android

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Andy Lees: Android copying is flattering

Microsoft's Andy Lees, president of Windows Phone division, has spoken out about Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), particularly the People app. Similarities are present, which was noticeable in the Android ICS video we covered yesterday with Google heavily borrowing from other platforms.

"It's always flattering when someone starts copying you. Fundamentally, their point of view is different. They provide you with a grid of icons and a sea of applications and the more functionality you add, the more complicated and difficult to use the phone becomes."

Even though some parts of Windows Phone are being copied, there's still space for Google to be critical about the platform. Andy moves on to what Matias Duarte said about Windows Phone Metro UI.

"The problem with the Android model is that (when) somebody decides to do something, they hack up the operating system and they make it work. But that puts it (at) a dead end for that device, and that's why phones don't get updated, it's why sometimes they run applications and sometimes they don't."

If you missed the video for Android ICS, check it out after the break. 

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Google's User Experience Director for Android, Matias Duarte, said about Windows Phone being too forceful everything into a constrained look and feel. While he says that he offers the web, there's no denying that Metro is a beutiful UI and effectively provides content with no pixels wasted to chrome. Even Android took some pointers from Windows Phone (as well as other platforms).

Steve Ballmer, being the legend that he is (see the above image), has lashed back at Android but praises the iPhone to keep it from being a targeted attack. Ballmer mentioned that Android is simply difficult for the user to get into from the off.

"You don’t need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows phone and you do to use and Android phone ... it is hard for me to be excited about the Android phones."

Android fans have taken what he said the wrong way, which is easy to do with words used. Ballmer is talking about the lack of a central design or theme across apps and the system as a whole. It looks like a giant jigsaw puzzle that is built with odd pieces. iOS has a fluid, chrome rich, interface while Windows Phone is the opposite with content, content, and more content wrapped in Metro lingerie.

This sums it up perfectly:

"Both [an iPhone and a Windows phone] are going to feel very good in your hand and both going to look very beautiful physically, but when you grab a Windows phone and use it your information is front and centre and you don’t have to scroll through seas of icons and blah blah blah."

Ballmer goes on to say that the team understands the launch of more competitively priced handsets is a must, but with the Omnia W pricing announced and Nokia coming up shortly, there might be a short wait. Good on you Ballmer, good on you sir.

Source: The Telegraph

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We mentioned Google's User Experience Director for Android, Matias Duarte, earlier as he had just showed of 'Roboto', the new design-language for Android 4.0 which will hopefully make it less geeky. A noble challenge.

Not too surprisingly, he has some choice words both for Apple and Microsoft in terms of UI design. We were under the impression that Microsoft's approach was unique, stunning and generally pleasing. And you folks certainly go critical if an app we cover is not authentically Metro enough. But not for Duarte, he's no fan. In an interview with This is My Next/Verge, he had the following pot shots at Metro:

“There’s this thing that’s happening right now in user interface design that I find kind of shackling. The faux wood paneling trend, and the airport lavatory signage trend.” He laughs when he says this and pulls up a slide on his computer, a split screen of an Atari 2600 and… airport lavatory signage. It’s an obvious dig at both Apple and Microsoft.

But what about Microsoft and their “authentically digital” design? “The problem with going too starkly systematic, forcing everything into this completely constrained, modernist palette, for both of them, you’re not leaving any room for the content to express itself.”

“Instead, I offer the web. Here there’s beautiful examples of very customized, very different feeling websites.” Matias flips through slides in his deck, a variety of websites, some news-focused, others which are services or shopping sites. “These look completely unlike each other, but people understand how to use them because the right things are standard conventions, and other things are flexible.”

Of course, we beg to differ. With Metro, all we get is straight content with no unnecessary and distracting flare aka "chrome". That's the best part of Windows Phone: straight information, video, photos, without cartoony graphics or something that looks like it came from a cheesy 80s sci-fi movie. Because sorry, but that's what Android looks like.

Source: This is My Next

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Information is still coming in but Google and Samsung just showed off Android 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). Coming first to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus which will feature a 4.65” HD Super AMOLED display technology at 720p resolution and a 1.2GHz dual core CPU, ICS looks to finally bring a little pizazz to the robotic OS.

A lot of the new "look" to Android 4.0 can be tied to Matias Duarte, who worked on Palm's ill-fated webOS UI till he was snagged by Google about a year and a half ago. Because of that, it seems quite obvious that things like Android's new calendar and especially the "card view" for multitasking look very familiar (something that even Windows Phone "borrowed"). We not sure making the card-view vertical instead of horizontal is going to fool anyone though. Other things like the People App and even the camera also look heavily borrowed from Windows Phone. Heck, they even said "Putting people at the heart..." instead of "Putting People First", so yeah.

Reader Anthony submitted the following observations he noticed during the recently YouTubed Keynote:

  • Swiping between menus instead of tapping them is Metro
  • action bar is copied from wp7 (especially making it common between apps, is exactly what Metro is)
  • photo album UI looks exactly like WP7 gallery
  • contact groups is from WP7
  • people app is direct copy of wp7 people's hub
  • folder creation method (dragging two icons together to make a folder) is from iOS
  • Lock screen to camera is from WP7/iOS (which iOS copied from WP7)
  • switching reply method between email/sms/call in contact card is WP7 (Actually, webOS did that 1st -ed.)

And in general, the consensus at least from the Twitter-sphere seems to be yes, Android borrows a lot. We always said Android was pretty ugly so this at least goes a long way to addressing that though we're not convinced that it's as elegant, smooth or as unified as the Metro design language. Just see the Windows Phone version after the break for comparison...

Loads more at our sister site, AndroidCentral.com

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O2 believes HTC Mozart runs Android

We're not sure who at O2 created the image for the HTC Mozart listing on product pages, but they must be an Android fan. According to the image above (and if you check out the link at the bottom of this article) O2 has the Mozart running Android, or so it seems. Clicking on the product to view more information reveals that in fact the device is running Windows Phone, but it may still cause confusion for those who aren't familiar with the device and what OS it sports.

On the other hand this could be positive in a misleading way. Should someone purchase the handset believing they'll be receiving an Android smartphone, they could be impressed with the refreshing change of to the Metro UI. Still, it should be fixed.

Source: O2, via: WMPU

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Though we're remiss to post Android-specific news here for obvious reasons, we thought it was interesting that today HTC showed off the Sensation XL featuring Dr. Dre Beats Audio on board. The Sensation XL, as you can probably discern from the above photo, is 100% through and through the HTC Titan but now for Android--same screen size, resolution, CPU, camera and design, but in white.

Fiddlesticks.

So it looks like we had the exclusive Titan design for all of 3 days? So much for hardware advantage. While we understand why HTC would do this (saves money on production, plus it's a killer design), we're a bit more excited now about Nokia making exclusive handsets for Windows Phone--something that won't be assimilated by the Android Borg so quickly.

Read more at AndroidCentral for their hands on with the Sensation XL.

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Global research firm comScore has released a new market share report that show Android increasing its lead from Apple, which remains in second place. Looking at the figures above, we can see Android almost hitting 44% of the U.S. market, with Apple on 27%, RIM at 19% and Microsoft at just under 6%.

RIM experienced a massive 5% drop since the previous report earlier this year. Microsoft (combined OSs) has fallen .1%, which shows the continued extinction of Windows Mobile and the rise of Windows Phone. August, being the month before Mango will hopefully show different results to what we will see in comScore's next report. Let's see a rise in market share for the software giant!

Source: comScore, via: SlashGear

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Summarizing our iPhone 4S summary - the handset lags in terms of innovation and improvements that many Apple fans were hopeful of, especially a new design. What's positive from the keynote is what this means for manufacturers on Android and Windows Phone (as well as other platforms). HTC, Samsung, Nokia, Acer, Dell and the rest now have the opportunity to push forward beyond the reaches of the iPhone in this brawl.

DigiTimes has learned from industry sources that the iPhone 4S is now lagging behind mainstream smartphones:

"The iPhone 4S comes without a larger display and with a download speed of only 14.4Mbps for HSPA, and does not support LTE and NFC technologies although it is powered by a more powerful processor and comes with more advanced camera and video functionality, the sources pointed out.

Although Apple also launched an entry-level 8GB iPhone 4 and cut the price of its iPhone 3GS, the effectiveness of such tactics will be limited as iPhone fans will still prefer to buy new models and the low-priced iPhones will not be able to compete with Android phones in the entry-level segment, commented the sources."

We only have to look at HTC's beast of a handset - the Titan - to see how far behind the iPhone is. Not only does the HTC Windows Phone boast an incredible screen with a simple, but elegant UI, but it's not featuring immense horsepower that drains battery. Simply because it doesn't require it (although having dual core will of course improve games and multi-tasking).

It's all down to Nokia and other manufacturers now to shows consumers what they've got up their sleeves.

Source: DigiTimes

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Today on Windows Weekly (ep 227), Brandon Watson joined Paul Thurrott, ZDnet's Mary Jo Foley and co-host Leo Laporte for an interesting and frank discussion on Windows Phone and the Mango update.

Laporte, who is an admitted Android devotee, was offered by Brandon to step up and take the Windows Phone challenge--essentially using nothing but a Windows Phone running 7.5 Mango for two-weeks to see if it changes his opinion. Laporte agreed to the challenge, leaving a little wiggle room for the iPhone 5, as obviously he has his reviewer duties first.

Although it would be great to see Laporte completely change over to Windows Phone, even Watson knows that can be difficult--so just having positive feedback would be a win for him and his team (see Molly Wood's response to the Challenge, a result Watson was happy with due to her admitted Android allegiance).

Will Laporte be convinced? He's a pretty level-headed guy and even if he's not 100% sold on Windows Phone, we think his opinion would certainly be informative and interesting. On the other hand, maybe he'll pull a Scott Adams and be more than impressed. Stay tuned...

Source: Windows Weekly (TWiT.tv)

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Word from Goldman Sachs, a company with an interesting reputation to say the least, is that Microsoft will generate $444 million in cross-licensing patent fees this year from Android OEMs who make smartphones and tablets. As of yesterday, Microsoft has signed seven deals with Android OEMS, including HTC, Samsung, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, Acer, ViewSonic and Wistron. Those seven deals are expected to generate between $3-$6 per device, using Goldman Sachs' numbers.

While that $444 million sounds like a lot, Business Insider points out that Microsoft generated $75 billion in revenue last year--so this is a drop in the bucket. However, that is still money that goes to Microsoft for their patents and re-affirms their position that Android is not free. While these deals won't enrich Microsoft at all, strategically, it may make OEMs second guess the advantages of using Android--either way, they have to pay Microsoft, so why not just use Windows Phones and get a more streamlined ecosystem and legal protection to boot?

Finally, at the very least, there is a certain bitter-sweet victory here for Microsoft, knowing they can fund Windows Phone development via Android sales. In the long term, this could be an important strategic decision. Plus, once you throw in the estimated $600 million in Windows Phone sales in addition to the $444 million in Android patents and Microsoft has potentially crossed the $1 billion mark for smartphone revenue. Not bad.

Source: Business Insider

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This is an interesting report about the continuing rise of interest in Windows Phone. It's amusing to remember the skepticism earlier this year before and after the release of NoDo, yet the platform is still growing at a steady pace and Microsoft has big plans to include the platform with Windows 8 and Xbox to create a unified ecosystem.

Connected Intelligence has reported that Android is the most preferred OS among current smartphone owners and those who intend to purchase a new handset within the next 6 months. 44% of these owners and potential smartphone owners are considering Windows Phone as a credible option.

Check out the press release after the break. 

via: wmpu

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Free US Windows Phone Camps

We have more camps being listed so be sure to get your calendars out and insert events. The array of Windows Phone developer camps will be freely available for all. Developers from other platforms are recommended to visit one of the days should they wish to expand their reach onto Microsoft's platform.

We've bolded the two special days in Boston (12-13 October) where the second day will be a hands-on for developing apps and will feature successful developers providing advice and support.

  • 9/20/2011 - Charlotte NC
  • 9/22/2011 - Alpharetta GA
  • 9/27/2011 - Malvern PA
  • 9/29/2011 - Reston VA
  • 10/12/2011 - Cambridge MA (Day 1)
  • 10/13/2011 - Cambridge MA (Day 2)
  • 10/18/2011 - Chevy Chase MD
  • 10/19/2011 - New York City
  • 10/25/2011 - Tampa FL
  • 10/27/2011 - Burlington VT
  • 11/2/2011 - Raleigh NC
  • 11/4/2011 - Ft. Lauderdale FL
  • 11/8/2011 - Orlando FL
  • 11/10/2011 - Coral Gables FL
  • 11/10/2011 - New Paltz NY
  • 11/15/2011 - Blacksburg VA
  • 11/17/2011 - Washington DC
  • 11/29/2011 - Atlanta GA
  • 11/29/2011 - Pittsburgh PA
  • 12/1/2011 - Hempstead NY

Be sure to check out the announcement article over at MSDN (link below) for more information and links to register at each event.

Source: MSDN, thanks minibeardeath for the tip!

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EA is running a small poll on the Battlefield Blog asking what mobile OS we use when browsing the web. The choices available are iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Surprisingly for skeptics, Windows Phone is at 28.9%, while Android and iOS are at 34.9% and 36.3% respectively - not much in it. The total number of votes at the time of writing this article is 44,375.

Show the platform some love by heading over to the blog and voting Windows Phone (the poll is in the sidebar on the left-hand side). It's nothing major, but as Tesco keeps reminding us here in the UK: every little helps.

Source: Battlefield Blog, thanks VoodooKing for the tip!

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This seems to be completely out of the blue, so take it lightly if you will. SamFirmware, the guys that continuously publish leaked ROMs and whatnot have tweeted that Samsung will be looking at leaving Windows Phone and will cease innovating for the platform from 2013 onwards. It seems odd due to the success of Samsung handsets on Microsoft's OS, but let us take a look at the larger picture here.

Could Samsung be focusing on Android? Not sure, they already have solid devices like the Galaxy S II so it could be that they have decided to take bada seriously, especially since with Android they are experiencing legal issues and have to pay Microsoft royalty.

Google will now play a role in hardware as well as software with Android, while Microsoft holds continuous tea parties with Nokia. But they're still two completely different relationships. Manufacturers were sceptical about the Motorola acquisition whereas Acer and others are still pretty excited about the future of WP.

Should this be true, 2013 is still two years away. If the platform really does capture the market by storm with Mango then perhaps Samsung may change their tune. Android (and Google) need Samsung, but it could be that bada will be competing for market as well as WP.

However we look at it this way, Samsung does seem to have a relatively healthy position by supporting both WP and Android, which makes it seem odd that they would choose to pull out from either one of them.

Via: 1800PocketPC

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SkyDrive to get unlimited storage

Here's some interesting news surrounding SkyDrive. The growing service has seen increased usage through Windows Phone, Office and soon-to-be apps for iOS and Android. Microsoft have been continuously pushing it to rival competitive storage solutions and are now reported to be planning unlimited storage.

Before we all lose our minds with the whole "OMGWTFBBQ?!" emotion, let's take a quick gander at the proposed storage features:

  • Unlimited storage space for all Office documents
  • Unlimited storage space for all photos
  • 25 GB of free storage for everything else

What's good? Unlimited storage for Office documentation and photos taken on our Windows Phone handsets, but unfortunately we'll have capped space for music and all other files. Still, 25GB worth of storage is more than what the average user requires. With apps for OS X, iOS and Android as well as native integration with Windows and WP I can see myself converting along with many more.

This may also confirm the integration of the 5GB "SkyDrive synced storage" for Windows Live Mesh with SkyDrive for devices added to accounts. We'll have to see when the roll out happens.

Source: LiveSide

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The J.D. Power and Associates' latest US customer satisfaction survey has displayed some interesting findings. Apple is first in the results, which is perfectly understandable as every iOS user has either a household full of Apple products already or are simply satisfied with Apple hardware. No matter what you think of Apple as a company or iOS (and OS X) as operating systems - Apple makes killer hardware.

HTC is second, thanks to the successful injection of handsets running Android. What will be interesting for HTC is the customer satisfaction potentially rising with the Titan and Radar, which are both beast devices. Unfortunately for RIM, they're well below average and are in between LG and Motorola (now Google) and will not help the cause with investors calling RIM to sell itself or patents. Nokia are last, could this be due to Symbian (among other factors) and not the actual hardware? Only time will tell with their launch of Windows Phone handsets.   

Source: Engadget

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This is an interesting calculation, Research2Guidance has published a report that features a chart which illustrates the comparison of average downloads per app on a number of platforms to iOS. Looking at that chart above, you can see that OVI Store (Symbian) has +160% more downloads per app on average than iOS, while Windows Phone comes second in at +80%.

Surprisingly, BlackBerry came in third at +43%. Many users on competitor platforms may complain and make remarks about the amount of apps available to WP users, but we sure have quality over quantity and it goes to show with the amount of downloads apps are accumulating. Check out our article covering Marketplace statistics and case study for more insight on WP.

Source: Research2Guidance, via: WMPU

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Microsoft today secured a deal from Acer and ViewSonic for licensing patents related to Android IP on both companies' phone offerings as well as ViewSonic's Chrome tablets. Continuing the trend of using their industry-wide licensing deal, Microsoft was able to settle peacefully with both companies, avoiding any sort of litigation, unlike with Motorola who are being sued by Microsoft (and vice versa). From Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft

“We are pleased that Acer is taking advantage of our industry wide licensing program established to help companies address Android’s IP issues. This agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercially reasonable arrangements that address intellectual property.”

What's this mean for Windows Phone? In short, we'll have more licensing money coming in from Android, in addition to Windows Phone, which is a bit funny. And Microsoft continues to put the squeeze on Android OEMs, reminding them that Android is far from free, as Google promises.

Source: Microsoft 1, 2; via: Android Central

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An insightful article has been published over at PCWorld that covers possible reasons as to why indie developers are bothering with Windows Phone at all. Even though Microsoft's platform may appear to be small fish when compared against iOS and Android, it's certainly catching the attention of a wider audience and increasing brand awareness dramatically.

The article goes into detail about the Microsoft Evangelists that get in touch with developers and students to lure them to the platform, as well as a few established developers who have built popular and well received apps. This includes Pieter Voloshyn, of Thumba (our review), and Calum McLellan, of Feed Me (our review). It's worth the read so we wont spoil it too much, head on through the link below.

Source: PCWorld

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In what is becoming almost routine (see INQ), another OEM has come out and said that the Google-Motorola deal works out better for Microsoft than Google's Android. This time it was Walter Deppeler, president of Acer's operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa. At the Berlin IFA consumer conference on Friday, he was quoted by Reuters as saying "It was a good gift to Microsoft", that Google "work against some of their clients" and finally that Acer would consider the implications of the deal before committing further to an OS.

Acer, who makes low to mid-range handsets, especially in important emerging markets, has recently started using Android in 2010 and is now actively developing Windows Phone devices (see the W4). While their phones won't compete in the U.S. or Europe, they are expected to be important players in Asian markets in the future. Either way, it's telling to hear OEMs publicly state what is becoming more obvious: this Google-Motorola deal and their continued legal quagmires are not helping to boost OEM confidence in Android.

Source: Yahoo Finance

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