The iOS versions of eBay’s app have been updated with a redesigned interface and a raft of other changes. The latest release improves on the stripped back UI that was available in previous versions and larger photos can now be accessed. As before, there are versions of the app available for iPad (which is version 2.3.0) and iPhone (which has reached version 3.0.0).
But there’s more than a new look to the latest version of the app. If you’re one of those people who has yet to create an eBay account, the signup process just got a whole lot easier -- if you’re in the US, that is. Forget time-consuming form filling, you can now sign up for an account with a quick scan of your driver’s license.
Change the rules of the game and you change the hierarchy. Two days ago research company Gartner released its latest report on the state of smartphone market which, based on sales, places Windows Phone in fourth place, just behind BlackBerry in terms of share. Today, IDC also released its latest report for Q1 2013, that measures shipments, and the two smartphone operating systems trade places -- Windows Phone now surpasses BlackBerry for the third spot in the charts.
That switch means Microsoft and Nokia have a reason to celebrate, in spite of numerous barbs coming from pundits. "Windows Phone claiming the third spot is a first and helps validate the direction taken by Microsoft and key partner Nokia", says IDC's Kevin Restivo. But the research company suggests that the operating system still has a long way to go: "Given the relatively low volume generated, the Windows Phone camp will need to show further gains to solidify its status as an alternative to Android or iOS".
It’s been a while coming. Two weeks ago my colleague Alan Buckingham wrote that Apple was fast closing in on a remarkable milestone -- 50 billion unique downloads (excluding re-downloads and updates) from the App Store -- and said the "big event seems destined to take place within the next 24 hours".
It actually took around 14 days from that point for the 50 billionth download to happen (or be announced at least), and for the winner of the $10,000 App Store gift card Apple put up as a prize to be revealed.
Music Piracy is now dead. Apple iTunes is now obsolete. Spotify, Pandora, Slacker -- yesterday’s news. This is all because of Google Play Music All Access. It will change the way you listen to music. It will change your life. You will subscribe. Resistance is futile. This is the future of music.
The idea of a music streaming service is not new. However, a music streaming service by the most important and influential tech company is. On May 15, 2013, Google unveiled its new music streaming service, named Google Play Music All Access. Other than the ridiculously long name (I will just call it All Access for the rest of the article), the service is near-perfect.
Ouch! The latest report from market research company Gartner crushes Microsoft's dreams of Windows Phone breaking away from the smartphone operating system bottom pack. In Q1 2013, with a low market share of just 2.9 percent, Windows Phone battled with BlackBerry for the consolation spot of third most popular platform (and lost), far away from either Android or iOS. The green droid is still the dominant leader, followed from afar by Apple's OS.
"There are two clear leaders in the OS market and Android’s dominance in the OS market is unshakable", says Gartner's Anshul Gupta. "With new OSs coming to market such as Tizen, Firefox and Jolla we expect some market share to be eroded but not enough to question Android’s volume leadership". What he doesn't says is that the future is bleak for both Windows Phone and BlackBerry, which have to showcase their strength to survive the future string of contenders. Let's take a look at the numbers.
Just yesterday, I suggested that Gmail for iOS, which new version links to Google apps rather than Safari, might be a bigger deal. Sure enough, is it ever. The search and information giant is hellbent on co-opting Apple's mobile platform by offering superior apps tightly tied to web services. But the strategy depends on Chrome.
Contrary to popular tech convention, Android isn't the future of Google platforms, neither is Chrome OS, nor is an amalgamation of the two. The browser is the go-forward platform of choice. Android and Chrome stand apart, competing with operating systems like iOS and Windows. Chrome can co-opt them and others. The browser is more natural fit for Google services and anchors them anywhere. This is the lesson from March's corporate shake-up that put Android under Sundar Pichai, who leads Chrome and Apps.
Instagram boasts 100 million users and it gets media attention, but the photo sharing service is far from being the only camera app available for mobile customers. In fact, while I use the service, I cannot say it is my favorite. That title belongs to Camera360, a photo app that brings all sorts of functionality to your smartphone.
Camera360 recently upgraded to version 4.0, bringing along new shooting modes, scenes, cloud integration and more. The upgrade is a hit and today the company announces that, like Instagram, it now has 100 million customers.
Yesterday (yeah, yeah, I'm late), Google released a stunning new version of Gmail for iPad and iPhone. I tried to write this story several times on May 6, but the newsroom was short-staffed, keeping me extra busy. Vacations, bank holiday in United Kingdom and Orthodox Easter Monday just about emptied BetaNews. So, please, pardon this belated story about the great Google escape.
What a wild one, too. Control-freak Apple uses Safari to keep developers like Google in check. Especially such a rival that invades iOS with a remarkably rich set of apps tightly tied to myriad web services. So Gmail's sudden liberation is quite surprising. Links now go to installed Google apps -- gasp, Chrome, Maps and YouTube -- rather than opening Safari. Chrome linkage really is a shocker, and all the more so with Google kissing WebKit to the wind in favor of its own browsing engine. Expect it in the Chrome stable channel soon.
Apple's supremacy as tablet market leader may be even shorter lived than previous analyst forecasts suggest. Already, Android topples iOS share, and there is simple catalyst: White-box slates accounted for one-third of shipments last year -- a level NPD DisplaySearch predicts will continue in 2013 and beyond.
Android is the big beneficiary of the trend. In third quarter 2012, shipments exceeded iOS models, according to IDC. During first quarter this year, green-robot slates took 56.5 percent market share. At this pace, contrary to analyst predictions just a year ago, Android does to iOS in tablets what it did in smartphones -- take early leadership away from Apple.
Android may rule the roost when it comes to the mobile market these days, but Apple is certainly not faring poorly with its iPhone offering. Whenever its App Store hits a new milestone the company always makes a big production of it, for both celebration, as well as publicity.
In January of 2011 the Store hit 10 billion app downloads, a milestone that took nearly three years to achieve. However, adoption increased and, in little more than a year (March of 2012), 25 billion apps downloaded was the new cause for celebration. Now, again in just over a year, that number has been doubled.
Twitter has released Twitter for iOS 5.6 and Twitter for Android 4.0.2, minor updates to its official apps for iPhone/iPad and Android mobile users. Both apps extend support for trend filtering by location to the mobile platform, the feature is already present in the web-based app.
Other changes to the iOS build include improved playback of Vine video, and the addition of an option to invite other people to join Twitter from within the app. Android users also gain enhancements to the menu button.
So much for Apple's tablet reign that analysts stoutly stood by even just months ago. Android kicks ass, crushing iOS shipments during first quarter, according to IDC. Among the top four, the fruit-logo company posted the lowest year-over-year growth (65.3 percent), and considerably less than the overall market (142.4 percent). Meanwhile, the company's market share fell by 18.5 points to 39.6 percent.
Among tablet manufacturers, Apple is market leader, with the question being for how much longer. Samsung share rose 282.6 percent -- ASUS even more (350 percent). Strong Nexus 7 shipments pushed ASUS past Amazon to take third place. ASUS' challenge and opportunity could be Google I/O, where the tablet launched last year and new model is rumored for the event starting May 15. Challenge is maintaining shipments during product transition; opportunity is capitalizing on new sales.
Amazon is not one to miss out on any revenue market and today proves this by making its free Kindle apps more appealing to customers who are either blind or visually impaired. The upgrades are not available on all platforms yet, but are certainly a move in the right direction.
New features will allow customers to access the read aloud feature for the more than 1.8 million titles available in the Kindle Store and seamlessly navigate within their library or within a book, including consistent title, menu and button names.
Today's set-top boxes do not all come from the cable or satellite provider and they frequently contain much more functionality than those that do come from the big providers. One is Roku, a company that has been innovating and upgrading at a rather quick pace recently, having only just released the Roku 3 with added functionality.
"Windows strength appears to be the ability to attract first time smartphone buyers, upgrading from a feature phone", Mary-Ann Parlato, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech analyst, says about the U.S. handset market for the three months ended in February. "Of those who changed their phone over the last year to a Windows smartphone, 52 percent had previously owned a feature phone".
End of story, or could be, if not for something else. Fifty-five percent of iOS buyers, and 51 percent for Android, are repeat smartphone purchasers. The two more popular platforms, while growing because of their larger bases, sell more to existing customers, which make up a more finite market. "With over half of the U.S. market still owning a feature phone, it’s likely that many will upgrade over the coming year, which will ultimately contribute to more growth for the Windows brand", Parlato emphasizes.