AT&T announced this week that it is going to release the Dell Aero, a version of Dell’s first smartphone running Google’s Android OS. I was able to get a preliminary look at this device at the CTIA tradeshow this week.
That’s too bad, because Dell and AT&T intend to put an alternate user interface on top of the standard one created by Google, and at this point I can’t judge how good this UI is going to be.
I just hope that these companies don’t feel a need to muck too much with the standard Android UI, as it doesn’t need much fixing up. But AT&T really likes to meddle with things that don’t need improvement, and this could easily be another device where this happens.
I liked what little I was able to tell about the Aero. The design is sleek and lightweight, and it is going to be a very pocketable phone.
I’d like to be able to tell you more about the hardware, but I again ran into wall trying to get a full list of specifications. At this point, AT&T and Dell are playing their cards very close to their chests.
Really all I can do is point out that the Aero is going to be part of the Dell Mini 3 series, and other models in this series have a 3.5-inch, 360-by-640 touchscreen, 3.2 megapixel camera, GPS, and a microSD memory card slot. In addition to Wi-Fi and 3G, they also have Bluetooth.
AT&T is promising to fill in all the details “soon”, so please stand by.
The very first Brighthand Mobile Film Festival is going to be held at CTIA next week. A whole bunch of great videos have been submitted in the last month, all of which you can see here:
I’m one of the judges, which means I’m spending this weekend watching these videos. It’s been a great deal of fun, especially because the comedy category is by far the largest.
I encourage everyone to watch the entries — they really are fun. If you have one you particularly like, feel free to chime in with a comment.
More About the Brighthand Mobile Film Festival
The BMFF is for videos designed for display on small-format wireless cell phones, smartphones, and other communications-enabled devices.
All submissions run about three-minutes or so.
During his keynote address at the Mobile World Congress 2010, Google CEO Eric Schmidt threw out an amazing statistic: roughly 60,000 Android-powered devices are being sold every day.
That’s about 1.8 million a month. If it stays at that rate, it will total up to around 220 million smartphones running Google’s operating system sold this year.
Reaching this figure requires this OS to be available around the world. And it is –Schmidt said that devices using it are currently being sold in 48 countries in 19 languages. And to think that back in November of 2008, Android was available on one device from one wireless carrier in one country.
With growth like that, it’s no surprise that Google is switching its efforts from making web apps that can run on PCs to making ones that can run on mobile devices.
It won’t be long before more people are accessing the Web over their phones than they are with desktops and laptops. While those in many developed countries have both a phone and a PC, in emerging markets people generally have just a phone. And it makes more sense for this group to upgrade to a smartphone than it does to get a PC — phones are cheaper and a better match for their conditions, especially unreliable sources of electricity.
Google is riding this wave. If it succeeds, this company may exceed that 220 million device figure by a wide margin.
NOTE: This post was first run on the original Brighthand Blog on Feb. 17, 2010.
You’ve probably seen the ads running on Brighthand that feature the Windows phone logo with various icons sprouting out of it. If you love your Windows phone, you might be interested to know that you can make a custom version of this logo for yourself, and then put it on your PC or smartphone.
First off, head over to Microsoft’s website where you’ll find a tool for creating your image. You’ll see the Windows phone logo surrounded by small buttons — just tap on the ones that reflect the things you do most on your device, from gaming to Word.
When you’re done, you can save your image in a variety of sizes. If you want to put this on your PC, you’re just about done, but it apparently didn’t occur to Microsoft that people would want to put this on their phone. Go figure. So you have to take your custom image and resize it down to WVGA (800 by 480), VGA (640 by 480), or QVGA (320 by 240) with an image editor.
Then copy the smaller version onto your phone, go to Settings > Today to select your image, and you’re in business.
NOTE: This post was first run on the original Brighthand Blog on Feb. 8, 2010.
I hope you read the review of LogMeIn Ignition for iPhone that was published today. This is a great app and one that I’ve been using for years, not just on my iPod touch but also on a variety of Windows phones.
This is the best example of thin-client computing I know of, as it lets you use one not very powerful computer to control a second much more capable one.
Turn On the Wayback Machine
Thin-clients got their start decades with mainframes, and there was an attempt back in the 1990s to bring this technology to Microsoft Windows, with little or no success. This is because , at the time, the differences between a thin client and a fat client weren’t significant enough.
The concept was a laptop without a hard drive as the thin-client, which would be connected to a server at an office or possibly the home. The problem was the price difference between the client laptop and a regular laptop was maybe a $100. Virtually everyone would rather just pay a little extra money and get a full computer. Especially as wireless networking was in its infancy in those days, so the client laptops were generally expected to connect to an Ethernet cable to be able to do anything… not a very practical solution.
What a Difference a Decade Makes
Jump forward ten years, and the situation has changed dramatically because we have a whole new class of devices to work as thin clients: our phones.
Unlike the previous failed concept of the thin client, these are simple computers that we want to carry with us everywhere. And with just a couple of additions can be really good laptop alternatives.
Remote-access software like LogMeIn is the obvious starting point. With it, your phone can do most of what your PC can do. If you’re away from the office and need to modify a spreadsheet or mail someone a file you can pull out your iPhone or Touch Pro2, connect to your desktop PC, and just do it right there. This doesn’t require you lugging a laptop with you everywhere, just your phone.
Obviously, there are limitations in this. While doing a quick task or two on a 3.5-inch display is acceptable, no one is going to sit down and work for 6 hours that way. You want a large screen and full-size keyboard.
Rather than scrap the concept, I’d like to extend the capabilities of the hardware a bit. Several companies have put out high-end phones with video-out ports. I’d like to see these become common, if not universal. I’d also like to see the USB ports on phones start to support keyboards and mice.
With all of these in play, you could put your phone down on a desk, plug in a keyboard and monitor, run some remote-access software, and it would be just like you’re working in your own office. The files you had open on your PC would even still be there. Plus, your shoulder wouldn’t be tired because you’d been lugging a laptop with you on the trip.
Let’s take it to the next level. You could have a phone with a pico-projector, providing you with a large monitor virtually anywhere you go. This isn’t science-fiction — you can get the LG eXpo right now.
And maybe even throw in a laser-projection keyboard, if those ever become practical.
You could be sitting in an airport using a device the size of a deck of cards and weighing under a pound to do everything you currently carry around a heavy laptop to do.
Let Your Phone Be a Phone
I don’t think I’m alone in wanting my phone to be as powerful as my PC. But as more PC-like features are added to phones, they may become better mobile computers, but they also become worse phones.
One of the advantages of using a phone as a thin client is this arrangement doesn’t force it to try and act like a PC. Rather than installing word processors, spreadsheets, and database applications, the phone can just have a remote-access application that lets me easily control my desktop computer, which can handle the hard work.
This frees up the designers of the phone’s user interface to concentrate on making the phone-related features as good as they can be. It’s a win-win. A phone that’s also a thin-client is a better phone and a power PC.
NOTE: This post was first run on the original Brighthand Blog on Feb. 5, 2010.
Apple released iPhone OS 3.1.3 this week. This is a minor tweak to this operating system, but it reminded me that this company deserves praise for continuing to support its older models.
Even the original iPhone and iPod touch, which came out in 2007, can install the very latest OS version. That’s practically unheard of in this industry. I can’t name another smartphone that was released in 2007 that is still getting updates from its manufacturer.
I know this is probably a hassle for Apple, but it’s really smart, too. I generally recommend that people not buy first-generation products, as you end up being a beta tester for the manufacturer. Consider how limited the original iPhone was when it first came out.
But Apple’s willingness to offer upgrades for older models makes me reconsider. There’s no doubt that the iPad 2 will be better than the first model, but if the iPhone is any indication, it will still be getting software upgrades in 2012 and maybe even beyond.
I call this “future proofing” — the knowledge that something I buy now won’t be horridly out of date in 12 months. It’s something I demand in any expensive device I buy, and it’s an area where Apple is generally strong.
Google’s Android OS is developing a reputation for being decent in this area, though it’s a bit early to say. There are unconfirmed reports that the very first smartphone running this operating system, the T-Mobile G1, will soon get an upgrade to v2.0. If this pans out, it will be good news for everyone who is thinking about an Android-based model.
Microsoft Windows Mobile, on the other hand, is terrible in this area. Just ghastly. Very few models make the jump to major revisions of this operating system. When v6.5 came out, a large percentage of the devices that had launched with v6.1 just the year before did not get upgrades. And word is that none of the models out now, with one lone exception, will get upgraded to Windows Mobile 7 when it’s released near the end of this year.
RIM’s BlackBerry OS is… OK. Some devices get system software upgrades, especially the marque models like the Bold and Storm.
If you tend to buy new phones every year, future-proofing isn’t important to you. But it’s something everyone else ought to keep in mind when making a purchase.
NOTE: This post was first run on the original Brighthand Blog on Feb. 4, 2010.
Reports have been circulating for the last couple of days about the possibility of Palm offering a webOS-based smartphone with WiMAX. The most important thing to keep in mind about these is that they are just vague rumors, and I strongly suspect they are only speculation.
Last week, Palm had to admit that sales aren’t what they hoped, and since then many people have been thinking about ways for the company to turn things around. One possibility would be to offer a model with Sprint’s 4G service.
At some point, this speculation turned into a rumor that Palm really is working on such a model. And this gained steam when Computerworld ran an article about it.
I’m not disagreeing with the original theory – in fact, I think it’s a good idea. But I don’t want anyone to think it’s a done deal.
webOS + WiMAX = Maybe
Palm and Sprint have been working closely together for years — the Palm Pre debuted with this carrier, for example. So it’s well within the realm of possibility that these two could be planning a model that includes Sprint’s WiMAX service.
However, enough evidence has leaked out to convince me that the first smartphone with this service will be the HTC Supersonic, which will run Google’s Android OS.
This doesn’t preclude the possibility of a webOS-based one at some point in the future, though. In fact, I’m sure such a device will debut eventually. Sprint is emphasizing WiMAX so much that I expect a wide variety of smartphones running it will be rleased in the next few years.
All these models will offer considerably faster access than Sprint’s 3G service EV-DO, with peak downlink speeds of up to 12 Mbps, and average downlink speeds of 2-4 Mbps.
The official Brighthand blog has moved to its new location, and it’s now a part of the TechTarget family of bogs, IT Knowledge Exchange.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Brighthand, it’s a news site about smartphones, PDAs, tablets, e-book readers, and other portable computers. Our articles use the classic rule for news: just the facts. However, I often have opinions about the topics I’m covering, and I’ll be posting these in this blog.
Brighthand Bytes RSS feed: http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/mobile-devices/feed/