Of all top Android manufacturers, HTC and Motorola seem to be among the least likely players to release timely Android upgrades. Prior to the One and Moto X neither of the two has actually been quick to announce immediate roll-outs nor reassuring plans to do so for the foreseeable future. Yet here we are today with both HTC and Motorola doing just that. Interesting how their strategies have changed.
HTC's US arm has announced that the North American models of the HTC One will receive the Android 4.4 KitKat upgrade by the end of January 2014. This estimate also includes the Verizon version, which has yet to even get Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. HTC, however, says that this situation will not affect its plans.
Android's success, in the smartphone and tablet markets, makes the operating system's users a popular target for malware writers. Some of the concerns which researchers and security firms frequently expose translate into real threats, while others will likely never see the light of day as they're squashed in their infancy.
Luckily, Google is taking a proactive stance to improving Android's security as the search giant has expanded the patch reward program that was introduced in early October, to also include its Android Open Source Project.
After launching Android 4.4 KitKat alongside the Nexus 5, Google released the latest version of the mobile OS for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. The roll-out of the OTA upgrade kicked off on November 13 and the factory images arrived a couple of days later. Since I have already explained how to use the OTA files to get KitKat up and running, in this article I will show you how to do the same by leveraging the factory images.
Aside from allowing users to install Android 4.4, the KitKat factory images also come in handy for those who wish to upgrade, return their Nexus device to stock before selling it, and install various bits (the radios, the bootloader, etc.) to use with custom Android distributions. As you can tell, the factory images have a broader scope and, therefore, I will also cover the other most important ways you can benefit.
With both models of the new Kindle Fire HDX tablets now out in the wild, Amazon can concentrate on tweaking the system to add features and fix bugs. The device, while considered to be a competitor to the Nexus 7, is really more about media, specifically that from the retail giant's ecosystem.
The latest update, which rolls out today, takes the OS to version 3.1 and adds several new features to enhance the 'media device' perception even more.
Fancy getting your hands on a Nexus 7 without having to part with any cash? If you've been on the lookout for a 7-inch Android tablet, Google has a contest that may well be of interest. Providing you live in the US, you can take part in a photo competition to bag yourself either a free Nexus 7 or a $50 Google Play gift card. Sound tempting? All you need to do is take a photo of an arrangement of things that matter to you -- that's all there is to it!
The competition is not actually new as three draws have already taken place -- but there are only a couple of days left to try your luck with the final one. A reminder was issued on Google+ and while the introduction on the main competition page suggests that photos need to include an Android device, read on a little and you will discover that this is not actually a requirement for entry -- but make sure you don’t include a rival product in the shot though, as "non-Nexus or Android devices (phones/tablets) may not be shown in entry".
It’s been in development for a long time, but PC remote control app ROCCAT Power-Grid is finally available for iOS and Android devices. And so you’re now able to view your PC’s status, launch and control programs, monitor emails/ Twitter/ Facebook, play music and more, all from the comfort of your own smartphone.
This is just the start, though. You’re also able to create your own "grids", collections of tools which help you to control particular programs or perform various tasks. It’s possible to download and install grids created by others, too, and just browsing these will give you an idea of what Power-Grid can do.
It would be a strange week if Google didn’t steal a few headlines, and this week saw the introduction of new quick actions to Gmail as well as the launch of a series of online tools to help with the aftermath of the Philippines typhoon. Changes were also made to attachments in Gmail so it is now possible to download files directly to Google Drive. After the launch of the Nexus 5 -- which Brian was not blown away by -- Google also started to roll out Android 4.4 to Nexus tablets -- Mihaita was on hand with a guide to manually upgrading for anyone who did not want to wait for the OTA update to arrive. The news wasn't so good for the Chromebook 11 which was taken off sale after problems with overheating chargers. Google won a court battle after a judge ruled that the scanning of books is not illegal.
This week it was revealed that while BitTorrent still accounts for a large proportion of web traffic, and usage has actually increased in Europe, in the States there has been a drop in traffic. Anyone who seeks entertainment through other channels will be pleased by the fact that Roku streaming boxes can now be used to access Disney and ESPN channels. The Netflix channel was also updated with a new look.
Nexus users love to fiddle with their smartphones and tablets by tearing off the stock software and experimenting with custom Android distributions, kernels, recoveries and whatever else is different from what is offered out-of-the-box. More often than not this all works fine, but it is not uncommon for something to break beyond easy repair. And, that is when Nexus modders turn to Google's factory images for help to return their devices to stock software.
After kicking off the roll-out of the KitKat upgrade, Google released the Android 4.4 factory images for the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7. The Nexus 5 received this treatment right after launch while the Nexus 10 is still waiting for the search giant's stamp of approval.
Canadian maker BlackBerry is expanding the reach of its BBM service through the latest update for the iOS app, that now includes support for non-cellular Apple-branded devices. As a result, Wi-Fi iPad and iPod users can also communicate with their BBM-using friends, as the app no longer limits access only to iPhones and 3G/4G iPads.
BlackBerry has yet to bestow non-cellular Android devices with the same ability, as BBM is still listed as being incompatible with tablets like the Wi-Fi 2013 Google Nexus 7 even in the latest version of the app that arrived yesterday. Now let's take a look at what (else) the Android and iOS updates for BBM add.
As expected, Google has started to roll out Android 4.4 KitKat to its Nexus tablet lineup. At the moment, the software upgrade is only heading to the Wi-Fi versions of the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10, but is slated to reach the cellular models of the smaller tablet too in the upcoming period, as well as the Nexus 4.
The upgrade may be rolling out to compatible tablets as we speak but it will take some time to reach all Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 devices. Luckily, you do not have to wait for the notification to install Android 4.4, as you can get KitKat up and running right now without losing any of your apps and settings or resorting to the modding trickery of loading a custom ROM.
In August 2011, Google purchased Motorola Mobility (which was Motorola's cellular phone division prior to 2011). Google was good at software and services, but had little experience in making hardware for the mass market. Motorola had plenty of experience in building cell phones, starting with the first flip/clamshell mobile phone, the StarTAC, which was released in 1996. On paper, a good marriage, but the detractors complained that it was coming at too high a cost ($12.5 billion) even though buying Motorola Mobility gave Google ownership of a potentially valuable patent portfolio that it could use to defend itself against Apple and Microsoft.
The first child of this marriage, born in August 2013, was Moto X -- an Android smartphone that was to be Motorola's competitor to the iPhone. The main idea behind the Moto brand was to focus on user experience rather than technical specs. Focusing on the later had resulted in the Droid brand, which, although quite successful when it launched in 2009, perhaps owed most of its success due to a massive marketing campaign and the fact that it was the only decent smartphone available on the Verizon network (at that time, in United States, the iPhone was only available on the AT&T network). In 2013, with the smartphone market dominated, at least profit-wise, by Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy phones, it was time to try a new approach.
There is a market in education, and both Apple and Microsoft pursue it with iPads, Office and more. Now Google is looking to get in on the action with its Android mobile operating system. The search giant wants you to bring a tablet to school, and is rolling out a special version of its Play store designed to make this simpler.
"Today we're launching tablets with Google Play for Education for K-12 schools in the US. For the past five months, thousands of students and more than 50 schools have used Google Play for Education and shared their experiences as part of our beta program", says the company's Rock Borovoy.
While I love Android, I am open-minded. Despite the fact that I collect Android figures, I am no "fan-boy" of Google's mobile operating system. My choice to use the OS is because I like it. Over the years, I have tried Palm OS, iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone -- all of these smartphone-focused operating systems are good in their own ways. However, I fell in love with the counter-culture aspect of Android -- hacking, rooting, flashing roms; it was fun.
The holy grail of this sub-culture of Android is the Nexus smartphone. You see, these phones are easy to tinker with because you can easily unlock the bootloader, plus they have a pure Android experience. The newest such smartphone, the Nexus 5, has the Android community giddy with excitement. The phone sold out almost immediately and it is currently on backorder for weeks. If you check eBay, you will find the device selling for more than MSRP. You must be thinking that this phone is amazing right? I am sorry to say it's not. It's just OK. It's also one of the best Android phones you can buy. Confused? Read on.
Evernote Corporation has released Evernote for Android 5.5, a major update to the mobile client for accessing its online note-taking service, which users can access through the browser or via a range of dedicated apps.
Version 5.5 ships with improved notebook picker and Page Camera tools for all users, while premium users gain the ability to annotate PDFs from within the app as well as customise the homescreen.
Up until now, if you wanted to try out Android 4.4 KitKat, there were only two options available -- buy a new Nexus 5 that has the OS preinstalled, or download a custom ROM and roll your own. Now there is a new option, at least if you have a Nexus 7 or Nexus 10, as Google is rolling out the latest version of Android to its flagship tablets.
It is not just owners of the latest Nexus 7 who are in luck as the update is also being made available to the 2012 model. The fact that KitKat is rolling out to older hardware will please many people. Sadly, there has been no change of heart -- not yet, anyway -- for Galaxy Nexus owners hoping for an upgrade.