Архив метки: Xperia Play

Happy 10th anniversary, Android

It’s been 10 years since Google took the wraps off the G1, the first Android phone. Since that time the OS has grown from buggy, nerdy iPhone alternative to arguably the most popular (or at least populous) computing platform in the world. But it sure as heck didn’t get there without hitting a few bumps along the road.
Join us for a brief retrospective on the last decade of Android devices: the good, the bad, and the Nexus Q.
HTC G1 (2008)

This is the one that started it all, and I have a soft spot in my heart for the old thing. Also known as the HTC Dream — this was back when we had an HTC, you see — the G1 was about as inauspicious a debut as you can imagine. Its full keyboard, trackball, slightly janky slide-up screen (crooked even in official photos), and considerable girth marked it from the outset as a phone only a real geek could love. Compared to the iPhone, it was like a poorly dressed whale.
But in time its half-baked software matured and its idiosyncrasies became apparent for the smart touches they were. To this day I occasionally long for a trackball or full keyboard, and while the G1 wasn’t pretty, it was tough as hell.
Moto Droid (2009)

Of course, most people didn’t give Android a second look until Moto came out with the Droid, a slicker, thinner device from the maker of the famed RAZR. In retrospect, the Droid wasn’t that much better or different than the G1, but it was thinner, had a better screen, and had the benefit of an enormous marketing push from Motorola and Verizon. (Disclosure: Verizon owns Oath, which owns TechCrunch, but this doesn’t affect our coverage in any way.)
For many, the Droid and its immediate descendants were the first Android phones they had — something new and interesting that blew the likes of Palm out of the water, but also happened to be a lot cheaper than an iPhone.
HTC/Google Nexus One (2010)

This was the fruit of the continued collaboration between Google and HTC, and the first phone Google branded and sold itself. The Nexus One was meant to be the slick, high-quality device that would finally compete toe-to-toe with the iPhone. It ditched the keyboard, got a cool new OLED screen, and had a lovely smooth design. Unfortunately it ran into two problems.
First, the Android ecosystem was beginning to get crowded. People had lots of choices and could pick up phones for cheap that would do the basics. Why lay the cash out for a fancy new one? And second, Apple would shortly release the iPhone 4, which — and I was an Android fanboy at the time — objectively blew the Nexus One and everything else out of the water. Apple had brought a gun to a knife fight.
HTC Evo 4G (2010)

Another HTC? Well, this was prime time for the now-defunct company. They were taking risks no one else would, and the Evo 4G was no exception. It was, for the time, huge: the iPhone had a 3.5-inch screen, and most Android devices weren’t much bigger, if they weren’t smaller.

HTC is gone

The Evo 4G somehow survived our criticism (our alarm now seems extremely quaint, given the size of the average phone now) and was a reasonably popular phone, but ultimately is notable not for breaking sales records but breaking the seal on the idea that a phone could be big and still make sense. (Honorable mention goes to the Droid X.)
Samsung Galaxy S (2010)

Samsung’s big debut made a hell of a splash, with custom versions of the phone appearing in the stores of practically every carrier, each with their own name and design: the AT&T Captivate, T-Mobile Vibrant, Verizon Fascinate, and Sprint Epic 4G. As if the Android lineup wasn’t confusing enough already at the time!
Though the S was a solid phone, it wasn’t without its flaws, and the iPhone 4 made for very tough competition. But strong sales reinforced Samsung’s commitment to the platform, and the Galaxy series is still going strong today.
Motorola Xoom (2011)

This was an era in which Android devices were responding to Apple, and not vice versa as we find today. So it’s no surprise that hot on the heels of the original iPad we found Google pushing a tablet-focused version of Android with its partner Motorola, which volunteered to be the guinea pig with its short-lived Xoom tablet.
Although there are still Android tablets on sale today, the Xoom represented a dead end in development — an attempt to carve a piece out of a market Apple had essentially invented and soon dominated. Android tablets from Motorola, HTC, Samsung and others were rarely anything more than adequate, though they sold well enough for a while. This illustrated the impossibility of “leading from behind” and prompted device makers to specialize rather than participate in a commodity hardware melee.
Amazon Kindle Fire (2011)

And who better to illustrate than Amazon? Its contribution to the Android world was the Fire series of tablets, which differentiated themselves from the rest by being extremely cheap and directly focused on consuming digital media. Just $200 at launch and far less later, the Fire devices catered to the regular Amazon customer whose kids were pestering them about getting a tablet on which to play Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds, but who didn’t want to shell out for an iPad.
Turns out this was a wise strategy, and of course one Amazon was uniquely positioned to do with its huge presence in online retail and the ability to subsidize the price out of the reach of competition. Fire tablets were never particularly good, but they were good enough, and for the price you paid, that was kind of a miracle.
Xperia Play (2011)

Sony has always had a hard time with Android. Its Xperia line of phones for years were considered competent — I owned a few myself — and arguably industry-leading in the camera department. But no one bought them. And the one they bought the least of, or at least proportional to the hype it got, has to be the Xperia Play. This thing was supposed to be a mobile gaming platform, and the idea of a slide-out keyboard is great — but the whole thing basically cratered.
What Sony had illustrated was that you couldn’t just piggyback on the popularity and diversity of Android and launch whatever the hell you wanted. Phones didn’t sell themselves, and although the idea of playing Playstation games on your phone might have sounded cool to a few nerds, it was never going to be enough to make it a million-seller. And increasingly that’s what phones needed to be.
Samsung Galaxy Note (2012)

As a sort of natural climax to the swelling phone trend, Samsung went all out with the first true “phablet,” and despite groans of protest the phone not only sold well but became a staple of the Galaxy series. In fact, it wouldn’t be long before Apple would follow on and produce a Plus-sized phone of its own.
The Note also represented a step towards using a phone for serious productivity, not just everyday smartphone stuff. It wasn’t entirely successful — Android just wasn’t ready to be highly productive — but in retrospect it was forward thinking of Samsung to make a go at it and begin to establish productivity as a core competence of the Galaxy series.
Google Nexus Q (2012)

This abortive effort by Google to spread Android out into a platform was part of a number of ill-considered choices at the time. No one really knew, apparently at Google or anywhere elsewhere in the world, what this thing was supposed to do. I still don’t. As we wrote at the time:
Here’s the problem with the Nexus Q:  it’s a stunningly beautiful piece of hardware that’s being let down by the software that’s supposed to control it.
It was made, or rather nearly made in the USA, though, so it had that going for it.
HTC First — “The Facebook Phone” (2013)

The First got dealt a bad hand. The phone itself was a lovely piece of hardware with an understated design and bold colors that stuck out. But its default launcher, the doomed Facebook Home, was hopelessly bad.
How bad? Announced in April, discontinued in May. I remember visiting an AT&T store during that brief period and even then the staff had been instructed in how to disable Facebook’s launcher and reveal the perfectly good phone beneath. The good news was that there were so few of these phones sold new that the entire stock started selling for peanuts on Ebay and the like. I bought two and used them for my early experiments in ROMs. No regrets.
HTC One/M8 (2014)

This was the beginning of the end for HTC, but their last few years saw them update their design language to something that actually rivaled Apple. The One and its successors were good phones, though HTC oversold the “Ultrapixel” camera, which turned out to not be that good, let alone iPhone-beating.
As Samsung increasingly dominated, Sony plugged away, and LG and Chinese companies increasingly entered the fray, HTC was under assault and even a solid phone series like the One couldn’t compete. 2014 was a transition period with old manufacturers dying out and the dominant ones taking over, eventually leading to the market we have today.
Google/LG Nexus 5X and Huawei 6P (2015)

This was the line that brought Google into the hardware race in earnest. After the bungled Nexus Q launch, Google needed to come out swinging, and they did that by marrying their more pedestrian hardware with some software that truly zinged. Android 5 was a dream to use, Marshmallow had features that we loved … and the phones became objects that we adored.
We called the 6P “the crown jewel of Android devices”. This was when Google took its phones to the next level and never looked back.
Google Pixel (2016)

If the Nexus was, in earnest, the starting gun for Google’s entry into the hardware race, the Pixel line could be its victory lap. It’s an honest-to-god competitor to the Apple phone.
Gone are the days when Google is playing catch-up on features to Apple, instead, Google’s a contender in its own right. The phone’s camera is amazing. The software works relatively seamlessly (bring back guest mode!), and phone’s size and power are everything anyone could ask for. The sticker price, like Apple’s newest iPhones, is still a bit of a shock, but this phone is the teleological endpoint in the Android quest to rival its famous, fruitful, contender.
The rise and fall of the Essential phone

In 2017 Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, debuted the first fruits of his new hardware startup studio, Digital Playground, with the launch of Essential (and its first phone). The company had raised $300 million to bring the phone to market, and — as the first hardware device to come to market from Android’s creator — it was being heralded as the next new thing in hardware.
Here at TechCrunch, the phone received mixed reviews. Some on staff hailed the phone as the achievement of Essential’s stated vision — to create a “lovemark” for Android smartphones, while others on staff found the device… inessential.
Ultimately, the market seemed to agree. Four months ago plans for a second Essential phone were put on hold, while the company explored a sale and pursued other projects. There’s been little update since.
A Cambrian explosion in hardware
In the ten years since its launch, Android has become the most widely used operating system for hardware. Some version of its software can be found in roughly 2.3 billion devices around the world and its powering a technology revolution in countries like India and China — where mobile operating systems and access are the default. As it enters its second decade, there’s no sign that anything is going to slow its growth (or dominance) as the operating system for much of the world.
Let’s see what the next ten years bring.

Happy 10th anniversary, Android

Sony’s Gamer-Friendly Xperia Play Could Have Had A Real QWERTY Keyboard Too


Sony’s Android-powered Xperia Play debuted to mixed reviews last year, but according to a newly published patent, Sony was apparently toying with the idea of making something much more interesting before settling on the design they ran with.

Not content with a single physical keypad meant strictly for gaming, the images associated with the patent depict a Sony smartphone with two of them — one with the game controls we’ve become familiar with, and another with a full QWERTY keyboard that would slide down over the game pad.

The company first filed for the patent back in October 2010 (back when they were still Sony Ericsson), just days before Engadget first published their spy shots of what we now know as the Xperia Play. There’s no way of knowing how close a device like this got to actual production, but I’d wager it didn’t last too long before Sony Ericsson’s design and production team passed it over because of the problems it could potentially raise.

On a basic level, more moving parts means more things that could potentially break, but there’s an even more pressing issue than that. Practically speaking, this thing would’ve been a chubby little beast — the Xperia Play isn’t a particularly thin device as it is, so who knows how hefty a device with two slide-out keyboards would have been had it ever seen the light of day.

Still, I can’t help but love the concept — though developers are crafting amazing experiences that are well-suited for touchscreens, some games just work better when a physical control scheme is part of the mix (anyone who’s tried playing the recently released Marvel vs. Capcom 2 on their iPhone would probably agree with me). The chances of Sony Mobile bringing a device like this to market aren’t nil though — after all, they already seem set on delivering phones with some wacky features.

Sony’s Gamer-Friendly Xperia Play Could Have Had A Real QWERTY Keyboard Too

4.3-Inch Nokia Lumia 900 Gets Leaked By Nokia (Video)


It’s only been a couple weeks since Nokia debuted their first Windows Phones, but today we’re getting something a little less official. The Nokia Lumia 900 has found its way to YouTube thanks to none other than Nokia themselves. Apparently the Finnish phone maker posted a video to court developers, promising them the combination of “Nokia’s stunning hardware” and “a dynamic Microsoft OS.”

The video has since been pulled (as expected), but the folks over at All About Phones were clever enough to download and re-upload the video to YouTube for all to enjoy.

We’re just a tad short on specs, but we do know this will be a 4.3-inch monster — about the same size as Samsung’s Windows-powered Focus S. On the design front, however, it seems Nokia is pulling more from their own Lumia design dress with a hint of Xperia Play mixed in there.

When we’ll actually see the phone in any official sense is still a bit of a mystery. There are two probable options: The Lumia 900 (codenamed Ace) will either show its face at CES in early January, or at Mobile World Congress in February. We’ll be at both events with our eyes peeled so stay tuned if this has piqued your interest.

4.3-Inch Nokia Lumia 900 Gets Leaked By Nokia (Video)

Gametel Gaming Controller Turns Any Android Phone Into An Xperia Play (But Better)

Gametel Gaming Controller

For many of us, the Xperia Play just wasn’t quite tempting enough to throw out your PSP or 3DS, but there’s no doubt that mobile gaming is on its way to the big leagues. The dedicated D-Pad was an excellent idea, but there simply weren’t enough games supported to make it a worthwhile investment. But what if you could slap a game controller onto your phone and play to your hearts’ desire, only to remove the controller when it’s time to make a call or head out of the house? That would be lovely wouldn’t it?

Meet Fluctel’s Gametel Gaming Controller — a bluetooth controller that latches on to any Android phone that runs Android 2.1 or higher. Oh, and did I mention that it’ll support over 50 games straight out of the box, including Cordy, Asphalt 5 HD, Reckless Getaway, Guns’n’Glory, MotoX Mayhem, Happy Vikings and Zenonia.

According to PocketGamer, the Gametel Gaming Controller offers about nine hours of battery life and automatically shuts down after six minutes of inactivity. The controller connects to the phone via Bluetooth, which means that you can also disconnect the controller and play from afar. A handful of powerful Android devices sport kickstands these days so that’s an option, but if your phone supports HDMI out then you’re in for a real treat. No console, no expensive games — just you, your phone, and the gaming controller duking it out on the big screen.

The controller sports spring-loaded clamps and rubberized grips to lock your phone into place, but that surely can’t protect against gamer rage, so no throwing this controller across the room, OK?

The truth is, no matter how excellent your phone’s graphics are or how fast your processor is, some games are just annoying using on-screen controls. That’s why the Xperia Play was such a brilliant idea, and why the Gametel Gaming Controller is an even better one.

The controller isn’t available yet, but the company has an email notification sign-up on its website. The controller will retail for around £49.95 (US $67), and should show its D-Padded face in December.

Gametel Gaming Controller Turns Any Android Phone Into An Xperia Play (But Better)

Minecraft Pocket Edition Plays Nice With More Android Phones


Welp, I suppose it’s about time to kiss my weekend goodbye. It was a bumpy ride there for a while, but Minecraft Pocket Edition has finally gone live in the Android Market with support for (nearly) all devices.

That’s right, you no longer need to have an Xperia Play to partake in a rousing session of world-building. Any Android device running 2.1 or later is welcome to join the fun, but only after you shell out the requisite $6.99

True Minecraft addicts have already whipped out their wallets, but keep this in mind before you buy. This is Minecraft Pocket Edition — it plays more like the creative Classic mode rather than the fan-favorite Survival mode. That means no zombies, no creepers, and no harvesting blocks. Instead, you’ve got an infinite amount of materials to bring to life whatever crazy, horrifying things are bouncing around in your heads right now.

If you’re new to Minecraft, and want to see what all the fuss is about, there’s also a free demo version to mess around with. Fair warning: it’s pretty addictive, so I hope you’re not in desperate need of $7.

On a very personal sidenote, I’d like to thank the game’s developers for having the foresight to release it on a Friday afternoon. Any earlier than that, and who knows what would’ve happened to people’s productivity?

Minecraft Pocket Edition Plays Nice With More Android Phones