Throughout the years, numerous companies have made the decision to lock the bootloader on a smartphone or tablet, making it impossible for savvy users to run custom kernels and have complete control of the device. The Android community is perhaps one of the most vocal user bases in the world when it comes to the practice of locking bootloaders. When HTC and ASUS began to lock their bootloaders, thousands of users took to social networks and had the decisions overturned. Motorola began locking the bootloader with the company’s DROID X and DROID 2 smartphones in the Spring of 2010. Since then, users have bombarded the company with petitions, emails, posts and comments in an attempt to overturn the policy… and it worked, somewhat. Motorola announced that with carrier approval, it would begin to unlock devices in the later part of 2011. However, unlike HTC, Motorola caved to the carriers and devices such as the DROID RAZR were released locked with no unlocking tool having been made available. Users at XDA-Developers are at it again with “OPERATION: Make Ourselves Heard (#OPMOSH),” a movement to have Motorola’s policy reversed. Similar to the methods used towards HTC and ASUS, users are encouraged to email company executives, sign petitions and let their voices be heard through social networks. It remains to be seen if users’ efforts will pay off, however. More →
Hulu announced on Thursday that its Hulu Plus application is now available on select Android smartphones. The service costs $7.99 per month and allows users to browse and play Hulu Plus content directly on their smartphones. It’s currently only available for the Motorola Atrix, Motorola DROID X, Motorola DROID 2, HTC Inspire 4G, Nexus S, and Nexus One, but Hulu says it will add more devices throughout the year. New users can sign up for a free 1-week trial to give the service a whirl, and the app is available in the Android Market now. In other news, Hulu is also reportedly up for sale. The company has hired Morgan Stanley and Guggenheim Partners to assist with possible deals, and Yahoo is said to have already expressed interest in bidding on the streaming video firm. More →
A new series of emails were made public on Monday as a result of Skyhook Wireless’ lawsuit claiming Google interfered with a contract the LBS company had in place with cell phone maker Motorola Mobility. The emails, which were sent to and from numerous top executives at Google including CEO Larry Page and SVP of Mobile Andy Rubin, detail the company’s shock at losing out to Skyhook. The internal emails also reveal Google’s admission that Skyhook’s location product is better and more accurate than its solutions, and scratch the tip of the iceberg regarding how Google seemingly used its muscle to squash Motorola’s deal with Skyhook. Hit the break for screen shots of a few of the emails, and hit read link for a collection of what may be the most interesting emails of the bunch. More →
Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley suggests that not only does Apple have the most popular smartphone and tablet in the U.S., but even its previous-generation gear is outselling the competition. In a note to investors on Monday, Walkley writes that Apple’s iPhone 4 is far and away the top-selling smartphone for both AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The iPad 2 is also the most popular tablet in the country right now, of course. The real bad news for Apple’s competition, however, is that according to the analyst’s checks with retail sales channels, Apple’s old iPhone 3GS is still outselling competitors’ offerings at AT&T and Apple’s first-generation iPad is still outselling other tablets at Verizon. “Interestingly, our April checks indicated continued strong demand for the iPhone 3GS at AT&T and iPad 1 at Verizon, as these older generation products with reduced prices often outsold new Android products,” Walkley wrote. “We believe this highlights Apple’s significant competitive advantage, and these older products help Apple offer a tiered pricing strategy at key channels.” Walkley found that Apple’s original 16GB and 32GB iPads sold out at Verizon in less than two weeks following the introduction of the iPad 2, and the iPhone 3GS recently outsold both the Motorola ATRIX 4G and the HTC Inspire 4G at AT&T. More →
Despite its success with Android, Motorola Mobility has reportedly hired a number of engineers, some from Adobe and Apple, to work on a brand new web-based operating system. “I know they’re working on it,” Jonathan Goldberg, an analyst with Deutsche Bank told Information Week. “I think the company recognizes that they need to differentiate and they need options, just in case. Nobody wants to rely on a single supplier.” Sources speaking to Goldberg and Information Week suggested that Motorola Mobility was building the OS as a possible alternative to Android, and while Motorola Mobility didn’t deny that it might be working on something, it has reaffirmed that it’s committed to the platform. It all sounds a bit strange to us, especially since Motorola helped kick off the Android craze in the United States with the DROID, DROID 2 and DROID X on Verizon Wireless, among others. It seems more likely to us that Motorola Mobility is working on a Web-based operating system to compliment Android, instead of one to compete with it, but we’ll have to see.
UPDATE: A Motorola spokesperson reached out to BGR with the following statement: “Motorola Mobility remains committed the Android operating system. We have hired employees with HTML skills to enable the best browsing experience to consumers and our strategic focus on the Android platform has not changed.”
Verizon Wireless on Monday announced a revamped version of its V CAST Music app for Android smartphones. The carrier’s new V CAST Music app combines all of its music-related VCAST services, allowing users to purchase full tracks, ringtones and ringback tones from a single application. Song downloads range in price from $0.69 to $1.29 per track, but Verizon will also offer reduced-cost bundles that combine multiple formats into a single download. “Verizon Wireless is taking a leap forward with V CAST Music,” said Verizon Wireless VP Greg Haller in a statement. “We’re bringing the different kinds of music people love to have on their phones together in one, easy-to-use application, making it easy for customers to get what they want at lower prices.” The new version of V CAST Music requires Android 2.1 (Eclair) or later, and users will receive on-device prompts when the new version of the app is available for download. Hit the jump for Verizon Wireless’ full press release. More →
Motorola won’t be pulling any punches during the Super Bowl this year as it prepares to run a spot that calls out Apple’s iconic 1984 Macintosh television advertisement. The reborn cell phone maker uploaded its Super Bowl commercial to YouTube today in an effort to generate some buzz — and generate some buzz it will. Motorola’s “Goodbye 1984″ ad references one of the most famous Apple commercials of all time, which compared Microsoft’s stranglehold on the PC market to Orwell’s famous novel, 1984. “2011 looks a lot like 1984,” the commercial contends, suggesting that it’s time for consumers to have choices beyond Apple’s iPad — namely, the upcoming Motorola XOOM. In any event, it’s a smart spot that is sure to make some waves and ruffle some feathers. Hit the jump for the full commercial.
UPDATE: A Motorola rep just reached out to clarify that this spot is a teaser for Motorola’s upcoming Super Bowl ad, not the actual ad, which will premier on Super Bowl Sunday. More →
According to a report by Droid-Life, a software update for the DROID 2 Global handset it on the way. The update, which weighs in at around 16MB, fixes several international calling bugs, including: device resets when switching from GSM/UMTS mode, errant “No Service” signals, and a blank screen when activating call forwarding. The report also boasts of “improved audio during voice calls” and “reduced user interface lock-ups,” which are always a good thing. No word on when the software will officially begin hitting handsets, but we’re sure it won’t be too long from now. More →
Here’s a head scratcher. Several of our Best Buy ninjas have come forward to let us know that Best Buy Mobile is informing employees that it will no longer be selling the Verizon Wireless’ DROID 2 Global and DROID Pro. Explanations run the gamut, several sources have referenced that exploding (probably not exploding) handset we reported about last week, while others are blaming a handset pricing disputed between the big box retailer and America’s largest cellular carrier. Whatever the reason is , it has not been clearly communicated to employees or the media at this time. We’ve reached out to both Best Buy and Verizon Wireless to see if either party would like to clarify why the two members of the DROID family are no longer on BBY’s store shelves. We’ll report back with any clarification we get.
Last week, reports emerged of a Texas man whose Motorola DROID 2 injured him when it allegedly exploded next to his ear during a call. Today, PCMag reports that a source within Motorola told the publication that the man’s claims are likely false. While PCMag’s source is not involved with the investigation and has not inspected the device personally, he claims that the DROID 2 in question “was a phone that got dropped. [T]he guy didn’t notice the glass had cracked […] so when he put it to his ear, he cut himself.” This explanation doesn’t account for the loud pop the man heard when he put the phone to his ear, but images of the device certainly don’t give any indication that an explosion occurred. PCMag’s source goes on to say, “[T]he only things that could explode in a phone would have resulted in a phone that did not work, yet this phone worked. And there was no explosive damage to the device (things inside blown outward, etc).” Motorola has not publicly addressed the incident since stating last Friday that it would launch an investigation into the matter. More →
A study conducted recently by network technology firm Arieso showed that Android users move more data over cellular networks than any other group of smartphone users. The study mentions high-resolution cameras along with video recording and sharing capabilities as being among Android’s biggest bandwidth hogging features. Due to Android’s rapid growth, carriers find themselves struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing congestion on their networks. “Smartphone subscriptions are rising and so too is subscriber appetite for mobile data. It’s a trend that’s set to continue,” Arieso CTO Michael Flanagan told Reuters. The move to next-generation “4G” network technologies like WiMAX and LTE will help carriers accomodate the demand for data, but rolling out these new networks takes a tremendous amount of time and resources. Sprint began lighting up its WiMAX network last year but coverage is still very limited, and Verizon Wireless just flipped the switch on LTE in 38 cities, though it currently does not offer any LTE-compatible cell phones. AT&T and T-Mobile will not begin rolling out LTE until next year. More →
According to a report from a local Dallas-Forth Worth Fox affiliate, a man was injured Thursday morning when his Motorola DROID 2 allegedly exploded next to his head. Aron Embry was reportedly trying to make a call when he heard a popping sound come from his phone. He felt no pain initially, but immediately felt blood dripping on his neck. Upon further investigation, Embry realized that the display on his DROID 2 “had appeared to burst outward.” He then drove to his wife’s job to have her take pictures before before calling 911. Embry was in the emergency room for several hours, where he received four stitches in his left ear. He did not suffer any hearing loss as a result of the alleged incident, and he said his DROID 2 smartphone still works despite the damage.
Dallas-area cell phone repair man Daniel Harrison said, based on footage of the phone after the accident, the damage “looks like it was actually user caused.” Harrison gave no evidence to support his claim.
Motorola said it would be contacting Embry to investigate the matter. Considering he drove to his wife’s job to have her take pictures of the injury before seeking medical attention, Motorola can likely look forward to hearing from Embry’s lawyers as well.
Hit the jump for a video of the Fox report.
According to a well connected Android enthusiast with a solid track record, Motorola’s DROID 2 is on the verge of a software update that will bring with it some solid new functionality. While no information is currently available along the lines of a release date for the new OS build, two attractive new features have been revealed. The first is the presence of DROID Pro-like device profiles, allowing the user to easily switch between multiple home screen configurations. The second major change is the presence of USB tethering in addition to wireless tethering. USB tethering allows users to connect to a laptop or desktop computer via USB, and then use their phone’s cellular data connection to connect to the Internet. For the time being, the only other tidbit we have about this forthcoming OS build is also a welcome one: it’s “wicked fast”.