Android Community Weekly Digest: Jul. 12, 2015

Google delivers its first ever update to the Android M preview and boy was it filled with hidden features and changes. OnePlus keeps on teasing the OnePlus 2 but also reveals some less savory facts. HTC’s ads naturally claims its One M9 is the best, but Consumer Reports begs to differ. Nintendo sheds more light on its mobile expansion and Google Glass might be getting a new lease on life. Welcome to the latest edition of Android Community’s Weekly Digest, covering the period from July 6 to 12, 2015.

Android M part deux

Keeping to their promised Android M schedule, Google released the first update to its developer preview for Android M. Although the release announcement focused on things that would interest developers primarily, the update was filled with appetizers for end users too. The new app launcher no longer segregates apps by letter and, finally, now has support for landscape mode. Another “finally” feature, Google officially brings battery percentage to its battery icon. A surprise new feature is the ability to actually declutter the status bar by removing icons. Android M now also features a revamped Settings app, which includes putting the Memory usage viewer in a more prominent location and changing the Storage viewer. Hit the gallery below to see what has changed for this preview release.

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OnePlus 2

Utilizing the Internet hype machine to compensate for their meager marketing resources, OnePlus continues to tease its fans with what will and a what could be the OnePlus 2. Yes it will have 4 GB of RAM and yes it will have a large 3,300 mAh battery. All these while promising not to be larger than the OnePlus One. The fingerprint scanner will also be a physical sensor and not Qualcomm’s novel ultrasonic tech. OnePlus is still being coy with the display and the camera, but with just two weeks between us and its announcement, we’re sure to hear more.

Sadly, not all tidings are good. The startup does confirm that they will once again resort to the controlled exclusivity of an invite system but promises that it will be better this time around. But perhaps the bitterest pill to swallow would be the “sub $450” price tag. Given the specs, that mark might not be that unjustified, but a smartphone is more than just the sum of its parts.

Which one on top?

It isn’t unusual for manufacturers to paint an ideal picture of their flagships. After all, that’s what marketing is about. Given the less than satisfying reception that its One M9 has received, HTC has been busy promoting it’s smartphone, this time without the help of Hollywood. In particular, it tries to tout its key strengths of camera, sound, and speed. Coincidentally, perhaps except for HTC BoomSound, the other two might be a bit debatable.

HTC might want a reality check, however. Based on Consumer Reports, it’s nowhere near the top five. Of this current generation of smartphones, the LG G4 trumps even the Galaxy S6, S6 edge, and, surprisingly, even the iPhone 6. Most curious, however, is that the Galaxy S5 actually ranked highest.

Nintendo’s mobile adventure

“Nintendo” and “mobile” don’t usually go together unless you consider its gaming handhelds to fit the bill. That is, however, history. Nintendo is already slated to release one mobile game by the end of the year with 4 more to come by 2017. DeNA, the game developers tasked with bringing Nintendo’s IP to smartphones, promises that these 5 games will each cover different genres to cater to different kinds of mobile gamers.

Considering Nintendo’s initial apprehension about how to make profits in mobile gaming, it shouldn’t be surprising that it won’t be giving away its games for free. Or at least not completely. Trying to distance itself from the usually negative air surrounding free-to-play and freemium games, Nintendo is trying to coin the term “free-to-start” which is practically just another way of looking at freemium games. The difference is that instead of being gimped in abilities until you buy special items or equipment, Nintendo’s games will let you experience the full thing but only the first few parts. To unlock the game all the way up to the end, you’ll need to pay. It does have the advantage over straight out premium games that ask for $10 or more for a game you might not end up liking anyway.

Bits and Bytes

Google Glass is dead, long live Google Glass! Or at least its Enterprise Edition. Details of this more work-oriented smart spectacle are beginning to emerge, including a longer prism glass viewer, a possible battery extension, and, the most notable of all, an Intel Atom chip. Will it fly or will it flop? That is the question.

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Perhaps for the first time, smartphone manufacturers are being made legally cuplable for the bloatware they install on their devices. A government agency in China has filed complaints against Samsung and OPPO for this presumed normal but nonetheless sorry business practice. This case could become a precedent for other consumer rights groups and agencies to follow.

When you are a large and well-established company, there is a certain degree of expectation about the quality of your products, whether physical or digital. Apparently, someone in Amazon didn’t get that memo. Although already a few weeks on Google Play Store, Amazon’s Cloud Drive app only recently appeared on iOS, putting the app once more under burning scrutiny. The substantial limitations of the app even in basic functionality has caused many irate comments to bloom, calling out Amazon for putting out a product that practically felt like an alpha version.

Not directly related to Android but still relevant, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella just dropped what is consider to be bombshell a long time coming. The company has now written off its purchase of Nokia’s mobile business to the tune of $7.6 billion, a lot more than the amount it paid for it. Practically an admission of defeat of its Lumia business, this will undoubtedly again spark rumors of Microsoft adopting Android for its mobile platform. With Windows 10 just two weeks away and Windows 10 Mobile a few months later, Microsoft is definitely making the mobile industry a bit more colorful.

Wrap-up

Another week has come and gone but the best has yet to come definitely. As we near OnePlus’ major announcement, we will surely hear more about its smartphone that is admittedly starting to look interesting. And with August just half a month away, we can almost smell the fresh new smartphones, maybe even a Samsung Galaxy Note 5. So stay tuned!

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