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May 17, 2013
Smartphones and tablets rule portable gaming market

Android and iOS accounted for three times as much gaming revenue in the first quarter of 2013 as handheld consoles, according to new figures from App Annie and IDC. The Portable Gaming Report Q1 2013 reveals that iOS and Google Play both saw growth in game downloads and consumer spending in the quarter, with iOS now the leader in consumer spending on games. Gaming-optimised handhelds, meanwhile, experienced significant decreases in consumer spending and packaged game shipments in Q1, due to the seasonal nature of their business. The report predicts that Google Play is now likely to surpass gaming-optimised handhelds in 2Q13.

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May 17, 2013
Nokia helps Windows Phone edge past Blackberry, but it’s still nowhere near Android

Windows Phone has sneaked past Blackberry into third position among smartphone operating systems worldwide, according to IDC, but its 3.2% market share of devices shipped in the first quarter of the year still pales in comparison compared with Android (75.0%) and iOS (17.3%). Windows Phone shipped 7.0m units in Q1, up 133.3% from Q1 2012, a performance that “helps validate the direction taken by Microsoft and key partner Nokia” according to IDC senior research analyst Kevin Restivo. Nokia accounted for 79.0% of all Windows Phone shipments during the quarter and has now shipped 20.3m Windows Phone devices in total. IDC says that the gains made by Windows Phone “demonstrate both end-user demand and OEM support”. But it is clearly still nowhere near enough to get anywhere near Android, which increased its market share from 59.1% a year ago to 75.0%, shipping 162.1m handsets in the quarter. “Given the relatively low volume generated, the Windows Phone camp will need to show further gains to solidify its status as an alternative to Android or iOS,” Restivo explains.

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May 16, 2013
Skobbler goes for the Achilles with new Android app

Skobbler has launched a GPS Navigation & Maps app for Android, which it says targets the Achilles heels for Google Maps and satnav apps. How so? Well, the app offers online and offline functionality for worldwide digital mapping and turn-by-turn navigation at the comparatively low price of £1, which the company claims is a “market first”. “While Google Maps is free to download and use, its offline functionality is very restricted,” Skobbler argues. “Expensive alternatives such as Co-Pilot Live or TomTom UK & Ireland/Europe do offer premium features and of course offline navigation, yet none of them give users a choice of which areas they want to use online and which offline. Most premium sat nav apps generally cannot be used as travel apps at all, as their pure map functionalities are limited at best.”

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May 16, 2013
Google I/O showcases All Access Music, Google Play games and more

Google had pre-warned that its I/O conference keynote last night would be focused on services and developers rather than new Android hardware. The announcements were impressive in their breadth and ambition.

The company unveiled its Google Play Music All Access subscription streaming-music service; revealed Google Play game services as a toolset for connected games on Android and beyond; and announced that 900m Android devices have been activated and 48bn apps downloaded from Google Play.
Oh, and the company is also targeting Apple’s dominance of the US education/tablet market; launching a cross-platform messaging app under its Hangouts brand; and working on a new version of Google Maps for Android and iOS (including iPad). All in all, a busy night.

Click for full details.

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May 15, 2013
Google tipped to unveil Android music subscription service tonight

Google’s I/O developer conference kicks off tonight with a keynote speech that’s expected to focus on developers and services rather than hardware. It seems a Spotify-style subscription music service may be part of the picture.

The Verge claimed last night that Google has signed licensing deals with major labels Universal Music and Sony Music, Billboard added that third major Warner Music is also thought to be signed up, and the New York Times suggested that the new service will offer paid subscriptions only, with no ad-supported free tier.

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May 15, 2013
Android accounted for three quarters of smartphone sales in Q1 2013

Gartner has produced its latest numbers for smartphone sales to end users, claiming that 210m smartphones were sold in Q1, up 42.9% year-on-year and accounting for 49.3% of all mobile phone sales in the quarter.

Android is the 900lb gorilla in the smartphone market: Gartner reckons it took a 74.4% share in Q1, as 156.2m Android smartphones were sold.

That’s well ahead of iPhone’s 38.3m sales for a market share of 18.2%, with BlackBerry (6.2m / 3%) and Windows Phone (6m / 2.9%) still leagues behind.

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May 14, 2013
Android devs can now reply to Google Play reviews

All Android developers can now reply to reviews of their apps on Google Play, after Google expanded the pilot scheme it launched last year. Developers can reply via the Google Play Developer Console, with all replies shown publicly below the corresponding user review. Users will receive an email notification when developers reply to them and can then either reply directly by email or update their review, should they choose to do so. Developers can also update their replies at any time.

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May 14, 2013
What’s next for Android? New boss Sundar Pichai explains…

With Google’s I/O developer conference set to outline the next steps for Android this week, Google’s new Android boss Sundar Pichai has been talking about the company’s plans.

“The momentum — in terms of new phones and new tablets — is breathtaking. I see huge opportunity, because it is just shocking how much of the world doesn’t have access to computing,” he tells Wired in his first interview in the new role.
“Here’s the challenge: without changing the open nature of Android, how do we help improve the whole world’s end-user experience? For all your users, no matter where they are, or what phone or tablet they are buying or what tablet they are buying.”
Pichai also talks developer payouts for Android, a bit. “We saw payouts to developers on Play quadruple in 2012,” he says, without giving a specific figure. Apple regularly announces its iOS developer payouts – it passed $9bn earlier this year – aiming to hammer home the message that its platform is much more lucrative than Android.

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May 13, 2013
Amazon Cloud Drive Photos hits iOS

Amazon has taken its Cloud Drive Photos service to iOS, after launching on Android last November. The two apps offer largely similar services: both autosave the user’s photos when running; both give users access to their Amazon Cloud photos from their mobile device; and both apps allow users to share their Cloud Drive pictures through email, Facebook and Twitter.

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