Posts tagged Android

Disrupting Tablets from the Bottom Up
How a $20 tablet from India could blindside PC makers, educate billions and transform computing as we know it.
Hint: The Indian government currently has an order in for 100,000 Aakash 2 tablets for university students and professors, and Datawind, the company behind the low-priced Android tablet, already has 4 million pre-orders.
Image: Suneet Tuli, CEO Datawind, with the company’s Aakash 2 tablet. Via Quartz.

Disrupting Tablets from the Bottom Up

How a $20 tablet from India could blindside PC makers, educate billions and transform computing as we know it.

Hint: The Indian government currently has an order in for 100,000 Aakash 2 tablets for university students and professors, and Datawind, the company behind the low-priced Android tablet, already has 4 million pre-orders.

Image: Suneet Tuli, CEO Datawind, with the company’s Aakash 2 tablet. Via Quartz.

Zite Launches Publishers Program

Zite, the personalized magazine app creator that CNN purchased last summer has had a busy couple of days.

Last week they announced the release of an Android version of their app. This week they announce that they’ve created a publisher’s program with eight partners including Fox Sports, The Daily Beast, the Huffington Post and, of course, CNN.

The program integrates the publisher’s content into a dedicated section within the Zite app with the goal of first exposing readers to that content, and then — because the user likes the publishers’ content so much — getting them to download the publishers’ native apps.

Conversion, of course, is a tricky game to play and hard to succeed at but it is an important step for a company that was sent a cease and desist letter by publishers almost immediately after it first launched the product last year.

The model also differs from Next Issue Media’s “Netflix for Magazines” app that we highlighted yesterday, where publishers are bundling their content together under an all you can read buffet for $10 to $15 per month.

Perhaps its in their DNA. Zite considers itself a discovery engine rather than a personalized magazine news aggregator. In announcing the publishing program, they write:

Zite is uniquely positioned to innovate on distribution with publishers because of how Zite works. At our core, we are a discovery engine: a place where users can go to find interesting articles that are personalized to a user’s particular needs/wants. One of the most common compliments we receive from our users is: “Wow, I find stuff on Zite that I couldn’t have found anywhere else.”

Zite’s goal isn’t to be the only place you go to read news. Much like a search engine, we just want to be your starting point. On a person’s iPad, for example, we expect that a user will use Zite and a number of publisher applications that they read cover to cover. Zite gives you a taste, but you need to go the publisher for their full experience.

So, two days, two different models on how publishers are coming together on tablets and mobile devices. We look forward to watching where this leads, and seeing what new innovations others are coming up with.

Three Unique Publisher Apps

Digiday points out 3 mobile apps created by publishers that go above and beyond just recreating the web & print experience (look, feel, layout, content). You know, actual innovation on the mobile front:

Unfortunately for readers, it seems as though media outlets often take the path of least resistance and just port their online content into an app. There are a few, however, who forge their own paths. Here are three unique mobile apps where publishers are trying something new.

Orange County Register: This local California paper (1.3 million uniques in February 2012, according to comScore) takes a unique approach to delivering content on its app, The Peel. The outlet plays to the audience, serving stories throughout six categories — news, sports, business, trending, things to do, and photo/video gallery — that are chosen based on iPad reader’s interests and many of the stories can only be found within the application. Additionally, the app pushes content in the evening and each addition features content exclusively for the app. A novel approach for a local outlet, this app can go a long way for those living in the OC — or those just stopping by.

Download the app here.

WP Politics The Washington Post has an election 2012 specific app, which does way more than port content from its website. Sure, there’s news from the paper and a website that finds its way onto the app — like Ezra Klein’s blog or The Fact Checker — but the app delivers additional information that’s not on the site: a polling map for the uber-wonky who want to know how each candidate is faring in sentiment at any given time; candidate issues tracker, which uses motion graphics to provide users with an “at-a-glance” understanding of where each of the candidates stand, and previously stood, on the major issues of the campaign; the historical election results map, which includes every vote, in every state, for every candidate, in every presidential election since 1789, and is presented with Washington Post articles written before and after every election since 1880. This app is a political wonk’s dream as it gives information that can’t even be found on the Washington Post’s site.

Download the app here.

King’s Cross, London – Streetstories The Guardian recently released an app that lets users listen to the sounds of Foggy London Town while walking the streets of King’s Cross. Additionally, the app serves as a walking guide with more than 70 stories and two hours of audio material, all relevant to a user’s location. The app boasts of readings from Dickens (location-specific), the architecture of Gilbert Scott’s St. Pancras, as well interviews with former street workers giving listeners an oral history of the area. This is a great idea for users who want to learn more about their surroundings. Hopefully other major news outlets will follow in The Guardian’s footsteps, especially in cities around the world.

Download the app here.

The Future of Magazines Should Look a Lot Like Spotify

Most news stories are covered by many media outlets. News is not a scarce commodity. Magazine articles, on the other hand, typically provide more in-depth commentary or analysis on interesting topics. A consumer can’t easily find other sources for a magazine story. 

Hamish McKenzie argues that magazine publishers, like music publishers before them (album versus iTunes single), should break up the sacred magazine bundle online and allow consumers to either pay a Netflix type subscription to an all-you-can eat buffet of articles from a variety of publishers, or provide an a-la-carte menu for consumers to discover and pay for the articles they want to read

Of course, this implies that publishers would need to coordinate the development of an industry led technology and distribution platform (similar to Hulu), or watch an external technology company such as Flipboard, Google, Apple, or Amazon build a business model off the publisher’s content and own the relationship with the end consumer.

As McKenzie states:

The first problem is that there is an app for each magazine. To subscribe to the New Yorker, Wired, Vanity Fair, GQ, The Atlantic, Details, New York, and Time, you’ve got to have seven different apps, many of which are bloated. Some issues of Wired, for example, have weighed in at 500MB each. And what do you get inside? Aside from the occasional animation, or supplementary audio and video, they’re basically just digital facsimiles of the paper product. Worse – you can only get the stories if you get the whole magazine.

So here’s an idea for how to do it better and make money from it.

Break up the bundle. Present stories on an individual basis. Do to the magazine what iTunes did to the album, but do it with a Spotify model. And put it all into one app.

In short: build a platform not for magazines, but for magazine stories.

Here’s how it works. You have an app called something like Mag Reader. When you open Mag Reader, it shows you a list of the latest works from your favorite publications, as well as ones that align with your interests, or the stories currently most talked about on social media.

Each story is listed with a small picture, headline, by-line, date, relevancy rating (just like Netflix’s customized recommendations), introductory teaser, and publisher name. Before clicking through, you can expand each one to see more art work, the first few paragraphs, who has recommended the story, links to similar stories, and what else the publisher has put out recently. If you feel the urge, you can even buy the magazine issue into which the piece has been bundled for paper consumption.

You have a profile page, just like you do on Spotify or Facebook, on which your most recently read stories are listed alongside the stories you recommend most highly. On your page, you can also list your favourite magazines and writers, along with your interests. Perhaps you even list all the readers you follow, Twitter-style. You can discover new stories through the social connections you have built around your profile, just like you do now through Twitter, Facebook, and Google Reader (people still use that, right?).

Each writer has a profile, too. Some writers will be affiliated with magazines; some will be independent. You can follow your favorite writers, so you’ll always know when they have a new story out. On his profile, a writer has a bio, links to his stories, and perhaps even a “works in progress” section that comes with a “donate” button, so readers can make financial contributions to stories they’d like to see materialize, Kickstarter-style.

Publishers have brand pages, as well, just like on Facebook. At each page, you can read about the magazine, check out the masthead, perhaps watch some behind-the-scenes footage, and maybe even subscribe to their bundled products.

Like Facebook and Spotify, Mag Reader can host third-party apps – such as Longreadsand The Atlantic’s Best of Journalism – that offer curated reading lists.

The story-reading experience is seamless and alive. You can highlight passages you want to make a note of, just like you can on the Kindle. You can look up specific words in a dictionary. Publishers can easily integrate multimedia into their stories. Writers can update their stories as new information comes to hand. On each story you can leave comments that will then, if you so choose, publish to your Facebook profile. You will be able to sort comments on the stories to prioritize the ones written by “Friends” or “Friends of Friends” (thanks, Roman Meytin, for that idea).

One commenter from Germany, who actually tried to launch a service similar to the one described in the article, summarized the experience of trying to herd cats publishers and get them to work together:

We presented our app to dozens of newspaper publishers and press agencies in Germany and we had around 20 of them joining our model as launching partners. But we realized very soon that this model was a failure.

Most newspapers, mainly the big and interesting ones, were not interested at all, they all wanted their OWN app in the AppStore. They did not want to promote an app that contains content from other newspapers. They did not want users to choose which article is interesting and which one is not. So, more or less all German newspapers launched their OWN apps, most of them never reached top 100 of the category news in appStore and – even more surprising – a lot of them are completely free or you have to pay an initial single payment of .79 €.

Is it a Condom or is it an Android?
Des Traynor creates this chart and and offers some free brand and marketing 101, “If your product isn’t a condom then don’t name it like one.” 
H/T: Business Insider.

Is it a Condom or is it an Android?

Des Traynor creates this chart and and offers some free brand and marketing 101, “If your product isn’t a condom then don’t name it like one.” 

H/T: Business Insider.

ObscuraCam!
It’s well documented that authorities successfully review photos and videos created by activists and journalists from protests in order to circle back and arrest those who were present.
Now, the Guardian Project and Witness.org have released and Android app to do something about it.
It’s called ObscuraCam and it automagically locks in on people’s faces, processes the information and then pixelates the image of those you want “obscured”.
As Witness, a human rights advocacy network focusing on video use, describes it, ObscuraCam “aims to protect the identity of those filming and those being filmed, protect relevant metadata, and integrate human rights standards of consent and intent into mobile video. Rather than rely on post-production editing, it will allow near real-time annotation of consent, and anonymization. It will integrate human rights considerations and practices into the work flow of filming with a mobile device.”
ObscuraCam is part of a larger “SecureSmartCam” project that helps activists protect themselves and those that they are taking video and photos of with a growing suite of Open Source tools allow the camera owner to, for example, instantly delete all content on the phone if arrested.
Or, the User can add more metadata — such as geolocation, timestamp and current cell ID — to images and videos. Important data for activist networks that need to know where people producing media actually are.
The Guardian Project ObscuraCam with screencast | ObscuraCame in the Android Market | Source code from GitHub

ObscuraCam!

It’s well documented that authorities successfully review photos and videos created by activists and journalists from protests in order to circle back and arrest those who were present.

Now, the Guardian Project and Witness.org have released and Android app to do something about it.

It’s called ObscuraCam and it automagically locks in on people’s faces, processes the information and then pixelates the image of those you want “obscured”.

As Witness, a human rights advocacy network focusing on video use, describes it, ObscuraCam “aims to protect the identity of those filming and those being filmed, protect relevant metadata, and integrate human rights standards of consent and intent into mobile video. Rather than rely on post-production editing, it will allow near real-time annotation of consent, and anonymization. It will integrate human rights considerations and practices into the work flow of filming with a mobile device.”

ObscuraCam is part of a larger “SecureSmartCam” project that helps activists protect themselves and those that they are taking video and photos of with a growing suite of Open Source tools allow the camera owner to, for example, instantly delete all content on the phone if arrested.

Or, the User can add more metadata — such as geolocation, timestamp and current cell ID — to images and videos. Important data for activist networks that need to know where people producing media actually are.

The Guardian Project ObscuraCam with screencast | ObscuraCame in the Android Market | Source code from GitHub

Time Inc. Skips The CES Bins, Sort Of; Offers Free Downloads Of All Titles
From paidContent:

Not too long ago, grazing the magazine bins was a perk of going to a trade show. But consolidation and closures mean fewer publications—and digital platforms offer access to the info without lugging around the ones that are left. Time (NYSE: TWX) Inc.‘s solution at CES this year?
A magazine-shaped promo piece stacked in the publication bins but with none of the publishers’ content inside. Instead, the company played up its tablet editions and their cross-device access by offering them all free of charge at CES for download to iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet/Nook Color and Android devices via NextIssue. (You can try it this weekend; the free trial ends Sunday night.)…
Instead of handling out cards for one free download or sticking with a single title or device, the company tried something that matches the best of its digital intentions: getting attention for its tablet strategy, while showing the device makers it can be a good partner and stressing an ecumenical approach at the same time.

Time Inc. Skips The CES Bins, Sort Of; Offers Free Downloads Of All Titles

From paidContent:

Not too long ago, grazing the magazine bins was a perk of going to a trade show. But consolidation and closures mean fewer publications—and digital platforms offer access to the info without lugging around the ones that are left. Time (NYSE: TWX) Inc.‘s solution at CES this year?

A magazine-shaped promo piece stacked in the publication bins but with none of the publishers’ content inside. Instead, the company played up its tablet editions and their cross-device access by offering them all free of charge at CES for download to iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet/Nook Color and Android devices via NextIssue. (You can try it this weekend; the free trial ends Sunday night.)…

Instead of handling out cards for one free download or sticking with a single title or device, the company tried something that matches the best of its digital intentions: getting attention for its tablet strategy, while showing the device makers it can be a good partner and stressing an ecumenical approach at the same time.

Stop SOPA? There's an App for That

Via Extreme Tech:

Armchair activists now have a tool that can transport their SOPA protestations into the real world: Boycott SOPA, an Android app that scans barcodes and tells you whether an object’s manufacturer/publisher is a supporter of the much maligned Stop Online Piracy Act.

If you’ve ever scanned a barcode on your Android phone to look up a book or CD on Amazon, Boycott SOPA works in exactly the same way: First you have to install the ZXing Barcode Scanner app, but then you simply go around pointing your phone’s camera at product barcodes. Boycott SOPA gives you a big red cross if the product is distributed by a SOPA supporter, or a green tick if it’s “clean.” Much to my chagrin, Coca-Cola supports SOPA — but Smirnoff, on the other hand, does not. If you ever needed a sign from Above that you ought to drink more, there it is.

Scanning food isn’t really where Boycott SOPA is at, though: Really, it’s all about scanning books, CDs, movies, and games — products that are protected by massively militant groups like the MPAA, RIAA, and BSA who are spending millions on buying off Representatives to shoehorn SOPA through Congress. If you scan a random selection of media in your DVD rack or bookcase, you’ll be unsurprised to see that almost every object is produced by a company that supports SOPA. It’s worth noting that the app isn’t perfect, though: It relies on a user-curated list of SOPA supporters — a list that isn’t complete nor publicly visible. The app developer claims that the list will be regularly updated.

Wonder if Apple’s reviewers would let this into its App store.

Here’s an interview I did with Michael Dunn, CTO of Hearst Interactive Media, at the Streaming Media conference in Los Angeles a few weeks ago.

We cover everything from producing video for tablets, devices and mobile, to metadata and adaptive streaming.

To watch all video interviews from the conference, visit StreamingMedia.com

- Peter

Khoi Vinh: Magazines Are Failing at the iPad

Digiday interviewed former New York Times design director Khoi Vinh, who has been critical of publishers’ approaches to the iPad. 

How important is the emergence of HTML5 for tablet publishers? Can you see them gravitating towards browser-based experiences over apps as that technology becomes more robust?

There are two strains here. On the tech side, HTML5 is the way of the future. It’s too expensive to publish native apps for iOS, Android and all the different platforms. HTML5 is a much better delivery mechanism for this stuff than a native app. It’s much more affordable and much more portable. On the other side, though, it’s not just about the tech. I had underestimated how effective Apple’s AppStore would be in terms of distributing applications. You can’t beat that, so publishers will have to stay with apps for at least the immediate future.

To date, publishers seem to have focused on simply updating or transposing their print products for use on the device, but are they missing an opportunity in doing so? Should they be rethinking the way they deliver content from the ground up?

Absolutely. I just can’t see the end-to-end magazine format surviving. The Internet lets people consume media in a-la-carte form. To force a package of content on folks is unnatural. Some folks will continue to like the magazine format, but as social distribution becomes the way we discover and receive more of our content, it won’t make sense to sell it in these virtual boxes any more.

What possibilities should publishers be exploring, then?

One glaring omission in the way we package content for tablets is really relevance. Much like when you go to Amazon, they display similar products other people have bought; we don’t have anything nearly as good in realm of publishing. It’s not just recommendations, though. It’s about understanding true relevance. If you look at an app like Flipboard, that’s the one major thing it’s missing. The tech startup that can solve that problem will push forward this area of digital publishing in a big way.

Weigh in with your thoughts on publishers and their tablet strategies.

Developers on Google, Apple, Mobile & Social

A few weeks ago Appcelerator and IDC surveyed over 2,000 developers about their mobile priorities, Google and Apple’s consolidation of mobile, and the integration of social into mobile apps. The results have been released in the 2011 Appcelerator/IDC Mobile Developer Report. 

Some key takeaways:

  • Two-thirds of respondents believe that Google can catch up to Facebook in social with Google+. When asked why, 68% of developers say that leveraging Google’s assets (eg: Search, YouTube, Maps, etc) trumps Facebook’s social graph lead. 49% say that Google shows more innovation than Facebook with new Google+ features like circles, sparks, hangouts, etc.
  • While Google+ may be the future, today 83% of developers using social in their apps say they use or are planning to use Facebook this year. Twitter is second at 73%, followed closely by Google+ (when API is released) at 72%, LinkedIn at 30%, and Foursquare at 23%.
  • When asked what social capabilities are most important in their apps, developers said that features that encourage repeat usage and offer fresh content are more important than location checkins and photo sharing. In order of priority, developers use social for: notifications (52%), status updates (49%), login/identity (44%), messaging (38%), news (35%), location sharing (32%), photo sharing (31%), and friend requests (26%).
  • With relatively few new product announcements this past quarter, platform priorities haven’t changed significantly. iPhone remains tops as 91% say they are ‘very interested’ in developing for the device. iPad is number two at 88%, Android pulled up a couple points with Android phone interest climbing to 87% from 85% last quarter and Android Tablets rose back to Q1 levels to 74%. We added HTML5 mobile web as a new option to rank this quarter, which comes in fifth at 66%. The second tier remains the same: Windows Phone (30%), BlackBerry phones (28%), BlackBerry Playbook (20%), HP TouchPad (18%), HP Palm Pre/Pixi (12%), Symbian (7%), and MeeGo (5%) rounding out the list. The new addition of mobile web in the middle of the pack suggests developers are seeing the increasing requirement for both a mobile app and mobile website, though the former continues to be the number one priority.

The report is available for download here.

Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread and now Honeycomb: these are the tasty names Google has given to Android releases since acquiring Android, Inc. in August 2005.
The platform’s gone bonkers in the mobile space ever since with a Nielsen report out today that says the Android OS has a 39 percent share of the US smartphone market. By comparison, Apple’s iOS has a 28 percent market share.
Android’s success is driven by that fact that much of the software stack it includes is released under an open source license, allowing phone makers to take it, augment it for their purposes and get to market.
So what about Honeycomb, the May release sepcifically optimized for tablets and large screen devices? Will Honeycomb do the same for tablets that its earlier flavors did for smartphones? 
Analysts don’t really think so. As John Gruber writes, unlike the iPhone which entered a crowded mobile market and fought for market share, the iPad created the tablet market.
Think tablets and you’re basically thinking iPad.
It will be tough for Android, or any other OS, to disrupt that mindshare.
Image: Detail from The Android Story by [x]cube Labs.

Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread and now Honeycomb: these are the tasty names Google has given to Android releases since acquiring Android, Inc. in August 2005.

The platform’s gone bonkers in the mobile space ever since with a Nielsen report out today that says the Android OS has a 39 percent share of the US smartphone market. By comparison, Apple’s iOS has a 28 percent market share.

Android’s success is driven by that fact that much of the software stack it includes is released under an open source license, allowing phone makers to take it, augment it for their purposes and get to market.

So what about Honeycomb, the May release sepcifically optimized for tablets and large screen devices? Will Honeycomb do the same for tablets that its earlier flavors did for smartphones? 

Analysts don’t really think so. As John Gruber writes, unlike the iPhone which entered a crowded mobile market and fought for market share, the iPad created the tablet market.

Think tablets and you’re basically thinking iPad.

It will be tough for Android, or any other OS, to disrupt that mindshare.

Image: Detail from The Android Story by [x]cube Labs.

Less than Half of the Internet’s Top 500 Sites are Optimized for Mobile Devices
Via ReadWriteWeb:

In a study 500 of some of the top sites on the Internet, mobile performance consultants Blaze found less than half of the top destinations in the United States were optimized for smartphones
Of the Alexa 500 top sites in the U.S., 40% were optimized for smartphones (42% iOS, 38% Android). Yet, when it comes to Android, those 200 sites overwhelmingly returned the same page to both a smartphone and a tablet, meaning that developers have not rendered Android specific versions of their sites for Android tablets

What is this, 2008?

Less than Half of the Internet’s Top 500 Sites are Optimized for Mobile Devices

Via ReadWriteWeb:

In a study 500 of some of the top sites on the Internet, mobile performance consultants Blaze found less than half of the top destinations in the United States were optimized for smartphones

Of the Alexa 500 top sites in the U.S., 40% were optimized for smartphones (42% iOS, 38% Android). Yet, when it comes to Android, those 200 sites overwhelmingly returned the same page to both a smartphone and a tablet, meaning that developers have not rendered Android specific versions of their sites for Android tablets

What is this, 2008?

Android Explodes, So Too Palm in an Opposite Kind of Way
US Trend in Smartphone Subscribers by Platform (October 2008 to April 2011).
Via ComScore.

Android Explodes, So Too Palm in an Opposite Kind of Way

US Trend in Smartphone Subscribers by Platform (October 2008 to April 2011).

Via ComScore.