CrowdGadgets Episode 2
Download: CrowdGadgets Podcast Archive
Welcome to CrowdGadgets, the official podcast of the CrowdGather Gadget Network. The podcast is hosted by Brodie Duncan, Calob Horton, John Freml, Stuart Cope, and William Devereux. This week’s episode covers the latest news from each of the CrowdGather gadget sites: Anythingbutiphone, Anythingbutipod, Good and EVO, Nothing But Tablets, Pocketables, and StreakSmart.
This week’s biggest news
In a shocking move, HP announced its plans to shut down operations for its webOS division, discontinuing the Pre, TouchPad, and Veer product lines by the end of the quarter. This news comes only days after the TouchPad went on sale on Monday, August 15, in Australia. Harvey Norman, the exclusive retailer of the TouchPad in Australia, is offering full refunds to anyone who purchased the device in the four days it was on the shelves. Although HP is considering licensing webOS to other manufacturers, final plans are still up in the air. The same can be said for the company’s PC division: HP is said to be weighing its options, eventually reaching a decision in the next year or two on whether to sell, spin off, or close the number one PC manufacturing unit in the world.
Google has announced its intentions to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. The deal is pending regulatory approval, but if it goes through, Google stands to gain more than 17,000 patents, in addition to one of the biggest Android manufacturers. Google claims the arrangement will also help protect Android from patent disputes with companies like Microsoft and Apple. Motorola previously expressed interest in a Nokia-like deal with Microsoft, but this is obviously now off the table. In fact, Google’s purchase of Motorola may have been spurred on by Microsoft’s interest in the company’s patents, resulting in the 60% premium on Motorola’s current stock price. Google was more appealing to Motorola, thanks to its interest in both the manufacturing business and patent portfolio.
The Fujitsu-Toshiba IS12T looks like a great Windows Phone, but it might come with a heavy cost. One of KDDI’s local stores appears to have released pricing information for the device. New subscribers will be able to pick up the IS12T for 19,350 yen ($252.71 USD), while current subscribers will be forced to pay 35,100 yen ($458.41 USD). Off-contract devices will cost significantly more. The IS12T is expected to be released next month exclusively in Japan, but it might arrive as early as August 25.
In an age where wireless operators are cutting back on unlimited plans, it is interesting to see one make a move in the opposite direction. AT&T is streamlining its messaging plans on August 21, leaving customers with just two options: Unlimited/Unlimited for Families and Pay Per Use. Customers already on the Messaging 1000 plan will be grandfathered into the new system.
Leaked images of the Motorola Droid HD hit the web this week, revealing the device’s 4.5 inch screen, mini-HDMI and microUSB ports, and 8MP 1080p camera. The phone also features a front-facing camera. The Droid HD is expected to complement the Droid Bionic, which will also be released this fall.
At Gamescom this week, Microsoft revealed that Windows Phone Mango will support
Avatar Awardables, just like on Xbox 360, and Fast Async, a brand-new Xbox LIVE
service that makes multiplayer gaming on phones more feasible. The software giant also showed off fourteen new games, including mobile versions of popular Xbox 360 franchises. Many of these titles will take advantage of Avatar Awardables and Fast Async, as well as Game Add-Ons and Parental Controls.
HTC has teamed up with Beats by Dre to bring the company’s audio technology to
its fall line of smartphone handsets. The partnership will cost HTC a cool $300 million, giving the Taiwanese manufacturer a majority stake in the Beats Audio company. Beats Audio has been extremely successful with its lineup of headphones, so HTC plans to keep a hands-off approach. Look for the technology in new HTC handsets this fall.
New reports suggest that Google might release Ice Cream Sandwich, the next major update for Android, in October. The update will bring many new features to Android devices, including those found in Honeycomb tablets. Ice Cream Sandwich should help Google compete against Microsoft and Apple, who are expected to release Windows Phone Mango and the iPhone 5 around the same timeframe.
Inside sources claim that Windows Phone Tango will be an interim Windows Phone update, possibly planned for release next spring. Tango might be focused on hitting the lower price point, but one thing is almost certain: it’s all about Nokia. Windows Phone 8, codenamed Apollo, is expected to be released next fall.
The FiiO E6 is the latest in a line of portable headphone amps. The uniquely designed
gadget features plastic casing, rather than metal, which decreases its overall weight. The technical specifications appear to be almost identical to the E5, its predecessor, although the E6 does sport an improved bass boost and gain switch with three variable settings. The $20 portable amp also includes a detachable belt clip.
Good and EVO
It’s been a good week for root enthusiasts who own HTC EVO devices, including the EVO 4G and the EVO 3D. First, the latest Gingerbread OTA update for HTC EVO 4G was finally rooted, thanks to the Revolutionary developer tool. This is the same tool that recently brought root access to the HTC EVO 3D and EVO View 4G, and this is something that EVO 4G users have been asking about for weeks. Revolutionary is still in an open developer preview, but the process is relatively easy, safe, and even (dare I say) foolproof. Still, if you think you need a little hand-holding, check out the new EVO Gingerbread root tutorial on G&E.
Next, a new EVO 3D OTA update started rolling out Thursday, which is actually a fairly
large update. The biggest part of this update included the ability to unlock the bootloader with HTC’s web tool, although this comes with some pretty stern warnings from HTC about warranty invalidation.
In addition to this, the official change log included device lockscreen, Bluetooth, GPS, and calendar fixes; making additional preloaded apps uninstallable by user; and updates to Spiderman, Watch, and Qik. We’ve also noticed a few additional updates that were not mentioned by HTC or Sprint: Android was updated to 2.3.4 (although there is still no video chat on Google Talk); Swype was updated to 3.21; the HBOOT was updated to 1.50 (which is not compatible with the Revolutionary unlocking tool yet); the green camera problem when away for some users; Picasa Web Albums is finally syncing properly; native screenshots are enabled (press power + home); the ability to turn off shutter sounds in camera app is gone; the mirror app is now gone; there are miscellaneous reports of third-party launchers no longer working properly (HTC Sense always takes over); and the ability to share photos from within the phone app was added, without needing to go to the gallery.
So now that all EVO users have root access, be sure to pick up the modified Google Videos app that allows you to play movies rented through the Android Market on your rooted EVO. Additionally, the beta version of WiFi Tether (beta) is now working on the EVO 3D.
Finally, a SIM-free variant of the European HTC EVO 3D has launched in the UK. This is in spite of the EVO 3D being dumped by Vodafone, only to be picked up again but delayed until September. Without warning, the phone has appeared at a number of UK retailers and is available for purchase right now. Since it’s SIM-free, the phone will not have the option of receiving a discount from a provider to help shutter the costs. Due to no subsidy, it will be retailing at £500.00, or about $815.00 USD.
With webOS hardware from HP completely gone, what can we expect in terms of hardware for the little OS that could (not)?
As the third iteration of Motorola’s original Droid series, the Droid 3 needs to completely turn around people’s thoughts about that line. The Droid 2 hurt Motorola’s image, so does the Droid 3 make up for that flub-up?
Sony Ericsson has been pretty off when it comes to releasing good hardware, and releasing it on time. The Xperia Play might be the most interesting Android device on the market today, and with tons of potential customers, hopefully Sony learned from its
As if RIM needed any more negativity towards it, this week the BlackBerry PlayBook with Sprint WiMAX technology was canceled … by Sprint. The carrier was worried about sales numbers and decided to kill the idea of the 7-inch tablet on their network. RIM responded by stating that it is still working on an LTE-enabled version.
Nothing But Tablets
Amazon has hit back at Apple by creating a new HTML5 web-based app with which to sell eBooks. Apple has a policy that does not allow developers to have a link in their app to their own store elsewhere, ensuring that Apple gets its 30% cut of everything sold through in-app purchases. However, with an HTML5 web-app, developers can create a cache to work offline, save a bookmark on the home screen on the iPad that will create an icon that looks like an app, and also launch the app in a toolbar-free window.
Mark Dean, CTO at IBM, believes that the PC is going the way of typewriters and cassette tapes, eventually becoming obsolete. “My primary computer now is a tablet. When I helped design the PC, I didn’t think I’d live long enough to witness its decline. But, while PCs will continue to be much-used devices, they’re no longer at the leading edge of computing.”
Goodbye, Dell Streak: Our beloved pocket tablet have been given the EOL (end of life)
status and is no longer available in the US. The Streak 5 had been unavailable for a while from Dell’s online store and was even rumored for a hardware update. Even though the Streak never took off in the mainstream market like we all wished it had, StreakSmart will continue to exist as strong as ever, bringing you all the latest news about the Streak 5, Streak 7 and Streak 10 Pro.
The Dell Streak 7 WiFi is getting an official Honeycomb update in September, although the 3G/4G version is stuck with Froyo. Thanks to the HoneyStreak custom ROM, the Dell Streak 7 has had Honeycomb (Android 3.x) unofficially available for the past few months. But according to an anonymous tipster, an official OTA upgrade to Honeycomb can be expected in the next month. The only downside will be that the software upgrade will only be available to the WiFi variant, while the 3G/4G version that was available on T-Mobile and, more recently, discontinued will be stuck with Android 2.2 (Froyo).
Apps and Games
“We’re In” is a brand-new location sharing app from Bing, allowing users to broadcast their current location in real time. The app is a combination of Latitude and Glympse, allowing users to easily group, locate, and coordinate with friends and family. It’s currently available exclusively on Windows Phone, but Microsoft plans to release it on other platforms in the future.
The latest version of ZuneNuze now includes content from Anythingbutipod! The app aggregates news and reviews from various Zune-related websites and Microsoft MVP communities. The developer admits that the current version of the app is fairly basic, but he plans to update the user interface for version two. ZuneNuze is available on Windows Phone and Android.
Phereo is a new app for the EVO 3D or LG Optimus 3D that allows sharing pictures in stereoscopic 3D. It functions similarly to Picasa or Flickr, except it focuses exclusively on stereoscopic 3D images. Phereo 3D allows users to browse through thousands of previously-submitted 3D pictures and to upload their own. Creating a new account is quick and easy, and will allow you to mark certain 3D photos as your favorites and upload your own pictures to share with others. If you choose not to register, you are still able to view recent uploads and staff pics, as well as search for specific files. This helps fill a 3D void that some users have been complaining about.
Root Explorer is now just $0.99 in the Amazon App Store (regularly $3.99). This was originally reported on G&E, and since we are not sure how long this price will last, you should jump on it ASAP! Even if you’re not rooted, it’s still a great light-weight, easy-to-use file manager.