Both PCWorld and Bloomberg are reporting today that Google is on the record as saying the next version of Android will contain an anti-theft "kill switch," or as Google calls it, a "factory reset protection solution." Smartphones are among the most commonly stolen possessions in the world today, presumably because of their small size and high value. With increasing pressure from governments to incorporate built-in countermeasures to deter theft by rendering a user's smartphone inoperable in the event it is lost or stolen, expanding the existing Android Device Manager's features to include a reset-proof lockout only makes sense.
Nexus owners are about to get a surprise OTA update, but it's not Android 5.0 Lemon Drop Sunshine. It's another build of KitKat, specifically 4.4.4 with build number KTU84P (branch kitkat-mr2.1-release). Sprint has posted the Nexus 5 changelog on its community forums, and it's apparently a security fix.
It looks like Google is putting the last nail in Dalvik's coffin, and the new Android Runtime (ART) is about to take the throne. A pair of commits turned up last night in the master branch of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repository that spell certain doom for the Android runtime we've known
and loved for all these years. The first of the two changes completely wipes the /libdvm (Dalvik Virtual Machine) folder from AOSP, and the second takes care of changing all of the relevant configuration files and startup scripts to call on the ART runtime.
A day after beginning its rollout of an over-the-air software update for the Galaxy S5 that brings Wi-Fi calling to the device, Sprint is pushing out updates to two other Galaxy devices. The S4 Mini and Mega are both due to receive Android 4.4.2 starting today. The Mini's version number is L520VPUBNE3, and the update comes on the same day as the Verizon variant's. Meanwhile, the Mega is getting treated to L600VPUANE4.
If you're rocking the Verizon version of Samsung's Galaxy S4 Mini, check your notification bar: you may have an over-the-air update waiting for you. According to this Verizon support document, the KitKat update is heading out for the Big Red model of the S4 Mini. KOT49H.I435VRUBND5 upgrades the phone to Android 4.4.2, throwing in Samsung's minor additions to TouchWiz as well. The update also has a smattering of adjusted apps and bug fixes.
Jeff Bezos took to the stage earlier today to announce Amazon's first entrant into the highly competitive smartphone industry, the Fire Phone. Not only was the presentation loaded with some of the shiny new features of the handset and Fire OS, all meant for the press to disseminate to potential buyers, but there were also a few unusually blunt efforts to attract developers. In the midst of demonstrating Firefly and Dynamic Perspective, portions of the presentation were focused on explaining that developers would be able to extend these platform features in their own apps.
After over 1300 Face-Off contest submissions, Motorola has chosen its 10 favorites Moto 360 face designs to go on to final voting. You can cast your vote(s) now for the design you want to see as an option on the Moto 360 when it comes out later this year. The images run the gamut from clean and simple, to rather complex for a smart watch.
Android Police alum and current Ars Technica editor Ron Amadeo has been hard at work on something that might be of interest to you. Head on over to Ars and you can read Ron's 40,000 word history of Android. Yes, 40,000 words – for reference, the classic novella Animal Farm is about 10k words shorter. I can only hope Ron's bosses will unchain him from his desk and allow him to sleep now.