Sony promised it would bring Android 5.0 to all its Z series phones, and now it's starting to live up to that. The newest generation Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact are first up. The OTA is rolling out now to devices in Nordic and Baltic countries, but other markets should follow within two weeks. There's a nifty demo video to go along with the announcement.
So, as many of us in the tinkering mindset will likely agree, flexibility in any product is generally a good thing. Case in point: many Android smartphones over the years have shipped with removable batteries and microSD card slots. Battery runs down in half a day after a year? Swap it. Need to store 20GB of music and TV shows for a long flight (or live somewhere mobile streaming isn't a real option)? SD card to the rescue!
And in some places and situations for some people, removing those options really can be a major bummer. But when the Galaxy S6 was announced devoid of a microSD slot or user-replaceable battery, it seemed Samsung was finally waving goodbye to a large group of power users, emerging market customers, and people who just want this stuff in a sort of flippant way.
In the Android community, Lollipop 5.0 is known for a lot of things. Unfortunately, among those things is a pretty severe memory leak that has plagued users with app crashes and launcher redraws, as device memory filled and failed to clear.
Just in case you were getting comfortable with the YouTube app's latest design, it looks like there may be more changes in store. It seems a number of users are encountering a new YouTube interface, apparently triggered server-side without an app update.
The change sees YouTube's hamburger menu flipping right out of the interface, going the way of Google+ in discarding the left-side navigation drawer. Instead, users are given four primary tabs - Home, Trending, Subscriptions, and your profile. Interestingly, a couple of these tabs seem to have bars underneath to switch from, say, all videos to music on the home tab, or from uploads to channels on the subscription tab.
Because there clearly weren't enough apps that help you count your steps and/or compare them with your friends, HTC has filled the imperceptible void. Fun Fit is a social fitness app where you and your participating Facebook friends (there are sure to be many!) pick "cute avatars" and compete in the time-honored contest of taking the most steps.
Despite their recent partnership with Under Armour, this would not seem to be a product of it. Rather than UA's more-serious-than-necessary aesthetic, Fun Fit tends toward the overly cheesy. As a product of HTC Research, it probably won't be part of the standard pre-loaded apps on future HTC phones, like the M9.
Along with site notifications, the latest Chrome Beta v42 has another new feature for improving the web app experience. The ability to add a website to your home screen from Chrome has been there for a while now, but not all web pages are created equal in this regard. These shortcuts work best for fully-fledged web apps and now Chrome will let you know when you have visited a good candidate for home screen placement.
To get an idea of how it works, check out this GIF from HTML5 Rocks:
Perhaps the most important aspect of this feature is that it will not appear every time you visit a qualifying site.
All of the writers and editors at Android Police are huge fans of Android and Google; it's more or less a requirement for the job. But we're also keenly aware of the things that Google does poorly, and duty-bound to point them out in the hope that they will improve. One of the more obvious areas where Google doesn't excel is customer support, but one of the latest changes to the Support.Google.com site seems like a nice step forward.
Pages specifically related to the Play Store now include a user-facing profile of the technical writer who created them. This isn't an author profile like you'll see on a journalistic website: it's anonymized with first names only and an avatar made in the style of Androidify.
Motorola gained a lot of good will by updating its latter phones to the newest version of Android, starting with the Moto X. Even carrier-customized versions of that phone tended to get new incremental updates to KitKat long before other manufacturers' devices. But for some reason, the 2013 Moto X has lagged far behind for updates to Lollipop. Now, five months after Android 5.0 first started rolling out to Nexus devices, the OG Moto X is finally getting its Lollipop update. Well, sort of: it's getting a soak test.
A soak test is basically Motorola's beta test for device firmware. Participants of soak tests are usually limited to the members of Motorola's support forum, and the program is rarely commented on in any official capacity.
We've heard a number of rumors about Google launching its own Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), codenamed Nova. According to reports, the service will source wireless service from Sprint and T-Mobile, but it will rely on Wi-Fi networks to bear most of the weight of both data and voice services (though VoIP). While the details of this plan still aren't clear, another piece of the puzzle just emerged that indicates Google is going to offer its own virtual private network (VPN) service, and it may be targeted specifically at Nova subscribers.
This information resulted from a tip we received a few days ago, pointing us in the direction of a new application called Google Connectivity Services.