Ronnie05's Blog

Froyo seeks to level ground with iOS: Here’s how

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on July 17, 2010

Antennagate: Thats what the folks at Apple termed the failure Antenna glitch in their iPhone 4G which is now assuming the status of a colossal mistake. Steve Jobs and his team have come clean on the mistake and are working double time to provide solutions to the Antennagate. A few analysts are of the view that Apple should pull the plugs on iPhone 4G, which to me looks to be an over reaction and a less prudent move.However it does put a half stop to the Apple Juggernaut which was rolling full steam. That to me is not the biggest of Apple’s worries.

To me its the rapidly maturing Android platform, that has the greatest potential to give Apple and Steve Jobs a headache. While Android is still a few blocks behind iOS4, Google has been accelerating fast and sure to catch up with the iPhone OS. The Android 2.2 Froyo will almost level the playing filed with iOS4 on the smartphone space. The Gingerbread edition of Android is expected to level the differences with iOS on the Tablet space.

On the Froyo versus iOS4 bit, Froyo would be coming good over the iOS4 lead on the following accounts:
1. Faster Speed with the native apps. Closes space with iOS4
2. Ability to run Flash. Complete Differentiator
3. Support for Microsoft Exchange. Closes space with iOS4
4. Better Service rates through the Tethering feature. Cost differentiation for high speed internet tariffs.
5. An Android market which keeps getting better. Closing the gap with iOS4.
6. Getting better on the browser and leaving iOS behind.
7. The sheer numbers of OEMs supporting the platform
8. Pitching for the Enterprise bit

Detailing the Froyo versus iOS further:

It is time for Apple to be concerned about Android, its chief competitor. The Froyo release will be the most significant Android release as it delivers functionality which could rival Apple’s iOS4. The real battle between Android and iOS has now begun and the Antenagate has already ruined iPhone 4’s debut.

Post Release notes on Android 2.2: Froyo (Part III)

Posted in Industry updates, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on June 1, 2010

Continuing on the series of posts on Android and its latest OS version 2.2: Froyo. Read the earlier posts here: Part 1 and Part 2. Froyo will feature tethering and WiFi Connection sharing, improvements to the browser and Android market place. Most Importantly Froyo comes with Adobe Flash 10.1. In Android Flash may have a strategic ally to counter the iPhone shunning them.

Froyo also sees the introduction of native support for tethering and connection sharing over Wi-Fi. Android thus is the first platform to introduce native support for portable Wi-Fi hot spots, but operator commitment to the feature will be limited, at least initially. Connection sharing puts extra strain on cellular networks, and many operators will choose to offer the service on condition that users opt for a higher-value data tariff. This scenario supports the thought that US and European markets will shift away from “unlimited” data tariffs toward a tiered structure dictated by usage and potentially even by quality of service in the longer term. The advent of tethering and connection sharing over Wi-Fi may also prompt the advent of tariffs structured according to particular functions or applications.

Of all the new features in Froyo, improvements to the browser arguably have the highest profile. Google claims the browser is the third most-widely used application on Android devices after phone and text messaging functions, meaning it is an ongoing area of focus for the platform. The primary enhancement in Froyo is to the speed at which it interprets JavaScript, through the integration of the same V8 engine as the Chrome PC browser. Google demonstrated Android 2.2, Android 2.1, and the Apple iPad running the SunSpider JavaScript test, in which Android 2.2 substantially outperformed its competitors. Google claims that Android now boasts the mobile industry’s fastest browser.

In Line with Google’s intent of providing a comprehensive browsing experience, Froyo is the first platform to offer native support for Flash Player 10.1 as well as Adobe’s Integrated Runtime (AIR) both of which were demonstrated extensively at Mobile World Congress in February 2010.However, it should be noted that although Android 2.2 supports Flash Player 10.1, hardware requirements dictate that not all Android devices will be compatible.

The final pillar of focus in Froyo is Android Marketplace. Google claims that application usage has far exceeded its expectations, with the average user downloading more than 40 applications. Google has opened up the search function in Froyo to allow developers to “plug into” it, so applications can be easily identified on the device. To this end, the search function now spans the Web, applications and contacts, offering a drop-down menu for users. Applications can also be updated automatically over the air.

However, the next version of Android will see bigger developments to Marketplace. Demonstrations showed over-the-air application downloads to the device controlled from a PC browser, and music also featuring in the Marketplace. This will be supported by Simplify Media, a company recently acquired by Google, which will enable users to stream music and photos between PC and device. This echoes Apple’s purchase of Lala in December 2009, a company similarly focussed on music streaming.

For a point release, Froyo includes an abundance of new features and Google has to be applauded for the speed at which it is innovating and improving the Android platform. However, new features in Froyo and hints of future plans confirm that the rate of innovation and the requirement for new code releases is accelerating rather than slowing down. While the seventh platform release in 18 months is a remarkable achievement and indicative of the value Google is adding, it may also be unsustainable for a large proportion of manufacturers.

The need to keep pace with a vertically integrated player in Apple is a challenge Google relishes but its partners find highly demanding.Most Android manufacturers are struggling to deliver customised user interface layers on top of Android 2.1. With competition increasing and device prices falling, the number of manufacturers will be able to maintain a high level of differentiation on Android will shrink dramatically over the next two years. Many phone-makers will be driven to offer devices with “vanilla” Android or with lightweight customisation that is largely cosmetic. As performance and feature distinctions grow larger between each Android release, manufacturers struggling to keep pace risk becoming uncompetitive.

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Post release Notes on Android 2.2: Froyo (Part II)

Posted in Industry updates, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on May 31, 2010

Android 2.2 betters on runtime performance, enterprise capability, exchange calendars, data back-up and cloud to device messaging services.

Android 2.2 includes a new just-in time compiler which Google claims improves application performance by two to five times compared with Android 2.1 using the same hardware. It is clear that Google views the capability of application runtime is central to the long-term success of the platform. Android is extending across a diverse range of hardware, so performance needs to reside on a consistent basis within the software stack rather than requiring hardware acceleration or changes to device specifications.

Froyo also improves Android’s enterprise capability following the addition of support for Microsoft Exchange Server in Android 2.0. The latest update extends the number of features supported with a particular emphasis on security and device management. Additions include remote wipe support and the ability to enforce password policies over the air.

In addition, Exchange calendars are now supported within the native Android calendar, and configuration has been simplified with auto-discovery only needing an e-mail address and a password to set up an account (on Exchange 2007 and beyond). Global address book look-up is also included.

Although these are vital improvements, Android still falls some distance behind RIM and even Apple as an enterprise-class platform. However, personal devices are increasingly making their way into organizations, and a fuller suite of business-friendly features will mean Android will also start to enter corporate networks as the iPhone has done.

Developers at the event reacted very favourably to two new services and their corresponding APIs. The first of these is a data back-up feature, which ensures application data as well as the application itself are backed up to a Google ID in the cloud. This means previously downloaded applications and associated data can be restored to a device over the air.

The second service — cloud-to-device messaging — is among the most interesting features in Froyo. The messaging service enables developers to build Web-based functions that communicate directly with an Android device. A demonstration showed a location in Google Maps viewed in the Chrome browser on a PC sent via Google’s server and pushed down to a device. Similarly, a Web page was sent straight from Chrome on a PC to an Android handset. This will prove highly attractive to users at a basic level for content synchronization between different devices but also offers huge potential for developers, particularly given the recent announcement of Google TV. The cloud-to device messaging API will allow developers to create applications that remain synchronized across a wide range of devices.

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Post release Notes on Android 2.2: Froyo (Part I)

Posted in Industry updates, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on May 30, 2010

Android is beginning to see the traction that it was always expected to it as Manufacturers, carriers and Consumers are opting for Android. The recently concluded Google’s annual developer event is a clear indication of the phenomenal momentum Android has secured in 18 months flat. Over 5,000 people were present at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, with a further 24,000 watching the first day’s key note presentations on a live stream on YouTube.

Android is now running in over 60 devices from 21 manufacturers in 48 countries with 59 carriers. It has over 180,000 developers and more than 50,000 applications are available in the Android Marketplace. The most significant statistic is the activation rate for Android phones, which is now in excess of 100,000 units a day. This has increased from the 30,000 units announced at the end of 2009 and the 60,000 mentioned by Eric Schmidt at Mobile World Congress in February.

While Android may have some distance to go in the Apps space and creating a UI which wows the consumer (Apple’s forte), Gartner and other numbers seem to suggest that Android is well on its way to become one of the top 3 smartphone OSs around. Gartner’s Q1 results for Smartphone OS markets shares have shown Android taking a 8X volume growth to position it 4th in the leaders board. It beat the WinMo in doing so. CCS insight has predicted that Android would ship close to 35 million devices in the 2010 calendar year. These doesnot include other Android devices such as tablets, set-top boxes and netbooks,which are likely to appear later in 2010.Given Android’s growing momentum and broad segment coverage, CCS insight predicts shipments of Android-powered phones will overtake those of Apple’s iPhone in 2011.

Frozen Yoghurt (Froyo) is Android’s latest Android version releases (2.2) and it looks like Google has been busy at work plugging the gaps in its earlier releases as each new release not only plugs the older one’s holes and gaps but also manages to better it.

The Froyo feature lists include the portable Wi-Fi hot-spot functions, improvements to the browser, including support for Adobe Flash Player 10.1, changes to Android Market, new enterprise capabilities and a range of new application programme interfaces (APIs).

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