Thoughts on the connected future.

Material Design Specification

Google’s new Material Design guidelines introduced at this year’s I/O are extremely well considered and presented. This is a big step forward for Android, and hopefully inspires widespread adoption across third party apps.

This is the first time Google has really developed a ground-up framework for design across Android products. Prior to this, Android has been a mess of different design concepts meshed with maintaining legacy interface ideas. We can finally see the fruits of labour that Matias Duarte has been injecting into Android over the past two years, it’s all coming together in this Android L release.

Particularly impressive are the fluid transition animations between screens. I’m looking forward to seeing this in action on a device.

A big profile on Google's Sundar Pichai

Pichai:

After a few executive shake ups at Google, it’s no coincidence that there’s a lot more press on Android’s new chief Sundar Pichai. There’s more pressure on Google following Apple’s stellar iOS 8 announcements and even Microsoft showcasing a big 8.1 update earlier in the year. 

We usually see Android updates later in the year. Based on Pichai’s quote it’s going to be different this time.

Android Wear should get a lot of air-time, especially in light of Apple’s seemingly pending announcement of the supposed iWatch. Nest’s announcement of an API and ecosystem is a clear indication that Google will compete with Apple’s Home Kit, so expect to hear more about that.

We’ll also likely see the next version of Android for phones and tablets as well. It’s going to be an exciting event.

HTC's Blink Feed and content services

The HTC One looks like a great phone. Most interesting, however, is that it signals yet another move by a hardware player into the content services game. 

Microsoft is providing content through their Bing apps in Windows 8. Samsung has many exclusive deals to provide apps and services across it’s devices*. Now HTC has partnered with publishers to provide content right to the home screen of their devices.

The message is that it’s not enough for hardware makers to provide good hardware. They need to differentiate and provide end-to-end hardware, services and content experiences.

Interestingly, while Apple is the most obvious example of an integrated experience, they don’t provide content in this way to the user. 

*Disclosure: Yahoo!7 has exclusivity deals in place with Samsung.

Almost as if you're talking to a taco →

Jenneth Orantia from the SMH believes phablets, or as Orantia prefers, “phone-tablets”, are the next big thing. These are devices that are the worst of both worlds, too gargantuan as a phone and too tiny as a tablet.

However the author has used a Galaxy Note and believes the much larger screen makes everything better.

Well, except you look stupid when making calls.

Also, it’s too big to put in your pocket.

Oh, and you can’t really use it one-handed.

[Galaxy Note] only just fits in the palm of the hand, and using it one-handed is a struggle, especially if you want to reach the top corners of the screen with your thumb.

Talking on the Galaxy Note is difficult as well. Not physically, but it’s hard not to feel conspicuous holding a device like this to your ear in public – almost as if you’d starting talking to a paperback book, or a taco.

So the ‘next big thing’ is like talking to a taco. Rightio.

Android more important to developers in SE Asia?

A survey by Ovum market research firm looked at how the changing mobile device market has altered South East Asian developers’ preferences for selecting which platforms to develop for. 

Delimiter has an interesting spin which claims that Android is now the preferred mobile development platform:

Google’s Android operating system has replaced Apple’s iOS in terms of importance to developers in the Asia-Pacific region in the last 12 months, according to a new survey by independent technology analysts Ovum. However, both still form the core of developer support and almost all developers support both platforms.

Questioning the results of the survey, here is another interesting out-take from Delimiter:

The survey also reveals that there is increasing interest from developers in Blackberry OS and Microsoft’s Windows phone.

Really, South East Asian developers have increasing interest in the Blackberry OS? I wonder where those developers have been in the last 18 months.

Not to mention Windows Phone, while a promising platform, has failed to gain any ground on Android or iOS. 

Adam Leach of Ovum has a strange perception of the Windows Phone platform: 

The growing momentum behind Windows Phone indicates that Microsoft has managed to convince developers that its platform is worthy of investment. However, its main challenge now is to persuade consumers.

While Adam says Windows Phone has ‘growing momentum’, the challenge now is to ‘persuade consumers’. Surely, to grow momentum is to gain paying customers?

That’s like Cadbury saying “we have managed to gain momentum, the supermarkets of the world are stocking our chocolate, even though we haven’t sold any - that’s our next challenge”. 

The accurate conclusion from this report is the story of tides rising lifts all boats. The mobile market is booming while desktop continues to fall. While there is increasing interest in Android development, so too for all mobile platforms. iOS has had the most interest to date, so it’s no surprise the fast-growing Android platform has started to turn the heads of developers.

Developers have neglected Android, because not every developer needs the most ‘eyeballs’. Some developers want to make money, and iOS is still the best platform to do that.

As a developer, if your business model uses advertising and requires your app to have high reach and traction, then you’d be a fool to skip Android. However if you want to make money from paid apps, then sticking to iOS may not be a bad idea to focus your time and money.

Android 3.0 ‘Honeycomb’ preview - Android for tablets

The above video is Google’s CES presentation of it’s next version of Android, which is optimised for tablets. 

It looks pretty awesome, Google is really rethinking how a user interacts with a larger screen mobile device.

AdMob Brings Interactive Video Ads To Android

Google’s AdMob is pushing the ability to serve interactive video to Android apps, which is a similiar format to what it currently runs on the iPhone.

The advantage for AdMob is that they are able serve into many mobile platforms, as opposed to Apple’s iAD which only serve ads into iPhones - therefore limiting advertiser’s reach. Apple is rumoured to be developing iAds for video too, with the growing video advertising market it can’t be ignored.

The ad network will dynamically identify screen resolution, size, and network connection speed to serve users the best ad for each device. And Android developers have more interactive options when including ads in their applications. The new ad units themselves can be placed when an app opens or within an app.

Source - Techcrunch

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