The Bluetooth experience on Android has always been a rocky road. For the first few years Android relied on BlueZ, a "protocol stack" originally developed by Qualcomm for the Linux operating system. Despite many limitations and missing features, BlueZ served admirably until Android 4.2 launched with a new stack dubbed Bluedroid, a project built jointly by Google and Broadcom. Like any young project, the bugs were plentiful, but most of the critical issues were solved in the first few weeks.
Typically Christmas day is a slow one for technology news, but apparently the good folks at the Android Open Kang Project have dragged their coding machines in front of the open fire. Today AOKP has posted the first nightly builds of Android 4.4.2, granting deliciously fresh custom ROMs to all the good little girls and boys. And all the bad ones too, I suppose.
The list of initially-supported devices doesn't cover AOKP's official support list yet, but it covers most of the major Nexus devices, Samsung's Galaxy SIII and S4 American and international incarnations, all five major versions of the HTC One, and a handful of Sony devices (because they tend to be pretty open as far as bootloaders and modifications go).
Like it says right up there in the title, don't get your hopes up. The latest over-the-air update to the Verizon version of the LG G2 in not an updated version of Android, and it won't get rid of those awful front-facing logos, either. But it does have a few much-needed bug fixes and security additions, plus it should smooth out some of the wrinkles in the initial release of LG's customized software.
In addition to things like stock Android and being carrier-unlocked, one of the big features of Nexus and Google Play Edition devices that Android power users love is an easily unlockable bootloader. While OEMs and carriers often make a policy of locking their devices' bootloaders to prevent installation of unauthorized software, Google makes it very easy for us to tinker with devices bearing its brand. All you really need to unlock a Google device is a tool called "fastboot," which is made available through the Android SDK.
Following the HTC One GPE and Galaxy S4 GPE updates that rolled out over the weekend, the LG G Pad 8.3 GPE is now receiving its first OTA. Rumblings about the update started as early as Friday, but we decided to wait until we had the OTA zip link. The new firmware version is Android 4.4.2/KOT49H, which brings it up to date with current Nexus devices.
There is no official changelog with the update, so it's currently unknown what, if any, device-specific bugs may have been fixed.
The LG G Pad 8.3 entered the Play Store nearly a week ago, becoming the first Google Play Edition tablet and the closest thing you can get to an 8-inch Nexus. Unfortunately, this model is no cheaper than the original, and at $349 for 16GB, it's over $100 more expensive than the Nexus 7. But here's the deal - if you don't mind using a G Pad 8.3 with LG's less-than-stellar custom software, or you're up for installing a custom ROM yourself, then you might like to know that you can get the original G Pad 8.3 for $299.99 from eBay and Best Buy.
Earlier this week, Google rather unexpectedly announced two brand-new Google Play Experience devices (for the US only, of course) - the LG G Pad 8.3 and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. The G Pad 8.3 will set you back $350, while the Z Ultra is $650, though both devices rather undeniably fill niches in the Google device ecosystem. The G Pad acts as a mid-size tablet, a la iPad Mini, something a lot of enthusiasts have been asking Google to build for years now.
It's not uncommon for Google (or other hardware manufacturers) to make subtle changes to devices post-release to fix problems that went unnoticed before the device hit hundreds of thousands users. That's exactly what happened with the Nexus 4, and it looks like the Nexus 5 is getting some hardware modifications of its own, as well.
As pointed out by XDA user shinral, the updated model has more rigid power and volume buttons, the SIM tray fits flush with the body of the phone, and probably the most visually noticeable difference, the speaker grill holes are now larger.
There's no need for a full review of the new Google Play Edition of LG's G Pad 8.3 - you're familiar with the software thanks to LG's own Nexus 5 and other AOSP devices, and you can check out Cameron Summerson's review of the retail version of the G Pad 8.3 for a look at the hardware. Aside from the "V510" badge on the tablet's legal tiny type, this is the same device, and there's not so much as a Google logo to tell the two apart.
Would you look at that. Just one day after the Google Play Edition of LG's G Pad 8.3 went on sale, the CyanogenMod team gets an Android 4.4 build out for the standard retail version. A new CyanogenMod 11 nightly is available for the "LG V500."
But if you're planning on flashing this to your shiny new Google Play Edition tablet, you should hold off. CyanogenMod team member Ricardo Cerqueira says that the retail V500 build won't work on the G Pad 8.3 GPE, model number V510.