Archive for the 'Android' Category
[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Android UX and interaction design leads Helena Roeber and Rachel Garb gave a talk at Google I/O this year about the Android Design Principles (ADP) they helped create and introduced back in 2012 with the launch of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The ADP foll three simple principles, essentially “enchat, simplify and amaze,” but there’s much more to those principles that that relatively slippery and non-scientific language might lead you to believe.
In fact, Garb and Roeber have based the ADP on compelling recent research that suggests eliciting negative emotional responses have an outsized effect on user experience, and require lots more counterbalance in terms of positive experiences to achieve a net positive, or even net zero lasting impression.
The Math Of Joy
They cited a John Gottman study that found successful marriages maintain around a 5:1 ration of pleasant feelings to bad, whereas those with more like a 1:1 ration have a far greater chance of ending in divorce. Another study they cited offers insight into team productivity, which suggests that positive-to-negative interactions in a work group setting operating in at least a 3:1 ratio result in much more productive teams than those with more negative experiences. Finally, they suggested that humans need three positive experiences to compensate for every bad one.
A lot of that may sound obvious when simplified; it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that designers and app builders should strive to please their audiences. But the execution of enacting that pleasure is where things get interesting, and where Roeber and Garb’s insight really shone through. It’s one thing to say “okay, we won’t anger a user here, and we’ll make them happy instead,” and quite another to actually do it.
Putting Theory Into Action
Hearing them describe it, the ADP almost came about under a sort of moral obligation. Roeber described how the teams in charge of Android UX and interaction found that tech now has “a profound impact” on all of our lives, and as such, when things go wrong, we have a tendency to blame ourselves, and that can have a subtle but ultimately strong impact on people’s wellbeing.
“All those non-ideal implementations eroded people’s confidence in their own abilities and caused frustration,” she said, describing how even small things that you might not think that much about ultimately leave you with a tick in the negative column if left unresolved. So if you can’t figure out what you’ve done wrong in setting up Gmail on your phone, for instance, that’s something you’ll carry, and something that requires that much more to negate in terms of the overall karmic balancing act.
The example offered by the presenters of how exactly this works in action in Android right now is the visual signal given for when you’ve hit the last of your home screens. Android users will know that you’re greated with a blue glow animation and a visual representation of a page turning up to suggested nothing underneath. It’s clear in what it indicates, but it’s less accusatory or finger-pointing than a text alert, Roeber explained, which can still make users feel admonished and leave them internalizing some blame.
Another example meant to explain how interface elements can not only minimize or eliminate bad feelings, but actually generate good ones was the Google Now art which occupies the search box when you call up Android’s digital personal assistant. It changes based on both location and time of day, and Roeber and Garb explained that in testing, the produced a reaction of wonder and enjoyment not just the first time it was encountered by users in testing, but every time after that as well, thanks to its dynamic nature. Experiences like this rack up positive emotions on the part of the user.
The Interface As The Ultimate Customer Service Rep
Essentially, what Roeber and Garb described in their chat is a means of combining the best possible way of tiptoeing around a potentially negative interaction with positive ones that excite and delight. It’s a simple calculus designed to result in an overwhelmingly net positive experience, the ultimate aim of which isn’t just to minimize the negative impact of the tech we now use constantly, but also to add points in the wins column that can be used to offset negative interactions that happen anywhere in our lives. The ADP isn’t conceived as a way to make using apps not suck, in other words; it’s actually designed to turn Android into a means of spreading happiness.
That’s an ambitious goal, but it’s impossible to deny that the experience of using Android on a daily basis has improved dramatically since the introduction of the ADP. And all of these improvements serve to illustrate how mobile software is perhaps at its best when it’s acting as the idealized customer service representative: friendly and informal, but not overly familiar; attentive to and anticipatory of your needs; gentle and kind when you’re barking up the wrong tree. A truly great customer service experience leaves you feeling lifted, capable, intelligent and happy. It’s more than fair to expect the same out of our device interactions.
The founders of Valet stayed up all night to get the new API into their app as quickly as possible. Valet launched in April in the Google Play store to help people remember where they parked. It tags your parking location with a pin and reminds you when to pay the parking meter. You can set a timer for your meter and share the location on social media. There is, of course, no guaranteeing you will avoid fines, but it does cut down on the “human error” often responsible for the tickets.
Founder Will Roman recently relocated to San Francisco from Austin, Texas, to work at another startup. After “losing” his car a few times in the unfamiliar city and getting slapped with multiple parking fines, he recruited cofounder Josh Deffibaug, and the two set out to build Valet.
The app received mention on Gizmodo and a couple of Android blogs for its “simplicity and beauty” and was attracting a good number of users through word-of-mouth. But when Roman and Deffibaugh heard the news about Google’s new location APIs, they saw an exciting opportunity.
“Everyone who drives can appreciate this,” Roman said in an interview. “Parking tickets suck, and so does forgetting where you parked on a busy day, when visiting a new city, or after a night of drinking. With integration of the new Google Play Services location API’s, all features can be automated on over 95 percent of Android devices thereby preventing you from ever loosing your vehicle or getting a parking ticket again. We’re the only parking app in the world to integrate the Google Play Services location API’s.”
The location application programming interfaces (API) are part of Google Play Services, a tool kit for Android developers. Integrating location-sensing features to your app can be challenging and Google’s fused location provider “intelligently manages the underlying location technology” to make building location-aware app easier and less energy-intensive. The technology combines GPS with on-phone sensors like the gyroscope, accelerometer, and barometer to collect your movement data and deliver a more accurate, immediate, and power-efficient application.
Using “Activity Recognition,” your phone can figure out whether you are walking, cycling, or driving which has clear applications for fitness apps. The Valet founders realized that the same technology could be used to tell when a car goes from driving to park mode, and can automatically drop a pin in your parking spot without you having to push a button.
“The new location APIs are more accurate, simpler to integrate, and back ported,” Roman said. “They solve a lot of the fragmentation issues of Android and enabled us to cater to the broadest market possible with even better reliability than previously possible.”
Competitors include iCarPark, Car Finder AR, Find My Car Smarter, Car Locator, Where Did I Park. Valet is based in San Francisco, where parking does in fact suck.
Filed under: Business, Entrepreneur, Mobile
Google has gone from a company that approached design through cold, hard data to one that’s employing gorgeous, user-centric interfaces.
Design was a big theme at this year’s Google I/O developer conference, with over a dozen sessions exploring design in some fashion. And you can see Google’s new aesthetic focus in plenty of its products — like Gmail’s slight redesign and the upcoming Google Maps refresh — but Android serves as the fastest example of Google’s design turnaround.
Perhaps it’s because design matters all the more on a small smartphone screen. With Android, Google also had to do something about Apple’s head start with iOS. To get Android to look as good at the iPhone, Google had to radically reshape how it thought of design, and fast. Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich,” released in 2011, was Google’s first attempt to emphasize design in its mobile OS. Its aesthetic has only become more refined since then.
Google being Google, it’s also obsessively focused on the function of its design. Unlike of the old days, where Google went with the design most people liked through rigorous testing, usability is front and center now, with a new focus on cognitive science and user empathy.
Designing to delight on Android
Users brought up a slew of design issues in Android’s first few versions, and Google saw the need for a new direction. Enter Android’s new design principles, co-authored by Google’s Rachel Garb, head of interaction design for Android apps, and Helena Roeber, who previously headed up Android’s user experience research team.
“We thought, what if we turned this long list of shortcomings that bum us out into something that actually inspires us to create beautiful and usable designs,” Garb said during a Google I/O panel yesterday.
Enchant. Simplify. Amaze. With Android 4.0 two years ago, those three seemingly simple principles became the cornerstone of Android’s design.
“We all respond emotionally to every moment we experience, and we experience around 20,000 of these moments every waking day,” Garb said. Negative emotions are so powerful they have the ability to shorten your lifespan, while positive emotions are essential for daily life.
Garb’s goal: to make sure Android serves as a fount of positive experiences. That was a big departure from Android’s earlier days, when it was complicated, technical, and far from user friendly.
As one example, Google developed a subtle animation in the Android home screen to tell users when they’ve reached the end of their available screens. If there was no indication, users could get frustrated. The new animation delighted users so much that they ended up playing around with it just for fun.
“Not only did it tell them they did everything right, it also kind of helped establish the virtual spaces and provided the feedback in an elegant, subtle, and non-disruptive way,” Roeber said.
Google also added a full-time writer to the design team to take charge of all of the user-viewable text in Android. With short words, active verbs, and common nouns, the writer helped transform Android into an environment more suited for typical, non-technical users.
For example, a setting that used to read “Use tactile feedback” was changed to the more human-readable “Vibrate on touch.” Similarly, a warning that used to read “You didn’t insert a SIM card” now simply prompts “Insert SIM card now.”
You can see all the new design principles at work in Google Now, Android’s predictive search virtual assistant. Enabling it simply takes one click on your Android phone (Simplify), and afterwards it simply presents relevant information when you need it (Enchant). Its interface is sparse, consisting of only the cards you need to see at any particular time. Google Now also learns from your behavior to get better over time (Amaze).
Better design through science
“All of our evolution has been optimized for the types of things we’re likely to see,” said Alex Faaborg, a Google designer with a background in cognitive science and machine learning. Speaking at an I/O panel focused on cognitive science and design, he discussed a few examples of how tiny decisions take advantage of human perception to create a better user experience.
Gestalt psychology principles play a significant role in Google’s designs. For example, Google is using white space more liberally across its products to group items (consider that bit of space between Google search results). In Android, it’s taking advantage of our ability to automatically complete shapes for things like form entries (boring rectangular boxes are out, now you just see the bottom portion of a text entry line). Similar objects, like the stars and check boxes in Gmail, are grouped together to make them easier for us to scan.
Even those small notifications you get in Google Docs along the side of the edges of your screen are backed by cognitive science. Faaborg pointed out that we see peripheral motion faster than what we’re looking at directly, so it makes sense to keep your notifications along the edges of the screen.
About half of Faaborg’s talk focused on vision, while the other half focused on attention, focus, and memory. Google learned that repetition may be a better way to teach simple concepts to users, instead of just offering a single tutorial up front. For example, a repeated alert in new Android phones tells users where they can find all of their apps. Previously, users would skip through the short introductory screen.
“Consistency is not critical — you don’t need to build products identical to what’s on the marketplace,” Faaborg noted at the end of his chat, in a takeaway that also tells us a lot about how Google views design now. He urged developers to build innovative designs and trust that their audiences will be able to understand them. “People are smart,” he said.
Is it enough?
While Google’s design breakthroughs have led to some major changes internally, its competition hasn’t been sitting still.
Apple, a company practically synonymous with excellent product design, will likely see a major style evolution now that Jony Ive is in charge of design company-wide. According to rumors, this year’s iOS 7 could be a major overhaul more in line with Ive’s aesthetic (a love of simple and flat designs).
With Windows 8, Microsoft made a radical design shift as well, bringing elements from its slick Windows Phone operating system to the desktop. Microsoft just announced that it sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses in its first six months on the market, which is in line with Windows 7 sales. With its support for tablets and traditional computers, Windows 8′s design could continue to pay off for Microsoft as personal computing trends change over the next few years.
No matter what Google does, it can’t please everyone. But now, at least, Google is trying.
Photos: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat: Top image: Google
Filed under: Business, Dev, Mobile
Last week, Facebook showed off its Home software for the first time. It allows you to see full-screen updates from friends on the your home screen, send messages, and more things that are key to the Facebook experience.
In a short review of the HTC First, the first phone with Home pre-installed, we gave Home high marks for making Android playful and helpful immerse us in Facebook news feed items that we’d normally miss. However, we still have some reservations about privacy on the device and how much personal and location data will be shared with Facebook.
Here’s the full list of phones that Facebook Home can be downloaded for (for now) from the Google Play store:
- HTC One X
- HTC One X+
- Samsung Galaxy S III
- Samsung Galaxy Note II
Facebook has said that Home will eventually be available for the blockbuster HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S IV phones. Additionally, the HTC First became available from AT&T today for $100 with a two-year contract.
Screenshot via Facebook
Filed under: Mobile, Social
Facebook Home’s Chat Heads are coming to Android — only without Facebook Home attached.
Facebook has added the feature to the latest version of its Android Messenger app, which now works largely the same as it does within Facebook Home: When people send you messages, their Chat Heads pop up over whatever app you’re using. Once you click them, Messenger app opens up, letting you chat to your leisure.
I used the feature on a Nexus 7, and the whole experience seemed pretty zippy, and, surprisingly, not at all annoying. This is the same experience VentureBeat’s Jolie O’Dell had when she tried out the function in her review of the HTC First. Somehow, Facebook has found a way to make persistent chat notifications — which I am instinctually wary of — a decent experience.
Of course, it helps that the chat head notifications don’t hop up and down like they would on, say OS X, nor do they flash alarmingly as they would on Windows. Instead they sit, mostly patiently for you do click, drag, or dismiss them. Color me a fan.
It’s not all perfect, however. One thing Messenger doesn’t handle very well so far is situations where you’re having a conversation with someone across both SMS and Facebook chat. In these situations, Facebook treats multi-source conversations like different threads — even if they’re with the same person. That’s a bit disappointing, and sort of throws a wrench in the largely seamless Chat Heads/Messenger experience.
The whole thing isn’t exactly”people first”, and hopefully it’s something that Facebook fixes somewhere down the line.
Filed under: Mobile, Social
“This is not a Facebook Phone.” Yeah, whatever. The HTC First is the first phone that has Facebook partnering up with an OEM to bake an Android pie with Facebook Home filling, so I’m calling it the Facebook Phone. There will be more. This is just the first. And guess what?
It’s really good.
Sitting through the Facebook Home announcement last week, before I got a chance to play with a device, I thought it was a smart maneuver by Facebook to use Android’s openness to their advantage — to put their own social layer on top of the OS. It’s not forking Android, more like spooning with it.
But given that this was their first stab at the product, and given some of the woes many of the OEMs have had doing Android skins, I honestly wasn’t expecting too much. Maybe down the road, after a few iterations. But not now.
But again, it’s really good.
Regular readers will know my predilection for the iPhone. I think it’s not only the best smartphone ever made, but the best device ever made, period (though the iPad is close). The iPhone started out fantastic and has just gotten better over time with each iteration.
Android, on the other hand, started out as sort of a nightmare. The G1 was like a weird Sidekick/iPhone hybrid with a half-baked OS. In the subsequent years, Google has come a lot farther than Apple has, only because they started so low. The most recent “pure” Android device, the Nexus 4, is excellent. The hardware is solid, the OS is better. It’s still not quite iPhone-good yet, in my mind. But it brings the two sides closer than they’ve ever been.
So where does the Facebook Phone fit in?
It’s a complicated question to answer because it really depends on what type of user you are and what you’re looking for out of a smartphone. So again, I’ll just give my take as an addicted iPhone user. I like the HTC First with Facebook Home (the official name, I think) more than the Nexus 4, but less than the iPhone 5.
From a pure hardware perspective, there’s no question that both the Nexus 4 and the iPhone 5 run laps around the HTC First. (I assume you can sub the Galaxy SIII, SIV, and HTC One in here as well, though I don’t have much experience with those devices.) As you can tell from the spec page, the First isn’t as fast as any of those devices. Nor is the camera as good. Nor is the storage as plentiful. Etc.
Using the First, you’ll notice some lag within apps and the core OS itself that you don’t experience on the iPhone 5 or the Nexus 4. But I’ve been very impressed with how well Facebook has gotten their own Home animations to work on this hardware (more on that below).
In terms of build quality, I actually quite like the HTC First. In my hand, it reminds me of the Nexus One, which was for a long time my favorite piece of Android hardware (only recently passed by the Nexus 4). Compared to the other, larger-screen Android devices that are popular these days, it feels small, but not too small.
The screen is actually slightly larger (4.3-inches versus 4-inches) than the screen on the iPhone 5. And the pixel density is a bit higher (341 PPI versus 326 PPI). It’s a great screen. And because it’s only slightly wider than the iPhone 5 screen, I’m enjoying using it in one hand more than I do with the wider Nexus 4.
I’ve found the battery of the HTC First to be excellent. Yes, even with the screen constantly displaying and rotating big images and with AT&T LTE constantly on.
But let’s be honest, no one is buying this device because of the hardware. That it’s perfectly nice and adequate is just a cherry on top.
The key to the HTC First, of course, is Facebook Home. While Facebook is purposefully downplaying it — “It’s not an OS.” — to regular users, this will absolutely feel like a new OS from the moment you turn it on.
When you turn the device on, you log in with both your Facebook and Google credentials. Once that’s done, every time you turn on the First, you’ll see a collection of big, beautiful images constantly rotating on the screen. These are all pulled from your Facebook friends. If they’ve posted pictures to Facebook, those will show up here. Or if they’ve simply left a status message, that will show up with their profile cover photo behind it. This all looks really, really good.
And it’s surprisingly addictive. Because you can swipe to scroll through these images/statuses all without unlocking the phone, I’ve found myself doing this each day that I’ve been testing the phone more than I care to admit. The fact that you can double-tap to “like” any of these (an action taken right out of the Instagram playbook) is even more addicting.
Let me be clear, I’m not what I would consider a heavy Facebook user — or even a moderately heavy one. I browse the service from time-to-time and post things there every once in a while. I think Facebook Home has me using it more than I ever have in my life. Maybe it’s the novelty of it over these first few days. But I think Facebook has really nailed the interaction element on the home screen. I actually wish I could use Instagram and other visual feeds this way as well (of course, Instagram pictures shared to Facebook are a part of this main screen experience).
You can also comment on any photo/status right from this home screen (technically called “Cover Feed”).
The other element you’ll notice here is a big circular picture of your face (or whatever your Facebook profile picture is) at the bottom of this Cover Feed. When you tap it, it brings up three options: move your face up to get to your apps, move it left to get to Facebook Messenger, move it right to return to whatever you were doing last before you re-entered Cover Feed.
If you move your face up, to apps, this is where you’ll finally see something that looks like Android. But it’s not entirely like Android. It’s a page filled with Android apps, but along the top are the standard “Status”, “Photo”, and “Check In” buttons that will be familiar to any Facebook user. This is normally where the Google Search bar goes on Android devices. Instead, that’s somewhat buried in a screen to the left.
On this main screen is where Facebook Home instructs you to put your favorite Android apps. Included are what you’d expect: Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, alongside the Google standards like Chrome, Maps, and the Google app itself (better known to some as the home of Google Now). Also here you’ll find the Camera, Gallery, Settings, Play Store, Phone, and a couple other stock Android OS apps.
You can create more of the app collection pages to the right of the main page. And to the left (where the Google Search bar is), you’ll find a scrolling list of all your apps.
So yes, some of this feels like Android. But again, it also feels different. And I really like that.
To me, one problem I’ve always had with Android is that at its fundamental level, it draws directly from the look of iOS. It’s rows of app icons. Yes, widgets and a few other things have since been added, but I’m always still looking at the screen and thinking of Android as a slightly less responsive and polished iOS.
Facebook Home is different thanks to the Cover Feed, which lays on top of the app screen. And on top of that are the beautiful, elegant notifications that Facebook has created. Simply put: I like them more than both Android and iOS notifications. They feature big, clear app icons (or a person’s face if it’s a Facebook notification) and a snippet of the message you’re receiving.
These notifications stack in reverse chronological order, as you’d expect. You can swipe them away. Or you can hold one down to collapse them all on top of one another to swipe them all away.
If you tap on one, it flips over and asks if you want to open that app. One more tap does that. This is where things start to get a little weird.
If you have a password enabled to protect your phone, you’ll be prompted to enter it before you can enter the app. But what’s odd is that if you simply swipe up to get to your list of apps, you don’t have to enter your password until you click on one in particular. In other words, sometimes you’ll be asked to enter your password from the app list, sometimes before it. I get it: Facebook doesn’t want you to be able to use an app before you enter this password, but it’s weird to prompt for it at different levels.
Even weirder is that you can actually do a few types of Facebook actions — both liking and commenting — without entering any password. In fact, there’s no way to password protect these actions, as far as I can tell. Facebook says that you’ll need to enter your password before leaving a status message or posting a photo yourself, but someone could definitely take your phone and leave comments galore on your friends pictures, no questions asked.
This is a direct result of Facebook Home laying on top of Android. The security here is still on the Android layer beneath the Home surface. I suspect Facebook will add the option to put some security on their Home layer as well.
Another awkward thing about this Home-to-Android handoff is that if the phone is unlocked, you can hold down the middle home “button” (it’s not actually a button, it’s a haptic area below the screen, standard on most Android devices) to bring up the Google App (which includes both a big Search bar and Google Now, if you have it enabled). But if the phone is locked, holding this down does nothing. It doesn’t even prompt you to enter your password.
The same is true with double-tapping this button. If the phone is unlocked, this brings up a list of your most recently used apps. If the phone is locked, this does nothing.
A few times I found myself in no-man’s land because of this handoff as well. I would try to run something from a notification and for whatever reason, the unlock screen just wouldn’t come up. So I had to go back to the Cover Feed area. Not a huge deal, but again, awkward.
I also found it awkward that the HTC First haptic buttons don’t function in the same way that they do on other Android devices that I’ve used. For example, the far right button usually brings up a list of running apps. Here, again, you do that by double-tapping the center button. The far right button is instead a settings button on this device.
Back to the good stuff: Chat Heads. Awful name not withstanding, this is absolutely how messaging should be done on a smartphone. Rather than making you open a separate app to get and respond to messages, Chat Heads put a user’s face (in the shape of a small, circular icon, just like your face on Cover Feed) on top of whatever you’re doing on your phone. Browsing the web on Chrome? Up pops a face with a snippet of the message. Click on the face to open an overlaid chat session. Click on the face again to minimize it to the circular icon (which can remain “alive” clinging to any corner of the screen). Brilliant.
This even works with multiple conversations at once. And, of course, group conversations. I suspect we’ll see a lot of other players in the mobile space copy all or some of this implementation. Again, this is how chat on a smartphone should be done.
What really pushes Facebook Home into the good product category for me though is the little touches. Elements like Cover Feed not only look gorgeous, they’re highly responsive and even a bit playful. For example, when you move your face icon around the screen, the action items (“Apps”, “Messenger”, “Back”) will be drawn towards your face depending on which direction you’re moving. It’s a bit like a black hole getting close enough to a star to swallow it. In other words, it gives you the illusion of gravity.
Likewise, double-tapping to “like” something within Cover Feed brings up a nice big “thumbs up” overlay. And this is accompanied by a water droplet sound. Simple, but again, playful. The same is true of all the system “clicks”.
These touches, while seemingly trivial, give me the same type of feeling I get when using iOS. You can tell that a lot of time and care has been put into the user experience here and it shows, in spades.
And again, you cannot overstate how smooth everything feels. In my experience, even with the Nexus 4, this has not always been the case with Android. What’s odd is that this isn’t even technically the latest version of Android. This is 4.1, not 4.2. (I’m told that Facebook will move fast to ensure that Home is compatible with the latest Android releases after they come out.)
The Android apps themselves can still feel a bit sluggish or jittery at times — again, this isn’t the fastest hardware out there. But all of the Facebook layer performs wonderfully. (And, to be clear, I had no problem getting every Android app I downloaded to run.)
So, will I replace the iPhone with the Facebook Phone? No. But again, I’m just not a heavy Facebook user. I’m impressed that this phone got me more into the service, but not impressed enough to give up the iOS universe.
I’m also not the target market of this phone. And if you’re reading this, I doubt you are either.
Still, it’s hard to believe this is only Facebook’s first take at Home. This is a very polished and impressive first entry into the space. I’ll be curious to see Facebook Home running on other hardware like the Galaxy SIV, but I think the fact that you won’t be able to get third-party notifications would be a deal-breaker for me.
I think the success of this first Facebook Phone will ultimately come down to how much marketing muscle Facebook, AT&T, and HTC put behind it. The first commercial is already out there in heavy rotation. And I suspect those AT&T stores will be erecting some big Facebook Phone tents any day now. This is a good product, so marketing will help drive sales. They just need to get it in customers hands, trying it out.
Facebook has said they plan to update Home at an aggressive pace. That’s great news. It’s nice to have another innovator in the space, even if they aren’t building their own phones or OSes. That’s a technicality. To most people, this will sure feel like a Facebook Phone. And for now, the Facebook Phone. And given the quality of the work here, I see this all as nothing but a good thing.
Today, Microsoft has leveled more accusations about Google’s practices by way of its “Scroogled” campaigns. This time, the complaints are about how Google handles users’ data when they purchase an application from Google Play.
Previous “Scroogled” campaigns have targeted both Gmail and search over ads and privacy.
In the two videos below, Microsoft uses animations and words to walk you through “what might happen” if your data were to end up in the wrong people’s hands. It’s a fear campaign, and it really doesn’t have any basis whatsoever.
Take a look at the videos and we’ll get into what actually happens when you buy an app from Google Play.
In the second video, a “real life” situation is played out on the front steps of an apartment building:
A Google spokesperson provided us with the following statement:
Google Wallet shares the information needed to process transactions and maintain accounts, and this is clearly stated in the Google Wallet Privacy Notice.
Why the mention of Google Wallet?
The main difference between Google Play and the Apple App Store is that Google uses its “Wallet” service to process transactions. While it’s not a third-party service in the sense that it’s a different company, it is a function of the process that is not embedded into the Google Play experience. It’s something that users are made aware of in the terms of service and privacy policies when they sign up.
More importantly, when merchants and developers sign up to sell things in Google Play, they must buy into not sharing any of the information that they get, which is name, email address and general location — the things that all companies selling things online need in order to process your transaction and provide support. Better start your attack against Amazon, Etsy and everyone else on the Internet, Microsoft.
The timing is interesting on this, because this is the way that Google Play has always worked. Its privacy policies haven’t changed since last July, in fact.
At the end of the video, if you got that far, you’ll notice that Microsoft ends things with a big “Windows Phone doesn’t do it this way.” Instead of doing an advertisement on how great Windows phones and apps are, Microsoft has decided to go after how “horrible” Google is. The “Scroogled” site even has a big old link to explore Windows Phones. Isn’t that convenient?
If Microsoft was purely trying to protect consumers from having their data “stolen” by nefarious app developers, don’t you think that it would focus on that, rather than trying to drum up business for itself?
You can’t put something on the Internet if it isn’t true, right? Wrong.
Wait, wasn’t that bearded “french” guy the same one that shows up at the end of the second Scroogled video? At least we know who is doing Microsoft’s ads now.
Put those marketing dollars into making great products that people love, Microsoft.
Green Throttle Games is unveiling its first internally produced free-to-play title for its Android-based living room game controller. Hungry Moose Games, a Canadian game studio started by former BioWare developers, has created 9 Lives: Casey and Sphynx to take advantage of Green Throttle’s system for getting mobile games onto your TV.
9 Lives is the tip of the spear for Android games in the living room. As such, it represents an attempt by Green Throttle and Hungry Moose Games to disrupt the traditional $60 games on consoles made by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. It will do so by unleashing free-to-play games from the Android app store, curated and tailored for a big screen experience.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based Green Throttle, co-founded by Guitar Hero co-creator Charles Huang, has made the Atlas game controller (see our coverage) that allows you to play Android games on devices such as the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. You can also plug the device into a TV set with an HDMI cable and play your mobile games on a big screen. Green Throttle has also created an Android app that makes it easier to shop for Android games on your TV.
9 Lives was designed for just such an experience. The point is to make mobile gaming more versatile and social. The puzzle game is about a misfit couple: security guard Casey and Sphynx, the stray cat with an attitude. They risk their nine lives on an archeological adventure in a local museum. You can play on your own or with a friend on the same screen and navigate the duo through a series of puzzles set in ancient Egyptian tombs within the museum.
The title was put together by Hungry Moose Games, a game studio in Edmonton, Canada, that aims to marry the best of console and mobile game experiences.
“We are excited to develop our first title with Green Throttle,” said Ric Williams, co-founder of Hungry Moose Games. ”The challenge of making a game using the latest in hardware technologies that connect your Android device to a TV fits 9 Lives like a glove, and we think gamers will love our misfit characters and device-specific gameplay.”
“We think the Hungry Moose team came up with a really fun concept for a game that will nicely take advantage of the Green Throttle experience,” said Huang (pictured, on right). “Playing local multiplayer on an Android tablet or through the TV will make you connect with Casey and Sphynx in a totally different way. We can’t wait to see this one launch.”
Huang said at our recent Mobile Summit that Green Throttle is leading the charge for Android in the living room, but it needs a lot of help from different companies in the ecosystem.
Check out our video of our on-stage interview with Huang at VentureBeat’s Mobile Summit below.
And here is the Arena software on a Kindle Fire.
Filed under: Business, Games, Mobile, VentureBeat
That’s not the problem with Tumblr’s new Android app, released today to mostly rave reviews.
Tumblr has completely redesigned the new app, and the best part is the post-anything screen that reinforces Tumblr’s reputation as the simplest place to post just about anything. It’s playful, popping out of the bottom-right corner with a cheeky animated reveal that offers options for posting video, images, text, links, quotes, or chatting.
And yet, it’s still simple. And smart.
As UI Parham Aarabi says, the easiest place to reach on a mobile phone is the bottom right – where the icon starts. And notice the curve of icons, nicely approximating the sweep of your right thumb upscreen.
(Frankly, Tumblr should offer a left-handed option.)
The app, as previously, enables you to manage your Tumblr blogs, find and follow other blogs to read, read and respond to messages, and tweet out your latest updates.
Here’s a quick overview, in pictures, of the new Tumblr Android app, which is available on Google Play.
Filed under: Business, Media, Mobile, Social, VentureBeat