Taking a look back at the week in news across the Android world, this week’s Android Circuit highlights a number of stories, including some 64-bit hardware from HTC, new smartwatches from Samsung and LG, Nokia’s HERE Maps arrives on Android, why Tizen is not an option for Huawei, a plea to stop bloatware in Android devices, and what Android features would do well on the iPhone 6.
Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android over the last seven days.
Following up on some leaks, Forbes’ Gordon Kelly takes a look at HTC’s product line-up, and the potential for a Nexus 9 to be announced in October. This would feature a new chipset from Nvidia, specifically the K1 processor:
On paper the K1 is a remarkable chip. It supports up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM, screen resolutions up to 4k and the headlining 192-core GPU is “supercomputer class” Nvidia claims. The company also boasts that the K1 is 1.5x more energy efficient than rivals and with an energy sucking 2560 x 1600 pixels display expected to be crammed into the Nexus 9′s 8.9-inch display it will need to be. An official unveil is expected in October.
With a potential 64-bit smartphone sporting a 5.5 inch screen, and a mid-range device with a 4.7 inch screen, HTC has a nice little package to promote. The Berlin IFA should reveal the two handsets, and a dedicated Nexus 9 event in October is likely.
Jumping the gun to get some publicity in before the Berlin IFA (which starts on September 5th), Samsung announced a new smartwatch. The Samsung Gear S is powered by the South Korean company’s Tizen operating system, and looks to be able to stay connected when it is out of bluetooth range of your smartphone thanks to the inclusion of Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity.
Pricing has not yet been announced, but availability is expected to be during early Q4 this year.
One of the more interesting points in Samsung’s announcement of the Gear S smartwatch was the note that mapping data would be provided by Nokia’s mapping division, HERE maps. That was complemented by the announcement that an Android version of HERE maps will be available to owners of the Samsung Galaxy S5 as a beta application.
Forbes’ Ian Morris has more, and points out that this won’t be replacing Google Maps, but is an additional mapping solution. There is no indication that Samsung is ready to drop Google Maps from their Android powered devices (and in any likelihood the Google Play Services agreement would preclude that), but it’s another step that Samsung is taking to own more of their software production line, or at least get some wiggle room outside of Google’s vision of Android.
Speaking of Nokia (and we naturally mean the company left behind in FInland, not the smartphone teams now working at Microsoft after this year’s purchase of Nokia’s Devices and Services division), their beta project to build a better Android launcher continues. Z Launcher has had a version increase (reports BGR), and is now available through the Google Play store for those who are part of the trial.
Watch Nokia carefully over the next year. They may say they are out of the mobile phone game, but they continue to gather and retain a lot of corporate know-how in the smartphone space,
Launching the company’s second Android Wear powered smartwatch, LG announced the LG G Watch R. It is the second smartwatch using Google’s wearable OS to sport a circular interface, and while it is smaller than the Moto 360, it does have the slice cut out of the circular screen to accommodate screen connectors and electronics.
Like Samsung’s Gear S, the LG G Watch R will be available during Q4 this year. With Motorola expected to announce the availability of the Moto 360 on September 4th, and the circular form factor being a high point, LG has timed the ‘spoiler’ almost perfectly.
“We have worries about Android being the only option. But we have no choice.”
And with those words, Huawei’s consumer business head Richard Yu sums up the chances of Tizen to be used outside of Samsung. Virtually nil. While the Chinese company may have reservations about falling into line behind Google, the only other mobile operating system out there with any notable impact in termed of market share, developers, or attractiveness, is iOS. And that’s out of the question.
Which pretty much sums up the mobile world today, really.
Speaking of software, Scott Allison talks about the ongoing fight he has against bloatware applications on his Android device. These are the apps that are not part of the core Android experience, yet when you buy a smartphone they are pre-installed and cannot be deleted:
Most Android phones allow you to plug in an SD card to massively expand your storage space. Unfortunately apps generally can’t be installed on external cards. So that leaves you with the phone’s internal memory, usually pretty meagre… But adding insult to injury, carriers and manufacturers then install “bloatware”. In return for a fee from the app developer (how much?) they will include that app as standard. I don’t particular mind about this, but what I really object to is that this bloatware cannot be removed. You are stuck with it!
And finally, CNet take a look over the numerous Android handsets and software implementations to pick out the features from Android it would like to see adopted by the new iPhone (due to be announced on September 9th). Well played….
‘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!