Check out this slick animated teaser from Motorola. In it the tech company takes us on a journey through the evolution of tablets, from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic tablets to the modern ones like the iPad. Speaking of the iPad, Motorola made it their mission to slam the Apple tablet in the video: “It’s like a giant iPhone… but it’s like a giant iPhone.” Burn! And if you’re of the speculating kind, let’s dig deeper into the teaser. Though Moto does not unveil the final product, their shiny new red Motorola logo attracts a buzzing bee at the end of the clip. A bee, hm? That matches up quite nicely with the name of Android’s next mobile OS: Honeycomb. Google’s Andy Rubin recently previewed a Motorola tablet running a new version of Android and he boasted that Honeycomb will include features made from the ground up specifically for the touchy tablet form factor. One more thing: Verizon teased via Twitter that they plan on showing off a whole bunch of LTE Android-based devices at CES in January; and this lines up perfectly with the CES 2011 tease at the end of this clip. Will we see a Motorola tablet running Android’s next-gen Honeycomb OS with Verizon LTE support next month? Only time will tell, but I’d put money on it.
Today turned out to be an announcement-filled day for the hardworking team at Google. The next true “Google phone” was formally unveiled, the next version of Android dubbed Gingerbread was detailed, Google Maps Navigation received a major upgrade, and now the search giant is the latest company to offer a vast eBooks store and ecosystem. Let’s jump right to the facts, shall we?
Nexus S: The Nexus S, a collaborative effort between Google and hardware manufacturer Samsung, is the follow-up device to the Nexus One. In similar fashion to its predecessor, the Nexus S promotes a “pure Google” experience, meaning that it runs the pure vanilla version of Android; you wouldn’t dare find an inkling of customized UI overlays like HTC’s Sense, Motorola’s Motoblur, or even Samsung’s own TouchWiz. Unfortunately the specifications do not push conventional boundaries, although there are some new welcome additions that complement the new Android platform: 4-inch WVGA (480×800) Super AMOLED display (Samsung is touting the new “Contour Display” that’s “designed to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand and along the side of your face”), 1GHz Cortex A8 (Hummingbird) processor, 512MB of RAM, 16GB of onboard storage, 5 megapixel rear-facing camera with auto-focus, flash, and HD 720p video recording, front-facing VGA camera (640×480), Wi-Fi 802.11 n/b/g, Bluetooth 2.1, A-GPS, Near Field Communication (NFC), accelerometer, proximity sensor, three-axis gyroscope. Ports-wise there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microUSB 2.0 port. The 1500 mAH Lithum Ion battery boasts the following life support: Talk time up to 6.7 hours on 3G (14 hours on 2G), Standby time up to 17.8 days on 3G (29.7 days on 2G). Interestingly the phone only supports tri-band HSPA, so there’s no 4G support here. Of all the tech specs listed, you may be pondering about NFC. Essentially NFC works like QR codes but better; companies can place NFC chips into objects like movie posters and the user can hold up their phone to the tagged object to extract information from it (there’s no need to open an app or bring up the camera).
So the spec sheet isn’t all that impressive, but there are two things that save this phone from being just another Android device: it’s sexy Galaxy S looks (good job Samsung) and it’s the very first device to run Android 2.3, aka Gingerbread (more on that in a bit). Let’s talk release date and pricing. The Nexus S ships December 17 for $199 with a new 2-year contract with T-Mobile (or $529 unlocked) and it’ll be available for purchase online and in-store from all Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores in the U.S. It lands in the UK on December 20 at Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy retailers.
On Thursday Google introduced a new app for Android devices called Voice Actions. “Voice Actions are a series of spoken commands that let you control your phone using your voice.” Sounds simple and yet it is extremely helpful. There are a total of twelve voice actions you can perform by speaking into the device’s mic. Including the already implemented method of performing a Google search with your voice, other actions include:
Here’s how a number of them work. You can complete a text message or email without touching the (physical or on-screen) keyboard simply by saying “send text to Bill Will” or “send email to Bill Will” respectively. The phone will take a second to understand your speech input and then present your message all ready for delivery. Tapping send will shoot your message off. Speak and send, it’s that simple. Voice actions extend beyond text messaging and emailing. Say there’s a restaurant you want to call to make reservations for dinner. You know the name and location of the restaurant, but you don’t have the business’ phone number handy. You could bring up the browser and find the number that way, but with voice actions you can more quickly and efficiently obtain and dial the restaurant’s number. The voice action “Call Sarabeth’s in NYC” will prompt your device to quickly search the Internet (using Google Maps) for the restaurant’s phone number by pinging the name and specific location. Within seconds of your voice action you’ll hear your phone ringing the restaurant or place of business. You can even use voice actions to find and listen to music. When you say “Listen to The Decemberists” your phone will search across your music library and any number of related apps (Pandora, last.fm, etc.) to start playing music from that particular band. “Note to self”, as cliche as it sounds, serves as another interesting voice action that’ll likely come in handy from time to time.
Voice Actions require Android 2.2 (Froyo) and they are currently available for U.S. English speakers only. Droid 2 owners will find the app preinstalled on their device. If you have an Android 2.2 device, search ‘Voice Search’ in the Android Market to find the free download.
Google also announced Chrome to Phone, a Chrome browser extention and Android app that communicate with each other to send browser-specific information from your desktop to your phone. Once you have Chrome to Phone installed on your desktop and phone, you can send websites, directions, and phone numbers from your desktop Chrome browser to your Android device. For example, say you’re catching up on national news at The New York Times website but you are interuppted and forced to leave home. Simply tap the new phone icon located at the top right corner of your Chrome browser window and the website will appear on your Android phone. Now let’s say you are planning a road trip using Google Maps in Chrome. Instead of wasting paper by printing out the directions, now you can send the directions from your desktop to your phone. The instant transfer will automatically open up the Google Maps app on your phone and you’re just a tap away from initiating a Google Maps Navigation route using the transferred location information. One more example. You want to make a reservation at Sarabeth’s in NYC and you found the restaurant’s phone number on your desktop. Ready to make the call? Highlight the phone number, tap the new phone button in Chrome, and the transfer will bring up your phone’s dialer prepopulated with the restaurant’s number.
The Google Chrome to Phone Extention is available (in English only) to download today. The free Chrome to Phone app requires Android 2.2 (Froyo) and can be found in the Android Market by searching ‘Chrome to Phone.’
Look after the break to learn about Gmail’s latest updates. There you’ll also find brief video demonstrations for Voice Actions and Chrome to Phone. READ MORE Google intros Voice Actions, Chrome to Phone; updates Gmail UI and contacts section, enables multiple account sign-in
According to The NPD Group, a market research company, Google’s Android smartphone OS has climbed to the #1 spot for most purchased smartphone OS in the U.S. In doing so it pushes past RIM’s Blackberry OS and Apple’s iOS 4. Here’s the official standings for Q2 2010: #1- Android (33%), #2- RIM (28 %), #3- iOS4 (23%). RIM dropped 9 points since the previous quarter and has not been positioned in second place since 2007. And if you’re wondering, Android gained 5 points and Apple picked up a single point over the course of the quarter. The top 5 best-selling Android devices in the second quarter of year are Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Incredible, HTC EVO 4G, HTC Hero, and HTC Droid Eris. Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, says that though the recently announced Blackberry 6 will “offer features that have been popular in recently launched Android handsets,” the first crop of supported devices, namely the Blackberry Torch on AT&T, “lacks the large screen allure that has characterized the best selling Android devices at its price point.” In other words, he is blaming Android’s wild successs on the myriad of Motorola and HTC handsets that feature large screens (ie. Droid & EVO 4G). And if RIM doesn’t start to change their ways with new innovations (Blackberry 6 fails to impress at first glance), it might be a while until they reclaim their old title as the most selling OS in the hotly competitive smartphone market. And how ’bout dem U.S. carriers? #1- Verizon Wireless (33%), #2- AT&T (25%), Sprint (12%), T-Mobile (11%). Full PR is after the break.
According to The NPD Group, a market research company, Google’s Android smartphone OS pushed past Apple to claim second place among smartphone operating systems. Here’s the official standings for Q1 2010: #1-RIM (36%), #2- Android OS (28 %), #3- iPhone OS (21%). Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, shares the reasoning behind the shift in dominance: “As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share. In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones.” And how do the popular US carriers size up, you ask? #1- AT&T (32%), #2- Verizon Wireless (30%), T-Mobile (17%), Sprint (15%). With the recent HP-Palm aquisition and iPhone OS 4, BlackBerry 6, and Windows Phone 7 mobile OS previews, the smartphone market is asking for a healthy shakeup. As a customer and gadget enthusiast, I say bring it on.