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Thursday, September 17, 2009


Polaris Phone Rolls Self to Charger, Keeps an Eye on Users' Behavior *WOW*

Sure, your iPhone may play games, tell you where to eat, and surf the Internet, but can it tell you what you did the other day and how to do it better? Enter the Polaris phone, a new system designed by the giant mobile phone company KDDI and Japan's Flower Robotics.

The Polaris phone/robot is a three-part system that incorporates your phone, your television, and the robotic sphere seen above. The sphere contains speakers for the phone's music, and wheels that roll the sphere to the closest power source to charge the phone. The sphere's dock also links up with your television to display the detailed data about your life and behavior that the phone records (see below for a picture of a TV displaying the data).

Polaris Life Tracking System : via Impress

And what data does it record? Apparently everything. The phone follows where you go, who you email, what you buy, who you call, etc. Aside from telling you what happened after the fifth shot of tequila the other night, the phone also analyzes your habits for patterns, and gives out advice based on the data it collects.

The whole project is still in the prototype phase. The specifics of the data collection system, and the navigational skill of the sphere, need more work. However, the companies hope to have a commercial version of the system available by next year. Until then, I'll have to continue relying on my friends, not my rolling phonebot, to tell me what I did after I black out drunk.

"T Mobile Introduces The MotoCliq"

The selling point of Google Android is its customizability, the ability to create a unique-looking interface that's compatible with a steady stream of apps. The trouble is, most of the Android-based handsets we've seen -- starting with T-Mobile's G1 -- have all pretty much felt the same. The just-announced Motorola CLIQ, though, is the best example (so far) of what Android is capable of.

And we're not alone in that thought. Google's Mobile Platform VP Andy Rubin told Gizmodo that the CLIQ may be a more promising rep for the idea of Android than the G1. In fact if he has his way, the social features baked into the CLIQ could eventually become a native part of the platform. That's not to say the CLIQ won't turn up its fair share of "shoulda-coulda-wouldas," but it looks like a good start.

Welcome Motoblur, the CLIQ's user interface that brings Moto's own software and Android together seamlessly. The software allows simultaneous access to all your social networks, e-mail accounts, and contacts in a single feed -- much like the Palm Pre's WebOS. Blur has four parts: Happenings (social media site updates), Messaging (emails, site messages including Twitter direct messages, and texts), News Feeds (self-explanatory), and Social Status (blast all your accounts at once).

Contacts handling is especially WebOS-like. In addition to pulling all them into one place, viewing an individual contact shows your entire history, regardless of how the message was sent.

All this shows up on the home screen; from there you can reply to messages in your feed with a single click. As far as your own display preferences go, Motoblur lets you play with the home screen widgets and feeds to place them wherever you like.

Motoblur also keeps your contacts secure in a cloud-based server, so if you lose your phone or upgrade to another 'blur device, you can easily reload them. Plus, you can remotely wipe data from a lost or stolen handset.

Then there's the hardware. The CLIQ has a 320-by-480-pixel, 3.1-inch touch display and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It's much smaller than the T-Mobile G1, and pretty thin (0.61 inches) for a QWERTY slider. It also has a 5-megapixel camera, which is nice, but no Wi-Fi, which is not.

Look for the CLIQ on T-Mobile before the holidays, in white and titanium.


Last week, Skype released a client for the iPhone, and the whole world -- or at least 50 million iPhone users -- can rejoice. With free calls to other Skype users, the new app (available free from the Apple app store or from Skype)is ground-breaking, because it means you can place Internet calls without having to use AT&T carrier service. And, iPod Touch users now have a reliable VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) tool that is a real game-changer. Essentially, Skype turns the iPod Touch into a cell phone, without any carrier service.

Does the client really work? I tested the service over the past week, and found that it is very reliable in specific conditions, for both local calls and international chats. Skype for iPhone does have a few hang-ups though, and not the kind you'd normally hope for from a phone.

Truth be told, all VoIP clients -- such as Google Talk, Vonage, and Gizmo -- require a fast Internet connection running at 3Mbps or more. Your home router also plays an important role. Newer models such as the D-Link DIR-855 and the ZyXEL 550-NH have Quality-of-Service (QoS) features, which smooth voice calls by giving them priority over simple data downloads.

Local calls between Skype users were crystal-clear during most tests, both over a home broadband connection and at a public library. In a few cases, Skype for iPhone would cause a strange delay where the other party had to wait for the audio -- almost like it was held up in traffic. An international call had a similar problem which grew progressively worse. Anytime you call someone who does not use Skype, you'll use Skype Credits you buy at -- usually at just a few cents per minute. You also have to pay extra for voice mail and a private number in your own area code.

Gear & Gadgets, Tested, John Brandon, apple, cell phones, computers, gadget news, iphone, skype, voip
Still, Skype for iPhone has some cool extra features. If multiple people call you using the desktop version of Skype, you can add them to a conference call. Any call you make or receive is added to a history log, which you can view on your iPhone or the Web. You can also listen to voicemail on your phone or from your computer.

The most-publicized downside to the new client is that you can't make a call over iPhone 3G service; it only works over Wi-Fi. If you're connected via 3G, your Skype buddies can see that you're online, but nothing more.

For free, Skype for iPhone is worth the download -- just don't expect miraculous service.

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