XDA Recap: This Week In Android (Apr 26 – May 2)
Here in the digital XDA newsroom, we spend our days pouring over an average of 2,500 news items and forum threads every 24 hours. Only the most timely and interesting bits survive the editing process, but the portal’s front page still sees weekly counts in excess of 100 posts. This is a glut of content to absorb, especially if following the news cycle isn’t your full-time job. However, the tech world is vast, and the information must flow. With this in mind, let’s dive into a slimmed-down version of this week’s news that’s the perfect size for easy Sunday morning consumption!
- Last week’s news roundup, or click here the bookmark-able archive page.
- This week’s app roundup, or click here for the bookmark-able archive page.
- XDA articles – original reporting and in-depth analysis. This week, topics include brand loyalty, locked bootloaders on T-Mobile, Android Auto, the shortcomings of Google Now on Wear, flash sales in India, and more.
This week in XDA TV
The written roundup in the remainder of this post reflects major news happening within the world of Android, but XDA is driven by niche interests just as much as it is by the broad strokes of general news. Every Friday, Jordan Keyes rounds up the best posts coming out of the XDA Newsroom and gives them the video treatment, niche stories and all.
Android News Roundup: New Phones
Asus ZenFone 2 – May 18 Launch
Asus will launch the ZenFone 2 at a New York event on May 18th. For a chance to win one of fifty admittance tickets (and a free smartphone), hit up this post. The new ZenFone comes in a handful of variants, with the latest showing up on Flipkart with 128GB of storage for Rs. 30k ($470), but specs like 5 MP & 13 MP cameras and up to 4 GB RAM make for a competitive lineup throughout. For the US launch, Asus’ CEO hinted at a possible Snapdraon 615 for the mid-range units, with talk of fingerprint scanners and other goodies sprinkled around a recent interview. For more, check out XDA’s full coverage of the Indian release earlier this month, then subscribe to the ZenFone 2 Forum to stay ahead of the modding curve. More news will follow as we near mid May, so keep an eye on the news portal and these recaps for continuing coverage.
Elephone P7000 – $159.99 pre-order, Ships May 11
5.5″ 1080p display, 3 GB RAM, 16 GB ROM, 3450mAh battery, Octa-core MTK6752 SoC, 13 MP dual camera, 8 MP front-facing camera, Gorilla Glass 3, metal frame. Read more!
YU Yuphoria – May 12 Launch
Oppo R7 – Unknown
More teases, this time via Facebook. The device is rumored to pack a 4.7″ 1080p display, 20 MP camera, and 2000mAh of battery. Launch details are unknown, but it is likely that a launch event in China is almost upon us.
Sony entry-level smartphone – Unknown
Sony managing director Kenichiro Hibi claims the company is gearing up to launch low-end smartphones in India as part of a bid to gain market share. The target price point is in the Rs 8,000 to 10,000 range, but so far all we are seeing is talk of this India exclusive. Read more!
LG G4 – Unknown, Ships Late May / Early June
- Android 5.1
- 5.5” quad HD IPS Quantum display, 538 ppi
- 32 GB ROM, 3 GB RAM
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
- Adreno 418
- Multiple colors in either leather or metallic/ceramic
- Rear camera: 16 MP, f/1.8, manual mode, OIS, laser autofocus
- Front camera: 8 MP
- 3000 mAh removable battery
- microSD card support up to 2 TB
Android News Roundup: Wearables & More
Android Wear: 40 Hour Watches Are Inbound, But Does Anyone Need A Smartwatch?
The latest public revelation by Google’s head of Design, Matias Duarte, will come as a shock to many smartwatch owners – we don’t need our fancy wearables just yet! Before the pitchfork mob assembles, it’s worth pointing out that he has a point. The smartwatch is a symbol of the connected world to come – a world in which wearable sensors are as ubiquitous as as apps are today. According to Duarte, there’s a “utility of having computers be not just something that you carry on you, but your personal computer will be a series of devices that surround you.” We still have a long way to go before that future is realized, but Wear today marks an enticing first step. Read the full story here.
Short battery life is frequently pegged as the biggest thing holding Wear back from its eventual glory, and Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer is taking aim at the smartwatch market with this in mind. The company plans to introduce its 40 hr Android Wear timepiece this October or November for a cool $1,400 – still less than the outrageously priced Apple Watch Edition. Will you be in line? Read more!
In more immediate news, LG’s Watch Urbane has expanded beyond last week’s South Korean roll out to reach worldwide audiences by way of Google Play. The wearable will set you back $349, but will see you testing out Wear 5.1.1 in style. Read more!
RAW Camera Shootout: LG G4 & HTC One M9
The power of manual controls and DNG output were placed front and center when LG launched its flagship G4 this week, and it seems that other manufacturers took notice. The day after LG’s big event, a Sony support rep suggested Xperia devices won’t be far behind if there is consumer demand. The following day, HTC one-upped Sony with actual DNG support on the M9, thanks to an updated camera app. This is a welcome case of rising tides lifting all boats, and is fascinating to watch.
On the flip side, no launch spectacle is complete without the corresponding reviews and analysis. François Simond, aka Supercurio, took the first swing with his look at G4 and M9 camera samples, and results came up lacking for both. To be fair, the biggest shortcomings – poor file compression and a lack of DCP color profile – are issues in the Nexus 6 as well, and progress can still be made. Perhaps an aftermarket app? One thing is certain – our article on DNG-capturing camera apps is about to see a new wave of readers.
Xposed For Lollipop: Alpha 3 & 4
Senior Recognized Developer rovo89 has been hard at work churning out Xposed updates, with two different patches landing this week. Changes include a fix for bootloops on Sony devices, a better handling of ROMs that switch from the permissive to enforcing mode of SELinux, and more. Remember to read the release notes and forum posts thoroughly before flashing, and yes, the notes still list Samsung ROMs as being trouble. The latest Alpha can be found here, but the best way to stay current on Xposed is to hit the original forum thread and subscribe!
Product launches and device updates make for head turning headlines, but it’s often what goes on behind the scenes that sets Android and the XDA community apart. Here’s a look at the developer-focused happenings of the past week.
Windows 10 To Run Android and iOS apps
Android APKs running on Windows Mobile without alteration. That was the rumor, and now it is the reality. Microsoft has created an Android runtime layer for Windows 10 that mimics the environment (and APIs) of Google’s mobile OS. While the API list does not fully match that of the AOSP and Google Mobile Services, there is enough support for for many apps to compile and run out of the box. Further, developers wishing to integrate their titles more fully with Microsoft’s tools like Cortana, perhaps to replace the missing Google Now assistant, can do so with only minor alteration. A similar project is underway to support iOS apps (with a bit more work), so could this year see Microsoft rise again as the phoenix of cross platform compatibility? Read more about the latest Build conference here.
Google Play Services 7.3
Speaking of APIs that Microsoft may or may not include to entice Android developers, Google has launched a new set of APIs and methods for its own closed-source toolchain – Google Play Services. As always, DevBytes brings us a hilarious walkthrough of the latest features, which you can see at the right. This time around, topics up for discussion include:
- Connecting multiple wearables to one phone (Channel API, Capability API)
- Tracking daily exercise & nutrition
- Batch handling of location updates
- Location Availability tweaks
- 3rd Party API Inclusion
Google’s Mobile Ranking Madness
Do you run a website? Google’s new ranking algorithm that prioritizes mobile-friendly sites is now live, so check out this collection of resources to pull your pages into compliance.
Dart: Java-Free Android Apps At 120 FPS
Android Studio 1.2 Hits Stable Channel
The new version is based on IntelliJ 14.1.1, which means the IDE picks up a number of useful features. From the changelog:
- a new debugger which shows variable values inline in the editor, can decompile libraries you don’t have source code for, and can generate a list of objects referring to a selected object
- distraction free mode
- simultaneous tag editing (where you can edit open and closing tags simultaneously)
- editor enhancements like multiple selections, smart backspace indent, and automatic indentation detection for the current file
- new and improved refactoring operations
- annotation inference, scratch files, improved Gradle support, improved diff view, high-density monitor support, and many more features
Check it out here.
Samsung Builds App To Help Early Alzheimer’s Sufferers
“The app helps patients become aware of their immediate surroundings by identifying nearby family members and friends, and also reminds patients about their relationship with each person and memories they’ve shared in the past through photographs and videos.”
That is it for this week, but we will be back next Sunday for another round of recaps. After all, the news never sleeps, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your own rest to stay informed!