Ever wonder what the entire process of an Android update looks like? How and when do carriers get involved? Who are all of the players? How much quicker or fewer steps are there for developer or Google Play editions? When do manufacturers see the newest version of Android? All of that can be found in a lengthy infographic that HTC posted their Software Updates page, a spot that gives the status on current HTC phones and when they plan to push updates to them.
The image takes you on a journey of three different device types: carrier, unlocked/developer, and Google Play edition. You’ll see where an update can get caught up in the system, how much easier it is for HTC to get updates ready for non-carrier phones, and more.
You can find the entire infographic below, but I found a couple of points in particular interesting:
- According to HTC’s count, Developer/unlocked and Google Play edition devices see 3 and 4 fewer steps through an update life cycle than carrier-tied devices do.
- Chipset manufacturers have a lot more say in updates than I think any of us ever consider. Should one of them decide that their chipsets won’t work well with a new version of Android, there is a chance that that particular phone is done for good with no new drivers made available.
- Even though most phone OEMs are making single devices that hit each carrier, there is still a lot of carrier customization done in terms of software that takes time during the process, especially should one not approve an initial build.
- OEMs are receiving a Platform Developer Kit (PDK), however, they get new Android version source when the rest of us do, which is not until Google makes it available.
If you sneak over to HTC’s new status update page, you’ll see how the carrier-tied versions of HTC One are coming along through the process. At this point, HTC would put them in the “Integration” stage which means the update has a ways to go. The “Integration” stage is where HTC works with carriers to decide if any software modifications are needed before implementing them, doing internal testing, letting carriers test, and then hopefully getting final approval for a push.
Also, you may want to bookmark that page.
Source: Droid Life
Despite Google’s best efforts, some smartphone and tablet manufacturers are perfectly content to allow their devices to languish, never to receive the latest version of Android through any sort of official channel. That’s where Cyanogen, Inc. comes in: the newly incorporated company promises customized versions of Android that, in addition to providing the latest AOSP has to offer, are much more feature-rich than OEM firmware. Installation of CyanogenMod software requires a compatible device and foreknowledge of certain dev tools, of course, but it remains the most consumer-friendly third-party ROM available.
Apparently, the promise of Android updates is attractive to a vast number of smartphone and tablet users: more than 10 million devices are running the ROM. That’s according to a Google+ post by Steve Kondik, CTO of CyanogenMod.
To clarify, 10 million is an estimate; only users who voluntarily report activity via CMStats, a built-in analytic service, are counted. Still, the number is impressive, and certainly an indication that the desire for aftermarket Android solutions is growing.
Perhaps in celebration of the milestone (and the additional $23 million in funding they just took in), Cyanogen took to YouTube to promote the Oppo N1, the first-ever CyanogenMod-certified smartphone. Launching December 24, it’s the fledgling company’s first attempt to translate its software success to the hardware business. As you can imagine, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on this first phone attempt, as well as any others that come through this ROM-turned-corporate entity.
Source: Droid Life
Canonical today unveiled their latest work on their underdog Ubuntu mobile operating system. If you can remember, it was only October when Canonical announced Ubuntu 13.10 for smartphones, with a fully featured system attempting to rival Android. Today, in a somewhat odd move, the company has announced the availability of a developer preview of a new dual boot feature allowing supported Nexus devices to switch quickly between an Android-based OS and Ubuntu.
To switch between operating systems, users have to launch an app on whichever side of the dual boot setup they are currently using to execute the OS change. In the past, command line interfaces and various key combinations were needed, making the process not exactly the most efficient or user-friendly.
Keep in mind that this is a developer preview, and as such will be unstable compared to a regular Ubuntu or Android installation. For you crackflashers out there, though, you can find instructions to get the dual boot setup on a Nexus 4 here. To go through the setup, it seems basic knowledge of the command line and a Ubuntu computer are required. You will need an unlocked bootloader, familiarity with adb commands, and the ability to follow a step-by-step guide.
Source: Droid Life
Need to clandestinely browse the web? We all do from time to time, but if manually clearing browsing data takes too much effort, there’s Dolphin Zero, an app for Android from the creators of Dolphin Browser. Essentially a stripped-down version of Dolphin with a focus on privacy, Dolphin Zero does not retain the information internet browsers typically do; things like history, form data, passwords, and cookies are deleted automatically. To further protect from unwanted data collection, the built-in search function directs queries to the privacy-conscious DuckDuckGo, and “Do Not Track” flags are enabled by default.
Assuming you have a device running Android 2.2 or later, Dolphin Zero can be downloaded for free from the Play Store.
Google Play Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dolphin.browser.zero
Android developer Koushik Dutta, of CyanogenMod and ClockWorkMod fame, announced today the arrival of his new AllCast application onto Google Play. Previously in beta, the app allows local media content to be pushed to a wealth of popular devices, like new Xbox consoles, Roku 3, and Apple TV. Google’s Chromecast remains unsupported in the app due to Google’s continuing developer limitations, which have been documented quite publicly since the HDMI dongle’s release this past summer. Koush could only say that he “hopes” Chromecast support will arrive some day.
Here is the full list of currently compatible devices:
- Apple TV
- Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Samsung Smart TVs
- Panasonic Smart TVs
- Google TV (Logitech Revue, etc)
- DLNA Renderers
The app does not require root access and is free on the Play Store, with a $4.99 in-app purchase to unlock the “premium” version, which removes ads along with some casting limitations.
Go grab it!
With CES around the corner, expect to see a tease or two per week from companies looking to steal some of the spotlight from competitors or at least make us pay attention for a minute. Asus is one of the first up with this new clip that dropped over the weekend. It features the Statue of Liberty throwing up deuces to tell us that it has a product that can do two things. The product appears to be a tablet of some sort, or convertible laptop-to-tablet dealio, which also flashes green and blue as a potential sign that we’re looking at Windows and Android.
We have seen a couple of dual-booting Android-Windows combo devices over the years, none of which seem to have really caught on. But Asus certainly seems to be into this dual-everything idea. They already have an all-in-one PCs that boots both Android and Windows, plus we’re all very familiar with their Padfone concept of having one device to power both a phone and tablet. Maybe whatever they have in store for CES will finally be the ticket.
Dual-booting devices, are you interested
Source: Droid Life
That big, beautiful, overpriced, never-could-do-much-before-Google-killed-it-anyway, sexy orb-ish ball sitting at the top of this post isn’t quite dead yet. The Nexus Q does indeed unofficially live on for the couple of thousand people who still own them or at least have one sitting around the house being put to use as a weighted object. Thanks to developers, an “unofficial” build of Kit Kat (Android 4.4) “based on CM11 from repo sync” has been ported over to the device. Yes, Kit Kat on the Nexus Q!
The build is said to be “experimental,” but the only issues listed are sporadic stuttering here and there in Google Play Music and the inability to install Chrome through the Play Store. Since this is Android, you can sideload the .apk just fine. And uh, that’s pretty much it. The magical mystery ball known as the Nexus Q is half-way alive and well should tinkering be of interest.
In order to get yourself into some Nexus Q Kit Kat, you’ll have to know adb commands and how to boot a custom recovery, flash a couple of .zip files.
Speaking of the Q, and I know this will never happen, but why can’t Google issue it one more update to turn it into a Chromecast or something? It probably doesn’t make sense to spend the resources on an individual or two to make that happen, but all I’m asking for is one last update to at least give it functionality again. Then forget it forever. There are a few of us out there who still want to use it, have speakers that work wonderfully with it, and could get extra Google service use through it should it work.
Source: Droid Life
I seriously can’t tell if it’s meant to be as bad as it is because it just keeps going and going, but you know what, I just don’t care. This is hands-down, without a doubt, Samsung’s finest commercial to date even if it was unintentionally made to be so. As our reader put it, “so cringeworthy it’s newsworthy.”
I hope Aimee and Jack can make it to the Galaxy S5 unveiling to relive this on-screen magic like only Jack and Aimee can. Please, Samsung, bring them. Please bring the single man’s guide to picking up women with a Galaxy Gear too.
“Want to see something cool?”
So, are you GEARed up? Haaaaaa.
Source: Droid Life
The titular valet in No Brakes Valet isn’t quite as bad as the famous garage attendant from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. He is, in fact, a professional. And he’d be well on his way to the Valet Hall Of Fame… if it weren’t for an apparently religious opposition to using the brake pedal. It’s the sort of minor personal hang-up that can really sink a career in vehicular services.
No Brakes Valet was originally an OUYA title, though it comes from slightly notable indie developer Captain Games, of Enviro-Bear 2010 and BEEFWAR fame. The objective is to park a series of cars in a tiny parking lot without using brakes. To say that the game is difficult is to miss an opportunity to use adjectives like “soul-crushing” and “digitally cruel,” but it’s all in a sense of fender-bending fun, spurred on by the developer’s standard Microsoft Paint graphics. That said, moving from a controller to a touchscreen can’t do No Brakes Valet any favors.
Most cars can (and will) be parked anywhere, but you’ll get a curveball every once in a while with a dignitary or a handicapped parking space. Road hazards include buildings, water traps, and moose. You’ll need a keen eye for physics and a distinct lack of concern for other people’s property to win. No Brakes Valet is a reasonable $3 on the Play Store with no in-app purchases.
We’re coming up on the 6-month anniversary of the shutdown of Google Reader; and while some people might still be a little jaded about losing the beloved service, most have moved on to one of the many alternatives that popped up to replace it. Several great feed aggregators exist, many offering innovative improvements over Reader, but their mobile apps may not fit your needs. The developer of gReader, noinnion, intends to solve that with the release of News+, a feature-rich and very customizable news reader app with support for several services.
Development on News+ started over 6 months ago, around the same time gReader added support for Feedly. Users of gReader should feel right at home with the new app since many of its features can be found in both. News+ includes podcast support, text-to-speech, notifications, multiple viewing modes, offline reading, 2-way sync, and even a Tasker plugin.
The interface is both phone and tablet optimized, and it shares Night Mode and many of the same themes with its predecessor. Widgets aren’t currently available, but they will be coming with a future update.
News+ was designed to enable reading content from all of your news aggregators and Read Later services. The only service included out-of-the-box is Google News, but additional extensions can be installed from the Play Store or sideloaded to gain access to many other sources. There is also an API on Github for building extensions, so we’ll surely see more options in the future. Aside from the mysterious absence of Feedly, the list of extensions is already pretty good:
- Google News (included)
- InoReader (Play Store)
- BazQux Reader (Play Store)
- Tiny Tiny RSS (Play Store)
- FeedBin (Play Store)
- NewsBlur (Play Store)
- Pocket (Play Store)
- SubReader (sideload)
- Reedah (sideload)
- CommaFeed (sideload via Github)
- Google Reader API Clones (sideload via Github)
You can pick up News+ free on the Play Store, and it’s even open-source on Github, but an unlock key is required to remove the ads and enable all of the features. Without the premium key you’ll be limited to a single extension (in addition to Google News) and you won’t have podcast support or the Voice Reading mode. Of course, paying for the unlock key will also help to fund future development.
If you like gReader but want to try out one of the other services out there, you should definitely give News+ a try!
Download: News+ Premium