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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kindle Fire may force Android tablets to go cheaper

Asian technology companies are now under pressure to slash prices of their tablet computers after launched its Kindle Fire at a mass market-friendly price of $199.
From Samsung Electronics to Sony Corp , major Asian tablet makers have ambitious plans to take on Apple , whose iPad is the gold standard in the booming market.

With their me-too products priced almost at the same level as the iPad’s starting price of $499, none of them have however been able to gain any significant market share from Apple.

So far, Samsung has been seen as the most credible challenger to the iPad and some analysts suggest it could lose its No. 2 position to the eagerly anticipated Fire.

The South Korean company’s tablet marketing campaign has also stumbled in recent months due to Apple’s legal attempts to thwart Samsung’s tablet sales in Australia, the United States and Germany, over patent infringement, among other claims.


The Kindle Fire, while lacking many of the high-tech bells and whistles common in tablets - from cameras to 3G wireless connections - may sound the death knell for a raft of devices based on Google Inc’s Android operating system.

“The pricing is critical to gain traction in the tablet market. Rival manufacturers have failed to attract consumers as they have matched the iPad’s price point without matching its content offering,” said Adam Leach, an analyst at research firm Ovum.

“Amazon’s retail-based business model allows the company to subsidize the device on the premise that consumers will buy more from Amazon, be it physical goods or its digital content.”

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, Sony’s S tablet, Motorola’s Zoom and many others from Acer Inc and Asustek Computer Inc all run on Android, which Amazon’s Fire also uses and combines with its online store.

By pricing the Fire at less than half the iPad yet stripping out costlier components and features the Internet retailer hopes to get the device into millions of consumers’ hands and then into Amazon books, movies, music and other content.

Tough for Samsung
Samsung’s new tablet Galaxy 10.1 is priced roughly the same as the iPad. Even at that price, a slim profit margin of around 5 percent makes it difficult for Samsung to cut prices sharply, analysts say.

Worldwide tablet shipments will more than triple to 60 million units this year and surge to 275.3 million units by 2015, research firm IHS iSuppli forecasts.

Apple dominates the North American tablet market, with 80 percent of the 7.5 million units shipped during the second quarter of 2011, Strategy Analytics says.

Analysts had expected Amazon’s tablet to be priced around $250, roughly half the price of Apple’s iPad, which starts at $499.

Sony vowed in January to become the world’s No. 2 tablet maker -- behind Apple -- by 2012 and Sony executives have since stuck to that ambitious claim.

“We expect the Amazon tablet to put pressure on the other non-iPad competitors as they are unlikely to be able to compete on price and value,” UBS analysts said in a note.

“At the $199, we believe Amazon’s tablet has the potential to be disruptive to the market and, in particular, the non-iPad market. Other tablet vendors will find it difficult to match Amazon’s price point.”

HP’s firesale of its TouchPad tablet at $99 just six weeks after its launch created strong demand for its soon-to-be-killed product, a sign of just how critical prices are in the sector.

Nexus S Running Android 'Ice Cream Sandwich' Sold on eBay?

Android 4.0 Ice cream sandwich

Android Ice Cream Sandwich, Google's fourth, unreleased version of its mobile operating system, made a brief video appearance in the blogosphere on Thursday.

An Engadget reader told the blog that a Samsung Nexus S smartphone he purchased on eBay appeared to be running Ice Cream Sandwich, sending in a two-minute video demonstration (below) as "proof."

Notion Ink tablet CEO Rohan Shravan, who slipped on his blog that Ice Cream Sandwich updates would "arrive in November after Google's launch in late October," said the video provided to Engadget "indeed looks real."

"Multi-tasking feature and over-all UI [looks like Android 4.0]," It's definitely not a mock-up, since this behavior is expected of ICS on all the devices," he said.

Later, the owner told Engadget that his handset was locked and wiped clean, leading many over at the XDA Developers Forum to believe Google remotely cleaned the device.

Google previewed Ice Cream Sandwich at the Google I/O conference in May, saying vaguely that it would launch this fall. Then earlier this month, Google chairman Eric Schmidt let it slip at's Dreamforce conference that Android 4.0, the next major overhaul to Google's mobile OS, will be released in "October or November."

Yesterday, meanwhile, Google sent invitations to see "what's new from Android" at Samsung's Mobile Unpacked show next month. Could this be the official release of Ice Cream Sandwich?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Amazon Kindle Tablet: Android Tablet or eReader on Steroids?

Amazon is expected to unveil its Kindle Tablet at a press event in New York on Wednesday. From what we know so far about the device, it seems like it might be the first tablet rival capable of really competing with the Apple iPad. Based on the size and use of the Kindle brand, though, it is reasonable to wonder whether the Kindle Tablet is a true tablet PC, or just a Kindle with some tablet features.

Many have suggested that the iPad might be a "Kindle killer". While the two devices serve different purposes, there has always been some overlap. I argued about ten months ago, "Comparing a Kindle and an iPad is like comparing a spoon to a Swiss Army knife. Yes, both enable someone to eat a bowl of soup, but the spoon is more or less limited to that role, while the Swiss Army knife might also include a corkscrew, can opener, wire strippers, scissors, tweezers, magnifying glass, and screwdriver. Trying to determine which one is "better" is entirely subjective, and ultimately futile."

The Kindle Tablet will change that dynamic and pit the two devices head to head. So, will the Kindle Tablet now be an "iPad killer", or will it really just be an ereader with some extra bells and whistles?

The real question is actually "what’s the difference?" It's a little like seeing a red Corvette next to a red Porsche and saying, "Well, this one is a red sports car, but that one is just a sports car that's red." There is a point where the line is so blurred, and where the capabilities of each are so similar, that the distinction loses meaning.

The Barnes & Noble ereader--the Nook Color--also runs on Android and acts like a tablet. The Nook Color is still viewed as an ereader with some bonus features, though. Despite its Android roots and ability to run Android apps, the Nook Color is rarely mentioned in tablet discussions, or considered as a direct rival to tablets like the Lenovo IdeaPad, or Acer Iconia A100.

To be fair, the Nook Color really is more of an ereader on steroids than a tablet. Hackers figured out how to root the device and access its Android core, and Barnes & Noble eventually embraced the tablet cross-over aspects of the Nook Color. Barnes & Noble even has its own Nook Color App Store, but it has a limited library of apps, and the Nook Color lacks some key tablet functionality.

It seems the Amazon Kindle Tablet will blur those lines even farther, though--to the point that the line itself becomes irrelevant. If current reports and speculation about the Kindle Tablet come true, it will be a color version of a Kindle just as a Nook Color is a color version of a Nook, but it will fully embrace its Android heritage and provide a complete tablet experience rather than reluctantly tagging along after the fact.

Essentially, trying to define whether it is an ereader or a tablet is an exercise in futility. Yes, it will be capable of reading Kindle ebooks just like a traditional Kindle device. But, if it runs Android, and Android apps, and streams audio and video content, then it's tablet enough to meet the needs of most users. And, the $250 price tag is very competitive--especially if it includes Amazon Prime membership.

Android app asks, 'Is my son gay?'

Now on sale on the Android Market: an app that asks — and purports to answer — "Is my son gay?"

On the app page, here's the pitch: "You're questioning yourself? 20 questions to know more about your son. After this test you'll have the proven answer to a question you might have since maybe a long time."

The only sample questions we saw on that page were these:

  • Does he like to dress well: is he very careful when choosing his outfits and selecting brands?
  • Does he like football?

Now, I don't know about you, but a Yes followed by another Yes describes a lot of men I know, including my brother. My recently married brother.

So now, I had to see what the rest was all about. So I paid $2.69 for the English version of the app (there's also a French version) and scrolled through the test.

Other questions — typos and all — included:

  • Before he was born, did you wish for a girl?
  • Has he ever been in a fight?
  • Does he read the sports page in the newspaper?
  • Is his best friend a girl?
  • Does he like team sports?
  • Is he modest?
  • Is he a fan of divas (Madonna, Britney Spears)?
  • Does he spend a long time in the bathroom?
  • Does he piercings in his tongue, nose or ears?
  • Do you wonder about your son's sexual orientation?
  • Are you divorced?
  • Does he like musical comedies?
  • Has he ever introduced you to a girlfriend?
  • Is his father a very authoritarian person?
  • Within your family, is the father absent at all?
  • During his childhood, was he timid or discreet?
  • Does he have a complicated relationship with his father?
  • Does he take a long time to do his hair?


I answered as if my imaginary son were a sports fan, whose best friend is another guy, who does like to spend time getting ready, has divorced parents and a "complicated relationship with his father," who does not care for divas or musical comedies. This is what the app churned out as an answer:

Your son is a normal young man: modern and concerned about taking care of himself assuming some feminine habits while maintaing his attraction to girls. However, he may have already had some homosexual experiences with his best friend. These things happen. It is more and more usual in these times to maximize pleasures without taboo.

Wow. So this algorithm seems to weigh heavily on "Yes" answers to the father and best friend questions, because I had another friend do the same test using her husband as an example and he doesn't have divorced parents, gets along fabulously with his father and counts her as his best friend:

Don't worry, your son is not gay. Get ready to become a mother-in-law! You'll soon have to be accepted by your future daughter-in-law. There's a great chance that you'll become a grandmother with all the pleasures that this brings.

Android use surges on mobile ad network

(Credit: Millennial Media)

Android continued to scoop up a healthy share of users on Millennial Media's mobile ad network in August, while growth for Apple's iOS was relatively flat.

For the month, Android ad impressions jumped 48 percent over July, giving Google's mobile OS a 54 percent slice of the ad network, according to Millennial Media's August Mobile Mix report. In contrast, Apple's iOS failed to gain much ground from July, leaving it with a 28 percent share.

The new market share figures actually showed a decline for Google and a gain for iOS from July. However, the August numbers included both smartphones and connected devices, such as tablets, whereas past rankings covered only smartphones. So the strong demand for the iPad and the lackluster sales for Android tablets certainly played a role in the latest results.

Looking at other mobile platforms, ad impressions for BlackBerry maker Research In Motion grew 10 percent from July, while those for Nokia's Symbian were relatively flat. And though Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 still grabbed only 1 percent overall share from Millennial Media, its ad impressions grew 48 percent from July.

Related stories:
Android ups lead as ad network's top mobile platform
Android keeps lead over Apple on mobile network
Android bumps lead over Apple's iOS on ad network

From the hardware side, Apple continued to retain its top perch as the leading mobile device maker with 23 percent of all impressions. The iPhone was also by far the leading mobile phone with a 13 percent share.

HTC shot up to second place in August from fourth place the prior month with more than 16 percent of all impressions. The company saw 5 of its mobile phones on the top 20 list, including the Desire, Evo, Droid Incredible, MyTouch 4G Glacier, and Thunderbolt.

Altogether, Android devices accounted for 15 of the top 20 mobile phones, capturing a collective share of 32 percent among all 20 phones last month.

Smartphones in general continued to inch up in popularity, as measured by the report. Growing 6 percent from July, smartphones grabbed 72 percent of all ad impressions last month, compared with 14 percent for connected devices and 14 percent for feature phones. Those numbers show a dramatic difference from August 2010 when smartphones held 51 percent of the market and feature phones 33 percent.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Adobe Flash Player 11 Promises Security Improvements

Adobe announced this week that it's putting the finishing touches on a new version of Flash Player that will provide new security and privacy enhancements on both the desktop and mobile versions of its application.

Notably, Flash Player 11--set to debut in early October--adds desktop support for SSL socket connections, as well as a secure, random number generator, both of which should help developers to better secure users' information. "Flash Player previously provided a basic, random number generator through Math.random. This was good enough for games and other lighter-weight use cases, but it didn't meet the complete cryptographic standards for random number generation," said Adobe's Lindsey Wegrzyn, senior product manager for privacy, and Peleus Uhley, a platform security strategist, in a blog post.

Instead, Flash Player 11 will include a random number generator API that hooks into the cryptographic functionality built into the underlying operating system. "The native OS cryptographic providers have better sources of entropy and have been peer reviewed by industry experts," said Wegrzyn and Uhley.

For the first time, Flash Player 11 adds 64-bit operating system support. One upside of this will be more effective address space layout randomization (ASLR) for Linux, Mac OS, and Windows browsers that support ASLR in 64-bit mode. "Traditional 32-bit ASLR only has a small number of bits available in the memory address for randomizing locations. Memory addresses based on 64-bit registers have a wider range of free bits for randomization, increasing the effectiveness of ASLR," said Wegrzyn and Uhley.

[ What is the future of Flash? Adobe Insists Flash Will Survive HTML 5 ]

The Android version of Flash Player 11, meanwhile, will also sport a number of security enhancements, some of them previously introduced for desktops as of Flash Player 10.3 in May. Notably, mobile device users will gain the ability to clear local shared objects--aka Flash cookies--from their browser. Other improvements include a device-native control panel for controlling Flash Player settings, as well as support for private browsing, aka incognito mode, although this feature will only work on Android Honeycomb (version 3.x).

Beyond these security and privacy enhancements, Adobe said Flash Player 11, as well as AIR 3--the new version of Adobe's cross-platform, Web application runtime environment, also set to be released next month--will offer high-definition video and three-dimensional rendering. Adobe said the new, underlying rendering engine, called Stage 3D (which runs on desktops and laptops, but not smartphones or tablets), renders 1,000 times more quickly than the engine built into Flash Player 10. As a result, Adobe is touting Flash Player 11 as a way to offer "console-quality games" to users, and said the technology will also support high-quality HD videoconferencing.

With AIR 3, Adobe is also adding support for three new platforms: iOS (including the iPhone and iPad), Android, and Adobe AIR for TV. In addition, AIR developers will be able to build their own, native extensions for AIR applications, which Adobe said may improve performance. Developers can also use these extensions to access native operating system and hardware features, "such as sensors (gyroscopes, magnetometers, light sensors, etc.), multiple screens, native in-app payments, haptic/vibration control, device status, and Near Field Communications," said Adobe.

Best cricket apps for Android mobiles

Cricket is not just a game in India. Since India has won its second world cup the craze for this game has reached its peak. IPL, T20 matches and T20 World cup, a lot of tournaments are being held every other month in India and abroad. If you want to be a part of these tournaments virtually then you can do that by loading these apps in your Android mobile.

1.Cricket T20 Fever 3D:Cricket T20 Fever 3D is the most complete cricket game so far. If you have a 3D phone then you can experience the game in full HD 3D graphics. In this game you can switch to different modes like ODI’s, T20 matches, and exciting power play matches.

2. Cricket World Cup Fever:Cricket World Cup Fever is one of the best cricket games available on the Android Market. In this game you can play in four exciting modes-quick match, power play, world cup and the pass-n-play mode. You can even choose the team with whom you want to play the match.

3. Cricket IPL T20Fever:
T20 is more in demand nowadays than the 50 overs match. So, if you want to try your hand in the T20 match then Cricket IPL T20 Fever is really a wonderful app available at the Android Market. You can install this game in the microSD card as well your phone.

4. World Cricket Championship Lt:
World Cricket Championship Lt has a good rating on the Android market, so you can try this also. The options are same with the other games like you can play 5 over match and by winning the toss you will decide what you want to do - bat or bowl. You can choose your team and your opponent's with whom you wish to play a match. But the best part about this game is that it is a 3D game, so you need to have 3D mobile to play it.

5. Big Cup Cricket Premium: The fun of the arcade games is back now. Big Cup Cricket Premium is fast and arcade cricket game. In this game it is more difficult to make high scores and play the shots on challenging balls. If you think that you are an all rounder then try this cricket app. This games is priced at Rs. 188.02.

Survey: 31 percent of Android users eyeing switch to iPhone

According to a survey done by UBS Research, 31 percent of Android users are contemplating a switch to iPhone.

(Credit: USB Research)

We know how passionate Android users can be because we hear from them regularly in our comments section. But what's a little surprising is that a recent survey suggests that rank-and-file Android users may not be so loyal to their platform, with nearly one in three contemplating a switch to the iPhone and an additional 10 percent in the "undecided" camp.

Granted, the survey conducted by UBS Research had a pretty small user sample (515 people), so we'll take it with a grain of salt. However, my own personal survey among friends suggests there's some truth to the numbers, with, for instance, some Verizon customers only switching to Android models because the iPhone wasn't available at the time (now that these folks are two years into their contracts, they're waiting on the next iPhone before making a decision on their next phone).

The survey also indicated that the iPhone is the "stickiest," phone out there with retention rates at 89 percent while Nokia and Blackberry are slipping badly. According to the survey, Nokia's retention rate went from 42 percent in March 2010 to 24 percent and Blackberry dipped from 62 percent to 33 percent. Not good.

Android's adoption rate has been nothing short of phenomenal, but as the iPhone comes to more carriers, it will be interesting to see how many Android users end up being tempted to switch sides.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Google-Oracle Court Meeting May End Dispute Over Android

Google Inc. and Oracle Corp. chief executive officers are squared off in court today to resolve a dispute that may pose the biggest threat to Google's Android mobile software, now running on more than 150 million devices.

Google's Larry Page and Oracle's Larry Ellison were ordered to appear before a federal court magistrate in San Jose, California, after tussling over patents for more than a year. Oracle accused Google of infringing patents related to its Java software, and a settlement means the companies avoid the risk of having a jury decide whether Google owes royalties.

“It's like Gorbachev and Reagan,” said Scott Daniels, a lawyer with Westerman Hattori Daniels & Adrian LLP in Washington. “The greatest chance of settling the case, of ending the Cold War, to use the analogy, is to have the two highest figures there.”

Oracle's suit, filed in August 2010, may represent a bigger menace to Google's software than challenges from Apple Inc., which has already won patent decisions against Android device makers. In settlement talks, Page aims to avoid having to pay Oracle licensing fees that analysts at Citigroup Inc. said could be as high as $15 per device. That sum might slow the adoption of the software, which Google gives away.

‘Productive Day'

“We are looking forward to a productive day,” Page said as he arrived at the courthouse today.

Ellison is under pressure to wring profit from the acquisition of Sun Microsystems Inc. and its Java software after a report in June showed falling hardware sales, raising concern that Redwood City, California-based Oracle may not be making most of the $7.3 billion deal, which closed last year.

“We'll do the best we can,” Ellison said today when he got to court.

Jim Prosser, a spokesman for Mountain View, California- based Google, said that the discussions, after more than 10 hours, had ended for the day. Prosser declined to comment further on the talks. A second court conference is scheduled for Sept. 21, according to court records.

Deborah Hellinger, a spokeswoman for Oracle, declined to comment earlier in the day.

Ellison, 67, has demonstrated his mettle as an opponent, said Neil Herman, an analyst at Ticonderoga Securities. He prevailed in 2009 after an almost two-year fight against Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli over who can determine the challenger in the America's Cup yachting competition.

And after a trial where Ellison testified, a federal jury awarded Oracle $1.3 billion in damages against rival SAP AG, which it accused of stealing software. While a judge ruled this month that the verdict was “grossly excessive,” Oracle vowed to pursue “the full measure of damages” it believes are owed.

“Larry Ellison has been masterful historically in his ability to hire good attorneys who give good advice and has been quite successful in the legal battleground,” said Herman, who is based in New York.

‘Well-Matched CEOs'

Page, 38, who succeeded Eric Schmidt in April, may prove a worthy opponent, said Paul Saffo, managing director at San Francisco-based Discern Investment Analytics Inc., which provides financial tools for institutional investors.

Ellison, who founded Oracle in 1977 and has been its CEO since that year, is known for his blunt manner, Saffo said. Within days of becoming CEO in April, Page shook up the company's leadership, promoting seven of his managers to senior executive positions to streamline decision making.

On Page's watch, Google has also bulked up on patents and the attorneys it needs to defend against allegations of infringement. The company agreed in August to buy Motorola Mobility Holdings Ltd. for $12.5 billion, gaining more than 17,000 patents.

“The only difference between these two men is their age, not their skills,” said Saffo, who said he holds some shares of Google. “They are two well-matched CEOs.”

‘Wishful Thinking'

Both executives were “strongly” urged to attend today's session by U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who has been overseeing the case, after opposing sides initially said they would send lower-ranking executives.

Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal in San Jose will oversee settlement talks. Grewal's role is to play devil's advocate to each side, said Paul Janicke, a lawyer and professor who teaches intellectual property law at University of Houston Law Center.

“You try to portray the worst case for each side --‘Here's what could happen to you' -- so that they will see their down side,” said Janicke, who has mediated patent disputes.

Oracle initially estimated that damages from allegedly unauthorized use of Java technology would amount to as much as $6.1 billion. Alsup threw out the tally, calling it “wishful thinking,” according to a July 22 order.

In the same order Alsup also took Google to task for what he called “Soviet-style negotiation” in suggesting that a reasonable royalty would be at most $100 million.

Royalty Fees

Undeterred by the judge's reproach, Ellison will likely ask for an ongoing licensing fee for each device that sports Android software, said Walter Pritchard, an analyst at Citibank Global Markets. Oracle may seek anywhere from $5 to $15 per device, he said. Richard Windsor, an analyst at Nomura Securities, said Oracle may seek less than $1 a device.

Any amount would add up quickly. More than 550,000 Android devices are activated each day, Page said last month. Introduced in 2008, Android has become the leading software for smartphones, with 43 percent of the market in the second quarter, up from just 17 percent a year earlier, according to Gartner Inc.

Java, the point of contention, has emerged as an industry standard for writing business software and is widely used to create Web-based applications. After buying Sun in January 2010, Oracle said it would make more money from Java than its inventor had. Sun collected just $220 million in Java-related revenue in fiscal 2008.

Oracle's Dilemma

Companies including Research In Motion Ltd., Inc. and Sony Corp. already license Java. Oracle claims that Google's Android relies on technology that infringes Java patents, and that Google should take a license.

Android has proven itself vulnerable in legal battles before. Apple won a U.S. International Trade Commission ruling in July in a patent-infringement case targeting HTC Corp.'s Android-based mobile phones.

Oracle's efforts could be more damaging to Android, said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates LLC in Northborough, Massachusetts.

“It strikes the foundation of Android,” Gold said. “What Oracle is saying is, ‘No, Android is fundamentally flawed in that it's based on our invention and you've copied our invention.' It much more goes at the core of Android.”

Android Cost

A royalty fee would increase the cost of using Android and may cause some handset makers to consider alternative operating systems. Still, Google, with its $39.1 billion in cash and short-term securities, could absorb some of the fee charged to partners that make the devices, said Will Stofega, program director at IDC. While giving away the software, Google aims to make money through advertising that it puts on the smartphones.

If Oracle does score a victory against Google, it won't want to extract too high a fee, said Ray Valdes, an analyst with Gartner. Android needs to be successful for Oracle to get any royalties from the devices, he said.

The case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., 10-03561, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Amazon Launches Android AppStore In India

E-commerce leader Amazon has enabled its AppStore for Android users in India, according to various media reports.

Amazon’s AppStore has over one lakh apps and is offering one paid app for free daily. Users will need to register for before downloading the app. Like Apple’s AppStore, users will also need to add their credit card information before accessing the app store. On the other hand, Google’s Android market, which comes loaded with all Android OS-based phones, does not require this information and only asks for it when you download a paid app. This could be a make or break for Amazon’s AppStore in India, where credit card usage is still low. By restricting access to free apps, we doubt Amazon will see much traction for its app store unless it offers a huge USP.

According to a report by mobile market intelligence firm Research2Guidance, Google’s Android Market crossed six billion downloads in August. It also states that as of the end of August 2011, the Android Market contained 277,252 apps and on average, weather apps generated the highest total revenue from paid downloads.

AppStore has also been launched in Europe and Australia.


For enterprises, Amazon Web Services recently rolled out three new services – Virtual Private Cloud; Direct Connect that allows enterprises to establish a dedicated network connection from their data centre or office to AWS; and Identity and Access Management for managing users and user permissions. It is now engaging with its Indian partners to grow its market, CRN reported.

Previous launches by AWS include Mechanical Turk – a market where businesses can find developers; Elastic Compute Cloud, that can be used to obtain and configure cloud-based computing resources and its Simple Storage Service for storing and retrieving data from the cloud infrastructure.

Amazon’s development centre in Bangalore is responsible for developing and launching such similar services as well as affiliate marketing programs and runs the Sponsored Links program for

Spice launches Android tablet @ 13K

The country's tablet portfolio seems to be growing by each passing day. Close of the heels of Reliance Communications (RCom) and Bharti launching budget tablets, Spice Mobility too has jumped on the tablet bandwagon with the launch of a 7-inch MiTab tablet priced at Rs 12,990.

Powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 MHz Turbo Processor, the tablet comes with a screen resolution of 800 x 480. MiTab will run Android 2.2 version (Froyo). As for the memory, MiTab supports up to 32GB expandable memory.

The tablet also packs a 2 megapixel camera at the rear and a VGA camera for video calling. For connectivity, the tablet comes with built-in 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth. The tablet will also support HTML browsing and Adobe flash player.

Over the past few months, the Indian market has witnessed a slew of budget tablet launches. Mercury launched its first Android tablet mTab priced at Rs 9,499. Measuring 19.3 X 11.7 X 1.4 cm, mTab sports a 7-inch WVGA TFT LCD touch display, G sensor screen rotation for 3D G-games and weighs mere 400 grams. The tablet runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread and is powered by 1.2 GHz triple core processor.

ADAG group telecom company Reliance Communications (RCom) too entered the tablet computer space with the launch of Android-based Reliance 3G Tab for Rs 12,999. The Reliance 3G tablet has a 7-inch touchscreen with Android 2.3 OS. The device has 512 MB RAM and a micro SD card which can support up to 32 GB data.

A Bharti Enterprises group company Beetel Teletech also launched Beetel Magiq, a low-cost Android tablet. The seven-inch tablet, which runs on Android 2.2 (Froyo), has been priced at Rs 9,999.

Magiq's screen has a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. The tablet has two 2 megapixel camerac and supports phone calls through a compatible Bluetooth headset. It is powered by a 1Ghz processor. It has 8GB internal storage, expandable up to 24GB through a 16GB SD card. According to some tech experts, the tablet is a re-branded Huawei S7 tablet.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Apple v. Android war impacts mobile video uptake

Expect more mobile video to go mainstream as the quality of the devices in people's hands continues to increase. But the showdown between Apple and Android in the market could have wide-reaching implications for video uptake.

Global smartphone shipments and tablets continue to outpace basic feature phones, accounting for the lion's share of sales in 2011. Technology market research firm Infonetics Research.Infonetics expects global smartphone revenue to grow 31% in 2011 over 2010, to $117 billion, with Apple and Android battling it out for dominance.

The outcome of that battle will have a mobile video impact, considering that Apple developers are focused on creating video streaming apps for the platform, while broadcasters and pay-TV operators worldwide are looking to leverage iPhone and iPad apps to bring their TV Everywhere plays to fruition. In contrast, Android has few video apps in the Android Market to date, hampered somewhat by the fragmentation amongst flavors of the OS. Netflix, for example, still only runs on certain Honeycomb OS-based tablets. HBO Go is not yet available at all for Android tablets.

Apple's stronger volumes and higher ARPU helped increase its global smartphone revenue share every quarter thus far in 2011, now at 36% of the smartphone market in 2Q11. However, combined across all vendors, Android continues to be the #1 smartphone operating system in the world, used in nearly half of all smartphones shipped worldwide.

Android-friendly HTC and Samsung leapfrogged into second and third place, respectively, in the global smartphone market in 2Q11, ahead of RIM and Nokia.

Meanwhile, tablet sales jumped 80% in 2Q11, led by the Apple iPad.

"The clear synergy between smartphones and tablets, with their shared touchscreen features and common application environments, make them by far the hottest segments of the mobile broadband device market," said Richard Webb, Infonetics Research's directing analyst for microwave and small cells "Just as iPhone users are more likely to buy an iPad as their tablet, so too are Android users more likely to buy Android-based tablets. It is increasingly important for vendors to have a strong portfolio in both market segments to leverage this synergy."

A total of $31.4 billion was spent on smartphones in 2Q11, down 1.4% from the previous quarter despite unit shipments being up about 2%, indicating unit-price erosion impeded revenue growth.

Official Google Apps in Android Market – A Guide

 Official Google Apps in Android Market – A Guide

Google as an app developer has released various applications in the Android Market and some of these come pre-installed on most Android devices – like Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Search.

But others have to be downloaded from Android Market; we have compiled a list of these apps that have been developed by Google. The number comes around 40 apps, although we have tried our best, but we might have missed a few. But not all applications are available in every country and every device; some are regional apps as they support only certain languages or certain apps might support only few device types. So, the best way to check if one of these apps is available in your country is to go to the phone/tablet based Market app and try searching for that particular app – if it comes in the search results than you are good to go.

  1. Google Maps – Maps app for all Android devices; comes pre-installed on almost every Android device. The navigation part is however is only supported in a few countries
  2. Gmail – No need to explain this one
  3. Google Search – This either
  4. Google Voice Search – Search without typing, but only supports certain languages
  5. Street View on Google Maps – Incorporates the Street Data in the Google Maps, if your country/city have Street view imagery then you can use this app as a part of Maps to see that.
  6. Google Docs – Official app for Google Docs
  7. Google Shopper – Find products with your phone and get prices fast. Find great products and deals with your Android phone.
  8. Google Earth – Official apps for Google Earth app.
  9. Google ReaderRSS Reader from Google
  10. Google Translate – Translate between most languages with this handy app
  11. Google Sky Map – Google Sky Map turns your Android-powered mobile phone into a window on the night sky. It will identify objects that appear in the sky and allow users to search for them.
  12. Google Goggles – Search the real world by taking a picture. Goggles uses image recognition technology to recognize objects and return relevant search results
  13. Google Books – Use Google Books to read over 3 million e-books on the go. Build your ebooks library in the cloud with Google Books. It is only available in US right now.
  14. Google Voice – Make cheap international calls with your Google number. Send free text messages. Place calls and send text messages showing your Google number. Available in select countries.
  15. Androidify – Create a droid-like avatar of yours.
  16. Gesture Search – Search your Android phone by drawing gestures on the touch screen. Gesture Search lets you quickly find a contact, a bookmark, an application, or a music track on your device.
  17. Google+ – Official app for Google+ social network
  18. Listen – Use for podcast search, subscribe, download and streaming.
  19. Talkback – TalkBack is a screen reader that provides spoken feedback when using native Android applications.
  20. Soundback – SoundBack augments TalkBack with additional non-speech auditory cues that make the interaction both efficient and fun.
  21. Kickback- KickBack augments TalkBack and SoundBack with additional haptic feedback.
  22. Google Chrome to Phone – Send links, maps, phone numbers, & more from your Chrome browser to your phone! You will need the chrome extn to compliment the app
  23. Finance – it brings you streaming real-time quotes in this stock quote and portfolio application.
  24. Videos – Official video player for Android Market movie rentals. Only available in US so far.
  25. Google Authenticator – Enable 2-step verification to protect your account from hijacking. Google Authenticator generates 2-step verification codes on your phone. With 2-step verification, you can choose to add an additional layer of security for your Google Account by signing in with both a code generated by this application in addition to your password.
  26. Car Home- Quickly access navigation, voice actions, and other features while driving. Turn your phone into your personal navigation and infotainment device.
  27. Google Apps Device Policy – Allows Google Apps domain admin to set security policies for your Android device. Google Apps Device Policy is a device administration tool that allows administrators for Google Apps Premier and Education editions to set security policies for Android devices.
  28. Scoreboard – Access daily sports scores, schedules, standings and news for Auto Racing, Baseball, Basketball, Cricket, Football, Golf, Hockey, Rugby and Soccer.
  29. Google Body – Navigate and search an interactive 3D model of human anatomy. Only for Android 3.0+.
  30. Google Keyboard Apps – IME features voice input, single vowel layout, & a suggestion dictionary for different languages. Check for your local language in Android Market.
  31. Orkut – official App for Orkut
  32. Blogger – Official app
  33. Google TV Remote – Remote app for Google TV devices
  34. Youtube Remote – With YouTube Remote, you can use your Android phone or tablet as a remote control for YouTube videos on your desktop computer or Internet TV.
  35. Panoramio Uploader – Show your favorite places to the world. Upload your photos to Panoramio. Upload your geo-located photos directly from the Gallery to your Panoramio account.
  36. Google Apps Lookup – Google Apps Business & Education users can now find any user in their company. Lookup allows Google Apps for Business and Google Apps for Education users to find and contact any user in their corporate domain.
  37. Intersection Explorer- Intersection Explorer helps blind users explore their neighborhood.
  38. Youtube – Official app

Friday, September 16, 2011

Citizen, Postmedia launch new Android app

The new Citizen app for Android smart phones
Postmedia Network Inc., is taking another step toward better engaging audiences through new media with the Friday launch of a free application for Android-powered smartphones.

"The new app works really well," said Drew Gragg, the Ottawa Citizen's deputy editor, digital media. "The Citizen app is the ideal way to get the latest news that's relevant here in Ottawa."

Android users can download the free app in the Android Market by searching Ottawa Citizen or tapping .

Having already made its chain of newspapers — which include the Citizen, the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Calgary Herald and Vancouver Province — available through mobile-enabled websites and with apps for tablets such as the iPad, BlackBerry PlayBook and HP TouchPad, this latest offering is another example of Canada's largest publisher of paid English newspapers responding to technological trends.

Android is an operating system designed by Google Inc., on smartphones made by companies such as HTC, Motorola and LG. It is the fastest growing smartphone platform and biggest rival to Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

"Android is growing like wildfire, and it is the main competitor to Apple's iPhone or IS operating system," said Steve Buors, Postmedia Network's senior vice-president of digital media strategy and product development. "So it's a great opportunity for us as a massive news organization to be on this device."

Users of Android, or essentially any of the major smart phones, including iPhones and BlackBerrys, were already able to access Postmedia Network's content via mobile-enabled websites, including and the various newspaper sites.

But the Android-specific application, Buors explained, gives users a number of enhanced features, such as navigation options tailor-made for the Android operating system, advanced photo and video features, easy sharing through social networks or email, connections to related news stories and the option of downloading content for later off-line viewing.

The upcoming Android app is for Postmedia Network's chain of local newspapers. An Android app was released for the National Post earlier this summer.

Buors said the launch of this Android application is another part of Postmedia Network's strategy of giving people news and content in the format best-suited to them.

"Mobile is absolutely core to our go-forward strategy at Postmedia," he said. "People are consuming more news and information than ever before. The challenge for us as a news organization is they're consuming in more places than ever before, as well.

"So our job is to make sure that we give people quick, easy access in a way that makes sense for the device that they're on, whether they're reading the print newspaper — which a lot of people still do, despite what some people might think — whether they're looking at it on their computer, whether they're looking at it on their tablet or whether they're looking at it on their smartphone."

Other additions or improvements to Postmedia Network's mobile capabilities are also on tap in the coming days and weeks, the company said.

For example, general mobile accessibility on websites for all smartphones will be upgraded over the next week or so, to, among other things, allow for device-specific optimization, more content, better navigation, and better viewing of video and photos.

Also, an iPhone app for newspapers in British Columbia's Lower Mainland will be launched in the coming week before being rolled out to the rest of the chain at a later date.

Also, the Montreal Gazette will be launching an improved version of its Hockey Inside/Out app for iPhones in advance of the upcoming National Hockey League season.

BlackBerry, Nokia, Google Android future smartphones to use as ID

Everyone from Nokia to Android developer Google plans to include near-field communications (NFC) technology in future devices as they seek to replace cash and cards for everything from coffee to concert and transport ticket purchases.

NFC enables data to be exchanged wirelessly over distances of a few centimeters, meaning mobile phones can be used to pay for goods, store electronic tickets, download music and swap photos and business cards.

But implementation of NFC for purchases has been stymied by the competing interests of banks, merchants, device makers and even wireless carriers all eager to get a cut. "It is a very dynamic ecosystem, there are a lot of people involved, a lot of things that need to happen before a critical mass can be achieved," RIM's vice president for handheld software products, Andrew Bocking, said in an interview.

In the meantime, RIM will be leveraging its established role as smartphone of choice in offices and government buildings to gain physical access to those properties. Office workers often swipe a plastic card at a reader to gain access to their building or activate the lift. There's a decent chance that card and the associated reader is made by HID Global, a part of Assa Abloy.

RIM and HID Global on Thursday said they had teamed up to enable users of new versions of RIM's Bold and Curve smartphones to tap them against a reader to gain access to their workplace or other controlled area.

"This is an industry first and quite a milestone for us because it enables the capability of a mobile device to now have an identity stored in it for use in logical and physical access," said HID Global Chief Executive Denis Hebert.

While HID is testing its product for smartphones on other operating systems, Hebert said RIM was an ideal partner. "RIM has a tremendous presence in the enterprise space. That is an attractive target for them, but also for us because many of them are users of our cards today," he said.

Hebert said the cooperation could make use of RIM's enterprise servers, which allow employees to receive corporate email and other data while away from their desks, to quickly add, alter or remove access for an individual or group of workers.

RIM's Bocking said visitors to the Museum of London can already use NFC-enabled phones to get additional information by tapping at tags near specific exhibits.

Android chosen by Boeing for entertainment

Now air travellers can expect Android based tablet devices in front of them when they travel in the new Boeing 787.

Boeing, the popular aircraft manufacturer, has decided to equip its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft with Android to enhance the in-flight entertainment system.

Android based tablet type devices ranging from screen sizes of 9 inches to up to 15.4 inches have been selected to provide entertainment to the passengers as per their travelling choice. All the devices except the bigger ones used for the business class passengers will feature touchscreen for input and additional keypad for gaming and text input as well.

For the business class passengers, Boeing is planning to use a prototype hand gesture based technology in these Android based devices as due to a bigger space in these aircrafts it would be difficult for the passengers to reach out for the screens to control them. "Rather than that users can simply make out gestures with their hands and get the work done," said Mark Larson, technical manager, Boeing to Australian Business Traveler.

With this decision Boeing has officially shut Apple and other Android competitors' plans to enter the in-flight entertainment domain. For manufacturing the tablet devices and related devices to run the whole shoe Boeing has selected Panasonic and Thales, out of which Panasonic will be majorly involved in the making of the touchscreen devices.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Philly papers offering subscribers $99 Android tablet

(Credit: Lance Whitney/CNET)

A Philadelphia newspaper publisher is trying to steer more people to its online editions by offering a $99 Android tablet with a two-year subscription.

Publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and, the Philadelphia Media Network (PMN) launched its new promotion today, kicking in 5,000 Arnova 10 G2 tablets on a first-come, first-served basis to people who open up digital subscriptions to both of its newspapers.

Those who sign up for a two-year $9.99-per-month subscription can scoop up the tablet for $99, while those who opt for a one-year subscription at a cost of $12.99 a month will pay $129 for the Android-based device. The digital subscriptions are heavily discounted from their regular prices courtesy of sponsorships from Main Line Health, Comcast, and Wells Fargo, noted PMN.

The Arnova tablet will come packaged with digital or mobile editions of the Inquirer, Daily News, and and include a range of other apps, such as e-mail, a Web browser, the Amazon Appstore, an office suite, and Main Line Health's Wellness program. It also provides apps designed to ferret out local deals and information in the Philly area.

Arnova is a special brand manufactured by tablet maker Archos. Outfitted with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, the Arnova 10 G2 (PDF) is a 10.1-inch tablet with a 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor and a 1024x600 pixel display. It includes 4GB of storage space, an integrated 720p Webcam, and support for Adobe Flash.

The partnership between PMN and Arnova is the first of its kind involving a major media company in the U.S., according to the publisher.

"This partnership recognizes that consumers are increasingly utilizing tablets and other highly portable devices for their news, sports, and entertainment needs," PMN Publisher and CEO Gregory Osberg said in a statement. "We intend to utilize a variety of platforms and methods to reach our customers, ranging from to traditional hard copy subscriptions, as well as our new digital subscriptions."

News publisher Tribune Co. is reportedly cooking up a similar deal with Samsung to offer subscribers a free or low-cost Android tablet in exchange for a long-term commitment. That program was initially expected to launch in early August but has been delayed, according to sources from CNN.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich vs Windows 8: features and differences

Sandwich and Windows 8 are going to enter the market and pretty soon and people want to know their features and differences

Android Ice Cream Sandwich and Microsoft Windows 8 are going to make entry in the market pretty soon. Both are much more improved than what we have right now and both are going to make it tough for their competitors to remain in contention.

These two great operating systems are going to sway the market in their favor.

It is being said that Microsoft’s Windows 8 is not just a great operating system for PCs and tablet, it will also make the laptops and PCs very fast. To be true this will allow the computers to boot with just pressing of buttons.

Both the softwares are going to be introduced in the market later this year.

Google is going to face the main consequences of the Windows 8 operating system as a few tablet manufacturers have already said that they will launch their tablets with Windows 8. Samsung that so far used Android will be launching a Windows 8 tablet as soon as it is introduced in the market.

But there is a major difference between the two softwares. Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich comes primarily for tablets and smartphones while Windows 8 is aimed at tablet and PCs. Ice Cream Sandwich is a solution for both the tablets and smartphones.

A report suggests that a smoother user interface is a major attraction of operating systems. Users often use those devices that come with comfortable home screens and navigation features. Software giant Microsoft announced that its specially designed Metro UI would enhance Windows 8. Due to this Windows 8 will have an advanced tile-based home screen. Here every icon will give a sneak peek into the updates of each application. At the same time, Google Android 4.0 will come with a special holographic UI, which will offer more rich widgets and an enhanced application framework.

A press release says, “through deep partnerships with carriers, device manufacturers, developers, and others, we hope to enable an open ecosystem for the mobile world by creating a standard, open mobile software platform”.

A Press release detailing Android 4.o says, “Through Android, developers, wireless operators and handset manufacturers will be better positioned to bring to market innovative new products faster and at a much lower cost. (…) The Android platform will be made available under one of the most progressive, developer-friendly open-source licenses, which gives mobile operators and device manufacturers significant freedom and flexibility to design products. Developers will have complete access to handset capabilities and tools that will enable them to build more compelling and user-friendly services, bringing the Internet developer model to the mobile space. And consumers worldwide will have access to less expensive mobile devices that feature more compelling services, rich Internet applications and easier-to-use interfaces — ultimately creating a superior mobile experience”.

Android 2.3 powered Motorola Fire and Motorola Fire XT fire up the market

The budget Android Gingerbread smartphones market in India has been expanding at a rapid pace. The recent entrants to join the race are Motorola Fire and Motorola Fire XT. Packing in a new MOTO Switch user interface, the devices bring in unique personalized options in addition to a enhanced chatting and surfing options. Equipped with all the latest tools, like video chat, emails and more in their slim built, the devices bring a comprehensive social networking experience to the mobile users.

Rajan Chawla, Mobile Devices business country head-sales and operations, India and South West Asia, Motorola Mobility says, "with easy multitasking and contact management, faster and easier interactions, the Motorola FIRE XT and Motorola FIRE make for a great mobile experience at a great price for the young, fast-moving users who want everything from a top-quality smartphone. ”

The Motorola Fire XT comes with a 3.5-inch, extra-bright touch screen display for easy Swype and displays a touch-screen along with a full QWERTY keypad. The fashionable smartphone allows users to switch back and forth between friends and work thanks to its new MOTO Switch user interface. The capable 5-mega pixel auto-focus camera with built-in flash assures vibrant and colorful pictures, while the front-facing camera aids in video chatting.

On the other hand Motorola Fire provides a great mobile messaging and multitasking experience. Also supporting a QWERTY keyboard and 2.8-inch touch-screen display, the device balances the need for both touch and type users. The device has dropped 2 mega pixels as compared to its sibling and stands at 3-mega pixel. Aided by a friends-centric widget, the device allows for a seamless transition between work and play and is quite a steal at just Rs 9,490

The two devices apart from their OS also pack in similar features. Both come packed with the Android Market and access to over 250,000 apps, 3G3 / WIFI4 support for 3G hotspot for connecting up to 5 devices, access to Google Maps, Google Talk, Gmail and assisted global positioning system. There is a 2GB microSD card in the box which can be expanded up to 32GB.

Google recently acquired Motorola Mobility for a whopping $12.5 billion dollars. While many see potential of success in this marriage, several others believe that the deal will jeopardize the Android ecosystem.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Android app gives you free Web access via texting

Smozzy screenshots

A Web page fetched by Smozzy (left), and the Smozzy options screen (right).

(Credit: Smozzy)

Getting something for nothing is awfully hard to resist. If you have T-Mobile's unlimited messaging plan for your Android phone, the "something" is Web access and "for nothing" means no data plan required.

Smozzy is an Android app that cleverly packages communications between Android browser and Web as messages transmitted via T-Mobile's text messaging service. The result is slow but free Web access (given that you have T-Mobile's unlimited messaging plan).

Under this scheme, Web requests are sent via SMS to Smozzy's server, which retrieves the pages and returns them to your phone via MMS. The tricky part is in how Smozzy fits the camel through the needle's eye. The Smozzy server chops up a Web page, zips each piece, packages the zip files as PNGs, and sends the faux image files via MMS. The app unpacks the files and reassembles the Web page.

Smozzy's Android Market page includes these caveats from the developer, Jeff Donahue:

This app currently works with U.S. T-MOBILE SERVICE ONLY. This application may send and receive a large number of messages, so use of it without an unlimited messaging plan is NOT recommended. It is currently in beta, and has been tested only on Nexus S and HTC G2 devices.

ExtremeTech's Sebastian Anthony lays out some of the app's downsides:

There are some security issues, of course--there's no encryption (though some could be added), so passwords are sent as plaintext--and the entire service currently runs through one man's, cheap-and-cheerful VPS, so it would be unwise to rely on Smozzy being available. It's also incredibly likely that T-Mobile will close this hole, so you probably shouldn't use Smozzy as an excuse to cancel your overpriced data plan and transfer to T-Mobile.

Still, you've got to admire the creativity, and hey, free is free--for as long as it lasts.

Donahue is considering extending the app to other unlimited messaging services beyond T-Mobile, but he's not sure about other platforms, he said. "It was quite a bit of work getting it to work on Android."

Smozzy is a beta release. Donahue is taking a wait-and-see approach before deciding whether to do a commercial release and figuring out how to charge for it, he said. And yes, T-Mobile could shut him down. "I don't think there's much I can do if they block me," he said.

I wonder if they will. Does the disadvantage of some T-Mobile users getting data for free outweigh more people joining T-Mobile to get data for free? What do you think?

Netflix suddenly works on most Android devices

Netflix can now digest FroYo and Gingerbread. Or maybe it's the other way around.... Regardless, the video-streaming service's Android app now works on all devices running version 2.2 or 2.3, which would be the vast majority of Android phones and a number of tablets. Honeycomb users still get no red-envelope love, however.

Version 1.4 of the app dropped into the Android Market yesterday. Up until this version, Netflix had been compatible with a much smaller number of devices, with the development team tackling each device one at a time. In fact, when the app for Android first debuted in May, it was only functional on five devices.

Back then the company said it was having a hard time dealing with the notorious problem of Android fragmentation and had to "qualify phones" one at a time.

With subsequent releases, the number of compatible devices grew to 9 and then 24, and now it's everything except gadgets being used by the poor souls still stuck on Android 2.1, and the majority of Honeycomb tablets. According to Google's statistics, more than 82 percent of Android users are on FroYo or Gingerbread.

The app is free, but naturally you'll have to pony up $7.99 a month for the privilege of streaming "Cars 2" to your Droid 2. Trust me, your 2-year-old will love you for it.

Could Android Jelly Bean Be the Successor to Ice Cream Sandwich?

Android Jelly Bean

Slow news day? How else to explain the buzz being generated by a report about potential codenames for Google's follow up to its upcoming Android mobile operating system?

The follow-up to Google's current-generation Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS that's affectionately known as Ice Cream Sandwich won't even be arriving until October or November, according to Google. That said, interest in all things Android has certainly kept pace with the operating system's growing importance in the smartphone and tablet markets.

So perhaps it makes sense that people are keen to learn any detail at all about Ice Cream Sandwich's successor, even its codename. Which, according to, may or may not be Jelly Bean.

The tech blog cites one "trusted source" as saying Jelly Bean is a done deal. But another source cited in an update to the post says that codename hasn't yet been finalized. What Jelly Bean has going for it, of course, is that Google has so far named each successive new version of Android and some important updates to the OS after a tasty treat that follows an alphabetical pattern.

Thus we've seen Banana Bread followed by Cupcake followed by Donut, etcetera, through to the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich. And while Ice Cream Sandwich is assumed to be a major version update from Android 3.0 to Android 4.0, Google hasn't actually made that official yet. Jelly Bean could be Android 5.0, but that's not official either. thinks Jelly Bean makes a lot of sense because "the pickings are fairly slim for desserts with 'J' names." Maybe, but Google has been known to get creative with its Android codenames. Case in point, Froyo, the codename for Android 2.2.

Jell-O is a brand name, so it's probably off limits. A better bet would be Jujube, which is actually a generic term, though "Jujubes" is branded in the U.S. by the confectioner Farley & Sathers (on a historical note, Jujubes were originally made by the Heide Candy Company). Jelly Roll would be a nice twist on the more generic Jelly Bean, with the bonus of being an homage to jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton as well as a somewhat dated but naughty metaphor.

Speaking of metaphors, here's a mix of them: If Google does decide to throw us a curveball with Android 5.0 (or whatever the "J" stop turns on the Android train turns out to be), perhaps it will go with Javvarisi, the Tamil term for pearl sago, a tapioca like starch that's used in sweet pudding dishes.

Or perhaps the search giant will try to be a bit more more health conscious with the next iteration of Android. If Google wants to start moving away from codenames that still evoke sweetness without relying on refined sugar, they might try Jicama or Jackfruit.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Microsoft inks Android and Chrome patent deals

Microsoft struck two new patent-protection deals with hardware makers seeking to avoid being sued for using Google's Android and Chrome operating systems.

Microsoft's Horacio Gutierrez

(Credit: Microsoft)

Acer signed a licensing deal with Microsoft that includes "broad coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio for Acer's tablets and smartphones running the Android platform," Microsoft said in a press release. Acer's Iconia Tab, among other devices, runs Android.

"We are pleased that Acer is taking advantage of our industry-wide licensing program established to help companies address Android's IP issues," said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing at Microsoft.

The software giant's deal with ViewSonic covers tablets and mobile phones running either Android or Chrome. ViewSonic's ViewPad 7 will run Android. And the company has reportedly be considering using Chrome in its tablets as well.

The companies didn't disclose terms of the deals, except that Microsoft will get royalties from ViewSonic under that agreement.

Rather than going after Google for patent violations, Microsoft has targeted device makers, pressing them to license Microsoft's patents that it alleges Android and Chrome infringe upon. Last year, Microsoft cut a deal with its longtime partner HTC. And in recent months, its inked agreements with several smaller device makers including Wistron and Onkyo.

A Google Android and Java history lesson

Summary: Despite what you may have heard, there’s really no news about how Google handles its Android open-source code development. Still, while Google’s path may be both legal and good for business, it’s not always good for developers.

Recently, some people were shocked-shocked I tell you-to discover that Google had looked at Java to help create Android’s Dalvik and that Google kept its Android source code to itself and its closest partners until the final product was released to the public. Oh please. There’s nothing new here. It’s always been that way and everyone who knows anything about Android’s history already knew that.

First, there’s the accusation that Android used Java code in creating its Dalvik virtual machine (VM). This is news? When Android first came out, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, then Java’s owner, greeted the news of Android’s birth with “heartfelt congratulations.”

Oh, by the way, anyone could look, use, and, yes, copy Java’s code too. You see, Sun had open-sourced Java under the GPLv2 in November 2006. Sun wanted Google and anyone else to use and copy its code. That’s kind of the whole point of open-sourcing a program don’t you know.

So there you have it. From day one Android was using Java. I knew that. Sun knew that. Anyone who ever developed in Android knew that.

Just look at the record. Not only had Sun’s own CEO given Google’s use of Java his blessing, Google publicly explained in detail exactly what they were doing at the time. As Stefano Mazzocchi, a Google engineer, explained in 2007 with Android’s first release in his posting, Dalvik: how Google routed around Sun’s IP-based licensing restrictions on Java ME [Micro Edition]. “Android’s programs are written in Java, using Java-oriented IDEs [integrated development environment] … it just doesn’t compile the Java code into Java bytecode but (ops, Sun didn’t see this one coming) into Dalvik bytecode.”

Mazzoccchi continued, “So, Android uses the syntax of the Java platform (the Java “language”, if you wish, which is enough to make Java programmers feel at home and IDEs to support the editing smoothly) and the Java SE [Standard Edition] class library but not the Java bytecode or the Java virtual machine to execute it on the phone.”

Let me sum it up for you. In November 2006, Sun open-sources Java. In November 2007, Sun approves Google’s use of Java in Android. And, in the same month that Sun blesses it, a Google engineer publicly explains that while Google is using some of Java’s ideas it’s going its own way to avoid the restrictions that Sun attempted to put on its GPLed code. I mean, come on, just look at the title of Mazzocchi’s story! He says right out that Google thinks it’s worked out a way around Sun’s Java intellectual property (IP) restrictions. In the story itself, he then explains how Google is doing it. Oh yeah, there are big secrets here! All these recent “revelations” were public knowledge almost four years ago.

Is there room for argument over how both Sun and Google handled the licensing? You betcha! That’s one of the reasons why Google and Oracle are locked in a lawsuit. But, this latest “news” isn’t news, it’s just people repeating Oracle’s paid expert rehash of the situation. Of course, he wrote it to make Oracle look good and make Android look bad. That’s his job. That’s why they call them “paid experts.”

Moving on, there’s the “revelation” that Google doesn’t immediately open-source its Android code to the public and that it shares its Android source code and development goodies with its partners. That’s right. That’s exactly what Google does. They’ve always done it that way and they probably always will.

Guess what? All software companies, open source or not, do this with their partners. It’s business as usual. That’s why they call these relationships, “partnerships.” Canonical is doing it with IBM to bring Ubuntu to IBM’s System p mini-computers and blades and System z mainframes; Microsoft does it with Dell and HP; and on and on.

If anything, because Google uses the open-source Apache Software License 2.0, (ASLv2) for Android, Google’s in better legal shape than most open source companies in keeping its code to itself and its best friends. You see, in ASLv2, you’re not required to release the source code until the binary files, the executable programs, are released.

In practice this means that Google has always let the big Android hardware manufacturers, such as HTC, Motorola and Sony, have an early look at Android source code. Smaller vendors, developers and open-source purists have been unhappy with this Animal Farm=style “Some animals are more equal than others” approach.

I don’t like it either. I think that while this makes Google’s biggest partners happy, it’s also bad open-source development practice. The whole point of open source is that you make better software by sharing the code instead of keeping the code to yourself and your partners until it’s ready to go, I think Google ends up actually delaying Android development. In the end, this policy won’t hurt Google in the courts, but it may hurt it in the smartphone and tablet operating system marketplace.

None of this is news either though. That’s been public knowledge for years. Microsoft kept secrets that eventually led to it having its wrist-slapped by the Department of Justice. The Oracle/Google lawsuit? It’s nothing, but Oracle’s attempt to puts its piggy snout into the Android money trough.

Whether this case comes to a jury trial or, if Judge William Alsup gets his wish and Google and Oracle settle, the real issues boils down to money. In the end, the case isn’t really about copyright, patents, or licenses. Those are just the tools Oracle is using to squeeze cash from its Sun/Java investment. In short, it’s, I’m sorry to say, it’s just business as usual in the United States in 2011.

Android to overtake Apple in app downloads

(Credit: CNET / Jaymar Cabebe)

Android could notch 8.1 billion app downloads this year, compared with 6 billion for Apple's iOS devices. That marks an explosion of growth for both platforms; Apple had 2.7 billion downloads and Android recorded 1.4 billion last year. The total number of application downloads is expected to grow by 144 percent this year, Ovum said in a report issued today.

"Consumers' seemingly insatiable demand for mobile applications is set to continue this year, with downloads from app stores increasing around the world," said Ovum analyst Nick Dillon. "The outlook for the longer term is also positive, with consumers set to continue to use apps to add new features to their phones and to access their favorite services on the go."

Android's rise comes in lockstep with the surge in popularity of the platform, both with consumers and electronics manufacturers. A wave of companies have been attracted to the free mobile operating system, which powers smartphones and tablets. Carriers have also put their marketing dollars behind the smartphones, luring in millions of consumers. As a result, Android has seen its market share jump over the past few months.

Android also benefits because other application stores such as those at GetJar and Amazon have sprung up to provide alternative sources for mobile programs.

Apple, which began the apps craze with the launch of its App Store, can't compete with such diversity, but still leads in the value of its apps. Ovum said that the iPhone will continue to dominate the market for paid applications, with app revenue expected to reach $2.86 billion in 2016, compared with $1.5 billion for Android. That's despite Android taking a near two-to-one lead in app downloads by that time, with 21.8 billion Android app downloads vs. 11.6 billion iOS downloads.

Despite the growth, Ovum said it is tougher to create a breakout hit as consumers get more selective and discerning and more applications arrive on the market.

"App-savvy consumers are less willing to pay a high premium for anything but 'must have' apps," said Ovum analyst Eden Zoller.

Android is expected to surpass Apple in application downloads for the first time, according to research firm Ovum.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Why Is Windows Phone 7 Winning Over Some Indie App Developers?

While many app developers have merely reworked their Android or iOS apps to function on Windows Phone 7, a handful of independent app makers are developing exclusively in Microsoft's mobile operating system. Why are these bootstrapping coders throwing all of their (spare) time behind the insurgent OS, and not Android or iOS?

For some, it’s because there’s less competition on WP7, or because they’re most familiar with Microsoft’s tools, or because they simply don’t care for the way iOS and Android operate. Microsoft is fighting to exploit those beliefs and recruit the developers who hold them; the company's success or failure at doing so may mean the success or failure of the Windows Phone 7 platform.

With just over 30,000 apps available for WP7, and only 2 percent of the United States smartphone market, Microsoft is a very small fish in a very competitive pond. But it is growing: According to Microsoft’s stats, Windows Phone 7 gained some 5000 apps in the past two months. Sure, that’s nothing next to the half-million apps on iOS, and the 200,000 you can find on Android, but WP7’s growing apps store shows that some developers think the platform is worth the time and effort.

Hearing the Good Word: Microsoft Evangelists and Thumba

At the moment, Microsoft is still trying to get its little app garden to flower. When Windows Phone 7 hit the market early last year, reports said that Microsoft was offering free equipment, revenue guarantees, and even cash incentives to developers to make apps for the WP7 platform, something that Apple and Google have never had to do for iOS and Android.

Microsoft representatives won’t comment on whether the company still pays developers to make apps, but Microsoft isn’t shy about the fact that it is attempting to lure developers, employing “more than 1000 ‘Microsoft Evangelists’ around the world,” according to Matt Bencke, general manager of Windows Phone apps for Microsoft. These globe-trotting Evangelists seek out developers at iOS and Android developer conferences or at grad schools, or they host hackathons in an effort to “convert” programmers to the WP7 platform.

Pieter Voloshyn, creator of ThumbaPieter Voloshyn, creator of Thumba“The hard reality of our competitive life is, we have to go where the developers are,” Bencke says. “We realize we're in a bit of an arms race, and the number of apps we have matters.”

The Evangelist method has seen some success. It’s responsible for Thumba, a photo-editing app that rivals most of the image-editing apps on iOS, and pretty much every photo-editing app on Android.

The developers, Pieter Voloshyn and his partners Luiz Thadeau and Jhun Iti, were working on a prototype photo editor using Microsoft’s Silverlight at The Methodist University of São Paulo in Brazil a few years back. Voloshyn says that a Microsoft Evangelist based in Brazil heard about their project and reached out to him and his partners, supplying the three with a Windows Phone 7 device and allowing them to submit the app before the app store opened in 2010.

Although Voloshyn says the team hasn’t made any money from Microsoft for developing the app, they have made a considerable sum selling the app itself, which costs $0.99. WP7 developers usually keep 70 percent of their earnings from the app store. Voloshyn notes that even though he couldn’t live off what he makes from his app, its earnings did help him pay for his recent wedding and honeymoon.

Voloshyn isn’t starry-eyed about Microsoft’s position in the smartphone game, but being recruited by Microsoft was a positive experience for him. “I think the [platform] leadership will be shared among the three [Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7]. Microsoft came late in the game but came well, and I see a lot of gas for WP7 to compete,” he says.

That said, when asked what kind of phone he owns, Voloshyn admitted that he still uses a feature phone: “I’d love to have a WP7, but the price here in Brazil, when it comes, is charged with so many taxes that it discourages me. But I still have a hope of getting it with a fair price.”

Astoundingly, even among developers, Microsoft needs to fight to make owning a Windows Phone 7 handset--and using it for everything in day-to-day life--a priority.

A Labor of Love: Feed Me

Calum McLellan’s story is a bit different. A New Zealander living in Germany, he works at a German software company, programming a data-management system. He wanted to try creating mobile apps, and he figured he’d have enough spare time to do a little coding in the evenings after he put his son to bed.

Windows Phone 7“I was considering starting with Android last year, but then WP7 came out,” McLellan says. “I have a lot of experience with Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Communication Foundation, and Silverlight. I was also turned off by Android due to the number of apps available, the poor average quality of the apps, and the lack of developer support. I didn't want to work with Apple because it’s very difficult for someone without a Mac. And, in my opinion, these are the only three mobile platforms really worth considering at the moment.”

Despite clocking over 45 hours a week at his full-time job, McLellan created the app Feed Me, a mobile RSS feed reader, and released it in early 2011. He said he spends about 10 hours a week keeping up the app, and about 30 to 40 hours a week right before he releases an update. He plans on issuing one more update before releasing a Mango version this fall.

But has he made any money? “Not right now. I sort of hope that in a couple of years I can get a chunk of money,” he says. The ads that run in his free app have earned him a little cash, but require a U.S. bank account for him to withdraw the revenue (until the ad-placement service expands to Europe, which he hears will happen in a couple months). Regardless, the earnings are modest: “Windows Phone doesn't quite have enough market share at the moment,” McLellan admits.

He still thinks Windows Phone 7 is a better platform, because it’s an enclosed consumer phone like the iPhone, rather than an open-source mess of possible tweaks and adjustments. “I spent quite a while with Android last year, looking at the two OSs. With Android, I just couldn't stop messing with it, and that drove me nuts. Windows Phone saves me a lot of time.”

Still, the slow profits are a concern not just for app developers but also for Microsoft, who clearly wants to see app makers win big. Microsoft’s Bencke says the company has been predicting a gold rush for developers. But where is that rush? “It's 1847 for us, and the '49ers haven’t arrived in droves," he says, laughing. "We're seeing lots of positive signs, and we do have developers who are making great money. It's early in the gold rush.”

The Company Line: Social Lookout

While McLellan is a somewhat “platform agnostic” developer who actively chose between Windows Phone 7 and Android, Geert van der Cruijsen became a WP7 developer because he was already working a lot with Windows software creation tools. van der Cruijsen is Dutch and works as a consultant at Avenade, a company that builds software using Microsoft technologies.

Geert van der Cruijsen, creator of Social LookoutGeert van der Cruijsen, creator of Social LookoutHis company had a contest to see who could build the best WP7 app, and he came in second with his app Social Lookout, which allows the user to follow tags and trends--rather than individual people--on social networks. He tied up some of the app’s loose ends after the contest, and submitted it to the Windows Phone 7 app store. Since then, he has worked on a few more WP7 app ideas outside of work, including his recent app PinPin ATM Locator.

Even so, van der Cruijsen is pragmatic about Windows Phone’s potential. “I don't see WP7 catching up to Android anytime soon. I think Windows Phone 7 has more potential than iOS, except for the coolness factor that Apple has for some reason.” His app development remains a hobby and hasn’t made him any money, although he’s working on paid and ad-supported apps for the future.

Like McLellan, van der Cruijsen expresses displeasure with how easily average users can get lost in the überfunctionality of the Android platform. “Android is really open, so it has more potential, but it is also a danger because it can get to hard to use for nontechnical people,” he says. Android is now the leading OS for smartphones, but developers like McLellan and van der Cruijsen prefer to give customers apps that they won’t have to “fiddle with,” subscribing to the idea that there’s potential in constraint.

And van der Cruijsen thinks Mango is round two for the fighting OS: “Windows’ Metro UI is really adding something, and I like that lots of things are integrated in the OS that you use a lot, like Facebook and Twitter.”

Fortunately, the passion for good apps is out there among Windows Phone 7 developers, even as Microsoft continues to struggle in making its phone a ubiquitous device. And Microsoft’s Bencke seems to have his heart in the right place when it comes to working with the grassroots: “The developers absolutely deserve to make money. The investment is pretty reasonable, whether you're a rookie or an experienced developer; we go out of our way to help you out.”