Tag Archives: Android

3 Smartphone Accessories to Upgrade Your Style

Smartphones are like college degrees. It’s great to have one and often even expected, but nobody is impressed unless you can actually do something cool with it. There’s nothing special about iPhones and Androids anymore; everyone has one. In 2012, a Pew study found that more than half of all cell phone users owned some kind of smartphone. Two years later that number is even higher.

The new toys you can buy to buddy up with your smartphone, now that’s cool. There’s technology out there for iOS and Android we couldn’t even imagine when the first iPhone launched in 2007. And these new gadgets aren’t just for show—some of them actually improve your everyday life.


Sorry, Android. We’re going to talk Apple for just a bit. Car systems are the best way to connect and use your smartphone on the road. Using just a Bluetooth connection, they can play your music, take your phone calls and even read your text messages without ever laying a thumb on your phone’s screen.

There’s just one issue—car systems have to accommodate every smartphone, which means there are glitches from time to time (and constant updates). Apple decided to cut out the middleman and made CarPlay, its own proprietary car system for iOS. The system looks like a small iPad mounted in the car’s center console and connects directly with iOS devices to utilize music, apps, navigation, calls and texts.

Unfortunately, for the time being CarPlay is only available in high-end cars like Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz. So if you’re planning to buy one, congratulations. Otherwise, you can pick up an aftermarket kit from companies like Pioneer.

Samsung Galaxy Gear

It might seem like overkill to wear a watch from Star Trek to pair with your phone, but Samsung has put some serious effort into making Android gear cool in ways that Apple is not.

Think of the smartwatch as a tiny table that connects to your phone. Like CarPlay, you can make calls, read texts, play music and, yes, even keep time. It pairs with any Android phone, but works even better with another Samsung device like the Galaxy Note 3. Best of all, the watch actually looks like a watch, which sets it apart from those hideous Google Glasses.


Nest (now owned by Google) makes two products—a thermostat and a smoke/carbon monoxide detector—and they both have some nifty tricks. What’s so exciting about household appliances? Well, unlike the Maytag your parents own, the Nest Thermostat learns your heating and cooling habits, and you can even set voice controls from your Android phone.

Is there smoke in your house when you’re not home? The Nest smoke detector can actually send a text message to your neighbors (assuming they’re also your friends, enemies might love to watch your house burn). These two seemingly simple smart devices can make small tasks turn into big wins.


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.