Monday, August 30, 2010

Android Mobile goes Bing

Google may dominate the world of internet search with a design to become the premier smartphone maker through the Android, but Bing is now available on that platform.

Microsoft's Bing offering brought real time search to the internet, a fantastic idea in the world of minute-by-minute Twitter updates, and now Google is also copying the idea.

But if you don't like Google then network provider Verizon offers a Bing app for the Android mobile. The app is free and will also be pre-installed on all new Android mobiles sold by Verizon.

The app facilitates amazing Android and Bing features. That means that users of the Android OS can expect Bing's image of the day. An even neater option is being able to search by a series of voice commands - though how well this will work in practise will be interesting to see. The app will allow GPS access too with traffic information also supplementing the drectional guidance. And you can see listings of shops and restaurnats in your area.

The Bing app is also available for the iPhone. At the moment it is thought that the Bing app for Android mobile deal is exlusive to Verizon.

Android mobile is big in China

China is going crazy for the Android mobile smartphone. Three more Android handsets have been brought out to take the total for the country to 11 - all released in one year.

These MING handsets are made by Motorola and there is one for each of China's three mobile networks. The XT806 works for China Telecom's CDMA-2000 network, the MT810 is compatible with the China TD-SCDMA mobile network, and the Chinese Unicom WCDMA network can be accessed from the A1680 phone.

The Corporate VP and President of Greater China Motorola Mobility, Mr Frank Meng, said that the MING smartphones were designed to be customizable to each individual user.

He said: "With MING we have combined our engineering expertise with a deep understanding of how Chinese people use their devices to create powerful, user-friendly smartphones which feel great. The MING Android mobile will be part of a fantastic customer experience."

Part of the allure of the Android smartphone is that it has features in the Chinese language which make it easy to use. It also has touch screen and flip technology.

More than half the Android mobiles sold in China this year are Motorola devices, according to the company. Sales of MING phones have exceeded the five million mark.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Microsoft Marches on Smartphone Market

Microsoft is preparing itself for all out war on the smartphone market with half a billion dollars being spent on the Windows Phone 7 launch. It is thought that another billion dollars will go towards marketing when phone 7 is released.

Android mobile users will realise that this is a genuine competitor to their product, but also that they have helped to make the Android mobile successful and it is the fastest growing smartphone product available.

The success of the Android is part of the reason why Microsoft is spending so much money on branding their phone. The $500 million launch expenses figure for phone 7 is similar to Apple's entire advertising budget for 2009. The other motivation is the failure of the Microsoft Kin smartphone which was withdrawn earlier this year.

Not only is Microsoft spending big bucks on the launch but it has agreed to subsidize handset manufacturers' non-recurring engineering costs. There are also revenue guarantees for the manufacturers of apps. Microsoft hopes to challenge the success of apps for the Android and iPhone with the latter being a billion dollar industry.

An analyst at Deutsche Bank, Jonathan Goldberg, said that this was a pivotal moment for Microsoft in the smartphone market: “This is make or break for them. They need to do whatever it takes to stay in the game.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Google Finance for Android Mobile is Awesome

As you may have gathered by now I am somewhat sceptical about applications for the Android mobile but I have finally come across one that I really like the sound of. Google Finance is absolutely awesome.

Now I don't know much about finance but I certainly plan to. Interest rates are awful at the moment. I feel stuck in that sort of situation where you can slave away for the next decade banging your head against a wall or take a risk that could transform your fortunes.

So I want to play the stock market and hopefully strike it big. I'm pretty good at poker so I fancy myself as a gambler, but I have none of the requisite knowledge needed to invest. I may sound naive but I am smart enough to know that you do not try to crack Wall St without doing a hell of a lot of research.

But research is tedious and it reminds me of University. Yet an application with all of the fancy features and widgets is far more appealing. And it means that you can spend what is normally dead-time travelling instead learning something important on your Android mobile phone.

Google Finance gives you all of the latest market news and allows you to keep up to date with your portfolio. You can basically keep your eye on any sector that you are interested in all the time. Real-time data is fed to you along with many up-to-the minute quotes.

I have to say that I am impressed.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Android puts Facebook app in its place

Some Android users may be miffed to find that the Facebook Places app is currently only available on the iPhone.

Personally I am not sure who in their right mind would want everyone to know where they have been. Facebook has created a sort of show-off culture where we try to get one-up on our peers by showing them that we have been to cooler places and on more expensive holidays. Unless you are part of the rich jetset I am not sure that this is good for everyone's self-esteem.

Also Facebook Places has some fairly glaring privacy issues. Facebook has come under fire regularly for its haphazard use of personal information and unless you check your settings like a hawk the constant changes could leave you vulnerable.

However the Facebook Places app is only available to those who choose to use it. It can send out a trail of your movements so that you can share your favourite restaurants, bookstores etc with friends.

If you want to use this on the Android mobile phone then visit Touch Facebook and look for the Places icon in the top right-hand corner.

Alternatively the Facebook Places app is very similar to other products on the market including Gowalla and Foursquare which are both available for the Android mobile phone, so you could just use these instead.

All of these apps have obvious commercial uses so expect plenty of promotions in the future.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

StumbleUpon Android

Android mobile users can StumbleUpon their favourite websites now that an app has been created.

Like Technorati and Digg, StumbleUpon is a popular form of social media which allows internet aficionados to find new websites based on their topic of choice, and then share them easily with friends. It also allows people to vote for which websites they like the most and so is a valuable tool for the online community.

To use the app on the Android mobile you will have had to sign up to StumbleUpon beforehand. Although you may consider this to be a nuisance, doing so will carry over the original preferences that you have built up. Once you have installed the app from the Android marketplace a StumbleUpon toolbar will appear just above or below your web browser.

The website Social Beat reported a major flaw. "The one thing that faithful StumbleUponers might object to is how slow pages load over standard mobile networks."
But to compensate there are thumbnail previews of pages which let you look before you leap into a slow download. Android users have control of this setting without having to leave the app.

Cnet picked up on another potential downside, the StumbleUpon bar cannot be hidden and so will stay their throughout your browsing session unless the app is exited.

Otherwise this could be the perfect way to occupy yourself during a long train journey. The StumbleUpon app for Android is available for the iPhone too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Android mobile hits ad up

Ad impressions for the Android mobile phone are up, taking the smartphone platform into second place against its competitors.
This data comes from Millennial Media, which is the number one independent mobile ad platform with more than 63 million users.
The iPhone is still the leading unit with 55% of all smartphone ad impressions (down 1%), yet the Android mobile is now ahead of the Blackberry with 19% of the market share, up from 11% in June.
Steve McCord, head of product development at Millennial, said: "This marks the first time that Android mobile has hit second place since Millennial began tracking the numbers in August 2009."
The figures are not surprising given the huge popularity of the Android mobile phone which has seen a vast increase in sales this year.
The most successful ad impressions handset for the Android mobile is the Motorola Droid with 5% of the impression share.
Android ad requests have been going up by 47% month-on-month while Apple ad requests increased 24 percent.

Sneaky snake bites Android

Google operates a more laissez faire attitude to its apps for the Android smart phone than Apple does for iPhone and there are both good and bad sides to this.

The downside was revealed this week when the F-Secure forum reported that what at first appeared to be a harmless game of snake (you know the one where you try to get the big line of dots to eat the little dots) was actually a GPS spy.

That is a really cool tracking device which basically turns someone's smartphone into a sort of tag which tells you where they are at all times.
I say cool because it reminds me of a high-tech gadget from a James Bond movie. In reality the spy would probably be used by people who want to know what their boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse is up to.
The only benign use I can think of for the application is to keep track of where your kids are.

It is now up to Google to either destroy the app or remove it from the Android marketplace. But is it still the job of consumers to make sure that an app is safe before they download it on their phone. That safety check could be something as simple as Googling the app to see what people have said about it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Android goes to War

From Short Circuit through to the Terminator I and II movies we have always fantasized about sending robots into war. While that vision is not fully true (unless you count drones) it seems that the decision to equip American soldiers with the Android smartphone could still save lives.

Lt. Gen. Jeff Sorenson believes that the deployment of the Android and other smartphones to the US army could happen within the year.

In anticipation of that moment a competition has been created to see who can design the best apps for military use. Among the front runners is a special app which designs training programmes to allow soldiers to prepare physically and mentally for going into war.

In terms of logistics and communication, using Android OS has obvious benefits as soldiers could contact each other easily out in the field. But they would more likely use the Android for making calls home. However, security of the phone lines would be of upmost importance.
What you don't want though is for the Android to be a distraction, for instance if you received a call just as you were hiding from the enemy.
Given that the US army is so chronically overstretched and underfunded at the moment too it would be interesting to see if this one comes to fruition or whether it is just another piece of propaganda.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Is Android a good listener?

Google is to release a voice control app for the Android smartphone. It will allow Android users to speak (or bark) commands to their phone such as 'send email' or 'access sat nav'.

Now I'm aware that I have a reputation for being skeptical but I'm not convinced this will be as good as it sounds.
Suffering from RSI, I just purchased the Dragon Speaking Naturally software which is widely considered to be the most sophisticated voice recognition software (I speak - it types) on the market. Please feel free to contradict me if I'm wrong on this.

Sometimes Dragon is brilliant and when it gets a head of steam up it can just sail along, putting lots of words on the page while I twiddle my thumbs.
Other times it will fail to spell a word correctly. Even if it gets the word right 99 times out of 100 and it is a word which I have trained it to spell on numerous occasions.

Allowing for my strange accent I would say that voice recognition software is temperamental to say the least and that this Google app for Android may not be the godsend that some people think.
However Google is a very powerful and knowledgable company and if anyone can get it right I'm sure they can. I'm also convinced they will have had a (legal) peak at the Dragon software for some guidance.

Android gets touchy

For the last decade everyone being has been raving about touchscreen technology. Personally I can't see it myself. Touching the screen just leads to it getting smudgy while accuracy is always an issue.
Now researchers have found that there are also security concerns. In fact passwords on your Android smartphones could be at risk because of the fingerprint trail.
Google's Android OS system requires users to swipe for access and this can cause "information leakage."
University of Pennsylvania scientists discovered that: "Oily residues, or smudges, remain on the screen as a side effect of touchscreen technology."
The researchers were able to partly guess the passcode of an Android smartphone 92% of the time and completely guess it 68% of the time. They did so using photo-editing software, lighting and a camera, which are all easily accessible to your average criminal.
Furthermore this is not the only vulnerability that the Android smartphone might have as a result of its touchscreen sign in.
The iPhone does not suffer from the same problem as users lift up their finger between each press.
In response Google said the Android 2.2 Froyo OS will include the option of an alphanumeric password instead of the finger swipe.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Getting to know Android part 2

Here we are, back again as promised. Saturday morning was spent having a nice swim and lounging at the pool but now that the afternoon is here it's back to work. Pushing 40 degrees Celsius, far too hot to venture outside anyway.
If, like me, you are stuck inside, you may want to try out these five useful features for Android users.

1) Now the Android smartphone comes with an Adfree ad blocker service. This spares you from annoying adverts and also allows your phone to run that much faster. Lifehacker provides some info on how to install once you purchase Adfree from the Android marketplace. "Just download it from the Market, open it up, and hit the download and install hosts button at the top of the screen."

2) Custom ring tones are another effective way of call screening. If you are hoping to avoid a call from your mother why not assign something from the Monty Python soundtrack? He's not the messiah he's a very naughty boy...

3) There is now a free app for Facebook on Android so if you want to know who's farmed what on your status updates, then Farmville is always at hand.

4) Long press on the home screen to organise all your favorite thigns into folders. Nothing could be simpler.

5) And the same applies to emoticons. With a long press you can open up lots of options. Right now - smiley face - weekend work is over and it's off to have some fun.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Getting to know Android

Techradar UK has just churned out an ultra useful list of the 50 best features you didn't know about Android.
Now I'm betting us busy office workers won't have time to read the whole thing, even if the boss is not looking and you're pretending to work on a presentation. So here's an even more handy list of the 5 best features you didn't know about Android. We'll follow it up with another 5 features this weekend, because we really have nothing better to do.

1) Don't let applications drain the life out of your Android. A Power Strip Widget can disconnect Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and anything else that runs in the background silently killing your battery. Just go to the widgets category and long press.

2) Decided to take a sickie so that you can read the full list of Android features? Or maybe you are giving an annoying ex the cold shoulder. Either way Android can help you with effective call screening. You just go to the contact options for the person you want to avoid and select ping calls in the menu options.

3) Keyboard shortcuts can save you from rsi (trust me i'm a sufferer). To customise shortcuts for the loveable qwerty keyboard format go to Settings > Applications and Quick Launch. Beware this feature does not work on the HTC Desire handset.

4) The Tasker app is available from the Android marketplace. It hardly costs anything and in return you get total control over your phone. Now that's a price worth paying. Unfortunately there is no 'try before you buy' free version.

5) Personnaly I hate computers/phones putting words on the page for me UNLESS THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY SURE THEY KNOW WHAT I MEAN. You can turn off the Google auto suggest service by going to Settings > Search > Google Search Settings. This should also make your phone run faster.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Android gets an STD: Best of the Week's News

Things have got to seedy for Android users says Mobile Crunch: "Have you ever wondered who SMSes porn and astrology lines at $9.99 per message? Your phone!"
While Apple has always prided itself on virus resistant technology, Microsoft has been prone to Trojans and now it seems that Google is too.
Kaspersky has identified this pesky bug as Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.a. The good news is that the virus only works on Android smartphones in Russia, unless of course you are willing to pay top dollar for your horoscope.
The New York Times business day technology reported that Android clients should "be careful what they download."
The virus installs what appears to be a harmless media player on your computer. Unfortunately that media player then starts to send the premium text messages. Luckily this application is not on the Android marketplace.
Google spokesman, Jay Nancarrow, said: “We advise Android users to only install apps on their smartphones that they trust. In particular, Android users should exercise caution when installing applications outside of Android Market.”
And everyone knows that STDs can have an adverse effect on your sex life. A new report has shown that iPhone users have more sex than Android users.
According to CNet: "A deep and sonorous study by the dating site OkCupid has left no doubt. iPhone owners have more sex than BlackBerry owners and a lot more sex than the worthy, solemn, dedicated purchasers of Android phones."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Android Overtakes Apple: Best of the Week's News

This week the Philadelphia Enquirer gleefully ran a story about the Apple 'cult' getting a taste of its own medicine.
The journalist witnessed a smug iPhone owner having an Android shoved in his face. The Google smartphone user wanted to show off his handset, which he felt to be superior.
The story is based around NPD Group market-research findings that Android smartphones are outselling BlackBerry and the iPhone, which is in third place.
Follow-up research (going into a cafe and asking people 'Android or iPhone?') seemed to bear out the theory, with one customer saying he preferred the large screen and the ease-of-use of the Android smartphone.
They all highlighted the flexibility of Android OS. "The heart of Google's strategy is to offer consumers choice, with the cool that comes with smartphones."
On the other hand the iPhone has suffered bad press due to the unreliable AT&T network and some design glitches.
However Macworld said Apple will not go down without a fight and has made some much needed changes to its app store. They include a 'Try before you Buy' feature, although this has not pleased all developers: "Some developers don’t think it’s fair that customers can buy a $3 app while laid over at an airport, then return it once they get home."
Meanwhile JKontherun said that the Android is due to have the largest smartphone market share by the year 2012. James Kendrick noted "Google is firing on all cylinders."
Trends would suggest that Google will have 75 million Android users in 2012 compared to 62 million users of ios4. Currently there are more than 20,000 Android activations per day. It noted that Google benefits from offering multiple handsets compared to this single iPhone design.
But Wired said there was still some work to be done on the Android. There are at least five things Google could fix including pushing for accuracy, i.e automatically correcting spelling mistakes.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Android app gives you PayPal

If Android is transforming the smartphone market then Paypal has revolutionised the world of online payments. Now Android users can send money to each other simply by bumping their phones together thanks to a new PayPal app. This is done by using some very nifty new technology known as bump technology.
This feature has been on the iPhone for a while now so you can also settle your scores across the two different platforms.
However, I am much more excited by PayPal's second feature entitled 'Split the bill'. I am sure that we all know some very stingy people and I am thinking of buying this app for them as a bit of fun. While I would rather treat my friends to a drink than add up every last penny, at least 'Split the bill' means that they will get their figures correct. This app is very easy to install. Personally I think that if you can afford an Android or iPhone smartphone then you should be able to pay for a round of drinks.
As well as this excellent addition, normal PayPal features such as withdrawing and requesting money are both available.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Android Abuzz with VoIP App Nimbuzz

Android users will soon be able to make use of the NimBbuzz application. Nimbuzz allows cheap calls using VoIP and IP telephony over Wi-Fi or 3G networks. This mobile app is available with the latest version of the Nimbuzz software for the Android OS.

It gives customers the choice of a number of different VoIP providers because Nimbuzz is an open application which is not restricted to a single client.

Nimbuzz even has its own VoIP service called NimbuzzOut. The app is expected to increase VoIP usage as it will give more Android users access to the technology. Nimbuzz also supports instant messaging from Google Talk and Windows Live Messenger.

Quentyn Kennemer of Phandroid wrote: "With NimBuzz for Android the Call quality is clear and I couldn't find anything to complain about. They use the Jingle XMPP protocol which delivers unrivaled audio clarity for VoIP calls."

Awaiting Froyo 2.2 : Best of the Week's News

Froyo 2.2 is causing quite a stir, especially for some Vodafone customers who have not been able to get their hands on it. IT Pro reported that there had been some confusion. When shoppers who thought they were getting Android 2.2 found out it was just the delayed release of Vodafone's 360 services the mood turned ugly. But "once customers do get their hands on Froyo they will be able to enjoy a faster browser, better performance and an improved Android Market, which will include a handy bug reporting feature."
The Product Reviews Blog reported that Vodafone had decided to customize Android phones, which was not to everyone's taste.
Vodafone defended themselves saying : "We customise phone software to optimise the experience and enable access to our services.”
The blog also gives a handy way to install Froyo without the Vodafone customization, though it is to be undertaken at your own risk.
Meanwhile PC Magazine said that Android Froyo 2.2 for the HTC Sprint was a must install upgrade with dramatic speed improvements, except for the flash feature which felt slow and 'clunky'. It also said that installing the upgrade is easy and gave a few handy instructions.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Android hits 100,000 Apps: Best of the Week's News

As usual Tech Radar is leading the way with the news this week that Android has hit 100,000 Apps. This information should be qualified - there are about 85,000 Android apps on the market right now as 15,000 have been taken off. Google does not put its apps through the same rigorous testing as Apple.
Furthermore Marc Chacksfield wrote that the news would not necessarily have Apple CEO Steve Jobs sweating: "At this rate, the Android Market could feasibly catch up with the iPhone App Store. But it's not about quantity but quality – and this is where Apple is still winning."
Music Week also carried the story noting that the app milestone was a significant increase from the 5,000 apps available for the Android in June 2009.
The Retail Digital blog asked whether smartphones were outsmarting us?
Jordan Robertson of the Associated Press, wrote: “Your smart phone applications are watching you. Lookout Inc. scanned nearly 300,000 free applications for iPhone and Android and found that many of them secretly pull sensitive data off users' phones and give them to 3rd parties without notification."
Given this terrifying information Laura Canter advises us to be careful about what apps we are using and to turn them off once finished. But, she asks, are apps really worth it?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Android Updates to 2.2: Best of the Week's News

The blogosphere is abuzz about what Froyo 2.2 will mean for the Android industry. TechRadar.UK reported Vodafone's desire to ready the Android Froyo 2.2 update for the HTC Desire phone. Although the update was released this weekend just gone, it currently only works for unlocked phones which are not tied to a network.
Gareth Beavis wrote: "Given that the new Android 2.2 update promises a real upgrade in functionality to the HTC Desire smartphone, users are understandably anxious [to get their hands on it] as soon as possible."

EuroDroid posted a nifty video demonstrating how clear your video recording can be when using the HTC Desire 720p and Froyo.

The Droided Up blog said that a hacked version of the Evo4G can access Froyo: "We're going Froyo crazy this week. A hacker has gotten hold of an official Froyo with Sense Rom and now it is available for your downloading and flashing pleasures."

Meanwhile Phones Review said that the Froyo update for HTC Evo 4 is set for August 3. It focused on the good news for Android users including Voice dialling over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspotting, improved speed and Flash 10x support with improved browser performance.

Android 2.2 Froyo is coming to the Verizon Motorola Droid next week, says NewsDen blog.