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  (Source: U.S. Daily Review)
Android JB is faster, packed with new features; Galaxy Nexus is now very cheap off-contract

Google Inc. (GOOG) had a big day today announcing Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the successor release to Ice Cream Sandwich.  The new operating system build comes packing a plethora of new features and improvements, including adding some neat GUI animations that will be familiar to fans of the now-defunct webOS.

I. Smoother Performance

Google says that today 1 million Android devices (tablets, smartphones) are activated daily and there are 400 million Androids in the wild, figures which surely will stir some resentment at rival Apple, Inc. (AAPL).  

Hugo Barra, director of project management at Android, comments on the new operating system build, "Jelly Bean builds on what we created with Ice Cream Sandwich."

The improvements fall into two categories -- new features (including new UI gestures) -- and a performance overhaul, which makes the ICS GUI smoother and more responsive. 

Jelly Bean
[Image Source: YouTube]

Core to Jelly Bean is Project Butter.  The goal of Project Butter is to make Android's UI animations feel more smooth. (Smooth like butter, get it? Har har!)  The graphics pipeline is now triple buffered and uses vertical sync (vsync), features which combine to give silkier graphics.  

Jelly Bean Project Butter
Project Butter: Making your Android smoother [Image Source: YouTube]

This should give Google a nice boost, which it needs to compete with Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) silky Windows Phone GUI (as Google mentioned in its keynote the brain's visual cortex can pick up on delays of as little as 10 ms, so that lag in older Android builds isn't your imagination).

Project Butter also improves touch by incorporating new algorithms that predict where your finger will be as it moves across the touch screen.  Google also realized that its power-saving technique of downclocking the CPU adversely affected UI transition and touch, so it now upclocks whenever your navigating the GUI.

II. New Features

But making the GUI smoother wasn't the only goal with Jelly Bean.  A slew of new features also pop up in the release.  Hugo Barra remarks, "Jelly Bean is not only the fastest and smoothest, but we've made improvements throughout."

Here's a brief breakdown of the editions:

Widgets now can be manually resized, but also automatically resize to squeeze into allotted spaces.  This adds a nice counter to Apple's stackable icons.  You can also toss icons and apps off a home screen with a "familiar gesture" (aka the webOS up swipe -- thanks to Google's "swipe" of the webOS team from Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ)).

Predictive Keyboard
Dictionary has been refined, and word suggestions are now displayed above the keyboard similar to in Windows Phone.

Offline Voice Input
Google is the only one whose current OS build has this -- enough said. (Initial support is for English only.)

Offline voice
Offline voice typing is now supported for airplane mode. [Image Source: YouTube]

Expanded Language Support
18 new languages, including Arabic and Hebrew.

External brail input support, improved features for blind users.

There's now pinch support to go into film strip view for fast navigation of pictures and swipe responsiveness has been improved.  You can also now trash photos by swiping up, again similar to webOS.

JellyBean swipe photos
Swipe to delete and photo film-strip in JB [Image Source: YouTube]

Google Beam Improvements
Tap to pair Bluetooth devices (headsets, etc.), tap to share photos.

Notifications have received some serious TLC and now expand/contract.  They also include action links.  Quick responses to some common types of messages (e.g. meeting reminder) are pre-programmed.

Jelly Bean notifications
JB style notifications [Image Source: YouTube]

Knowledge Graph Search
Jelly Bean responds to questions "What is a robot?" in a way similar to Siri.  Except rather than just a voice response it includes pictures and text -- very slick.

Google Now
Google is tracking you (uh oh) and it learns how to optimize your workflow.  For example, by tracking your commute path to work, it can give you an estimate each morning of the expected commute time, and occasionally suggest you follow alternative routes if it detects traffic backups along your commute path.  

JellyBean Google Now
Google is watching you on your commute. [Image Source: YouTube]

It also keeps track of your search history to determine your favorite sports teams and other useful real-time information to present to you.  It even suggests the most popular entree at a restaurant you're at.

App Improvements 

(these improvements will also affect Gingerbread and ICS builds)

Apps are now encrypted, with paids apps being delivered with a device-specific key -- an important step forward to fight piracy.  Google is also offering a second kind of updates that only download changes, not the entire app.  These "delta updates" should be faster for customers.  Google says there are now 600K apps in its Play store.

Play Store

(These improvements are available today)

Movies are now available for purchase on play, and TV show seasons/episodes have been added.  Another new addition is magazines, which brings Play up to pace with Apple's iTunes (and sub-stores) offerings.

Play Store
The Play Store now has magazines. [Image Source: YouTube]

III. Availability

Jelly Bean will land via over the air updates starting in July.  The SDK is currently available.  Google also announced a Platform Development Kit to help component and device vendors port Android to their devices faster.

Google I/O conference attendies also get a newly announced Nexus Q streaming hub, a 7-inch Nexus tablet, and a Galaxy Nexus phone.  

Google I/O Freebies
[Image Source: YouTube]

That's enough to make non-developers pretty jealous...

IV. Galaxy Nexus Price Cut

... but, the bright size is that the Galaxy Nexus is now available for a shockingly affordable $349 USD off-contract.  The phone is the HSPA+ edition, so it lacks the LTE that some carrier-specific models like the Galaxy Nexus LTE on Verizon Wireless -- (the joint Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD) venture) -- has.

Galaxy Nexus Wide

With the price cut, the Galaxy Nexus should instantly become the handset to get for customers who despise signing long-term contracts, small as their numbers may be in the U.S.

Source: YouTube [Keynote]

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RE: If only it mattered....
By ltcommanderdata on 6/27/2012 8:35:21 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think your numbers of 248 million iOS devices vs 180 million Android devices at the time of Creighton's testimony explain the difference in search traffic Google saw as purely due to device distribution. Google saw 2x the search traffic from iOS as every other mobile OS while your numbers show the iOS installed base was only 1.38 times that of Android, which still leaves a large gap indicating increased usage per iOS user. That doesn't include Symbian, RIM, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone installed base which falls into the 1/3rd slice of mobile search traffic with Android and would make it even less that a large iOS installed base is responsible for a high iOS usage share.

I agree that Google's mobile search statements are now 9 months old and things could have changed. However, if developer revenue is a proxy for platform usage, Flurry's studies of 70,000 developers across 185,000 apps, has consistently showed developers make 4x the revenue on iOS as on Android, in Q4 2011, Q1 2012, and thus far in Q2 2012. So at least in terms of developer revenue share, iOS has maintained a higher level of activity despite Android's impressive increase in installed base in the last 9 months. As I mentioned in another post, I think this is due to iOS targeting the mid to high-end market where users are likely more active and willing to spend more money, whereas Android targets the entire market from low to high-end and it's the low-end users that results in Android seeing less usage/revenue share than raw installed base comparisons would suggest. I don't doubt high-end market Android phones/consumers are just as active as high-end iOS users, perhaps even more so. But high-end Android phones/users may represent a smaller portion of total Android phones/users than high-end iOS phones/users to total iOS phones/users.

RE: If only it mattered....
By matty123 on 6/27/2012 9:14:06 PM , Rating: 3
The flurry report has been discredited mainly due to the fact that flurry is used in less than 7% of android apps...

Last week Flurry Analytics released a report on iOS vs. Android titled “App Developers Signal Apple Allegiance Ahead of WWDC and Google I/O“. The report has been widely circulated around the internet, and generally accepted as factual with little or no critical review. A ZDNet investigation shows that the report’s math is flawed and its charts are misleading, thus throwing doubt onto all of its conclusions. Flurry’s report is broken up into four sections, and we found problems with all four. Two sections in particular, though, show the most glaring issues: one on new project starts, and one on platform fragmentation.

And a summary of the maths...

If you’ll excuse some quick, back-of-the-envelope calculations, Google claims 500,000 apps in their market, which works out to about 35,000 apps using Flurry. According to Flurry, their SDK is used by 185,000 apps, which comes to 150,000 for iOS and 35,000 for Android. Apple claims about 600,000 apps in the Apple app store, which means roughly 25% of iOS apps use Flurry. Now, in Q1 2012, the Flurry chart shows approximately 13,000 Flurry new project starts on iOS, and 6,000 new starts on Android. That’s how they got their ‘7 out of 10 are iOS’ figure, because 13,000/(13,000 + 6,000)=0.72. But if you take into account the percentage of apps on each platform that use Flurry, you get 52,000 new projects on iOS total (13,000/0.25), vs. 91,000 new projects on Android total (6,000/0.0658).


Another point of contention is that flurry's report {at least the version you linked to} leaves out the other android markets for example amazon...


The chart above compares revenue generated per user across iOS, Amazon and Android app stores. We start by taking the revenue generated per user in the iTunes App Store and setting it to 100%. We then compare the relative revenue generated per active user from Amazon and Google to the amount of revenue per active user generated by the iTunes App Store. Doing so, we find that Amazon Appstore revenue per active user is 89% of iTunes App Store revenue, and Google Play revenue per active is 23% of iTunes App Store revenue. Another way to interpret the results is that, for the same number of users per platform, every $1.00 generated in the iTunes App Store, will also fetch $0.89 in the Amazon Appstore and $0.23 in Google Play. These results mirror those of a similar analysis conducted by Flurry last December, where we found for every $1.00 generated per user in the iTunes App Store, developers generated $0.24 per user in the Android Market.

Their are hundreds of android markets many of them more profitable than the play store and the cost to publish in all of them is effectively zero, the flurry report tries it's absolute best to paint android in a bad light when in other reports released by them {flurry} amazon apps are almost as profitable as iOS apps {and obviously these are just android apps > no extra work required to code them}. I personally make use of getJar, amazon, Samsung app store and the google play market {and almost all android users I know make use of two or three markets at least} so it stands to reason that the play store will never be as profitable as the only source of apple apps {the app store} but let's be clear that this doesn't mean that android apps arn't as profitable as iOS apps, also the flurry report only looks at cash revenue and ignores android's main business model > mobile adds, which are used by over half of all android apps, yet flurry conveniently leaves them out when equating revenue on each platform.

That doesn't include Symbian, RIM, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone installed base

RIM and all windows phones use BING by default and symbian offers a choice of which you want but since we are being meticulous lets also add that many third party browsers on android don't use google by default {something not allowed on iOS}.

While I don't disagree with what you are saying about iphones and such being on the higher end {to a degree} using that flurry report to back your facts is weak sauce as so many people have bashed it as being completely {and with clear bias} way to pro iOS.

RE: If only it mattered....
By ltcommanderdata on 6/28/2012 2:43:14 AM , Rating: 3
The flurry report has been discredited mainly due to the fact that flurry is used in less than 7% of android apps...

When Flurry says their SDK is used by 185,000 mobile apps at the time of the survey (June 8), they appear to mean across all Flurry Analytics supported platforms including Blackberry, Windows Phone, JavaME, and HTML5.

Over 70,000 companies have chosen Flurry Analytics to use in more than 190,000 applications across iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, JavaME and HTML5.

In the 3 weeks since that study was published Flurry is now up to 190,000 apps. Seeing Flurry found Android and iOS app starts in a quarter was around 18,000 apps, assuming an average weekly app start rate, 3 weeks is ~4100 new apps on Android and iOS plus some additional apps from other platforms, the 5000 app difference falls in line with expected app starts. So if 190,000 apps represents all Flurry SDK apps across all platforms now, 185,000 apps 3 weeks ago in the survey likewise represents all platforms and not just Android and iOS.

Flurry doesn't provide the platform breakdown for their SDK usage so knowing only 6.58% of Android apps use Flurry doesn't provide enough information to work out how many iOS apps use Flurry given there are a number of other platforms forming the pie. Ed Burnette's back of the envelope calculation that 25% of iOS apps use Flurry seems high anyways, but we can't actually say one way or another. There isn't enough data to conclude iOS Flurry SDK adoption is disproportionately large skewing the results or Flurry's conclusions.

Another point of contention is that flurry's report {at least the version you linked to} leaves out the other android markets for example amazon...

It would be interesting to find out what share of Android app downloads are done on Google Play vs other third-party markets. I would assume that Google still has good control of their platform and the clear majority of app purchases are done in Google Play. That would mean that while leaving out other markets is a definite weakness of the survey, it would only qualify the conclusion rather than completely change it. ie. cross-platform apps generate say 2-3x more revenue on iOS than Android rather than the 4x they concluded.

also the flurry report only looks at cash revenue and ignores android's main business model > mobile adds, which are used by over half of all android apps, yet flurry conveniently leaves them out when equating revenue on each platform.

We examine a basket of top-ranked apps that have similar presence across iOS, Amazon and Android. Their primary business models are in-app purchase, which is the revenue type we compare for this analysis. Additionally, earlier research by Flurry found that the in-app purchase revenue model generates the majority of revenue for apps.

It's true that Flurry doesn't really address the ad revenue question. They say that research has found in-app purchase generates the majority of app revenue which is why they focus on it, but they link to a study that compared revenue from paid apps vs. revenue from free-to-play apps, which often include ads, but they don't mention if they've included or excluded ad revenue in their total freemium revenue. By comparing in-app revenue made by the same apps while only varying the store (iTunes App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore), Flurry is methodologically correct in isolating the effect of different stores on a given cross-platform app that is the "same" across all platforms. As you say though, the reality is that an app likely needs to adapt to each platform for best results.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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