These days, it seems like everybody is trying to make Android more secure. As usual, rooting and modding are often casualties of this effort. Just over a month ago Android 4.3 broke the existing model for root, forcing updates to existing methods, and now Samsung is rolling out updated Android 4.2.2 firmwares for the Galaxy S 4 which fully enable the company's heavily secured KNOX environment. Fortunately, Chainfire is already on top of it and has updated his popular root software, SuperSU, to be compatible with the new system.
Every version of Android has launched with at least one headlining feature. As any true fan would know, the 4.2 camera brought with it a very cool new mode called Photospheres. While the initial hype has dropped off, the popularity of photospheres still continues to grow, thanks in part to improvements in image quality and the addition of a Maps-based community designated for sharing the immersive images. We don't always want a location attached to our regular pictures, but it's pretty rare when we don't want our photospheres to be geotagged.
Google's a little late with the Android platform distribution numbers this month. It might have something to do with a rather large announcement yesterday, involving a candy bar, a statue, and the announcement of Android 4.4. But the numbers were just posted, so let's have a look at 'em, shall we?
First of all, Android 1.6 and 2.1 have been dropped from active tracking because they don't work with the latest version of the Google Play Store app.
Google posted the video of its new KitKat statue being planted on the lawn earlier today, but that's nothing unusual. What was incredibly unusual was the device one of the assembled Googlers was using to snap pictures of the event.
Traditionally, Google has stuck with generic names for Android versions: Cupcake, Donut, Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean. Thus, when the big unveiling of 4.4, codenamed KitKat, happened out of nowhere this morning, the web was abuzz with questions. How can they do this? Is this a joke? I thought the name KitKat was "trademarked!" Well, there's a very simple answer to all these questions: it's a mutual partnership.
If you missed out on the ruckus Google caused this morning, here's a quick briefing: the upcoming version will not be 5.0, nor will it be called Key Lime Pie. Instead, it's 4.4 KitKat. No joke – this is legit. Sundar Pichai even put a picture of the new statue up on Twitter and G+. This is happening.
The question is, though, what new features can we expect? KitKat itself has taken to YouTube with just that information.
As soon as Android head Sundar Pichai tweeted the image of a KitKat-themed Android statue on the lawn at Google, it was on. The official KitKat twitter account got in on the fun, and the Android KitKat website went live with a confirmation that it was indeed going to be Android KitKat. What's more, this is not Android 5.0. This is 4.4.
The Android KitKat site has a neat little retrospective of the entire Android version history and a bit of info about a contest.
Today Android has officially passed one billion activated devices, according to Google's Vice President of Android, Chrome, and Google Apps, Sundar Pichai. To help celebrate this momentous occasion, there's a new Bugdroid-themed statue hanging out at the entrance to Google's Mountain View campus.
We now have over 1 Billion Android activations and hope this guy in front of the building keeps that momentum going pic.twitter.com/V0VovgmObl
— sundarpichai (@sundarpichai) September 3, 2013
Yup, that's a KitKat Android.
So you're a fan of custom ROMs, but you're not quite ready to live on the bleeding edge (or alternately, your device doesn't have a reliable Android 4.3 build yet). Fear not, cautious Android power user: the CyanogenMod team has a build for you! CyanogenMod 10.1.3 will be the last version of CM based on Android 4.2, and release candidates are now being posted for supported phones and tablets.
10.1.3 is more precisely based on Android 4.2.2, with all the bells and whistles that Google and CyanogenMod could shove into last year's release.
Updates are rolling out to Nexus devices as we speak, but the public changelogs seem to only call for improvements to "Security." However, the latest round of commits just went up on the Android Open Source Project, bringing everything up to date with both JWR66Y (4.3_r1.1), which is going out to most Nexus devices, and JSS15Q (4.3_r2.2), which is destined for the 2013 Nexus 7. Thanks to Google's gracious sharing of the source code, we can comb through each and every little detail of what's new.