iOS 8 hits 85% adoption rate; Android Lollipop only at 18%

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Apple’s iOS 8 is now on most iOS devices.
Apple/screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

iOS 8 continues to rise up the ranks, albeit a bit more slowly these days.

Apple’s latest mobile OS is now on 85 percent of all iOS devices, according to Apple’s App Store Distribution page. That figure refers specifically to all iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches that visited Apple’s App Store on Monday, August 3. iOS’s adoption rate has actually been slowing down. In late April, iOS 8 was on 81 percent of all iOS devices, so in three months, the rate has risen only by 4 percentage points.

But 85 percent is still an impressive number, especially since iOS 8 got off to a slow start as it was plagued by a number of initial bugs. And iOS 9 is due for lift-off next month, so some iOS 7 users may be holding off on iOS 8, waiting to upgrade to the new version.

And what about iOS rival Android? The latest flavor, namely Android Lollipop, is on just 18 percent of all devices running Google’s mobile OS, according to the latest Android Developers Dashboard. Drilling down, Android 5.0 is nestled on 15.5 percent of all devices that visited the Google Play store during the seven-day period ending August 3, while Android 5.1 is only 2.6 percent of devices.

Released last September, iOS 8 did have a head start over Android 5.0, which launched last November. But that’s not a big head start. So why is iOS 8 on such a greater percentage of devices? The answer lies in the Android distribution process. Apple controls the entire process of rolling out a new version of iOS as well as incremental updates. Apple creates, tests, and then deploys a new OS so it’s easily available for all iOS users at the same time.

On the flip side, new versions of Android face a more difficult time getting into the hands of users. In a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario, Google must first create and test a new version of Android. Then the mobile device makers get involved by doing their own testing and certification. And unlike iOS, which includes just three devices — the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch — the world of Android is flooded with hundreds and hundreds of different devices from various manufacturers. Every manufacturer must test a new version or update on each of its devices. Finally, the mobile carriers step in to test and deploy a new version of Android. So a system that’s relatively quick and painless for iOS is relatively long and painful for Android.

The process also leads to Android fragmentation. Just as a mobile device maker or carrier is deploying an existing version of Android, a new version is usually already available. So the manufacturers and carriers are constantly playing a game of catch-up. This means that several different versions of Android are installed on users’ devices at any given time.

The latest Android Developers Dashboard paints a typical picture. Though Lollipop is catching up in adoption, the prior edition, KitKat, holds the lead at 39.3 percent. The version before KitKat, Jelly Bean, is still up there with a 33.6 percent share. Even older versions, such as Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread remain in the game with shares of 4.1 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.

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Google’s latest flavor of Lollipop is still on a small percentage of Android devices.
Google/screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

This type of fragmentation frustrates Android users, who are always clamoring for the latest version. But it also frustrates Android app developers, who decide which versions to support.

In contrast, Apple’s iOS 7 is down to a share of 13 percent, while older versions of iOS are scraping out a mere 2 percent. There is no problem with iOS fragmentation since users can freely download the latest version of iOS as soon as it’s available and assuming their device supports it. And developers can design their apps for the current version of iOS and then gradually take advantage of any new features offered in the newest version.

Fragmentation certainly doesn’t affect the popularity of Android, which towers over iOS in market share and sales throughout the world. But the problem does make Android updates much more messy than those for iOS. So the whole update process is one that Google needs to find a way to streamline for the benefit of both Android users and developers.

Amazon reveals best-selling Kindle books of all time

Happy Birthday Kindle Store!

Amazon celebrates the Kindle store’s fifth birthday today by releasing a top 50 list of best-selling ebooks. Unsurprisingly, 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James makes the #1 spot of most popular book of all time, proving the Kindle allows for very private reading indeed.

Top 10 Kindle best ebook-sellers

1. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

2. Fifty Shades Darker by EL James

3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

4. Fifty Shades Freed by EL James

5. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

6. Life Of Pi by Yann Martel

7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

8. Watch Over Me by Daniela Sacerdoti

9. Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

10. Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd

Top 10 authors

Top-selling authors

1. EL James

2. Lee Child

3. Stieg Larsson

4. Suzanne Collins

5. George RR Martin

6. Gillian Flynn

7. Diane Chamberlain

8. James Patterson

9. Peter James

10. Sylvia Day

Have a look at our Kindle Paperwhite review to see what we thought of their latest offering in the Kindle hardware range.

TechRadar Deals: Best Amazon Kindle deals in August 2015: grab a cheap Amazon ereader!

Welcome to TechRadar’s dedicated page for Amazon Kindle deals. Here you’ll find the cheapest Kindle deals for all models, whether it be for the classic ereaders or the Fire tablet versions.

We cross check every model of Kindle with every retailer every day to pull in the best deals so that this page is always up to date with the cheapest prices.

What makes a good Kindle deal?

If this is your first Kindle, you’ll be wanting to know – how do you tell a good Kindle deal when you see one? Luckily, there are so many good ones out there it’s pretty easy!

The traditional Kindle ereaders don’t have LCD screens or powerful internal components which means they’re always going to be a lot cheaper than tablets and phones.

The top-end Kindle, which at the moment is the Kindle Voyage, normally has a price of about £170 so if you can get it for cheaper than that you’re onto a winner. After that, there isn’t a huge difference in features so it all depends how much you want to spend. If you can find the Kindle Paperwhite for under £100 you’re getting a good price, while the Kindle 2014 model has a fairly static price of £59 but every now and then it dips down below that mark.

For the tablets, the best thing to do is just work out how much you want to spend and pick up the model that sits closest to your budget. The HDX models are the good ones so do go for one of those if you can.

Here are the best Kindle deals currently available…

kindle voyage deals

Kindle Voyage deals

The top of the range Kindle is the most expensive

We’ll kick off with Kindle Voyage deals. If you want the best Kindle, this is the one. It’s probably the best ebook reader available right now. It’s more compact than the other Kindles on this page, the screen is sharper and it’s essentially a step up from any ereader Amazon has made so far. A flush display makes the device easier to keep clean and carry around, the screen’s resolution is the highest it has ever been, and it even comes with an ace origami-style case (at additional cost).

kindle deals

kindle paperwhite deals

Kindle Paperwhite deals

The best standard Kindle ever is a value-for-money winner

The 6th generation Kindle Paperwhite is the best standard Kindle yet, it’s the most cost effective ereader on the market and it easily beats the Kobo Aura on performance and design. Amazon has managed to create a fast e-ink tablet with inventive reading apps.

kindle deals

kindle deals

Amazon Kindle (2014) deals

The first touchscreen Kindle is now an absolute bargain

The Amazon Kindle (2014) is a very fine ereader. It was the first model to come with a touchscreen, a major change and it’s hugely beneficial. So much so that if you don’t currently have a touchscreen ereader it’s definitely worth upgrading to. You might think you’re fine with buttons, but everything is just so much easier and faster when you can tap the screen.

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kindle 8 9 deals

Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 deals

The premium version of the above two budget tablets

Amazon also does touchscreen tablet versions of the Kindle. The latest ones have dropped the name Kindle, but it’s still the same thing – a Kindle Fire which runs on Android software and has all the same Amazon features baked in by default. If you’re looking for a family tablet that everyone can share, and you’re happy to dive into the Amazon ecosystem and sign up for Amazon Prime, maybe even pick up a Fire TV as well, then the Fire HDX 8.9 is probably the best tablet for you.

kindle deals

kindle hd 6 deals

Amazon Fire HD 6 deals

The latest tablet version of the Kindle Fire

One of the most enticing tablets to come from Amazon, mixing efficient integration with the Prime services and a compact footprint that makes it easy to drop in your bag, this 6-incher is no tablet king, but it does what it sets out to well. It’s quite small though, so if 6-inches is too tiny you could have a look at the options below.

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kindle hd 7 deals

Amazon Fire HD 7 deals

The 7-inch version of Amazon’s latest Kindle tablet

Sitting at the budget end of Amazon’s Kindle tablet range, the HD 7 is the same as the HD 6 only slightly bigger. In terms of a content delivery system, the HD 7 is absolutely perfect. Getting to your favourite TV shows, films or books couldn’t be easier and, if you’re prepared to pay for a subscription, you can get even more from it. Likewise, the ability to have different profiles – some for the kids – through Amazon FreeTime is really helpful.

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kindle fire 7 deals

Kindle Fire HDX 7 deals

Last year’s main Kindle tablet, now available with some great deals

For the right kind of customer, the Kindle Fire HDX is the perfect tablet. And who is that customer? Someone who doesn’t want to do much more than consume content on their tablet. For the customisation you give up, you gain simplicity and ease of use. We’d like to call this the sort of tablet you give to someone who is less than tech savvy, but those devices don’t usually have such good hardware. There’s not single junk part on the Kindle Fire HDX that’ll spoil your experience with all of Amazon’s rich content. Features like X-Ray for movies, downloadable Prime videos and Mayday will have the most ardent Nexus fan feeling rather jealous.

kindle deals

hdx deals

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 deals

The 8.9-inch version of the tablet above is an excellent offering

If you just want to watch TV and movies, read books and listen to music, and you already have an Amazon Prime account and are into Amazon’s ecosystem, we have no doubt that you’ll love this tablet.

We check our Kindle deals every day to make sure they’re always up to date and available!

Use Google Maps to see where you’ve traveled

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Josh Miller/CNET

Google Maps has been tracking everywhere your phone has gone, and now it’s ready to share that data with you, and only you. Using a handy new feature called Your Timeline on the Web and Android, you can see all of the places you’ve visited to plotted on a map, plus detailed itineraries of your travels.

While the prospect of Google tracking your every move is sure to bother some people, I’ve found that Your Timeline is a really neat tool for keeping track of my trips and vacations, or simply remembering a random day in my life.

If this weirds you out and you don’t want Google following you, check out CNET’s guide to stopping Google Maps from tracking your location. However, if you’re intrigued by this automatically recorded log of the places you go, read on to learn how to make the best use of Your Timeline.

Get started

To protect your privacy, you first need to consent to have Google follow your travels. If at any point you turned on Location History in your Google account, such as setting up Google Now to remember where you parked or commute alerts, then the company is already tracking you.

Check if Location History is enabled for you with these steps:

  • Sign into your Google account on a computer.
  • Head to the My Account page.
  • Click Personal info & privacy and scroll to Places you go.
  • If the slider is blue, Location History is on and you’re good to go.
  • Click Manage Activity below the slider to view Your Timeline.

Look at your maps

True to its name, Your Timeline shows a daily record of every place you’ve been, the time you arrived and departed, as well as the approximate route you took between locations. If you use Google Photos, pictures you took at the particular place, date and time will show up in your timeline too.

Your Timeline shows the locations you’ve paid a visit to, day by day. Click to enlarge.
Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

All of that information appears on the Your Timeline page on desktop and in the latest version of the Google Maps Android app. However, you’ll get the most features from browsing on a computer. There you’ll see a world map with dots on the places you’ve gone. You can zoom into particular cities to get a more detailed view and click on dots to see the address or point of interest.

On the left side of the page, you can browse various dates to see your available timelines. In my experience, Google doesn’t seem to record data from every single day, instead it focusing on trips where you leave your normal area. One my account, I can see the occasional commute or trip to the store, but there’s more emphasis on trips that span several days and took me at least 50 miles from home. I also don’t have a timeline for every single day, despite having Location History turned on for the last several years. However, your data may vary.

The map view shows every place you’ve gone that Google has recorded. Click to enlarge.
Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Editing a timeline

While Google does its best to pinpoint the exact addresses, businesses and points of interest you’ve hit, it doesn’t always get it right. In that case, you can edit the incorrect places in your timeline and add places it missed altogether.

You can edit the places in your daily timelines. Click to enlarge.
Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET
  • Hover over the name of a place and click the arrow to pick a different option from the menu or search for a specific location.
  • To add a new place to your timeline, hover your mouse over the line on the far left until the plus sign appears and click it.
  • Search for a location and tell Google approximately when you arrived and departed, then click Save to add it to the timeline.

Though Google has faced a lot of scrutiny over tracking your location and showing it in Your Timeline, I think the feature is a neat way to automatically create a record of your travels. That said, I absolutely understand the privacy concerns that Your Timeline brings up, even though the data is only available for you to view.

If it makes you uncomfortable, simply shut off Location History to stop Google from tracking your locations. But if you’re willing to let Google stay on your tail, Your Timeline can be a neat feature to chronicle your daily commutes and bigger trips.

Silent Circle’s Blackphone 2 to support Android for Work

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Android for Work will be running on the Silent Circle Blackphone 2 this fall.
Silent Circle

Silent Circle, a small handset maker that builds devices aimed at maximizing privacy, has signed on with Google’s new business-focused Android tool.

Silent Circle’s Blackphone 2 smartphone will support Android for Work, the company announced on Thursday. The feature will allow Blackphone 2 owners to separate personal apps and information on their phone from apps and information used for work, eliminating the need to carry two devices.

The move is part of a broader strategy by Silent Circle to expand its presence in the enterprise, where it believes its privacy-focused devices can have the greatest impact.

The Blackphone 2 was announced in March and will launch in the fall. The device comes with a 64-bit eight-core processor, a 1,920×1,080-pixel 5.5-inch screen protected by Gorilla Glass 3, 3GB of memory, a non-removable quick-charging 3,060mAh battery and expandable storage through a microSD port.

However, like its predecessor, the Blackphone, the device is designed for privacy-seekers who want to keep their information secure. The device runs a Silent Circle-developed version of Google’s Android operating system called Silent OS that encrypts voice and video chats, text messaging and contacts management. A new feature, called Silent Meeting, allows for encrypted conference calls.

At an event in March unveiling the smartphone, Silent Circle said the Blackphone 2 would be especially useful for companies. While individuals will still be able to buy the Blackphone 2, the device will be focused on the corporate world. The move was a logical one for Silent Circle, which acknowledged in March that despite its first handset being designed for privacy-seeking individuals, three-quarters of its sales revenue came from the corporate world.

The partnership with Android for Work is an expansion of Silent Circle’s attempts to appeal to enterprise customers. Unveiled in February, Android for Work is Google’s attempt to get more Android devices into the office. The platform is designed specifically to appeal to a company’s IT department that may have stringent requirements on security and the sharing of data between personal apps and company apps.

Google’s Android for Work creates two user profiles for Android owners — one for their work life and one for their personal life. Those two profiles work together, without requiring people to toggle between the two accounts. Each work-centric app has an orange briefcase badge on the icon, and is labeled “Work Mail” or “Work Chrome,” referring to Google’s Web browser. Google also said that Android for Work would include a new version of its Google Play app marketplace, allowing IT personnel to manage and deploy business apps on all products running its platform.

Silent Circle said in a statement that Google’s platform is an extension of its own desire to create “privacy without compromise.” The company added that Android for Work will run in tandem with Silent OS and its own built-in privacy features.

“It’s a significant step forward in Silent Circle’s development which enables us to deliver privacy and security to a broader enterprise customer base, while meeting their need for the wide-ranging apps and services provided by Google,” Silent Circle CEO Bill Conner said in a statement.

September set for new Parrot mini drone range invasion

Parrot has revealed that Australians can expect to be guiding a new hydrofoil quadcopter hybrid – that uses the aerial drone’s fans to scoot it across the water – sometime in September.

This new addition to the line up will launch alongside upgraded iterations of the existing Jumping Sumo and Rolling Spider mini-drones.

After selling over 600,000 mini-drone units in the nine months since their launch last year, Parrot’s new mini-drone range will expand to 13 products within five new categories: the Jumping Night and the Jumping Race, the Airborne Night and the Airborne Cargo and the Hydrofoil.

The new range features upgrades to engine efficiency and will now include onboard memory allowing you to play with the devices for longer and capture and store photos directly on the drones themselves.

Polly want a cracker?

The Jumping Night and the Jumping Race land-based drones, come with 4GB onboard flash memory, a 0.3 megapixel video and photo compatible dashcam and will cost AU$279.99 and AU$289 respectively.

The quadcopter Night and Cargo models have 1GB of flash storage, but can only take photos using the same forward mounted dashcam and will cost AU$199.99 or AU$149.99 each.

The Hydrofiol quadcopter will retail for AU$239.99 and reaches speeds of up to 10km per hour using a similarly specced airborne drone to power it.

The entire minidrone range will connect to the Android, iOS and Windows smartphone and tablet app FreeFlight 3 and yes … with a built in microphone and speakers, both the new land-based Parrots can now talk.

A candle and some water could keep your phone charged in an emergency

During a disaster, there are few options for charging the electronic devices that are so important to our modern lives. But now there’s one more, courtesy of a company called Stower, and this one depends on very basic elements.

It’s kickstarting a ‘Candle Charger’ that exploits a nifty physics trick to charge any USB-powered device using just fire and water. That trick is the thermoelectric effect – a property of certain semiconductors.

The effect turns a thermal gradient – when one part of the material is hot and the other is cold – into electricity. It’s simple, safe, and has been used widely for more than twenty years in cars, fridges and more.

Smart circuit

The tricky bit comes in converting that electricity into a form your smartphone can handle without blowing it up. That’s where Stower’s innovation comes – creating a “smart circuit” that matches the requirements of whatever’s plugged in.

At the time of writing, the company has raised almost $12,000 of a $30,000 goal with 41 days still to go.

If you’d like to get hold of one (bundled with a six-hour candle), you’ll need to pledge at least $65. Delivery is due in December.

HTC gets a Grip on wearables by delaying its fitness band

Every tech company and its four-legged subsidiary is looking to get in on the wearables hype train, so it was far from surprising when HC announced the HTC Grip back at Mobile World Congress this year.

But today the Taiwanese phone maker has confirmed that the fitness band – which was being created in conjunction with fitness company Under Armour – has been delayed from launch until later on in the year.

According to a statement from HTC, the reason for the delay is not one born of production problems, but a decision based in offering a more complete suite of fitness-related products later in the year.

Getting a grip on the market

“Through our partnership with Under Armour, we have continued to refine our vision and approach to the health and fitness category. Our goal is to offer best-in-class products for our customers and partners,” the statement reads.

“After extensive wear testing and user feedback, we have decided to align GRIP with the entire product portfolio for health and fitness launching later this year. This will be a state-of-the-art comprehensive portfolio of products for this category powered by UA RECORD. We are excited to launch this new comprehensive product suite and will share further details as we get closer to launch.”

Given the wearables market is already pumped full of fitness trackers offering comprehensive data on everything from heart rate to REM sleep, as well as standard steps counted and calories burnt, having a comprehensive product lineup will definitely help HTC compete.

  • If you can’t wait for the HTC Grip, you might want to check out the Jawbone UP3

Fund this: NanoHold suctions your smartphone to nearly any surface

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Look, ma, no hands! NanoHold suctions your phone to any non-porous surface. Selfie-time!
Eoseek LLC

This is going to take a leap of faith, because, well, gravity.

Indeed, if you’ve ever experienced the horror of your smartphone getting bumped from a table or tumbling from your hand, you know that gravity is not your friend.

But Kickstarter project NanoHold aims to help your phone defy that destructive law, without all the usual hassles of mounts or special cases. The campaign is looking to raise a mere $3,000, and as of this writing it’s just past the halfway point.



Eoseek LLC

The NanoHold is a credit-card-size nano-suction pad designed to stick to the (must-be-flat) back of your smartphone and virtually any smooth surface: glass, metal, tile, plastic and pretty much anything else that’s nonporous. It’s removable and repositionable, and it comes with a cover of sorts so you can keep it stuck to your phone full-time.

To my surprise, the pad measures a mere 0.5mm thick, so it’s actually thinner than a credit card. And yet it can hold “hundreds of times” its own weight, according to developer Eoseek LLC.

In fact, the developer says NanaHold works with tablets as well, though you should use “at least two,” and three for heavier tablets.

It’s important to note that the pads aren’t meant for long-term use: “NanoHolds stick temporarily, and like all suction devices, the duration of suction cannot be predicted.” OK, but does that mean it’s good for 60 seconds, enough time to snap a selfie? Or 60 minutes, long enough to cook something while scrolling through an onscreen recipe? That’s what freaks me out a little; I’d constantly worry that my phone (or tablet) was about to detach and hit the floor.

Even if you have similar concerns, it won’t cost you much to put NanoHold to the test: early backers can get a single pad (in black or white) for a mere $5 shipped, with estimated delivery in October. Or pony up $9 for a pair or $14 for a three-pack.

What do you think? Would you trust a suction pad with your smartphone? Like I said: leap of faith.

Presto finally getting HD streams

Presto has a pretty impressive lineup of content on both its TV and Movies service, but since it launched, the service has been stuck in the standard definition past. But that’s all about to change, according to a post on its community forums.

As picked up by Gizmodo, the post announces that the team has been testing HD streams, rolling out 1080p programming in a test phase to the service. This means Presto customers could potentially find some HD programming on their device right now.

According to Presto, “Our plan is to progressively upgrade our content to be available in HD (where possible) and to also upgrade the enablement of HD on the devices and applications which Presto is currently available on – this may take some time, especially for some devices. We want to be sure our HD service is up and running before we start shouting about it!”

Double the data

Of course, all that extra quality doesn’t come without its own cost, in this case significantly increased data consumption.

Presto says that an HD stream will consume about 3GB per hour, compared to 1.5GB per hour for SD, but on the upside, Telstra home broadband and Foxtel Broadband customers will get the increased quality included as unmetered data.

There’s also going to be a boost to include 5.1 sound on HD streams, with Presto confirming there will be an announcement coming in the not too distant future.