Looking Back At 2011

2011 is about to come to an end, and it’s been an impressive year for us. We’ve grown more than 50% year-over-year, while the adoption of smartphones is also growing like crazy, with Android coming out on top in terms of marketshare, Windows Phone going from very small to very small, and Windows Mobile finally fading into irrelevance. And that August 2011 was probably the most eventful month in tech history…

So, let’s take a look at what happened this year, from a smartphone enthusiast’s standpoint. Make yourself comfortable, for it’s a long read.

HTC HD2 still popular

Surprisingly, despite a slew of new Android devices released this year, none of them managed to surpass a now two-year old device, one that originally shipped with Windows Mobile, in terms of popularity and development activity here on xda-developers. It’s the HTC HD2.

This was in no doubt helped by some big breakthroughs that happened just around the beginning of 2011: MAGLDR was released, allowing you to boot directly into Android and thus completely bypass Windows Mobile; a few weeks later, Windows Phone 7 was ported. But I won’t go into too much detail here – I’ve previously written a 2,000-word essay about the story of the HTC HD2, in case you’re interested.

The patent wars…

Google has certainly earned a lot of goodwill from enthusiasts by keeping Android open source. However, not only has a study found that Android is, by far, the least open among seven other open source projects including Linux, Mozilla and Symbian, but it also seems to infringe lots of patents.

The Android patent saga didn’t begin this year: Apple sued HTC back in March 2010, and Oracle filed its lawsuit against Google five months later, in August. However, it was only with the aggressive suing and counter-suing between Apple and Samsung, started by the former in April 2011, that the whole thing really blew up. Dubbed as the “patent wars”, they are currently being fought out in nearly two dozen lawsuits in at least ten countries all over the world, with the outcome still very much open.

…make Google buy Motorola

In August, presumably to protect Android and its hardware partners, Google surprisingly bought Motorola Mobility, which owns over 17,000 patents and has several thousand more pending, compared to the less than 1,000 patents Google holds. This led to speculation that Google might either kill off Motorola’s unprofitable hardware business in order to focus on its patents, or utilize its hardware business to manufacture its own Android devices.

So far, neither has happened. In fact, it’s both unclear whether Motorola’s patents are really strong enough to fend off Apple, Oracle and Microsoft, and Motorola still makes its own devices, with the newest Google Nexus device actually coming from Samsung.

Android grows up…

Yes, again. Last year’s Nexus S introduced us to Android 2.3 Gingerbread, originally rumored to be the major overhaul that Android 3.0 Honeycomb partially turned out to be. But Honeycomb was designed exclusively for tablets, and never gained much traction with developers or consumers – Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich and launched on the Galaxy Nexus, set out to change this.

It not only unified smartphone and tablet versions, but finally managed to overcome Android’s biggest weakness to date: its UI, which was overly complex, inconsistent, and laggy. Ice Cream Sandwich still may not be as polished as iOS or as beautiful as Windows Phone 7, but with all of Android’s other strengths, it has in many ways surpassed the competition.

…while HTC struggles

Ah, HTC, that obscure Taiwanese OEM turned billion-dollar smartphone behemoth. Its brand name is now more valuable than that of Acer, and it has had record quarter after record quarter. But not anymore – its projection for the fourth quarter is negative.

Of course, that’s due in part to the highly anticipated launch of the iPhone 4S, but Samsung is still doing fine; since they introduced the Galaxy S and were chosen as the second manufacturer for a Nexus device, they’ve surpassed HTC both in marketshare and popularity in our forums. That’s because HTC is lacking in innovation: it can neither compete with Apple in terms of industrial design, nor with Samsung in terms of specifications. Just look at the Rezound, which has similar specs to the Galaxy Nexus, but is about ten times as thick.

With smartphones going mainstream, HTC has gone mainstream. Unfortunately, without other businesses besides smartphones to bring in money, it doesn’t seem too competitive right now. Hopefully, their strategy for the new year of bringing fewer, but better phones will turn them around.

Nokia goes Windows Phone…

In February, a rallying memo by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who previously worked for Microsoft, leaked. In the memo, he compared Nokia to a man standing on a burning platform, who had no choice but to jump into the ice-cold water to be rescued. It was a brutally honest comparison, acknowldging that Symbian simply had no chance in the smartphone market – it was the burning platform. And, a few days later at Nokia World, it turned out that Windows Phone would be the ice-cold water.

Meanwhile, Windows Phone 7 got off to a rocky start. Praised for its Metro design language, but hampered by a lack of basic features, it launched with little fanfare, and reports further indicated that retail sales persons actively pushed people away from Windows Phone to Android, telling potential customers that it was laggy and had viruses. There was a big perception problem, and sales were abysmal. Furthermore, the first update, NoDo, which, among others, brought copy-and-paste, was heavily delayed by carriers, despite the initial promise of unified and timely updates.

Things started to get better with the first big update called Mango, which bumped the version number to Windows Phone 7.5. It generally received critical acclaim, and rolled out within a few weeks in late September and early October to all devices, adding lots of improvements and new features such as multitasking. Starting in October, the second wave of Windows Phones was introduced. The spec bumps were only minor, but the devices were still big improvements over the first generation; standing out, of course, was Nokia’s new Lumia 800, with its universally praised industrial design.

…and Windows 8 too

In September, at its first BUILD conference, Microsoft showed off Windows 8. It’s still going to be Windows, but with a Metro-layer underneath that looks and feels very similar to Metro on Windows Phone, and will run on both x86 and ARM processors. The traditional desktop is still there, at least on x86-based machines, but relegated to the same status as other Metro apps. With further decreased system requirements, Microsoft hopes that Windows 8 can be successful on both tablets and traditional PCs, though there are doubts whether the Metro interface is really suited for regular desktops.

Whether you like it or not, you’ll probably have to get accustomed to Metro, as Microsoft is fully embracing it. Even the Xbox got a Metro-style overhaul this year.

HP kills and unkills webOS

HP stumbled big in August. Then-CEO Leo Apotheker wanted to turn HP into a enterprise software company, similar to the German SAP, which he just left. To that effect, he announced that HP would be selling off its Personal Systems Group – that is, its PC division, the biggest in the world, and the recently purchased Palm assets, including webOS. As an immediate result, the TouchPad tablets were sold off at , a ridiculously low price. Eventually, HP cleared all of its inventory, catapulting webOS just behind iOS in terms of tablet marketshare, easily surpassing Android. How ironic.

Ultimately, Apotheker’s plan didn’t work out, damaged HP, stock prices fell, and he was fired. Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman was appointed as his successor and quickly stopped the spin-off of the PSG. The decision about webOS, however, wasn’t completely reversed; instead, HP decided to contribute webOS to open source, with the future remaining a very uncertain one, as I previously wrote.

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

Besides Google’s purchase of Motorola and HP’s stumbling, the third big thing that happened in August was Steve Jobs resigning as CEO of Apple. Sadly, he later died in October, just before the unveiling of the iPhone 4S.

Even though we’re definitely not an iPhone site, the impact Apple has made on the smartphone – and computer and music – industry is huge and, mostly, for the better. With Pixar, Steve Jobs is also resonsible for the first entirely CGI-made movie, Toy Story, which went on to revolutionize its respective industry. His genius, vision and management skills are undisputed, and we say: rest in peace, Steve Jobs.

AT&T doesn’t get T-Mobile

Well, AT&T tried to buy T-Mobile, but due to strong opposition by consumer groups and antitrust regulators, eventually backed off. This may sound like good news, but since T-Mobile is still struggling financially, its parent company, Deutsche Telekom, is still looking for ways to consolidate its US business. With the purchase by AT&T failed, we’ll have to wait and see what they’ll do in the future.

Carrier IQ

By now, you have probably heard about Carrier IQ, a story which we helped break. A YouTube video by Trevor Eckhart, known as TrevE in the forums, showed Carrier IQ logging keystrokes, text messages, applications and basically just everything that can be logged on an HTC Android device. It was not known whether any of this data was actually sent to Carrier IQ or just stored on the phone, but considering how private that data was, you could definitely expect some transparency and clarification from Carrier IQ. However, instead of cooperating, Carrier IQ sent Eckhardt a cease-and-desist letter, which was later redacted thanks to the involvement of the EFF.

But at that point, the story had already blown up and out of control. In the end, it’s perfectly legit and certainly understandable that carriers need to track their network performance, which definitely is in the interest of consumers; however, the lack of transparency and communication was pretty damning.

To give you an overview of the whole saga, I’ve collected and listed all articles on our portals concerning Carrier IQ, in chronological order.

New portal, new admin

Finally, xda-developers has undergone some changes too. You’ve most definitely noticed the new look of our portal, and, if you’ve missed it, we also have a new portal admin since this week, Russell Holly.

So, yeah, thanks for reading this article, thanks for reading xda-developers, thanks for doing awesome stuff in the forums.

And… a happy new year from the news writer team!

Scanadu developing a real-life medical tricorder

Tech start-up Scanadu is developing a real-life version of a Star Trek-style medical trico...

The future technology depicted in the various Star Trek TV series and films certainly holds a lot of appeal for many of us – who wouldn’t want to teleport to Hawaii, live out their fantasies on a holodeck, or enjoy some instant gourmet chow straight out of a replicator? It looks like the Star Trek item that we’re the closest to seeing become a reality, however, is the medical tricorder. This May, the X-PRIZE Foundation proposed a US$10 million Tricorder X-PRIZE, with the intention of encouraging the production of consumer devices that can assess a person’s state of health. The first potential contestant, which already has a tricorder in the works, is a tech start-up by the name of Scanadu…
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AT&T-branded Nokia Ace possibly leaked in holiday card

Nokia Ace

The grain of salt we’re taking this with is roughly boulder-sized but, we have an image of what may very well be the AT&T Nokia Ace — the rumored LTE-sporting Windows Phone from the Finnish phone maker. It seems that someone sent out a holiday greeting featuring a phone that looks a heck of a lot like the Lumia 800, except it prominently features a Ma-Bell logo, a 4G icon and what appears to be a front facing camera. Of course, what has also been referred to as the Lumia 900 could just as easily be a chop job — and not a particularly difficult one to pull off at that. Hit up the source link for a couple of more pics of what could be Nokia’s first high-end Mango (or, perhaps Tango) offering here in the US.

AT&T-branded Nokia Ace possibly leaked in holiday card originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 30 Dec 2011 16:51:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2011: A year of musical innovation

It's been a good year for musical instrument innovation - we take a quick look back at som...

The closing of the year is a great time to reflect on recent events. Regular readers will already know that musical instrument development is a bit of a passion of mine, and 2011 has been a great year for innovation. Join me, if you will, for a quick retrospective look at some of the tech we’ve been treated to during the last 12 months, ending with a recent take on an old classic – the Crap-o-Caster…
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EL01 Update For Verizon Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE Will Add TouchWiz

As pointed out by forum member mineshrai, Verizon is preparing an update to its LTE version of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1. The EL01 update will apparently add TouchWiz to the Honeycomb tablet. The most notable feature seems to be a mini app tray that holds six apps and can be accessed from anywhere.

On Verizon’s support page, the update is said to be coming soon, with no specific date given. Note that this is not the Ice Cream Sandwich update, which Samsung has promised for Q1 and beyond.

Head over to the forum thread to join the discussion.

Remember when….

As the new year is rapidly approaching a little reflection:

* Remember when discussions of "cool" new applications like Pocketday and Todomatrix used to run multiple pages?

* Remember when it was almost magical to be able to get your Exchange email in your pocket?

* Remember when having Outlook Calender and Tasks, liberated you from your desk?

* Remember the folks like Mark R and John Clark (and others) that were always there with an answer?

* Remember when a Blackberry was purely a business tool and there was no BBM and only one game?

* Remember when RIM was at the top of their game and owned this space?

* Remember when……sigh

Verizon kills off planned $2 convenience fee

Verizon Wireless Store

And just like that, Verizon has killed off their proposed convenience fee. Verizon said it "made the decision in response to customer feedback about the plan, which was designed to improve the efficiency of those transactions."

“At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers. Based on
their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers
to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating
the need to institute the fee at this time,” said Dan Mead, president
and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless.

I’m not sure what lasted longer, Verizons proposed fee or Kim Kardashians marriage but either way it’s all over and done with now. Customers win this round with Verizon.

Source: Verizon; Via: Android Central

CrackBerry.com‘s feed sponsored by ShopCrackBerry.com. Verizon kills off planned convenience fee

CrackBerry Year End Awards 2011 Winners Announced!!

CrackBerry 2011 Year End Awards Winners! See the results of our 2011 Year End Awards fan voting and Editor’s Choice winners!

CrackBerry 2011 Year End Awards Winners

The results are in and we have the winners of the CrackBerry 2011 Year End Awards!! It was a close race in some cases, but the winners prevailed and showed that they are true fan favorites. I don’t think there are really any crazy surprises here (but you be the judge). We’ve also included our list of Editors Picks — a selection of accessories, apps and games that we think were the tops in 2011. Keep reading for the full winners list. Congrats to all the winners and see you in 2012!!

read more

CrackBerry.com‘s feed sponsored by ShopCrackBerry.com. CrackBerry Year End Awards 2011 Winners Announced!!

Independently Updated Draw9Patch Offers New Features for Themers

This is the quintessential XDA experience story. Someone comes onto the site looking for something they need. They make a thread about it and find out that others need it too. Then, one day out of nowhere, someone comes in and says, “Hey, I got that, here you go.”

This is the story of XDA Senior Member raider3bravo . Last month he posted that he would really like a new Draw9Patch that was updated with a few new features to make it a little less time consuming for themers.

Almost a month later on the nose, XDA Member Elex_kr brings that want to a reality with an updated Draw9Patch with the features that raider3bravo wanted.

In the link above, you can go check out the original thread. The original post has been updated to show that the program has been released. Elex_kr’s new Draw9Patch program can be found in the 11th post .

The thread is now dedicated to the testing and bug fixing of the improved app so if you are a themer and want to check it out, someone who wants to help with finding or fixing bugs or even a beginner who wants to get the latest software to learn on, the thread features everything from download of the new Draw9Patch to a quick, but effective tutorial on theming for beginners by raider3bravo. The only thing the thread doesn’t have is the lottery numbers for this week (drat!).

You may soon be able to put your iPod nano on The Pill

The Pill is a new speaker dock, designed specifically for the sixth-generation iPod nano

There are currently a plethora of speaker docking systems out there, for use with iPhones or classic iPods. There have been some solutions created specifically for previous generations of iPod nanos, such as the devices made by Green Power and Dexim, but the new sixth-generation nanos have a different form factor with different docking requirements. One of the companies responding to that change is Singapore’s Gavio, which recently launched a speaker dock designed specifically for the current incarnation of the nano. It’s called The Pill, although if you want to get technical, a more accurate name would have been The Capsule…
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Verizon backs down from convenience fee, values your two cents

The people (and government) have spoken and Verizon has listened — and issued a press release. The carrier has officially backed off of the “single payment fee” that drew almost universal ire amongst subscribers and nabbed the attention of the FCC. Says Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead, “we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time.” Looks like the company’s gonna have get a couple of bucks from you another way. No word yet on whether the FCC plans to investigate Sprint’s similar long-standing fee. Official statement after the break.

Continue reading Verizon backs down from convenience fee, values your two cents

Verizon backs down from convenience fee, values your two cents originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 30 Dec 2011 15:29:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Verizon’s $2 convenience fee inconveniences the FCC

Just like hard working humans, giant companies like to get paid consistently and on time for services rendered. But Verizon’s method for motivating customers to pay up — in the form of a convenience fee — isn’t sitting so well with consumers, or the FCC. A Federal Communications Commission official confirmed that the fee hasn’t gone unnoticed, saying “on behalf of American consumers, we’re concerned about Verizon’s actions and are looking into the matter.” The “payment convenience fee” is scheduled to hit consumers beginning on January 15th, but if the FCC doesn’t step in before then, you can still skip the toll by signing up for AutoPay, or making your way to a different carrier.

Verizon’s convenience fee inconveniences the FCC originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 30 Dec 2011 14:12:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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McAfee predicts more mobile attacks and fewer PC attacks in 2012

McAfee Labs is basically predicting that, for everything you worry about on your computer, you will now worry about on your mobile devices as well. Cybercrime, hacktivism, and threats to your mobile banking? Yep.

Vince Weaver, McAfee Labs’ Sr. VP, says:

Many of the threats that will become prominent in 2012 have already been looming under the radar in 2011. Over the past year, the general public has become more aware of some of these risks, such as threats to critical infrastructure or the impact of hacktivism as they gain international media attention.  In the meantime, we continue to see cybercriminals improving their toolkits and malware and are ready to make a significant impact in 2012

But it doesn’t stop there. not only are they predicting an increase on attacks of individuals, but some higher-profile industrial attacks as well, such as the suppliers of your water, electricity, oil, and gas. These resource companies are not up to snuff in terms of preparedness for an intense cyber attack. Advances hackers will be using embedded hardware to gain long term access to data, and ultimately, full control over systems with said hardware.

You can look forward to the legalization of spam. Cyberwarfare will likely take a leap; you may have heard about China’s “accidental” rerouting of web traffic due to their control of some of the backbone on which the internet relies. We’ll probably be seeing more along those lines, and you’ll be hearing much much MORE about rootkits – and things like them – targeting the hardware instead of more surfacial attacks in the coming months.

You can read the Full List of McAfee’s predictions in this pdf.

McAfee predicts more mobile attacks and fewer PC attacks in 2012 originally appeared on AndroidGuys.

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