Nexus 7 Trade-Ins Suggest Lots Of Upgraders To New Model, Little To No Interest From The iPad Crowd


The new Google Nexus 7 is a big improvement over the original with a bunch of additions like LTE and a super high-resolution display – the best in tablets, in fact. And that’s driving a lot of first generation device owners to trade in their old Nexus 7, according to gadget buy-back site Gazelle. There was a 333 percent spike in the number of Nexus 7 tablets traded in compared to the same day last week, for example.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, that spike was even higher – a 442 percent jump in Nexus 7 tablets happened between the day before Google’s official unveiling of the new model, and the day of. The Nexus 7 trade-in activity spiked so high that it made up nearly a quarter of all trade-ins for non-iPad tablets since the site began accepting them earlier this year.

Wednesday, the day Google made its announcement, was also the biggest Nexus 7 trade-in day at Gazelle to date, beating the next biggest day by 380 percent. That previous record was set when the new Nexus 7 leaked on July 17, which clearly prompted early adopters to take advantage of a small head start ahead of the big reveal.

The news means that Google Nexus 7 owners are probably happy with their devices and eager to grab new ones, by trading in their last-gen devices to fund their purchases, but there’s another stat that tells another side of the story: Gazelle saw no appreciable increase in iPad trade-ins on the new Nexus 7 launch day. That means Google probably isn’t luring iPad owners away from the iOS fold.

It’s probably not surprising to longtime tablet space watchers that the new Nexus 7, with all its apparent merit, isn’t an iPad killer. The Apple camp seems happy where they are, but the tablet market has plenty of room to grow; we’ll see if Google can expand outward, or if it’s mostly eating its own Nexus tail with this new model.

Android 4.3 Includes Hidden App Permissions Manager That Could Bolster Privacy & Security

app ops

As expected, Google officially confirmed Android 4.3 at its event on Wednesday with Android chief Sundar Pichai. Among the new features/improvements in the update are a redesigned camera interface, Bluetooth Low Energy support, performance improvements such as smoother animations, and multi-user restricted profiles. But there’s apparently something else that Google didn’t talk about. Android Police has unearthed a hidden app permissions manager that allows users to selectively disable certain permissions for apps.

The feature is apparently called App Ops, and lets users toggle app permissions – such as location and the ability to post notifications – on and off for individual apps. Android Police notes that a developer has already created an app (available here on Google Play if you have Android 4.3 installed) that foregrounds App Ops, and has been having a play around with it.

The basic idea of the feature is apparently to give Android users more flexibility over what apps can and can’t do, allowing them to choke off battery draining features, say, or rein in irritating notification behaviour. If Google does decide to fully implement App Ops as a user-facing feature, there are potential big benefits here, from a security and privacy point of view, being as it could give users fine-grained control over what each app can do.

Apps they might otherwise have been tentative about installing could presumably be fine-tuned to fit their tastes now – which may also have some developer benefits, if it helps drive overall installs.

However Android Police notes that while App Ops does work, the feature is clearly not ready for the prime time yet – while testing it with the Facebook app they found certain app permissions only appeared in the permissions list once the app had made use of them, for example. Such messiness likely explains why Google has hidden App Ops and wasn’t ready to talk about it on Wednesday. We’ve reached out to Mountain View to ask for its plans for the feature and will update this story with any response.

Another possible complication attached to the feature is user confusion if a user doesn’t realise that the reason a particular in-app feature isn’t working is because it has been toggled off at source. A similar problem can occur on some Android devices with the quick settings in the notification tray overriding the main setting for things like silencing sounds/ringtones. Add in per app permissions and the potential user confusion is enormous. Android Police notes that one way for Google to get round could be to include some kind of system notifications warning users when App Ops is limiting app permissions. Although that would get old pretty quick if users get nagged every time they open an app with restricted permissions.

It is also possible that the App Ops feature has been created by Google to power the multi-user restricted profiles feature it did announced on Wednesday, which allows for parental controls to be implemented on Android devices.

The Android platform also has the most malware activity associated with it of all the mobile platforms, so the App Ops feature could be something Google is lining up to help bolster security concerns attached to Android. For instance, the feature could allow users to block apps from making calls – to kill off premium rate phone call/SMS malware – or trace which apps have been making calls to identify rogue software.

Facebook to Remove Messaging From Mobile Apps, Force Download of ‘Messenger’

Facebook Messenger

Facebook is taking its standalone app strategy to an extreme new level on Wednesday. It’s starting to notify users they’ll no longer be able to send and receive messages in Facebook for iOS and Android, and will instead have to download Facebook Messenger to chat on mobile. In an on stage talk I did with Mark Zuckerberg in November, the EO revealed an explanation for today’s change that Facebook’s PR team referred me to: “the other thing that we’re doing with Messenger is making it so once you have the standalone Messenger app, we are actually taking messaging out of the main Facebook app. And the reason why we’re doing that is we found that having it as a second-class thing inside the Facebook app makes it so there’s more friction to replying to messages, so we would rather have people be using a more focused experience for that.”

Read the full story at TechCrunch.

Navfree: Android gets free satnav without the roaming charge

Navfree, the gratis GPS mapping service for iPhone, has now arrived on Android. The app brings turn-by-turn guidance for Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, India, South Africa and Latin America. We know what you’re thinking: Android already has turn-by-turn sat nav guidance in the form of Google Maps Navigation. Luckily, Navfree has an extra trick up its sleeve.

Navfree for Android packs a similar punch to Nokia’s Ovi Maps: it allows users to download and store the maps, which means you can use the turn-by-turn guidance in areas without 3G signal, or when abroad, where doing so would result in massive data roaming bills.

That’s what makes Navfree so special: its ability to guide you without using a drop of your monthly data allowance. On top of that, users can update the maps with knowledge of their own local area at, which makes it a mutually beneficial app for its 3.7 million current members. All this for nought? Where’s the catch?

Google Acquires Assets of Green Throttle Games: Is an Android Console On the Way?

Green Throttle Gaming

Four months after Santa Clara-based Green Throttle Games slowly shuffled off this mortal coil, PandoDaily has confirmed that its parts and labor have been quietly scooped up by Google as a possible asset in the increasingly warming arms race between tech giants to create the perfect set-top TV box. Green Throttle Games launched in late 2012, the brainchild of Charles Huang of Guitar Hero fame and Matt Crowley and Karl Townsend, who worked on the initial iteration of the Palm Pilot. It was backed by $6 million in series A funding, led by Trinity Ventures and DCM. Green Throttle sold a custom Atlas controller, which worked alongside its Android Arena app via bluetooth. It was criticized for being late into the space, too far behind competitors like OUYA and PowerA but the founders insisted that its point of difference was that it had made its software developer kit available to developers to innovate on its platform.

Read the full story at Pando Daily.

Ice Cream Sandwich complete, Google erects statue

As Google confirms 190 million Android devices

Google has announced that Ice Cream Sandwich is complete. To honour the achievement it has erected a statue of an Ice Cream Sandwich Android figure at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View.

As it did with the launch of Gingerbread and Android releases before that, Googlers placed the new giant sized moto on the lawn and released a video on YouTube to celebrate.

The timing of the video, titled “Calling All Ice Cream Sandwich Lovers” comes as Google announced it would be unveiling the latest version of Android to the world on the 19 October in Hong Kong.

Google has been coy in detailing what is next for the mobile operating system, but has said that the main goal of the new OS would be to merge Gingerbread and Honeycomb operating systems together.

The news comes as Google announced that it had had a bumper quarter.

“We had a great quarter,” said Larry Page, CEO of Google. “Revenue was up 33 per cent year on year and our quarterly revenue was just short of $10 billion. Google+ is now open to everyone and we just passed the 40 million user mark.”

Page added that there are now 190 million Android devices.

Nokia’s X family of Android-forked devices targets price-conscious customers in growth markets

Nokia11 520x245 Nokias X family of Android forked devices targets price conscious customers in growth markets

The most exciting, and bizarre, of Nokia’s announcements today at the Mobile World Congress belonged to the much-rumored Nokia X handset – and a surprise addition of another two peers, the X+ and XL – all of which run an operating system based on Android.

The devices are targeted at the “affordable smartphone” segment of the market and run the Nokia X OS platform – a forked version of Android that includes the Fastlane UI found on Asha devices.

The Nokia X’s hardware itself is aligned with its ‘affordable’ smartphone tag, offering a 1GHz dual-core processor, 4-inch 800 x 480 pixels IPS display and a 3-megapixel fixed focus camera on the rear. There’s also 4GB of on board storage and 512MB RAM.

NokiaX1 2 730x1091 Nokias X family of Android forked devices targets price conscious customers in growth markets

However, clearly the most notable thing about the device is the Nokia X software platform, which will run many standard Android apps.

In fact, Nokia told TNW that only three APIs have been changed, so if a developer isn’t making use of these, no changes are needed at all.

However, as the Nokia X is not an ‘Android’ device in the truest sense – it doesn’t have Google Play certification – apps need to be loaded onto the device from Nokia’s own app store, which will have a special section for apps that run on devices in the Nokia X family.

The word ‘family’ there is a telling one – this won’t be the only device to ship under the Nokia X branding and running the custom OS, despite the fact that Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s device business is expected to close by the end of this quarter.

“X signifies the cross over between three worlds: Android apps, Nokia design heritage and Microsoft services. It’s a family of affordable smartphones…today we’re talking about the first one, but there will be more [in 2014].”

In addition to providing largely unfettered access to Android apps, there are also a few exclusive apps like Mix Radio and Here Maps pre-installed on the device.

Other than loading apps via Nokia’s app store, users will also be able to download them from third-party app stores like Yandex or side-load an APK directly onto the device from a computer.

Where, when, how much?

NokiaX1 730x1044 Nokias X family of Android forked devices targets price conscious customers in growth markets

While it’s aimed primarily at developing markets, Nokia confirmed to TNW that the Nokia X will be a global handset, but with some omissions, namely: North America, Korea and Japan. So, there’s a chance you could see it land in the UK and Europe at some point, but if you live in North America and are interested, it looks like you’re not in luck for now.

“In North America we’re remain extremely focused on Lumia and generally speaking, Lumia remains our primary smartphone strategy.”

For other markets, the phone is due to go on sale next month, priced from 89 ($122) before taxes.

How did this happen??

Nokia told us that launching an Android-derived phone fits neatly with Microsoft’s ambitions to break into emerging markets and bring the next one billion users online.

“The essential reason in Microsoft being interested in Nokia mobile phones and not just Lumia is that they are also [looking to] connecting the next one billion [people] to the cloud; to their cloud services like Skype and Outlook and such.

Our strategies are very much aligned, what we bring to the table is a very wide reach into these growth markets, to price points and consumers that typically know the Microsoft brand but might not have personal experience of it simply because they could not afford a product or service before.”

So, although the idea of Microsoft supporting devices that run an Android-based OS might seem a bit unusual at first, when considered in the context of locking one billion people into using its cloud services, it makes a little more sense.

Visit our MWC 2014 page for more coverage

Dell’s Cloud-Friendly Project Ophelia Inches Closer To Release As Testers Receive Early Units


Google’s $35 Chromecast dongle may have made all the headlines this week, but the folks in Mountain View aren’t the only ones working on curious gadgets that plug into your TV’s HDMI ports.

Dell showed off its Android-powered Project Ophelia dongle all the way back in January, and it managed to turn a few heads… until its tentative launch window came and went without much fanfare. Now, though, it looks like early devices are finally on their way to testers ahead of a full launch in the coming months.

Not exactly familiar with Project Ophelia? Let’s flash back to CES 2013 when Dell showed it off for the first time – long story short, you plug Ophelia into your TV (any other display with an HDMI input) and Android 4.0 fires up so you can mess around on the web and download apps from the Google Play Store. Of course, that concept isn’t exactly new: Countless tiny Android devices that plug straight into your television have popped up on crowdfunding sites and Chinese bulk ordering sites for what feels like ages now.

Ophelia’s big differentiator, though, is its support for Dell’s Wyse cloud computing tech, which allows users to (among other things) remotely access files stored on PCs or servers and connect to Citrix or VMware-powered virtual machines. The company’s eagerness to show off Ophelia’s enterprise chops could go a long way in justifying the device’s roughly $100 price tag, but what’s even more interesting is the very fact that a huge PC manufacturer is moving to embrace such a strange little segment of the market.

Considering the state of the PC market, though, it’s not hard to see why a company like Dell would put together something as peculiar as Ophelia. PC players have been feeling the squeeze that comes with declining demand over the past months since people are starting to give up more traditional computers for mobile devices. Dell definitely isn’t immune to this sea change, either – its most recent earnings report revealed that its end-user computing division (which accounts for PC sales to consumers) dipped 9 percent from last year. Dell’s Ophelia may just legitimize what is now a largely underwhelming class of gadgetry, thanks to its potential prowess as both a consumer and enterprise device, but it may take more than an aggressive price point and some nifty new features to make Ophelia into something worth owning. For Dell’s sake, here’s hoping Project Ophelia doesn’t meet the same fate as its Shakespearean counterpart did.