Saturday, November 21, 2009

Android This Week: ARM Alliance Formed; Droids Fix Themselves?

Android (s goog) is like a snowball rolling downhill — it won’t be long before it’s moving too fast for anything to stop it. That movement is surely going to spread from the smartphone sector, where Android has its roots, to that of smartbooks. Knowing this, ARM and the Android folks have put their heads together and formed the Solution Center for Android Alliance.

The sole aim of the group, which was unveiled this week, is to help make it easier to put Android on ARM-based devices, of which smartbooks are the emerging choice. The group of 35 companies will pool resources and make them available for developers to get Android systems going with the ARM chipset, which is particularly well-suited for the consumer electronics market.

In the meantime, the Verizon (s vz) Droid, produced by Motorola (s mot), is the hottest Android phone on the market. But early adopters of the Droid were reporting that the auto-focus feature on the device’s powerful camera wasn’t working properly, resulting in lots of fuzzy images. This week, however, many Droid owners found the focusing difficulties to be a thing of the past, prompting suspicions that Verizon had pushed a secret fix over-the-air to the phones. There seemed to be no other explanation for how such a serious bug could suddenly disappear.

In fact, the auto-focus code that Android 2.0 uses reportedly has a bug that makes for fuzzy photos in 24.5-day cycles. The camera works poorly for 24.5 days, then works properly for the next 24.5 days. This is based on the improper use of a timestamp by the focusing code, a strange cause to be sure. Hopefully Verizon will have the formal fix for this bug before the 24.5-day “good” working cycle ends.


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