Hold the phone! Number porting option live for select Google Voice users

Interested in freeing your phone number from your carrier’s clutches for good? Well, for some Google Voice users that dream is now reality.

Google is currently testing the feature on select users with the intent to roll it out to everyone ‘in the near future’. To see if the feature is available to you, sign into your Google Voice account and click on Voice Settings under the Settings tab located in the upper right. If your lucky, a Change/Port option will reside beside your current Google Voice number.

The process of porting a number to Google Voice is simple, but not without drawbacks. First of all, you are charged a $20 transaction fee via Google Checkout for the privilege. The porting process would also immediately cancel your current contract with your wireless carrier resulting in a potentially hefty early termination fee. Furthermore, your current Google Voice number is forfeited, although you will still have access to it for 90 days to inform everyone of the change. Finally, you still need to find another carrier for those newly emancipated digits — Google isn’t a mobile service provider yet. It’s also worth noting that not all numbers are currently eligible for the porting process, e.g. those of landlines and mobile businesses aren’t currently supported.

Having said that, can you really put a price on freedom? With your primary phone number tied to your Google Voice account, you can now manage calls and messages across multiple lines more naturally. Bar the obsolescence of the phone number itself, it’s the way mobile should be. So go ahead and make your phone number yours.

Source: Google Voice via Engadget

‘It Begins’

As much as I disdain Verizon Wireless, I have to admit I’ve always enjoyed their commercials. I hope they sell millions.

Source: YouTube via Engadget

Hacker George ‘Geohot’ Hotz offered free Windows Phone 7 device by Microsoft

It seems that these days, a mobile platform is only as successful as the apps that define it, and we all know you can’t have killer apps without the talented developers who design them. Among the most passionate and proficient programmers of any platform are the homebrew community that rallies around it. Whether we’re talking the Dev Team, xda-developers, or WebOS Internals, there is no denying the serious potential on tap in the hacker scene. Apparently someone ‘on loan to Microsoft focused on getting our developer mojo back’ gets this.

In a tweet directed at infamous hacker George Hotz aka Geohot, entrepreneur Brandon Watson offered the talented 21-year-old a free WP7 device to ‘let dev creativity flourish’. No word on whether Geohot has taken up on Watson’s offer, but a recent post mentioned he was ‘going out to buy a Windows 7 phone’ and is interested in jailbreaking Microsoft’s brand new mobile operating system.

Geohot has quite the résumé. He was one of the first individuals instrumental in jailbreaking and unlocking Apple’s iPhone and has recently been sued by Sony for publicly releasing jailbreak code for the PlayStation 3 console.

If you ask me, Geohot is the sort of guy you want pushing the limits of your platform. Kudos to Watson, Microsoft, and the Windows Phone team for reaching out to a prominent member of a largely unsung and untapped developer community. I look forward to seeing what Geohot can accomplish with WP7.

Source: @BrandonWatson via SlashGear

Gorillaz’ iPad album ‘The Fall’ now streaming for free

Damon Albarn of Gorillaz hasn’t been shy of his love for Apple’s iPad nor of his intention to release an album made with one ‘before Christmas’. Sure enough, Gorillaz’ follow-up to ‘Plastic Beach’ entitled ‘The Fall’ is now one email sign-up away for those who want to give the English alternative hip hop band’s freshest record a listen.

Mailing list subscribers can enjoy free streaming of all 15 tracks from Christmas Day on, while Sub Division fan club members ($45/£30) are treated to the gift of a free download. ‘The Fall’ will see a physical release sometime in 2011. The full track listing is:

  1. Phoner To Arizona
  2. Revolving Doors
  3. HillBilly Man
  4. Detroit
  5. Shy-town
  6. Little Pink Plastic Bags
  7. The Joplin Spider
  8. The Parish of Space Dust
  9. The Snake In Dallas
  10. Amarillo
  11. The Speak It Mountains
  12. Aspen Forest
  13. Bobby In Phoenix
  14. California And The Slipping Of The Sun
  15. Seattle Yodel

‘The Fall’ — Gorillaz’ fourth album — was recorded in the fall of 2010 while frontman Damon Albarn was on tour with the band. ‘The Fall’ was recorded almost entirely on an iPad using no less than 20 apps including Korg’s iElectribe.

Although Apple has positioned the iPad as primarily a content consumption device, Gorillaz’ ‘The Fall’ is just another reminder that Cupertino’s Multi-Touch tablet is equally poised as a vehicle for content creation.

Source: Gorillaz

Nexus S available at Best Buy — $200 on T-Mobile, $530 unlocked

Yes, the iPhone will most likely be on Verizon early next year. Yes, there are plenty of awesome Android phones to be had for less than 2 Benjamins on contract. And yes, dual-core smartphones that run circles around the mobile devices of today — like the LG Optimus 2X — will become a dime a dozen in 2011. But if you want to experience Android like it was meant to be, Google’s Nexus S is the phone to get.

Source: Best Buy

Mac App Store opens January 6, raring to revolutionize PC app discovery

Ready for the walled garden to expand from iOS devices to include Macs running OS X? Apple is.

Today Apple announced in a press release that the Mac App Store launch date is scheduled for Thursday January 6, 2011 with an initial roll out in 90 countries that ‘will feature paid and free apps in categories like Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity and Utilities.’

The Mac App Store is Apple’s attempt to bring back the raging success of app discovery and download on iOS devices to its Macintosh line of personal computers and will be available as a free download via Software Update for OS X Snow Leopard users.

It will be interesting to see how Apple’s curated app model translates into the personal computing space and whether it will be enough to disrupt the traditional means of application installation on PCs.

Apple engineer builds working replica of the Antikythera mechanism using LEGO Technic

Notwithstanding my passion for all things digital and electronic, I have always been fascinated by the intricacies and complexities of purely mechanical devices such as clocks and watches. The Antikythera mechanism, however, takes the cake.

Built sometime between 150-100 BCE and discovered in a wreckage off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera in 1900, the Antikythera mechanism is an ancient device designed to calculate astronomical positions precisely and is the world’s oldest known analog computer.

Over 2000 years after its invention, Apple software engineer Andrew Carol has built a fully functional LEGO Technic replica of the mechanism. See how it works in the video below and hit the source link for an interview with Carol himself.

I’m not sure what is more astonishing: that such a sophisticated device existed two millennia ago or that we can reconstruct the Antikythera mechanism using a child’s toy today.

Source: FastCoDesign via SlashGear

Near Field Communication explained

A nice video from an Android engineer explaining Near Field Communication on the Nexus S.

Source: Youtube via Gizmodo

Google Nexus S reviewed by TechCrunch — $529 unlocked

Michael Arrington on ‘the best phone on the market today’:

The bottom line is this. If you are an iPhone user this isn’t going to make you switch. If you’re an Android user you will want this phone more than any other. If you’re currently neither, we recommend that you go with the Nexus S. It is better than the iPhone in most ways. What you lose with the slightly less impressive screen and iOS’s slightly slicker user experience you will more than make up for with the Nexus S’s ability to actually make phone calls that don’t drop and Google’s exceptional Navigation and voice input applications. The fact that the phone is unlocked and can be used abroad with other carriers is also a very big plus.

I’m glad to see Google hasn’t completely abandoned their Nexus line designed to their specifications and running stock Android. By all accounts, the Nexus S looks like a top-notch phone that should serve as a reference design for the next wave of Android handsets. The curved screen is intriguing and Android 2.3 Gingerbread seems to have brought some much needed UI improvements. I am especially pleased to see that Android 2.3 and the Nexus S support Near Field Communication — a technology that should see wide-scale adoption in 2011.

The Nexus S will be available exclusively at Best Buy in the US. It can be had completely unlocked for $529 or $199 with a 2-year T-Mobile contract. If you want the best phone, the Nexus S is your best bet. If you want the best mobile device, however, it’s still the iPhone 4.

Sources: TechCrunch, Google

More video of the PlayStation Phone

A much better video of Sony Ericsson’s PlayStation Phone. Looking good.

Source: xxmajstor on Youtube via Engadget