Today Adobe announced that they’re delivering on their promise to bring updated Flash support to Android devices next week. Flash Player 10.2 will be available for download via Android Market on March 18th. The new player will work on the three most recent versions of Android–that is, 2.2 (Froyo) and 2.3 (Gingerbread), and 3.0 (Honeycomb). It remains in beta form for the tablet version of the OS. The update is detailed after the break, PR-style.
Samsung Galaxy Tab coming to Verizon Wireless November 11 for $599.99 [Update: Sprint & T-Mobile details]
If you’ve been hunting for an iPad alternative to satisfy your tablet needs, look no further than here. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab will be sold through Verizon Wireless for $599.99 come November 11. You want specs? Oh, I got specs. The Tab sports a 7-inch (1024×600, WSVGA) multitouch display, 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor, rear-facing 3 megapixel camera with LED flash and autofocus, front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera, 2GB of onboard storage with 16 GB pre-installed on a microSD card (expandable memory up to 32GB), 802.11n WiFi, A-GPS, and a headphone jack. It weighs 13 ounces and is 12 millimeters thin; Sammy says it can “easily fit into a jeans’ backpocket”, but I’m not so sure about that. The display supports full HD 1080p video playback and the rear-facing camera can shoot up to 720p at 30 fps. The browser supports Adobe Flash Player 10.1.
The Tab runs Android 2.2 (aka Froyo) with a tweaked version of Samsung’s TouchWiz skin on top. Google Maps Navigation and Google Goggles come preinstalled, along with Swype keyboard functionality. Apps like Qik and Fring are available to download in the Android Market and can be used for video chatting over a WiFi connection. In addition to its custom skin, Samsung is throwing in some of their own apps they think will be useful for users. The Media Hub offers a ”vast lineup of critically acclaimed films and TV programs for rent or purchase.” Samsung has partnered with MTV Networks, NBC, Paramount, and Universal Studios Home Entertainment to bring media content to Tab owners. Purchased content can be shared with up to five devices that carry the Media Hub application. The Social Hub “works with the user’s Messaging and Contacts to initiate the sending and receiving of information, whether it is e-mail, instant messaging, social network updates or SMS messages.” Also, calendar information from portal calendars like Google Calendar and social networks can be unified into one calender view. There’s also a Document Viewer & Editor that can open and make changes to any Word, Excel, Powerpoint or PDF document, AllShare DLNA Technology can stream content to DLNA-compatable devices, and Daily Briefing gives you access to updated weather, news, stocks, and schedules. Accessories will be sold separately: keyboard dock ($99.99), desktop dock ($49.99), car/GPS dock ($99.99).
The Tab will eventually be sold through all major US carriers (including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile), but it’s coming to Verizon Wireless first. The Tab on VZW will sell for $599.99 with no strings attached, meaning there’s no required 2-year contract obligation. You can access the Internet on it using WiFi, and if you so choose you can add an optional 3G plan and pay $20/month for 1GB of data. Users can access V CAST Apps, Verizon’s mobile storefront for apps, and the Tab will come preloaded with V CAST Music, V CAST Song ID, VZ Navigator, Slacker Radio, Kindle for Android, BLOCKBUSTER On Demand, and a game called “Let’s Golf.” Text, picture and video messaging is supported, but voice calling is not. I repeat, the Tab is not a cell phone. It may look like an oversized Android handset, but it cannot make and receive calls in the U.S.
Look in the gallery below to check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab from all angles, and jump after the break to watch a 10 minute “official demo” of the Android tablet.
Update (10/25): Today Sprint shared pricing details for their version of the Galaxy Tab. Sprint customers can purchase the Tab for $399.99 with an obligatory two-year contract and they’ll need to cough up $29.99/month for 2GB of data or $59.99 for 5GB. Preorders start today and it releases November 14.
Update 2 (10/27): T-Mobile will sell the Tab for $399.99 on a two-year contract. A $35 activation fee is required. Goes on sale November 10.
Update 3: The Tab is also coming to U.S. Cellular, but price and a release date have not been detailed yet.
Google intros Voice Actions, Chrome to Phone; updates Gmail UI and contacts section, enables multiple account sign-in
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. (Click here for more…)
This week thousands of developers gathered at Google I/O 2010 in San Fransisco to find out what Google’s got up their sleeve for the next year (and beyond) and how their contributions can make things better for the end user. At this year’s event Google introduced a new video standard, demoed their latest software revision of Android, and pulled the veil off their latest foray into a whole new market–television.
WebM: Flash, HTML5, h.264–these are all video codecs that power different types of video players on the Internet. WebM is a new video codec developed by Google. The plan for the WebM format is to make it open-source and royalty-free from the get-go. WebM is packaged into three parts: VP8, a high-quality video codec under a royalty-free license; Vorbis, an already open source and broadly implemented audio codec; and a container format based on a subset of the Matroska media container. According to Google, “VP8′s efficient bandwidth usage will mean lower serving costs for content publishers and high quality video for end-users. The codec’s relative simplicity makes it easy to integrate into existing environments and requires less manual tuning to produce high quality results.” So far, the following companies are backing the new WebM standard in their browsers: Google (duh), Mozilla, Opera, and Adobe. (Mozilla already updated their Firefox to support it, Opera says their browsers will support it “soon”, Adobe will inject VP8 support into Flash too, and Chrome support comes on on May 24.) Google will also implement it in the YouTube player (HTML5 & WebM, sittin’ in a tree…). WebM also has a list of hardware supporters including AMD, ARM, Broadcom, NVIDIA, Skype, and T.I. But the big question is if Microsoft and Apple will adopt it. At this point, there’s no word if Apple will jump on the bandwagon (big surprise there), and Microsoft has stated it will support WebM in Internet Explorer 9 (but users will be required to install the VP8 codec themselves). If there’s any tech company out there who can develop and push out a new open source video codec it’s Google. With the on-going battle for dominance between the aging Flash and up-and-coming HTML5, it will certainly be interesting to see if Google can emerge out victorious with WebM.