Android Circuit: Pixel Challenges iPhone 7, Harry Potter Magic For Android, Android Dominates iOS

Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the power of a picture from the Google GOOGL +1.12%Pixel camera, how the Pixel is being matched up with the iPhone, the latest Android market share numbers,Microsoft MSFT +0.75% releasing another Android app, the updated and unofficial history of Android, the release of the Huawei Mate 9 and the Wileyfox Swift 2, and how to cast Harry Potter's spells on your smartphone.
Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week (and you can find the weekly Apple news digest here).
One Pixel Picture Was All It Took
With so many high-end smartphones matching feature for feature, it can be one small thing in one area that pushes someone over the edge to fall in love with a specific handset. One such moment has just hit The Verge's Vlad Savov, in regards the Google Pixel. A New York moment showed him the way:
I take a lot of photos with phones, it’s a major part of my job of reviewing them, but this one (full resolution here) is easily the best one I’ve ever shot. The circumstances are worth recounting: I was in the middle of crossing New York City’s 7th Avenue on a rainy and windy night, and only stopped because I knew I could take a quick shot with the Pixel that might be worth preserving afterwards. This is because of Google’s ingenious shortcut of double-tapping the power button to launch the camera — which works in a wet environment whereas the iPhone’s Touch ID might not. And it’s also because I’d already seen what the Pixel’s camera can do, bringing DSLR-like sharpness and color to some challenging situations.
A new Google Pixel XL phone is displayed at the new Google pop-up shop in the SoHo neighborhood  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Google Forces Pixel Vs iPhone Matchups
How do you pitch the Pixel and the Pixel XL as the best smartphones? Part of Google's plan to do that is to ensure the Pixels are the Android handsets used in any comparison articles rather than the Android competition. It helps that Samsung is temporarily in the sin bin thanks to the Note 7 battery debacle, but Google still needs to implement the plan. The latest subtle step is now on show:
For this Pixel smartphone strategy to work, Google needs to draw out Apple AAPL +0.63% into direct comparison and competition. While it’s unlikely that Tim Cook and his team will ever validate Mountain View’s smartphone with its own slide in an Apple keynote, if the rest of the geekerati keep putting the Pixel in head to head analysis with the iPhone (such as in an article about the strength of the camera imagery), then the Pixel will be seen as the natural challenger to the iPhone.
Android Dominates Every Other Mobile Platform
It's not just about the Pixel for Google. The bigger prize of Android as a ubiquitous operating system continues to grow. The latest report from Strategy Analytics puts the success of the platform in context. For Q3 2016 the 375 million units handed Android almost nine in ten smartphones, pushing Apple back to less than on in eight:
Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Android’s domination of global smartphone shipments remained strong in Q3 2016, with a record 88 percent of all smartphones now running Google’s OS. Android’s gain came at the expense of every major rival platform. Apple iOS lost ground to Android and dipped to 12 percent share worldwide in Q3 2016, due to a lackluster performance in China and Africa. BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows Phone have all but disappeared due to strategic shifts, while Tizen and other emerging platforms softened as a result of limited product portfolios and modest developer support.”

Flow For Everybody
Microsoft's workflow automator (imaginatively called 'Microsoft Flow') has been in beta on Android for some time, offering functionality similar to 'If This Then That' across a number of web services. This week it has left that state behind and is now generally available. Microsoft's Stephen Siciliano has the details.
Anyone can create flows directly on their phone. Browse our rich template gallery, navigate through our services list, search the gallery by keyword, or select a category of solutions. Even if you are new to Flow, we’ll help get you started with our new, ready-to-use experience, which makes it possible to wire up flows with just a click or two.
Once more Microsoft is promoting its own cloud services using Android (and iOS) as the enabling platform. It might not control the OS layer, but Flow is another software layer that Microsoft is looking to capture. Read more on the update at the Microsoft Flow blog.


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