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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Malicious apps removed from Android Market

Google has removed from the official Android Market about two dozen apps found to contain malware that can compromise data, mobile security firm Lookout is warning.

Between 30,000 and 120,000 Android devices may have been affected, Lookout said.

"This weekend, multiple applications available in the official Android Market were found to contain malware that can compromise a significant amount of personal data," the company said in a blog post late last night. "Likely created by the same developers who brought DroidDream to market back in March, more than 25 applications were found to be infected with a stripped down version of DroidDream we're calling 'Droid Dream Light' (DDLight)."

Google removed 58 malicious apps from the market in March and remotely removed the apps from the devices they'd been downloaded to.

Google representatives did not immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment early today.

The problem was reported to Lookout by a developer who found that modified versions of his app and another developer's app were being distributed in the Android Market. Lookout confirmed that malicious code was inserted into the apps and identified markers that linked the code with DroidDream samples.

"We discovered 24 additional apps re-packaged and re-distributed with the malicious payload across a total of 4 different developer accounts," Lookout said.

Apps containing DDLight have been available for download from the official Android Market. Anyone who has downloaded the apps listed below may be affected. If you have downloaded these apps, contact for help in removing them.

The list of infected applications includes:

Magic Photo Studio
• Sexy Girls: Hot Japanese
• Sexy Legs
• HOT Girls 4
• Beauty Breasts
• Sex Sound
• Sex Sound: Japanese
• HOT Girls 1
• HOT Girls 2
• HOT Girls 3

Mango Studio
• Floating Image Free
• System Monitor
• Super StopWatch and Timer
• System Info Manager

E.T. Team
• Call End Vibrate

• Quick Photo Grid
• Delete Contacts
• Quick Uninstaller
• Contact Master
• Brightness Settings
• Volume Manager
• Super Photo Enhance
• Super Color Flashlight
• Paint Master

Because malicious components of DDLight are invoked on receipt of a android.intent.action.PHONE_STATE intent (for example, an incoming voice call), DDLight is not dependent on manual launch of the installed application to trigger its behavior, Lookout said.

"The broadcast receiver immediately launches the .lightdd.CoreService which contacts remote servers and supplies the IMEI, IMSI, Model, SDK Version and information about installed packages," the company said. "It appears that the DDLight is also capable of downloading and prompting installation of new packages, though unlike its predecessors it is not capable of doing so without user intervention."

Lookout users are already protected. According to Lookout, all Android users should:

• Download apps only from trusted sources and reputable app markets. Examine the developer name, reviews, and star ratings.

• Always check the permissions that an app requests. Make sure the permissions an app requests match the app's features.

• Be alert for abnormal behavior on your phone that could signal an infection, such as unusual SMS or network activity.

• Use a mobile security app that scans every app you download.

Android 2.1 finally comes to Xperia X10 in U.S.

Sony Ericsson is launching the Android 2.1 "Eclair" upgrade to Xperia X10 devices running on the AT&T network in the U.S., the handset maker announced today.

Owners of the device, which boasts a 4-inch touch screen, a 1GHz processor, and an 8-megapixel camera, will be able to access the upgrade today. With the upgrade, the phone records video in 720p, offers multitouch support, gets facial detection in video capture, and increases the number of available home screens from three to five.

In order to update the Xperia X10, users will need to download a PC Companion application to get the process started. From there, they'll need to plug their devices into their computers and start the update. According to the company's Web site, the update will take about 30 minutes to complete.

The addition of Android 2.1 to the Xperia X10 comes rather late. Many other devices are already running the newer Android 2.2 (Froyo). There are even some running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).

The issue of fragmentation in the Android ecosystem has been a hot-button issue ever since new updates started to emerge. Some devices get the new versions of the operating system quickly, while owners of other platforms, including the Xperia X10, are forced to wait and wait for vendors to offer updates.

According to a chart on the Android developers' page, Android 2.2 currently runs on nearly 66 percent of Android-based devices on the market. Android 2.1 is running on 24.5 percent of devices. Android 2.3 is available on 4 percent. There are still even some devices running Android 1.6 and Android 1.5.

On a related note, the update didn't take quite so long across the pond. In October, Sony Ericsson announced the Android 2.1 for update European customers.

At the time, the company promised that North American owners would get the update by the end of November.

The Xperia X10 on AT&T's network is selling for $49.99 with a two-year commitment and online discount.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lodsys accuses Android developer of patent infringement

Lodsys, the technology company recently rebuked by Apple for sending threatening letters to app developers with accusations of patent infringement, has once again accused a developer of infringing upon its patents -- but this time for the Android platform, according to CNET.

From a conversation thread on Google's Android developer forum, it appears that at least one Android developer has received a letter from Lodsys alleging infringement related to patents held on technology that enables users to buy services or virtual goods within an app.

"We recently implemented in-app purchases for our Android application," the developer of the Tank Hero app wrote, "and several weeks later we received a letter from Lodsys, claiming that we infringed on their patents. We are obviously a small shop and are not financially capable of defending ourselves over a litigation."

Lodsys' letter to Tank Hero follows similar missives sent to iOS developers this month alleging infringements on four of its patents connected to the ability to make in-app purchases, CNET said.

That prompted Apple to send a letter of its own, reminding Lodsys that in-app purchases were part of its software development kit and mandatory for developers to use if they chose to build paid extras into their apps, according to the blog the Loop.

"Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the App Makers are protected by that license," wrote Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell, according to the Loop. "There is no basis for Lodsys' infringement allegations against Apple's App Makers" and the company is "fully prepared to defend Apple's license rights."

Microsoft's lucrative new revenue stream? Android.

The irony's enough to make your head explode: Microsoft makes more money from Android than it does Windows Phone.

This according to Citi analyst Walter Pritchard, who says $5 from the purchase price of every HTC Android handset sold ends up in Microsoft's pockets.

Evidently, the terms of the patent licensing deal Microsoft negotiated with HTC over its Android offerings last April included some very lucrative royalties.

Which isn't all that surprising. At the time Microsoft went after HTC, sources close to the company claimed the handset vendor's infringement of its IP was very broad, ranging from the user interface to the guts of the OS itself.

Over at Asymco, Horace Dediu figures HTC has shipped roughly 30 million Android handsets, which works out to about $150 million in Android revenues for Microsoft.

Interestingly, HTC may have gotten off easy. Pritchard says Microsoft is looking for even higher royalties from the other Android handset manufacturers it's pursuing. "Our understanding is that Microsoft is looking for a $7.50 to $12.50 per unit license to settle alleged infringement of Microsoft patents," he writes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Samsung Galaxy S II - Hands on, and lots of pics!

Samsung has officially launched the Galaxy S II smartphone in India (to read all about the launch, click here). This makes it the second dual core Android smartphone to arrive on our shores, after the LG Optimus 2X. This has been an extremely anticipated handset, not only because of the powerhouse it potentially is, but also because of the possible pricing. Now that all those issues have been sorted, and a modest Rs. 32,890 price has been quoted, let us get down to giving you a quick first impression of the Galaxy S II.

The first look

One look at the Galaxy S II and you will be forgiven for brushing it off as just another Android smartphone. The 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display is flanked by two touch based options and return buttons, a hardware menu button and a glossy black panel all around. The fact that this is a well designed (read - slim yet powerful) big screen phone shows quite clearly, as the S II fits nicely in the hand. The top panel has the 3.5mm audio jack, while the bottom panel has the microUSB port. The solid build quality is impressive, and the phone can be used with one hand- contrary to opinion about > 4-inch screen smartphones. The volume rocker is on one side, but stays well out of the way when you are gripping the phone.

Switch it on

Light up the display on the Galaxy S II and the colours stand out, thanks to its vividness. The rest of the colours look better because the black levels on this display are extremely good. It's a pretty bright display, and keeping the brightness levels below 50% is more than enough for most usage scenarios. The display quality is fantastic, and will be an amazing device to watch videos on. Connect the proprietary HDMI cable, and you can view everything on the flat panel television. Samsung however, will not be providing the cable as a part of the retail package when you buy this phone. The cable is available as a separate accessory. We will update the prices when we get official communication from Samsung.

The interface stays the same

The Galaxy S II comes with the TouchWiz UI we have seen all along on Samsung's Android based phones. The weird case with this UI is that it looks excellent on certain phones (Galaxy S) and looks horrible on some others (Samsung Galaxy Ace)! Thankfully, though much of the UI remains the same, the latest TouchWiz 4.0 UI has added more widget styles to it, along with the Live Panel app switcher, offering that little bit more with the phone.

When on any of the home screens, the pinch gesture will bring all 7 screens as thumbnails, and you can head off to any one of them by clicking on it right there. Flicking through all screens is just too slow these days! This gesture worked well, and the response was super smooth.

Here are some more pics of the interface of the Samsung Galaxy S II.

The menu is laid out horizontally, and not vertically as a lot of Android phones have. There is the option of either the horizontal menu style, or a basic List of the applications and the entire menu, in general. Flicking through the menu was smooth and quick, with no judder or pauses visible.

What is not very common across Android smartphones is the visual effect which allows for the home-screen wallpaper to be the backdrop of the menu as well. The extremely powerful hardware in the Galaxy S II allows for that, without the interface becoming slower.

Latest Android goodness

The Galaxy S II comes with Android 2.3 Gingerbread pre-loaded. Good thing, since no one wants to queue up for updates. The version installed in this "pre-release version" handset was Android 2.3.3 and Samsung has confirmed that this is the version we will see on the final retail units.

The Social Hub

The screenshots above and below are of the Social Hub application, which is the one stop app for email accounts, IM chat login and social networking access. As you can see, the application allows access to most of the popular services across categories.

The Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone does look to be worth the moolah, at least during the time we have spent with it. in a nutshell, it is built well, the slimness makes it comfortable to grip (particularly important of you are typing a message with the same hand which is holding the phone), we witnessed no slowdowns in the performance (even with multiple apps open in the background) and the display quality is very good.

What we have been unable to test during the hands-on are the dedicated applications - Game Hub and Reader Hub. One is meant to whet the gaming appetite, while the Reader app allows access to news updates, e-books and e-magazines. Since these applications need web access, we will be testing them during the detailed review. Also, we cannot comment on the battery life, at the moment, nor can we say anything about how the display performs in sunlight.

We are looking forward to getting a review unit of the Galaxy S II, so that we can put it through our rigorous test process, and help you with a possible smartphone purchase decision. Stay tuned for that one.

ANALYSIS-Sony Ericsson needs Sony firepower for Android war

STOCKHOLM/HELSINKI, May 25 (Reuters) - Japan's Sony (6758.T) needs to assert control over Sony Ericsson if the handset joint venture is to recoup market share and relevance in the cut-throat world of mobile devices.

Last year the 10-year-old venture set itself the ambitious target of capturing the market for Google's (GOOG.O) Android platform, the world's most popular smartphone software, in order to rake in returns from the fast-growing and profitable market.

But to reach its goal, Sony Ericsson needs a dynamic owner with deep pockets and multimedia assets. Its brand is languishing by comparison with Apple Inc (AAPL.O), whose iPhones and iPads have wowed gadget-hungry consumers.

A full takeover of the venture with Sweden's Ericsson (ERICb.ST) would boost Sony's overall offering, which includes content, gaming devices, consumer electronics and even tablet computers, but is still missing its own smartphones.

"Sony has not seemed interested so far in making such a move, but now the full offering story is very, very 'in', and Sony might be looking at Apple and thinking they could come up with a similar offering," Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said.

Sony and Ericsson's 50:50 venture -- formed in 2001 -- thrived after its breakthrough with Walkman music phones and Cybershot cameraphones, both of which leveraged Sony's brands.

But it lost out to leaner rivals at the cheaper end, and its share of total handset sales dropped to just 3 percent from more than 9 percent at its height.

Now, Sony Ericsson is pinning its hopes on a switch in focus to smartphones, the fastest-growing part of the mobile market, and particularly phones powered by Android.

It is making some progress and turned a net profit of 90 million euros ($127 million) last year, after a booking a loss of 836 million euros in 2009. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ SPECIAL REPORT-Sony stumbles PC, tablet, smartphone sales Sony vs Apple timeline: Sony vs rivals dataset: Sony's tablets For a story on smartphone market growth [ID:nLDE73S00I] For Sony Ericsson's latest earnings [ID:nLDE73I082] For a FACTBOX on handset vendors [ID:nLDE7410N0] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>


In order to snare new customers, Sony Ericsson needs access to Sony's popular content. This includes PlayStation, a music catalogue including artists Justin Timberlake and Bob Dylan, and movies and TV shows like popular U.S. comedy "Seinfeld".

It has taken steps in that direction already. It recently rolled out the Xperia Play smartphone which gives users access to PlayStation games.

But its product was late and expensive and is being undermined by parent Sony, which is rolling out other products in direct competition.

Sony recently launched a tablet computer that runs on Android software, as well as an own-brand portable gaming device. It also plans to franchise PlayStation to other phone makers. [ID:nL3E7FQ0EN]

Nobuo Kurahashi of Mizuo Investors' Securities said it made far more sense for Sony to roll Sony Ericsson into its strategy rather than competing with it.

"Having Sony Ericsson phones involved (separately) could make it harder for Sony to achieve its goals," Kurahashi said.

"Having ... the whole thing under their control could well make it easier to build their network strategy."

But it won't be easy, with Sony distracted by headaches elsewhere. This week, Sony said it would make a $3.2 billion net loss for the fiscal year that ended March 31 due to the effects of March's earthquake in Japan. [ID:nL3E7GN0SO]

The company had already been struggling, outmanoeuvred by Apple in portable music and Samsung in flat-screen TVs and challenged by Nintendo (7974.OS) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) in the battle for dominance of video game consoles.

It also faces a massive undertaking to recover customer trust after hackers accessed client data from its online gaming platform in April. [ID:nL3E7G601N]

"Given the enormity of Sony's current challenges, a move for Sony Ericsson in the short term seems unlikely," said CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber.


The impetus may come instead from partner Ericsson, which could push Sony to buy it out if their joint venture continues to fade in relevance.

Sony Ericsson finally turned a profit last year, but that may not last, given the odds currently stacked against it.

"I think it (Sony Ericsson) is already fairly irrelevant in the market in terms of volumes and even value market share," said WestLB's Thomas Langer.

However, Ericsson has no urgent need for the 1 billion to 2.5 billion euros some analysts reckon half of Sony Ericsson's equity is worth, based on its revenues of 6.3 billion euros.

Debt would not be an issue, since the venture had net debt of only 5 million euros at the end of March.

Meanwhile, Ericsson's own core business is soaring as telecom operators raise spending to boost capacity in networks choked by smartphone customers.

It has also made joint ventures part of its targets for the 2010-2013 period, possibly signalling no sale is on the cards.

Even if Sony Ericsson does sort out its ownership issues, the going will be tough.

The smartphone market is growing fast, with shipments nearly doubling year on year in the first quarter to 100 million handsets, according to IDC's mobile phone tracker report.

But competition for a larger slice of the pie is fierce, and Sony Ericsson will not only have to battle deep-pocketed, larger rivals like Samsung Electronics (005930.KS), but also nimbler Asian players such as HTC (2498.TW), China's ZTE (000063.SZ) and Huawei [HWT.UL]. [ID:nL3E7GB037]

Sony Ericsson has 9 percent of the market for smartphones running on Android software, compared with 26 percent for Samsung, according to researcher Strategy Analytics.

Eight analysts polled by Reuters all thought Sony Ericsson would likely miss its target of becoming the biggest seller of Android.

Some say that makes it all the more important for Sony to take stronger ownership.

"Sony needs a mobile presence, and Sony Ericsson needs Sony content and services. This can arguably only be achieved if Sony takes control of the joint venture," said CCS Insight's Blaber.

($1=.7095 Euro)

($1=6.302 Swedish Crown)

(Additional reporting by Isabel Reynolds in TOKYO; Editing by Sophie Walker and Alexander Smith)

((Stockholm Newsroom, +46-8-700 1017, e-mail: Keywords: SONY ERICSSON/

(C) Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution ofReuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expresslyprohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuterssphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group ofcompanies around the world. Keywords: SONY ERICSSON/ =2

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Firefox For Android Updated With Privacy Feature

Mozilla has released a 'Do Not Track' feature on Firefox, which enables private browsing on the cellular device. This feature seeks to increase the security amongst Android users. Sid Stamm, Security and Privacy Official at Mozilla said that, the unveiling of the HTTP Reader, which made use of the Do Not Track feature, received enormous support from users and other contemporaries. He says that the basic idea is to provide users with the same browser experience as the desktop version of the web browser.

Turning On the Do Not Track feature on your Android device is as easy as a flick of a switch. One needs to go to the browser preferences and slide the 'Tell sites not to track me' button. Bearing no differences to the desktop client, Stamm on his ( blog says that the websites will receive the same signal from the mobile version as the desktop client enabled with the Do Not Track service sends.

Security seems to be a priority with developers these days, with major brands like Apple and Google being criticized for location tracking. It's really commendable to see Mozilla trying to make mobile browsing more secure than before for its users.

Download Mozilla Firefox Beta for Android over here.

Motorola Droid X2 Report

The Motorola Droid X2 struck from the middle of nowhere, and we're here to report that this was a worthy surprise. While the phone may appear unchanged on the outside, Motorola has made several tweaks under the hood, including a 1GHz dual-core processor and 4.3-inch qHD screen. Although the 8-megapixel camera remained unchanged sensor-wise, Motorola improved shot times by adding Continuous Autofocus into the mix, though we didn't see 1080p video recording this time around. As Verizon's first dual-core phone, the Droid X2 goes head to head with the Motorola Atrix 4G for AT&T and T-Mobile G2x, though you'll notice one crucial spec—the Droid lacks 4G connectivity. Verizon is leaving that to the Droid Bionic, to be released in the coming months, but if you can't wait that long or don't need 4G, the Motorola Droid X2 (specs) is a top-notch entertainment powerhouse.


The Droid X2 cannot be discerned easily from the original Droid X unless you look super closely at the "2" positioned next to the "X" on the back of the phone. That means the phone rocks the same grippy matte black finish, HDMI terminal, and tangible Menu, Home, Back, and Search buttons. Even the 8-megapixel camera and dual LED flash are located in the same position, and we get the classic half-back panel housing the 1500mAh battery.

Mirror Mode

Mirror Mode »
But the big news on the design front this year is the X2's 4.3-inch qHD capacitive touchscreen display, which features 960x540 pixels and 16 million colors. This is a 26% pixel increase from the original Droid X, and the phone's screen was noticeably sharper. The Droid X2 also offered a mirror mode that enabled us to connect the phone to our HD monitor via the HDMI port for a supersized view of the phone in action. We couldn't figure out how to transfer sound for video playback and gaming, but hopefully this is an easy fix.

For memory, the Droid X2 is set to ship with a 16GB MicroSD card in its 32GB capacity slot, though we were shipped a device with an 8GB card. In addition to the lack of 4G, the phone suffers from the absence of a front-facing camera, which are two primary factors within the current top crop of advanced smartphones. It was not a hindrance for us because the phone proved itself as an overall powerhouse without the need to video chat or connect to an LTE network. Verizon is leaving that up to the Bionic.

Software and Interface

While the X2's Android 2.2 platform is in the midst of being phased out by 2.3 Gingerbread, users can expect an upgrade within the near future. But the pulsating heart of this speedy phone was its 1GHz Tegra dual-core processor (1GHz at each core). Needless to say, we were able to fly around actions and commands on the X2 without any problems. It bested its predecessor, if you can even believe that, and we never felt the need for more speed. Dual core goodness never tasted so good, and the Droid X2 proved that it could hang with the Atrix 4G and G2x.


Apps »
In addition to the standard Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, and 3-axis motion tracking, the phone had DLNA connectivity for wirelessly streaming content to other devices and Micrsoft Exchange support. However, parts of our phone-based browsing experience was not so standard. The dropdown menu was stylishly translucent, our Applications icon was redesigned, and a handy "All Apps" dropdown menu was embedded within the Applications menu, enabling us to view All apps, Recent, or Downloaded. An Android Market shortcut icon also resided in the Applications dropdown menu, making it easier to download new content. These were subtle changes, but they added to our overall Android browsing experience.


The Droid X2 handles the Internet flawlessly, as we could pinch and zoom with ease and double-tap to zoom with text wrap in a matter of moments. Thanks to Flash 10 support coupled with dual-core power, videos started right up within the browser and played with perfectly synched audio from the get go. The bookmarks toolbar was also fashioned with individual icons for each page that could be scrolled through much like a refined Camera gallery. Meanwhile, webpage history was clustered into packs that could be "opened" to view all pages from one day in the gallery format as well. However, we would have liked a Refresh, Back, and Forward trio of buttons, as our general browser experience was a bit dry. Hopefully, Gingerbread 2.3 will dazzle this up.

Multimedia and Productivity

There's no doubt about the fact that the Droid X2 is a multimedia powerhouse, ultimately giving the HTC Thunderbolt and Droid Charge some serious competition. Any game we downloaded from the Android Market performed at its peak, whether it was Need For Speed Shift (which came preloaded as a demo), Cordy, Speedx 3D, or Glow Hockey. Framerate and graphics were stellar, and we spent quite some time pushing with X2 to the limits with 3D games (check out demos in our video review). When it came to videos, the phone never hiccupped while playing back YouTube clips in High Quality.

The phone came equipped with a typical Android Music application, though it also offered Slacker Radio, Amazon MP3, and Pandora from the Android Market. Additional preloaded content included Blockbuster, Amazon Kindle, and Verizon's full suite of V CAST applications. We loved the fact that Quickoffice came preloaded for working on Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and PDF files, but the Droid X2 also received support for the business user. It not only offered Microsoft Exchange support, but the phone was enterprise-ready with security and IT-grade policies.

Call Quality/Battery Life

The Droid X2 received the same three-microphone setup with noise cancellation technology that placed the phone at the top of the call quality list. Honestly, like the original, our Motorola Droid X2 review unit produced some of the best call quality we've ever experience on a phone. We tested it by cranking the music up to 11 and asking the other party if they could hear any background noise when we spoke. Nothing at all, even with booming bass and screaming treble in the background. You will not be let down with this phone when it comes to talking.

Battery life was also improved, thanks to the X2's efficient Battery and data manager application that allowed us to set the battery usage to four different modes—Maximum Battery Saver, Nighttime Saver, Performance Mode, and Custom Battery Saver. This was the same system we saw on the Atrix 4G, and it worked wonders. Bravo to Motorola for addressing one of the most pressing issues within the smartphone world.


One of the other major changes on the Droid X2 was its faster snapping time in camera mode. Motorola claims up to 44% quicker time between shots, and that's due to the phone's new Continuous Auto Focus. We liked the Continuous Auto Focus, for the phone rarely took a blurry shot, even in low light. However, it was obvious that Motorola was cranking up the ISO, for even focused images appeared blurry at full resolution, due to the noise.

The X2's 8-megapixel camera was a decent all-around shooter, but it certainly wasn't the best. It needed help in low light, and 720p HD video clips froze frames and jumped at times (view photo and video samples). That was not good. Also, certain features like Exposure was hard to access, requiring us to head into the Menu in order to implement. Finally, we couldn't toggle the video light on or off during recording, and the camera was devoid of touch focus. Motorola needs to work on its cameras, for phones like the G2x and iPhone 4 are still ahead of the pack.


We will commend Motorola for updating the Gallery. Now, we could view images from our social networking friends, personal library, personal online collections, camera roll, or DLNA servers (the latter option allows users to connect to DLNA-enabled media servers via the Wi-Fi connection, and as such requires supported equipment). Rather than having to hunt down pictures, the X2's Gallery wrangled them all together in a highly intuitive interface.

Motorola Droid X2 – infoSync Diagnosis

At the end of our journey with the killer diller Droid X2, we can safely say that this smartphone is a definite improvement over the first-generation Droid X. It's faster, more capable for business, rocks a nicer screen, and will soon be receiving Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

Though we welcomed the addition of Continuous Auto Focus in the Camera department, Motorola still has a ways to go with its cameras in order to compete. However, the revamped galley was a big improvement. Let's also not forget about the X2's enhanced battery life and exceptional call quality.

Yes, this is a worthy upgrade from your outdated phone, though if you're looking to drop your old Droid X for a Droid X2, you'll have to think about the upgrades and if they would benefit you. Obviously, everyone would like better battery life, a faster processor, and latest OS version heading their way. The Droid X2 is a winner in our book.

Price and Release Date

The Motorola Droid X2 will be available in Verizon Wireless Communication Stores on May 26 2011 (already available through Verizon's online store), selling for $200 with a new two-year contract.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Android Tablets Sales Will Surpass Apple’s (NVIDIA CEO) Read it....

Jen-Hsun Huang

Jen-Hsun Huang, NVIDIA's CEO

Jen-Hsun Huang, the CEO of NVIDIA, estimates that Android-based tablet sales will surpass iPad sales within 3 years. He believes that the same momentum that has propelled Android in the handset space is currently building up in the tablet space.

“The Android phone took only two and a half years to achieve the momentum that we’re talking about,” he recently said at the Reuters Technology Summit in New York. And Jen-Hsun Huang is putting his resources where his mouth is: internally, Tegra (NVIDIA’s line of mobile chip/SoC) is increasingly getting more resources and attention from the company. NVIDIA has also acquired a baseband (modem) company called Icera, and it shows how committed NVIDIA is to the mobile business.

Is that “3 years” estimate realistic? Most likely. At this point in time, Apple still leads in terms of user interface, pricing, and apps availability. However, Android 3.x is close to be “good enough” and by the end of this year, I expect most major apps to be available on Android tablets. Jen-Hsun Huang thinks that the next-gen android tablets will be “far better”.

The handset market has proven that Android doesn’t actually need to beat Apple in terms of apps availability (and quality) to win the market share game. Android just needs to become good enough, and it mostly has on smartphones.

Tablet manufacturers still have trouble making their tablets cheap enough to efficiently compete in terms of pricing, but the consumer electronics world has a way to solve this: the expensive and hard-to-procure components like display and Flash memory will eventually become cheaper and available. Apple will move on to more expensive technologies and materials to keep its design advantage.

Apple will also cling to a higher-margin “premium” business, so that’s another opportunity for Android-powered tablets to compete with pricing. I doubt that Apple will be able to maintain its market share in the tablet space, like it did in the MP3 player arena.

So yes, it’s very probable that Android tablets will surpass the iPad, in terms of unit shipped, a few years down the road.

The truth about the latest Google Android security Updated

A security vulnerability in some Google apps on Android has everybody stirred up again, so let’s put this into perspective. In this article we’ll explain why the threat is overblown and not even Android specific.

Update: And besides that, a fix is already being deployed.

In case you missed it, researchers in Germany found that if they hooked up a piece of hardware called a packet sniffer to an unprotected WiFi network they could see “authorization tokens” being transmitted in the clear to servers used by certain apps like Google Calendar.

A token is a long gobbledygook string of characters that the server creates and uses instead of your password (which is kept secret). An attacker watching this token go by can write a program that uses it to pretend to be you for a limited time. For example if you connect to the server with a buggy version of Google Calendar while someone nearby is watching then they can read and write items in your calendar.

This kind of vulnerability is well known, and many applications have run into it over the years. For example, Facebook and Twitter had the same problem. Their solution was to turn on encryption all the time, not just for the initial password exchange. Encryption increases load on the server and client but obviously in this case it’s worth it.

The story is getting a lot of attention because it was noticed on Android, but it’s not, in fact, an Android vulnerability. It’s a security bug in any program that does not encrypt its authorization tokens. Google Calendar, Contacts, and Gallery, which were shipped in all versions of Android prior to 2.3.4, are three such programs. There may be others. The Calendar plug-in for Mozilla Thunderbird, which is a program that runs on PC, Mac, and Linux is another. GMail is NOT affected. Nobody has found the problem in banking and shopping programs either.

When I first read about the problem I thought “meh, no big deal”, but seeing the coverage today you’d think the world was coming to and end (we have until May 21st, remember?). Here are a few examples (emphasis mine):

  • SJVN’s article, “Android has a GAPING NETWORK SECURITY HOLE“, says the attack is “quite easy” and tells us “we are so hosed”. He continues by saying “Google, the Android smartphone and tablet makers, and the telecoms must fix this. Now.” First of all, it’s not an Android problem, and to call it “gaping” is to overstate the severity. An attack would require special hardware and/or software, not to mention physical proximity and an unprotected network. Obviously, all security problems are serious and should be fixed.
  • Adrian Kingsley-Hughes’s article, “99.7% of all Android smartphones vulnerable to SERIOUS DATA LEAKAGE“, says that “A whopping 99.7% of Android smartphones are leaking login data for Google services“. Well, no. Some apps running on Android phones, PCs, and Macs could potentially leak authentication tokens in just the right circumstances. Your login data, by which I mean your userid and password, are not leaked. Adrian admits as much in the second paragraph, but hey, who reads that far.
  • Gloria Sin’s article, “Most Android devices VULNERABLE TO IDENTIFY THEFT“, warns that “web-based services like GMail” are vulnerable because of “how Android devices handle login information”. That’s not right. The Android operating system is not doing anything with your login information, it’s some apps that run on Android, PC, and Mac. Furthermore, GMail is not affected by this particular bug. Gloria makes it worse by claiming that “problems could arise from hackers changing an unsuspecting person’s password, to gaining access to sensitive emails and private photos.” No, photos maybe, but passwords and emails are safe. There’s nothing here to help somebody steal your identity.

Should you be worried? Until a patch is available (either through the Market or an Android update) the problem can be avoided by not using the affected applications in a vulnerable situation. What’s a vulnerable situation? Based on the information we have so far, IF you sync your calendar or contacts while using the open WiFi of the local StarBucks or airport, and IF somebody within 50 feet or so of you is waiting for you to do that and is running a packet sniffer, and IF you think they might do harm by looking at your doctor’s appointments and boyfriend’s phone number, THEN you might want to take precautions such as turning off WiFi until you get back home to your secure network. Otherwise, in my opinion it’s not worth getting too worked up about.

Update: Google is rolling out a fix to the problem already, for all phones and computers. According to a spokesman,

“Today [May 18th] we’re starting to roll out a fix which addresses a potential security flaw that could, under certain circumstances, allow a third party access to data available in calendar and contacts. This fix requires no action from users and will roll out globally over the next few days.”

The fix is on the server side, and will fix everything except Picasa. Current authentication tokens will be erased and replaced with new ones upon logging back in to the affected service. Go go gadget, instant cloud update!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

CNET's got your Android coverage right here

Android atlas redesign

The new and--we think--much improved Android Atlas.

(Credit: CNET)

Chromebooks and cloud music and tablets, oh my! It was very busy this week at Google's I/O developer conference.

With all the news (and killer freebies) that got tossed around at the event, you're forgiven if you failed to notice that we launched a new and improved Android Atlas. So let me introduce it to you and share some internal CNET numbers that demonstrate Android's growing stature in the smartphone and tablet markets and why we're doubling down on the OS.

Android Atlas has a new design for showcasing product and app news; phone and tablet reviews; app recommendations; videos; and how-to content. In addition, we've added a venue for asking or answering Android-related questions, a place to submit rumors/tips to CNET editors, and new ways to quickly drill into specific topics. Over the next few weeks you'll start noticing a substantial increase in the amount of how-to content on CNET, around Android and other platforms.

We're doing this because Android represents a challenge to the status quo, which will spur more innovation and ultimately benefit consumers. And we're also doing it because CNET users seem to be clamoring for anything Android related. Let me show you.

Below you'll see two charts showing the growth of Android-related traffic on CNET. (Yes, there are more Android devices, we get that. But that just means more devices for consumers to consider buying.) The lines represent monthly traffic to CNET Reviews pages that are product-specific, including the product review pages, product specs, and user reviews. As you can see, Android is surging. (We call users visiting these pages "considered users" because they are considering buying these products--there's little reason to read editor or user reviews for products you aren't interesting in buying.)

Here's some data on what CNET readers who were researching tablets looked at, broken down by platform.

Here's some data on what CNET readers who were researching tablets looked at, broken down by platform.

(Credit: CNET)

Traffic data on CNET reader interest in smartphones, broken down by OS.

Traffic data on CNET reader interest in smartphones, broken down by OS.

(Credit: CNET)

Because people reading CNET reviews are in the research phase, the trends seen on CNET are typically a precursor to actual sales numbers, by two to four months.

On a personal note, I switched from iPhone to Android (Galaxy S) last summer--a switch prompted by AT&T's service and a desire to learn Android; so far, I haven't regretted it (though the e-mail client gets an F). I recently tried a Windows Phone 7 device for about a month and would definitely consider switching. It feels more polished and thought-through than my Android; and e-mail handling, specifically, is much, much better. So yeah, you can probably expect a Windows Phone 7 home fairly soon. Until then, check out Android Atlas and/or iPhone (soon to be iOS) Atlas.

Barnes & Noble rolls out periodical support for Android tablets

Yesterday Barnes & Noble announced that a new version of the Nook for Android application was released with support for magazines and newspapers on Android tablets. This update works with 7 inch and larger tablets running Android 2.1 and higher and does not work on Android smartphones. iPad owners already have support for magazines in the Nook and it is good to see support for Android tablet roll out as well.

Barnes & Noble has more than 140 magazine and newspaper brands for Android tablet owners to choose from. The interactive Nook magazine experience, with ArticleView technology, was previously only available to Nook Color owners. Using this capability you can view just the article’s text to make magazine reading an enjoyable and easy experience on a digital device. The Nook for iPad application does not yet support this ArticleView technology.

The morning paper and latest magazines can be delivered right to your Android tablet, just like a virtual paperboy. Supported tablets include the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, LG G-Slate, and Archos internet tablets.

There is an update for smartphone owners, but it is just to improve the performance and does not add magazine or newspaper functionality.

Nvidia CEO: Why Android tablets aren't selling

Nvidia's CEO is not pleased with the cool reception Android tablets have gotten so far. And he expressed frustration over marketing gaffes in an interview with CNET earlier this week.

Sales of the first Android Honeycomb tablet, the Motorola Xoom, have not been impressive when compared with those of the iPad. Though Motorola claimed in late April that Xoom shipments hit 250,000, that number is far lower than the total being enjoyed by market leader Apple, which sold about 1 million iPad 2 tablets in the first weekend of sales alone.

During an earnings conference call, Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola Mobility, articulated part of the problem, saying, "Consumers want more apps for Android tablets."

That's not the whole story, according to Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, who I chatted with on Thursday. Nvidia's Tegra 2 is the core piece of silicon inside Honeycomb tablets, including the Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

"It's a point of sales problem. It's an expertise at retail problem. It's a marketing problem to consumers. It is a price point problem," he said, for starters.

Though Huang didn't mention the $499 starting price for the iPad, it was clear that this was a reference point. "The baseline configuration included 3G when it shouldn't have," he said. "Tablets should have a Wi-Fi configuration and be more affordable. And those are the ones that were selling more rapidly than the 3G and fully configured ones," he said.

He didn't stop there. "And it's a software richness of content problem," he added, echoing Jha's comments.

Not surprisingly, Huang was quick to follow up his critique with an upbeat assessment of upcoming products, pointing out that this is only the first crop of Android tablets and not all product categories get off to a running start. "But those problems are all getting solved. The rate at which these Honeycomb Tegra 2 tablets are being improved is really stunning. I think all of the manufacturers have now recognized that and readjusted their plans," he said.

That may be the case, but there are still very real retail hurdles, as DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim spelled out recently in a blog post. "We continue to believe that Apple has a distinct advantage when it comes to distributing iPads, and this is likely to continue to be the case going forward," he wrote. "Apple is not only better able to explain its product to consumers through dedicated sales people, but it also captures more margin than competitors who have to share margin with retail partners," he wrote.

But considering the weak start for Android tablets, things can only get better. "Best creating a dedicated location, called Tablet Central, within stores and online," Shim wrote. "While we continue to believe that there are challenges...creating a separate section for tablets is a good start."

"And it points the company and its tablet hardware partners in the right direction," he concluded.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

"More Than One APK" Support Coming to Android Market

This post is part of our ReadWriteMobile channel, which is dedicated to helping its community understand the strategic business and technical implications of developing mobile applications. This channel is sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent. As you're exploring these resources, check out this helpful resource from our sponsors: Cultivating a Developer Ecosystem: Understanding Their Needs

Android fragmentation issues are a continual complaint among the developer community, but Google has not been ignoring the problem, it seems. Not only will the forthcoming Android version "Ice Cream Sandwich" at last merge the two separate operating system versions, Gingerbread and Honeycomb, into one, Google has also just confirmed that it will launch "Multiple APK" support in its Android Market next month.

This new feature, as the name implies, will allow developers to maintain separate versions of their apps intended for different devices.

At the Google I/O conference, taking place this week in San Francisco, Eric Chu, Mobile Platforms Program Manager at Google, told developers that the company will launch multiple APK support in June 2011. The feature will allow developers to support separate apps on devices with different screen sizes, those running different versions of the Android OS, and devices supporting different compression formats, all under one titled entry within the Android Market.

When an end user then searches the Market from their device, the Market will only show them the version of the app the developer want owners of that device to see.

This will allow developers to maintain different versions for Android tablets and Android phones, as well as a different version for Google TV, which is also getting full Market access later this summer, along with the update to Android 3.1.

While maintaining separate phone, tablet and TV apps makes sense, some developers will likely also use this feature to maintain different versions of apps for different devices within the same category, too. Yes, phone-specific variations of an application will now be possible. That means developers could offer one APK for all models of a phone using one type of GPU, for example, while another APK could support phones with another type of GPU.

Considering that there are currently 310 different Android devices in the world, a number which Google just announced on day one of Google I/O, clearly this fragmentation "fix" could easily become a headache, not a help, if not used properly.

Developers would do best to maintain one code base as best they can, when possible, even if that means working through the really challenging bugs. While saying, "here use this APK instead" may be a quick workaround, it could lead to more problems down the road.

More information about the Android Market for Developers is available here on YouTube.

what you need to know About Android

Anyone can get the source code for the basic Android platform and build a phone with it; now Google is letting anyone build peripherals and accessories for Android with the Android Open Accessory programme.

There are "no NDAs, no fees and no approvals process," engineering director (and former Sidekick founder) Joe Britt points out, while Apple's Made For iPhone programme has all three.

But this isn't about Bluetooth keyboards or music streaming; Britt did show a concept music peripheral at Google I/O that would stream music from a CD that you select by recognising it with your phone (if Google could get the labels to agree to streaming you the contents of the CD you just brought home).

No, the idea here is that everything in your home, from the lightbulbs to personal robots to the tumble drier can be controlled by your phone and send it information.

The system will use power but it could also help you save electricity Britt suggested;"you need to have very fine grain granularity so you can understand not how many watts your home is consuming but what devices in home are contributing to that."

If you're handy with a soldering iron, hardware boards with USB and eventually Bluetooth connectivity based on Arduino microcontrollers will let you build a robot or a home automation interface, but Google is also working with hardware companies to build in controllers and what it promises will be an open wireless mesh protocol to various home equipment.

"If an OEM were to do that it would most likely today be a proprietary solution," claimed Android head Andy Rubin. "By the Android team doing that it becomes a standard."


PHONE HEAD: There are plenty of hobbyists building robots and now they can use Android as the control interface

Britt was a little mysterious about the specifics, refusing to confirm that it wasn't an existing standard like Zigbee. "It enables very low cost connectivity to anything electrical. It does require new technology but it's low cost technology.

We realise that it has to be extremely low cost; we have a figure in mind but we're not going to share it," he told TechRadar. "It's wireless; it's not Wi-Fi. It's low cost, very low power and it's not high bandwidth. If you need Wi-Fi, use that but if it's a dishwasher it doesn't make sense to burden it with that cost."

The first product, due at the end of this year, will be an LED lightbulb from Lighting Sciences and Eric Holland, the director of electrical engineering, gave us more details; the wireless mesh will use the 900Mhz band rather than the crowded Wi-Fi spectrum - that could mean delays in bringing this to Europe as it's used by GSM phones and will soon be a 3G frequency.

You can have up to 500 devices in a mesh and they can be 50m apart, talking to the Android@Home base station (which Google refers to as Project Tungsten).


LIGHT UP: The Android-enabled lights turn on when the phone tells them

Today Lighting Science sells LED bulbs in the US and UK; the 60W equivalent bulb costs $35 but it has a dimmer circuit in – by taking that out and replacing with the Android@Home controller, Lighting Science will be able to keep the price the same. UK bulbs will take longer to develop because they need a different transformer, and the radio control will need to be approved.

Open source hobbyist hardware development isn't new; Arduino is popular for everything from custom music controllers to robotics to home automation and there's a variant based on the open source Microsoft .NET Micro Framework called Netduino.

Indeed, there have been many other attempts to build in open source and proprietary home automation options in the past. In a sense Google is hitching a ride on a popular bandwagon, but with the scale of Android and the new wireless mesh protocol Android@Home could make hardware that connects to your phone much more common.


REAL FARMVILLE: The Farmbot is a wacky idea for using Android to control irrigation to grow your own food at home

Andy Rubin certainly has large ambitions for it. He sees moving into all kinds of hardware as a natural progression. In the early days of Android, he says, "honestly, we did bubble sort and the biggest opportunity was phones.

Then to take that to things with bigger screens, things that might eventually reinvent desktop computing, we started thinking about tablets. And now that circle is getting bigger. Now everything should be droidified and we should just take it to new levels."

The Android hardware team is building some concept hardware like the music box (and a giant tilt maze you control by tilting a tablet) but Britt hopes developers will come up with a lot more ideas than he can.

"We don't think we're going to come up with what the killer apps are to use this technology but by embedding the ability to control any device in your home we think it enables a crazy number of new opportunities." Rubin puts it more colourfully; "You let these androids out of their cage and they wander around and you never know where they're going to go."

Google labyrinth

Monday, May 9, 2011

Android This Week: Infuse 4G Lands; Honeycomb Gets Earth; Amazon Tablet Soon

A number of new Android handsets were introduced this week, but the biggest announcement literally came in the form of the Infuse 4G. The handset arrives on AT&T’s network on May 15 and has a 4.5-inch touchscreen, which is the largest on any device sold by the carrier, yet is only 8.99 millimeters thick.

I’ve spent a day with an Infuse 4G review unit and I’m extremely impressed with the screen as it uses Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus technology. Colors are extremely vivid on the 800×480 screen. The new Infuse 4G also supports 21 Mbps downloads; another first for the carrier, although AT&T’s network is not yet equipped to provide such speeds yet.

In terms of computing speeds, the device skips the current dual-core CPU craze and instead uses Samsung’s single core 1.2 GHz chip. Responsiveness is very good, but not as good as the dual-core T-Mobile G2x that I used earlier this past week. In this brief overview video, you can see a demo of 1080p video playback, immersive 3-D gaming and the overall speediness of the G2x and it’s dual-core 1 GHz Nvidia processor.

But phones aren’t the only devices with dual-core processors: Android tablets have them too and this week Google decided to take advantage of the benefits these chips bring. An updated version of Google Earth landed this week as a free download in the Android Market. The tablet version is more like the full desktop version than the mobile handset edition, bringing a desktop-like experience to Honeycomb tablets. Notable features include a textured, 3-D building layer that leverages the graphics of advanced mobile processors and pop-up context menus for landmarks, points of interest and user-contributed photos of locations.

While many traditional tablet makers are planning to rule the Earth with Google tablets, a non-traditional player looks to be entering the market soon. Reports surfaced this week indicating that Amazon will have a tablet in the second half of 2011. This isn’t too surprising as the web retailing giant already has an Android AppStore of its own and supports Android devices through various software solutions such as Amazon MP3 and Kindle apps. Amazon also has a Cloud Storage service for storing media, video-on-demand and software that streams music from Amazon’s servers to Android handsets.

What is surprising is that few Android owners I speak with are using the Amazon AppStore. This complementary alternative to Google’s own store solves many problems with the Android Market. Namely, it provides better curation and discovery of apps, offers a free mobile app each day and the paid titles may be cheaper than Google’s own store as Amazon sets prices. Our poll is tracking who does and who doesn’t use the Amazon AppStore, so chime in if you’re an Android device owner.

Motorola Xoom, Droid Bionic Gaffes Raise Red Flags

Motorola was a darling after it launched the Droid in November 2009, but now it is stumbling in the face of mounting competition from Apple's iPad and iPhone.

Motorola Mobility ramped sales 22 percent for the first quarter 2011 and shipped 4.1 million Android smartphones, but it can hardly be said to be in a comfort zone.

For one, the company's Motorola Xoom, the first tablet to use Google's new Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system tailored for tablets, was characterized as rough, unfinished and difficult to use by some analysts and experts comparing it to Apple's market-defining iPad.

Motorola said the Xoom sold 250,000 units for the first quarter, while the iPad shipped 4.7 million units in the last quarter.

Motorola disappointed analysts last month when it said its second 4G Android phone, the Droid Bionic would be pushed back from a second quarter release to the summer.

These happenings beg the question: is Motorola sacrificing quality for the sake of being first to market? If this is the case, it makes absolutely no sense.

Look at the Xoom issue. With 80 percent-plus market share, there is no catching the iPad or iPad 2 in the near term. Gartner Research analysts reasoned Android tablets could cut Apple's share to 47 percent but not until 2015.

There was no reason to rush the Xoom to market when Motorola could have crafted the slate to differentiate from the iPad in a way that made people feel they had to buy one.

Perhaps same could be said for all Android tablets, including the LG G-slate. Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin noted all of the Android tablets have underperformed in the market so far.

Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney told eWEEK the Xoom is a good solid product. "I just think that the iPad has the market lead and people today can't see a reason NOT to buy an iPad."

Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdry polled several early Xoom users and visited several Xoom retailers to come to the conclusion that the Xoom is a weak product compared to the iPad.

As for the Droid Bionic, Motorola said the handset's hardware and software require a refresh.

EWEEK suggested Motorola desires to better compete with the popular HTC Droid Thunderbolt and the forthcoming Samsung Droid Charge on Verizon's 4G LTE network.

Forrester's Golvin agreed, noting that Motorola didn't feel its product was adequately differentiated in the market today against the other LTE phones and decided to invest in improving it so that it would be.

"I would expect them to focus on the OS (as you suggest) as well as battery performance; NFC is possible but that is not a feature that means much to consumers yet," Golvin added.

Chowdry said Motorola has grown more reactive since Apple's January launch of the iPhone 4 on Verizon, the same carrier that helped push Motorola and Android into the limelight with a $100 million marketing campaign for the Motorola Droid.

Indeed, Verizon for 15 months was the flagship Android supporter. The positive reception of the iPhone caught Motorola off guard. Now the company must retrench and regroup against not only Apple's innovation, but those of its Android rivals in Samsung and HTC.

"Motorola may have missed the demand for 4G and if you look at their software add-ons to Android they pale in comparison to HTC and Samsung," Dulaney said. "They have tiny icons and a battle ship grey background. They need to understand the presentation of their products in the store. Or they will lose sales."

With no Droid Bionic on tap in its second quater, it will be interesting to see if Motorola can continue selling millions of Android phones versus the Verizon iPhone and popular Android handsets such as Verizon's Thunderbolt, T-Mobile's Sidekick 4G and Sprint's forthcoming Nexus S 4G.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

India's first Honeycomb tablets launched by Acer

Acer today has announced the launch of two 10.1-inch tablets in India. One of the devices will be running Windows 7 and the other, Google's Android Honeycomb OS. Both the devices boast of a 10.1-inch capacitive touchscreen display, strong build, are 13.33 mm thick and show off a full size USB port along with a mini USB port, HDMI output, Micro SD card slot and SIM Card support.

Like all other Honeycomb tablets, the Acer A500 boasts of the NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual core 1.0 Ghz processor and Flash 10.1 support for a complete web browsing experience. Something the iPad still lacks to date.

Acer has also announced the launch of the Iconia dual screen notebook, which is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor and will run Windows 7. Up till now, the only other company to show off a dual screen notebook was Toshiba with the Toshiba W100. The 14-inch Acer notebook will have two touch-enabled HD LED backlit displays.

In addition to the A500 and the dual screen notebook, Acer also launched a 7-inch Android tablet called the A 100 and the Iconia Smart A 300, a 4.8-inch Gingerbread powered smartphone with an 8MP camera.

Honeycomb based tablets in India have been announced recently by Samsung and Olive, but Acer has put it into action with the introduction of the A500. Other Gingerbread smartphones available in the market include the recently launched Nexus S and the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc and Play. The Samsung Galaxy S 2 and the LG Optimus 3D are expected to hit the streets in the near future.

The 10.1-inch Gingerbread powered A500 tablet is priced at Rs. 27,990 whereas the Windows 7 based tablet is priced at Rs.32,499 and will be available with a keyboard dock.

The Acer tablets are competitively priced against the iPad 2, which was recently launched in India in the price bracket of Rs. 29,500 to Rs. 46,900 depending on the configuration.

Hands On With Android 2.3.4

Google last month announced an Android OS update to version 2.3.4. It was first rolled out to the Nexus S, and just yesterday became available for Nexus One phones. The update mostly contains a number of bug fixes, but its biggest new feature is support for video and voice chat with Google Talk.

We took a look at Android 2.3.4 on our Nexus One in the PCMag Labs. Unsure whether we'd have to download the update manually, we were pleasantly surprised to see that an over-the-air update was waiting for us when we turned on the phone.

Unfortunately, the update to the Nexus One lacks support for video and voice chat with Google Talk. This is understandable, as the Nexus One doesn't have a front-facing camera, but support for voice chat would have been welcome.

Since this update is mainly about bug fixes, we didn't notice much of a difference between this and the previous version of Android, 2.3.3. According to Google, bug fixes for Nexus One phones are said to include improved battery life, as well as improved GPS location and navigation accuracy for some users who had problems after updating to 2.3.3.

We did notice that a few apps appear to have been updated. The Web Browser and Gmail, for instance, both have new version numbers. We didn't notice any discernible difference in the apps themselves, though, so it is possible that it may just be more bug fixes.

Take a look at the slideshow above to see what's changed. And check back for a hands on look at video and voice chat with Google Talk on the Nexus S as soon as we get our hands on one.