Tag Archive | Android

Make your Android faster

“My phone has to be incredible fast.”

“Waiting for an application to be loaded is annoying.”

Did you ever think something like that? Well, continue reading. Below will be explained how you can make your Android phone faster.

If you are a geek, you may already have looked around in the developer options. If not, look it up now. It can be found under phone settings. However, for some phones, it is a little bit hided. In that case, follow the following steps: Settings > About phone > (Software information >) Build number. Once the build number is shown, tap on it for seven times. When done, you’ve unlocked the developer options.

In the developer options, look for the Drawing section. There are three entries which are about the speed of animations: window animation scale, transition animation scale and animator duration scale. The lower the number you set, the faster your screen will update. Try different settings and you will be amazed by the difference!

Have you turned all three off? Congratulations, you made your android faster.

Arjan de Winter

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Your phone got hacked by a ‘Nosey Smurf’.

Hacked?

Not so long ago, iPhone users all over the world were exposed to a bug able to shut down their phone by one simple text message[1]. I too received such a message as a prank, but did not consider the security implications that come with phones reaction on text commands. Later this year an android vulnerability “Stagefright” came to light, allowing hackers access full access to every Android phone with just a phone number[2]. Luckily both bugs have been fixed by the companies right after, but the security risk remains. There is no guarantee every bug has been revealed instead of being exploited by hobbyists, hackers, or governments.

The latter is now expected to be the case. Edward Snowden explains in an interview by the BBC how UK intelligence agency GCHQ is able to control your phone by text messages, completely hidden from the knowledge of the owner[3]. It does so by sending an encrypted text message to gain access.

Smurfs?

Snowden talks about a “Smurf Suite”, a collection of phone control tools of GCHQ named after various smurfs. “Dreamy Smurf” is able to shut down and boot up the phone, “Nosey Smurf” can turn on your microphone and listen to your conversations, and “Tracker Smurf” is a tool able to track your geo-location with greater precision than normal triangulation of cellphone towers. And they can do even more, like taking pictures without your knowing, viewing your mails, texts and browsing history, and even

Snowden explains how NSA is understood to have a similar program, and are suspected of providing the technology. “GCHQ is to all intents and purposes a subsidiary of the NSA.” he tells the BBC, where GCHQ receives tasking and directions to go after. These projects are aimed to catch suspected involvement in terrorism, pedophilia or other serious crimes, but in order to do so, they have to collect mass data. Your data.

What now?

Snowden makes a valid point by stating you don’t own your phone, but “whoever controls the software owns the phone”. We see this increasing risk in software and privacy issues, and users are becoming more aware of this. The Windows 10 release has been highly critiqued by its security statement[4] and Europe’s highest court just rejected the ‘safe harbor’ agreement after Max Schrems started a case against Facebook[5]. It is clear that the battle for privacy has just begun.

-Jurgen

Sources

[1] http://www.engadget.com/2015/05/27/apple-fixing-ios-text-crash-bug/

[2] http://fortune.com/2015/07/27/stagefright-android-vulnerability-text/

[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34444233

[4] http://www.wired.com/2015/08/windows-10-security-settings-need-know/

[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/24/business/international/adviser-to-europes-top-court-calls-data-transfer-pact-insufficient.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1

iPhone 6S created by Samsung?

On 9 September 2015 Apple presented the iPhone 6S, where they claim: ‘The only thing that has changed is everything’ (Apple, 2015). On the other hand, Samsung claims that ’The next big thing is (already) here’ with their new smartphones (Samsung, 2015). Since I need to buy a new phone very soon, I am starting to doubt how different these products actually are.

The acknowledgment must be made that these companies do not make these phones by themselves. For example, Apple has over 200 suppliers to create their products (Apple Inc., 2015). Besides that Samsung aims to strengthen its position as worldwide computer chip manufacturer (ANP, 2015), which implies that they supply other firms to make their electronic devices (e.g. iPhones).

According to Kaufman et al. (2010) these business networks emerge because customers are more informed and therefore increasingly demanding products and services tailored to their specific needs. This results in business networks, which are able to break up their value chain into independent modules (Kauffman et al., 2010) and thereby are able to add more value to the final product (Ketchen Jr. et al., 2004). One of the reasons to participate in a business network is that it accomplishes more as a whole than the value it can capture by its individual parts (Kauffman et al., 2010). Another reason, especially in this technology driven industry, is that business networks tend to be more innovative (Möller & Rajala, 2007) (Gnyawali & Park, 2011). Therefore all these firms help to grow their entire business network (Gnyawali & Park, 2011), to motive more external parties to join the network (Gallaugher, 2014) and further improve their competitive advantage with their final product (Ketchen Jr. et al., 2004).

apple-vs-samsung3The uniqueness of Apple’s business network is that a direct competitor (e.g. Samsung) is a supplier for their products (e.g. iPhone). Scientific literature names this phenomenon co-opetion, where end-product competitors are contributing in each other’s value chain. As aforementioned a reason to embrace co-opetion is more innovation (Gnyawali & Park, 2011), but this still does not clarify why for example Samsung might cannibalize its own products. An explanation is that co-opetition is only beneficial when businesses are still able to differentiate with their value adding activities (Ketchen Jr. et al., 2004). Therefore if end-product competition is growing, businesses are trying to further protect their differentiating activities (Ritala & Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, 2009). A good example from Apple and Samsung are the patent wars they are having for the past few years. They are blaming each other for copying each other innovations to protect their differentiating activities. However, co-opetition will still be beneficial for both parties, since another observance states that it results in less vertical integration and more diversification (Gnyawali & Park, 2011). For example, this ensures that Samsung can further grow as a chip manufacturer without the interference of Apple. Additionally, the suppliers of companies such as Apple benefit from the demand they generate (Zhang & Frazier, 2011). Therefore the question about co-opetition should be: do we as a business want to capture value from competitors or establish a greater competitive advantage? (Park et al., 2013)

To be honest I really admire the research done about this phenomenon named co-opetition. However I still can’t figure out my personal issue. Therefore I would like to ask you: what phone should I buy? Since I can’t see the difference between the products of Apple and Samsung anymore after this study.

Vincent Laduc (417658vl)

References
Anderson, A., Park, J. & Jack, S., 2007. Entrepreneurial social capital: Conceptualizing social capital in new high-tech firms. International Small Business Journal, 25, pp.245-72.

Anon., 2014. In Gallaugher, J. Information Systems: A Manager’s Guide to Harnessing Technology. Saylor.

ANP, 2015. Samsung wil verder groeien als toeleverancier. [Online] Available at: http://www.nu.nl/mobiel/4132940/samsung-wil-verder-groeien-als-toeleverancier.html [Accessed 25 September 2015].

Apple Inc., 2015. Supplier Responsibility. [Online] Available at: https://www.apple.com/supplier-responsibility/our-suppliers/ [Accessed 23 September 2015].

Apple, 2015. iPhone. [Online] Available at: http://www.apple.com/iphone/ [Accessed 1 October 2015].

Gnyawali, D.R. & Park, B.-J.(., 2011. Co-opetition between giants: Collaboration with competitors for technological innovation. Research Policy, 40(1), pp.650-63.

Greve, H.R., Baum, J.A.C., Mitsuhashi, H. & Rowley, T., 2009. Built to Last but Falling Apart: Cohesion, Friciton and Withdrawal from Interfirm Alliances.

Hitt, L.M., 1999. IT and firm boundaries: Evidence from panel data. Information, 10(2), pp.134–49.

Kauffman, R.J., Li, T. & van Heck, E., 2010. Business Network-Based Value Creation in Electronic Commerce. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 15(1), pp.113–43.

Ketchen Jr., D.J., Snow, C.C. & Hoover, V.L., 2004. Research on Competitive Dynamics: Recent Accomplishments and Future Challenges. Journal of Management, 30(6), pp.779-804.

Möller, K. & Rajala, A., 2007. Rise of strategic nets — New modes of value creation. Industrial Marketing Management, 36(7), pp.895-908.

Park, B.-J.R., Srivastava, M.K. & Gnyawali, D.R., 2013. Walking the tight rope of coopetition: Impact of competition and cooperation intensities and balance on firm innovation performance. Industrial Marketing Management , 43, pp.210-21.

Ritala, P. & Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, P., 2009. What’s in it for me? Creating and appropriating value in innovation-related coopetition. Technovation, 29, pp.819-28.

Samsung, 2015. Homepage. [Online] Available at: http://www.samsung.com/us/ [Accessed 1 October 2015].

Zhang, J. & Frazier, G.V., 2011. Strategic alliance via co-opetition: Supply chain partnership with a competitor. Decision Support Systems , 51, pp.853-63.

Phone Companion

Microsoft seems to not only be following in the footsteps of Apple’s success, but is trying to take it to the next level. Apple has been a very popular and successful brand, which apart from quality, has resulted from their innovative way of linking different Apple devices with one another through iCloud. iCloud allows users to send and receive messages, and use apps and tasks across all their Apple devices at the same time. Microsoft, however, is adding onto their competitor’s strategy and provides the ability to link Windows 10 PCs with devices of other brands and operating systems as well, significantly enlarging their target market.

The Phone Companion app links your Windows 10 PC with your other mobile devices, regardless of whether they have a Windows operating system or not. [1] They allow accessibility to iOS and android users as well, and offer compatible apps for each system, linking users’ devices in the same way iCloud does, without forcing users to buy all their smart products of a single brand.

After Microsoft failed to grab a share in the operation systems market, by lagging behind in the app revolution [2], they are now working hard to gain a good position and obtain a share of the market. In order to take some steps in the right direction, Microsoft has made some acquisitions in recent years, including Sunrise and Acompli; two apps that are compatible with both iOS and Android operating systems. [3]. The release of Phone Companion will take this development to a new level and offers positive prospects for Microsoft in this volatile market.

I find it particularly smart that they reach out to all smart phone users, and that the app isn’t limited to just those few who use a Windows phone. Forcing your users to limit themselves to a single brand, like Apple does, can possibly hurt their sales, as users have to make significant investments in several new devices of the same brand, in order for them to reap the benefits of the linking systems of said brand. In that sense I highly prefer Microsoft’s tactic in this matter, as I can keep using my existing mobile devices, and the initial investment to start enjoying the possibilities Phone Companion offers is limited to only a single purchase.

Of course the question remains whether it is not too late for Microsoft to try and conquer a market already so well established. And then there is also the matter of their competitors, who will most definitely not sit by idly and watch as Microsoft eats away from their market share. However, an intelligent move like that of Microsoft will certainly bring about one beneficial change; the mobile market will become more and more user friendly as the different companies, like Apple and Microsoft, battle each other for the satisfaction of their users.

Sources:

[1] Sawers, P. (May 26, 2015), ‘Microsoft Announces Phone Companion App for Windows 10 And Teases Cortana for Android and iOs’, retrieved from http://venturebeat.com
[2] Bajarin, B. (May 17, 2013), ‘Microsoft is Missing Apps the Same Way They Missed the Early Internet’, retrieved from https://techpinions.com
[3] Finneran, M. (June 2, 2015), ‘Microsoft Gets a Whole Lot More Mobile Friendly’, retrieved from http://www.nojitter.com/

Sleep as Android: HOW do YOU sleep?

Have you ever wondered why you would still feel utterly exhausted, despite having had your eight hours of beauty sleep the night before? Scientists never fail to emphasize the importance of sleep as a lack thereof can impair mental processing and, in worst case, kill you (e.g. drivers or operators of heavy machines) (American Sleep Apnea Association, 2014). However, not only is the number of hours spent in bed important, the quality of those hours of sleep is crucial. To properly function as human beings, we require uninterrupted stages of deep sleep and REM sleep. However, if our alarm clock goes off in the middle of a deep sleep phase, it will negatively impact the rest of the day and we will continue to feel fatigued (Smith, Robinson and Segal, 2014). Hence, it is important to know HOW we sleep, in order to know WHEN to wake us up. This is exactly what the app Sleep as Android can do for you.

By simply placing your phone on your bed, you can keep track of your sleeping habits and even records noises (e.g. snoring or sleep talking). Based on your sleeping pattern, it finds the optimal moment to wake you up without turning you into a wreck for the rest of the day. After every night, you can access your sleep statistics to see how you slept. Moreover, it also keeps track on your sleep deficit and notifies you when it is time to go to bed. To help you falling asleep easier, you can even play some lullabies with nature sounds. As for those of you, who have the impressive ability to simply ignore alarms and continue with your sleep uninterrupted, it also offers help. If you choose this option, oversleeping will no longer be an issue as users have to solve CATCHAs before the alarm can be dismissed (Google, 2014).

 

As for my own experience, so far I have been using this app since three days. On day one, I did not turn on the sleep tracking function because I could not find the button to turn it on in my sleep-deprived state and I thought pushing the sleep tracking button on the manual would activate it (did not work…). However, on day two I became wiser and finally found it as it is located at the very bottom of the screen. After day three, I checked my sleep statistics and listened to the noise recordings, which did not record much besides my coughing (I caught a cold) and the flapping noise of my blanket when I turned around during sleep.

So far, I am impressed by the sleep statistics, even though I am not sure how accurate the results are. The experiment continues and I will try to place the phone closer to me when I sleep the next time to see whether the results will change.

You can try this app with all functions 14 days for free. The full version is available for €3.29.

 

Do you have experience with sleep cycle tracking apps? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

 

Sources:

American Sleep Apnea Association, 2014. Healthy Sleep. [online] Washington, DC: American Sleep Apnea Association. Available at: <http://www.sleepapnea.org/learn/healthy-sleep.html&gt; [Accessed 27 September 2014].

Google, 2014. Sleep as Android. [online] Mount View, CA: Google Inc. Available at: <https://sites.google.com/site/sleepasandroid/features&gt; [Accessed 27 September 2014].

Smith, M., Robinson, L. and Segal, R., 2014. How Much Sleep Do You Need? – Sleep Cycles & Staged, Lack of Sleep, and How to Get the Hours You Need. [online] Santa Monica, CA: Helpguide.org. Available at: <http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm&gt; [Accessed 27 September 2014].

Google hijacks Microsoft’s Windows 8

Microsoft released the latest version of its operating system, Windows, a bit more than one year ago. Windows 8 as it is called was Microsoft’s attempt at penetrating the mobile market of tablets and other mobile devices with a single operating system. The interface, dubbed Metro, is clearly optimized for touch based interaction; the start menu has been replaced with big interactive ‘tiles’ that provide shortcuts to the most commonly used apps. As such, the system sort of mimics iOS’ and Android’s interface currently the two dominant operating systems on tablets and mobile phones.

Google in its constant quest for market share has found a way to exploit the interface of its rival Windows 8. Chrome is Google’s web browser and currently the most used browser on the internet with a market share of about 35-40%. One reason for Chrome’s success is the availability on the majority of operating systems on not only mobile devices, but also desktop systems. Moreover, Google has extended the Chrome product line beyond the browser into a complete operating system based on Linux called Chrome OS.

Here comes the trick: Windows 8 enables software to launch in a so called ‘Metro-style mode’. The original intended function of this feature is to give applications in Windows 8 a coherent and consistent user interface in line with the OS itself. However, the latest versions of Chrome in this metro-style mode is basically identical to Chrome OS. As such, you have the functionality and user interface of Google’s operating system within a Windows ecosystem, including an app launcher and toolbar with Google apps such as Chrome, Gmail, Google Docs, and YouTube.  This strategy, if not stopped by Microsoft, will let Google develop its own apps ecosystem even more than it has done so far on Android and the web.

It is not clear whether Microsoft will continue to allow this, but it clearly shows the intense competition of these companies. I find it a bold move by Google, but doubt that Microsoft will allow this to happen for a long period. Microsoft is already losing market share because it moved rather late into the mobile industry and most probably does not want to fight Google on more fronts than it is already doing.

What do you think? Will Microsoft allow this strategy, or perhaps even pull a Google itself? And do you consider this move by Google to ethically responsible?

 Image

References:

http://gizmodo.com/google-is-sneaking-chrome-os-into-windows-8s-metro-m-1441598557

http://www.theverge.com/2013/10/5/4806562/google-building-chrome-os-into-windows-8

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers

http://www.zdnet.com/windows-8-metro-interface-blues-7000013036/

https://sites.google.com/site/chromeoslinux/

Take your pc case with you!

The need for mobility was one of the basic drivers in technology the last years. One of the first product, that would allow a user to have a personal computer available at any time was laptops, available to the market from early 80s.

The next step came with the evolution of laptops to notebooks and as the technology evolved and microchips became smaller and smaller we arrived to the era where everyone is carrying a pad or a smartphones. That transition wouldn’t be that fast, if it wasn’t of the wide acceptance of Google’s OS Android.

As 2013 approaching, it is time to welcome a new category of products that are going to give another meaning to mobility and maybe  in the end succeed on changing our whole perception on what a personal computer looks like, putting us in the dilemma of what we should do with our big desktops that take so much space on our houses and offices. The product is called “Android mini PC”, and is a new category of a computers with a size slightly bigger from a normal usb-stick, as shown on the picture at the beginning of the post.

The only thing needed in order to work on this new device is a screen compatible to HDMI, a mouse and keyboard and you are ready to go. On the software side,” Android mini PC” comes with an Android version installed on it, usually the release 4.0.x the one also called “Ice Cream Sandwich” that can support the usage of a mouse.

Working with a “mini PC” you can do all the basic tasks that you would do, with a regular PC. You can write and edit docs, you can browse your files and you can even connect to the internet through a WiFi connection.

There are a number of companies that offer a different version of a mini PC with prices that even start from 40$ a piece and although all of them have an internal storage capacity by using a Solid State Drive (SSD)  some of them, offer the option to increase your storage with the usage of a micro-SD.

Even if you are not in a need for another desktop, you can use a mini PC as your home media player as it can be very easily connected to a TV that supports HDMI. Icing on the cake, some of the products can even play a video on Full-HD.

To sum up I think is a very good solution, for people that have to travel a lot and they don’t want carry a lot of stuff with them. an example could be, flying with low fare airlines, or for all of the people that have an older HDMI compatible TV and they want to give it a boost and upgrading it to a product with access to the internet and thousands of application through Google Play.

A mini demonstration follows on the next video, enjoy!

Android, open source and free?

Open source software

In the session of last Monday (the first workshop) there was a discussion about whether Android was free for the manufacturers of smartphones. Some were convinced Google was paid a fee for the use of Android, others seemed under the impression that Android was open source.

The interesting response of one of the BIMmers was that open source doesn’t mean it’s free. This was kind of stuck on my mind, because an open source license means the source code of software is available for use, alterations and reproduction. How can this be, when it is not free?

To start off let’s get one thing straight. The source code of Android is publicly available here and licensed under the Apache License.  To quote article 4 of this license:

“Grant of Copyright License. Subject to the terms and conditions of  this License, each Contributor hereby grants to You a perpetual,  worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable copyright license to reproduce, prepare Derivative Works of, publicly display, publicly perform, sublicense, and distribute the Work and such Derivative Works in Source or Object form.”

So, free of charge.

The interesting thing is, a few applications made by Google are not open source and have to be acquired separately by the manufacturers. Examples are Google Play and Gmail. But without these applications, you can have a fully functional smartphone. The given examples are different in kind. Google Play can be acquired by obtaining Android compatibility for your device and is free after this process (the process itself is also free). For having applications as Youtube, Gmail and Google Maps pre-installed on your device, you are in a need of a partnership with Google and will (probably) cost you some money as manufacturer.