On Android finding its soul

Joshua Topolsky has a fantastic interview with Matias Duarte, Android’s head of user experience. Matias is trying to give Android soul:

“With Android, people were not responding emotionally, they weren’t forming emotional relationships with the product. They needed it, but they didn’t necessarily love it.”

Matias says that the studies showed that users felt empowered by their devices, but often found Android phones overly complex. That they needed to invest more time in learning the phones, more time in becoming an expert. The phones also made users feel more aware of their limitations — they knew there was more they could do with the device, but couldn’t figure out how to unlock that power.

It was a wakeup call at Google.

We want to create wonder. We wanted to simplify people’s lives. Right now, there’s a common trap that can happen when you load up too much power into a piece of software that’s not that intelligent.


App developers withdrawing from US app stores because of patent troll fears

Our messed up patent system is reaching a tipping point, where we are seeing developers avoid the US market and its patent trolls:

The growth of patent lawsuits over apps raises serious issues for all the emerging smartphone platforms, because none of the principal companies involved – Apple, Google or Microsoft – can guarantee to protect developers from them. Even when the mobile OS developer has signed a patent licence – as Apple has with at least one company currently pursuing patent lawsuits – it is not clear that it has any legal standing to defend developers.

Craig Hockenberry of Iconfactory, developer of Twitterrific, remarked that “Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, they do and tweeted that “I became an independent developer to control my own destiny. I no longer do”. Iconfactory is among those being targeted by Lodsys, but earlier this week was granted a 30-day extension to reply to Lodsys’s claim.

What do patents protect? They protect us from excess innovation it seems.


35% of US adults own a smartphone, more than half of new sales are smartphones

More than half of new cell phone sales are smartphones, with 35% of all US adults having a smartphone now. The trend toward everyone carrying around pocket computers continues. Pew just released new data today with some fascinating tidbits:

  • 35% of US adults own a smartphone of some kind. The financially well-off, college graduates, those under the age of 45, and non-whites are especially likely to be smartphone owners.
  • 25% of smartphone owners say that they do most of their online browsing on their smartphone, and around one third of this group lacks traditional broadband access at home.
  • 35% of smartphone owners have an Android phone, while iPhones and Blackberry devices are each owned by 24% of smartphone adopters. Android phones are especially prevalent among young adults and African-Americans, while iPhone and Blackberry adopters skew towards those with relatively high levels of income and education.

Mobile computing is the next big frontier of computing. And I mean BIG.