Saturday, November 8, 2014

Motorola announces Android 5.1 Macaroon a full 8 months before Google



"We’re doing our absolute best to stay on top of Android updates" said Motorola spokesman, Geoffrey Fluffing. Mr Fluffing stated that Motorola "has recently become known for rapid OS updates". This seems to be a knock-on effect of the acquisition by Google in 2011. It seems they intended to continue the trend and get Lollipop into the hands of their customers as soon as possible. Last year the company, who were recently acquired by Lenovo, even beat Google to the release of KitKat on the Nexus 4, and with the recent ‘soak test’ for Android 5.0 on the Moto X 2014 they’re at it again.

Now Motorola look to go one better and have actually announced the next Android version before Google got a chance. “We knew that the excitement for the next version of this fabulous operating system would be here sooner rather than later so we just went ahead and got it over and done with" quipped Mr Fluffing. 

We don’t think Google will mind, stated Geoffrey, after all they’re probably so busy trying to work out how to sell the Nexus 6 I doubt anyone is reading the news.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Is KitKat uptake really slower than Jelly Bean was?

I fancied putting a few thoughts down after reading this article by Kevin Tofel based off a report from Chitika about Android platform distribution. The report suggests and Kevin writes about the fact KitKat adoption and uptake appears to be slower than with Jelly Bean according to Chitika's report.

My first reaction was that this can't be correct considering a number of manufacturers have pushed KitKat updates to their devices far quicker than previous OS versions, Motorola notably bringing it to their Moto X before Google had it on their own Nexus 4.

I had a quick look at the Android distribution numbers from Android Police and compared initial percentages for both OS versions.
Jelly Bean was released at Google I/O on the 27 June 2012. KitKat was released 31 October 2013 on the Nexus 5. Around 4 months later (121 days for KitKat, 127 for Jelly Bean) we have percentages from the Android developer dashboard. These run to 2.5% for KitKat and 2.7% for Jelly Bean which makes it look like initial uptake of Jelly Bean was higher but in fact this figure, being a percentage, fails to take into account the shear increase in Android devices in the market. When JellyBean was announced and released at Google I/O 2012 we had around 400 million device activations and when KitKat was released we had more than 1 billion activations.

If we take 2.7% of JellyBean at 400 million we get 10.8 million, compare this to 2.5% of KitKat at 1 billion we get 25 million. So immediately KitKat has a far higher number of devices running the new OS.
This all means that as a percentage measure of all Android devices KitKat is growing at a slighty slower pace than Jelly Bean but on a per device measure KitKat is growing exponentially faster. If you take the number of Jelly Bean devices activated and put that up against the 1 billion you'd have only 1.08% so actually KitKat has grown over 200% quicker, which pretty much shows that the answer to the question posed by this post is a pretty resounding no.

If we expand out to 150 days we get 5.3% for KitKat and 6.7% for Jelly Bean, but again looking at the assumed device numbers as per the previous calculation we have 26.8 million for Jelly Bean and 53 million for KitKat, again, a massive difference there and close to the 200% increase as per the 120 day calculation.

Images obtained from Google.
Sources
Gigaom article:http://gigaom.com/
Android release dates: wikipedia.com
Old OS distribution information: androidpolice.com
Current distribution information: http://developer.android.com/about/dashboards/index.html

Friday, October 18, 2013

Grand Theft Auto 5 - Photo Walks in a Virtual World

I'm sure you're aware of Grand Theft Auto, the notorious gaming series that is now synonymous with open world exploration and gaming events to make your mother cry. Well the latest version is still all the things it was before, it's crude, crazy and perpetually violent.

I've put a good number of hours into the game since buying it, most of these have been spent exploring the world Rockstar created. One of the most impressive things about this game is that they've made it look better than GTA IV despite it still being on the PS3/XBox and not the next generation of consoles. This has been achieved almost exclusively with lighting. When you get right down to the textures they're not all that impressive but the way they light Los Santos and Blaine County is impressive.

Panoramic image created in Photoshop and turned into a Photosphere

Snapmatic

Something that has been developed well for this game after introduction in previous titles was the mobile phone as a way of interacting with the game world in a new way. Each main character has his own phone modelled on a real life equivalent. Michael uses the iFruit (iPhone) Franklyn uses something that is very close to Samsung's Galaxy range and Trevor uses a Windows Phone, I'll hazard a guess it's based on the Nokia Lumias. What the phone choice of each character and their respective levels of wealth and social standing say about how Rockstar view the current mobile phone wars I won't touch on here.

Now the reason for this post and one of my favourite aspect of the game so far is the Snapmatic application that allows you to take photos using your phone camera. This has been a great deal of fun for me, I've spent a good number of hours just wandering around snapping pictures of the game world in all it's glory.

Below are a small selection of the photos I've taken, some are edited using Google+ built in photo tools.

Landscapes









Vehicles





Streets





Saturday, July 20, 2013

Agenda Widget - Custom Theme - Cards

This is a quick how to so you can load custom themes into Agenda Widget. I spent a bit of time making the Google Cards style one below so you can use that to get started!



To get started you'll need to download the XML file from my Drive account: GoogleCardsUI.xml (select Download) or Dropbox: GoogleCardsUI.xml (long press/right click save link). I would suggest doing this on the device you intend to use it on as it'll be immediately available to load into Agenda Widget.

Once you have downloaded the file, open up Agenda Widget into the main settings menu. Tap the top right icon with 4 lines and a small triangle in the lower right.


Select Import and Browse. Now you need to locate the file on your phone. If you downloaded it directly from your device it will be located in Download



Select GoogleCardUI.xml (This may be a random string if you downloaded it from Drive) and OK.

Hit Import and exit settings, your Agenda Widget should now be displaying the new theme.

Any questions, comment below or get me on Google+ or Twitter


Download Agenda Widget from the Play store: Free Version - Plus Paid Version


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Android - Updated Camera & Gallery from Android 4.3 Jellybean - Gallery 1.1.40012.

What?

With the recent release of the HTC and Samsung Google Experience Devices and then the posting of the full system dump online we were always looking to see what might be different between the GE devices and their Nexus cousins. As it turns out the devices actually contained an interesting surprise in the form of the Camera app with the updated UI that was seen in a leak a few months back at a Thailand Mobile Expo

This app was then quickly extracted and made available for download here or here.

Having installed this on my Galaxy Nexus running 4.2.2 to give it a whirl I've been quite happy to find a few additions to the application, a couple of which were desperately needed.

Camera

First thing you notice is the updated settings menu that appears when you long press on the viewfinder or tap the circle in the bottom right.



Playing with Photosphere in the updated camera app it appears to be a noticeable amount quicker, less stuttering when adding areas to the sphere and smoother viewing of the captured images.

The main improvement beside performance that I have noticed so far is that in landscape shooting where you previously saw ugly black holes at the top and bottom now it gives some extra reference points when taking the photosphere to fill those gaps. This is a great development as I think most people will take their photosphere in landscape, at least the start with, this way they don't feel like they're doing something wrong.

Gallery

When viewing an image in the Gallery you will notice that where previously there were three circles on the bottom left representing the editing side of the application, now there is the little pen that Google and Android uses elsewhere to indicate editing functionality.


Tapping this loads up a familier editing interface but with a few new options. The first may have been taken from Snapseed who Google acquired a while back now. This is the ability to change brightness/contrast/saturation in a specific area of the photo. It's called "Local" in the adjustment section.



In addition to Local, they also added "Highlights" editing and some more frame options, because apparently you need various types of curved frame...



Those are the main things I've found playing about with it today, it will be interesting to see if Google release this as a stand alone App within the Play Store which would give access to Photosphere to a whole heap of new users. They recently did this with many of their own applications that were previously exclusive to Nexus devices, the Google Keyboard for example.

I think this idea of releasing standalone applications that Google have started with Google Play Services is a great way of getting the latest features and security fixes out without relying on Android operating system updates. Saying that, it would be nice to see what the update to 4.3 brings as I'm certainly hoping for some backend/behind the scenes work that helps improve the performance of my Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 which have been suffering somewhat since 4.2 was released.

Will we see 4.3 release in the next few weeks or months? I'm sure Google knows and maybe enough time has passed since I/O that they can release this now. Why it was bumped from the show in the first place I doubt will ever be revealed but hopefully it'll be pretty well polished by now!


Article sources: Android Police & Android Central

Thursday, March 22, 2012

McLaren's Flexi Front Wing...

After the fuss over the Red Bull front wing over the last few years and the infamous fluttery wing that Ferrari were seen to be testing last year it appears McLaren have their own more subtle interpretation. The following image is a comparison of the Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari cars accelerating down the straight from Turns 2 to 3 in Melbourne.


The end plate of the McLaren is tipping back, a small but noticeable amount. This isn't the only image of the effect, there are some from testing showing a dramatic change, it certainly suggests McLaren are doing something. Yet the rules this year are even more stringent on flex across the wing in an attempt to prevent the teams attempting these sort of designs. 


It will be interesting to see if this story develops like the Mercedes "F Duct", "W Duct" Super DRS whatever you want to call it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Is Jenson Button's Australian GP victory a sign of things to come?

It was great to see Jenson Button win again even if it's not been long, only 4 races since Japan in October 2011. The McLaren driver has generally been considered someone who excels in wet and changeable conditions; Canada and Hungary last year were good examples, but maybe lacks the pace to challenge drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel over a single lap or in dry races. Is this changing?

Not only did this latest win come in the dry but it was completed in a commanding way. In Japan he was pushed to the grass by Sebastian Vettel at the start but managed to gain the lead during the race, strategy and speed playing their part but it was almost lost as he was chased to the flag by Fernando and Sebastian while having to save fuel. His previous dry wins were during the year of his World Drivers Championship in the dominant (at the start) Brawn GP car.

Jenson Button Melbourne 2012 - Dan Campbell

In Melbourne Jenson did something he’s not done since that 2009 championship, he took the lead from his team mate at the first corner and was immediately quick. Pulling away and creating a gap to his team mate; Lewis Hamilton, of over a second in the first lap up to nearly 4 seconds by lap 9. Compared to last season in races such as China even though he led into the first corner he just couldn’t pull away from Lewis.

Throughout the 2012 Australian GP Jenson was able to maintain a controllable gap despite reports that McLaren were fuel saving from early laps. We can’t know for sure if this is true but when the safety car was deployed Jenson’s race engineer tells him over the radio not to worry about Sebastian’s race pace which had been pretty similar to Jenson’s as “we have been in fuel 4” which is believed to be a fuel saving mode. This would indicate Jenson had been cruising around at the front just conserving the engine, gearbox, fuel and tyres. This is somewhat justified when we see the safety car restart on lap 42, Jenson immediately pulls out a gap to Vettel of 2.5 seconds and up to around 4 seconds by lap 47, this gap is then managed to the end of the race varying from 2.8 - 3.5 seconds.

Jenson Button Melbourne 2012 - Dan Campbell 

On the other side of the McLaren garage Lewis had a good race. After his poor start he kept in check with Jenson but never managed to put a sizeable dent in Button’s lead. Then he lost out to Vettel during the safety car period. It’s hard to know for sure if the safety car was what gained the double World Champion that second place or if he had the pace in the car to undercut Lewis during the second round of pit stops but the end result was the same and Lewis didn’t look pleased during the podium ceremony. Was he rueing the lost points, the poor start, a mistake from the team or was he contemplating why he wasn’t able to keep up with his team mate. Lewis has always been regarded as probably the fastest out and out racer in the sport today but whether it’s the new tyres, something in his head or an as yet undiscovered problem, recently he’s just not been able to demonstrate his ability consistently.

This might not be the sort of dominant victory we saw from current World Champion Sebastian Vettel time and again during the 2011 season but it hints that not only is the McLaren a very good car but additionally, perhaps, Jenson has managed to unlock the speed that has been the chink in his driving armour for years.