Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sony's Tablet S to Get Ice Cream Sandwich

Sony Tablet SIf you bought Sony's Tablet S when it was released, or you happened to get one for Christmas, you can count yourself lucky because it has just been confirmed that the tablet PC from Sony will be getting the old Ice Cream Sandwich treatment. The only thing is that nobody really has any idea when you may get it though, not even Sony.

A Sony representative posted on the company forums last week confirming that Android 4.0, otherwise known as Ice Cream Sandwich, will be available for the Sony Tablet S. In addition to that, the rep stated that the timing of the update, as well as other details, will be "announced in due course".

The Tablet S is already pre-loaded with Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) and hit the tablet market back in September. The 9.4" device is a little more expensive than most tablets, costing $499 for only a 16GB version and $599 for the 32GB. In addition to that it is WiFi only, at least in the United States, which means your smartphone better have WiFi hotspot if you want to use this thing literally wherever you go.

The good news is that the Tablet S does come with a lot of features designed to expand the use of the tablet, including PlayStation certification for mobile gaming, DLNA video and music streaming and an integrated universal remote control, just to name a few. Aside from the Tablet S, Sony is also poised to release the Tablet P, an Android-based clamshell device complete with a hinged pair of 5.5" screens, much like the Nintendo DS. Sony announced this device back in April but has yet to show it off in physical form.

A software development kit was released for the Tablet P in the middle of December in hopes of drawing in potential developers. Aside from that, however, the company has been pretty tight-lipped on the whole thing. The forthcoming Ice Cream Sandwich update for the Tablet S, however, follows recent news that a bunch of Sony Ericsson's Experia smartphones will also receive the Android 4.0 update beginning in late March. Whether that time frame is anywhere near that of the Tablet S remains to be seen.

Source: CNET - Ice Cream Sandwich update to flavor Sony S Tablet

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Why is the Windows Phone OS a Flop?

Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS was hyped up quite a bit, but honestly, it simply hasn’t really been all that popular. It has fantastic reviews and is available on all four of the major U.S. carriers, so what is the problem? According to Gartner, a company that offers global technology research, Microsoft’s phones were only able to haul in 1.5 percent of the market in the third quarter.

Tech analysts have been thrown off guard by the Windows phones. They seem like great phones, but consumers simply don’t seem interested in them. It just does not make sense that reliable, feature-packed phones, produced by a successful, leading company, aren’t selling. Well, Charlie Kindel, an employee at Microsoft for 21 years and the Windows Phone’s chief developer has offered his opinion as to why the phones are not a slam-dunk success.

Kindel posted a blog post that stated that he believed that the phones and the Windows OS have been unsuccessful because he believes that Microsoft has worked to alienate itself from both phone manufacturers and wireless carriers. He feels that with both its required hardware specs and tight upgrade policy, Microsoft is severing relationships by limiting the freedom of both carriers and manufacturers. “This is why, despite being a superior PRODUCT to Android, Windows Phone has not sold as well,” Kindel wrote.

“Google has been wildly successful with Android (at least in terms of units) because Android was built to reduce friction between all sides of the market. It ‘bows down’ to the device manufactures AND the carriers. It enabled device manufactures to do what they do best (build lots of devices). It enabled carriers to do what they do best (market lots of devices). It enabled users tons of choice,” he wrote.

“WP (Windows Phone) raises its middle finger at both the device manufacturers and mobile carriers. WP says ‘here’s the hardware spec you shalt use’ (to the device manufacturers). And it says ‘Here’s how it will be updated’ (to the carriers).”

"Thus both of those sides of the market are reluctant. Especially the carriers, but also the device manufacturers. Remember that end users just do what they are told (by advertising and RSPs [salespeople]). Carriers own the marketing money and spend billions a year," Kindel wrote.

Right now, carriers and manufacturers are still willing to make and sell Windows phones; however, it may be due to the fact that they are afraid of becoming too attached to Google or Apple, not necessarily because they enjoy producing Windows devices.

Some of Kindel’s readers did not share his views and felt that he wasn’t necessarily considering the role of software developers and apps.

"Android and iOS are 'safe' because that's where the apps are. Anything else? Not safe. Every conversation, every ad, and every Techcrunch post, er, Verge post, will remind them of where the apps are," blogger Robert Scoble said.

"I agree with you that the relatively weak app ecosystem in WP7 also plays an important part. I do not believe it is the most important reason," Kindel responded.

Microsoft has been saying recently that it is making a major push with Nokia; however, there have been some very mixed reviews about the Nokia 800 Windows phone in the six countries that is has debuted in so far.

"Analysts said there was nothing particularly wrong with the sleek-looking handsets, other than a software glitch on some models affecting battery life, but consumers were just not biting," a Reuters report said.

Kindel said, “The question in my mind is whether Microsoft’s continued investment in WP and close partnership with device manufacturers such as Nokia will eventually enable a breakthrough here. I know that MS can be very persistent & patient; it’s been so in the past. We will see. In the meantime, Android devices will continue to sell like hotcakes and fragmentation will continue to get worse and worse.”

Sources: cek.log - Windows Phone is Superior; Why Hasn’t it Taken Off? and PCMag - Former Microsoft Exec Scopes Windows Phone's Failure

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Android Tablet from Google Said to Give Apple Some Competition

This week, the chairman at Google, Eric Schmidt, said that in the next six months the company will be producing a tablet that is of the “highest quality” and will offer some serious competition to Apple’s iPad. I think that we have heard that story at least once before.

Schmidt recently did an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that was published on Monday, December 19. In the interview he called Steve Jobs "the Michelangelo of our time," however, despite this, he claims that Google will be truly offering Apple some “brutal competition.”

Google translated Schmidt’s interview with Corriere della Sera. Jobs was "[a] friend of mine and a unique character, able to combine creativity and visionary genius with an extraordinary engineering ability," Schmidt said. "Sometimes you find people who have one thing or the other, but not the two together. Steve realized the revolutionary potential of the tablet and created an amazing product [in] the iPad.”

"But our companies compete ... in the next six months, we plan to market a tablet of the highest quality. And in mobile communications and the smartphone market, you will see brutal competition between Apple and Google Android. It's capitalism."

It is not exactly clear as to whether the tablet that Schmidt was talking about will be built by Google. Some techies seem to believe that Google will build the device and then label it with Google’s Nexus brand. So far, this brand has only been used with Android-based smartphones, but the brand could definitely expand to tablets as well.

Right now, Google’s Android OS can be found in a variety of devices including Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, Asus’s Eee Pad Transformer Prime and Xoom and Droid Xyboard devices. The company will also be introducing its mobile OS, Android 4.0 (also called Ice Cream Sandwich) in different smartphones and tablets that will be released next year.

According to Schmidt, Google currently has "the best voice translation software" available but they “must develop it” in order to “use it to do things similar to Siri,” which is the iPhone 4S’s digital assistant.

In the interview Schmidt also discussed Google’s YouTube business.

"YouTube will be more profitable because it will have more publicity," Schmidt said. "But it will not be televised. ... [T]he business model of YouTube is different [from television], it's to help people make money with content that is produced and distributed independently, but on the Internet. Even the new channels that we are creating are for the Web.”

"Of course, it's true that people often prefer to follow these channels on the Web instead of watching television, but they are two different things. We have a strategy to allow the user to combine them together, but that's part of Google TV, which will arrive in Europe in the first half of 2012."

Sources: The Economic Times - Google to Debut New Android Tablet to Win 'Brutal Competition' with Apple and PCMag - Google Promises Highest Quality Tablet in 2012

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Carrier IQ Disabled on All Sprint Devices

Carrier IQIf you own a Sprint smartphone, you may be interested in this news. Rumors have started floating around that the carrier has asked manufacturers to remove Carrier IQ's software from every single device that it carries. Naturally, Sprint doesn't comment on rumors, though the company has confirmed that it is indeed shutting down Carrier IQ software on all of its mobile phones and will no longer be collecting data from it.

The first to stumble across the news was, who reported that "Sprint has ordered that all of their hardware partners remove the Carrier IQ software from Sprint devices as soon as possible." What isn't clear is whether or not Carrier IQ software will be removed completely or just partially. However, Sprint is doing its part to stop the Carrier IQ software from ever functioning again.

According to an email from Sprint to website Mobile Burn, "We have weighed customer concerns and we have disabled use of the tool so that diagnostic information and data is no longer being collected. We are further evaluating options regarding the diagnostic software as well as Sprint's diagnostic needs." Sprint claims that it was not using the software to spy on its customers, like going through text messages and things of that nature. In addition to that, Sprint also stated that Carrier IQ was not used for any advertisement spamming or customer profiling.

Sprint has told the public that the data was purely used for reporting network deficiencies and to allow the carrier to improve its network and service it for existing customers. Sprint has completely stopped collecting the data obtained by the software and has also reported that it disabled it on devices on the carrier's network. However, it is still hazy as to whether or not the software will be removed by future software updates for existing phones or if it will be installed on new devices going forward.

Source: - Sprint orders all OEMs to strip Carrier IQ from their hardware
Mobile Burn - Sprint: Carrier IQ has been disabled on our devices

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Flipboard App for the iPhone

The new Flipboard app for Apple’s iPhone has reached more than one million downloads a mere week after it was released.

paidContent is also saying that Flipboard is not one of those apps that people download and then never use again. According to paidContent, the Flipboard app for iPad has been bringing in around 650 million flips per month, and after Apple added the app for the iPhone, numbers are on course for the app to bring in more than 2 million flips per month.

Jill Duffy, a junior software analyst for PCMag, brought up the potential issue that "one might worry that the comparatively cramped screen space might bog down the experience, but our first impressions are that design still reigns even on the smaller device," she wrote. "The usability and 'flipping' motion of paging through the app are just as graceful and pretty as they are on the iPad version."

So, some of you may be interested in what on earth the Flipboard app is. Well, it is a social reader app that offers feeds for formal news sources, as well as social networking sites, and presents them in a magazine-like format. The app seems to be a hit, as it has been receiving incredibly positive feedback from the press and Apple App Store reviews.

If this sounds like something that you would be interested in, you should definitely check it out!

Sources: PCMag - Flipboard iPhone App Logs 1 Million Downloads in a Week, - Flipboard’s Phone Flips Beating iPad 2:1 and Mashable Tech - Flipboard Has 5 Million Users, iPhone App Gets Million Downloads in First Week

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Samsung's New SCH-W999 Dual-Screen Flip Phone

Samsung SCH-W999Remember flip phones? You know, the phones everybody had before smartphones, touch screens and all that jazz? Instead of pressing a button to light up a screen, you flipped the phone open to reveal a screen on top and a keypad on the bottom. Those were the good ol' days and, apparently, days many phone enthusiasts have missed because that seems like the most logical reason Samsung would create a flip phone for this generation.

That's right, not too long ago Samsung introduced its second-generation dual-screen Android clamshell phone and it has finally arrived, announced in partnership with China Telecom. This SCH-W999 flip phone comes with two 3.5" 480 x 800 Super AMOLED panels back-to-back, as well as a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8660 processor. In addition to that, this device comes with Android 2.3 with TouchWiz, HyperSkin back cover (the same one found on the Galaxy Nexus for grip and anti-smear), 5 mp camera, Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi and WAPI, China's rendition of WiFi.

As is the case with most of the phones on China Telecom, the W999 comes with dual SIM slots, as well as dual-mode connectivity in the form of GSM and CDMA2000 with CDMA2000 offering EV-Do 3G, though it does come with support for pentaband radio for those who fancy traveling the world.

If you are looking to get your hands on one, you are looking at a 2012 release date, though there is no word yet on any specific pricing. However, if you want a comparison, the previous model, Samsung's W899, starts at $1,410 so be prepared to spend quite a bit of money if you honestly can't live without it. The phone does look pretty cool and I do have fond memories of my own flip phone from days gone by, but don't expect to see me dropping that kind of cash for nostalgia.

Source: Engadget - Samsung's two-faced SCH-W999 Android plays the dual core, dual SIM game

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

AT&T Gets Fired Up About the Report Released by the FCC

On Thursday, December 1 AT&T spoke out about the recent staff report that was released by the Federal Communications Commission about the AT&T and T-Mobile merger. AT&T definitely did not hold back about its feelings that the report was hypocritical and one-sided.

"The document is so obviously one-sided that any fair-minded person reading it is left with the clear impression that it is an advocacy piece and not a considered analysis," wrote Jim Cicconi, AT&T's senior vice president of external and legislative affairs, in a blog post.

The report was released by the FCC on Tuesday, November 29. That was the same day that the FCC announced that AT&T had withdrawn its merger application. AT&T said that it withdrew the application because the FCC had said that the merger was not in the interest of the public and needed to be looked at by an administrative law judge.

The FCC claims that it released all of the data that it had collected concerning the merger for the public’s sake; however, AT&T believes that the release of the information was unfair.

On Thursday AT&T thoroughly articulated its displeasure with the way that things have been handled concerning this whole situation.

"In our view the report raises questions as to whether its authors were predisposed. The report cherry-picks facts to support its views and ignores facts that don't," Cicconi wrote. "Where facts were lacking, the report speculates, with no basis, and then treats its own speculations as if they were fact. This is clearly not the fair and objective analysis to which any party is entitled, and which we have every right to expect."

There were several issues that were brought up in the FCC report that Cicconi went on to address.

AT&T made the claim that if the company were to acquire T-Mobile it would help improve its 4G LTE network; however, in the report that was released, the FCC said that AT&T will “build out” its 4G whether it acquires T-Mobile or not.

Cicconi countered this writing, “The report apparently assumes a high enough level of competition exists in rural areas to compel billions of dollars in investment. Yet the report elsewhere argues that the level of wireless competition in more populated areas of America is so fragile that the merger must be disallowed. At the very least, these conclusions show a logical inconsistency. T-Mobile has no clear path to LTE," he said.

There has also been a huge debate about whether or not the merger would create or kill jobs. The FCC claims that there will be a large amount of layoffs if the merger were to occur, but Cicconi disagrees.

"This notion—that government spending on broadband deployment creates jobs and economic growth but private investment does not—makes no sense," Cicconi wrote. "Conversely, if the FCC had applied to its own broadband fund the same analysis it used for our merger-related investments, the result would be similar—zero new broadband, zero jobs, zero growth."

Cicconi was also frustrated with the fact that the report from the FCC “barely” made mention of spectrum. "Surely, it is neither fair nor logical for the FCC to trumpet a national spectrum crisis for much of the past year and then draft a report claiming that two major wireless companies face no such constraints despite sworn declarations demonstrating the opposite."

It is clear that AT&T is thoroughly frustrated with the FCC. "We believe that the utter absence of balance is clear and demonstrates that the document lacks all credibility," Cicconi wrote. However, despite these bumps in the road, it seems as though AT&T still wishes to take whatever steps are necessary to move forward with the merger. "We understood the issues such a combination might raise, and we made clear, publicly and privately, our readiness to address those concerns. We are still ready to do so," he said.

As expected, AT&T’s rival, Sprint, seemed to agree with the report from the FCC. The company called the report “a careful, substantive analysis."

"Rather than accept the expert agency's Analysis and Findings, AT&T has chosen to make baseless claims about the FCC's process," said Vonya McCann, Sprint's senior vice president for governmental affairs, in a statement. "Let's not forget that it was AT&T who tried to game the process by requesting to withdraw its merger application in the pre-dawn hours of Thanksgiving. AT&T can't have it both ways: either it wanted to have an application that would be judged on the merits or it didn't. We agree with AT&T on one point however: the public should read the Analysis and Findings on AT&T's proposed takeover."

Sources: The Washington Post - AT&T slams FCC report on T-Mobile merger, sees bias and cherry-picking and PCMag - AT&T Slams FCC Merger Report as One-Sided

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