Posts Tagged ‘Android’

HTC, Android, Facebook

Today HTC had some interesting announcements: it cut its revenue forecast for the fourth quarter of 2011 to no growth. This used to be in the range of 20-30%/quarter. In some markets, they realise they are losing out to Apple and Samsung.

My introduction to HTC came with the Google Nexus One. It was an awesome device, and made me fall in love with Android. I then tried the HTC Desire HD right after my Nexus One died; it made me so unhappy, I switched to an iPhone 4 within a couple of weeks.

Samsung has built the Google Nexus S, and the upcoming Google Galaxy Nexus. The future is wide open, as you might get devices from Google-Motorola. If you’re buying an Android device, only buy a Google-sanctioned device. The rest are basically outdated when released and will never make you happy (and I say this, liking the Samsung Galaxy S2 for example).

Is HTC suffering because they’re building a Facebook phone? Google would have known this, thus pushing their phone manufacturing towards Samsung. HTC already has at least two “Facebook phones”, i.e. phones that have a Facebook button on them that takes you directly to Facebook. I cannot imagine how this is a selling point, but if your life is inside Facebook, it makes absolute sense.

And it got me thinking. HTC has bet on Android and Windows Phone. Microsoft is working closely with Nokia on Windows Phone. If Windows Phone rocks, it will rock best on the Nokia’s. Where does this leave HTC?

Opensource like Android?

This was a story I told quite regularly at OSCON earlier this year and I thought I would share it with everyone here.

I have over the years mentioned that some things in the Linux world poise it to be “the year of the Linux desktop”. Many people say these things, in fact others in the Linux world tend to tell you not to mention it as it might jinx the movement. Well, this year, 2010 is almost coming to an end, so I doubt I would be jinxing anything.

Who cares if it is the year of the Linux desktop? If the mantra was to spread opensource, I think Google has done a bang up job of getting the word out that Android is opensource. I know some people reading that line will cringe and tell me that MeeGo is more opensource, Android is not opensource, etc.

I landed in SFO as usual and I told the immigration officer that I was headed to Portland for OSCON. He wanted to know what OSCON was, and I told him it was a conference where opensource people gathered. He asked me flat out: “You mean, opensource like Android?” I instantly smiled and we got on to talking about Android, mobile phones and he told me how he enjoyed his Android device and he thought that all of us in this “opensource movement” were doing a great thing for his phone. He did make use of the Android Marketplace and he did get quite a few apps from it (free though, he admitted).

I then boarded my connecting to PDX, arriving past midnight, I hit the sack. Breakfast was to be at Burgerville right before the Community Leadership Summit. The waitress asked me if I was in town for some kind of family reunion, and I told her that I was in town for OSCON. She inquired what OSCON was since she had not heard of it and this was the weekend before all the geeks descended upon her. I told her it was a gathering for opensource people, and felt a sense of deja vu when she retorted: “Opensource like Android?” By golly, she had purchased an Android phone, went into depths about the applications, told me more about how she used the Android Marketplace, how she purchased a few apps, but preferred free ones, and so on.

I was making conversation about opensource (and Android devices in particular) with an immigration officer and a waitress, all under twelve hours of me landing in the United States. Its 2010, and even if Linux isn’t king on the desktop, its king on people’s most personal device, their mobile phone. Its what they carry in their pockets, and it’s doing more and more for them as the technology iterates. And this revolution is powered by Linux.

The Android User Experience

I was in Bangkok recently, and met an Android user who just wanted to know the basics of getting stuff working on his Android. Simple things like tethering, making it into a WiFi hotspot, and more were questions he had. Android logo

I whipped my Nexus One out and told him it all just worked. It’s running Android 2.2. He was impressed. He thought he was also running Android 2.2, until I checked. It was some HTC make that he had purchased recently (circa mid-to-late-2009), and it was running Android 1.6 (if I remember correctly). The fact that I cannot remember is in itself a problem for Android device manufacturers – there are so many out there, and while its great to have choice, it sure as heck complicates things. But that’s a matter for another post.

I told him to get the software upgraded. He had gone back to his place, tried it out, and it didn’t work, since there was no update available. Lucky for him, HTC happened to be a sponsor for BarCamp Bangkok 4. So he went up to their booth to ask, and they told him flat out, there was no Android 2.2 available for his phone. He would have to buy one, and there seemed to be a THB1,000 discount.

This was a phone that is no older than a year. Its similar to my Nexus One in age. It is not operator locked, there is no contract, yet with these Android phones, you are at the mercy of your manufacturer to release a software update to your phone. What is their incentive, considering they are rolling out new hardware on such a regular basis?

I look at Apple, and see iOS4. Support for it goes back all the way to the iPhone 3G (released in 2008). So it does not work on the original iPhone released in 2007, and multitasking only works on the iPhone 3GS (2009) and the new iPhone 4 (2010). But it seems like Apple is giving it a good three year release cycle of support so far.

Android has about a six-month release cycle for the operating system. Device manufacturers are probably releasing new hardware around that time-frame. While people are raving about statistics that over 70% of Android devices out there are running some form of Android 2.x (either 2.1: 40.8% or 2.2: 36.2%), it still leaves about 30% not getting a lot of functionality. Heck, functionality that only 36% of Android users get, the others want! Again I ask: what is a manufacturer’s incentive to release software updates, considering they are rolling out new hardware on such a regular basis?

There is no consistent user-experience across the board. What works on my clean install Android device, is very different to what others who have software carriers mucking with the software, as well as the handset manufacturers. They’re not getting the “pure” Android experience, and they are unable to share experiences with others.

Gingerbread, aka Android 2.3 is just around the corner. It will (likely) work on my Google-issue HTC Nexus One. It will not work on all those other beautiful devices out there, until their manufacturers say they should.

MoSync 2.4 pre-beta available with some juicy new features

I was rather thrilled this past week to note that the team at MoSync have released 2.4-pre-beta, with support for not only Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7, but also Apple Mac OS X 10.6. Goodbye Windows virtual machine, and hello native Mac app.

Check out the release notes, and you’ll also see some very interesting tid-bits. The largest request that I seem to hear from users is that they would like to target the iOS platforms. Apple iOS devices seem ubiquitous these days, and MoSync is now filling the gap. The highlights:

There’s also improved documentation, with example applications. Check out btServer (makes use of the Bluetooth features) and MapDemo (good example with various map sources).

While there are no binaries for Linux users, there is a guide on how to build MoSync using Ubuntu. I’ve not tried it recently, and the guide is a bit dated, but I expect it to work without too many issues.