iPad Rivals Make Their Play as Apple Interest Wanes

In today’s mobile news roundup: Android tablets gaining on Apple’s success; Facebook phone rumor revival; Twitter making an Instagram-like tool; and Google Wallet gets s little bolder.

Android tablets gaining on Apple’s success

According to the latest IDC report, Apple is still leading the tablet race, though their market share declined from 59.7 percent to 50.4 percent.  The report showed that Android tablets are slowly eating away at the iPad’s market share.  Samsung’s tablet market share is now at 18.4 percent, up from last year’s 6.5 percent.  Amazon is at 9 percent, Asus at 8.6 percent from last year’s 3.8 percent, and Lenovo at 1.4 percent, slightly up from 1.1 percent.

Asus and Samsung expect continued growth thanks to team ups with Google.  As Android’s parent company looks to unify its hardware and software components, Google’s worked with top device makers for a branded device.  We’ve recently seen the launch of   the Asus-made Google Nexus 7, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 and Nexus 10.  Consumer choices have broadened, and as we saw with Android’s smartphone market, Apple’s losing its lead in the numbers game.

Facebook phone rumor revival

Buffy is back! No, not the 90s vampire TV series, but Facebook’s rumored smartphone (they’re still on this?).  Gadget blog Pocket-Lint claims proof that a Facebook phone is in the works and it is being developed by HTC and it will not be called Buffy, but “HTC Opera UL.”  The Facebook device is said to feature a 1.4GHz processor, Qualcomm Adreno 305 graphics processor, HD 1280 x 720 display and currently runs Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean.  Bets are on that the Facebook phone will be colored blue, or have a blue hue.

“It is the Facebook phone, made for Facebook,” said Pocket-Lint’s source from Facebook.

It was about this same time last year rumors of the Facebook smartphone surfaced, but details were short.  All we had to go on was murmurings of an HTC-made Android device.

Twitter making an Instagram-like tool

News broke over the weekend that microblogging site Twitter is developing a photo filtering tool much like Facebook’s Instagram.  At the moment, Twitter users are often found using third party tools like Instagram to share images.  What Twitter allegedly aims for is to streamline their in-app features, eliminating the need to sign up for a separate photo filtering service.  Twitter is also said to be also developing a video uploading, editing and sharing tool to sever ties with YouTube.

Google Wallet gets real

You can now use Google Wallet to directly purchase something from an online shop via your smartphone.  All you need to do is setup your Google Wallet account, tie in your debit or credit cards, and select Google Wallet to complete the transaction. Your log-in will be requested, but you’ll bypass the laborious process of entering your credit card information.  The move is a strike against PayPal and Amazon, two payment platforms that have been pushing integration across retail outlets across the board.

“Starting today, on sites that accept Google Wallet, you don’t need to enter your credit or debit card number, billing address or other payment information — it’s already securely stored in your Google Wallet,” Barak Turovsky, Head of Mobile Commerce for Google Wallet, said in a blog post.

In other news, Google is said to be in the process of developing a real, physical Google Wallet card that you can use in places where there’s no internet connection or NFC terminals, but can accept payments via debit or credit card.  The point is, the physical Googe Wallet would eliminate the need to carry around numerous credit/debit cards.  If you have numerous cards enrolled into your Google Wallet account, the default account will be the one charged.

And lastly, Google is said to be working on transit cards.  Targeting commuters, the re-loadable card would work across transit channels, from trains, to busses, the subway or whatever mode of public transportation they use to get to their destination.