Archive for the 'Android' Category

Microsoft Brings OneNote To Android Wearables

Tuesday 16 September 2014 @ 9:56 am
screen-shot-2014-07-02-at-12-03-08-pm I suppose that wearables are the new place where cross-platform tools and services must reside. Today Microsoft brought OneNote to Android Wear devices. You can now OneNote from your watch. If you want to. It looks like this when in use: So now, if you want to shout at your watch in public, you can. You will look so cool. With your smartwatch. That can sometimes understand your voice.… Read More

Google recognizes that its plan for gaming domination hinges on how people pay

Monday 15 September 2014 @ 11:44 am
Google recognizes that its plan for gaming domination hinges on how people pay

Above: Google's gaming boss Bob Meese.

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

SAN FRANCISCO — To reach every corner of the world with the games on its Android platform, Google is thinking about how people pay.

Google’s head of game business development, Bob Meese, says that the key to the success of Android around the world depends largely on providing multiple ways for gamers to shell out money for games. In a talk during the GamesBeat 2014 conference today, Meese noted that Android has a market share when it comes to devices, but he admitted that Apple’s App Store has had an advantage due to having iTunes customers’ payment information for years. To compete, the company is investing in multiple ways for people to pay.

“We have had a great growth period of getting people who are able to associate their payment information with Google Play,” said Meese.

But Google isn’t waiting for everyone to come online with a credit card before enabling them to spend money on Candy Crush Saga or Clash of Clans. Meese noted Google’s work to implement payment methods that are more popular in emerging markets.

“There’s 26 countries where we offer direct carrier billing,” he said. “We have 22 countries where we sell Google Play gift cards, and we have PayPal payments available in 12 different countries.”

Carrier billing is an incredibly popular way for paying for games and in-app purchases in Asia — although this method also works around the world. Direct carrier billing is when gamers go into Google Play and buy something and charge the cost of that item to their phone bill. It doesn’t require a credit card, and it greatly reduces the payment-process friction. Gift cards and PayPal are also popular alternatives.

“[Payments] is an area where we’ve seen improvement and growth,” said Meese. “And it’s an area where we’re investing in.”

Meese touched on how its investment in payments represents a wider trend within Google to improve its tools for the companies making games. These include working to provide developers with ways of understanding how consumers use Google Play as well as localizing games for international markets.

“We want to create opportunities for game developers,” said Meese. “We have these general-purpose platforms at Google, but we can make them smarter for the gaming community.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 2.00.11 PMGamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Tickets are limited!

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

Google launches Android One in India, its plan to bring quality smartphones to everyone

Monday 15 September 2014 @ 5:20 am
Google launches Android One in India, its plan to bring quality smartphones to everyone
Image Credit: Google

Android’s future lies not in expensive, feature-packed smartphones for the tech elite. Instead, it’s all about getting smartphones to the rest of the world.

Google today officially launched Android One, its initiative for cheap-yet-high quality smartphones for developing countries. The program is debuting in India with three cheap devices starting at around $105 off-contract, and the company is also planning to expand the program to Indonesia, the Philippines, and the rest of South Asia by the end of the year.

Cheap Android devices have already helped the platform dominate smartphone market share (85 percent of smartphones shipped in the second quarter ran Android, according to IDC), but with Android One, Google is aiming to bring some stability to the low-end market. It’s similar to Google’s Nexus line, which highlights what Android can do for higher-end phones (while still focusing on relatively inexpensive off-contract pricing).

“Access for access’s sake is not enough,” wrote Google VP Sundar Pichai, who leads Android and Chrome, in a blog post today. “With Android One, we not only want to help people get online, we want to make sure that when they get there, they can tap into the wealth of information and knowledge the web holds for everyone.”

And of course, it also helps that all of those new web users will likely be dependent on Google’s services.

Developing, refresh for updates.

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5 ways Google is leading … and Apple is trailing

Sunday 7 September 2014 @ 7:00 am
5 ways Google is leading … and Apple is trailing

Above: Android fighting off evil

Image Credit: Kalexanderson

The tech press, financial analysts, and the Apple Faithful are all eagerly anticipating Apple’s September 9th media event.

Expectations are running high as Apple prepares to announce it’s 8th-generation iPhone, alongside a wearable and services that aggregate health data and manage connected homes. (Check out our lengthy roundup of all the rumors and tidbits we’re hearing leading up to the iPhone 6 launch.)

Apple, it seems, is leading us all into the future.

And there’s good reason to believe that. With the debut of the iPhone in 2007 Apple launched the mobile revolution that we all enjoy today. 2010’s iPad saw a re-invention of the tablet, the end of the netbook, and the beginning of what’s been rightfully referred to as the Post PC Age – another massive paradigm shift lead by Apple.

But since then, Apple’s done anything but lead.

Today’s mobile tech landscape looks very different from 2007. Larger phones and smallish tablets have been in vogue for some time. Computerized watches and fitness trackers exist in a crowded market. In fact, for the last 18-24 months, every tech trend we mention here has been invented or re-invented by another Silicon Valley giant — Google.

Unless we anticipate a magnificent leapfrog in the usability of these established and growing technology sectors, Apple’s September 9 event will be seen by many as little more than an extremely well-marketed exercise in catch-up.

HTC One M8 hands-on 8

Above: Big-screen Android phones like HTC’s One have been around for years.

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Big-screen phones

It’s widely believed that the September 9 event is primarily about the unveiling of not one but two iPhone devices — a form factor larger in size than the current range of devices (iPhone 5, 5C, and 5S). The reason is simple: Since the debut of the modern smartphone (read: iPhone), screen sizes have been growing right alongside consumer demand for larger devices.

The 4.7” and 5.5” devices we expect Apple to unveil were developed despite Apple’s traditional resistance to this trend. To be sure, Apple’s late founder Steve Jobs (1955-2011) famously stated that there was no market for such devices. “You can’t get your hand around it,” Jobs said in response to questions about a larger smartphone. “No one’s going to buy that,” he concluded.

Nevertheless within a year of his passing, iPhone devices saw saw a modest increase in size to 4” from their predecessors’ previous 3.5” size in order to compete with the likes of the popular upcoming Nexus and HTC devices.

The larger iPhone 6 is a clear example of Apple following the path that Google’s Android devices blazed, rather than leading it.

Google Nexus 7 Android tablet hands-on

Above: Google’s Android platform proved smaller tablets were viable.

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Smaller tablets

Where small tablets (7-9” diagonal) are concerned, Apple’s early miss-steps were impressive. The company’s dismissal of  pervasive evidence that more users would have more interest in a more versatile tablet was surprising. Apple’s leadership lampooned the tablet-using public when stating that users would have to “sand down their fingers” in order to make use of devices like the Nexus 7.

The now infamous Steve Jobs reality distortion field also cropped up with his statements around how people actually use tablets: “All tablet users will already have a smartphone in their pockets, giving up precious display area to fit a tablet in our pockets is clearly the wrong tradeoff.”

With the launch of Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7 tablets in 2012, it became clear that market forces were going to require Apple to produce just such a device it had any interest in staying relevant in the tablet space it created. (Samsung also deserves credit for showing the potential of smaller tablets with its Galaxy Tab line, which launched in 2010.) It’s unclear whether demand fueled rumors or rumors fueled demand, but the launch of the iPad Mini was incredibly successful.

The iPad Mini now reportedly outsells the larger iPad. To this day, 4 of the top 5 best selling tablets on Amazon are in the 7 to 8 inch range.

There’s something to Apple’s strategy here: Despite the 15 million small tablets sold by Apple’s competitors in 2012, the demand showed Apple that, regardless of its early misgivings, there lay an opportunity. Missing out on those 15 million tablet sales could be looked at by some optimists as an investment that allowed Apple to gauge a market they were uncertain about before moving into it.

Google Now on the iPhone

Above: Google Now on the iPhone

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Voice recognition and productivity software

Voice recognition is one of the most compelling technologies emerging today. The promise of the functionality has a magical quality — one that turns your device into a digital friend rather than a digital pocket tool. This would probably explain why users are delighted when voice works and frustrated when it doesn’t.

Voice is an outlier for another reason. Apple’s Siri came first, but many would contend that it was half-baked. Siri was designed as a digital assistant from the start, rising to a higher calling than Google’s June 2011 roll out of Voice Search. The problem here is that Siri continues to fall flat in the face of Google’s voice technology when it comes to accuracy. While both systems will list results, only Google Now will sort those results or give you a retail store’s opening and closing hours.

The new Google Maps app on Android

Above: The new Google Maps app on Android

Image Credit: Google


There’s not much to say here. Google’s turn-by-turn directions gave Android users the ability to navigate with ease for nearly half a decade. Indeed, when Apple was using Google’s map data most iOS users content, despite the lack of turn-by-turn navigation. And while Apple’s invested heavily in its 2012 home grown map solution, Apple Maps continues to struggle in terms of accuracy when compared to Google’s map offering.

To be fair, Apple’s certainly gained map market share against Google’s map solution for iOS devices. But it seems more likely that the adoption is a side effect of the Maps app being the default navigation tool that launches from Mail, Messages, Siri, and other iOS functions.

What is clear is that Apple’s navigation solution was a reaction to a change in Apple’s strategic relationship with Google, rather than an attempt to lead in the space. The Cupertino tech giant was so unprepared for the Maps rollout that it later issued a public apology and encouraged users to download and make use of more reliable apps on the app store.

Motorola's Moto 360 Android smartwatch

Above: Motorola’s Moto 360 Android smartwatch

Image Credit: Motorola


Another example of Google stepping up and donning the mantles of leadership is wearables.  First-mover Pebble (along with a mob of crowdfunding zealots), produced a ground-breaking, viable, computerized watch.

Google took the smartwatch model and created an Android-based platform around it – one that’s growing quickly with a diverse range options and software. These devices, though still in their infancy, have grown smarter over time.

An upcoming Android Wear update will let users leave clunky phones at home while on a jog or a bike ride, in an attempt to penetrate the market that Fitbit now controls with about 40% of fitness gadget share.

Still, Apple’s wearable prospects seem bright. Exciting rumors are delivering hopes of groundbreaking design, mated with features never-before-seen in a wearable device like wireless charging and miniaturized electronics that allow for as many as ten sensors.

Speculation on wearable devices aside, Apple didn’t lead these new tech paradigms. In addition to the large phones, the small tablets and the other trends mentioned above, it’s important to note that it hasn’t led in cloud services. Apple’s music offerings have been fragmented and stale. While it looks like they may take a stab at payments, aside from pairing a fingerprint sensor to it, the technology and functionality is again something we’ve seen before.

All of the above are cases where Apple’s software and interface prowess could have been leveraged to great effect in solving some real consumer pain points, yet over the last few years there’s been nothing out of Cupertino on these matters.

Apple needs to prove it can leapfrog Google on September 9. Otherwise it may not be able to catch up.


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Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

The All New Moto X Arrives Later This Month For $499.99 Unlocked

Thursday 4 September 2014 @ 10:00 pm
Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 6.08.05 PM Motorola is updating its flagship Moto X, and it’s an improvement that makes one of the best deals in mobile even better, even if it doesn’t completely revolutionize what came before. The original Moto X was one of the best phones last year, and despite a change in the company’s ownership from Google to Lenovo, this new Moto X looks to be a worthy successor. Google’s… Read More

The New Moto G Offers A Bigger Screen And Removable Storage At $179.99 Unlocked

Thursday 4 September 2014 @ 10:00 pm
moto-g Along with a new flagship Moto X, Motorola is taking the wraps off its new Moto G today, and the new version of its affordable smartphone continues to be one of the best values in modern mobile devices. Motorola’s new mid-range phone offers a larger 5-inch display with 1280×720 resolution for 294 ppi pixel density, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz,… Read More

Analyst: Mobile-gaming revenues will surpass $21B in 2014 with — guess who? — Asia leading the way

Thursday 4 September 2014 @ 1:50 pm
Analyst: Mobile-gaming revenues will surpass $21B in 2014 with — guess who? — Asia leading the way

Above: Clash of Clans is one of the most-successful mobile games around the world.

Image Credit: Supercell

Asia’s mobile-gaming market is an unstoppable, money-generating monster, and it’s going to push worldwide spending on smartphone apps to new heights over the next few years.

By the end of 2014, mobile gaming will reach revenues of $21.1 billion, according to the analysts at SuperData Research. That represents a 19-percent increase from the $17.7 billion mobile games generated in 2013. Western gamers still tend to spend more money on a per-player basis, but countries like Japan, China, and South Korea are contributing in a big way to the bottom line.

“Much of this growth is due to Asia,” SuperData founder and lead researcher Joost van Dreunen wrote in a report, “which accounts for over half of the worldwide mobile market and its booming smartphone industry as devices become more affordable and ubiquitous in the region.”

Mobile-game revenue in Asia will reach $11.3 billion by the end of 2014, according to SuperData. That number includes in-app purchases as well as money generated by in-game ads. While that is a huge figure, the region still has plenty of room left to grow. China, India, and Russia are all markets that have large portions of their populations still waiting to pick up smartphones. SuperData expects that worldwide gaming revenue will reach $28.2 billion by 2016 as those untapped consumers come online.

Mobile revenues_edited

In the West, meanwhile, SuperData notes that spending is growing by 16 percent from 2013 to 2014. That is still double-digit growth, but it’s slower than the worldwide average.

“Though revenue growth in the U.S. and Canada is stagnating, it will see an 11 percent bump in 2015 as smartphone penetration hits critical mass and players become comfortable with spending more on mobile games,” said van Dreunen.

And it’s not like Western gamers aren’t already comfortable with spending money on mobile. SuperData’s research reveals that the average paying player in the U.K. and U.S. spends far more than just about anywhere else in the world. The intelligence firm explains this by pointing out that U.S. and U.K. are mature tech markets that have both had a long time to get accustomed to the way mobile games work.

“At more than $25 in July, mobile spending in the U.S. and U.K. is more than double that in Brazil, Latin America’s biggest market,” wrote van Dreunen. “The average revenue per paying user [ARPPU] in Russia, Eurasia’s largest mobile market, is just below $20 while the region’s second largest market, Turkey, shows promise as ARPPU steadily increases over the last 12 months.”

With the market expanding in every region, it’s clear why developers and investors continue to rush into the mobile space. If revenue really does reach nearly $30 billion in just a couple of years, the companies establishing a presence now could end up the big winners.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 2.00.11 PMGamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase your ticket now to save $200!

Supercell first started developing games for tablets in 2011, and haven't looked back for a second. Smoosh together all the best parts of gaming from consoles and PCs, add mobility along with a new touch UI and — BOOM — tablets ha... read more », the largest skill gaming site in the world, where you can play free games online in competitive tournaments in categories such as puzzle, strategy, word, action, card and sports games. was founded in 2003 with the... read more »

DrinkMate Is A Tiny, Plug-In Breathalyzer For Android Devices

Saturday 30 August 2014 @ 7:47 am
DrinkMate Devices that plug into smartphones to augment the built-in sensors with additional smarts are continuing to make their way to market, many fueled by crowdfunding. Here’s another contender aiming to extend the capability of Android smartphones: a teeny breathalyzer called DrinkMate, currently seeking $40,000 on Kickstarter to make it to market by December. Read More

Best Buy Briefly Lists The Moto 360 Smart Watch For $249

Sunday 17 August 2014 @ 5:38 pm
Motorola-Moto-360-dal-vivo-10 Best Buy may have inadvertently revealed pricing for the Moto 360 smart watch, set to be unveiled at a press event in early September. The big box retailer put up a listing for the smart watch on their website, which had a full list of specs as well as a $249 price tag. The page was removed shortly after appearing. Luckily, the folks over at DroidLife grabbed a screenshot of the listing. Read More

The Firefox OS Flame Developer Reference Phone Starts Shipping

Thursday 14 August 2014 @ 8:45 am
firefox-flame Firefox OS is a would-be competitor to Android and iOS, the two major mobile platforms out there, with all the challenges that entails, but the process of getting things going has been slow. Today, however, Mozilla has shipped the Flame Developer reference phone to developers who created apps for the platform or pre-ordered the device, and they’re providing video tutorials for new… Read More

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