Category Smartphones

Android 2.3 Gingerbread supports NFC contactless payments

TechCrunch is reporting that Google CEO Eric Schmidt let loose at Web Summit 2.0 that Near Field Communication (NFC) support was baked into Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

NFC is a mobile technology that will allow for phones equipped with a special chip to perform specific actions in proximity to special sensors. The applications abound, but the most prevalent one is the ability to make and accept payments via mobile phone.

With Nokia and Apple slated to reveal NFC compatible devices in 2011, it looks like the mobile phone might make yet another item obsolete: the wallet.

via TechCrunch

Nexus S: the next Google-branded phone

Engadget has been on quite the roll breaking new phones lately. Coming off the revelation of an actual PlayStation Phone comes word (and pictures!) of the next Google phone — the Nexus S.

The Nexus S, as the name suggests, will be manufactured by Samsung and is styled after their popular Galaxy S line of phones. The Nexus S is a glossy black touchscreen slab that features a front-facing camera and is rumored to be the first Android phone that will ship with a plain vanilla version of Android 2.3 aka Gingerbread. No definitive word on what’s under the hood or on the display, but a 1GHz Hummingbird processor and 4″ Super AMOLED WVGA display are the most likely specs.

The US carrier for the Nexus S will almost certainly be T-Mobile, and there has been talk that Google’s phone may be a Best Buy exclusive. The Nexus S was set to be released as early as this week, but alleged hardware issues may have pushed its availability back a few weeks. I’d still bet on seeing it on sale for the holidays, though.

It should be interesting to hear Google’s rationale for releasing another Google-branded phone, especially after CEO Eric Schmidt dismissed the need for an encore to the poorly selling but ground-breaking and arguably purest of Android phones, the Nexus One. Whatever the case, here’s hoping Google will be inspiring innovation for a whole new wave of Android superphones to come in 2011.

Hit up the source link for more pictures of Google’s Nexus S.

Source: Engadget

Windows Phone 7 phones now available for purchase in the US

Microsoft’s bid to recapture the mobile market starts today here in the US. I won’t be ditching my iPhone any time soon, but Windows Phone 7 is the first product Microsoft has offered that truly impresses me. So, anyone purchase a Windows Phone 7 device today? If so, which one?

My preliminary thoughts on Windows Phone 7

I won’t lie — I’m impressed. WP7’s Metro UI is refreshing — unique, functional, simple — not an easy accomplishment. It excites me the way webOS excited me the first time I saw it, albeit to a lesser degree. I admire Microsoft’s willingness to break away from Windows Mobile and start with a clean slate from the ground up — a necessary step if they are serious about gaining back mobile market share. Time will tell whether they were too late.

I am also excited about the ecosystem that Microsoft brings to the table: Zune, Xbox, Bing, Live and Office integration are just a few services in Microsoft’s portfolio that lend Windows Phone 7 some serious fire power out of the gate.

On the other hand, I am turned off by Microsoft’s insistence on sticking with the licensed OS business model. Although Microsoft has gone to much greater lengths to avoid the fragmentation and non-standardization problems that Google’s Android faces, I still believe that hardware, software, and ecosystem should all be an in-house, intimately integrated affair for maximum consumer satisfaction. Apple, RIM, HP, and even Nokia seem to get this. Hopefully, Microsoft will see the light and bless us with a phone built entirely to their specifications.

Speaking of phones, I am uninspired by the initial bevy of Windows Phone 7 handsets. The Samsung Focus, HTC HD7, and HTC HD7 Pro are all premium products, but they all seem too ‘me-too’. Their single greatest asset is that they run Windows Phone 7 — as far as hardware goes, however, there is nothing present that is truly revolutionary. In fact, the HTC Surround seems to be trying too hard to distinguish itself. One innovation I do appreciate, though, is the mandate of a hardware camera button that takes a picture whenever pressed, although I can see several problems with having such functionality enabled.

It is also interesting to see Microsoft have multiple handsets available at launch. I’ll definitely be checking a few out, but I don’t foresee too many current smartphone users making the switch to WP7. It will be interesting too see how many first-time smartphone owners choose Windows Phone this holiday season.

Windows Phone 7 — Microsoft’s bid to recapture the mobile market — was unveiled at Mobile World Congress back in February and was officially launched last week at events in NYC and London. You can get the latest news on Windows Phone 7, including a video of the NYC press conference, at the link below.

Link: Windows Phone Newsroom

webOS 2.0 review roundup

The best mobile operating system just got better — but it’s still far from perfect. Here are some excerpts and links to early reviews of HP webOS 2.0 on pre-production Palm Pre 2 hardware from around the Web.

WebOS 2.0 is without question the biggest webOS update we’ve seen since Palm first unveiled webOS at CES in January 2009. You could argue that the main features…are mainly evolutionary and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, the sum of these updates adds up to an OS that is coming into its own….webOS 2.0 is not a me-too operating system.

from Dieter Bohn’s review at PreCentral

Despite some issues, webOS 2.0 is probably neck and neck with iOS4 when it comes to polish and ease of use….This isn’t just a good OS, it’s a great OS….[however] the problem with webOS 2.0…[is that] Palm is still hampered by last-generation, underpowered hardware. The Pre 2 is nice, but it’s not cutting edge, and it doesn’t hold a candle to the iPhone 4 or G2.

from Joshua Topolsky’s review at Engadget

The general sentiment seems to be positive on the software side and meh at best when it comes to hardware. Whereas webOS 2.0 is a strong hand, the Palm Pre 2 looks to be an amateur poker player. The lack of innovation on the hardware front is the one major thing holding webOS 2.0 back. The Pre 2 is a good first step, but killer hardware is necessary for widespread adoption of the platform. Hopefully, HP and Palm will have a bleeding edge device to unveil in early 2011 that can do webOS some real justice.

Palm Pre 2, HP webOS 2.0 official — Verizon bound, unlocked dev phones a lock

HP announced HP webOS 2.0 today along with the first device that will run it: Palm Pre 2. The Pre 2 is essentially a highly refined Pre that updates the hardware to current times — 1GHz processor, 5-megapixel camera, glass screen — without departing from the original design concept. The Palm Pre 2 will be available on SFR in France this Friday and will be coming to Verizon in the US and to Canada ‘in the coming months.’ HP also states that developers will be able to purchase an unlocked UMTS version of the Pre 2 ‘to use as a canvas to build the next generation of webOS applications and services.’

The real star of the show, of course, is webOS 2.0 — now rebranded and prefixed with HP’s name. Fans of the sleek multitasking mobile operating system will not be disappointed. The same ingenious card UI is still the centerpiece, now enhanced with Stacks — the ability to group related cards together.

Universal search has been renamed Just Type and now searches almost everything on the phone or on the Web simply by entering text. Just Type also houses a new killer feature called Quick Actions — essentially turning Just Type into a command line that can run virtually any action with user-defined shortcuts.

Exhibition will allow webOS 2.0 devices to run apps while on the Touchstone charging dock. ‘Set your phone on the dock and Exhibition launches automatically, showing you anything from today’s agenda to a slideshow of your Facebook photos.’

As far as social networking and contact services are concerned, webOS is still at the front of the pack. Synergy is still there ‘to connect you seamlessly to multiple web services’ and is now open ‘so developers can easily plug new Messaging, Contacts and Calendar application sources directly into the core webOS experiences.’ The Messaging app has been updated to include Yahoo! IM and Facebook chat. Speaking of Facebook, version 2.0 of Palm’s Facebook client will be in the App Catalog soon and will support Stacks, Quick Actions, and Exhibition upon availability.

Other features of HP webOS 2.0 include a beta version of Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Bluetooth keyboard support, and a QuickOffice document viewer (replacing Documents To Go’s viewer) that integrates with your Google Docs and Dropbox accounts.

The official press release is available after the break.

Palm Pre 2 rocking 1GHz processor and webOS 2.0 touted by SFR, headed to Verizon

It’s no longer a matter of if, but when we will see the Palm Pre 2 available for purchase. Earlier this week, French carrier SFR put up a web page (since removed, pictured after the break) touting the Palm Pre 2. Notable features include a 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, a flatter — presumably glass — screen, and the same pebble-inspired, vertical sliding form factor as the previous version. Oh yeah, and it will also be rocking webOS 2.0 on release. No word on whether the Pre 2 will up the screen resolution, but pictures of the tightly guarded Palm phone surfacing on MobiFrance (one above, the rest available in the MobiFrance link below) seem to suggest it will retain its 480 x 320 display.

The Palm Pre 2 had already been rumored for a Verizon launch for the holiday season, something Engadget seems to have corroborated today with an internal screenshot revealing device training for the handset at Big Red (also pictured after the break).

Whether the Pre 2/webOS 2.0 duo will be enough to reignite interest in the flagging Palm brand — now owned by HP — remains to be seen. As a huge fan of webOS, I’m glad to see anything new from Palm, but I’m more interested in seeing what HP and the folks at Sunnyvale cook up in 2011.

Palm ‘Mansion’ rumored to be 800 x 480 touchscreen phone sans keyboard

Following evidence of new Palm devices on a German certification site — which have since been removed — comes a rumor from an anonymous but reliable tipster at PreCentral about a new Palm device codenamed Mansion. The device — which may or may not be the certified P102 — is said to be a keyboardless webOS phone having an 800 x 480 touchscreen display.

Given that a virtual keyboard reference had been found buried in the webOS 2.0 SDK much to Palm’s chagrin, it is certainly feasible that Palm is seriously considering a phone sans keyboard to match its highly anticipated tablet. Although the market’s trend towards touchscreen-only phones lends credence to Palm’s willingness to consider the form factor, it is hard to imagine Palm abandoning hardware keyboards entirely. It remains to be seen whether Palm can pull off doing a virtual keyboard right, something most iPhone competitors still have not managed.

It is interesting to note that the Palm Pre was codenamed Castle, so that’s another point in the Mansion’s favor. For Palm fans, I’m hopeful that the speculation ends soon. I’m just as eager as any for an official word on some much desired bleeding edge hardware from the fine folks at Sunnyvale.

via PreCentral

New Palm phones, Touchstone pop up in TÜV certification

The evidence of an imminent release of the next webOS phone continues to mount. This time we have a certification from the German technical services group TÜV Rheinland that was discovered by WebOS Internals (@webosinternals on Twitter) and posted by rwhitby in the PreCentral Forums.

Two new models appear with a certification date of August 3, 2010, namely P102UNA and P102EWW — GSM and CDMA versions, respectively. Further digging on the site suggests a new Touchstone is also nigh. Given that the AT&T Pre Plus (P101UNA) was announced a few months after its certification date, expect the new Palm phone to be officially unveiled in early October with a launch date no later than November of this year. That lines up nicely with the Pre 2 surfacing on Verizon’s year-end lineup. No word on whether the GSM version will hit the US before the holidays, but with Palm backed by HP now, a multi-carrier launch is not out of the question.

Sources: TÜV Rheinland, @webosinternals via PreCentral, Engadget

No CDMA Windows Phone 7 devices until 2011

If you are on Verizon or Sprint and were planning on getting a Windows Phone 7 device for the holidays, it looks like you’ll be getting an IOU courtesy of Microsoft. Windows Phone 7 will be GSM only in 2010. Product manager at Microsoft Greg Sullivan recently spoke to CNET:

We had to make some trade-offs. Even Microsoft doesn’t have unlimited resources. We had to prioritize doing fewer things, really, really well….For the worldwide market, the vast majority of phones are GSM phones, so we focused on GSM first and then plan to deliver an update that will have great CDMA support in the first half of 2011.
The statement from Microsoft comes shortly after Verizon announced it would not have any WP7 devices in its lineup this year. AT&T has gone on the record stating it will be the ‘premier launch partner’ for Windows Phone 7. A T-Mobile WP7 device in 2010 is not out of the question, either. Expect Windows Phone 7 to launch worldwide on October 11 at an event in New York City.

Source: CNET via SlashGear