Here's an interesting example of a product getting better with age. The Amazon Tap speaker was introduced as a mobile, battery-powered alternative to the Echo, with access to the same Alexa voice commands, but limited in that it could only accept said commands with a button press. This made the less-expensive Tap, while interesting, not all that much better than a smartphone for voice searches. But the latest firmware update from Amazon enables hands-free Alexa commands, like the Echo and Google's Assistant on the Google Home. Talk about a value add. Read More
I'm honestly conflicted. When I spotted this new software on T-Mobile's support pages, I had to do a double take. How come a phone that's still stuck on Android 4.4.2 KitKat is getting the November 2016 security updates? It's ridiculous and awesome to a point that I just couldn't pass up the news.
The ZTE ZMAX was announced and released in September of 2014 on T-Mobile. It had midrange specs with a 5.7" 720 display, Snapdragon 400, 8MP back camera and 1MP on the front. The major selling point was the 3400mAh battery and the $252 price point. At the time of release, it ran Android 4.4 KitKat and it has managed to stick to that version for two years, no version bumps whatsoever for ZMAX owners. Read More
Sony was one of the first companies to offer Cast-enabled speakers. Instead of buying a regular speaker and then plugging in a Chromecast Audio, you could save on power outlets and wires and just grab one with Google Cast capabilities built right in. The problem with these speakers, as some of you have discovered, is that their software updates seem to be totally reliant on the manufacturer.
So when Google's own Chromecast Audio got an update to support Hi-Fi audio and multi-room (aka grouping) back in December of last year, owners of some of these speakers had to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait a bit more to get the same functionality on their own speakers. Read More
Even though it was announced almost a year and a half after the original LG G Pad 8.3, the G Pad X8.3 (notice the X?) is only a small improvement over its predecessor. The size, screen, software, storage, battery, remained more or less the same. Only the processor was bumped from a Snapdragon 600 to a 615 and the camera from a 5MP to an 8MP shooter.
Still, if you bought the X8.3 on Verizon, you might have been bummed because your relatively new tablet was stuck on Lollipop even though all the cool flagship phones got Marshmallow. Well, no more. Read More
Evidence has been mounting over the last few days and it looks like it's finally happening: Android 6.0 for Wear is starting to roll out. Googler Wayne Piekarski just announced on his Google+ feed that OTAs have begun and should continue over the next few weeks.
An official blog post by Google lists some of the new features we can expect in the new firmware, including: newly navigation gestures, audio support on speaker-equipped watches, and expanded support for messaging clients.
In Piekarski's post, he reminds developers that the API 23 SDK is already out, but that nobody should remove support for API 22 until the rollout is complete. Read More
As the resident teardown guy, Update Wednesday was a huge letdown this week. After slicing and dicing a dozen or so apks, all I saw were bug fixes, minor adjustments, and updates with full changelogs. Come on Google, I can't write about the neat stuff if none of the secrets are allowed to leave Mountain View. Fortunately, I did get to look at an unreleased version of Play Services, and there are a few interesting things to take away from it. (Sorry, we don't have an APK to share with this one.)
: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and based on incomplete evidence.
The Pebble's software updates keep it slow and steady. Today's 2.2 firmware release doesn't rock the boat, but it introduces a few features that I'm sure fellow Pebble owners out there have wished for at some point or another. The first of which is the ability to reorder items in the launcher menu. Now if you hold the select button on an item in the menu, you can drop it somewhere else in the column.
Another big addition is the ability to control volume within the default music app. Just hold the select button to switch the buttons from backward/forward to volume up/down. Read More
If you happen to own an Atrix HD from AT&T, get ready for something you haven't seen in a very long time: a firmware update. Unfortunately, this is only a "security enhancement" and not an upgrade to the Android operating system. Motorola hasn't specified exactly what this update is supposed to fix, but it's almost certainly a patch for the Heartbleed bug that was widely reported last month.
The last update to the Atrix HD shipped out at the end of 2012, which brought it from 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) to 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean). Motorola still has the Atrix HD on the list to receive KitKat, but there's no word on when the nearly 2-year-old device might see that upgrade. Read More
There should be no doubt, Google is getting ready to make a lot of announcements at I/O. If we've learned anything from past experiences, Google starts packing its apps full of surprises in the weeks leading up to the big show. The latest update to Play Services started rolling out yesterday and it has grown by a whopping 4 MB, almost 30% larger than the previous version. There's obviously a lot of stuff to look at, so let's just jump right in.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
New Permissions And Features
The first thing many of our readers noticed before installing the apk manually is that it requires a stack of new permissions. Read More
Yesterday Pebble-wearing Android users gained the ability to control Pandora from their wrists. This was cool stuff for Pandora listeners, but now the brainy watch is getting an update that will affect all owners, regardless of their listening preferences. A 2.1 firmware upgrade is rolling out to devices via the Android companion app.
On the user-facing side, there's one standout new feature - the watch now has a menu entry for clearing your notification history. In addition, the new firmware should improve Bluetooth reliability when reconnecting a Pebble to a device. For the most part, though, the changelog consists primarily of bugfixes. Read More