Pie Is On The Roll

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Pie Is On The Roll

Pie made its debut earlier this year on Pixel devices, and since then other users have been waiting patiently for it to expand.  Now Christmas presents have been delivered and Android has begun rolling out Pie to a number of other devices.  So read on and see if Google got you anything for the holidays.

Android Is SLOW:

Android’s OS offers some incredible experiences, but there’s no denying that rollouts take forever.  Roughly a year after Oreo’s release it made it onto 12% of Android phones.  Five months after its release it was only at 1%!  While these statistics aren’t perfect due to factors such as the Play Store’s unavailability in China, it still paints a good picture.  Things move slow.

With rollouts taking so long, every new wave of devices is big news when it’s yours.  Today rollouts have begun to a number of new phones.  These include the Galaxy S9/S9+, the OnePlus 5/5T, and the Infinix Smart 2 (a very popular phone in India).  Older phones will be receiving this update as the year goes on, but Christmas came just in time for these parties. 

Times Are Changing:

The Android circle of life must continue.  As new versions like Pie come out, they replace the older ones.  With a shrinking number of phones running earlier versions of Android support for them becomes difficult in an efficient manner.  Earlier this month Google Play Services ceased support for Ice Cream Sandwich.  The version came out seven years ago, and it’s userbase has dwindled below the 1% mark for a while. 

And along with this new Android apps must target at least Oreo when they are released to the Play Store.  It may seem tough to leave users behind, but it really just makes sense.  At a certain point upgrades need to take place so that companies/developers can make new features available in their apps without having to worry too much about ancient versions. 

There is still a span of versions that run any app on the Play Store, but the line has to be drawn somewhere.  The good news with this is that deprecating versions simply means that new and improved versions are being released.

Pie Is Hot

And for the most part Pie has been just that; new and improved.  Having played around with a Pixel 3XL running Pie for some time I have to say that its user interface has been very pleasant.  Pixel users have experienced a some bugs over the past months, but nothing has come close to outweighing the pro’s the new version has offered.  My personal favorite has been Google Call Screen to identify unknown numbers.  I’ve taken 0 calls from telemarketers since upgrading to this phone!

There are certainly things users wish Pie could do that it doesn’t.  One of these being multi-resume.  The software allows users to have two different apps open simultaneously, but as the Android Activity Lifecycle is currently implemented only one can be in the resumed state at a time.  This can lead to funky behavior if you’re trying to play two videos as the same time, but there are already rumors that this is in the works. 

The bottom line is Pie rolling out is good news, and it’s sure to continue doing so as time goes on.  Hopefully Pie proves to roll out faster than previous Android versions, but only time will tell.  And if you want to run your phone on a different version flashing is always an option.  What are your thoughts on the Pie rollout?  Let us know in the comments below!

Oreo: Coming Soon To A Phone Near You?

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Oreo: Coming Soon To A Phone Near You?

It’s been just over 10 months since Android’s newest version (Oreo) began rolling out to devices. Almost a year, so let’s take a second to see how it’s doing. Well…it may be performing really well in terms of quality, but quantity is lacking.

How bad are we talking?

Every month Google releases Android’s distribution numbers showing how many devices are running each version of their operation system, and according to July’s numbers this year Oreo is active on 12.1% of active devices. As a point of reference, that puts Oreo at the 4th place position behind Nougat, Marshmallow, and Lollipop. There’s no denying this is a pretty sluggish speed for rolling things out (but to be fair it’s 0.4% ahead of where Nougat was during it’s growth phase).

So the trends show that new Android versions typically take more than a year to become the most used release, but this begs the question of why? Oreo offers some pretty cool new features such as picture in picture app usage and notification channels. Apart from battery life there aren’t too many reasons user’s would want to avoid upgrading to the newly offered software. But the issue is that it’s not actually offered to all users. There have been rollout calendars following which phones have adopted Oreo since it’s release, and the list of devices has grown slowly up until this month.

It’s Not The User’s Fault

A large part of why device updates are so slow is how fragmented the Android market currently is. Manufacturers often won’t bother with updating older pieces of hardware because it takes time and energy on their part that isn’t being put towards everything new. The end result is user’s being left high and dry. Even some new devices are hesitant to adopt the new software until it’s tried and true. User’s are able to flash their devices and test out other softwares if they so desire, but it’s not exactly mainstream to do so (as cool as it is!)

The bright side is that if you look at things over time they’re starting to ramp up exponentially. 5 months ago Oreo’s adoption rate was hovering around 1% (5 months after it’s release). Things were looking abysmal then even compared to other version’s growth rates, but thanks to a wave of updates this past month things are starting to look back on track.

Statistics Aren’t Perfect

It’s also important to note that the Android Developer dashboard I linked above relies heavily on Google’s Play Store to collect its data. This means that not every device running a version of Android is actually being accounted for in these numbers. The Play Store currently isn’t available in China (A $35 billion/year app market to be missing), and there are a few other factors at play attributing to uncounted devices. All the same it’s clear that Oreo is at about the same speed of rolling out as Nougat was, and we’ll likely see it enter the top 3 within the next few months. I for one am already looking forward to Android P though 🙂

Have you gotten Oreo on your device yet? What are your thoughts on either it’s performance or it’s rollout speed? Let us know in the comments below!

Samsung Is A Go For Android Go

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Samsung Is A Go For Android Go

We’ve talked about Android Go a few times here before.  It’s Google’s movement to bring budget phones to the rest of the world by stripping down the software and limiting specs.  There’s been a bit of buzz around the movement recently, and earlier this week a leak has revealed some details about Samsung coming into play.

The Specs:

That’s right, Samsung may be getting into the budget phone game with a 5-inch display and Samsung’s mid-range Exynos 7570 SoC processor.  For reference this compares pretty similarly to Samsung’s Galaxy J3 in terms of size and capability (see the following image).  The phone will come with 1GB RAM and 16GB of storage as well, following the Android Go system of making things high quality but low memory.  And of course, as with other Android Go phones the operating system version will be Android 8.0 (Oreo).

The SamMobile sources behind this leak said that the new phone (model name SM-J260G) is currently being tested in dozens of markets around the world including the UK. And everything about this leak falls in line with earlier reports that Samsung is testing three new mid-range smartphones.  Not much has been revealed about these other than their model names (SM-J260F, SM-J260G, and SM-J260M) and that they will all most likely be part of the Android Go movement.  So it seems Samsung is ready to dive into Go headfirst.

Android Go’s Future:

Android Go was announced back at MWC in February this year, and since then we’ve seen multiple phones get in on the action.  The idea is to bring incredibly affordable phones to people that otherwise couldn’t afford smartphones, but still give them all the newest in terms of software.  The was this is possible is by limiting other specs on the phone and putting in less preloaded apps (not exactly a bad thing!). Android Go is just getting started, but it aims to provide phones for the next billion users around the world, and I’m excited to see where it’ll go from here.

What are your thoughts on the new Samsung phone that we may be seeing soon?  Let us know in the comments below!

Android P In Action

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Android P In Action

Last month we wrote about Android P and how it’s become the talk of the town despite Oreo’s youth.  We’re still some ways off from P (currently known as Pistachio) making its way into the hands of everyday consumers, but earlier this week Google released their first preview of P to developers.  Here’s a quick highlight of some of the cool features it has to offer. Spoiler: some of them are pretty cool.

Android P Highlights:

Wifi RTT – The new API for Wi-Fi Round Trip Time lets you take advantage of indoor positioning in your apps.  RTT measures the distance to nearby Wifi access points that support RTT.  By doing this with 3 access points RTT calculates a triangulated position accurate within about a meter.  There are ton’s of creative opportunities here, and don’t worry about privacy.  Only the user’s phone is able to determine the distance, so no one else will know who you are in a crowded room.

Notifications – In Android 7.0 users gained the capability to reply to messages directly from notifications. Then in 8.0 notification channels were introduced to give users more control over what types of notifications they want to receive from an app.  P takes these features one step further.  Now in the notification bar you can see image messages, and utilize the auto-replies available in your messaging app.  So forget ever using your messaging app, everything can be done from your home screen now.

Animations – The new class AnimatedImageDrawable allows for simple drawing and displaying of GIFs and WebP animated images.  This class lets apps show animated images without having to manage updates or burden the UI thread.

Display Cutout Support – While this feature isn’t going to be in the hands of users, developers are able to modify their phone’s looks in settings under Device theme.  This allows developers to emulate different kinds of screen displays such as including the notch that’s been growing in popularity. Thanks a lot Apple BOOOOOOO.

How to get Android P:

Right now we may as well say P is for Pixel.  The current release is only available on pixel and pixel2 devices (or an Android emulator running one of these).  And once again, this initial release is for developers only not commercial use.  As such Google has made it only available by manual download in Flash.  Click here to download the Android P beta and see what changes it has in store. If you want to install it on your pixel device then check out this video of installing a developer preview on a Nexus 6p as the process will be the same.

You can read more about each of these features and more at developer.android.com.  There are also some brilliant Easter eggs such as allowing users to rotate their phone to landscape mode even when they have auto-rotate turned off, and improving features for one-handed use.  After you download the Preview let us know what you think the biggest changes are and what still needs to be done.

Comment below on what you think the official name of Android P will be.