Posts by Mike Elgan


Google recently started requiring Android handset and tablet makers to add a very specific “Powered by Android” graphic to the boot animation when you power up an Android phone. It’s part of the revised Google Mobile Services agreement for new Android phones.

The penalty for handset makers’ non-compliance is banishment from access to the Play Store by users of those devices.

The move is no doubt intended to raise user awareness about Android and brand the platform.

Unfortunately, it could backfire. Here’s why.


The announcement of Android Wear, and smartwatches from LG and Motorola, was greeted by the public as: “Oh, look — a new kind of gadget!”

But the wearable revolution in general and Google’s Android Wear initiative in particular, is barely even about gadgets.

The smartwatch revolution is about three things: devices, smartphone apps and cloud services.

You’ll note, however, that these are listed in order from least to most important. Here’s why Google’s total dominance of the third aspect of the smartwatch revolution will make them unbeatable.


An open letter to the minority of people who oppose the wearing of Google Glass in public.

Dear waiter, Costco cashier, random Whole Foods shopper and angry man on the street and everyone else with the gall to ask me and Glass wearers I know to approach a stranger and insist that we not wear Glass because you don’t want to be photographed:




Three new security phones have come into the spotlight recently: The Geeksphone Blackphone, the Boeing Black, and FreedomPop’s Privacy phone.

These phones take similar routes to security, from what we know so far. They’re loaded with encryption, security apps and other features.

But there are two feature on at least one of these phones that should be a standard part of Android.

The $629 Geeksphone Blackphone, made in partnership with Silent Circle, uses a forked version of Android called the PrivatOS. First, the system confronts you with choices when you install an app, enabling you to choose exactly what personal information is available to each app — individual permissions on each source of data that each app requests. And second, after apps have been installed, a “Security Center” lets users enable or disable specific permissions for each app.

Why aren’t these two features built into standard Android?



A dark cloud hangs over the future of mobile communication: the spectre of Facebook controlling it all.

It’s not likely, actually. But Facebook’s intention to purchase WhatsApp for $16 billion or $19 billion dollars (depending on whether you factor in the stock-based bonuses for WhatsApp employees) involved some scary-big numbers.

The biggest of these numbers happens when you add Facebook’s current user count plus WhatsApp’s projected user count (how many users Facebook believes the service will have if current growth rates continue). The number is: 2.3 billion users.

Of course, the number is pure B.S.

WhatsApp’s current growth probably won’t continue. Facebook’s current numbers are padded with duplicate users, fake users and non-active users. And there’s always going to be big overlap between WhatsApp and Facebook users — a dude who uses both is still just one dude.

Still, when I ponder the number of people likely to be using Facebook-owned services (WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger) for messaging compared to those using Google-owned Hangouts, I find myself astonished and confused. How did this happen? And what can be done about it?

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