When it comes to smartphones, Android competes very well with the iPhone. In fact, I think it’s a much better experience, but when it comes to tablets, I hate to admit it, Android is losing. The problem has never been the hardware, it’s the availability of quality apps. Automatically the assumption is that fragmentation is the problem, but fragmentation is an issue with phones, and yet quality apps aren’t a major issue. so why hasn’t developer support transferred to tablets? Well lets first start with a little history.
Back in late 2009, Android phones seemed far behind the iPhone, but then things changed in a hurry. Even though Android’s first phone, the G1, was introduced in 2008, things didn’t get cooking until the DROID debuted on Verizon in late 2009. From that point forward the Android world really started to multiply by numbers even I couldn’t imagine. I remember when I bought my DROID, people would say there aren’t any apps available on Android to speak of. Things changed dramatically, and by the end of 2010, the iPhone didn’t have much of an advantage when it came to apps.
It doesn’t appear that Android tablets are enjoying the same kind of success. Although the Motorola XOOM, technically wasn’t the first Android tablet, it was what really started a wave of tablets with the OS about this time last year. One could argue that it’s only been one year, and look what happened to Android phones in its second year. The problem with that theory is that the success of Android phones was actually an advantage for tablets to get a better kick-start. Actually in terms of sales, Android isn’t doing so bad. According to the IDC, Android tablet market share for the 4th quarter of 2011 was 44.6%. That’s actually very good, but somehow things don’t seem that close.
Ah yes, the variation of the Android platform. Some people love it while others hate it. Let’s face the cold, hard truth about Android: it’s an open-source platform in which any individual can take the basic source, tweak it a little and truly make it their own. Similarly manufacturers can take the basic open source and throw it onto all sorts of devices with all sorts of hardware configurations. What do both amateur developers and established manufacturers of Android devices have in common? Each want to develop and create an end result or product that is “unique” and more or less different from its competition, while also providing a need for its customers and consumers. Amateur developers have a different perspective from both the engineers/developers at Google and OEMS– that’s to take the Android platform which notoriously omits items such as built-in functions like the ability to take screenshots and make it available for all. OEMs and manufacturers conversely see the bare Android platform as too basic and will slap on enhanced features such as social communication widgets. Independent/amateur developers and OEMs/manufacturers have different visions, but again— they’re looking at the bigger goal of answering what they perceive to be Android customer’s need ands try to address them.
What Android users truly want or need can be subjective and there’s no real right or wrong answer. However, we all believe Android’s benefit to users involve the freedom of choice. There are a myriad of options prospective and interested consumers can look into when it comes to manufacturers. For those who want a simple phone which allows for web browsing, messaging (texting and Twitter) and basic phone calls, there are a ton of budget options such as the Pantech Burst smartphone. For others who are interested in watching videos, listening to music or gaming on the go, there are other devices which feature dual-core processors with built-in GPUs such as the HTC Rezound. Whatever it is a prospective user is interested in, they’ll find what they want. Now suppose I ask this question to you: considering Android is truly an open platform, is it fair that manufacturers generally market devices with various hardware profiles, but only one UI option? More importantly, what is the benefit of having an Android device with a custom UI and would manufacturers and ultimately consumers be better off having the option to choose between a device with a custom skin or no skin at all? I personally believe that not only is it unfair for OEMs to market most devices with custom skins, but also marketing devices with no skins may be a financial benefit as well as positive perception from the various levels of the Android community.
Well, bootloaders are back on the menu and this time our friends over at Droid Life managed to intercept a letter given to a DL reader by Verizon Wireless regarding locked bootloaders. The customer politely reminded Verizon about the “Block C License” but Verizon provided a song and dance claiming the unlocking of a bootloader would cause an instability in customer service and a negative impact on the user experience altogether. The company has taken a serious stance on not allowing “unapproved” software on their mobile devices. However, many argue that in the license agreement, nowhere does it state that Verizon is referring to “bootloaders” when it states that “no device shall be locked”. Most argue that this is referring to the device’s capability to access the network and not in fact the bootloader. While we’re not 100% sure what they’re referring to, one thing can be certain, customers are complaining. Having a locked bootloader denies a user his/her God given ability to make certain changes and take certain advantages of their device. It’s no wonder users will grab their torches and pitch forks the second a bootloader gets locked. So, for now, Vz’s stance is this, regarding bootloaders; The carrier has issued that OEM’s lock device bootloaders in an effort to obtain a “standard of excellence in customer service“. The company is bent on not letting unlocked phones lessen the experience of users. Ok, I guess. What say you though? Feel free to throw your rants in the comments below. Meanwhile, check out the letter in its entirety after the break. Read more
We know, we know! After reading that title you’re saying to yourself, “damn man, Ice Cream Sandwich isn’t even rolled out yet to more than a handful of devices!” We hear ya. I’m all for upgrades, updates and better OS’s don’t get me wrong. However, this isn’t helping the fragmentation issue one bit. Google, if you’re reading this, slow the heck down. One can only assume that the new OS is most likely a minor one and not as drastic of a change as ICS was from Gingerbread. That being said, Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of Engineering for mobile devices at Google made a comment during an interview with Computerworld at MWC that noted the new version could be rolling out to devices by early fall.
“After Android 4 comes 5, and we haven’t announced the timing yet, which we’re still sorting out,” Lockheimer said. “There’s a lot of engineering work behind it still, and there’s also just the question of how to time it.“
“In general, the Android release cadence is one major release a year with some maintenance releases that are substantial still.”
So, makes sense since Android 4.0 was released last Nov. However, Lockheimer adds:
“Having said that, we’re flexible. The [timing of releases] is not what drives us, but what does is innovation and offering users a great experience.”
So, there’s really no telling when the official announcement and/or roll-out will be. In addition, there was no solid confirmation that the name of the new OS would indeed be Jelly Bean. For now, we’ll have to give Android 4.0 some breathing room as it’s still a hit and success among developers and users alike. Stay tuned as we dig for the soup on all the details regarding the next iteration in the alphabetical sweets release. And feel free to offer some suggestions of your own as to what will follow suit. Read more
How is it the old saying goes? Hell hath no fury like a… newsreader scorned?! Well that certainly seemed to be the case when Fox News’ Shep Smith received a text message from AT&T informing him that his data is to be throttled. We helped you understand AT&T’s data restrictions earlier this month, the highlight of which explains that the top 5% of users are throttled for the duration of their billing period.
So it seems poor Shep managed to reach that top 5%, here’s hoping he didn’t upload the youtube video whilst on his data plan!
Check out the video for the full rant in all it’s glory.
What can a carrier do to keep their data networks running smoothly when the appetite for bits keeps growing? One method is called “throttling”. This simply means slowing down a user’s access to the network when that user passes a certain threshold of data used. The theory behind this is that heavy data users, once throttled, cannot continue to consume massive amounts of data when the pipe is made narrower, leaving more bandwidth for everyone else.
Last summer, AT&T announced new restrictions for users on their unlimited plan. The restrictions look at the top 5% of the heaviest data users who are grandfathered in to the plan, and throttle them for the rest of the billing month. The problem is that the amount of data used by the top 5% changes every month. So, for example, if the top 5% all used around 2GB of data, that’s where they set the threshold. Any user approaching that threshold would be warned, then throttled once they pass it.
Even as an Android fanatic I have to admit that its main competitor, the iPhone, does extremely well. As much as I hate to say it, the iPhone is here to stay and will continue to be a thorn in Android’s side. I have been sitting and wondering though on why so many folks go over to the iOS side or stray from Android. While I am not an expert I believe a lot of it has to do with how these phones are marketed coupled with the amount of Android phones that OEMs are putting on the market. Read more
What does a tablet mean to you? To most, it’s something that lets you have productivity on the go— emails, social communication, reading articles and e-books, etc. Of course consumers realize it’s possible to do all that with a notebook computer or netbook. However, it’s no secret that notebooks are losing in popularity because people understand in this day and age, “less is truly more”. You could have a netbook as well, but then some individuals would be graced with keys far too small for big hands like yours truly, a small screen that’s sometimes just slightly bigger than that of a smartphone or the fact netbooks just aren’t powerful enough even to do the bare minimum like check emails, do some online chatting, etc. Manufacturers have realized consumers want something that can bring the best of both worlds and that’s why tablets have been developed now.
While Apple’s iPad is leading the revolution, it’s obvious there are many other successful tablets. There are many of you who own a tablet now and then there are many of you who will be looking to purchase a tablet in the near-future. The great thing about Android tablets is that they are a direct reflection of the Android platform in general. The Android platform allows for a variety of manufacturers to make unique and “customized” versions of the Android devices which are best suited for each user’s tastes. While there are popular options such as the ASUS Transformer Prime, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and of course the record-selling Amazon Kindle Fire, there’s one tablet that has won my heart and will continue to win my heart for the next year or two (or three or four). That tablet is the Motorola Xoom Wifi tablet. Introduced at last year’s CES, the tablet is still literally the model for which other Android tablets are developed and shaped. I will share with you all my thoughts and experience of owning this tablet. Of course many of you will disagree and want to throw in your two cents, but I just want to give you all some insights as to what the device means to me and how it fits in my lifestyle. Read more