Android studio steps it up

To make life a little easier for its developers, Google has released Android Studio which is a new development environment. After two years of development, this release improves upon Eclipse and offers things like intelligent code editing, code templates, GitHub integration, multi screen environments, many virtual devices sizes, and more. 

The creation of a "one size fits all" tool for Android developers is very important considering the wide variety of devices and screen sizes (and screen ratios) on the market. Apple's Xcode environment has long been lauded as a superior (by some), but Android Studio looks to have closed that gap significantly. 

Sources: Google, ReadWrite

 

China has 24% of connected devices globally

Ingrid Lunden of Tech Crunch writes that Flurry analytics has now reported that China now holds a quarter of the world's connected devices. 

China now accounts for 24% of all of the connected devices in use worldwide, with 261,333,271 smartphones and tablets among them. Flurry released the data as part of a new report on smartphone usage in China, released today to coincide with a new deal with Renren Games, the online gaming distribution platform of the Chinese social network of the same name.

Perhaps most interesting is that gaming appears to have considerable app activity in China. According to Lunden, 56 percent of Android users game, while 47 percent of iOS users game. Furthermore, when looking at entertainment, Android held 20 percent and iOS held 30 percent. Though smartphone and tablet gaming has been a popular area of discussion in the US, it looks like Chinese consumers seem to be even more interested. 

Figures from April 2013 found that consumers here only spent about 32% of app time in gaming apps, with 18% on Facebook. That still made gaming the most popular category, but far less so. Telling that social networking is only grabbing a couple of percentage points on time on either platform, too small to even get a breakout number in Flurry’s graphic.

Flurry: time spent in app stores

Right now it seems to be a two horse race in China between Apple and Samsung. Samsung is the largest Android OEM (based on installs), but there are considerably more iPhones in the wild despite the disparity in market share - 65 percent for Android and 35 percent for iOS.  

Flurry: Android and iOS install base

On a final note, Flurry pointed out the significant growth in the Chinese tablet market. 21 percent of iOS devices were iPads, while Android only accounted for 4 percent. 

iOS leading in ad share

While the latest reports show that Android continues to make significant headway in terms of global marketshare, this does not translate into ad revenue.  

According to Kevin Bostic, writing in Apple Insider, iOS ad share continues to grow, and Android has actually lost ground. Between May 2012-2013, iOS ad share increased from 59 percent to 64 percent, while Android dropped from 41 percent to 36 percent over the same period. 

iOS ad share, May 2012/2013

This is good news for Apple, since higher ad monetization means that developers will be more likely write apps for the iOS platform first. 

Apple and Google make gains in US, Android still dominant globally

iOS and Android armies: CC Image courtesy of Nerds on Call on Flickr. 

iOS and Android armies: CC Image courtesy of Nerds on Call on Flickr. 

The mobile sphere is never boring thanks to the fierce competition. There are some important updates in the mobile OS market today. 

Greg Sterling, writing in Marketing Land, reports the latest news from comScore regarding the US mobile market. Apparently, 59 percent of American cellphone subscribers own a smartphone - with Pew and Nielsen reporting numbers as high as 61 percent. Apple is still the top phone maker, with Samsung coming in second. Android claimed the top spot for a mobile OS, with Apple in second place. Both Apple and Android saw gains during the quarter, but HTC, Motorola, and LG all lost market share.

 

Top OEMs

Top platforms

Platform marketshare does not reflect mobile browser usage, however. Below is a breakdown of usage among all the major platforms in the US for the same quarter.

  • iOS: 54 percent
  • Android: 40 percent
  • BlackBerry: 2.2 percent
  • Windows Phone: 1.2 percent
  • Other: 2.6 percent

Apple Insider reported that the iPhone 5 accounted for a whopping 75% of all 4G (aka LTE) web traffic in the US and Canada for "newer" smartphones.

Globally, Android seems to be dominating, which will not help their anti-trust search case in Europe, says Ingrid Lunden writing in Tech Crunch. 

Google-powered smartphones, running Android, accounted for more than 70% of sales in the region’s five biggest markets of Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain — part of a wider, global trend of Android continuing to consolidate its leadership position in smartphones
Although smartphone penetration is slowing down in developed markets like Europe, Android’s does not appear to be: that 70.4% of sales is nearly 10 percentage points higher than it was a year ago (61.3% in the three months that ended May 31, 2012).

These figures come from the consultancy firm Kantar. However, the figures do not differentiate between Android variants - namely forked devices that do not have access to the Google play store and ecosystem. 

More information on US and global mobile market share in the sources below.

An Android for "low-end" phones

It's possible that Android will be put on a "crash diet." Jeff Chiu, writing in Quartz, says that Google might try to drastically reduce the hardware requirements for its newest OS (codename Key Lime Pie), to better position itself in emerging markets. Doing so would also help reduce the level of fragmentation present on the platform.

The result would be a version of Android that requires just 512 megabytes of memory (RAM). That’s half as much as the current version of Android needs. Since early 2012, many owners of older Android phones have been unable to upgrade to the current version of Android because their devices have too little memory. That’s one reason Android is so infamously “fragmented,” with the majority of Android phones in the world currently running on “Gingerbread,” a version of the operating system that was first released in 2010.

Link to the full article in the source below. 

Why mobile is in its infancy

iPad with keyboard: CC Image courtesy of Nokton on Flickr.

iPad with keyboard: CC Image courtesy of Nokton on Flickr.

Android Jelly Bean: CC Image courtesy of Mauricio Lima on Flickr.

Android Jelly Bean: CC Image courtesy of Mauricio Lima on Flickr.

By Erik Christiansen

 

From the viewpoint of someone who works in the field of information science, the end user is key. Too many times have I tested, or worked with, software (consumer or enterprise) that fails to create a fluid user experience. Yet, there is a balance. Software that is dumbed down to the point where utility is inhibited is also unacceptable. The juncture between usability and capability is the sweet spot that all modern operating systems should strive for, regardless of the device or platform.

The limitations of the current crop of touch-based operating systems reflects the infancy of the mobile market. iOS, Android, and Windows Phone do not represent a fully functional OS. They were designed to ease people into a new era. The era of touch.

The introduction of the Graphic-user-interface, or GUI (pronounced “gooey”) as us geeks like to call it, was arguably the game-changing invention that brought the personal computer into the mainstream. The whole notion of the desktop and the folder-icon file system was first commercialized by Apple’s Macintosh operating system. Just like the current generation of Macs, Apple’s strategy has been to create operating systems that were powerful, yet consistent and easy to use. Conversely, Microsoft set its sights on the enterprise market, and opted for more drastic changes to the user interface (UI) with each iteration. Today, both are very capable productivity platforms.

My first introduction to the GUI was the family Atari 1400ST, which featured a state-of-the-art OS made by Digital Research. Amazingly, I still have that computer, and it chugs along to this very day. I remember fondly the white icons and lime green background. It had no internet connection (though there was modem for it that we never used). While it was used for productivity (mostly basic word processing) and games, it was above all a learning tool. It prepared me for what was to come.

The Atari 1040ST

Atari 1040ST GUI designed by Digital Research

When I got to school we had Macs and Windows 3.1. Not long after, my family made the jump to Windows 98, Windows XP, and subsequently Windows 7. Currently, I use Mac OS 10.8. Each iteration was slightly more streamlined, but added more functionality. Today, I would consider myself a pretty expert computer user, but only because I honed my skills with each generation.

Tomorrow, Apple will hold its World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), where they are expected to announce (among other things) iOS 7 and OS 10.9. Don’t let the number 7 fool you, however. iOS hasn’t changed much since its introduction in 2007 - unlike Google’s Android, which has seen considerable advancement. Unfortunately, as much as I like my phones and tablets, they are not anywhere close to replacing my Macbook or desktop computer.

The more we use mobile devices, the more we expect from them. Technologists are bored with the current selection and we pine the next big thing. The next generation of mobile phones and tablets have to be considerably more capable. The training wheels have to come off. Both my generation and the younger generation (the latter which has never experienced a world without the smartphone) are prepared for something more advanced. Our Kung-Fu is strong, and we’re ready for the next challenge.

Microsoft has tried to move users in the opposite direction, which I feel is a mistake. Handicapping the desktop and gearing it toward touch is the wrong approach. What companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple should be doing is adding some of the traditional desktop functionality (such as multitasking, windowing, and file systems) into the their respective mobile OS’.

I’m optimistic for the future of mobile. When I haul out my old Atari from the closet, it always makes me smile. I’ll be honest, using it can be pretty painful. But, I owe it a great deal to that relic. It introduced me to a fascinating new world, sparked a lifelong interest, and put me on a path toward an exciting career. When I hold my tablet or phone, I experience the same excitement as when I first used a computer. “This is the Atari of mobile,” I say to myself. “I can’t wait so see what’s next...”