2011 will come to an end in just a few short hours, and we are just in time with our annual top 10 list of the most-watched Gear Live video episodes. Over the past year, as expected, there was a bunch of Apple gear that made the list, but the HTC Thunderbolt gets two of the top spots, as does the Motorola Xoom.
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.
Motorola has ressurrected the RAZR from the dead, slapped the Droid branding on it, and has come up with a 7.1mm thin powerhouse. Appropriately called the Droid RAZR, the smartphone has a Gorilla Glass covered 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display and a body made of Kevlar, making it lightweight, water-resistant, and durable. On the inside you've got a dual-core 1.2GHz TI OMAP4430 chip, 8 megapixel camera that records 1080p video, 1 GB RAM, and 16 GB flash storage onboard (and another 16 GB on the included microSD card.) It runs on Verizon's 4G LTE network. so you know, it's fast. We'll be getting a review up soon, but in the meantime, be sure to peep our Droid RAZR unboxing gallery first!
Gallery: Motorola Droid RAZR unboxing gallery
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.
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Today Motorola announced the return of their most popular brand ever when they unveiled the Droid RAZR smartphone. The RAZR isn't just another Android handset, and you know they Motorola wouldn't just slap that name on any average device. This one has a Gorilla Glass covered 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display (this has not been seen on any other mobile phone to date,) and a body made of Kevlar, making it lightweight, water-resistant, and durable. On the inside you've got a dual-core 1.2GHz TI OMAP4430 chip, 8 megapixel camera that records 1080p video, 1 GB RAM, and 16 GB flash storage onboard (and another 16 GB on the included microSD card.) It also runs on Verizon's 4G LTE network.
Motorola's also tried to make the phone as thin as they could, touting that it's just 7.1mm thin, but that doesn't take into account the thicker bottom area. Who's counting, right? One other nice feature is the addition of something Moto's calling SmartActions. It's meant to preserve and optimize battery life by doing things like turning off Bluetooth when you get home, or clocking down the processor while you're on a phone call.
You'll be able to squeeze out 12.5 hours of talk time when this bad boy hits Verizon this November 6th, and it'll cost you $299 for the priviledge. Pre-orders start October 27th.
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]
Last Friday, Google chairman Eric Schmidt slipped that Android 4.0, the next major overhaul to the mobile operating system, will be released in "October or November."
Speaking to Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff at the Dreamforce conference, Schmidt said, "We have a new operating system, internally known as Ice Cream Sandwich for some reason, which is being released in October, November." Scroll down to watch the entire keynote; Schmidt slips at 30:28 mark, as reported by AndroidandMe.com.
Up to now, Google hasn't provided a release date for Ice Cream Sandwich, but perhaps Schmidt thought it was an obvious point given unconfirmed reports of Verizon possibly launching the Droid Prime, the first Android 4.0 device and believed to be the third Google Nexus smartphone, this October.
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.
I was just wondering what Google was going to do to prevent getting shut out of the mobile phone business. It was as if Google was down 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, Google stepped up to the plate and hits a walk-off home run, with its purchase of Motorola Mobility.
This scenario is fascinating for a number of reasons. First of all, somewhere along the line, both Apple and Microsoft took a terrible dislike to this Android nonsense. First, Microsoft cozies up to Nokia to subvert Android (to no avail). Then Microsoft, Apple, and others pulled a trick play to get the Nortel patent assets in an effort to develop a patent portfolio to screw Google.
So Google knows it’s toast if it doesn't do anything. But what would it do? Did anyone call this one? Certainly, not me.
Let's face it, when it comes to mobile phone patents, Motorola easily has as many or more than Nortel, which is more into fiber and other comm patents. Google is now one up on the rest of these folks.