Posts Tagged ‘Android’

Pebble 2.0 launching tomorrow on iOS, Android “slightly delayed”

February 3rd, 2014

Pebble made a splash this year at CES with the announcement of the Pebble Steel, a new model of its best-in-class smartwatch featuring a metal design and new features like a LED notification light. For owners of the original Pebble, the announcement that the long-awaited Pebble 2.0 software would launch with the Pebble Steel was the even better news. The company has confirmed that the new software and firmware will launch tomorrow, February 3, for iOS. The biggest disappointment here is that Android users will have to wait, as the company has stated the app for Android has been “slightly delayed”.

Pebble’s 2.0 software includes a curated App Store for apps specifically designed for the Pebble and Pebble Steel. While apps on the Pebble aren’t necessarily anything new – apps like Glance for Android users have given some app capabilities to the original Pebble for some time now – the Pebble 2.0 software brings some bigger apps to the smartwatch. Apps like ESPN, Yelp, and Foursquare will be available at launch, with likely many more to come.

I can’t stress enough how much of a disappointment it is though that the Android version is delayed. It’s not about Android vs. iOS here, although many discussion forums around the web are on fire with jabs between their respective fanboys. This is about Pebble ensuring the best possible experience for all of its users at launch, and admittedly it is perplexing that the company would focus on iOS first considering the development and API restrictions Apple imposes. If the Android version wasn’t ready, then in my opinion the company should have withheld both versions.

Check back with Mind Of The Geek shortly after the launch of the Android version for my full review of the Pebble 2.0 software.


Google Android Software Is Not As Free Or Open-Source As You May Think

February 3rd, 2014

Some mobile and tablet manufacturers are being charged six-figure fees by third party testing facilities for a license to use Gmail, Google Play and other parts of Google’s mobile services, the Guardian has learned.

The fees, which can range from $40,000 to $75,000, are part of a largely hidden production process for the hundreds of large and small manufacturers in the mobile device industry.

The Android mobile operating system is free for consumers and for manufacturers to install, but manufacturers need a licence to install Gmail, Google Maps and the Google Play store – collectively called Google Mobile Services (GMS).

Manufacturers can be refused a licence if they do not meet Google’s requirements. Google does not charge for a GMS licence, but any company producing an Android device will need a certificate from an authorized testing facility in order to apply for the licence. That often incurs fees.

One source told the Guardian that the fee varies and is negotiated on a case-by-case basis, with one example costing $40,000 for a batch of at least 30,000 devices. A separate source said that in another deal, a testing facility quoted $75,000 to test 100,000 devices.

Google said it had no comment on GMS licensing.

A Welsh distributor, KMS Components, was put out of business in January after the retailer Argos withheld £3.2m because of a GMS licensing dispute.

Google-approved, licensed manufacturers include those making their own devices, such as Samsung, and original device manufacturers Foxconn and Archos. Paid-testing is also offered by a range other non-approved companies.

“Installing Google play without a licence is illegal,” said one source in the Android developer community, who did not want to be named. “Smaller OEMs [device manufacturers] don’t register on Google’s radar, and Google tends to turn a blind eye. Retailers get pressured by legal OEMs to make sure illegal installs of GMS are weeded out. It’s almost like crowdsourcing.”

In August 2010, Augen Electronics of Florida removed the $150 tablet it was selling through US retail store Kmart because unlicensed GMS software was not removed before the devices went on sale. The company later closed down.

For consumers, meanwhile, all Google mobile services are free to use, and individuals can also legally download and install the full suite of apps to their own device.

The original article was taken down pending investigation, on 28 January 2014. The article was launched in error before editorial processes had been completed and contained errors for which we apologize. The story said that Google charges Android device makers a license fee for Google mobile applications. This is wrong. In addition the article stated in reference to a licence fee that: “It is a lot of money, but you can’t see it anywhere [in Google's accounts].” This is also incorrect.


New software tools help developers create Bitcoin-friendly Android apps

January 15th, 2014

More Android apps may soon have built-in support for Bitcoin payments thanks to a new partnership between Coinbase and BitMonet.

The companies have released a software development kit (SDK) that aims to make it easy for Android developers to build apps that process Bitcoin payments.

It could help knock down what some see as one of the biggest hurdles to wider Bitcoin use: the lack of a killer app that makes it easy for everyday folk to use the virtual currency.

With the SDK, Android developers will be able to make apps that accept Bitcoin payments without forcing the user out of the app and into another service. Coinbase and BitMonet envision a range of applications, but greater support for retail transactions with bitcoins is one likely outcome.

Coinbase provides a variety of services around Bitcoin, including a digital wallet and an exchange for buying and selling bitcoins. BitMonet is an open-source platform that lets people accept payment in bitcoins for their blog posts.

As Bitcoin gathers more attention, online merchants like and others have begun to accept the virtual currency as payment.

A developer could build a simple app using the SDK in an hour, said Ankur Nandwani, chief engineering advisor at BitMonet. A more complete implementation could take upwards of a day, he said.

No money changed hands in the collaboration between the companies, which was conceived to boost Bitcoin use on mobile devices, Nandwani said.

The SDK requires that smartphone users have an account with Coinbase.

In its announcement, Coinbase called out two uses in particular: micro-transactions and debit payments. Small micro payments of a few cents can be hard to facilitate on mobile devices, since the provider usually has to pay a fee to a bank or credit card company.

Micro-transactions between accounts on Coinbase, however, have zero fees, the company says. “The customer simply connects their Coinbase account, grants the app permission, and can then perform one-click buys in the app,” the San Francisco-based company says.

Meanwhile, with debit payments, the SDK could let developers integrate automatic “pull” payments into their apps. That means people could grant permission to apps to tap into their bitcoins in Coinbase to make regular payments. Imagine someone like Uber or Sidecar being able to automatically debit your Bitcoin account after a ride, for example.

This functionality could present some risks, since Bitcoin payments are meant to be irreversible, so getting your money back for an unsatisfactory ride may not be possible.

Still, Coinbase is one of the more established Bitcoin services companies. It recently attracted a $25 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz, a major Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

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