While OnePlus 5 is getting all the attention recently, the company has not forgotten about its older models OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3. Or at least in terms of software updates.
In the beginning of this month, Pete Lau, OnePlus’ founder and CEO, announced and confirmed on Twitter that the two 2016 flagships would be updated to Android O which is also Google’s next major Android iteration.
At that point of time, he didn’t mention any time frame but owners of the two handsets were happy nonetheless. Now, we have also got to know when will the updates be rolled out to OnePlus 3 and 3T. In an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session held on Reddit recently, an employee from OnePlus said that both the smartphones would be updated to Android O “within this year”. The reason they are not giving us a definite timeline is OnePlus will first have to wait for Google to launch Android O.
We are expecting to see the final version of the software sometime in August. So Android O should start hitting the eligible devices from later this summer. Currently, it is still in beta and can only be installed on Google Pixel and Nexus devices. Now, considering OnePlus’ past in delivering updates, it has not been the quickest and the company does not have the best record. Well, you might be familiar with the case of OnePlus 2. The company had announced that the smartphone would be getting updated to Nougat but reportedly that has not happened.
Hopefully, OnePlus will live up to what it has said this time. Also, it goes without saying that the recently launched OnePlus 5 will also be updated to Android O.
Mozilla last year launched the Firefox Focus privacy-minded browser for the iPhone and iPad. The new browser from Mozilla is finally available on Android.
Much like the iPhone and iPad version, the new Firefox Focus app for Android allows users to browse the Internet without being tracked by “tracking ads,” which essentially track user behaviour without any consent, and also slow down the Web on a mobile device. The biggest attraction of the browser is that it comes with built-in ad blocker which means it works automatically without the need to switch on the feature. Apart from blocking ad trackers, Firefox Focus can also block analytic trackers and social trackers.
Mozilla has introduced some new features to Firefox Focus for Android like ad tracker counter, which counts the number of ads that are blocked per site while using the app; disable tracker blocker, which lets users disable the tracker blocker for some sites that are not loading correctly, and notification reminder, which reminds users when the Focus browser is running in the background. The Focus browser will also users erase browsing history, passwords, and cookies with just one tap.
After being available on App Store for over six months, the Firefox Focus is now available to download via Google Play.
Barbara Bermes, Product Manager, Firefox Mobile announcing the Android availability said, “I’m thrilled to announce that we’re launching our Firefox Focus mobile app for Android. For Android users we also made Focus a great default browser experience. Since we support both custom tabs and the ability to disable the ad blocking as needed, it works great with apps like Facebook when you just want to read an article without being tracked. We built Focus to empower you on the mobile web, and we will continue to introduce new features that make our products even better.”
Android O was unveiled in March this year, and Google highlighted many of its features at I/O in May later on. The new Android version is in its third developer preview, and the naming of ‘O’ is still a mystery. Google, like always, will release the name later this year, but predictions and leaks on what it could be, have already started to surface online.
Internal source code has revealed (first spotted by Myce) that Android O could be called the ‘Android Oatmeal Cookie’. Evidence was found in Android’s source code where mentions of ‘oc-dev’ have cropped up on several occasions. One of the most notable evidences is when the code states that Google Pixel is running on Android O Developer Preview or ‘oc-dev’. This ‘oc-dev’ codename could stand for oatmeal cookie. We make this presumption, as the word ‘oatmeal cookie’ cropped up at Google I/O as well, in one of the slide presentations in May.
While these pieces of evidence are strong, Google could name Android 8.0 something completely different. Android O is also largely rumoured to be called Android Oreo, and this could be highly possible if Google partners with the company to do a cross-promotion of sorts, something that we saw with Android KitKat.
The latest preview confirmed the Android version to be Android 8.0, something that was kept under wraps when Android O was first announced. The company dropped the first developer preview build of the next major Android release in March, and the second developer preview was out at I/O 2017 last month. The company released Developer Preview 3 with the final Android O APIs in early June. Google has said that there will be another released in July which will bring “near-final system images.” Google says that the latest preview build includes the latest version of the Android O platform with the final API level 26 and hundreds of bug fixes and optimisation.
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jetAudio tune player
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Google Play track
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Huawei is finally bringing its Honor brand to the U.S. The first Honor phone to hit the states will be the Honor 5X, a mid-tier device with several high-end tricks up its sleeve. The 5.5-inch smartphone features a 1.5GHz Snapdragon 615 processor, a 13-megapixel camera, and a rear-facing fingerprint scanner, which Honor swears is as fast and responsive as the Huawei-made Nexus 6P. The 5X will also ship with Honor’s EMUI 3.1 interface on Android 5.1 Lollipop right out of the box, though a Marshmallow update is in the works.
The Honor 5X will likely compete against the similarly-named Nexus 5X and HTC’s One A9, which shares a similar marketing philosophy of packing in mid-tier specifications into a stylish, premium-looking chassis. The 5X will also be sold unlocked for the affordable price of $199 on both Amazon and Honor’s official website, though it is only compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks.
A simple, affordable smartwatch
Honor’s next device in the U.S. will be its fitness-band-cum-smartwatch, the Honor Band Z1. It runs on Honor’s own proprietary wearables OS and it features fitness tracking, a capacitive touchscreen, and 70 mAh battery pack, which Honor says will last up to three days of constant usage on a single charge. It’s also compatible with both Android and iOS and will soon be available for $79. The Band Z1 went on sale in India last year.
The story behind the story: You know how Lexus is essentially Toyota’s sportier, hipper counterpart? That’s the idea behind the Honor brand for Huawei. It’s got its own cool tagline—“for the brave”—and its products emphasize style. Huawei has quite a bit of marketing work cut out for it before the general gadget consumer recognizes what Honor is, but it likely figures that the more brands the Chinese smartphone maker brings over, the more of a chance it has to grab that number three spot on the US smartphone charts.
It’s been a long and eventful year in the Android world. We may not have experienced a major interface overhaul like we did with Lollipop, but with all the constant device releases, it’s been a particularly busy year.
Google also spent the year with a renewed focus on reclaiming Android. Companies like Samsung, LG, and Motorola still drive Android’s sales numbers around the globe, but it’s still Google that drives the direction of the platform. Here’s a look back at the events and releases that shaped Android in 2015.
Android Wear comes of age
Last year was slim pickings for Android Wear watches. We were limited to a bulky, masculine-looking smartwatch made for bigger wrists, or nothing at all. But this year Android Wear saw the introduction of more choice. Now, you can choose a stylish smartwatch that matches you taste from manufactures like LG, Huawei, Asus, andFossil. Motorola also let you customize your second-generation Moto 360, and there’s even a size made for ladies.
Android Wear received a ton of software updates this year, too, making it the best it’s ever been. We’re still waiting to hear what the deal is with Android Wear’s standalone cellular abilities, however. The LG Urbane 2nd Edition LTE was supposed to be the first Android Device to sport its own LTE connection, but LG pulled it from the shelves because of hardware issues.
One thing’s for sure: if you wanna try on a smartwatch, Google has plenty of variety to choose from—and now they work with the iPhone, too.
The first batch of Android Auto cars come to dealerships
Like I said in my Android Auto review: I love Android and I love driving, so I was particularly excited when I had the chance to review one of the first batch of 2015 Hyundai Sonatas with Android Auto baked in.
Android Auto is not perfect by any means—it still needs a bigger library of compatible apps, not to mention more functionality—but Google’s put enough work into it thus far that it’s one of the better in-car navigation systems available. You can check which of the car companies have signed on here, or check out one of Pioneer’s aftermarket units.
We’re still sort of confused about Android TV. It exists, but not as prominently as Google’s other Android ventures. We tried to clear up some confusion this year on what Android TV actually is and how you can get it. It comes with some new televisions and set-top boxes, like the Nexus Player and the Nvidia Shield. But it’s still a bit of a mystery. Even our sister site wonders if Android TV is really headed anywhere.
Introducing Project Fi, the Google carrier
We weren’t expecting Google to launch its own carrier this year, but lo and behold,Project Fi exists. After months of rumors, Project Fi arrived with promises of fast data in more places, and better connections to Wi-Fi. Google teamed with Sprint and T-Mobile to offer the service as an MVNO, and basic plans start at $30 for 1GB of data. Google also just recently announced that you can share your Project Fi data on with a cellular-enabled tablet device, including Apple’s iPad. We’re not sure what Google’s up to with Project Fi in the long run, but for now there’s a cost-effective option from the same company that makes your smartphone. Unfortunately, it’s only available for recent Nexus devices.
Mobile payments become more ubiquitous
I had quite the experience learning to use Android Pay and Samsung Pay this year. To recap, Android Pay uses the existing NFC chip in your phone, while Samsung Pay can use NFC and also Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST), which Samsung acquired when it bought LoopPay earlier this year.
But even though retailers have come on board with mobile payments, it’s still not the utopian ideal it’s been made out to be. After my experience testing out both of these mobile payment services, I still find myself whipping out my wallet to complete the transaction. Regardless, both Google and Samsung are doing a lot of marketing to educate the public about each service, including offering incentives to pay with your smartphone.
Google imposes monthly security updates
You know how they say that, sometimes, bad things happen for a reason? TheStagefright vulnerability that plagued Android users over the summer was awful, but it ultimately lead to more cooperation and faster security updates from both Google and device manufacturers. Frequent updates doesn’t necessarily translate to less software fragmentation among Android devices, but at the very least you don’t have to live in fear of the next major security issue.
More executive shuffling
Google crowned Sundar Pichai, former head of Android and Chrome OS, as its CEO. The move was meant to help create “less of a bottleneck” for Pichai. His position was eventually filled by Hiroshi Lockheimer, who now presides as the Senior Vice President for Android, Chrome OS, and Chromecast.
Soon after the news of Pichai’s promotion, Google announced a restructuring of its business as multiple companies under one umbrella corporation. Alphabet now serves as an umbrella brand for its subsidiaries, which include Google, Calico, GV, Google Capital, Google X, Google Fiber, and Nest Labs.
Android Marshmallow goes transparent
Look, I’m not saying that Android 6.0 Marshmallow is particularly exemplary or anything like that, but it is a really significant update, and it finally brings to Android users what we’ve been clamoring for all along: transparency.
Unlike Lollipop, which focused on delivering a new aesthetic and way of using Android, Marshmallow is more about giving you some control over what’s going on under the hood. The software update allows you to tinker with the permissions for almost every application installed. Marshmallow also features the first iteration of Google’s Now on Tap, as well as Doze, which is a serious battery life saver.
Android N is up next on the horizon. We’ll probably hear about that at Google I/O in the spring time, though the Pixel C team has hinted that the next version of Android will have much better tablet optimization. (I certainly hope so.)
A big year for Cardboard
I still get dizzy when I use virtual reality, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally indulge in some time with Cardboard, Google’s cheap and affordable virtual reality viewer.
Google really wants it to catch on. At its developer conference earlier this year, the company announced a software kit that would bring Cardboard apps to more devices, like the iPhone. It also showed showed off a 360-degree camera with 16 GoPros rigged to it for filming videos specifically to be viewed with Cardboard. And, it introduced Google Expeditions, which gives school kids their own Cardboard so that they can take virtual field trips along with their classroom. The New York Times, Verizon, and Adult Swim have also all offered up their own versions of Cardboard, and now you can even make your own personal virtual reality video. There’s no doubt we’ll see plenty more apps and experiences for Cardboard coming in the new year.
Blackberry jumps ship to Android
Admittedly, when I heard that BlackBerry would be using Android as its operating system instead of its own BlackBerry 10, I laughed. Loudly, even. I didn’t believe it was possible for BlackBerry to make an Android device that was worthwhile.
But I was proven wrong, and the BlackBerry Priv really is a solid smartphone. The Priv has even sold out on numerous occasions—though that’s more likely due to the fact that retailers were underestimating how it would perform, and thus didn’t order enough units to put on their shelves. Regardless, BlackBerry’s first entry into the Android sphere is an impressive, if somewhat expensive, phone. Let’s see if it can make an even better version two.
Android cameras grow up
This year, Android manufacturers made photography a priority. Companies like Samsung, LG, and even Motorola wised up by stuffing better, more capable rear-facing—and front-facing!—cameras into their phones, with better software to match.
This wasn’t the case last year, or even the year before, where it seemed that photography was the last thing an Android phone maker paid mind to. But now, you can prop up a device like the LG V10 on a smartphone tripod and take long exposure shots that look fantastic, and the iPhone no longer holds the crown as the de facto best camera experience.
Android One is a let down
Android One, which was announced at Google I/O 2014, was meant to bring Android to the masses in emerging markets like India and South America. But despite optimistic sales numbers, the affordable Android program is struggling to gain much traction.
Google isn’t giving up, however. It’s still investing time in developing software like offline modes for Google Maps and YouTube in an effort to line up with the needs of these sometimes data-poor countries. Sundar Pichai also continues to underline how important it is for Android to make it in countries like India. He is confident that “in 2016, there will be more Android users in India than in the US.” Whether that will translate to sales numbers is another thing entirely. Android One still faces stiff competition overseas.
Nexus devices rule everything around me
2015 was definitely the year of the Nexus device. Not only did Google announce two new Nexus smartphones this year—the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X—but they’re both the near-perfect embodiment of what a stock Android phone should be.
We’ve yet to see much from Google in terms of its tablet trajectory, however. The Pixel Chas finally materialized, but we’re not entirely sure what it’s meant for. Is it for productivity, or is it just a really decent Android tablet? We’ll likely see more of that vision in the next year.
I’ve noticed Google putting more stock into marketing and advertising for its Nexus devices, and I don’t remember the company ever appealing to the common consumer thismuch. I constantly see commercials for Nexus phones on Hulu and on regular cable television. It’s great, and with Material Design and all the granularity of Marshmallow, Google can make a real case that a Nexus phone offers a great experience for the common consumer.
It’s no longer up to to the OEMs to drive the Android force. Google’s managed to take back the reins this year. Android’s software is the best it’s ever been. Android hardware is the best it’s ever been. I imagine that, in 2016, it’s just going to get better.
A group of Silicon Valley engineers, designers and builders formed a company called i-BLADES and is now seeking funding for what they’re calling “the world’s first and most intelligent smartcase.”
From the i-BLADES Indiegogo page:
“You no longer need to imagine …
Having ever expandable battery life. Improve your battery life by 2-10 times,no need to carry chargers, battery packs or bulky phone cases.
No limits on memory, record everything in the quantity and quality you want. Increase your memory from 64GB to 1 Terrabyte.
Unlimited entertainment with no need to stream or wait for a network connection. Just clip on your blade and press play.”
Do even more with your current smartphone. In the future you will be able to use your I-BLADES Smartcase to expand what your smartphone can currently do including watching live TV, managing your health, payments and controlling other devices.”
The Indiegogo page says that in order to take advantage of the “limitless” possibilities of the smartcase, just put the phone in the case and then attach one or more “Smartblades” to it. The “Smartblades” are what add the extra functionality to the phone, acting almost like modular pieces found in Project Ara.
Smartblade pieces are attached to the Smartcase via magnets, requiring absolutely no wires or ports to connect a smartblade piece to the case. i-BLADES will offer an application that will allow you to manage the added functionality.
For the time being, the company is only offering Smartcases for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S4. iPhone models are in the works, and will launch sometime in the future, probably pending the success of the campaign.
The Indiegogo page says that as of early Dec. 31, there were 93 backers and the campaign had raised $3,561 of the project’s $30,000 goal. The campaign runs through the month of January and the first orders of the Smartcase are slated to ship in May.
ZTE has released a teaser image for something happening on January 5th, but it is unclear exactly what the big reveal may be. Two rumors currently swirling around the company involve its next flagship smartphone, the Nubia Z11 and the company’s Nubia website after it announced spending $2 million to acquire nubia.
The Nubia Z11 smartphone is expected to come equipped with a 5.2-inch screen, 4 GB of RAM and the Snapdragon 820 processor. If the device does come with the Snapdragon 820, depending on the actual release date, it could be the first device to market with the new flagship chip from Qualcomm.
Meanwhile, the teaser image features a fairly significant image of the globe, dominating the lower half of the image. This could be a reference to something worldwide, like the web. The three letters – “Com” – in the “Coming soon!” tagline are highlighted in red, another subtle reference to the popular top level domain. Combined with the recent domain name acquisition, ZTE may be ready to launch a dedicated site for their Nubia line of devices.
If you need a fun holiday time killer, check out the new Christmas-themed outfits and toys in Google’s Androidify app.
The latest update throws in some ugly sweaters, festive hats, and accessories like Nexus smartphones and a Chromebook. You can even throw a pair of ice skates and a scarf on your character to make sure they’re bundled up for frightfully-cold weather.
If you’re particularly proud of your achievement, you can share your character to theAndroidify gallery. This is also a great spot to get inspiration from all the other characters out there.
Find all the new goodies in the latest build of Androidify, which is available from APK Mirror and Google Play.
The story behind the story: One way Android has more personality than that other mobile operating system is Google’s affectionate robot. For Android fans it’s a sense of pride and reflects Google’s ethos toward Android – even the mascot is open source. So have some fun and create an Android version of yourself or make the craziest robot you can imagine.
Microsoft delved deeper into providing software for Android on Thursday with the launch of Microsoft Apps, a new application that gives users of Google’s operating system a one-stop shop to find apps like Word, Cortana and Bing.
Users download the app to their devices, and can then browse and download any number of Microsoft apps. That’s it. There’s no special sauce or exclusive content that users can only get through Microsoft Apps (at this point), just a simple, straightforward directory of all the Android applications available from the company.
What’s somewhat remarkable about all this is that it shows Microsoft’s growing support of and commitment to Android as a platform. The company actually has enough apps available for Google’s OS that it doesn’t feel like a ghost town, which is a far cry from where things were a few years ago.
On its own, this seems like a bit of an odd move. Users who want to find Microsoft’s apps in the Google Play Store can just look through the company’s whole listing inside Google’s app store, without having to download Microsoft’s dedicated directory.
It’s also possible that the app may be helpful to IT managers who want to direct their users to approved applications, or to people who don’t want to deal with Google Play, but that seems like a fairly limited use case for creating such an application in the first place.
The app’s description teases that there’s “more coming soon” to Microsoft Apps, so we may see it become something else in the future, like an alternative to distributing apps from sources other than Microsoft. For right now, though, it’s a fairly limited tool.