How Apple, Google, and Microsoft used each others’ app stores in 2015

apps

Apple, Google, and Microsoft have very different app development strategies, in alignment with their respective business models. Last year, we took a look at the trio’s app stores to see how the three develop for each others’ competing platforms. We’re doing it again this year to see what, if anything, has changed.

Up until last year, Apple didn’t bother making apps for Android at all. The company now has three apps on Google Play (Move to iOS, Beats Pill+, and Apple Music). That said, Apple continues to ignore the Windows Store.

Google brings almost all of its major apps from Android to iOS, offering solid experiences on both. The company also shuns the Windows Store, with the exception of Google Search.

Microsoft, meanwhile, continues to develop apps for all three platforms, though, of course, the company still prefers its own. As in 2014, Microsoft this year offered more iOS apps than Google. And once again, both Microsoft and Google offer more iOS apps than Apple does in its own store.

Without further ado, here’s a snapshot of how many apps the three companies had made available in each store at the end of 2015:

apple_google_microsoft_apps_2015

To compile this chart, we tallied up the number of apps published by these companies in each of the three app stores. We’re counting apps listed in the stores, not those that come preloaded on devices (and we’re counting just one app for iOS, instead of one for iPhone and one for iPad, just like on Android and Windows). Remember that not all apps are available in every market, so you may see fewer apps, depending on which regional store you are accessing. Also keep in mind that these companies build software that doesn’t reside on app stores and acquire apps with different names — neither is being counted here.

Microsoft has many entries on its own Windows Store because we’re counting those published by “Microsoft Mobile” as well as games published by “Microsoft Studios.” Google’s numbers are also inflated a bit by the inclusion of very similar apps (such as Chrome and Chrome beta), since we’re counting individual entries in the store.

All in all, though, the above chart gives a rough idea of how the three tech companies currently interact with the three big app stores. The landscape has shifted a bit since 2014, but not significantly.

At the end of last year, we didn’t predict that Apple would release any apps on competing platforms, and yet that’s exactly what happened. Next year could easily bring more such surprises.

With the Windows Store succeeding the Windows Phone Store, thanks to the debut of Windows 10, the big question for 2016 will be whether Google starts to take Microsoft’s platform a bit more seriously. That will largely depend on how quickly Windows 10 grows its market share and whether the store sees more use than it has until now. We’ll check back at the end of 2016.










Google confirms next Android version won’t use Oracle’s proprietary Java APIs

android_java_logo

Google is ditching the Java application programming interfaces (APIs) in Android and moving to only OpenJDK, the open source version of Java. The news first came by a “mysterious Android codebase commit” from last month submitted to Hacker News. Google confirmed to VentureBeat that Android N will rely solely on OpenJDK.

“As an open-source platform, Android is built upon the collaboration of the open-source community,” a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. “In our upcoming release of Android, we plan to move Android’s Java language libraries to an OpenJDK-based approach, creating a common code base for developers to build apps and services. Google has long worked with and contributed to the OpenJDK community, and we look forward to making even more contributions to the OpenJDK project in the future.”

Android provides certain Java API libraries to support the development of apps in the Java programming language, broken into two parts: The APIs to the libraries and the implementing code developed by Google that make said libraries work. Oracle, which develops Java, has two implementations of these libraries: the proprietary JDK version and the open source OpenJDK version. Google’s decision to “consolidate” its efforts with OpenJDK, which Android already uses in some areas, means it will be sharing its implementing code.

The code commit in question, which shows 8902 files were changed, clearly notes OpenJDK code was added to Android:

Initial import of OpenJdk files.
Create new libcore/ojluni directory with src/main/java and src/main/native subdirectiories.
Build ojluni into core-oj jar.
Use openjdk classes from java.awt.font package.
Copy all files from jdk/src/share/classes and jdk/src/solaris/classes directories in openjdk into libcore/ojluni/src/main/java.
Copy following native files from openjdk to libcore/ojluni/src/main/native: [long list of files]

Google is hoping that developers will appreciate the change because it simplifies the code on which they build apps — a common codebase for these Java API libraries, as opposed to multiple codebases. That may be true, but if that was the only reason Google made the complete switch to OpenJDK, the company would have done so years ago.

When we asked Google why now, the company pointed to to the release of Java 8 last year and the introduction of new language features such as lambdas. As such, Google wants to put more resources into OpenJDK where the team can have a bigger impact on new features and improvements. That’s the developer story Google is pitching in any case, but there’s a massive legal narrative here that can’t be forgotten.

Oracle

Hacker News users are rightly wondering whether the code commit means the legal dispute between Oracle and Google has been settled out of court, or whether Google has decided to protect itself with regards to future Android versions in the event it loses. It’s a good question, but because the Oracle lawsuit is ongoing, Google declined to comment whether this code commit is related.

After acquiring Sun in January 2010, Oracle sued Google for copyright and patent infringement in August 2010, arguing that Android cannot use Java’s APIs without permission. Google countered by declaring that APIs can’t be copyrighted as they are essential to software development, collaboration, and innovation.

In May 2012, a jury found that Google did not infringe on Oracle’s patents, saying that Java’s APIs can’t be copyrighted. In May 2014, the Federal Circuit partially reversed the district court decision, ruling in Oracle’s favor: Java’s APIs can be copyrighted. In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case and sent it back to a lower court so Google could argue that it made fair use of Oracle’s copyrighted APIs.

Is it just a coincidence that after all the back and forth, Google has decided to completely embrace OpenJDK? Unlikely, but the end result is what matters: future versions of Android won’t be dependent on Oracle’s proprietary JDK version.

Either way, the case isn’t over (Google can’t exactly change existing Android versions), and the final decision will still be watched very closely as it could have a huge impact on software development as a whole. If Oracle wins, tech giants could hold a lot of power over developers creating new software based on existing apps and services. If Google wins, fair use laws could essentially protect the use of APIs.










Report: Apple Devices, “Phablets” Dominate Holiday Sales

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29:  An attendee looks at a display of new Google devices during a Google media event on September 29, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Google unveiled its 2015 smartphone lineup, the Nexus 5x and Nexus 6P, the new Chromecast and new Android 6.0 Marshmallow software features.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) More consumers were unwrapping new “phablet” devices this holiday season, according to a report out this afternoon from Flurry. The big-screened form factor, whose name is a mashup of “phone” and “tablet,” accounted for 27 percent of a new device activations in the week leading up to Christmas – a doubling of its share from the year prior, and up from… Read More

The 15 most beautifully designed apps of 2015

fresh air app

It’s that time of year again, folks, when retrospective lists reign supreme and reflective musings clog your feeds. This post meets that description, but rest assured it will provide at least one thing to brighten your day: eye candy.

Here’s our list of the 15 most impressively designed apps released or redesigned this year. Feels like déjà vu? It should. We did the exact same thing last year, and shamelessly, we’re doing it again.

1. Periscope

periscope

It’s hard to believe Twitter’s Periscope launched this year. Remember Meerkat? Both apps were among the first to make live streaming a heck of a lot easier than it used to be. Periscope wins by a margin for its calmer blue theme (not yellow) and relative popularity over Meerkat.

Get it: iOS / Android (Free)

 

2. Moleskine Timepage

msk_timepage_img1

I’ve yet to stress test Moleskine Timepage during a busy week, but so far consider me blown away. Somehow Moleskine created a better-looking calendar app than Apple, Google, Fantastical, and Microsoft. Even the sound effects are charming. How is that possible? Who knew Moleskine was capable of such work?

Get it: iOS ($5)

 

3. Dark Sky: Apple Watch

watch-now

Checking the weather is one of the few perfect use cases for the Apple Watch. Apple’s default weather app is fine, but Dark Sky’s app tops Apple’s clock-style UI with subtle animations and a skimmable week view. (Note: Yahoo Weather is also nice but jittery when scrolling. Weather Underground didn’t stand a chance on this list. And sadly, Dark Sky is U.S. only.)

Get it: iOS ($4)

 

4. SoundCloud

soundcloud

SoundCloud revamped its iPad app in January, bringing it in-line with the company’s 2014 iPhone redesign. The results are pretty stunning visually. That’s impressive when you consider SoundClound’s purpose, audio.

Get it: iOS / Android / Web (Free)

 

5. Portfolio

PORTFOLIO

Portfolio is my go-to app for monitoring stocks. The app’s incredibly easy to use for a finance app, with light and dark modes, push notifications, and built-in trending financial news.

Get it: iOS  (Free, $5 to remove ads)

 

6. Robinhood

robinhood animated

Like Acorns before it, Robinhood aims to make investing — a complex, time-consuming process — easier and cheaper for beginners. Whenever a financial app embraces beautiful typography, a designer gets their wings. Oh, and Apple selected it as a runner up to app of the year for 2015.

Get it: iOS / Android (Free)

 

7. Fresh Air

fresh air app

“The world does not need another weather app,” I said to myself while testing Fresh Air. But this app is gorgeous. The scrollable forecast timeline is intuitive, and the abstract backgrounds feels easy on the eyes. This app is worth a download, even if you have to pay to remove the banner ad.

Get it: iOS ($3 to remove ads)

 

8. Wander Co

wander co

Wander Co landed on my desk dangerously close to publish time. But after spending a little while inside the app, a photo journaling service, I’m impressed — overwhelmingly hipster aesthetic aside.

Get it: iOS (Free)

 

9. Workflow

IMG_6231

Like a less stale IFTTT, Workflow automates stuff on your iPhone or iPad. The app garnered praise last year for its simplicity. Normally that would disqualify it for 2015, but an August update brought Workflow inside iOS’ Notification Center, making it world’s more practical for daily use. Considering this is fundamentally a geeky automation app, the design is quite good. But if you toss away that context (and refuse to believe that design isn’t just how it looks but also how it works), you may disagree with Workflow’s place on this list.

Get it: iOS ($3)

 

10. Heirloom

Heirloom bucks the century-plus trend of preserving memories by printing them out. It does the opposite: preserves fading photos and other “heirlooms” by digitizing them and making them easier to share with family.

Get it: iOS / Android (Free)

 

11. Outlook

Outlook

Despite leading the way on a few major design trends, Microsoft isn’t exactly known for design. That sort of fluff is Apple territory. And yet many have declared Outlook, released in January after Microsoft acquired email startup Acompli, the best email app for iOS. Nice work, Microsoft.

Get it: Windows Mobile / Android / iOS

12. DxO One: iPhone + 3rd-party hardware

dxo

This pick isn’t all that fair, but here it goes: The DxO One is an incredible companion camera for the iPhone. It’s costly, too ($600 — ouch). But the hardware is nothing without the DxO iOS app, which functions as the DSLR’s touchscreen monitor. After spending months with the gadget, the app’s intuitiveness surprised me most.

Get it: iOS (Free, hah, with $600 camera)

 

13. LuckyTrip

LuckyTrip looks like an incredible experiment in instant vacations — the sort of experience Airbnb and Hotel Tonight long to offer. Too bad the app’s U.K.-only. If you live in the U.K., let us know what you think. LuckyTrip’s budget slider alone feels incredibly calming when compared to this.


From VentureBeat
Ready to think outside the (ad) box? We’ve got the secret to successful F2P ad monetization and we’re ready to spill the details – for free. Sign up here.

Get it: iOS

Thanks: Jamie Smallwood

 

14. Pocket

PKTBlog_WebAppUpdateFundraising_Themes_v1@2x

In April, three years after Read it Later became Pocket, the company announced it raised $7 million and debuted a revamped web app featuring a belated, yet beautifully responsive design. I mean, c’mon, look at this.

Get it: Web / iOS / Android / Kindle Fire

 

15. Infinit

Infinit-on-Mobile-Desktop

In March we called Infinitthe ultimate file-transfer app” when it launched on iOS and Android. Today the service continues to excel at two things: file sharing from one person to another and sending files between your own devices.

Get it: Android / iOS (Free)

 

What’d we miss?

This was not a definitive list. Pixelmator for iPhone deserves credit, but it’s so feature-packed that many find it overwhelming. Qapital looks intriguing, too, but we ran out of time trying to get an account up and running. Apple’s Activity app, space-saving app Galley Doctor, and hotel booking app Hotel Tonight also deserve a look.

Tell us your favorites on Twitter and in the comments below.










The 15 most beautifully designed apps of 2015

fresh air app

It’s that time of year again, folks, when retrospective lists reign supreme and reflective musings clog your feeds. This post meets that description, but rest assured it will provide at least one thing to brighten your day: eye candy.

Here’s our list of the 15 most impressively designed apps released or redesigned this year. Feels like déjà vu? It should. We did the exact same thing last year, and shamelessly, we’re doing it again.

1. Periscope

periscope

It’s hard to believe Twitter’s Periscope launched this year. Remember Meerkat? Both apps were among the first to make live streaming a heck of a lot easier than it used to be. Periscope wins by a margin for its calmer blue theme (not yellow) and relative popularity over Meerkat.

Get it: iOS / Android (Free)

 

2. Moleskine Timepage

msk_timepage_img1

I’ve yet to stress test Moleskine Timepage during a busy week, but so far consider me blown away. Somehow Moleskine created a better-looking calendar app than Apple, Google, Fantastical, and Microsoft. Even the sound effects are charming. How is that possible? Who knew Moleskine was capable of such work?

Get it: iOS ($5)

 

3. Dark Sky: Apple Watch

watch-now

Checking the weather is one of the few perfect use cases for the Apple Watch. Apple’s default weather app is fine, but Dark Sky’s app tops Apple’s clock-style UI with subtle animations and a skimmable week view. (Note: Yahoo Weather is also nice but jittery when scrolling. Weather Underground didn’t stand a chance on this list. And sadly, Dark Sky is U.S. only.)

Get it: iOS ($4)

 

4. SoundCloud

soundcloud

SoundCloud revamped its iPad app in January, bringing it in-line with the company’s 2014 iPhone redesign. The results are pretty stunning visually. That’s impressive when you consider SoundClound’s purpose, audio.

Get it: iOS / Android / Web (Free)

 

5. Portfolio

PORTFOLIO

Portfolio is my go-to app for monitoring stocks. The app’s incredibly easy to use for a finance app, with light and dark modes, push notifications, and built-in trending financial news.

Get it: iOS  (Free, $5 to remove ads)

 

6. Robinhood

robinhood animated

Like Acorns before it, Robinhood aims to make investing — a complex, time-consuming process — easier and cheaper for beginners. Whenever a financial app embraces beautiful typography, a designer gets their wings. Oh, and Apple selected it as a runner up to app of the year for 2015.

Get it: iOS / Android (Free)

 

7. Fresh Air

fresh air app

“The world does not need another weather app,” I said to myself while testing Fresh Air. But this app is gorgeous. The scrollable forecast timeline is intuitive, and the abstract backgrounds feels easy on the eyes. This app is worth a download, even if you have to pay to remove the banner ad.

Get it: iOS ($3 to remove ads)

 

8. Wander Co

wander co

Wander Co landed on my desk dangerously close to publish time. But after spending a little while inside the app, a photo journaling service, I’m impressed — overwhelmingly hipster aesthetic aside.

Get it: iOS (Free)

 

9. Workflow

IMG_6231

Like a less stale IFTTT, Workflow automates stuff on your iPhone or iPad. The app garnered praise last year for its simplicity. Normally that would disqualify it for 2015, but an August update brought Workflow inside iOS’ Notification Center, making it world’s more practical for daily use. Considering this is fundamentally a geeky automation app, the design is quite good. But if you toss away that context (and refuse to believe that design isn’t just how it looks but also how it works), you may disagree with Workflow’s place on this list.

Get it: iOS ($3)

 

10. Heirloom

Heirloom bucks the century-plus trend of preserving memories by printing them out. It does the opposite: preserves fading photos and other “heirlooms” by digitizing them and making them easier to share with family.

Get it: iOS / Android (Free)

 

11. Outlook

Outlook

Despite leading the way on a few major design trends, Microsoft isn’t exactly known for design. That sort of fluff is Apple territory. And yet many have declared Outlook, released in January after Microsoft acquired email startup Acompli, the best email app for iOS. Nice work, Microsoft.

Get it: Windows Mobile / Android / iOS

12. DxO One: iPhone + 3rd-party hardware

dxo

This pick isn’t all that fair, but here it goes: The DxO One is an incredible companion camera for the iPhone. It’s costly, too ($600 — ouch). But the hardware is nothing without the DxO iOS app, which functions as the DSLR’s touchscreen monitor. After spending months with the gadget, the app’s intuitiveness surprised me most.

Get it: iOS (Free, hah, with $600 camera)

 

13. LuckyTrip

LuckyTrip looks like an incredible experiment in instant vacations — the sort of experience Airbnb and Hotel Tonight long to offer. Too bad the app’s U.K.-only. If you live in the U.K., let us know what you think. LuckyTrip’s budget slider alone feels incredibly calming when compared to this.


From VentureBeat
Ready to think outside the (ad) box? We’ve got the secret to successful F2P ad monetization and we’re ready to spill the details – for free. Sign up here.

Get it: iOS

Thanks: Jamie Smallwood

 

14. Pocket

PKTBlog_WebAppUpdateFundraising_Themes_v1@2x

In April, three years after Read it Later became Pocket, the company announced it raised $7 million and debuted a revamped web app featuring a belated, yet beautifully responsive design. I mean, c’mon, look at this.

Get it: Web / iOS / Android / Kindle Fire

 

15. Infinit

Infinit-on-Mobile-Desktop

In March we called Infinitthe ultimate file-transfer app” when it launched on iOS and Android. Today the service continues to excel at two things: file sharing from one person to another and sending files between your own devices.

Get it: Android / iOS (Free)

 

What’d we miss?

This was not a definitive list. Pixelmator for iPhone deserves credit, but it’s so feature-packed that many find it overwhelming. Qapital looks intriguing, too, but we ran out of time trying to get an account up and running. Apple’s Activity app, space-saving app Galley Doctor, and hotel booking app Hotel Tonight also deserve a look.

Tell us your favorites on Twitter and in the comments below.










Newzoo report highlights how ‘power users’ pushed mobile gaming to $30B in 2015

Clash of Clans capitalizes on all kinds of players to make $1 billion every year.

Check out all of our GamesBeat Rewind 2015 end of the year coverage here.

The worldwide adoption of smartphones has turned mobile gaming into a mammoth business.

This was the year that mobile gaming revenues reached $30 billion and that China generated more money for that sector than any other nation — even the United States. But those aren’t the only big milestones and changes to come to this space, according to a new report from research firm Newzoo that looks back at 2015. Entirely new regions turned into major players as device and networks penetrated deeper into emerging markets and some big-time acquisitions empowered tradtional gaming powers to finally get a significant grasp on this still-growing business.

Big growth in 2015

When it comes to growth, nothing is bigger than Asia. Those countries are coming online at a rapid rate with Android and iOS smartphones, and that saw Southeast Asia spending balloon to $1.8 billion in 2015 — that’s up a whopping 69 percent year-over-year. China, meanwhile, only saw growth of 46.5 percent. That was enough to help it eek out $6.5 billion in smartphone- and tablet-gaming sales. That makes it as big as all of North America, which also generated $6.5 billion but with a growth rate of only 15.1 percent.

China’s ascendance means that it now outgrosses both the United States and Japan, and it creates a worldwide market where global appeal is more important than ever.


From VentureBeat
Ready to think outside the (ad) box? We’ve got the secret to successful F2P ad monetization and we’re ready to spill the details – for free. Sign up here.

But while China and Southeast Asia kept thing interesting with raw earnings, it was Call of Duty and World of Warcraft publisher Activision Blizzard that captured the biggest headlines for mobile gaming over the last 12 months. That’s because the game-making company, which has excelled in the console and PC market for decades now, spent  $5.9 billion to acquire Candy Crush Saga megadeveloper King.

Activision’s tectonic shift into mobile gaming makes it clear that not only is this sector probably worth the money — but it also requires a level of expertise that makes King valuable.

After buying King, Activision is now the second largest game company in the world behind Chinese giant Tencent, which runs the billion-dollar free-to-play PC phenomenon League of Legends.

The power users that make mobile gaming so lucrative

The Newzoo report doesn’t dwell on results — it attempts to explain why this market is as big as it is. And the firm points to one key factor: power users.

The company defines two kinds of power users. The first is free marketers, which rarely or never spend money but play for 10 hours per week and provide word-of-mouth buzz for games among their friends, on forums, and across social networks.

Newzoo breaks down mobile gaming's power users.

Above: Newzoo breaks down mobile gaming’s power users.

Image Credit: Newzoo

In terms of demographics, free marketers are evenly distributed along gender and age groups. Spenders, however, are primarily male, and they’re mostly in their 20s to early 30s.

When it comes to employment, both kinds of power users mostly have jobs — although the students with no job make up 19 percent of free marketers. But all of that extra time makes these kinds of players valuable in another kind of way, according to Newzoo. The company points out that 49 percent of free marketers actively use Instagram. That’s compared to only 38 percent of all mobile nonspenders. These players are also a big reason that 28 percent of people discover new mobile games through friends and family.

Newzoo also reveals something a bit surprising: Free marketers are more likely to use a Samsung Galaxy Tab than the iPad or any other tablet.

Android tablets are more affordable and are also more common among people who play a lot of mobile games but don't spend money.

Above: Android tablets are more affordable and are also more common among people who play a lot of mobile games but don’t spend money.

Image Credit: Newzoo

When it comes to “big spenders,” however, Newzoo reveals that they are all about doling out those Benjamins no matter where they’re playing gmaes. It turns out that 71 percent of mobile gamers spend big on console and 69 percent also spend a lot on PC. I guess money is green no matter what kind of device is playing your games. That’s compared to 11 percent and 8 percent for all mobile gamers on console and PC, respectively.

Spenders also often absorb themselves in every type of content. 87 percent of these kinds of power users watch game videos on YouTube and 67 percent watch them on Twitch.

Finally, Newzoo reveals a common trait among a large majority of big spenders: they love to use prepaid cards. You might’ve guessed that by the size of those prepaid card stands at every grocery store and gas station you visit, and it’s true — 71 percent of big spenders buy a prepaid card at least once a month. Newzoo found that 38 percent of these gamers buy a prepaid card at least once a week.

In a mature market like the United States, you can see that most developers are already building their games around these various kinds of gamers. You make something fun to play and shareable for the free marketers while giving the big spenders a reason to go pick up a prepaid card or two. Having those kinds of groups playing off one another can then lead to something like Clash of Clans or Candy Crush Saga making $1 billion every year.

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles










Nvidia’s Shield gaming tablet is one of the first to get Android Marshmallow

new-shield-tablet-k1

Check out all of our GamesBeat Rewind 2015 end of the year coverage here.

Following last month’s rerelease of Nvidia’s Android gaming tablet, the company has begun upgrading the 8-inch Shield K1 slate from Lollipop to Marshmallow. The device is for people who want a tablet that can play both mobile games and stream nearby PC games.

Besides the usual enhancements Marshmallow brings to Android devices — Now on Tap, improved power conservation, and streamlined permission management — Nvidia has thrown in a redesigned camera app and a copy of the game Fallout Shelter (which is kinda silly since it’s a free-to-play app, anyway).

Prior to the K1’s release, Nvidia’s Shield initiative was dealt a significant setback when reports of tablet batteries overheating to the point of catching fire caused the Consumer Product Safety Commission to order a complete recall. Besides the tablet, the Shield family also includes a set-top box powered by Android TV and a game controller compatible with them both.

Users may now use microSD cards as internal storage, but Nvidia cautions you from configuring them for this purpose will wipe any existing data, meaning that a card backup is critical before partaking in the upgrade. XDA-Developers adds that, based on discussions in its forums, only the K1 variant is expected to see this upgrade — meaning that tablets purchased prior to last month will be officially stuck on Lollipop, though not for any technical reason.

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles










Microsoft disables ‘Hey Cortana’ feature on Android due to voice search conflict

Cortana's_look_in_Halo_4

Earlier this month, Microsoft launched Cortana for Android and iOS in the U.S. and China. Not even two weeks later though, and the company has disabled the digital assistant’s hands-free feature on Android.

“Hey Cortana” allows users to open Cortana and give her commands just by saying those two words. The feature is similar to “OK Google,” which is part of the problem.

According to the app’s changelog on Google Play (via WinBeta), the latest version includes “improved app stability” and “enhanced call and text features.” But the bullet point states “Removed ‘Hey Cortana’ feature for US market.”


From VentureBeat
Ready to think outside the (ad) box? We’ve got the secret to successful F2P ad monetization and we’re ready to spill the details – for free. Sign up here.

We reached out to Microsoft to ask why the feature was removed. “We’ve received user feedback that the ‘Hey Cortana’ feature is conflicting with Android voice search and are temporarily disabling the feature while we evaluate a solution,” a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat.

In other words, “Hey Cortana” is conflicting with Android’s “OK Google” feature. Some users understandably would like to use both, but in some cases, the microphone has difficulty keeping up.

It’s a bit odd that this issue didn’t get flagged during the Cortana for Android public beta program, which debuted in August. The good news is that Microsoft says it is “temporarily” disabling the hands-free feature, indicating that the company hopes to get it working properly at some point in the future.

“Hey Cortana” is not available on iOS, and now no longer works on Android. This means Windows Phone 8.1 (or Windows 10 Mobile if you the Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL) is the only way to use the hands-free feature.

Assuming Microsoft addresses the problem, the feature will likely roll out beyond the U.S. on Android. This is a prime example of why tech companies choose to roll out new apps to only select markets first, before giving them a broader release.










BlackBerry needs a miracle to meet its annual handset sales goal

blackberry_priv_main

Struggling handset manufacturer BlackBerry on Friday released its third-quarter earnings results, which pundits largely chalked up as a big win. Losses, at three cents a share, were milder than the analyst-anticipated 14-cent drop.

It was an eagerly awaited update, revealing sales numbers for BlackBerry’s buzz-generating Priv smartphone — the company’s first to run Google’s Android. But during the call, there was a disconnect between the optimistic note CEO John Chen struck, and the actual data contained in (and conspicuously omitted from) the report.

“My first goal is to get us into a break-even position with the device business, because you really couldn’t do anything strategically with a business that continues to lose money,” said Chen, as reported by Re/code. “We’re in that ballpark now.”


From VentureBeat
Buying and getting the best from mobile marketing technology doesn’t need to be difficult. VB has compiled three of our best research reports on mobile success in one low cost bundle. Arm yourself for 2016.

Sounds like, in its first month of sales (only 22 days, from November 6 – 28), Blackberry’s Priv was a runaway hit — something we’d heard soon after launch through scattered reports of quick sellouts and limited availability.

Conflicting information

But if Blackberry’s hardware division is really riding Priv’s coattails so successfully, why was this the first time in at least 19 quarters — dating back to 2012 — that BlackBerry didn’t break out device sales figures to lead its press release?

Possibly that’s because the company sold fewer total handsets last quarter than it ever has before: just 700,000. (Some sources are citing that figure as the number of Privs sold, but we verified the number with BlackBerry.)

That means Blackberry sold just a hair over 2.5 million handsets during the first three fiscal quarters of 2016. Despite Chen’s assertion yesterday that the hardware division would attain profitability in the next quarter or two, he told The Verge back in October that the break even number was around five million devices annually.

newg

 

To hit that figure by the end of its fiscal year, BlackBerry has to sell more phones in Q4 than it’s been able to do since Q1/Q2 of last fiscal year — and it needs to break a streak of 10 consecutive declining quarters (which stretches to 16 if you ignore a slight uptick in sales between late 2013 and early 2014).

The caveat

To be fair to BlackBerry, let’s make two things clear: First, Priv hasn’t had much time at all to impact sales figures. Despite the tendency to assume that a new product’s sales will be front-loaded as pent-up demand is uncorked, another factor to consider is the lack of a full rollout; the Priv just hit Germany this week and has yet to be stocked by leading U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless.

Second, it’s important to realize that BlackBerry is far more than a hardware OEM — and the fact that handset sales have been slipping for years now has only accelerated its push into other categories (a la HTC). Blackberry’s recent acquisition of email client Good Technology is said to be the driving force behind its better-than-expected results this past quarter.

Still, 700,000 is just not a lot of units to move in a quarter, any way you slice it. Apple regularly sells more handsets in a single day, following a new iPhone release, than BlackBerry moved all quarter. Even new kid on the block Xiaomi famously racked up 800,000 purchases in a single day during one of its popular flash sales.

The unfortunate truth to these numbers is that if the trend they form continues for much longer, BlackBerry may not have the luxury of choosing whether to remain in the market: Its exit will have been dictated not by John Chen, but by the even more powerful hand of the free market.










Google Play services 8.4 ships with user churn predictions, custom emails for App Invites

Android's custom App Invites, now with in-app content.

Google today announced the availability of Google Play services version 8.4 for building Android apps.

With this new package, Android developers can now incorporate actual app content into custom email messages for App Invites, a feature that lets end users send other people invitations to use apps.

“So, for example, if you have a favorite cooking app that you want to share with your friends, your invite to use the app can include a favorite recipe from the app,” developer advocate Laurence Moroney wrote in a blog post. “They get the immediate benefit of being able to access the desired content, giving them a more informed choice about whether or not they decide to install the app to get richer and more content.”


From VentureBeat
Ready to think outside the (ad) box? We’ve got the secret to successful F2P ad monetization and we’re ready to spill the details – for free. Sign up here.

Google first introduced App Invites in May and started letting developer customize the images and call-to-action buttons in Play services version 8.1 in September. Today’s feature update could help Google boost usage of Android apps even further.

But perhaps the most exciting part of this update is how Google is starting to give developers a sense of what to expect. Now, through the getChurnProbability, getSpendProbability, and getSpendPercentile calls to the Player Stats application programming interface (API), Play services offers predictions of user churn and user spend on games for the week ahead.

The Google Maps API has received enhancements that allow users to tap and zoom in or out on a specific area on a map with a polygon around an area. For instance, think of a single neighborhood in San Francisco.

And Android apps can also get smarter about identifying a device’s location with this version of Play services. The Fused Location Provider feature, which relies on GPS, Wi-fi and cell towers, can now make a calculation using not one but multiple cell towers. And the detection using Wi-fi is better now, especially indoors, Moroney wrote.

Today’s update, which is available through the Android Studio integrated development environment (IDE), follows Play services 8.3, which was released last month.

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles