Top Android news of the week: Nokia Here, smarter music, new Gmail
Big news this week in the world of Android included a significant app release by Nokia, smart playlists from Google Play Music, Gmail for Android catching up with the competition, and the Fire Phone is officially a dud.
Nokia is widely known for Windows Phone and its owner, Microsoft. Not all of the company was snapped up by the folks in Redmond, however, and one part of Nokia produces the Here mapping technology that is considered a worthy competitor to Google Maps.
That's why Nokia producing a version of Here for Android is big news. It has a decent user base in Europe, and a native Android app is a good fit for both Nokia and consumers.
Google's email service is used by millions, many of whom have been crying for some time for support for other email services within the native Gmail app. Those cries have been answered, with a version of Gmail for Android spotted that supports multiple email accounts, and from other companies.
The new Gmail for Android app looks like it handles email accounts from Yahoo and Microsoft Exchange, among others. It presents this in the expected app using the Material Design visuals that Google highlighted earlier this year for Lollipop.
Amazon created a buzz when it introduced the Fire Phone earlier this year. It's now clear that the unique 3D interface and the tie to the company's Prime service weren't enough to make it appeal to buyers.
Just a couple of months after launch, the firm dropped the price of the Fire Phone to just a dollar with a two-year carrier contract, a far fall from the $199 it was priced when it debuted.
This week it emerged how bad sales have been. Amazon doesn't share sales numbers but in its most recent financials it admitted it's taking a $170 million charge on unsold inventory.
Google has been pushing its Play Music service heavily for months, and new features may make that easier. The new playlists curated by Google are in direct competition with Apple's Beats Music service that Apple aquired.
The new Google streaming service will offer playlists based on the user's mood, time of day, and other personal criteria. Google is hoping the new streaming features will entice consumers to pony up the $9.99 monthly fee for Google Play Music.
Huawei formally a big dog in smartphone market due to Android phones
While largely absent from the US, this hasn't stopped Huawei from reporting big quarterly numbers in the smartphone space. Due largely to Android phones like the Ascend P7, Huawei reported a 26 percent increase in smartphone shipments over the previous year.
The company is moving a lot of product in the Middle East, Africa, and its native Asia.