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NEC MEDIAS PP: Waterproof Android Phone With 4-Inch OLED Screen, 1700mAh Battery, Wireless Charging Support

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 04:05 AM PST

nec medias

Japanese mobile carrier NTT Docomo has announced [JP] it will start offering the Medias PP N-01D on December 9, the latest Android phone in NEC’s Medias smartphone series. And if NEC ever gets its act together regarding its internationalization plans, this pretty cool device might hit the US and other markets soon, too.

NEC is especially proud of the 1,700mmAH battery that’s built into the phone and promises about 630 hours of standby and 380 hours of talk time.

But this isn’t the only interesting spec – here’s a list of the main features of the Medias PP N-01D:

  • Android 2.3 as the OS
  • 4-inch OLED screen with 480×800 resolution
  • MSM8255 CPU (1.4GHz, single core)
  • wireless battery charging support
  • 8.1MP CMOS camera
  • 2GB internal memory
  • Bluetooth 4.0 with Bluetooth Low Energy support
  • Wi-Fi (tethering is supported)
  • DLNA support
  • e-wallet function
  • digital TV tuner
  • infrared connection
  • microSDHC card slot
  • water- and dust-proof body
  • size: 128×63×10.9mm, weight: 135g

Apple Sends’s App To The Dog House For Untaxed Subscription Payments

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 07:42 PM PST

Match Removed From App Store

Those looking for love won’t find it in the App Store. Apple has removed‘s iOS app because it allowed the lonely to pay for Match subscriptions with a credit card through an external link rather than using the in-app purchases system. That meant Apple wasn’t getting its 30% cut. In June Apple revised its policy to state that “Apps can read or play approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app, as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content.” Apple and are now negotiating how the app must change before their relationship can be rekindled and they can have an earth-shattering makeup revenue split.

You may remember the controversy back in February when Apple unveiled its original subscription policy which required apps to offer their website subscriptions through the in-app purchases system at an equal or lower price. apparently dodged the 30% tax on in-app purchases by displaying a button to pay them directly. This was the exact type of behavior Apple banned with its June policy revision, but I guess it took a while for it to notice was messing around on the side.’s app primarily serves as a mobile access point to its subscription-based web service. Those who’ve already downloaded it can continue looking for their soulmate through the app. Still, new users could create an account and start paying within the app, so the removal may be taking a small toll on’s onboarding rates. That’s a problem since they have high churn rates.  See, any successful matchmaking service permanently solves the problem it address — married people don’t need marriage apps. Even a temporary removal from the App Store can also have a lasting impact since it causes an app to fall off the leaderboards, reducing discovery potential. will have to decide whether to stop allowing users to signup and pay through the app, or agree to pay Apple’s 30% tax. The former seems more lucrative.  If you’re setting up your profile on the go, you’re probably not putting your best foot forward, you won’t meet people, and you’ll stop paying anyways. Even better, could provide limited functionality in the app and only offer the full experience if they’ve paid online, but not offer any link or button to its web payment system. This way it could still hook up with new users through the app, but be free to collect 100% of their subscription fees. You could call it an open relationship.

Dijit’s Universal Remote Control App Gets Revamped For The iPad

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 06:59 PM PST


The social remote control app Dijit has certainly been getting around lately: it started off on iPhones, made the leap onto Android devices not long ago, and now the company has announced that an iPad-friendly version of the app is in the works.

According to Jeremy Toeman, Dijit’s Chief Product Officer, one of the company’s big focuses was to make effective use of all the screen real estate the iPad afforded them. “We’ve tried to think through all the nuance of what a full, 10″ entertainment console sitting on a user’s coffee table should look like,” he said.

Those expecting a straight port of the Android tablet version will find that a few of the specifics have changed. Among other things, the redesigned Dijit iOS app has a more pronounced focus on usability: it features larger on-screen buttons and the option to use a full-screen remote, which stand in pretty stark contrast to the smaller controls as seen in the Android version. The iPad version also sports visual cues in what otherwise would have been empty space to guide users through using the app. Otherwise, the iPad version is a cleverly re-imagined version of the original iPhone app — the ease of setup remains, as does the app’s focus on building a social watching experience by linking up to Twitter and Facebook.

Since the iPad obviously doesn’t have a built-in IR blaster, users looking to control their home theaters while poking through The Office’s Wikipedia entry or sharing show recommendations still need to use the Griffin Beacon to relay commands. I’ve pointed out before that Dijit isn’t exactly alone in this space — Logitech’s Harmony Link works in much the same way — but a $30 difference in price tags may be enough to sway cash-strapped device convergence junkies into giving Dijit a try.

Dijit has been making some big plays lately, like getting their app preloaded onto the Xoom 2 Media Edition, and hopefully the iPad version lives up to expectations. iPad owners looking to take the new-and-improved Dijit for a spin will have to wait just a little while longer though — Toeman tells me that the app should be submitted to the app store within the next few weeks.

AT&T’s 4G/LTE Network Already Live In Parts Of NYC

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 04:51 PM PST


Early in November, AT&T exec Larry Solomon mentioned that their 4G/LTE network would be extending its reach to New York City sometime “soon.”

Turns out, “soon” means “sometime around December 1st” — as of this evening, reports started coming in that some devices within the Big Apple’s limits were lighting up with 4G/LTE signal.

Now, it should be noted that this is still totally unofficial; AT&T has yet to issue a press release announcing that New York’s LTE has gone live, and it’s quite possible that things are just live temporarily for the sake of testing.

With that said, our own Jordan Crook was able to get a rock solid LTE signal (on the recently announced LG Nitro HD) in Southern Manhattan this evening, and was pulling average download speeds between 10 and 12.5 megabits per second. If you’ve got an HTC Vivid, Galaxy S II Skyrocket, or Galaxy Tab 8.9 and are on the Island, whip it out and give it a shot.

If you’re able to catch any of those LTE waves, be sure to drop a comment and let us know which part of the city you’re in.

LG Nitro HD For AT&T: Hands-On

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 04:28 PM PST

Nitro HD

Tonight at LG’s media event in New York City, we were lucky enough to get some quality time with the LG Nitro HD. The third in AT&T’s line of LTE-capable phones, the Nitro HD was announced earlier this week with a launch date of December 4 for AT&T. Some of its spec highlights include a 4.5-inch 720p display (like the HTC Rezound), a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, an 8-megapixel rear camera and 4G LTE support from AT&T, of course.

Since the Nitro was announced before its dedicated media event (and since it’s basically the Optimus LTE we’re seeing over in Europe), there’s really no reason to hash out all the specific deets. So let’s just get down to business, shall we?

First impressions:

  • Right off the bat the first thing you’ll notice is the Nitro’s size. It’s a hefty little beast with that 4.5-inch screen and a waist line of 10.4mm. That’s not terribly thick but not what I would call thin, either. For some perspective, it’s thickness falls right between the Droid Razr and the HTC Rezound.
  • The screen, as expected, is pretty slick running at 720p. With a resolution of 1280×720 on 4.5-inches of real estate, the LG Nitro HD actually has a slightly greater pixel density than the iPhone 4, at 329ppi as opposed to 326ppi. It’s not the best display I’ve ever seen, but it can certainly compete with many other recently released phones.
  • As far as performance is concerned, we have no complaints here. The NitroHD is snappy and super responsive, and web browsing was pretty enjoyable. We haven’t gotten a chance to test out AT&T’s LTE network as New York City isn’t quite on the list yet, so unfortunately reflections on that will have to wait.
  • The textured back finish feels nice, and gives the Nitro a much pricier feel than its plastic casing would imply. Still, the strip of brushed plastic around the edge lets loose the secret that back panel was keeping.

  • The Nitro HD doesn’t take prints well at all, whether it’s the textured back panel or (most noticeably) the display.
  • The 8-megapixel rear-facing camera performed very well, handling white balance and movement between light and dark settings well. Shutter lag was a bit annoying, but it’s certainly no worse than most Android phones.
  • This particular LG device has an LG Optimus skin running over Android. It isn’t terribly obtrusive but does seem to slow things down a bit from a strictly vanilla experience.
  • I’m somewhat bothered by the fact that the charging port is square on the top of the phone, as that makes it pretty difficult to play around with in landscape mode while plugged in. It also has a plastic covering protecting the port, which will probably snap right off after a couple weeks of use.

All in all, I’d call the LG Nitro HD a fine option, but not necessarily my first pick. It packs specs that can compete on paper, but simply can’t keep up on the hardware front. The Nitro HD will show up on AT&T shelves December 4 for $249 with a two-year contract.

2011 Holiday Gift Guide: iPhone Accessories For Every Type

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 03:12 PM PST


Apple has sold over 17 million iPhones in this past quarter alone, so chances are that someone you’ll have to buy a holiday present for will already have one. Instead of the usual “cheesy card and sweater” combination, why not give them something that takes advantage of their constant electronic companion? Here are a few iPhone-friendly gift ideas to consider, all organized by personality type. Happy hunting!

For the rough-and-tumble type:

Take it from a guy who bought and broke an iPhone 4 on the same day: the iPhone 4/4S’s glass panels don’t play nice with concrete. That’s where the Otterbox Defender comes into play: combining a hard polycarbonate body with a silicon skin that wraps around it, the Defender is robust enough to keep up with even the most negligent users. Oh, and did I mention it comes in eight fetching color combinations?, $49.95

For the artists:

There are enough iPhone cases floating around on the internet to make your head spin. Instead of digging through countless options for a case in that one particular shade of puce, why not make one instead? Case-mate offers customers the ability to upload their own images and slap them onto the case of their choice, perfect for the artistically-inclined and the picky to boot. You can even be ironic like me and get an iPhone case emblazoned with HTC phones on it!, prices start at $35 depending on the style of case.

For the athletes:

If you’re anything like me — which is to say avid runner/prodigious sweater — then you’ll probably enjoy taking a pair of Sennheiser Adidas PMX 680is on your next excursion. They’re lightweight, have a water and sweat-resistant neckband, and sound rather good to boot. The “i” in this case refers to the iDevice specific model, which features a line-in remote for taking calls and finding just the right song in your “GET TOUGH” playlist. Just don’t plan on doing any bench presses with these things, because the neckband will get in the way mighty quick., $69.99

For the power-hungry:

The iPhone 4S’s battery has historically been a little shaky, but who wants to be tethered to a power outlet all day long? Mophie has been making external batteries/cases for years now, but those who would rather dodge the added heft should check out their Juice Pack Boost. It’s a small external battery that packs 2000mAh of juice, which more than enough to keep your iPhone chugging along until you can plug it in proper., $49.95

For the beach-goers:

If you’re fortunate enough to live where you won’t the next few months blanketed in perpetual cloud cover, check out Eton’s solar-powered battery case. It’s got a little of heft to it for sure, but that’s a small price to pay for a (very marginally) smaller electric bill, right? Alright, so the Mobius won’t be the best choice for every iPhone 4/4S owner, but for those of you who like lounging around in the sun will appreciate the juice this thing provides while you get that much-needed tan., $80

For the young (and young at heart):

No one’s too old to pilot a small, mechanized whirligig through the air, and Griffin’s Helo TC helicopter lets you do just that with your iPhone. After snapping your iPhone (any kind will do) into the included Flight Deck control mount, the Helo TC will leap into the air. Just be carefully to log a little bit of practice time first — the last thing to need to do is steer it headlong into a wall., $49.99

For the college student/party buff:

Jawbone’s pint-sized Bluetooth speaker can pump out some surprising sound and will fit in even the smelliest, most cramped dorm rooms. Jawbone pushes out software updates pretty frequently, and has added nifty features like LiveAudio mode to make tunes sound more immersive. Pair it up with a free JamChain, and you’ve got a mobile party — all that’s missing are the red Solo cups., $199.99

Apple: We Don’t Use Carrier IQ… In Most Of Our Products… Anymore.

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 01:03 PM PST


The tech world is up in arms this week about Carrier IQ, the mobile data logging software that comes pre-installed (and rather well hidden) on an increasingly huge number of handsets. It’s still entirely unclear as to what’s being logged and, more importantly, what (if anything) is being sent off the handset — but one thing’s for sure: people don’t like it.

As the controversy swells, companies are rushing to distance themselves from the matter. The latest ones looking to get on the right side of the air gap? Apple.

Apple’s Statement:

We stopped supporting CarrierIQ with iOS 5 in most of our products and will remove it completely in a future software update. With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt-in to share this information, and if they do, the data is sent in an anonymous and encrypted form and does not include any personal information. We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so.

So yes, Apple supported Carrier IQ at some point. But not anymore, as of iOS 5. At least, not with most of their products. Like the rest of the lot, however, they’re assuring everyone that no keystrokes, messages, or identifiable bits were transmitted. From what researchers have found so far (and from what Apple claims above), Carrier IQ was only called in to play on iOS devices if you manually turned on the diagnostics option (which, prior to iOS 5, was buried pretty deep in the settings. Beginning with iOS 5, it’s offered up during the initial device setup.)

Which ones do still support it, even with iOS 5? Your guess is as good as ours — at least, until the security researchers swarming around this topic finish tearing apart every packet they can wrap their hands around.

You can pore over our full coverage of Carrier IQ here.

Sprint Inks Deal To Support Clearwire With $1.6 Billion

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 11:20 AM PST


Sprint put on its knight-in-shining-armor hat this morning, agreeing to pay $1.6 billion over the next few years to access Clearwire’s WiMax network. Without it, Clearwire would have had to choose between paying up on a $237 million interest payment or continuing to build out its LTE network — a necessity in terms of competition for both Clearwire and Sprint.

The deal consists of Sprint paying $926 million for unlimited 4G WiMax services between 2012 and 2013, reports MocoNews. In the meantime, Sprint is also pledging an advance of $350 million paid over a two-year period for Access to Clearwire’s forthcoming LTE capacity (as long as Clearwire hits certain benchmarks along the way). This will allow Clearwire to pay off its debt without derailing plans for its LTE network. That said, Sprint needs LTE just as desperately, so it only makes sense that Sprint would cover for its struggling partner.

The agreement allows for Sprint’s use of the WiMax network through 2015, though it’s only committed through 2013, at which point it will hopefully be transitioning to LTE. After 2013, the deal moves to a usage-based pricing model for access to the WiMax network. The deal also outlines long-term usage-based pricing models for Clearwire’s LTE services through 2012.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse affirmed the relationship, issuing the following prepared statement:

These agreements are a result of the technical MOU we outlined during our third quarter results call and extend our relationship with Clearwire. It provides Sprint improved pricing, allows us to continue to provide WiMAX 4G services to our customers today and to new customers in the future and provides additional LTE capacity to help complement our Network Vision strategy and meet our customers’ growing data demands.

Clearwire’s $237 million interest payment was due today, so this deal couldn’t have come at a better time.

Carrier IQ: How To Find It, And How To Deal With It

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 09:29 AM PST


By now, you’ve probably heard all about Carrier IQ, the mobile logging software that an intrepid researcher named Trevor Eckhart found lurking on a number smartphones from multiple manufacturers and carriers.

According to Eckhart’s research, Carrier IQ is capable of tracking what apps you’re running to where your phone is to what buttons are being pressed — it sounds scary, but Carrier IQ claims that collecting that information ultimately helps end-users.

Carrier IQ maintains they summarize performance information to help improve the quality of a carrier’s customer experiences, but what if you don’t want anyone else to have access to the sort of fine-grained data that Carrier IQ is capable of accessing? Here’s how you can figure out if your phone is affected, and how to go about fixing things if it is.

Does your phone have Carrier IQ?

Eckhart’s original report has shown that Carrier IQ has been discovered on HTC and Samsung devices, and that CarrierIQ counts Sprint among their domestic carrier clients. AT&T also appears to use Carrier IQ on their devices: a member of the XDA-dev forums called AT&T and was told that Carrier IQ is indeed preloaded on the HTC Vivid. Other carriers, including Verizon, Vodafone, and O2 have all denied that they use Carrier IQ on their devices.

Nokia and RIM were also among the companies that Eckhart claimed CarrierIQ provided their “mobile intelligence” services to, but they have vociferously denied the connection. The Verge also reports that the three devices in Google’s Nexus line are free of the logging service, so Nexus devotees can rest easy.

Fortunately, you don’t have to take their word for it, as it’s fairly simple to find out if your device has the tracking service running on it. If you’ve got a rooted device, all it takes is a quick download of Eckhart’s free Logging Test app (currently in its 7th revision). Once installed, hit ‘CIQ Checks,’ and you’ll know almost immediately whether or not your device is affected.

Rooting your device will also be required if you want to get rid of Carrier IQ on an affected device, so do look into it. The ease of the process will depend on your phone — for some its a total breeze while for others (usually newer devices) it can be a bit hairier. A quick Google search for “your device name + root” should get you pointed in the right direction.

What about iPhones?

Most of the original furor around Carrier IQ stemmed from its appearance on Android devices, but recent findings from iOS hacker chpwn has revealed that CarrierIQ exists in one form or another in versions of iOS as early as 3.1.3. For what it’s worth, it seems much less nosy than its Android cousin: chpwn seems fairly convinced that the iPhone variant isn’t able to access “typed text, web history, passwords, browsing history, or text messages,” and therefore isn’t able to send that data along.

While the iOS 5 version seems pretty toothless, chpwn admits that earlier versions of iOS “may send back information in more cases,” so the truly worried should make sure they’re diligent about updates.

What do I do about it?

Well, you could just live with it, but I’ll admit that it’s not a terribly appealing option. iOS users who want to disable logging have it pretty easy here: chpwn believes that in iOS 5, CarrierIQ is enabled during the initial setup process if you opt-in to sending log back to Apple. Since that’s the case, all it takes to disable Carrier IQ is to jump into Settings/About/Diagnostics & Usage, and change the setting to “Don’t send.”

If you’re an Android user and the thought of CarrierIQ unnerves you to no end, you have two options to rid yourself of it.

Uninstall Carrier IQ with the Logging Test app

This is about as straightforward as the process gets: once you’ve installed the aforementioned app, pay the $1 for the Pro key in the Android Market. Once you’ve done that, the option to remove Carrier IQ will be unlocked in the app, although ExtremeTech notes that the process may not always be successful.

Flash a custom ROM

This is a bit more extreme a solution than simply uninstalling the service, but it has its benefits: since many custom ROMs are based of the of the open-source Android code provided by Google, carrier-mandated services like Carrier IQ aren’t an issue. On top of that, a good custom ROM can also help give your aging hardware a shot in the arm thanks to software tweaks and features it may not get otherwise.

This process also requires you to root your device, and can be very tricky for first-time modders. If you decide to go this route, check out the XDA-developer forums for more information on what it takes for your specific device. CyanogenMod is a great first ROM for beginners, and they have a pretty extensive list of supported devices along with tutorials on getting it running.

AT&T On The FCC Staff Report: Nuh-Uh!

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 09:09 AM PST


So remember that staff report the FCC released a few days ago? It was basically a novella-length rant on how horrible the AT&T/T-Mobile merger would be, and how many of AT&T’s arguments were flawed. Releasing the document in the first place was a bit unorthodox, as AT&T had withdrawn its application before the FCC had opened the report up to the public.

The FCC offered up reasons for releasing it though, transparency being the most important one. Still, AT&T is seriously displeased with the alleged one-sidedness of the report, and has released its own lengthy response to the report’s findings:

We expected that the AT&T-T-Mobile transaction would receive careful, considered, and fair analysis. Unfortunately, the preliminary FCC Staff Analysis offers none of that. The document is so obviously one-sided that any fair-minded person reading it is left with the clear impression that it is an advocacy piece, and not a considered analysis.

In our view, the report raises questions as to whether its authors were predisposed. The report cherry-picks facts to support its views, and ignores facts that don't. Where facts were lacking, the report speculates, with no basis, and then treats its own speculations as if they were fact. This is clearly not the fair and objective analysis to which any party is entitled, and which we have every right to expect.

All any company can properly ask when they present a matter to the government is a fair hearing and objective treatment based on factual findings. The FCC's report makes clear that neither occurred on our merger, at least within the pages of this report. This has not been our past experience with the agency, which lets us hope for and expect better in the future.

AT&T then goes on to re-argue each of its original points that the FCC had so summarily shot down, including LTE expansion to 97 percent of Americans, job creation vs. job losses, and competition. According to AT&T, the report’s conclusion that AT&T will build out its LTE network to cover 97 percent of the U.S. population with or without the merger is false.

The report says this will occur because AT&T will be forced to do so by competition, despite documents and sworn declarations by AT&T to the contrary. To argue this, the report apparently assumes a high enough level of competition exists in rural areas to compel billions of dollars in investment. Yet the report elsewhere argues that the level of wireless competition in more populated areas of America is so fragile that the merger must be disallowed. At the very least, these conclusions show a logical inconsistency.

The blue carrier even brings up President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address, where he called deployment of mobile broadband to 98 percent of Americans an imperative. “It appears the FCC did not inform the President that in their view this was not a needed or worthy objective because it was apparently going to happen anyway,” said Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive VP of external & legislative affairs. Not the most pointed argument I’ve seen, but hey! Why not stir the pot?

AT&T also takes issue with the fact that the FCC has totally shot down its job creation claims. The report states that since AT&T will deploy its LTE network to 97 percent of the population anyway (with or without T-Mobile), it will yield no new jobs.

Yet, just two weeks ago the FCC announced that its new $4.5 billion broadband fund, which will help to deploy wireline broadband to a much smaller number of Americans–7 million– over the same time period, will create "approximately 500,000 jobs and $50 billion in economic growth over this period." This notion — that government spending on broadband deployment creates jobs and economic growth, but private investment does not—makes no sense. Conversely, if the FCC had applied to its own broadband fund the same analysis it used for our merger-related investments, the result would be similar—zero new broadband, zero jobs, zero growth.

What’s interesting is that AT&T has plans to try, try again to acquire T-Mobile. Still, it sees no harm in basically waging war against the FCC over this report. The FCC itself has said that report is meant to be an informal analysis of the deal, yet releasing it certainly hurts AT&T’s future hopes of buying T-Mobile. Either way, calling out FCC officials as being questionably “predisposed” against the merger is a serious accusation, and one that’s not likely going to go over well in the FCC offices.

Smule Acquires Khush To Further Boost Their Music Cred

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 07:58 AM PST


Smule, makers of such fine musically-tuned iOS apps as Ocarina, Magic Piano, and I Am T-Pain, have just announced their intentions to acquire Khush, the equally music-minded company behind LaDiDa (you sing, it generates a beat) and Songify (you sing/talk/cough/howl, it bends the tune into a song). Wonder-Twin powers, activate!

The amount of the purchase wasn’t disclosed, though I hear that this combined cash-and-stock deal was mostly the latter. Everyone involved seems to see the deal as more of a melding of minds and mission statements than an exit for anyone at Khush, so the terms were built to keep everyone around for a while.

Smule and Khush are more similar than even their musically-matched mindsets would immediately indicate. Take their co-founders, for example: Smule’s Ge Wang is an assistant professor at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Khush’s Parag Chordia, meanwhile, is a professor of music at Georgia Tech and the director of their Music Intelligence lab. Left hand, meet right hand.

While Smule has thus far been an entirely West Coast company (with offices in Palo Alto and San Francisco), the Khush folks will continue to operate out of Atlanta, Georgia and act as an independent studio. Songify and LaDiDa will both be getting support for Smule’s “Sonic Network”, which allows users to create, share, and collaborate on their musical creations.

To celebrate this mind-merge, a video (made with Songify) about one lady’s love for cats:

Update – The companies have just released this video, in which all of the co-founders “discuss” (in a way only they could) the acquisition:

The White Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket Will Hit AT&T Shelves December 4

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 07:49 AM PST


White phones can be hit or miss. The white BlackBerry Pearl, for example, is an ugly phone. Period. But some white phones can be sexy little beasts, as is the new snow-white Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket. That’s right, just a few weeks after hitting AT&T shelves in black, a white version of the phone will be made available on December 4.

If you happened to forget, the Skyrocket is one of AT&T’s very first 4G LTE-capable phones, though you’ll have to be in one of the blue carrier’s 14 LTE markets to access those speeds.

The Skyrocket sports a 4.5-inch 480×800 Super AMOLED Plus display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, and Android 2.3 Gingerbread. You’ll find an 8-megapixel camera on the back capable of video capture in 1080p, along with a 1.3-megapixel front-facing shooter for video chat.

The phone will cost $249.99 on-contract.

Kik’s Cross-Platform Messaging App Makes Its Public Debut On Symbian (Yes, Symbian)

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 07:39 AM PST


Kik, the cross-platform messaging app that works on iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone, is today publicly launching on Symbian after a month of private beta testing. The new Kik Messenger for Symbian brings improved group texting, sent, delivered, and received receipts, notifications to indicate when someone is typing, support for photo sharing, and the ability to locate your contacts who already using Kik.

But I know what you’re thinking: why Symbian?

According to Kik CEO Ted Livingston, Symbian was “a logical next step” given the app’s recent return to BlackBerry devices. The company feels that to be truly a cross-platform application, you can’t just focus on the leaders, iPhone and Android, you have to address the needs of the complete smartphone market.

Says Livington, “frankly, I think writing Symbian off is a very North American centric perspective and is quite premature. There are hundreds of millions of Symbian users globally, with millions more expected to be added to the platform with the last generations of Symbian devices.”

“That’s a huge, diverse, global group of users who are hungry to use their smartphones in new ways,” he says. “If you want to truly change the way the world communicates, you can’t ignore Symbian users.”

So there. That’s why.

It’s also not a bad strategy for user adoption, either. The problem with many of today’s messaging apps (or voice apps, video chat apps, “social” apps, etc.) is that you’re expected to use them with others, but the app doesn’t run on but one or two platforms. As an iPhone/Android household ourselves, there’s an endless frustration with today’s iOS-centric marketing focus alone. Android users are people too!, I want to scream. I can’t imagine how the poor, slighted Symbian folks must feel then. (But seriously, maybe you should upgrade.)

If you’re still a Symbian user, though, at least you now have a great new app to try. You can grab Kik from the Ovi Store here. Everyone else can get their version from the mobile Kik homepage: just click here from your phone’s browser.

5.47mm: Sharp’s Super-Thin CMOS Camera Module Paves Way For Thinner Smartphones

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 07:06 AM PST

sharp cmos

Smartphones are soon to become thinner: Sharp has developed a 1/3.2-inch CMOS camera module that’s just 5.47mm high, making it the thinnest module out there. The so-called RJ63YC100 features 12.1MP resolution, optical image stabilization and is specifically designed for use in handsets.

Sharp says it used “proprietary high-density packaging technology” to make the back-illuminated module as thin as possible. The device supports full HD video shooting and is sized at 11.0×11.0×5.47mm.

The good news is that the camera is ready for mass-production, which (according to Sharp) is scheduled to start in January (100,000 units per month). The company will ship the first samples to cell phone manufacturers tomorrow, at US$154 each.

New Social Discovery App Ntro Launches, Backed By $1.7 Million In Funding

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 07:04 AM PST


The L.A.-based startup nProgress is launching a new social discovery app ntro this morning, backed by over $1.7 million in funding from Jarl Mohn, Gordon Crawford, Kevin Wall, Activation Media Partners, Baroda Ventures, SV Angel, Jeff Pulver and Richard Crowell. The app, available now for iPhone and Android, is meant to connect you with others around who you may know through mutual friends or with those who share a common interest.

But unlike the others in this space (and there are plenty), ntro is staging its rollout to its target markets. It launches today in L.A. and the San Francisco Bay area, with additional cities planned for the future.

Ntro is offering an interesting combination of features we’ve previously seen in other “social discovery” apps, like SonarBanjo, Mingle and Holler, to name just a few. Like Sonar, ntro highlights those nearby you may know through mutual friends. Like Holler, it connects people around interests. Like Mingle, it’s focused on making introductions. And like Banjo, it does it all automatically.

Where ntro may have a bit of an edge, at least for now, is in terms of the customizations it provides. There are extensive filters and controls offered, allowing you to set your top interests as well as filter and search the surrounding crowd by very narrow interests. That is, not just “music” or “rock music” but the name of a favorite band, for example.

There’s also a heavy focus on privacy – the app never shares your location, nor does it share your personal info (like your phone number, email or even last name) without your consent.

With these extensive protections in place, there’s a bit of distance between you and those around you, which is quite unlike the creepy/awesomeness that is the social stalkerish Banjo or Sonar. In testing ntro, I couldn’t even see users’ profile photos, which is either due to the photo approval process (there’s a delay) or users’ own choice to not show their face (that’s an option). But if you really think you’ve found your soulmate/business connection/new best friend based on interests, you can message them via the app.

The other standout feature from ntro is the cover flow-esque way you browse through interests, where every item, whether a band, a book, a sport, an activity, etc., is given its own thumbnail. You then just tap the thumbnail to who else likes that item and is nearby.

At present, anyone can download the app and poke around, but only those in L.A. and S.F. will find nearby matches. The focus for the rollout is on large metro areas, with the next cities planned being New York, Chicago, D.C. and Boston.

You can try the app now via the download iTunes or the Android Market.

Phonedeck Turns Your Phone Into A Cloud App — 500 Pre-launch Invites

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 05:01 AM PST


Phonedeck appeared last year at Le Web. At the time it seemed very much like a beta project to manage calls from a computer. But we’ve long had the position that real social graph is in your phone – the people you text and call – and Phonedeck has now come on leaps and bounds. Today it’s releasing 500 invites for TechCrunch readers (use the code “TechCrunch” on the site) and revealing more about its upcoming service.