Besides a dogfood version of Play Games, update Wednesday brought us a new version of Play Books - 3.4.5. The changes in this update aren't major (or even immediately apparent), but they are worth taking a quick look at.
First up, there's a brand new translation interface. Rather than a toolbar and sheet overlay, the new translate interface lives on a card, just like the existing notes and dictionary interfaces. Here's a quick before and after.
Left: Play Books 3.3 Right: Play Books 3.4
Next up, new changes to notes. The ability to take notes in a book was present in 3.3, but users could not do that in a free sample of a book.
Last year, we shared some fascinating information surrounding a rumored effort called "Nearby." According to our information at the time, Nearby would enable Android devices to communicate with people, places, and devices that were, well, nearby.
At the time, we had evidence that the feature would come with a future version of Play Services, with a friendly overview for users explaining that the service could use device sensors to communicate with nearby things.
We've seen some of this functionality already - consider Chromecast's guest mode. The device can use ultrasonic sounds (picked up using your device's microphone) to connect to your device.
After years of unsuccessfully pushing its almost-here software-defined Icera LTE modem, NVIDIA officially announced yesterday that the Icera unit, which it acquired in 2011, would be shutting down. The fate of the 500 employees working on Icera projects at NVIDIA was not announced, but may be in NVIDIA's quarterly earnings call tomorrow.
As recently as two years ago, NVIDIA was still pushing the Icera i500 LTE modem solution as part of its Phoenix Tegra 4i reference design phone platform, which saw adoption that could be counted on a single hand (OK, if the hand had six fingers). I believe ZTE, Xiaomi, and Coolpad were actually the only full-on Tegra 4 phone partners, each with a single, limited-run 3G phone that didn't even use Icera modems.
Towards the end of 2014, Oppo released an update for the Find 5 that bumped the Jelly Bean-running device up to KitKat. It wasn't a quality piece of work, but it was something. Now we know that for the Find 5, along with the N1 and the R819, things won't get any better. No additional ColorOS updates are on the way. None of these devices will see Android Lollipop.
This news comes after a reader pointed us toward the Oppo forums, where a moderator stated that these three devices won't receive any more ColorOS updates. We've since reached out to Oppo, and today we received this short but straightforward statement:
"OPPO will not be providing a Lollipop update for the R819, N1 and the Find 5."
The Moto X line is a great destination for Nexus lovers who tire of feeling like beta testers for Google, but the transition does come at the expense of timely updates (not that all Nexus devices are speedy). Fortunately Motorola remains committed to getting its devices up to date, and it looks like Android 5.1 may soon come to both iterations of the Moto X.
Motorola has posted release notes detailing what users can expect from the 5.1 update.
Back in January Xiaomi announced the Mi Note, a rather fetching midrange smartphone, and let loose some details regarding its more powerful sibling: the Mi Note Pro. Today, we got more information and an official release date for the Pro.
The Mi Note Pro is pushing the envelop of high-end smartphones with all-singing all-dancing all-heating specs. It has a sunlight-optimized 5.7" QHD 2560x1440 display from Sharp that crams 515 pixels per inch, 4G of RAM, a 64GB eMMC 5.0 storage module, a 13MP camera with OIS, dual SIM slots with LTE Cat 9 support, and Qualcomm's feverishly maligned Snapdragon 810 processor. Everything is powered by a 3090mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0.
When I was in Istanbul last week, I saw street vendors waving selfie sticks (aka the wand of Narcissus) and offering for a few liras to hold your phone so you can take a selfie from a better angle. If something hits the hawker market, it's safe to say that it's pervasive and in-demand. That's the angle that the newly announced Sony Xperia C4 is coming from. Sony even has a name for all the cool selfles that this smartphone can take — PROselfies. Because regular selfies aren't enough.
The recipe for cooking up a PROselfie involves a 5MP 25mm wide-angle lens with Sony's Exmor R sensor, a soft LED flash, and HDR for balancing the exposure as much as possible and capturing both you and your background clearly.
The Nexus 9 is not the most beloved Nexus device ever made. Its build quality is a bit questionable (people don't call it the Flexus 9 without good reason), the price is a little on the high side, its performance leaves something to be desired, and it hasn't had the best track record with updates. With these issues it's possible that Google is sitting on a fat stack of these tablets that it hasn't been able to unload.
Until now that is. You see, Google has a trick up it's sleeve that's sure to help relieve their Nexus 9 overstock problem faster than a Snapdragon 810 overheats.
The Dell Venue 8 7840 was released in early 2015, and it was a pretty good tablet. It's certainly the best Android slate Dell has ever made. It was slightly annoying to have the device launch with KitKat back then, but it still doesn't have Lollipop all these months later. That hasn't stopped Dell from updating its product page to claim the Venue 8 does in fact run Lollipop. Here's everything we've learned from Dell about this mess.
I'm sure everybody can agree, it makes almost no sense that the Nexus 9 is only now receiving a tiny maintenance update to 5.0.2 a couple of months after 5.1 came out. Nevertheless, that's how events are playing out, so we should at least know what's so special about this update. We've generated a changelog from AOSP, and honestly, there's not much to see.
Be aware, the Nexus 9 update goes from 5.0.1_r1 to 5.0.2_r3. However, since we've already seen the changelog for 5.0.1_r1 to 5.0.2_r1, we're keeping the previously seen changes in the old list, and producing a new one that includes only the commits that make up r1 to r3.