8.22.2017

Google Names Android 8.0

O is for Oreo


Google has just announced its name for the newest version of the Android mobile operating system. The next version of Android will be named Oreo, which was announced yesterday during the solar eclipse. 

An Android statue can now be found at 14th Street Park in Manhattan, across the street from Chelsea Market, where the Oreo was invented. This is the first time an Android statue has been erected outside of Google headquarters.

Android’s director of product management told CNET that the update was named after milk’s favorite cookie during a few nights where engineers kept grabbing snacks. Kamdar said "at our microkitchens at Google, we have Oreos all around. Our engineers just kept eating Oreos with their glasses of milk".

Android 8.0 will sport a number of new features, with a heavy focus on prolonging battery life. One of the changes is limiting what apps do when they are running in the background. By limiting what background apps can do with location data, Google hopes to significantly increase battery life. With GPS assisted apps like Pokemon Go becoming more popular, it should be a noticeable improvement.

“Android 8.0 will sport a number of new features, with a heavy focus on prolonging battery life.” 

Battery life isn’t the only change coming to Android. New emojis, a new settings menu and smart text select have a little bit for everyone. Battery settings will now differentiate battery use between while an app is active or in the background, letting users know which apps are eating up their monthly data cap. Password autofill will also start to work with other apps, which is great for anyone who likes to bank or shop on their phone.

Oreo has been in beta for several months, and should roll out by the end of the year. Pixel and Nexus users can expect the update first, and Google is working with hardware partners to have Oreo installed on new devices, and to upgrade devices already in the wild. 

Android Oreo looks promising, but fragmentation is still a concern for Google. As of now, only 13.5% of Android devices run 7.0 or above, and more than half of devices run Lollipop (5.1) or older. Besides UI features, these updates include vital security fixes in a time where mobile malware is on the rise. Google can add all of the features it wants, but only time will tell how many users experience Android’s latest and greatest.


8.18.2017

The Essential Phone is Dead on Arrival Because of the iPhone

iPhone 8 leaks tease similar design to Andy Rubin’s new Android flagship


So-called “bezeless” phones are all the rage this year. This newfound obsession with screen-to-body ratio started in South Korea with reveals of the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy 8, respectively. Relatively obscure Chinese brands including DODGEE and UMIDIGI have also hopped on the bandwagon. The trend has since made its way westward, with Android founder Andy Rubin’s new company, Essential, debuting a ‘Droid-based smartphone with hardly any border around the display.

A mainstay in the upper tier of smartphones, the next iPhone (as usual) has been making headlines for months as leak after leak make their way to the press in spite of Apple’s secretive culture. In a vacuum, the leaked design of the iPhone 8 is a radical departure from the roughly 65% screen-to-body ratio of the past three iPhones. However, as mentioned, several bezeless Android smartphones from both household name companies and anonymous Shenzhen-based startups have come to market in recent months.

"Several bezeless Android smartphones have come to market in recent months."

This is what makes the inevitability of Apple being lauded for the iPhone 8’s design so hard to stomach. Like the MP3 player, smartphone, and tablet computer, Apple won’t be the first to market with this idea. Cupertino will be rewarded for its infamous “wait and see” approach, profiting off the ideas and hard work of others. If nothing else, I’m sure it’ll be a great phone.

The first wave of reviews are out and opinions of the Essential Phone are mostly positive. It’s basically a sleeker Google Pixel with a worse camera. But then again, so is the Galaxy S8. And while Samsung is a well-established brand, Essential is a newcomer that is leaning too heavily on the notoriety of its CEO and inventor of Android, Andy Rubin. Despite rumors of $300,000,000 in investment, Essential only managed to make a carrier deal with Sprint, the laggard of the US mobile big four.

Maybe this is the 2010s equivalent of the 2007 exclusive agreement between Apple and AT&T (then Cingular). The big difference is that AT&T was a rising star in those days and Sprint is a sinking ship. Essential may be mooring itself to that doomed vessel with a desperate out-of-the-gate $260 discount when activated on Sprint with an 18-month plan. The phone is unlocked, meaning it’ll work on the other national carriers and most MVNOs, but it’s a bad look for a new company (or any company).