July 30, 2012

Here is a novel idea for upstart Android manufacturers: Take those resources that you could devote to creating your own skins/apps/experience on top of Android, and then use those same resources to get the latest stock version of Android to devices instead.

Virgin Mobile is pretty good at this (even taking the Motorola Triumph without MotoBlur on it ) and only adding apps. However, as manufacturers go, ZTE has something promising in its Grand X device: Pure Android.

While it does not have Jelly Bean on it (no guarantees either), The Gran X has pure Ice Cream Sandwich on it from shipping and no wasted time and energy on bloatware. Good for them.

As The Verge reviewed, it is mediocre otherwise with mostly cheap components and, to be frank, some software adjustments needed.

However, without bloatware, it is also quicker/easier to update the device…should they decide to do so in a swift fashion. How about some Jelly Bean?

The Grand X is available in the United Kingdom now and will be stateside by the end of next month.

June 8, 2012

Motorola announced its Dinara smartphone— officially known as the “xT928” – for China Telecom last November, but a supposed press leak of the AT&T variation just surfaced stateside.

The Verge received a media shot of the rumored device today (above). As the report noted, the assumed Atrix 2 successor boasts a 720p display, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and 4G LTE. The notable feature, however, is not really a feature at all: the Dinara lacks physical home buttons on the front display. Much is unknown about the smartphone this point; even its name is not set in stone. However, the “July 26” stamp within the date widget might finally give a hint as to when this device will launch.

Google closed its $12.5 billion Motorola Mobility acquisition last Month when China gave the merger an overdue go-ahead. Motorola promptly filed an 8-K form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the deal’s transaction finalized shortly after. It appears the Dinara’s software and user-interface is unaffected by the recent Google buyout and will likely sport a Motoblur flavor.

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August 15, 2011

The web is abuzz with the news that Google is snapping up Motorola Mobility in a deal valued at $12.5 billion. And while there are concerns that Google is pursuing the deal purely for the patents, CEO Larry Page said in a blog post that the agreement will let them “supercharge the Android ecosystem” by fending off patent threats from Apple, Microsoft and other companies. In addition, he dropped hints of “wonderful user experiences” in a nod at tightly integrated devices that Apple famously builds.

Now, conventional wisdom has it that the transaction will put other Android backers in an uneasy position as they get to compete with Motorola on an uneven playing field. Not to worry, Boy Genius Report has reactions from major Android backers that appear to be upbeat about the deal. For example, J.K. Shin, president of Samsung’s Mobile Communications division says:

We welcome today’s news, which demonstrates Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem.

The publication quoted similar statements by executives from HTC, LG and Sony Ericsson that Google published on their site. On the other hand, as noted by Business Insider, Android backers cannot be satisfied with the outcome of this time, regardless of their voice of support. TIMN wonders what this deal means for the future of Motorola products and the level of Google’s involvement in product development. So far, this is about intellectual property. Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha revealed in a conference call discussing the Google deal that his company controls a rich patent portfolio of 17,000 issued patents and 7,500 patent applications filed, indicating that Google will use this patent war chest as a powerful leverage against legal pressure from rivals Apple and Microsoft.

Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said this in the call:

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September 7, 2011

We now know that Baidu Yi, a brand new mobile operating system unveiled Monday by Baidu, the dominant search engine company in China, is forked from Android. We knew it would be stripped of Google search, but we haven’t been aware of the extent of customization. A DigiTimes story from this morning indicates the software cuts all ties with Google services:

Baidu’s new software platform will feature map, e-book reader, cloud storage and search functions.

Baidu yesterday forged a partnership with Dell, which is expected to unveil first Baidu Yi-powered tablets and smartphones this November, in time for the holiday shopping season. Some even think Baidu Yi gear will roll out worldwide rather than in China only. The publication also highlights another interesting nugget we haven’t known, that Dell will preload devices with an Android-based app of its own.

Basically a storefront to the online Dell store, the app will allow for buying Dell computers online and giving ratings. No doubt Dell sees Baidu Yi both as an opportunity to drum up publicity for their ailing tablet business and upsell consumers to their computer products. No word on whether Baidu Yi will run a customized user interface atop Android, similar to Samsung’s TouchWiz or Motorola’s MotoBlur.

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January 5, 2012

Prior to the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show starting next week, Motorola announced two new devices: the Motoluxe and Defy Mini. Both of these devices will see some action at CES (we will try to get a hands-on), and they will see a summer launch in Europe, Latin America, and China. While these devices are not comparable to a Droid Bionic when it comes to specifications, they are definitely pretty solid. The Motoluxe features a 4-inch touchscreen, 8-megapixel rear-camera, VGA front-camera, Android 2.3 with MotoSwitch, and a 1400 mAh battery for up to 6.5 hours of talk time and 19 days of standby time.

On the other hand, the Defy Mini is both water and dust proof, and Motorola dubs it “life proof”. Specifications for the device include a 3.2-inch Gorilla Glass display, 3-megapixel rear-camera, VGA front-camera, Android 2.3 w/MotoSwitch, and a slightly larger 1650 mAh battery for up to 10 hours of talk time and 21 days of standby time.

So, what is the MotoSwitch you are hearing about? It is Motorola’s revamped MotoBlur that is preloaded as an overlay on top of Android. It provides social media widgets and more, whether you like it or not. (via Android and Me)

Check out the full press release after the break:

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October 24, 2011

Motorola announced via their official Twitter account that they will be updating all of their Android devices to Ice Cream Sandwich, six weeks after Google releases it to OEMs. Like any new Android update users worry about how quickly it will be available on their devices. Luckily, Motorola is being pretty proactive about this one, most likely because there wont be much customization — since MotoBlur is no longer. It is unclear how other OEMs will respond with the update.

It was recently rumored that the Droid Bionic would be updated to Ice Cream Sandwich in Q1 of January 2012. We’re certainly happy that Motorola gave us an official timeframe to ease the waiting. Now its Google’s turn to get the ball rolling.

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