Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

New mobile provider, Republic Wireless, for $19/mo, unlimited everything

November 8, 2011

Republic Wireless launched today. They’re a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) which essentially means they sell time on another provider’s network (in this case, Sprint). The twist is that they use WiFi for their calls and texts whenever possible. You sign up, pay $199 for an LG Optimus and your first month’s service. After that it’s $19/month. No, you can’t bring your own device (BYOD) but they say they’re working on that.

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Woot off!

September 13, 2011
Today was a Woot Off! over at woot.com. If you’re at all into this, you know that during a woot off, Woot sells one item until it sells out then puts another item up right away. Serious woot-afficianados, sit glued to their computer all day. Less serious ones install WootWatcher (https://market.android.com/details?id=com.drclabs.android.wootchecker) and turn on the beta push notification service. Yes, it has ads to defray the cost of the push infrastructure but that’s a small price to pay. Am I going to keep it installed on my phone after today? Probably not but it’s fun seeing my phone light up when another item goes up for sale.

Google to acquire Motorola Mobility — so what?

August 15, 2011

it was announced this morning that Google will acquire Motorola Mobility (TechCrunch live blog of the conference call here).

I’ve got a ton of stuff queued up to post and haven’t been able to make the time to actually post them but this particular story has driven me to (at least temporarily) break that roadblock. I have ONE Motorola device: a Verizon XOOM. While I’m happy with the quality of the hardware and Honeycomb, I’m NOT AT ALL HAPPY with Motorola, primarily because they’ve so badly missed their Verizon LTE upgrade. Whether it’s Motorola’s fault, Verizon’s fault or a combination, I look to the hardware vendor to honor their commitments or TELL ME WHY they haven’t.

If I had it to do over again, I’m not sure I’d buy the XOOM. Sure, it’s a Google experience device and, yes, it was the first to market with official Honeycomb support. But the hardware market’s continued to move and there’s even a new 4G tablet imminent on Verizon yet there’s still no upgrade for my XOOM. It’s supposed to be available sometime in September but the lack of any sort of notice prior to this bothers me. It smacks of how RIM doesbusiness — the old carrier/phone vendor model, closed source and closed mouthed.

As long as I’m on a semi-rant, I also have a bone to pick with NVidia and their drivers. Some elements of their HAL (hardware abstraction layer) are still unpublished, making it all but impossible to do things like update the kernel and still bring A2DP to custom ROMs. So, I’m also off NVidia hardware until I see a change in their direction.

OK, so, enough bitching. What am I after with this post? Here’s what I really hope — that Google’s acquisition will have significant positive effects on Motorola Mobility’s attitude toward their customers and, by extension, all other hardware vendors’ attitudes. Unlocking bootloaders, releasing source and binaries for MM’s kernel and drivers and just generally setting a good precedent for the rest of the Android universe of hardware vendors. Google sets the standard for Android base source (granted, they’re not perfect), Motorola Mobility should set the standard for everything hardware (NVidia, are you listening?).

New Opera for phones and tablets/EVO 3D uses MHL port

March 23, 2011

I ran across both of these articles on AndroidPolice this morning and, rather than posting them individually, I figured I’d just roll them together.

First, Opera’s released new versions of both their Mobile and Mini. Mobile’s got a new UI for tablets but it’s also got Flash support as well as a few other new features (AndroidPolice article about both is here as well as download links for both) so if you’ve got the horsepower and download speed, go for it. If not, go with Mini which also has a new, tablet-friendly UI and some new features like pinch-to-zoom. If you just want to download them, here’s Market for Mini and Market for Mobile. Supposedly you can just go to http://m.opera.com in your mobile’s browser but when I tried it on my T-Mobile Nexus One, I got a message that there wasn’t an Opera Mini for T-Mobile and that I should try the public Opera build.

Next, Sprint’s newly announced HTC EVO 3D doesn’t have a micro USB port nor does it have an HDMI port (AndroidPolice link here)! Instead, it has an MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) port. MHL is a new standard that can connect BOTH microUSB and HDMI on a single port. If you have a TV that has an MHL port (probably not at this point) you can plug it in and (get this) CHARGE YOUR PHONE VIA HDMI. The port supposedly is plug-compatible with microUSB so you don’t need an adapter for it but, until you get an MHL TV/whatever, you’ll need an adapter for HDMI. Yeah, it’s kinda cool and futuristic and I understand that devices must adopt new standards but, c;’mon, that means you need an adapter! OK, *I* probably won’t need an adapter because there’s very little chance I’ll plug it in to my TV anyway, but would it’ve hurt them to put an MHL *and* a microHDMI port on the thing?

The AT&T/T-Mobile deal changes everything

March 20, 2011

I decided to pass on the HTC Thunderbolt this past week when it was (finally) released because, frankly, I didn’t (and still don’t) think that it brings enough new stuff to the table. Sure, it’s Verizon’s first LTE phone. But there will be plenty of those. And unlike previous Verizon phones, it can do 3G data while you’re talking on the phone. But it’s a single-core phone at the beginning of the dual-core era and has an 800×480 display when 960×540 is the new resolution. If I’m going to lock myself in to a year long contract, I want to get closer to the cutting edge. Thunderbolt owners are able to get in on an unlimited 4G plan for $30/month and that attracted me, too, but there’s no guarantee it will be transferrable to another phone not that Verizon wouldn’t convert it to a tiered plan once they’re on the books.

So, after doing a Best Buy pre-order and waiting a month, I decided to pass. Yes, I went to the Verizon store and used the phone on launch day. For 40 minutes, no less! And it’s a great phone! But it’s not “not your next phone but the one after that” as it was advertised. It’s between my last phone (a Nexus One) and my next phone. And HTC has started locking their bootloader! C’mon guys!

I shifted plans. Rather than pick up last year’s phone, I figured I might get the USA version of LG’s Optimus 2X on T-Mobile, called the G2X. While it’s only 800×400 at least it’s got a dual-core Tegra 2. Rumor is it’ll be a “Google experience” phone and the G moniker sorta indicates it might be the next G phone (as in G1, G2, G2X).

But, now that I see AT&T is buying T-Mobile, I may have to go to Sprint or Verizon. I’ve already got the XOOM and I’m pretty happy with it (yes, I know I owe you a review … and it’s coming, I promise). But Verizon’s business practices bother me. Their coverage is excellent but, honestly, I’ve not had many problems with T-Mobile, even when I went to New York a few weeks ago. Sure, I get a few dropped calls but I’m not trying to impress anyone and a dropped call is just an annoyance to me, not something that’ll lose me business.

Stick it out with T-Mobile and see what happens or jump to Sprint or Verizon? Honestly, for me it’ll probably be a bit of both. Even if I get a phone on another carrier, I’ll probably scale back but keep my T-Mobile account. I’ll keep you posted.

Is Google Music the reason there’s no storage expandability in the Nexus S?

February 1, 2011

Back when it was announced, I wondered why the heck they would make a phone with no expandability. Sure, 16GB onboard storage is a lot but, for me (and, I bet, for a lot of other users), it’s not enough for backups, videos and music, Heck, I’ve got a 32GB microSD in my Nexus One and have only about 10GB left. Music and videos take up a little over 20GB (and I’ve edited the music files down quite a bit) and then there’re 3 or 4 ROM backups and 7 versions of backups from Titanium Backup. So, for me, the Nexus S wasn’t an option.

When the Nexus S was announced, they said it was the phone the developers would have on their desk and use on a daily basis. Perhaps that was to “help” them develop and streamline the Google Music experience? Sure, when I’m out and about I could stream my music from my home systems but none of the apps I’ve found will intellligently cache or let me select the songs I want to store locally. There are services available like MiMedia and MP3tunes that’ll let me store and stream my music but I’m not crazy about the ongoing cost nor their apps (well, MiMedia could be a winner — I’m currently trying it out). But a well executed Google Music could address that and also capture my online music buying. I probably buy 10 tracks a month from AmazonMP3.com, download them to either my phone or my NAS, make them available to my Squeezeboxes at home and also generally keep a copy on my phone.A good “cloud” service that integrates buying, storing, streaming and downloading would get my business! If it also let me upload my existing media collection, I’d be even happier and more inclined to pay an ongoing fee. Google Docs with media extensions or something else? I dunno but it’s gotta be in the cards, don’t you think?

New-ish “cloud” backup solution — MiMedia — also streams

January 31, 2011

This is my first real posting regarding cloud services. I’m no stranger, I just haven’t been altogether happy with what’s available. I’ve used SkyDrive, Dropbox and have done a trial with Carbonite as well as a number of the other online backup/file sharing providers and have accounts with streaming/storage providers like MP3tunes, Grooveshark and some of the other, lesser known services but, I have to say, I like MiMedia‘s prices and services. I got a MiMedia account because blueTunes folded and “gave” their users to MiMedia. All my music was transferred and I have a free trial for the service which I am exercising now.

So, what’s their deal? They provide both online backup (“cloud” backup) as well as the ability to stream/share your content with others (I’m streaming Bob Marley right now).

Via a Windows application (no Mac or Linux yet) you install on your computers ( — you can connect as many to your account as you want), you pick the files/folders you want backed up and they monitor for new files/updates/changes and upload them to their servers. One useful twist is that you can request they send you a USB drive onto which you place your first set of files (they pay the shipping both ways). Load it up with up to 250GB of pictures, documents, videos, music, applications, whatever, send it back and they’ll put it in your cloud. Then, as you continue about your work, all the stuff you’ve “tagged”  will have their changes sent to your cloud.

They don’t yet have an Android app but if you’ve got a Flash-capable browser, you can go in that way. And you can upload and download individual files.

Undiscounted prices are

  • 25GB for $5/month or $49/year
  • 100GB for $10/month or $99/year
  • 250GB for $20/month or $195/year

And they can provide more if you need it.

Why would you get Sprint’s 4G service?

December 29, 2010

I’ve been hearing the hype about Sprint’s 4G service for quite a while, and I qualify for a pretty decent discount. So, now that they’ve officially turned it on here in the San Francisco Bay area, my interest has really been piqued. I spoke with a couple of friends who have Sprint 4G service and they tell me it’s GREAT outside but inside is another matter.

Now, why would I want a service that only gives me good speeds outside? Granted, the 4G radio supposedly takes quite a bit of power to drive so I suppose it’s best to use WiFi when I’m inside but, WiFI service is still too spotty for me to count on.

No, I’m gonna stick with T-Mobile. Speedtest.net tells me I regularly get a 3-4 megabits per second down when I’m on the HSDPA network (which is almost all the time nowadays). Maybe I’ll check out Verizon when we get LTE here.

Your own virtual Linux system for $9.99. Period.

August 6, 2010

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this but there’s a new app in the Android Market called “AlwaysOnPC-Virtual Office PC” (the AppBrain link is here). The app costs $9.99 and, for that, you get permanent access to your own virtual machine running Linux from your phone or your desktop PC. That’s it. $9.99. It’s got Firefox and Pidgin (a Linux IM client that connects with just about any IM service you can think of). It’s got Thunderbird and Evolution (an Outlook-like email and calendar system) and Open Office and Dropbox and a lot of other things. And you get 2GB of storage. And the ability to upload and download files both to/from your phone and to/from your PC.

Try it out for yourself from your PC or Mac. Go to AlwaysOnPC.com and sign up. You get 5 days of access from your PC or Mac for free. Right now they don’t have upgrade options for more than 2GB of storage. Nor, I think, can you leave your VM running when you disconnect from it. And they don’t allow ssh in but they *do* have an ssh client so you can ssh OUT. And they have an ftp client but don’t run ftpd so you can’t ftp IN.

I’ve got questions in to their customer support about storage upgrades and stuff like that. I’ll post more when I know more. In the meantime, try it out for yourself.

Google Voice is now invitation-free!

June 22, 2010

Google Voice no longer requires an invitation. Just head over to http://voice.google.com, sign in with a Google account and claim a number. There are a TON of features available which can be useful to every(wo)man, just one of which is its multiple ring facility. With it you can have it ring your mobile phone, your home and (if you’re interested), your work number as well as any others you might have. If you head off to visit Grandma, you can update your settings to include her number in the ring schedule and remove it when you get home. I’ve been using it as my primary phone number for years and can’t imagine life without it. Please, do yourself a afvor and, If nothing else, head over to the site and read up on what it can do.