Posts Tagged ‘ Google ’

Tech Predictions for 2012

by Dave Loft

Tech Predictions for 2012

Apple

  • The iPad 3 will be released in Q2. The big upgrade will be the display with an increase in resolution to 2048 x 1536 and be called the Retina display. It will launch with Apple’s new A6 chip and upgraded to 1GB of RAM. The front and rear cameras will also be upgraded.
  • The iPhone 6, yes I said 6, the iPhone 4s is the 5th gen iPhone, so it makes no sense to call the 6th gen phone 5. The iPhone 6 will launch in Q3 and have the same internal specs as the iPad 3. The glass back will be replaced with an aluminum back like the iPad. The iPhone will be thinner, but won’t have a bigger display because if they make it bigger, it won’t technically be a Retina display. It will also not have LTE as the chips still won’t be power efficient enough, the carriers won’t have complete coverage in the US or Canada and because many international carriers have not even started building LTE.
  • iOS 6 will launch with the release of the iPhone 6 and will bring a full release of Siri which will be compatible with all devices that can run the latest OS.
  • Apple TV will get new hardware in 2012 that supports 1080p and will launch with iOS 6, letting users download apps, play games and control their TV with Siri.

Google

  • Android is number one worldwide and in the US, but in Canada it’s only number 3. By the end of Q3, Android will be number one in Canada .
  • Google will launch a Nexus tablet in Q2 during the Google IO conference. It will run an updated version of Android, no not Jelly Bean, just an incremental update to Ice Cream Sandwich. It will have a 10.1″ 1080p or higher display, with 2GB RAM, 32GB ROM and a Quad Core Processor.
  • Unlike what many people think, Google will keep Motorola’s hardware business. They will let Motorola do their thing and design phones like they have been doing. But that’s all Motorola will be doing. Google will do the software and keep Motorola devices running stock Android. As a result Motorola devices will likely get updates quicker, just like the Nexus devices. Hopefully as a result, Motorola’s competitors will be forced to improve.
  • Google will acquire the 4th major label in 2012 and will continue to expand their music offering. In Q4 Google will launch a subscription service giving users access to Google’s entire catalogue for a monthly fee.
  • Google will also launch a news stand on the Android Market with Magazines and Newspapers.
  • Google+ will still not come close to competing with Facebook, but it will continue to grow steadily due mainly to the popularity of Android.
  • In Q4 of 2012 Google will launch a new Nexus device running the latest version of Android, Jelly Bean. It will be built by Samsung and based off of the Galaxy S III. It will have the same resolution of the Galaxy Nexus, but the display will be upgraded to the Super AMOLED Plus with a full RGB layout. The internal specs will be similar to the Nexus tablet released by Google in Q2 of 2012.
  • Android tablets will be the sleeper hit of the year. No one single tablet will match the sales of the iPad. But ever increasing number of tablets, running Ice Cream Sandwich in all shapes and prices from $100 and up will eat at Apples lead. By the end of the year Android will be close to surpassing iOS on tablets.
  • And before the end of 2012, Google will release Chrome for Android.

Microsoft

  • Microsoft will increase spending on advertising Windows Phone in 2012. Combine that with the help of Nokia’s latest and greatest smartphones and Microsoft will start increasing their market share. By the end of the year they still won’t be close to Google or Apple, but the downward trend will be over and they will have some momentum going into 2013.
  • Windows Phone 7 will have 150,000 apps by the end of 2012.
  • By the end of 2012 Microsoft will be circling RIM and looking for an opportunity to expand, either through partnership or out right purchase.
  • The much anticipated Windows 8 tablets will be meet with poor reviews. The tablets will either have little to no software natively built for it and the full windows apps won’t run well on mobile hardware if at all.

Amazon

  • Amazon will release a true iPad competitor, it will be a 10″ tablet built on Ice Cream Sandwich, but modified as heavily as the 7″ Kindle Fire. It will be built with a more powerful quad core architecture.
  • Amazon will have one of the best selling Android devices, I say one of and not the best because as of right now it’s only a US product as the ecosystem isn’t fully available in any other country. In the US, Amazon will only be second to only one tablet, the iPad.
  • Amazon’s success will bring more developers to Android. Because if your going to build for the Kindle Fire, you might as well increase the market availability and release it on the Android Market.

Check out my Tech Predictions for 2011 which I wrote 1 year ago today. Here’s hoping I do as well 2012 as I did with 2011.

My thoughts on Google+

For all who haven’t made it into Google+, hopefully it will open it up soon. But for all that have I’m sure most would agree it needs a few changes before they do so. Be patient, your time will come.

So far it’s been a really unique experience. My use of twitter has dropped like a stone and I think it’s the lack of community interaction that’s the cause. If I reply to a tweet that conversation is siloed. If that person has plenty of followers then they have many siloed responses to their post. This approach works quite well for broadcasting, marketing and customer service, but it lacks true open communication between groups of people. With Google+ your reminded it’s really the conversation of a post that becomes the most important part and much like a real life conversation, it can completely flow in new directions.

Others have said it’s like going to a conference. Right now it’s full of tech people, enthusiasts, journalists, developers and investors. The level of interaction is beyond that of anything else I’ve experienced. I’ve had conversations with the developers of games I’ve played and the journalists I listen to daily on podcasts. It reminds me quite a bit of forum discussions, but without all the negativity and anonymous douche-beggary. I’m not sure what Google+ will be like when it opens up and if it will be able to maintain the current level of meaningful interaction but the possibilities really are endless.

I have facebook for people I know and twitter for people I don’t know but with whom I am interested in what they have to say. I also don’t want to use multiple apps to access this information, so I use an all in one solution like Tweetdeck. If I come across something that interest me from facebook on Tweetdeck it loads the website, sometimes desktop, sometime mobile, it all depends on what, because they all have different level of abilities. It really ends up a messy experience compared to the very clean well designed and implemented Google+ app.

As +Bill Gross puts it “So far, on a very limited test, I am seeing more engagement, and more satisfying engagement to things that I post on Google+ with only 1,000 followers than I get on Twitter with 27,000 followers. Is that just because it’s so new and people are really trying it out, or is this a real sustainable phenomenon?”

In just 1 week I already have 26 people who have circled me. It took me months of posting on twitter to hit that level. My interaction is also way up. On facebook and twitter my level of interaction is about 5% of posts. On Google+ my level of interaction has increased by 600%. There is a ‘buzz’ on Google+ I haven’t seen online in a while and I think this has the potential to capture a serious percentage of market share from twitter, facebook, Skype, foursquare, forums, rss aggregaters and even blogs sites like WordPress and tumblr.

But even if it doesn’t topple Facebook which is the more likely scenario it will at least force Facebook to innovate and isn’t that what it’s all about.

Add me to your circle +Dave Loft 

the Android Market and Compatibility

by Dave Loft

I’ve been mulling this over for the past week and wanted to share my thoughts on it. Ultimately what it comes down to is that there is no guarantee that the games your buying for your Android phone today are going to work on your next Android device. More apps and games are being targeted at specific devices. At Google IO in the market session it was mentioned that developers would now have even more control over which which device can access the game by not only chipset, screen size and android version but also the specific model.

So now a developer can build a compatible list or a not compatible list. An example of each that recently hit the market is the Netflix app which is limited to work on only five devices and Battleheart which currently blocks many Samsung and HTC devices. The worst part of this is that as the hacking community has shown running a rooted android with the hacked Netflix app can work on just about any device.

Blocking a specific model can result in blocking devices that may have been updated or are running custom software that actually fixes the issue that the device was blocked for. To take it even further a device may be blocked due just to performance issues. Something that a rooted device with a stock ROM running an overclocked CPU can often fix.

Ultimately these updates are great for the average Android user as it will reduce the number of times they will come across apps and games that do not work on their device. But it’s the power users that will ultimately have run into challenges from these changes.

Jump ahead one or two years after your first Android and you may find yourself in a situation where many of the games you have wont work on your brand new device. This will be especially true for anyone who owns a Tegra 2 based device or the Xperia Play. With so many games being made specifically just for those devices if your next device is not a Tegra device or the Xperia Play 2 it won’t work.

This also extends to any 3D game that specifically lists what devices it works on. Next year if you go and buy the latest and greatest phone that should easily be able to handle the game but the developer hasn’t added it to the list of compatible devices. As a result it won’t even show up in the market for you.

So going forward the argument that because it’s an Android device and you bought it from the Market doesn’t give you any guarantee. It kind of puts some perspective on the many arguments against buying from Gameloft because it won’t work on your next device. As it is, no matter where you buy it, there really is no guarantee it will work.

Google also introduced another update to the market, but this one could help alleviate many issues. They will allow a developer to have one listing for their game and it can hold multiple APK’s. This would be helpful for example if you currently own a Tegra 2 device, you would be given the Tegra 2 version. Then for example next year you buy the Xperia Play 2 and then when you hit the market to download your apps you would be given the appropriate version.

Unfortunately by the looks of things in the market this may be more of a dream than a reality. Many Tegra 2 games won’t work on any other platform and the one’s that do like Fruit Ninja and Guerrilla Bob have a higher price for the Tegra 2 version.

Thankfully most developers seem to have the right idea by just adding support to the Xperia Play in the regular version of the game. But I have to give a thumbs down to any developer choosing to build a separate version  for the Xperia Play.

Now before you get too worried about all this just bear in mind this is really only going to affect more advanced 3D games. Most apps and games should work just fine. This issue could also be helped if Google takes a stronger stance and more aggressively enforces the Android Market. The biggest thing Android needs is an all encompassing graphic layer akin to DirectX. This would alleviate the need for developers to write for specific chipsets and would greatly help eliminate compatibility issues. Going forward hopefully developers and Google don’t let things get too far out of hand.

Google IO 2011 Recap

Android

  • Honeycomb 3.1 was announced, it includes many bug fixes, optimizations, resizeable widgets, USB Host capability, a new quick control menu and an updated android market.
  • Google TV will receive a Honeycomb upgrade complete with apps.
  • Ice Cream Sandwich was also announced and will be available by the end of 2011. It will replace both Gingerbread on phones and Honeycomb on tablets as the single unifying OS, hence Ice Cream Sandwich.
  • Google demoed Cordy on the Motorola Xoom running 3.1 being controlled by an Xbox 360 gamepad.
  • Google will implement time guidelines in Android update cycles with oems and carriers. Unfortunately it’s not a requirement and instead an opt in. Thankfully the support is good and they will be required to update devices for at least 18 months.
  • Google announced the Android open accessory API allowing all Android devices to work with third party accessories. Any accessory designed using the API will be compatible with any Android phone or tablet with no cost or approval from Google allowing third party manufacturers to implement it any way they wish.
  • Google announces Android@Home which will be used to bring home automation courtesy of Android.
  • A new Nexus phone is in the works and should launch with Ice Cream Sandwich at the end of the year according to Andy Rubin.
  • Currently Google offers 50MB for in market APK’s on the Android Market and will now provide an additional 4GB of storage for larger Apps. This is huge for smaller developers who want to go big. Currently they would have to provide their own additional storage which can be costly, especially when considering piracy.
  • Google is adding new categories to the Android Market. Top Grossing, Top Free & Paid, Top New Free & Paid, Just In, Trending, Editors Choice and Top Developers list to the Market.
  • Android Market will soon be available in 99 new countries, bringing the total to 131 countries. This will most likely result in much bigger revenues for developers and an increase in Android hardware sales worldwide.

Chrome

  • ChromeOS finally gets a file browser and media player and is starting to looking more and more like a full fledge OS
  • Google will charge 5% for in app payments from the Chrome Web Store
  • Google will launch two Chromebooks on June 15th, one from Samsung and one from Acer in the US, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Spain.
  • Google will also be releasing a Chromebox mini-desktop targeted at businesses.
  • Chromebooks by monthly subscription, cost per user; $28 for businesses and $20 for schools with free software and hardware upgrades. This could be very popular for Businesses and schools. No up front cost, no OS upgrade costs, no hardware upgrade costs and requires less employees to maintain the computers.

Music Beta

  • Currently only available in the US and by invitation only.
  • They do not have deals with any labels, so it is merely a cloud storage option.
  • Install the app on your computer and it will upload your music and playlist to the web for playback from any web browser, ChromeOS and Android device.
  • It can handle MP3, MPA, WMA and FLAC which still leaves a few holes but is superior than Amazon’s cloud storage.
  • The service currently offers free storage for up to 20,000 songs, no mention of actual storage space but it’s probably 80GB.
  • There is no mention of price but Google’s current pricing for storage is $5 for 20GB, $20 for 80GB, $50 for 200GB, $100 for 400GB, $256 for 1TB per year.

Movie Rentals

  • Google launched 3000 movie rentals from all the major studios.
  • Available from YouTube or the web based Android Market and Android devices with the movie app.
  • The rental is attached to your gmail and can be viewed from any of your devices.
  • Rentals are good for 30 days from purchase and 24 hours from first viewing.
  • The movies can be downloaded to your device for offline viewing.
  • Movie rentals are only available in the US and no mention of making the jump to other countries.
  • Pricing varies from $3.99 for new releases, $2.99 for movies older than several months and $1.99 for movies older than a year or two.

Android Tablet Comparison Spring 2011

Guerrilla Bob is well dressed but doesn’t have anything to say

by Dave Loft

I’ve had Guerrilla Bob for about a month and while it’s easily one of the most polished games on the Android market, it just doesn’t posses the longevity to keep me interested. Now to be fair, that would describe most mobile phone games and is exactly why they’re typically priced below $5. I guess I’m just looking for a console experience on a phone and one I know can be done.

I love the graphics in the game and the visual style reminds me of TF2. The textures are clean, beautifully put together and they’re not very detailed. But it works within the style of the game. To go with the smooth graphics is an equally smooth framerate that makes Guerrilla Bob a joy to play.

Cross compatibility is a big part of the marketing behind Guerrilla Bob and is one feature few games have offered. It is unfortunately only local multiplayer and the lacks the essential online multiplayer required to keep me playing the game.

Controls are plentiful with options to auto-aim and multiple dual stick configurations to choose from. If your new to dual stick games, or just want a simpler experience on your mobile, auto-aim is a great place to start. Once you get good at the game you can set the difficulty to hard or just turn off auto-aim.

The game offers ten guns and four characters to choose from, but with only one to start the game. You will unlock more as you play and getting all the guns can take quite a while.

The game offers a few ways to play; arcade, survival and mercenary. Arcade and mercenary are the same game but it changes how weapons are unlocked. In arcade you need to find new weapons hidden throughout the level. While in mercenary mode, you make money by taking out enemies to spend on your weapon of choice. With these two modes your goal is to move to the end of the level and your only job is to shoot. Survivor is the same gameplay in an arena and your scored based on how long you can survive.

What you soon realize is that all of the options available are pretty much the same. I feel if your gonna do just a shooting game, your gonna need more than ten guns. If you want to make your game more than just a shooting game some extra gameplay elements would go a long way. Just steeling ideas from your standard fps will do wonders. Vehicles, mele combat, stealth, cover, defend here, attack this, find the key, disguise as an enemy, something, anything. It just won’t stand as long without another leg to use.

To be fair. this really is me just wanting more complexity from mobile games and that’s something many people don’t care for. Taking into consideration what type of game Angry Mob was aiming to create with Guerrilla Bob, they have definitely nailed the mechanics of the game. It’s when you compare Guerrilla Bob to other shooters available on the Android Market that it becomes a more compelling product. It may have nothing on games like Modern Combat, but it’s really not trying to either.

Guerrilla Bob is the shooter built for a touch screen phone and one that’s accessible to the masses. This is the style of shooter that will have the most success on mobile devices and Angry Mob has built the best of it’s kind. Hopefully they can take that success and return with a squeal that raises the bar well above the the competition, rather than just over.

Score: 8.0

Android Market Link: Guerrilla Bob
Official Website: angrymobgames.com

Andy Rubin clears the air on Android’s future

image

I think I’m having a Gene Amdahl moment – Andy Rubin on Android Developers Blog

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