98.8% of Android Devices Are Running Outdated Software When Over 25% of iOS Users Have the Latest Already

98.8% of Android Devices Are Running Outdated Software When Over 25% of iOS Users Have the Latest Already

Sep 24, 2012

Google really has something of a mess on their hands with OS upgrades. iOS 6 recently released, and after 24 hours, it reached 15% penetration rate among iOS users, and 25% after 48 hours. Jelly Bean, released in July, has a 1.2% penetration rate, many of whom are likely Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 owners. Ice Cream Sandwich is at 20.9% for all versions, and it was initially announced and released in October 2011. Gingerbread, released in December 2010, is on 57.5% of all devices.

Now, the Android situation is different from iOS, as Apple usually announces their major OS update and its new features several months before its final release, and Apple has fewer devices to support: including the iPhone 5 and iPod touch 5th generation, 8 devices in total will run iOS 6, compared to the thousands running Android. Granted, the onus for updates does fall on the hardware manufacturers to provide them, and carrier testing proves to be a roadblock, but it still means that users are overwhelmingly using outdated software. Heck, even Honeycomb, only available for tablets, is out-pacing Jelly Bean at this point, 2.1% to 1.2%.

That users are still buying phones with outdated software versions, as even the latest and greatest phones are a version behind, if not 2 versions at this point, thanks to the software customizations that manufacturers feel compelled to add, it’s a mess with no solution for Google other than to dominate with Nexus and AOSP devices, or to find a way to get manufacturers to release software updates sooner rather than later. Until then, with Gingerbread phones still being sold, Android remains a fragmented mess, and that’s bad for everyone who uses the platform.

Theme Thursday: Honeycomb for GO Launcher

Theme Thursday: Honeycomb for GO Launcher

Feb 9, 2012

Most of the themes looked at in this Theme Thursday blog have been for ADWLaucher, but in keeping with last week’s idea, today we’ll be looking at a Honeycomb theme for GO Launcher. For those not familiar with GO Laucher, it’s not much different than its competitors, ADW and Launcher Pro, but it’s worth taking a look for those who support it. For those of us stuck with Gingerbread for the time being, the lust for those running the radically different Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich is palpable. In the mean time the next best thing is to at least put your phone in its own slim, black dress.

The theme comes with a fairly decent set of great looking that are perfect copies of Honeycomb’s own. While there is no skin for the solid GO Widgets, a simple dark theme works just a well. As mentioned above, the included icon set is large enough and does give flexibility by including multiple icons for similar applications. A glaring omission is the lack of a Facebook icon in the free version even though a Twitter and YouTube one are included. The background is, unfortunately, a major disappointment as it was pixelated and stretched on my EVO 4G, and while easily fixed, it does not reflect well. The differences between the paid and free versions of this app are just the addition of more really great looking icons and extra backgrounds which can easily found for free within five minutes on Google Images.

This theme is at its best when it is used as primarily a modern, sleek icon set and application tray. The limitations are noticeable when too much is asked of it, but part of these are simply a reflection on GO Launcher itself and not so much the theme. For those already running GO Launcher I highly recommend checking this out, but seeing that there are similar themes on nearly every other launcher it is not going to make someone jump ship. All that said, I do love the style and as long as it is paired with the right colors and layouts this Honeycomb clone can really give an aging phone a small but sexy makeover.

Free Version Download Link
Pro Version Download Link

Google Wants to Kill the Menu Button on Android for Good

Google Wants to Kill the Menu Button on Android for Good

Jan 27, 2012

A venerable piece of Android UI is soon to be dead and buried if Google has their way, as the Android Developers website has released new developer guidelines that discourage the usage of the Menu button on Android phones. Now, apps will be expected to use the action bar, which is located somewhere in the app’s user interface, instead of being a hidden menu only called up by pressing the menu button.

This is a transition that could be seen not just with the introduction of Ice Cream Sandwich and the Galaxy Nexus which lacked a menu button, but with Honeycomb tablets that also lacked the menu botton. The Menu button has typically been replaced with a software menu in tablet-optimized apps, usually denoted by the old Menu button itself. While Honeycomb and ICS devices have support for a software Menu button, which is now a software “action overflow” button that appears on the right side of the software keys, Google wants this to be phased out.

In fact, it will be possible for developers to continue to support the Menu button along with the action bar on devices that have the Menu button, and those that don’t. However, considering that apps’ user interface will need to support the action bar anyway, it may just make sense for developers to ignore that button’s functionality entirely for older phones.

However, as is key with Android, flexibility and functionality will still exist for developers. It just appears that the powers that be at Android want to develop user experiences that are more consistent across apps and devices. Essentially, the idea is that one app will work in a similar way to another app. This kind of unified UX is something that Apple has excelled at providing in its interface guidelines for developers, and Android appears to be taking similar steps to ensure this is the case on their OS as well.

Archos Unveils Budget-Priced Honeycomb Tablet, the 70B Internet Tablet

Archos Unveils Budget-Priced Honeycomb Tablet,  the 70B Internet Tablet

Dec 21, 2011

The Android tablet market has had a massive divide so far: on one side, the tablets with the latest Android software optimized for tablets and larger screens; these tablets have been more expensive, costing around $400 at the minimum. On the flip side are cheaper Android tablets with smaller 7-inch screens; these usually boast Android 2.x, which was not optimized for tablets, or feature custom UIs built on top of Android. There really hasn’t been a tablet to this point that has been an entry-level device with a vanilla tablet-optimized version of Android. Until now, that is.

Archos has announced their newest Android tablet: the ARCHOS 70b Internet Tablet. It is a 7-inch tablet, with a 1024×600 rsolution screen. It runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb, and has Android Market access, making it about as legitimate an Android device as possible. It comes with a 1.2 Ghz processor, 512 MB of RAM, an HDMI output, microSD slot, and 8 GB of storage built-in. This tablet will cost $199 at retail starting in January.

There are two obvious drawbacks here: first, it’s not in stores for the lucrative holiday season, especially with the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet trying to snatch up the budget tablet market. Second, while it is using a true version of Android, it is still behind the current version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. Obviously, being an OS designed for tablets, it’s less antiquated than Android 2.x tablets are at this point, but it’s still a budget device being released behind the latest OS. Still, considering how Honeycomb’s true Android tablet experience has been limited to only a certain subset of devices, and how lower-priced options have been excluded from that subset, it seems useful to see a low-cost device providing this experience to potential Android tablet users. As well, this is one of the few budget devices to actually provide Android Market access, which devices like the Kindle Fire notably eschew.

Google Unwraps Ice Cream Sandwich, The Latest Version of Android

Google Unwraps Ice Cream Sandwich, The Latest Version of Android

Oct 19, 2011

Along with the Galaxy Nexus, Google showed off Ice Cream Sandwich publicly for the first time on Wednesday morning, October 19th, in Hong Kong. While many of the features were shown to be tailored to the Galaxy Nexus, many of the core features can be expected in both upcoming phones and hopefully in updates to current phones. Many of the features in Ice Cream Sandwich are taken from Honeycomb, and are new to phones. First off, phones will have the ability to have virtual buttons, which can be hid by full-screen apps. The Honeycomb multitasking button is now available on Ice Cream Sandwich as well, allowing for easy switching between apps.

The gallery app has new options for photo editing, including the ability to apply so-called hipster filters, along with the currently-available photo editing options. Panoramic photos are now available in the stock camera app as well; Samsung already offered this feature in their phones. As mentioned previously, screen capture with the lock and volume down keys has also been added.

The browser has been overhauled; tabs can be switched through in a similar way to multitasking. The ability to request a desktop version of a site instead of the mobile version is also available. Incognito mode has made its way to the browser, a feature previously seen in Chrome, where the web can be browsed without any data or cookies saved. Websites can be saved for offline viewing, and can be shared via Google Beam.

Gmail and Calendar will be overhauled with new interfaces, and will take advantage of the visual contacts theme that Google has introduced. This means that contacts will be identified by their photos across the OS and in many apps. Contact information includes new social updates as well, hoping to be an aggregator for information on friends, family, and colleagues.

An advanced feature for those looking to manage their mobile data is in the Settings’ new Data Usage Controls. Users can set monthly data caps, view which services are using mobile data, and can also block mobile data usage entirely. Notifications have received mild updates, with the ability to swipe away individual notifications, and the aforementioned visual contact display for incoming messages.

The SDK for Ice Cream Sandwich has been released, and developers can start working on their apps for the new OS immediately. The first device to ship with ICS will be the Galaxy Nexus; previous devices that will get it have not yet been announced.

Netflix Now Available on All Froyo and Gingerbread Devices; Honeycomb Users Left Out

Netflix Now Available on All Froyo and Gingerbread Devices; Honeycomb Users Left Out

Sep 12, 2011

Good news, everyone! Netflix is now available on even more devices than ever before! The app now supports all devices running Android 2.2 or 2.3, instead of the selective list of devices it once supported. While getting Froyo or Gingerbread on one’s device is sometimes an issue thanks to lackadaisical carrier support, at least now there are far fewer limiting factors than there once were. For those Android owners who now have the ability to watch streaming Netflix shows and movies anywhere, may I suggest Breaking Bad, which is now available on Netflix? No, I can’t, I can only order you to watch it.

Unfortunately, Honeycomb tablet owners appear to be still left in the dark, as tablets like the Motorola Xoom can’t install the app directly from the Market; while some sideloading tricks may still work, this is still a step away from Netflix being as ubiquitous on Android as it is on iOS.

Google Voice Updated With Non-Data Connection Calling and Backdoor Tablet Support

Google Voice Updated With Non-Data Connection Calling and Backdoor Tablet Support

Sep 2, 2011

Google Voice has gotten its first significant update in a while; while the dream of being able to call over wifi or data connections instead of having to use the carriers’ pricey phone minutes is not yet realized, 2 other useful features have been added. First, users can now make calls without a data connection to people that have been previously called. Becuase Google Voice dials through to another phone number, then has that call routed to the person intended to be called, this means that Google Voice just needs to store that routing number on the phone and know to call that number instead of having to prompt for that number over the data connection. This will make calling when data is unavailable while still having access to Google Voice much easier. The second feature, though this is one that is extremely unofficial, is that the app has support for Android tablets; while calling may be difficult from these tablets unless a VoIP application is used (if at all possible), this does mean that texting can be done over wifi, or can be great when users don’t have their phones handy. The app must be sideloaded from an APK (available through the source link at the bottom of the article) for Android tablets, but for supported devices, the update is available now.

Source: The Droid Guy

The Hills Are Greener: In Which I Say Android Tablets Need to Drop Their Prices, TouchPad-Style

The Hills Are Greener: In Which I Say Android Tablets Need to Drop Their Prices, TouchPad-Style

Aug 22, 2011

The TouchPad is dead. Long live the TouchPad! HP suddenly killed off WebOS and the much-advertised but rarely-purchased TouchPad tablet, and suddenly dropped the price on the 16GB model to a paltry $99. This suddenly led to a massive spike in demand for the tablet. If someone woke up from a coma and went into a technology store to see signs saying that the TouchPad was out of stock all over town, they might wonder if they were still in that coma. If there is one lesson that Android tablet makers can take from the TouchPad, it is clear; they need to drop the price on their tablets ASAP.

If Motorola, Asus, HTC, and any other tablet manufacturers are serious about the tablet market (and if the iPad’s 30 million plus sales are any indication, they should be), they need to give up on trying to match the iPad on price. They need to, at least for a year or two, undercut the iPad at the knees. Sell those tablets or introduce entry-level models at $99 for the sake of market share. If the rush of people going out to pick up a discontinued tablet at $99 is any indication, people want tablets, and will go with non-iPad tablets at the right price. Apple’s marketing and design are too good to compete with them at or around the same price point, much less if they’re more expensive!

Android phone manufacturers can compete at similar price points in the smartphone market because the iPhone is still not on all carriers, and because pricing at $199 is much easier to compete with than $499 and up devices, not to mention that many good Android phones are often a cheaper option than the iPhone is. However, the difference in the tablet market is that tablets are more of a luxury option, and are not devices that will be constantly on a person like phones are. They are a secondary device to phones in terms of portability; going wifi-only with these devices is far more of a possibility than going with something like the iPod touch and a mobile hotspot. For the much higher price point, people appear to be deciding to go with the Apple option.

So it’s time for the tablet manufacturers to quit trying to compete on equal price footing. The tablet market is clearly different. It’s time to replicate part of why Windows became the dominant desktop operating system: because their machines were often cheaper than even entry-level Macintosh models. So Android tablet manufacturers, start cutting prices! I don’t just mean to $399, I mean $199 and lower. $99 if you can! Take a loss! Apple is currently dominating the tablet market, and there is clearly a demand for low-priced tablets. So start making capable but lower-capability full-size tablets. Start making Apple squirm. One company having a monopoly on an entire class of computers is not good. It’s not good for users, and it’s not good for developers, where having multiple potential options expands their business possibilities. The time is coming for Android tablet makers to put up or shut up, and the TouchPad’s short life and death in a blaze of massive discounts should teach these manufacturers some important lessons. The iPad can’t be competed with in the same way the iPhone is competed with.

Google Releases Catalog App for Tablets. Just Not Android Tablets. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

Google Releases Catalog App for Tablets. Just Not Android Tablets. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

Aug 18, 2011

Google just doesn’t seem to understand this whole releasing apps thing on iOS. First, Google+ was released for the iPhone, and just the iPhone. No, not even the iPod touch, just the iPhone. Why? Who knows. Now, they’ve released an app called Google Catalogs for tablet devices. This lets users browse through a variety of catalogs on the large tablet screen. There’s just one problem: the tablets this app was released for? The iPad. Not for Android tablets. No, the iPad. This isn’t a joke, though it was quite sheepishly pointed out by TheFind, who do have their own app called Catalogue for Android tablets.

Still, this whole thing is kind of silly. Android tablets are lacking for quality apps, and Google releases an app for iPad? Maybe this is just a case of their iOS team being completely different from the Android team, and there was no communication going on, similar to how Google says the Motorola purchase will supposedly work. Still, there’s just something about this that’s just quite asinine, and disrespectful to Android tablet owners hungry for more tablet apps. Et tu, Google?

Motorola Xoom Wifi Hardware Review

Motorola Xoom Wifi Hardware Review

Aug 10, 2011

Android tablets have been something of a mythical beast, often mentioned, but rarely seen in the wild, at least as long as the iPad has been the popular tablet of choice. So most of my experience with Android tablets has been secondhand, until I recently got my hands on a Motorola Xoom Wifi tablet, running Android 3.2.

The Xoom feels about the same weight as the iPad, if not maybe slightly heavier, but the difference, if any, is such where actual measuring tools would have to be used to determine any weight difference. The hardware feels very rugged, like it could take a beating and keep on ticking. The battery life of the Xoom will depend on how much background processes will be running, and if a lot of notifications are active, but I approximate 6-8 hours of continuous usage without a charge; with occasional usage, I can go a couple days without charging the Xoom. The Xoom comes with a micro-USB cable and a separate wall charger; the cord on the wall charger is of very generous length, and using the Xoom while it is charging is very easy, unlike with the iPad’s obtrusive dock connector. The interesting element of the Motorola Xoom is that it actually has fewer buttons than the iPad, having just a lock/power button on the upper left side of the device, and volume keys.

The rear-facing camera is solid, and comes with a built-in flash. However, there is no “tap to focus” like on other Android devices, focusing only happens when the shutter key is pressed, and even then it does not provide a good preview of what the final image will look like. That’s really the problem with the camera in general; pictures are practically impossible to set up. This is a competent camera, though. A front-facing camera is available as well, though there’s no Skype available for the Xoom yet. Google Talk video support works, though.

All the ports are put in positions where they are out of the way of the hands in pretty much any orientation; the headset port is on the top, the charging ports are on the bottom of the device, and the volume keys are on the top left. If turned upside down, the volume keys are difficult to press accidentally. In portrait orientations, the ports are still well out of the way of any hand placement, though the tablet feels a bit top-loaded due to its taller aspect ratio. In landscape mode, the widescreen 1280×800 resolution of the Motorola Xoom makes it better for viewing videos, and makes it great for multi-column apps like Gmail and Twitter apps like Plume. A thumb keyboard comes highly recommended, though there isn’t one pre-installed with the Xoom.

There is the occasional slowdown while using the hardware, and the lack of any kind of default task manager makes clearing applications out of RAM a problem after a couple of days of continuous uptime. Power cycling usually solves these issues; rebooting is not available on the default software, and would likely require rooting. Still, for a device that is touted for its dual-core processor, it’s disappointing to see the slowdown that often pops up. The browser suffers from some of this occasional slowdown and lag. Flash does not come pre-installed, but can be easily downloaded and installed from the Android Market.

A comparison of the Android tablet OS compared to iPad’s iOS can be found in this The Hills Are Greener column, but the main drawback to Android 3.x is that tablet apps are harder to find. A variety of apps do work when stretched out to tablet resolution, yes, but it does lead to weirdness with the user interfaces. A lot of these apps are in the Android Market’s “featured tablet apps” section, as well!

Using the Xoom has been an entirely different experience from the iPad because of the differences. The Xoom is a great piece of hardware, and the base OS is very solid and well-designed for tablets. With more available apps on the Market, the tablet experience could improve. For those looking for an Android Tablet, the Xoom seems like a great choice, and will become something that I will regularly use, especially for productive activities, like writing and the most important activity of all: tweeting.

Skillz: The DJ Game Coming to Android Tablets

Skillz: The DJ Game Coming to Android Tablets

Jun 3, 2011

Hong Kong-based developer Playpen Studios are releasing their rhythm game Skillz, winner of the IGF China 2010 “EXcellence in Audio” award, for PC and tablet devices. And, since this is an Android site, this means that Android tablets are included in the fun!

Skillz: The DJ Game, scheduled for release later this year, gives players virtual turntables, which they use scratch, crossfade, and play samples in order to remix music. Various modes will be offered, from a freestyle mode to a career mode. Over 20 tracks will be available with the game at launch, including these tracks:

• Amp Live – “Gary is a Robot”
• People Under the Stairs – “Trippin’ at the Disco”
• Diplo – “Newsflash”
• Samantha James – “Breathe You In (Andy Caldwell Dub)”
• James Pants – “Ka$h (Trizzy & XXXchange remix)”
• Redlight – “Stupid”
• Bassnectar – “Teleport Massive”

The game will come with OpenFeint for high scores and achievements, and Playpen Studios promises additional tracks to be made available after launch “on an ongoing basis.” Joe Gilbertson, co-founder of Playpen Studios, claims that the game will be great for the large screens and touch interfaces of tablets: “As we continued working on the title, we started playing with mobile tablets and realized the touch-screen interface was perfect for our game. As a DJ myself, I know players will love interacting directly with the screen, triggering samples, riding the crossfader and scratching up the dual turntables to create sweet new mixes. We can’t wait to launch and get this into everyone’s hands!”

Playpen Studios will be launching the game later this year for PC, iPad, and Android tablets. There’s not a lot in the way of original content for Android tablets, so this could definitely help, especially at around the holiday seasons when tablet manufacturers will be hoping for increased Android tablet sales. There They will be showing off the game at E3 next week at DNA Interactive’s booth, located at booth #2959 in South Hall. For those unable to go, check out some screens below, and click here to a view a trailer.

Motorola XOOM – First Honeycomb Powered Tablet, Has Arrived

Motorola XOOM – First Honeycomb Powered Tablet, Has Arrived

Feb 23, 2011

We’ve heard about it, we’ve seen events about it, and now — we can actually purchase it! Verizon has it up and ready for purchase at a price of $599 with a 2-year contract or $799 off contract. What’s so special about the Motorola XOOM? Well — for starters, it’s the first tablet to officially (yea I’m talking to you NOOK Color) feature Android 3.0 (Honeycomb).

Honeycomb was specifically designed with tablets in mind and features a completely revamped UI. Add to that the impressive hardware specs and you have yourself one sweet Android tablet! Let’s take a look at what you should know about the Motorola XOOM and what you can expect if you’re lucky enough to have the kind of dinero necessary to snag one.