HTC Droid Eris confirmed on November 6th for $99


Some new Verizon documents that confirm the November 6th launch date and price of the HTC Droid Eris have been leaked today. The only downside is that the phone will run Android 1.5 instead of 1.6 (or even 2.0). Hopefully Verizon will provide an update shortly after release.

Source: Engadget

Google Navigation Reviewed, Good for free but far from perfect

Google Nav review
Gizmodo posted a review of Google’s newly announced Navigation feaures included in Android 2.0. Google’s so called “game changing” free nav software has been taken on a ride for some testing in the streets of NY. The stand-out feature IMO is the nearly flawless integration of Voice command search in the application. It’s Kind-of fascinating to see Google pull this off so nicely when Microsoft has had this feature buried into Windows Mobile since November 2003 (You know that little thing called Microsoft Voice Command) but, in true MS fashion, never talked about it and as usual only a few OEMs took the time to bundle it with their devices. Bing for Mobile also feature Voice Commend since 2008 too, but nobody cares about it. Microsoft’s TellMe app is one a whole other level better but is only officially available on one phone! Anyway Google should really get credit for making this feature perfectly integrated into their OS.

The surprise hit of Google’s new software is the voice command. I said “Navigate to Cloud City” and it quickly launched the navigator, showing me a few options with “Cloud City” in the name. On top was my wife’s favorite coffee shop (home of my favorite BBQ pulled-pork sandwich). I tapped it and got on my way. I have done this with street addresses, store names and categories like simply “barbecue” and it’s worked fine. It’s only when I tried text searching that things got iffy.

According to the Giz the UI is the what disappoints but overall they foud it really impressive.

+ Amazing voice recognition engine

+ Live traffic and alternate route planner

+ Text-to-speech

+ Good routing and fast re-routing

= Satellite view and other views not always useful

- Text search features are overlapping, confusing

- Interface overall needs better flow

- No POI category browsing or “go home” feature

- No multi-stop trip planner

Source: Gizmodo

Bing for mobile browsers now updated at m.bing.com

Microsoft released an update to the Bing for mobile browser at m.bing.com. A couple of new features have been added to this new version:

- NFL featuretype a team or player and see upcoming games, stats, and scores. While the game is on, you can get real-time updates on the plays. (U.S. only)

Bing NFL

- Flight statusenter the airline and flight number and get the latest departure and landing times.

Bing Flight Status

- Bing for touch devices

Great news for you touch phone owners in the U.S.: we have a new version of Bing just for high-resolution touch devices. We optimized for touch navigation to make the most of your phone, and added a great new Movies feature. Search for Movies in your city, and you’ll see the movies playing nearby, showtimes, overviews, and even trailers and video clips.
Bing Movies

Keep in mind that bing for mobile browser isn’t Bing Mobile which is a stand alone application for Windows Mobile & BlackBerry devices. The new Windows Mobile version of Bing mobile is supposed to be launched this fall according to the info we got a couple of weeks ago.

Source: Bing dev Blog

First Motorola Droid review

motorola_droid_review
Engadget just posted the first Motorola Droid review. I can’t say I agree with everything they said though, especially when with their cons. The camera plain sucks (according to pictures & video samples in the review) but :

First off, the camera is painfully slow to focus and snap pictures — and when it does, the results can be unpredictable. Strangely, the lens seems to be able to take pretty sharp macro photos (it’s even a setting in the camera app), but it struggled with getting adjusted to close subjects, even in broad daylight. Sometimes we got lucky and cranked out a decent pic, but the process was frustrating. Furthermore, the new settings Google has added to 2.0 are contained in a hard to get to and counterintuitive menu which sits to the left of your viewing area. Trying to make changes on the fly was a hassle. If this is the best the engineers at Google can do, they need to outsource this work.
Video, on the other hand, was somewhat of a pleasant surprise. The DROID is capable of shooting at a 720 x 480 resolution, and in our tests, produced watchable — if not totally shake-free — video. The phone definitely fares better in this department than with stills, and we could easily see using the DROID as a stand-in for a flip cam. You can check out a little of the action in the video below (with a surprise cameo from !!!’s Nic Offer).

In my opinion the video sample looks horrible. Why don’t they just tell it like it is ? It’s not good it’s bad.

In our tests, the nav worked excellently for the most part, though as you can see in the video above, we did run into some minor issues on our hunt for cannoli. It’s not uncommon for a GPS unit to send you the wrong way down a one way street, and maybe it was just unlucky coincidence that it happened on our first outing, but being told to turn left where you can’t — then being sent in a loop — doesn’t fill us with warm, fuzzy sensations. Still, the navigation is super intuitive and cleanly laid out, and even if there were major issues (which there really aren’t), it’s hard to knock a service that is completely free. We think a little more time and some longer trips will help put it in better perspective, but we like what we’ve seen so far.

Minor issues? The software told you “to turn left where you can’t — then being sent in a loop –” and this is just a minor issue? Oh yeah It’s Google, it’s beta, it’s free so it’s good enough..sure. Oh Well.

What I got from the review is:

-The hardware is solid and feels good in the hand
-The camera sucks
-The device is faster that previous Android phones (normal given the chipset used)
-Android 2.0 added some nice features that were already available in previous Android phones like the HTC Hero (Social media integration, Exchange support..)
-The Android 2.0 UI still looks old but gets a pass because it’s Google (if it was Symbian or WinMo it would get panned…)
- The only “new” feature in Android 2.0 is Google Navigation, it doesn’t always work right but gets a free pass because it’s Google, it’s Beta and free…
- Still no multi-touch support

Source: Engadget

Sony Ericsson Xperia X3 teaser video

Xperia X3 teaser
SE just uploaded a short teaser video of their first Android device the Xperia X3. Not much is revealed so just take a look and be patient until November 3.

Source: YouTube

HTC HD2 size comparison video

CoolsmartPhone just uploaded a size comparison video of the HTC HD2 (a dummy unit) against the HTC Hero,Tattoo and Touch Dual. Nothing really new, but it’s nice to see how it stacks up against other devices.

Source: YouTube

LG launches official LG GW620 (Etna) site and horrible promo videos

lg-gw620-render
LG launched yesterday the official site of their first Android smartphone the LG GW620 (Etna) sliding-qwerty smartphone. To “celebrate this event”, a horrible promo video demonstrating the phones social features and a TV ad were posted too .

Hmmm LG please stick to Windows Mobile and let HTC & Motorola take care of Android, thanks.

Source: LG llok like the site is down…

Another Samsung Moment review, still disappointing

Samsung Moment review
Gizmodo posted a review of Samsung’s sliding-qwerty keyboard Android device the Moment a couple of days and came to the same conclusion as everybody else; it’s disappointing.

It’s massive, has theoretically superior firepower, and runs marginally faster than the Android competition. But in the end, it’s clearly stuck in the past, and Robocop blows it up by being smarter. In this case, that’s the Hero. Or Cliq.

The Moment’s disappointing not just because the Hero and Cliq actually do interesting things that make Android better, but because it’s running an older version of Android that’s likely limiting its potential, and it won’t get the chance to be better until everybody stops caring about it.

If you absolutely need an Android phone with keyboard, get a Cliq or wait for the Droid. If you want an Android phone on Sprint and were torn, just get the Hero.

Now that the Motorola Droid is unvieled, who’s going to want to buy the Moment?

Source: Gizmodo

Motorola Droid User Guide leaks

 

Here’s something that will make all you Motorola Droid fans happy, the user guide (user manual) just leaked and is available for our viewing pleasure. Nothing really new in here, but if you want to get yourself familiarized with the device & Google Android 2.0 before getting it Just hit the download link here.

Via: Engadget

Sprint: We want Windows Mobile 7 as soon as possible

sprint_logo
David Owens, VP of Consumer Marketing at Sprint had the chat today on the carrier’s website today and got asked several question about their future roadmap and OS upgrades. When asked about Windows Mobile 7 Owens said that they want it as soon as possbile but the timeline is dependent on Microsoft:

QDW: When will the first Windows Mobile 7 phone be available?
David: Planned for 2010, more dependent on Microsoft’s timeline though

Mashie: Can you comment on your current and future Windows Mobile strategy?
David: WinMo 6.5 and 7.0 as soon as possible, but dependent on Microsoft. It’s an important platform for us.

Owens also said that currently all HTC phones in the pipeline with be Android devices and no HTC HD2 planed:

boliviano3: I’m sure this has been asked already but will Sprint be coming out with the HTC HD2?
David: I can’t talk about our 2010 roadmap specifically but I can tell you Sprint has a robust 2010 roadmap with HTC. The roadmap will lead the industry in a host of capabilities and will be on the android platform

Doesn’t look good for Microsoft…

Sprint isn’t going to release Windows Mobile 6.5 updates before 2010:

AdamJaworski: What’s the word on Windows Mobile 6.5 updates for the Touch, Diamond, Touch Two, etc?
David: We are working on 6.5 updates and are in the testing phase. Plan on early 2010.

There you have it, 2010 is looking like the year for Android, unless Microsoft manages to surprise everybody with WM7

You can read the whole transcript here

Source: Sprint via Gearlog

Retail HTC HD2 ROMs already leaked

HTC HD2 horizon
This is the sign that everybody has been waiting for. Once a device’s retail ROM finds its way on the net you can bet that it only a matter of days/weeks before we see the phone available in retail stores and operators.
The HTC HD2 ROMs are now avaible on XDA-Devs here

Source: XDA-Devs via WMPoweruser

New HTC Droid Eris pictures


Some new shots of HTC‘s Verizon Android phone the HTC Droid Eris have been uncovered today. As I previously said, the Droid Eris is the Verizon version of the the HTC Hero and their second Google Android device (the first beeing the Motorola Droid).HTC’s CEO Peter Chou confirmed that it will be launched in early November (November 6th). The rumored price is $99 on a 2 year contract.

Source: PhoneArena

Nokia N900 Previewed and Loved

N900 preview
PhoneArena just posted their preview of Nokia’s Maemo 5 smartphone the glorious N900. They found the device to be really impressive, like the majority of those who got  a chance to handle the phone. Especially the browsing experience:

Now, this is what the Nokia N900 is all about. The device is equipped with own Maemo browser based the Mozilla technology and sports full Adobe Flash 9.4 support.
Web pages get visualized just like they do on normal computer screens and are automatically downsized to fit the display. When this happens, you will typically need to zoom in to be able to read the text more easily. This can be done by double-tapping the screen or making a circular motion clockwise, with a counter-clockwise gesture assigned to the zoom out function. This reminds of the HTC Touch, because you make the same motions to do the same things when browsing pictures only. The Flash support is smashing – all Flash elements get properly visualized without a hitch, even the video players on websites like Viddler.com and Vimeo.com, games on Facebook (say Mafia Wars), our own 360-degree views and we must say the latter are heavy indeed. We are most impressed, so fingers crossed the retail N900 will perform just as well and why not even better. Well done, Nokia! We wish all smartphones had such a browser…

If only it had a capacitive touchscreen..the circle motion to zoom in/out is nice, but not really as intuitive as pinching.

We are truly impressed by both the Nokia N900 and Maemo 5, so we just cannot wait to get a hold of a final unit. With its great functionality, the latest internet tablet of the manufacturer does stand a chance of winning over many people and we can confidently say theinternet browser is the best of its kind we have ever seen on a mobile device. Using the operating system, even on a prototype, is enjoyable and the multimedia functionality of the tablet is more than enough to please even the most exacting people. Don’t forget the Nokia N900 allows normal calls over cellular networks, which makes the device look even more appealing.

If Nokia continues to release new devices running Maemo (including normal cell phones), the operating system has the potential to gain smashing popularity, provided enough third-party applications roll out. We completely agree with what a fellow cell phone reporter said at Nokia World 2009 – “Maemo 5 iswhat Symbian should have been”. Can the tablet fully replace a normal cell phone? Well, we will tell you that when we´ve had the chance to review a retail unit of the Nokia N900.

Also check out Spotify running on the N900 here

Source: PhoneArena

HTC’s CEO: We could make the HD2 an Android phone, but I have to take care of Windows Mobile

HTC HD2 You
In an interview conducted with Forbes, HTC’s CEO Peter Chou said that even-though Windows Mobile wasn’t really the hottest thing in town right now they are sticking with Microsoft and that their won’t be an Android version of the HD2 for now:

HTC may be updating its brand, but it’s sticking by its longtime partner, Microsoft ( MSFT – news – people ). Though other handset makers such as Motorola have dropped Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system in favor of Android, Chou says HTC has no plans to follow. That doesn’t mean he’s not frustrated with the software. “Windows Mobile innovation has been a little slow and interest in Windows Mobile phones has been declining,” he admits.

HTC’s solution is the HD2, a wafer-thin handset that combines a 4.3-inch touchscreen with a high-end processor for snappy downloads and fast Web browsing. The phone, which was unveiled earlier this month, runs the latest version of Windows Mobile (6.5) as well as some flashy HTC software. “We’re working hard on these kinds of products to get excitement about Windows Mobile back,” says Chou.

Gadget fans have been clamoring for an Android version of the HD2, but Chou hints that the handset will stay as is. “Technically, we could make the HD2 an Android phone, but I have to take care of Windows Mobile,” says Chou.

Peter Chou also confirms the arrival of the HTC Droid Eris on Verizon:

The company will introduce an Android phone on Verizon later this year, Chou confirmed. He says the handset, which will likely debut in the first week of November,is a sign of HTC’s growing rapport with Verizon, the largest U.S. wireless operator. “We’ve worked with Verizon for several years, but this is the first time we’ve been elevated to the role of core supplier,” he says. “We are very excited about that opportunity.”

Source: Forbes thanks for the tip Paul

How the Motorola Droid came to be…Microsoft got the stiff arm

Droid eye
A couple of days ago I speculated that the Motorola Droid was originally a Windows Mobile 7 device before becoming an Android phone. Today I’m going to lay down some of the facts we know thanks to an article posted by the NYtimes a couple of hours ago which sort of confirms what I was thinking:

He wanted to simplify product development to standardize on one or two core systems. It came down to a Microsoft Windows mobile operating system and Android. When Microsoft said that a crucial release of its mobile operating system would be delayed, Mr. Jha gave Microsoft the stiff arm and bet on Android.

Sanjay Jha was actually the first person in the world to publicaly talk about the Windows Mobile 7 delay and mention Windows Mobile 6.5 during a conference call exactly one year ago on November 29 2008:

“Windows Mobile 6 has not delivered the experience that I think Apple has been able to deliver, but as you look at the plan that is Windows Mobile 7 and even 6.5, I think there are significant new added features which will help the platform,” Jha said. “We have now targeted new teams which are focused – in California and Seattle – to deliver experiences. That is where we have to differentiate.”

Motorola was expecting to release a phone based on Windows Mobile 6.5 in the second half of 2009, and an Android-based device for the 2009 holiday season.

NyTimes:

At the same time, Mr. Jha had to pick which microprocessors and radio chips would be at the core of its new line. This forced him to choose between chips made by the division he had run at Qualcomm and a custom design Motorola had been developing with Texas Instruments.

“This was very hard for me,” Mr. Jha said. “I was very strongly associated with the Qualcomm chip.” He spurned his former employer.

Motorola Software Engineers were already working on the TI OMAP3430 for Windows Mobile 7 in 2007/2008 as seen in the following LinkedIn profiles:

“Responsible for the integration of BCM4325 wlan chip on Caesar Platform (OMAP3430) on WM7 as a native host driver.” Source (WM7 has been recently edited to WM)

“Windows Mobile 7 integration on TI chipset platform.” Source

There’s couple more similar LinkedIn profiles but they have since been edited to erase any mention of WM7 (after they were discovered a few weeks ago I guess).

Seeing that Windows Mobile 7 was really late & that WM6.5 wasn’t all that hot, Android was obviously the only way to go for Motorola in regards to marketing and hype (technically nothing was stopping them from releasing it as a WM6.5 phone, same as what HTC is doing with the HD2).

NYtimes:

“Sanjay said ‘Burn the ships and focus on Android,’ ” Mr. Arshad recalled. That meant rearranging the existing, tightly packed interior to accommodate the larger chips needed to connect to Verizon’s network.

This is how what was probably meant to be one of the first WM7 device is now the most powerful Android phone in the market. The latest news from Motorola is that they are still waiting for WM7….Microsoft is the only one to blame IMO.

Source: NYTimes

Lengthy HTC HD2 Review


The German boys at Areamobile just posted their lengthy review of the HTC HD2. There’s a really huge picture gallery that you should make sure to check out. Unfortunately the website is horrible to navigate (and slow as hell for me in IE & FireFox). But if you have some time use Google Translate to read the whole thing. Here’s their conclusion:

Conclusion

With the sales launch of HD2 iPhone losing its dominant position in the mobile market. Technically, the HTC smartphone, in all respects preferable to use at least comes close to the cult phone. Only the small battery could prove a major weakness of the HD2 – but that will only show the detailed testing.

The remains unmatched advantage of Apple is the perfect software ecosystem that was created by the company during the past two years. Download and buy music and programs from iTunes and App Store are simply unbeatable. But if one sees the gigantic high-end mobile phone from HTC besides the iPhone, then it is suddenly aware of the many drawbacks of compulsory binding to the PC’s iTunes software, the rudimentary Bluetooth support, the rigid arrangement of the user interface, the camera without flash that is not replaceable battery – but especially the high price and the adhesion contract with a network operator. It has been approvingly accepted with the knowledge, the best phone in the world in your hand and hold. But the competition is the development deficit made up. The HTC HD2 marks the beginning of a new generation of high-end smartphones, the Apple phone can suddenly look very old. The user can rejoice, because he is finally faced with a choice between different smart phones and operating systems, even if he has high standards.

Hit the link here

Source: AreaMobile

Motorola Droid Hands-on pictures and videos

There’s obviously a whole lot of Motoroal Droid and Android coverage thanks to the Droid launch and Google Maps Navigation announcement today. Here are acouple of pictures and videos of the device in action:

Google Navigation:

Motorola Droid walk-through:

Motorola Droid vs iPhone 3GS:

Some live pictures:

And finally a video of the GSM version:

Notice that the browser does support multi-touch zooming!

Here’s Engadget’s first impressions:

- That big screen is killer. Bright, crisp, and tons of room for your icons and widgets.
- Speed is noticeably improved — particularly when moving from app to app. We did notice that some of the home screen scrolling looked laggy.
- Android 2.0 is definitely cleaned up — but it’s most definitely still Android
- The browser seems significantly improved — pages now load up in a fully zoomed-out mode, and the load times and scrolling are way snappier.
- The keyboard takes some getting used to, and it suffers from a similar hand-position issue as the G1, but it’s fairly usable. We think it’ll be second nature once we spend some time with it.
- Facebook is integrated into accounts, which means some of that BLUR functionality is here (though now it’s part of Android 2.0 natively). The good news is that when you add a Facebook account you can choose to pull all Facebook info and contacts, or just info related to your existing contacts — a real clutter buster.

I’ll post my thoughts regarding the Droid and the new Google Navigation later on so stay tuned…

Source: Engadget & Youtube

Confirmed: HTC skipping Hero 1.6 update, going straight to Android 2.0

hero_eclair
According to the response below recieved by a HTC Hero user who contact HTC’s Europe support, The company is going straight to Android 2.0. Take it with a big grain of salt though…

Dear HTC customer,

Thank you for contacting our Customer Support Center. We are dedicated to providing you with the best quality service and answering all of your questions and concerns.

The Hero will not be receiving the Android 1.6 upgrade, it will however get the 2.0 one. Do note however that we do not have a confirmed release date for this upgrade, all I can recommend at the moment is that you keep yourself updated by visiting our website regularly as the latest information will be available to view from there.

Best regards,
HTC customer support team
HTC Corp. Global Service Division

UPDATE: It has been confirmed by HTC who got contacted by Engadget :

Yes, we are working on an Eclair update for the HTC Hero. Because Eclair is a significantly enhanced release, it will require some time to update Sense for this new version of the Android OS. Please be patient while we work to provide you with a tightly integrated experience like the one you are already enjoying on your Hero.”

UPDATE 2: HTC on Twitter

The rumors are true! Hero will be getting an Eclair update. We ask for your patience as we update Sense for the fancy new Android OS.

Source: AndroidGuys & Twitter

Full HTC HD2 review


WINMO.NL finally posted their Full review of HTC’s HD2 (we posted the first video earlier today). According to them the device feels really solid and sleek. Camera quality isn’t bad either. The device also came bundled with CoPilot GPS. Unfortunitely the review doesn’t really go in-depth so there’s nothing really new, just head over here to read the whole thing (using Google translate obviously):

capacitive But it is getting used, the combination capacitive screen + Windows Mobile.
HTC has gone to very good through the Sense HTC lot capacitive finger-friendly, but for those years with the counterpart, the resistive screen (based on real pressure on the screen) has worked to change the capacitive to practice .
In particular, typing on the virtual keyboard screen is suddenly a lot slower, because you screen compared to a resistive touchscreen just another way to touch.

Multitouch
Multitouch coming to Windows phones! Thanks HTC. Windows Mobile 6.5 supports ie not multitouch, but HTC’s Sense and the Opera Web browser interface is nice.
The principle is simple but well-known (of course the iPhone): with two fingers can now make all sorts of gestures to things happening on your screen.
The most famous, the “pinch” the HD2 is supported, allowing you to squeeze a motion picture, text and websites can zoom in and out.

Opera Mobile 9.7:

Video Playback:

Source: WINMO.NL