software

Android Design preaches ICS best-practice for devs

Google has launched Android Design, a site dedicated to Ice Cream Sandwich best-practice in style, UI and behavior. Apparently intended to teach developers some of the justifications behind design decisions made in Android 4.0, and convince them to adopt them when they're coding for the platform, the new site could help Google achieve some of the consistency in third-party software iOS is renowned for.

400,000 active apps in Android Market

The Android Market now contains over 400,000 active applications, checks from Distimo have revealed, with the growth of Google's software store accelerating at a faster pace than Apple's rival App Store. 68-percent are free or freemium, versus paid, a possible reaction to the increase in in-app purchasing noted recently. While Google lagged behind Apple when it came to hitting the 200,000 apps point in the Android Market - taking 31 months versus Apple's 22 - subsequent milestones were racked up more quickly. Android apps reached the 300,000 mark in a further four months, then 400,000 in four after that. In contrast, it took iOS developers eight months to go from 200k to 300k, and seven months beyond that to get to 400k. Nonetheless, iOS users still have more choice in titles, but if the pace of submissions continues then that may not be the case for much longer. Google also nears the 100,000 active developer milestone, with each submitting 4.1 apps on average. [via SlashGear]

Android apps see in-app purchase swell

65-percent of revenues for the top 200 Android apps come from in-app purchases, download store analysts Distimo have discovered, though the potential for making cash from Android software still pales in comparison to iOS. Meanwhile, Android is the place to go for free titles, holding a comfortable lead ahead of its rivals when it comes to freely-distributed software. iPhone apps in the top 200 make almost four times the revenue - looking at both upfront payment and in-app purchases - of Android's top apps, while iPad apps make more than twice that of Android. Android holds the second spot for gaming options, too, with 46,045 titles in the US in comparison to the iPhone's 79,077 and iPad's 28,638. Angry Birds was the top app of 2011 for downloads, Distimo found, followed by Facebook and Skype. Google's own Google Maps came in fifth, despite only being offered in the Android Market. [via SlashGear]

HTC promises OTA privacy patch in pipeline

HTC has confirmed that a fix for the recently uncovered security vulnerability in its Android smartphones is in the pipeline, addressing what some security experts suggested was a "massive" privacy issue. "In our ongoing investigation into this recent claim," the company told Engadget, "we have concluded that while this HTC software itself does no harm to customers' data, there is a vulnerability that could potentially be exploited by a malicious third-party application" However, HTC also insists that it has seen no reports of the loophole actually being taken advantage of, with the potential for harm seemingly more theoretical than practical at this stage. Nonetheless, a security update is being worked on now, and which - after some carrier testing - will be delivered OTA to HTC Android phones. There's no timeline for its release - HTC says the carrier testing period will be "short" though that's presumably up to the networks themselves to deliver on - so until then the company points out that people should "use caution when downloading, using, installing and updating applications from untrusted sources." That's pretty sensible advice no matter what the situation. Full HTC Statement:
HTC takes claims related to the security of our products very seriously. In our ongoing investigation into this recent claim, we have concluded that while this HTC software itself does no harm to customers' data, there is a vulnerability that could potentially be exploited by a malicious third-party application. A third party malware app exploiting this or any other vulnerability would potentially be acting in violation of civil and criminal laws. So far, we have not learned of any customers being affected in this way and would like to prevent it by making sure all customers are aware of this potential vulnerability. HTC is working very diligently to quickly release a security update that will resolve the issue on affected devices. Following a short testing period by our carrier partners, the patch will be sent over-the-air to customers, who will be notified to download and install it. We urge all users to install the update promptly. During this time, as always, we strongly urge customers to use caution when downloading, using, installing and updating applications from untrusted sources.

Skype v2.5 adds video calls to Galaxy Tab 10.1, more

Skype has updated its Android app to add video calling to more  smartphones and tablets, with v2.5 adding support for 14 more models. Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Google Nexus One and Motorola DROID 3 are notable models, though the ATRIX and LG Optimus 3D also make an appearance. In addition to the new devices, Skype has also added the ability to switch between portrait and landscape orientations while within a call, as well as zooming by tapping the display. Bluetooth headset support has been improved, and the app as a whole should be more bug-free and faster.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
  • HTC Nexus One
  • HTC Shooter
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia Live with Walkman
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia neo V
  • LG Optimus Black
  • LG Optimus 3D
  • LG Optimus 2x
  • Motorola Photon
  • Motorola Droid 3
  • Motorola Bionic
  • Motorola Xoom
  • Motorola Atrix
  • Acer Iconia
On the downside, Skype has introduced advertising with this release, just as on the desktop versions for PC and Mac. You can bypass the adds if you have some Skype credit, however. Skype for Android v2.5 is a free download from the Android Market.

Google Voice Actions for Android hits Europe [Video]

Google has extended Voice Actions for Android to users in the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain, with the voice-command service now supporting local languages in each country. Launched in the US last year, the newly extended system allows to you start a new SMS message, call contacts, navigate to websites and do other things, all by simply speaking to your Android device. Voice Actions now recognizes British English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, and is compatible with Android 2.2 devices and above. After triggering the voice search by holding down the dedicated search button, tapping the homescreen microphone button or loading the app itself, you can choose from seven different commands:
  • send text to [contact] [message]
  • call [business]
  • call [contact]
  • go to [website]
  • navigate to [location/business name]
  • directions to [location/business name]
  • map of [location]
Meanwhile, voice-led searching is still supported. You can download the new version from the Android Market. [youtube HsI76lrvJt4]
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