Tag Archives: Android.

Google Adds Android Smartphone And Tablet Screen Mirroring To Chromecast

cast_screen Google has released a feature for Chromecast announced at Google I/O this year – Android device screen mirroring. The update today brings the much-desired feature to all Chromecast-capable devices, and makes Google Cast much more similar to Apple’s competing AirPlay offering for iOS devices. The “Cast Screen” option will now show up in the navigation drawer of the… Read More


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Android TV First Look Video And Hands On Impressions

IMG_0161 Android TV is one of the myriad new things that Google announced this year at I/O, and the platform is very different from Google’s previous effort with Google TV, a project announced in 2010 and updated continually since but that still hasn’t managed to become a significant part of Google’s lineup. Google is looking to change all that with Android TV. It’s a brand… Read More


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Mozilla Continues To Bet On Firefox OS Even As Android Encroaches On The Low-End Market

firefox_os_logo_large Firefox OS is a tough project to evaluate. Mozilla’s phone operating system is meant for developing countries and first-time smartphone owners. To keep the price of the phones down, the hardware it comes on doesn’t really compare to today’s flagship phones, either. Instead of native apps, Firefox OS runs web apps written in HTML5 and JavaScript, which naturally incurs a… Read More


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After Expanding To Android, Addappt’s CEO Breaks Down Its Growth Plans

Mrinal Desai, founder and CEO of Addappt, is betting that people need a better way to keep their cell phone contact information up to date. Addappt, a smartphone app — iOS and Android — syncs contact information between users, allowing for individuals to remotely update their data on the phones of their friends. (For a more detailed dive into how Addappt works, TechCrunch has… Read More


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HP Crashes Downmarket With The $99 HP 7 Plus Android Tablet

Hpwelcomesign How bad do you need an Android tablet? HP’s latest Android tablet isn’t packed with the latest components, but it’s cheap. The buyer gets, um, a screen, some bits and bytes, and a bezel as wide as the Mighty Mississisp’. But the HP 7 Plus is only $ 99. Since HP’s first consumer Android tablet, the computer maker has been content racing to the bottom with cheap… Read More


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China’s Fast-Growing Android Phone Maker, Xiaomi, Launches An iPad Mini Competitor

Mi tablet China’s Xiaomi has announced its first tablet, expanding a device portfolio that has been focused on selling lots of smartphones running its MIUI Android firmware. The announcement confirms earlier rumours that a Xiaomi slate was incoming. Read More


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Android SDK For Wearables Coming In 2 Weeks, Says Google

Google is readying a version of its Android OS tailored for wearable devices. Google’s Sundar Pichai told the SXSW conference Sunday that it would be releasing an SDK for makers of wearable devices such as smartwatches in two weeks’ time. The SDK will be aimed at other makers of smartwatches and wearables, even though Google itself is thought to be working on building wearable… Read More


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Phablets, Colorful iPhone 5c Drive Smartphone Sales While Android Remains The Outsized Giant: Kantar

giant android

When it comes to sales of smartphones, Android is the green giant that continues to tower over the competition. In the last three months that ended in January 2014, the Google-developed operating system accounted for around 70% of sales across 12 key markets, according to the latest figures from WPP market research division Kantar Worldpanel ComTech

In comparison, its most credible rivals either fell further behind, or simply stood still: Apple took 22.1% of sales (down nearly two percentage points over last month); and Windows Phone was flat at 4.4%. A mixed bag of “others,” which includes BlackBerry but also legacy, discontinued platforms such as Symbian, accounted for the rest.

With Google’s mobile platform installed on 7 out of every 10 smartphones that consumers buy, Android seems almost impossible to beat. But with reports of even arch competitors like Nokia toying with Android devices, the question may no longer be which platform is dominant, but what the state of play is with OEMs building on top of that outsized leader.

Samsung continues to sit on the top of that pile. Kantar director Dominic Sunnebo tells me that in the last three months Samsung took 32.6% of sales across 12 key markets — up slightly from last month’s 32.2%.

But when you drill down into regional sales, you start to see specific manufacturers giving the Korean giant a run for its money.

In the case of Europe’s big five markets of UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, for example, Kantar notes that “Samsung’s dominance of this market is being eroded” — much as it observed last month.

“In Europe Android continues to move towards 70% share, and the real battle now is among the Android manufacturers,” writes Sunnebo. Samsung has over half of all sales at 39.5%, “but this is lower compared with last year.” In contrast, LG (6.9%), Sony (9.4%), Motorola (1.7%) and even new brand Wiko (2%) all are seeing growing market shares of sales — a trend that Kantar contends will continue with the launch of new devices at MWC this week.

Meanwhile, some notable things about Apple. iOS-based devices saw sales declines in a few markets, but surprisingly, the biggest of all was in the U.S., a country where Apple has traditionally been strongest. In the last three months in the U.S., sales of Apple handsets were down 7.7 percentage points to 38.9% of sales compared to a year ago.

But interestingly, Apple is also seeing something of a shift in terms of what consumers are buying. Whereas sales of its new 5s devices have been dominating globally, now the less expensive 5c is seeing a mini surge.

In one example — the very saturated market of the UK, where smartphone penetration is 70% and 86% of all handsets sold in the past three months were smartphones – Kantar says the 5s model outsold the 5c 3:1.

But with 5c sales picking up to become the number-three smartphone in the UK, now the ratio is 2:1. So: still outselling, but less so. The U.S. is seeing the same ratio, Sunnebo tells me, while Japan and Australia are still seeing 5s outsell the 5c at 3:1 and in China there are nine 5s devices sold for every 5c.

The China proportion, when you think about it, is not that surprising: there, Android completely dominates the middle and lower end of the smartphone sales spectrum, so if you are going to put the cash out for a premium iPhone, you are likely to go for gold. Or: in for a penny, in for a pound, as the British like to say.

Why the bigger shift to 5c? My theory is that now that the rush of early adopting iPhone 5s users have somewhat abated, the later wave is slightly more price sensitive, and that’s leading some to opt for the (ever so slightly) more economical model.

Something else that Kantar points out with the iPhone is that demographics and usage vary depending on whether you are a 5s or 5c user: in the UK, 74% of 5c buyers are female, versus 36% for the 5s. It notes that 5s users are also more inclined to use their handsets for “data heavy” uses like video and music.

In other platforms, Windows Phone continues to struggle in certain markets like the U.S. — where Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore today admitted that the company continues to see a “tough market” with consumers, and Kantar notes it took just 5% of smartphone sales in the last three months.

But in others regions like Europe its performance is more positive. Windows Phone’s share of sales in the last period was just over 10%, and it is the fastest growing platform in Europe, putting it ever closer to Apple — which is currently at 19% of all smartphone sales in the region.

What gets the credit for Nokia’s success? Budget phones like the Lumia 520, says Kantar, which have become something of a gateway device for new smartphone owners.

“Nokia has continued its successful tactic of sucking up remaining featurephone owners across Europe,” writes Sunnebo. “Even in Britain, where smartphone penetration is at 70%, there are over 14 million featurephone consumers for it to target. At some point Nokia will have to start making serious inroads into the smartphone competition, but for the time being its strategy in Europe is working. Crucial for Nokia will be its ability to keep low-end owners loyal and upgrade them to mid to high-end models.”

But just as low-end is one entry point, so are certain form factors. In China, where handsets and tablets are rapidly taking the place of PCs as a consumer’ main internet device, Kantar says that “phablets” with screens larger than five inches accounted for 31% of all sales in the last three months. Screens bigger than 5.5% took 9% of sales.

Sunnebo says that China is a standout in this regard. “Phablet sales across Europe and US have been gradually rising, but it’s China which is driving demand,” he writes. “Phablet owners are less likely than the average consumer to own a tablet, indicating that phablets are increasingly being used as the primary device to browse online in China.”

Just as colorful 5c handsets have apparently caught the eye of female consumers, phablets are also skewing “heavily to women” in China.

But it remains to be seen whether the phablet is here to stay. “It’s too early to forecast the long-term trends for China, but in Europe where the first wave of phablet owners are now coming to upgrade, over 40% are down-sizing to a smaller device,” writes Sunnebo.

kantar worldpanel numbers

Photo: Flickr


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We Heart Nokia, But “We’re Less Excited About” A Nokia Android Handset, Says Microsoft

'normandy'

Microsoft is in the advanced stages of closing its acquisition of Nokia’s handset business, but in the meantime Nokia is reportedly working on Android devices. How does Microsoft feel about that? “They’ll do some things we’re excited about, and some things we’re less excited about,” said senior executive Joe Belfiore, to a room of chuckling journalists and analysts.

“We have a terrific engineering relationship with Nokia,” he noted. “We’ve done a bunch of excellent collaboration [on] products…We’re proud of the work we do together.”

Nevertheless, as many have rumored, bolstered by some apparently leaked images (such as the ones here), Nokia has also been spinning other plates, with the WSJ reporting that the so-called Normandy device coming as soon as later this month.

Why? As Natasha pointed out the other day, this wouldn’t be an official Android device but a forked version, along the lines of what Amazon and many Asian handset makers have created. The idea here would be that it could use the device to target specifically lower-end users who are not reachable at the lowest price points of Nokia’s Lumia devices, but are looking for a “smarter” device than the Asha line from Nokia. The handset, the WSJ reports, has been in the works from before the deal with Microsoft was set, and points to how, with with many engineers and others leaving Nokia through layoffs, there are still some wildcards in the pack.

Image: Evleaks


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SwiftKey Takes Its Predictive Android Keyboard Software Into Cars With Clarion Car Stereo Tie-Up

SwiftKey Clarion 1

As smartphone growth saturates — at least in mature markets — tech companies are turning their attention to cars as the next consumer frontier for their wares.

In the latest example, U.K. phone software maker SwiftKey has partnered with in-car entertainment manufacturer Clarion for their AX1 Android-powered touchscreen car stereo system — currently available in South-East Asia but due to be rolled out to the US and Europe later this year — expanding its predictive keyboard software from phones and tablets to the automobile dash.

SwiftKey said it will be providing the default keyboard across the whole AX1 device — meaning its keyboard software will be powering multiple interactions, from passengers typing directions to choosing which songs to play. The AX1 includes a web browser for surfing, email and apps access, and also supports 1080p Full HD video playback on its 6.5-inch touchscreen display. 

Moving vehicles are an obvious setting for a smarter text entry system, a la SwiftKey, that can auto correct typos on the fly — so the application here makes plenty of sense, even beyond SwiftKey seeking new growth opportunities.

In an update last October, the startup also unified its software across phones and tablets with a single version (SwiftKey 4.3) that can support multiple form factor scenarios and typing styles. That update can also be viewed as SwiftKey making its system as flexible as possible so that it can be applied to as many device types as possible.

Commenting on the Clarion partnership in a statement, SwiftKey co-founder and CTO, Dr Ben Medlock, said: “We believe ‘connected car’ technology will be a growing trend throughout 2014 and is set to reach the mainstream. Partnering with a cutting-edge company such as Clarion demonstrates our real interest in this exciting sector and signals our ambition to become known as a leading platform for innovative, personalized technology.”

2013 saw SwiftKey’s software being used on more than 100 million devices globally.

In related news this week, Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance to help drive its Android platform deeper into connected cars.


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