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Latest Android Developers Dashboard numbers show KitKat kreeping up
February 6, 2014 | 12:23 pm

The latest Android OS usage figures for early February from the Android Developers Dashboards show Android's more advanced OS versions - Jelly Bean and KitKat - gaining share only very incrementally. KitKat, at 1.4 percent of all Android users in early January, is now up at 1.8 percent, while Jelly Bean has gone up from 59.1 percent to to 60.9 per cent over the same period. [caption id="attachment_107137" align="aligncenter" width="480"] Source: Android Developers Dashboards[/caption] This might reasonably cause Google a little concern, because the more advanced models of phone and device are clearly only gradually penetrating the market. What's more, Android's third...

Google releases Chromecast SDK
February 4, 2014 | 3:56 am

CAM00395-1 Ars Technica reports that Google has finally issued a public SDKpublic SDK (software development kit) for its Chromecast HDMI TV dongle, meaning that for the first time, coders of random audio and video playing apps for Android, iOS, or the Chrome browser will be able to incorporate Chromecasting into their apps without having to work closely with Google to do it. Who knows what kind of apps we’ll get? Might there be a Chromecast e-reader app? It seems kind of unlikely. Due to the restrictions on the user interface, such an app might throw text up...

Google sells Motorola phone business, keeps patent portfolio
January 30, 2014 | 3:23 am

Motorola_logo26Well, there’s an example of comedic timing for you. Just the other day, Gizmodo speculated that Google might kill off the Nexus line of tablets and phones in favor of “Google Play Edition” devices from other hardware manufacturers—including, notably, Motorola, who Google owns. But today, news came out that had Gizmodo saying, “What?!” Turns out Google is selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. The deal includes all Motorola’s phone hardware, but Google is keeping most of Motorola’s patents. Google already sold Motorola’s set-top box unit to Arris for $2.35 billion. It only just bought Motorola in 2011...

Polaroid mini-tablet offers Android iPod Touch alternative…though not a very good one
January 23, 2014 | 9:28 pm

polaroidtabI have mentioned more than once that Android lacks a real equivalent to the iPod Touch. Sure, there are plenty of smartphones, and there are more than a few mini-tablets, but the mini-tablets generally seem to be running version 2 of Android, which means they have no (legitimate) access to the Play Store. Since I’ve ended up switching to an Android smartphone that fills my music-playing needs, I haven’t needed one as much, but I’ve still been curious whether one might become available. I was interested the other day when Nate mentioned on The Digital Reader that Sony was...

Latest Android numbers show no fragging fragmentation
January 13, 2014 | 10:32 am

androidThe latest figures on Android OS version usage and Android device screen size from the Google Developer Dashboards, "collected during a 7-day period ending on January 8, 2014," show that the oft-cited myth of Android platform fragmentation, often used as a pretext for preferring iOS, is ever more a thing of the past. And given the very well-informed complaints around the latest version of iOS, and features on the various sizes of iPad, and problems with Apple TV and other gadgets, it's also a myth that Apple devices don't suffer from fragmentation. (Warner Crocker: "I don’t buy the apologists who...

Amazon ranked #1 in customer satisfaction again; knocks $30 off Fire tablets to celebrate
January 9, 2014 | 3:13 pm

In honor of being ranked #1 in customer satisfaction during the holiday shopping season for the 9th year in a row by the ForeSee Experience Index, Amazon has announced it is knocking $30 off all Kindle Fire tablets until 11:59 p.m. Pacific time, January 11th. That would knock the base model 7” Kindle Fire HD down to $109, the 7” HDX (with the new Mayday Button) or the 8.9” HD down to $199, and the 8.9” HDX down to $349. Not bad pricing, all in all, if that’s what you’re looking for in a tablet. To take advantage of...

Facial recognition for random strangers, coming soon to Google Glass and your smartphone
January 8, 2014 | 9:39 pm

nametag_1Smartphones might be good for e-reading, but soon they’ll be able to read your face, too. Remember the uproar when Facebook announced plans to add face recognition identity tagging to its photos? It turned out only to be meant to tag people who you’d friended already, but to hear most people you’d have thought they were going to have their identities revealed to total strangers. Well, CNET Australia now reports on a forthcoming app for Android, iOS, and Google Glass that could reveal your identity to total strangers. Called NameTag, the app will allow users to snap photos...

webOS would have had more devices at HP, but now lives on in LG TVs
January 7, 2014 | 2:45 pm

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.’” ― John Greenleaf Whittier, Maud Muller – Pamphlet Via its Pilot and Palm PDAs, Palm was singlehandedly responsible for ushering in the PDA revolution, which led to the smartphone and tablet revolutions, but it met a sad fate at the hands of a combination of market forces and mismanagement by a series of HP execs. We’ve covered the sad decline of webOS, culminating in the bargain-basement selloff of the TouchPad tablet. But now The Verge has an intriguing report on...

Smartphones are growing into small tablets
January 3, 2014 | 2:04 pm

galaxynoteHere’s a GigaOm article by Kevin C. Tofel looking at why smartphones are getting bigger and bigger, in seeming reversal of the trend of technology making things constantly smaller. It used to be that the iPhone’s 3.5” screen was considered the ideal size for smartphones. The iPhone was made that size because it was the largest the phone could be for most people to be able to reach all corners of the screen with their thumb when holding it in their hand. But screen size crept up to 4 inches, now 5-inch screens are considered normal for many...

Watching Amazon Instant Video on Android KitKat Devices
January 2, 2014 | 5:40 pm

setting Flash to OnUpdate: Amazon recently started offering Instant Video in the UK and German markets. Unfortunately, those markets don't use Flash, so this workaround won't work outside the United States. If something changes, or we find a way to make it work, I'll update this post again. (Hat tip to Nate at The Digital Reader for researching this.) I've been getting many comments on my old Amazon Instant Video on Android post saying that the method doesn't work on KitKat. And they are correct. As soon as my Nexus 7 upgraded to KitKat, no more Amazon Instant. No worries. Watching Amazon Instant video on...

Amazon rumored to launch two smartphones in 1H2014
December 24, 2013 | 11:53 am

Is Amazon getting into smartphones? If the latest DigiTimes rumor can be believed, they should be launching in the first half of 2014. The leak is from camera-maker Primax Electronics, which reports getting an order for a lot of cameras to go into such phones. Mediabistro’s Appnewser has a few more details. Reportedly there are two models, a high-end and a regular one, and they’re going to have “as many as three front facing cameras for motion sensor technology, meaning you won’t have to touch the screen to interact with the device.” Intriguing. Of course, they will almost...

Amazon offers $5 Appstore credit for downloading any Android app, and another for buying a digital PC game
December 24, 2013 | 4:58 am

Screenshot_2013-12-24-04-50-53Have an Android device? You can get a $5 credit in the Amazon Appstore by installing it and downloading any application, even a free one. Amazon is offering this deal from 12/24 through 12/28. You just have to download the Appstore installer, then snag an app from it. See this page for details. It’s worth noting that sometimes the versions of apps Amazon has in its store are not the same as the latest version from the Play Store. Might be worth checking the version of the app in both places before you buy it. As with the...