Tag Archives: Android

A screen on a smartphone showing a text message to an AT&T customer, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)Confession time: I recently decided to upgrade my phone and picked up the iPhone 4S with Verizon Wireless.

As some of you may know, for the past couple years, I had been an Android user, absolutely refusing to upgrade to the iPhone. Why? It wasn’t because of pure hatred of iOS or its applications, but because I wasn’t so sure about whether I really wanted the iPhone. Sure, a lot of people have told me that if I wanted to sample the latest applications that are out on the market, then I needed to be able to be on the iPhone. I suppose that I thought I’d be able to temporarily supplant that need simply by using an iPad, but eventually I gave in and went with the iPhone. But it wasn’t a smooth of transition as one might expect.

The last Android device that I had was the HTC Thunderbolt, which was on Verizon’s 4G network and I really liked. It was somewhat big in size and took some getting used to, but I liked downloading the different apps and was even happier when “new” apps came to Google Play, after spending months or years being available in the Apple store. Nevertheless, I had been experiencing some signal and data issues on my Thunderbolt recently and after being instructed to do a factory reset in the hope that it would resolve the issue (which it didn’t), I was told that I could either have Verizon send me a new Thunderbolt and still be month-to-month on my plan or renew for another two years. Now, normally this wouldn’t be something to write about…I mean, why would you care about my data plan? Well, turns out that because Verizon recently updated their data plans and no longer have unlimited data, I was in a bit of a pickle. You see, it turns out that I’m one of the above-average data users–each month, I’m averaging about 3 GB of data being used. So if I rolled over to Verizon’s new plans, I would be paying a bit more than what I’m currently doing now.

SoundCloudSoundCloud, the Berlin-based open platform for audio sharing on the web and mobile devices keeps making noise. During the past six months it’s grown from 1 Million to 2 Million users, having attracted both Snoop Dog and Justin Bieber as customers. To keep up with its fast growth in order to become the leader in audio hosting and sharing, as to establish its US presence and the San Francisco office, it needs more fuel to execute. The rumors of raising new funding ($10 Million) were confirmed today, and we can congratulate Union Square Ventures with Fred Wilson and Index Ventures with Mike Volpi for joining the SoundCloud journey together with its prior investor Doughty Hanson Ventures.

I’ve been a fangirl of Soundcloud since its private beta, and long before Spotify Social came along, SoundCloud had been my home for music discovery. Citysounds.fm is still one of my favourite apps, perfect to discover new music from different cities. And now, with the new updated iPhone app, I finally get access to my SoundCloud favourite tracks list streaming nicely on the background. What. A. Relief.

Something tells me that my perfect world scenario, where I can check-in and discover the best food, music and places recommendations all in one isn’t that far away in the future…

Flickr CC: Daniel Greene

When Foursquare, the coolest lbs kid in town, favourite of approx. 3 million users with 200 million check-ins, was down earlier this week, the social web reacted with frustration, sad tweets, and hunt for alternative check-in services.

Apparently, the most dedicated Foursquare users hooked on rewards and badges even chose to stay at home , until they were able to collect rewards of their check-ins.

“We are hearing from many users (they want to remain anonymous) that they are staying at home until the service is restored. One user called us on our tips hotline noting that it just “isn’t worth going out if you can’t get a badge”.”

The concept of check-in also continues to heat up among businesses, especially fashion industry going gaga over the new ways location based services allow brands to interact with, as monetize their customers. Good example of how hot it is, Swedish retailer giant H&M just launched their first Foursquare campaign in Sweden, regardless the fact, that use of location based services is still fairly moderate in Sweden. Gowalla holds the pole position with 35 000 users against Foursquare’s 9 000 users. The buzz and eyeballs around the campaign evidently are worth as much.

Sharing location was seemingly hot concept already back in 2007, when Facebook filed for a patent on general sharing location mechanisms. The patent was granted this week, adding an extra twist on the already competitive space.

Map.pr Finds You Interesting Places With Help Of Groups

The one not afraid of patents and competition is Swedish Map.pr. Map.pr is all about location around groups and interests, based on the idea that your friends make the best maps. Map.pr uses places from Foursquare, building enhanced search on top to let you find cool places nearby recommended by your group members. No need to trust the “Giraffe sign” :) I’ve been one of the beta testers, and since its release in July, the app has already had thousands of downloads.

When you check in with Map.pr, you still check-in with Foursquare, so you don’t miss out on any badges or mayorships. But what’s unique to Map.pr, with any check-in, one can also check-in with a group one belongs to. To give a sense of a venue’s popularity, unlike Foursquare, Map.pr iPhone app also shows how many individual and team check-ins a venue has. Anyone can create its own group, and the possibility to create and add venues via Map.pr is being added in the next coming update. Until now, it’s only been possible to check-in to already existing venues.

There’s no native Android app on the roadmap, instead an updated mobile web version with check-in functionality is round the corner. Check-ins with Facebook Places, which hasn’t reached Nordics yet, aren’t yet allowed by Facebook API, but instead Map.pr is about to integrate with new Facebook Groups, released earlier this week with both privacy blunders as upsides, to let you share check-ins within a group, private or open. As before, one can share check-ins to both Facebook and Twitter. Gowalla users have, for now, been left out of the service.

Map.pr White Label To Boost Businesses’ Customer Engagement

Cartomapic, the startup behind Map.pr, was founded early 2010 by a team with backgrounds in Google Maps and Spotify, surely qualifing regarding domain competence within location and app design. But, as all social check-in services, they’re about understanding and triggering human behaviour. Since grouping and categorizing venues as function isn’t considered a long term competitive advantage, Map.pr needs to do something else differently. One way is to monetize by competing with a more attractive price model on partnerships than its established competitors. It also plans to offer its solution as a white label, letting businesses create their own branded check-in services around events, releases etc. I find the idea of focusing on aggregating check-ins and information from several location based services, e.g. like Buzzd does with hottest venues nearby right now, compelling. By also aggregating check-in info into a comprehensive recommendation system for groups, I could see how Map.pr just might find its way to the end of the rainbow.

Paula is online strategist and startup evangelist. She blogs at paulamarttila.com and here at Bub.blicio.us.
Connect with her on Twitter, LinkedIn,
Drop her email at paula.marttila[at]gmail[dot]com

I make no secret that I’m a fan of Verizon’s Android phone line – and I appreciate that they let me test out a lot of the gadgets. However, I get a lot of questions about the NAME. I spent 30 minutes once explaining to someone the difference between their HTC Hero Android phone and a Verizon Droid Eris – all due to naming. So Verizon, I may really like your stuff – but I question the naming convention you’ve gotten yourself into.

So here goes …

Droid is a product line of Android (Google) operating system phones from Verizon. If it’s not from Verizon, it may indeed be an Android OS, but it’s not a Droid. For instance, the Sprint EVO and Hero are both running Android OS. However, they are not Droids. A Droid phone has to be Verizon and run Android OS, but can be made by anyone. Right now, Verizon has good relationships with Motorola and HTC.

To make things slightly more confusing, the first phone released in the Verizon Droid line of phones was … the Motorola Droid. Yeah, I know. It’s basically the Droid Droid.

Verizon also has the HTC Droid Eris, the HTC Droid Incredible, the Motorola Droid X, and the Motorola Droid 2. I think the Motorola Droid Devour is still available as well. Where does it get really confusing? Well, I’m not exactly sure where the Android-based LG Ally falls. Is it a Droid or just an LG?

So, is your T-Mobile MyTouch a Droid? Nope, it’s an Android phone. Is your original Motorola Droid a Droid? Yep, because it’s from Verizon.

I know this seems a bit simplistic, but the amount of times I’m asked this question is a bit out of control. So when you see those Droid Does commercials from Verizon, just remember that even if your Android phone isn’t a Droid, it still probably does a lot of what the ad mentions. In my opinion, apps really help make a phone, and those are available to all Androids.

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Cheers!
Tweet Michelle @writetechnology, send her technology news at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, visit her wine blog when you’re thirsty, and drop by one of her day jobs.

Have you ever had the sort of summer where everything gets away from you? That has been my summer. Back in early July, the good folks at Verizon sent me a Droid X to play with. I realized this morning that almost two months later, I still have it. They’ve been very patient with me considering that it had completely slipped my mind.

So, what do I think of the Droid X? Well, it’s a great phone. It’s also a big phone, so I won’t be trading in my HTC Incredible just yet. I need something that fits in my pockets a little more comfortably. But if you’re into bigger is better, you may absolutely love the Droid X.

Thin form, with a bump at the top to support the camera

The Droid X is everything the original Droid (it hasn’t even been a year) should have been. The keyboard, while virtual, I found extremely easy to use. It supports Swype and while I didn’t intentionally use Swype, it certainly typed easier than even my Incredible. It could just be the form factor – no matter which way you turn it, the Droid X has a huge screen.  It’s a 4.3″ FWVGA 854 x 480 resolution screen. It’s crisp and instantly responsive. Putting numbers aside, things just look pretty on the Droid X screen. It’s closest comparison would be the Sprint EVO, which has a slightly thinner, shorter form factor.

There are aspects of Motorola’s MotoBlur integrated into the Droid X, mostly apparent through a few apps and widgets. For the most part, the Droid X is pure Android though. If you’re familiar with HTC’s Sense UI for Android, then you know how different a UI can make this OS. Whatever parts of MotoBlur they added to the X, it’s few and far between. In fact, I’ve gotten so accustomed to the Sense UI, that it could be one reason I wasn’t bowled over by the Droid X.

Over the last 6 months or so, I’ve adjusted to the fact that physical buttons on phones may actually be a thing of the past. A while back, one of my favorite things about the Droid Eris was that the buttons were actually physical. There was a button for home, back, Phone, and so on. The Droid X picks up on this, with buttons for Settings, Home, Back, and Search. While the keyboard is virtual, the physical buttons are a nice switch.

With heavy usage, I’ve gotten one day of battery life out of the Droid X, which pummels my Incredible (for which I always carry a backup battery).  The most draining things on the Droid X battery are using the GPS for actual navigation and using the built-in mi-fi-like 3G Mobile Hotspot. While I believe it requires an extra plan from Verizon, you can easily replace your mi-fi or broadband stick with this feature. Running a test while traveling in Chicago, my husband and I hooked up a netbook, iPad, and full laptop to the Droid X signal and had great service.

The Droid X is a speedy machine, and I would expect nothing less. I laugh a lot about the specs of the new “super” phones. Years ago I had one of the first iBooks (in orange, with a handle). These phones at least triple the specs of that machine, if not more. The Droid X has 8 GB onboard memory, 16 GB microSD pre-installed, and supports up to 32 GB micro SD – total memory expandable up to 40 GB. It has a 1 Ghz ARMv7 processor.  Speedy. I sometimes look at my old/current MacBook Pro and think, “My phone might be faster than you.”

It has an 8 mp camera that works as fast as the camera in my Incredible. I turned my husband loose with the Droid X while we were on a Frank Lloyd Wright Walking Tour in Chicago and he got some great shots with bright colors. I find the camera button to be a bit stiff, but apparently its just a matter of personal adjustment. There is an HDMI out port on the device as well, which I didn’t get a chance to test. Note that an HDMI cable is not included in the box.

Photo taken with DroidX

As far as call quality, with and without Google Voice, I had great quality and no dropped calls. I had no trouble hearing anyone and they were able to hear me without any issue.

Overall, the Droid X is a great device. I hesitate to use the word “phone” anymore, as these devices are really uber-portable computers. I already have several friends who ordered the Droid X as quickly as I ordered the Incredible. While it’s certainly not the device for me, due to size and my apparent attachment to HTC’s Sense, it’s certainly a great addition to the Verizon Droid line.

It looks as if the latest batch of Droid X devices will be shipping by August 31. With a two-year contract, the Droid X retails for $199.

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Cheers!
Tweet Michelle @writetechnology, send her technology news at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, visit her wine blog when you’re thirsty, and drop by one of her day jobs.