So good job Google, with news of long rumored, hyped and leaked Nexus 5 officially announced, and selling out in 27 minutes!. The Verge has more details and hands on impressions, but the short and sweet is this:
A nice sounding release and a “pure google” experience. I look forward to getting a hands on from my buddy Jim, who got in before all versions and colors sold out 27 minutes after the phone was announced.
Android KitKat is announced. This time concentrating on lower end devices.
No More Notification Ads and Icon Ads in Android Apps says google in a revision to it’s Play Store rules:
Apps and their ads must not add homescreen shortcuts, browser bookmarks, or icons on the user’s device as a service to third parties or for advertising purposes. Apps and their ads must not display advertisements through system level notifications on the user’s device, unless the notifications derive from an integral feature provided by the installed app. (e.g., an airline app that notifies users of special deals, or a game that notifies users of in-game promotions).
I’m not an Android user, but these sound like good things, especially if they’re being abused. Not sure how the crowd who is against gatekeepers of any sort will feel about this (though I suppose it’s only the official Play Store apps, not sideloaded 3rd party ones). I wish Apple would adopt some of these, particularily the ‘system notifiers for advertising’ thing.
Really I didn’t make this up or anything.
Interesting read over on Slate.com: Android vs. iPhone: Why Apple still has the edge over Google’s operating system. Before you, faithful Android user and UFies.org reader (I know there’s at least 3 of you), this is not an ‘Android sucks’ article, in fact, the author rather likes Android. The key is here:
But then, at the last second, the phone makers and the world’s cellular carriers snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They ruin the phones’ potential with unnecessary features and apps that lower the devices’ battery life, uglify their home screens, and make everything you want to do extra annoying.
If you get the Play edition of these phones, you’ll see Google’s version of each of these apps, and you’ll come away impressed by Google’s tasteful, restrained, utilitarian design sense. But if, like most people, you get your phone for $199 from a carrier, you’ll find everything in it is a frightful mess.
Or put in simpler terms, “design by committee sucks fat hairy wookie balls”.
At least according to Issue 57560:
The “Back up my data” option in Android is very convenient. However it means sending a lot of private information, including passwords, in plaintext to Google. This information is vulnerable to government requests for data.
Ignoring the implications of google knowing yet another bit of information about us, or the tinfoil hats when you combine this information with the previous scandal with them capturing and saving encrypted wifi data from the street view cars, where are the pitchforks? If Apple did this, there’d be a class action lawsuit already (even if the story was completely different, it’d be filed purely on the headline).
Mobile security company Bluebox said today that it recently discovered a vulnerability in Android that makes any Android device released in the last four years vulnerable to hackers who can read your data, get your passwords, and control any function of your phone, including sending texts, making phone calls, or turning on the camera.
This isn’t helped by the fact that Android is “fragmented” in terms of the distribution of OSs installed is wide, compared to iOS where the majority of iOS users are upgraded to the latest version, making distributing a fix harder.
Android tablets overtake Apple for the first time.
Here is your Anti-Apple post Alan (:
A bit in advance of the announcement, 9to5Google says that Facebook Home offers a fresh take on Android UI:
Facebook Home has been well leaked by now, thanks in part to Android Police, information from Techcrunch, and 9to5′s own Mark Gurman. What we haven’t seen yet are many indications of the visual highlights of the collaboration; what will these “Facebook phones” look like when you’re actually using one?
Looks nice for sure. Course, do people really love Facebook enough to buy a phone for it?
New Adblock Plus for Android app released outside the Play Store, via a post on Google+. I had mentioned this last week, good to know it’s available again, and because of Android’s open nature, it’s easy to sideload it without relying on the Android Play store.
When I first read the story that Google removes adblockers from Play Store I was ready to rail against google some more, after the previous dick move of killing Google Reader.
In all honesty, this has taken far longer than I anticipated. Google, the world’s largest internet advertising company, has removed several popular ad-blocking tools from the Play Store. While they are technically in the right to do so - they violate the Play Store developer distribution agreement - it’s still a bit of a dick move. Luckily, though, unlike some other platforms, you can easily sideload the adblockers onto your Android device.
Reading a bit more though, they do have a point.
The reasons for the removal are actually more sound than you’d think, at least for some of the removed adblockers. AdBlock Plus, for instance, used a security vulnerability to allow it to work without root access. A tool like AdAway, in the meantime, took a more ‘wholesome’ approach and edited the hosts file to block ads everywhere - in browsers and ad-supported applications.
Apple doesn’t allow these sort of apps that require low level access to the OS for exactly the same reason, so I guess I can’t fault them for wanting to make their OS more secure (especially with the more recent reports about the amounts of Malware that is already present in the Android Play store.
A bit of an inflammatory headline of course, but In The Security World, Android Is The New Windows is an interesting read. “Open wins” isn’t always true.
I do take umbrage with some things however, such as this:
Even as Android takes the lead in global sales, it’s been much less successful from a security standpoint. “We sell an anti-virus product for Android,” Cobbnoted. “No one sells anti-virus for iOS.”
I’d say that this is not because no one wants to sell anti-virus for iOS (I’m sure that McAffee and friends would love to have a subscription anti-virus installed on your iPhone by default, but because the App store doesn’t allow it.
The new Nexus Phone from Google now in three sizes,
Today, we’re excited to announce three great new Nexus devices … in small, medium and large. And they all run Android 4.2, a new flavor of Jelly Bean—which includes the latest version of Google Now and other great new features.
All in all a good looking selection!
The other key piece of information to get from the string file is that this is an optional mode, don’t go around saying that Google is shutting down root functionality or anything. This is for security conscious enterprise and government-types and probably won’t be enabled on consumer phones.
As someone who has actually worked with SELinux (other than just turning it off like 99.9% of everyone else who’s ever encountered SELinux (see the first few options in googles suggest for ‘selinux’), I hope so, no normal human should ever have to deal with anything, anything but a completely setup, configured and tested system using SELinux, and even then it should be a server with a very specific task.
Good to have the option to add in more security though, SELinux, when configured right, is pretty damn secure.
Grab the Android app on Google Play, or if you’re in iOS land, wait a bit for it to be released.
Word Lens for Androidl is now available. This is the former iOS exclusive app which lets you auto-translate text by pointing your phone camera at it and reading from the screen in real time. Super, super cool.
Awesome to see that the Pebble e-ink watch has launched the Pebble Android SDK at google IO. Emulator due in August for app development. You can get more informaton starting around 3:57 in to this video.
Via Gizmodo Australia: Nexus 7: This Is Google’s New Nexus Tablet:
Priced at sub-$US200, the Google’s Nexus 7 will become Amazon’s biggest problem post-launch, threatening the market share of the hugely successful Kindle Fire. The Fire runs a highly modified version of the Android operating system and prevents users from wandering outside the customised Amazon environment. The Nexus brand, however, has always been associated with the purest form of the Android operating system Google has to offer, meaning that it’s likely going to be a better experience. Google is also banking on the fact that the screen is better than the Fire’s, with a higher resolution and 10-point touch capability.
If it’s true, it’ll be definitely interesting to see how this shapes up.
250K beta testers later, MightyText launches possibly the best texting app for Android, ever. Another article from my buddy John K at Venture Beat.
When users send a text from their computer, they’re essentially remote-controlling their phone. That has the huge benefit of ensuring that texts sent from any of your devices come from the one thing that all your friends will recognize: your phone number.
Definitely sounds nifty, with the only downside I can see being the one big advantage that iMessage on iOS has, being built into the OS and the default texting app. Of course, Android can easily change from one “default” texting app to another, unlike iOS. Looking forward to checking this out.
Via my buddy Jim: Android Fragmentation Visualized. Though I believe the Android People call it "choice", not "fragmentation" :)
Marco has had a history of not wanting to do an Android version, not because he doesn’t like Android, or thinks it won’t work, but due to many other reasons, most around scaling of his main resource (himself). I’m really interested in hearing how this works out and if his predictions of doom and gloom in terms of launching an Android app come true or not. You can hear all about this and more on his Build and Analyse podcast.
Google Maps for Android updated to version 6.7. Looks great!
Great stuff from 500px (the awesome photo sharing site) today. First of all they have released the 500px Android app for both phone and tablet, giving android users all the loving of a full on site browsing and if you log in, all the voting, sharing, etc goodness from the site.
Secondly the iPad app has been updated with retina display graphics for the 3rd generation iPad (both for the UI and images, which got a 30% bump in pixel density), new UI and native twitter sharing.
Great stuff! As always you can find my portraits up on my account on 500px.
How To Install Instagram On Your Android Phone In 23 Easy Steps from buzzfeed. Is it really this bad Android people? If so, then this is why your friends with iPhones feel superior to you. If not, then start blogging and posting about how it’s not this bad so the lies, damn lies and statistics go away.
google marketplace Google Play here.
Update: It’s now top hit in Google Play. Yay!
Side-Rant: So lets say you’re an android user without access to the link above and want to search for Instagram on Google Play. You go there, search, and look at the search results. See instagram there? Nope, not at the top of the search results, maybe it’s just some keyword spam in there, it must be in page 2. Nope, how about page 3? 4?… not anywhere in the search results (as of 10am PST anyway). My Android Friend tells me that it could take up to 1-2 (or 12) hours to have new apps indexed, which to me sounds a bit odd for a search engine that prides itself in fast indexing. Seriously, this is a high profile app and you’d think that it should be right up there fast :)
It does luckily show up as the third hit if you just do a normal google search…
The Dropbox Blog brings us news that:
Starting today for Android, and coming soon for iOS, the Dropbox mobile apps can automatically upload your photos and videos to Dropbox using Wi-Fi or your data plan. They’re all uploaded at original size and full quality, and saved to a private folder in your Dropbox called Camera Uploads where they’re ready to view or share.
Also, something you’ll have heard before about the Dropbox desktop client betas:
Meanwhile, the new version of our Windows and Mac desktop apps can automatically upload from just about any camera, smartphone, tablet, or SD card you connect to your computer. If you’ve got great shots stranded on your Coolpix or piling up on your Canon 5D, all you’ve got to do is plug it in. We’re putting these apps through their final paces now — check here if you want to help get the kinks out!
Lastly, you can get up to 3.5 gigabytes of Dropbox space. 500mb for your first auto-upload, and up to 3gb for uploaded images after (ie: you upload 3G of image you get 3G of space).
Google Introduces Chrome for Android.
Looks cool though, nice UI, being able to save your desktop tabs (assuming you want that of course) and the presumed performance will make it great to have on the Android platform. Wonder if they’ll build a iOS version? :)
Great news for my Android brothers, the awesome game Osmos is now available on Android. They also have it at 40% off for the first week.
I hadn't actually heard that GPS Sucks On The Transformer Prime but reading the breakdown of why was simply stunning. A fail of epic proportions.
At this point, I'm sure you've heard that the Transformer Prime has GPS issues. Issues so bad that ASUS even removed GPS from the Prime's list of features. Under normal circumstances, we would all sit back and wait for a software update to roll out with a fix, but that's not going cut it this time.
Gotta say that the New Firefox for Android looks pretty nice.
Firefox for Android introduces a completely redesigned experience that is optimized for tablets and makes mobile browsing more intuitive. New tools in Firefox enable developers to create interactive mobile Web experiences.
Unlike Gruber I don't think that the scrolling and panning looks that bad, maybe not as smooth as iOS, but not what I'd call "herky-jerky" necessarily.
Marco is softening on Android, or at least developing an Android app for Instapaper. Or at least being open to the idea of it.
I can't afford to invest months of development time into learning the platform and making an Android app, then supporting and maintaining it in parallel with my iOS app indefinitely, with so many other data points telling me that it almost certainly won't be worth the investment.
He concludes with a challenge to Android devs to use the Instapaper API to create an awesome Instapaper app which he will bless as "official" and support.
Marco's reasoning for concentrating on iOS instead of all mobile is pretty obvious to anyone who has listened to the excellent Build and Analyze podcast.
So the current bruhaha is that Steve Jobs Was Right, Android Logs Everything in the form of a program called CarrierIQ built into (some?) Android phones which, in short, logs everything the user does in the name of quality control. You'd think that this would be crash logs and statistics of some sort, but it seems that this (even if the user opts out of the service) will basically send everything to the CarrierIQ servers.
At the time, there wasn't a lot of proof to back up Steve's assertion, but as it often does, time has proven Steve Jobs right. Android phones do track you. In fact, software that comes pre-installed on millions of Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones log everything you do with your device, and sends them off secretly to its own servers.
25-year-old Android developer Trevor Eckhart has discovered a piece of software that comes installed on most Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones called Carrier IQ secretly logs everything a user does with his or her phone, including text messages, encrypted web searches, phone calls, location and, well, you name it.
I honestly have only seen a bit about this, so I'm willing to say that the fact the stories I'm linking to are on Apple oriented sites may say something about the spin. I'm interested to see if Android people will have the same reaction that Apple people did during the various "locationgate" and "antennagate" fiascos (ie: "meh").
The Verge, the relaunch of This is My Next, has a Motorola Droid RAZR review, for you Android lovin' folks itching to hear more about the next big (or in this case, thin) thing.
The argument here is of course that Twitter is doing it wrong, that the back button should always bring you back one step inside the app, but that this inconsistency can even present itself in the OS shows a big conceptual faux pas when it comes to the Android UI.
Personally I have about 10 minutes total time with an android device, so I have no idea if this is apple fanboy flame bait or legitimate android conversation. It's interesting to see though, as I've never really thought about how the different buttons would work, as I'm not used to having them.
To summarise the argument: before the iPhone, Android looked like a BlackBerry clone, and after the iPhone, it looked like an iOS clone.
Presented to show that I grow bored of "iOS vs Android", and not all the things that us "ios people" link to is true.
Google's dev site has Android 4.0 highlights for users site goes a bit more in depth with what users and android geeks alike can expect from the new OS.
Wow, amazingly slick site, using the funky 'scroll down' mechanism I've seen recently. Nice overview of the high points of the new Nexus phone (hey Google, wanna hit me up for a demo unit?), and a few tech specs as well.
Via Aryk - First Look at the Highly Polished Android 4.0, "Ice Cream Sandwich" from Lifehacker.
Some nice looking stuff, and from the looks of it some iOS level polish in terms of consistency and some of the UI elements. Things like unlocking the phone with the camera (image recognition stuff) looks pretty sweet too.
The link has lots of info, and I'm sure Wednesday will be a day full of emerging information.
Found over in r/android, check out Iris, which is (Sort Of) Siri For Android. Not sure if it has the context aware stuff that Siri has, but definitely looks like it has potential to fill the gap above and beyond "send text to..." and "play song..." in voice recognition.
An enhanced Google Docs experience on Android tablets over at the Official Google Mobile Blog. Looks like a nice update for Honeycomb (3.0+) devices.
Awesome news for the Minecrack people with Androids: Minecraft: Pocket Edition on Android this week.
Minecraft's portable exclusivity on Sony's Xperia Play (aka "PlayStation Phone") comes to an end this week. Minecraft: Pocket Edition will be available on the Android Market this Thursday, September 29th.
The title Amazon App Store: Rotten To The Core should give you an indication of how well it went for an Android app development shop whose app was put up as the 'Free App of the Day' on the Amazon android app store.
To add insult to injury Pocket Casts relies on a server to parse podcast feeds (allowing instant updates on your phone), and all these new users forced us to buy more hardware just to meet demand. Hardware that we are going to have to support indefinitely at our own cost.
Great for users, really bad for devs. Hope there's a better way to do it.
My buddy cthulhu pointed me to a couple of interesting bits from the big Google keynote this morning.
First is news on
Ice Cream Sandwich, which is basically a "one OS to rule them all" upgrade that will run on handsets and tablets alike, and is there to put an end to the OS version fragmentation out there. Hopefully this will help with the bigger issue, which is the carriers.
Speaking of the carriers, the next bit of news is that Google and OEMs and carriers have agreed to provide timely updates to Android devices for up to 18 months after a new OS release. To me this addresses one of the biggest issues that Android has compared to the iPhone, and it's awesome to hear. Assuming of course they actually do it and don't start re-defining "timely" or "update" or "hardware compatible" of course.
If you're big into this stuff hit the live blog from Google I/O.
Update: Andy I has his liveblog as well, complete with the smarmyness we love.
Fugly Android is a tumblr site to showcase Android customizations that have just gone too far...
Actually some of them are kinda cool, but I really don't know if I'd want to use them day to day. I'd like a bit more customization than iOS allows, but the curse of unlimited customization is.... well, just look at the link to see. Sometimes there is something to be said for "just leave it close to how it came" ya know? Via Daring Fireball (from a few days ago... I'm still catching up).
Seems the next generation of Android OS needs it's own trailer. Looks cool, makes me want an android tablet to be honest :) Guess we'll see what comes out before or around when the iPad 2.0 appears.
Nice look at google maps 5.0 for android over at the official google blog. Gotta say I really hope this stuff comes to iPhone, cause the 3D stuff is sexy!
Aryk pointed out that the Fait Lux "Adam" Android based tablet has it's preorder information page up. I'm personally wanting to see this in person before I'd pop out $400 for the low end model, or see a few reviews, but it is intriguing for sure, and it's nice to see information coming out for those who are chomping at the bit to get it.
Google has the Android 2.3 Platform Highlights out there. Some sexy new stuff (NFC, download management) and some stuff that will nicely fill in the gaps (ie: better text selection methods mirroring those on the iPhone).
Hot on the heals of their latest update to the Windows desktop client, they hit version 2.0 for Android. So if you're so inclined, check it out, looks good!
Story on /. on the issues of 100+ Versions of Android when dealing with the TweetDeck Android app.
A good illustration of "the curse of open" in the Samsung Fascinate Lightning Review at Gizmodo.
The Fascinate is a sad emblem of what happens when a carrier's worst instincts and moneylust run unchecked (those big branding deals are worth millions). Piled on top of the occasionally horrific aesthetic liberties Samsung's taken with Android, it's an abomination. And yet, these things are totally acceptable because of Android's openness. It just sucks that in this case, it's working against users, not for them.
Sad, as Android (for all my iPhone fan-boyism) is a great OS and it's sad to hear about a phone being bastardized so much on a platform that should be open and awesome.
Interesting video from Kevin Tofel of GigaOm.com who switched to a Nexus 1 from an iPhone, to see the Flash experience on Android. The tl;dr version is sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and if your claim to fame is "user experience", I can understand why Apple would be against putting it in iOS (even if they could just magically snap their fingers and have it work as well as it does on Android).
Google is making a play for the "easy to build mobile apps" market by releasing Google App Inventor for Android. The video shows a pretty interesting UI for dealing with events and actions on the phone. I haven't got any experience in developing apps for Apple, so I don't know how this compares to XCode, but it definitely looks like something worth checking out.
Jim sent over this story about how the HTC Vision may be dual-core, Android 3.0.
The design could be one of HTC's fastest as it could use a dual-core 800MHz processor. It would run Android 3.0 and have a 4.3-inch screen that would use a new form of screen technology.
I'm as iPhone fanboy as the next iPhone fanboy, but that does sound pretty sweet (not sure about the huge 4.3" screen though).
Watching the Android 2.2 (Froyo) Web Browser Speed Test (Flash On) I'm wondering again why I want flash? Yes, you get flash video and games in the browser, but you give up speed, smoothness, and (from other videos I've seen) stability. Thanks, fanboy or not I'd rather have a fast mobile browsing experience....
Aryk send this great video of Android on iPhone 3G. Looks like work is progressing nicely, calling, multi-touch, etc, with the one big issue being sound isn't working, but based on the video and the guy doing it, that should be working soon.
Twitter has released an official Android client. The screenshots look pretty nice, but since Google hasn't gotten around to sending me that evaluation unit, I can't give you a hands-on review :)
The title of the post pretty much says it all. There are some caveats, but it does look good. I'm almost tempted to jailbreak my iPhone, use the 70 step process to install Android on it, and then play around with the pre-alpha of Fennec :)
If you're interested in it, here's a video of the easy 70-step Android on iPhone install guide. I think I might wait until I get my 4th Generation iPhone and then I'll potentially mess up my 3G :)
Droid Incredible review at Engadget. Looks sexy, that's for sure.
Interesting take on the Nexus One from an iPhone Developer's Perspective.
In this posting, I'll talk about the device from my perspective as a user. My thoughts on the Android SDK as a developer will come in a future installment, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.
Slashdot story about a user who ported Quake3 to Android in a couple of weeks. Awesome. Hey google, I really do need one of those Nexus 1 phones to evaluate these things you know? Come on, there's got to be at least one googler that reads this...
Information from various Google blogs have some demos of some of the functionality on the new Google Nexus Phone.
Mashable has the news of the Google's Nexus One Phone via techmeme. Highlights are:
Via Aryk is the Camangi WebStation, which claims to be a 7" Android powered Internet tablet. Pricey ($399) and pre-order only, but if it's real, it could be cool. Wonder if this has any heritage in the now-dead(ish) crunchpad?
Robert Scoble's latest blog post, The Droid fails AS A PRODUCT when compared to Palm Pre and iPhone is a good read and an interesting look at why specs don't always define what makes or doesn't make a good product. Related: Droid vs iPhone camera.
Droid is getting lukewarm to warm reception and reviews from what I've heard, but outside of that, this Motorola DROID: Stealth commercial is pretty damn cool.
Hard to argue with free. As in, "why pay $90 for GPS navigation apps for your iPhone when you can get it free from Google"? Google Introduces Free GPS Navigation for Android 2.0. Google Maps is optimized for online use (so not good if you're traveling and don't want to be raped by your provider for data transfer), and do voice input (as in "navigate to 1234 main street, Vancouver", or as I like to put it, "HOLY CRAP AWESOME!"), as well as have all the goodness that Google Maps has with spelling corrections, transit/walking/driving, traffic data, etc. Video included in the post is great stuff.
I won't lie, this makes me want to try out an Android 2.0 device...
The Android Developers blog has information on Android 2.0 support in the SDK. There's also a nice overview of some of the Android 2.0 highlights. Gotta admit, it's pretty sexy looking, but I'm still waiting for my Droid test phone unit to lure me away from my iPhone :)
Competition is good though!
John Gruber over at Daring Fireball has a nice editorial on The Android Opportunity, and what Google can do to bring the Android brand up and over the top.
Start by copying what Apple has done right. Release one new phone per year, every year. Split that one phone into separate models by storage size, keeping all other specs the same. Apple has shown you can make a lot of money by charging an extra $100 for less than $100 worth of flash memory.
It's interesting if you think that 2 years ago the iPhone didn't even exist, hell, the market hardly existed before that. Yes, I know there were smart phones, but they didn't have the mindshare (IMHO) that Apple has created in that time. And then in that time it's become a juggernaut, had a falter from some of the bureaucracy / BS at Apple, and other phones are making a play for it's market share, all in that short time.