NEW YORK (AP) — Got an iPhone? You're in the minority.
There were four Android phones for every iPhone shipped in the second quarter, research firm IDC said Wednesday. That's up from a ratio of 2.5 to 1 in the same period last year.
The success of Samsung's Android phones helped Google's operating system extend its dominance in the smartphone market.
Samsung Electronics Co. and other phone makers shipped nearly 105 million Android smartphones in the April-June quarter, giving Android 68 percent of the worldwide market, up from 47 percent last year.
The gains came largely at the expense of BlackBerry phones made by Research in Motion Ltd. and Symbian phones made largely by Nokia Corp. Each saw its market share drop below 5 percent. Nokia is now making phones that use Microsoft Corp.'s Windows system.
The market share for Apple Inc.'s iPhone, powered by its iOS software, fell slightly to 17 percent, from 19 percent. But the company shipped more iPhones than a year ago. Apple is the No. 2 smartphone maker, behind Samsung, and is likely to get a boost when it releases its new iPhone model as expected this fall.
Apple shook up the smartphone market when it released its first iPhone in 2007. It showed that phones can do much more than make calls and send email.
But in recent years, Google has mounted a serious challenge with Android and benefits from having several manufacturers as partners, including Samsung, HTC Corp. and Motorola Mobility, which Google ended up buying this year.
Apple still dominates in tablet computers, with 68 percent of the market in the second quarter, according to IDC. Google is trying to close the gap with its own branded Android tablet, the Nexus 7. Amazon.com Inc. and Barnes & Noble Inc. have made some in-roads will lower-cost tablets that run modified versions of Android.
Samsung's Galaxy S III phone received good reviews when it was released late in the second quarter. It also benefits from the company's strategy of making various devices that target a range of consumers. By contrast, Apple targets only the high-end market with its iPhone.
According to IDC, Samsung accounted for 44 percent of all Android phones in the second quarter and shipped more Android phones than the next seven Android phone makers combined.
IDC estimates that Samsung shipped 50.2 million smartphones in the quarter, though that includes a few million phones running the Bada system based on Linux. Apple shipped 26 million iPhones.
Worldwide smartphone shipments grew 42 percent to 154 million in the second quarter. Combined, Android and Apple had 85 percent of the market, up from 66 percent a year ago.
"The mobile OS market is now unquestionably a two-horse race due to the dominance of Android and iOS," Kevin Restivo, a senior research analyst at IDC, said in a statement.
But it's still possible for rivals to gain share because smartphones represent fewer than 40 percent of all cellphones shipped in the quarter. However, "such efforts will become increasingly difficult as smartphone penetration increases," Restivo said.
Microsoft and RIM are both coming out with new versions of their operating systems — Windows in October and BlackBerry early next year. The share of Windows phone grew to 3.5 percent, from 2.3 percent, in the latest quarter, largely because of its adoption by Nokia. Windows was the fifth-largest phone operating system but was gaining on No. 3 BlackBerry and No. 4 Symbian.
Ice Cream Sandwich's totally revamped interface places even more emphasis on Google's search bar and aims at making Android more user-friendly. Among the new features are a new typeface called "Roboto" with more rounded letters, as well as scrollable and re-sizable widgets. The snazzy UI also places more of an emphasis on finger gestures.
More Camera Features
What's different about camera functions in Android 4.0? A whole lot, starting with Instagram-esque photo-editing tools and deeper integration with social networks. <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/18/a-quick-ice-cream-sandwich-feature-rundown/" target="_hplink">TechCrunch is gaga over the improvements</a>, lauding the "image stabilization, improved autofocus, and integration with other apps for sending photos or instant upload to Google+. Oh, and who could forget built-in face detection, panorama and time lapse modes, and on-the-fly photo retouching and enhancements." Like Apple's new iOS 5, Android users will also be able to access the camera right from the lock screen.
New Security Feature
Android 4.0 users can rest easy, knowing that their devices will feature the nifty Face Unlock, which scans the user's face before unlocking the gadget.
A data management tool will help the user understand the amount of data their favorite apps use. This tool will also let the user set data limits for herself, and it will send warnings to notify the user when her data use approaches those limits.
Not only will it look sleeker on handsets, Android's native browser will now place more emphasis on tabs and offline productivity. "Users can keep up to 16 tabs open, view a live preview of each and quickly switch between them," <a href="http://www.bgr.com/2011/10/18/google-unveils-android-4-0-ice-cream-sandwich-for-smartphones-tablets/" target="_hplink">explains By Genius Report</a>. "Tabs can be closed by flicking them off of the screen much like webOS or RIM's tablet OS. Google also automatically syncs bookmarks to your Android browser from Chrome, and users can save pages for offline reading."
More Robust Gmail
Gmail users, rejoice! Here's what's new with Google's celebrated email app, <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/18/a-quick-ice-cream-sandwich-feature-rundown/" target="_hplink">according to TechCrunch</a>: "Gmail now supports two-line previews, and sports a new context-sensitive action bar at the bottom of the screen. Gesture support allows you to swipe left and right between emails." <a href="http://www.bgr.com/2011/10/18/google-unveils-android-4-0-ice-cream-sandwich-for-smartphones-tablets/" target="_hplink">Boy Genius Report notes</a> that Gmail will support offline search, too.
Improved Voice Dictation
Though it's no Siri, Google has upgraded its hands-free speech recognition feature, which lets users dictate text, send messages, open media files and more. <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/242139/apples_ios_5_vs_googles_android_40_ice_cream_sandwich.html" target="_hplink">Per PCWorld</a>: "ICS voice command software now has a hands free feature that lets you activate voice actions just by speaking to your phone instead of pressing a button." "play music, search the web, and dictate notes, SMS and email messages."
Google touts the security of its Android Beam wireless transfer system, which lets users share content between devices equipped with Near-Field Communication (aka NFC) technology. <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/18/google-announces-nfc-based-android-beam-for-sharing-between-phon/" target="_hplink">Engadget explains how the system will work</a>: Much like HP's ill-fated Touch-to-share functionality, it will let you simply tap two NFC-enabled devices together to share a piece of information. That will work with a range of apps and services in Android, including YouTube videos, contact information, maps, web pages" and more. While you can transfer content from apps, you can't transfer the apps themselves, but Engadget notes that Android Beam "links to apps in the Android Market.
Designed with an eye toward button-free Android handsets, version 4.0 of Google's operating system relies more on finger gestures and integrates navigation buttons and music controls into the user interface. The feature could lead to a new generation of sleeker devices with fewer hardware buttons. But will these virtual buttons get in user's way? <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/18/a-quick-ice-cream-sandwich-feature-rundown/" target="_hplink">TechCrunch says no</a>: "[T]hey smartly disappear when viewing video or in widescreen mode."
"The notification window is now slightly translucent with a glowing dot when you pull it downward," <a href="http://thisismynext.com/2011/10/18/exclusive-matias-duarte-ice-cream-sandwich-galaxy-nexus/" target="_hplink">according to This Is My Next</a>. "Notifications can be swiped away one at a time, mirroring webOS 3.0 behavior. You can access your notifications on the lock screen if you're not using a passcode, and you can jump quickly to your settings through the window shade."
Universal Android OS
Version 4.0 will work on any Android device, be it tablet or smartphone. "Ice Cream Sandwich is the OS that's supposed to put a damper on all that fragmentation talk," <a href="http://venturebeat.com/2011/10/18/ice-cream-sandwich-debut/" target="_hplink">writes VentureBeat</a>. "[T]he 2.X OS for phones and the 3.X OS for tablets will give way to the 4.X OS for all Android devices."
ICS bakes deeper social integration into many apps. Perhaps the most social is the "People" app. <a href="http://www.bgr.com/2011/10/18/google-unveils-android-4-0-ice-cream-sandwich-for-smartphones-tablets/" target="_hplink">BGR writes</a> that this new app "pulls in contact information and photos from social networks for your whole address book. Whenever a contact updates his or her info, it is also automatically updated on your phone."