Omio News Blog

Monthly Archives: August 2008

Sony Ericsson Xperia Panels (Sort Of) For Everyone (On Windows Mobile)!

There’s me with my colour-cycling background and Macbook Air keyboard hacks on my iPhone, thinking I’ve got it made. It’s actually you Windows Mobile guys who have all the cool customisables, lucky beggars.

Following on from the Omnia Widgets, Pocketnow have linked to another interface which allows for Xperia style panels on even the most vanilla of handsets! Dynamo 3 is a task manager for applications, scaling them to run concurrently as thumbnails on the same screen and allowing users to move between them on the fly.

Granted it isn’t quite as snazzy as the real thing but it’s free, it worked with some degree of success on the office TyTn II, and it’ll have to do until the real Xperia launches in 2009.  Just download it from XDA Developers and be quiet…

Android App Store Market Unveiled, No Phone To Use It…Yet

With all but honest-to-goodness reviews of the first Android phone doing the rounds, it is obviously a good time for Google to reveal their software distribution service.

With a marked resemblance to the App Store, the Android Market will be the place to get your wares, the name placing emphasis on the fact that it is ‘free and open’ rather than a closed shop to sell things to users.

Last time I went to Portobello Market, I saw a stylish beret which was definitely not free so don’t expect it to stay this way forever… The App Market not the beret, obviously.

More interestingly, it will not have a vetting or approval hoop to jump through to put up programs, rather relying on Youtube-style star ratings to push up the good and bury the garbage. A good idea, and one that is already highly effective on the App Store. Less than three stars = probably not worth the extra crashes on my iPhone.

Early adopters will be treated to a beta version of the Android Market (a beta from Google? What a surprise!), allowing downloads of many already completed games, themes and programs, including the winners of the controversial Android Developer Challenge.

An example of the kinds of apps being developed is GoCart, which uses the camera on the phone to read barcodes of products, subsequently searching online shops to acquire the best price for them. Pretty cool, and should be available as soon as they release a phone that can run it! They are definitely benefitting from a release after the App Store, taking on board the criticisms to offer a genuinely useful alternative to Apple’s clinical and money driven success story.

One question, with over ten times as many Windows Mobile apps as iPhone’s miserly thousand or so, where’s their App Store, eh?

First Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 Review

Delayed until January? Well, Russian website SMAPE wasn’t going to let a little thing like that stop them from putting out a very detailed review of Sony’s first WinMo handset, the Xperia X1.

The review goes into some exhaustive detail, answering the big three questions of build quality, keyboard and image quality of the epic 3 inch TFT touchscreen. Well, they’re my big three…

The user interface is the big allure, and they explain how the Xperia can run nine dynamic thumbnails of active programs, which can then be arranged and manipulated in almost any concievable manner. Fan them out like a deck of cards, rotate and flip them, all in real time with a minimum of lag.

Despite sounding gimmicky in theory, it turns out to be a gorgeous yet rather practical user interface, and the only serious contender to the TouchFLO of the Touch Pro and Touch Diamond (apart from the iPhone, naturally). As both the Xperia and the HTC duo are pretty much equals on specs, to work this magic with the same 256 MB of ram is a mircale for the Xperia. However, they do report that TouchFLO consumes more computing power than the lovely panels, so go figure…

Downsides? A  3.2 megapixel camera? What is this, 2006? Yeah, camera technology has moved at a breakneck pace of late, and with the i8510 showing off an 8 megapixel snapper, the Xperia’s doesn’t cut it. Also, the keyboard. As soon as we saw that curved sliding mechanism, the first thought was ‘those keys are going to get scratched!’ Sure enough, these fears were realised as the demo handsets were shown, and now to add insult to injury the keyboard buttons are said to feel loose and indistinct.

The Touch Pro’s keyboard is a joy to use, so the Xperia had better fix up on this front otherwise it could be a real minus point for many. Smartphone lovers are militant when it comes to keyboards.

All in all it is a largely positive review, full of plus points like the sturdy metal frame of the phone and its relatively compact nature. Let’s hope those extra few months to tweak it up make the Xperia the first big phone of 2009!

Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 Wait Xtended To January 2009?

The unthinkable has happened. Well, the completely expected has happened given the chequered history of this cursed handset from Sony Ericsson!

Oh, I can’t stay mad at you, Xperia X1. You know how I feel…

Even though some have been able to cop a feel at all manner of trade shows and promo events, even though delays and release date rumours have been debunked at every turn, even though some managed to see a golden Xperia at a London party on the 27th of August (whatever happened to our invite, Sony?), our serious contender for smartphone of the year has been delayed to 2009.

The ominous date of January is beside the Xperia on the official Sony Ericsson shop, and with no word from Sony to the contrary we reckon it’s definitely delayed this time.

Rumour is that due to a disappointing performance of demo handsets breaking (due to the unbridled power of Windows Mobile) at a Berlin trade show this week, the Xperia has been put back into the oven to make sure it comes out as an HTC Touch Pro beater.

Disappointing news, but with vivid memories of the buggy mess the P990i ended up as after a rush release, take all the time you need to make this one good…

Source: The Register

Nokia N85 Features Revealed In New Ad

There is no denying that Nokia knows how to market their phones just right. Even the strangely prophetic empty vistas in the N-Gage adverts still cause goosebumps…

As their newest additions to the N-series range have just been unveiled, Nokia also have a lifestyle ad to show just how well the new N85 dovetails into the hectic lifestyle of your average web editor/DJ/gamer/amateur photographer/bicycle rider/model… Okay, we’re a bit cynical about just how integral to cool Kemal’s day a mobile might actually be, but there’s no denying that it looks like another first class handset from Nokia.

5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens, N-Gage gaming built in, a free 8GB microSD card…things are looking good as far as the N85′s specs are concerned. Apart from the lack of a TV tuner it looks like the evil twin of the N96, not a bad thing at all. Coming to a mobile phone vendor near you next month!

Blackberry Thunder / Storm, It’s Boxy But Good

Their first touchscreen handset is still RIM’s worst kept secret ever, with the Thunder name and specs leaking way before anyone was supposed to know anything. Well, the trickle has been slow and steady and this latest one reveals the truth (?) behind it’s renaming and release networks.

Boxart courtesy of Engadget bears out these rumblings (for Verizon network customers in the US, at least), revealing the phone as the Blackberry Storm 9530, the screen emblazoned with unfathomably jubilant models, underlining RIM’s rebranding exercise of phones being for play and work!

Looking at the side of the boxart leaks the contents of the package for the ‘global smartphone,’ and it is admittedly pretty stacked. An 8GB microSD card, 3.5mm headset, SIM card included and international travel charger all show how committed Blackberry is to making a media heavy phone for the world traveller, whether in a suit or sandals.

Since eXpansys let slip briefly there has been little word of a UK release, but this image shows that a US date could be around the corner…


Nokia Rules Sales Charts, Credit Crunch Beginning To Bite

Mobile phones are still big business in 2008 despite economic issues curbing growth in the coming year, according to market analysts Gartner.

Everyone’s favourite phrase the ‘credit crunch’ is to blame, with market growth predicted to slow down and a general downturn to be on the cards for all manufacturers, Nokia included. The increasing competitive environment does have an upside for the consumer in the form of lower phone prices, however.

Despite their table-topping Q2 sales of 120 million handsets accounting for 40% of the industry as a whole, Nokia are still tightening the purse strings to focus on emerging markets and mid-tier phones to ride the turbulent time.

Samsung cements their second place standing with sales of 45.7 million units to claim 15.2%, whilst Motorola stay strong in third with 30.4 million (10%). A sad time for Sony Ericsson in fifth place, with recent comments by Sony CEO Howard Stringer adding fuel to rumours of a strained commercial relationship between the two firms.

The preference of mid range (read: cheaper) as opposed to luxurious phones, as well as the longer duration of contracts tying customers in are all contributing factors to the changing landscape of the industry. Nevertheless, Gartner predicts attractive forthcoming handsets like the Samsung i8510 and Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 will keep the industry buoyant through the rest of the year, leading to sales of over 1.28 billion handsets for 2008.

Source: Reuters/PC Pro

Samsung Omnia Widgets For Everyone (With A Touchscreen)!

Feeling a little behind the times with your touchscreen phone? Jealous of all these Samsung handsets with their whizzy widget interfaces?

Well, despair no more as enterprising souls have managed to shoehorn the elaborate Omnia Today screen onto a TyTn II, complete with all the functions like dragging, sound effects, gorgeous animations and functions all present and correct.

It does need a little bit of know-how to get it going, but as the video below shows it gives any WinMo touchscreen phone a (much needed) facelift!

Details of exactly how to get this running are available on a thread on the XDA-Devs site.

Take that, iPhone Apps! Just proves there are still some things that can only be done with Windows Mobile. Whether Samsung will be happy that their bespoke interface runs happily on even old school handsets remains to be seen…

Source: Pocketnow

Huge iPhone Security Flaw Uncovered : Lock Screen Useless

Things are really going from bad to worse for Apple at the moment. MobileMe-Gate was swiftly followed by 3G connection issues, and most recently the yanking of an iPhone ad over ‘misleading’ browsing claims.

Now the security of the iPhone itself is in question, thanks to a simple little loophole which means that the passcode lock can be bypassed with a little ingenuity.

In a move familiar to jailbreakers in the good old days, the iPhone allows emergency calls to be made even if unregistered to iTunes, or if a screen lock is applied to the handset.
However, a double press of the iPhone’s ‘home’ button from the emergency call keypad allows access to whichever menu it is assigned to. For some it is access to the iPod, but the default is to the user’s favourite contacts.

If you’ve been unlucky enough to have set up full details of friends or clients in here, this allows access to your e-mails, the Safari browser, phone contacts or even Google Map directions to your boss’s house, all from a supposedly secure phone.

Oddly, this problem was fixed way back in January’s v1.1.3 update but must have been lost somewhere along the way to the 2.0 mess of lag and broken reception that owners are currently enjoying.

Needless to say this is being taken seriously by Apple and will be fixed…again, but do you get the feeling that this phone business is becoming more trouble than it is worth for them?

With App Store sales booming and no sign of declining interest in the iPhone 3G in the consumer sector, we guess not.

However, problems with the major sticking points of security and e-mail must be seriously damaging their reputation in the eyes of the very business users they were trying so hard to impress…

iPhone Firmware Hacked…Again

Another iPhone firmware update, another version of Pwnage to hack it to pieces… This time it is a fix for the 2.0.2 update, the one which was supposed to offer better 3G coverage, clear up lag on texting and give you a thicker, glossier coat but seemed to do none of those things.

This new version of Pwnage allows the installation of unofficial third party apps as well as unlocking the 1st iteration of the device to all networks.

It wasn’t without hiccups this time however, with various issues for iPod Touch owners making the leap including an inability to save passwords. These bugs were ironed out with a quick fix re-release, and it is free to enjoy (at your own risk) here.