Friday, June 20, 2014

Android week! 4.4.4, Amazon fire phone and customization goodness!

This week was very exciting for Android enthusiasts like me with the announcement of 4.4.4,  3 new launchers, Google's announcement of the death of Dalvik (long live dalvik) and a new theme by +Arz Bhatia !

Kitkat 4.4.4

Google is certainly on a roll with just a week of gap in between 4.4.3 and 4.4.4. I think it's just time for 4.5 / 5.0! ;) There are no major changes in this new build but Sprint says it includes security fixes. Custom ROMs like +CyanogenMod and +Paranoid Android are already testing 4.4.4 and will be included in their next build(s).

Dalvik is dead, long live Dalvik!

Ever since we first saw ART appear alongside the release of Android 4.4 Kitkat, we all knew that it would eventually replace the aging and relatively inefficient Dalvik runtime compiler. Well folks, the time is now upon us, as commits made late last night to the AOSP master branch show Dalvik getting the axe and ART being set as the default.

Amazon fire phone announced

Amazon on Wednesday officially introduced its own smartphone, as expected, and it offers several unique features that may help it stand out in the crowded smartphone market. The device is called the Fire Phone and it sports a 4.7-inch IPS LCD HD display with Gorilla Glass 3 for extra strength, a rubber frame, aluminum buttons and injection-molded steel connectors that Amazon says “ensures a tight and precise fit,” which the device is charging.

 Under the hood, the Fire Phone is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core processor with Adreno 330 graphics and 2GB of RAM. It also has a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization, a feature that has helped phones like the original HTC One, the Nexus 5 and LG G3 capture amazing images. Also, another feature we love, the device has a dedicated camera button and will offer unlimited photo storage on Amazon Cloud Drive.

The phone is heading to AT&T with 32GB of storage for $199.99 with a new two-year contract, or for $299.99 with a new two-year contract with 64GB of storage. Pre-orders begin now and the device launches July 25.

The top 5 features of this phone include:
  • 4 front cameras which provide a "Dynamic Perspective Display"
  • 13 MP camera with OIS
  • Firefly: A software which enables you to point your camera at anything and get information about it
  • Mayday: Video chat with a tech support representative 24x7 and connect within 15 seconds
  • 1 year of Amazon Prime free worth 99$
OEM launcher goodness

If you are not familiar with the awesomeness of Android launchers, I recommend you read this article, which I wrote a long time ago, first!

Nokia announced Launcher Z for Android which has pretty good reviews so far. Z launcher is currently in limited pre-beta release, and anyone can sign up through Google+. As of now, the download is available for Android users running 4.1 and up, and has been specifically optimized to work with the Galaxy S5, S4, S3 and Nexus 5.

Nokia’s not the only player in town with Android launcher news today, and while its new Z Launcher may be grabbing all the headlines, we’ve also just picked up on word of another new launcher, nearly ready to head out. And like Nokia, with its Symbian roots and move to Windows Phone, we’re looking at a release from another company more traditionally associated with a platform other than Android: Jolla. While work on Sailfish OS continues, Jolla’s releasing what it calls its Jolla Launcher in an effort to give Android users a preview of how Sailfish looks and feels.

Alpha testing of the Jolla Launcher begins next week, with signups open now. In general, phones running Android 4.3 or better will be supported, but Jolla’s primary focus is on the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5. Users interested in bring part of this test group can find registration instructions through the source link; just please be ready and willing to provide Jolla feedback on your experience with the launcher – this is an alpha test, after all.

Terrain is a Samsung funded launcher that is gesture based and aims at simplifying user experience. It's fast, it's light, and it's driven by intuitive gestures that makes the best of your touchscreen's swiping ability.
* A Bird's Eye View with Smart Sidebar — curate all your favorite content (apps, tools, contacts, news, social) to view at a glance or dive in for a deeper look. The sidebar is easy to personalize; just pick the content you want from our free cards library and arrange your cards however you like.
* Find Things Fast with Local Phone Search — quickly find any contact or app on your phone with just a swipe
* Stay Organized with Apps Drawer — we’ve cleaned up the Apps screen so it’s easier to find the app you’re looking for
* Navigate Quickly with Swipe Gestures — swipe right for Sidebar, up for Search, and left for Apps
* No Battery Impact — unlike other smart launchers, Terrain is optimized for efficiency and will not kill your battery
* Change Homescreen Icon Grid Size — adjust how many icons can fit on your homescreen
* 100% Android -- everything you love about Android (widgets, homescreens, adjustable grid size)Links: Launcher Z, Jolla(alpha) and Terrain.

Theming awesomeness for power Android users!

People who are into custom ROMs and theming their phone probably know Arz Bhatia and his awesome new Fi theme. Yesterday, he launched his new theme called Nue. It is neon green/black color based and you can get it here. Ofcourse, it requires a rooted device along with a custom ROM like PA or CM that supports theming. 

That's all for today's Android goodness! I hoped you liked this article and if you did, please check out our other articles listed on the right hand side and you can use the labels to find articles that might interest you! You can also follow me on Google+, using the widget, so that you will be one of the first people to know when I write a new article! Keep being awesome! :D

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