Sony has announced a maintenance update for the Xperia Z1 and the Z Ultra, which are just hitting American shores today. The devices are staying on Android 4.2 for the time being, but there are a number of important improvements on the way.
|Ryan Whitwam||Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.|
Tasker is the current king of Android automation, but it's not exactly easy to use. Other apps have tried and failed to make it easier to understand the complex actions and various dependencies that arise when you automate Android. Dessin takes a completely visual approach to setting up actions – it's a little like an interactive flow chart. Is this the next big thing in Android automation?
Dessin is designed around a series of nodes, each one with specific actions like toggling WiFi or silencing the phone.
Sony hasn't been great about getting its flagship devices on US carrier lineups, but you can always buy them unlocked from the Sony store. That's the deal today as the Xperia Z1, Zperia Z Ultra LTE, and Smartwatch 2 hit the US Sony online store. The Ultra's status has been updated to shipping, but the other two devices are pre-order for now. You might have to bust open your piggybank, though.
If you're the sort who already worries Google has too much of your personal information, this is not for you. For everyone else, Google is reportedly developing a new opt-in data collection service that will reward users for passing additional mobile usage data back to Mountain View. The so-called Mobile Meter app is expected to come to both Android and iOS.
Android already provides Google with various bits of data like location and search activity.
Samsung made its rumored curved display smartphone official last week – it curves sideways and it's called the Galaxy Round. However, Samsung's South Korean smartphone competitor LG is supposed to be prepping a curved phone as well. Some newly leaked press renders show what is apparently the LG G Flex in all its shapely glory. As expected, it curves the opposite way and curves a lot.
Like Samsung's phone, the G Flex is expected to have a curved AMOLED screen rather than just curved glass like past devices.
For a very long time, the Facebook app on Android was atrocious, and it's still not great. The folks at Facebook are trying, though. After starting a Play Store beta program not long ago, the social network is now setting up an alpha channel to test the newest (and potentially most unstable) features. Want in?
The alpha program will be run in a very similar way to the beta program. You'll have to sign up for the Play Store testing program and the app will update as new builds are released.
It has traditionally been hard to find properly optimized tablet apps on Android. At first it was simply because there weren't any, but increasingly the problem is visibility. Google is aiming to change that with some new tablet-specific tweaks to the on-device Play Store app. Not only will tablet users see more tablet apps, but they'll be able to tell which apps are designed for larger screens.
The first of two changes affects the top lists in the Play Store app.
A batch of images purporting to be from Android 4.4 running on a Nexus 5 have shown up online, and they confirm a lot of things we've been hearing. This isn't a complete rethinking of Android, but it looks like many parts of the UI will be tweaked this time around.
Starting with the lock screen, we can see a transparent status bar up top with white icons, now a staple of KitKat leaks.