Android Wear Becomes ‘Wear OS by Google’ as 1 in 3 Android Wear Watches are Used by iPhone Owners

Google today announced that it's dropping the "Android" moniker from the name of its software designed for smart watches because it's not just Android users who are using the devices.

Going forward, Android Wear, which is built into a wide range of smart watches from companies like LG, Misfit, Asus, Huawei, Fossil, and more, will be known as "Wear OS by Google."

Google says that it's making this change because in 2017, one out of every three new Android Wear watch owners used an iPhone.

Android Wear was also designed with the belief that wearable technology "should be for everyone" regardless of what style you wear on your wrist or what phone you use, so Google chose the new name to reflect this philosophy.
So as the watch industry gears up for another Baselworld next week, we're announcing a new name that better reflects our technology, vision, and most important of all--the people who wear our watches. We're now Wear OS by Google, a wearables operating system for everyone.
All existing devices using the software formerly known as Android Wear will begin displaying the new Wear OS by Google name "over the next few weeks."

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Android Continues to Have More Loyal Customers Than iOS

Android customers continue to be loyal to the Android operating system than iOS users are to the iOS operating system, according to new data shared today by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

Android saw a 91 percent loyalty rate in 2017, compared to 86 percent for iOS, with loyalty rates for the two operating systems remaining largely steady since early 2016. Android loyalty has hovered at 89 to 91 percent since January 2016, while iOS loyalty has been between 85 and 88 percent.

Operating system loyalty for the year was measured by the percentage of customers that remained with each operating system when activating a new phone over the twelve months ending in December 2017. CIRP says its findings are based on quarterly surveys with a sample of 500 subjects each.
"Loyalty for both Android and iOS increased in 2015 and into 2016, when it leveled off for both operating systems," said Mike Levin, Partner and Co-Founder of CIRP. "Loyalty is also as high as we've ever seen, really from 85-90% at any given point. With only two mobile operating systems at this point, it appears users now pick one, learn it, invest in apps and storage, and stick with it. Now, Apple and Google need to figure out how to sell products and services to these loyal customer bases."
With the Android operating system, customers have access to a range of different smartphones that are all able to run Android, which may explain why it has a higher loyalty rate. Android devices are also typically more affordable than iOS devices, with a wider range of low-priced options available.

As CIRP points out, with fewer and fewer first-time smartphone buyers available, poaching customers from competing operating systems is becoming increasingly important. Apple regularly aims to lure Android users to iOS through trade-in options, videos, a Move to iOS app to make transitioning simple, and a "Switch" website dedicated to explaining all of the reasons why the iPhone is better than competing smartphones.
"We know Android has a larger base of users than iOS, and because of that larger base, the absolute number of users that switch to iOS from Android is as large or larger than the absolute number of users that switch to Android from iOS. Looking at absolute number of users in this way tends to support claims that iOS gains more former Android users, than Android does former iOS users."
These loyalty rates are not equivalent to switcher rates, where iOS wins out. With a larger Android customer base, more customers are switching over to iOS devices on a regular basis. During earnings calls, Apple CEO Tim Cook always touts the high number of Android switchers Apple sees, with each quarter setting a new record.

Tags: CIRP, Android

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Google Debuts ‘Android P’ With Support for iPhone X-Style Notches

Google today announced a new Android update, Android P, which introduces support for display notches built into Android devices that mimic the design of the iPhone X.

According to Google, Android P offers support for "the latest edge-to-edge screens with display cutout for camera and speaker," with a new "DisplayCutout" class for outlining the size and shape of a notch on an Android device.

Several new Android devices feature an edge-to-edge display with an included notch much like the iPhone X. The Leagoo S9, for example, is a $150 iPhone X clone that features slim side bezels and a front notch, with a design that looks very similar to the iPhone X.

Leagoo S9

The recently announced Asus ZenFone 5 also adopts a design that uses a notch, and when it was unveiled, Asus bragged that its notch is 26 percent smaller than the notch on the iPhone X.

Asus ZenFone 5

Other clone devices have surfaced from Chinese vendors, such as the Boway "Notch Series," and with official Android support for notch-style designs, we'll likely see more Android smartphones that aim to emulate the iPhone X. Even more well-known Android smartphone vendors are embracing the notch, with LG's upcoming G7 said to include a notched design.

Renders of the upcoming LG G7 via Techno Buffalo

Apple implemented a notched design in the iPhone X in an effort to maximize the available display area. The notch houses the TrueDepth camera system, which includes several components necessary for Face ID. Android companies copying Apple's design aren't using the notch in the same way, with currently available models offering fingerprint scanners rather than facial recognition.

In addition to notch support, Android P includes several other notable new features, such as indoor positioning APIs, enhanced notifications, multi-camera support, HEIF image support, design tweaks and changes, restricted access to the mic, camera, and other hardware, and more.

Android P is available for developers starting today, with a public release to come in the future following beta testing. Google is warning that Android P is in the early stages of development and should not be installed on a primary device.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Tag: Android
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Apple Updates Apple Music for Android With Music Video Improvements

Apple today released a new update for its Apple Music app designed to be used on Android devices, which Apple says significantly improves stability to make music playback more reliable.

Apple says today's Apple Music Android update also introduces "new experiences" for music videos. Users can now watch music videos in fullscreen or inside Now Playing and music videos will continue to play while browsing other areas of the app.

Music videos can also be added to playlists to watch them back to back, and you can listen to music videos in the background while using other apps.

Apple has offered an Apple Music for Android app since November of 2015, and the company regularly updates the app with new features to keep it on par with the iOS versions of Apple Music. The app's last major update came in April of 2017, when Apple introduced major design changes.

Apple Music for Android can be downloaded from Google Play for free.

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Apple Shares New Videos Aimed at Luring Android Users to iPhone

Apple this afternoon uploaded several new short videos to its YouTube channel, which are aimed at luring current Android smartphone users to the iPhone.

The first video, "Ease," is meant to demonstrate how easy it is to transfer content from an Android device to an iPhone using the Move to iOS app from Apple.

In the video, a man holding an umbrella floats from the bottom of the screen, titled "Your phone" to the top of the screen, titled "iPhone," while the video's description points users towards the Move to iOS app.
Upgrade to iPhone. The Move to iOS app makes it simple to move your music, photos, and more to iPhone. Switch today.
A second video, styled in the same way, is meant to demonstrate the security of iOS devices compared to Android devices. The video's description highlights the frequent iOS updates that Apple releases.

Frequent iOS updates help keep your iPhone more secure. Life's easier on iPhone. Switch today.
Two additional videos, "Environment" and "Apple Support" focus on Apple's commitment to the environment and its support options, which include Apple retail stores, online support, and phone support.

All of the videos direct users to Apple's "Switch" website, which is designed for customers who use an Android or another smartphone and are thinking of switching to an iPhone.

The website answers simple questions like "Will it be easy to switch to iPhone?" and "Will iPhone be easy to use?"

It also offers up details on key features that differentiate the iPhone from other devices, such as Portrait Mode, iMessages, Apple-designed chips, Touch ID and Face ID, user privacy, the App Store, and more.

Since 2015, Apple has offered the "Move to iOS" app which is designed to make it quick for Android users to swap to an iPhone by transferring data like contacts, message history, photos and videos, web bookmarks, mail account information, calendars, wallpapers, DRM-free songs, and books.

Apple has been ramping up its efforts to lure Android switchers to iPhone since 2017, when it overhauled the "Switch" site and first began releasing ads targeted at Android users.

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iPhone X Clone ‘Leagoo S9’ Will Cost $150 and Include ‘Face Access’ Biometric Security Feature

Late in 2017, a crop of iPhone X clones began popping up in China, with each device deciding to copy the tenth anniversary iPhone's main identifier: the front-facing "notch." One such model was the "Leagoo S9," and at Mobile World Congress this week the company has announced new details about the phone, including a price tag of $149.99.

Images via Leagoo

Leagoo confirmed that the device has a 5.85-inch "HD+" IPS notch display, further describing the phone as the "World's First Android iPhone X." Leagoo's notch includes technology that fuels a "Face Access" feature, allowing users to unlock the phone in under 0.1 seconds. According to the company's website, there will also be a "Leagoo S9 Pro."

Other internal specs include an eight core chipset, 4GB RAM, a 3,300 mAh battery, and 32GB of storage, with a microSD card slot for further expansion possibilities. As a comparison, iPhone X's A11 chip includes six cores, the smartphone has 3GB of RAM, and it uses a 2,716 mAh battery.

The Leagoo S9 also features a rear fingerprint sensor for additional biometric security entry options for users, physical lock and volume buttons on the right of the device, a vertical rear camera, and a bottom bezel with the Leagoo logo. Each shot of the phone's software shows what appears to be consistent on-screen controls for returning home and going backwards within apps, suggesting these might be Leagoo's answer for the iPhone X's swipe up to go home gesture.

Besides the new information on the internals and cost of the Leagoo S9, the company has yet to announce a release date. Many more Android versions of the iPhone X are expected throughout 2018, with Google itself said to be expecting such a huge wave of iPhone X clones that it's "embracing" an iPhone X notch-like design within Android P.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Tag: Android
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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iPhone and Android Smartphone Duopoly Reaches Peak With Estimated 99.9% Market Share Last Year

A record 99.9 percent of smartphones sold worldwide last year were based on either Android or iOS, as all competing platforms have effectively been squeezed out, according to data shared today by research firm Gartner.

Android remains more widely adopted than iOS by a significant margin, with a roughly 86-14 percent split between the respective operating systems last year. Android's dominance is unsurprising given the software is installed on dozens of different smartphone models offered at a range of price points, whereas the iPhone primarily caters to the high-end market.

iOS and Android have been the leading mobile operating systems for many years now, but the duopoly became so dominant last year that Gartner doesn't even break out BlackBerry and Windows Phone individually anymore. Together, the platforms accounted for less than 0.1 percent market share in 2017.

For perspective, Gartner estimates that of the just over 1.5 billion smartphones sold worldwide last year, handsets running BlackBerry OS, Windows Mobile, and all other platforms made up only 1.5 million of the total.

The writing has long been on the wall for BlackBerry and Windows Phone, which have been ceding market share to Apple and Google for the better part of the last decade. But with Android and iOS finally reaching 99.9 percent market share, it looks like the platforms will be officially dead soon enough.

In the meantime, BlackBerry recently announced it will continue to support its BlackBerry 10 operating system for at least two more years, but it encourages customers to upgrade to its Android-based smartphones manufactured by TCL. BlackBerry World and other legacy services will shut down by the end of 2019.

Back in October, Microsoft likewise announced that it will continue to support Windows 10 Mobile with security updates and bug fixes, but it will no longer develop new features or release any new Windows Phones.

The fall of BlackBerry in particular is remarkable given it was the pioneer of the smartphone industry. Its devices actually continued to grow in popularity for around two years after the iPhone launched in June 2007, at the expense of then-leading Nokia, with a peak market share of around 20 percent in 2009.

It only took a few years until the surging popularity of iPhones and Samsung Galaxy smartphones led iOS and Android to leapfrog BlackBerry and Nokia, and based on today's data, the duopoly is now firmly entrenched.

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Google ‘Embracing’ Notch Design in 2018 Android Update, Preparing for New Wave of iPhone X Clones

Google’s upcoming software update for its Android smartphone operating system will “embrace” an iPhone X notch-like design, according to people familiar with the company’s plans speaking to Bloomberg.

With the software, referred to as Android P, Google is readying a “new generation” of Android smartphones that will be “mimicking” the iPhone X’s front-facing camera cutout design.

Just like iPhone X, this cutout is believed to be where Android smartphone makers will be placing cameras and other sensors to help Android phones compete with Apple devices in the high-end market.

While Google controls the Android software, many other companies manufacture Android devices and have the ability to tweak the software as they see fit. Because of this, Bloomberg pointed out that “not all Android phones will have notches.”

In total, Google’s plan for Android P — shortened from Pistachio Ice Cream — is to convince more iOS users to switch sides by “improving the look of the software.”

While Android dominates the middle and low-end of the global smartphone market, Apple controls much of the high-end with users who spend more on apps and other services. Embracing the notch may help change that. The design will mean more new Android phones with cutouts at the top of their screens to fit cameras and other sensors. That will likely support new features, helping Android device makers keep up with similar Apple technology.

[…]building notch capabilities into Android suggests Google expects the iPhone X look to catch on more broadly.

Otherwise, Android P will reportedly focus heavily on Google Assistant and improving its abilities. Tighter software integration with the AI assistant will allow developers to integrate it inside of their apps, and Google is considering adding the assistant into the search bar on the Android home screen, but “neither of these changes are finalized for introduction this year.” Android P is said to also introduce improved battery life on smartphones and support new designs, including “multiple screens and foldable displays.”

Following the launch of the iPhone X, clones of the device began appearing around the world, including in China with the LEAGOO S9 smartphone and its notch-inspired design. Many users have disliked Apple’s notch design, and Android smartphone maker Samsung played into that criticism by making fun of the notch in a Samsung Galaxy ad posted on the weekend of the iPhone X launch.

While Android P is said to be a “dramatic” overhaul amid support for notch designs on a growing number of Android smartphones, Apple’s own iOS update in 2018 is believed to be focused more on stability. In January, it was reported that Apple has chosen to delay new software features until 2019 — like a home screen refresh, Mail improvements, CarPlay updates, and more — and instead focus on addressing performance and quality issues this year.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer’s Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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iPhone Was Most Activated Smartphone in United States Last Quarter According to Survey

Apple increased its share of smartphone activations in the fourth quarter of 2017, following the release of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, according to data shared with MacRumors by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

iPhones accounted for 39 percent of activations in the United States between October and December, up from 34 percent in the year-ago quarter, based on CIRP's survey of 500 people who activated a new or used smartphone during that period.

Samsung was the runner-up with a 32 percent share of activations during the quarter, trailed by LG at 13 percent. All other smartphone vendors, including Motorola, HTC, and others, accounted for the remaining 16 percent share.

The survey findings are rather unsurprising given a trio of new iPhones launched between late September and early November, while Google's Pixel 2 and LG's V30 were essentially the only major Android smartphones to debut during the quarter.

CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz:
Apple's iOS increased its mobile operating system share in the US in the most recent quarter. While Android still leads, the launch of the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X models, without similar new Android phones, allowed Apple to increase its share of activations in the quarter, relative last quarter and to the year-ago quarter.
The survey also shows that Apple and Samsung continue to form a smartphone duopoly in the United States, with no sign that'll change any time soon.

Related Roundups: iPhone 8, iPhone X

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Android App ‘weMessage’ Lets You Get iMessages on Your Android Smartphone With a Mac

There's no official way to get iMessages on a non-iOS device like an Android smartphone, but a new Android app aims to provide a workaround, at least temporarily. weMessage is designed to allow you to get iMessages on an Android device, but for it to work, a Mac is required.

weMessage uses a weServer app on a Mac, which takes iMessages that are delivered to a Mac and forwards them to an Android smartphone or tablet. As described by the developer on reddit, the weServer app acts as a bridge between a Mac and an Android device, using Accessibility features to tap into Apple's Messages app for the Mac.

weMessage works by using Apple's developer tools that hook into the Messages app, as well as by turning on Accessibility features that will perform the message sending. There was zero reverse engineering involved in the creation of this app, so all messages being sent are legitimate. In addition, I believe this implementation is fair, as you still need to have an Apple device to use iMessage, but it is merely being extended to all devices.
According to the developer, all iMessage features are supported, including group chats, attachments, notifications, Do Not Disturb, content blocking, and more, with notifications enabled by sending messages to the Google Firebase platform.

Unfortunately, while this appears to be a solid attempt at routing iMessages to an Android device based on reddit comments, this is not an app that's likely to last. Similar apps and methods of forwarding iMessages to Android devices have popped up in the past, but have been shut down by Apple.

It's likely Apple will require the developer to shutter the app, and it may soon be removed from the Google Play Store, but in the meantime, it's available for any Android users who also have a Mac and want to experiment with iMessage.

There have been rumors suggesting Apple has considered an iMessage app for Android devices, and Apple even reportedly created detailed mockups of what such an app might look like, but there has not been concrete evidence that an Android iMessage app has ever been in the works.

Apple execs are said to believe that iMessage, as a "superior messaging platform," helps to spur iPhone, iPad, and Mac sales, suggesting iMessage is not likely to expand beyond Apple's devices anytime soon.

The developer behind weMessage was originally charging $2.99, but it's now available to download for free.

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