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Motorola smartphone boasts widgets, hypervisor

Apr 9, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 8 views

[Updated: Apr. 13, 2009] — Motorola announced an EV-DO smartphone with both a slide-out keypad and a virtual QWERTY keyboard. The Evoke QA4 runs Linux, and is equipped with a 2.8-inch touchscreen, accelerometers, and Motorola's Web 2.0-like widgets, and offers the OK Labs OKL4 embedded hypervisor.

(Click for larger view of Evoke QA4)

The Evoke QA4 runs an updated version of Motorola's Linux/Java MotoMAGX stack, and appears to be the second Motorola phone after the Moto VE66 (pictured below, right) announced in November, to support Motorola's MotoDev Studio for WebUI “widget” platform for MotoMAGX.

Moto VE66
(Click for details)

In November, with the release of the Moto VE66, Motorola released a beta of its MotoDev Studio for WebUI, an Eclipse-based platform for widget development that's one of four Eclipse-based MotoDev Studio platforms, which include versions for Linux, Java ME, and UIQ. Considering the company's plans to ditch UIQ and MotoMAGX, and focus its future Linux efforts on Android, these platforms may well be re-jiggered or abandoned in the coming months. However, because widgets operate independently of the operating system, they should work on future Motorola phones based on Android or Windows Mobile.

Motorola's first Android smartphone is due to ship in the fourth quarter, says Motorola. Meanwhile, with its widget interface, accelerometers, and virtual keyboard, the Evoke QA4 seems to point Motorola in an Android-esque direction. Several of the hands-on reports on the phone from CTIA, including a story from The Boy Genius Report that pegs the device as being Linux-based, share the same take on the QA4: early indifference based on the specs (only a 2.8-inch screen and a 2 megapixel camera?), followed by a far more positive impression after playing around with the phone and its interface.

Virtual keyboard interface

The Evoke QA4 is equipped with an unnamed ARM9 processor, 256MB of RAM, an optional 8GB MicroSD card, and a micro-USB port, says Motorola. Measuring 2.0 x 4.25 x 0.7 inches, it offers a slide-down keypad. However, like other top-of-the-line smartphones, the device is also equipped with an accelerometer, thereby revealing a virtual QWERTY keyboard when the phone is turned on its side. The touchscreen, meanwhile, is said to provide haptic feedback. The 2 megapixel camera supports video capture, and a music player is also available.

Evoke QA4

Software features are said to include a full HTML browser, messaging icons, predictive text input, IM-style messaging, and “intuitive dialing features.” A customizable selection of integrated widgets are provided for sites like MySpace, YouTube, and Picasa, and the phone offers additional widgets for Google search and personalized RSS feeds.

First phone with embedded hypervisor?

Open Kernel Labs (OK Labs) has confirmed that the phone is equipped with its OKL4 microkernel-based embedded hypervisor to deploy two simultaneously running OSes. According to the company, the Evoke is the first commercially available handset to offer a virtualization solution that enables Linux and a real-time operating system (RTOS) to run side by side on a single ARM processor.

OK Labs' competitor VirtualLogix, which recently announced virtualization support for low-end Android phones, offered its VLX-MH hypervisor as part of the sub-$100, Linux-based Purple Magic handset design from Purple Labs, running atop NXP's Nexperia Cellular System Solution 7210 hardware design. As far as we know, however, the Purple Magic design never appeared in a commercial product, and Purple Labs has since merged with Esmertec to form a new company called the Myriad Group.

According to OK Labs, its OKL4 hypervisor provides for decreased bill-of-materials (BOM) costs, as well as the separation of GPL and proprietary software code as required by companies' IP policies. “The use of OKL4 provides enough CPU performance to support a Linux environment with a rich GUI (graphical user interface) typical for a high-end CPU,” said OK Labs CTO Gernot Heiser in a statement, “while concurrently supporting the real-time processing needs of the modem software, all on a single ARM9 processor.”

Evoke QA4
(Click to enlarge)

Features listed for the Evoke QA4 include:

  • Cellular — EV-DO CDMA 800/1900/1700/2100 MHz; diversity 1900/2100
  • Memory — 256MB
  • Flash — optional 8GB MicroSD card
  • Display — 2.8-inch 240 x 400 WQVGA touchscreen
  • USB — Micro-USB 2.0 port
  • Bluetooth — Class 2; A2DP, HSP, and HFP profiles
  • GPS — aGPS
  • Camera — 2 megapixel; 5 x digital zoom; auto-focus; video capture
  • Media formats — AAC, H.263, MPEG-4, WAV, WMA9, eAAC+, WMV v9, MIDI, AAC+
  • Web — Full HTML browser, web widgets, and RSS feeds
  • Applications — RSS Reader, Follow Me Weather, Google QuickSearch, USA Today, Picasa, MySpace, YouTube
  • Messaging — POP3/IMAP4 email, SMS text messaging
  • Dimensions — 2.0 x 4.25 x 0.7 inches
  • Weight — 4.5 oz

Stated Mark Shockley, corporate VP and GM, Motorola Mobile Devices, “Motorola Evoke offers the cutting-edge convenience and instant gratification of a full touch-screen, intuitive online browsing and the ability to stay plugged in on your terms.”


The Evoke QA4 will be available in the second quarter, says Motorola. According to The Boy Genius Report, it will be available in the U.S. and Canada. More information may be found here.

The report from The Boy Genius Report may be found here, and the Linux Magazine report may be found here.

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