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Kyocera and Sprint Now Hyping a Dual-Screen Android Smartphone 75

Sprint and Kyocera want you to believe that two screens are better than one, even on a pocket-sized phone. The new Android-powered Kyocera smartphone, the Echo, will feature two touchscreen surfaces in a hinged design. The article says: "The Echo’s highlights can be seen in the phone’s obvious multitasking potential. The phone can be operated like most other touchscreen smartphones in its single-screen mode, but in 'Simul-task mode' users can run separate apps on each screen — like, say, open a text on the upper screen while reading an email on the lower one."
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Kyocera and Sprint Now Hyping a Dual-Screen Android Smartphone

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  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @06:46PM (#35144094)

    I like the design, now if only it had a stronger processor (say Cortex-A9, which natively supports multiple displays) and a better mobile OS.

    Actually I'd prefer it if the thing was like the LG enV with two displays (one inside, one outside) and a physical keyboard. Having worked with both the Android and iPhone soft keyboards, I can say without a doubt that they piss me off to no end.

  • Apparently only 7 apps can actually "multitask" properly. So, for 99.9% of Android applications, even if you have one open on each screen, only the screen you're actively using will function. For instance, if there's a Netflix app (not sure if there is, I don't have an Android phone, this is just an example) you wouldn't be able to be watching a movie on the top screen while playing Angry Birds on the bottom screen. As soon as you launch Angry Birds, Netflix would freeze until you go back to it... at whi
    • If that's true, it sounds like a problem with the operating system to me. What happened to pre-emptive multitasking?
      • The quick and easy version: Android "screens" are called Activities. Each is a distinct class. Only one can be in the foreground at any time. When you use the back button, the current activity's onDestroy() function is called, and the activity is deallocated. However, when you move from one activity to another at any point in the OS (whether you switch to another application, or if your own moves to a different "screen") the current activity is not destroyed, but instead paused. The default behavior is to k

        • by gmueckl ( 950314 )

          Still this does not explain why onPause() should be called if the user starts tapping on the other screen. Unless there is a part of the Android interface that assumes that there is only one foreground activity (i.e. a function that is able to query for that), I don't see a problem with making existing apps work properly on dual-screen setups on the OS level. Independent state changes don't really count.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Only the UI part is paused, background processing continues. In other words apps still sync, music still plays, it is just that the UI itself doesn't bother to update to accept input since it can't be seen anyway.

            Android has pretty good multitasking because it requires apps to be able to close down on request at any time. Therefore you never need to quit and app, the phone just asks it to close when it is idle and other apps need the resources (usually memory). You don't lose your data or anything like that

    • Not quite. For the 0.1% of applications that support the phone, you can get an app on each screen, and only one active app at a time. For the 99.9% of other apps, you get no dual-screen feature at all - the app spreads itself over both screens as though they were one large one. Android doesn't have a windowing system at all, remember, it doesn't understand the idea of two apps running in the foreground.

    • If you're the sort of person who tries to watch a movie at the same time as playing a game, you deserve neither a phone nor your wretched life anyway.


  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @06:48PM (#35144120) Homepage Journal

    instead of copying the other 500 cell phones out there they actually have a good, original idea. Refreshing!

    I guess now that I look at it, one thing that IS irritating on my phone is having to switch between apps for brief times. Being able to have two apps open AND visible at the same time would be very useful. But it's just one of those limits we take for granted because until now there really hasn't been any good solution, and every phone has suffered from that same limitation.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      meh, if it was a good idea, Apple would have done it. I don't know why slashtards get such a hard-on for dual screen things like this or courier. Probably because you haven't used it. Tell me how awesome it is(n't) after you use it.
    • Android has a pretty good solution. Drop down notification bar/console for getting updates, and if you need to click through to the update to the full app, a click of back will take you back to where you were before. Or hold down home and select the app you want out of the recently used apps list.

      Haven't really used the iPhone so I don't know of how or if it tries to get around the problem of switching apps and keeping you up to date.

      • iPhone multitasking is limited to what Apple deems so. I have used both. I rather use Android. This phone does need a better CPU but I would really find those two screens highly useful (since you can pretty much multitask anything on Android). Would be useless on an iPhone (due to the limited multitasking). Sure it be a nice feature for both but the Android would come out for practical use for it.
        • The thing I find silly is that my phone has a larger screen than the two of these little ones put together, so this could work fine as a software feature rather than a hardware one. I think implementing multiple simultaneous desktops on a single display would be a nice idea. I don't find the one-at-a-time thing to be annoying though. Even on fully fledged PCs I tend to have one window maximised at a time, with different groups of apps on different desktops. The equivalent of alt-tab should be enough to make

      • by hitmark ( 640295 )

        A quick fumble i had with a ipod touch this x-mas showed that a double tap of a certain button brings up a switcher at the bottom.

    • by drb226 ( 1938360 )

      until now there really hasn't been any good solution

      Not entirely true. Just visually dividing the screen in two has been an option this whole time; I don't see why no mobile OSs have attempted this option as it wouldn't be completely bad. Some apps, of course, do this for a more robust app; why not let the user divide the screen in two to run two apps?

      they actually have a good, original idea

      True, but not true. Nintendo DS? Saying "oh but the DS isn't a phone" doesn't count...this isn't the USPTO where you can just put "on a phone" after something that has prior art and call it innovation. ;)

    • I'd be weary for the same reason I avoid flip-phones: the connections between the flip tends to fail, time and again I've seen this. Not every time, but often enough to avoid them.

  • I like the capabilities of my "smart" phone, and indeed there are times when I wish the screen was larger. But for something I end up carrying with me at all times, smaller is better. I really miss my earlier, very-dumb phones, which could fit in the coin pocket in my jeans.

    I'm not sure cramming more screens into a smart phone is what I'd be interested in.

    How much longer until I can get a screen in contact lenses?

    • Looking at the picture [] from TFA, it doesn't look that much bigger than a typical smartphone while folded. Personally, short of smart contacts, I'm holding out for an expanding virtual display like the multiverse cops in The One had.
    • As much as I love my Android smart phone, I have to agree that smaller is sometimes better. For example, last summer I went to a multi-day concert festival with camping, and had a blast. But charging my big smart phone and being careful to keep it safe was a bit of a pain. Next time I'm probably going to dust off my old Sony-Ericsson T616 and take it along. The Android device will be used for GPS, etc. on the way there, and when I really want to look up something on the web, and the T616 will accompany me m
    • If you want a small smart phone you could get the Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10 mini/mini pro. Those phones are underpowered and have a low resolution (320x240), but thats the compromise you have to make for a small smartphone. Also they will only be updated to android 2.1.
  • by markass530 ( 870112 ) <.markass530. .at.> on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @06:49PM (#35144132) Homepage
    then I found out the damn thing isn't 4G. I live in LA, and have clearwire, so I know how sweet the 4G CAN be, so I'm not just running after some marketing hype. Also sprint just expanded their $10 a month surcharge to include ALL Smart phones, so if I'm gonna pay that 10 bucks, it damn well is gonna be for a 4G phone.
    • Three of the 4 people I know with 4G phones can't get a 4G signal at home or at work. Also, they have to pay the 4G fee in addition to the "unlimited" internet plan they've been paying for all along. They'd be better off with 3G phones just because they'd get the same performance without the 4G fee.

      I'm also considering getting the current Samsung Galaxy Tab instead of waiting for the 4G one, for the same reasons. It might cost less and have a lower monthly bill with the same performance. Or maybe they'll ad

      • I get the 4G Signal at most places I'd like to have it, although it does go in and out on the bus rides. The fee isn't for 4G, it WAS for certain phones. now it's for ALL Smartphones.
        • I believe *all* new Sprint Android phone activations going forward have the $10 fee, 4G-capable or not.

          Believe it or not, the problem you're having on the bus probably has NOTHING to do with coverage. It appears that Clear's towers all assign their own dynamic IP addresses, and won't route traffic from other towers more than one hop away. The net result is that if you try using Sprint4G (which uses Clear's towers) in a moving vehicle, you're going to drop the connection every 1-3 miles. You can prove it to

          • FYI, what you are describing is known as handoff, and it is supposed to be implemented in the wimax standard 802.16e-2005. It could be that the tower is older or made from the older wimax standard (originally wimax was meant to be a wireless alternative to cable and dsl. They extended wimax to handle the case of a moving vehicle later.)
          • nah, along the sunset, for about 30 minutes of bus ride, Perfect 4G
          • also I've downloaded 1.2 TB in 3 months, no throttling, your mileage may very though
          • Interesting!

            How does your IP configuration (IP and netmask would be the interesting bits) and routing table change when the handoff occurs?

            I wish my local carriers had some kind of LTE gear up on their towers. Unfortunately, Canada is turning into a technological backwater as far as mobile data goes...

            • > Unfortunately, Canada is turning into a technological backwater as far as mobile data goes...

              Hey, at least YOUR Galaxy S Android phones get to have Froyo ;-)

      • by SLot ( 82781 )

        Hold off on the tab. It'll make you want to use it as a phone. I know sprint doesn't allow it, and that's my biggest bitch thus far.

  • at nintendo took one look at their DS, then promptly shat a brick.
    • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
      "at nintendo took one look at their DS, then promptly shat a brick."

      Nintendo is coming out with the 3DS in about two months, which will have a 3D display (which some people care about and some don't) and real game controls, of which this phone has neither. If the people Nintendo were going to give a shit about any upcoming phone it would probably be the Sony Xperia Play [], aka PSP Phone.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @07:09PM (#35144312)

    You kids don't remember the days when porn came with a couple of creases across it and a staple in the Playmate's navel.

    Now stay off my lawn!

    • Whenever I'm feeling nostalgic, I look at porn on my multi-monitor setup and stretch the window so all the good parts are split up. I'll setup all the tabs in firefox beforehand so I can flip through them in sequential order. The best part is the add-on that makes the page-turn noise whenever I switch tabs. I still live with my mother, so there's that too..
    • Porn still features a staple in the navel, sometimes even a clit ring or two.
  • Pretty worthless, as you are going to lose space on the lower display to "type" when you need text input.

    Or you could slide our a real keyboard like on my droid and have a single nice screen that works fine...

  • I'm hoping for a 4-5 screen phone soon, since if I've learned anything from shopping for razor blades, it's that more is always way better.
  • Just put the image for each eye on each screen. Might work well if the distance between the screen centers is close to the interpupillary distance.
  • by BulletMagnet ( 600525 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @07:27PM (#35144528)

    From the article:

    "....we'll forgive the older software because Kyocera had to do extensive customization to add dual-screen support to seven core apps like the browser, email, and messaging. The seven optimized apps can be run on each screen individually so you can have the browser up top and email below, and several of them include useful full-dual-screen views as well. There's also a new dual-screen app manager, which is brought up by tapping the two screens simultaneously. Unfortunately, third party apps can't be run in any of the new modes and just fill the entire display for now -- Kyocera and Sprint say an SDK is coming shortly".

    Just what I DON'T want in my next Android smartphone: a Gimmicky dual screen that required a ton of customization to the Base OS guaranteeing that it will never see another carrier-supported OS upgrade during it's lifespan.

    Hey Sprint, here's an idea to take back to the folks at HTC......

    Make the EVO 2.0 the love-child of a stock EVO, the EVO Shift (with a decent keyboard, not that POS they stuck on the Epic 4G) and toss in a dual core processor. I was really looking forward to the Shift only to find out it was a very nuetered unit. Don't me wrong, I love my EVO, I have just decided virtual keyboards aren't for me.

    • And this is the problem of using entirely custom stuff that makes you either bend over backwards to make it work or hope that the sole development team adds support for it.

      Whereas if this had been using Xorg (or maybe Wayland) it'd be a known supported capability. Oh well, Go Android!

    • by SLot ( 82781 )

      I have a convo with a sprint VP once a quarter. I brought this up. Perhaps it will make it up the chain, perhaps not. At least know you aren't alone in your frustration, and some of us are talking about it.

  • It is an old idea, really, which I believe has grabbed me ever since I tried it first. And for so many years, I'm still doing it this way - one desktop, one app. Maybe you oughta give it a try sometime?

  • Will each screen require its own battery pack? They must be using the unlimited storage batteries.
  • An unholy necrophiliac liaison between a Nintendo DS and the rotting corpse of a Nokia N-Gage has begat - this.

  • Video is always in widescreen now anyway. How pointless. You want to stand out in the Android market? Release a good phone for $100. A USED mytouch 3g (the old one) is still worth $150!!! Ridiculous!

  • yea...we need that....

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.