If you are a Google Voice user and you’ve tried to explain the service to someone else, it probably didn’t go well. The other party likely came away as flummoxed as ever, and you made a fool of yourself with all that wild gesticulating. Well, that’s what happened to us anyway. Don’t worry though; from now on you can simply direct friends and family to Google’s new series of Youtube videos detailing the “awesomeness” of Google Voice.
The first video is a simple overview called “What is Google Voice?” It does an admirable job of getting to the meat of the service. It doesn’t go into detail about how to use any of the features, but it lets the uninitiated know what they’re going to get when they sign up. It goes over ringing multiple phones, call screening, blocking callers, greetings, and voicemail transcription.
The Google Voice channel also has additional videos about each feature. There are 11 videos in all right now. So even if you’re a veteran Voice user, there might be something to learn from watching them. You can find all the videos right here. Do you have a Google Voice account? How do you use it?
If you have a smartphone, there’s probably at least one thing missing from it. Any idea what that might be? If you answered a clunky desktop operating system experience, you are apparently correct. The long rumored xpPhone seems to be one step closer to reality now that it has a price. According to the phone’s maker, ITG, the price is expected to be 3000-4500 Chinese RMB, depending on options. That’s about $400-650 in the US.
Overall, the price isn’t outlandish. Many unlocked smartphones sell for similar prices. The xpPhone is no ordinary phone though. In fact, it’s like something straight out of Intel’s fantasies where MIDs actually took off. First off, it is massive, packing a 4.8-inch LCD display. There’s support for multiple 3G bands, a USB port, VGA-out, and even a tiny trackpad on the keyboard.
There will apparently be custom phone software on the device, making its essential functions a bit more usable. We are still less than convinced that running a full version of XP on something of this form factor is a good idea. Still though, there will be plenty of time to judge it when, and if it comes out.
A leak of new training materials today have indicated that Verizon Wireless will be making some changes to its plans starting January 18th. First off, Verizon is getting rid of the all-inclusive Premium Plan. Big Red is also dropping the prices of their unlimited plans by 30%. This actually places the cost for unlimited minutes below that of AT&T.
Verizon is making some changes to their data plans as well. The carrier is going to offer a new 25MB data package for $9.99 per month, but the full $29.99 data plan is still required for smartphones. The new cheaper data plan is geared toward so-called “Multimedia Phones”, which will now require customers to purchase this plan. This seems to be a category Verizon has just made up, and includes handsets like the Chocolate Touch, the enV3, Moto Entice, and Nokia Twist among others.
While we’re happy to see the big price drop in unlimited plans, the new required data plans for some feature phones is disappointing. Do you think it’s reasonable?
The Nexus One has been available for just over a week. Now, analytics firm Flurry has managed to estimate the number of handsets sold in week one is around 20,000. For comparison, the Droid sold about 250,000 in its first week. The iPhone sold a whopping 1.6 million. Even the T-Mobile Myouch 3G sold 60,000 units. So, what does this mean for the Superphone?
When looking at these numbers, one must consider the huge difference in the marketing and distribution. Verizon has spent millions advertising the Droid, and Apple always manages to make a spectacle of iPhone launches, and the humble MyTouch had marketing from T-Mobile to help it out. The Nexus One can only be purchased online, and there’s no real advertising. Even the launch event seemed subdued and procedural.
A spring Verizon launch may kick sales into overdrive, we’ll have to wait and see. For now, it could be Google is just fine with only selling a limited number of phones to early adopters. Considering the complaints about customer service, that might also be for the best.
Like most new phones, Google’s new baby the Nexus One is getting off to a rocky start. Numerous people on the Nexus One support forums are reporting spotty 3G service in areas that are supposedly blanketed with 3G. With the smallest 3G footprint of the big four US carriers, you can bet T-Mobile users know exactly where they can find that high-speed goodness.
Specifically, users say that the phone will switch back and forth between 3G and the slower EDGE data in 3G saturated areas. The more unlucky are reporting no 3G at all. Some users have even gone so far as to put their Nexus One SIM card in another T-Mobile phone to prove that Google’s new device isn’t connecting to the available 3G network. There are even some pics of other T-Mobile devices with 3G right next to a Nexus one rocking EDGE.
Just today we’re getting word that T-Mobile and Google have acknowledged a possible issue affecting a “small number” of customers. T-Mobile says to hold tight while they look into it. Anyone out there have a Nexus One? Any issues?
Most people seem determined to prove that cell phones are out to fry our brains, but could a call or two a day actually join red wine in the united federation of healthy vices? Okay, perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch, but a new study has found that lab mice that were genetically altered to develop Alzheimer’s disease performed better on thinking and skill tests after exposure to cell phone style electromagnetic waves. “Electromagnetic waves prevent the aggregation of that bad protein of the brain” said Gary Arendash of the University of South Florida.
The study looked at the effects of cell phone use for two hours per day over a seven to nine month period, and the results were actually the opposite of what researchers were expecting. “We had expected cell phone exposure to increase the effects of dementia” claims Arendash. After decades of research there is still no cure, and few effective treatments for Alzheimer’s which is the most common form of late life dementia with over 35 million people suffering from the disease.
The evidence that cell phone radiation is safe continues to mount, but I suppose only time will tell.
Google’s Nexus One announcement earlier this week included confirmation that future phones sold on the Google website would all be available unlocked. So, Google intends to work with various hardware partners, and sell some of the resulting phones as Google branded. Some have said this could be a dangerous road for Google to travel, as they may risk alienating their partners. Among those critics is Microsoft.
Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices President Robbie Bach took Google to task for the move in a speech at CES. "Doing both in the way they are trying to do both is actually very, very difficult… Over time you have to decide whether your approach is with the partners or more like an Apple approach that is more about Apple. Google's is an interesting step. We'll see how people react," said Bach.
Microsoft has been struggling with Windows Mobile as of late, so you have to wonder if they should be giving Google advice in this space. It is possible that some hardware partners could be put off by Google’s move, but Android has one big advantage over Windows Mobile. Google does not charge their hardware partners a license fee to use Android. We’ll have to see if hardware companies are scared enough that Google could upstage them to pass up that deal.
AT&T finally seems ready to admit that this whole Android thing isn’t just a flash in the pan. The carrier that brought you the iPhone will be launching five Android phones in the first half of 2010. The announcement was a bit short on details, but there were some clues as to which handsets to expect.
AT&T plans to offer a Motorola handset with a “unique form factor”. This can only be the Moto Backflip we told you about recently. This phone is “blessed” with an awkward looking reverse clamshell design and a lack of Google apps (in the prerelease version at least). The announcement also said Dell’s first smartphone would be coming to the network. That clearly means a version of the Mini 3i with US 3G bands.
The remaining phones are to be HTC devices. No details on what these might be. Knowing HTC’s penchant for repackaging the same hardware, these phones could end up being variations of the Hero. We may see some of the phones spied in the leaked roadmap from a few weeks back. Any AT&T customers planning to buy into the Android craze?
It looks like the pricing details for the Nexus One Android phone have been leaked. Gizmodo is reporting that the handset will indeed be sold by Google, unlocked for $530. T-Mobile will subsidize the phone down to $180 with a two year contract, but it will still be sold through Google. So clearly, Google will not be selling the phone at cost or giving it away as some had speculated. This bit isn’t all that surprising, assuming the information is correct.
What is strange are some of the rules for purchase. First, there’s only one plan, the $39.99 Even More + Text + Web for $79.99 total cost. If you are on a family plan, Flexpay, SmartAccess, or KidConnect plan, you must purchase the phone for the full $530 unsubsidized price. Only 5 Nexus One phones can be purchased per Google account. Not that that would stop you from making more accounts. Weirdly, you also have to acknowledge in the terms of sale that the phone is made by HTC, not Google.
Finally, if you opt for the subsidy and cancel the account before 120 days have elapsed, you have to pay the difference between the subsidized and unsubsidized price. If that isn’t workable, you can return the phone to Google. This charge is authorized at the time of purchase. If these details turn out to be accurate, are you interested? More importantly, do you buy that this is the real deal pricing?
The Android platform is growing in popularity now that a multitude of phones running Google’s open-source software are available. Recent comScore and Complete surveys aimed to determine how much Android users had in common with users of the massively successful iPhone. As it turns out, users of the two platforms behave in much the same way.
As far as mobile media use, the number of people that used the browser, apps, social networking, and IM were within a few percentage points of each other. Only in the area of email use did the iPhone come out ahead, 87% of users to only 63%. This is surprising considering Android’s tight integration with Gmail. Notably, this data was gathered before the release of the Motorola Droid.
Even in the area of app usage, where the iPhone can claim the award for most massive app catalog, the differences are minor. The slight majority of iPhone users and about 44% of Android users spend at least half their time using applications other than the browser. On other smartphone platforms, that number of more like 20%. Applications have been key to the iPhone’s success. Even with the smaller user base and application market, usage patterns are similar on Android.
One final similarity that illustrates the public awareness of Android is that of people in the market for a smartphone, 17% planned to get an Android handset, while 20% planned to get an iPhone. This is certainly much closer than a few months ago.