Kiwi Uses Your Smartphone to Keep Your Car Happy

Kiwi DevicesWhen the “Check Engine” light comes on in your car, it lets you know it’s time to take it to someone who knows what that light means, if you don’t already know. What you may not know is that most mechanics and dealerships see that light and immediately connect diagnostic device to the data port under your steering console to get the error code that your car’s internal computer is sending: the one that results in that light on your dashboard. With the Kiwi from PLX Devices, you can use your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android device to get that code yourself. Once you have it, one quick Web search will tell you what’s wrong with your car before you even take it to the shop to have it fixed.

The Kiwi comes in two flavors: the Wi-Fi model that plugs into your car and uses your home wireless network to communicate with your iOS device, and a Bluetooth model that pairs with Android phones. Both models are designed to communicate with your device and then send data to any one of a wide variety of supported car diagnostic utilities in the iTunes App Store and Android App Market that you can download to your phone. Depending on the app you choose, you can query the Kiwi for more than just error codes: you can run diagnostics, do horsepower and torque calculations, monitor your fuel efficiency between trips, and more. The Kiwi Wi-Fi is available now for $149.99 list, and the Bluetooth model is available for $99.99 list. 

UPDATED: ATT Revamps Smartphone, iPad Data Plans


AT&T is revamping its data plan lineup ahead of the widely expected, next-generation iPhone, although the move affects AT&T’s entire smartphone line going forward.
In short, AT&T is adopting a metered usage model. Consumers will have the following options:
DataPlus: Just 200MB of data for $15 per month. Overages come in the form of additional 200MB blocks for $15 each.
DataPro: 2GB of data (not 5GB, like the previous cap) for $25 per month. Overages are billed in 1GB increments for $10 each.
Tethering: Anyone who wants to use their phone as a laptop modem–including iPhone customers–can do so for an additional $20 per month.
Analysis–plus one huge problem with all this–after the jump.

Samsung Botches Behold II Android Upgrade


In my review of the Samsung Behold II smartphone, I wrote that the company botched the design of the phone by including clunky, pointless UI overlays on top of the basic Android 1.5 OS–most of which ruined performance while adding questionable new features.
Now it turns out Samsung is botching the promised Android upgrade, too. Engadget reports that the company has vacillated between saying there’s no longer a future release date for the promised Android 2.0 update, to even saying it will never come out at all, depending on the rep spoken to.
In turn, numerous Behold II owners have assembled a petition asking for a replacement, refund, or real OS update. The group is threatening legal action if none of those conditions are met.
None of this is much surprise to Android fans; whenever a phone ends up with a proprietary build, its chances for future Android OS updates plummet to near zero. I’m not sure why Samsung promised an update in this particular case. But it did, and now it hasn’t delivered.

Data Usage on Cell Phones Now Trumps Voice Calls


This was bound to happen at some point.
Although almost 90 percent of U.S. households now have a cell phone, the amount of voice minutes consumed has stayed relatively flat. But for the first time, wireless industry association CTIA reports that the amount of data in text, e-mail messages, streaming video, music, and other apps on mobile devices in 2009 surpassed the amount of voice data in calls, according to the New York Times.
“Originally, talking was the only cellphone application,” said Dan Hesse, chief executive of Sprint Nextel, in the article. “But now it’s less than half of the traffic on mobile networks.” He added that within the next few years, it’s possible cell phone users will pay primarily for the data they use instead of by voice minutes.

ATT Unveils GSM Palm Pre, $149.99 on May 16th


AT&T announced on its Facebook page that the Palm Pre Plus will hit retail stores and online on May 16th for $149.99 after contract and rebates.
This marks the first time the Palm Pre will be available in a GSM version, as the two prior models were both CDMA (Palm Pre on Sprint, and Palm Pre Plus on Verizon).
The Pre continues to be one of the best smartphones on the market, thanks to its Cortex A8 processor and slick webOS, and despite Palm’s troubles (which will hopefully be over soon, now that HP bought ’em out).
AT&T also said that anyone buying a Pre in AT&T retail stores will get a free Palm Touchstone charging dock.

Breaking: Nokia Launches First Symbian^3 Smartphone

Nokia has launched the N8, the first device to feature the company’s next-generation Symbian^3 OS.
The N8 comes with a capacitive touchscreen that supports multitouch gestures. It also supports 3D graphics acceleration in hardware, improved memory management for multitasking, and Qt, a software development environment that will attempt to help developers build applications for Symbian and other platforms simultaneously.
The N8 also features a 12-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, a Xenon flash, and a larger sensor that the company claims will rival those found in standalone compact digital cameras. The N8 records high definition video, and features an HDMI out for connecting to a home theater system.
In addition, the N8 will work with various global streamed TV services, as well as Ovi Maps for free voice-enabled GPS navigation, and it will come with social networking tie-ins. It includes 16GB of internal storage, plus a microSD card slot that accepts 32GB cards.
Nokia said the N8 will begin shipping during the third quarter of 2010 in “select markets,” but also said a U.S. version will debut shortly thereafter. The N8 features T-Mobile’s unique bands, but the N900 did as well, and T-Mobile never subsidized that one. 

Palm Software Exec Heads to Twitter


Word hit the wires several days ago that Michael Abbott, Palm’s senior vice president of software and services, and the head of its much-hyped webOS effort, is leaving the company.
It turns out that he’s already secured a new position: at Twitter.
Abbott will take on the role of vice president of engineering at the popular micro-blogging service company, reports FierceMobileContent. In turn, the current VP of engineering, Greg Pass, will be promoted to chief technology officer.
Palm is already hard at work on an employee retention program for its executives, including equity awards and cash bonuses, in order to prevent further key losses after its stunted comeback attempt in the wireless industry.

Report: Android Rises, Microsoft and Palm Sink

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Market research firm comScore has released new share numbers for the major smartphone platforms–and they’re pretty telling.
During the three month period from November 2009 to February 2010, Android rocketed from 3.8 percent to 9.0 percent of the U.S. market for smartphones.
However, that didn’t come at the expense of U.S. leader RIM (up from 40.8 to 42.1) or the second place Apple (treading water at 25.4 percent). Instead, Android’s gains came straight from Microsoft, down from 19.1 to 15.1 percent, and Palm, which fell from 7.2 to 5.4 percent even counting webOS devices.
Overall, 45.4 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones in an average month, up 21 percent from the same period last year.
As for overall handset brands, Motorola, LG, and Samsung are in a rough three-way tie at 22.3, 21.7, and 21.4 percent, respectively. Nokia and RIM are in a distant fourth and fifth, with 8.7 and 8.2 percent. (RIM’s number here is much lower when considered against the entire cell phone industry, as RIM only makes smartphones.)

Sony Ericsson Aspen Reveals Significant Windows Mobile 6.5.3 Updates


Sony Ericsson has unveiled the Aspen, a Microsoft-powered business smartphone with a full QWERTY keyboard and a 2.4-inch, 240-by-320-pixel QVGA touch screen.

The phone itself looks fairly unremarkable, but it turns out the Aspen is running Windows Mobile 6.5.3, which would make it the first handset to do so. Windows Mobile 6.5.3 includes support for glass capacitive touch screens with multi-touch–meaning that we could finally see some Windows Mobile phones that respond properly to finger touches instead of a stylus.

HTC HD2 Gets Mysterious RAM Spec Bump


The HTC HD2 is shaping up to be one powerful smartphone, with its 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, 4.3-inch glass capacitive touch screen, and ultra-slim (0.43-inch) design. It turns out the U.S. version of the handset will now have 1GB ROM and 576MB RAM, which is a boost over the original quoted figures of 512MB ROM and 448MB RAM.

It gets better, though; some users at XDA Developers discovered that other editions of the HD2 may also be carrying the extra memory, albeit in a disabled state. This type of thing isn’t unheard of, though it’s always strange whenever a manufacturer purposely disables part of its product’s features.

Either way, speculation over Windows Mobile 7 upgrades is now running wild throughout the intertubes–which can only be a good thing. (Via Engadget)