Displaying items by tag: Android
US technology behemoth Google is at the centre of an investigation by Indian competition officials after it was alleged that Google may have engaged in anti-competitive practices.
Google stands accused of abusing the market dominance of its Android platform. The European Union conducted a 3-year investigation that only concluded last year.
The European Commission determined that the deemed requirements for Android device makers to use Google apps were illegal. The US tech leader was subsequently fined €4.3bn.
Reports emerging from India claim that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) began probing potential abuse of Android’s position six months ago, following a complaint filed by a group of individuals.
In addition to this, it has been further disclosed that Google executives met with Indian officials to discuss the matter in greater detail. The CCI must now make their deliberations before deciding whether the case merits a further investigation, or if it should be dismissed.
A source told Reuters, “It is on the lines of the EU case, but at a preliminary stage. The EC’s action would make it difficult for the CCI to reject further investigation without demonstrating the problem has been addressed.”
Following the decision handed down by the EC, Google announced its intentions to stop bundling preinstalled apps with its Android platform and instead charge manufacturers a fee to licence its apps, as part of a bid to avoid additional fines.
Google has been in trouble in India before.
In February 2018, the CCI imposed an INR1.36 billion ($19.3 million) fine on the company for abusing its dominance in online web search and search advertising markets.
Google appealed against the fine, stating it could cause irreparable harm and reputational loss.
Q2 growth for tablets and business smartphones was up slightly this year, as the market shows signs of a rebound, according to research by Strategy Analytics. Business smartphone shipments grew 14.8 percent year-on-year to reach 107.1 million units in Q2, up 6.1 percent sequentially from Q1. Tablets reached 17.3 million units in Q2, up 7.5 percent from Q1.
While Q2 2017 showed signs of an increase on a slower first quarter, suggesting signs of an improvement for the remainder of the year, the outlook still remains volatile, according to Strategy Analytics, with longer replacement cycles and GDPR (general data protection regulation) likely to impact the market over the short to medium term.
“Overall, the business smartphone industry expanded steadily in the second quarter, Samsung saw positive shipment growth while Apple's shipments slipped by 11 percent,” said analyst Gina Luk. “Android and iOS are the two dominant operating systems in the market, as Windows 10 smartphone shipments continued to be squeezed out by the industry with close to zero market share.”
Through the first half of the year, the pace of business mobile devices shipments appears to be on trend with what the industry is accustomed to seeing with the current expansion – shipments registering disappointing first quarter growth performance to be followed with a stronger pace of growth in the second quarter, according to Strategy Analytics.
“The worldwide business tablet market remains volatile; it rebounded slightly to reach 17.3 million units in the second quarter, a 7.5 percent increase from Q1 2017, but year on year growth was flat at 0.7 percent on Q2 2016. The picture is still quite mixed,” said Andrew Brown, Executive Director of Enterprise Research at Strategy Analytics.
“North American business tablet volumes were up 5.4 percent sequentially in Q2 2017, however shipments declined 4.2 percent year-on-year,” he added. “The story was similar in Central & Latin America, which grew 2.2 percent quarterly, but shrank by 6.1 percent from Q2 2016, although other regions are registering positive quarter-over-quarter growth.”
Xiaomi just launched the Mi A1 smartphone in collaboration with Alphabet’s Google, the first Xiaomi device to run on the evolved Android One program. Priced from INR 14,999 in India (US$233.90), Mi A1 combines hardware innovations, including an optical zoom dual camera setup, with Google-designed software.
The device runs on stock Android to offer a high-quality software experience designed by Google, underscoring Xiaomi’s commitment to providing more choices for users. At a launch event in New Delhi, India, it was announced that Mi A1 would be available in India and also in more than 40 markets around the world including Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia, Poland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Ukraine, and Mexico.
Android One is a low cost line of devices that run the Android operating system – a hardware and software standard created by Google for Android systems and customers in the developing world, although later on it was made available in limited form in some developed nations. Android One phones initially rolled out in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and other South Asian countries in 2014.
When Google started Android One in 2014 – a signature project of Google CEO Sundar Pichai (then Google’s Android head) – the company’s early OEM partners couldn’t sell enough of the devices, thus interest waned, Bloomberg reported. Google has now teamed with Xiaomi to bring the program back to life for India, continuing a stalled effort to showcase its mobile software for users in emerging markets.
Xiaomi and Google are now together aiming at the middle market with the launch of Mi A1, which will likely see them reach fewer Indian buyers, but also avoid the intensely competitive low end market, where brand affiliation matters less and margins are thin, Bloomberg highlighted.
“Mi A1 is a strategic device in our global expansion, marking a milestone on our quest to bring innovation to everyone,” said Xiaomi Senior Vice President Wang Xiang. “From the beginning Xiaomi has been all about choice, and we are delighted to offer users a new way to experience the power of Xiaomi.”
Wang noted that this is a logical extension of Xiaomi’s long partnership with Google. “Google has been a great partner, and given our strong collaboration, we thought their idea to launch a Xiaomi smartphone on Android One would be a great opportunity to give our users a different user experience,” he said. “I’m truly excited about what this partnership will bring to our users across the world!”
What’s it got to offer? Mi A1 incorporates a dual camera configuration similar to that in Mi 6, Xiaomi’s latest flagship device, with wide angle and telephoto lenses used to incredible effect. The two lenses allow Mi A1 to calculate what is in the foreground and what is in the background, creating a depth-of-field effect that typically requires a DSLR lens to achieve, allowing the user to create photos of unparalleled clarity and color.
In addition, an improved ‘Beautify’ mode that makes selfies look more natural, now works with both the front 5MP camera as well as the 12MP dual rear camera. Mi A1 supports 2x optical zoom, which makes photos of distant subjects remain clear, while 10x digital zoom is also supported.
Mi A1 is Xiaomi’s first Android One phone, with a software experience designed by Google, offering users a simple, pure Android phone that stays fresh over time with OS upgrades. As an Android One smartphone, Mi A1 comes with the most popular Google services built-in as default, such as free unlimited high quality storage from Google Photos.
Available in Black, Gold and Rose Gold, Mi A1 has a full-metal body design that measures just 7.3mm in thickness, with discreet separation lines for a seamless look and rounded edges for great hand feel. It also comes with a rear fingerprint sensor.
Featuring a 5.5-inch 2.5D curved glass screen with Corning Gorilla Glass protection, the device also boasts a 10v power amplifier for deeper lows and higher volumes, ensuring it provides an immersive media experience. A dedicated amplifier also provides support for high-impedance headphones (up to 600 ohms).
The device is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor based on the 14nm manufacturing process, as well as a 3080mAh battery. It also features 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage.
US cities Seattle and Portland are set to get ‘smarter’ following the launch of a free app which allows users to search for on-demand rides. It will be formally introduced after the completion of a successful three-month test period.
The application which is entitled Migo, is basically a search engine that allows users to search, compare and hail multiple type of ride-hailing transportation like Uber, Lyft, Car2Go and Seattle Yellow Cab, without engaging in the time consuming process of jumping from one application to the other.
The Migo ‘free app’ display real-time data to users and estimates their wait and walk time, whilst in addition to this the applications enables you to search, hail and book a ride service all from within the application.
The new service which is being launched in Seattle and Portland first will be initially only available on the iPhone, but a spokesman for Migo has confirmed that it will be quickly expanding to additional markets such as Android. Seattle and Portland have been identified as ‘key’ cities for the launch of Migo because of their role in the White House Smart Cities Initiative, which was launched in 2015. The program was specifically designed to accelerate the delivery of smart city solutions which includes eco-friendly transportation options that best leverage the cities resources and infrastructure.
The CEO and founder of Migo, Jeff Warren claimed that both cities were the ideal locations to engage in testing on innovative transportation services such as its free application.
Warren said: "Seattle and Portland are hotbeds for testing new transportation services and models, like car-share, ride-share, carpooling, bikes and taxi services. Migo was designed to help residents first discover and then easily choose their best ride option – whether that means closest, cheapest, most environmentally friendly or simply the coolest option to get from place to place. And with the rapidly expanding populations of both Seattle and Portland, we see Migo as a key partner to help keep the cities moving."
Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, recently unveiled the first smartphone by his new company, Essential, after months of speculation. The handset certainly lives up to the hype, featuring premium specs and a sleek industrial design.
The Essential Phone seems to have taken inspiration from the Samsung Galaxy S8 featuring a 5.7-inch, edge-to-edge display that rises to the top of the phone and breaking only for the front-facing camera in the middle. The device’s titanium and ceramic build make for a strong and durable phone compared to other devices on the market made from aluminum. One of its greatest appeals is that it doesn’t have any obvious logos or branding.
A Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor is featured inside the Essential Phone, along with 4GB of RAM, a 3040mAh battery and 128GB of internal storage. There are two holes on the back of the device that can be used to attach Essential-made accessories. The most interesting of which is a small 360-degree camera capable of shooting a spherical UHD (3840x1920) image at 30 frames per second. The device also comes with a charging dock for those who prefer a cradle to the typical dangling cable.
Similar to the Huawei P9 and P10, Rubin opted for a dual-camera setup for the Essential Phone, with a sensor dedicated to monochrome imaging. It can be used standalone for generic black and white images or combined with the color sensor to get enhanced detail and low-light performance. The front-facing camera can take 8-megapixel images and can also shoot 4K video.
Not a lot has been said about the Essential Phone’s software other than it will run Android Nougat 7.1.1. The device is said to be designed for working with Home, a smart home device that runs on a platform called Ambient OS. It has everything you would expect from an Echo-like assistant, such as the ability to play music, look up information online, and set timers.
The one aspect of the Essential Phone that has disappointed some people is its apparent lack of a headphone jack. Like Apple, the Essential Phone is banking on USB-C and Bluetooth connectivity to replace the need for typical headphones. However, it does come with a headphone adapter. The device will be available in four different colors including Black Moon, Stellar Grey, Pure White and Ocean Depths. It will sell for $699 or $749.
Inspired by the power of touch and the Brilliant U, HTC unveiled HTC U11, the world’s first smartphone with revolutionary new squeeze interaction. The highly-anticipated HTC U11 sets a new standard of what you can expect from a smartphone by combining revolutionary new squeeze interaction with a stunning liquid-surface design, intelligent personal audio, amazing cameras, and multiple AI assistants for a smarter smartphone.
The new smartphone features HTC Edge Sense, the next dimension in touch interaction with your phone; Liquid Surface design; HTC USonic, an advanced headset for personal audio, now including Active Noise Cancellation; amazing cameras with the highest independent rating ever awarded to a smartphone camera (based on DxOMark ratings: dxomark.com/Mobile); and HTC Sense Companion, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa for a smarter, more helpful smartphone.
HTC Edge Sense transforms touch sense into a completely new and revolutionary interaction with your phone. With a simple squeeze, HTC Edge Sense lets you easily engage with your phone in an unprecedented yet intuitive way, helping you more naturally enjoy the things you love like taking photos, opening Facebook, or launching any of your favorite apps.
The HTC Edge Sense feature makes your camera easier to use. No more fumbling for buttons or awkward hand positions. No more worrying about dropping your phone while you pose. Just lift, squeeze, smile, and snap. You can also send texts faster and easier than before. Texting can be impossible when you are on the move, but using HTC Edge Sense for Voice to Text, you can speak your text messages without having to slow down. Lightly squeeze, speak your message and send your texts on the go.
You can even customize the squeeze gesture: open email with just a squeeze. Or launch your favorite game (or any other app). Or pick any one of a host of options. Want even more touch control? HTC Edge Sense gives you the ability to activate advanced touch and use a “short squeeze” as well as a “squeeze and hold” for even more functionality at your fingertips.
HTC U11’s liquid glass surface is crafted to impress using Optical Spectrum Hybrid Deposition. By layering highly-refractive precious minerals across the phone’s back cover, THC has created vivid new colors that transform light with every movement you make. The new seamless, curved look of HTC U11 is achieved with 3D glass on both front and back. Heating and then bending the glass using extreme pressure results in unique, 3-axis symmetry for a phone that is slim no matter which way you hold it.
HTC U11 has a 5.5” Quad HD 3D glass screen designed for vivid, crisp images and text in any light – even direct sunlight. HTC provides you a purer full-framed viewing experience - its display avoids the cropped pictures or distorted colors at the edge that are the results you can expect from a curved screen. What’s more, the device is water-resistant.
HTC U11 is the first smartphone to be commercially released worldwide that is exclusively powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform. Every HTC U11 also includes UFS 2.1 for an extremely fast processor, paired with the fastest memory performance.
Experience Gigabit Class LTE (up to 1Gbps) with the integrated Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, which is designed to deliver fiber optic speeds on the go for lightning-fast music and video downloads and to get almost instant access to the web, social media sites or your content in the cloud. You get 25% faster graphics than the HTC 10, with 35% or 3 hours more video playback, 30% or 8 hours more music playback and 43% or 3.5 hours longer web browsing time via an LTE network.
The HTC U11, will be available in Amazing Silver, Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black, Ice White, and Solar Red. All together, the HTC U11 sets a new standard by HTC of what you can expect from a smartphone.
There were some incredible gadgets and devices on display at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, but one domestic appliance really stood out! Samsung’s latest vision for the connected family was unveiled at CES with the talking fridge getting people talking literally, excuse the pun!
Last year, the company released the Family Hub Fridge, which proved to be a big hit with consumers. The fridge was equipped with a king-size touch-screen, cameras positioned on the inside of the appliance in order to help you keep track of food and Wi-Fi connectivity. However, their newest upgrade of the Family Hub Fridge is set to be an even bigger success.
At CES 2017, Samsung launched its brand new line-up of fridges called ‘Family Hub 2.0’. Not only has it expanded the collection to 10 models, the fridge can now also be controlled via voice commands! In a design that has drawn comparisons to that of the LG connected fridge, it was disclosed that you can ask the Samsung Family Hub 2.0 to read out recipes, tell you what your itinerary for the day is, and inform you of anything you may need from the shops.
That’s not the only task and duty this incredible connected appliance can do – it will also dish out recipes based on the contents of your fridge and allows you to order food through a click of a button if supplies are running low. The connected smart appliance is the latest in a number of gadgets designed to transform your home into a ‘smart home’ with a range of innovative products.
In addition to the above, the Family Hub 2.0 also allows each family member to create a profile to run simultaneously with calendars, to-do lists and personalised messages. New collaborations with Spotify and iHeart-Radio also mean you can ask your fridge to serenade you whilst doing the dishes or preparing a meal.
Since the huge popularity of Amazon’s Alexa, not to mention the increased functionality of Siri and Google Assistant, voice-controlled assistants are becoming an increasingly integral part of the connected home.
Huawei release new smartphone aimed at challenging the iPhone
While many vendors wait until the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of February to reveal their new range of smartphones for 2017, some took the decision to officially unveil their new products at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. One such vendor was Chinese company Huawei, who released a fabulous new android device aimed at challenging the iPhone called the Huawei Honor 6X.
The company have outlined a clear vision with the introduction of the Huawei Honor 6X and that is to take on the iPhone. Huawei’s primary aim is to lure away users (especially millennials) from the much-loved iPhone.
Management at Huawei have been greatly encouraged by the initial reaction to their new device. Its customer satisfaction scores on par with those of Apple’s iPhone. Advantages of the Honor 6X over the latest iPhones, says Huawei, is stronger battery life (at up to two days for average usage), a speedy octa-core processor and a far lower price starting at $249.99. The Honor 6X also comes with a dual-camera setup, improved photo editing software and high-definition video capabilities.
The Huawei Honor 6X is priced at $244.99 (3GB RAM, 32GB of storage) or $299.99 (4GB, 64GB of storage).
Nokia finally unveils long-awaited Android at CES 2017
Nokia finally remerged into the mainstream mobile market at CES 2017 with the introduction of its new android phone named the Nokia 6.
Nokia’s latest device the Nokia 6 is only available in China. However, there are fortunately more Nokia android phones to come with a big announcement expected at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona according to Nokia’s Facebook account. This Nokia 6 is merely just a taster.
Back in the early 00’s, Nokia were market leaders in the mobile phone industry, but the Finnish multinational corporation suffered a dramatic fall from grace. Once the biggest and best-known mobile phone manufacturer, following some tough competition from iPhone and Android Nokia in 2011 made the fatal mistake of agreeing to produce only Windows phones. In 2014 it packed up its mobile phone game and sold its business to Microsoft. Fast-forward to 2017, and with Android onboard, this could be the Nokia comeback we've been waiting for.
It's still not quite Nokia as we know it, since Finnish brand HMD Global currently owns the rights to develop, build and sell Nokia-branded phones - although it does so with Nokia's input.
The decision to launch the Nokia 6 only in China is "a reflection of the desire to meet the real world needs of consumers in different markets around the world.” With over 552 million smartphone users in China in 2016, a figure that is predicted to grow to more than 593 million users by 2017, it is a strategically important market where premium design and quality is highly valued by consumers.
VR a hot topic, but HTC lead the way with a number of amazing products
Virtual Reality (VR) was once again a hot topic at CES – and in truth it was everywhere in the convention centre – with countless booths displaying headsets and accessories. A large volume of studious and creators used CES to either launch or preview new experiences. But the biggest advancements may not be available to consumers for another year or two.
But the real winner in VR at CES was clearly HTC. The company not only unveiled its tracker, which makes it possible to turn toy guns, baseball bats and even fire hoses into trackable VR controllers. HTC also committed to building a standalone wireless VR headset, announced a VR subscription service and unveiled a content marketplace for VR arcade operators.
HTC’s efforts to monetize VR content could help smaller producers to see some return for their work. Right now, VR app stores favor popular apps, which tend to be video games, while burying some of the non-gaming and cinematic content.
It was further disclosed at CES that HTC will launch a new tracking module, subscription service for Vive VR. Viveport President, Rickard Steiber said: “Offering a subscription service can help with these kinds of discovery problems, and to entice consumers to give lesser-known fare a try.” “If you are app number 500 on that list, you are going to be very eager to be in the subscription plan,” he added. Steiber also said that subscriptions could enable more episodic content, and suggested that HTC could over time launch separate subscription packages for different types of content.
Move over Apple AirPods, and make way for headphones featuring artificial intelligence (A.I.) technology. Californian company Vinci has developed headphones that aim to be the “central hub of your connected world”. The headphones currently feature on Kickstarter selling for $99 with a release date estimated at May 2017. The wireless headphones are voice controlled and powered by cloud technology, with no connection needed to a mobile phone.
The headphones allow for voice control for users to choose songs so that they don’t have to manually choose them. Whether you’re “walking, running, or commuting – you can tell Vinci exactly what song you want to listen to, say a specific genre or mood, or let Vinci pick a song for you,” said the company on its Kickstarter page.
In addition, the headphones are able to connect users with other information such as directions, local venue recommendations, reminders, and more. Simply saying “Hey Vinci” will trigger the A.I. assistant, or pressing down on the touch screen. You can swipe the screen to change songs, etc. The device can recognize a user’s voice.
Vinci headphones can connect with Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, or SoundCloud, according to the company. Since the headphones are a standalone device, there is no need to connect to a mobile phone, which is a unique feature. What’s more, the headphones feature dual-mic noise reduction technology which can “filter out ambient noise from the desired sound, which improves voice recognition in any noisy environment,” says the company.
The smart headphones are constantly learning from the user’s body vitals, which gives users the freedom to not have to choose songs themselves. The A.I. records listening habits and preferences to make “intelligent, real-time recommendations”.
The device can also learn from body activity, thus picking songs that match a user’s pace, heart rate and listening preferences. On top of this, the device includes an accelerometer, gyrometer, proximity sensor, optical heart rate sensor, GPS, and a compass.
So, how do these incredible headphones work? Through “deep learning techniques,” the Vinci headphones learn the “abstractive representations” of “thousands of soundtracks from massive music resources,” the company explains. These sounds are “extracted as signals, and then fed into neural networks after pre-processing.”
“Bi-directional Long-Short Term Memory (Bi-LSTM) models the sequential patterns of inputs, while more than one layer of fully-connected neural networks (often known as Multi-Layer Perceptron) enables abstractive learning,” says Vinci.
“User profiles are established by their behaviors (such as “like” or “dislike”) towards recommended songs. Such data are accumulated over time and modeled as temporal transition chains. With statistics learned, preferences are learned accordingly. In this way, Vinci becomes smarter when deciding what to or not to recommend next time, based on "deep learned" user-song matching.”
Ultimately, the Vinci device acts more like a computer than regular headphones. It features a powerful dual-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor with 16 to 32 GB of storage, as well as its own operating system, built on the Android platform. The device’s platform technology is built in the cloud and is “powered by natural language processing and artificial intelligence, so it gets smarter and smarter,” according to the company, enabling it to learn from speech patterns and preferences.
A recent report by Check Point Software Technologies claims that more than a million Android smartphones have been breached by malicious software, dubbed Gooligan, which targets devices running Android 4.0 and 5.0, representing almost 74 percent of mobile devices using Google’s operating system. The attacks can steal sensitive user data such as emails, photos, and documents.
“This theft of over a million Google account details is very alarming and represents the next stage of cyber-attacks," said Michael Shaulov, Check Point's head of mobile products. “We are seeing a shift in the strategy of hackers, who are now targeting mobile devices in order to obtain the sensitive information that is stored on them.”
According to the Check Point report, the researchers discovered Gooligan’s code in an application last year and that a new variant appeared in August 2016, affecting some 13,000 devices per day. About 57 percent of those devices are located in Asia, and about nine percent in Europe, the report indicates.
In a statement Check Point said: “The infection begins when a user downloads and installs a Gooligan-infected app on a vulnerable Android device, or by clicking on malicious links in phishing attack messages.” Once infected, attackers can gain control of devices and penetrate revenue by fraudulently installing apps from Google Play and rating them on behalf of the victim. Check Point said it reported the details of the malware to Google, and that the tech giant indicated it would take steps to protect users.
“Android hasn’t hurt competition, it’s expanded it,” said Kent Walker, senior vice president and general counsel of Google, after the internet giant recently rejected EU allegations that it abused the market dominance of its successful Android mobile phone operating system. Android is a vital segment of Google’s business, now that smartphones are dominant over laptops and PCs.
Google was responding to a long list of charges involving Android that Margrethe Vestager, the EU's outspoken competition commissioner, filed in April. They include the claim that the firm used practices such as making manufacturers pre-install its market-leading search engine as well as its Chrome browser as the default in their phones, AFP reports. "The response we filed today shows how the Android ecosytem carefully balances the interests of users, developers, hardware makers and mobile operators," Walker said.
EU regulators brought a third antitrust charge against the online search giant on Thursday, July 14, accusing Google of blocking rivals in the lucrative online search advertising market. The Android charges are seen as especially sensitive for one of Google's most strategic businesses that could alter a global smartphone sector which has taken over traditional PC's as the biggest segment in the world of computing. The case only pertains to Android-run phones, with the European Commission not considering Apple's iPhone as a factor in the case.
The EU in its charge sheet accused Google of obstructing innovation by giving unfair prominence to its own apps, especially its search engine, in deals with giant mobile manufacturers such as South Korea's Samsung or China's Huawei. "No manufacturer is obliged to preload any Google apps on an Android phone," Google insisted.
The internet giant has also been accused of restricting manufacturers from installing rival version or modifications of Android an open source software operating system, on their phones. The commission, through a spokesman, confirmed the receipt of Google's official response.
"As is standard practice, we will carefully consider Google's response before taking any decision on how to proceed and cannot at this stage prejudge the final outcome of the investigation," said Google.
Some have spoke out against Google in agreement with the EU’s move, such as Thomas Vinje, legal counsel to FairSearch, a group that represents many of the complaints in the case, who said: “Google imposes severe sanctions on those who defy its insistence on conformity. This is a problem that law enforcement can solve, by acting to bring Google into compliance with competition law.”
The case was brought to Google by the likes of Yandez, a Russa-based search engine that claims Google is preventing it from expanding beyond Russia. Telecom companies have also come forward saying they want better control of the Android software they provide on their smartphones.
But Google, which originally created Android, says limiting changes by companies to the system helps software developers so they do not have to make many versions of their apps to run on different versions of Android. Developers of apps such as Spotify or WhatsApp, "depend on a stable and consistent framework to do their work," Google said.