This Week In Android: Oct 28th – Nov 3rd

Wherever your allegiance lies, this week has been big for new releases. While iOS users enjoy the release of the iPad Air, Android users have the finally-officially-unveiled Nexus 5 to revel in. With mystery barges, new phones and a biscuit-themed OS to discuss, let’s take a look at this week in Android!

The Nexus 5 Is Official

Google finally announced the Nexus 5 officially this week after months of leaks and rumours. The handset, a successor to the Nexus 4, runs on a 2.26GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM and sports a large 4.95″ 1080p display (that’s a pixel density of 445 ppi).

Google is promoting the Nexus 5’s camera very heavily, showing off an 8MP rear-facing camera with Optical Image Stabilisation and a 1.3MP front-facing counterpart. On the software side, like the Nexus 4, the Nexus 5 allows users to create 360-degree Street View-esque shots with Photo Sphere.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Nexus 5.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Nexus 5.

The Nexus 5 runs Google’s most recent version of Android, 4.4 KitKat, which is, of course, in an unskinned, stock variety. With the Nexus 5, more details on KitKat have emerged, including better integration of third-party apps into Search and Google Now. Speech recognition has also been improved, adding support for the “Okay, Google” phrase used to activate search features on the Nexus 5.

Available in white or black, 16GB or 32GB, the phone starts at $349, a tad higher than last year’s Nexus 4. At the time of writing, the UK Play Store showed dispatch estimates of November 8th for black models and 1-2 business days for white variants. Google is also offering cases in black, red, grey and yellow for $34.99

Google Glass At Sea

Industry news has been filled with nautical crossovers this week and it’s all down to Google. Numerous reports have attributed the presence of a barge in San Francisco to Google, allegedly to be used as a space for promoting Google Glass, and multiple others around the US. Google has yet to comment on the news so the exact thinking behind the barges is still unknown, though it has been confirmed the company was in talks to dock a barge at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

One of the mysterious barges - Image courtesy of CBS Interactive

One of the mysterious barges – Image courtesy of CBS Interactive

The news comes as Google showed off updated Glass models and invited existing users to swap out their hardware. The new models include a removable earbud for receiving calls and support prescription lenses. Alongside the new models, an accessories store was opened, offering Glass users the chance to buy additional earbuds and lenses.

Motorola Plans Modular Smartphone

Motorola unveiled a modular smartphone concept this week, Project Ara, which could lead to the development of easily-modifiable handsets in the future. The concept shows how users could retrofit new hardware to handsets by removing existing modules such as the display or camera.

Project Ara, in blocky form.

Project Ara, in blocky form.

Motorola plans to release an alpha development kit in the winter and interested parties can already read more and sign up to participate.

Other Updates

  • HTC has promised North American owners of the HTC One (non-Play Edition) that they will receive an update to Android 4.4 KitKat within 90 days. Play Editions should see this updated as soon as the next two weeks.
  • Third-party Google Voice clients will be cut off entirely by May 15th, 2014. Director of Real-Time Communications Nikhyl Singhal described the apps as “making unauthorised use of Google Voice” and said that they “pose a threat to your security”.
  • Google has donated 17,000 Nexus 7 devices to New York communities that continue to recover from Hurricane Sandy. The approximately $2.7 million worth of tablets will be put to use in locations such as libraries and small businesses. Hurricane Sandy hit in October 2012 and caused Google to cancel an event in New York planned to announce the Nexus 4.
  • Reports of a Google-made, Nexus smartwatch claimed the device is close to entering production and could be available “within months”.
  • Apple released the iPad Air to customers in a number of major territories on Friday. The device starts at $499 and competes with larger-form tablets such as the Nexus 10 and Galaxy Note 10.1.

Check in next week for another look at the week in Android!