Sony Ericsson preps micro display for Android smartphones

Sony Ericsson has unveiled a remote control with a 1.3-inch screen that will allow Android smartphone users to view Facebook and Twitter updates and control their phone's music player.

The LiveView connects to the phone over Bluetooth, and can also be used to see missed calls and incoming text messages, view RSS feeds. It will even help find the phone as long as it is within range of the Bluetooth connection: the phone vibrates when paired with the LiveView, a Sony Ericsson spokesman said.

The device will be compatible with most smartphones running Android version 2.0 or higher, according to Sony Ericsson. That means that owners of Sony Ericsson's own Xperia X10, Xperia X10 mini and mini pro, still stuck on version 1.6, will have to wait for the company to issue an Android software update before they can use the LiveView. The company plans to issue an update to Android 2.1 starting from the end of October.

Smartphones will need to run the LiveView Application to connect to the gadget. Sony Ericsson will publish APIs (application programming interfaces) that will allow developers to make their applications connect with the product too. Users will then be able to search on Android Market for compatible apps, according to Sony Ericsson.

The LiveView measures 35 x 35 x 11 millimeters and is controlled using buttons and a touch-sensitive frame. Its battery, charged through a MicroUSB connection, should last for about four days.

The accessories supplied include a clip and a wristband, which can be used when out exercising. Sony Ericsson will offer a "Fitness Pack" that combines the LiveView with the SportyPal Pro application, so users can view their heart rate and speed on the LiveView.

The LiveView will start shipping in the fourth quarter, and cost about €80 (US$110) in Sweden, according to the spokesman.

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