push notifications. WPSauce has a fairly comprehensive summary of the new developer features.

All in all, Mango is looking to be a fantastic update. It will take care of some of the biggest shortcomings of Windows Phone 7; and hopefully, propel Windows Phone 7 into being a true challenger of Android and iOS.

Grooveshark Responds to Android Market Ban, Says It’s Not Sure Exactly Why Google Booted It

Yesterday, we reported that Google had removed the popular music streaming app Grooveshark from the Android Market due to ToS (Terms of Service) violations. While, Google didn’t clarify exactly which aspect of the ToS was violated, most people assumed that Grooveshark was booted due to alleged copyright infringements.

GroovesharkGoogle’s move caught almost everyone by surprise, including Grooveshark. “We were surprised by Google’s removal of the Grooveshark App from the Android Market Place, and are still unclear as to what policies have now been violated”, read a statement from Grooveshark’s PR.

Back in August, Grooveshark was pulled from the iOS App Store due to complaints from Universal, which is currently suing Grooveshark for copyright violations. It’s most likely that Universal is the reason why Grooveshark was removed from the Android Market also. Taking a dig at the record labels, Grooveshark said, “We are eagerly looking to enter into agreements with all labels and content owners, so that we can work together to the benefit of all parties. To be effective, these agreements, however, must be struck directly with the respected content owners in the boardroom not the courtroom.”

Although Grooveshark does have agreements with several labels, it has so far managed to rope in only one of the big four music labels – EMI. The main complaint against Grooveshark is that users can upload any music on Grooveshark. This means that unlicensed works often end up in its music catalog. Grooveshark is known to respond quickly to DMCA notices, and ban repeat offenders. However, that hasn’t quite satisfied the music labels.

Here’s the full statement from Grooveshark:

We were surprised by Google’s removal of the Grooveshark App from the Android Market Place, and are still unclear as to what policies have now been violated. We have always had a positive relationship with Google as evidenced by the Grooveshark App’s active and featured presence in the Android Marketplace for the past one and a half years.

We respect copyright law and the rights of content owners, generating positive results and revenues for the artists and labels that we have agreements with. Regarding the content for which we do not have agreements in place yet, we abide by, and pay royalties, according to the rules outlined in the DMCA, the same legal act that governs Google and YouTube’s activities.

We are eagerly looking to enter into agreements with all labels and content owners, so that we can work together to the benefit of all parties. To be effective, these agreements, however, must be struck directly with the respected content owners in the boardroom not the courtroom.

Google Removes Grooveshark from the Android Market Due to Alleged Copyright Violations

In a rare move, Google has pulled the popular music streaming app Grooveshark from the Android Market. It seems that the move was triggered by complaints from music labels. Grooveshark allows users all over the world to stream songs from its huge music library, listen to online radio stations, and even upload one’s personal music collection.

Grooveshark Like most startups dealing with the entertainment industry, Grooveshark has had its fair share of legal troubles. EMI was the first to sue Grooveshark, but in less than six months, it dropped the lawsuit and reached a revenue sharing deal. Soon after, Grooveshark was sued by Universal Music Group. That lawsuit is still pending.

“We remove apps from Android Market that violate our terms of service”, is all that Google seems to be willing to say for now. What makes this decision particularly interesting is its timing. Universal sued Grooveshark in January 2010, and Apple kicked it out of the iOS App Store in August. What made Google act now? What changed?

There are a couple of things going on that might or might not be related. For one, Google is scheduled to outline its anti-piracy efforts before the House of Representatives’ Judiciary committee today. IN the recent past, it has come under fire for not doing enough to prevent copyright infringements. Secondly, Google is currently developing its own music app that will compete with Grooveshark. Earlier today, we got a glimpse of the cloud-based music app for Android in the form of a leak.

Grooveshark is a freemium service, which manages to stay afloat by offering certain features only to subscribers. Perhaps the most significant of those features was the ability to stream music on mobile devices. However, it seems to be running out of mobile platforms. Android users can still download Grooveshark from many of the third-party app stores, and iOS users who have jailbroken their devices can get it from Cydia. However, the removal from the official app repositories of two of the biggest mobile platforms is undoubtedly a big blow.

Update: Grooveshark reacts to getting booted from the Android Market.

Happy Hour Over for Carriers and Manufacturers as Google Attempts to Control Android Fragmentation

The openness of Android is both its biggest asset, and its biggest headache. On one hand the open nature has allowed a wide range of apps to flourish, while on the other, it has been exploited to spread malware. The open nature has enabled manufacturers to add to the Android experience through custom shells like HTC Sense, but it has also led to a fragmented ecosystem.

AndroidUnlike Apple (iOS) and Microsoft (Windows Phone 7), Google has almost no say on when Android version updates are rolled out to users. We have seen manufacturers like Dell and Sony Ericsson launching high-end handsets with Android versions that were more than a year old. We have seen carriers like AT&T indefinitely delaying updates that have already been pushed out by the manufacturer. Worse still, carriers and manufacturers often claim that all this is done in your best interest! However, things are about to change.

According to Bloomberg Business Week, Google will be providing early-access to Android code only to those manufactures who get their plans approved by none other than Andy Rubin. Google has also begun demanding that Android licensees abide by “non-fragmentation clauses” that allow Google to control what partners can do with Android code. Although these clauses have been included in Android’s license for a long time, it’s only recently that Google begun flexing its muscles.

As much as I relish the open nature of the Android eco-system, there needs to be some quality control mechanism in place. Carriers and manufacturers shouldn’t be allowed to get away with preposterous delays. They shouldn’t be allowed to cripple Android by limiting features or installing crapware. When Android was initially announced, Google was dependent on the carriers and manufactures for its success. Now, it is in a position where it can exert its control for the benefit of the ecosystem. Let’s hope that this year will finally see Google stepping up and preventing the openness of Android being misused.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Boot Loader Finally Bypassed, Custom Kernel Released

It took more than a year, but the devs at XDA-Developers have finally made it happen. The Xperia X10 boot loader has been bypassed, which means that installation of custom kernels is now possible.

There are already dozens of custom ROMs available for Xperia X10, including some pretty decent FroYo (Android 2.2) and Gingerbread (Android 2.3) ROMs. However, the locked-down boot loader meant that all of them had to use the official kernel (2.6.29).

Although Sony Ericsson has announced that it will be allowing power users to unlock the boot loader in the near future, users of older Xperia models (Xperia X10/X10 Mini/X10 Mini Pro/X8) won’t be getting this privilege. Thankfully, Zdzihu, of the FreeX10 fame, has managed to load a fully working custom kernel. He has released an alpha kernel, which is a modified version of the stock 2.6.29 kernel, as a proof of concept. Among other things, the patched kernel does away with the artificially imposed frame-rate cap, implements netfilter, and reduces the voltage to conserve battery.

Xperia-X10-Custom-Kernel

Quite obviously, the alpha release of the modified kernel isn’t suitable for daily use. However, this does open up a lot of new possibilities, and gives the developers more freedom. Zdzihu will soon start working on porting the Gingerbread kernel from Xperia Arc. In the meanwhile check out video demonstrating the enhanced fluidity of the interface with Z’s custom kernel.

Opera Mini 6 and Opera Mobile 11 Released for Java, Symbian, Android, BlackBerry, Windows 7 and Meego

Is today a big day, or what! Amazon’s Android App Store will be released today. The much-delayed Firefox 4 is also slated to officially arrive soon. And now, Opera Software has made what is possibly the biggest product launch in its history. Opera Mini 6 and Opera Mobile 11 have been released for as many as six different platforms. Here’s a quick summary of the new stuff from the Norwegian browser vendor:

  • Opera Mini 6 for Java
  • Opera Mini 6 for Android
  • Opera Mini 6 for Symbian
  • Opera Mini 6 for legacy Symbian (S60 v2)
  • Opera Mini 6 for Blackberry
  • Opera Mobile 11 for Android
  • Opera Mobile 11 for Symbian
  • Opera Mobile 11 for Windows 7 (tablets and touch-screen devices)
  • Opera Mobile 11 for Meego

While Opera might be the little guy in the desktop segment, it is the king of mobile browsers. It already has more than 100 million users worldwide, and the number just keeps on increasing. Opera Mobile is Opera Software’s full-fledged mobile browser, which uses the same rendering engine (Presto) as Opera for desktop, and brings a desktop-like browsing experience to mobile devices. Opera Mini was originally developed for budget phones, which didn’t meet the hardware and software requirements of Opera Mobile. In Opera Mini, the webpage is routed through Opera’s servers, where all the rendering is done, and a static and highly compressed representation of the page is sent to the browser.

Opera-Mobile-11-Android

There are quite a few exciting improvements in both the products. The first thing that will catch your attention is the new skin. The bright shades of red, which have been a part of Opera’s mobile offerings for a long long time, have been replaced by a sleek black gradient.

Opera-Mobile-11-Android-Sharing-Options

Also new is the “Share” option, which enable you to quickly share a link through Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. The lack of sharing options was one of my major grievances with Opera Mobile 10 for Android, and I am glad that Opera Software has rectified this rather quickly.

Opera-Mobile-11-Windows-7-Tablets

Unsurprisingly, Opera’s mobile offerings are now optimized for high-resolution devices like tablets. This bit was already demoed at SXSW and MWC, and now you can try it yourself. Scrolling, panning, and zooming should be a lot smoother than before, and pinch-to-zoom support is included in all devices that are capable of supporting it.

All versions of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile can be downloaded directly on your mobile phone from m.opera.com.

Life Without An Android Smartphone

Last July, I purchased my first ever Android phone the Galaxy S. Since then, I have shifted from one Android phone to another after every few months. My Android based smartphone had become a very integral part of my life. I need it for tweeting and checking mails on the move, trying out new apps etc.

I never thought how my life would be without my Android phone. Then one fine morning the microphone on my Desire Z stopped working. I had to give it to the service center for a replacement. HTC promised me that I will get a replacement phone within a week, but it was only after 15 days and tons of phone calls that I got a replacement phone.

image

Nevertheless, when I gave my Desire Z to the service center, I was totally devastated! I had no idea how I was going to spend the upcoming days without my beloved Android handset. Since I did not have any spare Android handset with me, I had to use a Nokia 6681 for the time being. I had all my contacts backed up to Google Contacts, and the 6681 had no option of syncing with it. The only option I was left was with, was to save some important numbers in the phonebook of the handset.

For the next week, what I went through without my beloved Zee phone was nothing short of torture. More than the phone’ itself, I was missing apps like Remote For iTunes, TweetDeck, My Tracks, Google Maps and RunKeeper which I use on a day-to-day basis. The thing I missed the most? Push email and calendar entries reminder!

image

The basic and the most important feature of a phone, the calling part, was something which I did not miss at all. The Nokia 6681 was as good as the Z in network reception and the call quality was above average as well. I do understand that the Nokia 6681 is a smartphone’ in its own right, and I could have simply pimped the phone to make my life a little less miserable.

However, after using phones with speedy 1 GHz processor and tons of RAM, the 6681 felt downright slow! I felt pity on the poor soul, and decided against pimping it for my needs.

All this just proves that with time we, the users, have started expecting much more from our smartphones, than just fulfilling our basic telephony and messaging needs. We need a small device in our hands that can help us find our way through unknown roads, let us know what our friends are having for breakfast, make our day-to-day life much better, and in the end help us to connect to our near and dear ones via phone calls and SMS’s.