Android shows significant growth in last three months, led by success of Moto G and LG G2

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Kantar Worldpanel has released its latest report on smartphone marketshare for the last three months. Android share is up significantly compared to a year ago, with Kantar calling out two devices in particular for their contributions to this increase: the Moto G and the LG G2.

In the US, Kantar says that Android has a 55% share of smartphone OS sales share, up from 51.1% in February 2013, an increase of 3.9 percentage points. This compares favourably to iOS’ performance, which fell 4.9 points year-on-year to a 38.7% share. Incidentally, Windows Phone was the only other platform to grow in the US, rising from 4.1% in 2013 to 5.3%.

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Is Android the real target of latest Apple vs Samsung patent battle that starts today?

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Pieces in the NY Times and the WSJ suggest that the real target of Apple’s second courtroom patent battle with Samsung may be Android.

Some features in Samsung devices that Apple objects to are part of Google’s Android operating system, by far the most popular mobile operating system worldwide, running on more than a billion devices made by many manufacturers. That means that if Apple wins, Google could have to make changes to critical Android features, and Samsung and other Android phone makers might have to modify the software on their phones …

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Google Now may soon be able to remind you to pay your bills

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Since its release, Google Now has added a plethora of features, such as improved traffic capabilities, voice commands, and much more. According to a new report from Android Police, the service will be receiving yet another new capability in the near-future that will help you remember to pay your bills.

According a person familiar with the matter, Google Now will soon add an interface that will remind you of upcoming bills, including how much they will be for. The feature, which will be integrated into the classic Google Now card interface, will also include a link to easily pay the bill online.

The screenshot below is a mockup of the interface based on the available information. The latest update to the Search app also includes hints at this feature, some of which were used to help make the mockup. As you can see, the card shows the amount due, the minimum payment, and any other information.

Android Police says the source for this feature is very reliable and that their “confidence level” with this report is a 9/10. It’s unclear when this feature will launch, but given that there is already code appearing the Search app, we shouldn’t have to wait too long.

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Report: Yahoo trying to poach YouTube stars for new video service

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According to a report from Recode, Yahoo is toying with the idea of creating its own YouTube-like video service and in the process thinking of ways it could attract some YouTube’s biggest content creators. Recode claims that Yahoo’s strategy for the service will revolve specifically around catering to YouTube creators frustrated with the amount of revenue the service generates.

Yahoo has apparently already been approaching certain YouTube creators about the opportunity: Read more

Google to announce Q1 2014 earnings results on April 16th

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Google has announced that it will be holding its Q1 2014 earnings results conference call on April 16th. The call will take place at 1:30 PM Pacific Time.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (March 28, 2014) – Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) will hold its quarterly conference call to discuss first quarter 2014 financial results on Wednesday, April 16th at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time (4:30 p.m. Eastern Time).

A webcast of the call will be available, and we’ll have live coverage of the announcements at that time.

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Review: HTC One (M8): Excellent hardware improves, confusing software worsens

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If hardware quality was the only factor in buying a phone, you could stop reading right here and go out and buy the HTC One M8 – it is the best looking, best built (AFAICT after 3 days) phone out there, bar none.

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The front will look familiar, if elongated, to current One owners. It still has separated stereo speakers which incidentally are again the best you’ll hear in a phone by a long shot, but the screen is bigger and unfortunately so is the bezel around the screens.

That extra length tallies to a centimeter taller than its predecessor making an already big phone now almost phablet-like in stature. Add to that HTC’s insistence of putting a power button on top of the phone which you must shimmy up and down to reach and you’ve got yourself some usability experience issues before you even turn on the phone.

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The back of my gray “stainless steel” unit matches up nicely with my fridge in the kitchen. I mean that in the nicest possible way. It looks gorgeous, though I’m not sure I’d say the same for other color variations offered, particularly the gold model. The improved curves are super nice in the hand and also look the part. You’d almost forgive how long this thing is…almost.

The M8 may not be terribly repairable by iFixit standards, but HTC has your back with a pretty impressive repair plan called HTC Customer Advantage. In it, you get a free screen repair within 6 months, a somewhat vague promise to keep Android updated to the most recent version (the website says “We are committed to keeping you current” but at the show they said 2 years of upgrades), and 25-50GB of extra Google Drive space.

Besides the length coupled with the power button, I’m still a huge fan of the exterior. But then there is the interior with HTC’s insistence on Sense 6.0 and this new 3-camera system… Read more

Report: New Android devices require “Powered by Android” branding for access to Google Mobile Services

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Following rumors that Google was preparing to starting forcing manufacturers to brand new devices with a “Powered by Android” logo, AndroidPolice today posted what appears to be evidence of the new requirement. Not every device using Google’s Android OS will have to bear the logo, but those that use Google’s Mobile Services— just about every Android smartphone from the major OEMs— will soon have to do so as part of Google’s updated requirements. Android has long been split into two distinct pieces: The Android Open Source Project that allows OEMs to freely use Android on their devices, and the closed Google Mobile Services, which gives access to Google Play services and Google branded apps like Maps and Gmail for manufacturers that agree to various guidelines.

It appears manufacturers are already putting the logo on new devices, although there’s no direct evidence that the device makers are required to do so. The Powered by Android logo appears of the startup screen of the new Galaxy S5 (as you can see in the screenshot above), as well as HTC’s new M8, but AndroidPolice notes it’s not on the Verizon variant of the device. Other reports claim that some devices show the logo on the startup screen every time the device is turned on, while others only show it the first time. There doesn’t appear to be strict guidelines about where the logo has to appear, but today’s report claimed sources say the branding is indeed mandatory.  Read more

Philips announces first 4K TV lineup running Android will arrive in Q2

Philips has just revealed some details of an upcoming 8000 series lineup of TVs for 2014, which will likely be the first lineup of Ultra HD TVs that hit the market running Android. Philips has three models running Android- Full-HD 8100 and 8200 Philips TVs and the Ultra HD 4K 8800 series— all of which come packed with Google Play store access and Google services like Chrome, YouTube, Google Play music and movies, and search. Read more

Android 4.4 KitKat now rolling out to AT&T Galaxy Note 3

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AT&T has just announced that Android 4.4 KitKat is now rolling out to its Samsung Galaxy Note 3 variant. The update is rather basic and includes all of the interface tweaks we’ve come to expect with KtiKat, including the transparent notification bar. The update also adds a new full-screen immersive mode and support for colored emojis.

Other new features include integrated cloud printing capabilities and the ability to quickly access the camera from the lock screen. You can also now choose a default messaging service if you have more than one app installed. AT&T is also touting improved GPS performance with the update.

  • Improved user interface: The latest version of Android includes enhancements such as re-styled status and navigation bars, a new full-screen-immersive mode, color emoji support, improved closed captioning support, stronger security and smarter power use.
  • Default messaging app: Choose a default messaging app when multiple messaging services are installed.
  • Improved GPS performance
  • Enhanced music access: Full screen album art and media controls are available from the lock screen when listening to music.
  • Camera access: The camera can also be accessed directly from the lock screen.
  • Location menu: An integrated location menu enables users to easily activate GPS and share location details.
  • Wireless printing: Integrated support for wireless printing available in enhanced settings.
  • New sound controls: Set sound for specific Samsung applications in enhanced settings.

If you own an AT&T-branded Galaxy Note 3, you can head into Settings>About Device > Software Update > Check for Updates to update. Though, it is gradually rolling out so it may not be available for your device yet.

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Timehop now available on Android, lets you relive your social networking past

Popular iOS app Timehop has finally made its way to Android today. Timehop is an app that allows you to see what you were posting on a variety of social networks exactly one, two, three, and four years ago. The app requires that you log in with your Facebook account, but can connect to Twitter, Instagram, and Foursquare to see what you were posting.

Timehop helps you celebrate the best moments of the past. What were you doing a year ago today? Two years? Three years?Timehop brings together your old photos and posts from your iPhone, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Foursquare and replays your past a day at a time. You’ll quickly fall in love with checking your daily Timehop. Give it a try today!

You can only view your posts from one, two, three, or four years ago, not anyone else’s, which is somewhat disappointing. But Timehop says the point of the app is to be somewhat of a time capsule for your social networks. If you want to bask in your social network awkwardness, the app is available on the Play Store now.

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Amazon sends out invites for April 2nd event, set-top-box unveil expected

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Amazon has been developing a set-top-box product for several months, and the company appears set to take the wraps off of it next week. Amazon has issued invitations for a media event to be held at 11 AM EST on Wednesday April 2nd.

The invite reads “please join us for an update on our video business,” and the couch and popcorn seems to point directly to a new video watching product. Last year, we reported on trademark filings that seem to indicate that Amazon has considered calling the device the “FireTube,” which blends nicely with the company’s other “Fire” branded devices.

The box is expected to feature applications, the streaming of Amazon Prime video content, games, and it may be controlled by either smartphone apps or a dedicated hardware remote control. The new product comes amidst work from both Apple and Google on their own new boxes. Like the Kindle Fire, it is likely that the set-top-box’s software will be based on the Android OS.

We’ll have live coverage of the proceedings next week, so stay tuned.

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