In August 2011, Google purchased Motorola Mobility (which was Motorola's cellular phone division prior to 2011). Google was good at software and services, but had little experience in making hardware for the mass market. Motorola had plenty of experience in building cell phones, starting with the first flip/clamshell mobile phone, the StarTAC, which was released in 1996. On paper, a good marriage, but the detractors complained that it was coming at too high a cost ($12.5 billion) even though buying Motorola Mobility gave Google ownership of a potentially valuable patent portfolio that it could use to defend itself against Apple and Microsoft.
The first child of this marriage, born in August 2013, was Moto X -- an Android smartphone that was to be Motorola's competitor to the iPhone. The main idea behind the Moto brand was to focus on user experience rather than technical specs. Focusing on the later had resulted in the Droid brand, which, although quite successful when it launched in 2009, perhaps owed most of its success due to a massive marketing campaign and the fact that it was the only decent smartphone available on the Verizon network (at that time, in United States, the iPhone was only available on the AT&T network). In 2013, with the smartphone market dominated, at least profit-wise, by Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy phones, it was time to try a new approach.
Motorola's newest smartphone is an aggressive response to Samsung, white box manufacturers and Apple in markets that matter -- where more people use feature phones rather than smart ones but will soon convert. The $179 pricing appeals, particularly for the features, benefits and design.
The U.S. manufacturer sells Moto G unlocked and contract-free, for a price more realistic than iPhone, or even many Samsung handsets, while delivering most -- if not all -- of the more desirable features. I highlight the major reasons why Moto G matters.
Up until now, if you wanted to try out Android 4.4 KitKat, there were only two options available -- buy a new Nexus 5 that has the OS preinstalled, or download a custom ROM and roll your own. Now there is a new option, at least if you have a Nexus 7 or Nexus 10, as Google is rolling out the latest version of Android to its flagship tablets.
It is not just owners of the latest Nexus 7 who are in luck as the update is also being made available to the 2012 model. The fact that KitKat is rolling out to older hardware will please many people. Sadly, there has been no change of heart -- not yet, anyway -- for Galaxy Nexus owners hoping for an upgrade.
Windows Phone may be the fastest growing major smartphone platform, but its market share still has a long way to go in order to become an imminent threat to Apple's iPhones, let alone Android smartphones. The latest IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker report shows, once again, Microsoft's tiled mobile OS in the same distant third place, far behind its more popular rivals, despite the impressive 156 percent year-over-year growth in shipments from Q3 2013.
"Android and Windows Phone continued to make significant strides in the third quarter. Despite their differences in market share, they both have one important factor behind their success: price", says IDC research manager Ramon Llamas. "Both platforms have a selection of devices available at prices low enough to be affordable to the mass market, and it is the mass market that is driving the entire market forward". That difference in market share that Llamas mentions is a whopping 77.4 percentage points, between Android's 81 percent and Windows Phone's mere 3.6 percent; put differently, Android shipments (211.6 million units) were 22.27 times higher than those of Windows Phones (at 9.5 million units).
Launched earlier this year in Barcelona, KNOX, as we reported at the time, is a secure Android platform powering Samsung Galaxy devices. It's designed to strengthen Android by using hardware features to provide the highest level of protection. KNOX is aimed at offering security whilst remaining manageable and addresses the need to separate work and play on the same device.
With the launch of a partner program, Samsung is helping resellers and independent software vendors to provide extra value for their customers and extend the benefits of KNOX to the enterprise market. It provides partners with assets, resources and training to help them provide support for Samsung devices. Compatibility is included for existing master data management (MDM) solutions to allow resellers to offer a complete solution or work with existing installations.
The rise of intelligent machines has long been fertile ground for science fiction writers, but a new report by technology research specialists Gartner suggests that the future is closer than we think.
"Smartphones are becoming smarter, and will be smarter than you by 2017," says Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "If there is heavy traffic, it will wake you up early for a meeting with your boss, or simply send an apology if it is a meeting with your colleague. The smartphone will gather contextual information from its calendar, its sensors, the user's location and personal data".
Another busy week with more news than you could shake a stick at. Following the release of KitKat, Google was riding high as figures revealed that Jelly Bean is now installed on more than half of Android devices. It’s a similar story for Microsoft. Its previous operating system, Windows 7, is still the most popular while growth for Windows 8 and 8.1 remains slow. It was better news for Windows Phone which is making serious inroads into Android and iOS's share of the mobile market in Europe, and even managed to overtake Apple in Italy.
It seems that more people want to be able to use the latest and greatest version of Android, and following the announcement that the Galaxy Nexus would not receive a KitKat update, a petition was quickly launched to try to change Google's mind. Showing that the march of progress will always leave casualties, Google announced that Internet Explorer 9 will no longer be supported by Google Apps, and Windows 7 users gained Internet Explorer 11. To push the launch, Microsoft unveiled a new Anime ad campaign focusing on the browser's improved security.
Phones are great for music, but in most cases the built in speakers are a bit subpar; quality might be decent enough, but if you're looking for a punch of volume, speakers are going to be needed. Or maybe not. If you're an HTC One owner looking for something a little different -- and have a wad of spare cash lying around -- the Gramohorn II could just be of interest. It brings not one, but two gramophone inspired horns to amplify your music without the need for power.
3D printing is all the rage, and the Gramohorn II is the latest accessory to be produced in this way. There are plaster- and metal-based versions available, but whichever one you opt for, you're going to need to have deep pockets. The plaster-based model is the cheaper of the two, but "cheaper" is very much a relative term. There are 22 color choices and five metallic finishes but only 100 will be produced.
If you had to put money on what type of app Google would release next, you probably wouldn't have wagered much on this. Forget searching, maps, and cloud storage, Google Opinion Rewards is an app that you can use to earn credit that can be spent at Google Play. Sounds good? Well, you have to be willing to do a little work. What's the catch? The clue's in the name of the app: you'll have to spend time completing surveys.
The free Android app is available in the US only (for the moment, at least) and once you have created a basic profile you will be notified whenever a new survey is ready to be completed. Unlike other paid surveys, it looks as though there is going to be a limit on how many are announced. The frequency is described as being "about once a week".
Google is going to start displaying Google+ Photos as caller ID images from early 2014. The new feature will be enabled by default for anyone who has a verified phone number associated with their Google account.
This means that should you get a call from someone you have circled on Google+, but have not added to your phone's address book, you will still be able to see who they are -- or at least be able to see whatever their most recent Google+ profile image is.
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins is to resign from his position at the head of the company, and the board of directors is also facing a reshuffle. The struggling mobile firm was set to be sold to a consortium lead by Fairfax Financial Holdings for $4.7 billion but that plan, announced last month, has now fallen through.
BlackBerry instead intends to raise $1 billion in fresh funding from a group of investors including Fairfax.
Worldwide, Windows Phone may hold a distant third-place spot in the smartphone market, but in Europe handsets running the mobile tiled OS are closing in on Apple's iPhones through huge share gains. According to a new Kantar Worldpanel ComTech report, in five key local markets Windows Phone sales more than doubled in Q3 2013, compared to the same period from last year. Meanwhile, iPhones lost market share.
In France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain combined, Windows Phone's market share grew to 9.8 percent in Q3 2013 from 4.6 percent a year earlier. The highest market share gains happened in France (to 10.7 percent from 5.2 percent), Germany (to 8.5 percent from 2.5 percent) and Great Britain (to 11.4 percent from 4.2 percent), with Italy and Spain posting more moderate growths (to 13.7 percent from 10.8 percent and to 3.7 percent from 2.2 percent, respectively). By contrast, in the said local markets iPhone's market share decreased to 14.6 percent in Q3 2013 from 16.8 percent a year earlier.
This week Google put an end to all the speculation and finally launched not only the Nexus 5 but also the new version of Android -- KitKat. There were no great surprises as there had been so many leaks prior to launch that we knew pretty much everything there was to know, but it was good have the rumors confirmed. Expect a full review in the very near future. The Nexus 5 comes with KitKat preinstalled, but it will also be available as an upgrade for a number of other handsets. As it this wasn't quite enough for Google, the company also donated 17,000 Nexus 7s to communities affected by Hurricane Sandy.
After the recent announcement, the iPad Air went on sale, and Logitech was ready with a series of cases.
After a long string of leaks and rumors, Google has officially launched Android 4.4 KitKat. The new mobile operating system, that has debuted alongside the Nexus 5, focuses on polishing the overall user experience, adding new features and improvements aimed at both entry-level and high-end devices. As usual, the big question is: When will your smartphone and/or tablet get the upgrade?
Google was among the first companies to reveal its plans for the upgrade. The search giant has announced that Android 4.4 KitKat will soon be available for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, as well as the Google Play editions of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 in the following weeks.
Just in time for Hallowe'en, Google takes us all out of our misery and officially launches Android 4.4 -- or KitKat as it is rather sweetly known. As with the Nexus 5, we have known pretty much what to expect from KitKat for a little while now. Google's blog post heralding the arrival of the latest version of the OS is a little understated and doesn't give much away.
One thing is particularly interesting. Rather than blowing its own trumpet and boasting about rafts of new features -- although this will probably follow -- Google has chosen to highlight the fact that Android 4.4 can run comfortably on devices with as little as 512MB RAM. The blog post points out that it is not just the operating system that has been put on a diet (ironic when you consider the origins of the name) but all Google services such as YouTube and Chrome.