SHAFAQNA – Taking a look back at the week in news across the Android world, this week’s Android Circuit highlights a number of stories including all the details of the new Nexus devices, the low-down on Android 5.0 Lollipop and the rollout of 5.0, reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, Q3 numbers from the world of Android, and the upcoming update of Android Wear.
Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android over the last seven days.
New Nexus Devices Unveiled Online
Stepping aside from a full-blown event, Google quietly announced its latest Nexus devices on Wednesday online. HTC is the manufacturer behind the Nexus 9 tablet, which will be the first consumer device to be available with the new Android L operating system, and it will run the 64-bit version of the OS. Jay McGregor pits the Nexus 9 against the new iPad Air 2.
The Nexus 6 is the phablet handset with a 5.95 inch screen. Motorola is behind this handset, and it is essentially a scaled up second generation Moto X, although the power and volume buttons have been moved proportionally down the case so they are easily reachable.
Google also revealed the Nexus Player, a set-top box that Mountain View must hope will challenge the Apple TV. Forbes’ John Archer takes a closer look at the media player’s OS, Android TV:
Android TV is designed to bring the flexibility and content richness of the app-based smartphone world to your TV. But crucially it seeks to do this in a way that puts right the problems that have dogged Google’s previous attempts to grab a piece of the TV marketplace (most notably the long-abandoned Google TV platform). In other words, Android TV is no longer just about simply and crudely porting the Android tablet/phone experience onto a TV screen.
This Is The Nexus 6: Do You Want To Know More?
While the Nexus 9 will be the first device on sale, the Nexus 6, as the first Nexus Phablet, probably speaks more towards Google’s ambitions. Even though it is slightly larger, the obvious comparisons are the Galaxy Note 4 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly takes a closer look at the Nexus 6 to find out ‘everything you need to know‘:
While those looking for a new Nexus handset will not be pleased by Google’s phablet-only approach it does well and truly fix a traditional Nexus weak spot: battery life. The Nexus 6 comes with a substantial 3220mAh battery which represents a 920 mAh bump on the Nexus 5. This is identical to the 3220mAh battery of the long-lasting Galaxy Note 4… Despite this the Nexus 6’s big battery works in conjunction with both the Snapdragon 805 (which is more efficient than its predecessor) and the exciting Project Volta Android 5.0 initiative.
Presumably because of the size issue, the Nexus 5 remains on sale, and Kelly has a direct comparison of the two handsets if you can’t make your mind up.
Nexus 6 (image: Google.com)
L is for Lollipop, Android Lollipop
Both the Nexus 6 and the Nexus 9 will run the latest version of Android. Known as L up until Thursday, we now have the confectionary based name for Android 5.0… Lollipop (reports BBC News and others). Personally I prefer ‘L’ as it gives a much more professional appearance to the platform, but going for a sweet name is a long-standing tradition that Google seems to like. Coupled with the new UI from the ‘material’ design and an expansion from smartphones and tablets into watches, wearables, and TV’s, Android is one of the key pieces of code for the early 21st Century.
Damien McFerran takes a closer look at the most recent build of Android 5.0 over on Know Your Mobile:
When you install the developer Android L build, Google warns you that it’s not the finished article and could result in lost data and unexpected crashes. It’s a valid warning, but Google should have more faith in its products: we’ve been running Android L for a few days now and haven’t experienced any crashes, pauses or bugs. It’s a remarkably stable release even at this early stage, and if you’re tempted to dip your toe in (and don’t have any issue with the notion of having to drop back to KitKat should things go wrong) then we’d recommend you give it a test spin at the very least.
Now it’s here, it’s time to get it out to the devices. In the past this has generally proved trickier and slower than competing platforms, so how is 5.0 faring?
Sony Prep Lollipop Update for Xperia
First up is Sony, and the Japanese company has placed its cared on the table quickly with a blog post that confirms Android L will be made available to the premium Xperia Z devices, with a rollout likely to commence at the start of 2015 for the majority of devices:
We’ll be making Sony Mobile’s Android “L” upgrade available for the entire premium Z series… Sony Z Ultra Google Play edition devices will be first up – we’ll be back with more details on that soon. We’ll start the upgrade at beginning of 2015 for the core Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z2 series – continuing thereafter for all remaining devices above.
…And This Is The Lollipop Lottery Results
The lottery is two-fold… is your handset in the mix, and if so when will you see it available for download? Jacob Siegal rounds up the Android Lollipop status of the active handsets from the major manufacturers on BGR.
Samsung Goes For Fashion
Earlier this week I reviewed Samsung’s latest handset, the Galaxy Alpha. With a focus on design and high-quality material rather than ultimate power, the Alpha is an interesting departure for Samsung, and one that the South Korean company should strong consider following. As Android becomes more commoditized, a simple ‘best spec’ handset is no longer enough to guarantee a top seller – you need something which can trigger a little more lust in the consumer:
…with square-cut edges all round the metallic chassis. Samsung has ensured that the Alpha is comfortable to hold through a shallow 45% incline from the chassis edges to the front and rear of the handset. It’s cool to the touch, but also gives a sense of a solid smartphone that’s not going to bend, a smartphone that’s going to stand up to the rigours of two years of constant use. With Corning’s Gorilla Glass covering the 4.7 inch Super AMOLED screen, the front of the Alpha keeps that solid feel.
Samsung Galaxy Alpha (image: Ewan Spence)
Google’s Mobile Ad Numbers Are Down
Two sets of financials to highlight this week. The first set is from Google, and its Q3 numbers. Forbes Ellen Huet takes a look at the numbers and the underlying reasons:
Google shares dropped almost 3 percent in after-hours trading Thursday after the search giant missed analyst predictions on gross revenue and earnings per share in its third-quarter earnings announcement. Google’s adjusted earnings per share were $6.35, while analysts were hoping for $6.53. Its $16.5 billion in revenue also missed the expected $16.6 billion.
Cost per click rates have dropped, with the impact of the move to mobile by many users changing the shape of the online market. Google has adapted, but not as well as many would have hoped.
Is Samsung Fading Out Of Mobile?
Meanwhile, Horace Dediu takes a look at Samsung’s long-term potential after its Q3 guidance last week, and he can’t see Samsung’s next move:
The way to survive as a business is to ensure you create new businesses or solve new problems. One hope that springs eternal is that through a “brand” a maker can ensure long-term margin survival. That did not help Nokia, Sony, or Microsoft. Brand is only valuable if it carries meaning and often that meaning becomes a fading product. So the short answer is that Samsung needs to create new categories or businesses. The challenge for them is that they need to control the platform and service infrastructure. These are currently out of their control and I’m not quite sure how they can regain that control.
Dediu’s thoughts match my own – unless Samsung can innovate and disrupt itself, competitors like Xiaomi and Meizu are going to take over at the top of the Android pile during 2015 and into 2016.
Android Lollipop might be here, but it’s not the only update in the wings. While there’s no official word, there are indications that the next update to Google’s smartwatch OS, Android Wear, is going to be available at the start of November (reports Android Headlines). As with 5.0, owners of Android Wear devices will need to wait and see when the manufacturers release the update.
‘Android Circuit’ will round-up the news from the Android world every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future, and of course the sister column in Apple Loop! Last week’s Android Circuit can be found here, and if you have any news and links you’d like to see featured in Android Circuit, get in touch!