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Boot up: Android gyros, trying an iPhone, Motorola's chequered past
[August 28, 2014]

Boot up: Android gyros, trying an iPhone, Motorola's chequered past

(Guardian Web Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A burst of 8 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team Bounden is out on Android! (full technical story inside) >> Game Oven The app studio which had struggled to build an Android release of its gyroscope-dependent app Bounden explains the problem it had: Google has specific requirements to the output of the sensors if a hardware manufacturer wants to create an Android device, so that every developer has a consistent interface (the Android API) to receive sensor data. This sensor data is processed by algorithms created by the hardware manufacturer, and during this process, not only does it process the raw data from each sensor, it also mixes and combines different sensors to improve their results.

This sensor mixing is called 'sensor fusion'. Sensor fusion for a gyroscope is required because of the way gyroscopes work. A gyroscope detects rotations around any axis. Those rotations are integrated (accumulated and processed) over time, giving us an orientation if it's combined with gravity data from the accelerometer. Miniscule rotational errors accumulate in this process, causing the orientation to 'drift' away from a perfect gravity orientation. If drift is detected, data from the accelerometer can help to reconstruct the gyroscope orientation on two axes; the compass can help on the final axis by indicating where the magnetic north is.

Detecting this drift is very difficult, especially if the phone is constantly rotating and moving. It can take years of research and iterations to build an algorithm that does this well and precisely. The problem we faced with Bounden lies exactly in here. Google has no requirements for the quality of the algorithms to process the sensory data, so hardware manufacturers implement algorithms differently or use completely different algorithms altogether. This means that the precision of the Android API gyroscope data ranges from device to device as the responsibility of the algorithm lies with each individual manufacturer.

You could call it "sensor fragmentation". This would explain why Instagram's Hyperlapse isn't available yet on Android.

A month with the iPhone 5s: impressions from an Android user >> AnandTech Joshua Ho: this may be the real difference that matters when comparing iOS and Android. While Android and iOS are largely similar in features, there is a fundamental divide in the way the two OSes are designed. At its core, iOS is designed with average users in mind. As a result, there's a strong emphasis on making things "just work" and hiding information that would simply confuse and frustrate people that don't care about the underlying hardware and software. Android at its core is targeted at those that want to have the full PC experience on their phone, and as a result there's much more information and low level functionality for those that want it. However, this can easily be frustrating and confusing for the end user.

An excellent characterisation (though it's ironic that it should be the expensive phones that cater to "average users").

However, the differences remain, and understanding this is as simple as looking at how equivalent features are implemented. For example, location services in iOS are binary in nature, and can only be turned on and off globally or for each application. In Android there's noticeably more nuance. Location can be done only by on-device GPS, or by using WiFi/cell tower location, or by using both. In addition, it's possible to view GPS data such as per-satellite SNR [signal to noise ratio] and number of satellites used and in view.

This seems to overlook that location services are completely binary in Android: either on or off, with no way to revoke it if an app demands it. And it's hard to think the number of people who need per-satellite SNR would fill a bus.

Meanwhile, many of the iOS omissions Ho raises - lack of intents-style app interaction, no detail on background app usage, lack of detailed camera controls - are introduced in iOS 8. Perhaps if he had waited for a month... (Thanks @GambaKufu for the link.) Introducing a more powerful Dropbox Pro >> Dropbox blog New sharing controls, new safeguards if you lose your device, and: We don't want you to worry about choosing the right plan or having enough space. So today, we're simplifying Dropbox Pro to a single plan that stays at $9.99/month, but now comes with 1 TB (1,000 GB) of space.

UK: £7.99/month or £79/year.

What happened to Motorola >> Chicago magazine Ted Fishman: [Motorola Mobility chief operating officer Rick] Osterloh gives a short speech. He feels good about the future of Motorola Mobility and of Chicago, he says. The company's growth rate, he claims, would be the envy of any startup: "Motorola Mobility shipped 6.5 million devices in the first quarter of the year, up 61 percent over the [same quarter] last year." What Osterloh doesn't mention is that those devices represent a paltry 2 percent of the global market for smartphones. Or that Motorola Mobility lost $198 million in the first quarter of 2014. Or that its losses just since Google took over have totaled more than $1 billion, even as the company has cut some 17,000 workers.

Osterloh then cedes the podium to a dapper Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who had helped convince Google brass to move the business downtown from suburban Libertyville. "Motorola Mobility will act as a major economic engine," Emanuel declares, "bringing 2,000 jobs to the city." No one, least of all the mayor, acknowledges the elephant in the room.

Excellent corporate history - which also explains Motorola's key role in Android's success.

Connecting the world >> Benedict Evans On the growth of mobile, which now covers 85% of the world (more than mains electricity at 80%): For the first time, then, the consumer technology industry is selling to everyone that it is possible to sell to. There are still people who are unable to participate in the economy, but everyone else - everyone able to buy things - will probably be a customer.  This changes lots of other things. Most obviously, as I've written before, it makes the internet opportunity not just two or three times bigger but closer to ten times bigger.

It also challenges conceptions of market size or ecosystem. Since Apple only sells phones at $400 and up (for now) most of this growth in users will go to Android, which now starts at $50 or less. So the Android ecosystem will encompass everything from Instacart customers in San Francisco to ROM hackers in Kiev to rice farmers in rural Myanmar. This makes the conception of what a 'customer' on the internet means look much more like, say Unilever's: there are people buying soap by the gallon and people buying it in sachets.  Hewlett-Packard recalls notebook computer AC power cords due to fire and burn hazards >> This recall involves Hewlett-Packard's LS-15 AC power cord. The power cords were distributed with HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook computers and with AC adapter-powered accessories such as docking stations. The power cords are black in color and have an "LS-15" molded mark on the AC adapter end of the power cord.Incidents/Injuries HP has received 29 reports of power cords overheating and melting or charring resulting in two claims of minor burns and 13 claims of minor property damage.

Sold worldwide between September 2010 and June 2012. This is a US and Canada recall, but if you have one it would be wise to contact HP: there were about 6m made of which 5.6m went to the US, leaving plenty more outside it.

Mozilla makes Asia debut with $33 smartphone in India >> Bloomberg Mozilla began offering its first low-cost smartphone in India for 1,999 rupees ($33), in a bid to build market share for its open source software in the world's fastest growing market for such devices.

The Cloud FX phone will run Mozilla's Firefox operating system and offer games and other content through its applications store, Jane Hsu, the company's Taipei-based director of product marketing said at a New Delhi briefing yesterday. The device has 128 megabytes of RAM memory, a two-megapixel camera, and a one gigahertz processor, she said.

Mozilla's inexpensive smartphone push might be its best bet for gaining users in India, where more people access the Internet through smartphones than computers. Indian consumers will buy about 225m smartphones this year, according to Brad Rees, chief executive officer of Mediacells Ltd., a London-based marketing company.

It's been a long time coming, and Android phones are in a far better position to clean up that market.

This is Uber's playbook for sabotaging Lyft | The Verge The ground troops in Uber's sabotage campaign are the company's ambassadors, some of whom it hires through TargetCW, a San Diego-based employment agency. For the most part, ambassadors work at events or on college campuses, promoting Uber as a cheap and easy way of getting around town. The primary goal is to recruit riders, not drivers, and Uber calls the activity "slanging." But since at least mid-summer, some brand ambassadors in New York have been turning their talents against Lyft. Using Uber-provided iPhones and credit cards, the contractors hail rides, strike up conversations with their drivers, and attempt to sign them up before they arrive at their destination. (In other cities recruiters travel with "driver kits" that include iPhones and everything else a driver needs to get started on Uber; ambassadors were told New York State does not allow this.) Compensation varies, but contractors can earn a $750 commission for successfully recruiting a single new driver to Uber, according to a contractor.

Jan Dawson comments: "when your whole philosophy is beating the competition at all costs rather than building the best possible product, you create a culture in which employees will always be tempted to cross the line between aggressive and immoral, and between immoral and illegal." Uber already skirts the line with many regulators. This won't endear it to anyone.

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