We've clearly got a little bias on the subject, but Android has a long and storied history filled with its own triumphs and pitfalls. It's been well over a decade now since that first HTC G1 landed, the inaugural Android smartphone, and things have changed drastically since then. Being "first" might make you think the G1 was the most influential Android phone — but was it, really?
These days, most people connect to the internet via Wi-Fi. We've been taught that on unprotected, open hotspots, you can easily be followed around the web, but generally, we would assume that password-protected networks are relatively safe from outside attacks. As it turns out, a vulnerability in the widely used Wi-Fi protected access 2 (WPA2) protocol lets hackers view unencrypted connections on these networks, even if they don't know the password. Patches are already rolling out to current routers and client devices, leaving only older, unsupported hardware indefinitely affected.
While Chrome OS' offline usability has improved a lot since the platform's early days, there's no denying that an internet connection is still essential to get a lot of things done on a Chromebook. When you're away from WiFi, you can tether your phone's connection, but Google has a smarter ace up its sleeve: Instant Tethering. The feature started showing up two years ago to link two Android devices, was later one of the highlights of the Pixelbook announcement, then expanded to more Chrome OS devices. However, until now, you had to have a Pixel phone (or a Nexus) to set up Instant Tethering.
You may not have heard, but Android turned 10 this week. Over the course of the past decade, Google has loaded its phones up with tons of quality wallpapers — and here, we've tried to create a comprehensive repository of them.
For the longest time, we've suspected that Android's "Check for update" does nothing to actually get you the update. If you were in the group that is supposed to receive the update, the button simply sped up the process instead of waiting for the next automatic check to reveal it, but if there was an update and you weren't in the group, it did nothing to push you forward in the waiting line. Then in September, we were promised that manually pushing the button on Nexus and Pixel devices will get you an available update even when a passive background check wouldn't, and it worked momentarily.
Android TV is very much alive, as was made abundantly clear by the plethora of new Android TV powered televisions with Google Assistant capability shown off at CES 2018. Streaming boxes powered by Android TV, however, are conspicuously missing—the last Android TV set-top box to be released in the United States was the Xiaomi Mi Box in October 2016.
Apple TV and Amazon's Fire TV products both received hardware refreshes last September, while Roku products received hardware refreshes in October. In comparison, the three year old Nexus Player—arguably the flagship of Android TV—last received a software update in November, and will not be upgraded to Android 8.1 Oreo.
The Nexus Player, Google's first (and only) digital media player (see note) has received support for Google Assistant as part of the November security update. This is the third Android TV device to receive the Assistant, after the nVidia Shield and select Sony Bravia televisions.
Google has been publishing its security bulletin for the monthly Android patches for a long time, but starting October 2017 (last month), it created a special bulletin for Nexus and Pixel devices. With the newly released November patch, Google has started populating one new section in the bulletin that details "Functional updates."
Google has recently started using the monthly patches not just for security fixes, but also as an opportunity to fix functional bugs on Nexus and Pixel phones and add really urgent features that could not wait until a full system software update. So it was only a matter of time before the bulletin started mentioning these other non-security changes.
Google makes updated Android builds available for its devices every month, and the time has come for October's downloads to go live for Google's new phones. You can grab the system images or OTA files for Nexus and Pixel devices, but not all of them are actually October patches. Google's latest and greatest phones are still only on the September security patch.