3rd Party Applications

Android Market coming soon to Europe

Though there is no confirmation or update on Google’s web page, some seem to think there is a good chance that the Android Market will soon become available to Android users in Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic and Germany in just a few weeks.  This comes just after an email sent to mobile application builders.
Hello, I’m writing to let you know that Android Market will become available to users in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Netherlands, and Poland in the coming weeks. You can now target these countries for your application(s) via the publisher website at market.android.com/publish. As we add support for additional countries, we will send out subsequent notifications to you. Note that your apps will not become available in these new countries unless you specifically select them in the publisher website. Thanks for your support, and we look forward to continue working with you on Android Market. Eric Chu, Android Market
This means that users in these countries will not be without application services for a single day as the Android Market will become available before the handsets are even available. It is obvious that Europe is soon to get at least one Android-powered handset be it the T-Mobile G1 or not. This may also be an indication that paid apps will be available right off the bat in other countries. UPDATE: This press release was just brought to our attention confirming that Europe will be getting the "G1 phone." The Netherlands, Czech Republic and Austria will be getting this handset on January 30th. Germany will be getting it on the 2nd of February for only 1 euro ($1.33 USD). HAMBURG, Jan 19 (Reuters) - German Deutsche Telekom's (DTEGn.DE) wireless unit T-Mobile will begin selling its G1 phone, which has been available in Britain and the United States since October, in several European countries in coming weeks. The G1 phone, made by Taiwan's HTC Corp (2498.TW), features a touch-sensitive screen, a computer-like keyboard, and Wi-Fi connections as well as popular Google applications such as search, maps and mail. It is considered the most likely contender to the iconic status of Apple's (AAPL.O) iPhone. "We will introduce the G1 by Jan. 30 in the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Austria," T-Mobile Chief Executive Hamid Akhavan said on Monday. The Android-based phone will be available in Germany on Feb. 2 and in Poland later that month, Akhavan said. T-Mobile sells the G1 phone for $179 with a two-year contract in the United States and a T-Mobile USA executive has said an estimate of 400,000 phones sold by the end of 2008 in the United States was "not incredible". Akhavan declined to disclose precise numbers but said the G1 was the most successful phone ever sold in the United States. "We have sold several hundred thousand phones. Sales have clearly exceeded our expectations," Akhavan said. In Germany the phone will sell for 1 euro ($1.33) in combination with a two-year contract with T-Mobile. Mobile operators hope to generate continuous revenue streams from data traffic with the help of smart phones, as prices for mobile voice calls decline. Google introduced its Android software system for designing mobile-phone devices in November 2007, in a move it promised could help the mobile phone industry make the Internet work as smoothly on phones as on computers. Both Google and Apple are wooing developers to create applications for their devices, but unlike Apple, which keeps a tight grip on the iPhone's hardware and operating software, Google's Android is open to be changed by outside developers. (Reporting by Nicola Leske, editing by Dan Lalor) (Thanks Miquel!)

Skype hits the Android Market

Last week Skype announced their new “thin” Android handset client, Skype lite (beta). The mobile version of Skype is available for over 100 other Java-based handsets including mobile phones for Nokia, Sony Erisson, Motorola and LG. This application is only in Beta in the Android Market right now, but allows users to make local rate calls to any of your Skype contacts no matter where they are. In order to use the service all you need in an Internet connection, you don’t even have to have Wi-Fi or a 3G connection. Skype Beta also allows you send instant messages to your friends. Basically you will be saving tons on international and long distance calls to mobile phones with this application. If you have not already given it a try, we suggest that you do so soon. Let us know what you think. Since it is in Beta, what do you think can be improved upon in a final version? [dailymotion]http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7ytba_lite-version-of-skype-for-android_tech[/dailymotion]

Kogan Agora delayed indefinitely

The Australian consumer electronics maker who promised the release of the first Android-powered handset in Australia has “delayed the launch indefinitely saying it was due to "potential future interoperability issues". Ruslan Kogan was suppose to release the Kogan Agora and Agora Pro running Android on January 29th. The reason being he would like redesign it "to ensure its compatibility with all future Android applications." This decision is likely the result of a recent meeting he had with Google at their US headquarters, which Kogan flagged earlier this year. Due to a very strict non-disclosure agreement signed with Google he was not able to comment further on what the meeting what about. "The Agora reached a very late stage of development, manufacturing had commenced and we were within days of shipping the product to customers. But it now seems certain the current Agora specifications will limit its compatibility or interoperability in the near future," Kogan, 25, said. One thing that is a major issue is the screen resolution and size, one day developers may create an application in a higher resolution that the Agora Pro is capable of. From the sounds of it we are only lucky that the handset did not make it to consumers hands, at least as it is now. Originally this handset was planned to launch on December 15th for just $199, but later the date was delayed and the price bumped to $299 for the basic model and $399 for the Pro which includes Wi-Fi, GPS and a camera. [Via TheAge]

FlyCast finally comes over to Android

More ways to listen to music for free are coming to the Android Market. FlyCast has made its way to Android after stopping off on the iPhone and BlackBerry handsets. Similar to the concept of Pandora, FlyCast brings screaming music to the palm of your hand without needing to download or store it on your device. FlyCast is a bit different than the other applications because it allows users to listen to stations in which only a few allow you to skip songs. They have also partnered up with Facebook, AccuWeather.com and support AAC+ and Windows Media streams. Users can download a desktop player that mirrors exactly the FlyCast mobile application with 1000 traditional stations plus 300 ‘personalized’ stations with unlimited song skipping. “2009 will be a year of transition for broadcasting, as hundreds of millions of new ’smart devices’ hit the streets, with incredible media consumption capabilities,” noted FlyCast CEO Sam Abadir. “FlyCast continues to lead the way in offering broadcasters and webcasters innovative platform capabilities to take full advantage of these new and compelling distribution opportunities.” Now between Pandora and FlyCast how many more streaming music applications will be released? Personally I have no need for another streaming application, Pandora and FlyCast have all the areas important to me covered. FlyCast will be available soon, no definite date has been set though. [Via FlyCast]

Android Market gets updated with support for paid apps in mid-January

Google has finally come around and decided to update the Android Market for developers. Google sent out an email to one of our users stating that they have been working on “several significant updates” to the Android Market.  First off Android Market will become available to users to download apps in more European and Asian countries starting early in the first quarter of 2009. Some of these countries include Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and the Netherlands.  In mid January Google will update the Android Market publisher website in order to enable country targeting. They also confirm that priced applications will be available at the same time (early January). Apparently the payment support from country to country is not very easy to setup. The priced applications will be starting in the United States and the UK, following the initial launch Germany, Austria and Netherlands will have paid apps and France, Italy and Spain will have them by the end of the first quarter. The Android Market website also gives applications a second channel of exposure other than the handset itself. Below is a copy of the attached letter.
Hello, Thank you for your participation in Android Market! Since we launched a couple months ago, the team has been working on several significant updates to Android Market. I'd like to let you know about these upcoming changes and what they will mean to you and other members of our developer community. Many of you have asked about international expansion plans. I'm happy to inform you that Android Market will become available to users to download apps in additional European countries starting early Q1 2009. Some of the countries we will initially support are Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and the Netherlands. As we add support for additional countries in Europe and Asia, we will send out subsequent notifications to you. In mid-January, we will update the Android Market publisher website to enable country targeting. Please start thinking about which countries you want to target and begin preparing your products accordingly (e.g., localization). Note that your apps will not become available in these new countries unless you specifically select them in the publisher website, after we update it. Additionally, I would like to confirm that Android Market will support priced applications starting early Q1 2009, as we'd originally stated last fall. Given the country-by-country work required to set up payment support for developers in different countries, we will enable priced app support in Q1 for developers operating in these countries in the following order: (1) United States and UK; (2) Germany, Austria and Netherlands; (3) France, Italy and Spain. By the end of Q1 2009, we will announce support for developers operating in additional countries. Developers operating in the above listed countries should begin finalizing their priced applications, including determining the appropriate pricing strategy. Finally, please note that our team may need to occasionally contact you via email or the publisher website to collect necessary product information (such as screenshots and descriptions). This information would be used for the Android Market website, found at http://market.android.com, which gives applications a second channel of exposure via the web in addition to the normal on-device access. We will send out additional details on all these items in the coming weeks. Thanks for your support, and we look forward to continue working with you on Android Market. Eric Chu, Android Market Google, Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View, CA 94043

aTrackDog flawed and deceiving

The new applications aTrackDog is designed to help users make sure that their applications are up to date. This application in theory would be a perfect solution to a flawed update system on Android. aTrackDog works by sending information about your currently installed apps over to the a0soft.com servers then checks all available applications for updates and notifies you if there are any. aTrackDog though has a “MAJOR” design flaw, if a beta tester is also an aTrackDog users then all users of aTrackDog will get a notification that there is an update when in reality the application is up to date.  The guys over at Big In Japan learned this first hand when they received plenty of email stating that users could not download the newest version of ShopSavvy.
“Starting on Friday we began getting emails from aTrackDog users who complained that they could not download the latest release of our software.  Our current version is 3.0.0, but aTrackDog showed that our most recent version was 3.0.5 (an internal alpha version).  We DO have a public beta running at 3.0.4, but the most recent public/stable release (i.e. the one in the Market) is 3.0.0.  aTrackDog is listing 3.0.5 as our latest release so each aTrackDog user receives an alert that they need to update their version of ShopSavvy.  Our users are becoming more and more frustrated as their emails reveal.”
aTrackDog’s only suggestion to developers at Big In Japan was to suggest users to select ‘Not Track this version’ in the aTrackDog settings. aTrackDog needs to really step it up a notch here because developers should not have disclaimers and notes for each conflicting application that is later released. Developers do not have any control over what their beta testers use on their phones. Rylan went on to say in an email to aTrackDog developers:
“I think your method of version tracking is very clever.  You managed to let your users’ phones do the difficult data-collection for you.  Unfortunately your strategy is not 100%, it’s not sustainable.  When there are 10,000 applications in the Market and half of them are releasing private versions how will you handle the flood of support emails and admin emails coming your way? I recommend that you change your model such that it includes some sort of review process first.  When a new version is submitted to your database, before you notify the world, you should go verify its existence first.  This would include either finding it in the Market or updating the URL for manual download.”
Big In Japan believes the real purpose of this application is for gaining data market intelligence. With this application they are able to see how many people are using which applications. Data such as this is “VERY valuable” and should compensate those giving the data in some way rather than give false information to users about current versions. Big In Japan, as do I suggest that you uninstall this application as it isn’t useful and will likely cause confusion. [Via BigInJapan]

Android has free turn-by-turn navigation

Android now has fully audible real-time turn-by-turn navigation with an application called AndNav2. This one is now only a public Alpha, but due to all the experience gained in AndNav1 this version is actually in a really solid state. AndNav2 is free, for the time being anyway. Unlike Garmin services there is no monthly charge or need to download extra map pack upgrades. The only way they can maintain a free application is by placing ads into the applications itself and through donations. It’s a very small price to pay to keep from having to purchase this application. Right now AndNav2 supports Contacts/POI/Address-Search and many more, but even the recently released free Text2Speech library by Charles L. Chen giving users fully audible turn-by-turn directions. AndNav2 is currently only available in the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, France, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LM5ju-6pnU&eurl=http://www.googleandblog.com/free-android-navigation-with-andnav2/3402/&feature=player_embedded[/youtube] [Via GoogleAndBlog]

Top ten applications in the Android market have been announced

The top ten applications in the Android Market have finally been figured out. With the Android market still in the early stages this is no grand achievement, but it really puts the most popular apps into perspective for us.  For instance, we expected an award winning application to be number one, but the coveted first place was swooped by the Namco classic Pac-Man with more than 250,000 total downloads. According to a report done by Medialets, the top ten most frequently downloaded applications for Android are as follows:
  • Pac-Man by Namco
  • MySpace Mobile
  • The Weather Channel
  • ShopSavvy
  • Ringdroid
  • imeem Mobile
  • Shazam
  • Rings Extended
  • Bonsai Blast
  • Brain Genius Deluxe
Now MySpace Mobile is the application that we expected to take the number one spot on the list. MySpace applications always make it to the top three applications, usually behind the Facebook application. ShopSavvy was also another application we expected to be filling the top three spots, but somehow it made it to number 4 on the list. Ringdroid, imeem Mobile and Shazam were sure bets as all three of these applications hit on very key points for mobile phones such as free ringtones. Shazam has been doing very well on other handsets such as the iPhone. Brain Genius Deluxe was another huge hit among other handsets and a great game to play. We suspect that this game will remain one of the most popular games on Android for quite some time. Let us know what Android applications you enjoy most. [Via Medialets]

HulloMail brings visual voicemail with email integration

HulloMail allows users to view their voicemail with a very simple easy to read interface. Much like Visual Voicemail for the iPhone, you can view your voicemail and choose which one you would like to without having to navigate through annoying menus and listening to voicemail you do not wish to listen to. In the coming months many features will be added including, audio and name greetings that allow you to easily create your own personalized greeting. The HulloMail service will sync with your Gmail contacts allowing users to reply to voicemail with either a voice call, text message or email. HulloMail is free to download from the Android Market and registration is simple. You can also have your voicemail converted to an MP3 file and send it directly to your IMAP4 email, MobileMe or Gmail inbox. Eventually they will integrate sync support for Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo mail. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gknkAdjC_vA&eurl=&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Mocana’s NanoPhone offers security options for the Android platform

Mocana has announced the NanoPhone security suite for the Android mobile platform. With NanoPhone users can add a much-needed firewall, encryption features and VPN to Android-powered handsets without compromising performance or battery life. With smartphones there is always the question of whether or not you are secure, especially with disclaimers in applications that should be more than secure such as the new Visa app. Google has already tried to fix security issues that users are having with the T-Mobile G1, but have been reportedly been unsuccessful. Many users these days are forced between security and usability when shopping for a new smartphone. The Android platform has already become a target for attackers. “We hope to encourage the adoption of Android by the enterprise and by security-conscious consumers by giving developers the critical security components they need to protect Android smartphones, their users and the information that resides on them,” said Adrian Turner, CEO of Mocana. NanoPhone hopes to increase the security of the Android platform by incorporating these key security features:
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) clients to secure data communications between the device and corporate network;
  • Voice, video and data encryption (in transit and at rest) with FIPS-validated crypto;
  • Comprehensive malware and virus protection with no false positives;
  • A higher performance, more secure browser for ecommerce and online banking applications;
  • Scalable and secure firmware updating and secure boot capabilities;
  • Robust certificate handling features to authenticate devices, network services and individuals to each other.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IwYLkjJXJA[/youtube]
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