Android Ecosystem — This Week in Android


Welcome to our newest Monday feature — Android Ecosystem! It’s difficult to believe, but another week has passed where I haven’t touched my iPhone. The Nexus One has taken over as a primary device, even with its shortcomings. Although my sporadic 3G issue appears to be fixed for now, many other N1 owners are still waiting for a firmware fix. We know that Google is looking into the issue with T-Mobile and HTC, but we don’t know when such a fix will appear.

The more I think about the problem, the more I think it’s directly related to the tri-band support for HSPA — this same handset can work on 3G networks in the U.S. as well as overseas. I don’t think that any prior Android devices were designed to do this. As far as I know — but I know you’ll tell me if I’m wrong — every prior Android handset was offered in either a U.S. version for 3G and / or a non-U.S. version for 3G. None have been a single handset to handle both market frequencies, so I suspect the software to handle this situation is a bit of a n00b.

While we wait for the firmware to fix our frequencies, we don’t have to wait for native multi-touch support. Yes, the Dolphin Browser does the trick without rooting the device, but the latest update changed the user interface and I found it to be a step backwards. So plan B is to root and add some bits to the device in Android 2.1. Ah, but there’s always an option three — I highly recommend following the efforts of Paul O’Brien at MoDaCo. Paul crafted a custom ROM builder so you can pick which Android bits you want,  and which you don’t, in your own custom ROM. Multi-touch is baked in as is wireless tethering as an option, which turns your Android handset into a wireless 3G modem. Very clever!

No Android update would be worth its salt without a mention of the anticipated Apple tablet news coming later this week. What, that doesn’t make sense? I think it does — here’s the connection.

If — and I realize it’s a bit if — a new Apple product is announced that poses any threat at all to Amazon’s space in the e-book market, I think we’ll see a Kindle for Android application far sooner than later. Amazon (s amzn) will want its content available on every possible platform and it’s only fitting that Android follow suit. We already know that Kindle for Mac and Kindle for BlackBerry are coming soon — could Kindle for Android be coming sooner based on Apple’s play?

Related Research: “Google’s Mobile Strategy: Understanding the Nexus One



What do you mean by US 3G frequency? Last I checked there were different ones for the two providers. Europe is uniform. And I might be completely misunderstanding you but most handsets released in the US are fine in both US and Europe for 3G. The bigger problem is going from AT&T and T-Mobile.

I have been digging around for an Android handset that does both Europe and AT&T. (I am usually in Europe but I’ll spend large chunks of time in the US and can get on an AT&T plan in the family.) The problem is that these Android devices are T-mobile only 3G (1700MHz WCDMA). But I might not have all the info correct here either because I don’t know about the 2Mbit or 7.2Mbit (HSDPA, HSUPA). And I don’t know about the lower frequencies of 3G (700, 850, 900?). Who uses what, etc.

The one I found that does both 2100MHz and 1900MHz is the Acer Liquid a1 (S100). It has an underclocked snapdragon, 512MB ROM and 256MB RAM. So on paper it looks quite decent. Android 1.6 with 2.x rumored to be coming in March. I am still holding out for a Nexus One with fixes and the right frequencies. I think (emphasis on think) this would do 3G in Europe and on AT&T but not 100% sure.

For T-Mobile USA I understand that the G1 (for example) has no problems going in between T-Mobile USA and Europe. And (I think) this is the norm for the US released GSM Android handsets. The Dream (EU version) or the Milestone (EU GSM Droid) on the other hand is only EU frequencies.

If you have some thoughts on this (anyone) I would appreciate it. I really want to ditch my iPhone and go Android but I need a handset that I will like and can do EU and US AT&T 3G without hassles.


I was in the Verizon store this weekend and was told the N1 was coming soon to Verizon.


I agree with you on the Dolphin browser update. I don’t even know how to use it anymore since it updated!

Parker Selfridge

Actually I was thinking that Amazon and B&N would realize that they have no chance of success with the roaring acceptance of the new Apple tablet that will soon dominate the citizens of Earth and JUST CALL IT QUITS.

It is rumored that the Apple campus serves free helpings of Kindle & Nook for breakfast at the on-site cafeteria, The Breakfast of Champions indeed.

Seriously the eReader landscape will forever be changed after Jan 27 and all the eReader makers will be scrambling for an effective response.

I have a feeling that iPhone 4 OS will smack the smirk off of Google’s face and raise the bar for Android to follow once again.

Joshua Blankenship

I honestly and seriously doubt it. Jobs’s response to the Kindle in 2008 was that “no one reads books any more.” That bitter, old loudmouth will not “revolutionize” the eReader market. Those who actually read, like me (the minority, apparently), will prefer Amazon’s or B&N’s device to a glorified media player/monster iPod thingamajig. As I said before, eReaders are better when they stay dedicated. Besides, it was hard enough to get the old, humphy publishing companies to digitize content for Amazon in the first place. Getting them to hand it over to another company will be even harder. Chances are, the type of readable media that Apple will have will be the kind that I really don’t want to read. I’d rather carry around my $250 device that JUST stores books and can do a little bit of researching tasks than carry around a +700 device that does a whole bunch of nonsense that my other devices already do. And I’m pretty sure a LOT of people out there are thinking the same thing. No one but a fanboy will think that Apple can/has revolutionized anything to the point of global domination.

And, no, Apple campus serves free helpings of the American masses for breakfast and tops them off with gullible, illiterate consumers. Apple today is Microsoft 10 years ago.

Having said that, ANYTHING that gets Amazon to move out a Kindle for Android app soon is fine by me.

Paul Zimmerman

So that custom ROM builder – you just root the device and load that? does it work on a Droid?

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