Jealous of the new iOS Facebook App? An Android version is in the pipeline says Facebook Director of Mobile Engineering

Android Police pulled some nice quotes from a recent Reddit thread on the future of the Facebook App on Android…

FB: Facebook is committed to both Android and iOS, and you’ve now seen what we can do. Stay tuned. (There are things in the Android app that aren’t in the iOS one today, like mentions in posts and comments, photo multi-upload, event creation. Since version 1.9 the Android app has tested faster than the iOS one, but FB-iOS 5.0 obviously changes the game.)

Android presents some unique challenges for developers, especially those with a large user base, but we do and will power through them. A lot of time is spent dealing with device-specific issues and limits, and you really have to fight with the toolkit to get iPhone-smooth interactions. Some vendors have a different HTTP stack (!), none implement the Camera APIs consistently, and reliability of hardware acceleration is…imperfect, GC pauses are terrible, lots of the toolkit insists on doing real work on the UI thread and allocating recreationally. On iOS you can test on 5 devices and basically have the market covered. We have to test on many dozens to get to the top 1/3 of our users, and then the tail starts to getreally long.

Q: Do you know when we could expect a native app too? I realise you probably can’t give away too much but are we talking weeks? Months?

A: Nobody is more excited about the state of our current development version than we are, and we will get it to users as soon as we can. One of our awesome PR people is standing next to me (10,000 miles away) with a gun (frowny face), so I can’t say more. Also, I have been doing software 20 years too long to make estimates in public. Experience and quality determine the time. I am utterly confident that you’ll find it worth the wait, and I wish I could give it to you today.

Q: Pretty much everyone I know has problems with the app even loading anything at all, and that’s before complaints about performance issues. This has gone on for ages, how come something as important as this has been unresolved for so long?

A: There are lots of reasons that people can experience problems, and we work through (and fix) different ones all the time. We have pretty detailed metrics on different aspects of performance, stability, load-time, load-error, etc. We can see them getting better in meaningful chunks, but that spreads out across 130M users in a way that isn’t to anyone’s satisfaction. (This is one area in which neither the inherent characteristics of the Android webview nor the OEM-specific tweaks that occur are our friends. Really, they aren’t even cordial.) We’ve been on fixed-date release cycles since 1.9, and we’re now down to every 4 weeks (where we’ll stay); this was a shit-ton of work for a large number of people, but it means we can get improvements out to users faster even while investing in longer-term features or architecture changes.

Q: What’s the best way for us, as users, to make it known that something isn’t working right with the app and make a difference? As of right now I could make quite a list of things that don’t work with the app, however it would feel a bit like a drop in the ocean for all the feedback you probably receive and feels like it would go unnoticed…We want to help :)

A: There’s a bug reporting mechanism either via the website or the app that someone on my team reads and rolls up for the developers weekly. My internal build has another mechanism for it, so I embarrassingly can’t tell you in more detail right now. :-/

Q: Is it true that Facebookers have been forced to use the android app to get a feel for how bad it is?

A: Neither the assertion nor the implication are true to my knowledge, and I am virtually certain that my knowledge on this issue is complete.

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Apple is putting Google’s Voice search app through purgatory yet again

Google unveiled a new feature within its iOS search app in August that reminds us a lot of Siri. Taking features from its Siri competitor Google Now, Google announced the search app would now allow folks to use natural voice commands to make searches. For example, a user can “ask for the weather in a natural way and it will provide results,” Google explained. Google noted during its announcement that the updated app would be available in a few days. But, two weeks later…nothing.

After the announcement, Google told reporters the app was submitted a week before the event. So, Google’s updated app has been going through Apple’s App Store approval for three weeks. We have to wonder: What is the hold up?

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Amazon announces September 6th Press Conference. New Kindles on tap? Phone?


Amazon just announced a press conference for September 6th in Los Angeles. They really don’t do big media events outside of Hardware launches so Kindles are what we’re expecting.

Amazon last held a Kindle Event in NYC where it released the Android based Kindle Fire and a few eInk tablets.  We’re expecting a bigger Kindle Fire  –perhaps iPad sized – this year and improvements to the Fire bringing it up to date with the ASUS Nexus 7. Oh, and maybe a phone. Read more

Verizon again tops J.D. Power and Associates Network Quality Performance report

J.D. Power and Associates is out with the second half of its 2012 “U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study”, and Verizon once again come out on top for network performance in five of the six regions included in the report. Only second to U.S. Cellular in the North Central region, Verizon posted the best overall network performance among the other carriers in the remaining regions based on 10 key problem areas that could impact the customer experience.

For a 16th consecutive reporting period, Verizon Wireless ranks highest in the Northeast region. Verizon Wireless achieves fewer customer-reported problems with dropped calls, initial connections, transmission failures and late text messages, compared with the regional average. Verizon Wireless also ranks highest in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Southwest and West regions… U.S. Cellular ranks highest in the North Central region for a 14th consecutive reporting period. Compared with the regional average, U.S. Cellular has fewer customer-reported problems with dropped calls, failed initial connections, audio problems, failed voice mails and lost calls.

The study also covered the customer experience specifically for data-related problems. Not surprisingly, LTE device users experienced significantly less issues than older 3G devices like the iPhone:

The study finds that the number of data-related problems, especially those related to slow connection speeds, is significantly lower among customers using 4G LTE-enabled devices than among those using devices with older 3G/4G technology standards, such as WiMAX and HSPA+… For example, among customers with 4G LTE-enabled devices, the problem incidence for excessively slow mobile Web loading is 15 PP100, compared with the industry average of 20 PP100. Furthermore, the overall problem incidence for excessively slow mobile Web loading is even higher among customers with WiMAX and HSPA+ technology

Based on responses from over 26,000 U.S. wireless customers, the report explained how network performance was calculated: Read more

Google Music updated, featuring expanded Jelly Bean notifications and improved Google TV support

Here is some good news for those who like to get their music dose from Google Play: Google Music has been updated this evening with expandable notifications in Jelly Bean to allow playback control and viewing of album art. Furthermore, the update includes improved Google TV support to get rid of issues with TVs and set-top boxes caused by Jelly Bean. It would not be a Google update without a few bug fixes too. We have the full release notes embedded below. Download: [Play Store via Droid Life]

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Chrome for iOS updated with social and email sharing features, bugfixes and optimizations

For those of you who enjoy a little Chrome in your iOS experience, Google updated Chrome today with some nice social-sharing features. Posting to Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus are all included with the ability to push pages to the email application. The additions start to bring Chrome up to par with Apple’s Mobile Safari, which still benefits from speed due to an optimized Nitro engine that sandboxed apps do not have access to.

It would not be a Chrome update without a few “stability and security improvements” and “bug fixes addressing user feedback” either.

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Archos unveils 10-inch 101 XS tablet with ‘coverboard’ for $400 [Photos]

The Archos 101 XS just unveiled with a bevy of attractive features for a budget-friendly tablet.

The Ice Cream Sandwich-powered, 10-inch slate will land in November for $400 with a detachable, full QWERTY keyboard dock, dubbed the “coverboard,” that connects to the tablet magnetically. The coverboard notably boasts keys for Home, Recently Opened, etc., so Android OS browsing is more streamlined.

The tablet further features support for Micro USB, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0, and it includes a 1,280-by-800-pixel display, 16GB of internal storage, 1.3-megapixel 720p front-facing camera, and Office Suite Pro 6 preloaded. Archos said the slate would even upgrade to Jelly Bean in October. A slew of accessories also unveiled with the 101 XS—including a speaker dock, docking station and protective carrying pouches.

The full press release is below.

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Google+ rolling out new features for better control over Circles

Google Product Manager Austin Chang made an announcement on his Google+ today highlighting some new features rolling out on Google+ (via TNW). In addition to the “sliders” the service rolled out last year, allowing you to filter what you read and share on Google+, Google is rolling out three new features today that provide even more control. The new features allow you to control notifications from specific circles, opt to send emails for important news you are sharing, and mute notifications from a specific contact within a circle. Chang explained:

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Google Maps Maker helps Detroit go green with detailed biking trail maps [Video]

Google Maps is apparently a huge fan of biking.

We detailed how Sustrans partnered with Google to bring cycling routes to United Kingdom-based Google Maps users in July, and now the Internet giant wants folks to know how its free mapping tool helped Detroit Greenways Coordinator Todd Scott add new information about biking paths to various Detroit trails on Google Maps.

Detroit is embracing a greener outlook, according to Map Maker Community Manager Lori Savageau on the official Google blog, and the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance is aiding the transition by creating an “interconnected statewide system of trails and greenways, including the development of bike paths throughout the Detroit area.”

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YouTube gets political with ‘Elections Hub’ channel [Video]


Google launched the YouTube Elections Hub today so folks have a complete video resource for all-things political until the U.S. Election Day on Nov. 6.

“You can watch all of the live speeches from the floor of the upcoming Republican and Democratic National Conventions, see Google+ Hangouts with power brokers behind the scenes, and watch a live stream of the official Presidential and Vice Presidential debates,” announced YouTube News Manager Olivia Ma on the YouTube Blog. “You won’t need to go anywhere else for the must-watch moments of this election cycle…”

The hub will feature videos from politicians, parties, and well-known media, as well as shared coverage with live and on-demand content from ABC News, Al Jazeera English, BuzzFeed, Larry King, The New York Times, Phil DeFranco, Univision, and the Wall Street Journal.

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