If you're still using an Android phone from the first half of the last decade, it might be time to upgrade. If not for all the many already-obvious reasons, then for one more today: Google has just discontinued Play Services updates for all phones running Android 4.1-4.3 Jelly Bean after August 2021. As part of the news, Google has also revealed that Jelly Bean phones now account for less than 1% of active devices as of July 2021.
Google recently rolled out Phone Hub to Chrome OS, a software bridge connecting phones with Chromebooks, making it easier to access recent tabs, notifications, and your phone's hotspot. But it looks like that's just the beginning. We've been tracking a new software codenamed "Eche SWA," and thanks to additional evidence scooped by 9to5Google and XDA, we suspect that you might soon be able to view your phone's screen right on your Chromebook — though the feature might be limited to Pixel phones in the beginning.
Google will have gathered a bucketload of your private data, especially if you use Android. What's worse, if you ever do something the company doesn't approve of, you might get locked out of your account and lose access to years of emails and photos in the process. If you want to mitigate these risks and stay more private online without leaving Android behind, you might want to turn to an emerging custom ROM that de-Google-ifies your phone: /e/OS.
Some Google apps are failing to install on Android 11 when you try to sideload the latest versions from a trustworthy source like our sister site APK Mirror. Ever since Google released the new Android OS, an "The new package couldn't be installed because the verification did not succeed" (INSTALL_FAILED_VERIFICATION_FAILURE) error keeps popping up for some people who want to install the most recent version of the Google Camera or the Google Recorder, for example.
When the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G were released, Google also updated a few of its first-party apps — the Camera and the Recorder, to be specific. But when people with older Pixel phones tried to sideload these to their phones, some ran into an odd INSTALL_FAILED_VERIFICATION_FAILURE error message even though the cryptographic signature matched and there should've been nothing standing in the way. We quickly found a workaround, but we never really understood why the error was popping up in the first place. Thanks to an investigation by our friends over at XDA, we now have an idea of what causes the problem.
Huawei just announced the Mate 40, but like any other recent phone from the company, it's crippled by the lack of Google apps. It's possible to install these applications and the corresponding services on Huawei and Honor phones, but until now, the process was tedious and involved dozens of steps. The aptly called app Googlefieris looking to change that — it doesn't offer a one-step solution, but it makes the process much more approachable with limited automation and step-by-step guidance.
A while ago, we covered a hidden new look for Google Pay, accessible through the overflow menu in the power button wallet on Pixel phones. It looks like Google is now making that look the new standard interface for Pay, and it's currently rolling out to many people. The new design likely triggered by a server-side update to the Play Services.
Over the weekend, we spotted some reports that Play Services was eating more than its fair share of folks' batteries. I know, there's a continuous low-level static of Play Services-related battery complaints out there, but the volume and severity of reports picked up substantially, and a COVID-19 contact tracing app is allegedly the cause of the problem. Most of those affected appear to be in Ireland, and the Ireland Health Services Executive (HSE) claims a fix is rolling out now, with 70% of Irish Android devices already updated, and full rollout expected in the next few days.
When it comes to earthquakes, early warnings are key and can potentially save lives. Google recognizes that, and has announced that it's working on earthquake alerts sent right to all Android phones in affected areas, starting in California. For other regions, the company is testing and launching a crowdsource-based approach, relying on the accelerometers found in almost any Android phone in the world.