This Week In Android: Apr 29th-May 5th

If you were reading this yesterday, this introduction could be filled with May the 4th Be With You jokes. However, it’s a day late so we’re not going to bother with that. Instead, we’re going to shift our focus back to Android and the conclusion of a week filled with industry fan-bashing, new hardware announcements and Twitter for your Glass.

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Microsoft Shows Off Commercial, Encourages Android Switchers

Microsoft took a new route in their marketing efforts for Windows Phone this week by taking on the big guys directly, specifically their ongoing feud and the loyalty of fans in both camps. Microsoft’s new ad which takes place in a wedding, developing from some basic iPhone vs Samsung slurs into a full-on fistfight between the two groups of loyal fans.

While Samsung’s attempts at similar ads did nothing but insult the very iPhone users they’d be looking to win over and highlight how their competitor could draw out-the-door lines for their new products, Microsoft’s commercial actually form a lighthearted and humorous commentary of the ongoing feud between the two companies, even if it’s not quite up-to-scratch when it comes to actually advertising their own platform.

Microsoft also released a Switch to Windows Phone app on Google Play, offering to scan Android handsets for installed apps and, in conjunction with a companion Windows Phone app, tell users which Android apps have an equivalent version for Windows Phone. The app has been met with some criticism, though, with some results only offering close matches rather than accurately portraying whether a specific app is available or not.

Google Hires Chief Game Designer

TechCrunch and The Verge reported this week that Google has hired a “Chief Game Designer” in the form of Noah Falstein, a gaming industry veteran who became one of the first ten employees of LucasArts and is known for his contributions to their portfolio.

Google might be looking to enhance the gaming experience on its platforms.

Falstein’s exact role at Google is, however, unknown. Google has published a number of smaller games as easter eggs, Google Doodles and the like, but the position of Chief Game Designer is likely to be focused on creating and enhancing the gaming infrastructure and architecture in Google’s core properties, including Android.

Other Updates

  • Samsung announced a slightly altered iteration of it’s Galaxy Tab line this week, the Galaxy Tab 3. The device is near-identical to the previous model, though now sports a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, a 16GB storage option and the choice for 3G connectivity with voice call support. The WiFi model is out in May, 3G in June.
  • According to reports published this week, a smaller version of HTC’s flagship One handset is set to be released. The device is currently codenamed simply “M4” and is expected to sport a 4.3-inch 720p display, dual-core processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, running under Android 4.2.
  • Wikimedia has released a bet Wikimedia Commons app in an effort to attract photographers to upload their freely-licensed images to the site, and subsequently projects like Wikipedia. The app is free from Google Play.
  • LeWeb founder Loic Le Meur announced this week, fittingly via the social network, the existence of a third-party Twitter app for Google’s Android-powered Glass. Le Meur tweeted a photo on April 30th with the hashtag #throughglass.
  • Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD and HD+ tablets will be receiving access to Google Play and the subsequent app ecosystem through an OTA software update that began rolling out this week. In related news, in the UK, Barnes & Noble have reduced the price of the Nook HD to £129 and the HD+ to £179 as part of the “Get London Reading” initiative.

Check in next week for another look at what’s been going on in the wild, wild world of Android.