This Week in Android: Sept 23rd – 29th

This week marks a milestone for Android as we celebrate it’s fifth birthday, the anniversary of the operating system’s first unveiling. This special week has also given form to new Kindle Fire models from Amazon, a golden Galaxy S4 and more, so let’s dive in and check in with This Week in Android!

Android Celebrates 5th Birthday

Android celebrated its 5th anniversary on Monday, commemorating the date in which Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin first showed off the mobile operating system. The date also remembers the launch of the first Android device, the HTC Dream (also known in some territories as the T-Mobile G1 or Era G1).

The state of Android in 2013

The state of Android in 2013

Android was not always a Google product, instead being founded by Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears and Chris White in California in October 2003. Google acquired the company in August 2005, three years before it was first unveiled by the search giant. Five years later, Android has powered nearly 12,000 different devices, contributing to more than one billion activations of the operating system.

This week also sees the fifteenth birthday of Google themselves, which the company celebrated on Thursday.

Amazon Debuts New Kindle Fire HDX

Amazon has announced new models of their Android-powered Kindle Fire family this week, ahead of an expected launch of a second-generation model of their iPad mini rival.

The Kindle Fire HDX comes in both 7-inch (1920 x 1200px, 323ppi) and 8.9-inch (2560 x 1600px, 339ppi) varieties. Taking it a step further than just increasing the number of pixels on the screen, Amazon also introduced automatic contrast in response to external light, allowing the device to compensate for changes in external light by adjusting contrast automatically rather than brightness. Both models sport a quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM. The Kindle Fire HDX still runs a fork of Android, but Amazon has given their spinoff a name. The internally-referred-to Fire OS — now in its 3.0 version — is attributed the nickname Mojito.

The new Kindle Fire flagship

The new Kindle Fire flagship

Perhaps most interesting, however, is the launch of Mayday. Mayday shares your screen with one of Amazon’s support representatives who can annotate what you see to provide direction and assistance.

The 7-inch model will sell for $229 when it starts shipping on October 18th, while the larger 8.9-inch model is staying in the shadows until November 7th, when it’ll start retailing from $379. AT&T or Verizon 4G LTE is available for a $100 premium on either model too. Multiple storage options are also available.

Other Updates

  • Google has added remote locking and password reset functions to Android Device Manager, Google’s recently-introduced tool for protecting lost and stolen devices.
  • Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 will launch on Sprint in the US on October 4th for $349.99 with a new two-year commitment, the carrier announced this week.
  • Google updated Hangouts for Android on Wednesday, bringing new status indicators for contacts and improvements to sorting contacts and invites.
  • Google also updated Gmail for Android, bringing general improvements and a redesign of message threading to fit in with the company’s near-universal card-based design.
  • In what we’re sure is nothing but a “coincidence”, Samsung announced two gold-coloured variants of their flagship Galaxy S4 handset this week, just weeks after Apple showed off its own gold, “champagne”-coloured iPhone 5S. The latter of which launched to high demand with supplies almost universally constrained at launch.

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