Tag Archives: Android

Google App Inventor: Not for everyone

As someone who grew up on BASIC and actually did some serious projects back in the 80′s and 90′s using HyperCard, I’m massively in favour of simple, easy to use programming tools. So Google App Inventor instantly caught my attention.

And then I saw it.

Oh dear.

The only people who could possibly think that this was “coding for the rest of us” are people who’ve forgotten when it was like to first learn how to create programmes, and that have never seen the incredible, powerful tools that something like HyperCard had. With HyperCard, anyone could pull together something and have it working without having to write a single line of code – but if you did delve into the code, you could do amazing things in a language that was closer to English than BASIC.

App Inventor hasn’t learned the lessons of HyperCard. And that’s a shame, because simple, powerful development tools are pretty thin on the ground.

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Who owns the platform? Adobe? Google?

Kevin Tofel on the announcement of Android support for Flash:

The key word in Adobe’s press release today being “expected,” which appears three times. Platforms other than Android are expected to integrate and work with Flash Player. All of the latest Android handsets are expected to see Froyo, which is required for Flash Player 10.1. The production version of Flash is expected to be available as a final production release for Froyo devices. Translation: Adobe hasn’t delivered anything to most handsets today and the fate of Flash Player is increasingly out of Adobe’s hands.

Kevin is spot on in highlighting Adobe’s use of the word “expect”, but I disagree with his last sentence. The fate of Flash Player isn’t out of Adobe’s hands: in fact, the fate of a platform which relies on Flash as a development environment is out of the hands of the platform’s creator.

No, app developers aren’t “switching” from iPhone to Android

Learning to write link baiting headlines is a very good method of learning how to spot them. And I expect that the latest AdMob report on mobile application development will draw a few linkbaiting headlines, such as MobileMarketingWatch’s “AdMob: 70% Of iPhone Developers Switching To Android“.

It’s good link bait, but it’s simply not true. In fact, what the AdMob report [PDF] actually says is:

  • More than 70% of iPhone devs plan to develop for Android over the next 6 months
  • Close to half of Android devs (48%) plan to develop for iPhone in the next 6 months

So in other words, it’s not a question of “switching” to Android. As is entirely sensible, developers are looking to do cross-platform work. That’s why almost half of the Android developers surveyed plan on developing for iPhone, too.

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Is crapware invading Android?

One of the things that fascinates me about the way that the smartphone market is developing is whether it is following a similar path to the PC market. It’s easy to see the conflict between Apple and Google, for example, as a re-run of Apple versus Microsoft – and draw the conclusion that the end result will be similar.

I don’t think the analogy holds as strongly as some commentators believe, but there are some interesting areas where Android looks increasingly like Windows. One example of this a what some companies would call “value-added software”, which consumers often call “crapware”: additional software which customises the user experience or (in theory) adds additional “free” functionality to the supplied product.

On Android, this manifests itself as “user experiences” like HTC‘s SenseUI, but it’s not only manufacturers that want to play this game. Consider, too, the kinds of software added by networks like Vodafone:

“Vodafone has flagged up the forthcoming release of HTC’s Android-based smartphones Legend and Desire on its network next month.Legend will come with Vodafone’s 360 content and social networking portal pre-loaded.”

And this is just the start. The temptation for networks to “differentiate” themselves by skinning, amending and otherwise tampering with Android is going to be pretty intense – they’ve done much the same in the past with customised versions of non-smart phones, and they’ll do the same again with the “open” platform of Android.

Of course, the problem with this “value add” is that it rarely adds any value for the customer. The “problems” these kinds of add-ons are designed to solve are usually more to do with operator revenue than customer need.

Thus, Android is beginning its spiral into the world of crapware, software which serves no real purpose other than to give marketing people a “differentiator” which doesn’t really meet a customer need. And just as it has on the PC, the situation will get worse before it gets better – with the unfortunate issue that crapware is even harder to get rid of on a phone than it is on a computer.

(Image from louisvolant)

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Good luck with making money from Android apps

Android App Store Is 57% Free Compared to Apple’s 25% – app stores – Gizmodo:

App store analytics firm Distimo recently released a bunch of juicy info about the major mobile app stores, and the results are pretty interesting. For one, Android has a much higher proportion of free apps.

Or, to put it another way, you’ve got even less chance of making money on Android than you have on iPhone.

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Fred Wilson’s brave mobile experiment

Fred Wilson did something brave: he dictated a blog post using the voice recognition system on his Nexus One, and posted the unedited results. It was, to say the least, less than stellar:

“I am dictating this blog post via my google phone. I’m doing its name is a test to see how easy it is to do something like this. I don’t plan on taking my blog posts in the future very often what is pretty neat that you can do this”

Remember how lampooned the Newton’s pen input initially was? This is worse than Newton v1.0 quality. It’s also about three generations behind the current starte of the art in voice recognition (Dragon Dictate is really good these days).

But more importantly, those who are placing a lot of emphasis on the Nexus’ voice recognition ignore a lot of the culture of mobile phones, and how it is different around the world. In Japan, for example, talking on the phone in public transport is not just frowned upon – it will get your told off (politely!). Talking to your phone to dictate something is going to be similarly frowned upon.

Even in Western countries, talking to your phone in a public place is starting to be unusual. How many people text or email on their phones, rather than call? Do you think you could speak a blog post in Starbucks? And what would a coffee shop sound like if all those people working on their laptops were dictating to their phones instead?

(Image via Daylife)

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Idiot post of the day (The Return of TechCrunch edition)

OK, I wasn’t going to do this. Even I had got bored. But MG Siegler’s post on how “Apple and Google just tag teamed the US Carriers” is just breathtakingly stupid.

MG, I know that you’re desperate to justify your earlier breathless hyping of the Nexus One, but seriously – contradicting yourself in the same sentence is pretty good going. To wit:

“But Google goes farther, because they already have multiple carriers (in this case, T-Mobile and Verizon, coming this Spring).”

If it’s “coming this spring”, they don’t ALREADY have multiple carriers. They “will have” or “plan to have” or “will be launching on”. They may even have “already signed up”. But they don’t “already have”.

Seriously, this is basic English we’re talking about here.

Then there’s this:

“Google has these guys in their pockets because it’s not like they’re going to team up with Apple to make a device (Motorola tried, and failed).”

Yeah, because Google can STOP HTC and Motorola building Android phones. They really really need Google! Oh no wait, they can’t! It’s free! It’s open source!

Of course Motorola and HTC are going to appear on stage with Google. They are a major, important partner. But claiming this means that Google has them in its pockets is just bullshit.

And finally…

“They’re taking the traditional mobile model in this country, where you first choose your carrier, and then choose your phone, and turning it upside down.”

Yes, because people are so dumb that they can’t chose things this way round for themselves. No one ever thought of, say, going to AT&T because they wanted an iPhone. Or Verizon because they wanted a Droid.

Or an N97. Actually, scrap that, no one wanted an N97, on any network.

(Image from Laughing Squid)

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Idiot post of the day

Sadly, because I generally enjoy his writing, it’s from Robert Cringely:

“iPhone and Android will be here for the long haul with the question being which of Symbian, Palm, Windows Mobile, or Blackberry will die?”

Answer: None of them. There are more than 1.25 billion phones sold every year. Even a 1% market share would mean selling more phones than Apple did in 2008. Did Apple die in 2008, thanks to the lack of success of the iPhone? No.

People like Cringely simply do not understand the scale of the phone market worldwide. In 2008, more new phones were sold than the entire number of computers, old and new, that were in use.

Think about that for a second, Bob. Actually, think about it all day. Because then, you might understand that the phone market is not the same as the computer market.

(Image from Sylvar)

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Stewart Alsop says dumb things, get attention

Image representing Android as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Stewart Alsop is having many problems with his Motorola Droid:

“The software (Google’s Android plus apps both from Google and from other developers) doesn’t work and is unacceptable on a mobile device.”

Only thing is that these are problems that it appears no other Droid users are having – blatant, massive issues which anyone even glancing at the phone for five minutes couldn’t fail to see.

But Stewart’s opinion is, at seems, that everyone else is wrong and he is the only one who has seen it.

Obviously, there’s some kind of conspiracy and all the other people who have Droids and are not reporting this behaviour are in on it. As opposed to, say, Stewart having a duff phone.

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