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iPad on Verizon

Lately rumors surrounding Verizon and Apple have pointed towards a new CDMA iPhone, but today the companies have announced that the iPad will be coming to Verizon Wireless customers October 28th. The device will also be coming to AT&T retail stores on the same day.
When it comes to pricing, Verizon will be offering their MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot with WiFi-only iPad models for $830 for 64GB, $730 for 32GB, and $630 for 16GB. Those who purchase the WiFi + 3G models will be offered an option of several commitment-free data plans including 1GB/monthly for $20, 3GB for $35, or 5GB for $50.

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.

 

Sony Internet TV

 

Sony just took the wraps off its Google TV line, and it’s a double shot. If having everything bundled together into one sleek unit is your style, Sony is offering Internet TV models starting at just $599.99 for a full 1080p HD 24-inch model, going up the ladder to the top of the line 46-inch version for $1399.99.  They all have full LED backlighting, a picture-in-picture style system Sony is calling Dual View, and are being powered by Intel processors.

If a component-style setup is your thing, you can grab the Internet TV Blu-ray player for $399.99. It’s also powered by Intel, offers built in WiFi, and support for Sony’s Dual View technology.

Both Television sets and the Blu-ray player will be available for purchase on Oct 16 at Sony Style, and followed “shortly” by Best Buy.

 

Google’s Street View goes worldwide, Antarctica and all

Google’s Street View still needs to add a lot more data on the lesser traveled roads of the world, but there’s no denying that the virtual vacation assistant has evolved quite nicely since launching in May of 2007. Back then, only five US cities were programmed in; today, there are street-level views of locations on every single continent, including Antarctica (shown above, as if you couldn’t tell).

Sprint said it was coming, and lo and behold, the carrier has proven to be true to its word. Here on the final day of September, the year 2010, Sprint has issued a highly anticipated firmware update for the Epic 4G. We’re told that it’ll be pushed automatically to phones, bringing along four major fixes: WiFi standby battery drain, Amazon MP3 cannot download in 4G, large emails lag in upload speeds and increased 3G upload speeds. The new version is S:D700.0.5S.DI18, should take seven or eight minutes to download and will be beamed across The Now Network over the course of the next few days. Is that a congregation celebrating off in the middle distance? Sure is.

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.

Apple Remote app for iPad

Apple has finally updated their Remote app to version 2.0, and included support for iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4 Retina Display, and for the iPad. It will also support shared libraries for iTunes and, of course, the new Apple TV (2010) that’s just started to hit the streets. AirPlay is also supported, currently for what was previously AirTunes, and no doubt for full on iOS 4.2 video goodness when that’s released as well.

Previous rumors have suggested Apple’s Remote app was the work of a single engineer at the company who had since been reassigned. Whether that was accurate or not, it looks like the release of the new Apple TV was enough to get Remote out of mothballs and onto the iPad, with a new iTunes 10-style icon to boot.

I loved the previous version of Remote, especially for entering passwords and searches — onerous via the infrared remote — so I’m eager to try this one out. If you have already, let us know what you think.

Android credit card

One of the biggest drawbacks to Google’s Android Market, and possibly one of the aspects of the OS that most frequently drives users to app piracy, is the fact that there are so few countries with access to paid apps.  Google is looking to change that, though, with the news that they’re expanding paid app availability to 12 more countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, Hong Kong, Israel, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Singapore and South Africa.  In addition, there are reports that Sweden and Hungary are beginning to see paid apps appear in the Market.

This is great news for Android fans and developers alike, and I’m sure Google is pleased to open up the Android platform to more interested devs.  I’m just surprised it’s taken this long for the big G to enable paid apps beyond thescant number of countries that have been available up until now.  After all, the Android Market has been available foralmost two years now.  All that aside, I’m excited to see Android paid apps available to a multitude of new users, which means more devs, more apps, and better quality all around.

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.

Best Ringtone Maker for iPhone

Custom ringtone makers for the iPhone are the latest group of of apps to suddenly gain approval for the App Store. This correlates directly with Apple’s recent changes to their App Store policies, allowing 3rd party Google Voice appsand other apps that Apple had previously banned or rejected from their mobile app marketplace, or simply left in limbo. Techcrunch reports:

Since the early days of the App Store, applications that allow users to make ringtones from songs on their handsets have either inexplicably sat on hold or were outright denied. And yet, here we are; as of right now, there are no less than 5 different ringtone making apps sitting in the App Store.

Another segment of apps that Apple has confirmed does not directly compete with their own app and service offerings has been revealed.