Touch Carrom: Bringing the emotion for Android

Posted in android on June 23rd, 2014 by ricardo monagas – Comments Off

Carrom (or Karrom) is a strike and pocket table game of Eastern origin. This is famous in Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and surrounding zones. It’s usual to see regular tournaments in South Asia and families and friends playing it.

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Galaxy tab – first impressions

Posted in android on May 16th, 2011 by Abhishek Balaria – Comments Off

Being a passionate iPad user, I never gave Galaxy Tab much of a chance. Finally I got an opportunity to actually try out Galaxy Tab as part of a development project ZENTITY is working on. The project is exciting and probably one of it’s kind in this region, but more on that after the launch :-)

So, the Galaxy Tab. I assumed it will be a copy of the iPad in every form, I was quite surprised that except for the packaging and fact that it’s a full-screen device there is not much of a resemblance. The difference is almost like using an Android phone over an iPhone. The UI is reasonably polished. There are a few glitches, e.g. you don’t expect things like an empty Samsung Apps Store. This will never happen on an Apple device, but hey, give Sammy a chance here, it’s version one.

The empty samsung apps store

Rest of it is what you would expect on an Android device. It’s possible to get used to it and be reasonably productive. While using the tab I thought to myself, wow, if Samsung had released something like this back in 2006, I can totally see myself falling in love with it. But, of course, we are not in 2006 and there is the iPad.

There was one surprise though. The Amazon’s Kindle App. It totally blows the iPad version and even the Kindle e-ink reader itself. The magazine reading is not even supported on the iPad and here I was using the full color version with images on a Galaxy Tab! This, coupled with Amazon’s recent announcement makes me believe that Amazon will be a power in the Android space very soon.

The Kindle app on Galaxy Tab

Can’t wait to get my hands on one of those Honeycombs.

The Android Openness Delusion

Posted in android on September 6th, 2010 by Abhishek Balaria – Comments Off

Android is on a roll! That’s what we hear every day in the press and it seems to be true. My personal experience seem to validate this. I must, however, take all this anecdotal “evidence” with a pinch of salt because I work in telecommunications sector and it’s not the best sample.

Every time you speak with an Android user they always tell you about the openness. The platform is open source, you can buy it from any manufacturer and carrier you like, Google doesn’t rule the Android Market with an iron fist. The fact that the platform is sponsored by the bastion of openness Google, only reinforces this myth further. On the surface of it, it would seem that Android is indeed the holy grail of a completely open mobile OS platform. The only problem is that it isn’t. So, what is wrong with this picture? Let’s tackle the issues one by one:

The Open Handset Alliance
We have seen a lot of alliances and foundations come and go. OHA is not much different from a lot of committees in most respects. From what we have seen, it’s still heavily dominated by Google engineers and Google sets most of the agenda. At the heart of Android idea and implementation is ability for Google to push more and more adverts. That’s what the whole thing is about. Google needs be where the eyeballs are and it’s clear that they are shifting to mobile devices. OHA is just a front for Google to push it’s agenda.

Open Source
Android is open source and therefore you can take it and do anything you want with it. But can you really? As Robert Werlinger blogged recently, the only truly open components are camera, GPS, WIFI, Sensors, 3D , Bluetooth, and Market. Needless to say those things alone can’t make a smartphone.

Openness is about choice. Android must be open because you can get it from Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Lenovo and even Dell.
That must be great for consumers, all that competition will drive down the prices. By that token Windows Mobile (or whatever they call it these days) is open too. The problem, though, is that it’s the wrong indicator. How many manufacturers can sell a platform doesn’t make it open. It only means that there will be a price war, lower margins, weird customizations in an effort to differentiate and overall a fragmented user experience and developer platform.

They seem be the weakest link in this chain. They would love to monetize the pipe and get a toll on anything that goes through it. Google seem to be their best hope of doing it. They love rev-share, it does sound good on paper that Google will share the ad and app revenue with them. Apple doesn’t let them come even miles near the App Store, so this is their chance to finally get some piece of the action. Only time will tell. But most likely Google will avoid them like plague as soon as Google would not need them. They should be focussed on bringing true value-add and not just try to behave like toll collectors.

Android Market
I must say, I don’t have much experience with Android Market. I have used it a couple of times and in the Czech Republic you still cannot buy paid apps and developers can’t sell the apps. Only free apps are allowed. Android market is indeed open in the sense that it doesn’t require every app to go through a central approval process. I think Google would love to have the kind of control Apple has over the app store, but this doesn’t work for Google right now. They need to attract the devs to their fledgling platform and an approval process will only slow it down. They are losing both on quantity and quality at the moment, and honestly, this is not going to change any time soon. Anyway, on the topic of openness, the remote kill switch for the apps and homing to Google to verify the authenticity of an app doesn’t seem too open. Where is the outrage?

This is not an Android bashing post and don’t get me wrong, I believe eventually Android will have bigger market share than the iPhone (or Blackberry for that matter). I actually use an HTC Desire from time to time (mostly when I need a MiFi network for my iPad). Luckily I was able to update to FroYo as soon as HTC made it available and my carrier allowed it immediately. Most of my friends were not so lucky though, they are still waiting for Samsung or HTC or their carrier to “allow” the upgrade. That too doesn’t sound too open to me.