Friday, 26 July 2013

Welcome to the Google Show

Google has been dominating all the headlines over this past week and this time it’s for more than one reason.

First, the search engine super giant celebrated reaching 1 million apps within its Google play store, doubling last year’s tally, and in the same week has announced that they have sold out all of their initial orders of ‘Chromecast’ on the same store.

Let’s start with Google play reaching 1 million apps. Back in June of this year, Apple announced that it boasted more than 900,000 apps within its store and now Google has announced it has gone one better, reaching a million. These 1 million apps have collectively brought Google Play a huge 50 billion downloads.
What this does also mean is now Android is both the most popular smartphone platform worldwide, as well as having the most apps. Not a bad feat!

The head of Android and Chrome teams, Sundar Pichai, has said that this is a huge reflection of Android’s growth and strength on both smartphones and on tablets. He’s not wrong!

Then, to top a great week off for Google, they also announced that ‘Chromecast’ has sold out all initial orders on the Google Play store too. Chromecast is Google’s new media streaming accessory, enabling it’s users to bring their web content to the TV. This HDMI dongle also allows users to control this content through use of the apps on their phones and tablets. At $35 a pop, Google must be seeing ‘pound signs’.

If this all wasn’t enough, Google has also hinted that people will be able to rent and buy textbooks through Google Play too. All we know is it’s going to be one big store, and one successful one too. No pricing structure has announced for this as of yet, but if directed at student’s it will have a huge target market so we can expect to see quite a lot of discounted textbooks for the initial launch.

As you can see, it has been quite a successful couple of weeks for Google, but don’t for a minute expect that to be the end of their domination in the technological world.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Bend your Smartphone into a Smart Watch!

Yes, you heard it right. Samsung have been reported to be working on a new display for their smartphones that is made from plastic, meaning it can bend.

With the continual improvement of our gadgets, there are always strange ideas circling around the market and you can decide whether this idea will join them. Picture it now – you have finished your last phone call and instead of the traditional, popping your smartphone into your pocket scenario, you bend your phone onto your watch fitting.

It might sound a bit insane, but the concept has already been designed. A Designer from South Korea, Jeabyun Yeon, has showcased his concept of a bendable smartphone which can transform into a watch, fitting nicely onto your wrist. The concept is 6.1 millimetres thick with a 4.3 inch display, which can flex on to your wrist.

It has been given a name too – “Limbo”.

The South Korean designer, Yeon, has explained that the smartphone’s body could be made from a plastic and silicon hybrid-type material. The idea of “Limbo” may sound like an interesting concept that could appeal to some tech heads but how practical will it really be?

Many people like the feel of a watch on their wrist but a lot of other gadget users will always check the time on their phone instead of using a wrist watch. Combining the two could work but it will end up being bulky and you may get a whole host of people staring at you. Another thing to consider is, what with all of the gadgets you already have including a laptop, tablets, and music players, is the ‘Smart Watch’ another gadget that you want to carry around with you and charge when it runs out of battery?

It might also be worth mentioning that not only is Samsung working on a new flexible plastic screen instead of the usual glass, but so is Apple. The technology giants have been noted for working on their own form of flexible screens. So, it could well mean that we will all have flexible smartphones in the near future.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Apple's App Store Turns 5

This week has commemorated the fifth year of Apple’s App Store since its launch in 2008. Apple have decided to reward its customers by giving away apps from some of the most popular and highest rated games.

Since the App Store’s launch in 2008, which happened the day before the release of the iPhone 3G, Apple have continued to grow their ground-breaking App Store with over 50 billion apps being downloaded throughout this five year stretch.

CEO Tim Cook was staggered by this amount and did say that there has been nothing like the App Store that has existed, changing the world of technology. A big statement, but who are we to argue!

50 billion apps downloaded is a huge amount but this has been a huge benefit to the developers too. In fact, Tim Cook has said that Apple have paid out over $10 billion to the developers of these apps, who have received around 70% of all revenue made from them. This does actually mean that the App Store has clawed in revenue of around $14.3 billion since its launch, some five years ago.

Apple felt it is time they gave something back to the customer’s for all of their loyalty over these last five years and have done so by giving away apps and games all week. The five apps that the App Store has provided its customers include Barefoot Word Atlas, Day One, Over, Traktor DJ and How To Cook Everything.

The five games included Badland, Infinity Blade II, Where’s My Water? Tiny Wings and finally Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP.  Nearly all of these games and apps have in fact been rated either four stars or higher (only one not being rated quite as high), which is great considering five stars is the highest rating possible.

Although the App Store is celebrating its fifth year anniversary, we are under no illusion that we can be looking at more celebrations over the coming years and who knows; we might even see the decade of the App Store. But for now, Happy Birthday App Store!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Instagram Introduces Video

Vine has already established itself as the top dog of video-sharing with friends, but with Instagram introducing video it seems Vine may have to rethink its strategy.

Instagram is hoping for a share of the spoils and has added a 15 second video share feature to its already impressive photography-sharing social network.  Compare this to Vine’s 6 second snippets, and Instagram might just be one step ahead.

They may have this in common, but there are a number of features they aren’t so similar on. Instagram has a more mass market type appeal, whereas Vine is very much channelled towards a niche, creative-focused market.

Instagram was acquired last year for a deal worth $1 billion and it was none other than Facebook who managed the scoop.  Originally starting as purely photo-sharing, this app has now advanced into video, which could see it becoming the next big thing in the social networking realm.

This newly provoked competition should get plenty of people excited though, as it does mean we could have a lot to look forward to.  With the two fighting against one another, we can expect a lot more to happen over the coming months and many more features to be announced.

The competition could be even deeper than just Vine and Instagram though as this move for Instagram could well mean an even fiercer fight between Facebook and Twitter.  What is for sure though, the introduction of video on Instagram will slow the growth of Vine to a certain extent, as many people considering joining it, will reconsider staying with Instagram for the same feature.

It is very unlikely that people will have an account with every single social network especially when they can get the same features all in one app.  It is common for people to become fond of just one social network and to devote most of their time to that app, instead of using four or more.

Another certainty is that time will tell.  We will see a conclusion over the coming months as to which app will be at the top of the chain.  Although, until that time comes, there is plenty of video’s, both on Vine and Instagram, to wade through in order to make up our own mind.