Archive for Android

Blackberry a Defense for Google Against Rockstar?

If you haven’t been watching the news today, a big bomb was dropped on Google. The Rockstar consortium (Apple, BlackBerry, Microsoft, Ericsson, Sony, and EMC) has sued Google as well as Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG Electronics, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE. Is there an obvious and easy way around Rockstar?

Brief History

So what happened is this. Nortel was going bankrupt. Google bid for their patents, but lost out to a consortium of companies. That consortium includes Apple, BlackBerry(then known as RIM), Microsoft, Ericsson, Sony, and EMC. Even at the time, Google’s Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, wrote that Microsoft, Apple and others were engaging in hostile patent warfare against Android.

Silver Bullet?

BlackberrySo, how can Google and company get around this particular issue? There may be a quick and easy was to do it. Maybe. I won’t pretend to be a an expert at patent law, but I do know that one member of that consortium is not doing particularly well these days. In fact, they’ve been shopping around for a buyer. Blackberry. As a member of the consortium, they would have full rights to the patents owned by the consortium. A purchase of Blackberry by Google would bring ownership of those patents (at least partial) to Google, making the suits against Google moot.

Second Option?

Department of JusticeEven if a Blackberry purchase isn’t a possibility, there’s another possible solution out there as well. During the initial purchase, the DOJ investigated the companies involved because they were concerned (as was I) that the patents being purchased would be used in an offensive against Android. As it turns out, they were right about that (and by extension so was I). The DOJ only approved the purchase with the hopes that Rockstar would only use the intellectual property it purchased strictly to defend itself from Android initiated lawsuits. It may be that the DOJ may not take kindly to this particular aggressive action by Rockstar.

Summary

There’s quite a bit of worry out there today regarding these new suits against Google and the Android ecosystem. I’m not going to say that worry isn’t warranted, but there are options available to Google that could very well make this a minor bump in the road. We’ll have to wait and see how things pan out, but this lawsuit may not be the huge problem so many people think it’s going to be.

Why Can’t I Watch Disney Junior?

Watch Disney JuniorI have three kids 5 and under, and so we’re always looking for a good way to keep them occupied in the car and around town, and they all love Disney stuff. In fact, Disney is the only reason we haven’t completely cut the cord as far as television is concerned.

My wife saw this on TV this morning. There’s an App for the Kindle Fire to Watch Disney Junior. We already knew there was an app for iDevices.

Now, you’d think that because the Kindle Fire is really an Android device, they’d put this out in the Play Store or make it available to more than just the Kindle Fire. You’d think that, but they don’t. This app is listed as incompatible with my Nexus 4 and my Nexus 7, and only exists in the Amazon App Store, despite the fact that Disney has released more apps to the Play Store than the Amazon App Store.

It’s not just the Disney Junior app either. Disney has an app to watch the standard Disney Channel, and to Watch Disney XD. None of these apps are available for Android outside of the Kindle Fire.

Is Amazon paying Apple to keep these apps exclusive to the Kindle Fire, or is Apple intentionally avoiding the Android platform outside of the Fire?

Is Amazon Paying Apple for Watch Disney Junior?

It’s possible that Amazon is paying Apple to keep these apps exclusive. This seems unlikely to me as none of these apps are being billed as exclusive by Amazon. If they were going to pay Apple to keep these apps away from other Android devices, you’d think that they’d brag about it. They’re not bragging, so I doubt that they’re paying Apple for these apps.

Is Disney Intentionally Avoiding Android?

Disney and Apple have had some pretty solid ties in the past. I’m sure we’re all aware that Steve Jobs sat on Disney’s Board of Directors. That was because he was pretty much the owner of Pixar when Disney bought it. As a result of that purchase, Jobs joined the board and became the single largest individual shareholder of Disney stock. Many people probably don’t know that Disney and Pixar weren’t the best of friends until Bob Iger replaced Michael Eisner, and Iger currently sits on both the Board of Directors to both Disney and Apple. Also, the stock owned by Steve Jobs didn’t exactly vanish into the wind when he died. It transferred to the Steven P. Jobs Trust (now the Laurene Powell Jobs Trust) run by his wife. Disney’s ties to Apple are still very strong, so this seems like the more likely choice.

Other Ideas?

There is, of course, a third possibility. I hadn’t noticed the Watch Disney Junior app being available even for the Kindle Fire until this morning. I can honestly say that I don’t know how long it’s been available. The first Amazon review for it shows up on February 16, 2013. That means that it’s only been available on the Kindle Fire for about six months. It’s possible that the app is still in progress for a wider selection of Android devices. Six months seems like a long time if that’s the case, but I’ll admit to not being aware of all the processes required to get an app done at Disney. I’ll update this article if the app suddenly appears on the Play Store.

Regardless, it’s very annoying. I’m not going to buy an iDevice just to have this app. I would like to see the app become available for other Android devices, but it’s been more than a year that it’s been available for iDevices and at least six months for the Kindle Fire. If Disney were going to release it for Android, you’d think they’d have done it by now. Maybe I’m wrong. Let me know in the comments.

Mondays Suck

 

Monday's Suck

The clock on my computer is telling me that it’s 11:20 AM. It’s Monday, and everything has sucked today.

Work

Work drug me out of bed this morning with unresponsive web servers. Intermittent issues are always the worst. Took two hours to track down a web app that was only generating an error on one node of the cluster. Restarted the app and everything worked like a charm.

Phone

I decided last night that I wanted to root my phone. After the ICS update it’s been running so slowly sometimes it takes minutes to just make a call. Apps are barely usable. It’s pathetic really. I found a nice little article over on Lifehacker titled “How to Root the HTC Thunderbolt“. Seems promising since it’s only a couple months old.

First complication: “you’ll just need to download the batch script on this page, run it on your Windows machine, and follow all the instructions.” Ewww, Windows.

OK, this can be dealt with.

I fire up a Windows machine, download the necessary crap, and get my phone in a state that the app requires. OK, let’s fire this baby up!

crashNot only did the phone spontaneously restart, the Windows machine BSODed. I tried it twice more (because I’m stubborn that way) with the same results. It amazes me that people use Windows. What kind of POS operating system takes a complete dump running a glorified batch file? Finally gave up because I have work to do.

Tablet

My tablet is an old beater HP TouchPad that’s hacked to run CM9. Most days it does alright for itself, but lately everything is crashing all the time. I’m not sure if these later CM9 nightlys are just less stable or if the tablet is going down the crapper. Apps like GMail crash. Maps doesn’t even install due to some weird conflict. Google+ crashes. SwiftKey works but the tablet doesn’t seem to recognize that you’re typing on it so you can’t enter text. I get weird digital garbage in the conversation when I use Skype or Google Talk.

I’m about ready for something (ANYTHING) to work today. So damn frustrating. Mondays suck.

 

Phil Schiller Displays Apple’s Desperation

Desperate AppleReading the comments made by Phil Schiller in a recent Wall Street Journal interview, you could smell the stink of desperation wafting off the pages.

“When you take an Android device out of the box, you have to sign up to nine accounts with different vendors to get the experience iOS comes with. They don’t work seamlessly together.”

It’s pretty obvious that Schiller has either no idea about the Android experience, or isn’t interested in telling the truth. Of course, he went on to talk about Android fragmentation (which really has no impact on the end user at all).

This follows up a rare tweet he made regarding Android security.

To me, as an Android user, all Schiller has managed to do is display a complete and utter lack of knowledge or understanding of the Android experience and environment. He suggested that Android phones are cheap giveaways by carriers, ignoring the fact that iPhones are also given away (you can get an iPhone 4 for 99 cents on AT&T if you’re a new customer or upgrading an existing plan). This is typical of Apple, where facts have never mattered. Now as they watch the mobile market slip through their fingers, the desperation becomes more and more obvious.

Ice Cream Sandwich for the HTC Thunderbolt

htc-thunderbolt-officialFor those of you that aren’t paying attention to ancient history, news broke today that Verizon has finally given the go to ICS for the HTC Thunderbolt.

All I’ve got to say about that right now is this: It takes a whole lotta gall to start your press release out with the line “When you rely on Verizon Wireless, you know you are getting the cutting-edge devices and technology needed to keep your business running at full speed” when you’re announcing the upgrade of a phone that shipped in March of 2011 to an OS that came out in October of 2011, and it’s currently 2013. I don’t know if HTC is to blame for this debacle, or if it’s Verizon’s fault, or if it’s somewhere in the middle, but claiming that Verizon is giving you “cutting-edge devices and technology” is almost a slap in the face.

I Don’t Hate the iPhone

iphone_trash_verizon-300x299I feel like, after reading a recent article that I’m not going to bother linking, that I need to clarify my position on the iPhone. This will probably come as a surprise to some of you, but I don’t hate the iPhone. I think that the iPhone an adequate smart phone, but nothing specially. It’s less functional than it’s competition, so I don’t see any reason to buy one, but I don’t hate it. Here’s what I do hate.

Apple

That’s right, I don’t hate the iPhone, but I absolutely hate Apple. Apple as a company has always been more of a follower than a leader, but they love to puff themselves up and pretend that they’re the greatest innovators known to man. That’s bull. They’re no more innovators than any other company in the computer industry. Much less than some. Especially these days where they’re more likely to try to sue someone for something they didn’t invent than actually invent something. For some reason every time some executive at Apple passes gas, it “changes the industry”. Please, save it for someone who doesn’t know any better.

Speaking of…..

Apple Fanatics

True, I don’t hate the iPhone, but I absolutely hate Apple fanatics. I especially hate Apple fanatics that say things like, “I am NOT an Apple fanboy. I’m a techie and it just so happens that Apple is amazing. I give credit where credit is due.” All that saying something like that proves to me is that you’re an Apple fanatic and a complete imbecile. There are some people who are fans of Apple that actually have some semblance of a clue, and I don’t want to group those people in with the Apple Fanatic (at least so far as I group them). Apple Fanatics are clueless blowhards that think Steve Jobs shit rainbows and gold bars. More often than not, they’re under the impression that Apple invented pretty much everything.

The Apple Logo

cool-iphone-4-casesThis may have been covered by just Apple in general, but while I don’t hate the iPhone, I despise that stupid logo. Apple puts it in the middle of all their products as big as they can make it. I’m fairly certain that Apple could have made some of it’s devices smaller if they’d have not put such a huge logo on it. Further, I hate cases that go out of their way to not cover up the logo. These are the type of cases that Apple Fanatics buy, and I can’t think of a single other company that even has something like this available. There’s no reason to have a case like this unless the logo is somehow important to you, and if the logo is important to you, then you’re buying your device as a status symbol and not because it’s a good device. Unless you bought it on clearance for $.99, if you have a case like this you’re probably an Apple fanatic, and all that brings with it.

Finishing It Off

I just felt that my opinion of the iPhone warranted clarification. I don’t hate the iPhone. I hate Apple, I hate their stinking logo, and I hate the fanatical fan boys that follow them around. The device itself is fine. I’d never buy one in a hundred years, but it’s fine. It’s over-hyped and less functional than other devices in the same market, but it’s fine.

Samsung Should Withhold Technology from Apple

Samsung Should Withhold Technology from AppleIn recent days, Samsung has been showing off some pretty cool new stuff. One of these new technologies is the flexible display that they actually showed us last year (at right), but which this year will be new and improved. Of course the question came up, given the current situation between Apple and Samsung, will Samsung withhold these new technologies from Apple? My personal opinion? Samsung should withhold technology from Apple.

To Big for their Britches

Apple has spent the last couple years strutting around like they’re the cool kid on campus, suing anybody and everybody from the most minimal slight, justified or not. They’ve gone after Samsung more than any other company. The biggest irony in that is that Samsung has manufactured a great number of the components that make the iPhone/iPad work. Processors, displays, memory. Recently, Apple has attempted to get those parts from other companies, with mixed success. As it stands currently, Apple needs Samsung. Apple can’t even make their devices without Samsung.

Apple has Withheld from Samsung

It’s impossible to not note that the cases we’re currently seeing in the courts are a result of Apple pulling fairly ridiculous patents out of their bag of tricks, refusing to license those patents to 3rd parties, and then suing if there’s even a hint that those patents might be violated. Those patents include multi-touch and their rubber band patent.

Samsung has got the Goods

Samsung Should Withhold Technology from AppleThe thing about Apple suing Samsung is that it provides Samsung with very little motivation to continue to provide their technology to Apple. And why should they? I don’t think they should. I think that Samsung should withhold their technology from Apple, because quite frankly, despite the fact that Apple has somehow managed to get a reputation for being innovators, they’re not. Samsung is on the other hand. Let Apple continue to use what they’ve got, but anything that Samsung comes up with in the future is strictly off limits. Before long, the iPhone will look like this little gem to the right.

A Taste of their own Medicine

I’m anxious to see Samsung give Apple a taste of their own medicine. Some of these new technologies that Samsung is coming up with are extremely cool, and like nothing Apple has ever dreamed of. If Apple is happy to withhold technology like a rubber banding effect, then I’m all for Samsung keeping flexible displays from Apple. Give them a taste of their own medicine and watch them fade into obscurity just as relevant as Betamax.

Why I’m Grateful for Android Malware

Hardly a couple days can go by without some horror story about the latest Android malware. The one I think I saw most recently was a story about how Android faces more malware attacks than PCs in the United States. Now, besides sounding like click bate and total fiction, I find that I don’t really care about Android malware. Quite the contrary, I’m grateful for it.

Grateful for malware?!? Yep, and here’s why.

The Trojan Horse

Pretty much all malware on the Android platform is a Trojan Horse. For those unfamiliar with the Trojan Horse, it’s really just software that fools the person using the device into installing it. It doesn’t use any kind of software or security vulnerabilities. It attacks the person. All this boils down to is that any platform that has someone using it is vulnerable to a Trojan Horse.

Those Other Platforms

Are there platforms out there that have less malware than Android does?

Yep.

Would I use those platforms over Android?

Nope.

Why? Isn’t less malware good?

That depends on what you’re giving up to rid yourself of this malware. See, Android is very secure. Google goes to great lengths to protect their users from malware, and in cases where infection does occur through the Play Store, they can remotely repair your device. They’ve even implemented checks for apps that are sideloaded onto your device, which is where most malware infections come from.

Don’t other devices do this too?

Well, not really. Microsoft and Apple have more stringent restrictions on the apps that make it into their store, it’s true. There’s no real protection from side loaded applications because to even get an app sideloaded on to the device, it has to be jailbroken. The user doesn’t have permissions to install applications that aren’t approved by Microsoft or Apple respectively.

And that’s the gotcha for me. This is my device. I paid for it, but I need someone else’s permission to install software on it? I call BS on that.

Conclusion

Sure, Apple and Microsoft limiting what the user can install theoretically makes the platform less vulnerable to malware, but it does it by restricting what the user can do. It’s taking away your capabilities on the device. It’s making it more of a toaster oven than a smart phone. I guess that’s why I find myself grateful for Android malware, and every time I see some news article regarding Android malware, I’m more grateful for it. It means that I continue to have rights on my device that users of other platforms can’t claim. To me, that makes malware something to be grateful for.

Is Samsung Copying Apple Again?

I have to ask, do the people who are fans of Apple think that this new device from Samsung is shamelessly copying Apple again? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.

Raspberry Pi Getting Android 4.0

If you’re a fan of the Raspberry Pi, you’re about to love it even more. It was announced yesterday that Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is almost done being ported to the Raspberry Pi.

This is great news for the Pi. Android is in a unique position to make use of the Raspberry Pi’s hardware. Since Android is designed with mobile in mind, the 700MHz ARM processor found on the Pi has more than enough power. Hardware-accelerated graphics and video are also working.

With very little effort and $25 plus shipping, you can have a working Android game system for your TV. Access to both Google Play and the Amazon App Store will guarantee a ton of apps you can easily install on the Pi.

Currently, the implementation uses a different kernel and VideoCore binary image from the one available on GitHub. They’re looking into converging the two code lines. As soon as they can, they’ll be releasing the sources to the public.

I’ll update this post as more information becomes available.