Archive for the ‘Operating Systems’ Category

iPhone 4S Coming October 14

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

The iPhone 4S was officially revealed today in Cupertino, along with iOS 5. Though it looks like the iPhone 4, there have been some important features added, bringing the iPhone up to par with its Android competition in some respects, while maintaining the general Apple look and feel so many know and love. Throughout the announcement, I couldn’t help but think about how Android phones already have a lot of these features. Here are the specs:

  • 3.5″ Retina display, 960×640 resolution (326ppi)
  • 1GHz dual core ARM-Cortex A9 processor
  • Apple A5 chip (like iPad 2)
  • 8MP rear facing camera with LED Flash and Face Detection
  • VGA front facing camera, 30 fps video
  • UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz);
    GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz)
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz only)
  • Bluetooth 4.0

An 8MP camera, finally. Apple has had nice cameras in the past, but lingered for years without an 8MP camera. With an LED flash, face detection, image stabilization, and 1080p video recording, Apple finally caught up to Android in camera specs. Sony in particular has had all but the 1080p for a couple of years now, and tacked on smile detection too.

Of note is that there will be a single iPhone 4S phone, across carriers and world-wide. It has both CDMA and GSM antennas, making it suitable for AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in the US, and the GSM networks in Europe. T-Mobile has been left out of this round. AT&T will reportedly get the fastest speeds with the HSPA+ network, and Sprint has committed to unlimited data plans for the iPhone. The iPhone 4 is also coming to Sprint.

Apple offers iCloud synchronization, so you can access all your content on any of your Apple devices automatically. Think of the Amazon Kindle’s Whispersync. This is a helpful feature, especially for those with both an iPhone and an iPad.

Though iOS 5 is coming to the original iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS, the OS’s main attraction will only be available on the iPhone 4S. Siri was an app in the Apple app store. It is now a pretty attractive feature in the iPhone, and has been removed from the store. Siri allows you to speak conversationally into your phone to make things happen. You can send text messages, e-mails, check show times, weather, and more, simply by talking to your phone. If you’ve used Android at all the last couple of years you may be familiar with this concept. Vlingo had a popular Android App, and then Google introduced Voice Actions. With Voice Actions you can also access Google’s free Navigation software on top of the features you get with Siri. Apple did upgrade the service a bit, which is good. You can ask questions with nuances that other programs might miss, such as asking about whether or not you need an umbrella and getting the weather report. Apple has raised the bar a bit on voice features, so it will be interesting to see how Android responds. The customers end up winning in this particular aspect because the feature is pretty cool on both systems.

Another feature highlighted today was iMessage. You can chat with other iOS users and keep the conversation going across devices. Again, this is already possible on Android, and includes the Chrome browser as well, specifically with Google Talk. Apple took it even further with GPS-based friend location, called Find My Friends. This works like Google Latitude, and you can see your friends on a map, assuming they opted in to the service and have allowed their location to be known.

I think the best features announced today were the camera and Siri. Other than that, think of the iPhone 4S as an upgrade to the iPhone 4. Though many were disappointed with this launch, there is nothing wrong with upgrading the phone without calling it the iPhone 5. There were plenty of new apps and features added to make it a significantly better phone than its predecessor.

The iPhone 4S will be available for pre-order on October 7, and will be available October 14. There are three versions available, subsidized by Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T. You can get a 16GB phone for $199, 32GB for $299, and 64GB for $399. Yes, I said these were subsidized prices. Meanwhile, the iPhone 4 (8GB) will drop to $99, and the 3GS (8GB) can be picked up for free.

Check out all the new features at apple.com/iphone.

Google IO – 18 Months of Android Upgrades Coming

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

We’ve all been there. That point where we don’t know whether to hang on to our current phone or lay down some exorbitant amount of money for the latest and greatest model. They might be upgrading the OS, you might have said. More often than not, especially for AT&T customers, the upgrades never come, and you end up missing out on the latest phone until it too is outdated. Google is trying to solve this problem, and has brought together an impressive set of partners to do so.

At yesterday’s IO keynote, Google announced that it was partnering with AT&T, Sony Ericsson, Sprint, Verizon, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Vodafone, and LG to make sure that phones are upgraded in a timely manner for a definite period of time. The details are still forthcoming, but the general idea is that each carrier/manufacturer would guarantee 18 months of upgrades and support for each phone. With most American cell phone contracts lasting 2 years at a time, 18 months of upgrades is not so bad. In fact it is great! One thinks of the Xperia X10 which AT&T doomed to fail by letting it linger in Android 1.6, all the while Sony Ericsson was working on kicking out a Gingerbread release (expected this quarter). HTC has supported certain phones, yet other nearly identical models aren’t supported based on the type of screen. This type of thing could soon be a memory.

As new Android versions are released, the carriers would upgrade the operating systems much faster than their current rate of deployment. You wouldn’t find yourself being two to three operating systems behind the current version. This is pretty exciting news. This will go far in addressing the fragmentation issue. Developers won’t have to worry so much about backward compatibility once this system is set up. They can just develop apps for the latest OS. I think this will do a lot to bring some of the iOS-only developers on board with Android. If an app can be used across carriers, and there is a consistent OS running the devices, there will be a larger, non-fragmented audience standing in line to buy their apps.

I am looking forward to seeing what comes of this partnership. It would be nice to know that the phone won’t be obsolete within weeks of purchase. What about you? Do you think this can work? Will the carriers cooperate with Google? Let me know in the comments.

Xperia X10 To Receive Gingerbread

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

In a gratifying reversal, Sony Ericsson formally announced the coming Gingerbread release for the Xperia X10. The news was posted in a message on the Product Launch Blog. So, why the change of heart?

First, according to the blog, they’ve “heard our requests.” They also made a lot of progress while developing for their newest Xperia phones, which enabled them to update the previously doomed X10. There are some limitations, though, and Sony Ericsson wants to be clear that the limitations are known in advance.

The X10 won’t include some of Sony’s better features like the smile detection on the camera. Instead the stock Gingerbread camera will be used. I particularly like that feature, but it is a small price to pay for getting the latest OS. Face recognition will also be lost due to the stock camera. Any DRM content will be overwritten in the upgrade, so you’ll likely have to deal with that when the time comes if you want to listen to your music. Other than that, the limitations as currently stated are pretty minor. There will be some downsizing of language support and the Backup and Restore app will go away.

The update is due by the end of Q2 or early Q3, but we’ll have to wait and see. It will be based on Gingerbread 2.3.3, and this will be the “final” upgrade. That works for me. I’m looking at another year before I can upgrade, so the Gingerbread bump will be quite useful. I’ve long since abandoned AT&T’s meager Donut offering, and am currently running Froyo on my phone. The differences are pretty spectacular. As might be expected, AT&T customers won’t be getting this update. You’ll have to take matters into your own hands if you are so inclined. In my experience it was worth it.

Gingerbread is nearly complete at XDA, but the camera isn’t quite ready. Froyo got a nice camera upgrade recently at XDA, if you want to check that out. All this was without the benefit of kernel access, so Sony Ericsson should be able to produce a nice package for us to enjoy.

I’m pretty stoked about this news. I’ll be watching for updates and pass them along.