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12 Jun 12 Android’s fraying tightrope with app developers


Watching the hoopla around Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference is always an exercise in spin management, as Apple’s promotion of iOS always leads to a flurry of counter arguments from those who prefer (or sell) devices with the Android operating system.

Some of those counter arguments, though, fall more than a little flat, much to my frustration.

Take Matthew Miller, who argues (quite thoroughly), that the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), already has many of the same features that iOS 6 will have when it is released this Fall.

While Miller makes an excellent case, he forgets that ICS only has 7.1 percent of total Android market share, according to Google. Right now, the latest version of Apple’s mobile platform, iOS 5, is around 75-80 percent, depending on who you ask.

When iOS 6 rolls out, because of Apple’s unified platform strategy, I would expect similar market penetration in a matter of weeks. At ICS’ current growth levels of about one percent per month, ICS might be around 10 percent of the Android market by September.

This is the F-word problem: fragmentation. Android is constantly dogged by it, because there are not only seven deployed versions of Android out in the wild, but there are also thousands of Android devices deployed, many of which require some sort of tweaking by an apps developer to get their app stabilized, because of the differing hardware requirements.

So why do developers even bother? It is the open source factor at work?

Perhaps, but I think a better case could be made with the numbers. While Apple CEO Tim Cook touted 360 million iOS devices sold in the platform’s entire lifecycle at WWDC, Android chief Andy Rubin twitter-bragged that 900,000 Android devices are activated every day. (That’s 328.5 million devices per year.)

That’s a mighty big target, and on the surface that would seem to be a big reason to develop for Android. But then you get reports like this one from mobile analyst Flurry that state “[f]or every $1.00 a developer earns on iOS, he can expect to earn about $0.24 on Android.”

Assuming Apple’s devices grow on average at about 72 million devices a year (and I just took a straight averaging here), then an iOS developer could see $72 million on new iOS devices this year, or $78.8 million on new Android devices.

This, more than any other reason, may be what is keeping Android growing. After all, assuming Flurry’s report is correct, then even though an Android developer can expect to make one-fourth per app than an iOS developer, the potential market is four times as large.

This seems a tenuous balance, though: Android’s openness is to be lauded, and it’s clearly doing what it needs to do be attracting new hardware vendors and devices all of the time. But the lack of consistency in hardware and APIs is slowly driving Android developers nuts–something I hear repeatedly from mobile developers.

Then there’s the S-word: saturation. There are growing concerns that smartphones in general are reaching the saturation point in the U.S. When that happens, all this phenomenal growth will vanish and Android’s (and iOS’) numbers won’t look so hot. There are other markets of course, but will they be better or worse in terms of revenue for app developers?

My concern is that sooner of later the problems will become more painful than the pleasure of the potential revenue. Or growth of Android will slow due to market saturation. Either way, app development on Android could slow to a crawl.

If that happens, it won’t matter how cool the Android features are: no new apps will mean no new users.

Read more of Brian Proffitt’s Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

Article source: http://www.itworld.com/mobile-wireless/280896/androids-fraying-tightrope-app-developers

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12 Jun 12 Android Reaches 900000 Daily Activations


Android’s chief architect, Andy Rubin, took to Twitter over the weekend to share the news that Google’s mobile platform is being activated on 900,000 devices each and every day. Google doesn’t provide a breakdown of those activations, so that massive number includes smartphones, tablets, Kindles, and other devices running Android.

It would appear that Google is on the cusp of reaching one million devices activated each day. But can it? Android’s adoption rate has slowed in recent months. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

The last time we heard from Google about the Android daily activation rate was in February. The number at the point was 850,000 daily activations. It took four months (February to June) to grow by 50,000 activations.

Prior to that, Google announced 700,000 daily activations in December 2011. The time to jump 150,000 activations–from 700,000 to 850,000–took only two months. Of course, that included the holiday shopping season. Two months for 150,000 (between December and February), followed by four months to climb 50,000 (between February and June) shows a huge slowdown in the growth rate. This has been backed up by reports from the likes of IDC, Nielsen, and others that say Android’s growth is throttling down a bit.

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In October 2011, the activation rate was 550,000 per day. The daily activation rate climbed by 150,000 between October and December, a two-month stretch. Nearly a year ago, in July 2011, the activation rate was 500,000 per day.

Looking at the data, it’s clear that the holiday season was a boon to Android’s activation rate. At its current rate of growth–50,000 new daily activations over a four-month period–Google won’t reach 1,000,000 daily activations until February 2013. Is there anything that can help speed up the adoption rate?

Sure, compelling new hardware and software.

Samsung will certainly do its part in the coming weeks and months with the availability of the Galaxy S III. It lands at five major U.S. carriers in the next four weeks, and is already available for sale in markets around the globe. It’s the Korean firm’s flagship device for the year, and based on initial reactions, it will be a big seller.

Google is also prepping a new, lower-cost tablet for release in the next month or so. The Asus-made Nexus tablet is expected to make its first appearance at the Google I/O conference in several weeks. Based on the price point and specs of this device, it could help bolster flagging Android tablet sales.

Perhaps more important, however, will be Android 5.0 Jelly Bean. Jelly Bean is expected to show up at I/O along with the Nexus tablet. It needs to be more successful than the previous version of Android. Eight months after its release, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has been installed on fewer than 8% of Android devices. That’s miserable. Despite Google’s promise to make device system upgrades easier and faster, it simply hasn’t happened. Can Jelly Bean improve that rate at which smartphone and tablet buyers install the latest version of the software–and the rate at which buyers snap up Android devices?

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Article source: http://www.informationweek.com/news/mobility/smart_phones/240001809

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11 Jun 12 Today Apple and Microsoft write Android’s epitaph


As I compose this post, Microsoft’s TechEd keynote is underway, while Apple will kick off Worldwide Developer Conference in just a few hours. Both events will put forth very different views of the cloud-connected device future, which Gartner says will start as soon as 2014, when the cloud replaces the PC as everyone’s personal digital hub.

For Apple, iOS 6 will be center stage, whetting consumers’ appetites and giving them another weapon in their bring-your-own-device assault on workplace IT. Meanwhile, Microsoft pitches new wares for the enterprise — Office, Windows 8, RT and Server, for starters. Where the two companies meet is the tablet, and there’s no room between them for Android.

Matters would be better for Google’s OS if Android tablets weren’t such market failures or had the search and information giant taken decisive leadership when there was still time. In January 2011, while iPad 2 rumors circled, I explained: “The most important tablet is missing from CES, and it’s not iPad 2“, but a Google Nexus device. Google needed to do for tablets what Nexus One and its successors did for smartphones: Establish a reference design and provide developers a device with always up-to-date Android.

In December, when Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said a branded tablet would come within about a half-year, I warned: “Google Nexus tablet in six months is a year too late“. Apple’s lead is too great, and the sleeping giant, meaning Microsoft, would soon wake up. Oh, whoa, has it.

Last week, Microsoft partners showed off compelling Windows RT tablets at Computex. Google and Microsoft share many of the same OEMs, which will find more leverage moving buyers from Windows to Android. Asus’ Windows RT Transformer tablet, thumps its flagship for Android — and could be a knockout if the price comes in well under $500.

Android tablets haven’t gained market share fast enough to secure solid footing. Windows RT can easily push them aside, as well as Windows 8 combos with touchscreens and keyboards. If Android loses the tablet wars it could easily lose the broader mobile platform wars — even smartphones. Look at the United States, where, according to comScore, one in four smartphone users already own tablets. With Windows’ established install base as leverage, RT tablets will offer much more from the same OEMs as Android and court the majority of the same developers.

Platform 101 economics is this: The must successful platforms make money for third parties. In tablets, that’s more likely to be iOS or Windows RT/8 than Android. The Android Army should worry about advancing Microsoft more than Apple territory before it.

Yesterday, Android chief Andy Rubin revealed there are 900,000 activations per day. He last disclosed activations per day — 850,000 — on February 27. The new number means 27 million a month or 81 million every 90 days. That number is consistent with actual smartphone sales. Gartner, which tracks sales to end users rather than the analyst firm standard of shipments into the channel, reports 81.067 million Androids sold during first quarter. Based on the reconciled numbers, and those from analysts tracking tablet shipments, Android does squat in the device category.

Clearly someone at Google recognizes the risk — hence the late-coming Nexus tablet (if you believe the rumors and I do) and purchase of QuickOffice. Windows RT tablets ship with Office 2012. Google needs something like QuickOffice that competes. Google Apps isn’t enough when Office — the product enterprises use and love so well — comes with the device.

If Android loses on tablets, particularly considering high usage alongside smartphones and replacement behavior with respect to PCs, it could lose the connected-device platform wars to iOS and Windows RT/8. Apple and Microsoft may be writing the epitaph, but Android isn’t in the ground yet. The body is still full of life. But if Google continues its brain-dead behavior, someone someday soon will pull the plug on life support. Are you listening, Google?

Photo Credit: metalstock/Shutterstock

Article source: http://betanews.com/2012/06/11/today-apple-and-microsoft-write-androids-epitaph/

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03 Jun 12 June Android Stats: A Little More Ice Cream, Still Lots of Gingerbread


Google updated its developer website this week with the latest statistics for Android platform use. Spoiler: Android’s still a bit fragmented, with one-fifth of all devices sporting Android 2.2 (Froyo), which is nearly triple the number of devices running Android’s latest release, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

On the plus side (for Google), adoption of the latest version of its mobile OS has grown since April. Google’s Developer “Platform Versions” site put Ice Cream Sandwich use at approximately 4.9 percent of all recorded Android devices in April, but ICS adoption is up to 7.1 percent as of June 1 – a modest gain, but a gain nevertheless.

Devices running the Gingerbread version of Android’s OS – that’s Android versions 2.3 to 2.3.7 – still make up the lion’s share of Android’s base. And this chunk isn’t slowing down: 65 percent of all Android devices rocked Gingerbread as of Google’s June figures, up six-tenths of a percent from its April’s analysis.

A significant portion of Google’s Android base still runs Android 2.2, or Froyo – 19.1 percent, down nearly 2 percent from Google’s April figures. The more impressive figure is that nearly 6 percent of all recorded Android devices sport a version of the OS that’s even older: Android 2.1, or Eclair, takes up 5.2 percent of Android’s recorded devices as of Google’s June 1 analysis. Nearly 1 percent of all Android devices run either Android 1.6 (Donut) or Android 1.5 (Cupcake) – time to throw out the legacy products, people.

Of course, the version numbers of Android’s operating system are just one part of the complicated picture that aspiring developers have to deal with when working with Android. The popular infographics from the makers of the OpenSignalMaps application illuminate the Android world to much greater detail.

In their analysis – which pulled in statistics from nearly 4,000 Android devices (there are likely much fewer actual Android devices, however, as a user’s custom ROMs can make a device appear to be a “new” piece of hardware when it really isn’t) – Gingerbread’s still the most-used of the Android versions. That hasn’t changed over the past year. However, back in April 2011, the top two Android versions accounted for 90 percent of all devices on OpenSignalMaps’ analysis; that number’s now down to 75 percent as of April 2012.

OpenSignalMaps’ developers go into the fragmentation issue further, showing off all the different brands that have accessed the app as well as the different screen resolutions that aspiring developers have to keep in mind when designing on the Android platform – a lot more than iOS, for what it’s worth.

But does that mean that Android’s “fragmentation” is bad for the platform?

“We’ve collected signal data from 195 countries – the variety of Android devices and manufacturers has been crucial in allowing the OS to reach so many markets,” reads OpenSignalMaps’ blog post. “One of the joys of developing for Android is you have no idea who’ll end up using your app.”

It’s a notion echoed by Google’s own Andy Rubin, vice president of engineering, in an April 2011 blog post.

“We don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ solution. The Android platform has already spurred the development of hundreds of different types of devices – many of which were not originally contemplated when the platform was first created. What amazes me is that even though the quantity and breadth of Android products being built has grown tremendously, it’s clear that quality and consistency continue to be top priorities,” Rubin wrote.

For more, see Hey, Google: Here’s What Fragmentation Means and Which Phones Have Android 4.0 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ Now?

For more tech tidbits from David Murphy, follow him on Facebook or Twitter (@thedavidmurphy).

For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.

Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2405221,00.asp

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02 Jun 12 June Android Stats: A Little More Ice Cream, Still A Lot Of Gingerbread


Google’s updated its developer website with the latest statistics for Android platform use. Spoiler: Android’s still a bit fragmented, with one-fifth of all devices sporting Android 2.2 (Froyo), which is nearly triple the number of devices running Android’s latest release, Android 4.0+ (Ice Cream Sandwich).

On the plus side (for Google), adoption of the latest version of its mobile OS has grown since April. Google’s Developer “Platform Versions” site puts Ice Cream Sandwich use at approximately 4.9 percent of all recorded Android devices when stats were pulled for April of this year. Ice Cream Sandwich adoption is up to 7.1 percent as of June 1 – a modest gain, but a gain nevertheless.

Devices running the Gingerbread version of Android’s OS – that’s Android versions 2.3 to 2.3.7 – still make up the lion’s share of Android’s base. And this chunk isn’t slowing down: Sixty-five percent of all Android devices rocked Gingerbread as of Google’s June figures, up six-tenths of a percent from its April’s analysis.

A significant portion of Google’s Android base still runs Android 2.2, or Froyo – 19.1 percent, down nearly two percent from Google’s April figures. The more impressive figure is that nearly six percent of all recorded android devices sport a version of the OS that’s even older: Android 2.1, or Eclair, takes up 5.2 percent of Android’s recorded devices as of Google’s June 1 analysis. Nearly 1 percent of all Android devices run either Android 1.6 (Donut) or Android 1.5 (Cupcake) – time to throw out the legacy products, people.

Of course, the version numbers of Android’s operating system are just one part of the complicated picture that aspiring developers have to deal with when working with Android. The popular infographics from the makers of the OpenSignalMaps application illuminate the Android world to much greater detail.

In their analysis – which pulled in statistics from nearly 4,000 Android devices (there are likely much fewer actual Android devices, however, as a user’s custom ROMs can make a device appear to be a “new” piece of hardware when it really isn’t) – Gingerbread’s still the most-used of the Android versions. That hasn’t changed over the past year. However, back in April of 2011, the top two Android versions accounted for 90 percent of all devices on OpenSignalMaps’ analysis; that number’s now down to 75 percent as of April of this year.

OpenSignalMaps’ developers go into the fragmentation issue further, showing off all the different brands that have accessed the app as well as the different screen resolutions that aspiring developers have to keep in mind when designing on the Android platform – a lot more than iOS, for what it’s worth.

But does that mean that Android’s “fragmentation” is bad for the platform?

“We’ve collected signal data from 195 countries – the variety of Android devices and manufacturers has been crucial in allowing the OS to reach so many markets,” reads OpenSignalMaps’ blog post.

“One of the joys of developing for Android is you have no idea who’ll end up using your app.”

It’s a notion echoed by Google’s own Andy Rubin, vice president of Engineering, in an April 2011 blog post.

“We don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ solution. The Android platform has already spurred the development of hundreds of different types of devices – many of which were not originally contemplated when the platform was first created. What amazes me is that even though the quantity and breadth of Android products being built has grown tremendously, it’s clear that quality and consistency continue to be top priorities,” Rubin wrote.

 

For more tech tidbits from David Murphy, follow him on Facebook or Twitter (@thedavidmurphy).

For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.

Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2405221,00.asp

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22 May 12 China Greenlights Google-Motorola Mobility Deal


Chinese authorities have approved Google’s bid to acquire Motorola Mobility, clearing the final regulatory hurdle in a $12.5 billion deal initiated in August 2011 that gives the search giant a mobile device hardware business to go along with its successful Android operating system for smartphones and tablets.

Regulators in other major regional markets, including the U.S., had already okayed the merger. In exchange for approving the deal on Friday, the Chinese Commerce Ministry’s Anti-Monopoly Bureau extracted a pledge from Google that it would keep Android free and available without discrimination to all device makers for at least five years, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Last January, Motorola divided its mobile device business and its telecommunications equipment business into two independent public companies. Google announced its intent to acquire the former company, now known as Motorola Mobility, on Aug. 15, 2011 in order to “supercharge” its Android mobile operating system and build up its patent portfolio.

Google CEO Larry Page said at the time that the search giant intended “run Motorola as a separate business” and that Google remained committed to keeping Android open and available to all device makers. Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google, said “the top five Android licensees” had been consulted ahead of the acquisition and “they all showed very enthusiastic support for the deal.”

Earlier this month, it was reported that Google plans to give multiple mobile device makers early access to its next version of Android in an attempt to create a more robust ecosystem to take on Apple and also to reassure partners that its Motorola Mobility acquisition won’t squeeze them out.

It has also been reported that Google wants to sell co-branded “Nexus” phones running Android Jellybean, the next version of the mobile operating system. It’s unclear whether this rumored phone or phones, which Google would reportedly sell through its own online store, would be built by Motorola Mobility or another Android partner.

The Google-Motorola Mobility merger could close in just a couple of days and layoffs at Motorola Mobility might be in the offing soon after, according to TechCrunch.

Motorola Mobility on Friday filed an 8-K form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission informing the SEC of the Chinese regulators’ decision to clear the deal and the two companies’ intent to finalize the transaction within two business days.

After that, Google will conduct a “listening tour” of Motorola Mobility operations, TechCrunch reported, citing an unnamed source. Google management will be “seeing what everyone does, then making decisions,” the source was quoted as saying. The tech site also claimed to have heard that “there will be layoffs coming imminently.”

For more from Damon, follow him on Twitter @dpoeter.

For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.

Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2404702,00.asp

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09 May 12 Android chief called back in Oracle-Google trial to discuss patents


SAN FRANCISCO – Google senior vice president Andy Rubin made yet another appearance in Oracle v. Google at the U.S. District Court of Northern California on Tuesday afternoon.

See alsoOracle recalls Google engineer Lindholm in trial’s patent phase
Google: We developed Android not knowing Sun’s patents

Called by Oracle, the focus this time was to learn more about Rubin’s knowledge related to patents belonging to Sun Microsystems.

Right from the beginning, the tension in the courtroom bumped up a notch as Oracle attorney Michael Jacobs began his questioning. Similar to his first few appearances on the stand in this case, Rubin responded by evading most of the questions throughout his testimony.

When Jacobs commenced by asking sharply, in a few different ways, if a clean room approach doesn’t protect against patents, Rubin replied that he didn’t think so but that he also didn’t understand the question.

Continuing to rely on emails as core pieces of evidence in this trial, Jacobs pointed towards email discussions between Rubin and Sun’s Vineet Gupta in February 2006 about providing patent protection for Android.

In one message, Rubin wrote, “Had a long discussion with Eric tonight. He is cautiously skeptical if you and I can define the open source license and include patent protection.”

In another exchange with Gupta along the same thread, Jacobs commented that Rubin exhibited some concerns about Sun’s patents.

As one of Google’s defense strategies in this portion of the trial is to assert it had no knowledge about Sun’s patents, Rubin’s responses that he did not conduct any review during the development of Android to investigate Sun’s patent portfolio concurred with that strategy.

But when asked about this in more depth by Jacobs, Rubin said that he only did this on a personal level during the days just before the lawsuit was filed in 2010.

As Rubin was called during the last 15 minutes of proceedings on Tuesday, he will retake the stand on Wednesday morning at 7:45AM PDT.

The role of the mobile OEMs in Oracle v. Google

Rubin’s appearance on the stand wrapped up a whirlwind, although dry, day of proceedings as Oracle began its case during the patent phase of the trial. Oracle called up witnesses at lighting speed in comparison to the pace of phase one.

Tuesday’s roster consisted of Google engineers Tim Lindholm and Patrick Brady, Oracle engineers Bob Vandette and Noel Poore as well as video depositions from Android team manager Dan Morrill and Motorola’s Rafael Camargo.

At one point during proceedings, Judge William Alsup wanted to know more from both counsels about the importance of mobile OEMs and how those partners figure into this case.

Jacobs reiterated from his opening statements that Oracle is not only suing Google for patent violation on what it does with writing applications and internal testing, but also indirect infringement on the part of the Android ecosystem and the OEMs that install Android on mobile devices

“They are infringing, but we’re holding Google responsible for that infringement because they put the code out there and have relationships with these partners,” Jacobs explained. He offered some examples of devices running Android that could be considered evidence, including the HTC Evo, Motorola Droid, and Samsung Captivate.

Google attorney Robert Van Nest rebutted by first responding that “obviously, there needs to be prove of infringement before anything else happens.”

Van Nest further argued that because Android is an open source platform, the handset partners are free to change what they want and they don’t have to tell Google what they alter. Instead, all the mobile OEMs are required to do is pass a test to prove they meet performance standards.

Related:

Article source: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/android-chief-called-back-in-oracle-google-trial-to-discuss-patents/76461

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04 May 12 Report: Android a Loss Leader for Google in 2010


Google’s Android operating system may be one of the great success stories in tech, but the search giant apparently lost money with its mobile platform in 2010, according to Reuters.

The company’s “big loss” for Android several years ago was revealed by a federal judge overseeing a jury trial between Google and Oracle over the use of Java software code to create the Linux-based software platform used in smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup on Thursday read portions of a sealed document containing profit and loss numbers for Android in a San Francisco courtroom. A jury is deliberating the first phase of the trial, which concerns Oracle’s charge that Google violated copyright restrictions when it used Java to build Android.

The judge did not reveal specific financial figures for Android, but did note that it lost money—apparently a lot of it and in all four quarters of 2010.

“That adds up to a big loss for the whole year,” Alsup said, according to Reuters. Google’s Android revenues for 2010 were about $97.7 million, the news agency reported.

Alsup “quizzed attorneys for both companies about some of the Android financial information submitted in the case” outside of the jury’s hearing on Thursday and sealed the document containing Google’s internal financials for the mobile software platform. Google is a public company but does not break out specific numbers for Android when reporting earnings to investors.

Lawyers for Google and Oracle gave closing arguments earlier this week. At stake in the trial is Oracle’s claim that Google copied its Java code without obtaining a proper license to create Android. Google claims its use of Java APIs and libraries falls within the guidelines for fair use of free and open software code.

The closing arguments mark the end of the first phase of the trial, which covered alleged copyright infringement by Google. Following jury deliberations that Alsup said could take up to a week, the two companies will contest Oracle’s claims regarding alleged patent violations by Google.

The trial saw Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison and Google chief executive Larry Page take the stand last month, while Android chief Andy Rubin, former Sun Microsystems chief executive Jonathan Schwartz, and Oracle chief financial officer Safra Catz were among the other high-profile names giving testimony in recent weeks.

For more from Damon, follow him on Twitter @dpoeter.

For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.

Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2403972,00.asp

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28 Apr 12 Android platform developer: five-month wait for OS update is "reasonable"


Sony recently updated its Tablet S product from Android 3 to Android 4. The latest version of Android, codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), was released in November. According to Jean-Baptiste Queru, an Android platform engineer at Google, the five-month wait is “very reasonable,” in light of the complexity involved in moving from Honeycomb to ICS.

Queru also acknowledged that Google has yet to roll out the ICS update to some variants of its own flagship Nexus device. He attributed the issue to delays caused by the network operator approval process. The remarks, which were posted on Google+, have drawn scrutiny from Android enthusiasts and developers who are concerned about Android version fragmentation and the lack of predictable update availability in the Android ecosystem.

At Google I/O last year, Google’s Andy Rubin announced a new initiative to streamline the update process. The search giant said it would collaborate with handset manufacturers and mobile carriers to come up with a strategy for making Android updates more timely and predictable.

At the time, Rubin said that the effort was still at an exploratory stage and that it hadn’t produced any actual solutions yet. Google hasn’t issued any further remarks on the status of the update initiative. The update situation arguably hasn’t improved much since that announcement.

Ultimately, there might not be much that Google can do to address the issue. Critics of the Android update model often compare it to Apple’s approach with iOS, where new versions of the operating system are rolled out to old devices at the same time that they launch on new devices.

Apple has a much smaller range of devices to contend with, however, compared to the breadth of the Android ecosystem, which has a more diverse spectrum of hardware. It’s worth noting that Microsoft has also encountered update difficulties with its own Windows Phone operating system.

One thing that Google could do to help simplify the process is to start developing Android in the open instead of developing it behind closed doors and doing a code drop for each major release. Easier access to the code while it’s in development would allow handset makers to do continuous integration and give them a head start on addressing challenges they need to overcome to align their own customizations with new versions of the platform.

Article source: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2012/04/android-platform-developer-says-five-month-wait-for-os-update-is-reasonable.ars?clicked=related_right

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25 Apr 12 Android chief: We didn’t believe we needed a license from Sun


SAN FRANCISCO –
Android chief Andy Rubin wrapped up his testimony this morning in the copyright portion of the Oracle-Google trial at the U.S. District Court here.

Google counsel Robert Van Nest picked up from where he left off on Tuesday afternoon, asking Rubin what happened after initial negotiations with Sun Microsystems ended in 2006. Rubin said that the Android team went forward to build the mobile operating system on its own.

Andy Rubin

Andy Rubin, shown here in a 2011 file photo, wrapped up his testimony today in the copyright portion of the Oracle-Google trial.

(Credit:
James Martin/CNET )

“We wrote code ourselves, obviously,” said Rubin. “In developing Android, we assembled it from various pieces.”

Although it is constantly evolving, Rubin commented that there are 15 million lines of source code and “many thousands” of independent files that make up Android.

Also dabbling with the the Linux system among other technologies, Rubin added that Google partnered with companies on open handset lines, paying them for contributions back into Android.

One example of a contribution that Google paid for is the media framework from Packet Video, which is used on Android for decoding video files.

Rubin said that it took roughly three years from inception to completion of Android 1.0 in 2008. He also explained that what was released in 2007 — an Android SDK — wasn’t enough for a smartphone, but rather just enough for third-party developers to write their own apps for Android.

“The SDK allowed the programmer to see the APIs that were in existence on that early date,” Rubin said, noting it would have included some of the Java application programming interfaces in question in this case at that time.

Rubin affirmed that anyone could have seen this as early as October 2007, saying, “All they needed to do was go to our Web site and click the download button.”

However, during cross-examination, Oracle counsel David Boies asked Rubin whether there was any record of anyone at Sun praising Google’s use of Java for Android after the SDK was released. (Boies pointed out that Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz’s blog post praising Google was after the announcement of Android but before the SDK was released.)

Rubin said there were a few — including conversations with Sun CTO Vineet Gupta — but there isn’t any written record confirming these comments.

When asked if Android application developers are writing primarily in the Java language, Rubin noted that to write an app for Android, it has to include Java. One reason behind that was to have support for legacy applications from third-party partners, such as games from Electronic Arts.

The open-source project Apache Harmony, in particular, has repeatedly been brought up in this trial, serving as a comparative example for Google of using Java APIs on an open-source platform.

“It’s open-source. That’s what’s magical about this,” Rubin remarked.

Rubin acknowledged that there were other companies trying to build upon the Apache Harmony project, but IBM was the only example that Rubin could confirm.

“The whole purpose of that project was to implement a clean-room version of the Java APIs,” Rubin said, adding that there were many other (albeit “uncoordinated”) efforts also trying to do this.

Rubin also explained, “The Apache Software Foundation also has their own version of an open-source license. It’s a small legal document that basically describes your rights as a customer of this open-source project.”

Taking all of this together, Van Nest asked Rubin if he thought at the time that Google would need a license to use the Java APIs. Rubin replied, “We did not believe that we needed a license from Sun.”

Rubin also said that the first time he heard of any violation regarding Android and its use of Java APIs was at the beginning of this lawsuit.

“One of the benefits of open source is providing our work openly and freely is that other people can expect it,” Rubin said, asserting that there’s nothing “hidden” in the Android source code.

Developing…

This story originally appeared at ZDNet’s Between the Lines under the headline “Android chief: We didn’t think we needed a license from Sun.”

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-57421047-92/android-chief-we-didnt-believe-we-needed-a-license-from-sun/

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