Android Phones, Info and Apps

TAG | Google

After a long wait, endless rumors and leaked screenshots and specifications, the Gingerbread is finally out for the holidays. Yesterday Google officially introduced their new version of the Android OS together with their new mobile phone, manufactured by Samsung – Nexus S. We will go through the major changes, but they are not so much from a user perspective. Most of the changes are internal – optimizations and more new features for the developers (I, as a developer, am pretty happy about this).

The first and most noticeable thing is the new look of the default UI of Android. The whole OS is in darker colors and shades and sharper edges, but yet – keeping it all simple and clean. Making things simpler in the code itself, Google has managed to cut down the CPU load, which will reflect on the battery life as well.

The other changes are in the text input and editing – Google has changed a bit the shapes and positions of the buttons so that the text input is quicker and more accurate. Additionally, there is an ability to correct the words from the built-in dictionary suggestions. In order to make the text selection and editing easier, implementing a one-touch word selection and one-touch copy to the clipboard. If you press on a word, you will see 2 arrows – dragging them will allow you quickly and easily to select text.

Another helpful improvement, especially for the average user, who is used to task killer applications and battery life savers, is the improved power management. Gingerbread takes much more active role in the application management, monitoring the applications running in background, which take too much CPU power and time, and shut them down if necessary. A shortcut to Manage Applications is also added to the Options Menu in the Home Screen.

Among the game programming enhancements we could mark:

  • Native input and sensor events
  • Gyroscope and other new sensors, for improved 3D motion processing
  • Open API for native audio
  • Native graphics management
  • Native access to Activity lifecycle, window management
  • Native access to assets, storage
  • Robust native development environment

In addition, there are almost twice more locales – 57, available than in Android 2.2 FroYo. There are many other changes like support for different media formats and changes in the Linux Kernel version. For the full list please read the official press release from Google.

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The long rumored Android accessory, which is thought to be the most useful and interesting for the users, is finally available in Europe. Sony Ericsson’s LiveView is something like a wrist watch (actually It is a watch, too) which is capable of connecting to almost any Android mobile phone and display different notifications on its screen, so you don’t have to take the handset out of your pocket in order to read an SMS or see some new status updates in Facebook.

LiveView is offered for 59 Euros in France, 49 pounds in the UK, and about 42 Euros in Germany. Amazon is selling it for 90$. Regarding the hardware features of the device, it uses Bluetooth in order to establish a connection to the mobile phone and the general operating range is about 10m. It also has a 1.3-inch OLED display, two hardkeys and four softkeys. It is attached to your hand either via clip or wristband. As for its software abilities, LiveView can be used to control your music player – Play, pause, next, previous track and volume adjustment and also display the track title, or you can view the incoming SMS messages, RSS feeds, view Facebook and Twitter updates. You can also see the person who is calling you and even mute the ringtone of the mobile phone.

The list of compatible phones includes:

  • Acer - Liquid Metal
  • Dell - Streak
  • Google - Nexus One
  • HTC - Desire, Desire HD, Desire Z, Gratia, HD mini, Legend, Wildfire
  • Motorola - DEFY, Flipout, Milestone, XT720
  • Samsung - Galaxy Europa I5500, Galaxy S I9000, i5500 Corby
  • Sony Ericsson – X10, XPERIA X10 Mini, XPERIA X10 Mini Pro

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HTC has just announced today a new device in their lineup which will be sold in Europe. Basically, this handset is HTC Aria but for the international market. The common features in the two devices are 3.2-inch TFT touchscreen display, 512MB ROM, 384MB RAM, a 5MP camera with geo tagging and face detection, a 600MHz Qualcomm MSM 7227 processor, full integration with many Google services and of course support of Bluetooth 2.1 and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g.

All this puts HTC Gratia in the middle-high class android devices, offering pretty good hardware capabilities and sleek design. But not everything is common between Gratia and Aria. When you get your Gratia out of the box, it will surprise you with Android 2.2 running with HTC Sense on top of it. Unfortunately the mobile will be running on the old version of the HTC Sense, which is quite a disappointment.

HTC Gratia will be available in 3 colors – forest green, pearl white and charcoal black. It is expected to hit the markets in November, but still no information regarding the price or exact date. So if you are planning to buy a mid-class Android device, wait for a month and take a look at HTC Gratia.

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The wait is over and the first Google TV was finally announced by Sony, presenting their 46-inch GT1 Sony Internet TV. This is the first TV ever in the world, that is capable of playing HDTV, install and run applications on it and browse the web, thus making it not just a TV but something between a TV and a computer. The device will be selling for a price of 1399$, which is about 500$ cheaper than it was initially reported.

The Sony Google TV will be available in four sizes – 24”, 32”, 40” and 46”, prices respectively at 599$, 799$, 999$ and 1399$. The main features of the first Google TV are:

  • Built in Google TV
  • Four HDMI and four USB input ports
  • Intel Atom processor
  • Access to the Android Market in the early 2011
  • Full HD 1080p LED display, with an exception of the smallest 24” display which will feature a regular CCFL backlit LCD panel.
  • Picture-in-picture style system, called by Sony Dual View, making it possible to browse the web and watch TV at the same time

An interesting addition is the RF QWERTY keypad remote with integrated optical mouse. It’s like a small computer keyboard, mouse and a remote control all in one, making the browsing in internet and Android market much easier. All the four TVs will be available in the Sony Style store this weekend and they are expected to show up at Best Buy stores starting from October 24.

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