Bing For Android [Not Reviewed], Fail!

I was going to review Bing for Android, Microsoft's search engine's app for Android. I can't do the review and this post will explain why.
I would love to install the Bing app on one of my many devices...
I tried searching for the Bing application on my current main Android device (a ZTE Skate also known as the BAP) and it would not appear on the Android Market. Having had no luck finding it, I swapped phone and used my Samsung Galaxy Pro. No luck with that device either. Thinking all this was very strange, I then picked up my Archos 80 G9 Honeycomb tablet and searched for Bing in the Android Market. I was relieved to fing "Bing - Microsoft Corporation" but when in the Android Market description page was faced with this:
"This item is not available with your operator."
I was quite annoyed by this. I logged onto on my laptop and found the Bing application. When trying to select a device to install the application to I was faced by a list of 11 devices the application is not compatible with.
"This app is incompatible with all of your devices." Bing Fail!
So that's how what was going to be my review of the Bing app for Android turned into another blog post about Microsoft failure. I hope this is covered in the Linux Outlaws' Microwatch segment next week because it is really worthy of it in my opinion.

Microsoft have seen some sense (HTC pun not intended) and decided to get their search engine onto the fastest growing and soon to be dominant smartphone/tablet platform (mostly open source too!). They are not doing too well if their app is not compatible on my 11 devices which range from low-end low-res screens to high-res tablets.

I look forward to Microsoft sorting this out and being able to review the Bing app for Android at some point in the future...

As usual, feel free to leave comments and/or questions below.

The New Google Android Market

I've just updated the Android Market on my HTC Desire (running CyanogenMod 7.1 RC).

 The new Market application has a very Metro UI (Windows Phone 7) similar interface. I am already a fan of the Metro UI interface (you can get Launcher 7 for Android from the Market for free), so this update is well received on my phone.
Could this be an indicator of UI changes still to come in Android? Let the rumour excitement and speculation begin.

As usual, feel free to leave comments/questions at the end and Google +1 this post.

Launcher 7 For Android

One of the great things about Google's Android operating system for smartphones is that it is an open platform. To explain this simply, if you don't like anything or you just feel like it, you can change it. This applies from the simple appearance to core functionality and applications.
One of the components of Android is an application called "Launcher" that deals with the main user interface and look and feel of the homescreen and application drawer. The most common launcher layout is usually a horizontal homescreen you can scroll through where shortcuts and widgets can be added and a vertical scrolling application drawer. This is the user interface that has been in use since the first Android device released to the general public in 2008, the G1.
A Classic Android Homescreen

An Android Application Drawer
When Android smartphone manufacturers personalise the Android operating system, they often change the launcher or replace it with a new one, usually with added functionality and sometimes changing the user interface. Most manufacturers only change things slightly and add extra functionality (such as HTC with their Sense user interface, Motorola with MotoBlur and Samsung with TouchWiz). This helps them differentiate and brand their products.
HTC Sense Homescreen
Samsung's TouchWiz Homescreen

Motorola's MotoBlur Homescreen
The Android developer community has also developed many different launcher applications that replace the ones that come preloaded on phones. Often they are variations on the same user interface offering easier theming (changing colours, backgrounds, icons), less usage of memory and processor power (my favourite is Zeam Launcher), or completely different user interface and functionality (such as SlideScreen).
Zeam Launcher's Homescreen
Slidescreen's Homescreen
For the last few days I have been using a new launcher that imitates the Windows Phone 7 operating system's user interface called Launcher 7. At launch, Windows Phone 7 was not customisable in any way by manufacturers as far as the user interface was concerned. It has a tiled, minimalistic but functional user interface. Launcher 7 is easy to download from the Android Market and install on your device. Once it is installed just hit the Home button and you are usually given an option to choose which launcher to use: the one that was in use up until now or Launcher 7.
Launcher 7 Homescreen

Launcher 7 Application Drawer
I enjoy the sense of humor of the author of this launcher because he has replaced icons on tiles such as the Internet Explorer one with a Google Chrome one, and the Windows Marketplace with the Android Market. Launcher 7 is extremely functional (as is the UI of Windows Phone 7), and runs very, very smoothly on my HTC Desire. It does get easier to operate once you are used to it, and it is fun to confuse other phone geeks with by making them think you are running Windows Phone 7 on your Android device.

There are a large number of settings that are personalisable, such as adding tiles, changing the tiles colours and how icons appear on the tiles. You can also choose to hide the Android status bar to have a full screen experience.
Launcher 7 Settings Menu
Launcher 7 is available to download from the Android Market, and is fun to play around with. Try it out and see how you like it. You may decide to stick with it, or maybe even change your mobile device for a Windows Phone 7 one... I'm definitely not going to do that unless someone gives me one for free! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge Nokia!)

Feel free to post comments/questions!

What Google Announced On February 2nd 2011 [Android]

On February 2nd 2011 Google held their Android Honeycomb preview event in Mountain View, California. 

There were a few important points announced that I think I should summarise:

  • In Honeycomb (3.0), Google have revamped the Android user interface to be optimised for tablet computers

  • Android's native widgets will be more scrollable and interactive
  • Hardware acceleration of applications will be easy to implement for developers (one line of code)
  • Media capabilities of Android have been improved (new camera application user interface, new media player integration, video calling capabiliteies in GTalk)
  • Android Market website revamped with the possibility to install applications from your computer without needing to plug your phone in (wireless syncing through Google services)

  • Android applications will enable in app purchases

You can view the full presentation here if you have a spare hour or so.

Well, here's to a bright, video cally and tablety future...