Remember when Motorola promised that its 2013 phone lineup would be getting over-the-air updates to Android 5.0, almost a year and a half ago? Pepperidge Farm DROID Ultra, DROID Maxx, and DROID Mini owners remember: they've been waiting that long to get their much-needed upgrade, watching with envy while the Verizon-specific phones were passed over and Moto's more general X and G lines got their updates. Not that any of those neglected customers are particularly surprised at this point, but Motorola has finally recanted on its promise: there will be no Lollipop for the Ultra, Maxx, or Mini.
Google and the various major Android device vendors and carriers are scrambling to patch the recently-discovered Stagefright exploit, a weakness in Android's multimedia processing that can allow remote access via a simple MMS message. Google has already begun patching Nexus devices, and Samsung is working its way through its extensive product range starting with flagships. Yesterday Motorola released its plans to update its phones.
So which devices will get the fix? Basically everything Motorola has made since 2013, including carrier variants and DROID models for Verizon in the US. Here's the full list:
Moto X Style (patched from launch)
Moto X Play (patched from launch)
Moto X (1st Gen, 2nd Gen)
Moto X Pro
Moto G (1st Gen, 2nd Gen, 3rd Gen)
Moto G with 4G LTE (1st Gen, 2nd Gen)
Moto E (1st Gen, 2nd Gen)
Moto E with 4G LTE (2nd Gen)
Some third-gen Moto G phones (released late last month) have been patched from launch, but others will need an over-the-air update.
I used the DROID MAXX for more than a year. It is, hands-down, one of my favorite Android devices. If you're looking for a good deal on a fantastic phone that's a little past its prime, you can't do better than Woot.com's current Electronics section promotion. The Amazon subsidiary is offering the Motorola DROID MAXX in refurbished form for $179.99, a little less than $500 off of the original retail price.
The description says that this is a "Droid Ultra Maxx," but based on the battery spec it's the higher-end DROID MAXX, not the DROID Ultra.
If it's been a while since you've looked at Motorola's 2013 line, then think of the DROID MAXX as a spruced-up version of the original Moto X.
If you're going to do any serious modding on your Android smartphone, your first step is going to be unlocking the bootloader. This is a simple procedure on Nexus devices and a few other handsets, but many of the top OEMs have added security measures to prevent regular users from mucking about with their stock software. For these devices, there's a tool called Sunshine by recognized developers Justin Case (jcase), beaups, and friends. Version 3.0 just came out, and it can unlock the bootloader and acquire S-Off with almost every modern Motorola and HTC smartphone on the market.
Xperia Z3 Tablet owners with a custom ROM addiction may be happy to know that CyanogenMod now has the hook up. If you're excited by this news, you can head over to CyanogenMod's crib, knock on the door, and ask for scorpion_windy. Just be careful. Scorpion_windy might not be in the mood.
On your way out, tell any DROID Maxx owners you know that CyanogenMod may have someone in the back working on obake again, because there are two freshly zipped files currently up for grabs. Maxx owners were put through withdrawal last September when CyanogenMod announced that it no longer had a maintainer, but it seems like things have changed.
Motorola makes it easy to get all your stuff on (or off) a Moto X, Moto G, and other Moto phones with the Migrate app. It's seen a few significant design changes in the wake of Android 5.0, and today it's getting another update. This one is mostly adding new functionality, but the UI has a few minor tweaks too.
In a series of very minor updates, three of Verizon's DROID line will be getting Advanced Calling 1.0 enhancements. The Ultra, Maxx, and Mini will each receive what amounts to the same update, which is described as no more than "bug fixes and stability improvements" to Verizon's VoLTE calling service. For the unfamiliar, Advanced Calling promises far clearer voice quality by using only LTE when possible and on supported phones.
The changelog above also applies to the DROID Maxx. The Mini update announcement comes in a separate document, but has the same brief changelog. If you haven't yet received the update, don't worry, as it should come in a matter of days.
Last summer's trifecta of DROIDs are all getting hit by the same over-the-air update right about now. Verizon has announced a bump up to software version 23.1.12 that's going out to the DROID Maxx, Mini, and Ultra. The OTA prepares the devices to deliver better call quality through what the carrier has coined Advanced Calling 1.0.
This update also brings along improvements to the phones' messaging client and visual voicemail service. These touch-ups are joined by your usual vague set of bug fixes.
Carriers tend to push these updates out in waves these days, so try to sit tight until the notification arrives.
Much to the chagrin of cell carriers and hardware manufacturers, there are still many in the Android community that choose to delve into the world of hacking and modding their phones. Owners of the Verizon Moto G are certainly in this crowd, and they've been eagerly awaiting a reliable method for unlocking their bootloaders. It turns out that their wait ends today. Sunshine, a tool built by Justin Case, Beaups, and others to unlock HTC and Motorola phones, just gained support for the Moto G on Verizon.
In case you've never heard of SunShine before, you'll want to check out the thread on XDA-Developers for more details, but it's pretty simple.