XDA Recap: This Week In Android (May 17 – 23)
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 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 afternoon consumption!
Notable Links & Announcements
- 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 discuss the trend of shrinking bezels (and how some brands claim one thing while doing another), battery drain in the “fixed” OnePlus touchscreen, a host of software updates and phone reviews, and other notable topics. Check out the full list here.
Voices of XDA
The XDA Developers Forum exists as a thriving hub of conversation, and many insights flow through the threads only to be buried by the sands of time. If you have a topic that is burning a hole in your chest and looking for a new home, we now have a solution – the Voices of XDA. Mathew Brack explains:
If you see something relevant that you feel strongly about, why not analyze it and let the world know? If you have a unique or interesting view on a subject, again, why shouldn’t you share it with the community? We are frequently asked by members looking to start in journalism, “What is it like to be a news writer for xda-developers?” Well, here’s your chance to to step in as a guest writer and find out.
For the complete details and submission form, check out Mat’s feature article, here.
The Future of Smartphone Reviews
While the XDA Portal is already home to many excellent product reviews, we are quietly working on a new breed of data-driven feature with the developer community in mind. This is an ambitious project that we can’t finish alone, so help us craft the smartphone review you want to see. More details can be found on our announcement page for the upcoming Asus Zenfone 2 Smartphone Review.
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 the touchscreen fix for the OnePlus One (though we have since learned of associated battery drain), Wear 5.1.1’s roll out, 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.
Xposed for Lollipop has added yet another high profile module to the “compatible” list: XPrivacy. Version 3.6.10 Beta appears to have resolved the bootloop issue plaguing many users, so head over to GitHub to pick up the latest patch (currently v3.6.13 pre-release beta). As with all in-development software, however, you should give the changelog and forum thread a thorough read before modifying your system.
Users of TouchWiz-based ROMs also have cause to rejoice this week; the unofficial Xposed for Samsung Lollipop is now in working order. Support is limited to deodex’ed ROMs for the moment, and early TWRP testers have reported errors, but the vast majority of modern 32-bit Samsung devices should be ready to go. Again, please read and understand the full forum thread before flashing your phone.
For more Xposed content, TK walks through changing the Battery Saver warning color on Lollipop in his weekly Xposed Tuesday video for XDA TV.
Android 5.x only accounted for 9.7% of the version number pie two weeks ago, but these have been busy weeks. The latest handsets to see Lollipop include the Xperia Z (5.0.2), Moto G (2013) (5.0.2), NVidia Shield (5.1), and the Nexus lineup: 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, & Player (5.1.1), with the T-Mobile Nexus 6 gaining wifi calling over the air. Sony’s Xperia lineup of more devices than is feasible to list was also shown some love with AOSP binaries for 5.1 Lollipop, available here. In additional Xperia news, Recovery Mode is now available on a range of handsets.
Notable holdout: Verizon’s Droid Turbo briefly popped up on a developer’s Google+ page running 5.1, but the release is not expected to hit until mid June. The post has since been deleted.
Wear watch owners should be receiving Android 5.1.1 with its wrist gestures (for all) and wifi connectivity (for some) as we speak. If you don’t want to wait for your OTA push, here’s how to cut the queue.
For the absolute latest about version updates to these and all other devices, be sure to subscribe to the general forum thread for your handset – there’s only so much info that will fit in a weekly recap.
New & Upcoming Device Roundup
Every week, dozens of handsets land in different markets around the world. Here is a brief look at the latest phones to make a splash in a new country, as well as the list of which ones we know are coming next.
Out Right Now
- ZTE Nubia Z9 Mini (India)
- YotaPhone 2 (Pre Order now, August release)
- Meizu M1 Note (India)
- Elephone P7000 (not new, but newly clocked at 41k on AnTuTu)
- Xiaomi Mi4i (India – May 25 & 26)
- Sony Xperia Z3 Plus, Xperia C4, Xperia Z4 Tab, Z4 international, and a New Flagship (May 26/27/28 – someone forgot to tell Sony’s PR that the world will be watching Google I/O instead)
- NVidia Shield Pro (Next Week) – 500 GB in an already impressive chassis
- HTC One ME9 (June) – possibly carrying a Hehui AMOLED panel from the recently outed partnership.
- Elephone P8000 (Third quarter 2015?)
- Sony Lavender (unknown)
Android Factory Reset Security Flaw
Scientists at Cambridge University recently completed the first comprehensive security analysis of Android’s factory reset feature, and results indicate that not all data is lost. This means that an estimated 500 million Android devices – including phone replacements, Swappa sales, and stolen devices that have been remotely wiped – could be leaking sensitive data. Read up on the issue here, and stay tuned for future updates.
Hangouts for Chrome is now more Material than ever, though the new FAB, thicker action bar, and better padded elements take up a considerable swath of screen real estate. Also on board for the update is an optional single-window version of the client. To activate this new consolidated view, tap the hamburger menu and “disable transparent UI” that is perhaps better known as the floating chat bubbles. Our feelings are mixed about this new layout here at the office, but hopefully it is a harbinger of better usability on Android where action bars and FABs feel more at home.
Xiaomi Mi4i “Fixes” Heating Issue Through Software Update
The claim is there in the title, but we’re holding off on judgement until benchmarks and further analysis have come in. After all, HTC said much the same about the One M9’s Snapdragon 810 chip on numerous occasions, but throttling performance to within an inch of its life is hardly a celebration of what should have been a stand-out piece of tech. As for Xiaomi’s attempt, we wait with a healthy mix of skeptical optimism.
Google Developing New OS for the Internet of Things
We are sure to hear more about this development at Google I/O in less than a week, but the latest rumor suggests Project Brillo is an unannounced Android variant for simplistic and low power IoT gadgets. Everything from thermostats to remote soil sensors are plugging into the internet as we speak, and Google is looking to capitalize on the fragmented market by offering a free OS to any OEM that comes calling. Learn more!
Cyanogen Platform SDK
The Cyanogen Platform will be the new developer-facing SDK and API suite for CyanogenMod going forward, so all theme developers, ROM contributors, and app creators looking to make a mark on the most popular ROM in the XDA Forums should take note. Full details and vision statement are available on the Cyanogen website, here.
GitHub Code Conference
Ticket prices for GitHub’s June developer conference in Nashville go up to $399 tomorrow, so now is the time to sign up if you want to snag your $100 early bird discount. The event will feature hands-on workshops, industry talks, and food from Hattie B’s. Presenters this year include:
- Eric Levine of Airbnb
- Casey Rosenthal of Netflix
- Christine Abernathy of Facebook
- Corinne Warnshuis of Girl Develop It
Google Webmaster Search Now Displays Indexed App Pages
Google is beefing up the Search Console with tools to track where indexed app content appears in search results, and display a slew of statistics to help you optimize app discovery. Learn more!
Totally Tooling Tips (From Google)
The first episode of Google’s new developer discussion series is live on YouTube, and the party is kicked off with a coffee shop chat about Sublime Text plugins. We can’t say that it’s as zany as the Play Services playlist, but these videos are sure to touch on topics near and dear to developers’ hearts.
Switcheroo Returns To Kickstarter
Hardware tinkerers can once again back the tiny Switcheroo for $29 on Kickstarter, and gain the ability to control nearly every home appliance imaginable from a connected smartphone. This coin-size control board can start cars, unlock doors, and “upgrade anything with the push of a button” via low energy Bluetooth 4.0. Videos of a few sample applications are available on the Kickstarter page if you’re on the fence about picking one up.
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!