The most important phone of the year has arrived. We not only get a new version of Android, but a new approach to hardware design, too. This isn't just any new piece of hardware; this is (hopefully) the start of a revolution in design and materials for Android phones. This Nexus 4 hardware is so good, so well-built, and made with such attention to detail, that it is the new high bar for any hardware - not just Android hardware.
After Google deployed RCS (Rich Communication Services) in the U.S. without the help of the four three big carriers, the company seems to be set to repeat that effort internationally. People in multiple countries across the world report that they're able to use RCS features in the Messages app powered by Google's Jib servers. That might indicate that we'll soon see universal and worldwide RCS support from Google, regardless of country or carrier.
Smartphones are, in my opinion, in something of an innovation rut. Underlying technical advancements have slowed in the last couple of years, and reasons to upgrade from year to year seem to decrease with each new generation of device. That's in large part because smartphones are already, generally speaking, very good products.
This is not to say they are near-perfect, or even optimal. Of course not - batteries still don't last long enough for many people, their cameras have notable limitations versus traditional dedicated systems, and we still have real performance bottlenecks that could be widened. There is refining that can still occur, and when major companies like Samsung, Apple, Huawei, and LG keep pushing the envelope on that refinement, there is always a chance a new product simply won't stack up well against the competition.
We were all a little concerned to see the Nexus program come to an end, but Google assuaged our fears with the 2016 Pixel phones. They weren't the prettiest devices on the market, but the Pixels showed what was possible when Google got serious about making a phone. These devices had terrific cameras and consistently fast performance—even to this day the Pixel and Pixel XL are robust experiences. They were not perfect, though.
The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are a chance for Google to address some shortcomings from last year while keeping the things that worked. Google has done that for the most part.
This story was originally published and last updated .
Chrome is the default browser on all Android devices preloaded with the Play Store, but you've ever found yourself wondering what life is like back in the world of Firefox or lesser-known alternatives like DuckDuckGo, you're not alone. Unlike Apple, which requires all third-party browsers to use the Safari rendering engine (and doesn't allow other browsers to be the system default), Google allows any web browser with any engine to be published to the Play Store — giving Android phones and tablets more options for browsing the web than any iOS device.
In the post, we'll go over some of the best web browsers available for Android.
Samsung must have known it had a problem early in the Galaxy S5's run when most of the reviews called the phone "boring" or "predictable," while also conceding that it was a good device. A good, predictable phone isn't going to sell like gangbusters, and indeed, the Galaxy S5 fell short of expectations. Over the next few months, we saw devices like the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4 that played around with more premium materials and different designs, but the Galaxy S6 is the culmination of Samsung's plans to rehab its reputation.
The Galaxy S6 is still distinctly Samsung with the oblong home button, big camera sensor, and industry-leading AMOLED panel, but it almost feels like it was made by a version of Samsung from some bizarre parallel reality where plastic doesn't exist.
Android 7.1 Nougat was unveiled earlier today alongside the Pixel and Pixel XL, but there's still a fair bit we don't know about it. Now, thanks to a source from Google, we've got a list of both Pixel-exclusive and non-exclusive changes. (It's unclear which category the Pixel C falls under.)
DISCLAIMER: I bought an iPad Air 2, and I bought said iPad Air 2 after owning the first iPad Air since launch day last year. I sold my iPad Air so I could do this. I really like my iPad Air 2, it's pretty great. I also really like Android. The following article contains my opinions, anecdotal evidence, subjective analysis thereof, and did I mention opinions? There are opinions. Also, this article is very long, so many sections just have side-by-sides of random Android vs iOS app comparisons presented without comment.
I've owned an iPad Air since the original model came out last year (my first iPad), and when the Air 2 came out late last month, I dove right in and bought another.
A couple of months ago, we shared an early look at an impending Play Store update that saw more "materialized" content listings, but the rest of the interface remained largely unchanged. The new, more image-focused interface made thoughtful use of increased white space and introduced some really fun tablet layouts for content listings from movies to books, music, and apps.
This time, we have an early look at the Play Store's upcoming 5.0 release. Before we get started though, it's important to stress that this is an early look - probably a work in progress. As with all leaks or rumors, anything can change, but this will give us some idea of what's coming for the Play Store's design.
It's fair to say that Android went through some chaotic years in the beginning. The pace of development was frantic as the operating system grew at an unprecedented rate. An as-yet undetermined future led to decisions that were made to conform to existing hardware and architectures, the available development tools, and the basic need to ship working code on tight deadlines. Now that the OS has matured, the Android team has been giving more attention to some of the components that haven't aged quite as well. One of the oldest pieces of the Android puzzle is the Dalvik runtime, the software responsible for making most of your apps run.