All talk across the tech universe has been about Facebook today, and I’m sure you have had just about enough, so I’ll try to make this one of our last topics. As you know, Facebook unveiled Facebook Home along with a new phone that can run it, the HTC First. This is Facebook finally realizing that mobile is extremely important to the future of their company – well, either that or after feeling enough pressure from shareholders they had no choice but to start taking it seriously. And since Android is as “open” as it gets in the mobile space, they saw an opportunity to put Facebook first, if you will, and created a home replacement that should eventually work on almost any semi-current Android device.
As I watched the presentation and all of our coverage following, all sorts of things jumped out to me as either important or newsworthy and wanted to share. This is my early take on Facebook Home. (more…)
T-Mobile is trying to shake up the entire wireless industry this month by taking the “Un-carrier” approach to wireless service. Gone are the two-year contracts and 23-month phone upgrade cycles – in are the month-to-month plans with the option to upgrade to the newest phones whenever you please at the lowest prices. They are also shunning tiered data plans (sort of), spouting off colorful commentary to their competitors, and claiming to have cancelled their membership to the “out-of-touch wireless club,” a direct reference to the “Big 4″ U.S. carriers grouping that includes Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. It’s a lot of marketing speak and posturing, but is it even the right approach? (more…)
Life is funny at times. One minute you are on top of the world – the next, you are sitting rock bottom, wondering how on Earth you will ever scrape by. In some cases, we see humans (or companies) put their last and best foot forward in an attempt to salvage whatever is left. It can be uplifting, inspirational even. It can also be incredibly embarrassing as desperation sets in, leading to decisions or choices that one would normally not make. Last night, HTC unfortunately fit the latter as Samsung took over New York City to announce the Galaxy S4. (more…)
Are you ready for it? Did you even know that it had started? It has, so get your mind right. The battle between HTC and Samsung for 2013 is already underway and we’re excited about it. Thanks to the announcements of flagships from both companies, March is going to be a wild month for smartphone lovers, particularly those with an addiction to the latest and greatest running Android. HTC is trying to survive and to recapture some of its lost marketshare, while Samsung will only attempt to continue on in their dominant ways, pushing all attackers aside. It may get dirty, there may be insults floated about, battery juice tossed in eyes, and Gorilla Glass sharpened like knives, but that’s the beauty of any competition.
Let’s talk about the next few months from both companies and how their launches won’t go down without a fight. (more…)
When Google purchased Android, their goal was to fight Microsoft and topple Windows Mobile’s dominance. Instead, Google has found itself fighting off Apple as companies like Palm (now HP), RIM (now Blackberry), and Microsoft fell by the wayside. Instead of asking for a licensing fee from OEMs, Google decided to make Android free to use. Little did Google know, Apple would make a huge play in the mobile space that would forever change the market. Back in 2008, Samsung was nothing in the mobile space. It wasn’t until 2010 when Samsung released the Galaxy S worldwide that the Korean company began to find success in the market. Flash forward to today and the company claims about 40% of the worldwide smartphone market. In many ways, Samsung is the hero in Android’s war against iOS.
The Wall Street Journal’s Amir Efrati is claiming that Google is becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility of Samsung demanding more money from Google because of Samsung’s unrivaled dominance in the market as an Android OEM. Efrati also speculates that Samsung could use its market share to leverage getting access to the newest version of Android regardless of if it is the Nexus partner, putting other OEMs at a severe disadvantage. While Efrati doesn’t come out and say it, the threat of Samsung leaving Google hangs over his article. If Samsung demands more money and Google refuses, Samsung could fork Android, leaving Google to fend for itself with a myriad of relatively unsuccessful manufacturers. If Google agrees to give Samsung more of a share in revenues from mobile advertising, other OEMs could respond to their favoritism by forking Android or focusing only on Windows Phone.
Not sure what else to say. Maybe next year it’ll be a phone.
A little late night discussion – take it wherever you please.
Designing Android apps can be a monstrous challenge. Between multiple screen sizes, resolutions, Android versions, and manufacturer skins, developers have enough variables to make it nearly impossible to make an app that both looks like it fits the design language of your phone and is enjoyable to use on the devices you own. While Google has taken steps to try and guide developers in the right direction to solve these problems, many Android apps still are not optimized for modern devices, especially tablets. Worse still, Android apps have historically been static and boring. Many Android apps still have the old Android 2.x or below design, which forces users to peck around the app to access content.
Twitter apps have been especially representative of the need to have adaptable, scalable, and natural design. In particular, the official Twitter app for Android has been derided by users, journalists, and Apple executives as an example of an app that does not scale up to higher resolutions and larger screen sizes. Through the lens of Twitter apps for Android one can see how Android app design has had to evolve since 2008, pushing Android to become a more fluid, scalable, and fun to use platform.
It took me a while to come around to the idea, but I’m ready to admit that I’m a fan of lock screen widgets in Android 4.2. Introduced back in October, I originally thought, “What’s the point? Can’t you just unlock your device and then get to home screen widgets? This seems redundant.” And now, I’m utilizing at least five of them, some of which I use regularly. I’m also using more widgets on lock screens than I am on home screens. Weird, right? Let’s talk about why. (more…)