PHOENIX – iPhones and iPads are simple. Apple only makes a handful of models and that’s it, that’s that. The simplicity of their product line is part of the charm. Android on the other hand is a totally different story.
There is a long list of manufacturers all making different sizes, speeds, software versions, etc, etc. There is some beauty to having more options but there is also a lot of confusion.
Amid it all, there is one line of Android products that stands alone. The Nexus products from Google . Problem is, most people have no idea what “Nexus” is all about.
Nexus, is a line of products sold by Google. Google doesn’t actually make the smartphones and tablets. It’s essentially a collaboration between Google engineers and a hardware company. Think of it as Google’s idea of the perfect Android smartphone or tablet.
Here’s how it works: the people at Google who create the Android software work hand in hand different hardware companies to design the next Nexus product. Usually in the world of Android devices, Google makes the software and then a hardware company takes that software and finesses it for their specific hardware. The Nexus line is a marriage of the two processes.
Nexus provides synergy (man I hate that word). It provides a connection between Android hardware and software that typically doesn’t exist. It’s not always the best hardware out there and you often times miss out on some of the added features that manufacturers tack on to the Android OS. None the less, you get the Android experience exactly as the creators of the Android operating envisioned.
What many consumers don’t know is that most Android smartphones actually run a very modified version of Google Android. This means each tablet or smartphone manufacturer will add their own software tweaks to give them the competitive edge. They’re all called “Android” smartphones but the software can look very different on some devices. In some situations this is a good thing, in other situations it just adds clutter. Nonetheless, Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola and others have carved out their Android niche because of their added secret sauce. With a Nexus device, it’s Android bare naked. No tweaks, no add-ons and no skins. It’s Android exactly as the software geniuses at Google dreamed it up.
The best part about Nexus devices is that you will almost always get the latest updates to the Android software within days of it being released by Google. Typically, months before normal Android smartphones and tablets get that same update. If you’re a “bleeding edge” kind of techie, this is a big deal. Otherwise, most consumers won’t care or notice the difference.
Right now, Google offers 3 Nexus devices including the Nexus 4 smartphone, the Nexus 7 tablet and the Nexus 10 tablet. The smartphone is not connected to a cell phone carrier and is only compatible with att and T-mobile. Buy the smartphone, slide in a SIM card from your selected carrier and you’re good to go. No contracts, no commitments.
Are Nexus devices the best? Not always. They offer a great marriage between the Android software and the exact hardware that Google dreams up. Typically they have some of the best specs to date but not always.
What you do get is a streamlined Android experience without the added clutter from the manufacturers and cell phone carriers. You also get updates as soon as they’re released. Best of all, you typically get this at a rock bottom price. The Nexus 7” tablet starts at $199, the 10” tablet at $399 and the Nexus 4 smartphone at $299 (without any contracts). These prices are hard to beat for the hardware you get and the “pure” Google Android experience.
I’m currently testing out the both the Nexus 4 smartphone and the Nexus 10 tablet, look for my reviews in the coming weeks.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
This year, it’s been all about smartphones. Whether you are an all-Apple, all-the-time user or a ‘droid die-hard, it’s worth examining the features and hardware for both, in today’s TECH NOW.
The smartphone and tablet wars have played a big role in the world at large this year – with more than 1 billion in use today. Truly at the frontline, it comes down to Apple and Android. So forget about contracts, carriers and warring tech tribes. What’s the real difference and which one is right for you?
Android: Flexibility, choice
With devices built on Google’s Android operating system, you have options. There are more handset shapes and sizes across a big price range. Many models are amazingly fast and offer long batttery life. And those with bigger screens are a big draw for people who love to read, browse, watch and type on a larger surface.
iPhone = Sleek,secure, simple
Apple gives you, well, whatever Apple wants to give you. That just happens to be some of the easiest to use, best looking, most tech advanced devices on the market.
iPhone 5 has the most apps, a top-rated camera and video andd it’s lightning fast. Its Siri voice control app can pull of more complex commands than the Android equivalent.
So which one is right for you? It’s kind of like Coke or Pepsi , dogs or cats – when all is said andd done it’s more about personal preference than anything else.
Click photo to enlarge
Research In Motion’s new BlackBerry software looks cool, but I don’t have high hopes for it.
BlackBerry 10, which is slated to start showing up on RIM smartphones later this year, has some innovative new features that will set it apart from Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
But the update is years late, and the new software is not far-and-away superior to iOS or Android. Perhaps worst of all, RIM is ignoring the needs of current BlackBerry customers by failing to provide them with an easy transition.
We’ve seen this play before, and we know how it ends: In disaster.
The BlackBerry software has long needed an overhaul. Compared with Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, RIM’s OS is ugly and difficult to use. It was designed before touch-screen phones were the norm and, though modified to work on those devices, looks and feels jerry-built.
By contrast, the new OS, which I got a glimpse of earlier this month at a meeting with RIM representatives, looks and feels contemporary. It’s designed from the ground up for large-display, touch-screen devices, with large icons and full-screen, well-designed applications. Taking a page from Microsoft, it includes program tiles that can act like widgets, showing updated information such as the current weather or stock price.
One neat feature, called Flow UI, allows users to view alerts, such as new email messages, by swiping from one corner. By swiping
further, they can directly switch to the application that sent the alert. Flow also allows users to switch back and forth between their inbox and an individual message by simply swiping. The system is intuitive to use and an improvement on similar features found in iOS and Android.
BlackBerry 10 has other compelling features. Notably, its camera application allows users to instantly improve photos of friends or family members whose eyes are closed. The app both recognizes faces and starts recording images before you press the shutter button. If the face in your photo doesn’t look right, you can replace it immediately with the same face captured instants before.
But as innovative as these features may be, I don’t think they’ll save RIM, which has seen its market share and sales slide sharply in recent years thanks to competition from Android and Apple.
Partly that’s because BlackBerry 10 is really late to the party. It’s been five years since Apple released the first iPhone and revolutionized the smartphone market. It’s been nearly four years since the first Android phones hit store shelves.
RIM should have come out with a revamped BlackBerry software three or four years ago, before Android and iOS took over the market. Now, at best, its going to be scrounging for third place with Microsoft, whose own updated phone software still hasn’t caught on with the general public despite coming out nearly two years ago.
BlackBerry 10 is not just too late but also too little; it isn’t a big enough advance in the fast-moving smartphone market. Apple’s iOS and Android took off in part because they were vast improvements on what preceded them, the first-generation of smartphone software from the likes of Nokia, Palm and, yes, RIM.
BlackBerry 10 is a big improvement on the old BlackBerry software, but isn’t revolutionary or compelling enough to lure consumers back to BlackBerry from their iPhones or Android devices.
So that leaves RIM with trying to retain its existing BlackBerry customers. With some 77 million active BlackBerry users worldwide, that’s a significant customer base. But RIM isn’t making it easy for them to stick around.
Despite sharing a name, the BlackBerry 10 is unrelated to previous versions of the BlackBerry software and won’t run older BlackBerry apps. Consumers who have invested in BlackBerry programs face the prospect of buying all new ones if they upgrade to a BlackBerry 10 phone. And companies that have designed a suite of BlackBerry applications for their employees could soon find those being obsolete.
In either situation, current customers are almost certainly going to ask if it’s worth it to switch to BlackBerry 10. If they are faced with the prospect of changing to a whole new platform anyway, they almost certainly will consider switching instead to one of the market leaders: iOS or Android.
It’s amazing to me that RIM is forsaking its older BlackBerry customers in this way, especially after seeing what’s happened to Palm and Nokia. Like RIM, both of those companies replaced their aging smartphone operating systems with new and improved ones that were years late and incompatible. The result: Their older customers abandoned them. Palm ended up in history’s dustbin, and Nokia, which last week announced it was laying off another 10,000 workers, is in danger of heading the same way.
RIM looks to be following the same path.
Current versions of Google’s Android operating system for smartphones make woeful use of their dual core processors, according to an Intel executive.
Poor implementation of threading technology by the operating system saps any benefits dual core processing brings to a system — and in some cases can actually be a detriment to performance, contends Mike Bell, general manager of Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group.
Bell told The Inquirer that even the latest version of Android, 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) suffers from problems with threading scheduling that limits the benefits dual core ARM processors bring to Android phones. Intel uses a competing technology, Atom, in its mobile processor.
What’s more, he maintains that Intel testing found single core processors running faster than some dual core processors. For a lot of the handsets in the market, it isn’t clear that much benefit is gained by turning on the chip’s second core. Worse yet, “having a second core is actually a detriment, because of the way some of the people have not implemented their thread scheduling,” Bell says.
While multicore processors offer performance benefits in environments without power constraints, Bell maintained, that’s not the case with smartphones, which have limits on both power consumption and thermal tolerances.
Bell doesn’t lay all the blame for the poor performance of dual processors on Android’s doorstep. Some of the OS’s threading scheduler problems could be addressed by the chip makers, he asserts, “they just haven’t bothered to do it.”
One has to wonder how much of Bell’s thinking is colored by Intel’s experience in the mobile market. No smartphones currently have Intel processors in them. The company’s first stab at making a mobile chip, Moorestown, flopped. Its latest offering, Medfield, has had better luck. It has lined up Motorola and Lenovo to make smartphones with the chips later this year.
LG’s first Intel phone, the never-released GW990
Nevertheless, it’s true that multicore processing has been used as a marketing tool of Android handset makers. For example, they began releasing phones with dual core processors even before Android could support those chips. And they’ve rushed to bring quad core phones into the market.
While Bell’s remarks on dual core performance may have a marketing spin of their own, the questions they raise need further exploration by a party with less of a stake in the market. If Android can’t handle the existing dual core chips in its handsets, what’s the point of doubling the cores — other than to make meaningless marketing claims and deceive consumers that they’re getting performance that they’re not.
Speculation has run rampant, as it does every time the Cupertino, California-based computing giant moves a muscle. But some of the guesses make more sense than others.
Here’s a look at some of the most credible reports, with our take on the odds of them being even vaguely true.
This one isn’t as sexy as a big product unveiling, but software is the bread-and-butter of WWDC. And there might be some drama here, yet.
It’s about time for a first look at iOS 6, an update of the mobile operating system that runs iPhones, iPads and Apple’s other Web-enabled mobile devices.
The developers in attendance will no doubt hang on every detail. But the most high-profile change is expected to be Apple’s announcement that it’s replacing Google Maps with its own mapping app as the system’s default.
Apple and Google have obviously squared off in the mobile space, with more smartphones now running Google’s Android system, even though the iPhone remains the single most popular phone.
Supplanting Google’s popular maps on its millions of mobile devices would be a big blow in the rivals’ ongoing slugfest.
Looking to get the jump on Apple, Google announced new features to Google Maps on Wednesday, including more 3-D images and the ability to use the product even when you’re offline.
Interestingly, Google only announced the update for people using its own Android mobile operating system.
Developers also may get a closer look at OS X Mountain Lion, the Mac operating system scheduled for release this summer.
Odds: Bet the farm.
Of the nonsoftware speculation, this one feels like the most likely — and could be pretty significant.
For one, It’s been a year or more since Apple’s major desktop and laptop models have been updated. The iMac got refreshed in May 2011, the MacBook Pro’s last overhaul was February 2011 and MacBook Air’s latest model rolled out in July of last year.
Application developers still favor Apple, with 69 percent of all new app development projects started during the first quarter of 2012 intended for Cupertino’s iOS mobile operating system, according to new data from mobile analytics company Flurry.
In comparison, just 31 percent of apps project starts during the same period were targeted at Google’s Android platform. While Apple has the majority of developer support, interest in Android is growing. Back in the third quarter of 2011, just 25 percent of app development projects were intended for Android, while 75 percent were built for iOS.
Apple currently has around 615,000 apps in its App Store, while Google has just over 450,000 in Google Play.
Apple’s iOS is likely more attractive to the developer community due to Apple’s dominance in the tablet market, Flurry said. With iOS, developers have to build an application just once and it can run on the iPhone and iPad, giving developers the most consumer reach for their effort.
“Not only does Apple offer a large, homogenous smartphone base for which to build software, but also when developers build for smartphones, their apps run on Apple’s iPad tablets as well,” Flurry wrote in a blog post. “That’s like getting two platforms for the price of one.”
In comparison, the Android platform poses significant development challenges.
“Android fragmentation appears to be increasing, driving up complexity and cost for developers,” Flurry said. “Further, this fragmentation is concentrated primarily in just smartphones, as there is no serious Android tablet contender to the iPad.”
In terms of consumer tablet usage, the iPad drove 88 percent of total worldwide user sessions during the first five months of the year, according to Flurry. The Galaxy Tab and Amazon Kindle Fire hold “very distant” second and third places, driving 9 and 3 percent of user sessions, respectively.
Overall, Android also drives less revenue for developers, according to Flurry. After comparing the revenue generated by top apps on iOS and Android, Flurry found that iOS generates four times more revenue per active user than Android. This means that for every $1 a developer earns on iOS, they make about $0.24 on Android.
“In short, Android delivers less gain and more pain than iOS,” Flurry said.
Earlier this year, game developer Mika Mobile made headlines after announcing it is no longer supporting Android over fragmentation challenges.
For more from Angela, follow her on Twitter @amoscaritolo.
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Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2405533,00.asp
“Both companies have their own intellectual property rights portfolios and strategies and operate independently.”
He also said that some Android devices had “significant (intellectual property) infringement issues” relating to Nokia’s patents.
Google, in a formal complaint to the European Commission, said Microsoft and Nokia had transferred 1,200 patents to MOSAID, a so-called “patent troll” which makes money by taking legal action over patent infringements.
Nokia and Microsoft cooperate on smartphones that compete with Google’s Android devices. The Finnish phone maker shifted from its own Symbian software in favor of Microsoft Windows in February 2011.
Google’s accusations highlight current cut-throat competition in the mobile phone business where companies, including Nokia, are fighting to assert intellectual property rights over wireless technologies.
Nokia’s patents have become valuable and stable assets for the company, particularly at a time when falling handset sales and a loss of market share threaten its future.
Nokia has already sued Android device makers HTC and ViewSonic for infringing its patents and is expected to go after others.
Nokia already earns 500 million euros ($618.22 million) a year from its patent royalties in key areas of mobile telephony and some analysts have said a more determined application of its patent rights could boost its income by hundreds more millions of euros a year.
Microsoft said earlier that Google’s complaint about antitrust in the smartphone industry was a “desperate tactic” from a company that controls more than 95 per cent of mobile search and advertising.
By AppleInsider Staff
Published: 09:13 PM EST (06:13 PM PST)
The latest study from comScore reveals that the U.S. marketshare of Google’s Android mobile operating system dipped slightly over April while Apple’s iOS-driven iPhone continued its slow upward climb.
Data from research firm’s MobiLens service showed Apple maintaining a steady forward pace over the month of April amid a growing U.S. smartphone market, while Android exhibited a small drop in share during the same period.
The survey polled 30,000 mobile subscribers and found that during the three months ending in April, Android remained the top U.S. platform and managed to gain 2.2 points to end the period with a 50.8 percent market share. While Google’s OS saw an overall gain over the period, the platform saw a month-to-month decline as it stood with a 51 percent share at the end of March after rising 3.7 percent, a relatively steep bump considering the saturated marketplace.
Number two Apple finished the three-month period up 1.9 percent with a 31.4 percent share of the U.S. market. The iPhone rose a modest 0.7 points in April and was one of the two top-five mobile platforms to gain marketshare. Nokia’s Windows Phone helped the fledgling platform eke out 0.1 points of progress while RIM and Symbian continued to tumble losing 0.7 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
Over 107 million people owned smartphones at the end of April representing a 6 point rise since January. Also up over the three months ending in April was downloaded app usage which enjoyed a 1.6 percent rise while mobile browser use saw a 0.5 point bump. Texting suffered a 0.5 percent drop, but an overwhelming 74.1 percent of smartphone owners still use the service.
The tablets are available now at 1,600 of their stores. Each device is pre-loaded with content including free games, the Kongregate Arcade app and a digital copy of Game Informer magazine.
The retailer will sell tablets from a variety of manufacturers, including Asus, Acer, Toshiba and Samsung. GameStop also sells refurbished models of Apple’s iPad.
The move is part of GameStop’s broader effort to expand beyond selling traditional video game devices and games. Earlier this year, the retail giant started selling used Apple products, including the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.