#android

Josh Constine for TechCrunch:

It’s called “Rage Shake” and the name is spot-on. Employees just violently shake their phone and it automatically logs its current state and sends in details to Facebook’s mobile bug-squashers. By avoiding a more complicated manual reporting process, Facebook maximizes the number of bugs it hears about from its 4,000 employee-testers. If Facebookers like the taste of Droidfood, they could make sure it’s not their actual users shaking their phones in fits of anger.

Clever idea.

But to the larger point: why is it that Facebook has to hang these flyers throughout the campus to get employees to test Android builds? Josh sort of leads it in the way that Facebook itself pushed iPhones ahead of Android phones early on, but I’m not sure I’m buying that. I know a lot of folks who work at a lot of different companies in the Bay Area. Aside from the ones that work at Google (and including a surprising number of the people there) almost all seem to use iPhones as their primary device.

This strikes me as problematic for Android. Winning on the cost front is one factor, no doubt. But to win the most savvy users — including, most importantly, developers — you need to be the best overall. Android still has yet to prove it can yield that device. That’s why you still see such problems at Facebook and elsewhere. Most of their users may be on Android, but most of their employees making the product are not.

I made one cup of coffee this morning and it too promptly sold out. If you don’t give actual numbers, calling a sell out doesn’t actually matter. It matters for Apple only because they always give numbers. No one else seems to.

That’s not to say that Nexus 4 isn’t selling fast — in the U.K., where LTE is just starting to roll-out, a non-LTE phone should find easier success — it’s just to say that we don’t and probably won’t actually know that. Actual numbers are what matter here.

Unleash the “Android peace" stories but remember that HTC was and is in a very vulnerable position right now. Profit is falling like a rock as a result of selling Android devices so they appear to be shifting more towards Windows Phone (and remember that Microsoft and Apple already have an agreement in place).

Also not explicitly stated in the release, but clear: HTC is paying Apple as a part of this agreement. It may not have an “adverse material impact" on their financials, but maybe that’s only because they’re simply not selling very many Android devices…

Chris Ziegler, writing in The Verge Forums:

And let me not overlook that last point. The LTE situation on the Nexus 4 has been discussed to death, and I don’t want to belabor it again here. But let’s be clear: this was a cowardly move on Google’s part. Producing an unlocked HSPA device isn’t hard anymore. With the Nexus 4, Google isn’t “making a statement,” rocking the impenetrable boat that is the US wireless industry, or putting anyone on notice. They took the easy way out, and wireless consumers — as usual — bear the brunt of the politicking.

Yup. In interviews like this one, Google sounds so proud of itself for the Nexus 4. It’s a joke. Thanks so much for the shit sandwich you’re feeding us, Google. May we have another?

Matthew Panzarino also calls a spade a spade:

I do not think that the writers at The Verge are being intentionally apologist. I have too much respect for the staff there and neither Bohn nor Patel has a history of that kind of thing. However, the article as written is nowhere near as hard enough on Google for not delivering LTE in the Nexus 4 as it should be. And it manages to almost completely avoid what should have been the big elephant in the room: Apple has managed to ship a flagship phone with almost no carrier compromises and LTE, so why can’t Google?

The answer is in there, but it’s sort of obfuscated (as Rubin clearly intended). This is why.

This is a much more important article than it may appear on the surface. It shows exactly why it was such a mistake for Google to capitulate to the carriers. They made the proverbial deal with the devil, trading control of their destiny for traction. Too bad.

Make no mistake, when Andy Rubin tells Dieter Bohn and Nilay Patel of The Verge that “costs” and “battery life” are two major factors in the decision, it’s pure misdirection. Said another way, it’s bullshit. How do we know this? Just look at the iPhone 5. It’s rolling out on LTE networks around the world just fine with its thin design, multiple antennas, and solid battery life.

The real issue here is that Google wants to sell an unlocked LTE phone and can’t because the U.S. carriers (Verizon in particular) have them over a barrel. And why do they want to sell unlocked phones (which are more expensive since they’re not subsidized by the carriers)? Because the carriers have proven time and time again that they will not allow Google to push timely Android updates.

And yet, Apple has no problem shipping iOS updates over the same networks. Why? Because they strong-armed Verizon into the same deal they got with AT&T. They fought for the user. Google sold us out to sell some phones. Now the devil is collecting.

One other nugget from Charles Duhigg and Steve Lohr’s piece on technology patents is worth another link:

Another sign of fatigue is the frequency with which executives and lawyers from Apple and Google speak to one another about patent disputes. Earlier this year, Google proposed a cease-fire, according to people familiar with the conversations. And when Google withdrew its Motorola suit last week, it was widely seen as a peace gesture.

But Apple has been hard to pin down, said one person from Google who was not authorized to speak publicly. “Sometimes they’re asking for money. Then they say we have to promise to not copy aspects of the iPhone. And whenever we get close to an agreement, it all changes again.

“Our feeling is they don’t really want this to end. As long as everyone is distracted by these trials, the iPhone continues to sell.”

Everyone (myself included) had been wondering why Google withdrew the Motorola suit against Apple. This article suggest it was a straight-up peace gesture, but it reads just as much like a well-timed maneuver to spur talks. Perhaps that’s just me being far too cynical. But I doubt it.

The last quote is just humorous. Is the Google employee really suggesting that Apple enjoys the litigation? Or that the iPhone wouldn’t sell if everyone wasn’t so busy in court? It’s hard to know which is more ridiculous.

Two interesting (non smartphone hardware) thoughts by Hans Gerwitz, Frog Design’s Strategy Director:

1) That Google was interested in shooting down the possibility of BlurOS — which could have hampered the OHA and led other hardware makers to think they could thrive without Android — before it got off the ground.

2) That Motorola will help greatly with future commerce plans thanks to POS possibilities.

Sort of. As Nathan Olivarez-Giles notes in Wired:

Google isn’t taking the step of asking developers to make separate phone and tablet versions of their apps, as Apple has done, but this effort is still notable and long overdue. While Apple proudly touts that more than 250,000 apps have been built specifically for the iPad, Google has declined to say just how many tablet-specific apps exist for Android and has instead boasted about its ecosystem of apps built to run on both phones and tablets. But the result of that has mostly been a lot of Android phone apps awkwardly stretched to fit larger tablet screens. Big-name apps such as Twitter, Facebook and Rdio all exhibit these problems.

This is so obvious, so why hasn’t Google been doing this all along? Hard to know for sure. Perhaps Google just bet that consumers would be just as happy with scaled-up smartphone apps as tablet-specific apps. (And bet poorly, of course.)

Or, perhaps more likely, they didn’t want to add to their own fragmentation nightmare. With the iPad, there is only one screen size (9.7”) with two possible resolutions (Retina and non-Retina). That is likely to change soon with a 7.85” iPad “Mini”, but the resolution will be the same as the non-Retina bigger iPad. In other words, developers won’t have to do any more work than they already have been doing to target the older iPads.

The Android tablet situation — big surprise — is much more of a clusterfuck. There are already a wide-range of screen sizes. And resolutions. And machines of varying speed/power. Some of these are Google-supported (Nexus 7), some are not (Kindle Fire).

Perhaps Google is lucky that none of them have sold particularly well (at least compared to the iPad) just yet. That gives them an easy excuse for the complete and utter lack of tablet apps.

Casey Johnson:

Motorola Atrix 4G owners will not get the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update the company promised them, according to a newly revised upgrade chart. The phones will continue to run Android 2.3 Gingerbread, dealing another blow to the integrity of Google’s upgrade program.

This would be pathetic if Google didn’t own this company. But they do. So it’s dually jackassified.

Anil Dash:

To see Android make the leap from being the default option that comes with a service plan to actually becoming the platform that defines smartphones in the public’s imagination, Google needs to take on not just Apple but everyone in the Android hardware space too. Motorola has said it’s going to streamline its offerings. I’d push that even further. Go with a single model. And it shouldn’t have a name that reads like a license plate. Instead of the Atrix HD MB886, it should just be the Nexus Phone, with a marketing campaign that focuses on the phone, rather than Android. (When’s the last time you saw an iPhone commercial that talked about iOS?) Make it clear that this is the Google Phone.

Agreed. And I do think it will happen. But it will take time because it means going directly against what Android was supposed to be all about.

Right now, Google will never admit to this reality. To be honest, I’m not sure most people on the Android team even realize this reality. But at the end of the day, this comes down to making money. Microsoft is currently making more money off of Android than Google is. iOS is providing more mobile revenue when it comes to Google searches. The model is already broken and it runs the risk of cracking wide open unless there’s a product that can keep it together.

The true Google Phone.