LG announces 3D smartphone; Google hiring to bolster Android apps

by Phil Hornshaw

LG is bringing an entire third dimension to its mobile business this month, when it debuts its Optimus 3D -- a smartphone with a glasses-free 3D screen.

LG has announced the new phone will be on display the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 14, according to Ars Technica. In addition to including a stereoscopic 3D screen, it’ll also feature a dual-lens camera capable of recording 3D camera. It also seems to include a front-facing camera, though specs aren’t known yet. Pretty snazzy.

There are also rumors that the Optimus 3D will be a pretty powerful little device, sporting a dual-core processor and multichannel RAM. It’ll also include HDMI out for high-definition TV monitor playback of the cool stuff you record on it.

One wonders what else the Optimus 3D will be capable of doing, since LG has been pushing the envelope with its other phones. The Optimus 2X is also pretty powerful, and LG is working to make it capable of allowing users playing games on the device to compete against players on different platforms, like PCs and PlayStation 3s, in its games. Optimus 3D seems to be capable of handling great features like that, as well.

But as Ars points out, battery life could potentially be an issue. Glasses-free 3D is a battery drain, as are things like dual core processors, so how the Optimus 3D stands up against less luxurious smartphones will be interesting. Still, LG has the potential to push the Android platform to its limit even more with its 3D offering -- it could have specially made 3D Android apps, work out a deal with Sony to stream 3D video content, and make use of all that hardware power to do other cool things like the gaming capabilities mentioned above.

Google looking for employees to help make better apps

While LG is making powerful devices to utilize Android, Google (GOOG) is hoping to increase the quality of the platform’s apps.

According to a Wall Street Journal story, Google is poised to hire “dozens” of programmers and engineers to build Android mobile apps. The company is setting up “app labs” and is already assigning existing employees to work at them.

Google’s looking to address two major problems: first, despite Android’s popularity, app sales on the platform haven’t been what the company had hoped, according to Engadget. Second, Google wants to close the massive gap between Android and Apple’s iTunes App Store, which offers thousands more apps than the Android Market right now.

According to the WSJ story, all of the apps Google is working on will be free and potentially ad-supported. The company is expanding into new areas with its apps, including games, and is also trying to get more developers interested in Android by offering to promote them (probably much like the way Apple (AAPL) does with its New & Noteworthy section in the App Store), or by having them pre-installed on phones.

And rumor has it that Google could be rolling out two new services at an Android event Google is holding tomorrow. Engadget has heard that the company will announce a web-based portal for the Android Market, which will make finding and buying apps a whole lot easier, and a cloud-based music backup and streaming service called Google Music.

We’ll have more details on whether the rumors are true after tomorrow’s event, which is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. PST.

All of this new info seems to suggest that Google is really kicking its app business into gear, and will hopefully translate into an app environment for Android that’s coming into more serious competition with Apple’s iOS devices. At the very least, it’ll mean higher-quality branded apps for Google, at no cost to consumers.