Android This Week: Motorola Army; Hack-Proof G2; Mobile Firefox


Android phone maker Motorola released not one but six new Android phones this week. The new smartphones cover a wide range of forms and target audiences, from the Kin-like Spice to the enterprise-ready Droid Pro. The new phones will be divvied up between AT&T and Verizon, and look to augment Motorola’s successful Droid line currently with Verizon. Two of the phones (Spice and Citrus) have introduced a new BACKTRACK panel, a small touchpad on the back of the phone to make navigation on the home screen easier.

Hackers looking to modify the system software of the newly released T-Mobile G2 discovered the phone has hardware that detects such modifications and removes them automatically. The G2 can be “rooted,” the first step in customizing the software in the phone’s firmware, but that change is quickly reverted back to the standard system software by hardware in the phone. This is a first in the smartphone world, and since Android is an open-source software system, the enthusiasts who are unable to customize the G2 aren’t very happy with this new development. If this method of onboard software protection is successful at stopping custom ROMs from being used on the G2, it’s likely we’ll see it appear on other handsets in the future.

Firefox fans who want to use the browser on Android smartphones have a reason to be happy: Firefox released its first Android beta. We found mobile Firefox to be worth watching in the future, but not quite ready for prime time. Our review of Firefox for Android points out slow performance and web page rendering issues that mar an otherwise decent first effort by the folks at Mozilla.

At CTIA, Motorola showed off its new Android app MotoPrint, which allows users to print from an Android device to a networked PostScript printer. MotoPrint will help those users for whom Android smartphones are becoming their primary computing device.

Good Technology noted that Android devices are making their way into the enterprise, with the Droid X ranking among the company’s top five new activations utilizing its enterprise-level services.

Adobe AIR for Android was released on Friday, which Ryan Kim notes “will allow Flash developers to build desktop, browser, iOS and now Android device apps that work off the same source code. Working with Flash tools, they can easily package an existing application for Android with minimal work.”

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