XDA Recap: This Week In Android (Jun 14 – 20)
Another week, another recap. The Sunday tradition marches on this week with a fresh no-nonsense look at big-picture news. Here in the digital XDA writers’ room, we spend our days poring 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 afternoon consumption!
Notable Links & Announcements
- Last week’s news roundup, or click here for the bookmark-able archive page of our regularly scheduled recaps.
- This week’s app roundup, or click here for the bookmark-able archive page.
- XDA articles – original reporting and in-depth analysis. This week, Jordan Keyes reviews the Elephone P7000, Mario Serrafero analyzes claims made about the Fairphone 2, and we announce the winners of our AirDroid Premium membership giveaway!
Best of XDA (BoX)
The XDA Developers community covers a wide range of topics at many skill levels, so navigating the forums can sometimes be challenging for the veteran and uninitiated alike. As Portal writers, our goal here is to make the best and most frequently referenced topics easier to understand at a glance, providing an overview of everything from rooting to Viper4Android. We’re calling the project the Best of XDA, or BoX for short, and it’s just now getting underway. More features will follow in the coming days, but these first two should get you started:
All BoX articles can be found at this link, but they are sure to pop up all around the site before long.
This Week in XDA TV
Jordan Keyes covers the Monday through Friday grind each week on XDA TV, most of which is also discussed below. Check out his video for the five minute rundown in 1080p.
Full annotations for this video can be found in the main XDA TV post from Friday. For more from the TV team, Monday’s recap of last weekend highlights noteworthy community announcements that didn’t make it to the Friday feature. However, if you’re already two deep into these YouTube videos, you might as well settle in with some popcorn and fire up the complete archive (found here).
For the written roundup, continue on below.
Android 5.1 Roll Out Continues
CyanogenMod 12.1 Nightlies for Android One are now live thanks to XDA Recognized Developer varun.chitre15. Downloads: sprout4 (4GB without emulated storage, including Symphony Roar A50) and sprout8 (8GB with emulated storage).
Cyanogen OS 12.1 for the YU Yureka and Yuphoria should be arriving “soon.” More info here.
Cyanogen OS 12.1 Nightlies for the OnePlus One should fix touchscreen issues. The 566 MB build YNG1TAS2I3 also includes a fix for in-car bluetooth connectivity and MMS sending on some carriers. Read our full rundown for instructions on how to update depending on the version you are running right now.
The Rest of Lollipop
Galaxy S6 & S6 Edge – T-Mobile has begun pushing Android 5.1.1 to the Samsung flagships, and this version bump brings redesigned camera exposure controls and a new wallpaper parallax effect along for the ride. It is still unclear as to whether the poor memory management has been addressed, but you can read our full story here for the rundown.
Oppo Find 7 and 7a – The Lollipop-based ColorOS v2.1.1i Beta is now available, though don’t expect it to look anything like Google’s stock experience. Along with the usual batch of stabilizations and bug fixes, the latest version includes better homescreen management, a suite of camera filters, longer screenshots, and a cool Lockscreen Magazine feature that changes your wallpaper every time the phone wakes up. Learn more!
As always, the best source for device-specific news is the XDA-Developers Forum for your handset, so consider subscribing to the appropriate general threads for up-to-the-minute content.
Phone Announcement & Discounts
Sony Xperia Z3+ & Z4v
The Z4 is finally arriving in the US under the Verizon-exclusive moniker of Z4v. This upgrade differs from the Japanese Z4 and the (now available) European Z3+ by increasing the display density to 2560×1440 and compensating for the battery hit with a beefier frame and larger 3000 mAh power pack. Wireless charging also comes standard, unlike the Z3+, but the remaining specs are as we have expected – 5.2” display, hot-headed Snapdragon 810, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of ROM, microSD support, and a 20.7MP rear shooter. Pricing is up in the air, but both the black and white handset are set to drop later this summer. Get the full scoop here.
Motorola Nexus 6 and Moto X go on sale
Motorola is kicking off its summer sales event by lowering the supersized Nexus to £399 in the UK, and the 2nd-gen Moto X to £229 (UK) or $299 (US) until June 29/30. The US offer also includes a 30 day risk-free trial, so the phone can be returned within the first month for a full refund with no strings attached. For more on these offers, head here for the US, and here for the UK discounts.
Asus Zenfone 2 Bootloader Unlock
Industrious XDA Forums Member shakalaca has discovered a way to unlock the Asus Zenfone 2 bootloader with only root access (no contact with Asus). Check out our detailed breakdown post for more, including links to a step-by-step guide.
Snapdragon 810, Yet Again
The big device news this week was confirmation that the upcoming OnePlus Two will pack a Snapdragon 810 v2.1 under the hood. What this means for device performance and cost is yet to be seen, but the chipset’s checkered past leaves us skeptical of results. Just this week, the 801 in Sony’s Xperia Z3 was seen running neck and neck with it’s 810 cousin in the Z4, then cleanly surpassing the newer handset once temperatures rose. Version 2.1 brings significant changes to thermal control, memory bandwidth, and the GPU, as evidenced by the latest Anandtech analysis, but will this be enough to bring the OnePlus on track? Read our deep dive for the latest, and stay tuned – this evolving story will be with us for a while.
The Future of Phones
Android 5.1 on Blackberry Passport
Rumors of Blackberry’s planned Android push have been strengthened by a new photograph of Android running on an old Passport. The image comes courtesy of Blackberry developer D’Amico’s Twitter account on Wednesday, but very little else is known. Check the tweet for more, though you may need to run the comment section through Google Translate if you don’t speak Italian.
Samsung GPUs Delayed By Up To 5 Years
Samsung’s plan to launch an in-house GPU and move away from ARM-based Mali chips has reportedly seen a significant setback. Samsung GPUs were expected to first appear mid-2015, but industry sources claim the timeline is closer to 2020 and will coincide with the rumored conclusion of the company’s AMD contract. Learn more!
HTC Executives Eeny Asustek Acquisition Rumors
News stes wiere abuzz last week when struggling handset maker HTC was thought to be eyeing the rising star of Asus. However, it seems that HTC took slight offence to the rumor and has issued a curt rebuttal. “We strongly deny the news. We didn’t contact Asustek and will not consider the acquisition. As an international brand, HTC will continue to design world-class innovative smart devices through its pursuit of brilliance brand promise.” Read more.
Miscellaneous Hacks, Happenings, & Bug Fixes
LG Touchscreen Issues [Partially Fixed]
LG fixes the spotty tap recognition within the G4’s keyboard, though other touchscreen issues remain. Check our complete article for a list of fixes provided by LG and the XDA Developers community.
Missing Samsung Quick Settings [Fixed]
Samsung fixes missing Quick Settings on the Galaxy S6. The solution takes the form of a dedicated app released by Samsung, and you can read more here.
Samsung Keyboard Vulnerability [Waiting On Carriers]
Security firm NowSecure indicates that a bug related to the keyboard updating process within Galaxy handsets could allow a hacker to read texts, listen in on calls, and manipulate the microphone for nefarious purposes. Samsung claims that a patch is in the hands of carriers, but so far no tested devices have received the update.
AT&T Fined $100 Million for throttling unlimited data
The FCC has ruled that AT&T did not disclose accurate pricing information to its unlimited data customers when choosing to throttle such customers’ data rates down by a factor of ten. Corrective action will include amending the plan’s language, informing affected customers of the changes, and allowing them to cancel without penalty. You can find our complete breakdown of the ruling here.
Topeka – Material Design Examples for Mobile & Web
Between the Polymer session at Google I/O, the Polymer Starter Kit, and a variety of video tutorials, Google is making a concerted push for a Materialized world. The latest effort comes in the form of an open-source example called Topeka – a Polymer prototype in two parts. Whether on the web or on in a dedicated Android app, this example shows how to create a consistent experience across devices. You can start learning from Topeka here.
Android Security Rewards Program
Have you found a security flaw in the latest version of Android? Google has a check with your name on it! The new Security Rewards Program aims to make Android an appealing enterprise OS by attracting talented security experts to the platform. Vulnerabilities in AOSP code, OEM libraries and drivers, kernel code, TrustZone OS, and modules are all fair game, and will net cash prizes between $500 and $2000. Fixes for the above can range up to $30,000 at the discretion of of the reward panel. Only the latest Android version running on Google Play Store Nexus 6 and 9 units from the US are eligible thus far, and non-AOSP Google apps are excluded from scrutiny, but this is a promising start to the program. Learn more from our full writeup here.
Amazon Fire OS 5 Developer Preview
The Lollipop-based version of FireOS will hit Amazon devices soon, but developers can already opt in for a sneak peek. Among the touted benefits are greater app compatibility, and an accompanying 90 second compatibility checker, so sign up to test your app on a Fire HD 6 or 7 today. Learn more here.
Elephone P8000 Source Code
The Chinese upstart Elephone is breaking into the developer world by uploading source code for its recently released P8000, but the pot is sweetened by an offer of free phones to developers willing to deal with its MTK chip. Applications for the free phones are subject to review, so head over to Elephone’s site for the latest info.
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!