Apple Owners Rejoice! Free Apps Are on the Way

Since spearheading the Android App Market and launching the Kindle Fire, Amazon has seemingly been on a mission to promote themselves as the kinder, gentler Apple alternative. While stopping shy of ever viciously calling out their rival, the message is clear that they believe themselves to be more of a service “of the people” than their counterpart. One of the ways they have done this is by offering a Free App of the Day service that allows its users to snag a free download of an app selected by Amazon. Ranging from games to useful services, it’s a must have feature that, until now, has provided Android owners with another feature to rub in the face of the iMasses.

I say “until now” because it looks like the empire has caught on to the rebel plans.

Yes, its happy days again Apple owners. Apple is now offering its own free app service, only this one will be a free app of the week and not of the day. The good news is that the first app of this service is the brilliant and addictive “Cut The Rope: Experiments“ game, which went from “should be essential” to “no conceivable reason not to download” courtesy of the new promotion. Not content to just borrow from one rival, though, Apple has also introduced an “Editor’s Choice” feature (seemingly a replacement for their staff picks and game of the week features) that highlights the newest and best apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The initial showcases are Facebook Camera, “Extreme Skater,” “Air Mail” and Sketchbook Ink.

Of course, all jokes about theft are actually jokes. Developers have been running their own free app promotions since the start of the market, and independent sites have been offering the same, as well as highlighting the best new apps for the same period of time. In truth it is refreshing to see Apple offer these services on their own, and considering that the Apple app market is richer and fuller than that of its rivals, even an app a week instead of one a day is an astoundingly good deal that should produce something of must have quality each outing.

Although it should be noted that the “App of the Week” feature hasn’t officially been confirmed as a permanent addition. However since they’ve launched a new Twitter tag for it, not to mention those large banners for the service on their site, things look good. It’s going to be interesting to see if Apple looks at the success of this initial offering to judge if it will continue in the future. It’ll be interesting because we can’t know if Apple will look at giving away lots of free merchandise as a positive marketing ploy, or the root of all known evil.

Again, joking.

Android is a sausage fest

A little Android.AdMob has compiled some interesting data concerning smartphone usage. One of those fun facts is that the Android population is dominantly male by a vast majority. In fact, 73 percent of Android users are male, while other smartphone platforms remain much closer to 55 percent.

It’s pretty easy to see why. The Droid, Android’s most successful phone to date, was clearly marketed at males. Remember the stealth bombers? The upper-atmosphere spaceship drops? Not exactly your feminine hype.

Among the other stats AdMob compiled was the fact that free app downloads outnumber paid almost 10 to 1. Also, a meager 21 percent of Android users purchase apps on a monthly basis, compared to 50 percent for the iPhone.

You can find the rest of the stats over at ReadWriteWeb.

Are Android phones releasing too quickly?

HTC Desire.Take a look at that phone. It’s like the Nexus One, right? Just prettier. That UI looks great. And is that an optical trackball I see? This is the HTC Desire, the Nexus One’s smoking hot younger sister. It seems a bit strange that HTC would enter a contract with Google, build the Nexus One, and then release a better phone just a couple weeks later. It’s a trend that’s happening often with Android phones, and I think it’s starting to hurt the platform.

Consider the Droid. It was, at the time, the best Android phone to date. It looked great, pioneered Android 2.0, and debuted on America’s favorite network. By all accounts, Droid owners should have been very happy people. That is, until the Nexus One rolled into town. It had a newer version of Android, a better hardware interface, and it did away with that hideous physical keyboard. Unfortunately, a lot of Android fans had already flocked to the Droid to show their Google support. It’s a big problem in the US, where most consumers lock into contracts for subsidized hardware prices. The Nexus One released with lackluster sales.

Now this. There is no official word on a US release, but it’s headed for Asia in April and likely stateside shortly after. As pretty as this phone is, and as great as the Sense UI may be, I’d bet we’ll see some underwhelming sales numbers. If people didn’t buy the Android, they almost certainly picked up the Nexus One. Anyone that’s left is there by mere happenstance – an unwillingness to pay a disconnect fee a few months early, perhaps. This could be the best phone in the world, but the pace of Android hardware release will turn it into an anecdote.

Apple has been prone to the same thing in the past. If you ever bought an iPod you know it was playing second fiddle in just a few months. It’s something Cupertino got right with the iPhone, though. Even though there have been several iterations, Apple has kept its mouth shut about the product until just days before launch, giving it time to offload some of the older hardware before the newest version launches. Does it piss some people off? Sure. But much less so than watching new hardware roll out every month or two or getting an announcement of new hardware on the same schedule.

Nexus One only moved 80,000 units in its first month

Google Nexus One.The world’s first self-titled “superphone” isn’t posting super sales. Frankly, the numbers are terrible. Embarrassing. Worse than I ever would have expected. The Nexus One has only sold 80,000 units in its first month.

It’s hard to say where the problem lies. Sure, the phone wasn’t marketed very well, and what efforts were made were aimed a demographic that likely already has their smartphone of choice. It also launched shortly after the Droid, so Android fans had just picked up a new phone. There’s also the fact that it was being subsidized by T-Mobile, which just doesn’t have the kind of support Verizon’s got.

Whatever the reason, I was surprised by the number. The iPhone, by comparison, sold 600,000 units in its first month. The Droid sold 525,000.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Motorola Devour is like the Droid’s weird cousin

Motorola Devour.Verizon and Motorola announced a new phone today. Called the Devour, the phone looks like a mini-Droid, or as my title suggests, the Droid’s weird cousin. It’s got a smaller display, a presumably smaller keyboard (yikes) and runs Anroid, albeit through Motoblur, Motorola’s odd Android distro.

I would guess the phone is going to fall somewhere around the Droid Eris in terms of price. It’s not a bad phone for $100, but like the Eris, it seems like a waste for what you’d get if you spent another $99. I can’t for the life of me figure out why Motorola is so obsessed with the physical keyboard, either. The pad on the Droid sucks. It really sucks. Android’s software keyboard is just so much nicer, why not rely on that?

If Motorola is your thing, you can get the Devour in early March.

Droid successor or Nexus Two?

Motorola Shadow.This render of what’s been called the Motorola Shadow has been making the rounds over the weekend. You’ll notice it looks a whole lot like a Droid, just in white and with an added wriststrap. By some accounts it’s the successor to the Droid – a thinner, less evil-looking version of Verizon’s flagship Android device. There is another option, though.

Some are calling this the next Google Phone – the Nexus Two, maybe? I’d call that a very remote possibility, judging by the design of the device and the fact that it isn’t made by HTC. It seems odd that Google would abandon the manufacturer so shortly after it turned out a phone with solid critical reviews, despite Google’s retail problems.

If anything, I’m going to bet on a different market. It’s a decent looking phone, but I really wouldn’t want that wriststrap hanging out in my pocket. I guess I should wear it on my wrist?

Source: Engadget

Verizon offers a band-aid for the Droid’s booboo

Verizon band-aid on the droid.So you just dropped two-hundred bucks on your new Droid, not to mention the two-year contract you just signed, and things are mostly great. Sure, the keyboard leaves a little bit to be desired, but you just keep the thing closed on use the totally competent touchscreen keypad for all your input. The phone feels solid when you drop it into your pocket. On pulling it out, though, the battery cover pops off the phone and just doesn’t want to go back on.

And this happens time and time again. So you take the phone to your local Verizon store. At first, they offer you some scotch tape. After all, they didn’t make the phone. They’re just selling the thing. But scotch tape isn’t good enough for you, the tech savvy consumer. You want something more. A permanent fix. Something that won’t peel off. Your Verizon rep heads into the back of the store and returns with, low and behold, a Verizon band-aid.

Yes, this is really what Verizon is doing for you, Droid customers. Happy?

Source: Android Central

Google Maps Navigation comes to Android 1.6

Google Maps Navigation at work.One of the most exciting parts of the Motorola Droid launch was the inclusion of Google Maps Navigation, a free turn-by-turn GPS system from Google. At first the feature was only compatible with phones running Android 2.0, which is only the Droid. Today Google announced that it would be moving the nav system down to Android 1.6, opening up the service to phones like the MyTouch 3G and G1.

I’d call this a big win for Android users. Until this update the hope was that some enterprising developer would hack the thing down to 1.6. This still leaves out the Motorola CLIQ and HTC Droid Eris, but hey, it’s better than the original situation. The 1.6 release also adds layers, allowing you to overlay information on the map, like Wikipedia articles on local points of interest and public transit lines. The one thing 1.6 is missing is the “navigate to” voice command, so you’ll have to enter everything by hand. Life’s tough, isn’t it?

Will the Android explosion scare away developers?

The robots will kill us all.For the most part I’m still comfortable saying that Android growth is a good thing. The platform still needs to expand its app offering to be able to effectively compete with the iPhone. But while most would consider the number of devices sporting Android these days a good thing, it could drive developers crazy.

Android’s adaptability is one of its best features, but it’s a bit of a nightmare for developers. It means making sure apps work on all kinds of hardware, while iPhone developers have just one handset to worry about. For big developers its less of a problem, but for the small guys it means spending time debugging instead of updating apps and releasing new features. “You may build an app that works perfectly with all three firmwares, but then when you run it on carriers’ ROMs it completely blows up,” said Chris Fagan, co-founder of the Android development house Froogloid. “So we find ourselves having to create apps that are compatible with multiple firmwares, multiple ROMs and multiple devices with different hardware.”

Obviously this could cause some problems for carriers as well. As newer versions of the OS are released, older handsets might be left with out-of-date applications that no longer receive support from developers. Even though Android’s open-source platform means it can be hacked onto older devices, some of the features won’t work, like multi-touch from 2.0 on the original HTC G1.

Unfortunately that’s probably just what will happen. Developers will decide who they want to target and just support a set of devices. Everyone else will be stuck wishing they’d paid the extra benjy for the next phone up.

Source: Wired

Just how many Droids has Verizon sold?

Motorla Droid.Now that the Droid has launched we all want to know how many have sold. Well, I want to know anyway, and I’m guessing a few of you probably do as well. If you take Bloomberg’s word, opening weekend showed 110,000 units sold. Developer uLocate, which develops the GPS app “Where” has confirmed those numbers and done one better.

According to uLocate, the Where app typically gets installed on 10% of new Android devices in the first month, jumping to a 25% penetration rate thereafter. The same was true for the Droid, boasting 11,000 downloads during opening weekend. Since last weekend that number is up to 25,000, meaning we’re looking at 250,000 Droid sales in the first week. Considering the Palm Pre only sold 300,000 in its first month, that number’s looking pretty good. Doesn’t hurt that you can get the Droid on Verizon who, despite recent bad press concerning fees, is the most desirable network in the country (though T-Mobile is probably a close second with its new plans).

Hopefully it’s onward and upward for the Droid. I’m not personally a fan, but success of the handset means good things for Android, and that’s something I can get behind.

Source: Boy Genius Report