Archives for posts with tag: Android

Jason Perlow recently wrote and article entitled I’m sick to death of Android. In it, he talks about how he’s been an Android user since the beginning and describes what attracted him to Android.

I have always liked the fundamental concept of Android — an Open Source smartphone and tablet operating system that could be used on a variety of manufacturers devices with varying feature sets that gives consumers the added benefit of choosing exactly what product suits their specific needs.

Android also provides for the additional openness of having 3rd-party App Stores that suit the needs of different types of customers if the Google Android Market (Now Google Play) doesn’t fit the bill.

And of course, there is also the ability for the base OS itself to be modified as well as the ability to side-load applications of your own design for use in vertical markets.

So, what’s wrong with Android?

  • Real people don’t buy abstract concepts like “openness”.
  • Real people don’t respond well to lots of choice.
  • Real people don’t want multiple App Stores to suit their specific need because their specific need is simple — tell me where to go to buy apps.
  • Real people don’t want to “side-load applications” and don’t know what the hell that even means.

Google has been focused on building the “ideal world” according to geeks and geeks said, “Hooray! We like the fundamental concept of open! Open is better than closed! We want to have 3 different App Stores! We want side-loading!” But geeks, I’m afraid, are not real people. Real people buy products that simply work well and they’re busy spending money in Apple’s “closed” App Store. And they’re happy. And there’s nothing abstract about it.

NOTE: I do realize that geeks are people too. Hell, I am one! But they’re not most people. I’m just exercising a little artistic license.

Android News from Google I/O

Android Expo @ Google I/O 11 - image via flickr user chris.chabot

Last week Google hosted it’s annual developer conference, Google I/O, in San Francisco. They had plenty of interesting announcements and data points:

  • 400,000 new Android devices are being activated each day
  • 4.5 billion apps have been downloaded from the Android Marketplace
  • Gingerbread and Honeycomb users download twice as many apps as users of previous versions
  • Honeycomb 3.1 announced, offering some improvements over 3.0:
    • scrollable recent app list
    • resizable widgets
    • USB support
    • Accessory API
    • Persist wi-fi connections when display is off
  • Next Android update due later this year, Ice Cream Sandwich, will bring phone and tablet OSes together
  • Music Beta – play your music collection from the cloud
  • Google Movies – rent movies from the cloud (ala Netflix / Amazon / Apple)
  • Speaking of Netflix, it’s now available on (some) Android devices
GigaOm >

Google Teams with Carriers to Address Android Fragmentation

Google announced a partnership with the Open Handset Alliance to tackle the problem of Android fragmentation. They’ve struck a deal with major carriers and handset makers including Samsung, LG, Verizon, and T-Mobile to ensure that devices will continue to receive OS updates for at least 18 months after they are released. Interesting that they settled on 18 months and not 24 months, the length of a standard contract. Gee, I wonder why?

Geek.com >

Twitter Releases Mobile Web App – Looks Like iOS Upsidedown

On Wednesday Twitter announced the release of their new mobile Web version of Twitter, optimized for smartphones. It certainly looks great and is yet another example of the move toward more mobile Web solutions from the major players in the space. The new version is being rolled out slowly to customers on iPhone, iPod Touch and Android. From the Twitter blog:

The app is fast – you can quickly scroll through your timeline, move between tabs and compose Tweets. It’s rich – it takes advantage of capabilities that high-end device browsers offer, such as touch gestures and a large screen. And it’s simple – it’s easy-to-use and has the features you’d expect from a Twitter application, including your timeline, @mentions, messages that you can read in conversation view, search, trending topics, lists, and more.

          
Twitter Blog >

Android Market – Lots of Downloads, Little Profit

The BBC News article Is ‘open’ killing the Android? points out that while the Android Market and Android itself is seeing tremendous growth, the Android Market is generating less revenue than Apple’s App Store and even Blackberry App World and Nokia’s Ovi store. Developers are having a harder time making money on apps thanks to issues like quality control and the challenge of discovering apps in the Android Market. Because of Android’s open nature, we’re starting to see other companies create app stores for Android including Amazon who is also reportedly releasing a tablet later this year.

Apple’s Profitability Helps Them Block Competitors

Apple Store, Burlingame - image via flickr user ping ping

A CNN Money article explains how Apple’s incredible profitability helps them dominate the supply chain and keep competitors from, well, competing as effectively as they might otherwise. Some of the reasons cited by the article:

  • Apple uses it’s cash and it’s size to get the best deals out of suppliers
  • In times of shortage, the biggest buyers are supplied first
  • Apple has a relatively small number of product that share many common components

iPhone 4 Is Top Camera on Flickr

Two of my favorite cameras, the Nikon D90 and the Apple iPhone 4 are vying for the most popular camera spot on Flickr. Judging from the trend seen below, it looks like it’s a matter of days (minutes?) before iPhone 4 surpasses the Nikon. This trend represents huge growth in the use of mobile devices as point and shoot cameras.

The upswing in popularity of mobile cameras seems to be coming at the expense of traditional point and shoots whose popularity are trending down sharply. While it may be debatable, one could argue this trend has a lot to do with the fate of the Flip camera which is aimed at a similar audience. Cisco abruptly axed the cameras last week.


Tech Crunch >

The Flip is No More

Despite my feeling that the Flip’s days were numbered back when the iPhone 3GS was released, I have to say that I was sad to hear that Cisco will be killing the Flip and eliminating 550 jobs. I now own four Flip video cameras. I still have my original camera from back when it was just called Pure Digital. The devices were and are brilliantly simple and fun and it is really a shame to see them go. Clearly the iPhone and other smartphones are encroaching on the Flip’s space and have had the huge advantage of being connected devices, unlike the Flip. But David Pogue says that the Flip team was just about to introduce a connected camera before getting the axe. I’d have to imagine that would have kept Flip in the game for at least another year or two.

The Flip is still available on Amazon.com and the #1 seller in the camcorder category.

Apple Store Selling Square Readers

I’m a big fan of Square, a startup that uses the power and ubiquity of the smartphone paired with an ingenious card-reading device to make accepting credit cards easy and affordable for all businesses. For example, I like to frequent the food trucks near my downtown SF office. Typically these trucks are cash only businesses because it’s a hassle to get a credit card reader by traditional means. Plus, these guys are mobile. They can’t plug in wires every time they stop on the corner.  With square, all they need is a smartphone and they can accept credit cards. Brilliant.

So… Apple will be offering the Square card reader at its retail stores and online. The reader costs $9.95 but comes with a $10 credit on Square so buyers effectively get it for free (you can also head straight to their website for a free reader). This should be a great boost to Square in terms of customer awareness and it helps Apple play up it’s business angle which it has been aggressively pursuing for some time now.

RIM’s Playbook Receives Poor Reviews

Things aren’t looking great for RIM’s Playbook. reviews have started appearing in the last week as journalists were allowed to start writing articles after some hands on time with the device. While many people are citing a nice build quality on the hardware itself, there seem to be many software issues that make the tablet unlikely to seriously take on the iPad, even in the business arena. Wired’s review sums up many of the issues nicely:

RIM says it took over two years of working with Adobe to bring Flash to its tablet.

Two years may not have been enough.

RIM’s WebKit-based browser is about as stable as your bipolar uncle. No native e-mail, calendar or contacts apps. App ecosystem is lacking. You’ll need to install a driver before you can connect it to your PC or Mac. Runs Flash, sorta.

- Wired

Without apps, email and calendar it’s hard to take the Playbook seriously just yet.

Xoom Not Doing So Well Either

Unless you’re Apple, it’s tough to be in the tablet business right now. The Xoom has sold around 100,000 devices so far which many are claiming to be a “disappointing” number. That assessment may or may not be fair, but it appears that there are some significant issues with Google’s Honeycomb OS which many have described as buggy and confusing. According to eWeek, issues include:

  • Google Honeycomb is suffering from frequent application freezes and crashes.
  • The battery life is very inconsistent, sometimes lasting for 2 hours and sometimes for 6 hours.
  • The battery standby life is mere a 10 to 12 hours versus 30 days on Apple iPad.
  • Auto-wrap, if text is magnified, is completely missing, which just shows Google is missing attention to simple details.

Looking for an Android HIG?

Unfortunately, the folks at Google never got around to creating a comprehensive set of Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) like the folks at Apple have. Not to worry, Adam Beckley over at Mutual Mobile has put together a nice little document to fill that need. You can get the PDF below.

Android Design Guidelines v1

If you’ve been designing for iPhone and are now looking to dip your toe in the pool of Android app design, you may be wondering about how iPhone and Android differ. Wiebke Poerschke, Mobile UI Designer at Salesforce.com, has assembled this handy list comparing common UI conventions between these two platforms.


Comparing Common iPhone and Android UI Conventions
by Wiebke Poerschke

After using an Android for a few months and having been an iPhone user for 3 years now, I developed an overview the following differences in UI patterns, which are helpful when designing applications for both platforms.

Navigation Buttons

The iPhone has only one physical button, the Home button. iPhone users will be used to menus bars placed at the bottom of the screen and a heavy utilization of a soft back button, usually found in the upper left corner of the screen.

Android phones sport four physical buttons: Back, Menu, Home, and Search. As a result, Android apps rarely have a bottom menu bar or a back button. Instead, Android apps rely on the physical Menu button on the device. Similarly, you will also almost never find a back button in an Android app since that would be redundant to the physical back button. In general, you should avoid placing persistent touch elements (like a menu bar) near the bottom of the screen since it is fairly easy to fat-finger and tap one of the physical buttons by mistake.


Refresh

Pull-to-refresh or pull-to reveal the search box is a well-known iPhone convention that can be found in Twitter and many other iPhone apps. Twitter just introduced the feature on Android, but it doesn’t seem to work as well as the same feature on iPhone and is an outlier with this pattern. Instead of pull-to-refresh, most Android apps provide an explicit refresh button on-screen or hide that option in the menu. Android also allows for apps to sync in the background with sync intervals chosen by the user.

Context Menus

A neat thing about Android phones are the contextual pop-up menus offering quick access to common actions. Tapping a user’s picture in your contact list, Facebook or Gmail opens this little menu that provides quick access to phone numbers, email addresses, Facebook, IM, etc.
A comparable iPhone pattern would be the swipe menu used by the Twitter app.

Notifications

iPhone apps use application badges to indicate updates, whereas Android has the notifications bar. Android’s notifications bar aggregates all app notifications in one convenient location which can be accessed in a pull-down drawer.

Both systems provide pop-up notifications for apps (though they look quite different).

Download the complete pattern comparison file (PDF)

Google, Oracle and Verizon were making big waves last week while the explosive growth of mobile marches on.


Mobile data traffic growing 10x faster than voice

Ericsson reports that mobile data traffic is growing 10x faster than voice and smartphones now represent 19 percent of all phones shipped. Mobile data traffic was nearly 225,000 terabytes per month in Q2.

Google Introduces Voice Actions to Android, competing with Apple’s Siri

Google has been bus beefing up it’s voice command functionality and appears to have better integrated, if not more robust, functionality than Apple when it comes to voice. Perhaps this will get Apple to move more quickly on Siri integration.

Oracle sues Google over Android, Google says lawsuit is “baseless”

Oracle claims that Google’s Android OS is violating patents that the company holds. At issue is the use of the Dalvik virtual machine that powers Android. Some are speculating that patent lawsuits were a big draw for Oracle in the acquisition of Sun. Google of course is claiming that the Oracle suit is “baseless”. Sometimes open is not really open.
TechCrunch

Google and Verizon threaten Net Neutrality?

In what Google says is an effort to avoid government regulation it has reached an agreement with Verizon that would allow wireless networks to selectively slow content over wireless networks. Many fear that this will create an unfair advantage for larger companies who can afford to pay for faster delivery.

Survey Says: 34 Percent Of AT&T iPhone Owners Are Waiting To Switch To Verizon

There are a lot of iPhone users and iPhone wannabe’s waiting for Apple to announce a Verizon compatible phone. As an aside, Apple could really screw AT&T if the new (rumored) CDMA phone fixes the antenna problem but the 3G phone remains unchanged. That would effectively kill the AT&T offering. Not sure why they’d do such a thing, but it is interesting to think about.

jQuery Mobile: Touch-Optimized Web Framework for Smartphones & Tablets

This should bolster the mobile web as an application development platform. jQuery says that a mobile framework is now under development and scheduled for a late 2010 release. jQuery is an incredibly popular JavaScript toolkit whose mantra is “write less, do more”. One interesting note with the announcement of jQuery mobile framework is that they seem to have decided to define styles that are very iOS-like. Hopefully these will be relatively simple to re-style.

RIM Unveils BlackBerry 6 Operating System and Torch Handset

Last week RIM unveiled the next generation BlackBerry device, called the Torch. This new device features a capacitive touch screen and an updated BlackBerry 6 operating system that includes multi-touch. The BlackBerry 6 OS contains a Webkit browser which is quickly becoming the de-facto mobile browser across most major platforms including iPhone and Android. Critical response to the device and OS has been mixed, with many asking whether it is too little too late.

Android Outsells iPhone, 50% of BlackBerry Users Would Rather Not Be

A Nielsen study finds that Android handsets outsold the iPhone for the first time ever. Android sales grew 886 percent over the last year. Other findings:
- 50% of BlackBerry owners plan to buy an iPhone or Android as their next handset
- iPhone satisfaction remains extremely high with 89% of owners say their next handset will be another iPhone (71% of Android owners want another Android device while 21% plan to switch to iPhone)

Facebook and PayPal Update Their Android Apps

As the Android platform gains in popularity, so does the investment in developing native Android applications.

Facebook released version 1.3.0 of their Android application. This update is reportedly faster and incorporates more of the functionality and look and feel of the iPhone app.

PayPal released version 2.0 of their native Android app. Again, this update brings functionality on-par with their iPhone app. Updates include Bump to Pay and Split the Check.

PayPal’s Growth on Mobile is Exploding

On a related note, PayPal says that use of their mobile applications is growing at a phenomenal rate. They’ve handled twice as much money in the first half of 2010 as they did in all of 2009.
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