This Week In Android: May 6th-12th

Another week, another set of Android news. In the run up to Google I/O we’ve had a week fairly bare of news yet full of speculation. There’s been some new apparent developments in Google’s Wallet product, including the departure of Osama Bedier, the company’s Wallet Vice President, in addition to the delay of the retail Ouya, a number of app updates and more. Let’s dive in and take a look at This Week In Android!

No Google Wallet Card, VP Leaves Google

Google Wallet, the virtual wallet that stores your credit, debit and loyalty cards to be used online and in-store through contactless payment on your Android handset, will not be getting the physical card companion that was once rumoured, according to reports this week.

These reports suggest Google CEO Larry Page has decided to cancel the plans to launch the companion card and will instead leave Wallet with only software updates at this week’s Google I/O.

Google Wallet uses an Android app to execute contactless payments in the real world.

In related news, Google’s Vice President of Google Wallet, Osama Bedier, has left the company. Bedier, who joined Google in 2011 after a long-term job at PayPal, will be using his time for “other opportunities”, although specifics were not given.

More should be revealed about the future of Google Wallet during Google I/O this week.

Ouya’s Retail Launch Delayed

Ouya, the Android-based gaming console that has been a staple part of the Android gaming scene over the past year or so, has been delayed in retail until June 25th.

The delay, which will push back general availability of the console three weeks to those that haven’t preordered, has been made in order to guarantee enough units are available to meet initial demand and fill early orders.

The Ouya might take you a little longer to get your hands on.

Google Glass Receives XE5 Software Update

Glass, the wearable, Android-powered computer from Google, has received a software update that both changes the way Glass uploads data in the background and adds Google+ notifications.

Software update XE5 changes how Glass uploads and syncs data in the background, limiting apps to only doing this when the device is connected to WiFi and a power source. Furthermore, Glass will now display incoming Google+ notifications — such as direct shares, comments and +mentions — and allow users to +1 and comment on posts through the device.

The XE5 Glass update (Image courtesy of Phandroid)

There’s a number of additional, smaller changes with XE5, as detailed in the update’s changelog:

  • Change to sync policy: require power + wifi for background uploads
  • Crash reporting
  • Incoming G+ notifications (direct shares, comments, +mentions), including ability to comment and +1
  • Incoming Hangout notifications
  • Transcription of queries & messages is now wicked-fast
  • Long-press to search from anywhere in the UI (no longer just from off)
  • International number dialing + SMS
  • Hop animation on disallowed swipes in the UI
  • New On-Head Detection calibration flow
  • Show device Serial Number on Device Info card
  • More reliable estimation of battery charge remaining
  • New recipient-list mosaic

Other Updates

  • TechCrunch reported this week that Microsoft has offered a $1 billion buyout of the digital assets of Nook Media LLC, essentially the ecosystem that powers Barnes & Noble’s e-book business and devices. The report also suggests the Android-powered Nook hardware lineup will be discontinued for good by the end of 2014.
  • Flipboard 2.0 has been pushed to Android, bringing the magazine-style layout and sharing features that were formerly only present on iOS.
  • Availability of Facebook Home, the Android launcher oriented around its social network namesake, has been expanded beyond the initial small set of compatible devices to include Samsung’s Galaxy S4, Sony’s Xperia ZL and HTC’s HTC One.

Catch us next week for a special Google I/O-inspired roundup of the going-ons in the world of Android.