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Android competition sparks around Siri, licensing and media hubs

by Kristen Nicole

Android has no intention of slowing down, despite Microsoft now licensing more than half of Android and Chrome devices under its patent portfolio. Compal Electronics is the latest to ink a deal with Microsoft, paying out for its Android-powered tablets, smartphones and e-readers. But rival Microsoft is just part of the bigger challenge Google’s Android OS currently faces. Even with the recent release of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Android’s software still has some catching up to do with iOS 5’s latest version, as well as the iPhone 4S’ personal assistant perks with Siri integration.

As expected, Siri’s conversational style has wowed consumers, ushering in a new era for smartphone usability. But AI programs and speech integration is nothing new for Android devices. For a less integrated service you can try a number of apps that offer some of Siri’s noted capabilities. Interest is growing for Siri-like apps for Android devices including Speaktoit Assistant, Vlingo and Edwin. As SF Gate points out, Speaktoit is known for its candid responses, as Siri is, while Edwin leverages the same Internet knowledge engine as Siri. All three of these apps integrate with other Android apps at some level, enabling you to dial phone calls, send text messages and get information for things like weather or local venues.

Android not yet a media powerhouse

Beyond Siri capabilities, Android will also have to continue to build its media offerings to compete with Apple’s personal cloud capabilities. From music to magazines, Apple has services like iTunes and Newstand. Google’s been working on its own Music initiative for some time, and with the promise of Google+, things could get even more integrated with Android pretty soon.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google’s building a music download store for Google+ access, possibly launching in the next two weeks. Google Music already has an Android app, and expanding this service to Google+ would make it social as well. As far as digital publications go, Android’s ecosystem is encouraging for third party providers like Zinio. The “Netflix of magazines” is pushing its ‘explore’ option to tablet users, providing them the latest premium stories from top magazines for free. The section is updated daily, and is expected to encourage more subscription sign-ups with content from titles such as Harvard Business Review, The Economist, Marie Claire, Maxim and National Geographic.

Android’s approach is rather piecemeal when it comes to centralizing its media provisions, but a well-integrated platform is also inspiring for the developer community, and is also becoming a necessary launchpad for Google’s own cross-app promotions. Pulling it all together, however, is the real deal breaker here.