Technologizer posts about Google Android

Which Phone OS Crashes More? It’s Not Android

By  |  Posted at 7:52 am on Monday, February 6, 2012

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The argument that iOS is a much more stable operating system than Android has been repeated on the blogs and even in the comment threads of stories about the two operating systems. There’s a problem, though: the data indicates that is untrue.

Mobile app monitoring company Crittercism released data Friday on crash reports from the period December 1 through December 15, and saying iOS has stability issues is putting it nicely. By a 2-to-1 margin, iOS crashes much more frequently than Android, according to Crittercism’s report. The biggest offender is iOS 5.0.1, accounting for 28.64 percent of all crashes.

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Foodspotting: It’s Not Just for Food Photographers Anymore

By  |  Posted at 8:13 am on Thursday, February 2, 2012

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Until now, I’ve thought of Foodspotting mostly as an iPhone app which my wife uses to share photos of her meal when we dine out. She loves it. So do enough other people that a million pictures have been uploaded since the app’s launch, making it feel a bit like an Instagram that’s entirely devoted to things you can eat..

But there’s probably a limit to how many folks there are in the world who want to obsessively photograph food. So the new version of Foodspotting that launched this week is designed to broaden the app’s appeal. The photo sharing’s still there–but it feels more like one feature in an app whose primary purpose is to let large numbers of people find and see the best dishes at local restaurants before they place an order.

The new Foodspotting lets you browse popular dishes at nearby restaurants, or pull up a “picture menu” of a specific eatery. Lists of picks from media outlets such as Zagat’s and New York magazine supplement the recommendations from Foodspotting users. And there’s a section of Specials–which consisted of 50% discounts at several restaurants when I checked–which is the start of Foodspotting’s strategy for making money.

With its new emphasis on finding places to go and stuff to eat, Foodspotting feels a bit more like a competitor to traditional sources of restaurant reviews such as Yelp. But the similarities don’t run deep. Foodspotting still focuses on pictures and thumbs-up ratings, not full-blown critiques. And there’s no way to steer other users away from disappointing dishes by giving anything a thumbs down.

Judging from my experience so far, Foodspotting also doesn’t have a Yelplike critical mass of content practically everywhere. At the moment, I’m in Newton Corner, Massachusetts–not exactly a hotbed of fine dining–and only see a few photos from a few restaurants. Yelp, however, has dozens of nearby establishments that have dozens of reviews apiece. (Back home in food-centric San Francisco, Foodspotting is a much richer resource.)

Of course, one of the goals of the new version is to ramp up more quickly. If it works, the app, which was already lots of fun, will be even more fun, and much more useful.

Foodspotting is available for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry; the iPhone and Android editions are the first two to become available in this updated version.



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Ice Cream Sandwich tablet
I’m still hoping that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will help make Android tablets interesting to consumers in a way that Honeycomb-based Android tablets have not been. I haven’t tried one for myself yet. But JR Raphael of Computerworld has an Asus Transformer Prime with ICS–and he’s put together a nice walkthrough of the interface.

Posted by Harry at 9:43 am

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MHL, a Possible Solution for the Scarcity of Android Add-Ons

By  |  Posted at 12:52 am on Monday, January 16, 2012

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Pioneer's AppRadio 2

Pioneer's AppRadio 2.

If you own an iPhone, you can choose from a surging sea of add-ons that work with it: speaker docks, in-car gizmos, game controllers, and much more. If you have an Android phone–well, if you’re lucky, the company that made it sells some peripheral devices. (Motorola, invented of such add-ons as the Lapdock, is especially conscientious here.)

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The Slippery Slope of Android Differentiation

By  |  Posted at 10:34 am on Thursday, January 12, 2012

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I know I’ve been piling on Android as of late, but I just can’t ignore comments from Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha. Speaking to the Verge at CES on Wednesday, Jha says that phone makers will continue to skin Google’s operating system with their own interfaces, making the possibility of a purer Android experience seem more remote than ever.

Motorola “has to make money” he says, and “the vast majority of the changes we make to the OS are to meet the requirements that carriers have”. Wait, haven’t we heard this before? On Monday, I wrote that Google no longer has any control over Android, ceding most of it to carriers and it seems, the manufacturer as well.

The problem is that there are just too many Android phones. That makes phones from different manufacturers awfully similar, which makes it hard for any one model to sell well based on sheer distinctiveness. So carriers layer their own user interface tweaks over Android in an attempt to be different.

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Which is It, Google? Is Android Open or Not?

By  |  Posted at 2:28 am on Tuesday, January 10, 2012

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Lately, it’s not often that I agree with MG Siegler. If you’ve read my work elsewhere, you know I’ve taken issue with some of his coverage of Apple.

But his post explaining his distaste for Android is probably the most cogent argument so far why the platform is falling so far short of its potential.

Android was built on a foundation of good intentions. The platform was supposed to usher in a new mobile era where the power was given to the user to make their device their own. No walled gardens, no censorship, no limits. Supporters of the platform heralded its “openness,” deriding Apple and others for their top-town controlled approach.

It sounded too good to be true, and it pretty much was. Carriers balked at giving up that control and quickly Android became just as tightly controlled as iOS or any other mobile platform. And this is directly a result of Google’s business decisions in the company’s quest for Android market domination.

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Marketing Land’s Danny Sullivan has a nice summary of the state of Android–not really open, yet not closed, either: 
 

Imagine if when Windows 7 came out, it was only offered on only one particular Dell computer. It was also uncertain when or if other computers, including those made by Dell, would ever be able to upgrade to it. Welcome to the “clopen” world of Android. 

 
 Another choice quote:
 

 If Android 4 was a real ice cream sandwich, it might melt long before it was delivered to customers.

Posted by Harry at 1:54 pm

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Geez, Samsung says that it won’t update its Galaxy S smartphones–like my Verizon Fascinate–to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich:

The company’s argument is that they lack sufficient RAM and ROM to run the new OS alongside TouchWiz and other “experience-enhancing” software. This will come as a massive blow to the great many users of the Galaxy S, who would have rightly expected the 1GHz Hummingbird processor and accompanying memory to be able to handle ICS — it’s the same hardware as you’ll find inside the Nexus S, and that phone is receiving Android 4.0 over the air right now.

I’d gladly give up TouchWiz for Ice Cream Sandwich. In a heartbeat. Would you?

Posted by Harry at 9:14 pm

9 Comments

Rumor: Android’s Answer to Siri is Coming Soon

By  |  Posted at 10:22 pm on Wednesday, December 14, 2011

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Siri, the virtual assistant built into Apple’s iPhone 4S, seemed to catch competitors off guard. But all along, Google has reportedly been working on its own voice-controlled assistant for Android phones that responds to natural language.

The project is apparently codenamed Majel, and may see an initial release by the end of this year, Android and Me reports, based on unnamed sources. The codename is a reference to the Federation Computer in Star Trek, whose full name is voiced by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry.

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Mossberg Reviews Asus’s Convertible Tablet

By  |  Posted at 1:15 pm on Thursday, December 8, 2011

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Over at All Things D, Walt Mossberg has reviewed Asus’s Transformer Prime, an Android Honeycomb tablet that has an optional, attachable keyboard. He likes it, sort of–although he likes the iPad better, and has multiple reservations.As someone who likes to use an iPad as a PC, I’m intrigued by Asus’s convertible design. It’s designed for folks like me who like tablets but also like clicky QWERTY keyboards. But I’m also worried about Walt’s battery tests, which showed the Prime running for a little under seven hours on a charge, vs. a little over ten hours for the iPad. My single favorite thing about the iPad isn’t the size or the weight or the apps–it’s that Apple claims ten hours of battery life, and–in my experience–delivers it.
 
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Verizon Wireless says it isn’t blocking Google Wallet on its version of the Galaxy Nexus. Then again, it also doesn’t seem to be permitting it…

Posted by Harry at 12:09 pm

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Verizon Galaxy Nexus Isn’t Pure Google, May Cost $300

By  |  Posted at 9:55 am on Tuesday, December 6, 2011

9 Comments

The Galaxy Nexus is a pure Google phone, free of bloatware and designed to run Android exactly as Google envisions it. But on Verizon Wireless, that won’t be the case.

Although the Verizon Galaxy Nexus will run a mostly unmodified version of Android 4.0, codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich, the carrier will block Google Wallet, which lets you pay at some retailers by swiping your phone in front of a payment terminal, Computerworld reports. Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T are working on their own payment system called Isis, and Google Wallet, backed by Sprint, would be a threat. Isis isn’t launching until next year, though, so Verizon Galaxy Nexus users won’t be able to use NFC payments at all.

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Dell seems to be out of the Android tablet business, at least for the time being. I wonder if it’s decided to move on and focus on Windows ones, especially once Windows 8 is out?

Posted by Harry at 10:12 am

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Path 2, a Brilliant Smart Phone App With One Annoying, Self-Inflicted Limitation

By  |  Posted at 1:55 am on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

5 Comments

A year ago, a new photo-sharing app for the iPhone called Path debuted. It was slick and fun, but the most noteworthy thing about it was an intentional limitation: It only allowed you to connect with up to fifty other users, the theory being that it was for sharing images with your family and close friends, not the world.

Path did OK, but it didn’t become a big hit–unlike Instagram, which arrived at around the same time.

Now Path is back. The new version, Path 2, isn’t just about photos: You can share your textual status updates, your location, who you’re with, and whether you’re awake or asleep. You can also have the app automatically alert people when you travel a great distance and land in a new place. The original 50-friend limit has been bumped up to 150. And you can now push the items you post out to Facebook and/or Twitter.

The Path people now call the app a smart journal, which is as coherent a way as any to describe what it’s doing.

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Liz Gannes and Ina Fried of All Things D say that the long-rumored Facebook phone is real and based on a custom version of Android, although it might not show up for awhile:  

Code-named “Buffy,” after the television vampire slayer, the phone is planned to run on a modified version of Android that Facebook has tweaked heavily to deeply integrate its services, as well as to support HTML5 as a platform for applications, according to sources familiar with the project.

 
Facebook is in an interesting position when it comes to phones. Apple has deeply integrated Twitter into iOS 5. Google, which clearly sees Facebook as its primary archrival, is unlikely to make Facebook support core to the off-the-shelf version of Android. So I can see why Facebook might want a phone of its very own…

Posted by Harry at 3:00 pm

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Android Fragmentation Equals Android Insecurity

By  |  Posted at 11:09 am on Monday, November 21, 2011

10 Comments

My recent TIME.com column on Android fragmentation didn’t provide an exhaustive list of reasons to be frustrated by the degree to which the Android ecosystem is dominated by old versions of the software. In fact, I didn’t mention one of the biggest ones: Old versions of Android don’t have the newest security fixes, and are therefore potentially dangerous.

Now a security company called Bit9 has released what it calls the Dirty Dozen List of insecure smartphones. They’re all Android models running old versions:

  1. Samsung Galaxy Mini
  2. HTC Desire
  3. Sony Ericsson Xperia X10
  4. Sanyo Zio
  5. HTC Wildfire
  6. Samsung Epic 4G
  7. LG Optimus S
  8. Samsung Galaxy S
  9. Motorola Droid X
  10. LG Optimus One
  11. Motorola Droid 2
  12. HTC Evo 4G

Bit9 explains its methodology–which looks pretty serious to me–in this PDF.

Whenever I gripe about Android fragmentation, I hear from people who tell me that I’m all worked up over nothing. (Typical comment: “Mr. McCracken, like so many tech journalists, you have totally missed the point here. Believe it or not, Android “fragmentation” is not the massive problem it’s made out to be.”) But I’d like to hear anyone explain to me why this isn’t anything to be concerned about.



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