Google I/O is coming and it's time to get excited! It's like Christmas in June! It will be here in just a few short agonizing weeks - and we need to prepare. There is background information you need to know, rumors you should have in mind, and past announcements and acquisitions that need to be remembered. Google always leaves little news breadcrumbs for those that pay attention, and I pay attention.
According to a change recently made to Google's Vendor Test Suite (VTS) spotted by our friends at XDA Developers, Google will require that all devices launching with Android 11 support seamless updates. More specifically, the VTS will check that devices running Android 11 and later support virtual A/B partition structures (which allow seamless updates), and fail if that support isn't present. Since devices must pass the VTS to ship with Google's apps, that effectively means that Android manufacturers will have to support seamless updates on devices that launch with Android 11.
RCS has taken years to gain widespread network support, and we're still suffering through carrier interoperability issues. The current landscape is nothing if not entirely overcomplicated to navigate, especially for consumers. But the subject may become a bit simpler once Android Q rolls around, as pile of new RCS-specific APIs has popped up in AOSP, presumably bound for the next Android release. These APIs may finally provide third-party apps with the ability to work with RCS on supported carriers.
If you follow AOSP code drops long enough, you're eventually going to hear about JBQ (as well as a ton more acronyms). Jean-Baptiste Queru, Technical Lead of the Android Open-Source Project took to Google+ today to talk about Android update rollouts, as well as to praise one of the manufacturers that he sees as leading the pack in aiding the AOSP: Sony.
It took Sony only about 5 months to ship this [Android 4.0 for the Sony Tablet S] after I released the code in the Android Open Source Project at the very end of last year. This is actually a very reasonable time, since under the hood Ice Cream Sandwich is quite different from Honeycomb (and upgrades from Gingerbread are likely to take longer as those differences are huge).
How little can you spend on a phone in 2017 and still have a good experience? Companies like Lenovo-owned Motorola and BLU are pushing the envelope when it comes to the budget segment in the US. But, even a dated flagship can outcompete almost everything in the current entry-level market, and right now you can pick up one of 2016's most overlooked examples, the Nextbit Robin, for around $130 from Amazon. We think that deserves a second look.
As part of the unveiling of Android 4.2 yesterday, Google introduced a brand-new input method on the stock Android keyboard called "Gesture Typing." Basically, it's Swype. If you don't know what Swype is, check out this video. Basically, you drag your finger to type instead of tapping. Here's Google's version in action:
While I'm not a fan of the Swype-style typing, a lot of people do seem to love it, and it's cool that Google is now providing a tertiary input method (alongside normal typing and voice typing) on the stock keyboard. It integrates seamlessly, too. There's nothing to turn on, nothing to toggle - it just works.
Sony's open device project was launched to allow developers to run AOSP Android builds on many of Sony's devices. The company has been keeping up the software support for this program, and has even added new devices frequently. Now, Sony's latest flagships are joining the open initiative. You can grab the Marshmallow software binaries for the Xperia Z5 and Z5 Compact right now.
It's no secret that I'm not the LG G5's biggest fan - but that doesn't mean there aren't things I find myself liking, nay, loving, about LG's latest smartphone. Let's break down my top five for the G5.
#1: The wide-angle camera
Solution looking for a problem? OK, maybe, I guess - my colleague Liam Spradlin (sorry, Liam) kind of has it out for this dual-camera system, but I believe it's going to be a hugely fun feature for people who take a lot of smartphone photos. The two images below, I think, show you just what a difference the wide-angle lens can make when you're capturing a scene.