Category: android


Apple vs Motorola Lawsuit

More Apple drama is coming Android’s way! Apple is going to sue Motorola specifically over multitouch on nearly every Motorola device running Android OS. In addition to the multitouch claim, Apple is bringing Motorola to court for:

  • Object-Oriented System Locator System
  • Touch Screen Device, Method, and Graphical User Interface for Determining Commands by Applying Neuristics
  • Method and Apparatus for Displaying and Accessing Control and Status Information in a Computer System.
  • Support for Custom User-Interaction Elements in a Graphical, Event-Driven Computer System.

Rest assured, if Motorola loses it doesn’t mean your phone will be taken away; Motorola will have to either change how it’s doing things and/or pay Apple in what’s bound to be a large sum of settlement money.

 

Word on the street this morning is that a few people have gotten an over-the-air update on their T-Mobile G2 that enables Wifi calling, tethering and a sundry of other trinkets. Rollout doesn’t seem widespread just yet, so we’re likely in the very early stages here. But any update is a welcome update, especially one that brings this kind of functionality.

 

I’m rating manufacturers on how well they provide a ‘ quality Android experience’ to U.S. customers.

When buying an Android device, you want to know if your phone is going to be updated promptly to the latest operating system.

You want to make sure that carriers aren’t going to add any applications or processes that impede the Android experience. Manufacturers’ Android overlays must be kept in check if you don’t want ‘features’ tripping up your productivity.

The best way to judge what will happen to your phone during the life of its contract is to see what your carrier and manufacturer’s strategy is to Android is across their lineup.

If they fall behind now, they aren’t likely to catch up.  If they start playing tricks on customers or start locking them into things they might not want now, the situation is likely to only get worse.

So who is going to give you the best Android experience?

Here I’ll rate the manufacturers.  The carriers deserve their own post.

Manufacturers:


HTC: B+

HTC  (though it isn’t often given credit) makes the Nexus One, the purest Android phone, and they sell it without their Sense overlay.  They are readying the G2, which appears to be without Sense as well. Both will be  available through T-Mobile, which should be commended.

For the phones it ships with its Sense overlay, HTC  is fairly functional and doesn’t step on Android too much.  That  said, HTC revealed that the Sense 1.6 overlay will have many  more features including backup, remote wipe, a cached mapping program and HTCSense.com.

The big problem I have  is that HTC  duplicates some functionality that Google (GOOG) has added  in its latest updates.  HTC will be less likely to upgrade its phones if it will diminish the utility of their own overlay.

HTC has the best overall record for upgrades as well.

The Nexus One was the first phone, by months, to get Android 2.2.  The HTC EVO was the first carrier phone to get Froyo and now most of HTC’s high-end phones are being updated and sold with Froyo. Some of their lower-end phones are getting left behind however.

Motorola: B-

Motorola (MOT) produced the first Android 2 phone, the Droid, and continues to produce solid high-end phones in the Droid lineup.  The Droid X got its Android 2.2 update today, and now all Droids have the latest OS.

Motorola isn’t  as quick to update lower-end phones and more distressingly is Blurring (see what I did there?) the Android experience with its MotoBlur overlay.  The Backflip on AT&T runs Android 1.6.  To use the new T-Mobile’s Charm, you have to create a Motoblur account and run some of your services through Motorola instead of normal Android apps.

I don’t like Blur as much as Sense or Samsung’s TouchWiz and it keeps getting worse.  Even high-end phones like Droid X are getting muted by it.  On the other hand, their new Droid 2, thankfully showed no signs of Blur.

Samsung: C+

Samsung’s Galaxy S lineup won’t get updated to Froyo until late 2010 according to CSO Omar Khan (read: Christmas).  That’s way behind the curve for otherwise exceptional hardware (GPS notwithstanding).

Galaxy Tab, which will be out for the holidays has Froyo on it (thankfully) and a pretty light smattering of the TouchWiz interface.  With some swift updates, Samsung could pass Motorola and HTC, especially if Sense 1.6 is as pervasive as it sounds.

The TouchWiz overlay slows the experience down a bit but at the same time adds a few interesting features.  Some have said it makes Android more iPhone-like. Take that for what its worth.   Again, for my money, no overlays beat Google’s untouched experience.

LG:  C

Most of LG’s Android phones aren’t available in the U.S. but the Ally is a staple on Verizon.  It runs Android 2.1 but will get a  Froyo update at some point in the future.

I don’t have too much experience with LG phones honestly, but the Ally seems pretty mediocre and the upcoming Optimus line isn’t even a lock to hit the U.S. market. (Although it will hit the rest of the world with Froyo in October-November).

Dell and Sony:  Fail

You come to the U.S. market where people are complaining about Android 2.1 devices with Android 1.6 device?

Sony (SNE) Xperia and Dell(DELL) Streak are both DOA as far as I am concerned.   Both of these companies are operating on some other wavelength with perspective customers.  That’s not to say that the hardware isn’t good.  Each phone very well could be the best hardware on the market

The message should be clear:  Pour some more R&D capital into software development and get in line with the manufacturers above.  For the record, both have promised updates to Froyo and will be re-evaluated when that comes to fruition.

Big picture:

At the moment, there isn’t a huge difference between the top three: HTC, Motorola and Samsung.  If you want Froyo, Samsung obviously drops out.  If you want an overlay experience, Motorola likely drops out of the race as well.

Although there are plenty of online radio apps on the Android market, nothing can really replace an old fashioned FM radio. If you own a Droid 2, you can thank XDA for yet again figuring out how to implement one just by following a couple simple steps. As with most things of this nature, a little command line work is necessary, but beyond that it’s easy as pie. Just make sure before you try that your Droid 2 is rooted or else this will end in failure. You’ll be jamming to your local stations in no time.

Samsung finally releases GPS fix for Captivate, no ETA for 2.2

The Samsung Captivate was released back in July and since that time a small number of users have experienced GPS issues that made navigation nearly impossible. An unofficial software hack has been available for quite some time which resolved the issue, but now all Captivate owners can enjoy improved GPS performance thanks to a new update that is rolling out now.

Samsung’s GPS fix was a long time in coming and we were beginning to think it would be rolled into the Android 2.2 update, but that is not the case. All Captivates will remain at Android 2.1, but the update brings additional improvements such as media scanning time, adding the full version of Quickoffice and addressing Microsoft Exchange 2003 policy support.

Now that HTC and Motorola have updated their flagship devices to Android 2.2, Samsung is on the clock as everyone waits for them to upgrade their entire lineup of Galaxy S phones. We initially heard it would be ready by September, but Samsung has been quiet and rumblings suggest we now might see Android 2.2 in October.

One interesting thing to note is that this update will be pushed over the air by AT&T. We were told the Captivate would require a wired update to receive Android 2.2, so maybe the smaller file size played a factor in this rollout.

AppBrain main screen

After launching a new version of its website recently, AppBrain has brought many of the new sorting features to its Android app. In addition, AppBrain now has a social element so you can follow other users to quickly browse what apps they have installed. You can log in to Facebook to see if your friends use AppBrain (they should!) or browse by popular users. Also, you can share a link to your profile quickly via email, Twitter, SMS, and just about every other mode of communication on your phone. The free update is on the Market now.

Samsung looks to be taking a queue from Sony and People of Lava, in that there next interest with Android might be to start using the Google OS in their future TVs.  Currently, Samsung uses their own Bada operating system for their smart televisions, but seeing how fast the consumer is adopting Android, this may change.  Samsung has already sold over 1 million 3D TVs in the US Market, but it looks like 3D isn’t going to be the only selling point in the next generation TV market.

The CDMA-equipped Samsung Galaxy Tab has so far been nothing more than a sticker in a random snapshot and some whispers about Verizon, but Boy Genius Report is saying that the Tab’s also bound forSprint‘s network this November, on both its 3G and 4G (i.e. WiMAX) network — à la the Galaxy SEpic 4G. No word from Sammy HQ on this one, but it’s worth noting that in our briefing, a Samsung rep mentioned that an American carrier could put Qik on it and, well, that’s kind of Sprint’s thing.

The Droid Incredible by HTC is, well — nothing short of incredible (sorry, I just had to). What’s not incredible is the meager battery life, with the stock 1300mAh power plant. That’s where the 2150 mAh extended battery for the Droid Incredible comes in, getting you through the day — and then some. Full review and pictures after the break.

The first question everyone always ask about these extended batteries goes a little like this: “Is it really that much bigger, and if so, does it make it ugly.” The answer to that first part of the question is yes — it does make it feel slightly bulkier. The answer to that second part of the question is no — it does not make it ugly per se.

Being that the battery is a bit thicker than the stock 1300mAh, it requires a new door for the back. HTC keeps the same presentation and manufacturing quality as the smaller backing. It still sports the contours and grooves that Verizon says was designed in line with a “sports car” look and feel; all while the door snaps into place with ease. The door also still provides that soft-touch feel that comes stock on all Incredible phones.

Moving on to the numbers. After the aesthics question is answered, the next question usually goes a little like this: “How long does the battery last?” Good question! When reviewing this battery, I really wanted to push it to the max. I wanted to see how long, quantitatively speaking, HTC’s battery could go. The average life before I needed to charge this battery was 19 hours after heavy usage. Before, with the stock battery, I was only getting about 8 hours of heavy use. Heavy usage includes: GPS enabled Foursquare check-ins, constant Gmail and Yahoo! Mail exchange, web browsing, SMS, MMS, an addiction to Asphalt 4, frequent auto-sync to Twitter and Facebook, always on 3G, and the brightness turned on a bit higher than the medium setting.

I could sit here and list all all the other pointless things I do on my phone on a daily basis, but all you need to know is that if you don’t mind a little extra weight — this battery gives you the best experience on the Droid Incredible. It may even give you two days worth, depending how hard you’re pushing your Incredible.

The battery is available in the Android Central Store for $64.95. Scoop it up!

I will just come out and say it : I love Google Calendar (and all of Google’s online apps for that matter). Using the “tasks” feature in Gmail and Google Calendar makes sure I never miss a due date to bad memory. That being said, you cannot access these tasks from within your calendar app on the phone. So, how is one to check paper due dates on the go?

The method I have gotten into using is not quite as elegant as I would like, but it works.

  1. Create a task in Gmail or Google Calendar using your computer’s browser
  2. Open up your phone’s browser and point it togmail.com/tasks (only works in mobile browsers)
  3. You may have to enter your login information. Make sure to check “remember me”
  4. You should now see your task(s)
  5. Bookmark the site; I named it “tasks”
  6. Put the bookmark onto your home screen of choice (can be done by long-pressing on the bookmark from within the browser or long-pressing on your home screen and going through the menus)

You should now have a quick and easy way to view and edit your tasks. Now, if only Google would integrate tasks into the calendar app on the phone…