It was such a beautiful, clear night here that I could not resist going out to look at the stars and hopefully catch the International Space Station as it passed overhead.

Learning to identify the constellations was something that fascinated me as a child growing up, I would have loved to have an app like the Google Sky Maps for Android smart phones.

The Motorola Droid 2 got leaked out just a bit early, from Engadget:

And that, folks, is our first in the wild look at Motorola’s second generation Droid. It’s not officially supposed to hit retail until tomorrow, but that obviously hasn’t stopped a delivery truck from unloading a few at a nondescript Sam’s Club. We’re still waiting to hear back on whether or not they’re actually being allowed out of the store today, but hey, tomorrow ain’t too far away.

According to the blogs the Droid 2 is not different than the current Droid, just with a faster processor, Android 2.2, and a different keyboard.  Also from Engadget:

You already know the specs by now — a 3.7-inch multitouch display, 5 megapixel camera, DLNA streaming, 8GB of onboard memory and a 8GB microSD card

Why are we getting an update that is a mere incremental improvement, why with some overclocking and the awaited update to Froyo. The current version pretty much equals Droid 2. I really don’t want to use a 3G connection as the path for a mobile hotspot although it would be nice to be able to use it for laptop internet connecting. I hope this is not a sign that Motorola is desperate for sales or wants to compete with the iPhone 4.

What kind of Apps are available for the Android smartphone crowd wanting to learn or practice Japanese? and more importantly what can we get for a budget. Even though the Android market is relatively new compared to the iPhone’s there are a lot of apps available for the study of Nihongo. Two of the ones I have tried just recently and like:

Robert Muth’s Kana Drill. The basic demo version is complete for Hiragana for free with a paid upgrade to include the Katakana syllabary. The app is simply for review of the kana syllabaries. A hiragana symbol appears at the top and the user has seconds in which to match it to the romanji pronunciation. The options allows you to set the time and the number of rounds and alter the number of rows that the kana are used in the drill. A very simple and effective free app that I have been using quite a bit to learn kana.

Survive! Japanese Lite is a little adventure game for learning basic hiragana, vocabulary and common phrases. This is a nice little adventure style game that puts the player/user into daily situations that would occur in Japan and uses both audio and text to teach basic Japanese. Very simple and fun idea, the basic game is free with the full version as a paid upgrade. The game begins with the user disembarking at Narita airport after flying into Japan and a little adventure awaits. Very highly recommended little game. The company also makes other study Japanese related apps.

These are just two of the better free apps available for Android, surely more to come as the developers come into Android.

Motoroal-Droid-by-VerizonVerizon’s answer to the popularity of the iPhone would be in the new Droid line of Android based smartphones. The first two of which appeared on 11/6/09 in the form of the Motorola Cliq (called the Droid by Verizon) and the HTC Eris.

I went to a Verizon store for some hands on to get a real feel for each and can definitely say that the Droid is very nice indeed. The Eris may have more appeal to users specifically wanting its smaller size and rounded corners, but the speed of the web on the Motorola Droid when loading web made it feel like a mini desktop. The lack of muti-touch and Sense UI was apparent when zooming in and out of web pages but the extra screen real estate compared to the Eris and the resolution made browsing using it very nice indeed.

I am a little disappointed in AT&T not upgrading their 3g networks and expanding their coverage when they have the popularity of the iPhone to bank on. IMHO, their 3g should either be better or they should be dumping into 4g to leapfrog Verizon. But thats just one man’s opinion…

In short, IT MUST BE MINE!

(it also seems that the rumors of Verizon getting a variant of the iPhone once AT&T’s exclusivity contract runs out may hold a kernel of truth …)

samsungw880Samsung’s 12 megapixel cameraphone is coming, awesome to have the focus controlled by the touchscreen. Via EngadgetMobile:

We might still have debates over whether the SCH-W880 represents a cameraphone or our newly minted category of phonecamera, but there’s no doubt about this: the Samsung AMOLED 12M is now official and coming to (at least) Korea in October. The specs align closely to yesterday’s info, with a 3x optical zoom, 720p video recording, dedicated camera controls, and a 800 x 480 3.3-inch AMOLED display grabbing the headlines. Touch AF makes use of the touchscreen to let you choose focus areas, while image stabilization and Smart Auto modes fill out the software side of the camera. That leaves us with scant little info on the actual phone, but you could probably fill those specs in yourself by now, right?

htc-click-bigNews of a new Android phone from HTC has been leaking out. Clearly HTC is getting into Android in a big way after building the G1 and MyTouch on the Android. The HTC Click is leaking out, including this very nice photo that appeared on a Vietnamese website. From EngadgetMobile:

Dare we call this new shot of HTC’s alleged Click almost… artistic? It’s a great picture, almost ripe for an official press release — but as far as we can tell, there’s nothing official about it. The phone, which is said to be bringing Android to a new, cheaper target demo the same way the Touch Viva did for WinMo, has popped up on a Vietnamese message board — it’s not on, unfortunately, but you can clearly make out the presence of enough Android-required buttons to deduce that there’s some Google code under the hood here.

HTC is apparently getting into Android even further with news that HTC is will make half of their lineup Android based over the coming year. (Our next thought is whether anyone made sure no chairs were near Steve Ballmer before breaking the news to him…)

A new Android based phone from Motorola is nearing finality with this leaked shot of a Motorola employees own phone. Too bad its a QWERTY slider style. We are not fond of its looks at all. Although Motorola is said to be working on more Android phones.

motorola-morrison-android-07-21-09Maybe this will be the year that seemed poised last fall, a rush of Android phones from different makers and carriers will jump the numbers of users. The developers will follow and apps will start coming out.

I keep wondering how the Android apps handle hardware specific functions while on other phones. Suppose you pay for an app only to find out that it uses some specific function exclusive to HTC and it does not work on your Motorola Morrison? Anyone know what they do then or how this is handled by the OS?

via Engadget:

Finally, the the G1 from TMobile is becoming the G2 but no one else has yet jumped into the Android phone waters ….

We’ve already heard plenty of talk that Acer would be rolling out one or more Android phones this year, but it looks like the company’s head of mobile phone products, Aymar de Lencquesaing, has now come out and made the clearest statement yet on the matter, saying that while Acer has “not made any formal announcement of an Android-based device,” it is “likely that we’ll have one in 2009.” No more details beyond that, unfortunately, but there has been some speculation that Acer’s first Android phone would be known as the A1, which may or may not be similar to the mysterious C1 touchscreen phone pictured above, and could land as soon as September. In related news, Acer has also reaffirmed its commitment to become one of the top five handset makers by 2012, adding that it would need to sell 20 to 25 million devices a year to meet that goal.  

via Engadget

The recent glut of telephony news can mean only one thing: CTIA Wireless 2009 is getting ready to kick off in Vegas baby, Las Vegas. In the runup we have LG upping the hype on its 13.4mm-thick GD900 handset first outed in Barcelona at February’s MWC show. This time, however, the 7.2Mbps HSDPA slider with world’s first transparent glass (not plastic as originally assumed) keypad will be functional, running LG’s new S-Class UIon the 3-inch display.

more smartphones, and a very nice one. Really, really wish it had Android on it. The glass keypad is a bit redundant for me though. 

via Akihabara News:

Samsung introduces Blue Earth solar powered phone:
Today Samsung unveiled the first solar powered Full-Touch Phone, the Blue Earth. As you can guess, it features a solar panel, located on the back of the phone. According to the Korean manufacturer, it generates enough power to make calls anytime, anywhere. The Blue Earth is also equipped with an ‘Eco-Mode’, for setting screen brightness and backlight duration, and a Bluetooth energy efficient mode. This eco-friendly phone features an “Eco-Walk” function featuring a pedometer for calculating CO2 emissions reduced by walking as opposed to motor transport. ‘Eco-Walk’ will also tell you how many trees you saved! 
the phone looks good, full touch screen, decent size, etc. It looks to be running android though the blurb text does not mention Android. Have to keep an eye on this one. It has potential.
addendum: Samsung usually uses Windows Mobile, so I would surmise this is built on a version of WinMo with touch capabilities bulit in. Achh, so close, and yet so far ………
Palm Pre in-depth impressions, video, and huge hands-on gallery – Engadget

it has been a long time Palm, where the heck have you been? The new Pre looks nice. The chiclet key pad is small though. I wonder how typing on a virtual screen would work on something that small.

Gizmodo posted up a comparison between the G1 the Pre and the iPhone. They say the Pre will have no “soft” keyboard, and the Qwerty slide out is the same as a Treo Pro. bleh.

Gizmodo: Pre vs. G1 vs. iPhone