A couple of announcements surfaced today, one each for both of the smartphone heavyweights - Apple's iPhone and T-Mobile's G1. If you own, or are considering, one or the other, keep reading.
Amazon Updates Kindle App for iPhone
Score a win for iPhone owners, who now have an improved Kindle app to mess around with. Now in version 1.1, the updated release addresses a few customer complaints, one of them being that users can now read in either portrait or landscape mode. And to make reading easier, you can now change the background and text color combination. Other changes include tap support for turning pages, and multi-touch pinch to zoom in on images.
G1 'Cupcake' Update Pushed Back Until June
G1 owners who have been anxiously awaiting the much anticipated 'Cupcake' update (Android 1.5) will have to wait a little longer. What was originally supposed to be an "early May" release looked like it was finally going to start trickling out this week in the U.S., but word has come down that the update has been delayed at least one more week.
"We are working diligently to get Android 1.5 out as soon as possible, while aiming to ensure a consistent, positive experience for our customers," a T-Mobile forum moderator announced. "We're finalizing this build this week to ensure optimal functionality and smooth delivery. Therefore, the rollout schedule has been reset by approximately a week, and we expect all G1 customers will have the update by early June."
Barring any last minute changes, Android 1.5 will add on-screen keyboard support with auto-correction, text prediction, user dictionaries, and third-party keyboard layouts, live folders, folder shortcuts for YouTube favorites, starred contacts, MPEG4 and 3GP video playback, stereo Bluetooth, a new Linux kernel, browser enhancements, and several other goodies.
In a flooded smart phone market, Google’s open source approach was a refreshing change, especially given the state of martial law many iPhone user’s live under. But with the removal of the tethering application from the mobile store, many users are starting to question just how open the platform really is. In defense of its actions, Google was forced to cite a passage from its distribution agreement with T-Mobile.
“Google enters into distribution agreements with device manufacturers and Authorized Carriers to place the Market software client application for the Market on Devices. These distribution agreements may require the involuntary removal of Products in violation of the Device manufacturer’s or Authorized Carrier’s terms of service”
When you pair this up with T-Mobiles terms of service which forbids tethering, Google suddenly appears to be legally bound to ban the application. This does however make us wonder what the future of Android will look like on other carriers. Will this lead to carrier specific app stores in the future? Users who purchase unlocked phones and use them on other carriers which permit tethering will probably want access to these types of applications. The big question is will they be able to?
Though the browsing experience on cellphones has come up by leaps and bounds, a lot of work still needs to be done. Another considerable step forward would be full-fledged Flash functionality on cellphones. It is something that figures high on Adobe’s list of priorities. In fact, it is busy developing Flash ports for major mobile platforms.
Now it appears as though a Flash port for the Android platform may become available sooner than expected as another company is also developing one.
So you've just downloaded that hip new open-source replacement for your favorite paid-for application and you're ready to crack it open and unleash all the awesome community-driven features contained inside. Well, if this application is Songbird, you might want to hold off for a moment. A recent blog post by the application's developers has revealed that the media player's iPod add-on does more than just transfer music to your device. It also has the potential to corrupt or otherwise delete music straight from your hardware device. Yikes!
Bugs are the bane of any software, but they can especially affect the open-source world in unpleasant ways. Read on to find out what we mean -- but first, unplug your iPod!
The first Android-based device, the T-Mobile G1, might have not pronounced iPhone’s death warrant - just like numerous other so-called iPhone-killers before it failed to, but it has done a decent job as a “commercial prototype.”
A reasonable number of people may be keenly awaiting the advent of future Android devices after the steady start provided by the T-Mobile G1. However, nothing is known about upcoming Android devices with the exception of the HTC Magic.
The Magic has a 3.2-inch QVGA touch screen and, barring its lack of a physical QWERTY keyboard, closely mimics the G1. The phone has a 3.2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and HSDPA/WCDMA (900/2100MHz).
Thanks to some cryptic code mixed in with bug fixes and general clean up on the Android site, there are finally some hints as to what G1 users can expect in the near future.
Among those updates that remain obvious are camera functions (video has finally been included), a browser update (which will include a find function and clever copy paste) and other general speed enhancements.
Other updates aren’t directly aimed at the G1, but are still pretty notable. There’s focus on implementing an on-screen keyboard, and basic x86 support.
While there haven’t been any exact vendor names specified on the blog, it’s difficult to say if this is directed at any specific gadget. However, it does give us reason to believe that Android will finally be making its way onto a huge assortment of gadgets.
The Open Handset Alliance, which is responsible for promoting the use of Google’s Android operating system, recently added 14 new members to its roster.
The newest additions include Vodafone (the world’s largest mobile operator), AKM Semiconductor, ARM, ASUSTek Computer, Atheros Communications, Borqs, Ericsson, Garmin International, Huawei Technologies, Omron Software, Softbank Mobile, Sony Ericsson, Teleca, and Toshiba. An impressive group that’s been added onto the 34 strong that signed on when the Open Handset Alliance started a year ago.
The members of the alliance are expected to “deploy compatible Android devices, contribute significant code to the Android Open Source Project, or support the ecosystem through products and services that will accelerate the availability of Android-based devices.”
It’s expected that these additions will help grow Android’s influence on the mobile market. And goodness knows it could use the help, because Google has a long way to go before they get a significant market share.
In a bid to woo more developers towards its vernal Android platform, Google has begun offering a Sim-and hardware-unlocked G1 phone to developers. The unlocked version not only opens the floodgates for developers from around the globe, but it also presents an alternative to those US-based developers who have been resisting the retail version.
Google has confirmed the availability of the unlocked phone in 18 countries, including the US, UK, Germany, Japan, India, Canada, France, Taiwan, Spain, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Poland, and Hungary. Although the unlocked G1 costs only $399, developers will have to part with $25 to register themselves on the Android Market site before they can order the phone.
At a series of press events over the past few days Adobe has unveiled a brand new version of flash aimed directly at smartphones. The new version of Flash is optimized to work with ARM processors (like the one used in the iPhone).
So long as your smartphone has a processor clock speed of at least 200MHz and 16MB of RAM, it should be able to run the new Flash. It’s also mentioned that a “completely capable browser” is required, but given the phones that it’s meant for, there shouldn’t be any issues.
Google’s G1 is expected to get the update soon, among others. Whether it’ll be simply downloaded by the phone itself or updated in-store is yet to be revealed.
While many other smartphone vendors are prominent when it comes to excitement about the possibility of Flash on their phones, Apple isn’t. Steve Jobs has mentioned that Flash “performs too slow to be useful” on the extremely popular iPhone. To many this seems like a match made in heaven, but Apple has politely snubbed that notion.
The next time you're out shopping for toilet paper, kitty treats, motor oil, and a gigantic jar of pickles, you can add a G1 Android-powered smartphone to your list and save money on that too, all without ever having to leave the store. That is, provided you're shopping at Wal-Mart.
Starting Wednesday, the mega-chain will begin selling the G1 phone to both new and existing T-Mobile customers in 550 of its stores, but there's more reason to buy the phone at Wal-Mart than just convenience. According to Wal-mart spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien, the G1 will run $149 for new customers, or $31 less than what you'd pay T-Mobile, who's selling the same phone for $180.
For those of you just coming out of a coma, the G1 is the first Google Android-powered smartphone on the market. Demand for the phone with an open-source OS has been high, with an estimated 1.5 million units already sold through pre-order sales.
Plan on picking one up? Hit the jump and sound off.