Microsoft took great pains to talk up the ease of the Windows Phone update process when announcing the OS. It was their intention to draw a clear distinction between WP7, and the haphazard Android update process. Despite what we can only assume is their best effort, some serious issues are cropping up with this first small update.
Microsoft has revealed some details on their anticipated 2011 updates for Windows Phone 7, and if they follow through, the platform could be looking much more attractive. The first major update that includes copy and paste functionality is set to drop in early March, but that's nothing compared to the features expected for the second update of 2011. Microsoft expects to add Internet Explorer 9 and multitasking to Windows Phone in this second update.
According to a leak to Pocket-Now, Google will be pushing out an update to the Android platform in April. This will be version 2.4, but will not be the rumored Ice Cream release. Rather, this will be a second iteration of Gingerbread. It is the same situation that we saw last year with Android 2.0 and 2.1 both being branches of Éclair. Apparently, this update will be all about dual-core support.
If you've been agonizing over which Android handset to get, this little analysis from Computer World should come in handy. One of the most important aspects of a phone, is future software support. If a phone never gets the new version of Android, that can be a real bummer. Each pre-Froyo phone was checked over in this study, and if the update happened in 2010, the carrier and manufacturer got a smiley face. Count up all the smiley faces, and you can see who's more likely to update your phone.
When it all came down to the numbers, HTC and Verizon were the most likely to update phones. HTC bestowed Froyo on 50% of their existing handsets this year. Motorola was next at 15.4%, and Samsung was third at 11.1%. As for the carriers, Verizon was up at 33.3% updated, Sprint was next with 28.5% updated, and T-Mobile was way down at 12.5%. AT&T has sent out no Froyo updates on its network.
Even the top end here isn't looking so good. Consumers have to choose wisely to get the OTA updates they might be wanting down the road. Carrier branded phones are always going to be behind the curve. We just didn't know how far behind. It looks like a Nexus phone is the only recourse for today's update junkies.
It's a good news, bad news situation for users of the Verizon Droid Incredible today. According to Engadget, the software update being pushed to the device next week will automatically install the VCast App Store on the phone in addition to bug fixes. This move has been expected for some time, and the Droid Incredible is the first Android phone to get the alternative carrier-run app store.
Verizon notes that developers continue to submit apps to the store, but we've yet to hear of any compelling titles. Although, the VCast app store does offer carrier billing, so purchases made there will show up on the monthly bill. The Android Market only supports this for T-Mobile USA customers.
We worry that users will be confused by the appearance of a new app store on the device. The Android Market is tightly integrated with a user's Google Account. Purchased app are easily transferred to a new phone. It is unclear how the VCast apps will work. Some user simply take issue with the carrier adding apps without their consent. The update will eventually need to be installed for users of the stock ROM. Users looking to take more control can always root and install custom ROMs, but really -- they shouldn't have to.
It's always a question with new Android devices; will it get updates? This was even more of a concern with the Samsung Galaxy Tab, as it is the first commercially viable Android tablet device. The differences in the hardware had some potential buyers worried Samsung would fail to keep the device up to date. But at a Samsung event in India today, the electronics giant confirmed that the Tab will get both Gingerbread and Honeycomb updates, SamsungHub reports.
The upcoming Android Gingerbread (probably 2.3) is expected to be unveiled soon, and Honeycomb (3.0?) should drop sometime in 2011. This is certainly good news for those planning to pick up a Galaxy Tab. Samsung is running a modified version of the Android UI called TouchWiz. This UI needs to be integrated with any stock updates to the Android platform. This likely means updates will take a bit longer, but at least they will happen.
The Galaxy Tab is set to go on sale in most countries next week. All major US mobile carriers have confirmed they will carry it, with T-Mobile being the first out of the gate. Do you have your eye on the Galaxy Tab?
It’s hard to maintain any kind of neutrality when writing about Valve’s Steam service. Indeed, it’s hard to write anything about Steam without adopting a grin the size of a cartoon character and lavishing compliments on the service faster than needles firing out of a medic’s syringe gun.
The recent partnership between AMD and Valve that put an easy-to-access, “download new video drivers here please” tool within the game-drenched packet manager has been an unexpected-yet-delightful addition to the service. And I’ve said it before: It’s about time.
However, it's also time for hardware manufacturers to step up to the challenge of releasing clean, comprehensive drivers for their full product lines--legacy hardware included. More importantly, Valve needs to take its little "AMD experiment" as more than just fun dabbling. As gamers and enthusiasts, we're way overdue to see someone rise to the occasion to deliver a one-stop shop for zero-hour driver updates that gamers of all backgrounds deserve to have.
And yes, if you say, "What about Windows Update," I'm going to throw up.
It seems TweetDeck is the latest target of unscrupulous internet fiends. Just weeks after seeing a fake TweetDeck app show up in the Android Market, hacked Twitter accounts are spewing out links purporting to be an update to the popular Twitter client. As TweetDeck notes on their website, "These tweets are from hacked accounts and this file does not come from us. Do not download it."
The scam tweets are usually packed with some sort of phrase making them seem more authentic. The tweets may read, " Download TweetDeck udate ASAP!" or, "Sorry for offtopic, but it is a critical TweetDeck update. It won't work tomorrow!" It is unclear what the download does, but users that fell for this are advised to run a full virus scan of their computer, and have it serviced if need be.
Have you seen these tweets floating through the social web? Do you know anyone that fell for it? We can't find any victims 'round here.
The UI changes are the most noticeable to users. The color scheme has been made more metallic, and less blue. The stop/refresh button has been removed from the end of the address bar, and given its own spot at the left of the interface. The options have been condensed to one button as well. These changes make more space for extension icons.
Late last week, Motorola Droid users rejoiced as it was announced they would be receiving an Android 2.2 update this week. But now another announcement is leaving a sour taste in users' mouths. Verizon has announced that the update will not contain the Froyo standard USB tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot functionality. In the statement, Verizon claimed it was a hardware issue, saying, "[the Droid] doesn't have [the] hardware to support a mobile hotspot."
Some users are calling Verizon's bluff though. The Droid is one of the most hackable Android phones available, and may custom ROMs exist for it. A rooted Droid is perfectly capable of running a hotspot with some of these ROMs. This fact makes Verizon's statement suspect. A more likely scenario is that Verizon simply doesn't want to allow users to use the free tethering in Froyo.
Some other Verizon phones, like the Droid X, have a special paid hotspot app that Verizon charges monthly for. It's possible Verizon and Motorola did not want to take the time to develop such a feature for a phone that is about to discontinued. What do you think? Conspiracy, or hardware shortcoming?