The New Android

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Somewhere between the new gadget releases and the new Android flavours, there’s a new Android and it doesn’t look like the old one. The old Android was about developers and customization, the new Android is about users and user experience. To control the user experience, customization will take the back seat.

ArsTechnica reports that Android TV, Android Wear and Android Auto won’t allow hardware manufacturers to change the interface. The software will be updated by Google and manufacturers will only be able to add some apps and some hardware features.

“The UI is more part of the product in this case,” said Google engineering director David Burke. “We want to just have a very consistent user experience, so if you have one TV in one room and another TV in another room and they both say Android TV, we want them to work the same and look the same… The device manufacturers can brand it, and they might have services that they want to include with it, but otherwise it should be the same.”

Much like Chromebooks, the new Android devices will be frequently updated by Google. Even if you’re buying a Chromebook from Samsung, HP or Acer, you’re getting almost identical software and similar user experience, but slightly different hardware.

Back when the first Android phones were released, Google was more focused on adding features and APIs and cared less about user experience. Manufacturers had to create their own apps and skins to sell phones. This fostered a vibrant ecosystem, but also created problems: devices are slow to update, Google’s guidelines are sometimes ignored by manufacturers, user experience suffers. Apple started with the user experience and added the missing features later, Android started with the features and improved the user experience later.

“The new Android projects Google talked about at I/O this year circumvent the [fragmentation] problem entirely by not offering that kind of freedom to OEMs in the first place. That might make it more difficult for them to differentiate their products from one another, but it saves them a ton of development work and gives users more consistent, more secure devices that all pick up new features at the same time,” concludes ArsTechnica.

They’re more like Windows Phone devices. Strict guidelines, consistent interface and branding.

June 30th 2014 Android

Google Play Services Delivers Security Updates

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One of the most important new features announced at Google I/O was that Google Play Services will deliver security updates.

Google Play Services started as a way to solve Android’s fragmentation problem: instead of adding APIs to new Android versions, they were added to Play Services, which was bundled with almost any Android device and updated automatically by Google. Play Services became a clever tool that allowed Google to add new features to Android without waiting until phone manufacturers update their software.

Now it looks like Google can deliver timely security updates using the same software bundle. Apparently, Google uses a “Dynamic Security Provider, which offers an alternative to the platform’s secure networking APIs that can be updated more frequently, for faster delivery of security patches.”

Google Play Services is updated every 6 weeks and about 93% of the Android devices have the latest version. “By updating this application, Google can keep as many Android devices and Android users up to date with software, services, and security issues,” mentions Ewan Spence from Forbes, who suggests that Play Services is also a way for Google to control the Android platform and make it more difficult to fork Android, since Play Services is not open source. “By being in complete control of the access to Google Play Services, and by association the other closed source apps that consumers feel are integral to the Android experience, Google acts as a gatekeeper to the successful Android world.”

June 28th 2014 Android

Google’s Android Draws Fresh Antitrust Complaint In Europe

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Google must feel like it’s Groundhog Day. Another antitrust complaint has been filed against the company in Europe. This one is focused on Android and third-party app stores. There are also older complaints about Android before the European Commission (EC). According to an article in the Wall…

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

June 18th 2014 Android, Google

Chrome Web Store Links to Android Apps

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Chrome Web Store now shows links to Google Play for apps and extensions that are also available for Android. For example, Pocket’s page includes this message next to the number of users: “Available for Android. Get it”.

You can also find Chrome apps and extensions that are available for Android:

Google Play doesn’t show links to Chrome Web Store apps, at least not yet. It will be interesting to see if Google plans to keep a separate store for Chrome or merge it with Google Play. When Google rebranded Android Market, I speculated that Google Play will become Google’s unified store for digital content.

{ via Chrome Story }

June 4th 2014 Android

Popular Marijuana Game Gets Pulled by Apple

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What a buzz kill, Apple. A popular pot-themed game, Weed Firm, has been removed from Apple’s iTunes App Store.

The developer, Manitoba Games, had been riding high in the app charts at No. 1, but today Weed Firm vanished. The game doesn’t seem to be especially scandalous considering the rest of the video game industry, but Apple does often censor content.

“As you might have noticed the game is no longer available on the Apple App Store,” the developer said on its website today. “This was entirely Apple's decision, not ours.”

Weed Firm is a game that lets users virtually manage a marijuana growing business. The game also does not appear on Google’s Play Store, but the developer said that was unrelated to Apple’s issues.

Google has fewer content restrictions than Apple.

It was unclear if the developer had violated policies other than Apple’s rules about adult themes.

In any case, there are plenty of apps that feature marijuana, including Weedmaps, a Yelp-like app for finding where to buy pot legally. Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington, and businesses are still trying to figure out how they can discuss and market the industry.

May 22nd 2014 Android, apple, iphone, Technology

After 500K iOS Downloads, ‘iPad Game’ Monument Valley Arrives On Android

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monument valley android Monument Valley, an iOS game made by London-based app design studio ustwo, has launched on Android — after racking up an impressive 500,000 downloads on the App Store in just over a month. Read More

May 15th 2014 Android, Mobile

Gillmor Gang: Eat Your Beats

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Gillmor Gang Artcard The Gillmor Gang — Josh Miller, Robert Scoble, Keith Teare, Kevin Marks, and Steve Gillmor — welcome the latest Jobsian takedown of the music cartel, the presumed acquisition of the Beats hardware/streaming empire by Apple. How the Gang winds its way through the leaks and feints of BigTech is left as an exercise for you. As one Ganger channeled John Lennon early in the chat: “I don’t… Read More

May 11th 2014 Android, ipad, video

Sony Xperia Z2 Review: A Waterproof Android Smartphone That Goes Beyond Gimmicks

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sony-z2-2 Sony hasn’t had a great time of it in the U.S. smartphone market over the past few years, and it recently announced that its new flagship, the Xperia Z2, would only be made available to U.S. customers unlocked via its website. But the Z2 is still a solid device, and a contender on more or less even footing with flagships from other Android OEMs, so fans of Google’s mobile operating… Read More

April 30th 2014 Android, Mobile

Else 4.21.14: It’s (Almost) All Google

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The post Else 4.21.14: It’s (Almost) All Google appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

GOOG5.21.14Welcome back to Else – I took a week off for Spring break, so this covers two weeks of the best stories related to the work I’m doing on the book. Reflecting an increased focus on Google, this edition of Else is flush with Google news, from its purchase of Titan Aerospace to its unusual willingness to show us a peek behind the curtain of Google X. Google also had a confounding earnings release, took steps to consolidate power in the hands of its founders (again), and had an entertaining wrinkle in its ongoing tiff with European publishers.

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To the links:

Why Google Isn’t Growing – BI 

In fact, Google is growing – earning prove it – but the point here, cribbed from asymco, is that as goes Internet penetration, so goes Google, and the Internet is growing far more slowly than it used to. This points to two things – one, the need to own “the next 2 billion” people who have yet to get on the Internet – this is why Facebook and Google are buying drone makers – and two, the need to get into entirely new lines of business – which explains Nest, among other things.

You may own shares in Google and Facebook, but you have virtually no say in what they do — and that’s wrong – GigaOm 

Matt Ingram takes a strong POV on recent moves by the Internet giants to insure shareholders don’t have much power. It’s all legal, and it’s also unsettling. Are we putting too much faith in companies that have cheery mission statements and trustworthy CEOs? At what point do we need more influence over them, or do we?

Google, once disdainful of lobbying, now a master of Washington influence – The Washington Post

A very detailed overview of how Google has become a very large player in DC. A timely piece.

Why Google and the Music Industry Want a YouTube Hit – The Information

YouTube is the largest music app in the world, but no one sees it that way. Soon, we will. It’s critical that Google get this one right.

A German business model – Buzz Machine

Jarvis takes off the gloves and beats up Axel Springer, a company for whom I have far more sympathy, even if I do agree, in the end, you can’t cry in your beer. All of this keys off a very public back and forth between Eric Schmidt and the CEO of Axel.

Station to Station – Pitchfork

A very well done article “experience” about the future and present of streaming music. Bravo.

The Naked Android – VisionMobile

A history of how Google tried to put the Android genie back in the bottle.

Google to Buy Titan Aerospace as Web Giants Battle for Air Superiority – WSJ

Take that, Facebook!

Surveillance, Good and Evil- Random House 

An overview of the recent book Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread—The Lessons from a New Science. This is now on my reading list – seems to be an important new work on the impact of data on our society.

Amazon Ad Business Sparks Controversy—and Growth – The Information

Amazon strikes me as the most natural competitor to Google, not Apple.

The Truth About Google X: An Exclusive Look Behind The Secretive Lab’s Closed Doors – Fast Company

It’s unusual to see Google open up like this. Seems part of a larger strategy worth watching.

IAB Report: US Internet Ad Revenue Grew To $42.8B In 2013, Overtaking Broadcast TV – TechCrunch

A historic year – until you realize, the distinction between TV ads and “internet” ads is false. TV is an app of the Internet, or soon will be.

900 Years of Tree Diagrams, the Most Important Data Viz Tool in History  - WIRED

Fascinating to see how this approach to visualization has informed our understanding of data.

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The post Else 4.21.14: It’s (Almost) All Google appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

April 21st 2014 Android, Facebook, Google, YouTube

Coca-Cola Serves World Cup Trivia on QuizUp

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Coca-Cola is now sponsoring World Cup trivia on QuizUp, the fast-growing mobile app out of Iceland. The app from Plain Vanilla Games has been testing branded quizzes as its advertising model.

Coca-Cola is the second big brand to try marketing there, following Google’s collaboration that started last month. Google Maps sponsors a geography quiz called Earth From Above.

“We started working on a premium ad model,” said Viggo Jonsson, vp of business development at QuizUp. “Instead of just buying ads, we partner with the companies to create original content.”

In that spirit, QuizUp, which only launched in November, just started offering soccer trivia sponsored by Coke. The soft drink maker also sponsors the World Cup.

Jonsson said the QuizUp trivia focuses on the history of the game and the tournament, which is being held in Brazil this summer.

“We’re soft launching three [quiz] topics and the campaign will reach a climax during the World Cup,” Jonsson said.

The company said the first branded quiz with Google proved popular and is among the top 10 percent of most popular games in the app. QuizUp now has 16 million registered users.

In November, it was among the fastest growing iPhone apps to hit one million within days of launching, a performance it repeated when it released on Android phones last month.

The app offer crowdsourced trivia in hundreds of topics, and has raised about $25 million in venture capital.

QuizUp also is launching in new languages, most recently German.

April 17th 2014 Android, iphone, Mobile, Technology