Posts Tagged ‘android’

Keylogging Android by design

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Samsung are working on a service that allows application ‘a’ to receive the keystrokes from application ‘b’, ‘c’, ‘d’, etc (reports The Verge) so that application ‘a’ can be more contextually aware and deliver better search results and improved experiences. Automatically.

I can’t see an issue with that at all. I’m sure everyone will be more than happy that Android will allow data to flow to apps, to servers outside of the handset, and be analysed and recorded, with nothing more than a security pop up at install. Nobody would ever leverage that for evil…

Another commentator notes the ‘Normandy’ name and the hidden message to Microsoft from Nokia

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Charles Arthur at The Guardian pitches an interesting idea to Microsoft’s new CEO. Drop Windows Phone and fork Android.

Windows Phone was a wonderful project, but it was too late; the benefits of integration across handset, tablet and desktop simply haven’t appeared. The vast majority of people who use a desktop PC don’t use a Windows smartphone, and there’s no chance of that changing any time soon – or ever, actually.

AOSP offers Microsoft the chance to remake its mobile strategy so that it exploits all the strengths of its most bitter rival – it’s free, widely available – and grab mobile developer interest. An all-out war between Microsoft and Google using the Android platform would be absolutely fascinating; both would be pressed on their strengths and weaknesses. For Microsoft, presently a distant third in this race, it could be the answer it needs.

Sounds remarkably like one of my editorials last month at Forbes, arguing that Nokia’s leaked Normandy handset running a variant of the Android Open Source Project, should be seen to completion by Microsoft and tie in with the Windows Live account and cloud services.

What does it take to build a smartphone in Russia?

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

My interview with Vlad Martynov, CEO of Yota Devices – the company behind the smartphone with a regular screen on one side and an eInk display on the reverse – is up on Forbes:

“We asked ourselves what we liked and didn’t like with our current smartphones. While we loved the way it made us more productive and connected, there was one fundamental thing we all determined we didn’t like. Most of the time, the display is sleeping. It’s just a black box. While it’s sleeping, it’s useless. It has no value.

“So, we asked ourselves how to solve it. Interestingly enough, the solution was on the surface. I’m, of course, talking about battery-saving electronic paper displays. Technology that already existed and is used in e-readers. So where do we place it? Again the answer was right in front of our eyes. Or actually on the back of our smartphones — a surface that had no practical use until today. The backside of the smartphone is a dead space. We decided to give it life.”

“We turned this useless space into an always-on display.”

You can read the full interview here.

Start the death-watch on the Android alarm clock app Timely

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Bitspin are the team behind Timely, the popular replacement alarm clock for Android, and they’ve just been bought by Google:

We’re thrilled to announce that Bitspin is joining Google, where we’ll continue to do what we love: building great products that are delightful to use. For new and existing users, Timely will continue to work as it always has.

Given Google’s previous form in buy-outs, I expect Timely to be removed from the Google Play store in the first weke in April and the Bitspin team assigned to ‘other roles inside Google’.

The Android watch that you need to hack to run Android apps

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

ArsTechnica highlights the hack on the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch so that it breaks out of the ‘walled function garden’ that Samsung placed it in, and allow it to almost any Android app. As wearables becomes the new technology battleground, the battle between ‘companion’ and ‘standalone’ will continue… just as the old one-box or two-box challenge dogged the PDA/mobile field at the turn of the century.

Why are Microsoft pushing Xbox Live to Android

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Since launch, Windows Phone has always had the games under the Xbox Live banner. So why release one of their own Xbox Live titles on Android?

The smart thing to do would be to build up an Xbox ecosystem over a number of mobile platforms which includes Windows Phone. Microsoft’s work with Unity to help the cross-platform development tool is probably the biggest signpost. By growing Xbox as a whole, but working with a middleware engine that allows fast cross-porting between Windows Phone, iOS, and Android, Microsoft can increase the reach of the gaming brand, and at the same time enhance the software catalogue on Windows Phone with the marquee names being released across the three ecosystems at the same time

More thoughts over on All About Windows Phone.

The £80 Android Tablet

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

The Nook HD, now available for just £79 for 8GB in the UK, is a nice piece of kit. It’s not cutting edge, but it does the job, its comfortable to read on for long periods, and with the inclusion go Google Play, you can be sneaky and install the Kindle app if you’re locked in to Bezos’ ecosystem.

It is possible to use the Nook HD and Nook HD+ as purely Kindle readers, which does feel a touch subversive as a user, and I did wonder how sales from the Barnes and Noble store have performed since the opening up of the Kindle. Interestingly Managing Director Jim Hilt told me earlier this month that “sales have not been diminished with the inclusion of Google Play.”

Barnes and Noble still has a significant number of apps available through the Nook Store, but having Google Play available should give the switched-on user more confidence to buy a Nook. If for any reason the Nook ecosystem was switched off, the inclusion of Google Play, and the ability to side load content and apps over the USB cable would mean the tablet would still be usable.

Read more on my recent Forbes article.

Have a break, have… an Android 4.4 smartphone?

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

As if the world of smartphones wasn’t satisfied with Microsoft buying Nokia, Google have announced the new version of Android (v4.4) will be called…


Seriously was Google so annoyed that nobody had written about Android for eight hours that they just rolled out the wackiest, craziest, idea possible? With Kit-kat advertised on every Android handset, and Nexus handsets advertised on ever Nestlé chocolate wafer bar for the next few weeks, it reminds me of the sort of crazy moves Google used to pull on April Fools Day in the past.

I’ll be interested to see how the Nestle boycott around baby milk ( will impact on Android.

Why did Samsung skimp on the Galaxy S4 Mini battery?

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

It might be a derivate of the regular Galaxy S4, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is a nice size in my hand, does all the basic smartphoen tasks well, and burns through the battery far too quickly.

A few extra millimetres of depth would not have spoiled the lines of the S4 Mini, but would have allowed a larger battery compartment to be placed into the design. FInding another 200-300mAh with slightly more volume would have made the S4 Mini a handset that can get through the day without the user having to make any compromises in how they use the handset.

Samsung’s designers had it easy with the S4 – they just threw everything into the chassis, and made it as big as it needed to be. The S4 Mini needed a bit more style, a bit more love, and some rational decisions. This smartphone is quite simply, a fantastic idea that needed more focus on it’s own achievable goals from Samsung. And it didn’t get it.

My full review is over on Forbes.

The Russians making money from Android malware

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

Fascinating write up from Lookout on the professionalism of the Android malware industry in Russia:

Organized groups of Android malware authors are operating like startups: tapping multiple individuals or organizations for specialization in different business areas, leveraging online tools for promotion and developing affiliate programs. At least one Russian malware “startup” has been discovered earning tens of thousands of dollars per month and operating thousands of websites through their affiliates.

This is one advantage to well curated app stores – if you restrict your downloading to these sources then you’re far less likely to be caught out by these apps. If you find something you like or someone sends you a link, remember to search for it in the store, rather than following the link.

Android Tablets as AOL CDs

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Classy footnote from Marco Armenti, as the ‘high sales / low use’ questions around Android tablets continue:

I offered to give my Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire to Betaworks in the Instapaper acquisition, but they had so many of both sitting around already that they declined. Tech companies with mobile apps can practically tile walls with outdated Android devices. They’re the new AOL CDs.

Why are people buuying Android tablets, and not using them?

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

So Android Tablets have a market share (in sales) of around 56%, but in terms of browser share they have 28%, in terms of the share of mobile advertising it drops down to 14%. What’s gone wrong, or do desk drawers really like the Nexus 7?

Questioning the Android/iOS tablet debate

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

ZDNet ask “Can any tablet OS challenge Android and iOS?”

Hold on a minute. That’s the second question. The first question is “Can Android’s tablet OS challenge iOS?” and right now I still think the answer is not yet definitive. Just because lots of manufacturers have pushed out Android tablets onto store shelves around the world does not mean it’s established. I could ship twenty million Palm OS handsets and be ‘established’ given that logic (or 2.7 million BlackBerry 10 devices…).

The iPad range is established, and users are comfortable. I’ve yet to see indications that any other manufacturer has stepped up to deliver an Android tablet system that a significant number of consumers would buy, as opposed to pockets of Xperia and Galaxy fans around the world.

Drivers, hardware, and broken platforms

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

James Kendrick takes a look back at the historical bane of computing (keeping your hardware drivers current on your Windows based desktop), and draws contrasts both to Microsoft’s Windows 8.1, but also issues in the Android ecosystem.

The mobile space today, with the majority of customers who are not tech-savvy, calls for a change to the ecosystem. Continuing the way it is currently, both in the Windows and Android ecosystem, is a recipe for disaster. The time to change is now, no matter how it upsets hardware partners. Once customers are lost due to the way things are, they will not come back. A great user experience is not a luxury, it is a requirement.

Looks like either the techies haven’t learned, or the business model for new hardware outweighs the idea of updating sensibly specced hardware that’s only a few years old.

Sony announce a mobile phone for your mobile phone

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Not sure if it’s cutting edge comedy or actual coverage of Sony’s new 6.4 inch HD screened Xperia Z Ultra on BBC News:

Those concerned about using such a big device for quick tasks are also offered an optional bluetooth add-on which can be paired to the handset using NFC (near field communication) to make calls, view text messages or stream music.

Sounds like Sony have (re)invented the mobile part of a mobile phone.