Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Palm webOS 1.4.1.1 Update Available

Palm Pre and Pixi customers on Sprint can jump on the webOS 1.4.1 fun today Palm has released the webOS 1.4.1.1 update is available for download. You can install the update over the air using the Updates application on your Palm Pre or Pixi.

Palm webOS 1.4.1.1 delivers the following fixes:

Bluetooth
  • This release fixes an issue so that the phone now correctly connects with supported BMW car kits.
Camera
  • This release fixes an issue so that newly taken photos and videos do not overwrite existing ones.
Doc View
  • If you open a file and perform the back gesture, the app now returns to the file list screen.
  • Pinching in/out to zoom out/in now works correctly.
System
  • This release fixes an intermittent issue so that the volume slider no longer appears onscreen incorrectly.
Touchstone charging dock
  • When the phone is on a Touchstone charging dock, the screen now consistently turns off correctly (displaying the lock icon and the time) after the shut-off interval.
You can read the full list of changes and enhancements in Palm webOS 1.4.1.1 on the Palm webOS updates website. Bell and Verizon customers who have the Pre and Pixi will have to wait a little bit longer as the 1.4.1.1 update is not listed on the Palm website.

BlackBerry OS 5.0 Release for Verizon Edition Tour

Alongside the Motorola Droid 2.1 software update, BoyGeniusReport.com is also running an article that Verizon and RIM have rolled out BlackBerry OS 5.0 for the BlackBerry Tour 9630.

According to the data sheet posted on the Verizon Wireless BlackBerry Tour support website, the key enhancements in BlackBerry OS 5.0 include:
  • Smoother operation in the Camera and video applications
  • Improved Bluetooth functionality for last number dialed
  • Enhancements for English and French voice activated dialing
  • Improved functionality in the SMS messaging application
  • Added Push To Talk
For the full list of features, visit the Verizon website.

[Via BoyGeniusReport.com...]

Moto Droid 2.1 Update: Is it Out?

"Is it or isn't it available yet?", that seems to be the question that Verizon Moto Droid customers are asking.

According to a post earlier this week on BoyGeniusReport.com, the update is available as an over the air update. If you go to the Verizon Wireless Motorola Droid support page, you see a message that the update is "coming soon."

On the Droid unit we have in the office, the update wasn't showing as being available. My advice: check back often if you are a software update junkie.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Apple iPad Screen Shots

BoyGeniusReport.com has gotten their hands on some (read: 60) iPad screen shots. Can't wait until Saturday, April 3rd, to get your hands on an iPad? Maybe these photos will help scratch the itch until then.

You can view all 60 photos on the BGR website.

[Via BoyGeniusReport.com...]

pReader for WebOS - Unlock Your eReader Books

Do you have a new webOS Palm Pre or Pixi? Do you have eReader or Fictionwise account with a lot of ebooks that you can't read on your new phone? Problem solved! Enter pReader for webOS devices.

pReader, currently at version 0.8.3, is a free third-party application, written by MHWsoft, that allows you to read a number of popular ebook formats. pReader supports plain-text, HTML, PalmDOC, MobiPocket, eReader, ePub, and Amazon AZW files. That's a lot of ebook formats for an application that doesn't cost you a dime.

Getting started with pReader is easy. First you download and install the application from Palm's App Catalog. (Search for 'preader'.) Next, connect your Pre or Pixi to your computer, and put the phone into USB mode. In my Pre's storage space, I created a new folder called "pReader eBooks" and copied some of my old eReader Pro ebooks into that folder. Lastly, unmout your webOS phone and that start up pReader.

When you start pReader, tap the Add Book To Library button, select your book, and then, if you have a DRM encrypted ebook like those sold by eReader.com, enter your unlock information, and then the book becomes available for reading.

With pReader, you have a free way to read your ebooks without having to purchase MotionApps Classic which, in my opinion, is a little bit on the expensive side.

For more details, check the pReader description page.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm: Don't Overclock Your Phone

PreCentral.net has posted an official statement from Palm on the webOS hacker community's attempt to speed up their phones running webOS.

In the brief statement posted on the PreCentral.net website, Palm writes:

"We have had a number of questions about the recently released “overclocking” patches and what Palm’s position on them are.

Palm is working hard to improve the speed and performance of webOS, as shown in our recent 1.4 update. While we appreciate the effort the webOS community has put forth to try and help us along that path, the use of this application is neither endorsed nor recommended by Palm and will likely result in a voided warranty. Palm encourages webOS users to let Palm release official updates that provide safe, reliable, over-the-air features that improve their device in a number of areas, as we have in the past at a rate of approximately once per month."

There you have it, folks. Overclock your Palm Pre or Pixi at your own risk! If you you overclock your phone, and you end up getting burned, Palm is going to charge you to repair or replace your phone.

You can read the full article on the PreCentral website.

[Via PreCentral.net...]

Time to Reboot My Palm Pre

Earlier today I received the dreaded webOS "too many cards open" error message and was forced to reboot my Sprint edition Palm Pre smart(er)phone.

The funny thing about the error was that I didn't have any cards open at the time. I know that Palm is working on fixing mutlitasking issues with webOS and that is a good think. But I still don't have to like rebooting. Besides, it takes forever, doesn't it?

The answer to that question is, "Not really." I waited with my finger poised hovering over the Restart button waiting for the clock on my phone to advance to the next minute. When I saw the time rollover, I jabbed at the Restart button an let webOS do it's thing.

It turns out that "forever" is really about 3 minutes. Not took bad, and certain less than forever. I know it can seem like forever when you are waiting for the the phone to close up shop, reboot, and reload everything. Sorta like a watched pot will never boil kind of thing.

Fortunately for me, I don't get the too many cards error message on my Pre. Maybe it's because I don't load too many third-party apps on my Pre. Na. Maybe it's because I don't keep a lot of cards open all the time. Na. I'm not sure, really, why I don't get the error message as often as some people report. It probably really does relate back to how we all use our phones and how webOS handles multi-tasking and background tasks. Then again, I'm not a software developer, so I can't say for sure.

Anyway, the time to bet is 3 minutes to reboot a Palm Pre smartphone. I'll have to reboot my 8GB 2G (first generation) Apple iPhone and see how long it takes to start up. Could be interesting.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sprint Only: webOS Yahoo IM

I just found out from a reliable source that only Sprint edition webOS devices, namely the Palm Pre and Pixi, are the only webOS devices that can use Yahoo IM from inside the Palm Messaging application.

No reason was given as to why there is a difference between the Sprint and Verizon webOS phones - only that Sprint phones can and Verizon phones can't.

Go figure.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sprint Announces the HTC Evo 4G

Sprint and HTC Corporation today announced summer availability of the world's first 3G/4G Android handset, HTC EVO 4G exclusively from Sprint. HTC EVO 4G delivers a multimedia experience at 4G speeds that is second to none, making it possible to download music, pictures, files, or videos in seconds - not minutes - and watch streaming video on the go with one of the largest pinch-to-zoom displays, at 4.3 inches, in the wireless industry.

Sprint 4G offers a faster wireless experience than any other U.S. national wireless carrier, and Sprint is the only national carrier offering wireless 4G service today in 27 markets. Sprint 4G delivers download speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G1,giving HTC EVO 4G the fastest data speeds of any U.S. wireless device available today.
"Sprint continues to lead the 4G revolution as we introduce HTC EVO 4G to give our customers an experience that is unlike anything available in wireless to date," said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO. "Not only is this feature-rich device incredible on our Sprint 3G network, but Sprint 4G speeds will take mobile multimedia, including live video streaming, gaming and picture downloads, to a whole new level."

"HTC and Sprint have a strong history of working together to bring consumers technologies and advancements that make their lives easier," said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC. "We believe that the HTC EVO 4G represents the best of Sprint and the best of HTC working together to bring an unmatched device to the U.S. This combination of HTC and Sprint innovation will allow people to do even more while on the go, faster than ever on the Sprint 4G network."

HTC Evo 4G Specifications

Productivity
  • 3G/4G capability
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ QSD8650 (1GHz) processor
  • 4.3” capacitive display with pinch-to-zoom and tactile feedback
  • World-class HTML browser
  • Android 2.1
  • Google mobile services: Google Search, Google Maps, Google Talk, Gmail, YouTube, and syncs with Google Calendar
  • Sprint Navigation, with turn-by-turn driving directions and 3D maps
  • Updated HTC Sense, which includes Friend Stream to integrate Facebook, Twitter and more
  • Visual voicemail
  • 4G data speeds (WiMAX) – peak download speeds of more than 10 Mbps
  • 3G data speeds (EVDO Rev A.) – peak download speeds of up to 3.1 Mbps
Entertainment
  • 8MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash and 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • High-quality video streaming and downloads at 3G and 4G data speeds
  • Capture and share HD-quality video (720p) from your phone
  • Output pictures, slides and videos in HD quality (720p) via HDMI cable (sold separately)
  • Live video sharing with Qik
  • Built-in kickstand for hands-free viewing
  • Media player with 3.5mm stereo headset jack
  • FM radio and Amazon MP3 store
  • Sprint applications including Sprint TV and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP Stereo and EDR
  • Built-in WiFi: 802.11 b/g
  • Digital compass, G-Sensor, proximity sensor, light sensor, GPS
  • Expandable memory: 8GB microSD card included; supports up to 32GB
Hardware Specifications
  • Dimensions: 4.8" x 2.6" x .5" (LxWxT)
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Main display: 4.3” WVGA (800x480) 65K colors
  • Standard removable 1500mAh Lithium (Li-on) battery
  • Memory: 1GB ROM, 512MB RAM
Pricing and Availability

Customers will be able to purchase HTC EVO 4G through all Sprint channels and through national retail partners, RadioShack, Best Buy and Walmart, this summer. Pricing will be announced at a later date. Pre-registration begins today at www.sprint.com/evo.

You can read the full version of today's announcement on the Sprint website.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Amazon, Barnes & Nobel to Release iPad Ereaders

According to AppleInsider.com, both Amazon and Barnes & Nobel will be developing their own iPhone/iPod touch/iPad application.
"Both companies revealed to The New York Times that they will create new digital readers and storefronts in addition to their existing applications for the iPhone and iPod touch. The App Store software will also compete with Apple's own iBooks application and accompanying iBookstore, which will also be available for download on the App Store rather than coming preinstalled on the device."

You can read the full article on AppleInsider.com...

Palm Pre Plus, Pixi Plus Announced for AT&T

Palm's webOS smartphones, the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, will be arriving on AT&T "in the coming months."

AT&T's 80 million customers will soon have a new choice for staying connected in their fast-paced lives -- the Palm(R) webOS(TM) platform. Palm, Inc. (NASDAQ:PALM) today announced that the Palm Pre(TM) Plus and Palm Pixi(TM) Plus phones will be available on the nation's fastest 3G network for $149.99 and $49.99, respectively, with a two-year service agreement and after a $100 mail-in rebate.
"AT&T and Palm have a history of smartphone leadership, and today's announcement is a significant milestone for us," said Jon Rubinstein, Palm chairman and chief executive officer. "With Palm webOS phones coming to AT&T, Palm can help most anyone in the United States stay connected so they never miss a thing."

"We're offering our customers even greater choice by adding Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus to the nation's best smartphone portfolio," said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president, Devices, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "Palm webOS plus included access to the nation's largest Wi-Fi network and the ability to talk and surf the web at the same time is a powerful combination."

Pre Plus and Pixi Plus also support a variety of AT&T services, including AT&T Navigator for audible turn-by-turn navigation (subscription required), AT&T Address Book to easily synchronize online contacts to your phone, and YPMobile to quickly find local businesses. They also include the following features and specifications. (NOTE: A complete list of features and specifications for each phone is available at www.att.com/WebOS or www.palm.com/PrePlus and www.palm.com/PixiPlus.)

  • Palm Synergy(TM), a key feature of Palm webOS that brings your information from all the places it resides - including Outlook(3), Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and LinkedIn - into one logical view that links your contacts and calendars, so accessing them is easier than ever
  • The ability to run multiple applications simultaneously and easily move between them
  • Unobtrusive notifications
  • Universal search
  • Over-the-air software updates delivered directly to a user's phone
  • High-quality applications from the Palm App Catalog
  • High-speed connectivity
  • Gesture area, which enables simple, intuitive gestures for navigation
  • Full QWERTY keyboard
  • High-performance, desktop-class web browser
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
  • Integrated GPS
  • Robust messaging support (combining IM, SMS and MMS capabilities)
  • Multimedia options, including music, photos, video recording and playback, a camera with LED flash and a standard 3.5mm headset jack
  • Email, including EAS (for access to corporate Microsoft Exchange servers) and personal email support (Google Gmail push, Yahoo!, POP3, IMAP)
  • Bluetooth(R) 2.1 + EDR with A2DP stereo Bluetooth support
  • USB mass storage mode
  • Charger/microUSB connector with USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
  • Proximity sensor, which automatically disables the touchscreen and turns off the display whenever you put the phone up to your ear
  • Light sensor, which reduces power usage by dimming the display if the ambient light is dark
  • Accelerometer, which automatically orients web pages and photos to your perspective
  • Ringer switch, which easily silences the device with one touch
  • Removable, rechargeable battery
  • Band/modes: UMTS bands/HSDPA 3.6: 850/1900Quad band GSM/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900; GSM/GPRS/EDGE Class 10

Pricing and Availability


Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus will be available in AT&T stores and online at www.wireless.att.com in the coming months for $149.99 and $49.99, respectively, with a two-year service agreement and after a $100 mail-in rebate. More information is available at www.att.com/webOS.


Analysis

With all of the negative press that Palm has received over the last week or two, I'm really surprised that Palm isn't talking about ship dates for the AT&T versions of their webOS phones. I realize that carrier testing can be sort of a mystic black art that can consume lots of time of software developers and system engineers both at Palm and AT&T. I really do believe that time is of the essence here and that Palm and all of their carrier partners here in the US really need to take things up a notch and get on the ball with their marketing A-game so to speak.

You can read today's full press release on the Palm website.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Regarding Palm

I have been reserving my judgment and remaining silent on Palm's future prospects lately. After reading the reports from Palm's latest financial earnings conference call, I have to say, that I'm a little more that worried about the company's future outlook. (PreCentral, BoyGeniusReport, PalmInfoCenter)

Palm is sitting on a mountain of unsold webOS devices to the tune of about 500,000 according to some analyst reports. That, combined with slower than expected sales at Sprint and Verizon has lead to lower earnings for the quarter. Next quarter isn't expected to be any better. Some analysts are revising Palm stock price estimates to a target of $0. That's seriously not good.

So where does that leave a 10+ year user of Palm's hardware? Well, no where, actually. I'm happy with my Palm Pre. I really like Synergy; the replacement for HotSync that collects all of my data and presents it in a single use to use location. By entering in my account information, I can have my Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Exchange data at my finger tips. Any updates on any or all of those accounts or on my phone, and the data is instantly updated everywhere else. That's pretty cool if I do say so myself.

But the longer term outlook could be much less optimistic. Palm's CEO, Jon Rubinstein, was quoted as saying:
"We had an arrangement with Sprint that when we launched with Sprint that they would invest in marketing and carry the product and for that they would get an exclusive for a period of time. That really determined when we could do our launch at Verizon. I agree with your premise that if we could have launched at Verizon earlier, prior to Droid, that we would have gotten the attention that the Droid got and since I believe that we have a better product, I think we would have even done better."

And there in lies the problem. Even though Palm's webOS operating system is very good, it's all of for not if they can't effectively market and sell their products. Without growing sales, it is really hard to attract companies like DataViz to provide the kind of excellent applications, like Documents To Go, that are needed to add functionality to Palm's devices.

When you are staring down at these grim assessments, it is really kind of hard to get excited about Palm products; and this is coming from a self-proclaimed Palm fanatic. Will I continue to use my Pre for the next 15 months until my current Sprint contract runs out? Sure will. Come next June though, I may have no choice but to switch to a BlackBerry.

In a related article, seen over on PalmInforCenter, former Palm co-founder and former Palm board member, Donna Dubinsk, was recently quoted as saying that the separation of Palm's operating system from their hardware was a "huge strategic error" back in the early part of the 2000's.

"Dubinsky said all the shuffling took "critical resources and attention from product development." And even though it happened years ago, she called the decision to spin off PalmOS a "huge strategic error." "As RIM, Apple and Palm all have demonstrated, these devices need to be highly integrated hardware and software developments in order to optimize the user experience," Dubinsky wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "When Palm no longer could advance the OS, and had to create a new one, it lost several years."
So, finally, in 2010, a former high level Palm executive admits what Palm fans everywhere have known for years: selling off Palm OS to PalmSource and keeping the hardware business in house was an incredibly stupid move that caused Palm to lose their leadership position in the smartphone race. The effects of this decision are still being felt today as Palm continues to flounder and fight to stay relevant in a now crowded smartphone market space.

[Photo via PreCentral.net.]

Monday, March 15, 2010

Apple iPad Accessories

Now that I have made my Apple iPad reservation with an Apple Store here in Connecticut, I'm taking a look at what accessories I might want to get for my new mobile gear.

I've been walking around with a simple screen protector on my iPod touch and it has done the job nicely since the iPod is carried around in my laptop bag or my pocket. While that might be OK for an iPod or iPhone, the pocket trick won't work for an iPad.

Alan's Must Have iPad Accessories


If I'm going to have my iPad with me at the office, I'm going to need something more than a screen protector. I'll have to get some kind of case of it. And it looks like Apple' iPad Case is a perfect fit for my tastes. It no only protects the iPad, but it also serves as a stand for the iPad so that you and position it for watching video, reading, or viewing photos. It also folds to become an angled wedge that positions the iPad so you can type on the on screen keyboard. (I'm able to touch type on a hardware keyboard, but I'm not sure how well I'll be able to "touch type" on the iPad. We'll have to see how things go.)

The iPad Case will go on sale sometime in April, but I don't expect it to be ready for the April 3rd launch. The iPad Case is priced at $39.00.



The iPad Dock works just like you would expect the iPhone or iPod dock to work. It provides you with a base to plug your iPad into and then has a dock connector port you plug in the iPad's dock connector to USB cable and plug the other side into your Mac or PC. There is also an audio line out that you can connect to external powered speakers. The Apple iPad Dock also works with all of the other iPad dock connector accessories like the video out cable.

The Apple iPad Dock will be available for $29.00 on April 3rd.


3. iPad Screen Protector

Call me crazy, but after shelling out $500+ on a new gadget, I still want the screen to look amazing and be scratch free two years after I buy it. It's true, I baby my hardware. While I don't see any Apple or third-party screen protectors in on the online Apple Store today, I do expect them to show up before long. And, so, I'm adding a screen protector to my list of must have accessories.

You can see Apple's other iPad accessories at the online Apple Store.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

NTY: A Battle for the Future Is Getting Personal

The New York Times has a new article online that does a good job of detailing the battle between Apple and Google that has gone from a simple rivalry to what could become an all out war between the two tech titans.

"In the last six months, Apple and Google have jousted over acquisitions, patents, directors, advisers and iPhone applications. Mr. Jobs and Mr. Schmidt have taken shots at each other’s companies in the media and in private exchanges with employees."
You can read the full article at The New York Times website...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Skip the Line, Reserve an iPad Online, Pickup at the Store

Apple's Wi-Fi iPads go on sale here in the United States on April 3rd. Don't want to wait in line? Don't want to run the risk of not getting your iPad on launch day? Don't feel like waiting around the house all day fro the delivery truck to come?

Apple has you covered! You can reserve your iPad online and then mosey on down to the nearest Apple store and pick it up! Problem solved. The reservation system will allow you to hold your iPad from 9am - 3pm, after which time, your reserved unit goes into the first come, first served pool, so don't take too long to get down to the Apple store. Once you have made your reservation, you will receive an email confirmation that contains a link that you can use to change your reservation if you need too. (I'm only ordering one iPad, so I don't know if the 2-unit limit is being enforced, but I'm willing to wager a bet that it is.)

You can reserve your iPad on the Apple website.


Thanks for the fun iPod touch, I'll take my iPad now

I want to get an iPad to replace my first generation 16GB iPod touch which has been having some trouble with the headphone jack for a long time now. I primarily use my iPod touch to surf the web, watch TV shows and movies, listen to music, and play games. Since I do surf and watch a lot of video, I think the jump up to a 10-inch screen will be nice. I'm also going make the jump from 16GB to 32GB, but don't tell me wife that will cost me an extra $100.

I'm also interested in seeing what newspaper and magazine subscriptions will be coming to the iPad: specifically what will happen with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and magazines like Time and Newsweek. (Ok, I occasionally read Entertainment Weekly too.)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

2009 Global Cell Phones

I was just reading an interesting fact published in the March 8 Time, which should be on newsstands now.

In 2002 there was an estimated 1 billion cell phones in use worldwide. In 2009, there was an estimated 4.6 billion cell phones in use.

Wow!

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Moving Day

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was going to have to change the way I use Blogger to manage SmartphoneFanatics.com. (Details)

Today is the day that I am going to attempt to make the move. If the site becomes unavailable, rest assured that we'll be back as quickly as possible.

Update
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-Alan

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rumor: Will Apple's iPad Launch Be Delayed?

Will the launch of Apple's iPad be delayed by a month? That may be the situation if a recent report from Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek is accurate.

In an report to investors released yesterday, Mr. Misek writes:

"The upcoming iPad launch may be somewhat limited as a manufacturing bottleneck has impacted production of Apple's newest device," Misek wrote. "An unspecified production problem at the iPad's manufacturer, Hon Hai Precision, will likely limit the launch region to the US and the number of units available to roughly 300K in the month of march, far lower than the company's initial estimate of 1,000K units."

If true, I don't expect any long term impact to Apple or the iPad. Apple is likely motivated by having a good experience during the initial roll out of the iPad, and having long lines at regional Apple stores and limited supply would not be a good experience. If Apple isn't able to significantly ramp up production of iPads, I fully expect the the company to push back the release date of the iPad from the end of March to the end of April.

There is no word on what will happen to the launch date of the 3G enabled iPad models that are suppose to ship about a month after the Wi-Fi only units ship.

[Via AppleInsider.com...]