T-Mobile Germany has posted on its G1 web page that a software upgrade will be coming in May for users of the device on its network. Among the features that will be added to the handset is a virtual keyboard, video capture and playback, stereo Bluetooth support and what appears to be an accelerometer (translated copy from German to English reads “Automatic Adjustment of the touchscreen when the G1 is horizontal or vertical hold”).
As far as a similar offering for all of those hungry U.S. G1 owners waiting for a cupcake of their own, we still have no idea of a date when it will happen, but with the apparent May release in Germany, the U.S. upgrade shouldn’t be too far away.
Our eyes are constantly wide open for every new phone that might eventually use the Android OS. Fortunately, the HTC Magic is surely going to use it, and there is information now that it will also be offered by the Italian carrier TIM. The handset has already appeared on TIM’s website and it even has a price tag. You should be able to get it for 449 Euro, probably on May 4, which is a day before Vodafone’s official release date for the phone.
The first Android powered handset has surely made a mark in the cellular world. In the half year that the G1 has been available, 1 million units have been bought in the U.S. While a strong showing, the device trails behind the iPhone 3G which had domestic sales of 1.6 million in the last three month quarter for AT&T. The G1 does dominate T-Mobile’s relatively new 3G pipeline in the U.S. where 2 out of every 3 phones sending voice and data over the network is that model. When the G1 was first released, T-Mobile restricted sales to stores in locations where the carrier had 3G presence which amounted to just 21 markets, although customers could buy anywhere using the web site. Since then, the restrictions have been lifted and the company’s 3G network now covers as much as a third of the U.S. population.
The next cellphone using Google’s open source OS could be heading T-Mobile’s way. We recently showed you pictures of a HTC Magic passing through the FCC with the T-Mobile logo branded on the casing. As we reported, European carrier Vodafone plans on shipping the Magic on May 5th to those placing pre-orders. No word on if and when the device will be available in the States.
Taiwanese computer manufacturer Acer has jumped on the cellphone business bandwagon and seems to be getting into full swing. The company is expected to launch as many as 10 Windows Mobile phones in 2009 and while no formal announcement has been made to date, Acer’s head of mobile-phone products Aymar de Lencquesaing said it was very likely that the company would have put out an Android device by the end of 2009. There is no doubt that the globe’s third largest computer company has decided to not only make a strong statement about its wireless division, but also has the recources to back it up. Mr. de Lencquesaing went on saying that Acer also planned to become one of the world´s top 5 handset manufacturers by 2012. This is a goal that Acer might be indeed able to achieve. When the company introduced some of its Windows Mobile handsets at the MWC this February, the devices looked stylish with an abundance of of up-to-date features, meant for both the U.S. and European markets.
That doesn’t mean it will be a cakewalk for them. In an separate interview, de Lencquesaing estimated that in order to become one of the top five in handset production, his company would have to sell between 20 to 25 million devices in the region. Sounds like a lot of phones that would have to be sold and with a successful PC franchise, why even bother going into the smartphone business? The answer is that the Chairman and CEO of the company J.T.Wang believes that eventually, smartphones will replace the PCs altogether.
The second Android powered device is available for pre-order now from Vodafone in Europe. And the best thing is, the phone is free as long as you sign up for a monthly plan costing 30 BP or more. The carrier expects to have the phones in the hands of those who pre-order by May 5th. The Magic is equipped with a 3.2MP camera to snap the jealous look on your pal’s faces. And you can view the pictures of their envy on the unit’s 3.2 inch touchscreen. Other parts of the feature set include GPS, HTML browser, 3G connectivity and Wi-Fi. No word on when we can expect some Magic in the States, but not too long ago we showed you the handset wearing the T-Mobile brand while getting thumbs up from the FCC, so it might not be that long before we reach into this hat and pull out the next Android phone in the U.S.
says it will release an Android powered cellphone, but it will take time before such a handset is launched. CEO Hideki Komiyama told Reuters that offering a device with the Google open source OS takes time for testing, evaluation and consumer acceptance. While many other cellphone manufacturers are rushing out Android backed models, Komiyama said that Sony Ericsson is focusing on how it can make units that are different than those of its competition despite sharing the same OS. That goal also applies to high-end phones that the partnership is making with Windows Mobile and Symbian software. Mr. Komiyama said that Sony Ericsson has no idea when its first Android handset will be available, but we know that there are many Sony Ericsson fans out there who just can’t wait.
Who said Cupcake is not released yet? Okay, it isn’t, but there is now a completely reliable way to get all those much-wanted goodies, such as an on-screen QWERTY, video recording, updated browser and more. The story is that a user, nicknamed haykuro, has managed to port the HTC Magic’s software, version 1.5, to the G1. Side by side with the folks at XDA forums, the advancement of the project continues with more bug fixes.
Here’s the moment to introduce you the two available versions of the port: the G line (meaning Google-sourced) and the H line (from HTC-sourced). What’s the difference? The biggest difference by now is the fact that Google has actually blocked the access to Android Market for the G ROMs. One theory is that the company has done this, because a G1 with the Android 1.5 version has been detected as an HTC Magic phone, so it wanted to limit such devices until the Magic has been officially released. Or… the other possibility that comes to our minds – the companies want to keep sales up. As the users have become tired of waiting for the promised Cupcake update, they have thought of their own ways to get the features, even push it one step further!
Then how come Google’s bunch of contributing developers was unable to deliver the much-needed features in such a long period of time? If these guys are so slow every time an update is needed, then this whole open-source initiative is totally senseless. Maybe we are just missing the idea – the companies might be as well holding Cupcake’s release until the Magic is finally on the market. Why? Well, what does the Magic have that the G1 doesn’t? On-screen QWERTY, video recording, updated browser… Exactly, the Magic will not offer almost anything new in terms of hardware. Even the QWERTY keyboard has been removed. That is why Google has decided to cut the access to Android Market for “rooted” G1s after a few days of usage – in order to give you a reason to buy the Magic. Users report that it is still possible to use the storefront with the H builds, so just go ahead and don’t forget that we would like to know what you guys are thinking on the matter.
You can download the latest version of the port here.
Here is a quiz – name three manufacturers of Android phones. You are right, it is only HTC that offers phones running the greatest mobile OS, but it seems this is just about to change. We´ve just been tipped off by a reliable source that Samsung is to launch its first Android-powered smart phone on the European market as soon as this June! Recently, the S8000 Cubic (pictured) was rumored to be the first Sammy with Android, but we are not sure if it is the real deal. Still, we are as happy as can be to report that it´s going to be the first, but not the only one – furthermore, two additional models are to hit the shelves in European stores by the end of this year. We’ve no clue what the specs of these phones are, but considering the Samsung’s current line-up, we do expect to see a slim smart phone with 5 to 8-megapixel camera and we certainly keep our fingers crossed that it´ll feature an AMOLED display.
Unfortunately, there is no specific information regarding models for the American market. Still, earlier rumors had it that the Korean manufacturer was preparing a little something for both T-Mobile and Sprint. We hope we see it this year as well.
P.S. You heard it here first!
As of yesterday, developers are now allowed to get the SDK for the next platform of Google’s open source OS, Android 1.5. This new build is based on the cupcake branch from the Android Open Source Project and includes APIs for features like a virtual QWERTY keyboard, widgets for the home screen, live folders and speech recognition. At the developer’s site you can download the early-view version of Android 1.5, learn about upgrading your Eclipse plug-in and learn what changes you will find in version 1.5. The SDK itself has been changed with improvements to the developer’s tools and will also include multiple versions of the Android software. For example, the early look SDK now offered not only includes version 1.5 of Android, but also includes version 1.1 so that multiple builds can be targeted with just one SDK installation. Google is telling developers not to release apps based on this version of Android 1.5 because there still could be some changes before the official release, which should be available at the end of the month. In the meanwhile, developers can download the Android 1.5 early look SDK by clicking on this link.
You might have heard of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). If not, it’s the organization responsible for the licensing of Bluetooth technologies. Well, it seems that it has just given a license to an HTC Android phone, named the Fiesta. After the news leaked to the media, the Android part was quickly replaced with the more generic “Handheld, Phone”, but we are not that easily deceived. The licensing documents were not very detailed to start with, so the only other information about the device is that it will be available in Asia, Europe and North America.
Now, with this information in mind, we see a couple of possibilities. First, the Fiesta is another name for the HTC Magic. It’s already known under several operator-specific names, so one more wouldn’t surprise us. Second, the Fiesta is a device that wasn’t in the leaked roadmap, or maybe it was there, but under a different name… If that’s the case then we have no idea if it’s even supposed to come to the market during this year, since it might very well be scheduled for a 2010 launch for all we know.
What’s your take on the situation?