XDA Recap: This Week In Android (May 10 – 16)
Another week, another recap. The Sunday tradition marches on this week with a fresh no-nonsense look at big-picture news, but first, a note on global events. The nation of Nepal is no stranger to devastating earthquakes, and much of the country has suffered yet another blow at the hand of plate tectonics. As a public service, Google is making all VoIP calls to Nepal free through its Google Voice, Hangouts Dialer, and Google Talk properties. If you know someone in the region, please do not hesitate to reach out. At XDA, our hearts go out to those affected by this tragedy, and we wish the best for all involved. And now, back to the world of Android.
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, we covered how to use three apps to tweak your kernel, then took a critical look at the overheating Snapdragon story that refuses to die, the sorry state of professional phone reviews, and how OEMs’ insist on selling unfinished phones (among other topics). Check out the full list here.
This Week in XDA TV
XDA covers more than just news, and nowhere is that more apparent than Jordan Keyes’ weekly posts to XDA TV. Here’s the latest round of ROM updates and phone tweaks mixed with a dose of current events; enjoy!
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 features Cyanogen’s support of the OnePlus One in India, and a slew of other news. 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 all the news and only the news, read on.
Lollipop 5.1: More Phones & More Xposed Modules
The latest Lollipop is hitting the HTC One M7 (Google Play Edition) and Nexus 9 now, with the Moto X (2013) set to follow “in a few weeks.” On the Samsung front, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are on track for a June upgrade that will bring much needed RAW camera capture and a handful of other tweaks.
These are only a few of the more popular handsets, and other device upgrades will likely be inbound in the coming weeks. For the latest on the phone in your pocket, be sure to subscribe to its development page on the XDA Forums – your first stop for device specific news.
Upgrades bring new features, fixes, and polish, but what about the down-sides? The Xposed Framework won’t be supporting 5.1 for some time, but the newest unofficial Alpha is playing nice with more modules than ever before. This week, GravityBox and is on the list. Check out the Xposed Tuesday video (at right) for more on how to get up and running with the latest build!
For the full scoop, here’s the accompanying feature article.
The World of Wear
The global roll out of LG’s stylish Watch Urbane continues this week, with news of an imminent release in India for Rs. 35k or less. The wearable features roughly the same internals as the earlier G Watch R, but is the first watch to run Android Wear 5.1.1 with its wifi connectivity. Early reports showed that channels 12 and 13 were disabled due to a bug, but this behavior should be fixed in an upcoming patch.
Other smartwatches are finally beginning to see the new OS version as well, starting with the original Asus Zenwatch. Wear 5.1.1 brings a new launcher, wrist gestures to scroll through cards, emoji drawing, persistent apps, wifi connectivity (where supported by hardware), and several other tweaks.
On the smartwatch horizon, the new Zenwatch is now slated for a June 2-6 debut at the Computex Taipei trade show, with a third quarter release to follow. Motorola also appears to be readying their next wearable for release, as a probable Moto 360 successor was spotted during certification at the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). Could this mean an unveiling at Google I/O like last year’s model?
Verizon Buys AOL
Perhaps the biggest story of the week was Verizon’s acquisition of AOL. Remember AOL – the service provider that still sends free branded frisbees installation CDs in the mail? These days, AOL is known in the industry for its advertising patents and technology, as well as its continued media streaming prowess (yes, really). The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg offer fascinating insight into how these factors are likely the driving force behind the buyout, and both are well worth the read.
In the journalism sphere, the more immediately visible implications are for TechCrunch, Engadget and Huffington Post, all of which are being swept up in the sale. As expected, the publications are already making ardent statements of their commitment to unbiased journalism. As fellow journalists, we at XDA feel for their predicament, and wish them the best of luck.
Yureka, the affordable powerhouse from the newest Chinese upstart, gets a substantial bug-fix update to correct battery and heating issues, and enhance security. Read more! This one has been on the market for a while, and you can watch our new video review here, but the big news from this India-focused brand is where Yu is going next.
Yureka’s newest sibling is the beefier budget Yuphoria. For the Rs. 6999 price tag, you will see a 5” 720p IPS display covered by Gorilla Glass 3, 2GB DDR3 RAM, 16GB ROM (with microSD supported up to 64GB), Qualcomm’s 64-bit 1.2 GHz Quad core Snapdragon 410, an 8MP rear camera (f/2.2) and 5MP selfie cam (f/2.0, 86 degree wide angle), all powered by 2230mAh and Qualcomm QuickCharge 1.0 (yes, the older but still capable fist charting tech). Check out our Yureka feature for the full rundown on YU’s latest CyanogenOS toting smartphone, the new Rs 999 Yu Fit wearable, and tricorder-like Health Yu monitor for Rs. 4999. The Health Yu is perhaps the most innovative of the bunch, packing a slew of sensors to track ECG, Skin Temperature, Blood Oxygen Saturation, Heart Rate, Respiration Rate, Blood Pressure, and more from any smartphone.
While we’re on the subject of India, Asus just announced an exclusive Zenfone 2 variant for the sub-continent that packs a whopping 4GB of system RAM. For more, check out the Flipkart listing here.
Reported specs are still largely rumor at this point, but Oppo’s new R7 and R7 Plus are now confirmed by way of official renders. The R7 is believed to pack a 6” display and your choice of Snapdragon 615 or MediaTek MT 6752, both with 3GB RAM, 16GB ROM, and 13MP camera. Stepping up in size, the R7 Plus is thought to trade capacitive buttons for counterparts on a much larger 6” screen. A rear-mounted fingerprint scanner and what appears to be laser autofucus are also onboard, with a larger 32GB storage capacity. Read the full story here!
The Sony Xperia A4, an apparently re-skinned Z3c, was revealed for NTT Docomo in Japan this week with the lack of fanfare now typical of Sony events. On board, you will find a 4.6” 720p display, Snapdragon 801, 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, 20.7MP rear camera (f/2.0), 2.2MP front-facing camera, and 2600mAh battery. The handset will be available starting in June, though pricing and the rest of Sony’s lineup for Docomo are yet to be announced. Read more!
Also from Sony, the new Z4 Tablet is shown off in a promotional video
Keeping with the NTT Docomo theme, Sharp’s upcoming Aquos Zeta is outed in a new device listing from the Japanese carrier. Bezels are slightly more noticeable than on the earlier Aquos Crystal, but the device line remains a powerful mid-range contender set to release in “late May.”
There will be a new Galaxy Tab, the S2. The (unintentional) confirmation unfortunately gives no indication of what we can expect, so stay tuned for more in the weeks to come.
According to Upleaks, HTC is investigating the low-end tablet market for a possible second quarter release. Again, no specifics have been outed just yet.
Future phones from Motorola may feature QHD displays. This is hardly surprising given last year’s QHD Motorola Nexus 6, but the news further confirms the industry’s trend toward dense displays. Check out the Reddit discussion of this one for the internet’s dissection of specs from three upcoming Motorola phones.
Gooogle’s low-cost, high-caliber phone initiative is now expanding to Turkey.
This week has been relatively slow on the non-device news front, perhaps owing to Google saving up reveals for I/O at the end of this month. Therefore, the usual Developers’ Corner is being (temporarily) replaced by a catch-all category of new and notable announcements. Let’s get started!
Gear SDK Goes Live
Samsung’s round smartwatches are nearing release, and developers who signed up for SDK access can now get their hands on everything needed to start pumping out apps. Hit up Samsung’s page to download your copy, or register for access.
Android Ads are Profitable
Coinciding with news that European carriers are looking for ways to block Google advertising, we have learned that Android developers make more money from ads than their iOS counterparts. This is a story that will need close scrutiny, and we are only at the beginning.
Chrome for Android AMA
Amazon Disables The Instant Video APK For Non-Sony Android TV Devices
In a bizarre twist, Amazon seems to be disabling their streaming service on smart TVs not built by Sony. If this is what selling Fire TV sticks has come to, count this writer out. You can follow the full story back on the XDA Forums where it broke, and be sure to click “subscribe” for continuing updates.
The team behind Glass is looking for new members, perhaps with an eye towards an entire family of new products. We will likely hear more about this story during I/O later this month, but will they be able to top the skydiving entrance in 2012?
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!