This Week In Android: Dec 10th-16th

Android has had yet another big week with a bevy of app updates making their way onto the platform, some new device announcements thrown into the mix and interesting developments with Android’s main competitors. In our This Week in Android roundup for the past 7 days, we’ll take a quick look at all of this.
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App Updates: Yahoo!, Twitter, Instagram

A number of big apps received updates this week, notably Instagram and Twitter where the latter takes its own spin on filtered photos.

The Instagram update brings a brand new filter, the grayscale “Willow”, in addition to a number of performance enhancements and bug fixes. The iOS app did also recently receive a UI redesign but the Android update did not bring a similar changelog, although Android users can perhaps expect that refresh in the coming weeks.

The new Twitter app sporting photo filters.

In a similar update, Twitter introduced photo manipulation tools in-app, including filters for user images. The app can also do some basic editing such as cropping and auto-enhancing, but the main focus is the new filters that take photo uploading into direct competition with the aforementioned Instagram. This, obviously is a sign of heating rivalry between Twitter and Facebook, the owners of Instagram.

If you’re still one to use Yahoo! Mail, it also received an update to its Android app, refreshing its UI with a more Holo-styled design. Other major app updates from this week include the introduction of a new, adaptable design for scaling to tablets from The New York Times.

Google Updates: In-App Billing and Russian Launch

Google has been busy this week too, launching a revision of its in-app billing system. Version 3 brings an improved and simpler design, making it easier for developers to integrate into their apps, increases the system’s speed, performance and overall reliability. This is perhaps not the biggest of stories for the end-user but an important one for developers and Android’s standing as a premium app platform at large.

The Google Play store launches in Russia for movies and books.

In Russia, Google launched Google Play for books and movies. Google Play will offer over 1,000 Russian-language books and a library of international and local movie content. This comes just days after Apple announced a continued rollout of iTunes around the globe, including Russia.

Devices, Devices, Devices

As we approach the holiday season, device launches are expected to be less common — especially with CES just around the corner in January. However, there are still some hardware news of note.

Software updates to the GT-7100 and LTE GT-7105 models of the Samsung Galaxy Note II are being released with Android 4.1.2. This update brings a few notable features such as notification customisation, performance improvements to the browser and a new “Group Cast” application.

LG has had news to celebrate as we approach the end of the year too, announcing 10 million shipped units of the Optimus L series. The announcement hardly contains blockbuster numbers but is still an impressive amount for a mid-range series of handsets.

Conclusion

As we approach this holiday season, we’re rounding up a year of significant advancement for Android. Hardware news are becoming more sparse as we look forward to January and the CES announcements that it shall bring. However, software updates are still rolling strong as developers try to end the year on a high note and present their apps in tip-top condition for all the new users who’ll find Android devices under their Christmas tree.

Check back next week for another instalment of This Week in Android.


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