Google’s Nexus phones will reportedly be replaced by premium Android Silver handsets

The Android Silver project, which was rumored earlier this month, has today been corroborated by four fresh sources, all of whom point to a major shift in Google’s mobile strategy. The Information reports that the current scheme of offering Nexus-branded handsets with Google’s unadulterated vision of the best Android user experience will be scrapped, to be replaced by a set of high-end Silver phones that will closely adhere to it. The change is both expansive and expensive, as Google is said to be planning to spend heavily on promoting these devices in wireless carriers’ stores and through advertising, essentially subsidizing the development and marketing costs for its hardware partners.

In exchange for this new contribution, Google will gain tighter control over the software shipping on the selected phones. The promise is that the company will clean up third-party bloatware, ensure prompt and reliable software updates, and introduce a real standard and consistency to the user experience across Android Silver devices. LG and Motorola are identified as the likeliest candidates for taking part, with the first phones anticipated as soon as next year, while Samsung, HTC, and Sony might need a bit more convincing. Then again, all three of the latter companies have already offered Google Play Editions of their leading phones, which might be the closest analog we have at the moment for what an Android Silver device will look and act like.

Google’s appetite to reassert itself among premium smartphones has been evident in the first flagship Android phones released this year. Both the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S5 feature the words “Powered by Android” in their bootup animations, while in January Google was reported to have held talks with Samsung about reining in the Korean company’s customizations.

Now the Mountain View company is rumored to be spending as much as $1 billion to get phone makers to jump aboard its new initiative. Android Silver will reportedly target the United States and other developed markets first, with in-store Android kiosks designed by Google showcasing its software. The one missing piece from this puzzle is what Google will do with the mid-range market that the Nexus program is expected to vacate. Android Silver is gunning for the high end, so who will step up to fill the void left in the middle?



HTC set to roll out three wearables including Google Now smartwatch

HTC is reportedly set to launch three wearable devices at the upcoming Mobile World Congress, including a rumoured Google Now smartwatch.

The Taiwanese manufacturer would introduce a HTC smartwatch, based on Qualcomm’s Toq smartwatch and use that company”s Mirasol display, featuring Bluetooth connectivity and a music player, apart from an electronic bracelet that plays music.

HTC set to roll out three wearables including Google Now smartwatch

Sources have revealed that another smartwatch that HTC is working on would be based on the Google Now service, The Verge reports.

Although the Google Now concept is promising, there hasn’t been any smartwatch in the market based on the concept and it was speculated last October that Google Now watch could be ”ready within months”.

It is unclear if the search firm itself would produce Google Now smartwatch or Google-owned HTC would unveil it under its banner.

HTC CEO Peter Chou said last year that wearables were ‘critical’ for the sinking company, but that its planned smartwatches had to meet a need to stop them being gimmicks, the report added.


HTC: Forget raw specs, the One remains our flagship

If it walks like a flagship, and quacks like a flagship…that doesn’t make it so. At least that’s the case at HTC, where the upcoming HTC Butterfly S (and expected successor to the Droid DNA in the U.S.A.) holds all the raw numbers over the HTC One but will not be stealing its place as HTC’s premier handset.

The Butterfly S features a faster 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 processor than the HTC One, a 5-inch 1080p screen (with newer Super LCD 3 and Gorilla Glass 3), a microSD expansion slot, a huge 3,200mAh battery, plus all the new HTC features like BoomSound speakers, BlinkFeed, Sense TV, and the rest.

Apart from the HTC One’s higher-PPI screen and the all-metal chassis, compared with the Butterfly’s car-paint-finished plastic casing, there isn’t a spec the HTC One is stronger on. On matters of pure specifications most might argue the Butterfly S is the strongest phone in HTC’s lineup. So why doesn’t it become the new flagship?

At HTC’s Frequencies Asia event in Bangkok on Wednesday, Justin Zhang, head of product portfolio, South Asia, for HTC, said this is a reasonable question but HTC feels comfortable that the HTC One is still very much the flagship in the company lineup.
“It isn’t just about specs anymore, it’s about design and experience. Consumers want different things,” Zhang said. “Some are looking for the best thing out there, some are following other trends. Then there are the enthusiasts who know what they want. For them it’s the screen, or it’s battery life. The One is still our flagship phone, but the Butterfly had its own success and we heard a lot of its fans saying they’d really love to see all the new HTC One features in a Butterfly, so we are giving them that.”

“Interestingly we always thought the Butterfly would attract the ‘high-end geeks’,” Zhang said. “That’s who we thought it was for. But it turned out the Butterfly has been more successful with female consumers than ever for us. Because they love the design.”
HTC also confirmed the Butterfly S will be released in 4G versions in the regions that support such an option. The original Droid DNA was LTE-capable, so this confirmation should come as no surprise in the U.S. market.

The Butterfly’s mixed global branding is also likely to play a role in keeping the One on top, as well as the One’s metal unibody enclosure as a standout signature design choice. HTC earlier confirmed it will continue to use and refine its metal unibody production process introduced for the HTC One in future phone designs.