We often take mobile web browsing for granted, but sometimes the simplest of problems can turn it into a miserable experience. One of the early improvements to Android’s built-in web browser was a neat little feature that allowed text to re-wrap based on zoom level. It’s an obvious function, something that seems natural for reading more than a few words on a small screen. Unfortunately, a significant change in Android 4.4 resulted in the loss of this incredibly convenient capability for most web browsers and several applications.
If you're an audio perfectionist, you've surely stumbled onto flac, an audio compression format designed to deliver lossless recordings. The file sizes are considerably larger than your average MP3, but the sound quality is unparalleled by lossy compression algorithms. It's not hard to see why audiophiles drift towards flac as their preferred storage medium. Now imagine the latest version of Android is causing stuttering, cracks, pops, and static in the otherwise perfect playback of flac.
Samsung, LG, HTC, Google, and select others may attract most of the attention when it comes to Android devices, but they're far from the only choices. There is a wide range of handsets available from brands you may have forgotten about, but not because they aren't any good. BLU Products has been upping its game as of late, pushing out products with competent specs and great prices. Now the company is introducing several new models in its "Life" series of devices.
If you've never heard of Hisense, or you didn't know they made tablets, I wouldn't blame you. And for our part, we've done little to draw attention to its products. That doesn't mean they aren't desirable. People are buying its budget-friendly Sero 7 tablets, and some are even demanding that the source files get released. A quick visit to the company's Facebook page reveals more than a few comments on the matter.
The LG G Pad 8.3 entered the Play Store nearly a week ago, becoming the first Google Play Edition tablet and the closest thing you can get to an 8-inch Nexus. Unfortunately, this model is no cheaper than the original, and at $349 for 16GB, it's over $100 more expensive than the Nexus 7. But here's the deal - if you don't mind using a G Pad 8.3 with LG's less-than-stellar custom software, or you're up for installing a custom ROM yourself, then you might like to know that you can get the original G Pad 8.3 for $299.99 from eBay and Best Buy.
Hot on the heels of releasing a Google Play Edition of the enormous Xperia Z Ultra, Sony is once again pleasing fans of "clean" Android by expanding the AOSP For Xperia Project. The latest device to get a semi-official AOSP option is the Xperia L, one of the cheapest devices in the company's 2013 lineup.
Though the 4.3" screen and 1Ghz dual-core processor on the Xperia L aren't likely to make it an object of desire for hardware junkies, developers and enthusiasts now have the option of running a completely stock version of Android 4.4.
There's no need for a full review of the new Google Play Edition of LG's G Pad 8.3 - you're familiar with the software thanks to LG's own Nexus 5 and other AOSP devices, and you can check out Cameron Summerson's review of the retail version of the G Pad 8.3 for a look at the hardware. Aside from the "V510" badge on the tablet's legal tiny type, this is the same device, and there's not so much as a Google logo to tell the two apart.
Android 4.4 has a new screen recording function for developers, but as the CyanogenMod team has already demonstrated, it can be adapted for more general use. Well-known developer Koushik "Koush" Dutta has taken advantage of this for Mirror, a new screencasting app for KitKat that allows any rooted user to either record video directly on a device, or stream to an Apple Airplay-compatible receiver like Apple TV. No custom ROM required.
Android 4.4.1 source files haven't even rested in the repositories of the Android Open Source Project long enough to get cold, and they're already getting served up by a fresher helping of code. Google has made the Android 4.4.2 files available in AOSP under the release tag android-4.4.2_r1. The platform/build repo confirms that this is KOT49H.
This release came hot on the heels of the 4.4.1 release, so don't expect much in the way of changes.
Welcome back to another week of the Android Police Podcast. To catch us live on Hangouts On Air every Thursday at 5PM PST (subject to change as per the calendar widget below), just head over to androidpolice.com/podcast. The video show experienced technical difficulties this week, so we don't have a full video to share with you. Sorry!
- Matthew Smith: Host
- Bob Severns: A/V, editing, and soundboard
- Liam Spradlin: Co-host
- Ryan Whitwam: Co-host
- Eric Ravenscraft: Special guest