Start up: Google checks apps, Nintendo’s app strategy?, Galaxy S6 review, why 4Chan is for sale, and more


Google will check your app now. Photo by nateOne on Flickr.

A selection of 8 links for you. Contains nuts. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Gacha: explaining Japan’s top money-making social game mechanism » Kantan Games

Serkan Toto outlines a tactic that just might be the one Nintendo uses when it releases its mobile games:

Pricing varies depending on the title: some games charge 100 Yen [about $1] per turn, others 300 yen. The more expensive gacha contain particularly rare cards, but the element of luck is always there.

A lot of makers offer playing gacha once per day for free in order to a) get users “addicted” and b) to boost retention/the number of log-ins. Makers also offer discounts (for example during a special sales campaign), or limited-edition items (for example during seasonal events like Christmas or Halloween).

And gacha work well – extremely well: from some makers, I am hearing that up to 50% of their overall sales come from these machines. People just can’t stop paying money (in the form of paid virtual coins or tokens) to be able to go for another round.


Google X boss says company should have curbed Glass hype » Yahoo Finance

Alexei Oreskovic:

The Internet company did not do enough to make clear that the $1,500 computer that mounts to a pair of eyeglasses was merely a prototype and not a finished product, Google’s Astro Teller said during a talk at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin.

“We allowed and sometimes even encouraged too much attention for the programme,” said Teller, whose official title at Google is Captain of Moonshots, during a talk that focused on how his group has learned from some of its failures.

Uh-huh. And now recall this, from February 2013 (in Nick Bilton’s story that was probably the first to source Apple working on the Watch):

While Apple continues its experiments with wearables, its biggest competitor, Google, is pressing ahead with plans to make wearable computers mainstream.

According to a Google executive who spoke on the condition that he not be named, the company hopes its wearable glasses, with a display that sits above the eye, will account for 3% of revenue by 2015.

Oh, Nick. Name that executive. Go on go on go on.


The inside story of how Apple’s new medical research platform was born » Fusion

Kashmir Hill has the exclusive:

A few months earlier, Apple had poached [Michael] O’Reilly from Masimo, a Bay Area-based sensor company that developed portable iPhone-compatible health trackers. Now, [as the new VP for medical technologies at Apple] he was interested in building something else, something that had the potential to implement Friend’s vision of a patient-centered, medical research utopia and radically change the way clinical studies were done.

After[Dr Stephen] Friend’s talk, O’Reilly approached the doctor, and, in typical tight-lipped Apple fashion, said: “I can’t tell you where I work, and I can’t tell you what I do, but I need to talk to you,” Friend recalls. Friend was intrigued, and agreed to meet for coffee.

Gotta love that introduction. It’s either the CIA or Apple, basically.


Samsung Galaxy S6 review: in depth » Recombu

Chris Barraclough got his hands on one. I found this section surprising:

The Galaxy S6 rocks Samsung’s own Exynos chipset, an octa-core processor comprised of two quad-core chips running at 1.5GHz and 2.1GHz. For everyday use, this provides solid all-round performance. I saw only the occasional tiny judder when multitasking with apps, while the latest games ran perfectly and HD movies streamed without stutter. The phone also admirably handles some intense camera use, including 4k and Full HD 60fps video recording.

The Galaxy S6 (and the Edge) does get a little toasty at times, if you’re doing a lot of downloading or shooting video. However, it never reaches alarming or uncomfortable levels and I never saw any adverse effects like the phone shutting down or spurting errors.

Battery life is actually pretty good too, considering that bright, super-crisp power-sucking screen. If you mess around shooting high-def video and generally thrashing the Galaxy S6, it won’t last anywhere near a full day. However, if you’re more conservative and limit yourself to occasional web browsing, email checks and piddling around with apps, you should easily make it to bed before the S6 dies.

Occasional judder? Toasty?

And:

The camera interface is a little cluttered, especially after slick, clean efforts like the LG G3’s, but anyone who likes fiddling with manual controls will enjoy.

When will UX designers learn that people don’t want to mess around with manual controls? Though the camera seems pretty good. However, there’s no comparison with any other phone here, apart from via benchmarking. That’s a poor service to readers.


How Bluebox fell for a counterfeit Xiaomi Mi 4 to claim it came with pre-installed malware » BGR India

Rajat Agrawal:

Over the past few days, a little known but well funded mobile security firm, Bluebox, published a report claiming Xiaomi was pre-installing malware on its Mi 4 smartphone. The report also claimed that Xiaomi was shipping the Mi 4 with a rooted ROM and came pre-installed with tampered versions of popular benchmarking apps. It also claimed that Xiaomi’s own identifier app showed that the phone was a legitimate Xiaomi product, raising questions on the security of products made by one of the fastest rising smartphone brand in South East Asia. However, as it turns out, the smartphone Bluebox had acquired through an unofficial source in China was nothing more than a sophisticated counterfeit. But how did a startup, with $27.5 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Tenaya Capital, and Andreas Bechtolsheim fall for a counterfeit product?

Because it was fake, and they didn’t twig it.


Creating better user experiences on Google Play » Android Developers Blog

Eunice Kim, product manager for Google Play:

Several months ago, we began reviewing apps before they are published on Google Play to better protect the community and improve the app catalog. This new process involves a team of experts who are responsible for identifying violations of our developer policies earlier in the app lifecycle. We value the rapid innovation and iteration that is unique to Google Play, and will continue to help developers get their products to market within a matter of hours after submission, rather than days or weeks. In fact, there has been no noticeable change for developers during the rollout.

To assist in this effort and provide more transparency to developers, we’ve also rolled out improvements to the way we handle publishing status. Developers now have more insight into why apps are rejected or suspended, and they can easily fix and resubmit their apps for minor policy violations.

Let’s be clear: this is a good move which can only benefit users. It’s only going to be uncomfortable for those who insisted that Google Play is somehow superior to Apple’s App Store because it didn’t have any checking.

This is largely being automated; Google admits to TechCrunch that its system may not be “as robust” as “rivals”. Assume 100 new apps per day, and it probably takes, what, 20 people working flat out? You could easily triple or quadruple that without Google noticing the cost. And follow the discussion on Android Developers on G+. Plus Russell Ivanovic is not enamoured: “file under things I never thought I’d see in my lifetime”.

Considering all of which, why does it take Apple so long to approve an app?


4chan’s overlord Christopher Poole reveals why he walked away » Rolling Stone

David Kushner on Chris Poole’s decision to put the site up for sale:

last year, he undertook what he calls “the summer of Chris.” He went to Europe and Asia, reread The Little Prince, and took classes in cooking and ballroom dancing. He began to unplug — leaving behind his laptop and weaning himself off social media. “Why am I so concerned about what’s going on back in New York?” he thought at one point while in a cafe overseas. “It’s taking me out of this really great moment, this new experience.”

But the good times didn’t last. On the evening of August 31st, Poole was thumbing through his phone in bed when a CNN report caught his eye. Hackers leaked nude photos of dozens of celebrities, including Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence. One of the main hubs for the pictures was 4chan. Poole complied with takedown notices from Hollywood lawyers, which 4channers expected. But then he went further. In the wake of the leaks, he decided to post the Digital Millennium Copyright Act policy on his site for the first time — something he’d never gotten around to doing before. Some 4channers cried sellout. “Is this the end of everything?” one posted.

The same week news of the Fappening broke, so did Gamergate.

Gamergate turned out to be the final straw. Now 4chan is up for sale. Question is, who would want it?


How will Apple Watch teach people to love watches? » aBlogtoWatch

Ariel Adams points out that Apple has put a lot more, well, love into its watches than Android Wear rivals:

While the Samsung Gear models have some traditional looking watch dials, they clearly didn’t put the effort or apply the same type of understanding to the watch world as Apple did in their hardware. With that said, is passion and a love of watches by some key Apple employees why the Apple Watch is so much like a traditional watch? I think there are more practical reasons than that, and here is where Apple confuses so many of the journalists who traditionally cover the brand. Things people wear are part of fashion, a category that tech writers tend to not cover too much. Fashion is what gets people to wear something, and technology is what gets people to use something.


Start up: dual-SIM nations, Korea v Apple (and Google), Galaxy S6 flat – or rounded?, and more


A dual-SIM Sony Xperia. Photo by hirotomo on Flickr.

A selection of 8 links for you. Keep moist. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Korea’s FTC has created a task force to determine whether Apple and Google are damaging the Korean market » Patently Apple

Today the South Korean press is reporting that he Korea Fair Trade Commission (FTC) will create a task force for ICT this year and closely monitor Social Networking Service providers (SNS) and operating system providers.

The country’s anti-trust regulator announced its plan for this year on Feb. 1. What is most noticeable is a task force for information, communication Technology (ICT).

The FTC is said to establish a task force and closely monitor whether or not monopolistic companies like Google and Apple inflict damage to the Korean market using their dominant position in the market.

The regulatory body is paying attention to the fact that the two companies comprise 99.5% of the local mobile operating system market.

Umm.. that percentage hasn’t changed. All that’s changed is Apple’s proportion of it, which went from about 10% to 33%.


Enough is ENOUGH: It’s time to flush Flash back to where it came from – Hell » The Register

Iain Thomson:

Even if Adobe put its top programmers working on Flash, a free piece of software, a lot of people around the world are very keen to find exploitable bugs in the plugin so they can break into victims’ computers.

Many netizens have recognized that Flash is too old and doddery to be worth the hassle. YouTube finally dumped the technology in favor of HTML5 video. Twitch doesn’t need it any more, neither does Netflix and others.

“The reality is there’s a market out there and people are going to exploit it,” Williams said. “Java has been a top vector, as has Flash, and now the attackers are moving to Silverlight as well.”

The fact is, Flash is just not fit for purpose. It will ruin your month. It will fill your hard drive with raw sewage seeping in from the grotesque underbelly of internet. It’s the Lego brick in your foot when you’re feeling your way through a dark kitchen at 3am.

It’s not even good for funny animations any more – we have HTML5 and a GIF resurgence for that. If you’re still using the plugin, you may as well hang a sign out for hackers reading: “Here’s my arse, please kick it. And then empty my back account.”


The global prevalence of dual-SIM Android devices » OpenSignal


Dual SIM devices are particularly popular in Asia

What we found

– The number of multi SIM devices is huge:
in the last month 26% of new users of the OpenSignal app had a device multi SIM support. This survey covers just over 1 million app users up to 18th January 2015.

– There is a very broad choice of multi SIM devices:
we identified over 10,000 different Android models with multi-SIM support.

– There are profound differences between markets:
in general developing economies have a higher proportion of dual-SIM users, in several countries dual (or multi) SIM users are the majority of Android users. The US, UK and Canada all have around 4% penetration, Australia is slightly higher at 5%. Several European countries have middle of the road values – Greece, Hungary, Spain, Albania, Croatia are all around 25%.

Ten thousand different Android models with multi-SIM support. Just amazing. Multiple SIMS are used for many purposes: having a business and personal number on a single phone, choosing between providers in different locations or data/voice plans, being.. er.. duplicitous.

India, Russia, Tanzania, Nigeria, and the Philippines lead the pack (greener means higher percentage).


Supply chain sees weak demand for Xiaomi’s Mi4 model in 4Q14 » Digitimes

Supply chain shipments for Xiaomi Technology’s Mi4 were weaker-than-expected in the fourth quarter of 2014, while those for the company’s previous Hongmi model remained steady.

Orders to supply chains for the Mi4 throughout the quarter until February 2015 have lagged, which coupled with an expected slowdown in the overall handset industry during the first quarter of 2015 has left supply chains rather pessimistic about orders for the device.

Supply chain sources commented that China’s handset market cooled down over the fourth quarter, which coupled with weak demand in emerging markets also influenced orders for the Mi4.

The cooling market in China really is going to have a lot of effects – principally, forcing a number of Chinese OEMs to look abroad or suffer badly in the slowdown.


Samsung pins hope on Galaxy S6 for rebound » Korea Times

“The Galaxy S6 is expected to have pretty much upgraded features compared to previous models. It will help the company post stable growth,” said Kim Young-chan, a technology analyst at Shinhan Investment. “If it successfully attracts users who have been reluctant to change their devices, Samsung can increase market share in the premium smartphone segment.”

On Tuesday, Samsung started giving out invitations for its Galaxy Unpacked Event 2015.

“The Galaxy S6 will make its debut in two versions ― flat and rounded screens,” said an executive at a local parts supplier, Tuesday. “It will have a metal build, which will make it look even more like Apple’s latest models.”

Galaxy S6 will use glass on the front and back, making it more appealing, he said.

Samsung dropped its earlier plan to adopt a dual-edge design on the new phone due to concerns over defect rates of curved glasses.

Also: 5.1in screen, embedded (ie non-changeable) lithium polymer battery. It’s hoping this will win back share in the premium phone market. Don’t see why any of those characteristics would do it, to be honest.


Senior Samsung executive resigns » WSJ

A senior Samsung Electronics Co. executive in charge of the technology giant’s rollout of its next flagship smartphone has abruptly resigned, people familiar with the matter said, in the latest management departure at the struggling mobile division.

Just a little over a month into the job, Kim Seok-pil, who was named head of strategic marketing for Samsung’s mobile business in December, will be replaced by another Samsung executive, Lee Sang-chul, who is currently in charge of Samsung’s Russia operations, one of the people said Tuesday.

This person said Mr. Kim was leaving due to health reasons and could return to the company at a later time.


Is Windows RT dead? Microsoft stops making Nokia Lumia 2520 » PCWorld

Microsoft could be close to pulling the plug on Windows RT with its decision to stop manufacturing the Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet.

The Lumia 2520 tablet was the last tablet remaining running Windows RT with Microsoft not making its Surface 2 tablet. Microsoft didn’t provide the specific date it stopped making the Lumia 2520 tablet to Dutch publication PCM, which broke the news.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Nokia Lumia 2520 tablets are still being sold through Verizon Wireless in the U.S. starting at $499.99 with a two-year commitment, and for $599.99 without a contract.

That could bring a quiet end to Microsoft’s experiment with Windows RT, which was built for tablets and PCs based on ARM processors. The first tablets with Windows RT shipped in 2012, but the response has been poor, with PC makers like Dell, Asus, Lenovo and Samsung abandoning devices with the OS. Microsoft last year cancelled plans to launch a small-screen tablet with Windows 8.1 RT.

The “Surface mini” just missed its window of opportunity by about six months. Now it would be impossible without gigantic corporate customer buy-in to sell them. But Apple and IBM look to be going after that business, if it exists.


Asustek facing challenges in 2015 » Digitimes

Monica Chen:

Asustek managed to ramp up its notebook shipments to 20.1m units in 2014, up from 18.8m shipped a year earlier. However, shipments of low-priced models to some designated markets contributed much of the growth in 2014.

Meanwhile, shipments of desktops totalled 2m units in 2014, doubling from those shipped in 2013.

Excluding shipments of Windows-based tablets and 2-in-1 models, Asustek’s notebook shipments lagged slightly behind the 20m units shipped by Apple in 2014, according to IDC…

Although Asustek boasts a number of notebook lines, including Gun-, KX- and T100- and Chi-series as well as EeeBook and Chromebook families, slack global demand for notebooks will cap Asustek’s efforts to ramp up its shipments, according to industry sources.

Asustek’s tablet shipments fell short of its target in 2014, reaching less than 10m units compared to 12m units shipped a year earlier. However, buoyed by its voice-calling Fonepad tablet series, the company still aims to ship 12m tablets in 2015.

The company shipped eight million smartphones in 2014, but saw a loss of NT$2bn (US$64m) for the handset business. Asustek plans to release its second generation ZenFone soon and aims to ship 16m units in 2015.

You can just about use those numbers to back out the number of 2-in-1s that Asus shipped, which looks like the low single-digit millions for the year. And that handset business is painful.