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Yes, Please: Google Allegedly Tracks Stats For Manufacturers' OS Update Speeds, May Publish Them

According to a Bloomberg article published this morning, Google has been actively tracking the time it takes Android device manufacturers to update their handsets to a new version of the Android OS. Better yet? There are supposedly discussions happening inside Google as to whether or not to make the stats public, as a sort of "name and shame" directive to encourage manufacturers and carriers alike to update their handsets more quickly. To which I respond: oh god yes please, do this, Google.

The report also mentions a few other tidbits that are interesting, and we'll get to those, but let's focus on what I will now call The Android Update Wall Of Shame, which should very much be what it is called if Google does, in fact, publish it.

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Android N Dev Preview 3: Demo Mode Is Back, Now In Developer Settings

If you think back to when Marshmallow was unveiled, and then even further back to when it was still known as 'M', you may remember a feature in the System UI Tuner, known as 'Demo Mode.' It was a useful setting, especially for developers or others needing to take screenshots (ahem), since it replaced the notification bar with a generic, preset one which did not show any existing notifications or low battery warnings.

It disappeared in Developer Preview 2, though, seemingly gone without a trace. As with everything in the System UI Tuner, things are liable to disappear, break, or be removed at any time, so this wasn't entirely a surprise (see David's comment from a few days ago for more info).

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The Nexus Player Has Been Removed From The Google Store

The Nexus Player was Google's first take on Android TV, and it wasn't very good. It's gone from the Google Store now, so good riddance? Well, there isn't exactly a replacement yet.

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Acura's First Car With Android Auto Is The 2017 NSX

Honda offers Android Auto on the 2016 Civic and Accord, but the 2017 NSX will be the first vehicle from Honda's luxury brand, Acura.

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NVIDIA Finally Rolls Android 6.0.1 Out To The LTE SHIELD Tablet In The US

NVIDIA sent out the first Marshmallow update to the SHIELD Tablet in late 2015 with the SHIELD K1 OTA. It said at the time that the original SHIELD would be updated in early 2016. That was kind of true—a few months later the update started going out to the WiFi-only SHIELD. However, the US LTE SHIELD is only now getting the v4.1 update. Better late than never, I suppose.

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Android N Developer Preview 3 Includes A Tweaked Package Installer UI

The new Android N developer preview has some important new features, but also a lot of little changes. For example, a new package installer UI. It's not dramatically different, but you can see the new one above and the old one below for comparison.

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How To Enable The Handwriting Keyboard On Android Wear 2.0 Preview 1

After Google released the Android Wear 2.0 Preview images for the Huawei Watch and LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition, many of us quickly flashed the firmware onto our watches to test out the new features. Most of the major changes are pretty easy to find, and some could even be said to be a little in-your-face. However, we saw quite a few people were confused by what seemed to be the absence of the handwriting keyboard. It turns out that it's just not enabled by default on the preview firmware. While it's not exactly buried, knowing that it has to be activated and where to go isn't very intuitive; so we've made a quick how-to guide for those that got a little lost.

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[Promising] Android N Preview 3 Adds An Automatic Level For Power Notification Controls (Previously Known As Full Importance)

The saga of "full importance" notification levels in Android N continues. The feature was introduced in the first developer preview as a more granular control method for notification settings, then it was further modified in the second developer preview with some shuffling and renaming of the different levels and the addition of a sixth one, and now in the third developer preview, we're seeing one more option: Automatic importance.

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Android N Preview 3 Changes The Screen Unpinning Shortcut, No Longer Throws You Back To Recents Overview

Android Lollipop introduced screen pinning: a way for you to lock your device into one app until a specific shortcut was tapped to take you out of it and let you switch to something else.

In Lollipop, a screen is pinned by going to Recents and tapping the green pin button at the bottom right of any app card, and it is unpinned in one of two ways: short tapping Recents and Back simultaneously if no Accessibility service is enabled in your Settings at all, or long tapping Recents if at least one Accessibility service is switched on. That created several problems:

  • the confusion over which shortcut to use depending on whether you have some Accessibility service enabled,
  • the automatic switch to Recents each time you unpinned (you were pressing Recents after all...), which meant that you had to tap the app again to go back to using it,
  • and more recently, the conflict with Multi-Window on N, which requires the same long-tap on Recents action to get triggered.
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Android N Developer Preview 3 Allows Side By Side Chrome Windows In Multi-Window Mode

Confession: as a web writer who has to constantly research new stories, keep an eye on social networks, stay in contact with my coworkers, and see if that jerk on eBay has outbid me for the LEGO T-rex from the Dino Defense HQ set, I often have dozens and dozens of Chrome tabs open on my desktop by the end of the day. That sort of wanton disregard for computer memory doesn't really translate over to mobile, where the single screen limits multitasking to a certain degree. But Google is going to enable my bad habits on Android phones and tablets soon: in the third developer preview of Android N, users can open Chrome windows side by side.

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