Transformer Prime owners in the U.S. are waking up this morning to a notification of a new OTA update that should bring improved Wi-Fi and Bluetooth performance, along with a new kernel. Since there's no official changelog just yet, little is known for sure what else this update packs, but we're hearing that it also brings a fix for the random reboot issue that plagued many users after the update to Ice Cream Sandwich last month.
A serious vulnerability that affected the way some popular HTC Android phones handle 802.1x usernames, passwords, and SSIDs was disclosed publicly today by engineers Chris Hessing and Bret Jordan. The bug allowed applications with only an ACCESS_WIFI_STATE permission to read your Wi-Fi SSIDs, usernames, and, most importantly, passwords on at least the following devices:
- Desire HD (both "ace" and "spade" board revisions) - Versions FRG83D, GRI40
- Glacier - Version FRG83
- Droid Incredible - Version FRF91
- Thunderbolt 4G - Version FRG83D
- Sensation Z710e - Version GRI40
- Sensation 4G - Version GRI40
- Desire S - Version GRI40
- EVO 3D - Version GRI40
- EVO 4G - Version GRI40
Of course, if a malicious application also happens to have access to the Internet, SMS, or other means of sending out information, credentials could leak out from a vulnerable device to a remote location.
A few days ago, Motorola pushed out a special soak test of the ICS update to a number of Wi-Fi XOOM owners in the U.S. Apparently, no serious issues were found by the company's engineers, as the very same Android 4.0.3 update (IML77) is now rolling out to everyone. Well, everyone in the U.S. with a Wi-Fi XOOM that is. This makes the XOOM the 2nd mainstream tablet device to officially receive ICS, losing out only to the Transformer Prime that beat it to the punch by only a couple of days.
In the last couple of days, I've been closely interacting with Harald Mueller, the developer behind Android Wi-Fi Tether for root users, a free and open source tethering app for Android. Android Wi-Fi Tether is pretty much a de-facto app when when it comes to tethering on Android devices that have native Wi-Fi tethering disabled (thanks, carriers), and is what I consider one of the most important apps in our supposedly open ecosystem.
Seemingly out of nowhere, a new wireless brand Republic Wireless, a division of Bandwidth.com, announced earlier this month that it would revolutionize and shake up the mobile industry by introducing a Hybrid Calling plan that costs only $19 a month. This plan has indeed gone live today over at RepublicWireless.com, together with the first and only mobile device the company is offering (for now) - the LG Optimus.
The low-cost offering is made possible thanks to heavy reliance on Wi-Fi data - Republic Wireless devices are designed to prioritize Wi-Fi networks, and certain measures have been put in place to make sure you don't hog an unfair share of the mobile network (powered by Sprint).
The intrepid folks over at XDA are always tinkering away to try and make using your Android device a better experience. And a few weeks ago, one of them (namely, temasek) found that the Android Market has some issues trying to resolve DNS servers when your device is connected over Wi-Fi. This can cause the Market to load slowly, and it's definitely something I've experienced on my own phone.
A few weeks ago, a GSM Nexus S update 2.3.6 (GRK39C) with voice search fixes started rolling out, but it was immediately discovered to break Wi-Fi and USB tethering. After many complaints, Google pulled the OTA, and it seems like they've spent the last couple of weeks making sure everything works as expected.
A new update surfaced tonight, also numbered 2.3.6, but this time bearing build GRK39F. While there is no official changelog, based on the fact that an update with the same exact build hit the Nexus One a few days ago and didn't break tethering, I think it's safe to say it fixes at least that issue (Update: thanks to our buddy Omar for an additional confirmation of working tethering).
Tablets come in two flavors: either Wi-Fi only, or packing 3G/4G from a carrier. In the former, it can be purchased without a contract and usually for a lower price. The 3G/4G model typically costs more (although it may be cheaper thanks to a carrier subsidy, which is offset by the cost of the plan), and comes on contract.
Sprint's Motorola Photon 4G, one of our favorite devices on this network, is receiving a small over-the-air update that will bring it up to version 4.5.1A-1_SUN-154_6/45.2.7.MB855.Sprint.en.US. The only publicized fixes are related to Wi-Fi, with users over at Android Forums reporting improved performance.
As always, wait for the update to pop up or force the check by going to Settings > About phone > System updates.