It's no secret that Bluetooth has been a problem child for Android, plagued with poor audio quality and connectivity issues. I've already covered a handful of common problems in a previous post, but another issue has been emerging in the last few months that threatens to virtually kill all Bluetooth operation on a device in the right conditions. The culprit is a nasty little oversight in the Bluetooth Low-Energy code added with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.
Sony announced its new Xperia Z2 Tablet here at Mobile World Congress, so we swung by their booth on the show floor to get a hands-on with the next tablet flagship. This is the successor to the Tablet Z, now more fully aligned with the leading Sony phone in both name and hardware.
The first thing you notice when you pick up the Z2 Tablet is that it is thin. Crazy thin - 6.4mm, in fact, thinner than the previous tablet, thinner than any phone you're likely to get your hands on in the United States, thinner than the iPad Air by more than a millimeter, and lighter as well at only 425 grams.
The last time we covered LineageOS, the most popular custom Android ROM, it started supporting a handful of new devices with Android 8.1 builds. The project published Changelog 19 yesterday, which goes over some recent changes to the ROM and the community supporting it. There are some leadership changes, more newly-supported devices, and a new custom recovery.
It seems like it's hard to find a non-Nexus device that uses anything close to stock Android. Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony, Asus, Acer - everywhere you look there are customizations to a greater or lesser extent. Even Motorola, formerly Google's own subsidiary, uses a custom launcher. Chinese manufacturer ZTE is looking to break that trend, however. The company is planning to launch new smartphones that use the Google Now Launcher (AKA the Google Experience Launcher) by default.
The first ZTE phone to use the Now Launcher by default, complete with its "OK Google" voice command integration, will be the Blade Vec 4G.
Welcome to the roundup of the best new Android applications, games, and live wallpapers that went live in the Play Store or were spotted by us in the previous 2 weeks or so.
Please wait for this page to load in full in order to see the widgets, which include ratings and pricing info.
Looking for the previous roundup editions? Find them here.
Photo Wall FX Live Wallpaper
Today's app roundup is sponsored by the Photo Wall FX live wallpaper by Handy Apps. The idea behind this wallpaper is simple: it uses the local photos on your phone or tablet to make a grid collage, dynamically selecting and cycling photos and sizing them so that there's no space left between them.
It's been a few months since Android 7.0 hit the AOSP code repository, and this is about the time of year that owners of non-Nexus (non-Pixel, now) flagships start to ask why their upgrades are taking so long. Well if your flagship just happens to be the latest high-powered Sony smartphone, you're in luck. The Xperia X Performance is receiving its Nougat update starting today, according to XperiaBlog. For the record, that's just a little over three months of waiting for the upgrade - not bad by current Android standards.
I know I'm starting off with a question here that most Android fans are going to have a knee-jerk reaction to - "absolutely not, the more Android-powered smart-stuff out there the better." After all, we want to live in a world where our refrigerators know what's inside them, where our laundry lets us know on our phones when it's done, and our cars' infotainment systems aren't so god-effing-awful (even the best ones really are terrible).
Sony's international phones have unlockable bootloaders, and the company even encourages users to tinker around with neat extras like AOSP builds. Alas, in markets like the US the carriers are still the keepers of the keys for a lot of customers, and T-Mobile has once again insisted on locking that sucker down for anyone who buys its version of the Sony Xperia Z3. Now users with this lamentable affliction can at least get root access on their phones, thanks to a bounty-winning method from an XDA user.
The newest little phone from Sony has been made more developer-friendly today. The Xperia X Compact has joined the Sony Open Device program, allowing the more technically inclined out there to build stock Android from AOSP for the phone. Sony has made the necessary code available for both Nougat and Marshmallow builds on the X Compact.