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HTC Bolt with Android Nougat announced for Sprint's LTE Plus network, available today for $25/month

Usain Bolt's branding on the new HTC Bolt should be enough indication to you that Sprint is marketing this new smartphone for its speed. But as the geeks that we are, we've probably jumped to the conclusion that we're talking about the processor, except that nope. This is Sprint's fastest smartphone yet, if we're only talking about its network capabilities. The Bolt is the first device to support Sprint's LTE Plus three-channel carrier aggregation, which is already live in Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Cleveland, and Columbus.

LTE speeds aside, the Bolt is a mid to high-end smartphone. The entire device is made of glass and metal with a 5.5" Quad HD Super LCD 3 display on the front covered with curved-edge Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

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Android Auto v2.0 has a jump shortcut for lists in audio apps and prepares to add several new settings and a homescreen shortcut [APK Teardown + Download]

Android Auto v2.0 began rolling out earlier this week with a pretty significant redesign that made the driving mode part of the app's primary UI. There were quite a few changes to support the on-phone Auto simulator, including a fair number of new options like the ability to auto-launch with certain Bluetooth connections (and prevent that if it's still in a pocket).

While most of the new features are easy to discover when poking around in either the driving mode interface or in the couple of config screens, there's a new feature in the audio player that deserves to be called out on its own.

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Logitech's ZeroTouch car mounts re-purposed as Android Auto mounts, now available from Google Store

Some months ago, Logitech released a pair of car mounts called "ZeroTouch." At the time, I thought they were interesting, but ultimately not worth the high price. Now, this same hardware is back on the Google Store as an Android Auto mount. The price is still crazy, though.

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Google marks "bug" report about night mode being removed from Nexuses as "FutureRelease," implications unclear

After having it removed in favor of the Pixel-only (for now) Night light feature in Android 7.1, Nexus fans have been a bit upset that the screen tinting Night Mode option was axed from their handsets. While only implemented as part of Google's experiment test zone, the system UI tuner, Night Mode struck a chord for a number of reasons (which aren't worth getting into here), and taking it away had Nexus owners a bit, well, cranky. Enough so that people have been submitting the feature's sudden absence in Android 7.1 as a bug. (Technically, Night Mode was removed in the later 7.0 developer previews, but if you didn't wipe your handset, the quick settings tile to enable it didn't go away for quite some time after that, and an app later was still able to access it via a simple workaround.)

One of those bug threads on the Google issue tracker has now been marked as 'FutureRelease' by a Googler.

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Android Nougat feature spotlight: Improved bug report capture process

Capturing and sending a bug report on Android used to be an inelegant process. Bugs are annoying and bug reports are one of the least exciting parts of a platform, but they are essential to help it and its apps move forward. So it's nice to see the Android team putting some thoughts behind improving the bug report interface and interaction, especially for those of us who tend to actually use the feature.

Previously, on Android 6.0 and below, if you decided to save and send a bug report, the device would vibrate once and nothing happened for a minute or two. Then you get the notification for the captured bug report and the only thing you can do is share it along with the screenshot that was taken when you tapped the bug report icon.

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CyanogenMod 14.1 (Android 7.1) will roll out soon to the Nexus 6P, OnePlus 3, LG G4, and others

There was a time some years ago that CyanogenMod was the surest way to get the latest build of Android on your phone. It's a little slower these days, but development continues to chug along. The CM team hopes to roll out the first nightly builds of CM14.1 later tonight, but not all devices will be supported right away.

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After years, Google to force Android device OEMs to support [some] standard headphone inline controls

The Android CDD is a tedious document to pick over, largely because very small changes in wording can have very big consequences. While I would hardly call this one "very big," it's still significant: Google has changed the support of standard impedance-based inline headphones controls from a suggestion to a hard requirement. Now, devices with 4-conductor 3.5mm audio jacks must recognize the impedance range and corresponding action it must produce when used on an inline controller.

MUST support the detection and mapping to the keycodes for the following 3 ranges of equivalent impedance between the microphone and ground conductors on the audio plug:

  • 70 ohm or less : KEYCODE_HEADSETHOOK
  • 210-290 Ohm : KEYCODE_VOLUME_UP
  • 360-680 Ohm : KEYCODE_VOLUME_DOWN

Inline headphone controls are a rather...

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Android 7.0 CDD says Google may soon require OEMs to stop screwing with USB-C charging standards

In its latest revision of the Android Compatibility Definition Document, Google has laid down some rather interesting rules not related to Android itself, but rather common device hardware. In the CDD, a new section has appeared that specifically relates to the USB Type C standard and charging - a subject that has become increasingly thorny with the proliferation of numerous proprietary fast charging standards.

While the section for now is labeled as "STRONGLY RECOMMENDED," Google is signaling clearly that it could become mandatory: "in future Android versions we might REQUIRE all type-C devices to support full interoperability with standard type-C chargers."

The section essentially boils down to this.

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Sony’s Concept for Android Nougat firmware now available on Xperia X in Europe

Sony has been toying with a different take on Android for the last year. The company calls it the "Concept for Android" program, and it gives Sony a place to test out new features for its phones with a cleaner build of Android. It's only available on select phones in certain markets, but another one is being added to the list today. The Xperia X in Europe can now download the latest Concept for Android.

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Hands-on with Android Nougat's seamless update on the Pixel

One of the features buried in Android N while it was still a Developer Preview was seamless update. Just like Chromebooks, Android devices would be able to download new OTAs in the background, install them while they're still running, and only switch to the updated software after a reboot. We later learned that existing Nexus devices would not benefit from the option since they didn't have the partitioning necessary to manage the technical feat of having two firmwares installed at the same time, even if temporarily.

So in order to see seamless update in action — or not see them, that's the goal really — we had to wait until the Pixel shipped, since it's the first phone to support them out of the box, and until there was an OTA update for it.

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