Category: Google

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich runs on Texas Instruments OMAP4460

Posted by – October 19, 2011

The new awesome Samsung Galaxy Nexus was just unveiled in Hong Kong. It has an amazing 1280×720 4.65″ HD Super AMOLED screen, LTE/HSDPA+ and runs on the new Texas Instruments OMAP4460 1.2Ghz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor. This is what TI’s Vice President of OMAP platform business unit Remi El-Ouazzane has to say about this:

Today is a great day for our collaboration with Google…The long-awaited Android 4.0 release is finally being revealed with the OMAP4460 processor powering the absolutely gorgeous Samsung Galaxy Nexus device. I am so excited about this launch. What I may be the most excited by is not only the ability to converge to one Android release for both smartphones and tablets, but to be able to pack that level of performance across graphics or video on an HD screen and within the power envelope of a smartphone device…This is where our OMAP smart multicore architecture makes a huge difference. At the end of the day, brute force (number of cores, for instance) does not rival sophistication.

and a further statement from TI:

Today, TI proudly revealed a major OMAP platform milestone: yes, the highly-anticipated Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” release runs on the OMAP4460 processor. This advancement is an exceptional demonstration of what OMAP processors uniquely do, and what separates them from competitors in the mobile processing world: the ability to provide hardware-integrated security, distinctive and advanced imaging features, enhanced memory and more, all on a smart multicore architecture.

Here are some of my impressions and expectations for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich:

- This means Samsung can maybe “easily” update processor speed to 1.5Ghz and maybe also later to the OMAP4470 1.8Ghz when those faster OMAP4 processors become available.

- I don’t know how fast Samsung can manufacture these screens and how much it costs them, my guess is this screen is the most expensive Super AMOLED yet, and I guess that Super AMOLED is already quite a bit more expensive than LCD and I wonder if Samsung is able to manufacture enough of these screens to not create major shortages for the availability of this Galaxy Nexus worldwide for the months to come. If there is one phone worth queuing up for if you want to be sure to get one in the first weeks/months at release, this may be it.

- They haven’t yet shown what happens when you connect to HDTV output, I wonder if the “pins” on the side provide HDMI and data output/input or/and if an MHL connector takes care of this like on the Samsung Galaxy S2. I expect the full Motorola Atrix type Laptop Dock, Desktop Dock, Multimedia Dock, all those features are likely part of Android 4.0, which is why I think Ice Cream Sandwich means the merger of Android with Chrome OS and Google TV.

- Samsung Galaxy Nexus is likely going to be expensive. This is not news though for high-end smartphones, those are all ridiculously expensive today. But that’s just how things are, and they are able to sell tens of millions at those expensive prices. Consider that you are paying $2000 to $3000 for this phone with a 2 year contract. Considering the possibility that Samsung may not be able to manufacture enough of those 720p HD Super AMOLED screens, they may even purposefully increase the price even further at launch.

Google buys Hardware company for $12.5 Billion

Posted by – August 16, 2011

Here are some numbers according to Josh Pritchard, posted on Quora about a week before this acquisition was announced:

–Motorola actually has ~$3.2B in cash (~$170M are “cash deposits”), with $200M more coming from Motorola Solutions, per the terms of the separation.
–They have $2.4B in deferred tax assets, that Google presumably plans to use (the media seems to be completely missing this one).

So, if you net the cash and tax assets, it’s more like ~$7B that Google is paying for the operating businesses and the patents.

Motorola Mobility has $6.2 Billion in assets (buildings and other stuff?) according to Wikipedia. Google gets 19 thousand new employees (up from 29 thousand current Google employees, a 65% jump in employee count).

Of course, what everyone is talking about are those 17 thousand patents and 7 thousand pending patents that Motorola Mobility has. Consider Motorola is a 80 year old company. Their patents most likely include many of the interesting Hardware Patents, I’m not a lawyer, but I am pretty sure strong Hardware Patents are worth much more than bogus software patents. This means Android, Chrome OS, Google TV can stay free and open source forever. Apple and Microsoft have to drop all their bogus lawsuits against Android companies immediately. Google now has the patent on the mobile phone, the Apple iPhone can be illegal tomorrow if Google wants it to be.

What do I think Google is going to do:

1. Ask the genius team behind the Motorola Atrix to join the Android team to make a platform that combines Ice Cream Sandwich, Google TV and Chrome OS into the ultimate ARM Powered device. Provide that solution as an all-in-one standard for the Android ecosystem and not just make it one product.

2. Interview any of the other 19 thousand employees at Motorola Mobility, ask who wants to work within Android, within Google or remain within Motorola Mobility and to do what. They can invent some genius interview process so somehow everyone gets what they want and what they deserve.

3. Maybe Samsung, HTC, Sony-Ericsson or simply the stock market are later offered to buy back the Motorola Mobility Hardware division without the patents but with free unlimited licence to use any of the patents on Android devices. In 6 months, if the stock market has somewhat recovered, Google may get all their money back for that.

4. Or Google can find use in owning Motorola, perhaps ask Motorola to design hardware such as Cheap $50 Android phones to bring Android to all people in the developing world, special focus on Brazil, Russia, India, China (potentially 1-2 Billion Android phones can be sold there in 1-2 years), Google can ask Motorola design $50 ARM Powered Google TV enabled Set-top-boxes that all consumers and all Pay-TV providers are going to use.

5. Maybe Android is mature enough (owning more than 80% of the smart phone market by the end of the year), Google may want to use Motorola to launch White Spaces networks worldwide for free wireless broadband for all. $99 Android phones unlocked that include unlimited free Google Voice, unlimited free wireless broadband in every city all over the world. White Spaces are unstoppable. Maybe this is the time. They can bundle a Motorola router with the phone, you plug it to your home ADSL/Cable/Fiber to expand that White Spaces network in your neighborhood.

Google Wallet, your Android becomes your wallet/ID/tickets/offers and more, but does it use ARM TrustZone yet?

Posted by – May 27, 2011

Google wants to replace your wallet, your passport, your ID, to be used for ticketing, for local offers, coupons, deals and more. But is it secure yet?

We need this pin code mode and it needs to be fully 100% secure. But is it yet secure in this first implementation with NFC on the Nexus S 4G? Does Google yet use some type of deep hardware level security like the ARM TrustZone Mobile Payments platform?

We need this pin code screen to show up full screen, and there needs to be some kind of light diode indicator confirming that you are in 100% secure mode. That kind of pin code screen needs to come up to confirm every login, every payment, every money transfer. If they can do that in the way ARM is suggesting with TrustZone, this should make of this system a fully secured way to replace wallets, ID, Passports, tickets, coupons and more.

I want to login to my Google Account using my phone’s pin code security system. I want this system to replace all login username/passwords on the web. This system needs to become the new interface for a new type of OpenID system. Google released in February an SMS based secure login service that they offer to all Google Account holders today. But SMS is not seamless, it’s not really usable, the pin code screen needs to popup on your smartphone right there as you are trying to login, authenticate your access or to pay for something. That pin code authentication mechanism could perhaps be replaced by some kind of bio-metric authentication, or a kind of screen lock mechanism. Think of it like that calculator that you use for your security for your net banking, it needs to be the same integrated right into your phone.

Here’s the 1-hour video of this Google Wallet announcement, embedded to start at time-code 22 minutes (you can rewind and watch the whole thing if you want) where Rob von Behren talks about the NXP PN65 based Secure Element solution, which sounds like this is true hardware based security!

Eric Schmidt talks about why Android gets more volume and more investments in the platform

Posted by – May 17, 2011

He has said it before, but perhaps not as explicitly when talking about tablets, and it’s always fun to see Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, explain Android’s strategy vs Apple.

Eric Schmid:
It’s a classic contest in high-tech. In that contest, you have a very well run, very focused, closed competitor who builds a great product that does something that is very usefull. That would be Apple. You have another competitor who makes all the technology available to everybody else, and using various creativity and various partnerships gets the benefit over everyone else’s creativity. Because there are more people involved in the open side of that, that side will eventually get more volume, have more investment, therefore have more creativity, more innovation, and ultimately the end user will choose the open one over the closed one.

Fareed Zakaria:
Except right now, the open one, all these tablets that are Android based, let’s be honest, they are not as good as the iPad and they are more expensive, which strikes me as unusual.

Eric Schmidt:
Which product will produce a lower cost product quicker? One manufacturer for a product or many manufacturers competing? The matter of fact is that we are just at the beginning of this fight. And the fight between two very well run, very large, very significant ecosystem companies, will ultimately produce great value for consumers because the fight between them will keep prices low, keep these systems honest and open and encourage the kinds of investments that people want to see. One of the greatest things about this contest is that people who win in this are the consumer.

(…)

There is pride in both approaches but they are completely different. In Apple’s case, they can continue to build beautiful and excellent products. The ecosystem that Google represents will continue and already has more volume, more users and will have more investment in the platform. Ultimately that will produce cheaper, better and faster products for everybody.

Posted by Fareed Zakaria on CNN GPS

ARM Powered Google TV now confirmed officially by Google

Posted by – May 14, 2011

You got the tip from me from an anonymous source here since January (I have been speculating about it (2) (3) (4) for over a year), clues about it from ARM President Tudor Brown last year in November, and re-confirming rumors through Samsung in February, Google announced at Google I/O this week that Ice Cream Sandwich combines Android, Honeycomb and Google TV into one release (thus Google TV features on ARM), now it’s being reported by PC World that Google TV product manager Rishi Chandra is confirming the ARM Powered Google TV platform like this:

for the price issue, Chandra said that Google has now qualified ARM chips to be used to run the Google TV software, instead of just the Intel Atom chips that currently power the Revue. Moore’s Law–the inevitable increase in chip performance driven by increasing transistor density–will push the performance of the cost-optimized ARM chips up high enough to compete with Atom, while helping drive down the overall platform price, Chandra said.

I have thus far video-blogged over 60 ARM Powered Set-top-boxes from all the consumer electronics trade shows over the past 2 years, most are running Android, all of which could in theory run the Google TV software.

Of course, it is up to Google to decide what kind of hardware requirements they want to enfore for Google TV on ARM, if they want those to only feature the full suite of HDMI pass-through features, meaning HDMI input and output, Infrared blasters (to change the channel on your cable/satellite set-top-box), USB hosts, Bluetooth and more, then that would disqualify just about all of the ARM Powered set-top-boxes that I have filmed thus far. I wouldn’t know how much more those hardware features require, and perhaps that requires an ARM Cortex-A9 at the minimum to run all the overlay user interface features and preferably 1080p at 60fps support at the minimum.

I think it is more likely and more logical that Google will decide to be as open as possible about Google TV on ARM, and thus support all the SoC that are currently being used and that will most likely be used. I think that means Google TV on ARM could work in “AppleTV/Roku mode”, meaning no HDMI inputs, just the Google TV experience of bringing the Web and WebTV on the TV on this separate HDMI port to your HDTV. That is why I expect there to be two kinds of Google TV on ARM:

1. Basic Google TV on ARM, this is HDMI output only, Bluetooth or RF/USB keyboards with mouse pad accessory can be used. This solution could work on 100% of the ARM Powered Set-top-boxes that I have filmed. And I believe this will be included turning every Android Smartphone/Tablet with Ice Cream Sandwich and every Tablet with Honeycomb 3.1 into a Google TV “for free”. See the Google Android Team’s response to my question submitted on the possibility of turning all Android devices into free Google TV devices when HDMI is used:

2. The Full ARM Powered Google TV experience, including HDMI pass-through, IR blaster, USB hosts, Ethernet, etc.. Since Chris DiBona answers to my question above “There’s all this other stuff that goes into a Google TV that isn’t in a phone”, well then, the Full ARM Powered Google TV will be that type that does it all. But that should not prevent an Android device with a basic HDMI output and not much else to still display many if not most of the Google TV UI features right there on the HDTV.

3. There is also a third scenario that I am envisioning, Google might use their Android Hardware division to plan out a new type of Multimedia TV Docking system for Android, using nothing more than HDMI, USB slave/host and evt MHL (that combines both into one Micro-USB connector). Basically the idea here is a cheap TV Dock that should work with most if not all Android Smartphones that have HDMI, USB (or MHL) to turn those into full Google TV, thus using the USB slave/host to transmit the right infos back and forward and feature in that Dock the right HDMI input and output, IR blaster, USB host duplicators, Ethernet connector, charging and more. The idea is a new Google Open Accessory design that could sell for $49 to dock any Android Smartphone with HDMI/USB or MHL and thus turn those into full Google TV. A solution which could evt also turn any ARM Powered Set-top-box into a full Google TV box also with adding the HDMI in/out, IR and more to those. Maybe it could be called the Google TV adapter, converter or extender.

Here’s the 56 minute session on some of the Google TV Honeycomb 3.1 upgrades and development tools at Google I/O:

Chris Pirillo says Chromebook just killed the PC industry

Posted by – May 13, 2011

My take on it is that the Chromebook is the first serious challenger to Windows/Mac in terms of being installed in a mass market retail product. It’s the first ever mass market Linux laptop (after the One Laptop Per Child non-profit reaching 2.5 million children with Linux Laptops in the developping world since 2007). It’s the first ever mass market ARM Powered laptop. It can be configured to be the cheapest laptop to make, the safest, the fastest, the thinnest, the lightest and the easiest to use. Chromebook may be the first successful carrier subscription based laptop.

For Chromebook to sell more than Windows, here’s what I think Chromebook needs to be:

- $199 or less in an ARM Powered configuration
- Use Pixel Qi with ARM and you’ve got 30 hours battery runtime in a sub-1kg 11.6″ or 12.1″ super slim form factor
- They should subsidize these in partnership with the carriers to do a subscription model for normal consumers like this:
1. Sell it for $99 or less on a 2-year contract with $10/month/100mb or $20/month/1GB 3G/LTE data plan
2. Bandwidth upgrades should be max $10/GB, $20/5GB, $30/10GB on-demand one-click
3. They can use carrier billing (thus carrier revenue share) for bandwidth upgrades, for cloud media subscriptions, on-demand, Chrome Web Store web apps and for all Google Checkout based online shopping
4. Provide an optional hardware upgrade once a year with contract extension. Used devices can be resold refurbished.
5. Provide 100GB or more cloud storage and full Google Apps for consumers with the subscription, offer guarantee of available of advanced web apps such as HD video editing (with many or most of the features of Avid/Finalcut), photo editor. And all these web apps must feel near instant to load and work offline, a web app should only need to get reloaded if it detects that there is a new version available. Gmail should load instantly for example.
6. Obviously, Google Voice and Google Music needs to be worldwide. They should also expand with a Google Video cloud storage. Basically they can allow people to upload 20’000 songs and 1’000 movies for free, the reason being, Google only needs to store one copy of each song or movie, and if the upload client (also on Chrome OS) detects that the file you want to upload already exists on Google’s servers in equal or better quality, it should instantly beam it to your account without actually requiring you to upload anything. Google should not care to try to filter out any “illegal” Mp3, Flac, DivX, MKV files. Eventually they can introduce unlimited music/movies subscription plans like Spotify/Netflix but they should aim at being able to include access to everything in those unlimited subscriptions, this might only be achievable through Government regulation of online content subscriptions.

If Google can deliver on those things and quickly, which is what I expect them to be able to do, then I think it’s obvious Chromebook could become the number 1 PC/Laptop OS as quickly as they became number 1 OS in smartphones since the Nexus One was released.

Can we expect to see some ARM Powered Chromebooks (or Chromiumbooks) at Computex in Taiwan at the end of May from all the Taiwanese notebook designers (Inventec, Pegatron, Wistron, Foxconn, Shuttle, Gigabyte etc..) who design upwards 90% of worldwide notebooks?

Android@Home enables 100 Billion new ARM Powered devices

Posted by – May 12, 2011

Android Open Accessory Development Kit

Android Open Accessory Development Kit

Android@Home enables the Internet of Things.

The biggest announcement at Google I/O was the launch of the Android@Home Open Accessory Development platform. This is the platform for a whole new world of accessories and connecting everything through Android to the Internet. Suddenly, we are smart about all things and all things become smart.

Now we are not only talking about about connecting 7 Billion people to the Internet with Android Smartphones, now it becomes about connecting 100 Billion things through Android to the Internet.

Why the Internet of things? Why using Android?

The cost to add an ARM processor such as one of the ARM Cortex-M series, with sensors, switches and wireless connectivity in every appliance in your home may cost as little as few cents or a few dollars per device. It’s so cheap that as soon as an open standard is established and as soon as applications are planned out, all devices will get connected with this technology. Watch my video with Nuvotron NuMicro at Embedded World 2011 about the cost ($0.50-$2) and use of ARM Cortex-M0 32bit microcontrollers in all types of devices.

Here are some of the infinite amounts of uses for putting ARM processors in everything:

- Put a smart control in every lamp and the lights follow you, if you move to another room the lights automatically turn off, you save power. They automatically dim if they detect you’re relaxing or watching TV.

- Put a smart control in all your doors, in all your windows, in all your power outlets, integrated with your heating systems, water systems.

- Add sensors, ARM Processors in your pillow, blanket and in your bed, to monitor your sleep and wake you up at the right time between the right sleeping cycles. You’ll feel better the whole day and you’ll optimize your sleeping times. It’s more healthy, makes you more productive and saves you time.

The trick is that even as the Internet of things has been possible for a while, and even as prices to add smart controllers and sensors in each thing costs $3, people haven’t been doing much of it yet just because the control, management, interactivity systems around this have not been standardized and open yet. If you want to build the Internet of things it has to be built around you and for you and not among each thing and only for each thing. That is why Android is your interface into that world of things, and Google supports the open Adruino platform to enable these developments in an open industry. Android is the UI for the Internet of Things. Android is how you guide it, how you see it, it’s how you control your things.

Expect the next consumer electronics trade shows to showcase more and more ARM Powered things to connect with the Android ecosystem, look forward to an industry about to get really creative in how to use and feature that Internet of Things most efficiently.

ARM President Tudor Brown talks about the Internet of Things at the ARM Technology Conference:

Andy Rubin’s former co-founders on Danger (Sidekick, see these videos from 2004) Matt Hershenson and Joe Britt demonstrate and launch the new Android Open Accessory API and Android@Home platform at the Google I/O 2011 Day 1 Keynote:

IBM’s video on the Internet of Things:

ARM Powered Chromebooks to be released soon

Posted by – May 12, 2011

As a reply to my ARM Powered Chromebook Chrome OS notebook question posted online, the Google Chrome Team confirms that while they are focusing right now on getting the Intel Powered Samsung and Acer devices out the door on June 15th, the Chrome OS team is also working hard on ARM support and the ARM Powered Chromebooks should be released soon after. Their wording is the ARM Chromebooks are “hot on the trails” of the Intel Powered ones. This could be the first mass market ARM Powered laptop ever released.

The advantage of an ARM Powered Chrome OS device is that it is thinner, lighter, runs longer on a battery and especialy could be sold for a lot cheaper. I’m expecting the ARM Powered Chromebooks to sell below $199 for them to become the new best selling notebook platform.

Watch the Chrome Team live, as they may answer about Chrome OS on ARM

Posted by – May 11, 2011

Chrome OS is I think the first real challenger to Microsoft Windows and Mac OSX to actually be able to reach a mass market through retail stores and carrier subscription plans. Google has announced the global release of Chromebooks starting June 15th, but for now, those are only Intel Atom based. I asked them about the ARM Powered Chrome OS on their Google Moderator, let’s see if we get a good answer about the status of Chrome OS on ARM, the live Fireside Chat with the Chrome Team starts now at 3PM PDT (Midnight Central European Time):

Vote for my Chrome OS on ARM questions at Google I/O

Posted by – May 11, 2011

Please vote now for the following two questions for the Google I/O Fireside Chat with the Chrome team (to be live streamed on http://google.com/io at 3PM PST today, about 2 and a half hours from now), please use the following links to the Google Moderator to up-vote my questions so that we are more likely to get these answers:

When are you showing the ARM Powered Chromebooks? Are ARM Cortex-A9 processors with lots of RAM fast enough today? What is the status of Chrome OS on ARM?

Please vote here now: http://goo.gl/Nybov

Retweet this: RT: @charbax Let’s get the Chrome team to answer about the ARM Powered Chromebooks: http://goo.gl/Nybov

What hardware requirements do you enforce for manufacturers to get access to the Chrome OS source code? Can anyone use Chromium OS today with the full Chrome Web Store on any hardware without asking Google for permission?

Please vote here now: http://goo.gl/mod/XAsv

Also feel free to add your own good questions to the Chrome team in that Google Moderator and post your question links in the comments so we can also vote for your questions.