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More Metro UI on Android

It seems with every post we publish here surrounding Metro UI on Android we're getting closer and closer to a fluent solution. It was only a few days ago when we covered the latest attempt to get the look of Windows Phone on an Android powered device. In the video above Arjoma92 walks us through his Motorola Defy that appears to resemble Microsoft's Windows Phone in more ways than one. The list of apps used are as follows:

While it looks relatively accurate, the smooth scrolling and snappy OS is not present, plus you can still see Android elements throughout the video, but it's a damn good attempt.

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"Come to us my children!" - Steve Ballmer, I/O 2011. All jokes aside, it's become quite clear that a number of Android users actually want something more than a grid packed full of icons, widgets and whatnot. something cleaner, sleeker and more unique (as does Google). Windows Phone features Metro UI that ticks all the boxes mentioned above and has been somewhat ported to Android in many forms (including a media player, oh and Bing).

We've now learnt of a full-featured Android ROM that's been modified up by Lifehacker reader MortemTuam and sports a Windows Phone like home screen with a Metro UI influence. What differentiates this from previous Android attempts we've covered is that this actually looks pretty damn good. Here's how he put it all together (and what was used for you folk who have Android handsets):

Seems like a lot of time and work, right? I'll always ask the question of "if you like it so much, why not experience the real thing?". Tinkering with the OS is fine but you'll never have the smoothness of WP7, something that goes hand-in-hand with the Metro UI. Sorry Android, you might be able to look like our OS, but you'll never behave like it.

Source: LifeHacker.au

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Update: WPCentral reader uuf05 got in touch with the BBC and requested reasoning as to why they haven't released an app for the platform yet. You can view their reply in his comment below. Here's the main snippet:

The BBC want to bring BBC iPlayer to as many audiences as possible, across a range of devices. Unfortunately, as the Windows Phone 7 doesn't support HLS or Adobe Flash, the formats we use for streaming videos, we can't make BBC iPlayer available on this phone at the moment.

So until the platform supports BBC's used formats (HLS or Flash) it seems the BBC wont bring us an app to gain access, which is a shame. What do you all make of this?

Read the full story after the break...

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I wouldn't be surprised if one day soon the only news that will require reporting will surround lawsuits and patent infringement. Today the Rechtbank 's-Gravenhage (a Dutch court in the city of The Hague) issued an injunction against the Samsung smartphones (Galaxy S, Galaxy Ace, Galaxy S II) and that they should be retracted from import and sale by October 13th. The Galaxy Tab was not included.

The patent in question is owned by Apple ("Portable Electronic Device for Photo Management") and covers the way photos are displayed on a mobile device. The Netherlands plays an important role with Samsung's import into Europe. This injunction will prevent the shipping to the UK, France, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Lichtenstein, Luxemburg, Monaco, Sweden and Switzerland. But let's not get carried away, Samsung has welcomed the ruling and published a statement:

"Today's ruling is an affirmation that the Galaxy range of products is innovative and distinctive. With regard to the single infringement cited in the ruling, we will take all possible measures including legal action to ensure that there is no disruption in the availability of our Galaxy smartphones to Dutch consumers."

Looks like Apple doesn't have a victory and Samsung will attempt to prevent any disruption to the shipping of their smartphone handsets. I expect Google will ensure an update is mirrored to other brands just in case Apple decide to take on other Android manufacturers. According to Samsung in court, the fix is as simple as updating the OS to version 3.0, which doesn't infringe the patent.

Source: Foss Patents, via: This is my next, BBC

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Thankfully, Windows Phone "Mango" greatly enhances Bing on our devices (see video review), meaning we can be less jealous of the search service on competitors brands like the iPhone and even Android (with the latter always being more "meh"). Having said that, it's still nice to see Bing getting its due and in this case, Android just received a nicely new minted update to their Bing client.

It's an interesting design--not as polished as the iPhone/iPad version but it still has a certain flare to it. Less Metro, more style. Surprisingly, despite some of the anti-Microsoft pot shots that you would expect, users seem pretty impressed with it which goes to show you that on some level, Android and Windows Phone fans can agree on something.

Check our Phil's AndroidCentral video review of the client to see it in action after the break.

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Just as we were lamenting Motorola Mobility's position on using Windows Phone (and their stock situation), Google comes out of nowhere and buys them up out for $12.5 billion. From the press release they mention how they want to "...supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing. Motorola Mobility will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open."

Although Motorola is a dedicated manufacturer of Android devices, they also happen to have something that Google really wants--namely a large patent portfolio. Remember, Moto for all intents and purposes invented the cell phone back in the day resulting in a large arsenal of patents that Google can finally wield in defense of Android (seeing as that OS is evidently build on stolen IP). That's something that they will have to do a lot of as Microsoft is currently suing Motorola Mobility over patent infringement, meaning now they are suing Google over the same issue. That court case should get interesting, to say the least.

Google's Andy Rubin states that they remain committed to still working with other partners, although this obviously puts HTC in an odd position--they're not Microsoft's exclusive partner anymore and neither are they Google's. Various OEM partners have publicly come out in support of the deal, notably LG, Samsung, Sony-Ericsson even HTC paying lip-service with the same paraphrase of "We welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners.” although you wonder what they have to be saying privately about the deal.

The big question is what does this actually mean? Too early to tell though clearly Google is stepping up things against Apple and to a lesser extent Microsoft. Apple already has the hardware thing down and Microsoft now has Nokia in their corner. As to our thoughts? We'll gladly take our Nokia deal over Motorola any day.

Full press release after the break.

Source: Official Google Blog; via AndroidCentral 1, 2

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Case studies are always fun. You can't necessarily extrapolate the information and say it will apply to all cases equally, but you can gain some inferences from such cases and look for trends across others.

In this instance, one app called 'Mortal Kombat Tactics' by Neuralnet was released both on Android and Windows Phone and offered for free. What's the difference in ad revenue? Here it is, broken down by one of the developers, Alex Perez:

Android (AdMob)

  • Day 1 - 1,866 Impressions / $0.57 Revenue
  • Day 2 - 497 Impressions / $0.27 Revenue
  • Day 3 - 521 Impressions / $0.05 Revenue
  • Day 4 - 496 Impressions / $0.25 Revenue
  • Day 5 - 304 Impressions / $0.13 Revenue

Giving us a grand total of 3,684 Impressions and $1.27 in Revenue

Windows Phone 7 (PubCenter)

  • Day 1 - 2,070 Impressions / $1.28 Revenue (already surpassed Android's 5 days)
  • Day 2 - 1,903 Impressions / $2.52 Revenue
  • Day 3 - 2,391 Impressions / $4.63 Revenue
  • Day 4 - 3,693 Impressions / $3.86 Revenue
  • Day 5 - 2,274 Impressions / $2.48 Revenue

Giving us a grand total of 12,331 Impressions and $14.77 in Revenue

What is revealing about those numbers is two-fold. For one, the Windows Phone app clearly has more visibility on the platform due to less competition. As a result, it receives more ad-impressions. Second, all else being equal, the revenue is much higher for Windows Phone than Android. In fact, overall ad revenue in this case is nearly 3x that of Android, which is quite impressive.

For the developer here, Neuralnet, Windows Phone is the clear winner, making their investment much more worth their time in development. [Funny side note, we bought the Xbox 360 Mortal Kombat game awhile ago and this was the first app we downloaded and used for the game--it's a nice app and clearly has the visibility it needs on our platform.] You can find it here in the Marketplace.

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A few weeks ago, Google was involved in bidding for 6,000 patents being offered by Nortel, which many thought if Google should win, would beef up their defense against patent litigation. Instead, they lost to a consortium of Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Sony, EMC and Ericsson for $4.5 billion. Basically everyone won except Google. At the time this story was spun two ways:

  1. Nortel's patent were old, outdated and not worth the money for Google
  2. Google wasn't taking it seriously, with Reuters calling their behavior "mystifying" because their bids reflected famous mathematical constants (Brun's, Meissel-Mertens and Pi). Yes, Google actually bid Pi ($3.14159 billion). So in an attempt to be cute and witty, they lost.

After all the gnashing of teeth by tech analysts, who kept pounding Google on their lack of patent strategy, Google has come out with some name calling and accusations of their own:

"But Android’s success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.

They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the “Rockstar” group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Mobile; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it."

That's David Drummond, Senior VP and CLO of Google, who can't even get that's its called Windows Phone, not Mobile. Further, he notes the reported Justice Department's probe into whether or not that Nortel consortium was fair. Of course, such a probe is a far way off from meaning those companies are guilty of anything. In fact, nothing has been settled in regards to whether or not Android violates patents, uses lifted code, etc.

In the case of Microsoft, who's leaned on HTC and now Samsung for patent fees, both companies are willing to play ball either because they feel those patent claims are indefensible or, more likely, that's it's cheaper to license to Microsoft than defend in court. But hey, it's not like Google/YouTube don't screw with Microsoft either.

In the end, we don't have anything new here except that Google is really starting to feel the pain from other companies, hence the 'boo hoo, tech is hard!' post from Drummond. Is Microsoft's, Apple's and others behavior legal, moral and right? That's for the courts to decide, not missives from company blogs.

Edit: Recommended reading: FossPatent's "Google's new anti-patent stance has four credibility issues -- but not the one many people think"

Source: The Official Google Blog

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We previously covered the Metro UI inspired media player for Android when it was still in development. Federico Carnales has now released the app to the Android Marketplace and is readily available for download and installment. So, how accurate is the design to the real deal on WP7/Zune? Check the above video.

As one can see it's a very well crafted look-alike. The animations, positioning and pivot menus are pretty much identical and if the chrome wasn't present at the top of both devices, you'd have a fairly hard time deciding which was the fake. The app is fully customizable so this is merely a single theme, third parties have the ability to 'skin' the media player as they so see it - even the widgets.

UberMusic sitting on the Marketplace shelves at a pricey $3.49 (wait, you didn't think everything on Android was free did you?) and a free version is apparently on its way with in-app advertising support. With how Google is advancing with Metro UI implementation, I wouldn't be surprised with adopting this media player as the default for Android. What are your thoughts? Should we feel flattered or concerned that other platforms are slowly turning in WP7 wannabes instead of fully migrating to the platform?

Source: UberMusic, via: Engadget, thanks John for the heads up! 

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11

Brandon Watson betting $1,000 on WP7

 

Brandon Watson, Senior Director of Windows Phone 7 development, is bringing out the big guns by staking $1,000 on Mango. Scott Adams, author of popular comic strip Dilbert, in a recent blog post has expressed disappointment in both the iPhone and with Android. Watson saw the opportunity and dropped a bombshell of an offer:

"Scott -

My name is Brandon Watson and I am responsible for the developer platform on Windows Phone. Since your readership has a high probability of cross over with our developer base, how about I make you a deal with one of the phones we reserve for developers. Take Windows Phone for a spin. I’ll send you a developer phone with the new Mango OS on it. Give it an honest run, and if you don’t love it more than either of your iPhone or Android experiences, I’ll make a $1000 donation to the charity of your choice. You can’t really lose on this deal.

Do we have 500K apps? No. Do we have 25K, growing as fast as iPhone did, and 2x as fast as Android? Yes. Do developers love the dev environment? Uh huh. Do we have the only phone that puts people and communications first? You bet. If Androids dream of electronic iSheep, people dream about people – and that’s what you will get with Windows Phone. Keep in constant contact with those most important to you with Live Tiles, groups, messaging threads, and native Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And no special instructions on how to hold the phone to make calls. Oh, and the battery lasts a long time.

I can be reached at ThePhone [at] microsoft. You can call me if you want – 425-985-5568. Windows Phone devs will tell you that’s the right contact info, because it’s shared with every one of them.

I hope you take me up on this one…there’s no reason to hate your phone."

Should Adams take this offer up, he will receive a free Mango developer device (presumably with Twitter integration) and will give the platform a test run to determine whether or not he enjoys the experience compared to competitors. If the results are positive then great. If not, Watson will donate $1,000 to a charity of his choice.

The head of Windows Phone didn't stop there as he set sights on Molly Wood, CNET reporter, on Twitter who was/is experiencing some issues with her Droid. Hopefully this work will pay off, especially if we look at a recent customer satisfaction survey that puts WP7 above Andorid. Social media has a good-will category 'Social Good', we now have 'WP7 Good'. Bravo Watson.

Source: Scott's blog, via: WinRumors

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4

HTC Ruby: WP7 or Android?

There's been reports of a mysterious handset appearing in some HTC Flyer tablet shots. The handset can be seen via reflection on the screen of the HTC Flyer. What's interesting is that we can only see the rear of the device, so to comment on what OS it's packing inside the shell is impossible from the viewing angle we've been given.

It's an interesting design, whatever it may be. HTC has kept the same look for a while now on every platform it covers, so to see something new that could stand out is refreshing. I remember my HTC Hero being unique against the standard black-curved HTC handsets. What do you guys make of the photos? Does it look too much like an Android design?

Check out some shots after the break and the full album of shots over at Flickr (link below).

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An initial ruling against HTC by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) is evidently starting to have ripple effects. The case was brought by Apple, who is accusing HTC of infringing upon 10 patents of which the ITC found HTC to be violating two. Two caveats: the ITC's ruling is preliminary and not final but, Apple just needs to win on one patent infringement claim to potentially halt imports by HTC into the U.S. [Read Nilay Patel's excellent piece at ThisIsMyNext]

The patents in question seem specifically tied to the Android OS and other firms seem to be taking notice. According to 21st Century Business Herald, based in China:

"Some of these vendors worry about the risk of becoming embroiled in patent infringement due to adoption of Android, and have drawn up three strategies to cope with potential impact. The three strategies are enhancement of support to Microsoft Mango operating system, promotion of smartphone customization by mobile telecom carriers for protection through binding common interest (especially carriers partnering with Apple and Microsoft), self-development of own operating systems, the source pointed out. China-based smartphone vendors Huawei Device and ZTE have planned to adopt Mango, the source indicated."

That's a very interesting paragraph. For one, Huawei is not yet a key partner of Microsoft for Windows Phone--so that's potentially new (even though it will matter more for Eastern markets). Second, we're evidently starting to see OEMs start to make contingency plans if these lawsuits continue to go forward. The reason why is because Google does not offer any protection against claims of patent infringement, contra Microsoft who will defend the OS in court to the chagrin of the OEMs. Combined with those continued licensing fees for Android and the speculation of further legal threats, Windows Phone is starting to look ike a good choice right about now.

Source: Digitimes/21st Century Business Herald; via Electronista

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We're not shy about calling out Google and more specifically Android on their terrible UI--it lacks coherence, style and underlying philosophy of what it should be. It looks like it was designed by computer nerds and not, well, designers. In that sense, it's nice to see Google overhauling their Android Market which always looked like it was beaten with an ugly stick.

Still, we've received quite a few emails noting that their new Marketplace seems to take some liberties with Windows Phone's Metro UI: text based, no chrome, pivot controls, etc. We're not prepared to say that Google sought to make a copy-cat UI here, but it is clear that they are moving in a more minimalist, text-driven direction that seems to becoming popular these days. It's not as bad as their ad that completely ripped off a few weeks ago, but it does show that they're taking their cues from Metro or at the very least, they know they have a UI problem and need to spice things up a bit.

For years people said that the incremental changes to Windows Mobile was just "lipstick on a pig". Well, here's looking at you, Android.

Source: Google; via Android Central; Thanks, Carlos, dtboos and others

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Browser wars are always fun. Not because they are definitive or slam dunk tests that once and for all decide which is the best browser, but because they induce so much chest thumping about standards, specs and specific environments for testing. It's like saying your football team is the best--sure it may or may not be true, but sometimes it's fun to throw the war paint on and act like it is.

In this case, Derek Snyder of Microsoft demonstrates once again the famous "HTML5 fish test" (see MIX 11), comparing it between a BlackBerry, Samsung Android Charge and an iPhone 4. And once again, Windows Phone Mango clearly beats everyone, coming in at an astounding 50 FPS. But what makes this test more interesting is the fact that the iPhone 4 is running the iOS5 beta 3 (just released) which puts Apple's "fall update" up against Microsoft's "fall update", making it a more realistic comparison.

Your move, Apple. 

Source: WMPU

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Apple is on a fight against the world it seems (albeit Microsoft is no angel) when it comes to smartphone patents (and insane term trademarks). I must admit that I find it strange, not to mention anyone who's not familiar with the ins and outs of smartphone technology who could wonder "wouldn't this be the same if Sony were to sue Microsoft over competing with the PlayStation?" The fruit company is after HTC again with their products running the Android OS.

What has this got to do with our platform? Well, there's no touching OEMs on Windows Phone since everything's protected (if you will) by Microsoft so HTC is comfortably wrapped in Ballmer Bubblewrap. Google, on the other hand, offers no protection (or indemnification) for OEMs and partners with their platform. HTC is a loved WP7 manufacturer, so we hate to see anything negative happen to them.

Affected products include the HTC Droid Incredible, Droid Incredible 2, Wildfire, T-Mobile mytouch 3G, T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide, T-Mobile G1, T-Mobile G2, Evo 4G, Aria, Desire, Hero, Merge, Inspire 4G, Evo 4G, Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 4G, and the HTC Flyer tablet

The ITC () is looking into Apple's request for an investigation be started under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 against HTC imports. They will provide a conclusion as to whether an investigation is to be undertaken within 30 days. Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, defended the company against Apple's claims:

HTC disagrees with Apple’s actions and will fully defend itself. HTC strongly advocates intellectual property protection and will continue to respect other innovators and their technologies as we have always done, but we will continue to embrace competition through our own innovation as a healthy way for consumers to get the best mobile experience possible.

From day one, HTC has focused on creating cutting-edge innovations that deliver unique value for people looking for a smartphone. In 1999 we started designing the XDA(i) and T-Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition(ii), our first touch-screen smartphones, and they both shipped in 2002 with more than 50 additional HTC smartphone models shipping since then.

Source: TheNextWeb

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Yet more royalty charges from Microsoft (remember the report of HTC paying Microsoft $5 per device?), this time it's for Samsung, the largest Android OEM. The software behemoth is requesting a royalty fee of $15 per Android device sold by the handset manufacturer. This would prove to be a monster of a revenue stream with analysts forecasting Samsung selling around 19 million units between April and June alone this year.

The Maeil Business Newspaper quoted unnamed industry officials saying that Samsung would likely attempt to negotiate the fee and lower it to $10 in exchange for presumably more Windows Phone 7 devices and a 'deeper alliance' with Microsoft.

Via: AndroidCentral, Reuters

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9

Windows 8 UI on Android Tablet [Video]

This is a pretty neat video of not only the Windows Phone 7 lock screen for Android, which is being worked on by the guys at WP7Android, but they have managed to build a Windows 8 live tile look too with Desktop Visualizer and ADW EX on a Galaxy tablet, running Honeycomb 3.1. Apart from the stock Android style clock and icons on the bottom left (which I cannot stand personally) what they've managed to achieve with the tiles is really impressive.

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8

Smartphone OS shapes

This is an extremely interesting observation. Many would ignore shapes used on smartphone handsets, simply because those shapes would be tied to app launchers or tiles which all contain either images or information. As one can see in the image above, Clayton Miller, a graphic and interaction designer (creater of 10/GUI), has aligned the different shapes adopted by the smartphone market.

From one perspective, you could assume that the shapes shown above is an illustration of the transformation from a square to a circle. Microsoft use the simple four-sided approach with the Metro UI, Apple keep things aesthetically pleasing with a roundrect, Nokia use a squircle and HP have a full circle to play with. Clayton states that Android doesn't have a unified shape, a possible symptom of fragmentation?

It's worth noting that smaller competitors use same shapes as the big players, Bada from Samsung makes use of squares but can't come close to Microsoft's tile implementation and RIM use roundrects throughout but are no match for Apple's iconic design.

Source: Clayton Miller

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A WDS study of 600,000 support calls across Europe, North America, South Africa and Australia shows that the WP7 devices are less susceptible to hardware failure than their Android counterparts.  In the year-long study that included WP7, Android, iOS and RIM devices, WDS compared the number of calls per OS with the ones where hardware failure was the culprit.  Though WP7's 9% hardware failure out-performed Android's 14%, it still finished in a close third behind iOS' 8%.  Surprisingly, RIM came in at number one with a meager 3.7% failure rate.

The primary reason given for the differences between brands was the number of OEMs who manufacture devices for each company.  Android, licensed as open source, is used by 35 different manufacturers, some of which were much more likely to produce failing devices than others.  Microsoft also licenses out WP7, but with stricter hardware requirements.  Meanwhile, Apple and RIM produce their own software and hardware, and thus have tighter quality control.

WDS admits that the study is not fool proof, as it could only determine what percentage of calls could be attributed to hardware, but not the percentage of over all calls in comparison to the over all number of phones shipped in that period of time.  Either way, the outcome is pretty positive for Microsoft, whose hardware reliability rate will likely see a boost once Nokia's WP7 handsets hit the market.  Recently we caught a glimpse of what's in store.  Nokia has near spotless reputation when it comes to their hardware.

Source: PCMag; Via: WPSauce

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13

Android is Nokia's backup plan? [Rumor]

According to a report over at the Fone Arena, Nokia have undergone some experiments in the Android field as well as Windows Phone 7, which is expected when they were deciding on a different OS to focus on since Symbian was a losing cause.

Our dear friend Eldar Murtazin has remained adamant that we can look forward to some Android devices in 2012 should the WP7 partnership with Microsoft fall through. I don't believe Nokia should have any problems with selling any devices should they stick to their incredible N9 design approach and engage in some effective marketing. Let's just see what happens when Sea Ray hits the shelves before anything else.

Via: Fone Arena

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