Dell wants everyone to know this whole smartphone thing isn’t a joke. After officially announcing the Dell Mini 3ix Android phone for Brazil, the computer maker is forming a dedicated mobile division under the control of Ron Garriques (formerly of Motorola). The group will focus on developing hardware and software for future Dell phones.
Dell was once the dominant PC maker in the world, but has recently faltered, falling behind both HP and Acer. By getting into the smartphone race Dell may be trying to catch up to its rivals, both of which make phones as well as PCs. There are currently no official plans to bring a Dell smartphone to the US. If the bizarrely under equipped Chinese 3i and slightly better Brazilian 3ix do well, the company may feel confident enough to enter the US market.
At long last the augmented reality browser Layer has released version 3.0 complete with some spiffy new features. One big advance is support for 3D objects. These objects can be inserted into new 3.0 layers and appear in the Layar interface. One of the 3.0 layers used at show off the new feature is “Beatles Tour”. The layer contains 42 points of interest with various 3D models as a guided tour of the music group’s old haunts.
The folks at Layar are also encouraging artists to create art exclusively for the augmented reality app. Users could wander around their neighborhood looking at virtual artwork on a huge scale. If that sort of thing isn’t for you, have no fear. The new user login and cookie support makes it easier to customize layers. A user can keep information more relevant to them. For example, the “tweeps around” layer shows nearby tweets, but Layar 3.0 would allow you to filter out people you don’t follow and send out tweets from the layer itself . Layar 3.0 is currently available in the Android Market for Android 1.5 and 1.6 devices. Testing on Android 2.0 is nearly complete, so a version for the Droid should be along any time now. The iPhone version will be in the App Store as soon as Apple gets around to approving it.
According to Gizmodo a “trusted” but unnamed source has actually seen a Google phone. Gizmodo adds the phone won’t just be a run-of-the-mill Android device, but something special: Google-branded and running a new or different version of Android. (No, not Chrome OS.)
Gizmodo further reports prototypes, sporting large LCDs, will soon get a public introduction.
China Mobile was selected as the carrier of Dell's Mini 3i, which the two companies jointly announced will be available by the end of the month in choice of Red Passion or Oiled Bronze.
Coming as no surprise, the Mini 3i will sport Google's open-source Android platform, arguably the hottest OS out there right now, It will be compatible with quad-band GSM/EDGE networks and boast a 3.5-inch touchscreen with a 640x360 resolution, and measure 4.8 by 2.3 by 0.46 inches. By comparison, the iPhone 3GS also sports a 3.5-inch display, but with a 480x320 resolution, and measures 4.4 by 2.4 by 0.48 inches. And at 4.7 ounces, it weighs an ounce more than Dell's Mini 3i.
Other features include GPS navigation, Bluetooth, an a 3MP camera with zoom, auto-focus, flash, video capture, and photo-editing capabilities, eWeek.com reports.
"This signals an important milestone in the long term partnership between China Mobile and Dell," a China Mobile spokesperson said in a statement. "We are excited for Dell to be among the first manufacturers to introduce new technology based on the OPhone platform. We look forward to working the Dell as it brings innovative new products and services to add value to our customers' lives."
China Mobile currently has over 500 million subscribers.
In the wake of Google’s Chrome OS announcement last week, some have questioned the search giant’s software vision. Cofounder Sergey Brin popped in for a brief appearance at the event and made some interesting statements about the future of Chrome OS and Android. Brin said that Android and Chrome "will likely converge over time," but gave no indication of the form that might take. Indeed, the Chrome OS will reportedly have support for ARM based CPUs. Brin also talked up the similarity in the products’ code bases. Both are based on Linux and the Webkit browser rendering engine.
CEO Eric Schmidt also had something to say about Android and Chrome. The sheer murkiness of his statements is a little intriguing. Schmidt said that Chrome is for users on a real computer, a device with a keyboard and larger screen. However, he also said that Android’s real strength is its ability to run powerful PC-quality apps.
Cnet interviewer Molly Wood prodded Schmidt slightly about the possible overlap in the emerging Smartbook category. Schmidt was quick, yet broad in his dismissal saying, “let’s not prejudge what these things are best used for… our end users will ultimately judge.” Google seems to be waiting for queues from users to tell them how (if at all) these products will be integrated. So, post any thoughts you have in the comments.
He revealed that his company sells "400 times more games on iPhone than on Android." But with the number of Android-based phones growing with each passing day, it will be difficult for games developers to completely ignore the platform. However, there are a lot of issues that Google will have to address, if it wants Android to be taken seriously as a games platform.
Why? Because Google’s Andy Rubin said there will be no Google phone. That’d seem pretty conclusive, despite the practice of companies’ denying the existence of a product until the product actually ships. But there’s a loophole here that Arrington sniffs out. And it has to do with with the simple question: when is a phone not a phone?
Answer: when it’s a data device. Arrington suspects the focus on a phone as a phone is where others have it wrong. After all, a data device is capable of carrying voice over VoIP. Which makes any computer equipped with Skype, for example, a phone while not being a phone. Arrington points out that Google even said as much when it was bidding for chunks of the 700 Mhz spectrum back in 2007.
Arrington says his sources tell him AT&T is bidding on a service. Google would make block purchases of data from AT&T, and will sell access to purchasers of its data device. Conditions will apply, Arrington suspects, as the target price is $20 a month. He also suggests that U.S. GSM carriers, as well as TMobile, could support the device.
It’s been just over a year since Android was released, and we’re finally seeing the floodgates open. There are currently no fewer than 12 Android phones available and still more coming soon. While this may make Android fans out there giddy with excitement, it’s not so thrilling for app developers.
There are 3 versions on Android in the wild: 2.0, 1.6, and 1.5. Developers increasingly find themselves devoting time to patching incompatibilities with new Android handsets. “Instead of working on updates to our apps, we find we are trying to make each app work for multiple versions of the OS and different hardware capabilities,” said Froogloid’s Chris Fagan.
The modifications some manufacturers are making to Android complicate things even further. The recent;y released HTC Hero, for example, was incompatible with Froogloid’s application ‘a2b’. When a2b attempted to enable GPS using standard commands, the Hero would instead respond by presenting the lock screen. The new Motorola Droid also had a few incompatibilities due to the high screen resolution and new Android 2.0 APIs.
Can Android overcome this fragmentation? The solution may be to keep phones more uniformly updated. But that requires better cooperation between hardware partners and Google. Only time will tell if Android’s ecosystem can continue to grow more robust despite these challenges.
At long last, Google has finally released the source code for Android 2.0 (codenamed Eclair). Motorola's Droid is the only smartphone currently shipping that's built around the latest version, but now that Eclair's out in the wild, expect to see plenty more handset makers jump on board.
The release is also great news for the Android modding community, many of which have been eagerly awaiting the update. Modding guru Steve Kondik, otherwise popularly known as "Cyanogen," stated in a Twitter message that he's already gotten Eclair to run on his HTC G1 smartphone, noting that "it runs really well, fast, and smooth. Audio and video not working yet, though."
So what's the big deal? Android 2.0 is the most significant update to Google's open source platform to date. Just a few of the added features include native Exchange support, search functionality for all saved SMS and MMS messages, more camera options (built-in flash, digital zoom, white balance, and so forth), an improved virtual keyboard, multi-touch support, and more. This could be the OS that finally gives Apple's iPhone OS a run for its money.
Samsung announced today that it would throw its hat into the mobile OS ring with “Bada.” Samsung’s new OS's name is based on the Korean word for “ocean” and will support fully open standards.
Samsung was skimpy on the details, but it sounds very similar to the iPhone and Android operating systems. It will feature a central application store and provide developers with a framework to build applications for the device. In stark contrast to the iPhone, Samsung claims that every aspect of the OS will be customizable, including dialer, contacts and other built in utilities.
Samsung anticipates the first “Bada” powered device to be released in the first half of 2010 along with the application store. Adding another OS into the mix might make gaining market share difficult against Google and Apple. However, this likely means Samsung won’t be sporting a new Windows Mobile OS.