This Week In Android: Mar 4th-10th

Seven years ago on this March 10th, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter arrived at Mars. Or, if you prefer thinking back all the way to the turn of the millenium, it’s the day we remember as the peak of the dotcom bubble.

But here, in 2013, March 10th signals the end of another week of Android news. Samsung’s spent the week preparing to launch the Galaxy S IV on Thursday while Google has reveled in the news that versions of the fourth major generation of Android now surpass the popularity of Gingerbread. Let’s jump in and see what’s been happening!

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Samsung Prepare Galaxy S IV Launch

Samsung has taken this week to get ready for the launch of its next flagship smartphone next week, the Samsung Galaxy S IV. Naturally this kicked off with an ever-cringeworthy teaser video entitled “Be ready 4 the next Galaxy” as a prospective homage to the future handset.

The New York Times reported this week too that the Galaxy S IV would include eye-tracking technologies as an input method for certain actions like scrolling. The report claims a user’s eyes can be tracked to determine when to and where to scroll so when you read the end of a paragraph of text, the next will automatically be revealed.

Android 4 Surpasses Gingerbread

This week, for the first time ever, Google announced that more users are running a current generation software — Android 4.x — than Gingerbread, the previous dominant version.

The news comes from Google’s Android Developers site where versions of Android 4 combined are listed as totalling a 45.1% share of the platform, topping the combined versions of Gingerbread by just 0.9%. Overall, the combined versions of Android 2 still dominate, though, with a 53.5% share.

Donut still rocking 0.2% of users.

Of the versions of Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich is still going strong with 28.6% but — no doubt thanks to the rise in availability and popularity of Google’s own Nexus devices, especially the Nexus 7 — an impressive 16.5% are running either 4.1 or 4.2 Jelly Bean.

Google Begins Teasing I/O 2013

Google has begun teasing its summer conference, Google I/O, online ahead of registration next week. Google’s I/O website uses an interactive landing page that unlocks a number of amusing easter eggs should you find your way through it.

Just one of the easter eggs you might find yourself discovering on Google’s I/O site.

Google I/O this year takes place over May 15th-17th, with registration opening 7am PDT on March 13th. Last year’s event saw the announcement of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the Nexus Q — a product that never quite got all the way to consumers — and the fairly groundbreaking release of the Nexus 7.

Other Updates

  • Opera has released a beta of its latest Android browser in a flavour powered by the WebKit engine, the same technology that powers Chrome and Safari.
  • Staying on the topic of browers, Google updated its Chrome Beta prerelease app with new password syncing functionality and an experimental data compression engine to save on costly cellular usage.
  • HTC pushed out an update to the HTC One X for Android 4.1, available as a 630mb OTA download.
  • Google Play officially turned one this week, a year after rebranding from the Android Market to reflect the sale of non-app media such as music, movies and books. The birthday was met with some time-limited offers of questionable saving.

Catch you on the flip side next week for another instalment of This Week In Android!