September 23, 2003 6:31 PM PDT

Danger tests update to device OS

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Wireless software and service developer Danger has begun wirelessly updating some hiptop devices with the latest version of its operating system, which includes a catalog of new ring tones and IM features.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based start-up began transmitting the updates to version 1.1 of the operating system Tuesday to a limited number of devices. The company and hardware partner T-Mobile will monitor the stability and reliability of the new software, according to Danger. Once any kinks are ironed out, the companies plan to send the operating system out to all hiptop owners. Hiptops are a combination cell phone and Web-browsing handheld devices. Owners of the device will have a choice of delaying the update or accepting it. The companies expect to start the final installations in seven to 10 days.

T-Mobile USA is marketing the hiptop reference design, created by Danger as a means of promoting its software and services, under the name Sidekick.

Earlier this month, Danger began teasing its fans with a sneak peek of some of the new features to be included in the update.

Among the new features is a catalog application. It allows device owners to browse and buy new applications and ring tones, and have that software downloaded directly to the device. Owners of the product will be able to listen to the ring tones before they buy them, as well as add audio attachments--in WAV, MIDI, RMF and AIFF formats--to e-mail messages. The company is also offering cut and paste text capabilities, 16 new emoticons for its AOL Instant Messenger program, and links to e-mail addresses, phone numbers and URLs included in instant messages via menu commands.

AOL Instant Messenger use on hiptop devices has taken off, much like the popularity of SMS, or short messaging service, use in Europe. SMS is a popular feature on cell phones in Europe, but it has not gained nearly the acceptance in the United States.

Danger has been gradually changing its software to make it attractive to consumers as well as developers. Earlier this month, Danger announced that it signed an agreement with Sun Microsystems to be a licensee of its Java 2 Standard, Micro Edition (J2ME) software. The deal opens the door for millions of developers who create Java applications--such as games, location-based services, financial information, personal productivity tools and entertainment services--to work with Danger's software.

Danger plans to launch products in the first half of next year that use J2ME.

 

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