March 30, 2012

Android Platform manager steps down after failing to fix app sales

By Daniel Eran Dilger

Published: 02:37 PM EST (11:37 AM PST)
Eric Chu has stepped down as manager of Google’s troubled software market for Android, and is being replaced by Jamie Rosenberg from Google Music as the company aligns all of its digital content under the Google Play umbrella.

Rosenberg has led Google Music for the last two years after arriving from Microsoft via its disastrous Pink Project acquisition of Danger (the company cofounded by Android manager Andy Rubin).

Chu plans to take another position within Google, leaving Rosenberg to take over his tasks in managing Android app sales.

The failed plan to fix Android Market

Last January, Chu admitted to “anxious app developers” that Google was “not happy” about the limited number of apps actually being purchased in Android Market, and outlined plans for turning the beleaguered software store around in 2011.

Chu delivered upon promises to add iOS-style in-app purchases, and to remodel Android Market and expand its global exposure and the visibility of Android apps last summer after acknowledging that the company needed to clean up Android Market as it had failed to do in 2010 following high profile complaints from developers including Jon Lech Johansen,

Chu said there was a team tasked with “weeding out apps that violate Android Market’s terms of service,” an indication that Google’s free-for-all market design was recognized to have serious drawbacks. The company also took steps to restrict its licensing partners and discourage them from making drastic changes that fragment the platform.

A very bad year for Android Market

However, Android app sales have not dramatically turned around since, despite the fact that the majority of smartphones not running Apple’s iOS incorporate some version of Google’s Android platform software, providing the search giant with a large installed base to sell apps.

By the end of 2011, analysts were pointing out that Google had struggled to gain traction for app sales in Android Market. Apple’s iOS platform continued to eat up around 90 percent of mobile software revenues.

At the same time, Android Market was targeted as being plagued with malware and spyware by security companies that note Apple’s curated iOS App Store doesn’t have the same issues, despite much greater sales volumes, the much wider global reach of iTunes, and far higher greater revenues and profits that are supposed to attract malicious attacks.

Throughout 2011, Google focused on launching Android tablets with the release of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, but its efforts had so little impact that both HP’s discontinued webOS TouchPad and RIM’s dismal sales of PlayBooks largely overshadowed Android’s advance among tablets as an alternative to the iPad.

The most successful Android-based tablets in 2011 were those sold by Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but those products used an older version of Android incompatible with the Honeycomb software Google was trying to sell, and both of those products tied app sales to the booksellers’ own software markets rather than Google’s Android Market.

After a bleak year for Honeycomb tablets, Google’s latest release of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich debuted this winter, aimed at reusing Honeycomb’s development efforts for smartphones. However, the new software was initially only available for Google’s Galaxy Nexus, and has been slow to roll out on other handsets. The new software is only supported on new phones released in the last year, but even those users must wait for carriers and hardware vendors to release specific builds for their particular phone model.

Apps were not a priority for spreading Android adoption

A report by TechCrunch described a political feud between Chu (who managed developer relations and business development) and David Conway (who managed product development).

“Because there were two heads with relatively equal power, it was difficult to understand who had final say and that led to unnecessary politics,” the report stated.

“Because Rubin judges the success of Android primarily through device activations and mobile search revenue, the app store has been a secondary priority inside the group. This is even though apps are a key reason consumers might choose one type of device over another.”

Chu had made comments a year ago that Google was “betting on” HTML5 as a way to create apps. Google employees have previously made it clear that the company sees the Java-like core VM of Android as only a stepping stone to a future where apps are created in HTML, as soon as web tools can support sophisticated apps.

Not worth Google Play-ing

Developers have frequently described Google’s Android app market, recently merged into the company’s music, movies and ebook sales under the new, non-Android specific name Google Play, as not worth their time to support given the added complexities of the wide open hardware configurations among Android devices compared to the minimal revenues the store generates.

Mika Mobile recently explained why it was dropping support for Android, noting that “it doesn’t make a lot of sense to dedicate resources to it,” and stating, “we spent about 20% of our total man-hours last year dealing with Android in one way or another – porting, platform specific bug fixes, customer service, etc.”

The developer told customers, “I would have preferred spending that time on more content for you, but instead I was thanklessly modifying shaders and texture formats to work on different GPUs, or pushing out patches to support new devices without crashing, or walking someone through how to fix an installation that wouldn’t go through. We spent thousands on various test hardware.

“These are the unsung necessities of offering our apps on Android. Meanwhile, Android sales amounted to around 5% of our revenue for the year, and continues to shrink. Needless to say, this ratio is unsustainable.

“From a purely economic perspective, I can no longer legitimize spending time on Android apps, and the new features of the market do nothing to change this,” the developer wrote.


Install iPhoto For iOS Onto Unsupported Devices [Video How-To]

Install iPhoto For iOS Onto Unsupported Devices [Video How-To]

When Apple announced iPhoto for iOS at the recent iPad keynote, they specifically made it incompatible with both the first generation iPad as well as the fourth generation iPod touch. In reality, iPhoto can run smoothly on both of these devices with just a little workaround. In this video, I’ll show you the trick to getting iPhoto running on your unsupported device.

You can find iPhone Configuration Utility here.

Thanks AppAdvice

Apple Releases iPhone Configuration Utility 3.1

Michael SteeberMichael Steeber is a student who is obsessed with everything Apple. He enjoys making videos and runs the MSComputerVideos YouTube channel in his free time. You can follow him on Twitter as well.

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Cult of Mac

Tilt to Live devs return to iOS with accessible turn-based strategy in Outwitters

One Man Left is the two-person studio behind the very popular 2010 iOS release Tilt to Live — and that’s all the two developers have ever released so far. Alex Okafor and Adam Stewart are finally ready, however, to show off their brand new title, and I got to play with it briefly last week at GDC.

The game is called Outwitters, and it’s a strong right turn from the arcade frenzy action of Tilt to Live. Instead of bullets flying everywhere, Outwitters is turn-based strategy that takes place on a board of hexagons, with three different factions battling it out over time. Players can play as the Scallywags, the Feedback, or the Adorables, and each faction has a number of different units (including one faction-only unit each — the Feedback, for example, have a floating brain that can turn units against their team) to pit up against each other on the game’s various battlefields.

Turn-based strategy is often overly complex, but Outwitters smartly keeps things quick and relatively easy. You’re given a number of resource points per turn, and you can use those points to move around, attack, or summon new units to the board every time your turn comes around. Those points can be saved up over time (so you can save up for a special unit), and there are also special spots on the board which will grant you more points as you hold them, so conquering parts of the map will help out a lot.

The gameplay itself is sort of similar to Robot Entertainment’s recent release Hero Academy, and yes, One Man Left did do a little bit of forehead-slapping when Hero Academy arrived right in the middle of development on Outwitters. But the game is definitely different enough: The boards are bigger, and there’s a fog of war, which means there’s no “undo” option. In Hero Academy, you can try as many turns as you like before registering your moves, but in Outwitters, it’s think first and then move for good.

I played a little bit of the pass and play mode, but there is an extensive online component, with unranked and fully ranked play across a number of different leagues. One Man Left has really gone the extra mile for online play, so there will likely be no shortage of competitors to match yourself up against. Just like Starcraft 2′s league system, you can start in the Fluffy League, and rank your way all the way up to the Super Titan League, so if you’re into the game, you can play Outwitters for a long, long time.

The title will be free to download, and then (similar again to Hero Academy) players will be able to pick up packs of maps and extra teams for an extra fee, or be able to just buy the whole shebang in one go. Outwitters seems excellent, and of course we’d expect nothing less than the makers of Tilt to Live. Turn-based strategy probably wouldn’t have been my first guess when thinking about a followup from these guys, but nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the game’s release in a few months.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Talkcast tonight, 7pm PT/10pm ET: iPad no-speculation edition!

It’s Sunday, like it or not! If you are in a DST-observing area and remembered to “spring forward,” then we’ll be right on time for you tonight, 7PM Pacific time, 10pm Eastern. We’ll finally be discussing the actual new iPad as opposed to speculating about it; we’ll chat about the new updates available for iPhoto and iMovie, and who knows what else. We might even get some updates from SxSW and GDC.

Per tradition, Kelly hosting the show means there will be aftershow. Which means…well, anything really, the aftershow has a tendency to wander.

Since it’s really all about you, the community, join me won’t you? To participate, you can use the browser-only Talkshoe client, the embedded Facebook app, or download the classic TalkShoe Pro Java client; however, for +5 Interactivity, you should call in. For the web UI, just click the Talkshoe Web button on our profile page at 4 HI/7 PDT/10 pm EDT Sunday. To call in on regular phone or VoIP lines (Viva free weekend minutes!): dial (724) 444-7444 and enter our talkcast ID, 45077 — during the call, you can request to talk by keying in *8.

If you’ve got a headset or microphone handy on your Mac, you can connect via the free X-Lite or other SIP clients (aside from Skype or Google Voice), basic instructions are here. (If you prefer Blink, the pro version is available in the Mac App Store.) Talk to you tonight!

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Third-gen iPads sell out in pre-order, European orders now show 2-3 week delivery

To the surprise of absolutely nobody who follows the fortunes of Apple closely, the third-generation iPad is already a huge success. CNET reported on Friday that the initial batch of pre-order iPads has sold out. We had previously reported that the ship-by date for the U.S. had slipped to March 19, but the situation is much more dire for those outside of America.

Does that mean you won’t get your hands on a new iPad if you were planning on waiting in line on Friday? No — an Apple spokesperson told CNET that “Beginning Friday, March 16, the new iPad will be available for purchase at Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers on a first come, first-served basis.” That translates to “Get in line early if you want an iPad.”

While that doesn’t really give an indication of exactly how many iPads will be available at Apple Stores and other retailers on Friday, potential line-sitters can take solace in those persistent rumors that Apple’s been shipping planeloads of new iPads around the world for several weeks.

In the U.S., doing a pre-order today will pretty much guarantee that your new device will ship by March 19. As you can see from the screenshots below (taken Sunday afternoon, 3/11/2012), things aren’t as rosy for some of the other countries that will also get the new iPad starting next week. I feel sorry for the folks in Hong Kong; the online store is showing the next-generation iPad as “unavailable.” Better start standing in line now, people.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

MacLegion Spring Bundle: $800 Worth Of Great Mac Apps For $50 [Deals]

MacLegion Spring Bundle: $  800 Worth Of Great Mac Apps For $  50 [Deals]

The guys at MacLegion are back at it with their 2012 Spring Bundle. They’ve assembled 10 fantastic Mac apps from great developers and packaged them into an offering that’s hard to pass up. If you decide to purchase this year’s Spring Bundle, you’ll be getting $ 800 worth of Mac software for only $ 50. Doesn’t get much better than that.

There’s only a little over a week left before the bundle expires, so don’t hesitate to buy if you’re interested.

Here are the included apps:

The first 5,000 customers also get Cinch ($ 7 Mac app) thrown in for free.

As always, our bundles focus on quality, practical and every-day apps that you’ll enjoy using. This hand-picked line-up ensures that all applications featured within it are the latest versions each developer has to offer. The benefit for you doesn’t stop there – MacLegion bundles entitle you to full after-sales support as well as valid upgrade paths for later software releases, just as if you had bought each application from the developers themselves. We guarantee it – Legion’s honor.

Visit the MacLegion website to learn more and purchase the bundle. If you buy now you’ll also be entered into a drawing to win the new iPad.

MacLegion Fall Bundle Offers 10 Great Mac Apps for $ 50 [Deals]

Cult of Mac

Makers Of Popular iOS Game “Flight Control” Tease Upcoming Space Version [Video]

Flight Control is one of the most popular games to ever land in the App Store. The game makers, Firemint, won an Apple design award for the beautiful iPhone and iPad app. The next iteration of Flight Control is set to arrive later this month, right in time for the new iPad’s Retina display.

Flight Control Rocket will take you into space for a new set of adventures. This one looks like a whole lot of fun.

Leave the terrestrial skies of Earth and venture into a whole new galaxy of adventure, action and addictive, path-drawing gameplay! Relish compelling yet intuitive touch screen controls; soak in the retro Sci-Fi visuals and original music score and unlock a cast of quirky Robots to grant your mothership a competitive edge.

We’ll let you know when Flight Control Rocket lands in the App Store in the coming weeks. For now you can download the iPhone version of Flight Control and Flight Control HD for iPad in the App Store.

Makers Of Popular iOS Game “Flight Control” Tease Upcoming Space Version [Video]

Makers Of Popular iOS Game “Flight Control” Tease Upcoming Space Version [Video]

Makers Of Popular iOS Game “Flight Control” Tease Upcoming Space Version [Video]

Makers Of Popular iOS Game “Flight Control” Tease Upcoming Space Version [Video]

Cult of Mac favorite: Flight Control (iPhone game)

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a news contributor at Cult of Mac. He also covers jailbreak news and reviews. He previously served as an editor for iDownloadBlog. You can find out more about him on his personal site and also follow him on Twitter.

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Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , , , |

Cult of Mac

DeepWorld is a 2D Minecraft-alike coming to Mac and iOS

If you threw a bunch of gaming catchwords in a hat and then pulled them out one by one and put them in order, you might have an approximate description for the upcoming Deepworld. It’s a 2D, steampunk, post-apocalyptic sandbox MMO, with Minecraft-style creation, and block graphics that open up to a quite varied and vast game world. Deepworld is almost a game that sounds too good to live up to its promise, but its developers Bytebin (consisting of three guys who have a ton of experience in server architecture, but not quite as much in game development and design) understand they’re promising a lot.

But the version they kindly showed me at GDC last week definitely lived up to that promise, as least as just two of their characters wandering around the world together. Deepworld’s graphics may not look great in screenshots (they’re … “stylistic”, you might say), but as you explore more and more of the world, there’s a charm there that can’t be denied. Only after a makeshift shelter was built, complete with lanterns spreading pools of light, and a storm began in the background, with lightning flashing across the sky and acid rain coming down hard, did the game’s beauty really make itself evident.

There’s a lot of beauty in the various mechanics, too, though. One of the devs describes the title as “a game based on a sort of scarcity,” and that scarcity refers to all of the various resources in this originally barren world. As you dig down, lava can be found, which creates steam, which can then be transferred into pipes and used to power technology. There is a crafting system, but unlike Minecraft (where items have to be discovered and built), the game basically just offers up a menu of what’s available to build from the various resources you’ve collected.

The interface is nice as well — you can build whatever you want just using the cursor on the Mac version, and while the iOS version is still under development (“There’s a few kinks with touch,” Bytebin says), being able to “draw” creations on the iPad’s screen will be nice.

The biggest issue with Deepworld probably isn’t in the game, however: It’ll probably be with keeping the servers up. The title is subdivided into 1200×800 block “zones,” and the devs are hoping to limit those zones to a certain number of players (and maybe eventually even charge players to customize and save those zones). But there will be a metagame of sorts in “improving the ecosystem” of each zone, so it’s not hard to see that Bytebin may run into trouble, if the game turns out to be uber popular, in keeping its servers afloat.

Bytebin understands the concern (and again, the team’s background is in running large servers for corporate software, so they have a fighting chance at least), but we’ll find out for sure how they do when the game goes for an open beta later on this year. Alpha is set to take place “in a few weeks,” and there’s a beta signup for the game available now. Deepworld looks really fascinating, and it’s a title we will probably be proud to have on Mac and iOS.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Ultra-rare Apple WALT up for grabs on eBay

TUAW readers who are into collecting Apple devices are going to love this eBay find: a prototype of an unreleased product from 1993. The Apple WALT (Wizzy Active Lifestyle Telephone) was introduced at Macworld Boston in ’93, the same venue where the ill-fated Newton MessagePad first went on sale.

WALT, like Newton, also had a touchscreen, a stylus, and handwriting recognition. It was designed to be a companion to a home landline phone, and was designed in cooperation with BellSouth. Built into WALT were services like an address book, fax (remember that technology?), caller ID, custom ringtones, and online banking. To interact with all of these services, users worked with a customized version of System 6 with a HyperCard GUI in place of the Finder.

According to the seller’s description, “Back in 2008 PC World published a list of the “Top 15 Vaporware Products of All Time”. The W.A.LT. was #1.” While WALT was ogled by the public at Macworld Boston 1993, the device never went into production. This prototype, complete with a full printed user manual (so much for ease of use), is being sold by eBay user russel400. The WALT is priced at US$ 8,000 — note that you’d better be handy with a soldering iron if you want to get it back to working order, as it has a few “loose connections” that have rendered it unusable.

Of course, you could also spend that eight grand on sixteen brand new third-generation iPads…

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

iOS users jump time zones during DST switch

Ah, the pleasures of Daylight Saving Time. The semi-annual clock shift (known as “Summer Time” in the UK and Europe) saves energy on lighting and heating and aligns daylight hours with the times most people are active; unfortunately, the actual change leads to frayed sleep, a brief spike in traffic accidents, and frustration with gadgets that ought to know how to handle leaping an hour forward.

Apple’s devices and operating systems are by no means immune to the confounding effects of DST, as we’ve seen repeatedly over the past few years. Odd behaviors have cropped up including alarm fouls on iOS, mistaken clocks on Snow Leopard and even Siri being confused about when DST actually starts.

This year, despite substantial updates to iOS, there still appear to be a few kinks to work out. Several readers report that rather than jumping forward an hour last night as expected, their iPhone clocks actually shifted in the wrong direction — back an hour — because the automatic time zone adjustment went wonky. A reader in Nashville has a phone that thinks he’s in Mountain Time; a reader in Florida’s phone is convinced it should be on Chicago time. Our colleague Mel Martin lives in Arizona, which mostly does not observe DST at all; nevertheless, his phone (which had automatic time zone settings & location settings on) incorrectly jumped forward one hour.

Most of these issues will probably resolve themselves with a device restart, or by turning timezone automation on and off, but it’s still annoying. By now it’s probably too late to issue our regular reminder, but I’ll say it just the same: if you are depending on your iPhone as a critical, gonna-miss-my-flight, OMG-I’m-so-fired alarm clock, set a backup. Or two. In a pinch, use the countdown timer rather than the alarm clock — Siri can do that for you. For years, I’ve used a 999-minute pocket timer (a gift from SKYY Vodka inventor Maurice Kanbar) as a backup alarm, which trained me to multiply by 60 quickly; your iPhone won’t make you go through that work.

Thanks Tommy & Alexander

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog