jueves, 29 de marzo de 2012

iPhone closes in on Android in growing U.S. smartphone market

As of February, smartphone users accounted for nearly half of all wireless subscribers in the U.S., and Apple's iPhone adoption rate saw growth while Android handset activations slipped.

According to new data from Nielsen published on Thursday, sales of Apple's iPhone accounted for 43 percent of all new smartphone purchases over the past three months, a 6 percent increase from the period ending in December, while Android's share fell nearly 4 percent to cover 48 percent of activations.

Riding on strong iPhone 4S sales, Apple's iOS is slowly closing the gap with Google's Android OS and now accounts for 32 percent of all smartphones. The iPhone isn't eating into Android's market, however, and is instead picking up deserters from RIM's sinking BlackBerry platform. 

Android remained top dog and took 48 percent of the smartphone market, while RIM accounted for a 12 percent share. Other devices like Windows Phone and Symbian filled out the list with an 8 percent stake.

The smartphone market as a whole took 49.7 percent of all mobile subscribers, a 38 percent increase form the same time last year when feature phones dominated the landscape.

During the three months ending in February, more than two-thirds of those who purchased a new mobile device opted for a smartphone.

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sábado, 24 de marzo de 2012

Linux and Android Kernel Finally Merged

Until recently, Android and Linux have been two open source projects which have been known for their distinct identities despite being closely linked with each other. The version 3.3 of the Linux kernel was announced by the leader of the Linux kernel project, Linus Torvalds which will help create an operating system core that will now bridge the gap which has been isolating the two projects so far.

Essentially, almost every Android phone can be considered as a Linux phone though most developers for Android use an interface resembling Java which is a customized version of Linux developed by Google aimed at handling details such as keeping the required data in the memory ready to be used, multitasking among the different chores and keyboard input.

A consequence of integrating Torvalds’ version of the Linux kernel with Google’s Android version will result in easier programming for developers. This will also mean that Google will have to face fewer hassles in trying to make sure that the mainline kernel and their own code are in sync. Even users of mobile devices powered by Linux can now benefit from these changes as they as the two platforms will have much greater interoperability.

Often, Google uses code which has been already developed in other open source projects while giving its own improvements or changes to the code and releasing its own open source work. Google however isolates itself from the primary developers and their project during the course of developing its own project and this can at times lead to tensions between the involved parties as open source relies on code sharing and collaborative ethos. The Android mainlining project was initially announced in December by a Sony programmer, Tim Bird. The merger of the two had been underway for months now as a result and despite Torvalds not having made any specific mention of the Android merge during the release of Linux 3.3, the merger is now official.

A longtime kernel developer and new Linux Foundation fellow, Greg Kraoh-Hartman said that the Android components on the Google+ and Linux 3.3 are expected to be the same. He said that the 3.3 version might not have very good power management but expects it to be corrected in the next release, kernel 3.4.

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lunes, 19 de marzo de 2012

Deep Dive Into Ad Network Behavior on Android

Ever wonder where tech reporters get all their fancy data? For instance, how do we know that 52% of mobile app sessions were for games in the first couple of months or 2012 or that the use of native apps versus the mobile Web is tied? The truth is that a lot of the interesting stats in the mobile ecosystem are provided by marketers and advertisers. Those networks know how consumers are using their devices to a degree of granularity that at times is creepy. How do they know what users are doing?

A new research report tells us how ad networks implement in-app libraries to deliver advertising to consumers and help developers get paid. For the most part, the largest networks are benign but consumers have learned to never trust an advertiser. In-app libraries can often function like the app that hosts them but can have access to far more information that the user ever intended.

NC State Dives Deep Into Android Advertising
For the consumer, the fundamental difference between users downloading Android apps and iOS apps is that Android is designed to let the user know all of the explicit permissions that an app can use on the device. For instance, a popular app like Rdio will have access to system tools, read the ready phone state and have network for communications access. Permissions allow for developers to be upfront with the consumer about what they are doing and how they are doing it and allow security checks to be made by third parties.

More so than iOS, Android developers rely on advertising networks to make money. Developers connect to ad networks through SDKs and APIs within an app creating sub-level to an app that the developers do not necessarily control. Think of it on two levels: there are the permissions that the app can use that are explicit to the end user. Those same permissions can be used by ad networks and are not explicit to the user. This can lead to privacy issues as user information that the user never intended to share ends up on ad networks' servers.
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LogMeIn to Provide Android Mobile Support for HTC

LogMeIn, Inc. has entered into an agreement as HTC's preferred mobile remote support software provider. HTC will employ LogMeIn Rescue--LogMeIn's flagship remote support and customer care offering--across its worldwide call centers, delivering state-of-the-art remote support to HTC customers.

Future HTC devices that run on the growing Android OS will feature LogMeIn Rescue, giving HTC customer care and support staff the ability to remotely configure, diagnose and troubleshoot a technical issue wherever the customer has a data connection. The LogMeIn capability will offer HTC customers with advanced over-the-air mobile support at a moment's notice, virtually anywhere in the world.

"HTC is committed to providing the best and most personal customer experience in the mobile industry, from designing great products to delivering superior after-sales service and support," said Simon Harper, VP of global customer experience at HTC. "We believe LogMeIn's technology, team and vision are a great match for HTC and for our customers and will allow us to continue to create great experiences for our customers."

HTC will pre-deploy a user-enabled LogMeIn Rescue applet on future HTC Android devices, with the mobile operator's consent. The pre-deployed applet gives customers the ability to securely connect their devices to HTC customer care representatives during active support calls. Once connected, HTC technicians can run remote diagnostics, push common device and network configuration settings, and remotely control the customer's device to resolve issues.

"We believe that a focus on the overall customer experience helps to define the most respected brands in mobile," said Lee Weiner, LogMeIn's VP of Customer Care products. "For market leaders like HTC, customer care initiatives can provide key opportunities for differentiation in an increasingly crowded marketplace. By working hand-in-hand with one of the world's most respected manufacturers, we believe we have a great opportunity to create a new standard for mobile customer care."

LogMeIn Rescue gives helpdesks and support staff the ability to remotely configure, diagnose and troubleshoot tablets (iOS, Android), smartphones (Android, iPhone, Symbian, BlackBerry) as well as PCs and Macs. A web-based offering, Rescue combines remote control with device configuration, live chat and diagnostics capabilities, enabling customer service teams to fix common issues on any device with a web or mobile connection, as if the device were in their hands.

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domingo, 18 de marzo de 2012

Android: Can an app improve social skills?

Undergraduate students at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science at University of California, Irvine, have built an Android app to help students through social awkwardness.

The app is called AwkTalk developed by students for AppJam, a competition to build the best mobile app in one week. The theme for the competition was self improvement and the team "Socially Awkward Anteaters" won the $1,000 first prize in the competition with the app.

"We were all aware that many of our colleagues in the fields of computer science and engineering (ourselves included) lack excellent socials skills," the overview of the project says.

The app helps students find a place to meet face to face where they'll participate in a timed discussion and then rate the other person's social skills. Find more information about the app on the team's website: http://appjam.roboteater.com/team10.php.

Source: CSMonitor.com

viernes, 16 de marzo de 2012

Android gaming needs software more than hardware

You may have noticed our awesome giveaway that starts today: two ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime tablets, with an extra two chances to win courtesy of SlashGear. The promotion is made possible by NVIDIA, and we thank them kindly. NVIDIA’s probably done more than any other single company (with the possible exception of Google itself) to advance gaming on Android. But here’s the thing: awesome hardware isn’t enough. As great as the Tegra 3 and other next-gen platforms are for gaming, the games themselves have to be the focus if Android is going to be a major contender in the mobile gaming space.

I don’t mean to knock Android game developers – they do a great job and have a variety of awesome titles available. But here’s the thing: for the most part, consumers will buy an Android phone or tablet, then seek out games. That’s the opposite of what happens on iOS, where Angry Birds and Infinity Blade sell more phones and tablets than Siri does. Games make up a whopping 25% of app downloads in the Google Play Store, but Apple still has an undeniable advantage. This is an extremely general statement of course, but the gist is that people seek out games on iOS, while people settle for games on Android.

A perfect example is Mass Effect 3. BioWare’s epic conclusion to its trilogy is easily one of the biggest releases of the year, so naturally they prepared a mobile strategy to go along with it. This includes a paid mini-game and a companion app – but only on iOS. On Android, we have to settle for a live wallpaper (NVIDIA’s influence again) despite the almost certain fact that more Mass Effect 3 players are carrying Android-powered phones than iPhones. A lot of this can be attributed to Android users’ lack of enthusiasm for paid apps, but all the same, it’s a definite dis to players who want the full experience but have the “wrong” mobile hardware. Publisher EA has developers for Android – just today they released two new sports games in the Google Play Store. Where’s the love?

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jueves, 15 de marzo de 2012

FBI Can’t Crack Android Pattern-Screen Lock

Pattern-screen locks on Android phones are secure, apparently so much so that they have stumped the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The bureau claims in federal court documents that forensics experts performed “multiple attempts” to access the contents of a Samsung Exhibit II handset, but failed to unlock the phone.

An Android device requires the handset’s Google e-mail address and its accompanying password to unlock the handset once too many wrong swipes are made. The bureau is seeking that information via a court-approved warrant to Google in order to unlock a suspected San Diego-area prostitution pimp’s mobile phone. (For details on the pimp investigation, check out Ars Technica‘s story on the case.)

Locking down a phone is even more important today than ever because smart phones store so much personal information. What’s more,  many states, including California, grant authorities the right to access a suspect’s mobile phone, without a warrant, upon arrest for any crime.

Forensic experts and companies in the phone-cracking space agreed that the Android passcode locks can defeat unauthorized intrusions.

“It’s not unreasonable they don’t have the capability to bypass that on a live device,” said Dan Rosenberg, a consultant at Boston-based Virtual Security Research.

A San Diego federal judge days ago approved the warrant upon a request by FBI Special Agent Jonathan Cupina. The warrant was disclosed Wednesday by security researcher Christopher Soghoian,

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sábado, 10 de marzo de 2012

Android fragmentation also a challenge for Web developers

Fragmentation remains an issue  for third-party Android application developers. The wide spread and slow rate of adoption for new versions of the operating system prevent developers from being able to use the latest APIs. But native application developers aren't the only ones who are feeling the pain. A prominent Web developer has recently drawn attention to the challenges that Android version fragmentation poses for mobile Web development.

As we explained in some of our recent Android browser coverage, the platform's default Web browser has historically not been very good at handling the most intensive application-like Web experiences. It lacks support for many modern Web standards and has difficulty handling things like animated transitions. Google is finally correcting the problem by bringing a full port of its excellent Chrome Web browser to the Android platform.

Unfortunately, Chrome for Android is only available for Android 4 devices, which represent only about 1.5 percent of the total Android ecosystem. A majority  of Android users are still running version 2.3 and 2.2. The handset manufacturers are often slow to provide updates and in many cases don't update old handsets past a certain point. This means that it will take some time for Android 4.x to become ubiquitous.

Web developers who want to support Android users will have to contend with a range of different browser versions that have different levels of support for modern Web standards. The apparent lack of consistency in browser performance and stability from one device to another makes matters worse. A blog entry  by Dion Almaer, a well-known Web developer who is currently part of Walmart's mobile engineering team, discussed the issue.

As he explained in his blog post, one of his recent Web development projects hit a snag when he found it was crashing the Android browser on some devices but not others. Aside from the version fragmentation issues, it seems that the actual WebKit builds are also simply bad on some devices. When conventional Web content can consistently crash a browser, the situation is bad.

"I shouldn't be able to dump your core. From looking online I was shocked at the number of people complaining about some of these devices. To them, their browser crashes all the darn time," he wrote. "As I went through the myriad of devices to test things, I started to cry as I thought about the amount of effort it would take to get massively broad coverage that doesn't crash some users."

Google and Mozilla have transitioned their desktop browsers to a rapid release model with very short development cycles. Coupled with good automatic update systems, this approach has helped to ensure that users always have access to the latest standards and the best possible performance. By comparison, Android users are lucky to get one major update during the two-year lifespan of their phone.

Google could potentially improve the situation considerably by making it possible for the platform's browser and built-in HTML rendering engine to receive updates independently from the rest of the operating system. Because Chrome for Android is currently being distributed through the Android Market, it seems like there is a very good chance that the company will adopt that approach in the future when Chrome becomes the operating system's default browser.

Modern Web standards provide an incredibly rich feature set and are paving the way for a future where mobile Web experiences are fully competitive with native applications. The lack of consistency between mobile Web browsers, even ones with the same rendering engine, is a roadblock that will have to be overcome in order for the mobile Web to continue advancing.

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domingo, 4 de marzo de 2012

Archos Introduces Child-Friendly Android ICS 7-inch Tablet

Later this month, Archos is releasing a 7-inch Google 4.0 tablet just for kids.

Tired of the kids whining to play this or that on your sleek Android tablet? Now here's your chance to shell out $129 for an Ice Cream Sandwich pacifier called the Child Pad. While the name is a little weird, Archos  seems intent on providing the young'ns with a 7-inch gadget packed with the latest Android OS, a 1 GHz SoC and 1 GB of RAM.

"As a pioneer in the portable audio and Android tablet market we realize the importance of providing a tablet that can offer hours of entertainment for all ages, especially kids," says Henri Crohas, Founder and CEO. "Archos strives to offer great tablets with only the best of features at affordable prices and we expect this tablet to bring a smile to the faces of kids and parents’ everywhere."

Based on the slim list of details, the Child Pad won't be Google sanctioned, as the built-in Kids App Store will be powered by AppsLib instead. The store will be filtered down to 14-friendly categories and 10,000 apps including games, entertainment, communication, multimedia, books, comics, sports and more.

To make the tablet even less appealing to adults, the gadget will feature a kid-friendly user interface with colored icons, and home screen folders with direct access to games, entertainment, learning and puzzles. The tablet will even come packed with the top 28 kids' apps including Angry Birds, Pig Rush and Flight Frenzy.

Archos says that the Child Pad tablet will comply with both CIPA and COPPA regulations, ensuring a safe tablet environment for kids and peace of mind for parents. That said, the device will contain parental controls and safe web browsing provided by Editions Profil , the developer behind Profil Parental Filter.

The Archos Child Pad will be available by the end of March for $129. Check back with the Archos site later on to see a full list of specs.

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