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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Google Prevails Over Oracle in Java API, Android Copyright Case

In a landmark IT court case that began on April 16, a federal judge ruled May 31 that Java application programming interfaces used by Google in building the Android mobile device operating system are not protected by copyright.

Oracle, the plaintiff in the case and maintainer of the Java programming language as well as organizer of its open source community, said it will "vigorously" appeal the verdict. (See the official statement at the end of this story.) The company had asked for nearly $1 billion in restitution and an injunction against Google for using the Android OS.

"This order does not hold that Java API packages are free for all to use without license," Judge William Alsup wrote in an order filed May 31 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

"It does not hold that the structure, sequence, and organization of all computer programs may be stolen. Rather, it holds on the specific facts of this case, the particular elements replicated by Google were free for all to use under the Copyright Act."

Because the APIs contain techniques, and since techniques by definition are not copyrightable, the decision was not a surprise to many IT professionals. But Oracle was determined to prove that Google's use of the open-source Java and its APIs was beyond fair use.

In the end, the court determined that Google had only copied nine lines of code into Android from Java and that the APIs were non-copyrightable.

In building its popular Android OS and using its own technigues, Google deployed the Java APIs to create its own, or "forked," version of Java, which is code used to activate and run applications on many devices at once over the Internet. Because the Google developers custom-coded their version of Java for proprietary use inside their own system, the Android version of Java is not sanctioned by the Java community and therefore not eligible for updates and support from Oracle's Java maintainers.

Google contended, and Judge William Alsup agreed, that because it created its own version of Java using the standard APIs, that it did not require a license from Oracle.

One of the pivotal witnesses in the case was former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz (pictured). During his testimony, Schwartz contradicted his former boss, Sun co-founder and former CEO Scott McNealy, by saying that companies could use Java without buying a license so long as they didn't claim to be Java-compatible and use the Java logo. Android does not contend that it uses so-called "Pure Java."

Users of Java must subscribe to the open standards Java requires. During his testimony Schwartz was asked: "Was there ever a time during your tenure at Sun where Java APIs were considered proprietary or protected?" His answer: "No. To the extent that anybody made that claim, we would have worked hard to say, 'No, that's not true.' We didn't think they [Google] were doing anything wrong."

Forking Forgoes 'Pure Java'

When Java gets changed for a specific purpose, it then forgoes the label "Pure Java" and is disowned by Oracle's Java franchise. No support, no updates, no nothing -- you're on your own. But it's still Java, it delivers code across the Internet, and it gets the job done most of the time.

That was the whole idea back in the early '90s, when Dr. James Gosling and his Sun Microsystems band of developers created the now-ubiquitous programming language. Gosling and his gang designed Java as a key link to connect what he called "Big Hunk" servers to desktops, to cars, to mobile devices, to TVs -- to basically anything.

When Sun released Java to the open-source community in 2006, it was not only a gift to the world, but it also was a nod to the fact that Java had already been copied and forked thousands of times in 11 years.

Java is so everywhere in the Internet, moving code from place to place and activating applications, that it has became an integral part of the infrastructure background, like XML or TCP/IP. It's just there, it works and it keeps on working 24/7.

Java is easy to take for granted, and Oracle knows it. It was simply trying to protect what it owns; it's just very difficult to prove negligence against a competitor when it comes to open source and APIs.

Google Also Won Patent Dispute

Oracle learned firsthand -- and the hard way by spending millions on lawyering -- that it isn't such a simple proposition to nail a forker of open-source software to the legal cross. On May 23, Google and the open source community won their initial legal victory when the 12-person jury in San Francisco unanimously found Google not guilty of infringing on two of Oracle's Java patents.

The jury found that Google did not infringe on the two Java patents that Oracle had asserted in the case—U.S. Patent No. RE38,104 and U.S. Patent No. 6,061,520.

Oracle originally brought the lawsuit against Google in August 2010, alleging that the Android OS infringed both patents and copyrights for Java that Oracle acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems in January 2010.

In only four years, Android has become the most popular mobile operating system for smartphones and other mobile devices in the world. Android, released in 2008 by Google to partners such as Samsung, HTC and other manufacturers for smartphones and tablet PCs, now runs on more than 300 million mobile devices. Google said it believed that Oracle was using the litigation to unjustly horn in on the profits from the OS.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Google: Android and Chrome OS will slowly converge

Google's vice president of engineering Linus Upson has told TechRadar that the company is categorically not working on a Chrome OS tablet, but does expect a slow convergence with the Android mobile operating system.
In a briefing to introduce the new Chrome devices from Samsung and a revised Chrome OS, Upson told TechRadar; "We are not working on a Chrome OS tablet."
"We have our hands full in delivering a wonderful experience on dektop and laptop and the Android team have their hands full bringing a great experience on phone and tablet. But the two teams are working together even more closely."

Microsoft proved the point

Upson believes that there will be a slow convergence between Google's two operating systems, but believes Microsoft's earlier attempts to run over multiple platforms and Apple's success with Mac OS and iOS indicate that different devices still need a different OS.
"The use cases in technology stacks on phone and tablet are very different to desktop and laptop, as are the user expectations, and the types of things you do are also very different," said Upson.
"That's why everyone has two different solutions for these problems. Apple has Mac OS and iOS, Microsoft has two – they just happen to call them both Windows – and at Google we do the same.
"But I think everyone does expect you will see more and more convergence and bringing together of [the two projects] so you can get the best of both.

"Microsoft demonstrated quite convincingly earlier this century that if you take one environment and jam it across all devices it wasn't going to work so now you see a lot more caution.
"Apple doesn't try to smash the two together and we're not trying to do it, but in time there will be a seamless user experience across all the devices."

Already started

Upson believes that this convergence has already begun in earnest, with Chrome on Android phones bringing some of the functionality of Chrome OS.
"New phones have got to the point where we can run all of Chrome which wasn't possible before ARM chips got faster and faster," he said.

"So we are able to bring the full Chrome experience to phone or tablet and you see this with Microsoft and Apple devices as well.
"With Chrome on Android and Chrome OS and Chrome on Windows or on Mac you get the same web browsing experience everywhere.
"…So we're seeing convergence slowly over time and doing the right thing for users.
"Everyone likes to call a horse race [between Android and Chrome OS] but we don't look at it like that at all. We look at what's the right thing to do for the user and how you build the right experience."

Android 4.0 reaching two LG Optimus smartphones in June

Some LG smartphone owners will be receiving the latest version of Android early next month.
An LG Korean news item (English translation) points to the Optimus LTE Tag and the Optimus Vu as getting a dollop of Ice Cream Sandwich -- aka Android 4.0 -- starting on June 4.
As Engadget points out, it's a bit tough to decipher the Google translation. But the update appears to include LG's Optimus UI 3.0, which runs on top of Android 4.0. Owners of the Optimus Vu will also receive "additional features."
CNET contacted LG for further details. We'll update the story when we get more information.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Verizon Galaxy Nexus Android update appears imminent

After waiting a few months, Verizon customers who own a Galaxy Nexus LTE smartphone should soon see their phones get updated to from Android 4.0.2 to 4.0.4. The international version of the Galaxy Nexus has enjoyed the newer software for nearly two months as it was pushed out by Google at the end of March. Verizon’s edition of the phone requires additional testing by the carrier; something not required for the GSM model as Google sells and supports it directly.
Enthusiast blog Droid Life spotted a Verizon-authored PDF explaining what some of the software changes and improvements are in Android 4.0.4. This type of document typically appears just prior to the operator pushing out a software update, so the Galaxy Nexus LTE could be updated as early as this week. Here’s what Verizon says is in the coming update:
Email, Messaging & Data
  • Email messages will display properly when the text size is set to large.
  • When sending a multimedia message to an Outlook email address, the file extension will send, allowing the recipient to successfully open an image.
  • Successfully deleted emails on the device will be deleted from the desktop as well.
  • Successfully send text messages without experiencing network connectivity issues.
  • When viewing a Calendar reminder or appointment, you will now be able to view the full notes associated with the appointment.
  • A down arrow has been added in the Calendar application that will expand the calendar message body, allowing you to view the entire message.
Device Features
  • Successfully turn on Wi-Fi using the Power Control widget.
  • Updates have been made to prevent the display from freezing or becoming unresponsive.
  • Complete calls without experiencing choppy audio, clicking noises and one-way audio noises.
  • Successfully access Voicemail and other automated systems without error.
On my own Galaxy Nexus — the GSM version — I’ve also noticed some general Android improvements, the most noticeable being fast screen rotation. When Android 4.0.4 rolled out, Google said the camera performance was improved also, and based on the photos I’ve taken in the past two months, I’d agree. In the future, my hope is that Verizon moves quicker to test and push Android updates. When folks complain to me about the Galaxy Nexus, I ask which model they have and nearly all are speaking of the Verizon model. I generally can’t replicate these issues on my phone because its up to date, which just leads to frustrated Verizon customers.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Google Operating system Just didn't Infringe Oracle Patents, Court Says

the biggest Web look for organization, just didn't infringe Oracle Corp. (ORCL)’s patents in creating Operating system application, a government court discovered in the second stage of an intellectual-property test in San Francisco.

The 10-person court decided all these days that neither of the two patents at problem was infringed. Jurors discovered May 7 that Search engines infringed Oracle’s copyrights and deadlocked on whether it was “fair use,” doubting Oracle the capability to search for as much as $1 million in loss from the look for website optimization organization. Last year Oracle said trademark loss could amount to $6 million.

he certain stage of the test was less important than the trademark concerns because the patents were value much less, said Mark Really like, an intellectual-property lawyer and coaching other at Stanford Law Institution. Still, the court discovering nowadays underscored how the test went against Oracle, he said.

“This situation is maybe something like a near problems for Oracle,” Really like said in a cellphone appointment.

The organization may be restricted to looking for about $150,000, the most permitted by law, for trademark intrusion, the presiding assess in the situation has said.
‘Couple of Days’

“That possibly is not enough to protect what they are investing over a number of days” in hips during the test, Really like said.

U.S. Section Judge Bill Alsup said he may problem a verdict next weeks time on whether Oracle’s Coffee program coding connections, program programs at the center of the situation, can be complex. A verdict that they cannot would be another strike to Oracle, while a verdict for Oracle would get back the firm's capability to look for for huge loss.

Alsup also must guideline on Oracle’s ask for for a certain verdict in its benefit according to his examining of the proof, and Google’s ask for for a new test on trademark intrusion.

Immediately after the verdict was declared, the assess ignored the court from the situation and stopped the third stage of the test over loss.

Oracle, the biggest manufacturer of data source program, claimed Search engines took two patents for the Coffee coding terminology when it designed Operating system, which now operates on more than 300 thousand smartphones on the market. In the first stage of the test, the same court discovered the look for website optimization organization infringed Oracle’s Coffee copyrights while it can't acknowledge on whether the duplicating was “fair use.”
‘A Victory’

“Today’s court verdict that Operating system does not infringe Oracle’s patents was a success not just for Search engines but the whole Operating system environment,” Catherine Lacavera, Google’s manager of lawsuit, said in an e-mailed declaration.

Google and Oracle’s professionals had approximated loss for both patents at $3 thousand to $4 thousand if the court discovered intrusion.

“Oracle provided frustrating proof at test that Search engines realized it would fragment and harm Coffee,” D Hellinger, a speaker for Oracle, said in an e-mail after the verdict. “We strategy to keep protect and maintain Java’s primary write-once run-anywhere concept and make sure it is secured for the nine thousand Coffee designers and the group that rely on Coffee interface.”

Jury foreman Greg Thompson, 52, said nowadays that during deliberations he alone among the 10 jurors believed that Search engines infringed Coffee patents. After almost six times of conversations, said he was assured by other section associates to modify his election.
Jury Foreman

The court missing two associates over the course of the six-week test. Thompson said he alone elected that Google’s use of Coffee copyrights just didn't represent reasonable use beginning in deliberations in the trademark stage. Gradually he assured two other jurors and the court deadlocked after nine associates elected that Search engines made reasonable use of the copyrights, he said.

“The more tech-savvy a person is, the more challenging it is to force them about what restrictions should be placed on technological innovation,” Thompson said in an appointment after the test.

Handing certain situations to juries is “always a combined bag,” Really like said.

Google increased $8.66 to $609.46 at 4:02 p.m. in New You are able to dealing after spiking as much as 0.7 % when the verdict was declared. Oracle increased 32 dollars to $26.68.

Workplace on iPads, Operating system Pills Provides Good, Bad Information for Microsoft

Ms is not verifying reviews that its Workplace application package will soon be available on The apple company and Os pills. But, if the reviews are true it would keep Ms relevant in the bring your own device era.

Rumors and reviews are moving that sometime in Nov the Ms Workplace program package application will be available on the The apple company iOS-powered iPad and the multiple product manufacturers operating Search engines Os. If it happens, it could be both best part about it and bad information for Ms.

The latest review about editions of Workplace for pills was published by the blog Boy Professional Report. However, we’ve seen this movie before; eWEEK followed reviews of Workplace coming to the iPad back in Feb. So far, however, Ms, as well as The apple company and Search engines have never react to needs for thoughts.

Releasing Workplace for the iPad and Os systems could be a excellent move for Ms because it needs to make sure that its bread and butter efficiency program gets a piece of the action from the heavy sales of those well-known product systems.

The The apple company iOS loves a 63 % discuss of the smartphones in the marketplace and pills operating system industry. The next nearest is Os with 19 %. The results are international and from the monitoring firm Netmarketshare.

Windows just didn't even register with Netmarketshare as currently only Microsoft windows seven operates on relatively few pills. Microsoft’s cellular phone OS, Microsoft windows Phone 7, operates only on smartphones in the marketplace and has just a 2.2 % discuss of the international industry for smartphones in the marketplace, according to a review released May 24 by IDC. IDC’s numbers, for the first quarter of 2012, give the lion’s discuss of the cellular phone industry to Os, at 59 %, and The apple company iOS, at 23 %.

The point is that with The apple company and Search engines so far ahead in the pills classification, Microsoft’s best chance is to problem a ride on their rockets by operating Workplace on their devices. Consider, too, that even if The apple company and Search engines pills are the most well-known among the BYOD audience, their enterprise system is probably still Microsoft windows based. So that could provide some a continual in the workplace for Ms if well-known Workplace applications such as Term, Exceed and PowerPoint are accessible on both cellular end points and the corporate system.

The bad information about operating Workplace on iPads and Os pills is the effects that would have for Microsoft windows 8. The heir to Microsoft windows seven is designed to run on pills as well as pc PCs. Ms is counting on Microsoft windows 8 gaining grip in the product space. If a cellular worker already has Workplace on his or her iPad or Os product, why would they trade that in for a Microsoft windows 8 tablet?

One concept on that comes from Electronic Styles, which indicates that Ms could offer a slimmed down edition of Workplace for iPads and Os pills operating just four apps—Word, Exceed, PowerPoint, and OneNote—rather than the complete Workplace Suite, which also includes Perspective e-mail and schedule.

Notably, OneNote is already available on iOS and Os. Electronic Styles says Ms could use the smaller edition of Workplace on those competing pills to attract an iPad or Os owner to update to a complete edition of Workplace on a Microsoft windows 8 product.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Smartphone Review: HTC One S

It’s not easy to competition with the iPhone and the wonder of iTunes activity enjoying.

Ever since The apple organization company first unveiled its touchscreen display display screen masterwork coming back in 2007 (seems like age groups more time, does not it?), the globe's other cellular cellphone organizations have been long following their tails.

Count HTC among the organizations battling oh-so-hard to get up. But after a not reliable 2011, it reinvents itself with the new HTC One S. And this almost-invisible cellular cellphone, a T-Mobile offering that came out in beginning May, just may make you think about putting down your iPhone and offering Os another opportunity.

My experience with Os cellular mobile phones has long been this: They generally wrap up a lot of firepower, presenting amazing elements and ideas and applications. But often, the system is complicated and bugs are around every area, significant me coming back towards the annoying shine of the a little bit underpowered iPhone.

No such issues here. Sure, the HTC One S creates some breaks, but it also definitely like shine and classification, offering an Os experience like no other.

It all starts with the incredibly little and lighting situation. At 0.31 inches large wide large, the One S is actually only a little bit skinnier than the iPhone 4S (0.37 inches), and it cannot get in touch with Motorola’s Operating system Razr (0.28 inches). But somehow, the One S manages to make both cellular mobile phones experience big by assessment. It simply FEELS thinner, going into your coming back bluejeans pockets so absolutely that you will sometimes even ignore it’s there.
HTC One S Android phone

HTC One S Android phone

Soft factors, developed from a fantastically smooth anodized steel, appearance the whole system, properly decreasing along the boundaries. It’s a incredibly modern look — not like that bulky-feeling Razr — that you will be incredibly satisfied to situation around, and even the incredibly large photo photographic camera get in touch with on the coming back (which has a well-wrought purpose) cannot take away.

The cellphone is developed for Android’s newest edition, Ice Cream Meals, so you get three capacitive management control buttons — Back, Home and Latest Programs — on the top part. A energy choice and 3.5mm headset position sit on top. On the remaining part is a micro-USB position, and on the right is amount artist. HTC also fantastically reveals LED lighting effects signs (charging and the like) in a exclusive way; they seem to be in the top of the protecting within the speakers, absolutely undetected when they are not in use.

A terrifically large 4.3-inch, 960x540-pixel Super-AMOLED display embellishes most of the top part of it, and it’s definitely amazing to use. I analyzed the colors with an display of “The Avengers: Planet's Mightiest Heroes” loading over Smash hit online (the One S contains some powerful exclusive movie application, but most people will, certainly, shift coming back to Netflix), and the display designed incredibly greatly greens, and stunning colors overall. No, it’s not quite Retina, but the larger display residence actually pays, making for a far more comfortable viewing experience.

IDC: Android, Apple Own the Smartphone World

Have the cell cellphone conflicts been won? Research company IDC's newest cell cellphone OS statistics display that Google Managing system OS and Apple's iOS now own 81 % of the international cell cellphone industry, a extraordinary modify from last season. No other OS has more than a 7 % discuss.

I've been following the cell cellphone community since 2004, and elements have never been this huge. Just last season there were four techniques, all with between 15 % and 40 % discuss, according to IDC: Managing system, Symbian, iOS, and BlackBerry.

Nokia and RIM are now in the center of agonizing foundation changes that they might not endure. The lenders complete Symbian failure hasn't been associated with the increase of Ms windows Phone, which orders a simple 2.2 % international discuss. And as for RIM, well, currently there's nothing excellent to say about RIM. At least Htc has a new OS it can display in public.

Apple and Search engines are taking away more business even as the industry gets larger, too. IDC says 50 % more mobile phones were promoted in the first one fourth of 2012 versus 2011, but none of the other OS competitors could choose up a piece of that fast-growing pie.

A Duopolistic World
The information gets more intense for lovers of competitors when you see that 45.4 % of all Managing system cellular phones were promoted by New samsung. So it may not just be an The apple company and Managing system community, with all the variety that "Android" indicates. It may just be an The apple company and New samsung community.

This doesn't say anything about product quality. Right now, my personal cellphone is an HTC One S, which I think is one of the best Managing system cellular phones available. Our preferred AT&T cell cellphone is also from HTC, our preferred MetroPCS cellphone is made by LG, and our preferred Cricket Wifi cellphone comes from Huawei.

Rather, The apple company and New samsung have constant, targeted marketing initiatives and highly specific manufacturers. Nobody other than The apple company has been able to get a bloatware-free cell cellphone onto most of the major providers. Samsung's "Galaxy," meanwhile, has become symbolic of Managing system for many people.

This is a natural duopoly, not one designed by greedy or unjust methods. The apple company and New samsung didn't buy up their competitors to destroy them, like AT&T was trying to do with T-Mobile. They haven't been harmful providers who do offers with their competitors. They've just out-produced and out-marketed their competitors.

Developers will probably sigh with comfort if there are only two powerful cellular OSes. It's a pain to have to choose an OS for which to value. Customers will benefit from more third-party applications being available on each foundation, as devs won't be investing their energy on community systems. The industry may even get a little more relaxing and less complicated if some of the competitors die off.

But I just can't like this situation. Every cuboid in my body says that competitors makes advancement. You're always going to be more competitive when you're taking business, and more traditional when you're protecting it. The apple company innovates so strongly in part because there's still so much business to take.

Two techniques, and two cell cellphone creators, doesn't bode well for advancement.

Things Can Always Change
I'm depressing here because I like competitors. I think a vivid industry with three or four excellent competitors causes more options and better products all around.

But there's always wish. In the past eight years I've seen Hand OS, Ms windows Mobile, and Symbian all control the cell cellphone landscape. We're listening to wireless providers and OEMs grumble that they don't want to be too reliant on Search engines, which may decrease Android's discuss in support of either Ms windows Phone or the up-and-coming Tizen.

For now, consumers buying iOS or Managing system cellular phones can experience safe that they're in a big audience. Designers can focus on those OSes with assurance. And the other folks, well, they have a besides of a lot to confirm.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Microsoft Wins Patent Suit Against Motorola Android Handsets

Technology giant Microsoft claimed victory this weekend as the International Trade Commission (ITC) issued its final determination in Microsoft’s Android infringement case against Motorola, ruling Motorola violated a Microsoft patent related to ActiveSync, a mobile data synchronization technology and protocol developed by Microsoft, originally released in 1996. The technology is licensed to a number of mobile device companies, including Apple for iOS.
The ruling affects eight individual Motrola Mobility handsets which run Google’s Android operating system, including the popular Droid 2 and Droid X smartphones, as well as the Backflip, Charm, Clip, Devour, i1 and Cliq XT. "Microsoft started its ITC investigation asserting 9 patents against Motorola Mobility," Motorola spokeswoman  Jennifer Erickso said in an emailed statement. "Although we are disappointed by the Commission's ruling that certain Motorola Mobility products violated one patent, we look forward to reading the full opinion to understand its reasoning.”
A Bloomberg article reported that Motorola Mobility could appeal the ruling or cut a licensing deal with Microsoft in order to avoid altering the software on its phones. The company is currently being acquired by Google for $12.5 billion, a move that would give Google a hardware arm, as well as inheriting a broad array of wireless technology patents that could provide useful cover against its rivals’ legal assault on Android. “These cases usually end up with the parties settling,” Charlie Wolf, an analyst with Needham & Co in New York, told the news service. “I would expect Motorola to get together with Microsoft to resolve this.”
According to the ITC filing, the Commission instituted the investigation on November 5,2010, based on a complaint filed by Microsoft titled In the Matter of Certain Mobile Devices, Associated Software and Components Thereof, 337-744. The final ruling was delivered to President Obama as well as the U.S. Trade Representative, where Obama has the decision to either support or override the decision, based on public policy grounds.
“Microsoft sued Motorola in the ITC only after Motorola chose to refuse Microsoft’s efforts to renew a patent license for well over a year. We’re pleased the full Commission agreed that Motorola has infringed Microsoft’s intellectual property, and we hope that now Motorola will be willing to join the vast majority of Android device makers selling phones in the US by taking a license to our patents,” David Howard, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft, said in an emailed statement.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Researchers Tackle Android Fragmentation, Find 4,000 Devices

Android fragmentation is always a hot topic among the Android faithful and detractors alike. But just how many different variations of the Google-based operating system are we talking about? New research found almost 4,000 distinct Android devices in the wild.
For the past six months, OpenSignalMaps has been collecting data about Android users who have downloaded its app. Of the 681,900 devices catalogued by the firm, researchers "spotted 3,997 distinct devices," OpenSignalMaps said this week.
"We've looked at model, brand, API level (i.e. the version of Android) and screen size and we've tried to present this in the clearest form we can," the company said.
Not surprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy S II - which hit 20 million in global sales back in February - was the most-popular device, with 61,389 owners downloading OpenSignalMaps in the last six months.
Overall, OpenSignalMaps catalogued 270,144 Samsung devices.
HTC was the second most-popular brand, followed by Sony and Motorola. Overall, OpenSignalMaps picked out 599 separate brands.
"While the number of different models running Android will continue to increase we've seen Samsung take the lion's share of the Android market, most of that due to the Galaxy product line," OpenSignalMaps said. "Testing on the most popular Samsung & HTC devices will get you a long way."
The customizable nature of Android naturally helped create the almost 4,000 distinct devices, but "one complication is that custom ROMs can overwrite the variable that we use for the device model," OpenSignalMaps said, prompting "a staggering 1,363 device models appear only once in our database."
Still, the company did spot some little-known devices, like a 10.1-inch Hungarian tablet called the Concorde Tab, a dual-SIM Indian phone known as the Lemon P1, and a Spanish entertainment tablet, dubbed the Energy Tablet i724. There were even two Fusion Garage-based tablets.
What about Android version? Android Gingerbread is still the dominant version of the OS, with 55.4 percent, down from 65.6 percent last year.
"One year ago the top two Android versions accounted for 90 percent of devices, now it's closer to 75 percent - a challenge for developers," the company said.
According to recent data from Google, 64.4 percent of all Android devices are running Gingerbread. Slightly less than 5 percent are running the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich.
A March report from IDC and Appcelerator suggested that Android fragmentation would drive developers away from the platform and contribute to its "slow erosion."
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt raised eyebrows when he appeared at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and argued that Android is not fragmented but "differentiated."

Android offers Apple Ice Cream Sandwich... so to speak

Android rude Apple

A PHOTO has surfaced on the web depicting a (presumably fake) Android store sticking it to Apple. Literally.
The image was snapped in China of the Android logo offering its competitor an Ice Cream Sandwich. Um, so to speak.
The somewhat confrontational logo sits atop an Android store, situated right next to an Apple shop. Both stores are presumably counterfeit, as it is most unlikely that either Android, or Apple would allow marketing of this fashion. The text beneath the Apple logo translates to "Exclusively Apple", which is a little redundant as Apple stores obviously only sell Apple products.
The somewhat rude image went viral after user "dkmag" posted it on web forum, Reddit, and was originally posted on Chinese message board
The image follows the discovery of a fake Apple store by an American blogger in China last year.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Android-powered mirror that lets users read news while brushing teeth

London, May 15 (ANI): A Japanese company has come up with an android built in mirror that allows one to check news while carrying out other activities like brushing teeth.
The 'mirror tablet' was featured at the Japanese Smart phone and Mobile expo and showcases the latest technology that enables the user to check their weight, weather and latest headlines while they check themselves out in the mirror, reported The Daily Mail.
The device, which is powered by a humble Android tablet, can display widgets on your mirror, even attaching to scales to give you your weight.
It is also adaptable to a wide range of apps to making those morning routines a bit less mundane.
Keeping in mind that the 'touch sensitive' mirror isn't full of fingerprints, the mirror uses radio sensors so you can keep your fingers a few inches from the surface when swiping between screens.
The parent company, Seraku has revealed that even though the technology has not gone to market yet, but the potential market will be the home market. The technology can be for customers of hair-salons to make their trims a bit more interesting.
The company also mentioned that the pubs could use the technology so that patrons could fill out surveys.
With the mirror technology hanging on one's bathroom wall, futuristic systems shown in Spielberg's Minority Report are soon to become reality. (ANI)

Android 5.0 Jelly Bean news: Release date, features and more

Today, it's a very rare Android owner graced with the latest version of the OS: Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). Most mobile Droids are still chowing down on the Gingerbread flavour of Google's mobile software.
Earlier this year it emerged that a fractional 1.6 per cent of Android hardware is packing ICS -- which is a whole lot of Droid heads who can't use Face Unlock, enjoy full device encryption and download Google's Chrome for Android browser. Boo!
Since then a few new ICS phones have launched -- such as HTC's One Series devices -- but plenty of Android handsets continue to arrive running Gingerbread as standard.

Jelly Bean

This upgrade inertia hasn't stopped Google forging ahead with the next version of Android. And, in keeping with its alphabetical and dessert-themed naming convention, ICS looks set to be followed by Android 5.0 -- aka Jelly Bean.
Jelly-bean-flavoured name rumours have been swirling around Android 5.0 since last September. And in the clearest hint yet that this is indeed the name of choice, Google was dishing out jelly beans to conference goers at the exit of its Android-themed Mobile World Congress stand this February. Wink-wink-nudge-nudge.
We're yet to get an official, rubber stamped confirmation from Google that Jelly Bean is the name for Android 5.0 but don't bet your piggy bank on outlandish alternatives such as Jammy Dodger or Jam Roly Poly.
(For more on the cross-cultural currants of Android naming conventions, see my Pinterest board -- which imagines an alternative reality in which versions of the OS are given British English dessert names -- such as Android Eccles Cake, Android Iced Bun and Android Plum Duff.)

Release date

So when is Jelly Bean likely to land? Google hasn't made an official announcement -- but considering ICS arrived in autumn 2011, and is still the exception rather than the rule on Android devices, it seems pretty unlikely Jelly Bean will arrive sooner than this autumn -- despite Google previously keeping to a roughly six-monthly update schedule.
However, Jelly Bean could just get an airing at Google's annual I/O developer conference, which takes place at the end of June, so keep your eyes peeled for some potentially meaty news in about a month.


What do we know about Jelly Bean's features? Once again, not much since nothing has been officially confirmed -- Google wasn't handing out feature lists with those MWC jelly beans. Of course, that hasn't stopped the rumour mill churning out a few sugar-coated nuggets of its own.
One juicy but perhaps unlikely rumour is that Jelly Bean will run Windows 8 -- in a dual-boot scenario that would allow Droid lovers to switch between Android and Windows. The theory behind this cake-and-eat-it-scenario is that it would give Android lovers the on-the-go versatility and simplicity of Droid, along with the power and depth of Windows for more involved tasks.
However, many Android fans would probably say the OS is just as powerful and deep as Windows. And mixing open source free-to-use software with a proprietary OS is definitely an unfortunate crossing of the streams that suggests if there is a dual-boot option, it may be just that -- an option, rather than an 'as standard' feature.
In any case, Google's Chrome OS is a more likely candidate for dual-booting action. Last year Google's then chairman Eric Schmidt told MWC delegates that Android and Chrome OS will converge -- when the time is right. So perhaps Jelly Bean netbooks could be on the cards.
Another mooted update to Android involves adding more gestures to the interface. Last year Google filed a patent that used a series of letter gestures to act as short-cuts -- drawing the letter W, for instance, could be used as a quick way to fire up Wikipedia.
But reading the runes in patent filing has about as much predictive power as telling fortunes via tea leaves. Companies frequently patent all manner of outlandish inventions just on the off-chance, or to stop other companies patenting similar inventions. Some patent filings are even decoys -- deliberately designed to put people off the true development scent. So while more gestures in Jelly Bean seems likely, exactly what these will be and do isn't yet clear.
A more widespread prediction for Jelly Bean is that Google's Chrome for Android browser -- available now to ICS users -- becomes the standard offering in the OS, rather than an additional download via Google Play.
Another best guess is that Google will seek to compete with Apple's Siri voice assistant with its own mouthy interface addition. And many Android users are also anticipating some kind of file manager application, to help manage what are becoming increasingly complex media machines, along with (hoped for) improvements on the battery and power management front, and a speedier way to get the latest version of Android (which may just be wishful thinking).
For now, Google is keeping its Jelly Bean coloured cards close to its chest -- at the time of publication the company had not responded to a request for comment -- so take all these rumoured features with a pinch of salt and stay tuned for more news as we get it.
What features do you most want to see in Android 5.0? Let me know in the comments or put your wish-list on our Facebook page.

Android Key Lime Pie

And what about the next next version of Android? According to The Verge, it's going to be called Key Lime Pie -- or KLP for short.
Unsurprisingly, aside from this lime-flavoured name, there's no word yet on what KLP will bring or when it will arrive.
Expect the next, next, next version of Android (i.e the one after KLP) to have a sugar-coated name that starts with the letter L -- Android Lollypop, perhaps, or Android Lemon Meringue Pie. Post your best pudding name guesses in the comments below.

Hit music app maker Smule launches on Android, finally

Music app maker Smule has been one of the longest Android hold-outs, often citing the way Android devices handle audio as a reason it hasn’t embraced the mobile platform. But the company, with more than 45 million downloads on iOS to date, is finally showing Android some love with the release of Songify, a former No. 1 music app that takes people’s spoken words and turns them into catchy songs.
The free app, which is now available on Google Play, recreates the Songify experience and should be a welcome addition to fans, who have been clamoring for an Android edition. The Songify app, with 9 million downloads to date, came to Smule through its acquisition of Khush in December, but Smule’s new Android interest won’t just be limited to former Khush apps. The next app to get the Android treatment is Magic Piano, an original Smule title that will launch on Android next month. It’s unclear when and if Smule’s other big hits like I Am T-Pain, Glee Karaoke, and Ocarina will migrate over to Android.
Smule’s executives have repeatedly tamped down expectations about Android apps. Smule’s co-founder Ge Wang said late last year that the audio latency in many Android devices made it very difficult to bring their apps to the platform. Prerna Gupta, a co-founder of Khush, told me in an email that Smule started with Songify because the app doesn’t have the realtime audio needs that other Smule apps do. But she said that Smule has come up with a work-around for Android’s latency problem that will be deployed in Magic Piano.

Gupta said that iOS is still the leading platform for Smule because it offers great hardware, a good SDK, critical mass, and distribution. But she said Android has grown to the point, it can’t be ignored any longer.
“The critical mass on Android has become very interesting to us. Ultimately, our goal is to make musical self-expression as ubiquitous as social expression is today. Having a presence on Android will be an important step toward reaching that goal,” Gupta said.
Wang said even with the work the company is doing to address Android’s latency issues on its end, it still needs more improvement from Google and the device makers.
“At the end of the day, we want to delight users by making the best use of the underlying platform.  We hope to work backwards from the users and the platform, embracing both its strengths and limitations, to design our experiences to also make full use of devices on Android,” Wang said in an email.
Smule’s decision to develop for Android signals how even some of the biggest iOS-only apps are finding a way to make it to Android. Instagram made a big splash with its long-awaited appearance on Android, though it also prompted complaints from some iOS loyalists who complained about the influx of ugly pictures from Android users.
Gupta said Android is still a challenge to develop for because there are so many devices that need to be tested. And even with a lot of development work, there are going to be devices that have not been tested, which she said is “unnerving.” But she said Android is improving as an OS, which has been an encouraging sign for app developers.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Verizon Wireless Pushes Smartphone Customers towards Android over Apple

According to a recent report published by CNN/Money, Verizon Wireless retail sales representatives are allegedly discouraging customers from buying iPhones. Sales reps are apparently pushing customers to buy 4G LTE smartphones instead. With Verizon Wireless' huge investment in their 4G LTE network does this story surprise anyone?

The article’s author found discussions on different blogs and websites regarding Verizon Wireless employees’ willingness to steer customers away from iPhones in favor of 4G LTE Android devices.

When author David Goldman carried on 10 different conversations with 10 different members of the Verizon Wireless sales and customer support teams, each time he was steered towards one of the following 4G LTE Android smartphones: the Droid RAZR; the Droid RAZR MAXX; or the LG Lucid.

According to Goldman, When I asked if those devices were better than the iPhone, they responded that the iPhone was an inferior alternative because it only runs on the company's slower 3G network.

He attributes the following quotes to Verizon Wireless employees:

The iPhone is a great phone, but it's on 3G…I'm not going to recommend a phone that's outdated.
- VZW Employee 1

The second quote goes into more detail as to the undercurrent surrounding the recommendations.

The only drawback to the iPhone is it doesn't have 4G, and Verizon is really pushing 4G. Don't get me wrong, the iPhone is a great phone. It just costs the company a lot of money for returns when customers find out that a faster 4G network is available and the iPhone's only on 3G.
- VZW Employee 2

Goldman also tried his luck at AT&T Wireless and found that AT&T Wireless retail sales representatives were more likely to push iPhones.

Below is a quote which Goldman attributes to an AT&T Wireless sales representative who was pushing an iPhone:

It's all about the 4S now…the iPhone is the most popular phone, you know what you're getting, and it's a status symbol you can't get anywhere else.
- AT&T Employee

I don’t think a rational person would find this news all that shocking. Whether it is a Verizon policy or rogue sales people, Verizon is going to push phones which are supported on its expansive 4G LTE network. Since Apple has not produced a 4G LTE smartphone for Verizon’s network who can blame sales representatives for pushing 4G Android smartphones instead? As a Verizon customer, I agree that Verizon’s 4G LTE network is a lot better than their old 3G network.

As for AT&T Wireless’ sales force, given that the iPhone has been AT&T’s signature device for so many years and that their 4G LTE network is younger than Verizon’s network, it makes sense that they would be apt to push iPhones.

What has been your experience in dealing with Verizon or AT&T retail sales representatives? Do any Verizon or AT&T retail sales representatives who frequent this site agree or care to give a different perspective? We look forward to reading your comments below.

Hands On With the World's Simplest Android Phone

Simple-phone company Doro wants to get seniors on board with the smartphone revolution with a new, super-easy smartphone and tablet interface. I got some time with Doro's PhoneEasy 740 phone and Doro Experience tablet software, which may be coming to U.S. carriers soon.
Doro isn't unknown here; it has been selling simple phones through Consumer Cellular for two years now. But the PhoneEasy and Doro Experience take them to a new level. The PhoneEasy 740 is a sliding phone with an extremely simple interface that doesn't look like Android at all, even though it's really just a skinned version of Android 2.3.
The phone has a 320-by-480 touch screen, 3G, Wi-Fi, a MicroSD memory card slot, Bluetooth 4.0 and a 5-megapixel camera, so the hardware is pretty decent. Unique Doro features include wideband audio (also known as "HD voice"), an app that uses the camera as a magnifying glass, an unusually powerful speaker, and a configurable panic button on the back.

The phone starts up with four huge bars on the screen representing Contacts, Calls, Messages and Email. You can scroll down to get to other options like a Web browser, podcast client, camera magnifying glass app, and Doro's own app store. You can operate the entire phone via the touch screen or the cursor keys.
Wait a minute: a podcast client? On a phone for old people? Doro's CEO Jerome Arnaud said it's all been thought through. In studies, some older clients have said they often stay home to catch specific radio programs. A podcast client preloaded with the most popular programs frees them from having to sit by the radio, he said.
Doro's app store, called Doro Selection, will initially have about 15 well-selected apps including news, banking, and transportation-related apps, Arnaud said. It'll grow with time, and there will be a way to get arbitrary Google Play apps onto the PhoneEasy 740, too.
Before you grumble: if you're reading PCMag, remember, this phone isn't for you. Instead, you're probably going to be the one operating the "Doro Experience" from afar, one of the most innovative parts of the PhoneEasy equation.

CTIA 2011
Arnaud showed me a PC-based interface that lets relatives set up and monitor PhoneEasy devices and Android tablets from afar, adding and removing apps and setting up accounts.
I clicked through the PhoneEasy 740 for a while, and it's all very well thought out. It's not a slim phone. The keys are depressed slightly and well separated. Any action taken on the touch screen involves very large targets.
The one flaw comes in the texting and email apps. There's no on-screen keyboard or predictive text, at least that I saw. That means any text entry on the phone is extremely tedious triple-tapping.
Doro hopes to bring the phone to the U.S. sometime soon, Arnaud said. And while he's "very satisfied" with his company's relationship with Consumer Cellular, "we have a greater ambition" to break into larger, national carriers. With the PhoneEasy 740 potentially coming in CDMA and GSM versions, it could appear on any carrier, he said.
Doro Simplifies Android Tablets
I was actually even more excited by Doro's Android tablet software than by the company's new phone. Android tablets are not known for ease of use, but Doro has entirely replaced the standard Android interface with big, bold, simple icons. The Doro Experience on tablets can be set up remotely by friends and family with PCs, and even includes a simplified Facebook application so the tablet user can see photos and comments.
This isn't hardware, at least not yet. Rather, it's a skin that can run on existing Android tablets. I saw it running on a Samsung Galaxy Tab, for instance. It's really easy to use. Text is big and clear. Icons are simple. The apps do exactly what they say they do. It's positively refreshing.
I think the Doro Experience could sell Android tablets to seniors; I think you'll agree after seeing how it works. Take a look at some sample screens in our slideshow above.

Google+ puts iOS ahead of Android

May 9 is, in a way, a watershed day for Android -- and that's not necessarily a good thing. Many developers I communicate with repeatedly say they confront the same quandary: Android or iOS first? Maybe they choose to develop for iOS, only to ask: Android or iPad next? Google is a software developer, too, and this day put its priorities in order with a stunning iOS-first update. The new iPhone app for social network Google+ is stunning, breathtaking, immersive and makes the already great experience on Ice Cream Sandwich seem outdated -- although some of the best visuals migrate to iOS.
In a way, Google sets the wrong example for its development partners by putting iOS ahead of Android. But why not? The iOS install base is larger than Android (365 million to 300 million at last reveal); countless analyst surveys show that iOS device users are more connected and engaged; and fragmentation isn't a problem since the majority of the iOS install base is on the newest version (versus about 5 percent of Androids). Google wants Plus to succeed in a big way, so improving the experience everywhere should be a priority. But iOS first, for the next big thing, is the priority.
From another perspective, the move is rather genius, even if pricks like me complain as I do above. Google likely will get more free marketing as bloggers and journalists -- and that's not just the Apple Fan Club of apologists -- drum on about the visually stunning iOS app. Buzz would be considerably lower for an Android app. Vic Gundotra, Google senior vice president of engineering, says that "the Android update is coming in a few weeks (with a few extra surprises)". So there's another chance to beat the InterWebs and in doing so generate some more free Google+ buzz. As marketing, the iOS-then-Android approach is brilliant.
Bleeding Edge
The visuals are so strong they're almost overwhelming, and I can't but wonder if Google borrowed a little something from Windows Phone and the Bing mobile app. Google+ for iPhone (version uses full-bleed photos and then some. Pretty much everything about Google+ bleeds the edge of the screen. The effect is immersive. You just want to scroll and scroll -- and you will since so much less content fills the screen now. It's a trade-off that works best when there is a smaller number of people in the selected circle.
"We’re embracing the sensor-rich smartphone (with its touchable screen and high-density display), and transforming Google+ into something more intimate, and more expressive", Gundotra says.
He emphasizes: "Full-bleed photos and videos are cool. But you know what’s really cool? Content so immersive it remakes your mobile device into a rich carousel of beloved memories and breaking news. That’s the Google+ experience we aspire to, and today’s release helps us get closer".
Companies so overdo the marketing hype, it's startling for an executive to express something seemingly so that actual is not. Gundotra remarks:
Today’s update pays special attention to fun and performance:
  • Conversations fall into view as you move forward and backward in time
  • Optical cues (like parallax) help the mind linger on individual posts
  • Important actions like +1 now float atop the stream, making it easy to endorse all your favorites
The end result -- we hope -- is an app that brings you closer to the people you care about, and the stuff you’re into; an app with sense and soul.
I can't disagree. "Sense and soul" is about right.

A Fool and His Android
The timing has me laughing at myself (although many of you already do; hey, I read comments). In February, I grudgingly gave up Verizon Galaxy Nexus, used since late December. My Verizon bill for the one account turned out to be half that of four other lines on AT&T. I just couldn't justify the expense. So I sold the phone, paid off my Verizon early-termination fee and chocked up the loss on the device to my Christmas money.
I then returned to AT&T by buying a black, 32GB iPhone 4S. Contrary to some BetaNews comments, I'm fairly platform independent. Rather than go Android again, I spent time using Siri and getting up to date with newer iOS apps. Then something unexpected occurred. Two weeks ago today, Google started selling Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ direct. Two months of iPhone 4S was enough for me. I bought another Galaxy Nexus, which I covered by selling the Apple smartphone (yesterday for $500 locally).
I'll be clear: Google+ is my preferred social hangout, and the tight integration, along with other things Google, with Android 4 hugely appeals. I received the phone Friday only to get to Wednesday and this -- Google+ getting a huge, enticing makeover for iOS. But not Android. I'm a klutz for timing.
By the way, I briefly tested the new Google+ app on an iPad late this afternoon. To be clear: It's not native iPad but works as you would expect from any iPhone app. Tiny or 2X.
If you haven't used Google+, the iPhone app is good reason to try. If you Plused and gave up, there's reason to go back. Facebook is suddenly so last century compared to this user experience.
Something else, well two things: Immersive is a word often used to describe using iPad. Google brings it to iPhone, and hopefully soon Android, and in a big way. What app is more appropriately immersive than one where you engage others.
That other thing: Google is betting big on mobile, which it should as a leading cloud-to-device provider. You may have thought you knew this, as did I, but Google+, in context of other recent product and service redesigns, foreshadows much more: Sensors, screen and soul.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Flipboard for Android 'liberated' from Galaxy S III demo unit, available for all

Flipboard for Android 'liberated' from Galaxy S III, available for all
For many, one of the biggest causes of jealousy after the Samsung Galaxy S III launch event wasn't that 4.8-inch screen, or the new Exynos innards, it was that beautiful looking Android version of Flipboard. Alas, the Korean mobile giant had enough cunning to secure the popular glossy social network and feed reader all for itself -- for the time being. That is, unless, you're a naughty little xda-developer visitor, perhaps called Valcho, who had the foresight / lack of restraint at the event to nab the .apk from one of the demo phones. He's made it available for all and sundry (well, those with Android phones at least). If you want to see how it looks on your phone, point it at the source link, or be a good spirit, and wait for the official outing.

Best Android-powered smartphones

After the post I did on the best Android-powered tablets the other day, I was expecting this question to land in my mailbox:
In your — not so humble ;) — opinion, what are the best Android smartphones currently available?
When I looked at Android tablets, price was a major factor in determining what was best. Smartphones are tricky because it’s almost impossible to compare them on price because subsidies vary from carrier to carrier, and even based on how good a customer they think you are.
Because of that fact, I’m going to ignore price as a differentiator. All I’m going to say on the subject of pricing is that if you’re on contract then it might be worth you shopping about for the best deals. And for those of you not on contract who are looking to buy an unlocked handset, then you might want to sit down before looking at the price. Some of these handsets are very expensive.
Rather than price, I’m going to look purely at features.
Note that I am only covering handsets that are currently available — which is why the Samsung Galaxy S III isn’t in the listing.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

This handset tops my list for a number of reasons. First, it runs the latest Android 4.0 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ operating system. It has a gorgeous contour display that has to be seen to be believed. It’s also unlocked, so you can use it on over 200 GMS networks worldwide.
An excellent all-round Android handset.


Here’s another excellent handset powered by Android 4.0 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’. It features a stunning screen, an excellent camera, and a superb built-in speaker system. When combined with AT&T’s LTE network, it also offers blazingly fast browsing.

Samsung Galaxy S II

The first handset in this list not powered by Android 4.0. This one features the older Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ operating system. Still, if you can look beyond the operating system, you’ll find that the Samsung Galaxy S II is a very capable handset.

Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX

Another awesome handset powered by Android 4.0 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’. This one comes fully-loaded with a fast dual-core processor, Verizon 4G/LTE high-speed data, and excellent battery life — enough for a 21-hour conference call.
It’s also tough, constructed form DuPont Kevlar fiber and Corning Gorilla Glass, and features water-repellent nanoparticles to shield against water, even on the internal circuit boards.
Probably my favorite handset in the list.

Motorola Photon 4G

Another handset in this list not powered by Android 4.0, this one also features the older Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ operating system. Don’t let the older operating system put you off, though; this is still a very capable handset.
The unique feature of this handset is that it can be combined with an optional $129 desktop dock to turn the smartphone into a webtop system running a bare-bones version of Linux.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Introducing the Android for grid batteries: GELI

Networked energy storage will fundamentally disrupt the energy sector, Ryan Wartena, founder and CEO of Growing Energy Labs Inc (or GELI), tells me in his startup’s small lab and office space in the South of Market area of San Francisco. Wartena, a chemical engineer who previously set up a battery lab within the U.S. Naval Research Lab and led the team at MIT that created the world’s first self-assembled battery, is a self-professed gear-head who’s eyes light up as he talks about the elegant design of cylindrical batteries or when he shows me the company’s research building self-contained grid battery boxes that the company calls “energy computers.”
GELI is a recent grad of the new green digital-focused accelerator Greenstart, and as part of that incubation process, the two-year-old GELI has emerged with a new focus on software, and has developed an operating system and set of software to connect batteries for use on the power grid. Part of GELI’s software will be open source, and you can think of the idea as creating the Android for power grid batteries.
The future of energy storage
O.K., let’s step back a minute and look at a snap shot of the current power grid. Right now the grid has very little energy storage and power plants are basically producing the exact amount of energy that buildings and systems are consuming in real time. That makes the grid inefficient and also costly, and in addition the lack of energy storage is a barrier when it comes to adding less reliable clean power sources like wind and solar (the sun only shines and the wind only blows at certain times).

New forms of energy storage are starting to be added to the power grid to combat this problem, and batteries are one of the types of energy storage that utilities — as well as building owners and home owners — are looking at. Batteries are attractive to utilities because the charge and discharge of a battery can be tightly controlled, so grid operators can use the battery systems for various grid applications. For example, groups of batteries can store and discharge energy when a utility sees that the demand for energy is becoming out of balance with supply (called “frequency regulation in grid geek speak).
GELI enters this picture because a universal operating system and algorithms will be what utilities can use to smartly control the batteries and deliver these services. This software layer could also enable new types of applications — ones that haven’t even been invented yet — because a GELI customer could dream up their own application and write their own program. Picture something as out-there as peer-to-peer energy sharing if every home had a big battery and solar panels and the software to control the exchange, says Wartena.
GELI isn’t the only company building the software to connect batteries and other forms of energy storage or devices. A company called Grid Mobility has built software and connected hardware to enable utilities to use hot water heaters (and other energy-consuming appliances) as on-demand grid storage in conjunction with local clean power when it’s available. Tendril is also looking to develop a sort of Android for energy layer for home energy consumption, electric cars and the smart grid. (For more on this idea, check out our research note from GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

Are you GELI?

GELI plans to launch its beta software in the coming weeks to some initial customers like Korean battery maker Kokam. GELI is targeting battery manufacturers as its customers, and the battery makers themselves will be the ones that will sell the batteries to the utilities and building owners. Wartena says initial markets that he thinks GELI-enabled batteries will land in include homes and buildings in Japan, commercial and industrial buildings in the U.S., and utility grid services in the U.S.
Through the Greenstart incubator program, GELI raised a small bit of a seed round, but is now working on raising more money to kick off the business and start selling. The Greenstart mentors were also able to convince Wartena to pivot from selling just the hardware (the energy computer battery box) to focus on the software. But tinkering with the energy computers was crucial to the team for developing (and continuing to develop) the software. The EC1 and EC2 (energy computers 1 & 2) are in GELI’s SOMA labs, and Wartena gestures excitedly at EC2 during our interview.
Software seems like a better way to go from a startup perspective, as the margins are higher, and the business model is less capital intensive than hardware. In addition, the huge battery giants in Asia will likely be able to benefit more from the software innovations born out of Silicon Valley than they would from a design to package a battery system in a box (which is what the EC is). In fact, Wartena recently went to a battery show in Japan and realized that there are already dozens of battery box systems from established Japanese companies. Those are our first target customers, Wartena said.
The Energy Internet needs storage
The idea of the EC1 & EC2, though, could one day be more common place than you’d think. Japanese buildings and even homes are beginning to add more and more solar and accompanying battery systems, now that the country is no longer going to rely on nuclear. At the smart grid conference Distributech early this year Panasonic was showing off a battery box that strings together hundreds of small format lithium-ion laptop batteries; a couple of battery stacks would be enough for a single family home, combined with an inverter.
Last month I reported that Tesla and SolarCity have been quietly making deals that could one day lead to dozens of sales of battery projects coupled with rooftop solar systems built at both residential and commercial buildings in California. SolarCity confirmed the energy storage plans with me, and the duo have submitted at least 70 applications for projects to attempt to receive rebates from the California Public Utility Commission’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), which provides incentives for distributed energy generation.
In the same way that computers and the Internet have been shaped by storage, a connected energy system will need to rely on storage, too. The energy grid is currently a centralized system, where energy is created and distributed from a centralized location by utilities. But eventually energy could form into a decentralized network with solar rooftops and microgrids, not unlike the architecture of the Internet. GELI wants to provide the OS for that energy Internet.

Flipboard for Android on the Samsung Galaxy S III

After Instagram, it’s another well-known iOS application which has arrived on Android: Flipboard will be present on the new Samsung Galaxy S III before being more widely released on Android.
The Flipboard application, which reorganises the message streams from Twitter accounts on the page so that they read like magazine pages, started out on iOS by creating an original presentation style for news.

It was so good that Google used it as inspiration when they created their own Google Flux / Google Currents application which has been available for a few weeks. This is the second well known applications to make the move, following the Instagram picture sharing application, the original application to move to Android after taking a solid position on Apple’s devices.

To start on this new platform, the application will be initially present on the new Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone. The South Korean manufacturer will have exclusive access to this application for a few months on their top of the line model.
Flipboard Android

The developer is then looking to release the application to other Android smartphones (although not all models) by the summer, although no other information was provided. Samsung, who has just released the technical characteristics of their smartphone and details of their interface based on user’s needs, has found a way to differentiate their product with the original application, even if other alternatives exist for the platform.

Samsung Galaxy SIII Flipboard

Best Android-powered tablets

Question from yesterday’s Hardware 2.0 mailbox is one that I’ve been receiving in a variety of forms for months:
“I want to buy a tablet, but I do not want to get an iPad. I’ve got nothing against the iPad itself, it’s just that I have an Android smartphone and juggling two platforms is going to get both complicated and expensive.
What do you suggest I look at?”
Your reason for not wanting to buy an iPad makes sense. As someone who has standardized on iOS hardware, I have to agree with you that one mobile platform is much easier to handle than two. If nothing else, it reduces your costs by allowing you to buy an app once, and then go on to install it on multiple devices. Juggling between two different mobile platforms would mean having to buy all those must-have apps twice.
While I firmly believe that the iPad is the best tablet out there, there are some fantastic Android tablets on offer. You’ve not offered a budget so I’ll suggest a range of tablets starting at $199, and going all the way up to $599.

ASUS Transformer TF300

If you want a tablet that transforms into a notebook, then this is the tablet for you. Through the use of the optional keyboard dock ($149), not only can you add a keyboard and touchpad, but you also get 5 hours of extra battery life.
For $100 more than Amazon’s Kindle Fire or Barnes & Noble’s Nook, this tablet it worth taking a look at.
Price: $300.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon’s Kindle Fire has come from nowhere to become the number one Android tablet in the United States. It runs a heavily customized version of Android that doesn’t look or feel like any other version out there.
The ease of use of the device, combined with the Amazon brand and the low price, has made the Kindle Fire a very popular choice among those looking for an Android tablet.
Price: $199.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

The Galaxy Tab 2 is a revamp of the original tablet. It’s not as much of a reworking as some were expecting, and more of an evolutionary step than a revolutionary one, but it’s still a good upgrade to what was already an excellent tablet. A premium tablet with a premium price tag.
Price: $599.

Lenovo IdeaPad A1

Lenovo’s 7-inch IdeaPad A1 is a compact yet rugged multimedia tablet that runs the Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” operating system. The A1 is also durable, and features a magnesium alloy roll-cage internal frame that protects the critical system components in case of accidents or jolts.
Price: $199.

Barnes & Noble Nook

The Nook is Barnes & Noble’s answer to Amazon’s Kindle Fire. Like the Kindle Fire, the Nook is essentially a conduit into the digital content that Barnes & Noble has to offer.
Price: $199.

Pantech Element

This is the tablet for those who like to take their electronic devices into the outdoors. The Pantech Element is waterproof against incidental exposure to water when all ports — including USB and earphone ports — are tightly closed, and is submersible up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.
Compared to the ASUS Transformer TF300 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, this tablet is overpriced from a hardware specification standpoint, but if you want a rugged, waterproof tablet, this is worth a look.
Price: $500 (contract-free).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Google Could Have Used C# for Android: Xamarin

Xamarin, in an experiment, proves that .NET and C# could be used instead of Java for Android – to better effect performance-wise – enabling Google to sidestep patent issues.

Xamarin has ported Google’s Java-based Android software to use C# and the .NET framework.
In light of the ongoing legal battle over Java between Google and Oracle, this development proves that there are options for Google if Oracle triumphs.
The research project, called XobotOS, ported Android 4.0 from Java/Dalvik to C# to explore the possibilities of improving the performance and memory footprint benefits that C# brings in by leveraging the best parts of .NET/C# – such as real generics, P/Invoke, structures etc. And they have opened the source code for it under Apache 2.0 License.
Xamarin CTO Miguel de Icaza, in a blog post about the project, said:
“Java is not the only way to build native apps on Android. In fact, it’s not even the best way: we have been offering C# to Android developers as a high-performance, low-battery consuming alternative to Java. Our platform, Mono, is an open source implementation of the .NET framework that allows developers to write their code using C# while running on top of the Java-powered operating system, and then share that same code with iOS and Windows Phone.”
Indeed, de Icaza added that “Unlike Sun with Java, Microsoft submitted C# and the .NET VM for standardization to ECMA and saw those standards graduated all the way to ISO strong patent commitments. The .NET framework is also covered by Microsoft’s legally binding community promise.”
Indeed, in a 2005 email Google’s Android chief Andy Rubin told Google co-founder Larry Page: “If Sun doesn’t want to work with us, we have two options: 1) Abandon our work and adopt MSFT CLR [Common Language Runtime] VM and C# language, or 2) Do Java anyway and defend our decision, perhaps making enemies along the way.”
De Icaza said Android’s Dalvik is a young virtual machine and is not as tuned or performant as Xamarin’s Mono. So the Xamarin team set out to swap Java with C# and avoid the Dalvik limitations. Thus far, the result is that the team has most of Android’s layouts and controls entirely in C#, de Icaza said.
The team started with a Java translation tool called Sharpen from db4o, which is an open source Java to C# converter. In the process, the Xamarin team matured the Sharpen tool to improve its Java-to-C# translation capabilities and on May 1 released a new version of Sharpen along with the code for XobotOS. XobotOS is available on Github.
As a result of their efforts, Mono now blows Dalvik away in benchmark tests, de Icaza said. However, “Our goal as a company is to provide the best platform for building mobile apps, and so XobotOS will not be a focus for us going forward,” de Icaza said.
However, a de Icaza added that few technologies have come out of the effort that Xamarin will be able to include in future versions of its products:
·         Direct Graphics Access to Skia: Currently Mono for Android accesses the underlying graphics libraries through Java, with the code that we built for XobotOS, we will skip the middleman and use Mono’s P/Invoke to get straight to the native rendering code in Skia.
·         Java to C# tooling: Our new version of Sharpen is available as part of the XobotOS release.
·         Replacing Java code with C# code we now have the tools necessary to replace some chunks of Java code with C# code where performance is critical and when C# can offer better solutions than Java has. Our plan is to take elements of the research project and integrate those into our products.

Hacked websites with malware target Android devices

A new batch of hacked websites pose a new threat to mobile devices running Google's Android operating system, a computer security firm warned.
Lookout said the sites serve "NotCompatible," a new Android Trojan that appears to serve as a simple TCP relay and proxy while posing as a system update.
"This threat does not currently appear to cause any direct harm to a target device, but could potentially be used to gain illicit access to private networks by turning an infected Android device into a proxy," it said.
Potentially, it said an infected Android device may be used to gain access to normally protected information or systems, "such as those maintained by enterprise or government."
Also, it pointed out this appeared to be the first time that compromised websites have been used to distribute malware targeting Android devices.
Lookout said that if a user visits a compromised website from an Android device, the mobile web browser will automatically begin downloading the NotCompatible app named "Update.apk."
But a user will still need to install the downloaded application before a device will be infected.
To actually install the app to a device, it must have the “Unknown sources” setting enabled. If the setting is not enabled, the installation will be blocked.
"Based on our initial investigation, we’ve confirmed that a number of websites have been compromised. However, affected sites appear to show relatively low traffic and we expect total impact to Android users to be low," it added.
Lookout said suspicious applications are currently served from the following sites:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Android, Samsung hold off Apple in US mobile space

Google's Android system has grabbed more than 50 percent of the US smartphone market, while Samsung cemented its leadership as the top device maker, a survey showed Tuesday.
Even though Apple's hot iPhone is surging, it has not dented the lead of the Android system and the South Korean manufacturer, according to a quarterly survey from research firm comScore.
The Android system snagged 51 percent of the operating system market in the three months ending in March, up from 47.3 percent in the prior quarter, comScore said.
Apple's operating system had 30.7 percent of the market, up from 29.6 percent.
The biggest loser was BlackBerry, which saw its platform share fall to 12.3 percent from 16 percent. Microsoft's share also slipped to 3.9 percent from 4.7 percent and Symbian held steady at 1.4 percent.
The survey found more than 106 million people in the US owned smartphones during the three months ending in March, up nine percent from December.
Samsung remained the top maker of mobile devices including smartphones, with 26 percent of the US market, from 25.3 percent three months earlier. Second was fellow Korean LG with 19.3 percent, down 0.7 points, and Apple was third with 14.6 percent, up from 12.4 percent and overtaking Motorola.
A separate report earlier this year concluded worldwide shipments of smartphones soared 54.7 percent in the final three months of 2011 from the same period a year earlier, with Apple leading the space.
An IDC report found smartphone makers shipped 157.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Apple had a 23.5 percent share of the global smartphone market, followed by Samsung and Nokia with 22.8 percent and 12.4 percent respectively.
Android and iPhone smartphones accounted for slightly more than 90 percent of US smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2011, industry-tracker NPD Group reported earlier this year.

LG announces cloud services for Android smartphones

Following the footsteps of many, even LG has announced its cloud computing based services, called LG Cloud. Starting today onwards, this service enters in to the beta phase.
The LG Cloud aims to cater to the users for managing and consuming content on Android based smartphones, computers and Smart TVs. The Android based smartphone users will have to download the LG Cloud App from the Google Play or LG SmartWorld App Store.
Recently, it was reported that Samsung is set to launch its cloud computing centred service - S Cloud. This follows after Apple launched its iCloud service and Microsoft made its SkyDrive service official. While HTC had closely tied up with Dropbox, that left Samsung and LG to take a call.
LG announces cloud services for Android smartphones
The LG Cloud service basically involves storing your multimedia content in your dedicated LG Cloud account. The app on the Android phone automatically synchronises multimedia content with the user's LG Cloud account and makes it available on the PC and Smart TVs. All the photos taken with the smartphone can be viewed on PC or Smart TVs almost instantaneously.
Besides, users can also stream videos from their cloud account to the smartphone, PC or the TV with minimal wait time. The streaming doesn't involve downloading the file first. LG has used its Real-time Streaming Technology that makes the video conversion to take place on the LG's servers in real-time.
The users need not worry about installing any converters or third party apps to watch the videos. LG has formed a special division to take care of the Cloud services and related offerings.
LG Cloud service is currently in beta and accessible through - and the Android app can be downloaded from Google Play Store.

Huawei announces Android ICS upgrade for MediaPad

Chinese mobile phone manufacturer, Huawei has announced the availability of Android ICS update for its MediaPad in India. There are a lot of new and cool things that the upgrade will bring to the tablet.
The new operating system is based on the stock Google Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 reference design and the appearance of the OS is pretty close to the stock Google Android 4.0 experience without many customisations. Along with users will get the new and improved camera application that can be accessed directly from the standby mode with the help of the unlock key or the slider button. Along with that users get the all new gallery application, a new people app, the ability to dismiss apps from the recently used menu, and a number of performance tweaks.
Android 4.0 is known for its better compatibility and performance and is certainly better than the stock Honeycomb operating system featured on the device till now.
Huawei announces Android ICS upgrade for MediaPad
The Huawei MediaPad features a 7 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel display, a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, front and rear cameras, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS.
MediaPad owners can connect to the support website to download the update file amounting up to 340 MB of data download. Users will need to update the file in the SD card of the device to upgrade the device's software after downloading it form the link below.