Acer has recently announced the addition of a MeeGo based tablet, the M500 to its Iconia tablet range at Computex 2011.
Judging from the available pictures and videos of the Iconia M500 [tracking page], it bears a striking physical resemblance to it’s Android stable-mate, theÂ A500, and has the same 10.1â€ 1280×800 resolution screen.
The key difference is that it has a Intel based Moorestown processor under the hood.
The M500 offers a MeeGo driven user interface which Acer is calling a ‘snackable UI’.Â This is essentially a circular shape launcher widget (pictured above) that can be used to access and operate applications such as a browser or a music player.Â What I find unique is that the user touches the screen using five fingers in a circular shape (see picture below) in order to invoke the widget.
The M500 uses a widget based homepage and the eye candy offering is live widgets meaning that each widget will present its content when activated, allowing the user to view multiple live widgets content at a glance. Some notable widgets that were showcased during the Computex demos were for photo, video, calendar, social network feeds and time.
Acer has yet to announced a firm date for M500’s release and likewise, pricing is not known.Â Let’s hope that it will not be too far off the sub $500 mark of the A500.
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Today’s announcements by Nokia (there are many to sort through) have shocked a lot of people. The major focus here is that Nokia will now use Microsoft (Windows Phone 7) as their primary platform for smartphones. I want to emphasise that this is a revenue generating strategy. It doesn’t include disruptive computing devices which indicates the removal of risk elements within Nokias strategy.Â Symbian gets turned into a ‘franchise’ platform (cheap, stable and, probably, with less focus on corporate support.) Important for the financials is that R&D spend drops. Symbian â€“related spend drops away completely. MeeGo will get hit very hard here too. Whatever way you look at it, near-term investment in MeeGo from Nokia will drop.
This slide says it all.
The message is clear. MeeGo isn’t ready to be used for a smartphone platform in Nokias portfolio. Perhaps if Nokia had continued with Maemo, it would be ready now? Other potential partners in the MeeGo ecosystem will take note of the money spent on R&D by Nokia during this partnership and will look to see what Nokia develop over the next 12 months. Adding to the financial hit, this knocks confidence levels in MeeGo.
MeeGo remains in Nokias strategy but the message we see is that it will be used to experiment with the next generation of disruptive products. Open-source is gone from Nokia’s revenue-generating strategy. We’ve heard nothing about an expansion into tablets, smart-books or other non-phone devices so clearly, this indicates that either Nokia don’t want the financial markets to speculate about this or that they really don’t have a strategy at all here. Nokia have re-affirmed their commitment to delivering a Meego ‘Device’ this year and we suspect that this is an Intel-related commitment for a tablet in the 5-7â€ range to match focus on mobility, clear separation from WP7 devices and to match Intel’s Moorestown platform design limitations. Other MeeGo development work including chipset and industrial design (wait for it, this bit will hurt MeeGo fans) will be ‘repurposed’ in Windows phones.
Where does that leave MeeGo?
The Linux Foundation own the MeeGo brand, take care of the contributions and offer it out as an open-source solution. That hasn’t changed. Linaro, the ARM-focused organisation that can assist ARM product designers to match MeeGo to specific ARM-based platforms is still there. Nokia are still contributing. Intel are still contributing. Intel are still building platforms and services for MeeGo. MeeGo remains one of the best cross-product solutions based on Linux and is the only solution that includes dedicated hardware, development environment and (if AppUp for MeeGo launches at MWC as we expect) applications store. It is still the ‘complete stack’ solution I mentioned last week. What does happen is that Nokia now can’t be relied on as someone that will put a strong brand on a range of MeeGo products. Intel lost a launch partner.
Where does that leave Qt?
Qt will not be used on Windows Phone 7 devices. Without a doubt it waters down the proposition of developing for Qt and as a result, for MeeGo. Todays announcements reduces the potential of Qt to attract developers. On the plus-side, it probably removes OVI as a competing application store leaving Intel to focus on AppUp as the primary application store for MeeGo. A lack of direction for Qt is probably the most significant issue for MeeGo now.
Intel â€œremain committed â€œ
We asked Intel for a statement and we got this.
While we are disappointed with Nokia’s decision, Intel is not blinking on MeeGo. We remain committed and welcome Nokia’s continued contribution to MeeGo open source.
Our strategy has always been to provide choice when it comes to operating systems. MeeGo is one of those choices. We support a port of choice strategy that includes Windows, Android, and MeeGo. This is not changing.
Right now, Intel need to secure some significant product partners for MeeGo, Moorestown and Medfield and to shore-up the development ecosystem by pulling together partners that will also use Qt. Qt is now the burning platform which means AppUp on MeeGo is at risk too.
MWC starts in just a few days and we expect this to be a huge software event for Intel. MeeGo, Appup, IADP, AppLabs and other activities are being showcased. Intel, more than ever, need to use MWC to announce partners.
Stay tuned to Carrypad and we continue to follow this important story over the next week.
Moorestown platform – Demonstrating MeeGo and battery life advances.
MeeGo 1.2 – Demonstrating multi-touch and other core components.
UI layers written in Qt – Compelling demonstrations (probably created by Wind River)
AppUp store (probably Beta) launch.
‘Completing the stack’ is the sign to manufacturers that they can now create complete products around this hardware, software and services stack and I expect that Intel have lined up a few partners to make product announcements along this line. Expect a tablet or two and a few netbooks although availability could be Q2 or even later. AppUp is likely to be launched for Meego too because “AppUp center and content zones for Atom-based tablets, netbooks and smart TVs” will be in the Meego Pavilion.
There won’t be a huge amount of hardware to wow the technical press because end products aren’t ready yet so In addition, I’m expecting to see a working demo of a Medfield/MeeGo phone that I doubt will be seen again after it leaves the stage. (It’s likely to be another developer platform from Aava.) Intel will talk around this with key phrases like ‘power envelope’ , ‘full internet’ and ‘multitasking.’ You’ll also hear Android mentioned. Intel are likely to make it clearer that they are working (possibly with Google) on Android for Atom and there’s no reason why they can’t throw the ‘Honeycomb’ flag up too. It will give the journos something to speculate about!
Apart from signalling to important customers that MeeGo is ready and apart from sending out the right signals to the journalists and bloggers, they will be spending a huge amount of money and time courting developers. It’s the critical fuel for their plan and I can see it happening in two phases. 1) Talk to ISVs at MWC. Private meetings, public events, sweeteners. Launch more competitions. 2) Use the MeeGo conference in May to launch a very desirable tablet. In fact, why not announce it at MWC and give it away to all the developers the the MeeGo Summit!
This is, of course, my opinion and I dare say that there’ll be something I wasn’t expecting. A new software deal perhaps? Dalvik for MeeGo? WebOS and MeeGo co-op? All will be revealed one week from today.
If you’re at MWC, check out these two keynotes which could be interesting:
Paul Otellini Keynote on “The Evolution of the Mobile Internet” Hall 5, Aud. 1 at the Fira
Feb. 16, 9-10:30 a.m. CET
Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini will share his vision for the mobile Internet and describe the related trends, technologies, implications and opportunities for the industry. He’ll also highlight Intel’s progress and future plans to scale Intel® Atom(tm) microprocessors and software solutions to create smart, secure and seamless computing experiences across billions of new connected devices. The session will be moderated by David Rowan (editor, Wired UK) and other speakers will include Carol Bartz (CEO, Yahoo!), John Chambers (chairman and CEO, Cisco) and Masayoshi Son (chairman and CEO, Softbank).
Anand Chandrasekhar Keynote on “Mobile Devices: It’s What’s Inside that Counts” Hall 5, Room 6 at the Fira
Feb. 16, 4-5:30 p.m. CET
This session will examine key trends in the mobile device segments from a silicon, device, applications, and services perspective. Intel’s senior vice president and general manager of the Ultra Mobility Group will discuss these trends that have the potential to revolutionize the user experience over the next 5-10 years and what it will take
Full disclosure: Intel are sponsoring my trip to MWC without any activity or reporting commitments. (That means: Thanks Intel!)
I’ve been seeing a lot of talk and getting a lot of questions about a possible Nokia / Intel / MeeGo phone that could be launched at MWC. Rumors center around the Nokia N9 which is a slider phone said to be running MeeGo and to be launched at MWC. While it might be launching, I doubt very much it’s got Intel inside.
I’ve already predicted 2012 for Intel/MeeGo smartphones because Moorestown’s 2-chip solution isn’t quite perfect for a high-end smartphone. Especially one with limited space for battery as in the slider design you see. I’ve also had private hands-on with MeeGo on Moorestown and seen the work that needs to be done on the MeeGo core before it’s ready. I doubt Nokia want to release another developer-focused ‘demonstrator’ phone in the way they did with the N900
With Moorestown not quite right and MeeGo not quite ready, can you imagine the risk of Nokia would have to take showing a beta product or prototype based on MeeGo? No. Nokia and Intel will have agreed to make a splash with the first smartphone and I expect them to wait until later in the year.
Could the N9 be a MeeGo phone on a Ti platform? Yes. Ti were a Gold sponsor of the MeeGo conference in November.
Could we see it launched soon? I’m guessing May based on the fast that Nokia could be working with MeeGo 1.2 beta releases.
Will Nokia pre-announced the N9 at MWC? Assuming it’s a MeeGo product, I doubt it. Nokia have stated that they don’t want to ‘leak’ or preview devices any more.
And here’s another data point:
I spoke to Intel at the end of November about Moorestown and Medfield progress. Here’s what they said:
Is Moorestown in full production now?
Yes, Moorestown has been in production since we rolled it out in May 2010. Our tablet and smartphone customers are using the platform to build their own devices and this is the current focus on Moorestown.
Target was 2010 for products, Why the delay?
You can expect Moorestown based tablets in 1H’11 and smartphones later in the year.
What operating systems options are you planning to offer for Moorestown? Moorestown supports both Android and MeeGo.
Are you accelerating Medfield?
Medfield is on track and scheduled to launch in 2011
There’s a hint of of a Moorestown smartphone in the answer to the first question but look at the timescales in question 2. ‘Later’ than 1H 11 sounds like 2H 2011 to me. If a Moorestown smartphone is going to happen, it’s not happening until the second half of the year. Medfield isn’t being accelerated as far as I can see based on the answer to the last question.
MWC is going to be big for Nokia and big for Intel. Look at the floor space that Intel have this year. Two booths, a Meego hospitality suite, the Wind-River subsidiary and a keynote with Paul Otellini. Rene James , head of the Software and Services Division says this:
There are things we’ll announce at Mobile World Congress that will shed a lot more light on why the value proposition [of MeeGo] makes a lot of sense for consumers and device manufacturers. [ref]
MWC will be all about software for Intel. AppUp on MeeGo. Tablet UI. Major ISV partners. MeeGo V1.2 beta announcement. Major brand joining the MeeGo partnership. All these things are more likely than the Nokia/Intel phone.
As for Intel hardware, expect to see tablets based on Moorestown running MeeGo 1.2 beta and Android. If that’s done right, it could be big enough news to keep the momentum going until later in the year.
We’ve just recorded Meet:Mobility Podcast 62. If you haven’t tuned in, please do because JKK, Sascha and myself spend a long time talking in detail about what happened in mobile computing at CES and give you a good overview of the significant products we got to understand while were in Las Vegas. For me, the show brought me the biggest signal yet that the X-over is happening. That’s X86 and ARM platforms crossing over in the mobile and personal computing space.
We’ve seen many indicators before now that ARM-derived processing platforms and operating systems were capable of personal computing tasks. I tested the Compaq Airlife almostÂ a year ago (Fully Reviewed in May) and the Tegra2-based Toshiba AC100 that I still have for testing is everything needed for a good smart-book / PC experience except the software build but there hasn’t been a time when so many top-tier manufacturers have shown the same confidence by bringing out multiple X-over products. In that respect, CES 2011 is a very important year and I do believe that we’ll look back and say, yes, that was the start of the crossover.
It will be a turbulent year or whirlwind activities. We’re rising out of a depression and there’s new confidence that risks can be taken. Many of the products we’re seeing won’t’ succeed either due to being too early or by being side-swiped by other disruptive products.
Tablets came-of-age at CES 2011. The rising quality of devices and the number of top tier brands shows that there’s a big enough level on investment now that the segment is unlikely to fail to produce multi-million sales. Estimates range up to 40m units for 2011 which will match netbook sales. I agree. 40m is achievable, especially as prices drop like a ton of bricks.
We’re not just talking about tablets though. There are a whole list of products we need to mention.
Motorola Atrix. Taking the prize for most-talked about device at CES is this dual-core Android phone with a big battery and lots of connectivity. The laptop ‘dock’ turned it into a desktop that made people stop and think. This idea of modular computing is exciting but there are lots of issues to consider. I have a Tegra 2 smart-book running Android and while it’s fun, it’s not productive. Processing power is short of what is needed and the apps are limited. Despite a full Firefox build being available on the Atrix, the limits I’ve experienced on the Toshiba AC100, will also apply to the Atrix until Honeycomb and a lot of ISV investment, solve the problem. I also imagine the cost of that set-up to be getting close to $800 or more. Who’s going to invest that much into a system that still won’t do 100% of personal computing activities? There’s also the issue of putting all your eggs in one basket. Smartphones have a tendency to get lost! The Atrix is a cool product and shows very clearly how desk-top computing will be possible with smartphone cores.
ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. Like the Atrix, this is a device aiming to be more than one computing solution. Unlike the Atrix, this one offers the tablet as the screen and computing core with a docking keyboard finishing off the ‘smart book’ look. The smartphone ‘core’ isn’t so obvious and this isn’t a device aiming to be totally convergent. In fact, it feels to me like it fits in with it’s target audience in a more comfortable way than the Atrix. A consumer, coffee-table tablet with an optional keyboard for ‘getting things done’ sounds perfect for the iPad generation. With Android offering great in-cloud synchronisation, a two-device Android strategy could work well, especially as this product will get the important Honeycomb operating system update. [More info on the ASUS products at CES available here]
Gemtek. Highlighting the progress that Intel are making with their non-Windows platforms is the Gemtek Zeus. While the product is targeted as a media phone, it’s worth stopping for a moment to look at exactly what’s happening here. This is Android version 2.2 on an Intel Moorestown platform. That’s an official Intel Android build (that is likely to become an official branch of Android) optimised for Intels always-on platform. The product is light, is said to have good battery life. It highlights just how close ARM and Intel products are in the mobile space â€“ and this is just Intels first attempt!
OLPC XO-1.75 â€“ One Laptop Per Child product was another win for ARM this week. Starting with an AMD CPU and then moving to VIA, another X86 CPU, they have now switched over to a Marvel ARMADA 610 ARMv7 core for the XO-1.75 which should go into production in mid 2011. The difference in battery life is likely to be very significant because in the past, they were using relatively old X86 CPUs. Always-on, screen-off standby is also now possible. It will be important to see the performance too. Compared to the very old AMD Geode CPU that was used in the original, there shouldn’t be any noticeable difference at all and yet the power envelope has been cut from 5W to 2W! There’s an interesting video available on this here. OLPC CTO Edward J. McNierney says in the video that the performance is now better!
Honeycomb â€“ Finally, the gun has been fired for a true large-screen version of Android. This is likely to be a branch of Android that will run parallel to version 2.x but the important thing is that it signals Googles commitment which, in turn, with give ISVs the confidence to invest in larger Android application projects. Serious productivity apps, video editing and ‘HD’ versions of existing applications. Motorola and Nvidia were the big winners as they have been chosen to provide the reference hardware and product. Soon after the Xoom launches you can expect to see more Honeycomb product announcements that will roll in the second half of 2011.Finally, we could see a productive ‘smart’ book although don’t forget that Intel will also be involved here. Honeycomb on i86 is announcement I expect to hear about soon.
Windows and Office on RISC SOCs. This was a huge announcement that gives ARM partners a reason to take a Cortex A15 license if they haven’t done so already. I’m not expecting to see a mobile product drop out of Microsoft onto ARM but again, it gives ISVs reason to create ARM versions of applications. That effort could spill over into Honeycomb-related work too. Interestingly, it puts Adobe in a great position as a runtime that will work across all of these platforms and operating systems. They could find themselves being used as an important bridge. Timescales for Windows, timescales for drivers, timescales for ported software are all in the 2-5 year timeframe although X86 emulation could speed that up? Developers could be given virtual ARM SDKs to aid development work which would explain why Microsoft took a full ARM license this year.
One of the interesting things about Windows on ARM is that, finally, it will give everyone the ability to benchmark ARM against X86 in like-for-like products. My money is on Intel having the processing power advantage and ARM offering battery life and price advantages. Differences, however, are likely to be minimal and it could all be decided on value-add features like security, wireless integration and application stores. OEDs are the ones that will make the decision here.
Angry Birds on AppUp. Angry Birds migrated from ARM to X86 this week as Intel announced that the popular phone game was available on their AppUp store. That makes it available to some 100 million netbook and notebook customers and will have driven a large number of installations of the AppUp store that doesn’t yet come pre-installed on netbooks. Clearly Intel have bought-in the app to drive adoption but even so, it’s great to see and it won’t take many more of these wins before AppUp starts to drive its own adoption. Video demo here.
I was surprised not to hear any news concerning Windows 7 Compact. Microsoft still don’t have a consumer internet device operating system for the 4-10â€ segment. What’s going on there?
Intel’s Oaktrail surprised me at CES. I saw a number of WIndows-based products that were significantly smaller than I expected and had logner battery life than I expected. At least the claims of battery life seem to be good anyway. Viliv, a company that has both an ARM/Android and Intel Oaktrail/Windows product in the same 7â€ screen casing proved that parity has almost been reached. The X70 Slate is some 35% lighter than the previous model and even increases the battery life from 6 to 6.5hrs. I can’t wait to see the performance on both Intel and ARM versions. The Samsung Gloria/PC7/TX100 was also an interesting product in terms of technology, size and battery life on Intel. Ocosmos are also working on an Oaktrail device. It’s tiny!
Nvidia announced project ‘Denver’ which aims to bring ARM to the desk-top. [More info] I suspect this is a Cortex A15 project and won’t see the light of day until 2013 but once again, there’s the confidence and investment in a crossover product. These are hugely expensive projects so the message is clear now â€“ the risks are low enough and potential gains are high enough to get these projects underway.
Finally, there was another signal that crossover is starting to happen. I used a Galaxy Tab A LOT at CES. Wifi and 3G internet was hard to come-by but as my PIM, note-taking device, map and Twitter device it worked perfectly and preserved my phone battery , a Nokia N8, for photos and those voice-type things some people do! SMS were also handled on the N8. The netbook was with me most of the time and, like now, there’s no easier way to get a lot of text in a blog and video edited and posted. For bum-on-seat activities, I still need Windows but I surprised myself just how much I used the tablet. You’ll see me use it a lot more at MWC next month.
While ARM and Android is allowing designers to move mobile computing products into the personal computing space, Intel and Android are going in the other direction.
We’ve seen Android on X86 before and it doesn’t really impress when it’s on a standard PC platform with no always-on, GPS, 3G and market but when it’s shown on Moorestown, as it was last year at MWC, it’s another matter, especially when it’s Intel’s official build of Froyo for the Moorestown platform.Â Here it is again in the Gemtek Zeus home tablet with an updated user interface. We weren’t able to get the full specs or even play around with this home phone/automation tablet but we did happen to bump into the product manager while we were filming. He says that the product is due in Q2 and after we had finished filming, revealed that they are also working on a MeeGo 1.2 product for later in the year.
While Meego on Moorestown is an interesting story, I bet the combination of Android on X86 raises more eyes. We’re at the Intel booth and Gemtech are showing the Zeus some tablet. Not much information here although I did speak to a representative who tells us it is being test by carriers right now and will launch in Q2. There’s a Meego version in the works too.
I’m surprised that Intel have been allowed to announce partner names but in a presentation at the Barclays Capital 2010 Global Technology Conference, Paul Otellini has done just that and highlighted that Windows, MeeGo and Android will be on Atom next year.
The report comes via CNet who tracked the live audio from the conference and picked up that the Android builds will be both Froyo and Gingerbread. He also highlighted that Oaktrail is the Windows-compatible version of the new platform and Moorestown optimised even further and supporting only MeeGo and Android. That much we knew already. We also know from previous information that smartphones on Moorestown are taking longer than planned. Behind the scenes, I’m getting the feeling that Moorestown won’t be used for phones and that the focus is now on Medfield, due in late 2011. Note also that the Android build is behind MeeGo. That’s information that we were given at IDF in Sept 2010 and it means that those devices could be planned for the second half.
Slightly disappointing is that the slide shows only Tablets and that the bulk of these are Windows. Some of those won’t even be on the mobile platform because the netbook platform is going to feature. Focus should really be on unique designs such as smart-books, social netbooks and how about a bit of keyboard love? Continuing use of Windows with its lack of ‘always-on’ and business focus is just going to end up with devices that get bad reviews.
Highlight for me is Dell using Android. This will be on Moorestown and could be their 10â€ offering. If so, that’s a great win for Intel.
The good news here is that Moorestown is ready. I heard only last week that it’s been in production for months now. It only needs the OS to be completed and we’re away with a new always-on option and the first X86 platform that doesn’t support a Microsoft OS! I just hope that those MeeGo devices are going to be ground-breaking otherwise Nokia will NOT be happy!
We were lucky enough to get a few days with the Aava / Intel / Meego phone earlier this year and our tests with the handset UX showed that there was a lot of work to do. In a presentation at the MeeGo onference in Dublin today, we saw progress, a good working demo and future planning but still, there’s so much missing. Granted, these user-experiences are just baseline builds to show how the core features can be used but still, it seems to us there are some hooks that need to be added.
With no active icons support (showing number of unread emails for example) and a single homescreen with no widget support it means that product developers will have a lot of work to do to implement these features. On the other hand, the notifications subsystem looks good with support for multiple notification types triggering multiple different notification methods including notification lights, haptics and of course, dialog boxes. We didn’t see any dialog box handling mechanism though so we’re hoping this will be well controlled when it gets implemented.
The demo was done on a Moorestown based Aava Smartphone platform.
We’ve spent a week in San Francisco at one of the biggest developer shows of the year and haven’t posted a single article on Carrypad yet and that’s because most of what we saw was Windows-based. That, in our eyes, isn’t exactly the ideal solution for consumer-focused solutions we would be reporting on at Carrypad. The Dell Duo was cool but it’s Windows 7 on a netbook platform with a launcher. The ExoPC was cool but once again, it was a Windows 7 netbook without the keyboard. The Ocosmos OC1 was amazing but once again, its a Windows 7 device.
Only one item stood out for me in terms of consumer-focused solutions and I haven’t reported on it yet â€“ Its an Android tabletâ€¦on Intel.
We don’t know too much about the device yet because the NFS NPad was being used as a demonstrator by another company but from what we see, Moorestown is going to enable far far better consumer-focused solutions than the N450 and N550 solutions we’ve been seeing running Windows. It was thin and very light (comparable to the Archos 101 which runs on an ARM Cortex core) and surprisingly, running Android. A quick look around the net tells us that the NPad also appeared at Computex and has also been spotted running Red Flag’s MeeGo-based Linux distribution. This is a sign of what might happen when MeeGo meets Moorestown so if you’re not worried about Windows but still want a powerful tablet, this could be worth waiting for.
I hope you’ve already read the ‘warning’ article I posted last week because unfortunately, the Aava phone isn’t something we can review or draw any conclusions from. It’s a developer platform, a demonstrator and a showcase item. It’s using beta hardware and pre-Alpha software too so if you’re expecting something shiny at this stage, I’m sorry that this article will probably disappoint you. If you see others drawing conclusions based on their (or this) hands-on, you should also treat them as inconclusive. It’s just too early to tell.
At best, I can highlight the platform for potential ISVs, OEMs, competitors, integrators, carriers and Linux distributors and maybe mention something about the direction of the handheld UX (user experience) for MeeGo but both hardware and software are likely to change drastically before launch in Q4. It would be great for our traffic and links if we were to trumpet a breakthrough in processing power and UI but I’m sorry, you’re going have to wait until we see real products before that happens. I know, I’ll never be a real journalist ;-)
I want to thank Intel Europe before going any further though. (You can follow their Atom-related work on Twitter) They’ve been open about their work with the platform and respect to them for giving early-stage prototypes out to a blogger. There’s always a big risk in doing that. We remain in good contact with the Intel teams and will do further testing in due course.
So on to the ‘product’ then. Using the Intel Moorestown platform, the Aava phone at least highlights how small a ‘PC’ can be. It’s a truly pocketable size and comes with all that you would expect from a smartphone; Capacitive screen, camera, stereo speakers, Micro-SD and Micro USB and a 5.5Wh battery. We would have liked to have got into the command-line to check out some more hardware and battery usage information but in the limited time we had, it wasn’t possible. What we did do though was check out the pre-Alpha (developers) build of MeeGo 1.1 It’s the first time we’ve been able to touch the UI and to get an idea of the look and feel and although it doesn’t bring anything dramatically new in terms of layout, it builds on intuitive swipes and taps to make a UI that was simple to understand. A home-screen where presumably you’ll find widgets, presents a small launcher bar for some favorite apps and the application list itself. This second-layer application pane is similar to Android and forces the user, in many cases, to have to unlock, open the application pane, find the application and then launch it which is one layer of UI deeper than you’ll find on the iPhone. It makes way for an active homescreen though. We weren’t able to experience notifications on this version of MeeGo.
Not much is working on this build and most applications are placeholders but we got to check out the dialer application (phone stack didn’t appear to be functional), some settings (WiFi was working) and the Firefox Mobile browser which has potential to be a very high quality browser if startup and page view times can be improved. The recent build for Maemo includes some really advanced features which weren’t working on this MeeGo build.
I was a bit surprised by the reaction to my post and tweets about the Aava Intel/Moorestown/MeeGo phone this afternoon. Engadget and Wired picked it up and did a sensible job of reporting that it’s a prototype but there are a lot of people out there that might not understand what this hardware and software really is.
The issue is that the Aava phone is actually a reference design and development platform and it is unlikely to be a phone you’ll ever be able to buy. It’s likely to have had some financial and engineering input from Intel and will have already been distributed to some major customers in order for them to asses the platform.
As far as I understand it, the Aava phone was made to stimulate mobile phone hardware manufacturers and to help developers get on with the top-priority job of buildingÂ class-leading mobile operating systems, applications and user interfaces, namely MeeGo, Android and the related user interface ‘experiences’Â and overlays.
So on to the ‘experience’ I have in my hands here. At the most, i’ll be able to show you the look and feel of the user interface, give you an idea of how Fennec, the built-in browser, performs on the Moorestown platform, show you around the Aava hardware (good for those thinking of paying the probable $1K – $2K for the development kit) I don’t expect the software stack to include any closed-source video codecs and for that matter, no commercial software that’s not part of the core MeeGo build and there’s no-way i’ll be able to get a feel for battery life as we don’t know how well the current software couples with the dedicated power control chip.
The Aava phone represents a true moment in computing history and i’m honored to be able to report on it but let’s not forget, this isn’t anything like retail-quality hardware or software yet.Â MeeGo 1.1 is due for release in October so you can imagine the timescales for products and it’s already known that Intel expects tablets to be released with MeeGo before phones are.
Hardware and software build kindly loaned by Intel Germany and largely enabled through my participation in the ‘Intel Insider’ program.