Tag Archives: Android


Android Surpasses IOS In Number Of Tablets Sold

After Apple discharged its original ipad in 2010, ios ruled incomparable as the top tablet working arrangement of decision. Yet, in the same way that Android cell phones have cut into iphone deals as far and wide as possible, Android tablets are discovering upward accomplishment in the worldwide business sector.

As per another report from Gartner, Android tablets saw a much bigger development in tablet deals a year ago than whatever available working framework, climbing from 53.3 million units in worldwide bargains in 2012 to 121 million in 2013.

It’s significant to note, then again, that as a solitary producer, Apple stays at the top. To place this in considerably more viewpoint, a later Chitika report refers to that Apple tablet web use in the U.s. what’s more Canada expanded respectably as of Q1 2014.

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The Geeksphone Revolution Goes On Sale, Letting You Dual-Boot To Android And Firefox OS

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The mobile market may still essentially be a two horse race, with Android and iOS enjoying a significant lead, but there are lots of upstarts trying to make inroads, too. One of those is Firefox OS, Mozilla’s attempt to bring a web-first focus to smartphones. Geeksphone has been an early Firefox OS hardware supporter, and now it has put the Revolution up for sale, a higher-end device than its earlier efforts, complete with the ability to dual-boot to both Android and Firefox OS out of the box.

If you’re used to working in a corporate environment but also being cool during evenings and weekends, then you might be familiar with dual-booting: I’ve been known to have my Macs run Windows on a Boot Camp partition for when I need to pierce the veil and travel to the Microsoft realm. It’s actually a pretty common scenario in desktop computing, and there are a number of products including virtualization software designed to facilitate it. But is there the same kind of utility in the mobile world?

Firefox OS is definitely still an outlier when it comes to the mobile platform landscape, and as such, there’s very little in terms of pressing reasons to have it as an option. That said, the eternally curious and those who sympathize with Mozilla’s approach to software, open source and the web will probably find plenty to love about Firefox OS on a device with decent mid-range specs (it appears mostly on lower-end hardware, in keeping with Mozilla’s target market for the OS).

Specs for the phone include a dual-core Intel Atom processor at 1.6GHz, as well as HSDPA cellular support, and an 8 megapixel rear camera with a 1.3 megapixel front shooter. The Revolution retails for €222, and is sold direct from the Geeksphone website. Shipments start going out March 4, so eager shoppers won’t have to wait long before they start acting like mobile chameleons.


An iPhone Loyalist’s First Few Weeks With Android

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Editor’s Note: Semil Shah works on product for Swell, is a TechCrunch columnist, and an investor. He blogs at Haywire, and you can follow him on Twitter at @semil

A year ago, I wrote a post titled “Silicon Valley Slowly Awakens To Android.” Recently, I purchased a Nexus 5 as we develop and begin the early tests of Swell for Android, and I wanted to share some of my initial user experiences carrying phones on both mobile platforms. What I want to focus on in this post are the elements of the Android experience I enjoyed and the elements of the iOS experience that I missed — what I don’t want to focus on is the “Android is better” or “Android sucks” debate. Now, with that disclaimer out of the way…The last time I really spent time on Android was in the Spring of 2011. That was a frustrating experience for me. Now with a brand new Nexus, it’s a new world.

Here’s what I like about having a Nexus 5 so far: The larger screen is enjoyable for reading Pocket and watching YouTube videos. Notifications are easier to digest. The integration of Google Services makes things significantly easier. I found it easier to multitask and switch apps on Android. Having Google Now just up and running is obviously nice. I have SwiftKey but haven’t fiddled enough with it yet. My personal favorites so far are products which can only be built on Android: Cover and Aviate. Cover, as many of you already know, is a lockscreen app which leverages sensor data from the handset and predicts which apps users may want at specific times. It’s surprisingly good at presenting me with the app I want to use at a given time. One of the great attributes of Cover is it reduces the time to get into an app and the cognitive load of sorting through apps. While our phones are cluttered with apps we rarely use, Cover intelligently elevates the apps we engage with most-often. As Cover spreads, it will reward apps with organic daily active engagement. Aviate is similarly elegant, a new homescreen interface with tons of cool options. (I’m also excited to try Ingress, Agent, Cogi, and any other apps you could recommend.)

Now, here’s what I missed not using iPhone all the time: The slightly-smaller form factor for typing. The retina screen, of course. The responsiveness of the touchscreen glass. There are many apps (especially from startups) that just won’t be on Android for a while, as it’s more efficient for small companies to build new products and experiences going iOS-first. I also like that there’s no “back button” on iOS — that was a confusing element for me on Android, as I don’t think of going back to a previous screen on mobile (seems more like a browser), though I can see how some may like this.

I’ve been carrying two phones for the last few weeks, largely for work but I’m enjoying experimenting with the new device and operating system. Recently, I started to think — what would it take for me or other iPhone users actually switch, to actually give away or sell my iPhone and just carry around this Nexus 5. Here’s what I came up with: Some will bolt for Android out of curiosity for something new, some will prefer cheaper and/or more flexible data plans, some will find all the apps they need on Android, some will want a bigger screen, or the ease of Google’s integrated services, or and so on.

However, what will get people moving en masse? That’s a trickier question to answer, and it’s also not clear that’s in Google’s best interest.

As killer apps like Google Now improve, these type of native anticipatory services may be enough to bring iOS users into Android. Or, since Android provides developers with more root access and data collection capabilities, app makers may create an entirely new mobile experience that’s both not possible on iOS and also vital to users. (That said, with hardware advancements like M7 and TouchID in iOS, the same could be said of Apple’s mobile platform — and, therefore, what we’re more likely to see is increasing divergence in the type of mobile experiences between Android and iOS.) Now, assume Google Glass becomes a consumer-level success – that entire phone-to-glass experience could end up being better powered by an Android, though Google can continue to write great iOS software and expand their reach across platforms, even if the functionality is limited or not as well-integrated within iOS. On Twitter last night, @robustus suggested Android’s killer app opportunity may be Bitcoin wallets after Apple’s moves to block some Bitcoin apps, though wallets could be open to more attacks. It’s a provocative thought, no doubt, and one that we shouldn’t dismiss. Or, maybe this isn’t about one platform versus another, but more about two platforms peacefully coexisting and preserving choice and competition for the benefit of consumers. Let’s hope that’s the case.


Success on Google Play: Not Just a Matter of Development – Part 1

How multi-tasking can help indie Android Developers succeed on Google Play

A lot of indie mobile developers think that the fact they’re able to develop an app will be the key to an undisputed success on mobile App Stores.

Of course, one of the most important things to possess as mobile developer is fluency with the programming language. Just like you can’t write a novel without knowing the alphabet or the grammar, having a strong knowledge of the system and its APIs will help you buid apps faster and better.

Multi-tasking is the key for success on App Stores

However, from my experience as an Android Developer, success on Mobile App Stores, and on Google Play in particular, is all about multi-tasking.

I’m not referring to “multi-tasking” as a synonym of “doing multiple things simultaneously”, what I mean is “being able to do multiple things”. The success of a mobile app is driven by a very large number of factors, so an indie developer needs to be aware that his application needs to fulfill multiple requirements.

In my opinion, the most important thing to keep in mind is that apps will be available to millions. So, the dev needs to be conscious of the common denominator between users, and in particular of the user base of his app (the people that, after a while after installing it, keep using the app).

This needs to start even before the app is developed; indie developers need to scratch the surface of mobile App Stores, and try to understand what’s going on, what is trending. There are plenty of web services that monitor App Stores on a daily basis, returning statistics on app installs and comments (for example, for Android and Google Play there’s AppBrain, or the App Stats app). Statistics are some of developers best friends. Use them.

UI of the App is really important

The app needs to be clear and clean. Users should understand how to use it without too much effort, and don’t want to feel dumb using your app. The best way to accomplish this task is follow the development guidelines of the system you’re working on; this way the app will have a look & feel users are already used to work with, and you don’t have to instruct them on how to use most common features.

Graphical assets are important. Really important. You don’t have to be a Photoshop hero, but you need to know the basics.

A great app icon is the best Graphical asset to provide

A great app icon will be what lures users to your app on the App Stores, so don’t understimate it. If your icon looks bad, or not interesting, or unprofessional, users will not click on it: they just won’t. So be careful and provide the best icon you can come out with.

Screenshots are a great tool to make a good first impact on people. Keep in mind that an app (in particular Android apps) are meant to work on multiple devices, with substantially different screen sizes. So, provide the most meaninful screenshots to show off your app features, but for multiple screen sizes (from 3” to 10” displays).

There are literally hundeds of phones and tablets form factors

This brings up one of the most important tool to develop and test a great app: test devices. A good developer needs to provide a decent number of app tests in order to claim to have developed a good app. The best way to accomplish that is to phisically run the app on multiple devices. As a developer, I own more than 15 Android devices, all with different form factors and a bunch with older versions of Android. This really helps testing out the features of apps and how they performs on older devices. Emulators are a resource too (if you’re an Android dev, check out Genymotion), but they definitely can’t fully replace how a real device perform.

Testing your app on multiple devices will really help you with one of the most important things you have to consider when dealing with mobile app stores: your customers’ ratings.

Customer Support really helps you improve your app ratings

Customer support is one of the best way to drive traffic and users to your app. Users are always very clear about what they expect from your app. Usually, customers ratings and comments can be split in some macro-categories:

  1. Enthusiasts (“5-star” ratings): users that are really happy with your app and give it an amazingly high rating on the App Store . A good way to interact with this users is answer with gratitude to their good comments and ratings, and ask how can you furtherly improve your app. They already showed that they love it, so usually they’ll be happy to cooperate, and also will feel “considered” by the dev, which creates a good virtuous circle. If you’ve done a very good job with your app, “5 star ratings” will rappresent the majority of your app ratings.
  2. Happy Users (“4-star” ratings): if you’ve done a decent job with your app, you’ll have plenty of 4-star ratings. These users appreciate your app, but not enough to give it a top-notch rating, so here’s where you have to be careful. These people are “ready” to turn into Enthusiasts, so keep in mind that you have to carefully consider their advices/requests, because they are usually also ready to change their minds and abandone your app if you don’t improve it. 4-star rating customers often leave accurate comments on the reason they appreciate yor app and what it need to go the extra mile to gain that “fifth star”. Take care of what they suggest!
  3. “Meh” users (“2-3 stars” ratings): usually, people who have found serious issues in your app. It can be everything: missing feature, performance glitches, force close, ugly graphical assets… Your app is not doing what they supposed it to be doing. So you, as developer, did something wrong, somewhere. Be aware: since 3-stars are in the middle of possible ratings, some of 3-stars ratings are given by people who consider 3 stars an average good rating (like in european hotels)!! So, pay attention to differentiate between users who are not happy with your app and customers who are giving you what they think is a good rating. A good approach is to get in touch with them in order to understand better their rating.
  4. Unhappy users (“1 star” ratings): they have found major issues in your app. These is the category you have to watch more carefully, because it will be the litmus test of your app: if you see a bunch of 1-star ratings showing up all of a sudden, it means you’ve done something really wrong with your app or latest app update. This is also a customer category where interaction is a panacea: get in touch with these users, and try to understand the issues they’re experiencing. You’re going to get a lot of 1-star ratings, no matter what. Be careful to separate unshappy users from…
  5. Haters (“1-star” rating with really bad comments): Haters gonna hate. You’ll always get nonsensical comments, users shouting against your app claiming it has broken their devices, people that say they can’t download your app (if so, how can you rate it?!?) and so on. Deal with it, there’s nothing you can do/say to make this people remove or change their comment. Fortunately, it’s just a small circle of users, and they show up more often on free apps than on paid apps. If you think their comments are really impacting your overall app rating and downloads, there’s always a handy “Report this comment” button.

In general, keep in mind that you have to monitor your customers feedback in order to have a good impact on mobile app stores, in particular on Google Play. Interact with your customers, don’t be shy and ask them what they think of your app. Try not to be oversensitive on your app and be open to new possibilites, sometimes your users will come up with ideas that are definitely better than yours: embrace them.

Finally we can say that good knowledge of the system, practice in creating good and consistent graphical assets, understanding of development guidelines, app testing and customer care are some of the fundamental skills needed by a good indie developer.

That’s why, in my opinion, being able to perform multi-tasking is what allows a developer to really start growing in mobile app stores. All the described skills need practice to be accomplished in the right way, so take your time, don’t be scared, don’t get mad, focus and try.

After all, we’re always learning, aren’t we?

In the next episode we will discuss other peculiarities that make an app impactful: What are the best development tools? How can I measure the impact of an app over time? How can I get my app under the proper spotlight? And so on! If you have suggestions or comments, please share them!

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How to Start Using Bitcoin on Android

Android has become one of the most popular mobile device operating systems in the world. Android has gained popularity for many reasons. Mostly, it is because of the large variety of applications available on the Google play marketplace, but also because it is open source. This means that anybody can view the code and modify it as pleased. Since there is no price for manufacturers to install it on their devices, it’s much more ideal. Android is such a popular operating system so it would only be natural for Bitcoin solutions to exist in the marketplace for free.

How do you get a Bitcoin wallet?
Bitcoin is also open source, just like Android. Anybody can get them and anybody can use them. To get started, you need to obtain a bitcoin wallet. Wallets come in two forms, local and cloud-based. Both of which are available on the Google Play market place. A great local wallet for the Android operating system is the one that is available at Bitcoin.org. Local wallets have their advantages and disadvantages. An advantage is that you don’t have to pay any fees to use the wallet like you would do for a bank account. However, the disadvantage is if your device were to get stolen or damaged, you will lose your coins forever, because coins can’t be replicated. This is assuming you didn’t take the precautionary measures to ensure your money’s safety. The kinds of measures to be executed depends on the wallet you are using. You also have a selection of cloud based wallets to choose from. A good choice is the Coinbase online exchange wallet. These wallets work similar to the local ones. You can send and receive coins but there are some strings attached. When you use a cloud based wallet, you need to pay them to withdraw sometimes. It’s not ideal, but you might end up using them if you want a way to manage your money on more than one device.
Now that you have set up your Bitcoin wallet, you’re going to need some Bitcoins to put in them.

How do you pay with Bitcoin?
Every Bitcoin wallet has at least one address associated with it. This is a secure method of transferring funds anonymously. Without it, you have no method of receiving payment. You can also generate a QR code as an alternative payment method. This is mostly for convenience when it comes to transactions. Not everyone is willing to write down an entire string of characters for a simple donation. As an alternative, you can place QR codes on website ads, fliers on the street, and more. Bitcoin applications on Android devices revolutionizes how all of this bitcoin stuff works. For instance, an android mobile phone can be used to take a picture of the qr code on a flier or bus stop bench, and donate money to a charity that accepts Bitcoins as a method of payment.
When you go out to spend Bitcoins on a website somewhere, you need to sign up for the site first. This will bind a wallet address to your account. One popular application is poker for Android. For that, you would need to purchase credits for the site, then you can start playing. Be aware that some gambling sites have high payout thresholds which makes you sit at the computer for hours until you have enough credits to withdraw into your wallet. Imagine these sites like taking a trip to Vegas but without any travel fees, expensive hotel bills and the potential for returning home broke. Having an application like this available on the android device would enable more people to get involved in a simple game of poker. Since not every poker addict has the luxury of being near a computer with internet access 24/7., this could satisfy peoples gambling addiction if they are able to play casino games with their phone. Almost everyone that owns a cell phone has a smart phone and this is potential for increasing the pot in online gambling.

There are also numerous other uses for paying with the virtual currency. Online retailers like Overstock have also started to accept it, meaning that users are beginning to have more and more options for using Bitcoin on Android devices.

Windroid confirmed: Intel CEO offers dual Android-Windows systems

Windroid confirmed: Intel CEO offers dual Android-Windows systems
Dean Takahashi

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich combined Windows and Android dual-OS PCs.

Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich today confirmed rumors that the company would promote dual operating systems on future computers that combine both Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows.

Krzanich made the announcement during his opening keynote speech in the vast Palazzo Ballroom at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, where the huge 2014 International CES tech trade show is underway.

He said that the new computers would offer the best of both worlds, running applications on the PC based on Windows and apps based on Android. Wags have nicknamed this “Windroid,” and it signals a break in the “Wintel” alliance of Microsoft and Intel.

This kind of capability is already available through platforms such as Bluestacks, who told us last that it wasn’t afraid of competition from Intel (which is also an investor). Intel will be a heavy-duty promoter of the dual OS, but it remains to be seen how PC makers respond.


Gartner: 2.5B PCs, Tablets And Mobiles Will Be Shipped In 2014, 1.1B Of Them On Android

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As the worlds of communication and technology increasingly become mobile-first, the traditional desktop PC continues to go the way of the dodo bird. The analysts at Gartner are today publishing their annual devices forecast, and they project 2014 to be another banner year for mobile — and its biggest player, Android. There will be 2.5 billion PCs, tablets and mobile handsets shipped this year. Of those, 1.9 billion will be mobile handsets, and 1.1 billion devices will be Android-based.

That represents an overall rise of 7.6% over 2013, with all of the growth coming from mobile devices like handsets, tablets and “ultramobiles” (Gartner’s preferred term for those devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Note that are not-quite-tablets). Desktop and notebook PCs will decline to 278 million units, Gartner says. Overall this is a big improvement over 2013, a year that saw only 3.8% growth.

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 23.57.27

To give some context of Android’s rise — and of what role “mobile” plays in the device landscape — Google’s OS in 2014 will account for nearly 45% of all device shipments. In 2013, it was 38%. In 2015, Gartner projects it will be nearly 48%.

The same is being played out in terms of the installed base. Among existing device owners, Android clocked 1.9 billion devices in use in 2014, while Apple had 682 million across both iOS and Mac, according to principal analyst Annette Zimmerman. This, of course, is crucial for those who are hoping to lock consumers into ecosystems and brands, and to court repeat purchases in an ever-more saturated market.

Gartner does not break out specific manufacturers, but Ranjit Atwal, a research director at Gartner, confirmed to me what you may have already guessed: just as Android dominates mobile, Samsung dominates Android.

That could, he believes, lead the company closer to developing its own, customized operating system, similar to what Amazon has done with its Fire OS. (Indeed, Samsung’s recent developer’s conference, with new SDKs for its different range of devices, seems to point in this direction, too.) The thinking here is that Samsung will want to control its own destiny better than it can do as a Google partner. That will include creating its own app experience, and its own ways of monetising that experience.

Further down the league table, Apple is getting closer to Windows in overall shipments, although Microsoft’s OS (which includes both Windows and Windows Phone) edges it out with 360 million units to Apple’s 344 million devices, or 14% of all devices shipped.)

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 23.56.44

In terms of geography, Atwal tells me that China is continuing to set the pace for what is being bought and for how much. He says that while smartphones continue to be sold in vast quantities, as the high end gets ever more saturated we’re seeing an ever-greater emphasis on low-priced devices for later adopters. That is being played out in other less mature markets. By 2017, over 75% of Android’s volumes will come from emerging markets, says Gartner. Among earlier adopters in China, Atwal says Gartner is seeing a rise of tablet sales.

What Gartner is not putting into its forecast, in a way, is possibly more interesting than what is there. There are no wearables or cars, or smart TVs — three other device categories that are becoming increasingly “smart” and being built on the same kinds of platforms that dominate more established categories like handsets, PCs and tablets. As a mark of their rising importance, Atwal tells me that these categories are likely to become part of Gartner’s overall device mix later this year.


Android Usage Data Only Tells Half The Story

Apple’s Tim Cook likes to pillory Android as a “junk market” of devices that don’t get used. He’s wrong, and here’s why.


Matt Asay December 30, 2013 Mobile
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If marketing is all about creating stories around a product, few CEOs are as good at storytelling as Apple’s Tim Cook. But that doesn’t mean the stories he tells are true.

At least, not as true as he’d like. Like any storyteller, Cook likes to cherry pick the data that suits his purposes best. For example, the big news over this holiday period has been, yet again, just how dramatically Apple’s iOS devices lead Google’s Android when it comes to usage for web browsing and shopping, as illustrated by IBM research. Based on past versions of this same analysis, Cook concludes that Android leads the “junk market” and that only iOS gets used while Android devices sit “in the drawer.”

But this isn’t what the data says. Not really.

Missing The Forest For The Trees

Commenting on data indicating that, despite Android’s massive market share, it still doesn’t get used much for Web browsing, Cook opined to Bloomberg earlier this year:

Does a unit of market share matter if it’s not being used? For us, it matters that people use our products. We really want to enrich people’s lives, and you can’t enrich somebody’s life if the product is in the drawer.

IBM’s data says that iOS devices capture 32.6% of Web traffic on Christmas Day, as opposed to 14.8% for Android. The IBM Benchmark report focuses on e-commerce data between mobile devices and traditional Web browsing and notes that iOS nearly doubles Android in online spending per sale as well.

It turns out that there are lots of things to do with a smartphone or tablet that have nothing to do with visiting websites or shopping. Recent data from the United Kingdom suggests that the primary thing people do with tablets is watch video and play games. Neither necessarily sparks any online browsing or shopping data to be captured by IBM’s report.

Neither may count as “enriching people’s lives,” either, but then, it’s doubtful that much of the shopping or Web browsing being done on Apple’s iOS devices does, either. We’re a generation that wastes an inordinate amount of time on Instagram and SnapChat and the average American carries over $7,000 in credit card debt: talking about enriching our lives through better ways to browse and spend seems patronizing in the extreme.

Remember Books?

Indeed, the device that actually does enrich my life—the Android-based Kindle Paperwhite—doesn’t show up on IBM’s analysis at all. It’s miserable for Web browsing and only lets me shop in one store: Amazon’s. But I tend to buy a lot of books there (never videos – it’s a Paperwhite, not the Kindle Fire) and … GASP!, read them on the Paperwhite too.

Nor am I alone, as Flurry data on new device activations shows:

Indeed, separate Flurry data also suggests that WiFi-only tablets are the most gifted devices, given that they’re cheap and don’t require contracts with a wireless carrier. Cook may have forgotten just how powerful a low-cost, single-purpose device can be (iPod, anyone?) in his haste to denigrate Android adoption. The fact remains: Android devices may not get used for Web browsing but they are getting used.

To be fair, Flurry also released data earlier this year that shows the average Android user also spends about 80% of the time that with apps that an iOS user does. What none of these studies really achieve though is the ability to break down Android usage as a generic term into specific devices. Many Android smartphones are destined for budget-conscious consumers that may have limited data plans and free time. Comparing the entire Android ecosystem to the iPhone and iPad is no longer a one-to-one an equal equation. If you take the top Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 or Galaxy Note 3, the Google Nexus 5, HTC One or Moto X and compare them to the iOS devices, would the data look the same?

The analytics on Android vs. iOS tend to talk in generalities without taking the specific sectors of the market (high-end versus low-end smartphones) into account. These generalities play well into Cook’s hands as he can then wag a finger at Android and say, “hey, I told you so. Buy an iPhone.”

I see the diversity of uses for Android devices whenever I get my hair cut (my barber has two Android devices, one for playing music and the other to entertain her kids with video) and when I go to church and use my Android-based Kindle Fire for nothing other than a once-per-week set of scriptures. These are just two of a variety of examples that Cook seems to ignore. Cook may not think such use counts as “enriching” but it really doesn’t matter what he thinks.

After all, he’s just trying to pitch a story that sells Apple to consumers and Wall Street.

But What About Developers?

Of course, this does overlook one important constituency: developers. As happy as I may be to use my four Android-based devices for single purposes, developers aren’t. They make money selling me apps and they’re making far more money on iOS than Android.

That was then, this is now.

It turns out that enterprise app developers make more money, more consistently, than consumer app developers. As we reach saturation in mobile (ReadWrite’s Dan Rowinski writes that we may already be there) coupled with increasing success of single-purpose “smart” devices, I suspect we’ll see a serious shakeout in the consumer developer ranks.

But not a shakeout in tablet and smartphone interest.

While true that the average smartphone user installs 25 apps on her phone, I suspect that the average number of apps actually used is far lower. I can count on one hand the number of apps I regularly use on my iPhone, and can count the number of apps I use on my iPad on two fingers.

In other words, the real winners in mobile may be the device manufacturers, not the app developers, leaving Cook’s rage against the Android machine sounding somewhat hollow.



The Best And Worst Gadgets Of 2013

Posted 23 hours ago by (@drizzled)
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The Best And Worst Gadgets Of 2013

2013 was a heady year: a time of hope; a time for sadness; a time for twerking; and a time for doge.

But it was also a time for gadgets. As we wait for 2013 to come to a close and hope for brighter things for the year to come, here’s a look at the gadgets we loved, the ones we hated, and the ones that we found aesthetically offensive.

The Good


The Fitbit Force

Fitness trackers are many and varied, but Fitbit consistently delivers top-notch hardware. The Fitbit Force is the latest. It takes the successful formula of the wrist-borne Fitbit Flex and adds a basic screen so you can get information right from your wrist, instead of having to open an app on your phone every time you want to check your progress (in more detail than via a few lighted dots).


The Pebble

Many tried to make a smartwatch people wanted to wear and use this year, and many failed. Pebble succeeded. Success for a smartwatch still doesn’t look like massive millions of units sold, but it looks better than when the Pebble team tried this a few years ago with the inPulse smartwatch for BlackBerry. “The what?” you say. Exactly.


iPad mini with Retina Display

The iPad mini with Retina display takes the winning form factor of the original iPad mini and slaps a super high-res screen in there. It’s essentially a no-compromise machine, in that it’s cheaper than the iPad Air, and has the same processor, computing power and battery life. Plus if you have big pockets, it’s pocketable.

raspberry pi CC

Raspberry Pi

Kids need coding skills if they want to survive in our dystopian future. The ability to hack a circuit board could be the difference between eternal servitude and mastery over a private robot army by 2050 and we all know it. This educational tool is the perfect, cheap apocalypse survival kit. It’s technically from last year, but we contend it had more impact this year when production really spooled up.


Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon knows when it’s got a good thing going. Last year’s Kindle Paperwhite was a good thing, and this year’s update keeps all the good and adds some better stuff. Like faster page refresh, greater text/page contrast and more even lighting.

The Bad


Samsung Galaxy Gear

Pebble made a good smartwatch, and Samsung made a dumb one. They made weird ads to try to promote their dumb smartwatch, too, which helped nothing and creeped out the entire world. Plus it only works with a small pool of Galaxy devices, and it has terrible battery life and looks awful. Go home Samsung, you’re drunk.



Android-based game console” is a phrase we wrote so many times this year. So. Many. Times. And it turns out, they mostly blow. Atop the pile of those that miss is the Gamestick, a crowdfunded disaster that no one loves.



The Ouya is like the Gamestick, in that it was a disappointing “Android-based game console,” but to its credit, it isn’t the Gamestick. It’s still not great by any stretch of the imagination, but huge hype didn’t help, and it has decent niche appeal for anyone who really likes emulation and would rather have something permanent instead of plugging their phone into their TV repeatedly.

leap motion

Leap Motion

Speaking of startup gadgets that really blew it in 2013, the Leap Motion Controller doesn’t live up to its massive hype at all. Sure, if you’re a billionaire inventor like Tony Stark or Elon Musk it’s great for designing space ships or giant death airships, but for regular people, trying to, say, browse the web, you’re going to try this once, hate it and stick it in a drawer.

The Ugly


CTA Digital iPotty

Kids need to learn to use the toilet, and they should learn early that they also need to use iPads while they’re doing their business. So why not combine potty training and tablet use into a single device? The answer is that you shouldn’t do this because God will never forgive you if you do.


Google Glass

Maybe face-based computing is going to work eventually, but as-is, Google Glass looks like garbage. It makes your face look bad. Don’t try denying it. Google has released plenty of images of models wearing it and none of them look any good, so you with your normal-person face will look plain ol’ stupid.



The LG G2 is a great phone, as it is essentially a slightly improved version of the excellent Nexus 5, albeit with some LG bloatware crud. But LG went out of its mind and put the wake/sleep and volume rocker button on the back, just to infuriate me to the point where I would like to do murder. You couldn’t choose a less ergonomic place to put that button, LG. Not if you ran a thousand focus groups to figure out more inconvenient positioning.


Nintendo 2DS

I ain’t mad at you for dropping one of the ‘D’s Nintendo – you never needed three to begin with. And this device is actually pretty great, and I’d buy this instead of a 3DS if I didn’t already have one. Still, it’s not good-looking. It is, in fact, ugly. Good looks cost money, though, so uglification for a budget device may be strategy, not a stupid mistake.



Motorola’s Flagship Moto X Gets A Permanent Price Cut

Posted 7 minutes ago by (@chrisvelazco)
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Let’s be real here: there’s a decent chance that you picked up a new smartphone at some point during the holidays, so you’re off the market for at least a little while longer. As it turns out though, you may have been better off waiting a bit.

In a show of New Years magnanimity (or, you know, a ploy to push more units) Motorola has slashed the prices of its sans-contract Moto X — a fully-customized 16GB model for any carrier will now only set you back $399 rather than the $499 it would’ve originally cost. Sadly, those of you with a woodgrain fetish will still have to pay a premium for those newly-available bamboo backs — $100 to be precise.

Does this ultimately mean you should pick up a Moto X over, say, a Nexus 5? Not necessarily — much as I love what the new Motorola is up to these days the Nexus is still my pick for Android device of the year — but it’s a little heartening to see a big name manufacturer is working to reduce the gap between on and off-contract device pricing for high-end smartphones. If anything, it’s that pricing precedent that seems most interesting here. Between this price cut and the introduction of the wallet-friendly Moto G back in late November, Motorola is positioning itself as a player that can deliver new remarkably solid (and in the X’s case, remarkably thoughtful) smartphone experiences at prices that can seem outlandishly low compared to most competitors.

But where does Motorola go from here? Will it be stuck playing the price game from here on out? It’s possible, but maybe that was the plan all along. CEO Dennis Woodside has mentioned multiple times in the past that he wanted Motorola to deliver cutting edge tech at reasonable prices, and I personally took the Moto G as an affirmation of desire. By slashing the price of its flagship device though, Motorola may be testing the waters to see if it can feasibly move its future products with similarly low price tags. If so, Samsung and rest of the low-cost smartphone leaders really need to keep on their toes.