Google has come up with an updated distribution list of the various Android versions that are being employed. Not surprisingly, it is the preceding Android version – Jelly Bean that continues to hold the sway with about 62 percent adoption. The latest iteration, KitKat, can now be seen running on just 2.5 percent of devices, which marks about a slight improvement over the 1.8 percent Android devices that had the newest Android version last month.
One of the barriers to KitKat adoption is the bulk of mainstream phones from LG, Samsung, Sony, HTC not pushing out the latest updates. Most of these companies all have a custom UI that hinders quick updates.
Coming back to the Android version distribution list, while its Jelly Bean that continues to be the largest version in use right now, its Android 4.1 Jelly Bean that runs in the majority (35.6 percent) of devices followed Android 4.2 and 4.3 versions is use on 17.1 and 9.6 percent of devices respectively.
Among the other preceding Android versions, 14.2 percent of devices continue licking Android Ice Cream Sandwich while HoneyComb has been reduced to just 0.1 percent. In contrast Gingerbread can be still seen running on 19 percent devices along with Froyo on 1.2 percent devices. These figures aren’t expected to show growth any more but will only be fading into oblivion.
Overall, the above figures might not be of much interest to the average users but still makes for an interesting read for Android users as it gives them an insight as to which group they belong to or how big or small the group has come to be over the months.
Marvel is endeavoring to focus almost exclusively on digital distribution to maximize revenue. In the past few months the company has pulled their comics from bookstores all over the world. You would be hard-pressed to find anything but the odd graphic novel in your favorite bookstore, such as Barnes and Noble.
Marvel is finding that they are selling more comics online, than they are in the retail environment. Comixology is their main partner in the digital sphere and they have dedicated reading apps on every major platform. They have sold over 125,000,000 comics since 2009, most of them from Marvel.
Selling digitally obviously has its merits. Marvel does not have to worry about printing as many comics anymore and having them shipped back to the supplier if they don’t sell. This is more or less how bookstores handle books, magazines, newspapers and comics. If they don’t sell before they become irrelevant they get cash back from the supplier from the inventory that is unsold. Comic shops on the other hand, are normally stuck with whatever inventory they purchase. If single issues go unsold, they go right into the bargain bins.
Marvel has trained their audience to buy digitally. Whether you have an iPad, Android, Windows or a myriad of others, you can buy comics in the comfort of your own home and get them the second the clock hits midnight on comic book Wednesdays. The process is simplified and digital comics don’t take up as much room as the physical thing.
Bookstores in the US and Canada are still carrying graphic novels by Marvel. This is primarily due to the fact they are being sourced by Hachette, instead of Diamond Comic Distributors. Diamond is still the ones who are selling individual comics and graphic novels to comic shops, but for how long?
What are Marvels plans for the future? The company is trying to be less reliant on Comixology and develop their own digital infrastructure. They have been hiring developers, designers and coders to make their own comic selling app. They hope to incorporate Marvel Unlimited, Marvel AR, Marvel Events and their new comic store into a singular experience. They basically realize that digital is their future and they don’t want to have all of their eggs in one basket with Comixology.
One of the big quandaries of buying eBooks is trying to discover new content, without having to break the bank. Sure there are a number of book discovery sites out there that will email you a bunch of cheap Kindle books, but few sites have a wide appeal. eBookSoda has just launched a new free subscription that lets you deal with many different companies and has a huge genre list of specific titles.
One of the more compelling aspects of eBookSoda is the ability to choose what eBook store you want to deal with. Their selection is basically the whose who of the digital book industry, such as Amazon, B&N, Google, Kobo, Sony, Smashwords and iBooks. There are also over 30 different genres you can select, this will deliver a curated list of titles that are exclusively relevant.
Indie authors often find themselves getting lost in the shuffle. Sure you might have written a good book, but how do you make it stand out in a crowd? Soda has a new system where indies can submit their books into the daily newsletter, to put their titles in the hands of readers who really like a particular genre. To submit your titles is currently free, but they may start charging in the future as it begins to get traction.
There might be some credence to the rumor that Amazon might announce the Kindle Paperwhite 3 before Mothers Day. The Seattle based e-Commerce giant is not really known for big discounts on their current generation devices. Today only, you can get the Kindle Paperwhite 2 for $99 and the 5th generation Kindle for $49.99. It is basically a twenty dollar savings to pick either of these up from the US Amazon website.
Facebook Paper is an iPhone only app and has proven to be quite popular to consume news items and check out your friends feeds. The app has received a big update today that puts the emphasis on the sharing of digital content.
Previously, if a news item caught your fancy you could only share a link on your timeline. Now, you have the ability to share it via Facebook Message, email or text message. This will encourage more articles to go viral, because you have many options to share the story. Speaking of options, there is new language support for Chinese, Japanese, Korean and a host of others.
This app is flagged US only right now, but we do have a tutorial available for people who want to install it.
It is only a matter of time before smart wearable devices are available from every company. There are already more than a handful of smartwatch and fitness tracking devices available right now. However, while there have been two distinct wearable segments so far, smartwatches and fitness trackers, experts have started to predict an integrated device could be coming our way, and in the not too distant future.
More advancements in the field of battery, storage, display, and computing will play an important role in determining just how the devices will function in future. Current ranges of smart wearables rely on a smartphone, so far as functionality is concerned. These are designed to keep the user informed of notifications in a more convenient manner that normally would have required cranking up the smartphone device each time, communicating via Bluetooth. These devices only function when in range of the smartphone; beyond which these function with much reduced functionalities.
Surprisingly, companies such as Samsung promote this very trend of launching smartwatches that only function with a specific smartphone brand, knowing that standalone smartwatch devices would have allowed for a vastly improved user experience. As Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has said of smartwatches, he’d like to have the entire smartphone and internet experience on his wrist. Users won’t have to buy a particular smartphone for a specific smartwatch, and vice-versa. This would break the current trend where smartwatches now only display secondary data. Take the smartphone out, and the associated smartwatch will be reduced to being just another electronic watch with a sprinkling of other functionalities.
The only restriction that has been hampering the growth of smart wearables so far has been adequate technological backup. Manufacturers have come up with devices that offer about 2-3 days of back up time at most, while the use of e-ink display can take that further to about a week. Constant advancement in technology should help ease the limitations soon. but what remains to be seen is whether manufacturers choose to come up with smart wearable devices that will work independently or still be tied to a smartphone. Right now the concern is smartwatches being not stylish enough; let’s hope future smartwatches will also be a lot smarter than they are right now.
Following the launch of the iPad Air and the iPhone 5s, the clamor for the next gen versions has already started to pick up pace. Now, rumors making the rounds are that Apple may have an early release of the iPhone 6 sometime around July 2014, instead of the usual September timeline that the Cupertino-based company usually has. Analysts at Mizuho Securities have stated Apple might advance its iPhone 6 launch schedule, basing its claim on the rise in activity among component suppliers based in Japan and China.
Apple is also reported to have assured a sapphire crystal glass manufacturer of profits by the middle of this year (the next iPhone is believed to come with a sapphire crystal display). However, some sources maintain that there is no reason to believe Apple will launch the iPhone 6 early. A September launch is perfect to approach the holiday season as the device will still be fresh enough to appeal to the holiday buyers; a launch in September will also allow Apple enough time to smooth out supply issues.
As for the device itself, the next iPhone is almost certain to offer an even bigger display to keep up with other smartphones of its genre. The current iPhone 5s sports a 4 inch display, which could be bumped up to 4.7 inches for the next version. An even bigger 5.5 inch version is also being speculated, though some believe Apple might carve out a separate niche for the bigger version instead of including it in its iPhone line-up. The phablet, or big screen segment, has already grown to sizeable proportions and Apple surely won’t want to miss out on having a contender there this time; Samsung’s iPhone, the Galaxy S5, sports a 5.1 inch display.
Display size apart, other areas where the iPhone 6 is sure to upgrade include a 64 bit A8 chip along with iOS 8, offering an enhanced smartphone experience. Apple is also expected to enhance the scope of the finger touch sensor in iPhone 6 to make it play a bigger role in its application for a more secure payment option and integration with more apps.
So far as the iPad Air 2 is concerned, experts believe it is expected to stick to its usual launch schedule of the fall of this year. In fact, analysts believe Apple might not launch a new version of the iPad Mini as well as the purported iPad Pro with 12.9 inch display to focus more on the iPad Air. Further, the iPad Air 2 could also have the touch ID sensor found on the current iPhone 5s, which no doubt will enhance its appeal even more.
Among everything else, Apple is also tipped to release the long awaited iWatch device this year. It’s another segment that has just started to boom and Apple surely will like to get in on it before it’s too late. Apple is already believed to have gotten interest from batteries from LG Chem. This is on top of earlier reports of Apple hiring fitness and other app developers to develop the iWatch.
A few years ago I purchased a Keurig coffee maker, mainly to see how the whole process played out in my daily life. Needless to say I am hopelessly hooked and regularly buy specialty coffee or use my custom refill pod to grind my own beans. Apparently DRM is not limited to audiobooks, ebooks, music or videos, but is rearing its ugly head at Keurig.
Keurig, Tassimo, and Nespresso have been locked in a battle over your primarily coffee maker. The companies see the device being a gateway to buying refills from your local supermarket or buying them direct from a website. Recently, we have been seeing third party re-sellers start to make their own refills and undercutting the brands by offering them for 25% of less for their coffee.
Why are we suddenly seeing an influx of K-Cup competition? This is because the patent on the technology recently expired. This allows anyone to basically approach established coffee companies and get their beans in their brand of cup, and then market it to people that already have a Keurig.
Keurig is borrowing a page out of eBook, music and video DRM and employing it in a model coming out this year. Dubbed the Keurig 2.0, it will have technology that will lockout unauthorized K-Cups. The company will be using this encryption system on all models going forward. Surprisingly it is estimated that 13% of US homes currently have a Keurig and its turning into a billion dollar business.
I honestly feel like DRM is permeating every aspect of my life now. I read on my tablet and e-reader books i don’t really own. I watch streaming internet television where my DRM is disabled with certain content. Why not my coffee too?
Academic publishers are finding that there’s strength in numbers when it comes to launching digital content for classroom settings. At a SXSWEdu event today, McGraw-Hill Education and StudySync announced a partnership aimed at bringing language arts materials that are aligned with the Common Core Standards to digital environments for teaching.
“With information available at the swipe of a finger, education in the 21st century must engage students to inspire academic excellence and foster creativity. To be successful, students must aspire to higher levels of reading and writing, learn how to build knowledge to support their opinions and think critically as they parse the plethora of material so simply at their disposal,” said Robert Romano, CEO of StudySync. “Our partnership with McGraw-Hill Education serves to address those essential changes in education by bringing together substance and form to produce the best teaching resources possible to help students achieve success in college and career.”
Under the terms of this new collaboration, McGraw-Hill will not only distribute the StudySync platform to its secondary school members, but will also work with the company to generate even more engaging digital learning content. But one of the features that does cause StudySync to stand out in an already crowded marketplace of companies who believe they can do it better is their Blast content, which sends out a weekly writing assignment based around current world events; students around the world can then connect to discuss the writing assignments.
According to Peter Cohen, president of McGraw-Hill School Education Group, “StudySync is a standout product that successfully integrates the latest innovations in technology with effective curriculum and pedagogy for an era of more rigorous educational standards. Combining it with our products and services will help educators not only boost engagement but drive results.”
A number of companies have tried to combat the growing problem of ebook discovery by building daily email lists and book websites, landing pages that are supposed to draw readers in order to discover the latest in publishing. Companies like Libboo have recently launched a daily feature based on traffic generated called The Midlist, designed specifically to highlight worthy books that are getting some traction, while not necessarily being top of the list bestsellers.
Today, Simon&Schuster announced its own version of a discovery mailer called Off The Shelf, but one thing that makes S&S’s site standout is its publisher-agnostic focus. By highlighting a variety of books instead of just their own catalog of titles, the publisher is taking a rather selfless move in the direction of connecting authors and readers.
“While it is very easy to learn about the latest, hot new must-have books, we know from experience that many readers are more interested in what’s relevant to them regardless of its moment in the publishing cycle,” said Carolyn Reidy, President and CEO of Simon & Schuster, in a press release. “With Off the Shelf, we aim to bring attention to books that were bestsellers you might have read or wanted to, books that you may have missed in the often overwhelming number of titles that get published every year, or simply books that have touched us as readers, left an indelible mark on us, and become friends that we revisit often. These are books that are often spine out in stores, buried on a home bookshelf, or deep within library stacks. We hope that shining a new light on them will help others discover a passion for them as well.”
While more than just a mass email featuring a book or two, Off The Shelf will also offer book reviews, guest posts, author interviews, reading lists, videos, and more. For more information or to sign up for the site’s email list, go to OffTheShelf.com.
Self-Publishing authors have received another boost to their credibility, with the Writers Union of Canada voted in favor of opening up membership to them.
The Writers Union of Canada was founded in 1973 and describes itself as supporting “the country’s authors by advocating for their rights, freedoms, and economic well-being.” Its members are professional writers who must have published at least one book.
“The membership and volunteer leaders of the Union have taken a long, hard, and responsible look at the state of the writing and publishing industries worldwide,” noted current TWUC Chair, Dorris Heffron, “and we have concluded there is a population of highly professional self-published authors who would be well-served by membership in TWUC.”
It looks like the Union will be getting together very soon to hash out the details on what it means for self-published authors to enter the union. We do know that self-published books presented by authors applying to join the Union must demonstrate commercial intent, and must be peer reviewed before being forwarded to the membership committee of the Union for approval based on existing criteria.
What is the peer review process for self-published authors? Will existing unions friends and family get the first crack at joining? Looks we will have to wait and see.