Galaxy Nexus & Android 4.0

Google Android 4.0 LogoI watched the live Google/Samsung announcement of the Galaxy Nexus yesterday. The event was held in Hong Kong, and streamed live to the Android Developers YouTube channel. I wasn’t completely blown away by the hardware – seems pretty run-of-the-mill after being spoiled with the Galaxy S II. But I was impressed to see how much thought Google has put into the user experience for Android 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”).

I get the impression that this time, Google’s focused on the little things. Like zero shutter lag for the camera, rather than the megapixel count. Or streamlining the voice-to-text capabilities, as well as copy & paste. These “little things” are really the things that matter for consumers. Apple’s known this for a long time, and one of the selling points for Apple’s phones is the great user experience (even if the flexibility isn’t there). I think Google’s trying to take a leaf from Apple’s book here, and start building an engaging, “love-able” (their words, not mine!) user interface. An admirable goal, and from what I’ve seen, they have taken big steps in this direction with the latest version of Android.

But that’s the consumer side of things. For developers, Android 4.0 introduces a number of new concepts, including:

  • Unified UI toolkit – “A single set of UI components, styles, and capabilities for phones, tablets, and other devices”. So Android 4.0 has finally pulled together the Gingerbread & Honeycomb releases.
  • Rich communication and sharing – A bunch of new APIs, most significantly Android Beam, which enables NFC-based instant sharing between smartphones.
  • New lock screen – Not sure how much opportunity there is for developers to plug in here, but Google has introduced a new set of instant actions which can be accessed directly from the lock screen (camera & music controls).

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Apple iPhone 4S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II

iPhone vs AndroidOk, so maybe the title’s just a little bit of a linkbait. 😉 But I got a very strong sense of déjà vu when I woke up this morning and first read the specs for the new iPhone 4S. Dual-core processor, 8MP camera, world phone…. hang on a sec, that’s describing my phone! My Samsung Galaxy S II that is. The one I’ve had in my pocket for months already.

This feeling of “been there, done that” only increased when I read on further to the details of iOS 5 (A̶n̶d̶r̶o̶i̶d̶ ̶s̶t̶y̶l̶e̶ improved notifications, anyone?) When the iPhone 4 was announced, it seemed to blow away all the competition. It was simply better than anything else out there. But I can hardly say the same about yesterday’s announcement. In my opinion, it was the most unimpressive iPhone release yet. Sure, the iPhone 4S is obviously an incremental upgrade to the iPhone 4. And many of the improvements are welcome. But they’re also long overdue – and suspiciously familiar to long-time Android users.

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Google+ Now Open To All, With a Ton of New Features

I woke up this morning to a perfect storm of Google+ announcements. Firstly, the big news – Google+ is now available to anyone with a Google account. No invite required. This is great news, as it lowers the barrier to entry significantly. I can now invite all my friends to join, and they can invite … Read more…

This Week in Android: Transdroid, Device Activations, Google+ and Nortel Bid

This is the first in a series of posts I’ll be writing, to highlight some of the most important Android news from the past week. Hopefully it’ll be a useful summary, and also provide some incentive for me to keep the posts coming 🙂 Enjoy!

Transdroid pulled from Android Market

Transdroid, the popular torrent client for Android is the latest app to incur Google’s wrath, as it was pulled from the Android Market earlier this week. This news seemed to slip under the radar in the wake of the Google+ launch. Still no word on why. Perhaps George Lucas noticed the word “droid”?

Half a million Android devices activated per day

Andy Rubin revealed in a tweet that Google is now activating over 500,000 new Android devices per day, and that this figure is growing by 4.4% week over week. This is a big step up from 300,000 late last year. Just think about it – that’s more than 15 million new Android devices each month. And that’s not even counting the unofficial forks.

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Hijack any Facebook account with Faceniff – Firesheep for Android

A hacker called Bartosz Ponurkiewicz has released a simple Android app called Faceniff (Facebook + Sniff), which allows you to hijack the Facebook profile of anyone on same wireless network as you. Think Firesheep, but running on something you can slip in your pocket and carry anywhere. Oh, and it’s “for educational use only”  😉 Understand?

The interesting thing about Faceniff is that it works with WPA2-PSK encrypted networks (as well as the lower grade WAP protocol). So it doesn’t matter how strong your wireless encryption is, it’s still susceptible to inside attacks. All you need is a rooted Android phone with Faceniff installed.

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The Heist overtakes Angry Birds as #1

Screenshot of The Heist game for iPhoneYet another success story from Apple’s App Store. The Heist is a new game for the iPhone from the creators of Camera+. I wrote about these guys previously – they certainly know how to make good apps. Until recently, Angry Birds was the uncontested best seller on the App Store. However, for the past 3 days it has been ousted by The Heist, which now occupies the #1 position for daily downloads. In just half a day, the app was downloaded 25,233 times. How much revenue is that?

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