Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This Is Why I'm Switching to an iPhone

I think that graphs say it all; HP webOS 2%.  I just don't want to sign a two-year contract and be on a phone that has such a low market share.

[Via 9to5Mac.com...]

PopCap Plants vs. Zombies Free in Amazon Android App Store

Amazon.com is offering PopCap's zombie shooter, Plants vs. Zombies for Google Android devices free today only.

Normally, $2.99, Amazon is giving away copies for Plants vs. Zombies for people who sign up for their new AppStore for Android.  To get started, you need to enter your phone's telephone number or email address from the Amazon.com website.  You will receive a new text message or email with the link to download and install the Appstore for Android application on your device and then you can download the game.

Plants vs. Zombies is a fun game in which you plant flowers and other forms of vegetation to prevent the zombie horde from making it inside your house.  I'm not exactly what you call a zombie or horror film fan, but don't let the name of this app scare you away.  The plants and zombies that show up through out the game are loads of cartoon-y fun.

A word of caution before you go hog wild downloading and installing applications on your Droid smartphone.  To install the Appstore for Android application, you must first turn on the ability to install applications for other sources than the Google Android Market.  While this step is not dangerous in and of itself, it does require that you be more vigilant about what software you install on your device because you are turning of a feature that Google perceived to be a security concern; if it the security is to address customer lock-in to the Android Market.

For more details and to download Plants vs. Zombies, head over to Appstore for Amazon website.

Briefly Noted: Apple Releases Defense for MacDefender Malware

Apple has released Security Update 2011-003 today with the express purpose of protecting Macs from the MacDefender malware.  If the update is installed on a Mac that is already infected, the update will remove the malware program.

Malware removal
Available for: Mac OS X v10.6.7, Mac OS X Server v10.6.7
Impact: Remove the MacDefender malware if detected
Description: The installation process for this update will search for and remove known variants of the MacDefender malware. If a known variant was detected and removed, the user will be notified via an alert after the update is installed. Additional information is available in this Knowledge Base article:
Security Update 2011-003 is available now from the Software Update control panel or from the Apple Support Downloads page.

Steve Jobs to Deliver WWDC 2011 Keynote Address

Apple today confirmed that CEO Steve Jobs will be on hand, along with other top executives, for the 2011 World Wide Developer's Conference (WWDC).
Apple CEO Steve Jobs and a team of Apple executives will kick off the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a keynote address on Monday, June 6 at 10:00 a.m. At the keynote, Apple will unveil its next generation software - Lion, the eighth major release of Mac OS X; iOS 5, the next version of Apple’s advanced mobile operating system which powers the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch; and iCloud, Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering.
I'm really looking forward to what Apple has in store for us with regard to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and iCloud.  Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is close to a golden master (GM) release with several pre-release beta builds having already gone out to developers already.  Many are speculating that Lion will go on sale in the next few weeks.  Rumors have also been circulating for a while now that the iCloud service, a potential repackaging of MobileMe, will offer more free services as well as a new option to stream your purchases from Apple's servers.

iOS 5.0, the next major release of Apple's mobile operating system, which is based on the same core as Mac OS X, will likely become available in the next 90 days after it is formally introduced at next week's developer event.

[Via Apple.com...]

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wait, what? What?! iPad 2 Can Be Used As a Wi-Fi Hotspot?

My wife booked us on a low key, no tech summer vacation.  What? No Internet access for a week?  Clearly, she is trying to kill me for the insurance money.

Ok, that was probably was a little bit over the top, but a week without Internet access for me is like serving a prison sentence of life without parole.

So I started looking at Mi-Fi hot spot access points.  I wanted to buy a cheap one and then slap enough data service on it to last me the week.  While I was looking at the AT&T offerings, I came across a note that suggests that the iPad 2, just like the AT&T iPhone 4, can be used as a Wi-Fi hot spot.

"AT&T offers several convenient billing options, none of which require a long-term contract.  Customers can choose between AT&T’s prepaid billing options, which are charged to a credit card account, or recently announced postpaid plans that can be added to customers’ existing monthly wireless statements.

Customers may choose from the following options.

Monthly statements:  $14.99 for 250 MB or $25 for 2 GB.  Customers who exceed their monthly data allotment will be billed $14.99 for another 250MB on the $14.99 plan or $10 per 1 GB of overage on the 2 GB plan.

Credit card billing:  $14.99 for 250 MB or $25 for 2 GB.  Customers who exceed their monthly data allotment may choose to purchase another 250 MB on the $14.99 plan or purchase an additional 2 GB for $25 on the 2 GB plan.

Both options are month-to-month and do not require a long-term commitment.

The Personal Hotspot feature being introduced with iOS 4.3 is also available to customers who choose the $25 plan plus a $20 tethering option that provides an extra 2 GB of data."

So it looks like you can use an iPad 2 as a Mi-Fi hot spot if you have the $25/month 2GB data plan and then pay an additional $20 for another 2GB data block for a total combined monthly data limit of 4GB.

Unlike a Mi-Fi puck, I know I 'd be using the iPad 2 all the time and I like the idea of being able to go month-to-month with the iPad 2 service plan and still be able to add the Wi-Fi hot spot connection when I need to.

You can read the full AT&T Wireless press release on the AT&T website.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Plants vs. Zombies HD on Sale

PopCap's popular game Plants vs. Zombies HD for iPad and iPad 2 is on sale right now for $1.99 (iTunes link).  PvZ, as it is often referred to, is normally $6.99.

If you haven't played before, the premise is that you control a variety of plants and mushrooms to stop the zombie horde that is invading your yard from the cemetery across the street.  Oh, and your neighbor, Crazy Dave shows up every now and again to sell you more seeds and other important upgrades.  The best part of the game, for me anyway, are all of the wonderful plants and things in your zombie busting arsenal.  It's hard to look cute and slightly irritated all at the same time.

Sounds weird, I know.  Until you play it.  My kids and I started off playing the web version, and I decided that we like the game enough to buy the Mac OS X version.  For a while there, I was super addicted to the game because I wanted to make it all the way to the end of the game and not get stuck on a tough level.

PopCap also has a version of PvZ for the iPhone/iPod touch for $2.99 (iTunes link).  You can also purchase the Mac OS X version from the Mac App Store for $9.99 (App Store link) or, if you're on a Windows PC, you can purchase the game directly from the PopCap website.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Google Updates Maps for Android

 Today, Google released Maps 5.5.0 for Android powered smartphones.

According the Android Market web page for Maps, there are only three things included in the update.  They are:

  • Check in and check out directly from Place pages.
  • Change your Latitude work and home addresses.
  • See the redesigned transit station pages.
I find myself using the Maps application, and the Navigation feature, a lot more than I though I would when I was issued a Motorola Droid Pro for work.

For more details, check the Android Market.

Rumor: Motorola Droid 3 Coming to Verizon in June

The next version of Motorola's insanely popular Droid smartphone, the Droid 3, is rumored to touchdown on Verizon in June.

If the picture is accurate, we can see that just like the Droid 2, the d-pad is gone because of the 4-inch, 960 x 540 qHD display.  The Droid 3 is also rumored to have an 8MP digital camera, and will not include an LTE cellular radio.  (iPhone fans feel the collective pain from Droid fans.)

[Via BGR.com...]

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Forget the iPad! The HP TouchPad Will Be the #1+ Tablet!

Chalk this one to drinking too much marketing Kool-Aid(tm), but Eric Cador, HP’s senior VP of Personal Systems Group in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, said that the HP TouchPad, powered by webOS 3.0, will surpass all of the tablets on the market today; including the Apple iPad.

Mr. Cador, in an interview with The Telegraph, stated:
"In the PC world, with fewer ways of differentiating HP’s products from our competitors, we became number one. In the tablet world, we’re going to become better than number one. We call it number one plus."
Are you kidding me?!  I think that it is going to take a little more than HP willing that their new TouchPad will beat out the growing number of tablet devices in the market running Google's Android, Windows 7, RIM's QNX, and, well, Apple's iOS powered iPad 2.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm sure webOS 3.0 and the TouchPad are going to be a great platform, but with webOS hovering around 3% market share in the smartphone OS category, HP is facing a long hard up hill battle.

[Via AllThingsD.com...]

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Apple Launches 'Retail 2.0' Store Format

 Rolling out across all of Apple's Retail Stores this morning is the "Retail 2.0" make over.  As seen from the picture above, Apple has replaced the paper details display with interactive iPad 2 displays.  Cool!  Not get-out-of-bed-super-early-on-a-Sunday-morning-and-drive-an-hour kind of cool, but cool none the less.

In addition to the changes to the retail displays, Apple is expected to deploy a new Apple Store iOS app that will allow you to customize your online order, something that is not possible with the original app.

Apple retail employees are getting some new toys also.  They are suppose to be outfitted with iPads to help manage the large numbers of customers that come to the store each day.  9To5Mac.com writes:
"The new iPads are imaged with: RetailMe, Apple Connect, Apple Directory, Concierge, and strangely enough, the Easy Pay application (huge credit card readers on the way?!), as well as the standard Mobile Genius and iRepair."
Click the Read More link for more photos.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Apple Retail Stores Turn 10

On Thursday, Apple's retail stores turn 10 years old.  Over the last few days there have been muted rumblings across the Internet that Apple could have a bit of a surprise for retail store customers this weekend to help celebrate the occasion.

Take for example, BGR.com is reporting that they have received a tip "from a solid Apple source" that Apple will be doing "something this weekend."

While I was really looking forward to a *cough*sickdayofffromworktomorrow*cough* it looks like Apple will be running their special event on Sunday, May 22.  To help prepare for the event, Apple is allegedly bringing in staff overnight to setup for Sunday morning.

Adding to the aura surrounding Sunday's event, Apple employees will be putting up black curtains over the class windows and doors to the retail stores, are being required to sign NDAs, and to have their cell phones locked in a secured location during the setup.  BGR also reports that, "[t]here are a wide variety of roles, we’re told, for the overnight shift. This includes all visuals staff, a manager, a business team member, a few Genius team members, one back-of-house employee, and a few generic Apple specialists."

Ok, so, I'm already making plans to trek down to the nearest Apple Store on Sunday morning.  The nearest stores are 45-60 minutes away by car.  With all the secrecy around the event rumored to be planned for Sunday, it sounds like Apple has more up their sleeves than iTunes gift card or iPod nano case give aways.  But what is it?  Will Apple finally bring their new massive North Carolina data center online to support iCloud?  Will iTunes finally go streaming subscription based?  New Mac hardware refresh?

We'll have to wait a few more days to find out.

[Via BGR.com...]

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Commercial

This is an old Microsoft commercial to boost awareness of the Windows Phone 7 platform, I know.  But, I just saw it for the first time on TV and I had to find it on YouTube and post it because I laughed my butt off when I saw it.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Rumor: More On Possible Sprint iPhone 4S This Fall

Late last week there was some new chatter about the fifth generation iPhone being an evolutionary upgrade and the next iPhone would be the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S is rumored to coming to T-Mobile and Sprint this fall. Well, it looks like that rumor just became a little bit more credible.

Last week, Peter Misek, an analyst for investment firm Jeffries & Co. wrote that the new iPhone would have "minor" cosmetic differences over today's iPhone 4; that it would include the A5 processor, and have improved cameras.

Today, Electronista.com staff point out that Apple has a new job posting up for a Kansas City, Missouri based "carrier engineer" and would "be responsible for getting technical certification of devices[.]"

Ok, I think this is a good news/bad news thing. Since I like to get bad news first, I'll take this in reverse order. The bad news is that I'm not going to purchase another webOS phone or tablet to replace my aging Palm Pre smartphone. The good news, if this rumor is in fact true, I won't have to leave Sprint, with whom I'm happy, to get a pair of iPhones when they become available. In the meantime, I'll enjoy being contract free.

[Via Electronista.com...]

Sunday, May 15, 2011

HP Veer Now Available

HP's new tiny webOS smartphone, the Veer, is now available from AT&T here in the United States.

For anyone who wants a smartphone that packs the features they crave without the extra size they don't, HP has introduced the powerfully small HP Veer smartphone running HP webOS.

Veer is one of the products HP announced today to introduce a unique experience for customers around connected mobility. It's one of the building blocks in HP's vision to seamlessly connect all your worlds through the power of HP webOS.
Veer is the smallest webOS phone to date - the size of a credit card and no thicker than a deck of cards - yet it offers the higher-end features of a smartphone, such as easy messaging and access to apps, social networks and the web, including support for Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1 beta in the browser for access to rich, Flash-based web content.

It has a full slide-out keyboard, vivid touchscreen and access to thousands of webOS apps in a surprisingly small, modern package that fits easily into a pocket or purse. It's everything a smartphone should be, but in a smarter size.

"While much of the industry is trending toward larger and larger devices, we believe there's also a whole lot of room for thinking small," said Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president and general manager, Palm Global Business Unit, HP. "Veer bridges the gap for a new generation of smartphone users, proving they really can have it all without sacrificing the size they want."

Less is more

At just 54.5 mm x 84.0 mm x 15.1 mm and only 103 grams, Veer touts an 800-MHz processor; a vivid 2.57-inch glass display; full slide-out keyboard; 8 gigabytes (GB) of internal user storage; a high-performance browser with full access to the web, including support for Adobe Flash Player 10.1 beta; Wi-Fi; integrated GPS; robust messaging support; and multimedia options, including music, photos, video recording and playback, and a 5-megapixel camera.

Veer also includes HP Synergy, which is exclusive to webOS devices. Synergy brings together information from multiple sources across the web automatically, so the information you need is all in one place.

4G speeds delivered by HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul. Available in limited areas. Availability increasing with ongoing backhaul deployment. Requires 4G device and compatible data plan. Learn more at att.com/network.


The black HP Veer smartphone is available today from AT&T Wireless for $99.99 with the purchase of a qualifying 2-year service agreement which includes a minimum $15/month data plan.  You can also purchase the black HP Veer contract free for $449.99.

For more details, visit the HP website.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Rumor: Sprint, T-Mobile iPhone 4S This Fall

Well, well, well, maybe I spoke too soon about Sprint not getting the iPhone.

Take the following with a heaping helping of salt, Morton's is my favorite brand, but Peter Misek, an analyst for investment firm Jeffries Co. has released a research note indicating that the next iPhone will be called "iPhone 4S" and will be released for both Sprint and T-Mobile here in the United States.
"Citing industry checks, he said the fifth-generation iPhone will arrive in September with "minor cosmetic changes, better cameras, A5 dual-core processor, and HSPA+ support." New carriers are expected to include Sprint, T-Mobile, and China Mobile."
The research note also points to comments made by Apple COO Tim Cook, that Apple won't release an LTE 4G version of the iPhone until the LTE chip set technology evolves to a point that does not cause the company to have to make compromises that could negatively impact the customer experience.

[Via AppleInsider.com...]

Angry Birds Rio Updated With Beach Volley Levels

Rivio's Angry Birds Rio has been updated to include the 30 new Beach Volley levels.

The update is available now for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.  Angry Birds Rio for iPhone/iPod touch is $.99; the Angry Birds Rio HD edition for iPad is $2.99.  The upgrade with the new levels is free to all existing Angry Birds Rio customers.

Angry Birds Rio, like other versions of the Angry Birds franchise, includes Game Center achievements and new hidden fruits to find.  Once you have completed episode one, Blu and Jewel will be added to your avian arsenal. 

Rovio has also released a free edition of Angry Birds Rio which features three levels per episode.

Google Android and HP webOS users, unfortunately, still have to wait for Rovio to release the Beach Volley update.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Google Admits Android Platform Fragmentation, Vows to Address Problem

After repeated denials from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Mobile VP Andy Rubin, the Internet search giant unveiled plans today to address fragmentation of the Android problem.

Google will be pulling together a standards board of sorts, made up of OEMs and wireless carriers, with the intention of standardizing when and how Android updates would be rolled out to new and existing hardware.  The target is to have Android hardware supported with software updates for at least 18 months.

You may recall that things got a little bit heated between Google and Apple late last year, with Apple CEO Steve Jobs lacing into the issue of Android fragmentation during the company's October, 2010 quarterly conference call.

"Unlike Windows, however, where most pc's have the same user interface and run the same app, Android is very fragmented. Many Android OEMs, including the two largest, HTC and Motorola install proprietary user interfaces to differentiate themselves from the commodity Android experience. The users will have to figure it all out." "We think Android is very, very fragmented and becoming more fragmented by the day. And as you know, Apple's provides with the integrated model so that the user isn't forced to be the systems integrator." (Source: CNNMoney)

The few mobile software developers that I've talked to in the past six months all cited platform fragmentation as the main reason why they were sticking with iOS application development for the time being.  Hopefully, Google can get their act together and provide more clear guidelines on the modification of the Android platform because getting OEMs and carriers to all go in the same direction is about as difficult as herding cats.

[Via Electronista.com...]

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rumor: New BlackBerry Handsets On the Horizon

Late last week a friend of my told me that she was interested in renewing her contract with Sprint and what new BlackBerry phone she should get.

While reading up on the Windows Phone event I just wrote about, I noticed that BGR.com also had written an article about the upcoming BlackBerry handsets that should be arriving at US carriers this summer.

I think my favorite model is the GPS/Wi-Fi enabled edition of the Curve.  Call me crazy, but I was addicted to my Curve 8330 that I used in the six months between my Palm Treo 755p and my Palm Pre.  I also liked the Verizon exclusive BlackBerry Storm2.  It is the only smartphone that I liked using the on screen keyboard on.  (Hey, I just said to call my crazy!)

If you are interested in reading about what to expect from Research In Motion this summer, check out BGR's featured article.

[via BGR.com...]

Microsoft To Hold VIP Future of Windows Phone Event

BGR.com is reporting that Microsoft will be holding a VIP media event on May 24 to talk about what's coming for the next release of their Windows Phone smartphone operating system.

BGR blogger Todd Haselton writes:
"We know Mango will offer Internet Explorer 9 with an integrated Twitter experience, better multitasking, and new apps such as Angry Birds, Skype, and Spotify. We’ve also heard that Microsoft will add Bing Audio for identifying music, Bing Vision for scanning bar codes, and voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation with Bing Maps, although none of these features have been confirmed by Microsoft just yet."
Sounds interesting.  The timing is also interesting to me because Microsoft will be holding their event just days before Apple's World Wide Developer's Conference, at which, they will be talking about the future of the iOS platform, Mac OS X, and hopefully, new cloud based services.

By the way, over the weekend, I saw that the B&N Nook now supports apps, including the insanely popular Angry Birds game.  Is there any platform out there that Rovio hasn't invaded yet?

[Via BGR.com...]

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Rumor: HP webOS Update On The Way

Call it a parting gift.  Call it a party favor.  Heck, it might as well be a case of Turtle Wax or a year's supply of Rice-A-Roni, but HP is allegedly pushing out a very small maintenance update for devices running webOS 1.4.5.

HP webOS weighs in at an underwhelming 1MB and is reported to a bug fix release.  I've been checking my Sprint Pre for the last two days and there has been no notice of a new patch in the Updates application.  I've also checked the HP Palm support website, and the webOS Updates pages for the Pre, Pre Plus, Pixi, and Pixi Plus for Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and Bell don't list any updates.

Someone keeping watch over the Twitter @webOSdev account claims the update is real and that they are "just cleaning up some bugs."  Hopefully, one of the bugs that will get fixed in the update is the annoying HTML tag error in the Contacts notes field that was fixed in webOS 2.x, but not in the 1.4.x software line.

I'll keep an eye out for the webOS update and let you know if it finally arrives on my original Sprint Palm Pre.  The Palm webOS 1.4.5 update was first rolled out for the Sprint Palm Pre on August 10, 2010.  Additionally, HP has not yet released the details of their "alternative plans" are for customers who, according to them, will not be receiving the HP webOS 2.0 update.

[Via PreCentral.net...]

Astraware Games Now Available for Nook Color

Astraware® is excited to announce the launch of four games, now available on Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Color Reader’s Tablet. The Astraware games are available through NOOK Apps™, a collection of high-quality applications launched this week for NOOK Color. As was announced on April 25, 2011 Barnes & Noble issued a major software update that delivered significant new features and content to its NOOK Color Reader’s Tablet including NOOK Apps, one of the most-requested features from NOOK Color customers.

Astraware Mahjong, Astraware Solitaire, Astraware Sudoku, and Astraware Casino have all been optimized to take advantage of NOOK Color’s high resolution screen, and touchscreen controls. Astraware Mahjong is currently exclusive to NOOK Color on the Android platform for a limited time.

“We’ve put together a selection of titles that are ideal for people who like to both relax and use their brains - which will be perfect for NOOK Color owners! With great features to make the games rewarding to play, and customisation to really make them your own, these will sit perfectly alongside the books, magazines, and entertainment that NOOK Color owners already enjoy!”

All 4 games can be purchased for $4.99 each on device. NOOK Color customers can easily download each game in seconds from Shop on NOOK Color. For more information on NOOKcolor, visit http://www.nookcolor.com. For more information on Astraware games, visit: http://www.astraware.com.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Apple Releases iOS 4.3.3 to Address "Locationgate" Bug

Today, Apple released the iOS 4.3.3 update for iPhone 4 (GSM), iPad, and iPod touch alongside of iOS 4.2.8 for the iPhone 4 (CDMA).

Today's updates are intended to address the location tracking issues around the consolidated.db file that contacts a large amount of cellular and Wi-Fi hot spot location tracking data that is used by an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to help the device locate itself.

Specifically, iOS 4.3.3 and iOS 4.2.8 address:
  • Reduces the size of the cache
  • No longer backs the cache up to iTunes
  • Deletes the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off
Today's updates can be applied to the iPhone 4 (GSM model), iPad and iPad 2, iPhone 3GS, iPod touch (4th and 3rd edition), and iPhone 4 (CDMA model).

Use iTunes 10 on your Mac or Windows PC to download the software and update your device.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

webOS 2.x for the Sprint Pre? Probably Not.

There is an interesting thread that I picked up this weekend over at PreCentral.net, thanks to last Friday's Pre Doodle cartoon.

It seems that PreCentral forum member "zacky59" chatted with a Sprint customer service rep and inquired about webOS 2.x being released for the Sprint Pre and Pixi.  The Sprint CSR told the customer that an update was coming as early as May 2, 2011.

I don't think that this is a hoax or anything on zacky59's part.  I just don't believe that Sprint will be releasing an update for a 2-year old smartphone.  Time has passed the original Pre and Pixi by.  HP is has moved on to the Pre 2, the Veer, the Pre3, and their new tablet, the TouchPad.  I'd be shocked if Sprint and HP roll out an update to webOS 2.-anything.

How can I be so sure you ask?  What proof to do I have that an update is unlikely?  Beside the age of the phone, Sprint hasn't announced any new plans for any of HP's new webOS smartphones.  The webOS development team is hard at work on tweaking up webOS 2 for the Veer and the Pre3, not to mention webOS 3.0 for the TouchPad.  Aside from the thread, there has been no other blog coverage of an impending software update.  And lastly, HP, via their Palm website, clearly states that there is no update coming for the Sprint Pre.

If you head over to the webOS 2.0 Update Info page, and enter the first five characters from a Sprint Pre, you are rewarded with the following message:
"Your device is not able to support the new features of webOS 2.

Therefore, your device will not receive a webOS 2 update. The latest software version for your device is webOS 1.4.5."
Now I did play with a legitimate beta build of webOS 2.0.1 on my Pre a few months ago.  Yes, it did run on my Pre.  No, it wasn't fully finished or optimized for my hardware.  Think about the last time you upgraded your PC - the old one was working, but, gosh, it was slow.  Same thing holds true for webOS 2.0.1 on the Pre.

Would I like to seen an optimized version of webOS 2 for my Pre be released this month from Sprint?  You betcha'!  But I'm not going to get my hopes up.