Samsung To Open Source Exynos 4 Platform — There Is A Catch Though!

Recently, Samsung has received a lot of criticism from the Android modding community and developers for the relatively closed source nature of its Exynos platform. The Exynos platform powers all the high-end products from Samsung including the Galaxy S3 and the Note 2, and the closed source nature of the platform hinders development for these devices.

After a lot of complaints and negative feedback, Samsung promised that it is looking into the situation of open-sourcing its Exynos platform.

Today, the company announced via its Twitter account that it will be open-sourcing the “integrated source code” of its Exynos 4 family of processors by the end of 2012. The company will also setup a git server which will be available to the public by November 2012.

Don’t jump to any conclusions and start praising Samsung here. The company will only be open-sourcing the source code for its OrigenBoard development board. The problem is that CyanogenMod developers still need the source code for other parts of the phone such as the Yamaha audio chip on the Galaxy S2, the Camera on the S3 and more to get a stable AOSP ROM on the S3 and the S2.

Until and unless Samsung open-sources or release AOSP compatible binaries for other closed source parts used on its handsets, getting a stable AOSP ROM on Exynos powered Samsung devices is going to be quite a challenge for developers.

Developers In India Can Now Sell Paid Apps In The Play Store

Beginning from today, Android developers in India will be able to directly sell paid apps, in-app products and subscriptions in the Play Store.

India has played a major role in Android’s growth with device activations in India jumping around 400%. Android users in India have also downloaded more apps than they downloaded in the last three years, sky-rocketing the country to the fourth-largest country in terms of app downloads.

Along with support for paid apps, Google has also added support for Indian currency and other currencies for developers to take advantage of. Developers will be paid directly by Google at the end of each month to their local bank accounts.

Google had earlier added India to the list of countries that could sell paid apps in the Play Store, but removed it just a day after. Now, with Google officially announcing the the inclusion of India to the list of countries that can sell paid apps in the Play Store, Indian developers don’t need to worry about the country once again disappearing from the list without any explanation.

Android Emulator Updated With GPU Support; Makes It Much More Usable!

Good news Android developers! Google has today released an updated version of the Android emulator for PCs, with support for GPUs and improved CPU performance. This means that like Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, even its emulator will be hardware accelerated thus delivering an improved performance.

Below is a video of an H/W accelerated Android emulator -:

Prior to this, the Android emulator was simply terrible. It was insanely slow! This new GPU support in the emulator is definitely going to please a lot of developers out there. The emulator now also supports OpenGL ES  2.0, so game developers can run their OpenGL games inside the emulator. Beside this, the emulator now also supports a tethered Android device to accept inputs for sensors and multi-touch input. Google also states that it is working on adding emulator support for more hardware including NFC and Bluetooth. Developers should also notice an improvement in CPU performance since the emulator now gets native access to the host CPU, thus nearly doubling CPU performance. Developers can find out more about the updated emulator over at Google’s official Android developer blog.

Along with this, the big G has also updated the Android Design guidelines to include dedicated sections on design layout for application settings, how to link your app with other Android apps and more. The updated guidelines can be found here.


Flamboyant Windows Phone Developer Evangelist Leaves MSFT For AMZN

Just as information about Windows Phone 8 leaked and the Windows Phone marketplace crossed 60,000 apps, Windows Phone developer evangelist, Brandon Watson, is leaving Microsoft.

For those who remember, Watson was behind the popular $1000 donation announcement if web-celebs did not find Windows Phone 7 a competent platform. Android users, Dilbert creator–Scott Adams and CNet editor Molly Wood were his participants. While Scott found WP7 to be a nice OS, Molly Wood disagreed (imho, her reasonings were flawed). Whatever the outcome, the spontaneous challenge was the first of the many that followed.

Probably Brandon Watson’s biggest contribution to the Windows Phone developer community was working with enthusiast developers Rafael Rivera, Long Zheng and Chris Walsh to release the homebrew tool–ChevronWP7. According to Ben Lower who works on the WP7 developer ecosystem, Cliff Simpkins and JC Cimetiere will be coordinating with the ChevronWP7 team and the homebrew community. (The future of ChevronWP7, as it stands now, is in the hands of the ChevronWP7 team.)

To attract developers working on competing platforms, he reached out to webOS developers left stranded post HP’s lack of direction for webOS. Brandon Watson used his influence on Twitter to his benefit, his methods would make for a good case study in social media.

According to Mary Jo Foley, Watson will now be working for Amazon and be the director Kindle’s Cross Platform team.


HTC Thunderbolt Rooted Before Launch

It is a known fact that the developers at XDA forums root an Android phone within days and sometimes within hours of it being released to the public. Well, now some developers have set a new benchmark by rooting the HTC Thunderbolt before it has been released to the public!

The developers Jamzelle and TheEndGame7 used a pre-production Thunderbolt to achieve this feat. They even managed to install a custom recovery on the phone ClockworkMod Recovery. Apparently, the bootloader on the phone had S-OFF which made the task a bit easier. Even the system partition of the handset was totally unprotected. However, in all probability the final version of the Thunderbolt will ship with S-ON and the system partition protected.

Below is a video of Root Checker’ checking the root access on the HTC Thunderbolt :

According to the developers, the phone software has multiple exploits via which root access to the system partition can be gained. Hopefully, HTC will leave some of these exploits unpatched so that developers can easily get root access to the phone.

The rooting method has not been made public at the moment. The developers will make the rooting method public once the phone nears its release date.


Google Brings In-App Purchases To Android

Along with providing us an overview of features in Android 3.0 and launching the web store based Android Market, Google also announced support for In-App Purchases in Android apps.

At the recently concluded event, Google announced a new SDK aimed specifically towards in-app purchases. This new feature will allow Android users to directly purchase content right from within an app!


Developers can now offer paid upgrades in their app/game. With in-app purchase support, users also won’t see a Lite’ and a Full version of an app on the Android Market. Instead, users can simply purchase the full version of an app right from within its Lite’ or demo version.

The in-app feature will be available to the users before the end of the current quarter. Google has already released the new SDK to the developers. Disney used the announcement to demonstrate their app Tap Tap Revenge’ for Android which will be making use of the In-App Purchase feature. Google sure is trying its best to attract and retain developers towards the Android platform.

The new Web Store and the In-App purchase feature will help the developers in a big way. This will also help the developers to make more money from their apps.

iOS 4.3 Brings Mobile Hotspot, New Multi-Touch Gestures And Hardware Rotation Lock

Today, Apple seeded the latest Beta version of iOS 4.3 to developers for the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch 3G/4G, iPad and Apple TV 2G. This new version of iOS brings quite a few changes including mobile hotspot. The Personal Hotspot’ feature was first seen in Verizon’s recently announced iPhone 4.

iOS 4.3 also brings in support for AirPlay for third party applications, new multi-touch gestures, a new font Noteworthy’ and iAd Full screen banners.

iOS 4.3 also includes new four or five fingers based multi-touch gestures. A four or five finger swipes left or right will allow users to switch between running apps, while a swipe up or down will bring up the multitasking bar. A pinch on the screen will bring users back to the home screen.

Below is the video showing the new four or five finger gestures on iPad running iOS 4.3 Beta-:

One of the most important changes in iOS 4.3 is the ability to change the Side Switch’ to either mute the device or lock its orientation. Apple had change the side switch orientation lock function to mute the device and was flaked for it. I guess Apple heard all the whining and prayers of their iPad owners and provided users with the mute or lock switch option in the latest version of iOS.

Also with the release of iOS 4.3 Beta 1 and the introduction of new multi-touch gestures, rumors have started floating that the next generation iPad and iPhone won’t sport a Home’ button. In fact, Apple employees are already testing the next generation iPad and iPhone without the Home button.


Labs – Crazy Experimental Stuff Now in Google Chrome Canary

canary I enjoy using Google’s Chrome Canary build so that I can try out the latest features of Google Chrome. Today, Canary’s update included the Chrome Labs page. This feature has been available for a few days, but only in the Chromium code base. To bring up the Labs page, you have to open a new tab and type: about:labs(without the quotes).

Google may say that it’s Some crazy experimental stuff, but so far, it’s not that crazy. The only experiment available right now is Side Tabs. Once enabled, you can right click on any tab to enable or disable it. Here are two screenshots below to show you what it looks like.



As you can see, the Side Tabs really change the look of the browser. I miss the rounded tabs and I’m guessing that I won’t use this new feature often. The reduction in screen width isn’t worth the ease of navigation unless you have lots and lots of tabs open.

While I’m not excited about the Side Tabs lab experiment, I am happy to see the Labs page in Chrome Canary. At least I can hope they’ll stop using those stupid command line switches now.

Labs Extension: If you don’t like having to type about:labsin a new tab, there’s a Labs Chrome Extension that let’s   you click on a Labs icon to bring up the Labs page.

More New Features: Be sure to check out three other new features in Chrome 7, Chrome Web Apps, Voice Recognition and Hardware Video Acceleration.

If you have tips on using Chrome or need help fixing Chrome headaches, be sure to comment below or email me.

Voice Translation Now Available in Chrome 7

Pack the bags … I’m heading up to Quebec for summer vacation. Now that there’s a web browser that can translate my English to French, I’m ready to ask for directions, locate the nearest restroom or order food at a restaurant. All it takes is my netbook, the developer’s version of Google Chrome web browser and a trip to this website.


Click on the little microphone icon. When it turns red, you can start talking to it. Click the microphone once again and it interprets your speech, then it speaks the same sentence in French. Amazing!

I found out about this today at the ChromeSource blog. Last week, I remember asking people what was new in Chrome 7, because I didn’t see much difference. Now I know that in addition to the support for Chrome Web Apps, Google coders have added the ability to talk to the web browser. Although that’s not really new, since   Opera’s had voice abilities for quite some time now, it’s new to me, and I’m excited about the possible new uses for something like this. Maybe in a few months, I’ll be able to talk to Gmail and have it type the email for me?

If you have your own tips on using Chrome, or it’s problems, be sure to comment below or email me.

Why Android App Developers just cannot earn enough!

Android has progressed rapidly and so has the community of app developers. It is still far from the number of iPhone developers or the number of WinMo developers for that sake. However, an eternal concern with app developers is that of earning from app development.

Google Android apps are highly victimized to piracy and Google had announced earlier that it would try to DRM Market apps. However, all this protection and annoyance is too much for developer to take. Starting with, the developer comes up with a unique idea and decides to make his app a paid version. However, the paid app market is available only to a handful of countries. To be precise, it is available only to thirteen countries out of forty-six where Android phones are selling currently. On the other hand, Apple app store has paid market support in ninety countries.

That clearly explains the trend of using pirated apps that is so widespread in case of Android. That is what is fueling the stats. With the market not available in most countries, users have no other choice than installing cracked apps.

Google should seriously reconsider the availability of paid apps in various countries and should include some more countries in the list of paid market. If not combat piracy, that will help Google and us have a better picture of the situation.