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Oracle drops patent from Google lawsuit, Google moves to strike Oracle’s third damages report

Monday, February 20th, 2012
Oracle drops patent from Google lawsuit, Google moves to strike Oracle's third damages report

After much sound and fury in its legal proceedings for IP infringement against Google, Oracle’s claims continue to be whittled away. Judge Alsup has been on Oracle’s case to downgrade its damages claims for months now, and on Friday, he got yet another reason to do so. Ellison’s crew has finally withdrawn the last remaining claim of patent number 6,192,476 from the litigation — the very same patent that had 17 of 21 claims wiped out earlier during a USPTO re-examination proceeding. Additionally, Google has filed a motion to strike Oracle’s third damages report for, once again, artificially inflating the monetary damages in its expert report. No one can say for sure how the judge will rule on that motion, but given that Oracle’s got less IP than ever with which to allege infringement, it seems likely that the Court will send it back to the damages drawing board.

Oracle drops patent from Google lawsuit, Google moves to strike Oracle’s third damages report originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 20 Feb 2012 22:37:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink The Inquirer  |  sourceLetter from Oracle (PDF), Google motion to strike (PDF)  | Email this | Comments

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Oracle amends complaint against Google to $2 billion, risks the wrath of Judge Alsup

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
Oracle Vs. Google

Oracle’s damage claim against Google in it’s battle over Java patents keeps inching downwards, but not nearly quick enough to please either Big G or Judge William Alsup. The Redwood Shores-based company initially sought $6.1 billion, but eventually lowered that to $2.6 billion. The judge responded by suggesting a far more modest $100 million starting point for a settlement and sent Oracle back to the drawing board. Well, the company amended its complaint, and is now asking for only $2 billion. Judge Alsup has grown noticeably more impatient with both sides as the suit has progressed towards trial, which is still scheduled for October. We can’t wait to see what sort of outburst Oracle’s latest move inspires in his honor — we’re expecting a flying gavel or two.

Oracle amends complaint against Google to $2 billion, risks the wrath of Judge Alsup originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 22 Sep 2011 12:21:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink Mobile Burn  |  sourceBloomberg  | Email this | Comments

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Motorola DROID BIONIC Review

Monday, September 12th, 2011

The Motorola DROID BIONIC for Verizon Wireless combines everything you might want in a phone into a single, lust-worthy package. From 4G LTE, to a supersized 4.3-inch display and 1080p HD video capture, this phone has it all. Verizon Wireless has launched several 4G phones now, but they have all arguably been lacking due to their shortcomings in either size (thickness), weight or battery life. Is the Motorola DROID BIONIC the first phone to bring 4G to the next level on Verizon? Check out the full review after the break to find out for yourself.

Hardware / Design

The DROID BIONIC started out as a much different device when it was announced a shocking nine months ago at CES 2011. Verizon and Motorola wouldn’t reveal exactly why it took so long to launch, and why the device we have today is very different than the device announced in January, but it’s pretty obvious, at least to me.

Verizon told Motorola to go back to the drawing board and deliver a more competitive handset. Things like using a TI OMAP processor instead of an NVIDIA Tegra 2, a thinner and edgier design and different screen materials have allowed the device Motorola and Verizon released to be absolutely competitive with what’s out there, and to also be the best in several key areas. The Motorola DROID BIONIC is the first 4G LTE handset to be slim enough to not get in the way. It’s also the first 4G LTE handset I have wanted to keep using because of the combination of features the device offers.

The hardware and design of the BIONIC is robotic and edgy, yet soft enough that the phone could appeal to a variety of demographics. On front, you’ll find a slab of high quality Gorilla Glass overlaid on a 4.3-inch qHD display. The glass panel on the DROID BIONIC is the first from Motorola that I can remember that’s made of this material; it feels like a glass touchscreen should, unlike the Motorola PHOTON, ATRIX, or DROID 3. Additionally, there’s a beautiful beveled edge that gives the device a perfect contrast to the thin metallic bezel surrounding the display.

There’s a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera toward the top of the front panel, with a proximity sensor and an LED notification light and that is invisible unless in use. On the right side there’s a volume up and down button, on the left you’ll find the microUSB port and mini-HDMI out port, and on top is the power/lock/unlock key and a 3.5mm headset jack.

Around back, there’s an 8-megapixel camera with support for 1080p HD video capture an LED flash and a speaker. The rear of the device features a battery cover that engulfs the entire back of the phone in a soft-touch rubberized finish, and physically, the BIONIC is like other recent Motorola devices in terms of Style. It sports a thicker top portion, tapering down into a thinner design about a quarter of the way down.

The display and touch performance on the Motorola DROID BIONIC is possibly the best of any Android device I have used. It just goes to show how much of a difference hardware and software, working perfectly together, can make. There is no lag whatsoever. Each tap is instantly recorded. Swiping from one home screen to the next — something that performed terribly on the DROID 3 for me — flows incredibly well on the DROID BIONIC. Touch performance isn’t as good as iOS in some areas, but it’s getting so close that it doesn’t really matter anymore.

The screen itself looks exactly like Motorola’s other qHD offerings. It’s a PenTile display that will be incredibly frustrating to around 1% of the people who own it; most people don’t notice, and don’t care. The resolution is great, the display is bright and colors look good, though whites don’t appear to be perfect white due to the PenTile display.

Software

The BIONIC is the first Verizon 4G LTE smartphone to feature Google’s latest OS, Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, and that means the DROID BIONIC provides out of the box support for video calling over 4G, 3G and Wi-Fi in Google Talk, in addition to a slew of other enhancements with the latest Gingerbread build. The BIONIC also features printing over Wi-Fi with MOTOPRINT, and a new app and service from Motorola called ZumoCast that allows you to access multimedia, documents and other files from your home or office computer for free, over 4G or 3G.

As far as Motorola’s software customizations, there isn’t very much that I haven’t seen before. Something that that feels different, though, is how well the software works on the BIONIC. It’s a different experience than any other Motorola Android device I have used. The phone doesn’t stutter and software doesn’t hang; it really seems like Motorola has finally started melding its hardware and software together almost seamlessly. And it should, as the company’s teams have been working on Android development for years, but it’s starting to show.

Phone / Battery

I have really enjoyed using the Motorola DROID BIONIC on and off as a phone since Verizon gave me a review unit last week. Calls come in very clear on Verizon’s network, dropped calls were not an issue, and people could hear me very clearly. The speaker, on the other hand… well, it’s pretty terrible for both speakerphone use and audio playback. It sounds almost muffled, reproduces audio poorly, and isn’t loud enough.

One bug I have noticed that is incredibly annoying is that when you’re on phone call, and the phone is against your ear, you can not adjust the volume of the call if the screen is off. I have tried repeatedly to get this to work and it hasn’t. If you take the phone away from your ear you can change the volume once the proximity senor triggers the display, but once you start talking again after a moment against your ear, you cannot adjust the volume.

Battery life has been excellent. Now, that’s a bit of a relative statement as this is a 4G LTE device, but it’s easily the best-performing LTE device I have used as far as the battery goes, and it actually is pretty comparable with some 3G Android phones Verizon offers. Standby time isn’t as great as I’d have liked, but as far as daily use with consistent 4G LTE service, the Motorola DROID BIONIC really delivers.

Accessories

Motorola and Verizon are positioning the DROID BIONIC as not only their most powerful and best smartphone to date, but as a device that can power and handle all of your travel and home entertainment needs. Just like the Motorola ATRIX 4G, the BIONIC can make use of Motorola’s laptop dock, which is a laptop shell that is powered completely by the BIONIC itself. There are also a several docks and adapters that allow the phone to power 1080p HD content on your home set up.

For extremely light work on the go, the laptop dock configuration isn’t necessarily a bad option, but for most users it’s too clunky and too limited to be useful — even though you’re able to use a desktop-grade version of FireFox complete with full Adobe Flash support for browsing. As far as the multimedia docks, if you typically store most of your music, TV shows and even movies on your phone, it’s a reasonably good option. And the entry-level multimedia adapter for the BIONIC is a great value at $29. Verizon is also offering a discount on the laptop dock to BIONIC customers for a limited time.

Conclusion

The Motorola DROID BIONIC is the first 4G LTE smartphone to really deliver. It’s packed to the brim with all of the latest cutting-edge specs and features, and it’s all melded together in an incredible package. In fact, this is probably my favorite smartphone Verizon has offered exclusively, ever. Android is still Android with all of its strengths and weaknesses, but Motorola has done an amazing job finally working out issues with its customizations to get them to a place where they start to add to the phone as a whole, instead of subtracting from it.

The phone satisfies technology enthusiasts, packing in a screaming dual-core processor, an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture, 4.3-inch qHD display, built-in storage, expandability and more. It also is thin enough and it’s footprint small enough where I have no problem recommending it to friends who are in the market for a new smartphone on Verizon, especially someone looking for a 4G device. It’s one of the most expensive smartphones Verizon has offered in recent years at $299.99 with a two-year agreement, but it’s also one of the best phones the nation’s top carrier has ever carried, and in my view, it’s well worth it.

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Judge tells Oracle to rethink $2.6 billion claim against Google

Monday, July 25th, 2011
Oracle Vs. Google

The war between Google and Oracle is far from over, but the big G keeps racking up tiny victories in what are admittedly modest battles. Now the Redwood Shores-based company has been told to go back to the drawing board with its damages report. Originally Oracle sought $2.6 billion, but its theories were largely dismissed and Judge William Alsup suggested an alternative starting point of roughly $100 million. The company still has an opportunity to present a new report, one that will likely seek much more than the proposed $100 million, but things are looking increasingly tough for the claimant. It wasn’t all good news for Goog, though. While the judge told Oracle to narrow its focus from Android as a whole to just specific infringing features, he did agree that related advertising revenue should be included in the theoretical royalty base. He also offered harsh criticism for what he viewed as its “brazen” disregard for intellectual property rights. The trial is still scheduled for October, so we should have a better idea of how this whole thing will play out by Halloween.

Judge tells Oracle to rethink $2.6 billion claim against Google originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 25 Jul 2011 03:42:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink   |  sourceFOSS Patents  | Email this | Comments

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ASUS Sabertooth P67 motherboard sheds its skin, feels better without it

Monday, May 9th, 2011

There’s no denying the ASUS Sabertooth P67 motherboard looks fantastic, and The Tech Report didn’t spare praise for its military-grade components or five-year warranty in a recent review, but the publication also reports that the standout feature — that component-cooling “Tactical Jacket” — may hurt more than it helps. The plastic shroud has been re-dubbed “Thermal Armor” since our last run-in, but that doesn’t change the result: ASUS doesn’t ship the primo slab with a dedicated cooling fan, so component temperatures can actually go up ten degrees Celsius when wearing the shroud with a system under heavy load. Of course, cooling depends on a number of factors, but we were hoping the Sabertooth’s unique coat would be a positive one. Back to the drawing board.

ASUS Sabertooth P67 motherboard sheds its skin, feels better without it originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 09 May 2011 03:29:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink   |  sourceThe Tech Report  | Email this | Comments

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Twitter ditches controversial QuickBar from iOS client

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Oh QuickBar, we hardly knew ye. Just one month after its debut, Twitter has remove the controversial feature from its iOS client. “Rather than continue to make changes to the QuickBar as it exists, we removed the bar from the update appearing in the App Store today,” reads a post on the company’s official blog. “For now, we’re going back to the drawing board to explore the best possible experience for in-app notification and discovery.” If you’re just itching to get rid of the that pesky bar, the update is waiting for you in the App Store.

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Samsung mass producing 22-inch transparent LCD, your desktop monitor seethes with jealousy

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

They said they would do it, and by golly it’s nearly here — Samsung just revealed that its assembly lines are starting to churn out see-thru computer screens that don’t require power-sucking backlights to function. Unfortunately, it looks like the amazing AMOLED variety is still on the drawing board, but ambient light-powered LCDs are on the way, with Samsung offering a 22-inch, 1680 x 1050 resolution panel with a 500:1 contrast ratio to begin with. Sammy suggests we’ll see it in HDMI and USB-compatible monitors and suspects it’ll be used in advertising and teleconferencing first — which suggests this display won’t come cheap — but we all know the true killer app will be a nice big frameless laptop screen. We’ll take two, please. PR after the break.

Continue reading Samsung mass producing 22-inch transparent LCD, your desktop monitor seethes with jealousy

Samsung mass producing 22-inch transparent LCD, your desktop monitor seethes with jealousy originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 31 Mar 2011 00:29:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Canadian goverment vows to reverse CRTC decision on usage-based internet billing

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

It’s happened before when Canadian government overturned the CRTC’s decision and allowed Globalive to enter the Canadian cellphone market, and it looks like Ottawa is about to again weigh in and reverse an even more controversial ruling by the regulatory agency. As confirmed by Industry Minister Tony Clement on Twitter, the government plans to overturn the recent CRTC decision that effectively imposed usage-based internet billing if the agency doesn’t back down and “go back to the drawing board.” Citing a senior government official, The Toronto Star further reports that the reversal could come as early as next week. As any Canadians reading this may well be aware, the issue of usage-based internet billing has been simmering for some time, but it reached a tipping point with the CRTC’s decision last week that affected smaller internet service providers who rely on the major telecom companies’ networks. Under the new ruling, those companies would be have been faced with increased costs that would drastically limit the amount of maximum amount of data they’re able to offer to customers each month — one such ISP, Teksavvy, had in fact already sent out notices to customers informing them that their current 200GB cap would be dropping to just 25GB on March 1st, with any additional data use to be charged by the gigabyte.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

Canadian goverment vows to reverse CRTC decision on usage-based internet billing originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 03 Feb 2011 13:26:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink   |  sourceThe Toronto Star, @Tony_ClementMP (Twitter)  | Email this | Comments

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Speech bubble-shaped Speak-er now on sale, we take a listen

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Even for a renowned outlet like Art Lebedev Studios, it’s hard to get quirky, design-centric products out in a commercialized, race-to-the-bottom world. Far too often, dreams die at the production line, and some of the best designed gear in the world stalls on the drawing board. Somehow or another, Sherwood Forlee and Mihoko Ouchi have managed to overcome the traditional production limitations and bring this particular fantasy to life. If you’ll recall, we heard about The.’s Speak-er back in January of this year, and while we knew plans were in place to start shipping ‘em to end-users before the dawn of 2011, we maintained a healthy level of skepticism — there’s nothing quite as heart-wrenching as having your bubble burst after ratcheting your hopes up too high, you know? Today, we’re thrilled to say that the Speak-er is now shipping to those with $99.95 to spare, and if you care to hear what we think about the most awesome set of desk speakers this planet has ever known, head right on past the break.

Continue reading Speech bubble-shaped Speak-er now on sale, we take a listen

Speech bubble-shaped Speak-er now on sale, we take a listen originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 04 Dec 2010 17:25:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink   |  sourceSpeak-er  | Email this | Comments

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Apple abandons plans for integrated iPhone SIM

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

According to an unconfirmed report in The Telegraph Sunday morning, Apple has abandoned its plans to develop an integrated SIM card for the iPhone. The report, which cites a senior source at a mobile operator, suggests that Apple backed down from its plans in light of pressures from European carriers. Apple was rumored to be developing an integrated SIM card that would be commissionable by multiple operators. This would allow Apple to exclude carriers from the sale process. It would also allow customers to easily transfer their service from one carrier to another without the need to obtain a new SIM card or purchase a new handset. Following purported threats from European carriers that would refuse to subsidize the high cost of the iPhone if Apple decided to implement its new SIM, Apple is now said to have ceased development. “Apple has long been trying to build closer and closer relationships and cut out the operators,” The Telegraph’s source stated. “But this time they have been sent back to the drawing board with their tails between their legs.”

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HTC HD7 review

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Albert Einstein wrote that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. For what seemed like an eternity, Windows Mobile was the epitome of insanity and Microsoft was insane. The Redmond-based giant resisted change as long as it possibly could, forcing itself to believe that users would magically come back around and embrace the counter-intuitive mess that was Windows Mobile 5… and then 6… and then 6.5.

After years of some serious electroshock therapy courtesy of journalists, bloggers and enthusiasts, Microsoft is finally ready to check out of the asylum.

Microsoft’s new OS is not simply a major departure from Windows Mobile; it’s a full-on OSectomy. The company literally went back to the drawing board and built a new, modern operating system from the ground up. The result is “Windows Phone 7” — a 13-character name with one single focus: get Microsoft back in the game.

WP7 launched on November 8th in the U.S., and with it came a handful of devices. Microsoft’s strict hardware requirements reduce handsets to vessels for the OS in many respects, so I’ve decided to review the one launch handset that managed to impress me the most: the HTC HD7.

HTC HD7

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The Outside

HTC has carved itself a new niche with its oversized smartphones and to be honest, it surprises me a bit. It shouldn’t, of course. Here in the U.S. at least, we certainly subscribe to a bigger is better policy.

It all started with the massive EVO 4G — a phone that made Android handsets before it look like Oompa-Loompas. It was tall, wide, thick and heavy; with a 4.3-inch display and nearly every wireless radio imaginable crammed inside. Each successive 4.3-inch offering has been slimmer and lighter, and now we have the HD7.

According to market research firm NPD Group, big-boned smartphones are quite popular right now. In fact, the EVO 4G found itself on NPD Group’s list of top-5 best selling Android smartphones in both the second and third quarters of 2010.

Of course it all boils down to taste and preference — and I’m still not sold. If the display on the HD7 was in the 3.8-inch to 4-inch range and the hardware was downsized proportionately, I would be in love. As it stands now, however, it’s too big. I can’t comfortably operate the HD7 with one hand and that can be a big deal at times. For example, holding the device in my right hand and reaching over to tap the back button is very, very uncomfortable. I even dropped the phone once or twice while attempting this typically simple maneuver. Going back a page with one hand is commonplace on a normal phone, but not on this king-sized beast.

The only other build-related items I take issue with are the battery cover and the side buttons.

The HD7’s battery cover is almost paper-thin and it basically peels off when you remove it. I took it off once to have a look at the battery and now the top corners of the cover won’t sit flush with the back of the phone. I’ve tried bending them back into place and even squishing the phone and battery cover together with frustration-driven brute force. Still no luck. Perhaps the battery cover should be made out of a stronger material or perhaps the clips that hold it in place need to be retooled. Whatever the case, I shouldn’t be having fitting issues on a brand new phone.

Regarding the side buttons, it just boils down to poor execution. There are three buttons situated along the outer sides of the HD7. A dedicated camera button and a volume rocker are found on the right side, and a power/sleep/wake button is located on the top. The camera button is fine — the other two are not. With the volume rocker, the issue is poor fit; the button is so loose that is rattles around as you use the phone. The power button on top is fit perfectly, on the other hand, but it has almost no tactile response whatsoever. I can’t tell whether or not I’ve pressed it until the screen comes on.

My issue with the power button is relatively trivial, of course, but the volume rocker is a pretty big annoyance. Hopefully the problem lies with a small number of units and not an entire run.

Aforementioned qualms aside, the HD7 really is a great phone. Battery life is average for a smartphone — most people will get about a day’s worth of usage per charge, but very heavy power users might have trouble making it to the end of a long day.The design is also awesome, I think. I love the matching metal mesh covering the ear speaker above the display and the microphone below it. Both the speaker and the mic work wonderfully during voice calls, by the way, and calls come through loud and clear over T-Mobile’s network.

It’s also very well built and sturdy. The back has a smooth rubbery texture to it that feels great in the palm, and the sides are thick hard plastic that supports the phone’s massive frame quite well. There’s also an aluminum kickstand on the back that could come in handy for those who intend to watch videos on the device while stationary. I’ve yet to use it a single time and I doubt I ever will.

The Inside

The HTC HD7 is powered by Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 OS, which means its internals are nearly the same as any other WP7 handset. Because the OS is so new, it also means it would be easy to get carried away and cover every nook and cranny of the OS. I’m going to try to keep things general, however, and cover some of the broader concepts rather than every last intricate detail.

The first thing to note is that Windows Phone 7, in its current state, is anything but a traditional smartphone OS. Think of it more along the lines of iPhone version 1 than iOS version 4.

Like the first version of the iPhone platform, Windows Phone 7 shows signs of greatness right off the starting line. Also like version 1 of Apple’s mobile OS, Windows Phone 7 is very incomplete. Core functionality is missing; integral apps and services are nowhere to be found; key features are absent. I’ll come back to this in my conclusion…

Microsoft’s new interface is wonderfully minimal, consisting mainly of just two simple screens. The first is an endless string of tiles, two columns wide, that each represents an app, a shortcut, a contact or a “hub”. This is the home screen. Swipe to the left, and you find a single column comprised of each app on the device. That’s it.

A defining concept found throughout the OS is simplicity. On the home screen, for example, the only information shown at the top of the display is the time. Signal strength, network connection information, battery life and other standard details are all hidden — and I love it. Why does the user need any of this info unless it becomes important? I don’t need to know how good my signal is unless it’s low. I don’t need to know I’m connected to Wi-Fi or 3G unless there are connectivity issues. I don’t need to know how much battery I have left unless I’m going to run out of juice soon.

The only place this philosophy falls short is with message indicators. If I have an unread SMS for example, there is an icon on my lock screen to let me know. Once the HD7 is unlocked, however, the only indication I have that there is an unread SMS is an indicator on the Messaging tile. I would prefer to have a reminder that is visible on every screen.

In terms of HTC-specific customizations, there isn’t much to speak of. In an effort to keep the WP7 experience uniform and optimal, Microsoft limits manufacturers a great deal. The company has essentially created a scenario where it is more Apple (control everything) than Google (give manufacturers near-complete freedom), but it has the luxury of variety and help with marketing because partner companies build the hardware. Some might say it’s the best of both worlds.

Beyond a few available apps including a photo effects tool, a flashlight and a stock-monitoring app, there is little evidence of HTC in the software on the HD7. In fact, the “HTC Hub” is the only real reminder that HTC did, in fact, build this phone. The HTC Hub is the company’s attempt to bring a Sense-like experience to Windows Phone in a self-contained app. So basically, the user opens the hub and is presented an alternate home screen reminiscent of the Sense UI found on Android devices. Within the hub, users can browse alternate menus and launch other apps as well.

While the concept is relatively intriguing, don’t bother with the HTC Hub for the time being. It drains the battery, it doesn’t give you access to email and other important apps, and it negates several of Windows Phone 7’s most compelling features. Some future version of HTC’s custom hub might be useful, but this first version is a dud.

The Upside

The UI, simply put, is gorgeous. It might not suit everyone’s tastes — nothing ever does — but to me it’s absolutely stunning and wonderfully unique. And on the massive HD7 display, it’s great. The font is gorgeous, the transition animations are perfect and the overall experience is responsive and spry.

In my eyes, Microsoft has moved the smartphone interface into its next evolutionary phase.

Recent history looks like this: The smartphone interface was a convoluted mess in popular operating systems like BlackBerry OS, Windows Mobile and S60 (Symbian). The iPhone then came along and turned everything on its head. An overcomplicated web of home screens, menus and settings became one single focus… apps. Everything you need on your device is just a swipe and a poke away. Let’s call it the rebirth of the smartphone interface.

Now, Microsoft has brought about the re-rebirth of the smartphone interface. Just like the iPhone, everything you need is a swipe and a poke away. But there is a single, subtle difference that amounts to a major change as far as usability is concerned.

With only one exception, app icons in iOS are merely tiny images that let us open each app. They are doors. In Windows Phone 7, tiles are often living widgets that update constantly and give us information from various apps at a glance. They are windows.

Windows are better than doors. On the iPhone I can look at my display, see an icon for a weather app, tap the icon, wait for the app to open, wait for the data to refresh, and then see the current temperature and weather conditions. On the HD7, I can look at my display and see the current temperature and weather conditions. Six steps become one.

Microsoft is hardly the first company to use a widget system, but its implementation by far the best to date. Developers have the tools with which to create wonderfully useful and creative living tiles that deliver information in a variety of ways. For example, right now my WeatherBug tile is displaying my location (New York, NY) and the current temperature (44 degrees) along with a nice big sun icon because it’s sunny outside. The tile is also bright blue. Over the course of the day, the sun will become a moon, the temperature reading will drop and the light blue coloring on the tile will fade to dark blue to represent nighttime. I’ll also see a little badge appear on the tile, accompanied by a push notification, if a weather alert is issued during the day.

It’s awesome.

Windows Phone 7 also shines where text input is concerned. The HD7 specifically plays a big role here as well. The keyboard on the HD7 is the probably my favorite among smartphones to date. It’s huge, it’s responsive, it’s well organized and the accompanying auto-correct/word recommendation system is outstanding. Barring a few tiny quibbles, I love it.

The last big plus I’ll cover for the time being is hugely important — the ability for interested parties to develop for the Windows Phone 7 platform. This appears to be a primary focus for Microsoft. We’re sill in the early stages, obviously, but I can see Windows Phone 7 becoming a huge draw for creative developers looking to build novel solutions.

Microsoft’s new OS grants developers access to more core components than the current biggest developer draw, iOS, and more access means better app integration. Much better. For example a Google Voice app can use the native WP7 dialer to make calls from within the app, instead of just using a secondary dialer that then opens the native phone app as with iOS. Or, apps like HTC’s Photo Enhancer can integrate with the WP7 pictures hub, so I can tap a menu beneath photo I’ve taken and begin editing it in Photo Enhancer instantly.

These are just two examples in a practically endless list of possibilities. I’m very excited to see how talented developers use the WP7 developer tools and resources at their disposal.

The Downside

The display on the HD7 is nice and bright (when brightness is set to full from within the phone’s settings) but the resolution isn’t great. A new breed of displays is upon us and consumers will quickly get accustomed to the dense dpi counts they afford. The HD7 goes in the opposite direction however, using the same pixel count as its smaller WP7-toting counterparts and spreading it across a bigger display. The result is fine for screens with minimal graphics such as the Windows Phone 7 home screen, but small fonts and other intricate details take a hit in some areas.

Another flaw is the search function. All Windows Phones are now required by Microsoft to have a dedicated search button, which is great. Tapping that button from a home screen, however, pulls up Bing and allows you to perform a Web search. Every other major smartphone operating system has a universal search function that brings up apps, games, contacts and more, along with an option to search the Web. There’s a reason for this — universal makes a smartphone more usable.

When I want to call BGR President Jonathan Geller, for example, I don’t want to have to open up the Phone application and dial his number. I can’t remember his number. I also don’t want to have to dig his name out of an address book; that involves way too much effort. Windows Phone 7 does give you an option to pin contacts to the home screen for easy access, but pinning too many contacts would defeat the purpose.

I just want to tap a search button, type J – O – N, and tap on Jonathan Geller.

I covered most of my gripes regarding hardware above, but there is one more I wanted to discuss: the camera.

HTC does a lot of things right, but there are some areas where the company continuously falls short. The camera is a perfect example. As cell phone cameras inch closer and closer to becoming viable point-and-shoot replacements, image quality becomes increasingly important. The 5-megapixel camera on the HD7 takes terrible, terrible pictures. Colors are muted, edges are fuzzy and definition is muddy. The camera on the HD7 couldn’t replace a Polaroid from the 80s, let alone a modern point-and-shoot.

The Bottom Line

The Windows Phone 7 OS on HTC’s HD7 is absolutely fantastic in many respects, and yet in other areas, it is an OS filled with almosts. The email app is almost fantastic, but there are tiny issues that hinder it, such as its inability to download images by default. The new mobile version of Internet Explorer is almost great, but the abundance of wasted space above and below webpages negates the super-sized display on the HD7. The Windows Marketplace is almost a terrific tool for app distribution and discovery, but the fact that artists, albums and songs from Microsoft’s Zune service are returned as search results is bizarre and annoying. And so on.

In the end, the current version of Windows Phone 7 feels rushed. Actually, it doesn’t feel rushed — it is rushed. The OS looks refined and it functions quite well, but there are glaring omissions that are obviously the result of a need to get Windows Phone 7 out to market with haste.

Copy/paste support is non-existent. Microsoft’s third-party multitasking solution is nowhere to be found. There’s no support for Flash or Silverlight. There isn’t even support for Windows Live Messenger out of the box. And list goes on.

If Microsoft had burnt some serious midnight oil and determined the omissions above would result in the best possible user experience, then so be it. At least we would be able to defend Microsoft’s choices with some sort of logic. Instead, Microsoft has addressed related criticism by stating, we know, it’s coming. Microsoft knew a lot of this functionality needed to be in the OS, but it launched without it.

The fatal flaw in all this is that adding much needed functionality at some point down the road means it will not be a part of consumer’s initial experience with the OS and the devices on which it resides.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

My sincere hope, however, is that people do give Windows Phone 7 a second chance once the functionality is flushed out a bit. Looking back on the first version of the iPhone OS, it was missing tons of features as we can all recall. Over time, however, iOS grew to become the great platform it is today.

Microsoft is not a newcomer to the game as Apple was, so these omissions are even less excusable than they were for the iPhone. But there was a huge amount of pressure for Microsoft to deliver, so it did the best it could.

Whether or not the OS will improve quickly is not a question. It will. I think by the second half of next year, we’ll have something special on our hands. Is the OS usable in the meantime? Absolutely — but when purchasing a great phone like the HTC HD7 for the time being, prepare to deal with the same frustrations many of us dealt with when the iPhone platform was in its infancy.

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Windows Phone 7 device roundup: LG E900 earns GCF certification, HTC Trophy meets Vodafone

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

You might remember that a huge roadmap document leaked out of HTC late last year; though many of the devices in it never materialized, the fact that the Legend, Bravo, and Photon turned out to be legit (as the Legend, Desire, and HD Mini, respectively) lends credence to the belief that all of the phones in that slide deck were at least on HTC’s drawing board at one time or another. One of the more interesting MIA handsets — the so-called Trophy with WinMo 6.5 and a portrait QWERTY keyboard — looks like it may have been repurposed as a Windows Phone 7 model thanks to some new shots out of Vodafone Germany’s inventory system, which is pretty awesome considering how difficult portrait QWERTY devices are to come by, generally (though it would’ve had to get a redesign with a higher-res display and faster processor to meet Microsoft’s spec guidelines). Along the same lines, LG’s well-leaked E900 has recently gotten its blessing from the Global Certification Forum where it’s listed with 900 / 2100MHz 3G (HSPA, we’re sure) alongside quadband GSM. Certainly going to be an interesting fall, isn’t it?

[Thanks to everyone who sent these in]

Windows Phone 7 device roundup: LG E900 earns GCF certification, HTC Trophy meets Vodafone originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 12 Sep 2010 17:44:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink the::unwired  |  sourceGlobal Certification Forum, BestBoyZ  | Email this | Comments

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UK defense firm pumps data through solid submarine walls

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Wireless power may still be on the drawing board, but wireless data is here today, and a UK defense contractor has figured out a way to pipe the latter through several inches of steel. Using a pair of piezoelectric transducers on either side of a watertight submarine compartment, BAE’s “Through Hull Data Link” sends and receives an acoustic wave capable of 15MHz data rates, enough to transmit video by essentially hammering ever-so-slightly on the walls. BAE impressed submarine commanders by streaming Das Boot right through their three-inch hulls, and while metadrama is obviously the killer app here, the company claims it will also save millions by replacing the worrisome wiring that’s physically routed via holes in a submarine’s frame. See the company’s full US patent application at our more coverage link.

UK defense firm pumps data through solid submarine walls originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 21 Jul 2010 22:51:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink BBC  |  sourceBAE Systems  | Email this | Comments

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