Saturday, June 30, 2012

No Flash for Android Jelly Bean: Adobe

Adobe has said it will not create Flash Player for Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and would even stop downloads for the same from Google Play. 

Flash Player has been an integral part of the web browsing experience for millions of Android smartphone and tablet users. But in November 2011, Adobe had announced it will work on Flash for computers, while Air will be developed for mobile devices. 

This means that Android users who do not have Flash Player installed in their devices by August 15, 2012 will not be able to play Flash-based content on their gadgets. Those who migrate toJelly Bean from earlier versions of Android will experience instability and any updates of the app will not function, as the company has not developed and tested it on the browser of the newest iteration of Google's OS. 

Adobe even went on to say that users upgrading their devices to Jelly Bean should uninstall Flash Player first to avoid such problems. 

However, users who have Adobe Flash Player on their Android gadgets before August 15, 2012 or use devices with pre-installed Flash will receive future updates. 

Developers, on the other hand, can access previously-released versions of the app through the archives, but installations made via archives will not be eligible for future updates rolled out from Google Play Store

This move reinforces the belief that Adobe Flash Player is not suitable for mobile devices, as former Apple CEO Steve Jobs had said in the past.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: 5 Features We Want in Google’s New OS

Samsung Galaxy Nexus
  Android Ice Cream Sandwich was good, but we’ve got some ideas on how to make Jelly Bean even better.Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired
When Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, arrived on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone last November, it marked the most radical change Google’s hugely popular mobile operating system had undergone since its debut.
It was also the best thing to happen to Android so far. It was the first version of Android designed for both phones and tablets, and it was the first version of Android that was truly beautiful to look at and fun to use.
But of course, Android can be improved. On Wednesday, Google is expected to kick off its Google I/O developer conference by introducing Android 4.1, dubbed Jelly Bean. Unlike version 4.0, which featured a top-to-bottom redesign of Android, version 4.1 is expected to bring a number of incremental changes. Rumor has it the new OS could even debut on a Google-branded, Asus-built Nexus tablet, and it could land on Google’s developer-friendly Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone as well.
Whenever it arrives, we’re expecting new features and bold moves. Here are a few things we’d like to see in Jelly Bean.
Ditch Browser, Go With Chrome
Android has two web browsers, both built by Google. The boringly named Browser is the default entry point to the web installed on every Android phone going back to the first version. The thoroughly modern Chrome, however, has only been available as a download from the Google Play store since its debut on Android in February, and it only works on ICS devices. Chrome is still a “beta” product — Google is killing bugs and polishing off the app. But Chrome’s time has come.
When the world thinks of Google’s web browser, it thinks of Chrome. Android’s Browser app is an afterthought. Chrome is the better browser in absolutely every way: user interface, tab handling, speed and support for web standards are superior, and Chrome can sync your bookmarks and browsing history between all your Chrome installations across all devices and platforms. Not to mention that Google is extending the Chrome brand beyond just the browser, with the Chrome OS and devices like theChromebook and Chromebox. It’s time to simplify things, Google — go with Chrome and ditch Browser.
Unify Messaging
Another example of multiple apps that do the same thing: messaging.
Google could ease the lives of Android users by delivering one unified messaging app. Currently, Google offers a stand-alone text messaging app (Messaging), a separate app for chatting over Google Talk (Talk) and yet another for sending notes to Google+ contacts (Messenger). Three apps that all do the same thing — that’s more complicated than it needs to be.
It’s time to take a page from Apple’s playbook and offer just one messaging app. All three services could be rolled into just one app — call it Messages or Messenger or Messaging or Talk or anything you’d like. When a user messages a phone number, it can be sent via text message. When a user messages an e-mail address, as they do via Talk or a contact on Google+, that message can be sent using web data as opposed to a standard text message through the wireless carrier.
The app could even recognize when a user is sending a message to another Android phone and send that message using web data as well — just like Apple’s iMessage app in iOS. One app for all three services. This is the way to go.
Program Your Own Gestures
We’d like to see Android give users the ability to create their own gestures, specific swipe combinations for opening up apps or forcing their devices to perform specific actions. Google already has a patent for this, and no other platform — iOS, Windows Phone or the different flavors of BlackBerry — currently offers this feature.
If you’ve ever used Android’s gesture-unlock feature, you already have an idea of how this might work. Essentially, your phone would record a specific swipe or gesture that’s unique, and launch an app or action of your choice whenever you perform that gesture. Apple already has a number of multitouch gestures, such as the five-finger pinch-to-close gesture found on the iPad. But so far, Android is largely devoid of this sort of thing. The ability to program your own gestures would bring a level of personalization to Android that’s unmatched. To make things easy, Google can throw in a couple multitouch gestures of their own for those who don’t want to customize their devices, but still want a shortcut to popular apps.
Add More Built-In Apps
Ice Cream Sandwich has no built-in apps for audio and voice recording, to-dos and reminders, or weather. Other operating systems — namely iOS — do. So this update seems like a no-brainer. Integrating with Google Drive for saving audio files, or re-purposing Google Calendar’s Tasks to handle to-dos and reminders are easy wins. As for weather, Google’s desktop search engine delivers forecasts from the Weather Channel, Weather Underground and AccuWeather. It’d be nice to see these three options show up on the ground floor of Android as well. If Google had to go with one, we’d like to see it pick Weather Underground, which offers crowdsourced weather reports down to the neighborhood in many cities.
Do Not Disturb
Apple introduced a “Do Not Disturb” feature for iOS 6 at its Worldwide Developer Conference just two weeks ago. Android should match it.
OK, so it’s a bit lame to see operating systems ripping off their rivals off — iOS’s Notification Center if a notable offender — but a good idea is a good idea. And Do Not Disturb is brilliant.
You walk around with your phone in your pocket (or very close by) all day. When you get home, you’ve still got your phone on you, and you might have a tablet kicking around, as well. Having the ability to take a break from text messages, alerts, e-mails and phone calls would be welcome. Of course, like the iOS version, Android’s Do Not Disturb should still allow you to get all of these messages and notifications, only later, when you want them. But during the Do Not Disturb period of your choosing, your gadget should remain silent with out a ring or vibrate to bug you.
Exceptions are a must, too. This way, select friends, family and even bosses can reach you if you decide. Or, if someone calls multiple times — maybe you can decide what the threshold is — the call or message will go through, alerting you that this time, it’s urgent and your attention is needed.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What we might get for Android at Google I/O 2012

Google I/O 2012 runs June 27-29
With Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, fast approaching, it's time to once again predict some of the Android-related items that I expect out of the three-day event. As usual, there's no shortage of Android rumors to ponder, but this year seems to be just a little bit different. For the first time since Android was announced, we're expecting to see an Android device officially launch at the conference. Exciting? Sure, but there's much more.
Nexus 7
Chances are good that you've heard rumors over the last few months that Google is working with Asus on a stock Android tablet experience. The earliest details first surfaced more than six months ago when Google's Eric Schmidt hinted at such a device. Then in February, Android lead Andy Rubin indicated that Google still had a lot of work to do on the tablet front and that the company must "double down" on the initiative. Longtime Android followers may recognize this as being similar to the smartphone landscape in 2009 when Google introduced the Nexus One. Designed as a way to move the discussion forward, this signature handset is notable for being "Pure Google" and the most likely to see future software updates.

The full hardware details for the Nexus 7 tablet are still unclear, but rumors pair it with a quad-core CPU and a price point of $150-$200. More specifically, the processor is a 1.3GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor and
 comes with Nvidia's ULP GeForce GPU. Additional specsreportedly include Wi-Fi connectivity, a front-facing camera, 768x1,280-pixel screen resolution, and Chrome browser preloaded. Should Google deliver here, the tablet could fly off shelves, perhaps at a rate as high as 600,000 per month. For those wondering about the Oprah "You got a car!" moment of Google I/O 2012, look for the Nexus 7 to be the device that goes home with attendees.As for the Google tablet itself, it is commonly referred to as the Nexus 7, namely because of its presumed 7-inch display size. The speculation is that Google wants to wrest back control of the Android tablet scene and give consumers more bang for their buck. While there has not been one runaway tablet hit on the Android side of the fence, Amazon'sKindle Fire has proven to be quite successful due to its unique experience and the $200 price tag. Google believes you should get more tablet for that kind of money.
Jelly Bean
Among other details, the Nexus 7 is expected to be the first device to launch with Android's next major release, Jelly Bean. Early rumors for the candied OS had it tied to a v5.0 releasecandidate, though it now appears it will be 4.1 instead. Much like 2.0 and 2.1 were back-to-back updates, this should be the case for the Ice Cream Sandwich successor.
Typically, Google will announce the next major release of Android at Google I/O and tease some of its features. But for all the talk about Jelly Bean, Google and its partners have been able to keep a tight lid on things thus far. While I have a few things I'd like to see in 4.1, it's quite possible that it will be a lot of back-end stuff that developers might notice more than typical users.
The aforementioned tablet should be the first device to come integrated with 4.0, while the existing smartphone to get the update should be the unlocked Galaxy Nexus. As for more Jelly Bean handsets, Wired reports that Google will launch up to five Nexus devices with 4.1 later this year. That's not out of the realm of possibility and may actually work to the platform's advantage. Rather than releasing one phone with a brand-new device, a host of partners could work together on tweaking the OS in time for the holiday shopping season.
Watch from home
For the first time, Google will be broadcasting its keynote and sessions live on YouTube. Should you miss the trip to San Francisco, you can still watch everything unfold online. The program is perfect for fledgling developers looking to bone up on best practices. CNET will of, course, be in attendance and covering things 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Galaxy S III May Be Top Android Phone, But Samsung Pushes Extra Features Instead

Having recently seen introductions of new phone operating systems fromApple and Microsoft, I was curious about how Samsung would introduce its new Galaxy S III smartphone in the U.S. yesterday.
The device itself—with a 4.8-inch screen and dual-core processor—looks very strong, and Chief Marketing Officer Todd Pendleton and Chief Product Officer Kevin Packingham went out of the way to describe five things it has that "no other phone has." But I was a bit surprised at one obvious thing it does that went unmentioned—it runs Android. Now that may be obvious, but given the push around Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), it was interesting that neither Google nor Android was referred to at the launch.
Instead, the focus was on those five new features. These include All Share GroupCast for document sharing and collaboration; ShareShot for automatically sharing photos among people at an event; S Beam, which allows you to transfer content from one device to another by simply tapping the devices back to back; Smart Stay which senses when you are looking at the display so it doesn't dim the screen; and Pop Up Play, which lets you email or text on top of a running HD video.
Samsung Galaxy S III
These all looked cool, although the first three are really useful only if everyone in your group has the same phone, which does limit the appeal. And—at least at first glance—all these features seem somewhat buried within Android and Samsung's TouchWiz extensions on top of that.
Another feature that's interesting is TecTiles, which lets you use near-field communications tags as a way to automatically have the phone open a website or download content using a peer-to-peer WiFi network. (S-Beam uses a similar feature.) I was impressed by a number of the photography features, including the ability to take 20 shots in about three seconds, and a Best Shot option that picks the best out of eight photos in a row, using the 8-megapixel rear-facing picture.
On the hardware side, it looks quite good in either a metallic light blue or white case, dominated by a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with 1,280-by-720 resolution (using the PenTile technology). The phone is based on a 1.5-GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 (8960) processor with LTE support and comes in models with 16GB or 32GB (plus a micro SD card option) and will be available on more U.S. networks than any single phone I've seen: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular.
I think it's interesting that unlike most Ice Cream Sandwich phones, it has one physical button (that generally brings you to the Home screen) and two light-up buttons (one for the menu options, one for back). You hold down the Home button to bring up thumbnails of your running applications to move among them—a slight difference from the other phones I've seen with this OS. Indeed, it's certainly a contender for the top Android phone, even if Samsung isn't positioning it that way.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Android Malware is Disguised as a Security App

Google's Android mobile platform is the target of a new variant of a widely used malware capable of stealing personal information.
New Android Malware is Disguised as a Security AppThe latest Zeus malware masquerades as a premium security app to lure people into downloading the Trojan, Kaspersky Lab reported Monday. The fake security app, called the Android Security Suite Premium, first appeared in early June with newer versions released since then.
Such malware presents a threat to consumers, as well as businesses that allow employees to use their personal devices on the corporate network. A Dimensional Research survey of IT professionals found that more than 70 percent said mobile devices contributed to increased security risks and that Android introduced the greatest risk. Issued in January, the report was sponsored by firewall vendor Check Point Software Technologies.
The new Zeus malware steals incoming text messages and sends them to command-and-control servers operated by the attackers. Depending on the apps installed on the Android device, the text could include sensitive data, such as password-reset links.
"It is also important to mention that these malicious apps are able to receive commands for uninstalling themselves, stealing system information and enabling/disabling the malicious applications," Denis Maslennikov, a Kaspersky security researcher said in a blog post.
The malware installs a blue shield icon on the smartphone or tablet menu and shows a fake activation code when executed, Kaspersky said. The app uses a series of six command and control servers, one of which was linked to Zeus malware found in 2011.
"The newest variant of ZitMo demonstrates the commitment to effective mobile spyware development and distribution that cybercrime has made," Kurt Baumgartner, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, said by email.
Android application infections increased dramatically in the first quarter of this year, driven by a surge in attacks on personal data, according to the E-Threat Landscape Report released in April by security vendor Bitdefender. Cyber-criminals often hide the malware in apps sold in online stores.
New Android Malware is Disguised as a Security AppThe Dimensional survey found that 65% of the 768 IT pros polled allowed personal devices to connect to corporate networks. Apple's iOS, used in the iPhone and iPad, was the most common platform, with Android coming in third behind Research in Motion's BlackBerry. Android was found in companies represented by one in five of the respondents.
A factor that increases the risk of malware such as Zeus is the lack of employee awareness. More than six in 10 of the IT pros surveyed said employee ignorance had the greatest impact on mobile security.
The types of corporate information most often found on mobile devices were e-mail and contacts. Other information cited by the respondents included customer data, network login credentials and data made available through business applications.
Zeus was first discovered in 2007 as a keystroke logger and form grabber that ran in a browser. The malware is primarily downloaded through phishing schemes or by visiting malicious Web sites. The mobile version of Zeus, called ZitMo, was first discovered a couple of years ago.
In other Android security news, Tokyo police have arrested six men accused of distributing malware through an application downloaded from a porn site, the newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported. When launched, the Android app would demand fees and steal the victim's personal information.
The suspects are accused of swindling more than 200 people out of $265,000. Two of the suspects were executives at separate IT companies.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Top Five Android Malware Types

Commonly detected malware on Android
The folks over at Sophos have released a list of common Android malware types showing that cracked apps make up a significant chunk of the Android malware landscape.
Sophos examined statistics collected from users who have downloaded the Sophos Mobile Security app to identify five leading types of malware currently affecting Android devices, Graham Cluley, senior security consultant at Sophos, wrote on Naked Security. The data was collected from Android devices in over 118 countries.
Here at Security Watch, we regularly discuss mobile threats and the importance of securing our smartphones and tablets. Google has always acted swiftly to remove malicious apps from its Google Play marketplace, and in February, introduced "Bouncer," a scanning service that proactively identifies and blocks malicious apps on the market. However, apps may slip past Bouncer, and there are many alternative markets users can go to download potentially dodgy Android apps.
The "volume of malware that we've discovered highlights that mobile security is a real and growing problem, especially on Android," Cluley wrote.
Top Android Malware Types
While there are plenty of apps eavesdropping on SMS messages and transmitting sensitive data back to the command and control server, it appears there most common are cracked apps. See the list for the most common types of Android infections detected by the Sophos antivirus tool.
  • Andr/PJApps-C This category refers to apps that have been cracked using a publicly available tool. The most common example is of a paid version of the app that is now available for free.  They aren't always malicious, but are usually illegal.
  • Andr/BBridge-A BaseBridge uses a privilege escalation exploit to elevate its privileges so that it can download and install additional apps onto the device. BaseBridge also uses HTTP to communicate with a central server and transmit potentially identifiable personal information. BaseBridge can also send and read SMS messages, as well.
  • Andr/BatteryD-A This type of app promises to extend your device's battery life. Instead, "Battery Doctor" sends potentially identifiable information to a server using HTTP and aggressively displays advertisements on the device.
  • Andr/Generic-S The "generic" category included apps that use privilege escalation exploits and aggressive adware (such as Android Plankton).
  • Andr/DrSheep-A Dr.Sheep is the Android equivalent to Firesheep, the Firefox plug-in that allows people to hijack Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin sessions in a wireless network environment.
As always, be safe when browsing online, download apps from authorized sources and scrutinize apps that you install to make sure they aren't asking for excessive permissions. Unlike the PC, it's harder to tell when your mobile device has been infected, so it's worth installing a security app. Lookout for Android is PCMag's Editors' Choice for Android security, there are other tools available from companies such as F-Secure,McAfee, and of course, Sophos.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Spotify 0.5 (for Android)

Now fully optimized for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Spotify for Android (free to Premium subscribers, $9.99/month) is one of the most gorgeous Android apps I've ever seen, and I dare say better than Spotify for iPhone.
A top-to-bottom makeover this month adds buttery smooth navigation, faster streaming (320kbps) for higher-quality sound, eye-popping album art, and a few other power features. All it needs is support for local files, and I'm ready to delete all my other music players.
Spotify 101For the uninitiated, Spotify (4.5 stars, free) is an online music service that lets you play songs from a mainstream-heavy library of more than 15 million tracks, build playlists, and get recommendations from other members or from Spotify's own recommendation engine. Upgrading to a Premium account removes ad interruptions, and lets you store playlists offline (up to 3,333 tracks), and sync your account to an unlimited number of mobile devices. Trust me, it's worth it. If you don't have Premium, you can (and absolutely should) sign up for a free 30-day trial to enjoy our Editors' Choice pick for premium music services on your Android device.
If you'd rather not pay a dime and don't mind being unable to listen to individual tracks or albums on demand, Songza is the Editors' Choice among free music services, and it supports iOS and Android. Slacker Radio ($9.99, 4.5 stars), another Editors' Choice pick on the PC and iPad, serves tons of streaming radio stations. For a pure cloud-based music player, Google Play Music is a solid option, but you can only share a full stream with Google+ members and you can only add music you've purchased through Google Play.
Better Look and FeelSpotify for Android looks more like Spotify for iPad (4 stars) than Spotify on an iPhone or desktop. The app sheds Spotify's original black and green color scheme for lots of clean lines, white space, and grey trim. Graphics, particularly album covers, are so vivid they almost pop. It's a beautiful way to play music on a tablet.
Navigation is faster and snappier, too, thanks to lots of buttery-smooth scrolling and swiping. For example, you can swipe left to access your Settings menu to open your playlists, Inbox, Friends list, song recommendations, and search box. The menu simply layers on top of an existing page.
Better Than the iPhone Version?This is the first Android app I've reviewed that performs better than its iPhone counterpart. Not only is it faster and more intuitive, it also ports a few awesome desktop features.
Sound quality is better. You can now stream or download tracks at a deliciously high 320kbps, called Extreme mode. It'll hog your data, so use it sparingly or with Wi-Fi. Spotify for Android also now supports gapless playback and crossfading between tracks, so there aren't any abrupt pauses.
Looking for new music? From Settings, tap What's New to see trending songs and playlists among Spotify friends and members located near you, or swipe through a slick carousel of new albums. This section is limited to only five options each, however. The desktop client recommends twice the amount. Spotify for Android also lets you build perfect playlists. For instance it adds Spotify's Play Queue, a scrollable list that displays what songs lie ahead of your currently playing track. You can drop in tracks at any time, even if you're listening to someone else's playlist.
Adding two desktop-only features would make this app just about flawless. It needs to support locally stored files so I could finally delete iTunes. And it needs to support Spotify's new app ecosystem, which I considered an awesome feature in my review of the desktop service. Spotify apps are simply third-party curated playlists; you'll find big name apps from, Songkick, and Rolling Stone magazine.
An Incentive to UpgradeSpotify, our Editors' Choice pick for premium music players on Android, is an incredible service that has essentially eliminated my need to ever buy music again. And it clearly understands mobile: Spotify for Android is a gorgeously designed app, approaching all the features offered by its desktop client. If it ever supports locally stored files, I'm deleting all my music player and music storage apps. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Max Payne Mobile for Android Coming June 14

Rockstar Games today confirmed that Max Payne for Android will be available starting Thursday, June 14.
"This full classic Max Payne experience, is optimized for Android devices and features HD graphics, high-resolution textures, Social Club connectivity, user-customizable controls, and gamepad support for select USB controllers," Rockstar said in a blog post.
Rockstar first tipped Max Payne for Android and iOS in April, initially saying that the Android-based version of the game would drop on April 26. Instead, it will debut later this week in the Google Play store for $2.99.
The iOS version is already available in the Apple App Store, also for $2.99.
A number of Android devices will support Max Payne Mobile. Supported Android phones include: Motorola Razr, Razr Maxx, Motorola Atrix, Motorola Photon, Motorola Droid Bionic, HTC Rezound, HTC One X, HTC One S, HTC EVO 3D, HTC Sensation, HTC Droid Incredible 2, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Nexus S, Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung S2, Samsung Galaxy R, Sony Xperia Play, Sony Xperia S, and Sony Walkman Z Series Media Player.
Supported Android tablets include: Acer Iconia, Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, Dell Streak 7, LG Optimus Pad, Medion Lifetab, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 / 10.1, Sony Tablet S, Sony Tablet P, Toshiba Thrive, HTC Flyer, and HTC Jetstream.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Android users in India access Facebook 5 times more than Google+

Social networking has dug in its heels in India, and the fact that people are increasingly discovering the wonders of owning a smartphone has been only propelling this trend further. A recently concluded study carried out by Nielsen Informate found that a whopping 93 percent of Android smartphone users in the country access social networking sites on their phones and Facebook emerged as the dominant social networking platform being accessed on Android smartphones by Indians. Both, the growth of social media in the country, along with the growing rate of smartphone adoption have helped social networking gain popularity among the masses. Social networking apps, too have been helping by offering “seamless integration with other phone functions enabling instant photo sharing, updates, and website links and more.
The social networking picture in India
The social networking picture in India (Image credit: Nielsen)

The report also revealed that not only does Facebook dominate the social networks accessed on Android smartphones in India, but also that its reach was 5 times higher than that of its competitor, Google+, who appeared in the second position on that list. While the report found Facebook to be the social networking platform to be accessed the most on Android smartphones by users in India, it also stated that Android users preferred to use the Facebook app to access the service. It added further -  “Integration with other Social Networking properties and with phone features (eg., camera, browser) make the app a convenient one stop solution.”
Up there..
Up there.. (Image credit: Nielsen)

The Facebook app itself is being mentioned as being “very sticky”, leading an average user to log in 17 days a month. The report also found that while throughout the day a lot of Facebook users accessed the site on their smartphones, the numbers particularly reached their peak at night. Just to better explain the popularity of Facebook over other social networking sites available in the country, the report added that one in three Facebook users “does not use any other social networking property” on their smartphone.

In a broader sense, the report highlighted the following:
  • Social Networking properties (apps/sites) are the most accessed, second only to search
  • Facebook leads the list, Google+ comes in second
  • One in three Facebook users does not use any other Social Networking property
  • The Facebook app is very sticky with an average user logging in 17 days a month
  • While Facebook is used throughout the day, engagement levels peak late night

Monday, June 11, 2012


Android's chief architect, Andy Rubin, took to Twitter over the weekend to share the news that Google's mobile platform is being activated on 900,000 devices each and every day. Google doesn't provide a breakdown of those activations, so that massive number includes smartphones, tablets, Kindles, and other devices running Android.
It would appear that Google is on the cusp of reaching one million devices activated each day. But can it? Android's adoption rate has slowed in recent months. Let's take a look at the numbers.

Prior to that, Google announced 700,000 daily activations in December 2011. The time to jump 150,000 activations--from 700,000 to 850,000--took only two months. Of course, that included the holiday shopping season. Two months for 150,000 (between December and February), followed by four months to climb 50,000 (between February and June) shows a huge slowdown in the growth rate. This has been backed up by reports from the likes of IDC, Nielsen, and others that say Android's growth is throttling down a bit.The last time we heard from Google about the Android daily activation rate was in February. The number at the point was 850,000 daily activations. It took four months (February to June) to grow by 50,000 activations.

In October 2011, the activation rate was 550,000 per day. The daily activation rate climbed by 150,000 between October and December, a two-month stretch. Nearly a year ago, in July 2011, the activation rate was 500,000 per day.
Looking at the data, it's clear that the holiday season was a boon to Android's activation rate. At its current rate of growth--50,000 new daily activations over a four-month period--Google won't reach 1,000,000 daily activations until February 2013. Is there anything that can help speed up the adoption rate?
Sure, compelling new hardware and software.
Samsung will certainly do its part in the coming weeks and months with the availability of the Galaxy S III. It lands at five major U.S. carriers in the next four weeks, and is already available for sale in markets around the globe. It's the Korean firm's flagship device for the year, and based on initial reactions, it will be a big seller.
Google is also prepping a new, lower-cost tablet for release in the next month or so. The Asus-made Nexus tablet is expected to make its first appearance at the Google I/O conference in several weeks. Based on the price point and specs of this device, it could help bolster flagging Android tablet sales.
Perhaps more important, however, will be Android 5.0 Jelly Bean. Jelly Bean is expected to show up at I/O along with the Nexus tablet. It needs to be more successful than the previous version of Android. Eight months after its release, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has been installed on fewer than 8% of Android devices. That's miserable. Despite Google's promise to make device system upgrades easier and faster, it simply hasn't happened. Can Jelly Bean improve that rate at which smartphone and tablet buyers install the latest version of the software--and the rate at which buyers snap up Android devices?

iOS v Android: why Schmidt was wrong and developers still start on Apple

Apple apps
When it comes to apps, developers still tend to turn to Apple's iOS first, despite Eric Schmidt's prediction. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
As Apple prepares for a full week in which it will fete and educate the developers who write apps for the iPhone and iPad (and also its Mac computers) at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC)  in San Francisco - and with Google preparing to do the same for those writing Android apps at its I/O event on 27 June  - the question many are asking is: if Android phones outsell iPhones, why do developers still prefer to write for Apple first?
It wasn't expected to be this way. Speaking at the LeWeb conference on 7 December 2011, Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt was in ebullient form  as he considered the success of Google's Android mobile operating system. "Android is ahead of the iPhone now," he told the audience of techies and entrepreneurs. Ahead in terms of the number of phones, the quality of the software, the lower price, and having more companies making devices that used it, he said.
He also had some predictions: "Ultimately, application vendors are driven by volume, and volume is favoured by the open approach Google is taking," he said. "There are so many manufacturers working so hard to distribute Android phones globally that whether you like ICS [Ice Cream Sandwich, the name for version 4.0 of Android, released in October] or not… you will want to develop for that platform, and perhaps even first."
When one Android user told Schmidt it was frustrating to see iPhone and iPad - known as "iOS" - versions of apps coming to market before the Android one, Schmidt said that in part because of the new software, "my prediction is that six months from now you'll say the opposite". That is, that Android versions of particular products would be written before the iOS ones.

Calendar time

Six months later, there are few signs of that happening. Instead, even while the number of Android phones in use has continued to grow steadily, to more than 300m, and with Android phones making more than 50% of the 150m-odd smartphones sold worldwide every quarter, developers still look to Apple's platform first.
It's not initially obvious why. A huge number of apps are being launched on Android. Analytics firm Distimo, which tracks the various app stores, reckons that in the first four months of 2012 more than 100,000 apps were added to the Google Play store, versus 63,000 for Apple's App Store. Microsoft's Marketplace, for Windows Phone, and BlackBerry's official stores added 35,000 and 22,000 respectively in the same period.
But follow the money - a big factor for the important developers, who can easily spend thousands writing a new app - and it's a different story. Distimo and analyst firm CCS Insight launched their App Vu Global service in early April 2012, tracking downloads and revenues from the app stores. Its initial findings claimed that Apple's App Store is generating $5.4m every day in app sales for the top 200 grossing iPhone and iPad apps. For Google Play, their estimate was just $679,000 for the top 200 grossing apps on Google Play, or about 12% of Apple's revenue.
Another mobile app-tracking service, Flurry, noted on 7 June  that "For every ten apps that developers build, roughly seven are for iOS." Though the total volume of apps being developed has doubled - from over 9,000 in the first quarter of 2011 to more than 18,000 in the second quarter of 2012 - that 7:3 ratio in Apple's favour has remained consistent.
Part of that has been because iPhone users have shown themselves willing to pay for apps in a way that Android users so far have not. In January 2012, Apple said that since 2008, when its App Store opened, developers had been paid a total of $4bn, of which more than $700m was paid in the last quarter of 2011 alone. Google hasn't given a comparable figure, though Horace Dediu, who runs the Asymco consultancy, puts the figure for Google's total app sales in 2011 at $300m  - meaning developers would get $210m in total.
In March 2012, Flurry crunched data from developers using its tracking tools in their apps, and claimed that given the same number of users per platform, a developer who got $1 on the iTunes App Store would get $0.23 from Google Play.

Nine-year headstart in credit cards

That's a key pointer to why developers don't look to Android first. Some cases are simple examples of what economists call "opportunity cost". Dave Addey is managing director of Agant, a British software developer which has written, among others, the Train Times app which costs £4.99 on the iPhone, and uses National Rail data to offer real-time data feeds, plan journeys and show timetables. "We still prioritise iOS," he says. "Because it's the main platform on which people will pay for an app. We haven't done Android apps for business reasons. It comes down to this: do you port [translate] to Android, or do you develop another app for iOS? In the end, iOS is the better business case. Apple's greatest trick has been making it really easy to pay for apps. Once you have your iTunes account, you just enter a password." Google is trying to emulate that by encouraging people to add a credit card when they first set up a phone; but it is coming from a long way behind Apple, which started its iTunes Music Store selling music online in 2003, and is now one of the web's biggest five holders of credit card details, along with Amazon, eBay and PayPal.
Addey points to the problems encountered by Imangi Studios, developer of the hugely popular Temple Run game - in which you are pursued along stone-lined routes by fast-moving unseen monsters - when it ported the app to Android, releasing it at the end of March.
It was a huge success in terms of downloads, hitting 5m in about 10 days. But Imangi Studios - a husband-and-wife team, plus a designer - soon discovered that Schmidt's promise of Android being ahead in the number of phones and manufacturers was only too true. Despite writing it to run on 707 Android devices, they said that 99% of the emails requesting support were actually complaints that it wouldn't run on the user's particular phone model or version of Android. They were pilloried on Facebook, despite having what would be regarded by anyone as a successful release.

Breaking up is easy

Those subtle differences between devices are known in the industry as "fragmentation". While Apple does have some fragmentation - there are seven models of iPhone, three different iPads and four of the non-phone iPod Touch - they pale into insignificance compared to Android's, where OpenSignals, which provides a network coverage app, recently found 1,363 device models running Android, from 599 different brands - though Samsung dominates with about 40% of the market.
Opensignals Android fragmentation Android fragmentation, as perceived by OpenSignals based on devices downloading its Android app. Click for original post.
"It's a problem, especially for testing your app," says Agant's Addey. "You need to get a representative set of [Android] handsets so you can try it out. But that makes it hard to create a best-of-breed app because of the fragmentation, and because people are less likely to have the latest version of the [Android] software. You have to build to the lowest common denominator, rather than using the latest features." Google's statistics to the beginning of June say that just 7.1% of phones actively using its Google Play app market run version 4.0, or "Ice Cream Sandwich". The most-used version is 2.3, or "Gingerbread", released in December 2010, running on 65%; in total, 84.1% of devices using Google Play run Android version 2.3 or 2.2, dating back to June 2010.
Google Play access by devicesGoogle Play: proportion of devices running different versions of Android accessing within 14-day period, since January 2010. Source: Google
By contrast, although Apple's oldest handset on sale - the iPhone 3GS - dates to June 2009, before Android 2.2, it can run the latest version of iOS – so app developers can target apps at features it includes, confident the majority of users will be able to run them.
And iPhone users definitely do update. Addey points to data for the UK Train Times app, which is available for every iPhone and iPod Touch ever made. The latest version of iOS, v5, was released in October 2011: Addey saw the proportion of devices using the preceding version, iOS 4, drop dramatically - while the proportion using iOS 5 leapt.

Update fever

iOS versions accessing traintimes app iOS versions accessing UK Train Times app feed, by time. Source: Agant. Click for larger version with longer time series
Now, just under nine months since iOS 5's release, 86.2% of devices using the Train Times app run iOS 5, 12% use iOS 4, and just 1.7% use iOS 3 (released in 2009). Other developers put the proportion of iOS 5 users at 75%  - lower, but still overwhelming.
"Compare this to the 7.1% uptake of Android 4.0, and it's pretty easy to see why we develop new apps for iOS first," Addey says. "Apple is constantly pushing its users and developers to be running the latest versions." He says Agant has tended to focus on bigger apps, "because we know we can support the latest features from Apple." The team's latest product is a World War 2 app for the iPad which includes a day-by-day timeline that interacts with a map, Pathe newsreel videos, and commentary by the historian Dan Snow.
There's no a priori reason why Apple should be able to get updates out more quickly. Changes to the "baseband" software which operates the radio systems in mobile phones (to connect to networks) have to be tested and approved by phone carriers; Apple has to go through those just like Android handset makers. Such changes are part of every major version both of Android and iOS.
But Apple has a clear incentive to roll out updates - to keep users and developers happy - whereas carriers and Android handset makers are less eager; fragmentation and opportunity cost hits them too, and they may have more incentive to encourage people to buy a new handset than see them using the same one with newer software.

Putting kids first

However, generalisations about what "developers" are doing in terms of platform support are risky. In key fast-growing categories – particularly free-to-play social mobile games – a number of companies launch new titles simultaneously on iOS and Android, or even on Android first. Glu Mobile, TinyCo, Storm8 and TeamLava, who have some of the most lucrative iOS games according to Apple's "top grossing" chart, are also fixtures on Android. Some companies are adopting an Android-first strategy here too.
Japanese social games publisher DeNA, which recently reported revenues of $529m for the first quarter of 2012 alone, chose Android as the platform to launch its Mobage community globally in 2011. Its recently-released Rage of Bahamut game is on Android but not iOS yet.
US publisher Pocket Gems launched a game called Tap Dragon Park exclusively for Android in May. Another US studio, Bionic Panda, focuses on Android games rather than iOS.
Certain kinds of apps can only work on Android rather than iOS, too. British startup SwiftKey is a good example: its natural-language keyboard app SwiftKey X has notched up millions of paid downloads on Google's store. It works by replacing the default keyboard on Android devices – which Apple does not allow on iOS.
"The early adopter community on Android is quite tech-savvy, and very keen to shout about the latest thing that they've discovered," says Ben Medlock, chief technology officer at SwiftKey. "We're one of the rare paid apps which is making money on Android."
Other app categories remain dominated by iOS – for example book-apps and children's apps. Swedish developer Toca Boca recently passed its 20 millionth kid-app download on iOS, but chief executive Bjorn Jeffery outlines the reasons it has so far shunned Android.
"It is a highly fragmented ecosystem to develop for, and the business model for upfront sales of apps still has its issues," he says, pointing to a question of how to allocate resources. "The answer there is unique to each developer, but I don't see 'Android first' becoming something strong in the kids app community within a foreseeable amount of time."
Resources are at the heart of why Schmidt's hopes that more companies would put Android first are currently certain to be disappointed. Toca Boca, Instagram, Temple Run... These companies were well aware of strong demand on Android for their apps, and they all knew they could probably make money there. But, faced with a decision to double down on iOS or put already-stretched resources into Android, they prioritised Apple's platform.

Volume, scale, or revenues?

Schmidt's bold statement that "application vendors are driven by volume" was, it turns out, inaccurate. True, the economics for certain kinds of apps – particularly free and social ones – are driven by scale. Yet the majority of app developers are driven by two simple motives: where they see the most revenues, and by the constraints of their resources and team size. And both those presently favour Apple - substantially.


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