This was a big week for sharing where you are, as Facebook Places was officially introduced. We also saw the long-awaited G2 and Dell Thunder come out of hiding, we found Android 2.2 for the Droid X, looked at the Samsung Epic 4G and we finally got confirmation that a webOS tablet is coming from Hewlett Packard.
It’s Friday, so let’s dive into this week in mobile news.
I may be slowly becoming a Facebook fanboy because I think that Facebook Places is going to be the thing that pushes location-based services to the forefront. The service will enable these social network users to share their location when they’re out and about, as well as tag those who are with them.
Fundamentally, the service isn’t much different than Foursquare or Gowalla but the social networking giant has over 500 million users, which should help this service gain traction and meaning. I talked about the potential impact of this service and am anxious to see what comes of it.
In particular, I’m very happy that Facebook Places has an API that will let third parties build on top of this. This means companies like Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp won’t be squeezed out of the check-in game just yet. The service is available in the Apple iPhone app and via the mobile touch browsers on devices with geolocation abilities.
The next generation of Android
With the Samsung Galaxy S, EVO 4G and Droid X, Android has been on quite a run but that momentum isn’t going to stop any time soon as we saw some leaked pictures of the T-Mobile G2 and the Dell Thunder this week.
The T-Mobile G2 looks like a classy update to the world’s first Android phone and it sports a sleeker keyboard and a 3.7-inch screen, Android 2.2, and, most importantly, it will be the first smartphone with HSPA+ capabilities. This means the T-Mobile G2 could get up to 21 Mbps download speeds in certain markets, which makes it an attractive option. Look for the G2 to be officially launched within the next few weeks.
Another attractive option would be the Dell Thunder, which poked its lovely head out this week in prototype phone. It’s merely one of Dell’s upcoming superphones and it is expected to launch with a 4.1-inch OLED screen, 1 GHz CPU, 8 megapixel camera and Android 2.2. The units that leaked out were in prototype form, so it’s too early to tell when these will hit the streets but I know I’m already excited about the Dell Thunder.
Hands-on with Sprint Epic 4G
Speaking of killer Android handsets, we got our hands on the latest 4G phone from Sprint and the Samsung Epic 4G did not disappoint.
The Epic 4G is Sprint’s version of the Galaxy S lineup but it has a few perks that helps it stand out from the crowd. As the name indicates, it can use Sprint’s 4G networks for faster web surfing. It also has a full slide-out keyboard and a front-facing camera for video calls. The 1 Ghz processor, Android 2.1 and 4-inch Super AMOLED screen are traits that are shared by every Samsung Galaxy S phone like the T-Mobile Vibrant.
We already know the screen is beautiful but how does that big keyboard feel?
The first thing we did was slide the QWERTY keyboard open with a confident “snick.” The slider mechanism has a slight spring-assisted action, that makes it almost fun to slide the keyboard in and out. In and out. In and out. Sorry, we got distracted there for a minute.
Be on the lookout for a full review in the next few days and check out the video below for a closer look at the Epic 4G.
webOS isn’t dead
Don’t call it a comeback but we heard some interesting news about webOS, the platform which powers the Palm Pre and Pixi. Hewlett Packard, which owns Palm now, officially confirmed that a webOS tablet will be hitting in early 2011 to go toe-to-toe with the Apple iPad.
Not much is known about the device, but let’s hope the webOS tablet has at least a 7-inch screen, a 1 GHz processor, multiple cameras, plenty of internal storage that’s expandable and at a relatively affordable price. I really think webOS can easily scale up to fit a tablet, too.
We also spied some indications that webOS 2.0 devices were on the way and one of them, code-named RoadRunner, could have a 640 by 960 screen resolution. That would put it on par with the Retina Display of the Apple iPhone 4 which just looks killer. We’ll let you know once we hear some more.
Get Android 2.2 for the Motorola Droid X
I know many of you have been waiting for this long time but a leaked version of Android 2.2 is now available for the Motorola Droid X. Yes, friends, this means you’ll be able to get some Adobe Flash goodness, improved browsing and more with your Verizon superphone.
Of course, this isn’t an official update and you do have to jump through some hoops. I remember the same thing happened with the HTC EVO 4G and early adopters experienced issues with their GPS, among other things. Perhaps waiting for the official version – still on a “late summer” time frame – would work for users not wanting to mess around too much with their handset.
Cool app of the week
I was pretty happy to see StumbleUpon releasing an app for the Apple iPhone and Android this week because I’m a fan of the online service. If you don’t know what it is, StumbleUpon makes it easy for you to discover new online content based on your interests.
The free apps are quick to set up, install quickly and have nice user interfaces. Once you press a few buttons, you’ll be able to quickly stumble on new content and share it with friends through other social networks.
The StumbleUpon app isn’t going to change your life but it will help you kill some boredom when you’re on public transportation or waiting in line at the bank. That’s good enough to get cool app of the week from me.
Wrap it up, B
It’s been a long and busy week here at IntoMobile but the news never takes a break for the weekend, so you can look forward to regular updates over the next few days. Check us out on Twitter (@intomobile) or on Facebook. I’ll probably be heading out the door soon for super fancy and important stuff, but I’ll be back before you know it. Thanks for reading.