As with every iPhone release over the past four years, your average Android fan is probably summing up today's announcement with a big "so what?" In truth, it's an understandable, if predictable, reaction: Apple has quickly gained a reputation in the smartphone community for turning last year's (or the year before that) features into this year's thing you totally won't believe.
As a lumbering multi-hundred-billion dollar consumer product giant, though, Apple has lost the luxury of disrupting a market it took into the mainstream, and has in recent years moved more and more to the conservative side of the smartphone market, calibrating and refining on a basic hardware premise we've all been familiar with since the iPhone 4: one phone, one size, three storage options, and a dogged refusal to give in to market "trends" it didn't agree with.
It's not a complete truce, but Samsung and Apple are backing down slightly from their ongoing patent war. The companies have issued a joint statement announcing the agreement to end all patent litigation between the two outside the US. Cases in the US will continue, though.
Apple first sued Samsung in 2011 for copying the look and feel of iOS in its TouchWiz Android skin. Samsung fired back, and the battle has raged on across the globe ever since.
DoubleTwist's unique Android music app has been able to stream audio to Apple's AirPlay standard for some time, and to Qualcomm's competing AllPlay WiFi speakers since May. But for some reason, the company's Pandora-style streaming music service Magic Radio wasn't included. They have now corrected this oversight, and the latest version of the DoubleTwist app on the Play Store can now stream Magic Radio to AirPlay or AllPlay devices. You'll need the $8.99 upgrade to access streaming.
You can't talk about mobile gaming without mentioning the elephant in the room: the free-to-play model. The bane of many a purist gamer and unwitting parent, an over-reliance on free downloads and hooks for in-app purchases has made mobile gaming a minefield of games based on upsell and addiction. Italy's had enough, and its antitrust authority is investigating app store owners Google, Apple, and Amazon, and game publisher Gameloft, for unfair commercial practices.
Apple and Google have been fighting it out over patents ever since Android devices went on sale. Until today, that involved more than 20 ongoing lawsuits (in the US and Germany) between the two technology behemoths. In a joint statement earlier today, Apple and Google have announced all that is over. They will be ending the patent cases and will instead work to reform patent law.
This certainly sounds great, but it's probably not as significant as you're imagining.
Apple didn't have it all its own way: the jury also found that none of the Samsung phones presented violated two other Apple patents, and they awarded Samsung $158,400 after finding Apple guilty of unintentionally violating one of the Korean company's patents presented in a counter-suit.
Samsung's advertising has been somewhat hit or miss lately, ranging from pretty decent scifi ads for the Galaxy Gear to cringe-worthy infomercials for the same product. But it looks like there's been something of a shift in the company's promotional direction, or at least in the way that it responds to Apple's sometimes hyperbolic TV ads. Check out this new one-minute spot for the Galaxy TabPRO 10.1.
The ad plays up the TabPRO's high-resolution screen with a better aspect ratio for movies versus the iPad Air, plus its ability to fit multiple apps on the screen at once, which has been a staple of TouchWiz for a while.
Just like every other manufacturer, Huawei would really appreciate it if you paid them some attention starting next week. Once Mobile World Congress starts, it'll be a mad melee of journalists, PR managers, presenters, and executives all scrambling to either show off or see the latest hardware. Huawei is being a bit proactive with their announcement trailer, poking fun at the world's two biggest phone makers in the process. IDC says Huawei is currently number three.
You might have noticed something missing from the Play Store in the last few days. One-click theming app Themer Beta by MyColorScreen was pulled from Google Play late on February 2nd due to a copyright complaint from Apple. When it will return is not clear, but it's probably not going to be immediate.
Chalk one up for the bad guys. FOSS Patents reports that Chinese manufacturer Huawei and the Rockstar Consortium (a patent holding company jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Sony, and Ericsson) have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against Huawei in November. Both parties have filed to dismiss with prejudice, and have almost certainly agreed to some kind of licensing settlement, though financial details don't have to be reported.