An unexpected treat came zooming out of Google HQ today as Android 4.4.4 OTAs and factory images have started rolling out for Nexus devices. The updates have already been posted to AOSP and Al Sutton quickly followed up with a list of the changes. Since 4.4.3 is only 2 weeks old, and I/O is merely a week away, we had a feeling this was just a security update, and it looks like that's all it is.
Most of the significant changes are centered around fixing a recently discovered vulnerability in OpenSSL. Read More
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. Read More
It would seem Google's added a new musical feature to Search queries on Android, with searches for specific musical artists now giving direct links to your installed music apps (including Spotify, Play Music, TuneIn, YouTube, iHeartRadio, and Rdio). What actually happens when you tap one of the shortcuts, shown below, seems to vary significantly depending on the app.
For Play Music, you'll be sent to the artist's page, whereas for YouTube, you'll head to the topic for that artist. Read More
Android 4.4.4 is a thing now, but Sprint Moto X users will have to make do with 4.4.3, which is heading out starting today (build KXA21.12-L1.22). This is one of those times you're going to have to wait your turn, as the OTA is going out in waves.
Google Play Movies will likely soon be announcing one of the largest-ever expansions of the service since its launch, adding 21 new nations from around the world. Here's the complete list, because I know that's what you're here for:
- Czech Republic
- Lao People's Democratic Republic
Just in March, Google announced a full 35 newly-supported countries for the service, and in December last year it added 13 more countries. Read More
Looking to kick back and kill a few minutes this afternoon / evening / morning / whatever time it is where you are? Google's got a brand-new set of football-themed mini-games out via the Kick with Chrome experiment today.
The games include Infinite Dribble, Space Kick, and Shootout. Shootout is actually a multiplayer penalty-shot game, so that one could be fun with friends. Infinite Dribble is a tilt-based endless... dribbler, and Space Kick is a sort of vertical platformer. Read More
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.
Square Order is actually a pretty interesting service - think Amazon Fresh meets Eat24. While it's still only available in New York City and San Francisco, the on-demand ordering system is finally out of beta on Android, with the app now available for consumption.
Square Order allows you to order food from restaurants, but it's a bit more than that - it's designed to be used even while you're inside the restaurant, because the app actually notifies you as soon as your order is ready, and payment and tip are integrated as well. Read More
As one of the world's largest advocates for web access in emerging markets, Facebook obviously cares very much just how well its own platform works on mobile devices in those markets. As such, Facebook sent a team of product managers and engineers to various regions in Africa to learn more about just how people were using the service, on which devices, and what the major pain points for the app were. Read More
Nokia doesn't have much to do with Android, but it does make those super-cheap Android devices with the wonky interface and no Google services. That's not the extent of Nokia's Android ambitions, though. There's a new launcher from the company called Z Launcher, and you can try it right now. Make no mistake – it's basic, but kind of neat.