Android Market goes live, Microsoft piles on the app store prices and Hyundai shows off the cheap mobile tat
It's the weekly Pocket Picks round-up
Thank the Lord Almighty (AKA Steve Jobs) that the Android paid Market is here in the UK - now perhaps we can stop writing about rumours of its impending arrival and get on with actually using our G1s.
After various firmware updates suggesting T-Mobile and Google were gearing up for the Market’s UK debut, a press event was held in London to officially announce the online application distribution system’s launch. Pocket Gamer was there, liveblogging the event, and was in there first to get the news out to the eager interwebs.
And then, rather surprisingly, things went rather Android quiet. Not to worry, of course, since there are other app stores opening up everyday - not least of them being an expansion of the unofficial iPhone distribution network, Cydia.
This is a system that’s been in use for a while, but only for those with Jailbroken iPhones. Well, the guys behind Cydia are now talking about releasing commercial software on their network, which will allow developers to put out iPhone software independently of Apple. Naturally Apple isn’t going to like this one bit, but the competition can only be good for the consumer.
As the smarthphone market really heats up, all the manufacturers are looking to get as much publicity as possible to remind everyone that they’re still there, in the iPhone’s long shadow.
RIM has been battling to regain its lost ground in the feature phone market, and has just managed to land something of a marketing coup.
Aging rocker and humanitarian loud mouth Bono (aren’t there dog biscuits called that?) has apparently snubbed his previous relationship with Apple - and with Palm, which is a tenuous move, considering he’s on the board of stakeholder Elevation Partners - to team up with BlackBerry.
The partnership will involve sponsorship and exclusive content from the band’s upcoming world tour, and will help to paste the BlackBerry brand all over the place.
Bono’s often controversial remarks might well have put him out of favour with Apple anyway, since it’s going to extreme lengths to keep the iPhone pure (despite all the stuff that’s on sale over iTunes, but anyway).
Apple has just blocked an update to the iPhone’s premier Twitter application, Tweetie, as it has the potential to display ‘offensive language’ on the handset. Quite how this is any different to content you could view through the Safari internet browser or through videos and songs downloaded through iTunes is anybody’s guess, and amounts to yet humiliating double standard of the App Store’s submissions policy.
Let’s just hope Microsoft isn’t quite so ridiculously prudish when it comes to getting applications up onto its forthcoming Windows Marketplace.
It seems Microsoft has adopted the new industry standard of a 30:70 profit split with developers, which should help it contend with the Android Market and iPhone App Store, though it’s also lumped on an ill-advised $99 annual fee. Small developers haven’t had so much choice since the 8-bit days, so let’s hope the extra costs don’t encourage them to look to other platforms.
It seems like only last week (which it was) when we were talking about the burgeoning trend for Dick Tracy-esque watch phones, and now we’ve even more cropping up. The first is quite feature rich, but looks like the kind of tat you’d get inside a plastic egg from a grabbing machine on Blackpool front. Hyundai’s MB-910 is sim free and weighs in at an affordable £200, with a touchscreen face, Bluetooth, email, video playback and USB support - all wrapped up in the tackiest, cheap plastic casing you’ve ever seen.
LG’s Prada Link is quite the opposite, however. This stylish beast isn’t technically a phone, but it links seamlessly to the range of gorgeous Prada handsets also from LG. It’s got Bluetooth connectivity, lets you read text messages, provides caller ID and monitors your handset’s battery level. Oh, and it’s also a stylish watch.
And LG also gets the last word for its sleek new touchscreen handset, the Arena. This iPhone inspired handset sports a fancy new ‘S-Class 3D’ user interface, which is built around the four sides of a cube that you rotate to access different applications.
It’s also got a 5MP camera which can record in HD, full wi-fi and a mess of Google mobile services in its software suite. Judgement is reserved, but on face value, it’s pretty sweet.