Mountain View-based Internet giant Google has lately been rumored to plan the addition of brand new, highly appealing features to the camera capabilities of the Android platform, and some more info on the matter is now available.
Previously, Google was said to be working on new camera API that would bring support for RAW photography to Android, and this is now confirmed.
Spokeswoman Gina Scigliano has reportedly confirmed that support for said capabilities has been included in the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) of the operating system, namely in that part of the firmware that is in charge with direct communication with the hardware.
“Android’s latest camera HAL (hardware abstraction layer) and framework supports raw and burst-mode photography,” she said, a recent article on CNET reads.
“We will expose a developer API [application programming interface] in a future release to expose more of the HAL functionality.”
Apparently, Android 4.4 KitKat arrived with a series of hidden, Experimental Java camera APIs, in addition to featuring all the camera enhancements that Google has been packing inside Android since version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
In Nexus 5, the HDR+ mode in the camera already takes advantage of the burst mode mentioned above, though the RAW camera feature is still missing from the package.
Apparently, Google is not yet ready to make the new APIs available for developers out there, though it is expected to incorporate them into an upcoming platform version, as mentioned above.
In the meantime, however, other companies have already brought RAW photography to mobile devices, namely Nokia and Microsoft, which allow owners of Windows Phone 8-based Nokia Lumia 1520 and Lumia 1020 devices to enjoy increased image quality.
In the meantime, Google will focus on the burst-mode capabilities of Android’s camera, it seems. According to Scigliano, the new HAL and future APIs are centered around burst-mode photography.
“The basic idea is instead of taking a single shot with a given set of parameters, you instead have the power to queue up a request to take multiple shots each with different parameter settings such as exposure gain,” she explains.
However, Google does agree that the imaging capabilities of smartphones are equally influenced by the hardware inside them and the software features loaded on top.
For the first time ever, Android has hit more than 80 percent market share for smartphone shipments worldwide.
The new Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker was released on Tuesday by IDC, which detailed third-quarter numbers for all smartphone shipments worldwide. A total of 261.1 million smartphones were shipped during this quarter, 81 percent of which run Google’s operating system. A study by Strategy Analytics last month revealed nearly the same numbers, showing that Android gobbled 81.3 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter.
There are several smartphone manufacturers that run Android on their devices. Of these vendors, Samsung gained the most market share. The Galaxy S4-maker ruled 39 percent of all Android smartphone shipments in the third quarter. The majority of the other vendors saw market share within the single digits or less.
Not only must Google be giving itself a pat on the back, but Microsoft should also be pleased by the third-quarter numbers. During the quarter, Windows Phone shipments jumped 156 percent year-over-year. While Windows Phone market share is still small — less than 5 percent — these numbers do show that people are purchasing the smartphones at a rapid rate. Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reported similar numbers in September showing that Windows Phone is increasingly gaining in the world market.
For Windows Phones, Nokia appears to be the smartphone maker of choice. A whopping 93.2 percent of all Windows Phones shipped in the third quarter were made by Nokia.
“Android and Windows Phone continued to make significant strides in the third quarter. Despite their differences in market share, they both have one important factor behind their success: price,” IDC’s Mobile Phone team research manager Ramon Llamas said in a statement. “Both platforms have a selection of devices available at prices low enough to be affordable to the mass market, and it is the mass market that is driving the entire market forward.”
Overall smartphone shipments were up 39.9 percent year-over-year in the third quarter. According to IDC, average smartphone selling prices have decreased as of late as demand for cheaper phones grows. The average price is now at $317, which is 12.5 percent lower than last year.
One exception to the lower price is for large-screened smartphones, or phablets. The average phablet price is currently hovering around $443; however, this is still 22.8 percent lower than last year’s average phablet price of $573.
“Almost all successful Android vendors have added one or more 5- to 7-inch phablets to their product portfolios,” IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker program director Ryan Reith said. “And Nokia’s recent announcement of the Lumia 1320 and 1520 put them in the category as well. In 3Q13, phablet shipments accounted for 21 percent of the smartphone market, up from just 3 percent a year ago. We believe the absence of a large-screen device may have contributed to Apple’s inability to grow share in the third quarter.”
And, this brings us to Apple. While iOS does well in the US, it’s not as popular in the world market. In the third quarter, Apple held 12.9 percent of the market share, which is a 1.5 percent decline from last year. However, the company’s shipments were up from 26.9 million during last year’s third quarter to 33.8 million in this year’s third quarter. According to IDC, some of this market share decline could be due to soft demand in the weeks before the launch of the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, and iOS 7 in September.
Almost half of all of Android devices in wild are now running some version of version Jelly Bean, according to the latest data from Google. Android 4.1/4.2/4.3 (which fall under the “Jelly Bean” moniker) now account for 48.6% of all Android devices that reach Google’s servers on a monthly basis.
The extraordinarily persistent 2.3 Gingerbread continues to fall in market share, now running on less than 30% of Android devices at 28.5%. Froyo is now a distant memory, on only 2.2% of Android devices. Google does not report on versions of the operating system running on less than 0.1% of overall distribution.
The latest version of Android—4.3 Jelly Bean—is making its first appearance in Google’s distribution dashboard at 1.5% of devices. So far, the only devices that run 4.3 Jelly Bean are Google Nexus devices (smartphones and tablets) that have been updated to the version announced in July. The new Nexus 7 tablet ships with Android 4.3, while the only non-Nexus device to ship with 4.3 is Samsung’s brand new Galaxy Note 3 “phablet.”
The first version of Jelly Bean—Android 4.1—now runs on 36.5% of devices. Jelly Bean 4.1 was announced at Google I/O in 2012. Jelly Bean 4.2 was announced in October 2012 and now runs on 10.6% of Android devices.
It is important to note that Google’s distribution numbers do not reflect the total pool of devices that run Android across the globe. Google only measures and reports on devices that touch on the company’s servers in a given month. So, if a user has not visited the Android Google Play Store in a month, the device would not be recorded in Google’s reports.
Google’s data gathering and reporting methods means that a whole host of Android devices are not recorded. For instance, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which runs a forked version of Android that cannot access Google Play or other Google apps, is not part of this report. Nor are most Android devices in China.
According to a report from mobile analyst Benedict Evans using data from analytics platform Umeng, only 5.6% of Android app installs are from Google Play. The vast majority of app downloads in China are from third-party app stores that are often regionally specific. Many millions of Chinese residents use Android smartphones that can’t (or don’t) access Google Play from manufacturers like Huawei, ZTE, LG and Samsung.
Most Android developers in the United States are going to build for Google Play first, so the worldwide distribution of Android operating systems is not quite as important to them. Yet markets like China are increasingly important for developers to tap and Google has created new tools in its Google Play Services platform to help developers globalize their apps.
Google announced that the next version of Android will be called KitKat, not Key Lime Pie as long expected. Google’s Sundar Pichai, head of Android and Chrome operating systems, first hinted at the name in a post on his Google+ page. KitKat, a Nestle candy-bar brand, has tweeted confirming the name.
Say hello to what could be the world’s first product-placement operating system. In case you were wondering, the latest version will be Android 4.4, not Android 5.0, according to Google’s announcement.
Google is running a promotion with Hershey’s (the maker of KitKat in the U.S.) and is holding a contest to win a new Nexus 7 tablet or credit at the Android Google Play store. From Pichai’s post:
On my return from Asia, I was also thrilled to find this guy waiting to greet me on the front lawn — love the new #AndroidKitKat statue and can’t wait to release the next version of the platform that is as sweet as the candy bar that’s one of our team’s favorites:)
KitKat has been a long time in coming. Google announced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at its I/O developer conference in 2012 and since then has released two more updates to the operating system (versions 4.2 and 4.3) both named Jelly Bean instead of the the long-awaited “K” flavor of Android. (Each generation of Android has been named for a dessert in alphabetical order—up to now, Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich were the previous versions.)
Google hasn’t said when the KitKat update is coming, but it will likely be within the next two months as the company readies its device lineup for the holiday shopping season.
Google Makes Android 4.3 Official, Offers Multi-User Restricted Profile Accounts And Bluetooth Smart
Android 4.3 isn’t an overly dramatic advancement over Android 4.2, but the new version of Google’s mobile OS announced today does bring a number of improvements that should appeal to both developers and end users. Highlights include the redesigned camera interface, general performance improvements for the OS including smoother animations, and long-awaited Bluetooth Low Energy support.
Muti-User Restricted Profiles
This builds on the multi-user accounts on 4.2, but adds Restricted Profiles. These make it possible to do parental controls on the tablet, by changing the performance of apps and other services based on who’s logged in. It also blocks out access to stuff like in-app purchases. There’s much more to this than just parental controls, however, including options for provisioning in enterprise settings.
Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth Smart) makes it easy to connect accessories to Android devices without sapping too much battery. This is key for smart watch and other wearables, as well as health and fitness trackers.
This is huge for game developers, as it allows for much better graphics rendering, which shows off very well in the demos Google showed off on stage. Now we can also see lens flares a la J.J. Abrams, and other very nice visual effects on future games. All of the above is rendered in real-time in native 1080p.
Who doesn’t get excited about locked down media content? Serisously though, this is a boon for content providers and should help Google convince even more to offer up greater libraries, with the peace of mind that their stuff is safe. It does accompany the news that Netflix will deliver 1808p video streaming on Netflix, making the Nexus 7 the first Android tablet to get that.
You now can access and interact with notifications form the Android status bar, and use those to be displayed in another app or via Bluetooth on a connected device (like the Pebble) and you can change their read status and dismiss them, too.
The update is pushing out live today to existing Nexus tablet devices, in addition to shipping on the new Nexus 7. It’s also going to be coming to Google Nexus handsets and experience devices soon
It’s a new era, we tell ya. An era where Google can finally say that its latest build of Android is also the one being used by the greatest majority of Android users. For over a year, Android 4.1+ has been the most up-to-date build of Google’s mobile OS, and yet, the greatest majority of those accessing the Play Store were using a build that was bordering on antediluvian. According to the official Developers Dashboard, the percentages have slid to a point where Android Jelly Bean — which encompasses 4.1.x and 4.2.x — now represents 37.9 percent of Play Store users. Gingerbread (v2.3.3 through 2.3.7) has fallen to second place with 34.1 percent, while Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0.3 through 4.0.4) holds down the bronze with 23.3 percent. Hit up the source link to view the full breakdown, and do us a solid — if you know someone still using Donut, grab ‘em a Christmas-in-July present.
Users of Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices got their first look at the company’s newest operating system, iOS 7, earlier today. Not only has Apple given iOS an entirely new look and feel, courtesy of head designer Jonathan Ive, but it has also revealed a revamped suite of core apps like Photos, Camera, Calendar, Weather and others, added new services like iTunes Radio and features like AirDrop, while also making it less lucrative for would-be thieves to steal your iPhone, and much more.
During this morning keynote’s, company execs walked users through some of the biggest changes arriving in iOS 7, which launches in beta for iPhone developers today, with a larger public release expected this fall.
Here are some of the best new features and updates you can expect when iOS 7 ships later this year.
A More Modern Design
Let’s get this out of the way first: love it or hate it, the biggest change is the one we knew was coming – skeuomorphic design is dead. The new operating system has been redesigned from head to toe in a flatter — but not a totally flat — design as some had feared. Instead, there’s a transparency effect in place in many screens, and when you move the device in your hand, iOS now tracks the motion, allowing you to see behind the icons. This is great for background wallpapers, for example, as you’ll get to see more of your favorite homescreen photo previously hidden behind the apps.
Overall, the look is cleaner and simpler in many ways — the ugly green felt is gone from Game Center, for example. It is one of the most-hated apps in terms of being representative of the older, “skeuomorphic” design, which attempted to make apps familiar to users by coating them with elements from the real-world (like leather stitching, felt or yellow-lined notepad paper). The company took several digs at the old style in the process of introducing the new, as well. To be sure, there was no “evolution” at play here — this was murder.
iOS Gets A Back Button (Sort Of)
With an idea borrowed from several third-party iOS apps and BB10 (if you can believe it), the new version of the operating system now has a “back button” of sorts. Except it’s not a button really, it’s a gesture. Unlike on Android, where devices offer a dedicated software or hardware button for the function that means “go back to the previous screen,” the iOS back function is there when you need it but doesn’t clutter up the screen when you don’t.
Instead of a button, you swipe in from the left side of the screen (bezel to screen) to invoke the feature. It works in places you would expect, such as the Safari web browser, as well as in apps like Mail, and elsewhere.
Upgraded Default Apps
Apple has responded to the growing number of apps meant to serve as an alternative to Apple’s default set (think Calendar, Weather, Mail, Messages, etc.) with an overhaul of all its apps that ship with iOS devices out of the box.
Many of these seems inspired by some of the more popular applications in its own App Store, too, if not directly built by third parties, as the new Yahoo-powered Weather app is. Though not identical to the Yahoo Weather app in iTunes (which is arguably one of the highest-rated weather apps of all time), the new native Weather app shares a lot of the design elements, but replaces Flickr photo backgrounds for those of weather animations like rain or snow — also much like Android’s live weather widgets allow for today.
The native calendar app, now clean and white (and a lot like Sunrise), lets you swipe between days, turn to landscape to see a week in advance and zoom out to see your month or year.
Mail, meanwhile, offers big, edge-to-edge photos when used for photo-sharing and lets you take action on inbox messages with a swipe, which is a feature that earlier earned third-party app Mailbox an exit to Dropbox for around $100 million.
Safari got a big revamp too, with fancy 3D-esque tab-switching behavior, improved bookmarking, one-tap access to favorites, and even Twitter integration which lets you see which links your Twitter friends are reading and sharing.
The camera, meanwhile, has been updated with built-in Instagram-like filters, and the ability to swap between the different camera modes like “panoramic” or the new “square” camera view.
Photos & iCloud Photo Sharing
Though technically another default app update, the revamped Photos app deserves a deeper look because photo-taking is one of the iPhone’s (and all smartphones, really) most-used features. The Camera Roll itself has now been improved, organizing photos into “Moments” based on location and time – again, a feature inspired by the work of a number of third-party apps including Cluster, Moment.me, Flock, Tracks, flayvr, and others.
These collections will be auto-labeled with locations you visit. In the demo, that included venues like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Palace of Fine Arts, as well as your home and your kid’s elementary school, for example. But as you zoom out to take a broader view, the locations merge together by date, letting you zoom all the way out to the year view where you can scroll and scrub through the photos, then tap to go into any one.
Built-in to this new experience is something called Air Drop, which is a new way to share photos with other iPhone users. (The poke at Android users: “there’s no need to wander around the room bumping your phone.”) Instead, photos and videos can be shared peer-to-peer over Wi-Fi connections with nearby users on newer iOS devices; they can also be shared via Facebook, Twitter, email, and into iCloud photo streams.
The photo stream was one of iOS’s lesser understood features among mainstream users, but the update makes it more accessible, allowing multiple users to contribute both photos and video, as well as comments to a shared stream.
Everyone had been calling it “iRadio” ahead of today’s announcement, but the feature’s official debut is worth noting even if the surprise was spoiled. As expected, iTunes Radio is very much a Pandora-like experience built on top of the iTunes music catalog and forged through new deals with the major record labels. Like most streaming music apps on the market, you can play pre-loaded stations by genre or create your own “artist radio” station, skipping and favoriting songs to teach the service your own likes and interests.
What Apple’s iTunes Radio does differently is that it also ties you back to the iTunes store, allowing you to “wishlist” your favorites, and purchase those tracks you want to hear on demand. The app is free and ad-supported, but ads are removed for iTunes Match subscribers.
Siri Gets Smarter
There wasn’t as big a focus on Siri as is needed (at least in the keynote demo), but the feature has gotten new male and female voices, which can now speak French and German with more languages coming “in time.” Notably, the service can now control more of your device, including playing back your voicemails, turning on or off things like Bluetooth, increasing or decreasing screen brightness and more.
It has also now integrated Twitter, Wikipedia and search results from Bing, so it can do things like read you Wikipedia entries or pull up web results.
The iPhone’s popularity and high resell value has led to it being one of the most stolen devices, too, but Apple’s new security upgrade is meant to make at least petty crime involving stolen iOS devices not worth criminals’ time and effort. Apple said that hundreds of millions use “Find my iPhone,” but as we know, thieves simply turn off devices and wipe them before re-selling them.
With a new “Activation Lock” setting, a thief won’t be able to reactivate an iPhone without hacking your iCloud user name and password, too. Although no security mechanism is bullet-proof, this makes it just hard enough to deter casual criminals or crimes of opportunity — like the phone that gets left behind at a bar, maybe?
A Better Notification Center
The notification center drop-down has also gotten a makeover, but considering how often users check this screen it’s surprising it didn’t get more show time this morning, when its new feature set was revealed. That being said, the center now splits your notifications more intelligently between top-level categories like “All,” “Missed,” and “Today,” the latter giving you a day-at-a-glance view into your To-Do’s, plus Stocks, Calendars, Weather and a small preview of Tomorrow at the bottom.
Easy Access Controls
A new gesture — a swipe up from the bottom of the screen — will now launch a “Control Center” interface which is like an easier-to-access Settings area. The ability to quickly dive into your Settings is a feature that Android phones have had forever, and iOS users have been clamoring for. Here, you can quickly tap things like “Airplane Mode” or access your Wi-Fi controls, for example, as well as a built-in flashlight (hooray!) and media player controls.
Before, the multi-tasking interface accessed by a double tap of the home button brought up a small rack of app icons running in the background. Today, it displays large windows showing the app’s interface in action instead. More importantly, multi-tasking has gotten smarter without damaging battery life, Apple claims.
Now all apps are able to run in the background, and iOS 7 learns from your patterns of app usage which ones deserve a more regular update. For example, an app you check often like Facebook will be updated more regularly than one you check once or twice per day. In addition, the apps update this information based on other factors, too, like whether you’re in an area with good cell coverage or whether or not you tend to respond to that app’s push notifications. All these things tie in to train iOS 7 to learn which apps are most important to you.
There are a number of new features which Apple didn’t have time to go through today, including FaceTime and iMessage blocking, per-app VPN capabilities for the enterprise, and more, but these are “icing on the cake” type of features on top of those given special attention today. In the weeks ahead, we’ll know more about some of these minor upgrades, as developers begin their beta tests of the new operating system and other details emerge.
Despite Google Android’s long market-share rise against Apple iOS, developers continued to stick with iOS as their first deployment target. While Android offered superior volume, that volume was fragmented between different versions of the OS and disparate hardware. Meanwhile, Apple offered better development tools plus clearer, more profitable revenue options. Even open-source developers tended to congregate on highly proprietary iOS.
Something changed in 2012, however, and Android-related open-source development exploded.
According to new research from Black Duck Software, new Android-related mobile open-source projects outstripped open source iOS projects by a factor of four in 2012, growing by more than 96% each year since 2007. New iOS project growth, on the other hand, was just 32% from 2011 to 2012.
To be clear, the bulk of developers still prefer iOS, as Appcelerator’s Mobile Developer Survey highlights:
This makes sense, given the target audience for mobile applications: consumers. Even though open source now permeates server-side computing, and drives industry trends like cloud computing and Big Data, it has had a negligible impact on the desktop, where mainstream users don’t want access to source code and simply want polished products that work. Hence, despite the impressive efforts to clone Microsoft Office with OpenOffice and now LibreOffice, the world still happily gives Microsoft billions of dollars of Office profit each quarter.
It’s easier to stay on that beaten path.
Hence, while I don’t expect open-source developer affinity for Android to squash iOS anytime soon, it’s still a troubling sign for Apple. Even on the desktop, many mainstream applications are open source, including Adium (IM client for the Mac), VLC Media Player, Handbrake, and more. And if Android is the place open-source developers target for their innovations, we’re likely to see the next Big Data-like trend emerge on Android, not on iOS, just as Linux is the home of cloud computing and Big Data on the server.
ndroid dominates the consumer global platform race with nearly 70 percent market share, but in the enterprise Apple’s iOS platform dominates. It’s a bit of a conundrum for Android, which apparently scares tech executives worried about multiple flavors of the OS and security.
Let’s roll the market share stats:
According to Gartner, Android’s global share is nearing 70 percent.
In the U.S., ComScore puts Android share at 53.4 percent with Apple iOS at 36.3 percent.
So far so good right? Not for corporations. In the enterprise, using Citrix Zenprise data as a proxy, Android is far from dominant. Apple, which allegedly doesn’t give a hoot about the enterprise, dominates.
Here’s a look at the Android vs. iOS race in the corporate world based on third quarter Zenprise data. Zenprise is a top 5 mobile device management vendor recently acquired by Citrix.
A few things to note about those standings:
- Android share is trending up and the Asia stats were skewed by a few large iOS deployments.
- iOS market share in the corporate world is fueled by the iPad, which accounted for 57 percent of iOS devices.
- Android is dominant in transportation, health care and communications verticals. iOS leads in education, energy, legal, real estate and insurance.
What’s the hangup with Android in the enterprise? A few thoughts:
- CIOs are wary of the different flavors of Android and iOS is easier to secure.
- Apple leads the tablet race so that reality boosts iOS a lot in the corporate market.
- Windows and BlackBerry are likely to retain some market share in corporations and that’s going to prevent the Android-iOS duopoly situation seen in the consumer market.
- Security is a concern for Android applications. Blue Coat Systems highlighted the Android risks recently.
Wine can best be described as a compatibility layer that allows users to run certain Windows apps on non-Windows operating systems like Linux.
Currently, Wine is primarily deployed by Linux users running x86-based systems, although developer Alexandre Julliard is working on a wine port for ARM-powered Android phones and tablets.
As Liliputing’s Brad Linder notes, porting Wine to Android goes hand-in-hand with making the platform compatible with ARM architecture.
“The project could make it possible to run full desktop apps on a mobile device… although Wine has never been 100 percent compatible with All Windows software,” Linder explained.
“Indeed, many apps won’t run at all on a Linux computer with Wine installed, and others will run, [although] some features may not work properly.”
And as Phonrix’s Michael Larabel points out, the Wine port for Android is an active work-in-progress and hasn’t received much attention yet.
“While Wine is coming to ARM and there’s quite a lot of interest there, [we are] quite interested and hopeful for the success of Intel x86 Atom CPUs for tablets… If Android gains traction on x86-based tablets and other mobile devices, CodeWeavers has a lot of commercial opportunities for pushing the running of Windows software on Android,” he added.
Of course Wine isn’t the only Windows emulator out there. As previously discussed on TG Daily, a developer by the name of Dan Aloni recently coded an app that allows users to play classic Windows games (95 or 98) on Android devices.
Aptly dubbed Winulator, the app remains a work-in-progress and isn’t yet available to the public. However, a demo video has been posted on YouTube and can be seen below.
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