Sunday, February 28, 2010

Android 2.1 Update Coming to All US Android Phones

Taylor Wimber, the skipper over at Android And Me, has posted and article stating that Google is working with carriers to release the Android Eclair 2.1 update to all of today's existing Android powered smartphones.
"After talking with several inside sources familiar with the matter, I would like to report that every Android phone currently released in the United States will be receiving an upgrade to Android 2.1."
Now for the bad news. Mr. Wimber writes:
"Now let me cut to the bad news. Select Android phones will require a wipe when they are upgraded to Android 2.1. I actually only know of phones that will require a wipe, so it could include all of them (minus the Droid which is already on Android 2.0.1)."
Mr. Wimber goes on to state that he believes that the update will be rolled out to Android customers in late Q2, 2010. (Translation = Could be as late as the end of June or July)

Ok, so is a hard reset really that bad? I'm guessing that if your an Android gear head that you would rather have the official update on your phone and a reset won't be the end of the world.

I'm playing with a work issued Verizon HTC Droid Eris running Android 1.6 (Donut) and would like to have the newer OS so that I don't have to worry about compatibility issues with new application software over the next 24 months.

So how about it, Android fans? Are you ready for some "Google Goodness?"

[Via AndroidAndMe.com...]

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Verizon to Bring Skype to Popular Smartphones

At the 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Verizon Wireless and Skype today announced a strategic relationship that will bring Skype to Verizon Wireless smartphones in March. The new Skype mobile™ product enhances Verizon Wireless’ smartphones for users who have data plans by offering a new way to call around the globe, while also giving hundreds of millions of Skype users around the world the opportunity to communicate with friends, family and business colleagues in the United States using Verizon Wireless.

The two companies have created an exclusive, easy-to-use Skype mobile offering for 3G smartphones. Verizon Wireless 3G smartphone users with data plans can use Skype mobile to:
  • make and receive unlimited Skype-to-Skype voice calls to any Skype user around the globe on America’s most reliable wireless network

  • call international phone numbers at competitive Skype Out calling rates
    send and receive instant messages to other Skype users

  • remain always connected with the ability to see friends’ online presence.

Initially, Skype mobile will be available on millions of best-selling Verizon Wireless 3G smartphones with data plans, including the BlackBerry® Storm™ 9530, Storm2™ 9550, Curve™ 8330, Curve™ 8530, 8830 World Edition and Tour™ 9630 smartphones, as well as DROID by Motorola, DROID ERIS™ by HTC and Motorola DEVOUR™.

John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless, said, “Skype mobile on Verizon Wireless changes the game. For Verizon Wireless’ more than 90 million customers, Skype mobile adds great value because we’re effectively giving customers with smartphones and data plans the option to extend their unlimited calling community to hundreds of millions of Skype users around the globe. And you’re not limited to using a single type of phone; we’ll have nine smartphones ready right at launch in March.”
Josh Silverman, chief executive officer of Skype, noted, “People want to take their Skype conversations with them wherever they go, whether it’s on a PC, TV or increasingly mobile phones. Verizon Wireless will give U.S. consumers the best Skype experience on mobile phones and will truly change the way people call their friends and family internationally.”
Customers interested in learning more about Skype mobile for Verizon Wireless smartphones can visit www.verizonwireless.com/skypemobile. Additional information about the service will be available next month.

Visit www.verizonwireless.com for more information about Verizon Wireless. Learn more and download Skype at www.skype.com.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Motorola Devour Coming to Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless has announced that their next phone based on Google's Android OS, the Devour, will be arriving in March.

Verizon Wireless and Motorola, Inc. have announced the availability of Motorola DEVOUR in March. Motorola DEVOUR will be the first Verizon Wireless phone to feature MOTOBLUR, Motorola’s unique Android-powered content delivery service created to make wireless phones more personal and customizable.

MOTOBLUR is the first solution to sync contacts from work and personal e-mail services, including Gmail, with posts, messages, photos and more from popular sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. With MOTOBLUR, content is automatically delivered to the home screen and fed into easy-to-manage streams.

Motorola Devour's Key Features
  • Touch-sensitive navigation pad

  • 3.1” capacitive touch screen

  • Pre-loaded Google apps: Gmail, Google Talk, YouTube, Google Search and Google Maps with Navigation.

  • Android Market application store

  • MOTOBLUR Happenings Widget – automatically receive push status updates updates from popular social networking sites.

  • MOTOBLUR Universal Inbox – gathers texts, social network messages and e-mails into one home screen widget.

  • Back-Up and Security – Contacts, log-in information, home screen customizations, e-mail and social network messages are backed up automatically on the secure MOTOBLUR portal. The portal also allows customers to use the phone’s fully integrated aGPS to help locate the phone if misplaced. Remote wipe easily clears information from a lost device.

  • 8 GB microSD™ card pre-installed

  • Supported Bluetooth profiles include: A2DP, HID, HSP, HFP, AVRCP and GAP

Verizon Service Plans

To get the most from Motorola DEVOUR, customers will need to subscribe to a Nationwide Talk or Nationwide Talk & Text plan and a Data Package for smartphones. Nationwide Talk plans begin at $39.99 monthly access, and Nationwide Talk & Text plans begin at $59.99 monthly access. A Data Package for smartphones is $29.99 for unlimited monthly access.

Analysis

What I really like about the Devour is the new keyboard layout. For the Devour, Motorola chose to make the keys bigger and spaced them out more on the keyboard. In my opinion, this gives the user a better typing experience than what is available on the Motorola Droid or on screen virtual keyboards.

The downside is that the Devour is clearly intended to be a consumer device. I'm sure businesses will deploy plenty of the new Android-powered phone, however, without Google's adding more robust support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support, organizations looking to deploy Devour will continue to need third-party tools such as NitroDesk Touchdown.

For more details, visit the Verizon Wireless website.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Android 2.x Coming to Verizon HTC Eris


Now that I have a Verizon HTC Droid Eris attached to my hip, riding shotgun to my Palm Pre, I'm looking for information on when I might be able to get my hands on the latest release of Google Android.

According to SolSie.com, Verizon has come out and stated that they will provide an Android 2.-something upgrade for the Eris before the end of Q1, 2010. Go Big Red!

"Verizon spokesperson Brenda Raney said, "The Droid Eris currently using Android 1.5, can and will be upgraded to newer a Android operating system software in first quarter 2010. The enhancement will allow customers to continue to enjoy the powerful HTC Sense experience while also gaining the additional benefits of Google Maps Navigation."



[Via SolSie.com...]

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Motorola Enhances Keyboard on New Droid Phone



One of the things that I was complaining about in my recent Motorola Droid review was the way that the keyboard was setup on the Droid. Yes, the Droid has a full Qwerty keyboard, which is still better than an on-screen keyboard in my opinion, but the keyboard was essentially flat and it was hard to feel where one key was from the next.

In a photo that surfaced on Boy Genius Report over the weekend, it looks like Motorola is aiming to please by changing out and enhancing the keyboard in their next Google Android device, called the Motorola Droid Devour, which is headed to Verizon Wireless at some point this year.

[Via BoyGeniusReport.com...]

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Motorola Droid Print Ad

I am flipping through Entertainment Weekly magazine issue 1082/1083 and ran across an ad for the Motorola Droid for Verizon Wireless that I thought was a bit off the wall. The ad opens with this line of text:
"Jump from page to page like a caffeinated cricket in a room full of hungry lizards."

O-K, I'm not sure that imagery will make me go out an buy a new phone. Click the graphic to see the ad full size. And if you do decide to buy a Droid after reading the ad, don't forget to also pick up a good case. No need to have all that "grease-dipped lightning" getting all over that beautiful Droid screen.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Time: Droid Bests iPhone 3GS for Gadget of the Year

Ok, I really wasn't expecting the iPhone 3GS to get knocked off it's perch by a publication, especially by the likes of Time Magazine.

Apple fan site AppleInsider is reporting that Time has named the Google Android powered Motorola Droid the top gadget of 2009, beating the iPhone 3GS and the Palm Pre.
"The Droid is a hefty beast, a metal behemoth without the gloss and finish of the iPhone, but you don't miss it," the magazine said. "The Droid's touchscreen is phenomenally sharp and vivid, it has an actual physical (not great, but good enough) keyboard, and best of all, the Droid is on Verizon's best-of-breed 3G network. It's Android's first credible challenge to the iPhone."

Not to worry iPhone fans, the 3GS ranked number four on the list. The Palm Pre didn't even make Time's list.

You can read Time's full Top 10 Gadgets of 2009 list on Time.com.

Related Posts:

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Verizon Motorola Droid Hands On Review

The Motorola Droid is the latest Google Android powered smartphone being offered by Verizon Wireless. The Droid went on sale back on November 6, and joins Verizion’s other Google Android phone, the Droid Eris, in their smartphone line up.

The Droid is the first Google Android smartphone that I’ve used and I was interested in seeing what this phone is capable of doing and to see how it would measure up to other smarpthones that I’ve used in the past.

The Hardware

The Motorola Droid is a 6oz 2.4 x 4.6 x .5-inch slider smartphone. The face of the Droid is dominated by an expansive 3.7-inch 480x854 pixel WVGA display, that is formatted to support 16:9 widescreen video. (I watched about 15 minutes of Iron Man on Droid and the display looked crisp and clear.) The capacitive TFT touch screen is both bright and easy to read. Along the top of the device are a standard 3.5mm headset hack and the power on/off button. On the left side is the microUSB port used to charge the phone or connect it to your computer as a USB mass storage device. On the right side, you will find the volume up/down buttons and the camera application button. Below the screen is the mic, and on the back you will find the 5.0MP camera sensor and the speaker.

Moto Droid next to a Palm PixiTucked away inside the Droid are the EVDO Rev. A, Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, and a Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g radios. The Droid also sports an assisted GPS receiver. Powering the smartphone is a 1400 mAh removable battery. There is also a microSDHC card slot at the top of the battery compartment where you will find a 16GB microsSDHC card pre-installed. If you plan on swapping out microSDHC cards or batteries regularly, or if you tend to toss your phone in a pocket, purse, or messenger bag for example, you will want to keep an eye on the battery compartment door. Unlike other smartphones I have used in the past, the Droids battery compartment door does not latch lock into place. I can see a lot of people loosing their battery doors and Verizon should be keeping their spare parts inventory well stocked.

Similar to other recent smartphones, Motorola has included an accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, and an e-compass.

The Droid features a physical keyboard which I prefer over on screen keyboards like those used on the Apple iPhone and BlackBerry Storm 2. That said, the keys are, for all intents and purposes, completely flat. In my opinion, this makes the keyboard harder to use than it needs to be. I much rather have a physical keyboard that has raised or rubberized keys like those on the BlackBerry Curve, the Palm Treo, or the Palm Pre. At the end of the day, the best keyboard layouts and orientations are a personal choice. I would recommend that you stop at a local Verizon retail outlet and play with the keyboard before you buy so you know you will be able to live with this phone for the next two years.

The Software

The Motorola Droid, as stated earlier, is powered by the Google Android 2.0 operating system. Because the operating system was written by Google, it should come as no surprise that Droid supports most of Google’s web services, including: Gmail, Calendar, Maps, Talk (Instant Messaging), Search and Search by Voice, and YouTube. Support for Google Voice is not included on Verizon’s phone.

Main app launcher screenAndroid Phone appDroid software stackThe Android contacts and calendaring applications worked as you would expect them to and I did not experience any problems using them. On the demo unit that I was working with, I did not see a dedicated tasks or memos application. Since the Droid is the first Google Android phone that I’m using, I’m not sure if Google just didn’t include those applications, tucked the functionality into the email and/or calendar applications, or whether or not Verizon chose to not include those applications. A quick search of the Android Market provided me with a number of free and commercial replacement tasks and memos applications. I just find it odd that these applications aren’t included by default on the phone.

I was happy to see that Android 2.0 supported not only Google Gmail accounts, but also POP, IMAP, and Microsoft Exchange accounts. Additionally, you can also sync the Droid with a Google or Microsoft Exchange calendar. There are a few things that I though where confusing and annoying about email and calendaring on Droid. The first is that the Droid has two email and two calendar applications. The application “Corporate Calendar” is the application that you use to configure a Microsoft Exchange server calendar using Exchange ActiveSync. You use the “Calendar” application to access your non-Exchange calendar. For this test, I used one of my Google Calendars. I was surprised to learn that I was unable to add a second or third personal calendar. I have three calendars that I look at throughout my day: business, personal, and family. I configured the Droid to primarily sync with my “business” Gmail account and Android automatically linked the same account’s calendar to the phone. I was able to add additional Gmail and POP email accounts, but I was unable to add a second or third calendar. Researching this issue in online Android discussion forums, it appeared that this could be a bug in the calendar application. I would like to see Google fix this limitation in the near future.

I’m a heavy user of email, calendaring, web browsing, and word processing. The browser that has been included with Droid rendered pages as well as Safari on my iPod touch with iPhone OS 3.1.2 and my Palm Pre with webOS 1.3.1.

DataViz Documents To Go 2.0 for Android

No Smartphone Fanatics smartphone review would be complete until I take DataViz Documents To Go out for a test drive.

Docs To Go launcherDocs To Go File menuDocs To Go File Open windowUnlike other smartphone platforms that you may have used in the past, Motorola’s Droid does not ship with Documents To Go pre-installed on the device. You will have to use the Android Market to download and install the free Viewer Edition of Documents To Go. The free version of Documents To Go allows you to view any recent Microsoft Word and Excel documents that you receive as an email attachment or side load on your microSD card. When you step up to the Full Version of Documents To Go 2.0 for Android, you gain the ability to view Microsoft PowerPoint documents and Adobe Acrobat documents. You also gain the ability to create and edit Microsoft Office documents. DataViz gives you the flexibility to choose the file format for your new Office documents: Office 97-2003 or Office 2007. (The file format selection is an application preference that effects new documents and is not selected when you perform a File > Save As… command.)

Another nice feature included in the Full Edition of Documents To Go is DataViz's implementation of predictive word look ups. Typing ‘fi” in a new Word document causes Word To Go to pop open a small row of possible words that start with the letters “fi” and I can quickly pick “first” form the list of words that I wanted to type. I like this implementation because the possible word selection list is not popping up in front of what you are typing to type. In other words, in my opinion, this is a much cleaner, less annoying way to work with predictive word look ups. The Full Version of Documents To Go also did a fantastic job of loading and rendering my test Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Acrobat documents. You can purchase the full version of Documents To Go for $29.95 in the Android Market, however, after registering the free Viewer Edition, I received an email from DataViz inviting me to upgrade to the full version for $9.95. If you are going to be using the Motorola Droid to work with Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat documents, you will want to purchase this upgrade. At $10, the full featured version of Documents To Go 2.0 is a bargain price for all the functionality you get.

All the Rest

I also spent some time playing with the fun aspects of Droid. The 5.0MP digital camera takes some nice pictures once you get used to the auto-focus feature. The picture viewer and music players worked well. I was able to play all of the non-DRM’ed iTunes purchased tracks that I loaded on the Droid's microSDHC card. (I sided loaded the music. If you want to sync playlists right out of iTunes, you will need to install a third-party application like DoubleTwist.)

I also loaded some of the free news applications like The New York Times, USA Today, and The Weather Channel; all of which worked well. Android comes pre-loaded with a native Facebook client (I didn’t test Facebook) and a free Twitter client, TwitterTweet, kept in up to date on all of the mobile computing Twitter-ers that I follow. I also downloaded and installed the free WiFi OnOff widget which saved a lot of time, and screen taps, to turn Wi-Fi on and off quickly. And lastly, avid readers will be happy to learn that the Fictionwise eReader Pro application works on the Android 2.0 platform, however, you will need to manually install the software from the eReader.com website, not the Android Market.

Conclusion

After spending a little more than a week getting to know the Motorola Droid and the Google Android 2.0 mobile operating system, I feel that the Droid is on par with the Apple iPhone 3G/3G s, BlackBerry Storm or Storm 2, and the Palm Pre. Based on the way I used the phone, I feel that it could tackle all of my business, personal, and social mobile computing needs. Google Android 2.0 is easy enough to use and the installation of third-party applications over the air (OTA) from the Android Market worked without any trouble at all.

Pricing and Availability

The Verizon Motorola Droid smartphone is available now at Verizon Wireless retail locations, online from the Verizon Wireless website, and through corporate inside sales reps. Consumers should expect to pay $299.99 with a new 2-year contract or with a 2-year contract extension. If you order the Droid from the Verizon Wireless website, you will receive a $100 discount. You may be able to find even better pricing from Amazon or Best Buy if you are willing to put the time in comparing online and brick and mortar retail location pricing.

For more information about the Motorola Droid, please visit the Motorola website. For pricing and service contract information, please visit the Verizon Wireless website.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Consumerist Calls Verizon Droid Packaging "Cheap"

The Consumerist, the online extension of the Consumer Reports magazine, has an article up on their website titled, "Cheap Package Design Tricks People Into Dropping Motorola Droid On Floor". I didn't get to unbox the Verizon Droid that I'm currently testing. (The box, with the phone inside it, was handed to me horizontally.)

One customer is writes about their experience to The Consumerist:

"I got my new Verizon Motorola Droid last week. But when I opened the box, the Droid fell to the floor. Apparently I had the box turned the wrong way. There is now a dent in my phone. It's not a major dent. The phone still works. But it's still not cool that because of a design flaw, I have to live with a damaged phone right from the get-go."

Read the full post on The Consumerist website...

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Verizon Motorola Droid in the House

If you where following my Twitter feed (@spf360) earlier today you already know that I'm now walking around with a Google Android 2.0 powered Motorola Droid. (To be fair, I also go to play with a Palm Pixi today too!)

How did I come to have a Droid you ask? Simple; I'm taking it out for a test drive as a possible replacement for the fleet of aging Palm Treo 700p and 755p smartphones. I really love my job!

So I have this phone for about a week. During that time I'll be playing with it see how it will stand up to everyday use by corporate office workers. Keep in mind that I'm going to be focusing on what an office worker will be doing with the Droid. So high on the list of things to test out is the browser, camera, native Gmail and attachment support, some of the location based services like GPS driving directions and traffic updates, geotagged photos, voice dialing, and maybe some thing non-work related like news apps, Facebook, and a few games.

The good news is that I've taken Thanksgiving week off which will give me plenty of time to play with this new "business tool."

If you have something that you want me to try out while I have the phone, leave me a note in the comments section and I will do my best to try things out and report back.

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