Let the LTE/4G race begin! We've reported that AT&T is planning to have LTE service by 2011, but it looks like Verizon may get there first. Verizon Wireless Chief Technical Officer Dick Lynch, in a presentation at Mobile World Congress, announced that Verizon is committed to equipping two U.S. cities with Long Term Evolution (LTE) data networks by the end of 2009. Characterized as "pre-commercial deployments," the LTE networks would be a precursor to full commercial deployment slated for 2010 that would include 25-30 cities. It's anybody's guess which two U.S. cities will be the test sites, but LTE tests have been performed by Verizon in several cities including Minneapolis, Columbus (Ohio), and New Jersey.
No word if AT&T has adjusted its projections in response to Verizon's announcement. If Verizon is successful in deploying the 4G service later this year, it may give them an advantage over AT&T. Then again, the timetable for devices capable of handling 4G is a lot more sketchy than the timetable for having the service available. Some projections don't see the 4G devices hitting the market until 2011. If this is the case, AT&T's timeline mirrors device development. Verizon may be leading a race for a data network very few, if any, consumers will be able to use.
If you've been around Windows Mobile for, say, longer than a day, chances are you've run across SPB Software. SPB (that stands for St. Petersburg - or Leningrad, if you're from the Old Country) is long known for quality Windows Mobile apps, including the uber popular Mobile Shell, which is a must-have for many using WinMo Professional.
And that explains why Microsoft turned to SPB when it came time to develop a proper official Netfix app. If you've been thinking for the past week that the app looked familiar, you were right.
The Mobile Manager for Netflix was developed in cooperation between Microsoft, Netflix, and Spb Software. The application interface is built on the Spb Mobile Shell UI engine (also used in such popular applications as Spb Wallet, Spb Online, Spb Weather, Spb Traveler), and allows optimizing the efficiency of the user interface and speed of service navigation. With this fast and finger-friendly UI, the Mobile Manager application streamlines the Netflix mobile user experience, allowing subscribers to preview movie trailers on the go, add selected items to the DVD queue, or the Instant Queue - to instantly watch movies on TV screens using Microsoft's Xbox 360.
Interesting, indeed. If you haven't checked out the official Netflix app yet, we recommed you do so here.
SiRF, which designs the popular standalone GPS systems like SiRF III, which found in just about every GPS device, has been bought out by CSR. Who’s CSR, you ask? They’re “…a global leader in the Bluetooth connectivity business with core expertise in multiple connectivity technologies.”
So basically SiRF designs GPS technology and CSR makes multifunction chips. Seems to make sense and an obvious response to such companies as Qualcomm that have been making “all in one” MSM solutions for years now and which also have the very successful GPSOne competitor to SiRF III. (Read up on GPS vs. aGPS here)
The big question of course is what does this mean for standalone GPS systems and mobile phones? SiRFIII has been demonstrated to be a more accurate system than aGPS, yet due to costs and Qualcomm’s near stranglehold on much of the mobile market, they have been mostly sidelined. However, with companies like Palm turning to Texas Instruments for their Pre, the resurgence of Marvel’s XScale chips, and now nVidia entering the scene, this new SiRF/CSR hybrid may stand a better chance of offering an alternative and superior solution to consumers.
We’ll be watching guys to see what you can come up with.
Although we have no idea what this update entails, suffice it to say it fixes something as no new features are to be found. Some are suggesting that Latitude (see review here) is more upfront on program startup, whereas before it wasn't.
Anyways, Google Maps gets bumped from version 126.96.36.199 to 188.8.131.52, which on the face of it seems odd but who are we to question Google's numbering system?
We’ve seen a number of the Windows Mobile apps that we know and love make their way to the dark side, but the flip side of that trend seems to be kicking in.
One of the iPhone app store’s finest, WunderRadio, is making its way to a Windows Mobile device near you. WunderRadio has gotten rave reviews from various locations in the Blogosphere as an Internet Radio application. Having partnered with RadioTime.com, WunderRadio offers mobile access to over 36,000 radio stations.
WunderRadio will reportedly be available for 30 day promotional prices of $9.99, after which it will set you back $14.99. Notable features include GPS functionality to find local radio stations and the ability to listen to popular programs after they have aired.
Google has just released Google App for Windows Mobile, which essentially gives you a quick-search bar on your today screen, and quick-launch icons for Google Maps and the like. If you use Google apps within your own domain, you can do that here, as well.
Check out the video above for more details, and hit up m.google.com/search from your phone to download.
Update: Um, yeah. Malatesta sends word there's a bit of a UI problem when it comes to his 320x320 screen. (And it's not working too hot with my 6.1 sliding panels, either.) Anyone else seeing any problems?
Standardization long has been needed in the mobile phone industry. I hate switching phone manufacturers simply because that means buying a new travel charger and spare charger for the office. I'm probably not alone in that I have a drawer full of Motorola, Samsung, and Treo chargers whose corresponding phones have been banished to the recycling bin.
Luckily, this may be about to change. An initiative backed by mobile phone manufacturers as well as operators will result in a universal charger based on the micro-USB interface for new mobile phones. Read on after the break to see what industry leaders have signed off on this initiative, who led the way to standardization two years ago — and who's unlikely to to join in.
Every time I see the Touch Pro 2, it seems to get better and better. I finally got my hands on it for real yesterday and, well, it's a solid, incredible piece of hardware. Every time HTC iterates their slider design I always think to myself "Well, they've pretty much perfected this form factor" and every time a new one comes out I realize they're better at design than I am. Ahem.
The Touch Pro 2 feels great in the hand and though it's a tad hefty, it's a good kind of heft. The tilting slider hinge is back and feels solid. You may not actually want to tilt it all the way up during normal use as it does block the number row (yes, a full number row) of the keyboard.
More thoughts and -- of course -- more photos after the break!
We didn't really give the Pantech Duo the attention it deserved. It was (and is) a neat little dual-slider that, sure, felt a little plasticky and looked a little cheap, but nevertheless was a totally legitimate Windows Mobile Standard device. Well, it looks like Pantech themselves must've thought even less of the Duo that we did, because for their update to the device they're dropping the "Duo" altogether in favor of calling it the "Pantech Matrix Pro."
The Matrix, you may recall, was a simple feature phone from Pantech, so that's the brand they're continuing by adding "Pro" at the end of it. Likely the Matrix sold pretty well for them, so this wasn't a bad move. On the other hand, we're still feeling guilty for giving the Duo short shrift -- seeing Pantech do the same adds a pang.
Anyhow, the Matrix Pro hangs onto the dual-sliding action and improves the look a bit and the specs just a tiny bit more
Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard
3G HSDPA, Quad-Band EDGE
AGPS, Bluetooth (No WiFi)
2 MP Camera
528 MHZ Qualcomm MSM7201a Processor
256 ROM / 128 RAM
3 hours talktime
320x240 QVGA Screen
Price and availability unknown -- more's the pity, because we totally owe it to Pantech to give this Matrix Pro a spin. [via Engadget Mobile]
HTC may want to just call it the Touch Cruise, but new's new and so we'll call is the Touch Cruise 2. What we have here is a surprisingly good phone: today's low-end is definitely yeterday's high end. The phone itself is lighter than you might expect, but the body doesn't feel cheap and the OS is very responsive -- probably because this is the "light" edition of TouchFlo 3D and at the end of the day, HTC has it specced as a QVGA (read: 320x240) device. It sure is the best QVGA screen we've ever seen, after handing the device we double-checked to make sure HTC's site really did have it at QVGA. The device could stand to be a little smaller, but judged on its own merits as a simple GPS phone, we've got no complaints. The Touch Cruise 2 is a significant step up over the original Touch Cruise, which felt a little boxy.
We also played with Footprints a bit, HTC's custom-built GPS-tagging system for photos. It's more than just throwing coordinates inside the EXIF data, you can jump right to maps (or even directions) for any photo with a tap. The Touch Cruise may not be one of HTC's flagship devices, but it definitely holds its own in their line up.
We'll rehash the specs after the break as well as present you with, what else? More photos.
By Dieter Bohn, Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 12:40 pm EST
Microsoft may not have gobs of Windows Mobile 6.5 demo units out at MWC09, but that doesn't mean your intrepid friends at WMExperts weren't scouring the floor trying to find one. Find one we did, at Texas Instruments' booth. It's running on a development platform (the OMAP34x-II) they've created to help manufacturers use their new OMAP3430 processor. We'll cover both our thoughts from our brief time with Windows Mobile 6.5 as well as some tidbits about this processor that ought to have Qualcomm and Broadcom a little nervous.
Go on and click the link for more. Or else you could click the thumbnail above for the full size image of that beautiful, creepy, awesome Grey Crowned Crane. It's mesmerizing, innit?
Oh, while you're staring: think about this. That's a capacitive touchscreen you're staring at. We know, we know, WM6.5 doesn't support it and you'll likely never see such a thing actually sold to consumers and frankly, there were times we couldn't hit the button we were aiming for (the fact that it was a huge 4" screen helped). But it's there: Windows Mobile 6.5 on a capacitive touchscreen.
But you should read on now and pay attention, we're going to bring up HDMI.
By Dieter Bohn, Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 12:30 pm EST
Couldn't come up with the scratch to make it to Barcelona, Spain, for Mobile World Congress? It's cool. Microsoft and your friends at WMExperts have you covered.
Join us after the break at 9 a.m. EST (that's 3 p.m. Barcelona time) right now for a live feed (courtesy of the boys and girls in Redmond) of Steve Ballmer, Andy Lees and friends as we hope to get our first official glimpse of Windows Mobile 6.5, My Phone, and maybe a monkey dance for old times' sake. (Note: You'll likely need Silverlight to see the feed. Get it here.)
Update: Yeah, the live show's over. Sorry if you missed it (these European times are killer). We'll try to find a recorded version.
Sprint has added mobile broadband to its "Simply Everything" plan, calling it "Simply Everything + Mobile Broadband." We had to curb out enthusiasm a little bit (thanks, PreCentral) when we were reminded that Sprint's mobile broadband isn't the same as using your phone as a modem, tethered to a laptop. We're talking data cards only, folks.
That said, for $149, you get all the usual from Sprint's "Simply Everything" — unlimited voice, texts, GPS and data — plus 5 gigabytes of tethering data. That's (unfortunately) the usual cap these days.
Hit up sprint.com/nowires for more details, and see the full press release after the break.
During all the excitement of the 2009 Mobile World Congress, AT&T has quietly acknowledged that it should have a fully ready Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in 2011. AT&T has pledged in the past to introduce the 4G Network in 2010 but, according to Senior Architecture VP Kris Rinne, will see the first phase limited to trials in 2010, with commercial services available the following year. This will put AT&T's 4G Network about a year behind Verizon's 4G network, which is for trials later this year with commercial services planned for 2010.
AT&T doesn't seem too worried about Verizon's time line, maintaining that it can rely on HSPA+ and have the advanced 3G networks reach 20Mbps sometime later this year through software upgrades. The LTE network theoretically is at least five times as fast in downloads, about 100Mbps and has a lower latency that should make multi-layer games, VoIP, and two way calling more practical than on 3G networks.
Speaking of time lines, it's probably safe to say that Apple's future plans for the iPhone could well be a factor here. On the other hand, it's entirely possible that AT&T has no idea what Apple's plans are.