Google still has a lot of work ahead to win in mobile ads

Android Ads

Google may dominate online advertising, but it’s been slow to innovate in mobile.

Today at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco, California the search giant took its first big step toward changing that paradigm. The company revealed two big plays: cross-platform campaigns for mobile developers and mobile ad conversion metrics for app-install ads.

The updates are big for Google, which is quickly losing its hunk of the mobile advertising market to small innovative advertising startups and Facebook. Mobile analytics firm Flurry estimated that $6 billion was spent on mobile app install ads in 2014. But these updates won’t win Google the same stranglehold on market share on mobile that it enjoys online.

Google’s AdWords teams unveiled Universal App Campaigns, which will allow mobile developers to simply run campaigns across Google Search, the AdMob network, the Google Display Network, YouTube, and Google Play. This will (finally) give mobile developers the opportunity to access Google’s massive audience. For advertisers looking to spend, this (potentially) means more bang for their buck.

But audience reach is nothing without metrics to prove that Google is turning those millions of eyes into buying customers.

The second key announcement was Mobile App Install Campaign Attribution. Google is integrating with a few third-party partners like Adjust, Appsflyer, Apsalar, Kochava, and Tune, to help measure and track ads that turn into sales. Developers will also be able to “postback” ad conversions.

“Google still controls the operating system that runs 80-90 percent of the smartphones on the planet, so they have an incredible amount of data. They have incredible reach and they have incredible opportunity to connect products and services for developers, publishers, as well as advertisers — that are very interesting,” says John Koetsier, VP of VB Insight, VentureBeat’s research arm.

He says that if Google bundles its services more tightly together, creating an integrated network, it has the opportunity to grow its market share substantially. Think of Twitter’s ad ecosystem. Twitter attempts to give advertisers and developers all the tools they need in one place through its Fabric network as an incentive for advertising through its platform. Google could easily replicate that model to great success.

It will have to do so carefully, though. Increasingly, government officials are concerned with Google’s size and potential for infringing on antitrust laws. The European Union is already investigating whether Google is unfairly affecting competition through bias in its search results. Tying its services more tightly together could draw the attention of legislators or be considered an unfair competitive advantage, says Koetsier.

However Google moves forward with its ad network, one thing is for sure: It has to beat Facebook at its own game.

“I think the next thing they need to figure out is how to find the most valuable consumers and crack the targeting nut that Facebook has done so well with,” says Peter Hamilton, CEO of Tune, one of the third-party tools Google now integrates with.

Facebook has accumulated a lot of personal data through its large, active user base. That data translates into highly targeted advertisements. Google also has large swathes of user data, but it hasn’t been able to use it to the same effect that Facebook has on mobile.

In order to ensure it can secure a big share of the mobile ad market, Google is going to have to better understand the way its users behave and why they make the choices they do. That kind of data most easily comes from social settings — an area where Google has so far failed to excel.

That means its upcoming plans for Google+ could be hugely important to its advertising strategy.

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles

Google Partners With Udacity To Launch Android Development Nanodegree

andfund At its I/O developer conference in San Francisco, Google today announced that it has partnered with Udacity to launch a six-course Android development nanodegree. The idea here is to help developers learn how to write apps for Google’s mobile operating system “the right way” up to the point where they could potentially be hired by Google itself. Clearly then, this is not… Read More

Twitter’s Crashlytics now supports Android apps written in C/C++

NDK Crashlytics

Today, Twitter is announcing that its crash reporting tool Crashlytics is adding support for Android’s Native Development Kit and with it, apps coded in C and C++. The announcement coincides with Google’s I/O developer conference, which is currently underway.

Crashlytics already supports Java-based Android apps, but many developers have been waiting for the crash analytics to expand to apps coded in C/C++. Now, the company is rolling out support for NDK over the next few days.

“We perform a deep analysis of each stack trace to identify the most important frames so you can see the exact line of code that caused the crash and quickly address the issue,” the company said in a statement.

Twitter says that developers already using Crashlytics won’t have to download new plugins or build tools; instead, devs will just have to add a few lines of code to Gradle and Ant builds. Twitter says it will pull in all the necessary dependencies automatically.

If you’re not building from a standard integrated development environment, Crashlytics will still be able to onboard your app by auto-provisioning your keys and onboarding the app from the command line.

A big component of this update is that Twitter is promising to keep developer code safe. Rather than analyzing unstripped binaries uploaded to its servers, Crashlytics will generate the symbols it needs client-side and then upload the necessary information to its servers. This gives devs more control over what gets uploaded and also reduces the amount of information Twitter’s servers have to handle — a win/win.

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles

Chrome 43 for Android arrives with touch to search, faster Google Wallet checkout, and drops Android 4.0 support

If you’re not reaching, engaging, and monetizing customers on mobile, you’re likely losing them to someone else. Register now for the 8th annual MobileBeat, July 13-14, where the best and brightest will be exploring the latest strategies and tactics in the mobile space.

Following the release of Chrome 43 for desktop last week, Google today launched Chrome 43 for Android. You can download the new version now directly from Google Play.

First and foremost, Chrome for Android has gained a new feature called touch to search. It’s quite straightforward: You can now learn more about words and phrases on websites by simply touching them on your screen.

Next up, Chrome for Android now has a faster checkout process. You can now quickly and securely complete checkout forms by leveraging data you’ve already entered into Google Wallet.

The app has also received the usual “bug fixes and speedy performance improvements.” Last but not least, Chrome now only supports Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and higher.

That means all of the above tweaks will not be made available to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich users. Chrome 42 is the last version of Chrome to support Android 4.0, which was released in December 2011.

When Chrome first arrived as a beta for Android devices in February 2012, it was only available for ICS, the latest version of Android at the time. Since then, Google has released 24 new Chrome versions and three new major Android versions (Jelly Bean, KitKat, and Lollipop).

In short, Google has found that developing new features on older phones has become increasingly challenging and takes time away from building experiences on the devices owned by most Android users. The FAQ adds a bit more detail:

While the number of Ice Cream Sandwich devices is shrinking, supporting them in terms of engineering effort and technical complexity is increasingly difficult over time. Each new feature or web capability that’s added to Chrome must be built and tested for ICS. Often workarounds and special cases have to be added specifically for ICS, and that adds code complexity, slows performance, and increases development time. The number of ICS devices is now sufficiently small that we can better serve our users by phasing out support for earlier devices and focusing on making Chrome better for the vast majority of users on more modern devices.

According to Google’s Platform Versions page, which is based on data gathered from the Google Play Store app, ICS had 5.3 percent adoption at the start of this month. As we noted before, Google’s decision to drop Android 4.0 support could push third-party app developers to following suit.

Google is expected to announce the latest release of its mobile operating system, Android M, tomorrow. We may even see a glimpse of upcoming Chrome for Android features, given how important the browser is to the platform.

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles

Microsoft partners with LG, Sony, other OEMs to sell Android tablets featuring Office, OneDrive, Skype

Office Android tabs
If you’re not reaching, engaging, and monetizing customers on mobile, you’re likely losing them to someone else. Register now for the 8th annual MobileBeat, July 13-14, where the best and brightest will be exploring the latest strategies and tactics in the mobile space.

Microsoft announced today that it’s signed up 20 more hardware partners to sell Android tablets with its Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype apps included out-of-the-box.

The news follows Microsoft’s announcement in March that it had gotten Samsung, Dell, and several regional hardware makers to sell Android devices packed with those same Microsoft apps.

“Today I’m excited to announce that 20 additional global and local OEM partners, including LG, Sony, Haier, Positivo and Wortman, will make Microsoft productivity applications and services available on their Android tablets. These 31 partners will offer Android tablets pre-installed with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype in the near future,” Nick Parker, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s original equipment manufacturer division, wrote in a blog post today. “They will be available on a new LG tablet, and Sony will include them on their Xperia Z4 tablet in the next 90 days.”

The announcement shows how committed Microsoft is to getting its apps preinstalled on mobile devices that aren’t running Windows. That’s been a clear theme for the past several months — consider, for example, the company’s push to bring free Office apps to iPad, iPhone, Android tablets and phones.

The timing is interesting — it’s coming just a few days before Google’s I/O developer conference.

In addition to LG and Sony, here are the other new OEM partners in the Microsoft Android tablet deal:


Worldwide Smartphone Growth To Slow In 2015, As China Reaches Saturation

china iphone apple The writing has been on the wall for some time, but analysts at IDC are again confirming today that the worldwide smartphone market will continue to see its overall growth slowing in 2015. The firm says that global smartphone shipments will grow just 11.3% this year, down from 27.6% the year prior. The changes are attributed, in part, to the Chinese smartphone market reaching saturation,… Read More

Android M’s internal codename is Macadamia Nut Cookie

Enterprise companies tackle mobile marketing automation slightly differently—and that's why they're on top. Register today for this free VB Insight webinar with AEG's VP of Social and Marketing on May 28th.

Later this week at its I/O 2015 developer conference, Google is expected to announce Android M. We don’t know yet know what version number it will have (likely either Android 5.2 or Android 6.0) nor what the M will stand for.

It appears that the current codename is Macadamia Nut Cookie (MNC). At the time of writing, there are at least 10 mentions of the mnc-dev branch in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), even though everywhere else we’ve seen Google refer to the upcoming version as simply Android M (just like Android L before it).

Google started naming its Android versions after desserts and sweets more than six years ago. Here are all the releases so far:

  • Android 1.5 Cupcake (April 2009)
  • Android 1.6 Donut (September 2009)
  • Android 2.0/2.1 Éclair (October 2009, January 2010)
  • Android 2.2 Froyo (May 2010)
  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread (December 2010)
  • Android 3.0/3.1/3.2 Honeycomb (February 2011, May 2011, July 2011)
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (October 2011)
  • Android 4.1/4.2/4.3 Jelly Bean (July 2012, November 2012, July 2013)
  • Android 4.4 KitKat (October 2013)
  • Android 5.0/5.1 Lollipop (November 2014, March 2015)

Much like how Key Lime Pie (KLP) was the placeholder for KitKat and Lemon Meringue Pie (LMP) was discussed before Lollipop, Macadamia Nut Cookie is unlikely to be the final name. In fact, we may not even learn what Google plans to call Android M this week; recently, the company has chosen to announce a final name long after first unveiling the new version.

What do you want Android M to be called and what do you think Google will end up choosing? Here are a few options: Mars bar (hopefully not as we already had one chocolate partnership), macaroon, marshmallow, milkshake, mint, muffin, marzipan, mooncake, mango sorbet, and so on.

I personally vote for Mint or Muffin because they’re the shortest. Milkshake wouldn’t surprise me though, as Google could use the term to market that the latest version “shakes” things up (lame, I know, but that’s advertising for you).

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles

Screenshots of Google’s new Photos app for Android leak

Enterprise companies tackle mobile marketing automation slightly differently—and that's why they're on top. Register today for this free VB Insight webinar with AEG's VP of Social and Marketing on May 28th.

Google’s new Photos app is coming soon as a separate experience from Google+. Screenshots of the Android version leaked today, courtesy of Android Police, and there is a lot to show.

We’ve heard rumors that Google+’s image functions may be spun out into a standalone photo service since at least August 2014. In March, Sundar Pichai, senior vice president for products at Google, said the company is going to put a renewed focus on photos. “Photos are a big use case,” Pichai said. “So we are going to say this is the stream now.”

Google Photos will likely launch on mobile (Android with iOS likely to follow) and maybe on the Web too at (which currently redirects to The new Photos app starts up by showing a new pinwheel animation:


Just like in Google+, the app lets users search (including for specific people, animals, and objects), back up your photos automatically, and manage your photos. Users can view their photos by day or month, as well as in a “comfortable view” which shows photos by day in a staggered grid.

The app also supports the ability to pinch your way into photos, swipe out of them, and even drag to select multiple photos too:


Auto Awesome (released at Google I/O 2013), a feature that applies special effects to photos and creates new viewing experiences with them, is being renamed to “Assistant.” In addition to the existing feature set, it lets users create albums, movies, stories, animations, and collages.

The editing interface has also been revamped: in addition to the usual still filters and adjustments, the cropping interface has a new rotation wheel and now snaps to various aspect ratios. Last but not least, the new app includes photo and video link sharing with privacy controls.


We may see Google Photos at Google’s I/O 2015 in just a few days. Since the event is a developer conference though, if the product does launch there, the company will detail how to leverage the new service.

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles

This guy put Windows XP on an Android smartwatch

Enterprise companies tackle mobile marketing automation slightly differently—and that's why they're on top. Register today for this free VB Insight webinar with AEG's VP of Social and Marketing on May 28th.

YouTube user Dave Bennett loves everything about his Android smartwatch, except for the operating system. It has too many smartwatch-relevant functions, adapts properly to the small screen size, and is frankly just too modern.

So Bennett decided to put Windows XP, an OS released 13 years ago, on his LG G Watch:

As you can see, the touchscreen works when you try to move the cursor. That’s something I frankly wasn’t expecting, and it’s quite impressive to see.

To pull off the feat, Bennett used the Bochs emulator to load “a very slimmed down version of Windows XP — we’re talking only 100MB in size.” He cut out the GUI, leaving just the windowed command line with the help of boot disk software WinBuilder.

This was necessary because loading a 1.5GB file would have taken over 12 hours from Android Debug Bridge (ADB) over Bluetooth to Android Wear. In fact, even if he bothered doing that, just booting Windows XP would have taken eons.

Given that the LG G Watch is one of the first Android Wear devices, and it’s not getting many new Android Wear features such as Wi-Fi support, this is all the more impressive. If the smartwatch is becoming obsolete, you might as well give it an obsolete operating system.

“This has no practical use whatsoever, but this is a proof-of-concept to show that, look, this is really cool,” Bennett said. “Something that once took lots of components and different parts can now easily run on your wrist.”

Kudos to you, Bennett — kudos.

Global smartphone purchases only grew 7 percent in Q1 as China sales sputtered

apple china

While the number of smartphones purchased globally in the first quarter of 2015 grew 7 percent, that’s a sharp drop from the 34 percent growth posted in the first quarter of 2014.

According to a new report from German market research firm GfK, 310 million smartphones were purchased between January and March 2015. While smartphone sales tend to be seasonal, the rate of growth is still below the overall 23 percent growth in units sold for all of 2014.

GfK pegged a big chunk of the problem on China where it said sales of phones on 3G networks have become saturated. Sales of phones for 4G networks have not picked up the slack due to a slower-than-expected rollout of the faster wireless service.

The number of smartphones sold in China fell 14 percent during Q1, according to GfK’s data.

smartphone sales

If correct, the numbers make Apple’s monster second quarter (which runs January to March) seem even more remarkable. The company reported it sold 61.2 million iPhones, smashing its own previous record and most expectations.

Overall, worldwide growth was driven to a large degree by phones with a larger screen size, a good indicator for Apple on the heels of the larger iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus it rolled out last year.

GfK predicts sales in China will pick up in the second half of the year as 4G rollout ramps back up.

If there is one omen for Apple in the number, it’s that smartphones priced under $250 continue to increase market share, up to 56 percent in Q1 2015 from 52 percent in Q4 2014, according to GfK.

For the moment, though, Apple has had no trouble bucking the cheaper smartphone trend. That’s an area where Microsoft and Android phones are competing.

Going forward, GfK projects the number of smartphones purchased will grow about 10 percent in 2015.

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles