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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:25 am 
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Hope so

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:36 am 
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Google updates Street View with 250,000 miles of footage

Rubbing salt in Apple's wounds


By Iain Thomson • The Register



Google has released its biggest-ever update to Street View, adding 250,000 miles of updated photography and double the number of image collections from notable spots around the world.

"We're increasing Street View coverage in Macau, Singapore, Sweden, the US, Thailand, Taiwan, Italy, Great Britain, Denmark, Norway and Canada," announced Ulf Spitzer, Google's Street View program manager. "And we're launching special collections in South Africa, Japan, Spain, France, Brazil and Mexico, among others."

Among the sites of interest covered in the new update include Elsinore Castle in Denmark, used by Shakespeare as the setting for Hamlet – although there are no ghosts on the ramparts, as far as we can see. The monks of the famous Ferapontov monastery in Russia have also allowed Google's cameras in for the first time.

The updates will make Street View better for users trying to plan routes or find out where they are going, Spitzer said. The new special sites mean you don't have to travel, get ripped off by local taxi drivers, and elbow your way past fat, chattering tourists to get a feel for historic monuments – or maybe that's just El Reg's experience.

Spitzer was kind enough not to mention Apple by name, but Google is clearly not going to slow the development of its mapping service so that Cupertino can catch up.

Microsoft, too, was quick to stick the boot in after the iOS 6 Maps fiasco, recommending that disgruntled iPhone owners check out Bing maps as an alternative.

Both companies may be wasting their time - the attachment of fanbois to Apple could be too strong to break, according to a recent poll which found Maps was only important to less than one in ten Apple users. The sample size and methodology of the survey make the results a little untrustworthy, but suggest that Apple might not have too much to worry about.

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:04 pm 
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Thinking of buying an Android laptop/netbook/hybrid. Any ideas for the best ones out there and is the ASUS transformer all it's cracked up to be?


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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:00 am 
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Sparkys kneecap wrote:
Thinking of buying an Android laptop/netbook/hybrid. Any ideas for the best ones out there and is the ASUS transformer all it's cracked up to be?


The ASUS Transformer is rated pretty highly, though I've not used one myself. I dunno if there's since been a better one as I don't really keep up with the mobile world, but it is kinda cool. Anyway, there's a review here that might help:

Click The Link...http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/tablets/371776/asus-eee-pad-transformer-prime

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:08 am 
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Google readying on-device malware scanner for Android

Could block bad apps from any source


By Neil McAllister • The Register



Android malware is on the rise, but the good news is that Google isn't sitting still for it. The search giant is reportedly readying a comprehensive anti-malware system for its mobile OS that will soon be able to spot malicious apps not just in the Google Play store, but also on Android devices themselves.

According to a report by the Android Police fan site, the latest, as-yet-unreleased build of the Google Play shopping app contains code snippets that suggest links to a future onboard malware scanner.

Text strings included in the Google Play 3.9.16 APK package file include such tidbits as, "Allow Google to check all apps on this device for harmful behavior?" And, "To protect you, Google has blocked the installation of this app."

These phrases are apparently text prompts that will be offered by a forthcoming Google Play feature, identified in the new build as "App Check."

To be clear, this anti-malware feature is not yet actually included in any known build of the Google Play app. Another text string found in the new app package says, "To learn more, go to Settings > Security" – but no such settings panel exists in the 3.9.16 version.

Rather, the presence of these items is strong evidence that malware scanning is a feature that Google is currently cooking up in its labs, and which will eventually appear in some future version of its store app.

That will be good news for Android users. The Chocolate Factory already scans apps in the Google Play store for malicious behavior using a system known as Bouncer, but that hasn't prevented a number of high-profile incidents in which scammers have used rogue apps to swindle Android users out of cash and device data.

Most recently, some 1,400 people in the UK were left lighter in the pockets after they downloaded Android scam apps disguised as the latest Roxio Angry Birds game. What the rogue apps actually did was send SMS messages to premium-rate services, costing the unwitting users up to £15 each.

Part of the problem is that unlike Apple iPhones, Android phones generally allow users to install apps from sources other than the Google Play store, which can be risky. Some models require the user to explicitly enable this capability, while others ship with it switched on by default.

So far, Google's server-side Bouncer app scanning has had no way to screen apps from third-party app stores. But with anti-malware capabilities installed on the devices themselves, Android handsets and fondleslabs will be able to flag suspicious apps no matter where they come from.

For now, however, exactly how Google's on-device malware scanning will work – and how well – is strictly up to speculation.

So is when it will actually become available, although there's a good chance it might arrive with the next version of the Android OS. Rumor has it that version will be known as Android 4.2, code named "Key Lime Pie," and it could ship with an upcoming LG handset as soon as November.

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:33 pm 
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Cheers Con, went fo an ASUS netbook in the end


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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 4:44 pm 
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conscience wrote:
Sparkys kneecap wrote:
Thinking of buying an Android laptop/netbook/hybrid. Any ideas for the best ones out there and is the ASUS transformer all it's cracked up to be?


The ASUS Transformer is rated pretty highly, though I've not used one myself. I dunno if there's since been a better one as I don't really keep up with the mobile world, but it is kinda cool. Anyway, there's a review here that might help:

Click The Link...http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/tablets/371776/asus-eee-pad-transformer-prime

I have the latest - Asus transformer Infinity - it's nice. I use it with the kb dock half the time as it's almost a mini laptop. it got jellyben last week too. :thumbup:

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:29 am 
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Android APK 4.2 teardown shows Google getting serious about security

New features might include VPN lockdown, SELinux, and SMS confirmation.


by Florence Ion - Arstechnica.com




The folks at Android Police released part two of their Android 4.2 Alpha teardown today. The first edition revealed Android may soon have a Quick Settings feature available in the notifications panel. Now, it looks like Google is also turning its focus to beefing up security on the open platform.

We already know there’s the possibility of a built-in malware scanner coming to the Google Play store to help users make better decisions about which apps they install. Users should also expect Bouncer, the server-side malware scanner, but there's evidence that more is on the way.

First on the list is Security-Enhanced Linux, essentially a set of kernel add-ons that keeps applications from running rampant and having access to all the user's files. Android Police found code buried in the Settings APK that hints at an option to enable this kind of security in Android 4.2. There are three options for SELinux, including Disabled, Permissive, and Enforcing. Permissive essentially allows apps to have access and will log when the OS would have blocked an application, but it won’t actually block anything from having root file access. Enforcing puts all "hands" on deck to keep applications from having root access, and Disabled implies there's no security at all. The prevalence of such a feature follows a bigger trend in mobile security, where OSes are adopting standard security features found in desktop operating systems like Windows and OS X. There is also the SE Android project that's been working to bring this kind of security to Android.

The APK also shows evidence of VPN lockdown. This function ensures that certain data is sent only while connected to a specific network. At present, if Android users are logged out of VPN during an active session, the data will still send over the active Internet connection (offering no security). With the code tweaks in the APK, the session will stop immediately if there’s no VPN access available, rather than default to the active Internet connection.

Lastly, users will now have SMS confirmation when sending out text messages. This is to help combat recent malware that charged user accounts for text messages they never actually sent. Now, Android might ask users before it sends out a text message to a short code phone number.

None of these features have been confirmed for Android 4.2, but even the idea is a step in the right direction. If Google focuses its efforts on making Android more safe and secure for users, it could help grow the operating system’s market share and finally give it the safety rating it needs for enterprise users who want to switch from BlackBerry or iOS.

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:13 am 
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Mozilla debuts Firefox Marketplace for Android apps

Bleeding-edge bazaar offers apps based on HTML5


By Neil McAllister • The Register



Android users who enjoy living on the edge might like to try out the alpha version of Firefox Marketplace, the Mozilla Foundation's new online bazaar for mobile apps based on web technologies.

"Just last year, we started working to turn the Web into a viable apps development platform," the Mozillians wrote in a blog post announcing the Marketplace on Thursday. "We created the Firefox Marketplace to allow developers to build, distribute and monetize rich, immersive apps that use Web technologies like HTML, JavaScript and CSS."

It's premature to call Firefox Marketplace a "store" just yet, since Mozilla has yet to add features like ratings, reviews, and payment processing – in short, just about everything you'd expect from a proper app store.

It also isn't for everyone. At this early stage, the Marketplace only works with Firefox for Android Aurora, the bleeding-edge alpha version of Mozilla's mobile browser, which is so experimental that it isn't even available in the Google Play store.

Android users can download Firefox Aurora from Mozilla's website, but even then, they may have to enable apps from "unknown sources" in their settings before it will install.

Those who dare to take the plunge, however, will find a fairly typical online marketplace with a good handful of apps already available, including games, a smattering of productivity apps, and apps from media companies such as The Boston Globe, The Times, and Wired.

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Screenshot of Firefox Marketplace running on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus


The apps are built with web technologies, but you download and install them just like you do native apps. You launch them from a menu in Firefox Aurora, but once they're running it's hard to tell you're looking at HTML and JavaScript. The browser tab and UI disappears and you're left with something that looks and behaves more or less like any other mobile app.

Which of course raises the question, why bother? If I already have a Twitter client on my mobile, why would I go through the trouble to download an experimental web browser just so I can install another Twitter client that's made with HTML5 but otherwise behaves exactly like my old one?

The answer is that you probably wouldn't – unless, that is, you were really keen on building HTML5 apps. "This release gives developers a means to get feedback on their apps as the Marketplace grows and progresses," the Mozilla mavens write.

In the long run, Mozilla's work on the Firefox Marketplace for Firefox Aurora helps lay the groundwork for what will eventually become Firefox OS, the open source group's planned operating system for low-cost smartphones that will be based entirely on web technologies.

"Our goal is to collect as much real-life feedback as possible about the Marketplace's design, usability, performance, reliability, and content. Feedback from early adopters helps us enhance the quality of the Marketplace before it is released to larger audiences," writes Mozilla engineering manager Bill Walker.

The Mozilla Foundation says it plans to release further alpha, beta, and Firefox OS versions of the Marketplace throughout 2013.

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:20 am 
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A bit experimental at the moment, but I'm sure it'll turn into a valuable resource for mobile app buyers in the future. Mozilla are often underrated for the work they've done towards an open internet and on behalf of web users everywhere. Let's not forget that MS had halted development of IE completely - it was finished no more updates or features etc. forget it, it was the dominant browser and users had little choice... and MS certainly didn't care. That is until Mozilla brought out Firefox from Netscape's ashes, and plugged away adding features etc. until they made a race of the browsers again, and when that happened you suddenly saw the likes of MS re-starting IE development, copycatting all the way, adding features that FF had made popular eg multi-tabbed browsing etc. etc. but it was web users in general that won, even for users with no choice of browser EG it even made browsing a better experience for those at work and stuck on IE due to the increased competition.

Once again, the big boys need some competition, and I have similar high hopes for Mozilla's app store once it's properly up and running.

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:25 am 
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Google adds 25 million grey building 'footprints' to Maps

Ideal for the rooftop chase Parkour enthusiast


By Anna Leach • The Register



Google has added 25 million building footprints to its Maps product, giving extra detail to maps of key American cities.

Maps that once just showed a road now show the outlines of individual buildings next to that road. And not just big buildings - all the buildings, down to standard residential properties, along with height data about the building.

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Google Maps before Footprints were added

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Google Maps after building footprints were added

The big increase in data detail comes from aerial photography, Google explains in the Maps blogpost announcing the change. Feeding aerial photos into an algorithm, its engineers used computer vision techniques to render shapes of the building, adding a wealth of information to its maps.

Users can add their own building footprints with the community map-maker tool, available in the States. Google suggests you only use this to add footprint information for business buildings. It will also allow you to assign a business name to an existing building.

It's a good time for the Chocolate Factory to ramp up Maps. Google is obviously keen to put the pressure on Apple, which recently booted Google's cartography out of the iPhone with iOS6.

Improved areas include Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and the San Francisco Bay Area.

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:49 am 
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It's a good time for the Chocolate Factory to ramp up Maps. Google is obviously keen to put the pressure on Apple, which recently booted Google's cartography out of the iPhone with iOS6.


Not half! What better way to rub your rivals face in something unpleasant. Apple's maps are currently useless, and Google's just keep getting better and better... and that's gotta hurt Apple's pride as much as their 'premium' reputation! :lol:

Apple serious underestimated how long it'd take and how much it'd cost to replicate previously bought in services like Google Maps. The job ads show that Apple are still trying to hire programmers to try and fix it lol.

While it did make good sense for Apple in the beginning to use outside services, because as I've said developing their own is very time consuming and very expensive and there was no indication of how successful the iStuff was going to be, nevermind the final quality of any product or service like maps - so why risk their own money on it. But kicking Google Maps off before their own offering was ready was insane imo, it's left all their users with no reliable way to navigate on their 'premium' smartphones.

Reports have the amount Apple have paid Google for their maps so far at about $2Bn, which looks an awful lot at first glance I admit, but it isn't that much in the grand scheme of things considering Apple's enormous and repeated profits in the order of many tens of billions, in fact it's a tiny drop in a vastly large and obscenely lucrative ocean - so trying to cost-cut and save every dollar despite it making iStuff that previously used Google Maps worse products just seems very mean to me. Spiteful even.

Apple obviously rate their fight with Google more than they value their customers. Who'd have thunk it. :rolleyes:

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:55 pm 
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Samsung posts record profits as Galaxy sales juggernaut crushes Apple

South Korean firm's mobile biz powers 91% boost to Q3 bottom line


By Anna Leach • The Register



Booming mobile sales have powered record profits at Samsung in Q3. Samsung published a preliminary statement of their financials yesterday [PDF] which shows a 91 per cent increase in net profit compared to the same three months last year.

The South Korean firm drew in 6.56 trillion won profit ($5.9bn or £3.7bn) in the three months to the end of October, compared to 3.44 trillion won ($3.1bn or £1.9bn) for the same period in 2011.

And with general consumer electronics sales flat at 2 per cent growth, and LCD and memory sales down, it was mobile - and to an extent display panels - that were surging and pulled the whole company with them.

It comes just after news that Samsung's handsets had outsold Apple's by two to one.

Samsung clocked a stunning 82 per cent year on year increase in sales in the highly competitive mobile market. Sales were up 28 per cent sequentially from Q2. The 26.25 trillion won ($23.9 billion, £14.8 billion) brought in by the mobile sector was 50 per cent of Samsung's total 52.18 trillion won ($47.6bn, £29.5bn) revenues for the quarter.

Samsung execs noted the global expansion of the Samsung Galaxy SII as the key Samsung strength in the mobile market and reinforced line-ups at the mid/low levels.

Weak demand for PCs, air-conditioning units and TVs in the developed world put a lag on other areas of the business.

Samsung's profit margin for the quarter sits at 12.6 per cent - less than Apple's 25 per cent - but still very healthy. And of course, it also outshone Apple year-on-year Q3 profit increase of 21 per cent, which was below market-watchers' estimates.

The Sammie execs predicted that Q4 Christmas season would fuel a rise in sales of TVs, tablets and phones, though did warn that competition in the smartphone market was intensifying.

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:16 pm 
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Samsung ships two smartphones for every one Apple sells

Galaxy giant dominates handset biz in Q3


By Tony Smith • The Register



We already knew smartphone shipments have never been higher, and now we know that, in Q3 at least, the beneficiary is Samsung.

According to ABI Research and Strategy Analytics, market watchers both, the Korean chaebol - a multi-industry colossus - took more than a third of the market. According to SA, Samsung’s share was 35.2 per cent, achieved by shipping 56.9 million smartphones.

As ABI noted, that’s more the twice the 26.9 million units Apple shipped during the same three-month period, enough iPhones to give the Cupertino firm 16.6 per cent of the market. Both figures come from SA.

Apple and Samsung both increased their market shares, indicating how the smartphone market is increasingly becoming a three-horse race: these two and the rest.

Apple’s shipments were up year on year 57.3 per cent, Samsung up 102.5 per cent. The others together saw shipments rise merely 4.1 per cent, conclusively demonstrating that the first two, and Samsung very much in particular, are Hoovering up all the new buyers.

Apple’s figures will have been depressed to an extent by punters waiting for the iPhone 5, which didn’t arrive until the very end of the quarter. It will be interesting to see what impact that has on Apple’s share in Q4. But it’s worth bearing in mind that the partisan nature of technology markets means that Samsung probably hasn’t gained many Apple customers tired of waiting for an upgrade. It will have grabbed buyers from other Android vendors and from Nokia, not necessarily from its arch-rival.

Speaking of the Finnish phone giant, it shipped 6.3 million smartphones for a four per cent market share. Giant no longer, it seems.

Overall smartphone shipments rose 34.8 per cent, from 120 million to 161.7 million units.

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:53 am 
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Android: Google's baby ate 75% of smartphones in just 4 years

Walking corpse BlackBerry still doing OK on inertia


By Bill Ray • The Register



Seventy five per cent of smartphones sold in the last three months were running Android, according to IDC, though the iPhone 5 could well be to blame.

The figure comes from the company's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, and covers July-September inclusive, so Apple's decision to launch a new iPhone on September 21 has obviously skewed the figures a little, but it's still a significant share for a platform which was only launched four years ago.

Android was launched in September 2008, as a free OS to complete with Apple's iOS and, then dominant, Symbian. But Android isn't just gaining ground 'cos it's free - the latest Android devices can complete with Apple's flagship in usability and style, not to mention costing almost as much.

136 million Android devices were shipped in the third quarter of 2012, according to IDC, pushing iOS into a distant second place with fewer than 27 million devices shipped. Symbian, for all its impending death, still managed to outsell Windows Phone by shipping 4.1 million, well over the 3.6 million devices running Microsoft's latest foray into mobility.

Speaking of the walking dead - 7.7 million users chose BlackBerry handsets, showing surprising loyalty to a platform in cardiac arrest which isn't expecting the resuscitating paddles of BlackBerry 10 until early next year.

It's not that surprising that Android is outselling iOS as a platform, given a choice between last year's iPhone and a low-end, but new model, running Android the majority seem to side with Google. The iPhone 5 will redress the balance slightly, but Apple will remain happy with fifteen percent of the world's mobile-device business.

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:11 am 
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iPhone tops US market, but trounced by Android in world+dog

UK smartphoners prefer Android, but not as much as their EU brethren


By Rik Myslewski • The Register



Apple's iPhone now accounts for over half of US smartphone sales, but in the UK and the rest of Europe – and the rest of the world, for that matter – Android phones still hold a healthy lead.

"Apple has reached a major milestone in the US by passing the 50 per cent share mark for the first time, with further gains expected to be made during December," said Dominic Sunnebo of Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, which conducted the research behind their sales-share report.

The report, from the London-based "consumer knowledge and insights" research group Kantar Worldpanel, provides information on 2011 and 2012 smartphone sales in nine countries, plus combined stats for the UK, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain, during the 12 weeks leading up to late November of those two years.

In the US, sales of iOS-based phones – Apple currently offers the iPhone 5, 4S, and 4 – grew a healthy 17.5 per cent from the 2011 period to the 2012 period, rising to 53.3 per cent of all US smartphone sales. This bump was no doubt helped by the arrival of the iPhone 5, which was available during nine weeks of the 2012 survey period.

Android sales in the US, on the other hand, dropped by 10.9 per cent to 41.9 per cent. RIM's BlackBerry phones also lost sales share to Apple, dropping from 7.0 per cent in the 2011 period to a mere 1.4 per cent in 2012.

Smartphone market share by operating system, 12 weeks ending in late November 2011 versus the same period ending in November 2012:

Image
iPhone are increasing their sales share lead in the US...

The story is quite different in the UK. Although iPhone sales grew by 5.3 per cent, followed close behind by Android phones' 4.9 per cent growth rate, Blighty-based smartphoners still prefer Android by a wide margin, with over half of the handsets sold in the UK – 51.5 per cent – being Android-based as opposed to just over a third – 36.1 per cent – being iOS based.


Image
... but remain well behind Android–based phones in the UK

In the combined stats of the five European countries surveyed, the Android lead is even greater: 61.0 per cent to the iPhone's 25.3 per cent. Of those five countries, the UK had the highest percentage of iPhone sales, and Spain by far the lowest: a mere 4.4 per cent and sinking. Android sales share is rising faster than the iPhone's in the five European countries combined, as well: 9.2 per cent to 2.5 per cent.

The stats also don't look good for the iPhone in Australia and Brazil. In Oz, the Apple handset's sales dropped by 5.4 per cent, slipping to a 35.9 per cent sales share, while Android phones gained 11.3 per cent and now top that country's market with 58.0 per cent of smartphone sales.

In Brazil, Android sales exploded, rising an impressive 31.8 per cent to dominate the market with a 60.7 per cent share. The iPhone? Not so hot: its sales share was cut in half and now sits at a negligible 1.6 per cent.

On the sidelines of the iPhone-Android battle, the UK is seeing a bit of a rise in Windows phones – but it's rather feeble. "Nokia is managing to claw back some of its share in Great Britain through keenly priced Lumia 800 and 610 prepay deals," Sunnebo says.

Those phones, however, aren't doing well in the crucial young 'n' hip market.

"Nokia continues to find it tough to attract younger consumers in Great Britain," Sunnebo says. "Over the past six months, just 28 per cent of Nokia Lumia 800 sales have come from under 35's, compared with 42 per cent of all smartphone sales."

Also in the UK, smartphones in general are being snapped up at a faster rate, with 83 per cent of all phones purchased during the 2012 period being smartphones, which now account for 60 per cent of all phones in the UK.

While Apple's iPhone sales may have passed that 50 per cent milestone in the US, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech's stats show that Cupertino is losing the smartphone war in hefty chunks of the world.

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
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Ouya to impose free-to-try policy on all compatible apps

Try before you buy to enforce quality

By Shaun Prescott - CVG Australia


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All games compatible with Ouya will be free-to-try, according to the company's CEO.

Speaking to GamesIndustry International, Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman confirmed that free-to-try periods - essentially demos - will ensure quality control among developers keen to push their games through the Android-based platform.

"It cleans up the app store," she said. "It removes the confusion between a paid app store and a free app store. We also think it cuts down on the copycat games, where you have games that look like each other and one is paid but the other is free and you don't know what to do."

Elsewhere, Ouya intends to keep policing to a minimum, but will monitor for copyright infringement, malware and pornography.

Uhrman revealed last week that Ouya will release on a yearly, iterative basis similar to smartphones. It's expected to launch in June for USD $100.

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:21 am 
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Sounds like a brilliant plan to me, and a happy nod to the old days when computer shops were more than happy to rip off the shrink wrap and load up the latest software to let you see for yourself if it was any good.

Of course the upside is no more coughing up good money only to find you’ve just bought absolute rubbish. :clap:

I personally can't wait to see how this console does, it's released in a month or so and already there's nearly 500 games available for it! And while many are indie titles, there are also some big players like Square Enix (Final Fantasy III announced as a launch title), and OnLive have added another few 100 AAA games that can be streamed, so getting games shouldn't be a problem... In fact it's a tremendous effort considering the PS3 launched with about 15 games as did the Xbox360 in Europe.

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 7:42 pm 
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Smartphone running 'Facebook OS' said to debut next week

Android to be forked by two companies at the same time?


By Neil McAllister - The Register



Facebook has sent out invitations to an event at its Menlo Park headquarters next week that many believe will see the launch of a new, Facebook-branded smartphone – and an Amazon phone may not be far behind.

Facebook's invites themselves were fairly cryptic. "Come See Our New Home on Android" was all they said, along with the date – Thursday, April 4 – time, and an email address for RSVPs.

But according to The New York Times, among others, the event will herald not just another Android app, but a phone running a brand-new fork of Android that places special emphasis on Facebook's social services rather than Google's.

If true, it would be a bold move for the social network. Investors have often criticized Facebook for being slow to adapt to the transition from desktop to mobile. An own-branded phone would serve to demonstrate that Facebook is pushing all its chips forward to become a mobile-first company.

This first Facebook phone will reportedly be built by HTC, which wouldn't be a surprise. The Taiwanese firm previously collaborated with Zuck & Co. on the HTC Status handset, which shipped with a dedicated Facebook button.

The interesting part will be what's going on inside the phone's case. According to the NYT, which cites sources inside Facebook and close partners, the device will boot directly into the user's Facebook home screen, instead of the familiar Android icons.

What's more, Facebook's messaging and camera apps will reportedly form the core functions of the phone, rather than the stock Android ones. The phone's primary contacts list will presumably be the user's Facebook friends, too.


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Facebook's cryptic invite to its Android event on April 4: Yes, Zuck really did change his HQ's street address to "Hacker Way"

Just how extensively Facebook's engineers would need to modify the core Android OS to achieve this feat isn't clear. But the social network wouldn't be the first to fork the Android source code, strip out Google's branding, and replace it with its own.

Amazon does something similar with its Kindle line of tablets, which run an Android kernel but swap out a number of Google's apps for custom Amazon equivalents. Equally important, they default to the Amazon Store rather than Google Play.

Can it be a coincidence, then, that Taiwan's Innolux has reportedly been tapped to supply LCD displays for a forthcoming Amazon smartphone?

According to the supply-chain sleuths at Taiwanese tech rag DigiTimes, Amazon is planning a second-quarter release for its mobe, assuming there are no delays with its manufacturing partner, the nigh-ubiquitous Foxconn.

There was no word on whether Amazon's phone will carry the Kindle brand. But it will reportedly feature a 4.7-inch screen, making it much smaller than the company's previous devices, so it's possible the company could choose a different moniker.

Or it could do nothing of the kind. El Reg has covered rumors of an Amazon phone before, and deciding whether to trust a DigiTimes report is a bit like choosing which side will kick off a football match: might as well flip a coin.

Still, if Amazon and Facebook each launch a new phone with a custom-tailored user experience, it will be an interesting test of the smartphone market. Amazon, a giant retailer, has largely designed its devices around buying and consuming content. Facebook, on the other hand, is all about messaging and social interaction. Whichever model customers prefer best will likely set the tone for future product releases across the mobile industry.

Before either device can reveal significant insights, however, they'll first have to move in sufficient numbers to make a dent in the massive sales enjoyed by Apple and Samsung. That's a tall order – just ask Microsoft.

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 Post subject: Re: All things Android
PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 12:33 am 
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Facebook OS? I can imagine all the notifications in the bar :unsure:

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