After seeing a deluge of rumors, leaks, and hoax after hoax this season, it looks like we're finally starting to wind down. With Google's Android event a mere 8 days away, it's time to clear away the muck and take a look at what we expect to make an appearance just a couple days before Halloween. Let's start with the stuff we're most confident in and work our way down, shall we?
Happy New Year! It's that time again; with the new year comes our new annual prediction post. I tackled this last year, and rather than do a bunch of crazy, pulled-from-thin-air predictions, I ended up with a link-filled research-fest for the year. It worked out pretty well, so that's what's on the docket for today. First though, I'll take a look and see just how many of last year's predictions and rumors came true, and provide some updates for the more important topics.
Normally only Nexus and other first-party Google devices get a taste of an upcoming Android version before it's released, barring custom ROMs and other end user activities. But Sony has been offering experimental AOSP builds for some of its phones for some time, and today the company has surprised and delighted owners of the former flagship Xperia Z3 with a custom Android N developer preview. This is more or less the same as the preview builds for Nexus phones and tablets, and it includes the Play Store and Google Services - everything one needs for a full Android experience.
Sony's back to its AOSP tricks, working to release some functional (if not exactly ideal) versions of the latest release of Android based on open-source code. This time they've quickly put together Android Open Source Project builds for the flagships of the last two years: the Xperia Z1, Z2, and Z3. You can see the bone-stock builds running in the video below.
As always with Sony's developer promotions, these builds aren't intended for end users - they aren't provided with any kind of promise for reliability or functionality. They don't even include the Play Store or other standard apps, which many people (erroneously) think of as part of "stock" Android.
At an event held in the depths of the historic brutalist Barbican Centre in London yesterday, Xiaomi formally announced its entry into the UK market. Numerous devices were introduced on stage, including various smart home products, but the Mi 8 series and Mi Band 3 were the main attractions. Everything here had already been unveiled in China and some of it is already selling in other regions, too.
The Mi 8 Explorer Edition caught our eye previously, largely due to its semi-transparent rear cover with insides made to look like internal components. It's essentially a Mi 8 Pro, and that's the name it's been given in the UK, with no other color options available.
Sony is making it easier to get AOSP ROMs up and running on its flagship devices with a few goodies for developers. After showing off stock Android 5.0 running on the Xperia Z3 recently, the company has posted source code and binaries for the Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact, Xperia Z2, Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z1 Compact.
Nothing lasts forever. As it is with leftovers, so it is with Android phones, or at least their manufacturers' willingness to expend time and money updating the software. XperiaBlog reports that Sony announced a dozen of its older Android phones won't be getting any more software updates. That means no software at all, not just major Android version bumps. The former flagship Xperia S and its American cousin the Xperia Ion are probably the most popular phones among them. Here's the full list, complete with the last major Android revision officially released:
Xperia S (4.1)
Xperia ion (4.1)
Xperia P (4.1)
Xperia J (4.1)
Xperia U (4.0)
Xperia SL (4.1)
Xperia arc S (4.0)
Xperia acro S (4.1)
Xperia go (4.1)
Xperia miro (4.0)
Xperia sola (4.0)
Xperia tipo (4.0)
All the models in that list are at least 18 months old, with some stretching to two years.
There are a few things to keep in mind before you rush to the source page below. A wordpress error appears for links to the "easy-to-follow guide" and the "necessary software binaries" that you need to create a test image and flash it to your own device.
Sony hasn't always been the best at updating its phones, but the company does have a commitment to AOSP unlike most others. It contributes a lot of code to Android, and developers are encouraged to tinker with unlocked devices. In fact, Sony has just announced support for AOSP on the Xperia E3 and Xperia T3, meaning all Qualcomm-based phones from 2014 can run pure Android with very little hassle.
Google likes naming phones after fish, and according to a look we took at the recently released version of the new standalone Lens app, There's a new fish/phone named "Blueline" that Google may be planning. According to another leak, "Bonito" may be the name for Google's upcoming Snapdragon 710-powered device.