XDA Recap: This Week In Android (May 3 – 9)
Another week, another recap. The Sunday tradition marches on this week with a fresh no-nonsense look at big-picture news, but first, a friendly reminder to phone home and send well-wishes to the mother figures in your life. For readers in the US, Canada, India, New Zealand, Australia, and (this year) Mexico, today is the annual celebration of those who played pivotal rolls in our upbringing. While it may be an ordinary day for most others, is picking up the phone really such a bad idea for anyone? It’s okay, this article can wait.
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 Pulser’s scathing review of TrueCaller that has Cyanogen Inc. hot under the collar, Faiz Malkani‘s take on what Microsoft’s Project Astoria means for Android developers, Mario Tomás Serrafero‘s latest look at the disappointing Snapdragon 810, and more.
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 covers the Xiaomi Mi5, CyanogenMod SDK, and a slew of modifications and tweaks that go well beyond “breaking news.” However, if you’re already two deep into 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.
Android News Roundup: Google
Google I/O 2015
It’s almost here – Google’s yearly bacchanalia of new products, services, and skydiving cyborgs. The schedule of (nearly) every session is now live on the web for your browsing pleasure, and the event is sure to be a big one. May 28th will kick off with a two and a half hour keynote address, followed by five breakout sessions, and eight more sessions the following day. Among the expected announcements are a potentially business-focused Android M (Muffin?) release, details about the modular Project Ara smartphone, talk of self-driving cars and Android VR, and a “badass and beautiful” wearable from the Advanced Technology & Projects group that will literally “blow [our] socks off.” Check out the full schedule here, but know that Google was quick to scrub all mention of Android M after it initially surfaced – a brilliant maneuver to drive up speculation and interest. For now, all we can do is watch and wait for the big reveals of May 28 & 29.
Project Fi Invites Start Rolling Out
Google’s no-contract mobile carrier is well-trodden ground at this point, but the service is finally making its way to the first round of customers. Mathew Brack has the latest on the limitations of Google Voice through Project Fi, though most bare a striking resemblance to the disclaimers seen when integrating Voice with Hangouts.
As a reminder, Fi offers unlimited talk and text using combined service from Sprint, T-Mobile and Wi-Fi for a flat $20/mo. Data is billed monthly on a per-megabyte basis at a rate of $10/GB. The kicker? Only the Nexus 6 works out of the box. The general consensus is that Fi is perfect for single-line talkers who go easy on data (or spend their time on Wi-Fi hotspots), but may not be as competitive for large, data hungry families. Does this sound like you? Let us know if you’re hopping on board in this open question, and follow along with the continuing coverage of all things Fi.
Timeful Acquisition & Google Play Store Update
Google Now is about to welcome virtual assistant Timeful into its mix of features following the recent acquisition. What could this mean for the future of Now? Read More.
Two updates to Google Play landed this week, bringing additional transition animations to select devices, and prominently featuring line-item insights from helpful app reviews. Your phone should be up to date with both by this point, but APK Mirror has your back just in case.
Android News Roundup: OEMs
LG G4, G4c, and Urbane
Do you live in the U.S. and want to get your hands on a brand new G4 for free? Now is your chance. LG is looking for influential techies to test out their latest flagship through “a unique social media challenge,” which is code for “we will give you a phone and walk you through its benefits if you tell your friends.” Buy hey, it’s a free phone. Enrollment ends May 11th (tomorrow), so hit the link if you would like to be considered.
For an easier look at the G4 from the comfort of your own home, a user-submitted overview of the theme engine landed on YouTube in seven parts. Check it out! Following that, the much-discussed G4 camera is put to the test against the iPhone 6. Would we rather see a video comparison with other Android flagships? Absolutely, but this montage is a well-made shootout, and is definitely worth a look.
If you like what you see, but wish it came in a less meaty package, you’re in luck. The LG G4c popped up at the German retailer 0815 for €297.50 ($335) bearing a 5-inch, 720p panel, 8MP rear & 5MP front camera, 8GB ROM, 1GB RAM, microSD card slot, and 2540 mAh battery (presumably removable). The specs are underwhelming, but they should compete favorably against those in other mid-range devices.
In other LG news, the Watch Urbane has been pulled apart by the folks at iFixIt. The repairability verdict? A resounding “not bad.” Catch the photographed blow-by-blow here, but these ending remarks should give you the gist:
Score: 7 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)
- Once you’re inside, the motherboard is very easy to remove—three Phillips screws and a few connectors.
- With the motherboard out, the battery is very easy to replace; only mild adhesive holds it in.
- Features a standard 22 mm band secured with spring bars—replacement and style swaps are easy.
- Glued back requires heat and prying to open, and replacement adhesive to properly re-seal.
- Because the display is adhered to the back of the front glass, which is removed from the front, screen replacement is very difficult and will require re-adhering the display layers.
Samsung’s flagship duo, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, are back in the news this week with a mixed bag of camera headlines, and the launch of a custom Gear VR (still priced at $200). On the camera front, we have learned that not all S6 models use the same sensor (but that’s okay). Testing shows that there is virtually no difference between the versions in practice, but you can read up on the whole story here. Regardless of sensor origin, all S6 models are expected to gain new features in the Android 5.1.1 roll out later this year. Camera2 API with RAW capture, perhaps? If so, the Galaxy S6 will fall into line with the Nexus 6 and last week’s LG G4 and HTC One M9 announcements, so we remain hopeful. Finally, take a peak under the hood at the parts list for a Galaxy S6. Do the prices match your expectations?
The Xperia Z4c is expected to land as early as Wednesday, adding to this week’s lineup announcement of the selfie-focused C4 and C4 Dual. You can read all about the 5.5″ FHD C4 with its 5MP forward shooter at Sony’s press page, here.
Along with the future devices listed at right, the Mi Note Pro is now on sale in China. There is a full rundown posted here on the portal, but the short story is that this device is a beast. Of particular note, Xiaomi claims to have applied for no fewer than five patents to completely fix the Snapdragon 810’s heating issues!
Next up, the Mi5 and Mi5 Plus (set for July) have leaked specs: 5.2″ screens, Snapdragon 810 processors, 3 or 4GB RAM, 16MP rear facing cameras, and 3000mAh of battery power.
Yu & ZTE
The Yu Yureka is now on sale at Amazon with no registration required.
The ZTE Nubia Z9 received a Chinese launch, and features virtually no side bezel. Read our full coverage, here.
ADB for Chrome
This first tool should appeal to the vast majority of XDA readers, as it can be used by serious developers and casual tinkerers alike. The Android Debug Bridge (ADB) is your command line link to all Android phones, and the popular Chrome extension that brings ADB to browsers on Mac, Linux, Windows (with an included universal driver), and Chrome OS now includes screenshot and screen recording buttons. A lack of fastboot mode and a large memory footprint may hold ADB For Chrome back, but it’s hard to argue against the sheer convenience, especially on platforms like Chromebooks where extensions are the only option. Read More!
Udacity Degrees Half-Off For Limited Time
Are you looking to up your game in subjects like programming, web development, data analysis and full stack development? Udacity offers a range of bite-size “nano degrees” in these and other areas, and they’re currently at a discount. If you enroll before May 12 (Tuesday) and graduate by next May, then Udacity will refund half of your tuition cost. Read More!
Version Distribution Stats
KitKat and JellyBean still reign supreme, but Lollipop has crept up to almost 10% of Android devices this May. The most common screen size remains “Normal” with 83.2% market share, but those devices are overwhelmingly “dense” – hdpi (39.5%) and xhdpi (19.8%). Check the Google Developer Blog for the full dashboard.
Games In Motion
Do you have a fitness app or game that could benefit from integration with Android Wear? Google’s latest example app demonstrates the possibilities of cross-form-factor fun by hooking into Google Fit, Google Play Games, Android Audio Manager, Android Media Player, Android TTS, and audio-channel-switching Audio Focus. It’s a mountain of services, but all work in concert for an engaging fitness experience upon which to build. Learn More!
Plug-and-play A/B testing via GitHub. Google is rumored to include a similar feature in the Play Store during I/O, but a simplified FOSS version is available for use today!
Contextual Action Bar
The Contextual Action Bar (CAB) is your standard affair of copy, paste, delete, and so on. For a supercharged approach, ditch the Google version for this GitHub hosted Material Contextual Action Bar for control over thememing, atypical placement, and more.
This week, Google held a livestream for AdWords laying out the company’s plan for better mobile experiences, improved event-tracking, scalability and more. Check it out below!
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!