Verizon flipped on its 4G LTE service back in December 2010 and since then it’s rather quickly spread to 190 million US cities and 118 million major airports, covering more than 200 million Americans. At long last, the time has come for the competition to throw their hats into the ring.
In early September, AT&T launched their 4G LTE service in 5 markets (Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston) to complement its HSPA+ network (also known as “faux-G”). Later in November they expanded to eleven additional markets including Athens, Ga., Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. On January 5, AT&T added another eleven markets to the mix, and they’re big ones: New York City metro area, Austin, Chapel Hill, Los Angeles, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. Ma Bell calculates that this addition makes AT&T 4G LTE available in a total of 26 markets to 74 million consumers. The company expects its 4G LTE deployment to be mostly complete by the end of 2013.
And then there’s Sprint. They’ve been innovating behind Verizon and AT&T, only just announcing their first major markets to receive 4G LTE. Dallas, Atlanta, Houston and San Antonio will be the first four markets to see the faster speeds in the first half of 2012. Sprint is also working on boosting their 3G speeds as well. They call it Network Vision: “Sprint customers can expect to enjoy ultra-fast data speeds, improved 3G voice and data quality, and stronger in-building signal penetration providing a more reliable wireless experience…everyone in the upgraded areas is expected to benefit from the advanced 3G/4G LTE network.”
With 4G LTE markets spreading across America like wildfire from Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint, consumers can expect new smartphones to release this year that take advantage of the faster voice and data speeds that 4G provides. Rumor has it that the next iPhone will in fact be compatible on VZW, at least. Now that AT&T isn’t allowed to swallow T-Mobile, the network that made popular the Sidekick is going to have to act quickly if they want to remain the race; their speedy HSPA+ network won’t stand a chance once the other three carriers are boasting their expansive 4G LTE ones. Let the games begin.
The very first phone running Android 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich is now available on Verizon Wireless. The 4G LTE compatible Galaxy Nexus by Samsung packs a 1.2GHz processor, a big 4.65″ HD Super AMOLED display, 5 megapixel rear-facing and 1.3 megapixel front-facing cameras, 1GB RAM, and 32GB on-board memory. Android ICS brings with it a whole slew of new features including Face Unlock, Android Beam, an enhanced Camera app, a new People app, and of course an entirely redesigned user interface. Get all the juicy details here. As of December 15 the newest Nexus was made available on VZW and can be yours for a cool $299.99 with a two-year contract. Pics below, PR and video after the break.
In October Nokia unveiled its Lumia range of Windows Phone-powered smartphones, the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710. This week T-Mobile became the official carrier of the budget-friendly Lumia 710 and announced that’ll be available next month. The 710, which features a 3.7-inch ClearBlack WVGA scratch-resistant display, a Qualcomm 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor, a 5 megapixel camera, and HSPA+ 14.4Mbps “4G” speed, is being touted by T-Mo as “the perfect first-time smartphone” at the low price of $49.99 after a two-year contract is signed. Also shipping with software like Nokia’s Drive and ESPN apps as well as T-Mobile TV and Netflix, the 710 comes to market in the US on January 11 in black and white variants.
It’s a shame Nokia isn’t promoting the fiercer Lumia 800 before its low-budget brother, let alone alongside it. In my humble opinion, Nokia is making a mistake by allowing customers to think that Windows Phones manufactured by Nokia are “cheap” or lacking competitive features. It would have been smarter to team the 800 with T-Mobile first so that the public could understand that the Finnish company is ready to battle the likes of Apple, Samsung, Motorola, and LG in the States, rather than push out an entry level smartphone for techies to scoff at. Nokia is a deserving phone maker, so here’s to hoping that they get their act together and release the Lumia 800 in the States sooner than later.
Today at Nokia World in London, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop unveiled the Nokia Lumia range of smartphones. The Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 are the first Nokia smartphones powered by Windows Phone. Remember way back when, when the cell phone manufacturer announced its “strategic alliance” with Microsoft? Well the Lumia handsets announced today are the first products to be born out of the partnership.
The Lumia 800 is the fiercer of the two, sporting a 3.7-inch (800 x 480) AMOLED ClearBlack curved display, a 1.4 GHz processor with hardware acceleration and a graphics processor, 512MB of RAM, an eight megapixel Carl Zeiss optics branded camera lens on the back with a f/2.2 aperture and 720p HD video recording and playback, and 16GB of internal storage and 25GB of free SkyDrive storage. Quad-band GSM support is included, and users can expect HSDPA download speeds to reach up to 14.4Mbps. The exterior of the super sleek device–which measures 12.1mm thin and is made of durable polycarbonate plastic–isn’t adorned with much. At the top there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and a tiny door that hides a micro-USB charger port and the SIM slot; the right side has a volume rocker, power button, and a dedicated camera shutter button; the bottom houses the speaker; and that’s pretty much it. The traditional Windows Phone icons (back, home, and search) are capacitive and sit beneath the display. As far as availability is concerned, the Lumia 800 is scheduled to rollout across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK in November. It will then be made available in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan before the end of the year, and in further markets in early 2012. Whether or not the United States is included in that “further markets” category is anybody’s guess at this point. The handset is priced at €420, or about $585.
Moving on to the budget-friendly Nokia Windows Phone, the bulkier Lumia 710 sports the same 1.4 GHz processor as the 800, but the 3.7-inch ClearBlack display is WVGA TFT here and misses out on the 800′s crisper and bolder AMOLED screen. Other specs include 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, plus there’s a five megapixel shooter on the back. It’s also worth noting that the Windows icons (back, home, search) are physical buttons on the 710. Availability goes like this: the Lumia 710 will release first in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan in November alongside the Lumia 800, and then it will be made available in further markets in early 2012. Again, we don’t know if this handset will make it to U.S. shores. The 710 will sell for €270, or about $375.
Now we must briefly focus on the software. Obviously the Lumia range will be running Microsoft’s latest version of Windows Phone dubbed Mango. What’s slightly disappointing is that (at least in the beginning) Nokia isn’t doing much to differentiate their line of Windows Phones from the current competition. The Lumia range will come packaged with the following three software additions: Drive, Music, and ESPN Sports Hub. The first will provide users with full turn-by-turn navigation; the second will work alongside the Zune player and feature something called Mix Radio that allows users to stream music playlists; and the third will offer up sports stats and related news. For now, these are the only differentiating factors software-wise for Nokia’s Windows Phones. Can Nokia get by solely with their good looks?
Be sure to get a closer look at the Lumia 800 (available in cyan, magenta and black) and the chunkier Lumia 710 (available in black and white with black, white, cyan, fuchsia and yellow interchangeable back covers) in the galleries below. Videos and press releases are after the break. If/when these phones make it to the U.S. I’ll let you know. At some point in the near future (likely by 2012) Nokia will be selling Windows Phones in the States, so rest assured.
There was the Nexus One and Nexus S. Today in a joint event based in Hong Kong Google and Samsung announced the next Android flagship device: the Galaxy Nexus. Both the hardware and software that make up this smartphone will bring you to your knees. First, check out these hardware specifications. The Galaxy Nexus sports a giant 4.65″ (1280X720) HD Super AMOLED display and is powered by a 1.2GHz dual core processor and 1GB of RAM. There’s a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, zero shutter lag, and 1080p HD video recording at 30fps around back and a 1.3 megapixel camera on the front for video calls. Built-in sensors include an accelerometer, compass, gyro, light, proximity, and a freakin’ barometer. Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0 technologies are onboard, as is NFC. The sleek devices measures at 135.5 x 67.94 x 8.94mm and weighs 135g. A Li-on 1,750 mAh battery comes attached. Ports include USB 2.0 and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Customers will have the option of 16GB and 32GB storage capacities. will HSPA+ and 4G LTE models will be produced with all signs pointing to AT&T and Verizon Wireless as official carriers, though this information along with pricing has yet to be announced.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the next Nexus phone will come loaded with the next generation Android OS dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich. Previously introduced and detailed at Google I/O earlier this year, ICS (now labeled Android 4.0) will merge Android’s smartphone OS Gingerbread (v2.3) and tablet OS Honeycomb (v3.0) to form “one OS everywhere” and bring the best of both worlds to smartphone devices. At the Hong Kong event Google further detailed ICS and shed light on some super cool functionality that’s baked into it. With Android 4.0, Google says “the lock screen, home screen, phone app, and everything in between has been rethought and redesigned to make Android simple, beautiful, and useful.” The revamped OS brings with it many enhancements and new features, but there are four major ones that were discussed at today’s event. (1) Face Unlock uses facial recognition to unlock your phone. In Settings, Android will snap a picture of your face and remember it each time you go to unlock your phone. If lighting is poor, you can unlock your phone with a conventional swipe. (2) Android Beam uses NFC technology to wirelessly share content between two devices. Users can physically touch two phones together and tap a “beam” button to share web pages, apps, maps, YouTube videos, and more. Does this remind you of WebOS’ “tap-to-share” functionality? It should. (3) The enhanced Camera app brings with it a panorama mode, 1080p video capture, zero-shutter lag, and fun effects like silly faces and background replacement. Photos can be edited right on the device. (4) A new People app helps users organize their contacts with social network integration (Google+, “other social networks”) including the ability to view status updates and high-res photos. Other software updates coming with ICS include virtual on-screen buttons that take the place of physical capacitive ones, a new modern “Roboto” font, a customizable launcher, offline search in Gmail, accessing apps from the lock screen, enhanced voice recognition, tabbed browsing, and the ability to exit apps running in the background. If you want to learn more about what’s packed inside Ice Cream Sandwich, head over to the Android Developers website.
The Galaxy Nexus will be the very first device to run Android 4.0. Google says that “theoretically [Ice Cream Sandwich] should work for any [Android] 2.3 device.” Though there are no plans to rollout ICS to legacy Android devices just yet, you can expect Google and hardware manufacturers like Samsung and HTC to speak up about software updates for specific devices in the near future. The Galaxy Nexus with ICS goes on sale in the U.S., Europe, and Asia this November. Again, pricing and carriers are TBD. Check out the super sleek phone and OS in the gallery below, then find official PR after the break.
On Tuesday newly appointed Apple CEO Tim Cook hosted a press event to launch the next iPhone and detail the new version of iOS and the upcoming iCloud service. Breakdown, commence.
The successor to the iPhone 4 is not the iPhone 5; it’s the iPhone 4S. It serves as an incremental upgrade to its predecessor much like the iPhone 3GS was to the iPhone 3G. The exterior design of the handset remains the same; the changes can be found on the inside. The 4S packs the same processor originally designed for the iPad 2: Apple’s dual-core A5 chip. The company says that users can expect speeds up to 2X faster than the previous iPhone. In addition, the 4S also contains a new dual-core GPU that renders graphics up to 7X faster than the iPhone 4. At the keynote games developer Epic previewed Infinity Blade 2 (out December 1) and it looks magnificent.
After speed, Apple went on to upgrade the device’s camera. The 4S sports a new 8 megapixel camera. The sensor has 60 percent more pixels allowing users to shoot 3264 x 2448 photos with crisp detail. CMOS backside illuminated allows for 73 percent more light, a hybrid IR filter allows for better color accuracy and uniformity, a five element lens setup allows for 30 percent more sharpness, auto white balance has been improved by 26 percent, and a larger f/2.4 aperture is now featured. Also, the Camera app launches much faster and the shot to shot capability is twice as fast as before; it now takes 1.1 seconds to shoot your first photo and then 0.5 seconds for each additional shot. According to Apple’s research, these speeds blaze past the Android competition. And there’s this: the backside camera shoots video in full 1080p HD resolution and features real-time video image stabilization and temporal noise reduction helps in low light conditions.
The phone’s antenna system has also been tweaked. The dual-antenna design of iPhone 4 remains, but now it can intelligently switch between both antennas to transmit and receive data more efficiently. This results in the device’s ability to download data up to twice as fast as before (HSDPA performance: 14.4 Mbps down, 5.8 Mbps up) and you can expect better call quality. The 4S is a world phone, meaning GSM and CDMA technologies are built in and users can roam internationally on both networks.
And then there was the “one more thing…” Apple announced Siri, the device’s “intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.” With the iPhone 4, holding down the home button will prompt the phone to initiate the rather crude voice-activated menu where you can say things like “Call Home” or “Play Kanye West.” Siri takes this to an entirely new level of awesome. Apple designed Siri to “understand context allowing you to speak naturally when you ask it questions.” Here are some examples to help illustrate. You can ask Siri “What is the weather like today?” and it will display the current temperature with visual aid. Then you can ask for an “hourly forcast” and it will provide that information, too. You can also say things like “Wake me up at 6AM”, “Find me a great Greek restaurant in Palo Alto”, “Give me directions to Hoover Tower”, and “Schedule lunch at Friday on noon with John Smith” and Siri will answer you intelligently. It will access the clock app to set an alarm; it will search the ‘Net for Greek restaurants and sort them by Yelp customer ratings; it will launch Maps and provide directions; and it will look into your calendar and create events for you (if there’s an event that clashes with the new one you’re attempting to make, Siri will inform you about this and ask if you want to reschedule one of them). And the hands-free interaction doesn’t end there. Siri has access to many of the apps preloaded on the 4S. You can make Siri read aloud your text messages and emails and it’s also integrated with Reminders, Safari (“Search Wikipedia for Neil Armstrong”) and Wolfram Alpha’s database (“Define mytosis”). An information pane inside the Siri interface will provide users with a list of prompts they can use. And when you ask Siri “Who are you?” it’ll answer “I am a humble personal assistant.” Ha, try it! It also does dictation; a new mic icon is now part of the virtual keyboard. Siri is an iPhone 4S exclusive, and it works over WiFi and 3G. At launch it’ll remain in beta and support English, French, and German; Apple promises over time additional languages and services will be added.
The iPhone 4S, which will ship with iOS 5 and iCloud services, releases October 14 and is now available for preorder. It’ll sell in black and white flavors at the following price points: 16GB: $199, 32GB: $299, 64GB: $399, all with new two-year contracts of course. Additionally, Sprint joins AT&T and Verizon Wireless to become a carrier of the iPhone. (Note that the iPhone 4 will continue to sell at a new low price point of $99 (8GB) and the iPhone 3GS (8GB) can be picked up at no cost. When the 4S ships on the 14th it’ll release in the US, Canada, Austrailia, the UK, France, Germany, and Japan; on the 28th it’ll make it’s way to 22 more countries and by December 2011 it’ll sell in over 70 countries and with over 100 carriers. Apple claims this’ll be the fastest rollout ever for an iPhone.
iOS 5, iCloud, and iPods after the break. (Click here for more…)
In May Microsoft previewed the first major upgrade to its rejuvenated mobile OS. Mango will bring multitasking, IE9, and deeper social network integration, among other things, to Windows Phone 7 devices. This fall, AT&T intends to upgrade their entire WP7 portfolio to Mango. Nice! But there’s more. In a press release (in full after the break), Ma Bell also announced three brand new handsets that will ship with Mango on board in Q4. The new and improved Samsung Focus S features a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, 1.4GHz processor, a rear facing 8 megapixel camera and a front facing 1.3 megapixel, ”4G”-capable speeds, and a thin profile at 8.55 millimeters. The Focus Flash downgrades things a bit and packs a smaller 3.7-inch Super AMOLED screen, a 5 megapixel camera with front facing camera, but it keeps the speedy 1.4 GHz processor. And finally the large-and-in-charge HTC Titan features a 4.7-inch display, 1.5 GHz processor, and 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash. Pricing and exact available will have to wait.
Update: Microsoft shows off a bunch of Mango’s new features in dramatic video fashion after the break.
To say the launch of the Bionic has been a long time coming is quite the understatement. Motorola’s latest Droid handset was announced way back in January, and now–eight months later–it’s finally being sold at Verizon Wireless outlets everywhere. So the question on your mind right now should be: was it worth the wait? Check out these specs… The Droid Bionic is Verizon’s first dual-core and LTE-capable smartphone. It packs a dual-core 1GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, 4.3-inch qHD screen featuring scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass, an 8MP camera with AF, flash, and 1080p video capture, a front-facing cam for video chatting, 16GB on board memory and 16GB microSD card pre-installed, and HDMI out. It can serve as a Mobile Hotspot with up to five WiFi-enabled devices. This beast runs the latest version of Android–2.3.4 Gingerbread, that is. And it’s all jammed inside a slim 2.6(w) x 5.0(h) x0.4(d) shell weighing 5.6oz. Ah, what a mouthful. In short, if you’re a VZW customer and on the market for the latest and greatest and the best of both worlds (dual-core power and 4G LTE blazing speeds), the Bionic is a clear choice. How long it will remain on top is yet to be seen; I hear the iPhone 5 (4S?) is just around the corner.
Right–pricing. The Bionic runs a Benjamin higher than most smartphones. Order one today from VZW for $299.99 on a new two-year contract. Full PR sits after the break.
In April 2010 HP acquired Palm for $2.1 billion. Since then HP announced three products powered by Palm’s secret sauce known as webOS: the next-gen Pre3, the tiny Veer, and the TouchPad tablet. Due to a number of factors (including but not limited to manufacturing delays, almost no buzz, and as a result of that poor sales figures), HP has decided to discontinue all webOS devices. A press release outed Thursday states:
HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.
So what does this mean for ex-WebOS engineer Job Rubinstein’s creation? Well, HP refuses to say that the innovative OS is dead. The majority of industry insiders believe that HP might go on to license the OS to other hardware manufacturers. So in a nutshell, HP will continue shaping the OS for the future but the devices it will run on will be made by other manufacturers. (It’s like what Google and Microsoft do with their cell phone businesses; Android and Windows Phone 7 are developed internally and they are pushed out to consumers on devices made by other manufactures like HTC and Samsung.) For now, however, the manufacture of the Pre line, the Veer, and the TouchPad will be ceased and when the current supply of inventory is gone, that’s the end of it. If you’re in the market for a decent tablet, though, now’s the time to splurge: HP is having a major TouchPad fire sale to get rid of all the remaining inventory. The 16GB ($399) and 32GB ($499) models are seeing a significant price drop today; they are now going for $99 and $149 respectively. Check out Slick Deals to see the retail outlets that have the price reduction in effect.
In the same press release HP also announced that “its board of directors has authorized the exploration of strategic alternatives for its Personal Systems Group (PSG).” In other words, the company is pondering a way to spinoff their consumer-oriented hardware wing so that they can focus all their attention on building software. You see, the company’s PSG includes HP desktops, laptops, printers, webOS devices, etc. HP is in talks with Autonomy Corporation plc about handing over their hardware unit, but according to HP CEO Leo Apotheker it’ll be another 12 to 18 months before any major decisions are made regarding the new focus for the company.
It’s clear that this is a time of transition for HP. They spent billions on a fading hardware company and that went bust. Now they are taking a step back from the consumer industry and considering a big move towards software and services. When all the dust settles, though, there’s one thing that remains to be said and makes a lump form in my throat: with Rubinstein working on other projects and webOS on death row, this time Palm really is dead.
Chandra Rathakrishnan, CEO of Fusion Garage, hosted an intimate event yesterday afternoon to introduce a new tablet experience unto the world. The creator of the failed JooJoo tablet (2009) is back and hopes to regain consumer faith with his second attempt at creating a new kind of post-PC device. Rathakrishnan ran a lengthy and expensive viral marketing campaign leading up to yesterday’s unveiling; he invented the faux company TabCo (short for Tablet Company) and posted viral videos at the site WhoIsTabCo.com. The campaign had the public at large buzzing about who might be behind TabCo. Now that we know it’s Fusion Garage, journey downward to learn more about the forthcoming products and decide if the hype was worth it. (Click here for more…)
In an interesting move, superpower Google bought the consumer-oriented arm of Motorola known as Motorola Mobility for a cool $12.5 billion (at a price of $40 per share) on Monday. In a press release the pending acquisition is explained:
The acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a dedicated Android partner, will enable Google to supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing. Motorola Mobility will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. Google will run Motorola Mobility as a separate business.
Google CEO Larry Page says, ”Motorola Mobility’s total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies. Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.”
This is a huge move made by Google. Like Microsoft and Nokia, Google and Motorola are going to take advantage of their partnership by harnessing the power of Android software and the might of Moto’s hardware to create amazing products for consumers. Keep in mind that the Mobility division goes beyond smartphones and also includes other consumer devices like set top boxes; no doubt Google will work with Motorola to ensure the growth of products like Google TV. And on the business end of things, the acquisition ”will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies,” says Page.
As the acquisition takes hold, a few questions remain. What will happen to Moto’s custom Android skin called MotoBlur? Will all future handsets built by Moto come loaded with the latest version of plain vanilla Android? Will the next Nexus phone come from Goog’s new partner? Time will tell.
One thing’s for certain: even though Google and Moto are tied to one another, the Android platform remains open for all hardware manufacturers to utilize; healthy competition is here to stay. Full PR after the break.
This summer Verizon and Motorola decided to put another notch in Droid’s ever-expanding belt by introducing the latest and greatest Droid 3. The specifications go like this: dual-core 1GHz processor, 4-inch qHD display, 8 megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture, front-facing cam for still shots and video chat, 5-row QWERTY keyboard, 3G Mobile Hotspot capabilities (can connect up to five WiFi-enabled devices), HDMI output (mirror mode beams photos, videos, and movies onto an HDTV), global ready, runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. If you’re hunting for a new smartphone that sports a roomy physical keyboard, the Droid 3 is arguably VZW’s best smartphone choice at the moment. The Droid 3 is worth $199.99 and a new 2-year contract. Images below, full PR after the break.
If you’re a new Verizon Wireless customer itching to get your paws on the Droid 3 or any VZW smartphone for that matter, know that the company’s data plans have become tiered. This means, simply, that you must pay for every byte you use whilst scouring the Internet on your device. Gone is the worry-free $30 unlimited data plan, in are the following: $30 for 2GB of data per month, $50 for 5GB, and $80 for 10GB. Big Red will charge $10 per GB of data if you exceed the monthly allotment you choose. The new plans went into effect July 7. A few stipulations: if you were already a VZW customers before the 7th and had the unlimited data plan you have been grandfathered and remain safe; but be warned–if you ever decide to change to a new data plan you will lose the unlimited offer and never get it back. Sad times, indeed.
The next release of Windows Phone is coming this fall. Windows Phone Mango includes deeper social network integration, Internet Explorer 9, and the ability to multitask. Among the 500 new features coming to the mobile OS is also an updated Xbox portal. Here’s a quick rundown of the new Games Hub:
- A cleaner and lighter design that emphasizes your game collection and Xbox LIVE info
- Improved overall performance and speed
- An improved Collection view will organize and list all the games you download from the Marketplace
- Interactive, 3D avatars
- Improved Xbox LIVE messaging: read and reply to Xbox LIVE messages sent from another Windows Phone, a PC, or an Xbox console
- Xbox LIVE friends are more accessible: You can search, browse, initiate, and respond to friend requests right from your Windows Phone.
- Integrated achievements and new comparison views: See the recent games your friends have been playing, and compare gamerscores and achievements for all Xbox LIVE games played on the phone, console, or PC.
- You can edit your Xbox LIVE profile on the go
- Improved Spotlight content will now be complemented with rich and vibrant images
- Improved game request notifications: You’ll receive notifications for multiplayer game or turn requests and can track them in the Requests section of the Games Hub.
In sum with Mango the Xbox on-the-go experience is going to be a helleva lot more streamlined and easier to use. Look in the gallery below to tour the updated UI.
Today Microsoft previewed the next major release of Windows Phone. Codenamed Mango, the update will bring more than 500 new features to the growing platform. It aims to make the mobile operating system “smarter and easier” by injecting new life into the communications, apps and Internet experiences. In order, shall we?
Communications: (1) Deeper social network integration: In addition to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn feeds are now integrated into contact cards. (2) Threads: Now you can easily switch between SMS, Facebook chat and Windows Live Messenger within the same conversation. In other words, conversations can be had across various messaging platforms. For example, if you begin a conversation with friend at home over Facebook chat you can continue this conversation when you’re on the go via SMS and the back-and-forth banter will be streamlined in the same conversation window. (3) Groups: You can group contacts into personalized Live Tiles to see your friends’ latest status updates from the home screen and quickly send a text, email or IM to a whole group. For example, you can create a “family” group and store your parents and siblings inside a Live Tile. From there you can easily converse with them under one roof or check their social status updates. (4) Linked inbox: Now you can see multiple email accounts in one linked inbox. Also, email now supports threading and calendar Facebook events. (5) Hands-free messaging: Built-in voice-to-text and text-to-voice support enables hands-free texting or chatting. If you’re listening to music and receive a text the phone will read the incoming message aloud to you. Then you can speak a reply and the phone will convert your speech into text and send it off.
Apps: (1) Multitasking: It’s been a long time coming–with Mango you can quickly switch between apps in use and allow apps to run in the background. (2) Improved Live Tiles: Live Tiles pinned to the home screen can hold more information and allow you to get real-time information from apps without having to open them. For example, if there’s an HDTV you’ve been saving up for you pin a Best Buy product page to your home screen and it will live there as a dynamic Live Tile. Instead of just sitting there as a simple bookmark, the Live Tile will animate and inform you when the TV is in stock and how far away it is for pickup. (3) App Connect: Apps can be tied tightly together to search results and Hubs to make for a smarter and more intuitive experience. For example with Bing Vision (more on this below) you can scan a book, see information about it, and with a single tap jump into the Amazon Kindle Store and purchase the book there and start reading.
Internet: (1) Internet Explorer 9: The updated browser supports HTML5 and full hardware acceleration. Unfortunately Flash and Silverlight support still isn’t here yet. (2) Local Scout: This new integrated service provides “hyperlocal search results” and recommends nearby restaurants, shopping and activities in an easy-to-use guide. When you enter Bing search, you can click the new Scout icon, the phone will automatically determine your location, and then it will provide you with information directly related to where you are instantly. Data is separated into the following categories: eat+drink, see+do, shop, favorites, and highlights. (3) Bing Vision: Also in Bing search you will find the icon for Bing Vision, another new integrated experience that allows you to capture a tangible product and get more information about it. It’s like Google Goggles, but it’s limited to barcodes, QR codes, book, DVD, and music covers. What’s neat is that the decoding process is nearly instant. Once you’re inside Bing Vision, the phone’s camera is turned on and all you have to do is point it at a product and results are revealed (pricing, availability, and relevant apps to learn more about the product at hand). (4) Quick Cards: When searching for a product, movie, event or place in the browser, you will see a quick summary of relevant information, including related apps, presented to you. For example, if you search “Pirates of the Caribbean” you will be presented with movie times at local theatres, plot synopsis, a means to purchase tickets, etc.
With Mango Microsoft plans to expand the Windows Phone ecosystem through new partnerships with Acer, Fujitsu, and ZTE and support for additional languages. The following handset manufacturers are confirmed to deploy Mango devices: in addition to the aforementioned new partnerships, Samsung, LG, HTC, and Nokia. That’s right, the first batch of Nokia phones following Microsoft’s strategic alliance with the Finnish company will run the Mango update. Developers will soon be able to get their inventive hands on the free Windows Phone Developer tools featuring Mango (within the next 24 hours, Microsoft promises). And when can consumers expect to see the update hit their Windows Phones? It pains me to say that Microsoft plans to unleash Mango as an over-the-air update this fall. Why the dreadful wait? Beats me. At least fragmentation is being avoided. Microsoft says that all existing Windows Phone 7 devices will receive the update in due time, and all future handsets will come loaded with the latest version on board.
Jump after the break to watch Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore demonstrate a bunch of the new features described here. As exciting and forward-looking as they may be, the wait until autumn is a wrench in the system. By the time Mango is released who knows what kind of magical dust will be spewing from Apple’s latest creation that will be iOS5.
Update: A curious commenter asked about copy and paste functionality. This long-awaited feature was added to Windows Phone 7 back in late March under the update codenamed NoDo. It goes without saying that it will carry over to all devices that receive the Mango upgrade.
The month of May is a big one for Big Red. Shortly after introducing the 4G-powered Droid Charge in late April, Verizon Wireless is adding three more intriguing smartphones to its arsenal. First up is the long-awaited successor to the Droid X, the appropriately titled Droid X2. This Droid packs a giant 4.3-inch scratch-resistant and anti-reflective qHD display and a speedy dual-core 1GHz processor–this is the first VZW phone to carry such a chip. Other specs include an eight megapixel camera with autofocus and HD video capture (a front-facing cam is noticeably absent here), HDMI output, and mobile hotspot capabilities with up to five WiFi-enabled devices. The X2 will come preloaded with Android 2.2, and the carrier promises an upgrade to 2.3 is coming soon. It lands on Verizon this Thursday the 26th of May at the usual $199.99 price point under a new two-year contract.
Let’s breeze through handset #2. We already know all about the Xperia Play, aka the “PlayStation Phone.” The phone released earlier this spring internationally, and come May 26 the PlayStation Certified Android 2.3-powered device will be available for US consumers for $199.99. It will come preloaded with seven game titles including Madden NFL 11, Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, The Sims 3, Star Battalion, Crash Bandicoot, and Tetris. Available for preorder today. Read all about Sony Ericsson’s gaming-oriented phone right here.
So many firsts for Verizon, let’s recap: The Charge became the inaugural device to bring 4G speeds to the Droid brand, the Droid X2 is the carrier’s first dual-core phone, and Verizon is the first US carrier to offer the Xperia Play. And now there’s this: later this month HTC’s Trophy drops on Big Red to become the first Windows Phone 7 device to run on the nation’s largest network. Want specs? Got ‘em. The ruggedly designed Trophy features a 3.8-inch screen, 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, five megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash that captures 720p HD video, 16 GB onboard storage, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, and SRS WOW HD surround sound built in. The world phone’s loaded with Microsoft’s Metro-infused OS and HTC’s customizable Hub. On sale May 26 for $149.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and if you climb aboard Verizon’s ‘waves for 2 years, of course.
Back in February, HP formally introduced three new WebOS-enabled devices imagined by the Palm godfather Job Rubinstein. The HP Veer, the smallest of the bunch, is hitting the market first and it’s coming to AT&T. Described to be the size of a credit card and no thicker than a deck of cards, the newly branded HP Veer 4G goes a little something like this: 2.6-inch (320×400) glass touch display, an 800MHz Snapdragon processor, 5 megapixel camera, full slide-out QWERTY keyboard, built-in GPS, WiFi 802.11b/g, and Bluetooth, 8GB of storage, accelerometer, proximity, and light sensors, Adobe Flash Player support, it can act as a mobile hotspot supporting up to 5 WiFi-capable devices, HSPA+, one USB port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It runs WebOS version 2.1 and comes in black and white variants. When it drops May 15 the palm-sized handset will set you back an affordable $99.99, two-year contract with AT&T required. Full PR after the break, as is an image that shows you just how pint-sized this thing really is.
It’s time to take a closer look into the exciting and ever-expanding smartphone market. The NPD Group, a market research company, has done some number crunching for us to determine US smartphones sales for the first quarter of 2011. They break it down by smartphone manufacturer: Android-powered smartphones accounted for 50 percent of smartphone unit sales in Q1 2011 (falling 3 percent from last quarter); Apple’s iOS gained some ground jumping 9 percentage points to comprise 28 percent of smartphone sales; and RIM remains in a distant third place, dropping 3 percentage points to 14 percent for the quarter. Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, explains Apple’s growth and Android dip (spoiler alert: it’s the Verizon iPhone’s fault): ”Apple and Verizon had a very successful launch of the iPhone 4, which allowed the iPhone to expand its market share that was previously held back by its prolonged carrier exclusivity with AT&T. While some of that growth came at the expense of Android operating system (OS), Android models still accounted for half of all smartphones sold in the quarter.” Thanks to the iPhone being available on the world’s two largest carriers, Apple (14 percent) is now the third-largest handset brand in the US behind LG (18 percent) and Samsung (23 percent).
Here are a couple fun facts for you to chew on. This quarter marks the first time a majority (54 percent) of all new mobile-phone handsets purchased by U.S. consumers were smartphones. Woohoo, yay technology! And here are the five top-selling mobile phone in the country: iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, Motorola Droid X, HTC EVO 4G, and HTC Droid Incredible. Go Apple and HTC!
The day has finally arrived. Apple figured out how to make an iPhone 4 a color other than black. In June 2010 at WWDC Apple announced the latest version of the iPhone and showed off the beautiful hardware in two colors: black and white. Claiming manufacturing problems, the company delayed the launch of the white model on numerous occasions, to the point where everyone started to suspect Jobs & co. would simply wait for iPhone 5 to introduce the new hue. Well now we can all put those worries to rest; today Apple released a press statement (located after the break) saying that the white iPhone will arrive in stores tomorrow, April 28 around the world.
Says Phil Schiller, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Product Marketing: ”The white iPhone 4 has finally arrived and it’s beautiful. We appreciate everyone who has waited patiently while we’ve worked to get every detail right.”
And here are the deets: White iPhone 4 models will be available from Apple’s online store, at Apple’s retail stores, AT&T and Verizon Wireless stores, and select Apple Authorized Resellers. The following countries will see phantom handset in their stores starting tomorrow: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Macau, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, UK and the US. Besides change in color, the hardware remains the same as the black model and so does pricing: $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB–on contract with a wireless carrier.
Hip hip….now when’s iPhone 5 coming out?
A new day, a new Droid. A little over a year after its original incarnation, the Incredible gets an upgrade. So what does the sequel bring to the table? It packs Qualcomm’s latest 1GHz Snapdragon processor, a 4-inch super LCD display (the original featured a 3.7-inch screen), eight megapixel with dual LED flash capable of 720p HD video capture, 1.3-megapixel front facing camera (a new addition!), and it runs Android 2.2 with the latest version of HTC Sense. The world phone can act as a 3G Mobile Hotspot that can connect up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Unfortunately the Incredible 2 does not support Verizon’s new 4G LTE network. 3G’ll have to do. 200 bucks is the fee (with a new 2-year contract, of course), and it goes on sale the 28th of this month–that’s tomorrow! Full PR after the break.
The Charge is the first Droid-branded phone from Samsung. Unlike like its family members, however, it’ll cost you a whopping $299.99 after rebate. But then again, it is also the first Droid to boast 4G speeds. Let’s talk specs. The Charge packs a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display (Samsung touts its “brightness, clarity and outdoor visibility”), 1GHz processor (no dual-core action here, unfortunately), a rear-facing 8 megapixel camera with LED flash, a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera that can be used for taking stills and video chatting, and it’s powered by Android 2.2 with Flash support and mobile hotspot capability. And of course it’s preloaded with Sammy’s Media Hub that “offer[s] a vast lineup of critically acclaimed films and TV programs for rent or purchase.” But let’s take a step back to mobile hotspot capability; the Charge can share its 4G connection with up to 10 WiFi-enabled devices or a 3G connection with up to 5 devices and get this–according to the press release the “feature will be included for a limited time at no additional charge.” Sweet! The latest Droid handset lands on Verizon Wireless April 21. Sneak a peek below. PR after the break.