Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kindle News: Amazon's Best Books of 2012 (Top 20 w/ discounts), More on Flipboard and Android

Amazon's "Best Books of the Year So Far: 2012 Editors' Picks

Amazon has up to 40% off on their Top 20 picks in this listing.
  Here's the page for the "Best" Editors' Picks.

Flipbook app and some problems encountered when developing apps for Android, causing longer development time for some.

On June 22, we got the news that the Flipboard app was available on the Kindle Fire, and the touted features and accolades were listed on the blog article here.  I've seen a couple of interesting articles on this since writing that intro.

  This one from TechCrunch's Kim-Mai-Cutler explains the many mentions in news articles about the "fragmentation" issue with Android devices.

  The image at the right, from TechCrunch, is by animoca, a Hong Kong mobile app developer with more than 70 million downloads, and it's a good example of how "one picture is worth 10,000 words"  [see origins of that phrase for a surprise].

When developing an app for the one iPad tablet size and maybe an iPhone and iPod touch, developers can focus and, no doubt, complete their job in much less time, it's said, than developing one that will work on about 400 different phones and tablets for each app shipped.
  That bolded line was from the article and from me.

  The photo illustrating this was taken by the CEO of Animoca's parent company Outblaze (he shot and posted it the day of the article), and it's "just a sampling of Animoca's fleet of Android test units," as their studio "has detected about 600 unique Android devices on their network."  Many have already disappeared from the market.

  As the Asian market is pumping out new Android devices faster than it takes Nokia staff "to polish a PowerPoint presentation," developers who want to break into the lucrative Asian markets need to make sure that their apps work "on every single Android device," which means it'd be good to check their work on all these.   Since Animoca is backed by Intel Cap[ital and IDG-Accel, it has the resources.

  The reality is daunting enough that an Appcelerator "survey of 2,100 of its developer clients in March"... "found that, if anything, interest in Android development is stagnating.  Nevertheless Outblaze's CEO, Yat Siu, finds that Android users are more grateful or "delighted" than iOS users when they find apps that work even if there are a couple of glitches.  With the heavy testing by Outblaze and Animoco, many expect they'd have a happier user group than those with lighter Quality Assurance methodology, .

As for Android's ability to get developer time for Android devices vs Apple's iOS,  Marco aRMENT of Marco.org  quotes Android OS maker Google's Eric Schmidt: "...ultimately applications vendors are driven by volume, and the volume is favored by the open approach that Google is taking."

If you go to the TechCrunch article, there are added photos and descriptions of wall shelves and safes for Quality Assurance testing, this time by Pocket Gems, who "had two of the 10 top-grossing games on iOS last year."

Commenters' thoughts at the news site
The site's audience commenters go on about simpler ways to test (and we've seen the results of some of that too), but some point out that there is a difference between developing for Android and doing Quality Assurance.  There is also customer dissatisfaction in app reviews about things that don't work for this or that Android model in customer reviews.

  One commenter says he's an experienced Android developer and fragmentation's no problem for him, his apps work on just about everything and he tests on only two devices.  Google has support for all kinds of different hardware, and the apps can run "in cars, on tv's, on tablets, etc., and he considers it all a 'feature."

  I think games developers will do more hardware specific programming though, in some cases, and sometimes these are not ready for this or that Android device yet and we hear  "we're working on it."

 Whatever the reasons, I'm still waiting for HuluPlus for the Samsung Galaxy 10.1" tablet while it has been ready for my Kindle Fire for a long time and only recently came to my Samsung Galaxy S2 phone.

Well, THAT was off the topic of Flipboard, wasn't it.  I hope others find this kind of side article somewhat interesting though.

TechCrunch's Sarah Perez writes that Flipboard only recently added NPR and Public Radio audio content,  which can be background-enabled.

Perez's article on the launch reports that Flipboard CEO Mike McCue told her they saw over a million downloads of the app during its beta and it took longer to release because, unlike with Apple's iOS, developers  can "target a very specific screen size, a very specific processor" and that makes it "quite a bit easier.
  "On Android, to really build a high-quality application that works across a range of devices, you have to spend a lot of time optimizing…that’s why we did the beta.”  Actually, it seems strange to me he had to explain that.  There are times I've wished Amazon had done a wide beta.

 They integrated Flipboard with You Tube in that you can watch, Favorite, bookmark and comment on videos within Flipboard, and those changes sync with the YouTube website itself. You can also follow users and the channels you subscribe to."

  Well, that would be more necessary with Apple's devices since they don't acknowledge Flash and depend on apps to do this, but many of us already do these things on our tablet browsers.

  I've enjoyed Flipboard for its surprises...Am never quite sure what they're going to show me, but I haven't customized it to my own favorite reads yet and am just seeing what else they have to show.

It's very fast on all my devices.  I can't say it's as intuitive as Pulse, but it's oddly engaging for me, maybe because it feels more random vs "Here's this row and this image and story from this magazine..."

What IS Flipboard?
A commenter to the last article writes, to the gratitude of a couple of people, a simple descriptive statement that many have wanted to see:
' Flipboard is a social-network aggregation, magazine-format application software for Android and iOS.  It collects the content of social media and other websites. '

  In other words, it does what you'd expect from an online magazine but encourages interaction with other users on social networks in that reading.  Some will find that appealing, and some will just want to be left alone to their quiet time.  I haven't felt much need to 'share' anything I'm reading (except here), but sometimes it happens.

  One commenter finds Flipboard really annoying and far prefers the more linear Pulse experience.  Another says he was a big-time Pulse user, to follow his favorite feeds, but says that since Flipboard, he's hardly ever opened Pulse.

  The latter also points out that Flipboard allows you to 'push' articles (to your device) to read later, offline, with Flipboard's Chrome extension (with no worry about expiration times) and that's a draw.

  Another commenter suggests an "Anti-Flipboard" solution, using TextOnly Browser for Android, reducing data usage by 80-90% and displaying content much faster even on slow 2G connections.  (This would be like using an e-Ink Kindle's mobile-pages access, but faster.)   Some actually do care mainly about the words when skimming tons of news with little time.

  For other mobile devices he mentions an alternative app, "TextOnly" -- which looks like 1985 but it's of course fast if that's the main concern when in an area with poor cellphone or weak WiFi reception, I suppose.

Personally, I've been enjoying FlipBoard but I don't actually know why.  Pulse is great but I think it's like anything else -- sometimes you like a bit of variety and something new, and what I've read on it so far has been interesting too.  I think it's about choice and could be dependent on mood. 

If you've a reaction you'd like to share, I'd love to read it.

Flipboard's deal with The New York Times
Nate Hoffelder tweeted the article by Mathew Ingram yesterday at gigaom, that the Wall St. Journal and Pulse have formed a partnership to distribute that newspaper's content through its app.  This will be through paid subscriptions.
  Flipboard has partnered with The New York Times, and the arrangement there is that current NY Times subscribers (paper or digital format) will get full access to the NY Times's full content through Flipboard's mobile and tablet apps, while non-subscribers will be able to see just the top 10 stories and be offered subscriptions.

 While Flipboard is described as more'advertising-based' this deal with The NYT is still subscription based, as far as I can see, with advertising added.  While Pulse would share subscription revenue with the WSJ, Flipboard's deal won't include subscription revenue sharing. but the NYT can sell advertisers "full screen ads that appear between its Flipboard pages," and Flipboard would share in the revenue from the ads.  Does not sound to me like the greatest thing for current digital subscribers.

The NYT has not distributed "the full range" of the newspaper's content through a 3rd-party service before (crossword puzzles, I suppose, as well as videos, slide shows, and NYT blog posts).  A NYT survey of its subscribers found that 20 percent read web content through 3rd party apps like Flipboard, according to Laura Hazard Owen of paidContent.  As Ingram writes, the NYT will be experimenting "with mobile ads and different forms of monetization if it wants to by modifying the way the paywall works.

  I don't know what that means about the amount of ads an existing paid NYT subscriber might see but I guess they mean that the NYT could lower the subscription price for apps users if advertising works for them, since mobile users are said to be much more likely to click on ads.  I wouldn't want to pay full subscription price and see additional ads.

Kindle Fire  7" tablet - $199
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $79/$109
Kindle Touch, WiFi
- $99/$139
Kindle Touch, 3G/WiFi - $149/$189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189, Free, slow web
Kindle DX - $379, Free, slow web
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £89
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £109
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi, UK - £169
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
OTHER International
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $109
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi - $189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB

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