Two of the longest-running go-to narratives in the Android market – HTC is a shambles and Amazon wants to release a phone – have been bolted together like an airplane's wing section, thanks to a report from the Financial Times that threw Android watchers into paroxysms of raising their eyebrows when it came out this week.
Citing anonymous sources, the report claims that HTC and Amazon have teamed up to work on three smartphone models, and that one is “at an advanced stage of development.” Goodness me. Could the long, long, LONG-awaited Amazon phone finally be happening?
The answer, as ever, is “maybe.” The FT report says that Amazon could still put the kibosh on the project, and has meddled with the project’s timeline before. From a purely circumstantial perspective, however, there are new wrinkles to this latest muttering about an Amazon phone that make sense.
For one thing, an Amazon partnership would solve a lot of HTC’s problems, like weak branding and a limited reach in the marketplace. The company generally makes solid products, but has struggled to compete with the Samsungs and Apples and even the Motorolas of the world. A hypothetical Amazon phone – particularly if co-branded, obviously – would be a windfall for HTC.
Such a partnership would raise plenty of questions, though – assuming the hypothetical Amazon phone used that company’s heavily modified version of Android, would HTC continue to make devices that use its own flavor of the software? How would such a deal impact the company’s relationship with Google, for whom it manufactures a co-branded version of the well-regarded HTC One?
At any rate – it’ll be interesting to see if Amazon finally stops teasing this and actually follows through.
Speaking of teasing – man, Google sure is dragging out this whole KitKat launch. Droid Life has a big write-up of the pop-culture-related numerology going on among Android fans as they desperately try to predict the actual release date of Android version 4.4. Read their article for the full details, but let me just point out that it contains references to C&C Music Factory, Michael Jackson, and counting the number of individual KitKats in a mocked-up image posted to the KitKat promotional page on Google Plus.
Realistically, it’ll be soon but who knows exactly when. One commenter’s guess of a Halloween release date – because, you know, candy – seems as valid as anything else.
On a slightly more serious note, a defense industry group headed by the Draper Laboratory has developed an Android app that soldiers can use to help keep track of the flow of a modern battlefield and even mark targets for air strikes.
The group said in a statement that the simple, easy-to-use app represents a marked improvement over the ruggedized laptops currently used by forward air controllers, which were too cumbersome to use in the heat of battle.
“It’s one thing for a user behind a desk in a climate-controlled office to toggle back and forth between 10 windows, deal with system crashes, and wait 60 seconds for booting up,” said Draper team leader Laura Major. “It’s another thing to deal with those issues while someone is shooting at you or if you're jumping out of a plane.” Well said.
(H/T: Android Authority)
People got pretty darned excited about that Aviate, didn’t they? The invite-only beta for the swoopy new “intelligent homescreen” created no small amount of hype among Android fans, promising sophisticated automation and personalization features.
As it turns out, however, it’s also a potential security risk, storing user-provided data obtained through the app’s API visibly on the web, according to a report from LandofDroid. If you have a device’s hardware ID – admittedly no mean feat – you can view home latitude/longitude and a complete list of installed apps. The information, which is transmitted unencrypted, stays there even if you uninstall Aviate.
Developer ThumbsUp Labs responded first with the usual polite “whatever” when the issue was raised by Google Plus user Arvid Gerstmann, then subsequently pledged to fix the problem.
It’s risky but it just might work – using custom ROMs instead of the Android version your phone came with can be a lot of fun, but there are numerous headaches along the way. One of those is the fact that you’re not technically allowed to bundle Google’s core apps – Gmail, Drive, Play Store etc. – with your hacked-up version of the software, so you’ll spend at least a little time digging up a specialized, separate installer for Google Apps and getting that running when your first flash.
Now, however, the gutsy crew behind the Paranoid Android ROM have released an official “0-day Gapps pack,” designed to provide a complete, easy-to-use and automatically updated version of the core apps – which they admit is a “legal gray area.” They’ve said they “hope Google turns a blind eye” in the interest of making sure the Android experience is as good as possible for everyone. Brave of them.
(H/T: Android Community)
Email Jon Gold at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.