Archive for May, 2011

Android Apps Alert #60: It’s All in the Details Edition

Guidebook

Android 1.6 or higher required

Not every app can be as great as the one released for Google IO 2011, Guidebook can be more than adequate when attending a trade show, convention, or fan expo. Guidebook lists an events schedule with information on sessions or parties (that can be bookmarked) and background information on special guests. Users can also get notifications when that event starts, see maps of the event layout, or add exhibitors to a to-do-list to plan their day. Between sessions, you can even see the official Twitter stream supported by the event.

Guidebook is a crisp app that allows event organizers to supply information and build downloadable guides within the app. I highly encourage anyone attending a major gathering to download this app and see if a guide is available.

 

NewsRepublic

Android 1.5 or higher required

There are a million ways to get Android news, so why not try out method number one million and one? News Republic imports stories from the Associated Press, AFP, Press Association, and dozens of blogs based on the topics that interest readers. NewsRepublic, available for phones and tablets, has a “My News” section that gives users more control. So you can add a tab for football, gossip, Android, or enter any search term and see if a feed is available for that topic, person, or place. To put it simply, NewsRepublic is one of the best news readers for Android users.

 

BBC NEWS

Android 1.6 or higher required
Available only in the United Kingdom

The BBC News Android app has been a long time coming. While the BBC iPlayer app has pleased many with its streaming of live television and radio, Android users still want a text-based source for breaking news. That’s exactly what BBC News offers, delivering top stories from the United Kingdom and major events throughout the world. BBC News organizes stories according to category, and gives users the option to customize which topics get promote on the main screen. It also includes video, live streaming of the BBC News (Android 2.2+ and Flash required), and the ability to share with friends.

 

SwiftKey X Beta

Android 2.1 or higher required

Anyone who doubted SwiftKey’s placement among the best Android keyboards needs to try the new X Beta. SwiftKey was already incredibly accurate when predicting what someone means to type, and the inclusion of Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter makes it even better. After linking accounts, SwiftKey learns more about the user, so “Did you remember to walk…” will make the keyboard to suggest “Spot” since it knows that you are referring to your dog. SwiftKey also supports two themes and typing modes geared for accuracy or speed. Though SwiftKey is a paid app, a free beta version is available in the Android Market.

 

Contract Killer

Android 2.0 or higher required

How’d you like to kill someone? Digitally, of course. Contract Killer is a Glu game in which you play the role of an assassin, taking down high-profile targets through a scope. Players accept missions use controls to take accurate shots at drug dealers and other sorts of bad guys. Be patient and precise or you may take on fire or watch helplessly as the target escapes.

The action in Contract Killer is limited but still fun thanks to moving targets, henchmen who shoot back, and the need to acquire new weapons and ammunition. In-app billing can provide a shortcut to those upgrades, but it’s more fun to earn them on your own in this simple but fun game.

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HTC Flyer review(Table of your life!)

HTC’s a company that normally is first in the industry. Not so with the HTC Flyer. It’s HTC’s first Android tablet, but plenty of others, including Asus, LG, Motorola, Samsung, beat it to the market. The HTC Flyer just landed exclusively in Best Buy stores on May 22nd for $499. Sure, it’s packed with HTC’s Sense UI, a 1.5GHz processor, and can be purchased with a stylus accessory that allows you to use the Flyer as a notebook, but can it hold its own against more powerful Android Honeycomb tablets? I spent the last few days with HTC’s 7-inch tablet, and the full review is after the break.

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The HTC Flyer looks like a giant EVO or Inspire. It has the same aluminum unibody design which means it can feel a bit heavy at almost 15 ounces, but it’s obviously very sturdy. The backside has a white plastic area surrounding the tablet’s 5-megapixel camera, and there’s another removable hatch at the bottom where you can insert a microSD card. I wish HTC carried over its solid build to these two areas, as both appear that they would crack or snap easily under pressure.

The 7-inch display has a 1024 x 600 pixel resolution and text, images, and videos, looked sharp for the most part. Similarly, the screen was bright enough for viewing under sunlight, although I mostly found myself using the Flyer indoors. I love that there’s a small chin above and below the screen — when the tablet is placed down on a table, you can clearly see from the sides that the display won’t make any contact with the surface. This should help prevent scratches and other damage to the screen, though my mind goes back to the build quality of those two plastic pieces I mentioned and how they’ll hold up.

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If you’re holding the tablet in portrait mode, there’s a power button on the top right of the device — next to a 3.5mm headphone jack — the volume buttons are on the upper right side, a microUSB charging port is on the bottom, and two speakers are on the back left. I love that HTC chose to go with a microUSB charging port, instead of a proprietary one; that means you can pack just one charger whenever you leave home. The back of the Flyer is home to a 5-megapixel camera, sans flash.

You know those three Android buttons for menu, home, and search, that are on every Android phone and tablet? HTC did something amazing with them. When the tablet is in portrait mode, those three buttons — as well as the stylus key — are on the bottom of the display. Tilt the Flyer into landscape mode, and they suddenly reappear below the screen. Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?

Lastly, the Flyer packs support for 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi networks — the 4G version is known as the EVO View 4G on Sprint — and I didn’t have any issues using it on my home network for extended periods of time.

The HTC Flyer runs Android 2.3 with a flavor of HTC’s Sense user interface that was specifically designed for use on tablets. There are a few unique touches here and there, some of which we’ll see carried over in the next generation of Sense for smartphones, too. There are eight different home screen panels to customize, and I love that HTC has included newer, larger widgets for the weather, viewing photos, seeing your eBook library, viewing your contacts, and more. It’s easier to rotate around home screen panels now, too — the carousel now completes a full loop, which means you can jump from your far right home screen panel to the left one with just a quick flick. The 1.5GHz processor under the hood handles all of Sense’s eye candy with nary a struggle, save for the unlock mechanism, which, oddly, lagged at times.

My biggest issue with Sense on a tablet is the home screen in landscape mode. HTC wasted a ton of space here. I understand that it may have been necessary in order to display icons or widgets appropriately, but it feels like over half of the screen is taken up just showing the panels to the left and right of the current home screen. That’s space that could have been used for more widgets. You know Android users just love widgets.

The Flyer is free of bloatware since it’s a sans-carrier device. In fact, most owners will find all of the pre-installed software useful for one reason or another. There’s a Kid Mode option that’s powered by Zoodles for playing games that take advantage of the touchscreen, drawing and painting, reading kids books, sending email to family, and more. A Press Reader application can be used to subscribe to a number of global newspapers. I checked out an issue of The Washington Post and, while it’s far too hard to read zoomed out, I appreciated getting to see the current day’s articles after clicking them from a view of the full newspaper. Press Reader includes 7 free issues, too, so you can get a feel for whether or not a subscription is worth it.

We’re all used to the photos that Mac users take of themselves in Photo Booth on OS X, and the Flyer has a similar option. Using the front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera, you can take photos of yourself with silly effects such as bulge, mirror, pucker, and others. It’s a fun, but mostly useless feature.

The Reader application, powered by Kobo, is decent. After reading a few pages of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland I was convinced reading an eBook on the Flyer is as good as the Galaxy Tab and other Android tablets I’ve used. I prefer reading with Kindle, however, as it’s easier to adjust the brightness on the fly.

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mSpot launches Radio Spotter Beta music service, complimentary Android app

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mSpot just took the wraps off of its new Radio Spotter Beta app for Android, which will allow users to listen to their own cloud-based music, as well as tunes from streaming radio stations. It works like this: you can match any song you’re playing from your own collection to a radio station to continue playing similar music, or you can select a specific radio station based on genre directly from the application itself. There’s even a new mSpot Music Android application with the built-in Radio Spotter support, so you can take your stations on the go, too. mSpot provides 5GB of space free to new users, but you can sign up for 40GB for $3.99 per month if you have a larger music collection. The company says an iPhone version of the application with Radio Spotter support will launch later this year. Hit the jump for the full release from mSpot.

The First Combined Streaming Radio and Cloud Music Service, Launches

mSpot Music™ Offers Radio Spotter™

Match the Songs You’re Playing to Hundreds of

Internet Radio Stations

New Service Offers Instant Access to Free Internet Radio Stations Based on Favorite Genres and Artists – Initially Available for Android

Palo Alto, Calif. (May 26, 2011)—Popular cloud entertainment provider mSpot, Inc., today announced Radio Spotter™ Beta – the first digital music service to combine a cloud music and storage locker service with streaming radio. The new service offers two main features: Match the songs you’re playing from your personal online music collections, to similar music playing on hundreds of radio stations across the Internet; or, instantly select Internet radio stations you’ll like, based on music genres or your own artist searches. Radio Spotter puts the metadata in your music collection to work by matching whatever you’re listening to, and quickly adapts to offer new recommendations based on your changing preferences.

“Radio is still the easiest and most popular music discovery tool – people love its spontaneity and variety. Yet, it can take years to discover the best radio stations. We’re giving people a mash up between Cloud music and streaming radio:  It’s a great way for people to find new music and enjoy their own – all in one service,” stated Daren Tsui, CEO and co-founder of mSpot.

How does Radio Spotter work?

  • Put your music collection on the Internet: Go to www.mSpot.com and upload your music collection from your PC/Mac® into your own personal music locker in the Cloud. Now, you can access it anytime, anywhere from your Android or any PC/Mac.
  • Download the mSpot Music Android App on your phone. Your music will appear on your phone.
  • As you listen to your music on mSpot Music, the service will match the songs and artists you’re playing with similar music on hundreds of Internet radio stations. These stations will be available in the “Stations Suggestions” tab. The service keeps track of what you’re listening to and gives you new recommendations as the music you’re listening to changes.
  • Favorite stations can be saved for easy reference on the app homepage.
  • New songs can be flagged for future reference and automatically synced to their online accounts at www.mspot.com for later purchase, through Amazon or iTunes music stores.
  • The “Browse Stations” tab offers an instant selection of Internet radio stations, which are always available through the service without matching songs to your own music collection. You can also search by favorite artists to find radio stations playing music by that artist, or similar artists.
    • Genres range from Alterative and Rock to Dance and Electronic, Pop, Urban, Country, Reggae, Latin, Jazz, Spiritual, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, Youth, Bollywood, French and Canadian.

How mSpot Music with Radio Spotter Differs from Existing Music Services:

  • Unlike Pandora and Slacker; Play all of your own music alongside new music that is discovered on real radio stations: Your own music collection is the basis of all the new music you find and listen to.
  • Unlike iTunes; Store your music collection in the cloud so that you can always access it, wherever you are. Your music is connected to the Internet, so you can match your preferences to hundreds of Internet radio stations to discover and play new music for free.
  • Unlike subscription services like Rhapsody, MOG and Rdio; Listening is free. Match the music you already love with music playing on radio stations all over the Internet.
  • Unlike Cloud storage services like Amazon or Google; Listening is not limited to your own music, or music for purchase; your music now connects you to hundreds of radio stations.

Radio Spotter Beta is available in the Android Market for Android users, in the United States only; iPhone, PC/Mac and other internet connected device support will be offered later in 2011, along with new premium features. mSpot Music is available at www.mspot.com for PC and Mac, in the Apple® App Store and Android Marketplace.

mSpot Music offers the following features:

  • Instant access to music collections from mobile, PC/Mac® and Web-ready TV.
  • Smart syncing across devices: No USB cords required; instantly syncs music from the cloud to user’s mobile; avoids playback interruptions.
  • Automatically exports playlist, metadata, cover art, and more from iTunes.
  • Continuous playback, even during spotty cellular coverage.
  • Airplane mode: play cached songs on the phone without network connectivity.
  • “Live Lyrics”: read the words to select favorite songs as they play on mobile.
  • “Streaming only” option for users who want to save all the storage on their mobiles for other media.
  • mSpot Music offers free cloud storage for the first 5 gigabytes (approximately 4,000 songs): Additional storage is available for purchase; 40 gigabytes for $3.99 per month.
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    Microsoft’s Ballmer says next-gen Windows systems due in 2012

    During remarks at a developers conference in Japan on May 23, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer referred to the next version of Windows as “Windows 8.” He also said the next generation of Windows systems will be out next year.

    To those not following Microsoft’s Windows saga closely, this may seem like a “so what” moment. But Microsoft execs have been studiously avoiding any references to the timing or naming of the next version of Windows to try to keep the specifics of the product as quiet as possible. Microsoft’s top brass has been avoiding calling the next version of Windows “Windows 8″ publicly, preferring instead to call it “Windows Next.” (Internally, a number of  Microsoft job postings and leaked slides have referenced “Windows 8,” however.”

    Here’s what Ballmer said today in Tokyo about Windows 8, according to Microsoft’s own transcript:

    “We’re obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows. Windows 7 PCs will sell over 350 million units this year. We’ve done a lot in Windows 7 to improve customer satisfaction. We have a brand new user interface. We’ve added touch, and ink, and speech. And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.”

    Parsing Ballmer’s words further, it’s interesting he called out Windows 8 slates and tablets as two separate form factors. Last year, Microsoft was pushing Windows Embedded Compact as its slate operating system, designed for devices that were more about consumption than creation….

    It’s also interesting that Ballmer did not say specifically that “the next generation of Windows systems” due out next year were Windows 8 systems. (There’s been some speculation that Microsoft might deliver ARM-based tablets separately from Windows 8 laptops, PCs and notebooks — with some company watchers predicting that Win8 tablets would ship before the other SKUs, and others predicting they’d ship afterwards. I’ve heard from my contacts that Microsoft is planning to deliver all Windows 8 SKUs simultaneously, however.)

    The head of Windows, President Steven Sinofsky, is slated to speak next week at the AllThingsD conference, where many are expecting him to show off an internal build of Windows 8 (whether or not he actually refers to it using the Windows 8 codename).

    Microsoft is expected to provide testers with a first tech preview or beta of Windows 8 in mid-September during the company’s developer conference in Anaheim, Calif. The rumored release-to-manufacturing date of Windows 8 is mid-2012, with holiday 2012 retail availability targeted.

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    Sony intros 13.3-inch VAIO S Series laptop; pre-orders start today

    Screen-shot-2011-05-25-at-1.14.20-PM110525171512

    Sony just took the wraps off of its new S Series VAIO laptop, a notebook with a 13.3-inch 1600 x 900 display that measures just 0.95-inches thick and weighs 3.8 pounds. Under its hood, the new VAIO is powered by Intel’s second-generation Core i7 processor, has AMD Radeon HD 6630 graphics with 1GB of VRAM, a Blu-ray drive, an LED backlit keyboard, and Intel Wireless Display 2.0 support, which allows you to share your laptop screen with your HDTV. Sony says its new S Series should offer 8 hours of battery life, and an optional $150 “sheet battery” can double that to 16 hours. The VAIO S Series starts at $1,350 and customers can pre-order the laptop now. Hit the jump for the full release.

    Sony Brings More Power to Go With New S Series Laptop

    Optional Sheet Battery Doubles Battery Life Up to 16 Hours

    SAN DIEGO, May 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Sony’s newest S Series VAIO® laptop combines for the first time portability, performance and power in a thinner, lighter design perfect for everyone from students to business travelers.

    The new S Series continues Sony’s efforts to offer users more personalized options and flexibility that fits their lifestyle.  Select S Series models sport elegant design in burnished brown, jet black or platinum silver with magnesium and aluminum materials, and incorporate a built-in lithium polymer battery that when coupled with the advanced large-capacity optional sheet battery, can stay mobile and unplugged for up to 16 hours with solid state drive configurations. Intelligent charging enables you to charge the optional sheet battery separately and attach it to the system without shutting down for maximum flexibility.

    “Users these days want a laptop that will last for hours without charging, is small and light enough to carry around with you but doesn’t sacrifice any of the performance and power that you’d find in a full-sized PC,” said Mike Lucas, senior vice president of Networked Technology and Services Division at Sony Electronics. “You can fly nonstop from Los Angeles to Tokyo or attend a full day of classes on just one charge with this S Series laptop when combined with the optional sheet battery.”

    This 13.3-inch S Series is packed with powerful performance—all in a thin 0.95-inch profile that only weighs 3.8-pounds with the standard battery. Incorporating all the mobility of VAIO laptops, this new model delivers impressive portability and performance with the available second generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor.  Coupled with Hybrid Graphics as well as dual channel solid state drive options (select models), the S Series laptop is truly top of the line.

    Ultra Mobility and Performance

    Performance is top priority with the second generation Intel Core i7 processor that delivers even more performance automatically when you need it. With Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, the processors increase speed automatically delivering the performance needed for multitasking.

    AMD Radeon™ HD 6630 1GB Hybrid Graphics card (select models) with 1GB VRAM gives a premium visual quality and intense HD performance without placing huge demands on the CPU. Plus, it offers a performance boost to your day-to-day processor functions for a faster, more optimized overall computing experience.

    For maximum performance and ample storage, select models feature dual channel solid state drive with RAID 0 technology.

    The S Series laptop comes with one-touch VAIO, ASSIST and WEB buttons, for launching Media Gallery™ software, VAIO Care™ software and access to the web without full boot-up into Windows®, all with a touch of a button.

    The new S Series models offer a built-in web camera powered by an Exmor™ sensor that allows for great low-light performance. With exceptional picture quality, the 13.3-inch (1600×900) widescreen display includes an LED backlit keyboard, illuminating the lettering for typing in low-light situations. And with the built-in microphone you can video message with family, friends and coworkers. Face tracking technology allows the camera to automatically adjust focus and follow you as you move around while video chatting.

    Packed with Multimedia

    Sony knows entertainment is always at the forefront and the VAIO S Series delivers. Whether you’re watching a stunning Blu-ray Disc™ movie (select models) or enjoying video captured from your compatible camcorder. The versatile Blu-ray Disc drive on the VAIO S Series laptop (select models) combines the power of HD video playback with the convenience and utility of DVD and CD read/write functionalities.  Providing the best picture and the best sound with stunning clarity, Blu-ray Disc technology is the ultimate way to enjoy your entertainment.

    With Intel® Wireless Display 2.0, you can sit back and experience your favorite videos, photos and music on your TV. Stop crowding around a laptop screen and view and share content from your hard drive, home network or the internet wirelessly on your HDTV utilizing the adapter (sold separately; restrictions apply).

    Pricing and Availability

    The VAIO S Series laptops are available for pre-sale today at www.sonystyle.com/sseries starting at about $1,350, and the optional sheet battery at about $150.

    Additionally, Sony added two new colors to its existing S Series line. The new pink and blue S Series models will available at www.sonystyle.com/sseries starting in June.

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    Live from Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 ‘Mango’ event!

    We’re here live from Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7  event in New York City where the company is set to detail the next major OS upgrade to the Windows Phone platform. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer hinted we could see over 500 new features, let’s hope we get some big enhancements in addition to the practically confirmed multitasking, Twitter integration, remote email search stuff. Live coverage is after the break!

    10:06AM:Microsoft is on stage discussing Windows Phone Mango. Customers want three main things from their smartphone: to connect and share with family, friends, and colleagues. The second area is rich applications. Thirdly, users want to harness the power of the internet. Derek Snyder, senior product manager for WIndows Phone division is on stage to give us a demo of a pre-release version of Mango. Microsoft has improved the homescreen experience inside of Mango. Notifications are pushed into smarter live tiles. With Mango, Microsoft has added Twitter and LinkedIn support to the live tiles as well.

    10:06AM:Mango will also add visual voicemail support.

    10:07AM:"A new groups feature hopes you mirror your groups on your phone." Live tiles light up with new communication to help you cut through the clutter to see what;s going on. This will allow you to cut through "Farmville Facebook noise."

    10:08AM:"We integrate the two largest social networking services – Windows Live Messenger and Facebook Chat – right out of the box."

    10:09AM:The keyboard has been updated to predict words as you type. For example, typing "Happy" is most often followed by "Birthday."

    10:10AM:"We want to bring together all of the services people are using with a new feature called "Threads." Thrads brings a conversation, from Facebook for example, to your phone. If a friend signs offline from Facebook, you can switch to texting. This reminds us of Palm’s "Synergy."

    10:11AM:With Mango, users will be able to view "conversation view" which allows users to expand and contract messages. Microsoft says it thinks it has the best conversation view technology.

    10:11AM:Microsoft argues that, with new rich information tools, it will offer a more robust email platform than on any other phone platform.

    10:12AM:Microsoft has expanded Facebook events into the calendar on Windows Phone Mango. This will allow you to view all of the details, sign into and write on the event wall, and more.

    10:13AM:Another new feature: (Microsoft is moving fast here) – Users can have text messages read back to them, and they can respond using voice commands, while driving and listening to music, for example.

    10:14AM:"People are at the center, not Applications," in Windows Phone Mango.

    10:15AM:People-centric pictures will allow users to recognize and tag people in photos automatically.

    10:16AM:Now we’re getting in to discussing applications in Mango. Microsoft will enable new types of applications and games. However, it’s taking this "one step further" to avoid phones that show a grid of icons, and a sea of applications. "That doesn’t integrate into a ‘total phone experience."

    10:17AM:"With Windows Phone Mango, applications are alive as part of the total phone experience."

    10:17AM:Derek is back out to show us how applications are being taken to the next level.

    10:19AM:We’re going to see demos of ‘Pictures,’ ‘Office,’ and ‘Xbox.’ With Pictures, there’s new automatic face detection for sharing to social networks. In the Office Hub, Mango will allow users to share docs with Sky Drive and other online destinations. When you tap on a tile, it will bring down the latest version of any document from the server. There’s the ability to view, edit, and save changes to documents. You can also highlight cells in Excel and do auto-sums, etc.

    10:19AM:Microsoft has completely redesigned the Xbox Live Hub for Mango. We’re seeing a demo of Rise of Glory, a game that’s available now.

    10:21AM:"People want to be able to get back into an app quickly. One of the things you want to be able to do is have a fast app resume." Microsoft has added instant app resume without consuming too much power. Similarly, users can switch between multiple applications by holding the back button. Multitasking!

    10:22AM:The 3D avatar inside Xbox Live can now have collectibles and add-ons, shirts, etc, is reflected just as it is on the Xbox 360 console or on a PC. There’s also a new social experience to compare games with friends, see recent games, compare stats, etc.

    10:22AM:All the games participate in this larger social experience in the XBox live hub.

    10:23AM:"we also wanted to have a platform that developers can build incredible experiences on top of." We’re now seeing a new British Airways application that provides a live tile (live notifications and notifications are new in Mango). If you launch the application it will show upcoming flights, settings, a memebership card, miles, and more. There’s even an option to choose your seat.

    10:25AM:In the British Airways app, there’s a 3D user interface for choosing seats, checking, in, and getting a boarding pass. You can also get information on the flight such as movies, see food menus, and see the captain’s name, the plane, and all other information you’d expect. The boarding pass can be presented on a tile directly on the homescreen so that you don’t have to print it separately.

    10:27AM:"Finally, third party applications have been freed from their silos with live tiles and application shortcuts. We’ve enhanced the Office Hub, we have a new Xbox Live Hub." "Think of your applications as musical instruments, with Mango they are an orchestra that finally has a conductor."

    10:28AM:IE9 is now being discussed. "IE9 on Mango is not just similar to the PC browser, it’s exactly the same. It’s great for consumers who want to have the same experience for websites, and it’s also great for web developers. We want to tailor the internet to the palm of your hand. With Windows Phone Mango we deeply integrate Bing to find, decide, and take action." This can be used with voice, typing, and vision.

    10:29AM:Derek is back out to show us the highlights of IE’s new changes. We see a BlackBerry Torch, an iPhone 4, and a new DROID Charge from Samsung, as well as a Mango phone. Microsoft is about to run an HTML speed test.

    10:30AM:The BlackBerry 5 got a head start in the speed test. It’s running at 4fps. iPhone hasn’t started. Android is at 10fps. Mango is running along at 20/25 frames per second and it finished before the iPhone started. That ‘"proves" the hardware acceleration inside the phone.

    10:32AM:Bing has been upgraded for Windows Phone Mango. We’re seeing a search for "Water for Elephants," and it uses the location and time of day to provide movie times. In Mango this will use a new "Quick Cards" feature that shows more information about the movie, such as genre, showtimes, and more. Using a new feature called "App Connect" you can hand off searches directly to other applications. Using App Shortcuts, Derek just handed off the search to the IMDB application.

    10:33AM:Searching for a restaurant now pulls reviews and ratings from Bing, Yelp, etc. Finally, with mango, it will bring together context called "Local Scout." This allows you to "live like a local" and explore a given neighborhood. You can find what to see, do, eat, drink, and more. It will provide nearby shopping, and you can keep track of favorites, too.

    10:33AM:Bing now has indoor maps for malls and other public locations.

    10:34AM:Indoor maps allows you to search a director of a place, such as a mall, to find stores. It even has maps for multiple levels.

    10:35AM:Places, such as Madison Square Garden, have cards as well. It will provide information such as upcoming events. "We’re weaving together the webs information, bringing it to you on these cards."

    10:36AM:Bing Vision is another new feature in Mango. It allows you to visual search with the phone’s camera. It works with QR codes, bar codes, and more. It’s just like Google Goggles.

    10:36AM:Bing Vision will connect to applications that sell books, too. So if you search for one, you can go straight into the Kindle application and find the book inside the Kindle Store and purchase it and have it delivered to your phone.

    10:37AM:"I’ve gone from taking a picture with Bing Vision, handing it off to an application like Kindle, and then using reading the book."

    10:35AM:Places, such as Madison Square Garden, have cards as well. It will provide information such as upcoming events. "We’re weaving together the webs information, bringing it to you on these cards."

    10:36AM:Bing Vision is another new feature in Mango. It allows you to visual search with the phone’s camera. It works with QR codes, bar codes, and more. It’s just like Google Goggles.

    10:36AM:Bing Vision will connect to applications that sell books, too. So if you search for one, you can go straight into the Kindle application and find the book inside the Kindle Store and purchase it and have it delivered to your phone.

    10:37AM:"I’ve gone from taking a picture with Bing Vision, handing it off to an application like Kindle, and then using reading the book."

    10:42AM:Skype will be designing an application for Skype for the first time.Operators do more than just light up the phone with connectivity. We’re enabling operators to add significant value with software and services they’ll supply with Mango. We’ll have a lot of new operator partners, we’re support more languages in more countries, and we’ll have lower price phones to increase the addressable market. The Mango addressable market is 4 times larger than the original Windows Phone." Samsung, HTC, and LG will all announce new phones for Windows Mango, including 4G phones. Acer, Fujitsu, and ZTE will also provide Mango phones.

    10:42AM:Skype will be designing an application for Skype for the first time.Operators do more than just light up the phone with connectivity. We’re enabling operators to add significant value with software and services they’ll supply with Mango. We’ll have a lot of new operator partners, we’re support more languages in more countries, and we’ll have lower price phones to increase the addressable market. The Mango addressable market is 4 times larger than the original Windows Phone." Samsung, HTC, and LG will all announce new phones for Windows Mango, including 4G phones. Acer, Fujitsu, and ZTE will also provide Mango phones.

    10:44AM:"Mango is not just easier and faster, but it knows we’re your going. The developer tools are available today. The update and new phones will be available from the fall. The fall will be the best yet for us and our partners. You’ve seen an awful lot int he past 7 months but you haven’t seen anything yet."

    10:44AM:Looks like that’s it for us folks, Microsoft has just stepped off of the stage.

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    Live from Barnes & Noble’s NOOK event!

    nook_one

    While Microsoft is busy showing off the latest and greatest its Windows Phone platform has to offer, Barnes & Noble is across town getting ready to take the wraps off its brand new NOOK eReader. Tablets like the Apple iPad 2 and BlackBerry PlayBook are taking center stage right now, but these jacks of all trades have a long way to go before they can even come close to matching the reading experience afforded by dedicated eReaders. Avid readers and casual readers alike can appreciate the remarkable battery life and unique features that only a dedicated eBook reader can afford, and good luck trying to soak up the sun while reading a book on your iPad — right now, only an E Ink display can remain perfectly visible and glare-free while combating the sun’s rays. So what new features does Barnes and Noble have in store for its latest NOOK eReader? Hit the break for our live coverage of the unveiling, which will begin just before 10:00 a.m. EST, and don’t forget to refresh the page often for all the latest updates!

     

    9:43AM:All right — everything looks like it’ll kick off on schedule at 10:00 a.m. We’re inside and sitting while the rest of press/bloggers start funneling in.

    9:51AM:In case you’re still not convinced that a new NOOK will be unveiled today, I think the t-shirts might be a pretty good sign that the rumors were right.

    9:57AM:The room is getting pretty full now, as is the Wi-Fi, so we should be getting things started any minute now.

    9:59AM:Switched over to our Verizon 4G LTE MiFi. The rest of these suckers can have fun on Wi-Fi.

    10:00AM:Ok, they just announced that we’re about to get this party started.

    10:02AM:Two minute warning has been issued.

    10:04AM:Barnes and Noble CEO William Lynch just took the stage.

    10:05AM:B&N now owns over 25% in the eBook market — and it’s still the leader in the physical book market with 17%

    10:06AM:B&N is the leader in the Android tablet market here in the U.S., Lynch claims.

    10:08AM:Lynch is talking about B&N’s successes with NOOK apps. The company has millions of users and its app platform has seen great success thus far.

    10:09AM:Lynch is also stressing B&N’s stellar customer service, which is definitely a huge advantage over the competition.

    10:10AM:B&N is the clear leader on the product side as well, Lynch claims. The NOOK was the first eReader to support lending, for example, and B&N is the only company that lets users read full books for free while in a book store.

    10:11AM:NOOK Newsstand features 160 top publications, and the company has surpassed 1.5 million single copies sold — more than Apple or any other digital newsstand.

    10:12AM:NOOK Color has been a home run, but there are still customers looking for a pure reading experience. I think we all know where this is going…

    10:14AM:The all-new NOOK!

    10:14AM:They’re playing a video now — man, this little guy is sleek.

    10:15AM:The all-new NOOK is the easiest eReader on the market to use. If features a 6-inch touchscreen display and it weighs just 7.5 ounces.

    10:15AM:Battery life? How about up to 2 months on a single charge. Damn!

    10:16AM:The display is an E Ink pearl display that eliminates the weird eReader page turns and replaces it with a proprietary transition.

    10:17AM:The new NOOK will cost just 9 when it launches later this summer.

    10:17AM:It sports just one button — 37 fewer than the Kindle, Lynch joked.

    10:17AM:He’s stressing the simplicity of the interface, and it definitely looks easy to use.

    10:19AM:This thing makes the Kindle looks like a beast — and it has the same-sized screen.

    10:21AM:B&N’s President of Digital Products is on stage now to go over the NOOK’s features.

    10:21AM:The new NOOK has 80% less flashing during page turns than the Kindle. That might sound insignificant, but any eReader user will tell you how annoying the seizure-inducing page turn flashing can be.

    nook

    10:22AM:The NOOK can hold 1,000 books with 2GB of internal storage, but is also supports SD cards for another 32GB of storage.

    10:24AM:The touchscreen really enhances the experience. It makes looking up words in the integrated dictionary or making notes a breeze.

    10:26AM:Of course the NOOK aslo features built-in Wi-Fi and B&N’s great digital book store for buying new books right on the device. Wi-Fi is free in Barnes and Noble locations and any AT&T hotspot.

    10:26AM:The new NOOK features "NOOK Friends," a book recommendation-based social network. Users can also share recommendations via Facebook or Twitter right from the device.

    10:27AM:mynook.com will launch next month, as well, giving users another way to browse and buy books.

    10:27AM:The new NOOK is "the simplest eReader ever created."

    10:28AM:William Lynch is coming back on stage now to wrap things up.

    10:29AM:"It’s the best dedicated eReader on the market," Lynch said. The new NOOK is available for pre-order immediately for 9, and it will begin shipping on or around June 10th.

    10:29AM:That’s it folks! Time for some hand-on with the new NOOK.

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    No Movies For You!(An response of Google to people trying to play movies on rooted devices)

    I have not written an opinion piece in a long while, mostly because I usually cover my opinions when we have a "Rayge Against the Machine" segment on AGTN. But this morning, I find myself dusting off the old opinion button here at AG, because of the fact that those of us, (pretty much everyone reading this blog), who have rooted devices will not be able to rent movies on the shiny new offering from Google in the Android Web Market.  If you have not heard as of yet, Google has released the following statement in response to people trying to play movies on rooted devices:

    You’ll receive this “Error 49″ message if you attempt to play a movie on a rooted device. Rooted devices are currently unsupported due to requirements related to copyright protection.

    image_thumb_3

    At first, I was totally understanding of this this block that Google has placed. At the end of the day, Google is a company out to make money, and they have partners that they have to both appease and protect, so that the model can be supported for the long term. But then, I started reviewing my I/O notes, because something was niggling in the back of my head.  That something was the fact that I could swear that I heard a Google executive say from the stage that a device they were hawking was going to be fully-rootable.  Which got a cavalcade of applause, including my own.

    Sure enough, it happened, the statement was made.  Now, granted, it was made during the Chrome OS keynote, but it is there.  One of the major reasons that many of us are Android users, and tech savvy geeks are flocking to Android is because you can have full access to your device, allowing interesting development and tinkering.  To hear now that a major new service that was a big part of the Android keynote during I/O is not going to be available to rooted users?  Well, that makes me pretty unhappy, and frankly, I think Google has screwed the pooch here.

    How can you extol the virtues of a platform that is semi-open to it’s users and to potential customers as a selling point, then turn around and punish them for doing exactly that?  We live in the age of piracy now, not information.  Yes, I am aware that piracy is rampant, yes I am aware that movie companies are losing money and yes I am aware that Android devices allow these things to happen.  My problem is with the fact that Google itself has pointed to rooting as one of the big advantages of their devices, which it still is in many respects, but now has closed a door in the face of the users that jumped at the chance that was given them.

    My problem here is that Google has not curbed piracy in the least bit, but has actually contributed to the problem.  Piracy is a simple notion.  People want the content, application or functionality.  Many times, they simply cannot afford it.  Solution?  Go download and crack it.  Google has now taken away the ability to legally rent movies from the Market.  Solution?  Go download the movie using newsgroups and throw it on your device.  Which is happening, I guarantee it.  Instead of the movie industry realizing that they have got to change their tack about how to approach the piracy issue, they simply throw the handcuffs on all the companies who are trying to provide new conduits to their product.

    By forcing Google (and this is my assumption here, I can not make any other sense of this decision) to close the theater doors to rooted devices, the movie industry has shot themselves in the foot, yet again.  Have they seen the numbers that Apple is generating with their movie and songs sales?  Astronomical.  Have they seen that Android now dominates the market?  I think they have, which scares them because they do not understand the notion of root status on a device.

    Executives in the movie industry, you are stupid.  Flat out.  You lack imagination which is shown in your horrible re-hash of movies and anything that lacks true creativity.  Do we really need another American Pie movie?  You are still under the assumption that the way you make money is to force people to a movie theater.  You still think the way to control piracy is to throw handcuffs on.  You will never stop piracy, but you sure can curb it by offering different avenues for purchase of your product, and keeping the price reasonable.  You will make much more money in the longtail of selling than you are losing in piracy right now.  Give pirates a choice of spending $.99 – $3.99 on their devices to rent a title, and you are going to see a drop.  It will never be gone, it is just not in human nature.

    And the funny part?  There will be a workaround soon.  There will be some sort of cloaking that the community is going to figure out, and this whole thing is going to be some stupid farce anyhow.  A cloak that will be possible because of our open, rooted devices.

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    No Movies For You!(An response of Google to people trying to play movies on rooted devices)

    I have not written an opinion piece in a long while, mostly because I usually cover my opinions when we have a "Rayge Against the Machine" segment on AGTN. But this morning, I find myself dusting off the old opinion button here at AG, because of the fact that those of us, (pretty much everyone reading this blog), who have rooted devices will not be able to rent movies on the shiny new offering from Google in the Android Web Market.  If you have not heard as of yet, Google has released the following statement in response to people trying to play movies on rooted devices:

    You’ll receive this “Error 49″ message if you attempt to play a movie on a rooted device. Rooted devices are currently unsupported due to requirements related to copyright protection.

    image_thumb_3

    At first, I was totally understanding of this this block that Google has placed. At the end of the day, Google is a company out to make money, and they have partners that they have to both appease and protect, so that the model can be supported for the long term. But then, I started reviewing my I/O notes, because something was niggling in the back of my head.  That something was the fact that I could swear that I heard a Google executive say from the stage that a device they were hawking was going to be fully-rootable.  Which got a cavalcade of applause, including my own.

    Sure enough, it happened, the statement was made.  Now, granted, it was made during the Chrome OS keynote, but it is there.  One of the major reasons that many of us are Android users, and tech savvy geeks are flocking to Android is because you can have full access to your device, allowing interesting development and tinkering.  To hear now that a major new service that was a big part of the Android keynote during I/O is not going to be available to rooted users?  Well, that makes me pretty unhappy, and frankly, I think Google has screwed the pooch here.

    How can you extol the virtues of a platform that is semi-open to it’s users and to potential customers as a selling point, then turn around and punish them for doing exactly that?  We live in the age of piracy now, not information.  Yes, I am aware that piracy is rampant, yes I am aware that movie companies are losing money and yes I am aware that Android devices allow these things to happen.  My problem is with the fact that Google itself has pointed to rooting as one of the big advantages of their devices, which it still is in many respects, but now has closed a door in the face of the users that jumped at the chance that was given them.

    My problem here is that Google has not curbed piracy in the least bit, but has actually contributed to the problem.  Piracy is a simple notion.  People want the content, application or functionality.  Many times, they simply cannot afford it.  Solution?  Go download and crack it.  Google has now taken away the ability to legally rent movies from the Market.  Solution?  Go download the movie using newsgroups and throw it on your device.  Which is happening, I guarantee it.  Instead of the movie industry realizing that they have got to change their tack about how to approach the piracy issue, they simply throw the handcuffs on all the companies who are trying to provide new conduits to their product.

    By forcing Google (and this is my assumption here, I can not make any other sense of this decision) to close the theater doors to rooted devices, the movie industry has shot themselves in the foot, yet again.  Have they seen the numbers that Apple is generating with their movie and songs sales?  Astronomical.  Have they seen that Android now dominates the market?  I think they have, which scares them because they do not understand the notion of root status on a device.

    Executives in the movie industry, you are stupid.  Flat out.  You lack imagination which is shown in your horrible re-hash of movies and anything that lacks true creativity.  Do we really need another American Pie movie?  You are still under the assumption that the way you make money is to force people to a movie theater.  You still think the way to control piracy is to throw handcuffs on.  You will never stop piracy, but you sure can curb it by offering different avenues for purchase of your product, and keeping the price reasonable.  You will make much more money in the longtail of selling than you are losing in piracy right now.  Give pirates a choice of spending $.99 – $3.99 on their devices to rent a title, and you are going to see a drop.  It will never be gone, it is just not in human nature.

    And the funny part?  There will be a workaround soon.  There will be some sort of cloaking that the community is going to figure out, and this whole thing is going to be some stupid farce anyhow.  A cloak that will be possible because of our open, rooted devices.

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    AQUOS PHONE THE HYBRID 007SH: Sharp Shows World’s First Clamshell Android Phone

    aquos-android-2 If you thought Android and clamshell handsets won’t fit, think again: Sharp today introduced [JP] the so-called AQUOS PHONE THE HYBRID 007SH, a flip phone running on Android 2.3. It’s the first of its kind (at least by a major company), but that’s not all the device has to offer.

    Sharp actually squeezed a ton of features into the phone:

    • Android 2.3
    • 3.4-inch naked-eye 3D LCD touchscreen with 854×480 resolution
    • 0.7-inch OLED sub-display
    • 16MP CCD camera with 1,280×720 HD video recording support
    • waterproof body
    • IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0+EDR
    • GPS
    • digital TV tuner
    • digital wallet function (Felica/RFID)
    • infrared port
    • Micro HDMI interface
    • Blu-ray recorder connectivity
    • microSD/SDHC slot (shipped with a 2GB card inside)
    • W-CDMA, GSM
    • size: 113×51.8×19.3mm, weight: 140g

    In other words, this thing is quite a monster.

    aquos-android-620x335

    The keyboard section can also be flipped to the back, so you can use the phone like this:

    aquos-android-31 Picture-3

    The AQUOS PHONE THE HYBRID 007SH will be distributed in Japan by mobile carrier SoftBank starting next month. An interesting experiment to see how Japanese consumers will react to a smartphone in a form factor they have been used to for over a decade.

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