At the Google I/O conference in May, many Android phone vendors and U.S. wireless carriers made a long-awaited promise: From then on, any new Android phone would receive timely OS updates for at least 18 months following launch, as part of the then newly christened Google Update Alliance.
The back story: If you own an Android phone, you may have watched with frustration as a new version of the OS hit the market. It's almost never clear if your phone will ever get that upgrade—unlike with iOS or Windows Phones, which always get all upgrades (providing they meet the right hardware requirements). With Android, it seems to depend on the phone vendor, the specific model, the wireless carrier, the Android version itself, and whether Google sent the carrier an inflatable plastic food product as a token of its appreciation that week. Worse—and much to our chagrin—sometimes vendors make promises to customers before the sale that they don't keep once you own the phone.
Many factors contribute to this. But custom versions of Android are the key culprit, either thanks to vendor-specific enhancements (like HTC Sense, Motorola MotoBlur, and Samsung's TouchWiz, though LG, Pantech, Casio, and other vendors do it too), or carrier-specific enhancements of a more dubious nature (such as unnecessary preloaded bloatware and changes to default apps). These changes require many programming hours not just to make in the first place, but to also support and upgrade down the road—resources the carrier would rather throw at making new phones to sell you.
So the Google Update Alliance was a breath of fresh air. It sounded like everyone would finally come together, streamline their OS update timelines, and stop jerking around their customers. The thing is, while the Google Update Alliance ended up being one of the biggest stories to come out of Google I/O, we've heard almost nothing about it since then. You can bet we weren't just going to forget about it and pretend it never happened—especially after the release of Google Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), which is a huge leap in UI design and overall performance.
We give you a look at the Motorola Droid Bionic in this episode. The Droid Bionic is a 4G LTE smartphone on the Verizon Wireless network, sporting a dual-core processor, 8 megapixel camera, and 1080p recording. The front camera even allows you to take part in Google Hangout sessions. ZumoCast allows you to stream content from your PC directly to the device. The Droid Bionic has a 4.3-inch qHD display. We explain the features and give you a look at the device in this episode.
Big thank you to GoToMeeting and JackThreads for sponsoring the show - be sure to check them out! As for JackThreads, we've got exclusive invite codes that give you $5 to use towards anything you'd like.
After much delay, the Motorola Droid Bionic has finally launched, and we've got one in at Gear Live HQ to review. While we play with the 4.3-inch display toting, 4G LTE packing, 1080p video shooting, Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread smartphone, we've got a gallery of photos that we've taken to show it off. Go ahead and peep the images in our Droid Bionic unboxing gallery, and be on the lookout for our review soon!
[Camera: Chris Aarons]
Motorola's long-awaited Droid Bionic smartphone is finally here.
The device, Verizon's first dual-core, LTE phone, is available now at Verizon stores and online at verizonwireless.com. It doesn't come cheap, though: the Bionic will set you back $299.99 with a two-year contract.
For a limited time, those who purchase the Lapdock accessory, which essentially turns your smartphone into a 11.6-inch laptop, will get a $100 mail-in rebate when subscribing to the $50, 5GB data plan or higher. That Lapdock, however, is also $300.
And like in previous ads, the video personifies the device rather than show any part of the actual phone (see below); the latest Droid incarnation is a black leather-clad assassin with a bit of a Black Widow-meets-Droid logo edge.
No, no details yet on an actual launch date or price. The Droid Bionic is arguably Motorola's most highly anticipated product this year, perhaps because it has been delayed since, well, January. The Bionic was hit with one delay after another, forcing Verizon to release a statement explaining that it was undergoing some design revisions. No price has been announced, but an alleged advertisement pegged the phone at $300.
A draft of the Motorola Droid Bionic's user manual surfaced on the Federal Communications Commission's website, confirming most of the specs that were pulled from Motorola's website last week.
On paper at least, the dual-core smartphone built for Verizon's super-fast LTE network looks like a beast. The filing confirms that it will sport a 4.3-inch qHD display, a GHz TI OMAP 4430 dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, a microSD card slot, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a VGA front-facing camera. It'll have an HDMI 1.4 output for mirroring the phone's display on a larger screen and support wireless charging. Furthermore, the Bionic will run Android 2.3.4 "Gingerbread."