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5 years ago

Opera Mini 4 Out of Beta

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Opera Mini 4 Out of Beta

We liked the Beta of Opera Mini 4 a whole heck of a lot, so we see no reason we'd feel any differently about the non-beta version:

Opera Mini 4 is based on the same rendering engine as the Opera 9.5 desktop browser. The browser still has a very small install size, less than 100k, even though we've added all these cool new features.

Go and take a look at the giant list-o-features, then tell anybody still stuck in featurephone land to install it post-haste on their phones. Windows Mobile users - well - you'll need to use it in a Java Virtual Machine.

I think that Opera Mini's zoom implementation might actually have a slight leg up on the native Opera 8.65's version. That version of Opera is my default browser, btw, or it least it is when I'm not using an iPhone as my main brain.

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5 years ago

Microsoft Responds to Android: Meh.

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Microsoft Responds to Android: Meh.

I'll admit that Google's announcement of the Android Platform had its intended effect on me: I saw the list of folks on board, I heard that an 'early SDK' is coming on Monday, and I believed that not only was Android not vaporware, but it was something pretty significant. Today things look a little shakier - Who's in control of what parts? Just how locked-down will some of these things be? What guarantee will there be than an app will work on disparate versions of Android (hello Symbian)?

Basically: Are there too many chefs in the Android kitchen?

Microsoft has a different take than I do, and it's a shrug of the shoulders:

“It really sounds that they are getting a whole bunch of people together to build a phone and that's something we've been doing for five years,” said Scott Horn, general manager of marketing at Microsoft's Windows Mobile business. “I don't understand the impact that they are going to have.”

Microsoft has forecast that more than 20 million handsets running Windows Mobile software will be sold in the business year to June 2008, nearly double the amount sold last year.

Read: Rivals dismiss threat of Google mobile platform | Reuters

Now, I strongly suspect that there are GoogleFanBoys out there to rival AppleFanBoys and they're currently bookmarking the above article to better make Microsoft eat their words someday. At the present moment, though, “I don't understand” actually isn't all that bad of a reaction - it feels like we barely know more about Android than we did on Sunday.

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5 years ago

gPhone: Android to be Announced Today?

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gPhone: Android to be Announced Today?

Update: Yep, it's for real, Engadget has some deets.

Update 2: Yowza, this is looking like a really, really big deal. I am a little worried for Microsoft, but I am very worried for Palm. More details on that particular issue at TreoCentral.

Them's the rumors over the weekend. As we reported a month ago, it looks like Google intends to compete directly with Windows Mobile - offering not hardware but a full smartphone OS. They appear to have more than 30 partners on board - basically everybody you'd think that might be interested - and their OS should be full-featured:

Google will announce an open-source development system for mobile applications that will contain a full set of components, including an operating system, a set of common application programming interfaces, a middleware layer, a customizable user interface and even a mobile browser, according to sources. Instant messaging standard protocols will also be supported.

Read: Google to unveil mobile platform; target: iPhone?

Further rumors - Wind River is apparently going to be applying their embedded Linux know-how to the project. That particular bit should be interesting to those who followed the Foleo debacle, as Wind River was also on board for that project. Although many will see this as a shot at Microsoft, I'm willing to bet that it has Palm, planning their own Linux-based Smartphone OS, shaking in their boots.

The real challenge to Microsoft is that “Android,” as it is supposed to be called, is likely going to be offered for a license fee of approximately $0 to manufacturers. Some of the costs may be offset by some sort of mobile ad structure. I'm very skeptical phone-based could work - screen real estate is just too precious to waste pixels on ads.

The announcement is supposed to come at 11 Eastern.

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5 years ago

T-Mobile Shadow Interface: Neo

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T-Mobile Shadow Interface: Neo

We spent quite a bit of time during our Video First Look at the T-Mobile Shadow talking about the new “Home Screen” interface - it's called “Neo.” There are two interesting things about Neo. The first is that it was developed by Microsoft themselves for T-Mobile and HTC:

Normally when Windows Mobile creates a release, we release it out to OEMs who then do their own customizations.  With this release, however, Microsoft worked with the OEM to create an experience that catered to what T-Mobile wanted. The OEM, HTC, had their talented industrial design team working on the hardware form-factor and wheel. Microsoft wrote the homescreen and worked out an interface for the myFaves information to bubble up for the user to see.

What's even more interesting, to me anyway, is that it seems to be a sign of things to come for Windows Mobile - not just the “Carousely” interface (and the WM6.1 rumor), but also a new strategy from Microsoft to work more closely with manufacturers and carriers. One of the knocks against Windows Mobile devices is that it's too difficult to differentiate them - hence the “Yet Another Qwerty Keyboard Windows Mobile Smartphone” tag we sometimes use here. I like the idea of being able to differentiate devices based not just on hardware but also on how well these custom interfaces are made and implemented.

My fond hope is that we'll see more experimentation -- but experimentation that follows an overall strategy and has some usability consistency. Different devices may have different “carousels,” but if the concept of using one direction navigating through “broad tasks” and then the other direction for “drilling down” sticks across all of them, we could see a lot of cool innovation without a lot of un-cool user confusion.

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5 years ago

Smartphone Round Robin: CrackBerry Kevin Tries Out the Tilt

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If you haven't already, you really need to go read this: Smartphone Round Robin: Goodbye BlackBerry, Hello Windows Mobile and the ATT Tilt | CrackBerry.com.

See, it's a die-hard BlackBerry's guy's take on the Windows Mobile AT&T Tilt (Video First Look of the Tilt here). We chose the Tilt for the Smartphone Round Robin for a couple reasons - the main one being that I've said here many-a-time that it is a very good contender for the “best damn Windows Mobile smartphone ever.” That said, I was a little nervous using a “slider” in this Round Robin, as it's the only entrant that isn't a very good two-handed device. Well Kevin definitely picked up on that as well as picking up on a whole bunch of other issues with the Tilt.

We'll post some of our own reactions here after the break. More importantly, you should post your reactions in the comments here for a chance to Win in the Round Robin.

Form Factor

Kevin writes:

Holding the device in my hand I was impressed by the Tilt’s build quality. I can now see why HTC enjoys the reputation that it does. I do think maybe the heaviness of the phone bolsters this feeling  of quality (I’m pretty sure the gadget world associates lightweight electronics with being ‘cheap’ and heavy electronics with being ‘well-built’) but either way the device seems well constructed and put together.

You durn-tootin it's a solid device. Earlier in the review it's called a “brick” and - honestly - that's fair. The point stands, though, that there's something to heft and weight that feels awesome. I'm stealing the image at right from intomobile's excellent post on that very subject because it's hilarious and because it's exactly right: heavy ain't always a bad thing.

The bigger issue, though, and one I was worried about was the input thing:

But with the Tilt I honestly did not even know how to begin using the device. Should I pull out the slider keyboard? Should I pull out the stylus? Should I try tapping the screen with my thumb? Or index finger? Should I keep the keyboard slid ‘in’ and use the navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen? I am coming over from a BlackBerry… maybe I should use the trackwheel?

Yeah, one thing you have to say about Windows Mobile is that there are a myriad of ways to get around the device and manufacturers keep trying different methods in order to find the “right way.” We have 5-ways, scroll wheels, styli, track-wheels, and so on. I personally like that I can often hunt down just the right input style for myself, but it's confusing.

Also check out his notes on the “Two-handed thing.”

On Windows Mobile

When I think about the Tilt as a 'communications tool' and compare it head-to-head with the BlackBerry I pretty much want to throw the Tilt and Windows Mobile out the window (pun most definitely intended). The Windows Mobile OS is not very mobile user friendly compared to the BlackBerry OS. Its user experience is more akin to a computer that’s been downsized into a phone instead of starting with the demands of a mobile user and building an OS around the way a mobile user actually works (yes, that is what RIM has done with the BlackBerry).

Two thoughts about this issue. The first is a gripe I've long had that people assume that “Windows Mobile” is “just like Windows.” This is actually a gripe against Microsoft, in a way. I can't really blame them for leveraging their brand (and the “start menu”) to try to grab new users - but the bottom line for me is that Windows Mobile has a completely different UI philosophy to Windows - or at least different enough that I've had to help people through mental blocks like “On Windows I do X, why can't I do X here?”

The second thought is that, yes, Windows Mobile can be slow and that, as I said early and often about the Tilt, it requires some customizing to get it to work efficiently (read How To: Customize Your Tilt). That “customization required” is probably a bad thing on the whole, but the silver lining is hugely important for me. Out of the box, a Windows Mobile device is often not as user-friendly as a BlackBerry -- but once you have it tweaked, you can do things with a WM Smartphone that would make a BB user's head spin.

...Or so I assume, I have the BlackBerry 8310 (which is currently in Phone different's hands, read Mike excellent overview here) during week three. I'm on record as of this moment that I will eat my words if I'm wrong about the above.

Last thoughts

CrackBerry Kevin is annoyed by having to use the power button to make the device active. Agreed. As for the data loss thing - the Tilt won't actually lose data if it powers off, it just might lose whatever particular thing you might be doing the moment it shuts down -- just saying.

He's also annoyed by the battery life. Well, them's the breaks with a device as loaded with radios as this one. Maybe we should have sent him something with better battery life -- any suggestions for next year?

Anyhow, those are a few brief thoughts. What do you folks think? Tilt getting a fair shake so far from our BlackBerry fanatic?

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5 years ago

CrackBerry Kevin's Last Look at the Tilt

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5 years ago

Smartphone Round Robin: Initial Impressions on the iPhone

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5 years ago

Review: Slingbox Pro

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5 years ago

Smartphone Round Robin: Final Thoughts on the Treo 680

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5 years ago

Video First Look: T-Mobile Shadow

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5 years ago

Try Not to Weep: Samsung i780 Not Coming to the US

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We won't see it here for a while, according to the final specs posted by GPSAndCO. The problem is that it will be a TriBand GSM phone -- lacking a necessary band to get the phone up and running here in the states. It's a real pity, too, because we like it:

  • Windows Mobile 6 Professional (read: touchscreen)
  • 320x320 screen
  • A-GPS
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth 2.0, USB 2.0
  • Funny mouse-pointer doo-dad

There's a video up here from when the i780 first popped its head up. Let's hope it pops again someday for AT&T.

via: pocketnow.com - Samsung i780 Gets Official

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5 years ago

ATT 8525 Finally Gets WM6

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ATT 8525 Finally Gets WM6

This is good news: HTC and AT&T have finally released the Windows Mobile 6 ROM update for the 8525. You'll get AT&T branding instead of Cingular, of course, but what you'll really get is Windows Mobile 6 and a bunch of extras:

  • Push to Talk
  • AT&T's internet links (video, music, etc)
  • Correctly shows E vs 3G depending on your connection
  • Use X to close apps (huzzah!)
  • Did I mention Windows Mobile 6?

I'd like to say that this bodes well for the Blackjack WM6 upgrade and also for the Treo 750 WM6 upgrade. I like to say that, but I won't. Instead I'll just write it on my bathroom mirror; write it backwards ....in blood.

It's Halloween, you know, and I hear tricks like that can summon mysterious entities that may or may not even exist. At this point, that's pretty much how I feel about these promised updates to Windows Mobile 6.

Read: HTC: Support: AT&T 8525 Software Downloads. Thanks to Roger for the tip!

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5 years ago

ATT Stores Selling MotoQ9h Early? Also Q9C on Sprint

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They are indeed, according to reports over at everythingQ. Motorola has already spilled the beans on the Q9 Global and we've expected it to hit “Real Soon Now” for a “Real Long Time Now” and been “Real Wrong Now” every time. This time around the rumor is November 1st (i.e. tomorrow), but you'll forgive us if we don't mark that confirmed just yet.

Reports say the official release date will be November 1st

Read: Everything Motorola Q

Over on the Sprint side, BGR is reporting that the Q9C “The C is for corporate” on Sprint may hit on November 23rd, aka Black Friday. It will be identical to the Verizon Q9M “The M is for Media,” except lacking the media interface (see our first look here).

Update: Once again we got burned by naming conventions. It's the Motorola Q9h and yes, you can find them in AT&T stores now. We did - first look coming up in just a bit!

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5 years ago

The Smartphone Round Robin!

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The Smartphone Round Robin!

The Smartphone Round Robin

So WMExperts is part of a family of sites, we're a sibling to TreoCentral, Phone different, and CrackBerry.com. Together, the four sites cover the 4 major Smartphone platforms in the US. Normally, each site covers its own beat and does its own thing - but not this month.

No, this month we're starting the first annual Smartphone Round Robin. Each week for the next month, the 4 editors of these sites will literally trade phones. We'll be forced to use only “the other guy's” phone as our main brain - writing up our impressions, getting help from the other site's forums, and generally finding out why everybody seems to be so loyal to their smartphone of choice.

Win a Smartphone!

It's not all about us, though, it's more about you folks. So as a part of the Smartphone Round Robin, we're giving away fabulous prizes. The grand prize is a smartphone of your choice (that's currently available in the US or Canada) and some mad money to spend on accessories. Three runners up will also receive coupons for free smartphone accessories. 4 sites, 4 winners total, natch.

Here's how to win: Just post in any Round Robin Forum Thread at any of our sites, the WMExperts Round Robin Forum is here. Every day you make a post, you get another entry into the contest. The full contest rules are here.

Follow Along

Here's how to follow along: Just head on over to the Smartphone Round Robin Update page and follow it there or via RSS. Every time there's a new forum thread (threads == chances to win!), we'll let you know. Every time one of our community editors talks about their impressions of “the other guy's phone,” we'll tell ya. We even have all sorts of rules and regulations we have to follow so that each smartphone gets a fair shot.

It's going to be a wild ride.

Read: Smartphone Experts (SPE) Announces the First Annual Smartphone Round Robin

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5 years ago

MySpace Music on Windows Mobile

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MySpace Music on Windows Mobile

We all know (and dearly love) the Full YouTube Plugin for Windows Mobile. The associated thread is still seeing a ton of action (and zbop, the creator of said plugin, is still chiming in and helping out). Where to next?

Well, I wouldn't have thought this, but where you go next is MySpace. Specifically, the MySpace music player that so many bands put up on their pages. Anthony Capobianco has taken the same basic idea - use TCPMP and make a flash plugin for it - and applied to the MySpace app.

Here's the funny thing - this plugin might make MySpace better on Windows Mobile than it is on the desktop. Whenever I go to a MySpace page, heck, any page that starts making noise without me asking it to I get all HULK MAD - presumably this method means that you'd be able to navigate MySpace without that particular burden.

Download: MySpace Music Mobile - thanks to Anthony for the tip!

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