Fortnite Could Change The App Market As We Know It

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Fortnite Could Change The App Market As We Know It

Fortnite, the first person survival shooter game that has taken the world by storm, has finally made its way to Android.  I’m sure it will be a blast to play, but this isn’t the place to read reviews of videogames.  So why are we bringing it up?  Because Fortnite with its popularity has brought some light to a very deep discussion for what the future of apps looks like.  It’s more than a videogame, it’s the start of a movement.

Some Background

For those who aren’t familiar with the game’s success thus far, Fortnite has become one of the most popular games of all time and is played on PCs, gaming consoles, and iPads/iPhones.  It’s been developed for all of these different systems so that virtually anyone that has an electronic gadget has the opportunity to play, and for months now its been building up to its Android debut. 

This would just be another story of a successful video game, except that Epic Games (Fortnite’s creator) has made a bold decision for its distribution strategy.  They decided to forgo the common pathway of sharing their app on the Google Play Store.  Instead they will be distributing the app in their own digital store and keep the 30% “store tax” that Google would otherwise keep from in-app purchases.

Fortnite Paves Its Own Path

“It’s a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70 per cent must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games.”  Epic said about the decision.  “And it’s disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform, such as payment processing, download bandwidth, and customer service.”

Epic has shared its opinion that the app market is a highly monopolized one where developers are unfairly being taken advantage of.  Google and Apple have grown to such high user adoption rates that users don’t get apps from anywhere else.  This means that as a developer you either play by their rules or you don’t play at all.  Epic isn’t the first entity to share this sentiment, and the EU has even recently filed a lawsuit against Google for monopoly abuse.

Breaking The Cycle

Fortnite just happens to be such an incredibly popular game that it could potentially survive playing by its own rules.  Sure it won’t get as many downloads as it would on the Google Play Store, but it could still prove a successful venture which would open a serious discussion about other companies following suit.

To give Google a little credit Android phones do have the capability to download apps from 3rd party sources, it’s just not as common or streamlined a process.  Apple on the other hand has completely rejected this philosophy and gives users the choice of their app store, or users jailbreaking their phones to get what they want.

In the age of tech giants its hard to not just accept the fact that these monopolies exist and are becoming solidified.  So when a discussion is brought to the table about a potentially unfair situation arising it’s imperative that we keep an open mind and think about what impact can be made in the long run to ensure a healthy a thriving market economy.  Anti-trust is a sticky, sticky issue, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be discussed.

The Google Play Store is a great tool that tons of developers (myself included) get to use to share their creations with the world, but every system needs checks and balances or else it will eventually experience abuse.  It will be interesting to see how successful a venture Fortnite on Android will be without involving itself in the Play Store.  What do you think about Epic’s decision?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

Will Fuchsia be Android’s Usurper?

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Will Fuchsia be Android’s Usurper?

Android is the world’s most popular mobile operating system, and for good reason.  It’s created both high end and affordable options for users worldwide to experience what it has to offer.  And what is has to offer has been time and time again improved upon.  That being said, improvements are always happening in the tech world, and 5 years from now Android might not hold it’s place as #1.  Here’s a curve ball for you: I’m not talking about Apple.  Android’s upcoming replacement may be Fuchsia.

Wait…what the heck is Fuchsia?

For a few years now a stealthy group on engineers at Google have been working on Fuchsia.  The project came into existence as a potential solution to Android’s limitations.  It’s being designed with voice interactions and security updates in mind where the current Android platform falls short.  And while this has been quiet, it hasn’t been locked down.  Some of the code has been open source since 2016 and outside app developers have been allowed to experiment with it.

The Fuchsia team has a higher goal than just more efficient software though.  They’re attempting to design something that will make interaction with all in-house gadgets a fluid experience.  Imagine a single operating system that controls all your speakers, tv, and other residential tech.  Now imagine also being able to interact with all of these devices by speaking to them.  Your house becomes a sentient being, somewhat like this post we wrote a few months back.

So Android will be gone in 5 years?

No, I definitely exaggerated in that first paragraph.  5 years would be an insanely quick turnaround for Android to completely fall off the map.  Android currently dominates as king with roughly 75% market share compared to Apple’s 15%.  Still, it’s far from perfect.  There are performance, privacy, and security concerns with out of date Android phones that need to be addressed, and a new software like Fuchsia could help jump that transition forward.  All the same we’ll be seeing Android phones for quite some time still, and P hasn’t even reached the market!

Fuschia is being developed with audio interactions at its core.  There haven’t been any apps built on it at a serious commercial level yet, but rumors are flying that we’ll be seeing a YouTube app with voice command soon.  My prediction is that over the next year or two Fuchsia is going to grow in the open source community until its eventual official launch, at which point we’re going to see a boom (hopefully a quicker boom than new Android version adoption rates!).  I’ll be keeping a close eye on it, so stay tuned for more updates.  And if you have any thoughts about Fuchsia or it’s potential let us know here!

 

Google Fined…For Giving Users Google?

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Google Fined…For Giving Users Google?

 

Almost everyone worldwide knows about the divide between Android and iOS.  How could you not? We hear people brag about how their operating system is in every way superior to the other and people are fools for giving business to the other end of the spectrum.   But competition happens on different tiers and the E.U. recently decided that Google has been unfairly monopolizing the market.  The cost of this? $5 billion.

Some background:

The E.U has fined Google a record €4.34bn for its use of the Android operating system to “illegally cement its dominant position” in search.  The argument goes that while Google has competition on the highest tier of competition (Android vs iOS), once a user chooses to purchase an Android phone their options are severely limited.  As a phone manufacturer if you want the Google Play Store on your phones (which you definitely do), then you also have to take the Chrome browser and Google Search along with it.

Google operating systems coming preloaded with their own associated software…sounds unfair right?  Margarethe Vestager, The European Commissioner for Competition, says that it is.  Vestager argues that Google’s withholding of the Play Store except as a package deal essentially locks down the market for other search engines.  Google has also made payments to large manufacturers as part of an agreement to exclusively pre-install the Google Search app on their devices.

The commissioner has acknowledged that Android in no way forbids users from downloading other browsers if their interested (last year Opera Mini and Firefox were downloaded more than 100 million times).  She asserts that this is far too small though since few people take the action to actively change their default settings.   Google holds the real decision making power, a sign of monopoly, not free markets.

Google’s response:

So we have competition at the operating system level, and competition at the browser level.  Google has responded saying that there’s a level far more important to the world: the app level.  While the Google Play Store is owned by Google, millions of developers contribute and share their creations on it.  Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, released a written statement yesterday explaining how unjust the E.U. sanction really is, as Google has taken steps to encourage a competitive market.

“Rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them,” he wrote.  With such a small barrier to entry for developers/companies who want to share their apps with the world, Android should be seen as a free market advocate, not a giant that is terrorizing our decisions.

This is where tiers of competition become crucial in the discussion.  Does google have a fair amount of competition as an operating system?  Do they have competition as a search engine/browser?  Does their Play Store have other serious contenders trying to take its place?

How hard is it to Switch?

Sundar pointed out (with a short video), that user’s can delete their default browser and download another (such as Opera Mini) within 30 seconds.  Hardly a barrier to entry in terms of difficulty.  The monopoly discussion then becomes is it reasonable to ask users to take this course of action to be presented with other options.  100 million people is a lot, but out of 2 billion worldwide android user’s it’s not a majority.  Still, if users want to find another service, the options are there.

As crazy as it is, $5 billion is a raindrop in Google’s budget.  But it’s not really about the money (yes it is…), it’s about the image that Android upholds.  As a developer that has shared my creations on the Play Store I’ve seen it encourage users to build and share with the world.   Google is an industry giant, of that there is no doubt, and Sundar signed off saying that they intent to appeal.  Stay tuned and we’ll be sure to write about where things go from here.

What are your thoughts on Google’s role as a Monopoly terror or a free market advocate?  Let us know in the comments below!

The Pixel 3 Leaks Just Keep Coming!

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The Pixel 3 Leaks Just Keep Coming!

 

If you’re a phone junky then you’ve probably been following all the buzz surrounding the upcoming Pixel 3.  And if you haven’t been but are interested in catching up, then you’ve come to the right place.  Rumors and leaks galore have been floating around this week and late discussing what the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have in store for users.  Let’s discuss:

It’s Huge:

I’m not just talking about the hype.  The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are going to be larger than their predecessors (is anyone surprised?).  Measuring in at 5.3’’ and 6.2’’ respectively these phones will be giving the iPhone X a run for its money in terms of screen real estate.  And also much like the iPhone…yep you guess it, there’s a notch thrown into the mix.

Just like almost every other android phone since the iPhone X’s reveal the notch seems to be playing a big role in design practices.  A few images were images have been posted on the XDADeveloper’s forum showing a Pixel 3 rocking a notched display, dual front cameras, and a back that appears to be made of glass.

New features:

Why glass on the back?  Well this has led to speculation that wireless charging may be coming back into play.  This feature was discontinued a few years back in the Nexus series after Google’s acquisition of HTC.  The argument was…not the strongest.  Google argued that Nexus phones had too much z (thickness) with the wireless charging, and that USB Type-C charging was a much simpler solution.  Maybe more efficient, but its definitely not as cool!

Of course we have to take these leaks with a grain of salt.  The Pixel’s camera is a good demonstration of this.  There’s been a lot of back and forth about whether one or two cameras are in store for the new device.  Leaked images have confirmed both cases, so its hard to know what’s really true and what is just a wannabe, but a series of images leaked by 9to5Google show a single rear camera on a Pixel 3 prototype.  This leak matters as the phone was sporting a mystery Google logo, so it gains another ounce of credibility.

Whatever the case, Pixel’s are known for their phenomenal cameras, and when the Pixel 2 came out its camera blew us away.  Since then quite a few other phones have scored higher on DxOMark (a image quality rating site), but at the time the Pixel 2 was the leader.  So odds are the Pixel 3 is going to exceed expectations again and top the charts in this manner.

New Software:

The Pixel 3 is also expected to be the first official phone rocking Android P software.  So new features like RTT-Wi-Fi and auto-adjusting batteries will open new possibilities for both users and developers.  Android P is currently available for beta use if you’re interested in exploring it early, but if you’re planning on purchasing a Pixel 3, you’ll have it in your hands before you know it.  There’s no official release date set right now, but the popular opinion is this October.  So close and yet so far.

What are you hoping the Pixel 3 will have that other phones are lacking?  Do you think it will be a let down or a leader in the industry?  Let us know in the comments below!

Android One.  Two Different Strategies

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Android One.  Two Different Strategies

Rumors have been spreading about the new Motorola One Power.  This week we got a glance at what’s coming to the market, and you may not be surprised to see that a notch is involved in the desgin.  A lot of Android phones this year have been mimicking the iPhone X’s newest feature, but there’s a lot more to the One Power than just how it looks.  It’s the head of a movement.

The One Power is sure to be a quality phone for its users.  At least a lot depends on it being that way since it will be the newest phone to carry on the Google One movement.  That movement began in 2014 as an attempt to capture the “next billion Android users” in developing countries.  It aimed to provide smartphones with current software at sub-100 dollar prices.

But How?

Typically this was possible by severly limiting specs like storage and RAM.  Users don’t have to spend much, but they can still experience all the cool new features versions like Android P have to offer.  Meanwhile Google gains a hold on smartphone marketspace that might otherwise not be filled due to price restrictions.  It’s a win win.  

At least that was the plan back then.  4 years later and the Android One movement didn’t take off exactly as the marketing team planned.  Sales faltered for the lower end phones due to their lack of being positively distinguished from their more expensive counterparts.  Appearing somewhat clunky, budget phones didn’t sell well, and there’s still a large population out there that is waiting to be capitalized on.  Android Go rose to take Android One’s place as the budget movement recently, and it looks like this new burst of marketing may have a better outlook.

Down But Not Out

That being said, Android One didn’t fade into oblivion, but instead decided to change its strategy.  It’s risen its price range to the $250-400 mark and in turn is producing sleeker more “high-end” looking phones that run on the newest softwares.  These phones are still more affordable than some, and this is thanks to the movement’s slogan “Everything you want.  Nothing you don’t.”  The phones don’t have a bunch of manufacturer customizations, but instead function similarly to Nexus and Pixel phones today.  They have Google’s apps built in, and run the latest Google software, but that’s just about it.  This is great if you’re not looking to spend a fortune and you also don’t feel the need for the extra add ons.

The One Power Up Close

The Motorola Power One will be prominently displaying a notch on its front along with a vertical dual carmera placement on its back.  Couple this with curved edges and a fingerprint sensor and we’re looking at a pretty stylish phone.  Whether you like the iPhone X or not, its undeniable that it’s style has set a trend that others a following.  How the software on the inside runs is a whole nother store though!

Do you have any thoughts on the new Motorola Power One?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

Google I/O, Until Next Year

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Google I/O, Until Next Year

Well Google I/O is a wrap everyone, and if you tuned in then hopefully you left with some cool takeaways.  If not then don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for.  When the conference first kicked off we wrote about day 1 and its highlights, but obviously the fun didn’t stop there.  The following is a crash course selection of (in my opinion) the most important and amazing takeaways for and android junky.

Flutter:

If you’re an android developer, then your undoubtedly familiar with Java and segueing in to Kotlin.  You might not have heard about Flutter before though.  It’s Google’s mobile app SDK for easily creating high quality apps on both Android and iOS devices.  Written in Dart (a language developed by Google as well), Flutter works with existing code and is used to develop at ridiculously high speeds.  Here’s a great video from Google I/O that goes more in depth on how to use Flutter to enhance your material design.

Duplex:

Now this one blows my mind, and I know I’m not alone here.  When you think of a sci-fi future it’s reasonable if computers playing our personal secretaries pops into your mind.  This seems to be the present now. 

I’m very interested to see how Duplex functions successfully in real world applications, but the Google 2018 keynote showed a quick performance of the Google Assistant booking a haircut appointment for Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai.  From an outsider’s view the conversation was impossible to distinguish from an everyday conversation between two people, and when it was done the Google Assistant confirmed to Sundar that the appointment had been booked and added to his calendar.  It’s only a matter of time before this is both client and server side so that duplex will be having conversations with itself to schedule our days, and that’s pretty wild.

Android P Beta:

Yes, I know we discussed android P in the last blog on Google I/O.  But you’ll have to bear with me because it’s happening again! As of this week the Android P beta is available on Pixel devices as well as 7 other flagship devices.  Android P brings all kinds of cool new features to the table.  A lot of these revolve around predicting what you the user are about to do.  There’s an adaptive battery that adjusts your screen’s brightness and what apps are running in an effort to both improve your experience and conserve precious battery power.

My personal favorite feature of P is Wi-Fi RTT.  Round Trip Time takes our current location services capabilities and amplifies them.  Essentially by triangulating between multiple Wi-fi access points nearby, a user’s position can be calculated within about a meter.  Just use your imagination for what applications this could come in handy for!  For more on Android P you can read our past posts or watch some Google I/O talks.

There’s lots more to take away from Google I/O, and honestly I’m cutting myself off here because otherwise I’d end up writing a paragraph or two about every session that I watched from the entire conference.  It’s a great year to be an android developer or even just own an android device.

What interested you the most from the conference?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

Android Adding Animated App Ads

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Android Adding Animated App Ads

Whether you like them or not, ads are here to stay.  They’re the reason so many apps are free to us as consumers, and without them we’d have to pay a few more valuable dollars out of pocket.  That being said, the less of a nuisance an ad is the better.  Google is exploring how to make ads more interesting, and the results are pretty meta.

Google’s New Strategy:

Google is testing out two new forms of advertisements, and while they’re in beta testing right now, it’s just a matter of time before they’re rolled out to everyone.  The first of these are video ads in the Play Store’s search results.  These videos won’t autoplay, but upon searching for a game users will have to option to watch trailers for related games.  Not too complicated of an idea, but certainly more interesting than just seeing 4 screenshots of what gameplay entails.

Now the really interesting change that Google is exploring is how to interrupt user’s experiences with ads without them realizing they’ve been interrupted.  The solution?  Games within games.  Usually when you complete a level or die in an app game you’re confronted with a short video of the newest game on the Play Store.  If you’re anything like me you count down the seconds until you can click to skip and get back to what you were doing before.  Google plans to make this experience less of a hassle by creating playable ads.  So when your game/app is interrupted by an ad, that ad will actually be a mini game that can be played.

The hope behind this is to get users more involved and increase the click rate on advertisements, all the while exposing players to games of similar styles and genres.  According to Google, video ads are used in almost half of the 1,000 top-earning apps.  A big change like this is certain to get some exposure.

Impending Impact:

It’s possible that these ads have an adverse effect and cause games to become more burdened with advertisements, but I for one have a bright outlook on this new implementation.  If this change is done in a tactful way that replaces current ads rather than adding on to them, things should be fine.

And from a developer’s standpoint, this change should be welcome.  I think It’s important to emphasize that an app only has to have as many ads as its creators choose it to.  Developers can learn how to easily integrate AdMob into their apps, and then decide how apparent they want ads to be in their app.  There’s a fine line to walk between scaring away users with too many ads and bringing in revenues, so regardless of any changes that come a free market should balance this trade off out.

How do you feel about Google mixing things up in its advertising department?  Let us know in the comments below.

Android Go For Gold

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Android Go For Gold

Smart phones are naturally the next step in evolution from the flip phones everyone used not too long ago.  That being said, smart phones are expensive.  At least they are right now.

Android Go’s release

If you’re trying to buy one of the newer models you need a decent amount of cash in your wallet.   This trend likely won’t change in the near future as long as consumers are willing to pay top dollar for the high end models, but Google is taking steps to enter lower cost markets.  In a shift of focus from quality to quantity, Android Go is Google’s new initiative to expand its reach into other parts of the world and sell budget smart phones.  Some of these aim to be less than $100.

For a few years Google has been saying that its next billion users will come from countries like India.  And after Google’s Android One initiative failed to corner the budget market, Android Go is Google’s chance to learn from their mistakes and try again.  Android Go aims to provide a variety of smartphone options to users that have limited RAM but updated software.

Android Go specs:

It seems that despite the move towards quantity, quality won’t suffer too much.  Low tier smartphones already exist in the double-digit price range, but Android Go’s goal is to create a fast and smooth performance for users while utilizing the most recent Android software.  The key difference between Android Go devices and other cheap Android smartphones is that Go’s software is guaranteed to be up to date and optimized.  A huge selling point when you consider how most cheap smartphones are running on outdated API levels.

The first batch of Android Go phones such as the ZTE Tempo run on Android Oreo and focuses heavily on security and software updates.  With these in the forefront, less attention is given to low powered processors and roughly 1GB of RAM.

What does this mean for developers?

As with anything new in the tech industry, more than just consumers are impacted.  If you’re an Android developer and you have faith in Android Go’s initiative, then you had better start targeting Oreo or above.  Right now roughly 1% of the world is using Oreo so it’s not the end of the world if your apps are focused on lower level API’s, but in the next year or two this is going to change dramatically.

Of course if you’ve been paying attention to Play Store trends then this is not news.  Starting in August of 2018 all new apps for the store will have to be built with Android 8.0 Oreo or higher as the target API.  In other words, Android Go isn’t the determining factor for Oreo’s importance.

Times are changing and in order to keep up you need to make sure you know all the latest features.  PhonLab offers lessons on how to target different API levels and account for Oreo devices in your apps without leaving older users behind. You can learn all about this in Phonlabs Android app developer course.

Only time will tell how successful Google’s new movement will be, but it’s only a matter of time before everyone owns a smartphone.  There’s still a lot of market to capture in the world.  If you have any thoughts on Android Go’s potential or what it’s missing let us know in the comments below.

Android 8.0 Oreo whats inside

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What’s Inside Android 8.0 Oreo?

Today Google has released there new Android OS version 8.0. (Code Name Oreo) If you are interesting in watching the live stream announcement from Google then watch the video here.

The Android 8.0 Oreo Firmware has been released and you will find it here, with this link to access all of the new firmware images from Google. You will need to know the code name IE (sailfish Marlin) of your nexus or pixel device to make sure you download the right version. If you need help installing this firmware then check out my tutorial HERE.

Lets take a look.

RootJunky

 

Android VS. Apple what device should you purchase

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Android VS. Apple

It has always be a epic dual

 

Why Android is more advanced then IOS but less stable. First you need to understand that I carrier and use both a iPhone and Android device everyday. Currently I have a IPhone 7 and a One Plus 5 both are high end devices. The Android OS is more advanced for many reasons but the two that come to mind are better specs (physical hardware) and development.

Android OS is Open source which means that anyone can develop and work on the operating system. This leads to advances and new features all the time. What I have seen happen over the years is that the Android community developers come up with new software features in custom roms. Once the community shows that they want them then Google comes in and adds those features to stock Android. Really Google is genius in this manner getting great free development from the community. Apple IOS is ok but being locked down like it is means that you are waiting on the Apple company to come up with new ideas instead of the whole world. The benefit of Apple keeping it’s OS closed source is that they can control and keep it clean. This is again great for stability and uniformity.

Original equipment manufacturers like Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola and many others use the latest hardware for there new device. Quad HD screens, 8GB of Ram, fast processors, and wireless charging make these devices amazing and for many people even better then there home PC. Apples hardware generally lags behind Android by 2 years. This sounds like a bad thing but really its not. Because by the time that Apple has this hardware in there devices all the software and hardware bugs have been killed leaving a rock solid experience for there users.

Last is security, while Android is open source which is great for developing on it this also opens up the source code to be looked at by everyone and that means bugs can be found and exploited much easier then on Apple. I am not saying that Apple IOS is 100% secure, I am just saying that it is harder to HACK.

This is the way I think about it and this can really help when others ask me about what device they should purchase.

Android = Advancements, Affordable, and Customization

Apple IOS = Stability, Security, and Consistency


Android will always be my choice of preferred device for these couple reasons.

– RootJunky