Good news, Android users, Amazon doesn't hate you after all. No longer the forgotten platform, Amazon on Monday announced the release of its Kindle for Android App, freely available in the Android Market.
"Our customers tell us they love the convenience of having their Kindle library with them everywhere and their reading synchronized across multiple devices," said Dorothy Nicholls, director, Amazon Kindle. "With Kindle for Android, customers can choose from a vast selection of over 620,000 books to read on their Android-powered phone, no matter where they are - on the bus, waiting for a cab, or in between meetings. Kindle for Android and the rest of the free Kindle apps are the perfect companions for readers who don't have their Kindle with them or don't yet own a Kindle."
It's essentially the same app that's available on other platforms, meaning you can read the first chapter of books for free, access your library of previously purchased Kindle books stored on Amazon's servers, customize the background color, font color, and font size, read in portrait or landscape mode, and adjust the screen brightness from within the app. You're also able to sync last page reads from other Kindle-enabled devices, including the Kindle and Kindle DX, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, PC, Mac, and BlackBerry.
The last 24 hours have been exciting for Android fans and prospective buyers. All four major US carriers (and a few regional ones as well) have now come out to say that they will carry a variant of the Samsung Galaxy S smartphone. This is an unusual situation for the wireless industry. Most highly anticipated phones are kept exclusive to a single carrier, at least at launch.
The Galaxy S is an Android 2.1-based smartphone running Samsung's TouchWiz 3.0 skin. It will be running on a 1GHz ARM-based chip called the Hummingbird. The screen is a 4-inch Super AMOLED panel reportedly capable of better performance in direct light than other AMOLED screens. T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T are looking at getting the standard slate version, but Sprint will be getting a version with a 4G WiMAX radio and a landscape sliding keyboard. This version will be called the Epic 4G. AT&T and Verizon will be branding the phones the Captivate and the Fascinate, respectively.
Only T-Mobile has announced official release information. The Samsung Vibrant (the carrier's name for the Galaxy S) will be available for $199 on contract on July 21. Anyone planning to take a long hard look at one of these phones?
For the first time ever, Google has gone and pushed the big red button labeled "Remote Application Removal." In doing so, the sultan of search remotely wiped out a pair of free apps from hundreds of Android smartphones, and felt justified in doing so because the apps ran afoul of Android's Terms of Service (TOS), Google said.
Jon Oberheide, the developer who coded the apps and voluntarily removed them from the Android Market after Google asked him to, described the software as proof-of-concept programs. Oberheide says he wanted to find out if how difficult (or easy) it would be to distribute apps that could later be used to launch an attack and seize control of handsets.
"An attacker who develops legitimate-looking apps and distributes them on the Android Market could gather a large install base and if there was a vulnerability within the Android operating system or Linux (upon which Android is based) the attacker can phone home to see if there is an exploit to download and push it out to all the phones he controls and take complete control of the phone via the kernel," said Oberheide, who works at a security start up called Scio Security.
Those who installed one of Oberheide's apps -- one of which was disguised as a preview of the Twilight Saga: Eclipse movie -- received a message that read "Hello World."
While Oberheide's apps were harmless, they could have just as easily been malicious. This all begs the question, should Google have exercised, or ever exercise, its right to push the big red button and nuke your apps from afar? Users seem split on this one, with some saying it's no big deal, while others are downright pissed that Google would use its authority on harmless apps.
What's your opinion? Hit the jump and tell us what you think.
Google rolled the dice when it gambled it could compete in the mobile OS market, and as it turns out, they were right. Speaking in an interview with a CNBC television network, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said the number of Android devices shipping each day now tops 160,000.
"Everybody is gong to be on mobile devices all the time, every day, unless they're asleep," Schmidt said. "Everything is moving to mobile and we're participating in it. We have more than 160,000 of these things shipping globally every day. The momentum is phenomenal."
Phenomenal is right. It was only a month ago that Schmidt told investors some 65,000 Android-powered smartphones were shipping each day, though he said the actual number might be even higher.
If Schmidt's figures are correct, then Android handset shipments now outnumber those of Apple's mighty iPhone, which was pegged at 8.75 million for the last quarter.
Apple is credited for turning the smartphone market on its head with the iPhone and the concomitant App Store. But do you know of a mobile app repository that boasts thousands of free apps across different mobile platforms? GetJar is the largest independent app store and the second largest overall. It has delivered more than 1 billion app downloads since its inception in 2005.
"We look forward to our continued partnership with Accel Partners and this new funding will be instrumental in taking GetJar to the next level in our business strategy for aggressive global expansion and product development," said GetJar founder and chief executive Ilja Laurs.
Google has been tight-lipped about just when users would see a final version of the much anticipated Android 2.2 Froyo update. But the OS maker has today released the source code for Froyo to the open source community. Many users are speculating this means Froyo's code is finalized and a real update is on the way. Google has previously just said the update would be available 'soon'.
Google showed off the new version of the operating system at Google I/O late last month. Several test builds have leaked to users, and have given many a sneak peek at Froyo. Android 2.2 will bring features like Adobe Flash support, a redesigned home screen, storage of apps on the SD card, and a respectable speed boost. There has been some speculation that Google was waiting on Adobe to finalize Flash before putting the finishing touches on the OS. Adobe managed to get Flash out the door only yesterday.
We expect ROM hackers to begin assembling updated versions of their wares now that the entirety of the code is out there legitimately. Nexus One users could be seeing an official over-the-air update any day now.
When AT&T launched the Motorola Backflip a few months back, it was largely a disappointment for those hoping for a solid Android experience on the network. The Backflip had a number of faults, among them was that the carrier had locked users out of installing apps manually. That is, apps that are not in the Android Market. Now the carriers second official Android phone, the HTC Aria, is also unable to install non-Market apps.
Android is an open mobile operating system, which allows manufacturers and carriers to modify it as they wish. It also allows users unprecedented control over the phone's software. In the case of AT&T however, it seems apparent the users are not to be trusted with that kind of power. Being unable to install external applications locks users out of many beta and pre-release apps. For example, the hotly anticipated Audible app is available only as a standalone beta that must be manually installed. The Swype keyboard replacement is in a similar boat. The Dropbox app was also released in this way before it hit the Market.
As a general rule, we're not in favor of taking options away from users. It feels like AT&T isn't understanding what Android is about. This looks to be a pattern for AT&T now, and we can expect this sort of behavior from them in the future. It is technically possible to use the Android SDK to install third-party software, but the process is complicated. Average users are going to be left out in the cold.
Google has been iterating Android at an astounding pace since it was first introduced in the fall of 2008. Barely a few months have passed in between releases, and now much of the feature set has been fleshed out. Ask most people familiar with the operating system what's still missing, and they'll probably say the user experience needs work. Google has apparently gotten the message, because sources within the Android team are saying the upcoming Gingerbread release will focus on improving the user interface.
The overall polish of the operating system has been a sore spot for the open source software. Apple's iPhone OS is much more tightly controlled, but more cohesive experience. Various third parties have tried to build skins for Android to clean up some of the rough edges. The most obvious example of this is HTC's Sense UI. Google may not be looking to squash these ventures, but maybe make them less necessary.
It's hard to build a really slick user interface when you have so many different devices floating around. But Google's recent hiring of Palm UI engineer Matias Duarte could be a sign the search giant is serious. We're looking forward to trying some tasty Gingerbread, but we haven't even had our Froyo (Android 2.2) yet.
Since its release, the Android platform has grown in leaps and bounds, finding its way onto laptops, netbooks, tablets and smartphones. Helped by the momentum of search giant Google, much of Android's popularity is due to its open source nature. Because Android is an open platform, manufacturers have been able to adopt Android with ease and spend more time on developing features - instead of a proprietary operating system. This led to a wide variety of features unique to specific Android models: some had HTC's gorgeous SenseUI, some had Android 2.1's slick Eclair home screen, and lucky Evo 4G users got WiMax.
This division of features drove independent developers to take action, and Android's developer-friendly, open nature made customization possible. Almost as early as Android's first release, developers have been creating custom ROMs to bring additional functionality, improve performance, and increase battery life.
Google is said to be prepping its own music store for a fall 2010 launch. The internet giant had announced a web-based iTunes rival during its I/O developer’s conference last month. The music store was revealed as a new section of the Android marketplace, but knowing Google, its music plans could be far too ambitious for the service to remain confined to Android. According to a Cnet report, quoting music industry sources, Google is indeed looking beyond Android. It is likely to link digital downloads and streaming music to its search results.