The Motorola Atrix HD is in our hands (unboxing is on the way) and ready for us to take it for a spin. The device itself is running Android 4.0.4, but of course, has Moto’s custom Blur skin on top of it. While many of you have expressed your colorful opinions over Blur, we noticed immediately with this version on the Atrix HD, that there are some new goodies that were worth sharing. (more…)
Since an Ice Cream Sandwich build leaked for the DROID RAZR over the weekend, devs have had enough time to start picking through it and see if any of it is worth installing on your non-RAZR phone. The first thing made available is the MotoBlur launcher. It should work on almost any Android 4.0 ROM, bringing you 3D transitions, home screen previews, app drawer filtering options, and potentially even some Blur widgets. I know that most of us despise Blur with a passion, but this would be your opportunity to see if Motorola has done anything positive over the top of ICS.
Rooted users only on this one. So far, the instructions include downloading two separate launcher files, placing them in /system/app, rebooting and hoping you don’t get stuck in a boot loop. I recommend making a backup before doing this since one of the files that you will edit is Launcher2.apk, aka your ICS launcher which you need to do basically anything.
Most of the time that fragmentation is discussed it is in direct reference to different versions of Android running on different handsets. The cause of this fragmentation is usually identified as the sundry skins that manufacturers develop in order to differentiate their devices from others and create brand awareness and loyalty. Though critics and users have often called for stock Android to be at least an option on Android handsets (if not the standard), manufacturers like Motorola, HTC, and Samsung have continued to create more and more invasive and intricate skins on the devices they offer to consumers. Though a lack of updates is certainly reason enough for users to be upset, a more important issue may be the very different experiences that are presented to consumers because of these skins.
If the average consumer were to pick up the HTC Sensation and then pick up the DROID Bionic, they might be inclined to believe that the phones run totally different operating systems. And in a sense (no pun intended), they do. A phone made by HTC and running Sense offers a completely different experience than a Motorola phone running Blur (or “Android with Motorola Enhancements” as Motorola inclined to call it these days) or a Samsung phone running TouchWiz.
These manufacturer skins have altered Android so much that something as simple as unlocking your screen is a fundamentally different experience on different Android phones. On a stock device like the Nexus S I simply slide the lock tab to unlock the screen, but on a TouchWiz device I push the lock screen away or complete a puzzle, on a Sense device I slide down the lock bar or slide the lock ring upward, and on a Motorola device I slide the lock tab which also varies in location from device to device. In other words, the first screen that a consumer sees in a store when looking at an Android phone can be completely different from the Android phone next to it. (more…)
Here we go again…
Remember all the way back in August of last year when we all debated for months as to whether or not the original DROIDX would have MotoBlur on it? And then upon finding out that it indeed would, we also learned from CEO Sanjay Jha that the company would start to move away from the name due to a not-so-awesome public reaction to it? We’re sort of moving back in that direction – or did we ever move away from it?
According to the crew over at Engadget, they were surprised to notice (we weren’t) that the name “Blur” was no where to be found in any of the press materials that accompanied the newly announced Photon 4G yesterday and started asking around. What they received was a comment from a Moto spokesperson who confirmed that the company is still trying to move away from the name “MotoBlur”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t be seeing it on every major handset going forward.
In fact, back in August 2010 when this story first popped up, Moto was clear that they were going to continue to use Blur as a skin – they just weren’t going to call it Blur publicly. They have basically lived up to those statements; how often have you seen them use the name “Blur” over the last year? Unless you are an obsessive media personality and are on an earnings call, you probably haven’t.
Unfortunately for them though, we’re still around and will make sure that everyone knows that the blueish overlay that causes constant frustration on their device is called MotoBlur.
We actually reported on this story yesterday, but it seems to have really picked up steam this morning and wanted to make sure you all saw it. During the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Tech Conference, Moto CEO Sanjay Jha tossed out a remark about 3rd party apps and the harm they are doing to phones. In fact, he mentioned that some 70% of Android phones that are returned are due in large part to the crappy apps that have been loaded on them which are causing performance issues. While I had initially assumed he was talking about sideloaded apps, I went back and listened to it again and he definitely blames it all on Android Market apps.
The scary thing here is that he went on to talk about how MotoBlur will eventually help users decide what they should be running on their phones. According to Jha, Blur knows how long your screen has been on, the usage of your battery, etc. The example he gave for the future was that Blur knows with “precision” what apps are killing off your battery the quickest and would be able to pop up a notification to warn you of just how poorly that app will perform. So basically, Motorola would have data showing which apps they believe to be made the poorest and would be able to remind you of that. We’ll try to ignore our thoughts on how developers will react to that statement. Yikes.
He also mentioned shortly after “what it is that we determine after interacting with you that you want” in regards to the intelligence of Blur which gives me the shivers. All I can say is that when a company claims it can help me decide what I want to do with my phone, that I’m tempted to run as fast as I can from them.
With the new MotoBlur that comes over top of the leaked Gingerbread (Android 2.3) that we’ve been talking non-stop about for days, there is this nifty little feature that allows you to ignore incoming calls and then quickly reply to them via text message. As you can see from the screenshot above, this is the pop-up I received immediately after hitting ignore to a call that just came through. There are some stock messages already built in, but it also allows you to create your own quick hitter which is a bonus. You can also turn it off completely if you’d like.
Any other tips like this that you guys have stumbled across?
Mentioning the word “MotoBlur” usually sparks a conversation that should be kept hidden from most children, but today we’ve decided to revisit the subject with a more direct and constructive approach. One of our readers suggested this poll and we want you to really take the time to answer it and provide meaningful feedback in the comments. Let’s all do our best to avoid the all-out trashing we’ve seen in the past, and instead focus on giving the folks at Motorola feedback that they could potentially use in their Android skin. If you like it, we’d love to hear why. If you don’t like it, tell Moto how they can improve it. And if that means saying “get rid of it forever”, that’s fine, but say that directly without the extra garbage. Sound good?
Motorola announced the newest version of MotoBlur today and while they didn’t provide a set of pictures, we’re assuming it’s the new skin we saw on the DROID BIONIC at CES in our hands-on and through those leaked shots of Gingerbread on the DROID X. The new Blur, from our time with it, is the best we’ve seen yet although we won’t know if it’ll be widely accepted by most until we spend some serious time with it.
In this new version, we get a new music player which is the same one that leaked out a few weeks back, Aloqa’s location-based services, and a connected gallery to make your pictures and videos as social as they can be.
Again, we’ll hold off on our thoughts for this new Blur until we get some real hands-on time with it and will instead leave you to do what you do best in the comments. (more…)