Ice Cream Sandwich Means One Less Android OS Fork

Now that the new android OS, Ice Cream Sandwich, has arrived, many people (especially developers) are breathing a sigh of relief. There are many different devices and carriers out there and each have their own devices. Each hardware company has their own bloatware *ahem* I mean, dynamic interface, laid on top of the OS.

Take all that and the fact that when the tablets were introduced, they all got Honeycomb; a fairly different operating system and interface from Gingerbread on the smart phones and it made transitioning between the two somewhat difficult as the interface paradigms were different enough to baffle some users.

The hope is that with the re-merging of the fork between these OSs where both handsets and tablets are run with the same program, there will be an improved android ecosystem.

It sounds great, but the problem is that there are still too many fragmented projects with android. Open source is great for innovative development and free market ideas, but it is difficult for programmers, let alone us lowly end users, to understand what is happening and which one would really be a better solution for our needs.

Ice Cream Sandwich is a step in the right direction. Now there needs to be additional progress towards a more unified release cycle across all devices, carriers and OS upgrades. While you are at it, lets remove things like blur or other carrier and hardware UI skins. They just get in the way and generally provide very little value to most users. Make them applications that people can download if they choose.

Please leave your thoughts below about android development and what it means for end users.

Verizon iPhone Has Antenna Issues

According to Consumer Reports, the iPhone 4 on Verizon Wireless’ network has a similar problem to the AT&T version. If the phone is held in a certain way, it could cause dropped calls or problems dialing out. This is due to blocking of the antenna which is in the band around the phone.

Consumer Reports tested the Verizon iPhone 4 and found that covering tiny gaps in the metal band surrounding the phone’s edge causes “meaningful decline in performance.”

In conditions where cell signal is weak, the iPhone 4 would drop calls when the user covered the gaps by holding the phone in a specific — but natural — way. This issue can also be avoided by using a cover on the phone which prevents contact with the antenna.

Consumer Reports conducted similar tests last summer on the iPhone 4 that runs on AT&T Inc.’s networks. In both cases, the publication has decided not to include the phone on its list of recommended smart phones.

iPhone 4 Verizon Review

cnet verizon iPhone review

The good: The Verizon iPhone 4 offers a hot-spot feature not available on AT&T’s device. Performance was better in most regards.

The bad: The Verizon iPhone 4 lacks world roaming and the ability to access voice and data simultaneously. The hot-spot feature didn’t work with all devices.

The bottom line: The Verizon iPhone 4 has much in common with its AT&T counterpart, but varying features and different performance give it enough room to stand apart. It won’t vastly change your iPhone experience, but we welcome the consumer choice that it brings. Continue reading

Smartphones: Buy Now or Wait?

It’s great that Verizon and Apple have decided to play nice and provide the iPhone on the Verizon network for those who want it. But it will still be a 3G phone. It will several other limitations as well.

4G is right around the corner, as well as updates to Android OS (Gingerbread, anyone?)

So how does a consumer decide whether to pick up a phone or wait for something that may take another 2 years?

Retrovo created some great charts to help you decide when to buy based on your carrier, hardware, OS and features. (click images to view larger versions) Continue reading