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30 Dec 12 Apple Pulls Legal Crosshairs off Galaxy S III Mini

Riddle us this: Why file a patent claim against a device that isn’t actually going to be sold in the jurisdiction – let alone, the country – of where you’re filing the claim?

Such has been the peculiarity presented to Apple, which announced on Friday that it’s no longer pursuing patent claims against Samsung’s Galaxy S3 Mini smartphone. Samsung has said that it is not, “making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing the Galaxy S III Mini in the United States,” and has maintained this stance ever since Apple asked a California court to add the device to Apple’s latest patent dispute last month.

Apple won its first round of patent litigation against Samsung this past August, but that hardly put an end to the two companies’ legal squabbles – which includes Samsung’s desire to lessen the approximately $1 billion in damages that it faces juxtaposed against Apple’s interest in amending a second round of patent claims to add as many recently released and allegedly infringing Samsung devices as it can.

In other words, Apple’s second patent infringement lawsuit includes devices (and claims) that the company didn’t address in its first round of patent litigation. And Apple has been zealous about amending its filling to include more Samsung devices as warranted. Samsung, in turn, has been granted permission to add Apple’s iPhone 5 to its own patent infringement claims. Both of these trials won’t kick off until 2014.

Apple initially argued that its ability to purchase a Galaxy S3 Mini smartphone from Amazon, and have it billed and shipped to a U.S. address, was enough to qualify that the device was being sold in the U.S. And, as such, Apple argued that it should be allowed to include the smartphone as part of the list of current devices that Apple claims infringe its patents.

As part of Apple’s withdrawal, the company indicated that it would do so, “so long as the current withdrawal will not prejudice Apple’s ability later to accuse the Galaxy S III Mini if the factual circumstances change,” as reported by Reuters.

Samsung launched the four-inch Galaxy S III Mini in Europe in November, which numerous pundits saw as a direct assault against Apple’s similarly sized iPhone 5. At the time of Apple’s request to add the Galaxy S III Mini to its lawsuit, there was plenty of talk that Samsung might bring the smartphone to U.S. markets – which explains Apple’s interest in bringing the full weight of its legal efforts to bear.


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:,2817,2413664,00.asp

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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:,2817,2405221,00.asp

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28 Apr 12 Google Drive’s Six Substantial Slip-ups

The dust on the Drive has settled — Google Drive, that is — and users finally have the chance to play around with the company’s new cloud storage system, one that’s designed to, “work seamlessly with your overall Google experience.”

Seamless, perhaps. But perfect? Google’s arrived a bit late to the cloud storage game and, like a pinch hitter facing a run deficit in the seventh inning, the company needs to knock one out of the park to pull people’s loyalties away from their favorite cloud storage services.

It feels as if general reactions to Google Drive have been good, but not great: That Google’s service is a fine player among its peers, but not noteworthy enough to generate a massive, digital rush to Google’s servers. We’ve rounded up some of the larger criticisms that might be keeping Drive from dominating, all areas that Google could stand to work on if it wants the prettiest cloud in the sky.


1. Size

How many of you have ever run out of space on your Gmail account? We’re willing to bet that it’s a rare occurrence for all but the most popular of Gmail users, makes one wonder why Google is so generous with its email capacity (10GB) and so seemingly stingy with its Drive storage (5GB).

“For cheapskates or freebirds like me, you’ll be better off turning to (or remaining with) Microsoft’s SkyDrive, which offers 7GB of free storage; Google Drive offers five. (SugarSync, which I’ve also used, does as well.) Microsoft also gave existing SkyDrive users 25GB of free storage. Google, however, would like you to pay them for the privilege of mining your files,” writes’s Mark Hachman.


2. Cross-Platform Support

And the mobile war continues: Google Drive is fully supported on the Android platform with a native application (go figure). Windows, OS X, and Chrome OS systems can all download a dedicated Google Drive app as well — in fact, it’s the only way you can access your cloud. As for iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone owners…

“GDrive, meanwhile, includes an app for Android. Everything else must use a browser to connect to Google Drive, although there are reports that Google will be releasing iOS apps for GDrive at some point. Other mobile devices will have to continue to use their respective browsers, but it’s worth noting that not all browsers will work. According to Google’s information for GDrive, some older versions of Android won’t work with the Drive, even using the browser.” — eWeek’s Wayne Rash

Of course, it would also be nice to be able to edit non-Google-Docs files or move anything around in one’s Google Drive via the corresponding mobile app, but step one is acquiring working mobile apps in the first place.


3. Offline Editing

Throw a typical Microsoft Word document into your Google Drive and you’ll be able to edit it online, right? Wrong — you can only view it online. You have to convert the file to a Google Document in order to edit it via Google’s Web app. But here’s the rub: You can’t edit Google Docs in your Drive cloud from an offline computer; you can only view them. For novice cloud users, the relationship between Google Documents and offline documents can be pretty confusing.

“There are a couple of ways to work around this issue. First, you can configure your Google Docs for offline access, and you can use Google Chrome browser extensions to enable you to edit Google Docs files offline. Another solution would be to save the file back to its original format after editing it online so that it will open locally in its native application as mentioned above.

That brings us to the other potential issue–file fidelity. Google has gone to great lengths to maintain formatting when converting from Microsoft Office formats to Google Docs and back again, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. For basic documents that just have text, with maybe some bold, italics, and underlining, or simple bullets, it may not be an issue. However complex documents that include things like a table of contents, footers, headers, and footnotes are likely to get mangled and require a lot of manual repair when switched back to their native format.” — PCWorld’s Tony Bradley.


4. File Hosting

“Files hosted publicly in Google Drive should be usable anywhere on the Web.

Anyone can already download the files manually. Google Drive could have a huge advantage over its competitors if you could permalink to those files. If Imgur can host images for other sites, why can’t Google? And Google Drive can understand over 30 file types. Why not PDFs and audio files, too?” — ReadWriteWeb’s Jon Mitchell

Makes sense to us!


5. More Security

As Discovery News’ Rob Pegoraro points out, your files within Google Drive are only as secure as your Google password. That’s not only a great plug for enabling two-way authentication on one’s Google Account, but it also highlights a key difference between Google’s cloud service and that of one of the company’s chief cloud rivals.

“Like SkyDrive but unlike Dropbox, [Google Drive] doesn’t encrypt files stored on its servers; you can use third-party tools like the open-source TrueCrypt to scramble files before uploading, but that’s more work,” Pegoraro writes.

That said, Google execs have said that encrypting files on Google’s servers would prevent features like Google Drive’s OCR engine from being able to scan them. Worse, users would also lose out on being able to preview files within Drive’s Web app.


6. The Dreaded ToS

Much has been written about Google’s Terms of Service for Drive. But you shouldn’t be as concerned about Google “stealing” your information or displaying your publicly available content in a Google Drive advertisement (or what-have-you). Rather, you should be more annoyed if you’re one of the users ponying up additional cash for expanded Drive storage.

“Google Drive creates a new relationship with users. As a service provider, Google should be my advocate, but a profile of me can be built from my data and sold to advertisers like it is with Gmail. A paid service should exclude users from this.” — InformationWeek’s Dino Londis


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:,2817,2403713,00.asp

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