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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 6/28/2012 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.

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