Yesterday my colleague Mihaita Bamburic presented his list of the year’s top tech products, which included some obvious big choices, most notably Windows 8.1, iPad Air, Surface 2 and the Xbox One.
My list could easily be a carbon copy of his, after all the biggest tech products are hits for a reason, and despite not being a fan of Windows 8, I really like its successor, and would happily own both the iPad Air and Surface 2 if funds allowed. But I wanted to approach my selection slightly differently by avoiding products which featured on Mihaita’s list, and focusing on items I’ve bought (or been sent) and have used extensively. These are the tech products I’ve really appreciated the most this year.
Google has released new factory images based on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, for the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. This comes a couple of days after the search giant rolled out the latest update for its mobile operating system.
The Android 4.4.2 factory images allow users of said Nexus devices to install, and upgrade to, the latest KitKat version without waiting for the OTA update to arrive. They also come in handy for installing individual bits, like the radio, kernel or recovery, alongside third-party distributions.
Without much fanfare, Google has added a new member to its Nexus family, but it's not what you think. For weeks now we have waited, not entirely patiently, for an updated version of the Nexus 10 tablet, enduring endless rumored release dates that have come and gone.
The new addition, however, is a white version of the Nexus 7 that was unveiled back in June at a breakfast event with Android chief Sundar Pichai. The tablet sports a white back and edges, while the face still has the familiar black bezel.
Mere days after Android 4.4.1 was released, Google is rolling out Android 4.4.2 for compatible Nexus devices. The latest version is more of a modest upgrade, compared to its predecessor which delivered noteworthy improvements to the Nexus 5 camera, as it mostly squashes a few bugs.
Android 4.4.2 fixes issues with clearing and delivery of the VM Indicator, according to US mobile operator Sprint, and other bits of the mobile operating system. There are also security enhancements introduced in the latest version of KitKat.
Barely three weeks have passed since KitKat started to roll out, but now Google is updating its compatible Nexus devices to Android 4.4.1. The new version is being pushed over the air for the Nexus 4, Nexus 5 and 4G LTE Nexus 7, and will also be baked in factory images next week.
The biggest change that Android 4.4.1 introduces is focused on improving the Nexus 5 camera quality and performance, which have been pointed out as major downsides when compared to top smartphones available today. As some have noticed already in ads, Google is marketing the new handset as a capable device for photography and with Android 4.4.1 on board it finally seems to deliver in this regard.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Smartphones and tablets are no longer just electronic devices -- they are fashion statements. It is becoming increasingly rare to find someone using one naked (without a case or cover). At some point, our iPhone-culture started to demand that our devices remain in flawless condition; this birthed an entire industry of fashion-based device protection. Yes, there were leather pouches and cases for old Palm Pilots and flip-phones, but a scuff or scratch on those devices was inconsequential.
When I received my second-generation Nexus 7, there were no cases available locally. I found that I had anxiety when using the tablet naked -- I was fearful of breaking or scuffing it. Luckily, I have an Amazon Prime account so the official Asus-made travel cover was only a day away (with $3.99 one-day shipping). I am happy to announce that the cover has arrived to my house so I can share my thoughts of it with you. So, is this cover good?
"The new Nexus 7 makes my Asus MeMO look pathetic". That is what I told my colleague Joe Wilcox over the weekend. Android, the open source Linux-based mobile operating system from Google can be found in many places -- cheap no-name tablets run the OS, but should be given a wide berth. Big name hardware makers also produce these gadgets -- Samsung and Sony to name just two. However, the most prominent on the market in recent times has been the Nexus 7, the pure Android experience from Google (but built by Asus), and the Kindle Fire HD, Amazon's highly customized tablet.
In the past, regardless of my liking for pure Android, I would have chosen the Amazon device in a heartbeat. It's thinner and has a better screen, plus Prime customers, like myself, have easy access to the retail giant's streaming video library. However, my view changed this past week, as Google rolled out its latest version of the Nexus 7.
Rest in peace, iPad mini. Google killed you. The question then: Is it murder or manslaughter -- or justified homicide, putting the Apple tablet out of our misery?
Three days using the new Nexus 7, I can't imagine why Apple let Google, and partner ASUS, seize back-to-school buying with the tablet. I don't refer just to the instrument of destruction but the means. The 2013 edition is widely available through major US retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy. By all indications there is inventory to meet demand, not the typical supply shortages, although the 32GB WiFi model is unavailable this weekend from many retailers -- but Google Play is stocked.
In what may have been one of the poorer kept secrets in tech, Google today took the wraps off the brand new Nexus 7. Unfortunately for the search giant, Best Buy won the race, by placing the new tablet up for pre-order early this morning. The device became official shortly thereafter, as Google held its breakfast event with Android chief Sundar Pichai.
"Together with ASUS, we took what you loved about the original Nexus 7 and made it even better," the company states in its official announcement. "The first thing you’ll notice is the sharpness of the screen: the 323 pixels packed into every inch of the screen makes it the world's highest-resolution 7-inch tablet. It’s lighter than ever, with more than nine hours of HD video playback and 10 hours of web browsing or reading. Nexus 7 now features stereo speakers and virtual surround sound from Fraunhofer (the inventors of the MP3 format), giving you rich and immersive audio".
Google is making an announcement regarding a new device today. No one outside of the giant tech corporation has any clue what it might be. No one I tell you. Not a single solitary person anywhere. Except maybe Best Buy.
Of course that leak might just be a total co-incidence. Google could in fact be preparing to announce Hat -- a mind reading/recording device for the head. Or something entirely different.
The next-generation Google Nexus 7 surfaced at Best Buy, with complete specifications, price and photos. Interested buyers can pre-order the new tablet, which is available in both 16 GB and 32 GB storage trims, and, presumably, receive it after the search giant officially unveils its latest slate (which should not be too far away).
According to the details revealed by the US retailer, the new Nexus 7 arrives with some pretty impressive hardware under its dark-colored shell, and runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (which, like the slate, has yet to be officially announced by Google). The price? Well, the 16 GB version runs for $229.99, while its 32 GB counterpart goes for $269.99.