Square Peg in a Round Hole

The Verge has a look at Google’s revamped Wear OS.

First off, ‘Wear OS?’ I know they replaced ‘Android Wear’ a while back, but when you update a product or service you’re supposed to make it better. Engineer-led companies are just the worst at product naming and branding (and Microsoft is still champ).

Secondly, Google wants their round watch interface to work so bad, but it just doesn’t:

The circle is a beautiful shape and in my 20 years of being a graphic designer I’ve seen many attempts made at round interfaces on everything from kiosks to websites, with varying degrees of success.

Screen real estate is extremely limited — therefor valuable — on a watch and by using a round screen Google is throwing away a lot of real estate. They’re also throwing away the whole history of written language.

Unless Google is presenting Mayan and Aztec calendars on their watches, circular screens are inferior to rectangular screens for presenting anything more than the time.

Categories:

Interface

Open always wins, right.

Epic’s first Fortnite Installer allowed hackers to download and install anything on your Android phone silently

I’ve been using computers since I was 4 years old and even though I could acquire the technical knowledge needed to maintain a clean Android device, I’m not sure I’d want to. It seems like it can be a lot of work.

How do the majority of non-technical Android users deal with all the bullshit that comes with an “open” platform like Android?

Of course Google’s dirty little secret they’ll never admit is that Android isn’t really open.

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Mobility, Technology

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Vivo Nex

What’s the dumbest phone of 2018 (so far)?

The Vivo Nex with it’s ‘pop-out selfie camera’ because your stupid face is so important:

Having a bezel-less pocket computer is so important to Android OEMs that they’re willing jump through ridiculous hoops to achieve it.

Congrats, Vivo. Mission accomplished.

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Product

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Essentially Cancelled

From The Verge, The Essential Phone 2 has reportedly been canceled:

Essential has canceled plans to develop a second phone and is exploring selling off the entire company, according to Bloomberg. Much of the details remain up in the air. Talks of a sale sound like they aren’t very far along, and the report says that Essential still has plans for future products.

One thing that does sound certain is that Essential’s second phone — at least as it was originally planned — isn’t going to happen. Bloomberg says the development was canceled and that engineers are now working on a smart home product, which is supposed to be released next year. That may be the Echo competitor that Essential announced a year ago, but which we haven’t heard a word about since.

The Essential Phone shipped months and months after they said it would be available last May, and then when it did launch, they cut the price $200.

Andy Rubin created the Android operating system, and he came to market with a decent phone, but the Android market is very crowded and Rubin clearly was not able to convince people to buy his phone over a Google or Samsung phone.

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Business, Product

Teens prefer iPhones.

Business Insider reports on something we already know: Teenagers prefer iPhone to Android:

American teenagers continue to deeply prefer Apple’s iPhone to phones running Android.

82% of teens of teens currently own an iPhone, according to Piper Jaffray’s “Teens Survey,” which questions thousands of kids across 40 states with an average age of 16.

That’s up from 78% in last fall, and it’s the highest percentage of teen iPhone ownership Piper’s seen in its survey.

I’m suspicious of any teen carrying an Android phone. They’re not to be trusted.

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Consumer, Product

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An Essential Price Cut

Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile operating system, launched his own, new phone called the Essential Phone back in May and earlier today Dieter Bohn reported the Essential Phone dropped $200 in price (always a sign of a smash hit):

Essential is slashing the price of its eponymous phone, down to $499 at its website. That’s a $200 price cut from the original $699 price, less than two months after it began shipping to customers. There is really no other way to read the move except as a signal that it wasn’t selling well at $699 — especially given that the only US carrier stores it’s available in have “Sprint” above the door. It certainly doesn’t help that it now has to face the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL head-to-head.

I’m not sure what Andy Rubin expected. The market is extremely crowded, even if you take out the iPhone. Competing with just Samsung for Android market share is plenty of competition.

Let’s not forget the Essential Phone didn’t ship on time back in July.

Rubin’s first Essential blog post, Why I started Essential, kinda sorta sheds some light on things, but I’m still left confused:

For all the good Android has done to help bring technology to nearly everyone it has also helped create this weird new world where people are forced to fight with the very technology that was supposed to simplify their lives. Was this what we had intended? Was this the best we could do?

I left that night reflecting deeply on what was great and what was frustrating with the current state of technology today. After another long talk with my friend we decided that I needed to start a new kind of company using 21st century methods to build products for the way people want to live in the 21st century.

I don’t use Android devices, but are people “fighting” with their Android phones? I’m also not convinced the Essential Phone distinguishes itself from other Android phones like the Pixel 2 and the Galaxy 8.

Nerds are getting great at building products, but they have to get better at marketing them. I recommend they read every book by Seth Godin for starters.

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Product, Technology

Remapping Samsung’s Shitty Features, Denied

Sammobile has a headline that caught my eye: ‘Samsung has a legitimate reason to block Bixby button remapping, whether we like it or not’

This headline is interesting because it highlights a big difference between iOS and Android users: Android users expect to be able to make hacks around crappy features like Samsung’s Bixby and the dedicated Bixby button.

I wrote about how half-baked Bixby was when it debuted a few months ago.

Categories:

Interface

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Android sounds like a dream.

Android 7.1+ has a “Panic Detection” Mode that Detects Frantic Back Button Presses:

While many readers of Android-centric websites such as our own are less likely to come across situations where a rogue application compromises their system, the same may not be true for the general population. Nearly every week we hear from various security researchers about new malware targeting Android users. Most of these malicious attacks can be avoided by inspecting permissions or avoiding installing sketchy-looking applications, and while we do recommend our readers take their phone’s security into their own hands, Google is responsible for securing every Android phone. To that end, the company quietly introduced a new security feature in Android 7.1 Nougat called “panic detection” which listens for multiple back button presses in succession then returns the user to their home screen.

I hate all the malware on my iPhone.

Oh yeah, I never have to deal with malware or “panic detection”.

Open always wins, right?

The Not-So-Essential Phone

The new phone from the creator of Android didn’t ship when he said it would:

The new phone from Android creator Andy Rubin appears to be delayed.

When he announced the Essential smartphone at Recode’s Code Conference in May, Rubin said it would start shipping within 30 days, The Verge reported. The company also started accepting pre-orders for the $699 device.

But more than 30 days have passed since then, and Essential isn’t shipping the phone yet.

Creating a computer operating system doesn’t mean you have any idea how to design and market a successful phone.

The Essential Phone isn’t as essential as Andy Rubin thinks it is.

Since I’ve taken one jab at Android, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind readers this was Rubin’s vision of Android:

Rubin’s grand vision of Android was barely an evolution of Palm Pilot OS.

Android wasn’t designed for multi-touch which is why it took so long for Android UI to approach the velvet-y smoothness iOS had from the beginning.

Categories:

Product, Technology

A Coke is a Coke

Low-cost Android One phones reportedly coming to the US:

Google’s Android One platform was originally designed to provide low-cost Android devices to developing markets without the stuff that usually comes with low-cost Android devices: bloatware, competing services, and a crippling lack of software and security updates. Now, according to a report from The Information, the program is about to make it’s way to the US market to help solve those problems.

And on regular software updates:

Google also has a stake in ensuring that as many Android devices as possible are upgraded on a regular basis, not just for features but also for security updates.

Imagine that: It’s 2017 and there exist a whole market of shitty, low end Android devices that can’t be updated on a regular basis, filled with bloatware.

This has never been a problem with any of the iPhones I’ve owned.

It reminds me of this great quote from Andy Warhol:

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

When you buy an iPhone 7 it’s the same iPhone 7 your favorite actress owns and it’s the same one the cashier at the grocery store owns. When you buy an Android phone, it could lie anywhere on the spectrum of Amazing to Crappy.

This distinction between iPhones and Android phones can’t be overemphasized.

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Product, Technology

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“Android freezes up”

Over at DOD Buzz, Matthew Cox reports the, “U.S. Army Special Operations Command is dumping its Android tactical smartphone for an iPhone model“:

The iPhone 6S will become the end-user device for the iPhone Tactical Assault Kit — special-operations-forces version Army’s Nett Warrior battlefield situational awareness tool, according to an Army source, who is not authorized to speak to the media. The iTAC will replace the Android Tactical Assault Kit.

The iPhone is “faster; smoother. Android freezes up” and has to be restarted too often, the source said. The problem with the Android is particularly noticeable when viewing live feed from an unmanned aerial system such as Instant Eye, the source said.

When trying to run a split screen showing the route and UAS feed, the Android smart phone will freeze up and fail to refresh properly and often have to be restarted, a process that wastes valuable minutes, the source said.

“It’s seamless on the iPhone,” according to the source. “The graphics are clear, unbelievable.”

“Open always wins,” right?

Maybe not.

via Daring Fireball

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Adroid or iOS, You Pick

The decline and fall of Windows Phone is more tragic, because for several years the OS was making headway. It had an app problem, sure, but Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 brought the OS itself up to the level of iOS and Android, and the low-end Lumias provided an excellent value for the money. But soon after buying the Lumia division from Nokia, Microsoft seemed to stop pushing. Windows Phone 8.1 has been left to rot while Microsoft takes its sweet time finishing a continually delayed Windows 10 update. To be an existing Windows Phone 8.1 user is to sit by and watch while Microsoft ports every selling point of Windows Phone as a platform to iOS and Android. Embracing iOS and Android unquestionably gives Microsoft’s apps and services a wider audience, but there’s no reason why it had to be done at the expense of the company’s existing user base.

The remains of these platforms aren’t really viable as general-purpose smartphone ecosystems. Diehards can (and will) disagree, and Microsoft at least has given Windows Phone acolytes a gift in the form of the Lumia 950 and 950XL. But if you’re recommending a smartphone to someone in 2016, Android and iOS can do pretty much anything that anyone needs to be able to do. Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 cannot, and they’re best left to people who care more about brand loyalty than functionality.

The fight for a third-best smartphone OS has been lost. By everyone.

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Technology

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The Innovator’s Dilemma

Ben Bajarin on Android’s “good enough” problem:

One of the most interesting observations about all of this is that the Innovator’s Dilemma was supposed to impact Apple. This was a fundamental tenet of most bear cases. When the market for smartphones became filled with good-enough devices at very low prices, why would anyone buy an iPhone? Yet this is impacting Samsung exactly according to the guidebook — but not Apple.

The fundamental lesson to learn here is that the Innovator’s Dilemma, in this case, only applies to Android land, because all the hardware OEMs run the same operating system. As I’m fond of saying, when you ship the same operating system as your competition, you are only as good as their lowest price. This is the curse of the modular business model.

What about Apple?

One of the most interesting observations about all of this is that the Innovator’s Dilemma was supposed to impact Apple. This was a fundamental tenet of most bear cases. When the market for smartphones became filled with good-enough devices at very low prices, why would anyone buy an iPhone? Yet this is impacting Samsung exactly according to the guidebook — but not Apple.

The fundamental lesson to learn here is that the Innovator’s Dilemma, in this case, only applies to Android land, because all the hardware OEMs run the same operating system. As I’m fond of saying, when you ship the same operating system as your competition, you are only as good as their lowest price. This is the curse of the modular business model.

Which brings us to today in late 2015 with Microsoft pretending to drop their modular business model.

Today’s Schadenfreude is Blackberry-Flavored

Guess what: Blackberry still makes phones and apparently their CEO doesn’t know how to use them:

Last week, BlackBerry confirmed plans to launch the Priv: an Android-powered slider smartphone that it says combines the best features of Google’s mobile OS with “BlackBerry security and productivity.” It’s a sensible selling point, but as this hands-on with the Priv featuring BlackBerry CEO John Chen shows, the Android operating system isn’t familiar territory for the company. Chen repeatedly says that the Priv “runs Google,” and falters during the demonstration, opening up Chrome (which is slow to respond) before closing the app when realizing the phone isn’t logged in to a Google account.

Hey Chen, at least act like you give a shit.

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Technology

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