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Google Details September's Android Security Patches

Sep 5, 2017, 1:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made its monthly security patches available to select Android devices. September's patches plug a significant number of security holes that threaten most Android devices. Google found dozens of vulnerabilities, including a number of which classified as critical, or able to remotely execute code. Some of problems are related to specific hardware and the associated software drivers that control them, such as components from MediaTek, Qualcomm, and Broadcom. Other vulnerabilities impact the kernel, system, and media framework directly. Google is pushing two separate patches to cover these problems, one dated September 1 and the second dated September 5. Google said the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus Player, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P devices will receive the September security patches as part of the upgrade to Android 8 Oreo. Google has already posted factory images for download from its web site. Google's handsets will receive both patches in a single download. As far as Google is aware, none of these security holes have been exploited by hackers or other entities. Google has already given the patches to its device-maker partners. Phone manufacturers are responsible for updating their own smartphones with the patches.


Google Details Android Security Patches for June

Jun 5, 2017, 5:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today provided details about its June 2017 security patches for Android devices. The patches, dated June 1 and June 5, plug a significant number of security holes that threaten all Android devices. Google found dozens and dozens of vulnerabilities, of which it classified several as critical, or able to remotely execute code. Many of the problems are related to specific chipsets and the associated software drivers that control them, such as components from MediaTek and Qualcomm. Google is offering the patches directly to Nexus- and Pixel-branded devices first. Google has already posted factory images for download directly from its web site. Google's handsets will receive both patches in a single download. Google said that, as far as it is aware, none of these security holes have been exploited. Google has already given the patches to its OEM partners. Individual phone makers are responsible for updating their own hardware with the patches.


Google Pushes Minor Update to Android O Beta

May 18, 2017, 7:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today distributed a bug-fixing update to the Android O beta. The small patch, weighing it at about 55 MB, is meant to smooth out some performance issues present in the initial build. People enrolled in the Android Beta program should see the fresh update hit their devices shortly. The Android O beta works on the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X.

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Google Pushes Second Beta of Android 7.1.2

Mar 21, 2017, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has released a second beta update for Android 7.1.2. Build NPG47I is rolling out to the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Nexus Player devices, as long as those devices are enrolled in the public beta program. Google says Android 7.1.2 focuses on refinements, bug fixes, and other unspecified optimizations for both end users and carriers. Google has been testing the platform with developer betas since January. Build NPG47I will reach beta testers in the days ahead.


Google Details March Security Update for Android

Mar 6, 2017, 1:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today provided some information about its March 2017 security patches for Android devices. The patches plug a significant number of security holes that threaten all Android devices. Google found dozens of vulnerabilities, of which it classified 10 as critical, or able to remotely execute code. Google is pushing two separate patches to cover these vulnerabilities, one dated March 1 and the second dated March 5. As always, Google is pushing the patches directly to Nexus- and Pixel-branded devices first, and has already provided factory images for download. Google's handsets will receive both patches in a single download. Google said that, as far as it is aware, none of these security holes have been exploited for nefarious purposes. Google has already given the patches to its OEM partners. It will be up to individual hardware makers to offer the patches to their own devices.


'Instant Tethering' Makes Your Pixel A Hands-Free Hotspot

Feb 10, 2017, 3:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 10, 2017, 3:57 PM

Google today added a feature to its Pixel and Nexus handsets that it hopes will help ease the process of using phones as mobile hotspots. Instant Tethering, as the feature is called, works because both the phone and secondary device (like a tablet) rely on the same Google account and can talk to one another via Bluetooth. "When you unlock a tablet such as the Pixel C, it will notice if there is no internet connection available, and will ask your Pixel phone if it has internet and battery life," explained Pixel Project Manager Omri Amarilio in a blog post. "If it does, we will give you an option to enable a secure hotspot and pair automagically, without even taking your phone out of your pocket." Once you stop using the tablet and lock the screen, Instant Tethering is smart enough to realize the hotspot is no longer needed and will turn it off on the phone in order to save battery life. Instant Tethering is limited to Google devices and works with the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P smartphones and the Nexus 9 and Pixel C tablets.


Pixel and Nexus Phones Snag January Security Patch

Jan 3, 2017, 5:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made a small security update available to Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X that plugs some vulnerabilities. In total, some 95 fixes are in store for Google's handsets that also provide Google's Android smartphone partners "with the flexibility to more quickly fix a subset of vulnerabilities that are similar across all Android devices." Two patches are being issued, one for all Android devices in general (given to smartphone makers), and one for the Pixel and Nexus phones directly. As per usual, the vulnerabilities range from moderate to critical, with the most severe able to remotely execute code and/or take over impacted phones. Google says it has fielded no complaints or reports of these vulnerabilities actually being exploited. The over-the-air updates for the Nexus and Pixel phones will arrive in the next day or so.


Google Distributes Android 7.1.1

Dec 5, 2016, 1:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 5, 2016, 2:29 PM

Google today made Android 7.1.1 Nougat available to Pixel and select Nexus devices. The refreshed operating system is available to the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, the Nexus 6P and 5X smartphones, as well as the Nexus 9 and Pixel C tablets. System images for side loading are already available online, and the over-the-air downloads will appear shortly. The most obvious new feature for end users is support for GIFs and animations within the keyboard. The Android keyboard can interact with third-party apps to create and apply stickers, videos, and other expressive content. Android 7.1.1 also adopts a 3D Touch-style interactive tool that will let people access up to five secondary actions or settings that can be reached directly from the launcher.


Google Releases Final Preview of Android 7.1

Nov 22, 2016, 1:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made an update to the Android 7.1 Developer Preview available to developers. Registered developers can download the refreshed operating system to their Nexus 6P or 5X smartphones, as well as the Nexus 9 and Pixel C tablets. System images for side loading are already available online, and the over-the-air downloads will appear within the next week. The most obvious new feature for end users is support for GIFs and animations within the keyboard. The Android keyboard can interact with third-party apps to create and apply stickers, videos, and other expressive content. Android 7.1 also adopts a 3D Touch-style interactive tool that will let people access up to five secondary actions or settings that can be reached directly from the launcher. Google calls this second preview "release ready" and says developers should rely on it to test their apps. Google expects to roll out Android 7.1.1 to the full lineup of supported devices, as well as Pixel and Pixel XL handsets, in December.


Republic Wireless Improves Android Lineup

Jul 28, 2016, 12:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Republic Wireless today said it has added nine modern smartphones to its lineup of Android devices. The new phones include the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge ($799), S7 ($699), J3 ($179), and S6 ($549); the Nexus 6P ($499) and 5X ($349); and the Motorola Moto X Pure Edition ($349), G4 ($199), and G4 Plus ($299). Republic customers can pay full price for the handsets, or elect to pay via monthly installments that range broadly from $11 to $48, based on the cost of the phone. Consumers who already own one of these unlocked handsets can pick up a Republic Wireless SIM card starting August 11. Republic's service plans start at $15 per month, which includes unlimited calling, texting, and WiFi data. Plans that include cellular data cost $20 per month for 1 GB, $30 for 2 GB, and $45 for 4 GB.


Google Releases Final Developer Preview of Android 7 Nougat

Jul 18, 2016, 12:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made the fifth and final preview of Android 7 Nougat available to app developers and beta testers. Google says devices that are enrolled in the beta program should be able to update to the newest preview right away. The Nougat Developer Preview is available to the Nexus 6, 5X, 6P, 9, and Pixel C devices, as well as the Sony Xperia Z3. Google says the preview contains the latest bug fixes and optimizations across the system and in preinstalled apps. In addition to the operating system images for Nexus and other preview devices, the fifth developer preview contains an emulator for final app testing and the final Android 7 APIs. Google says it will release Android N later this summer.


Google's Project Fi Earns An International Speed Boost

Jul 12, 2016, 8:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said Project Fi subscribers now have access to faster wireless speeds when traveling around the world. Google partnered with mobile network operator Three to increase the number of countries in which Fi is available to 135, as well as improve mobile data speeds by a factor of 10 to 20. Project Fi customers were perviously only able to roam at 2G speeds when abroad, but now have access to faster 3G/4G service. Google does not charge Fi subscribers any extra access fees when traveling; the data rates are the same at $10 per 1 GB whether at home or abroad. Google said new Project Fi customers can buy a Nexus 6P for $349 ($150 off) for the next week. Project Fi requires a Nexus smartphone. The service uses a mix of WiFi and cellular service from Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular to maintain a strong, fast connection.


Google Reveals When Nexus Phones Will Cease Receiving Android Updates

Jun 22, 2016, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google revised its Nexus support page and provided more information on how long Nexus-branded phones will receive future software updates. Google says Nexus devices will get Android version updates (Lollipop, Marshmallow, etc.) for at least two years from when the device became available on the Google Store. The Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X, for example, will receive Android system updates at least through September 2017, while the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 will receive updates through October 2016. Security patches will be pushed out for three years from the original availability date or for 18 months after the device is removed from the Google Play Store (whichever is longer). Major Android update arrive generally once per year, while security patches are pushed through one per month. Android version N is expected to arrive later this summer.


Google Details May Security Update for Android

May 2, 2016, 1:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today highlighted its May security patch, which is first being delivered to Nexus smartphones and tablets. The patch resolves 25 issues, of which six are considered critical. The most severe could enable remote code execution via certain media files, as well as through a Qualcomm WiFi driver and an Nvidia video driver. Google says it discovered the vulnerabilities earlier this year and alerted its parters to the risks on April 4. Google has already made the patch available in factory image form via the Google Developer Site. It will release the associated new builds to the Android Open Source Project within the next 48 hours, and will push the update over the air to Nexus handsets in the next few days. Google said, as far it is aware, none of the vulnerabilities were exploited. Google provides monthly security updates to Nexus-branded Android handsets.


Nexus Camera App Update Tweaks Design

Apr 26, 2016, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is pushing an updated version of its camera application to Nexus handsets. The new Google Camera app makes changes to the user interface to improve usability. For example, the Nexus 5X and 6P gain a dedicated slow-motion video mode, which is available from the slide-out camera menu. Nexus 6P owners can switch recording speeds at a whim. The app changes the shading of the shutter button, and the camera switcher adopts a circular design that's more in line with Google's Material Design. The Google Camera is only available to Nexus smartphones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, including the Nexus 6, 5X, and 6P. It is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Google to Let People Design Their Own Nexus Cases

Apr 14, 2016, 11:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced Live Cases, a way for Nexus owners to personalize their handset while also protecting it. Interested consumers can upload a photo to Google's site, select a case style, and Google will make the case and ship it. Users can pair the case with a slideshow of related images, if they wish, so the screen and case show the same subject. Users will be able to add more photos to the slideshow at any time. Similarly, the Places Live Case is styled with a map of the person's favorite location. The live wallpaper will show a live map of the person's location as they travel throughout the day. A quick tap will reveal nearby points of interest on Google Maps. Google Live Cases are available to the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 6. They cost $35.


Google's April Security Update for Android Now Live

Apr 4, 2016, 1:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today highlighted its April security patch, which is first being delivered to Nexus smartphones and tablets. The patch resolves 29 issues, of which eight are considered critical. The most severe could enable remote code execution via certain media files, as well as the Stagefright bug. Other issues impact the core kernel as well as certain Qualcomm components. Google says it discovered the vulnerabilities earlier this year and alerted its parters to the risks on March 16. Google has already made the patch available in factory image form via the Google Developer Site. It will release the associated new builds to the Android Open Source Project within the next 48 hours, and will push the update over the air to Nexus handsets in the next few days. Google said, as far it is aware, none of the vulnerabilities were exploited. Google provides monthly security updates to Nexus-branded Android handsets.


Google Pushing Small Update to Android N Beta

Mar 17, 2016, 4:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is delivering an over-the-air update to handsets running the beta of Android N. The update is available to the Nexus 6P and 5X phones at the moment, as well as the Nexus 9 tablet. The associated OS images have been posted to Google's web site for manual installation. Google didn't call out any new features in the update, nor did it say if the new system update will be made available to other handsets.


Google Drops Project Fi Invites, Drops Nexus 5X Price

Mar 7, 2016, 1:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today nixed the invite system it used for Project Fi and opened the MVNO service up to everyone. Project Fi relies on WiFi and cellular access from Sprint and T-Mobile to provide coverage around the U.S. Its software is able to dynamically jump from network to network in order to provide the best-possible speeds and service. Project Fi is novel in that it only charges people for the actual amount of data used each month, rather than for large buckets. Google says the first 10 months of the project have gone well and it is ready to move into the next phase. For the next month, anyone who activates Project Fi will be able to purchase the Nexus 5X handset from LG for $199.99. The phone's normal price is $349.99. Project Fi is only available to Nexus smartphones, including the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, and Nexus 6P. Basic service costs $20 per month, plus $10 per 1 GB of cellular data. Google refunds users for the unused portion of data each month.


Google Drops Nexus 5X Price By $30

Jan 12, 2016, 3:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has given the Nexus 5X a permanent price cut. The handset now sells for $349 (16 GB) and $399 (32 GB). Those prices represent a drop of $30 each.


Google Drops Nexus 5X, 6P Prices By $50

Dec 16, 2015, 4:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 16, 2015, 4:55 PM

Google is selling the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P at a $50 discount each. The company is also offering free overnight shipping. The promotion runs through the end of the year.


Google Details December Security Update

Dec 7, 2015, 3:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today released a security patch for Android devices to resolve 16 different issues. Google said it alerted its handset partners about the vulnerabilities on Nov. 2 and will make a new build of Android containing the patch available to AOSP within the next few days. Concurrently, Google will push the security patch to Nexus-branded handsets and tablets. Google said one of the vulnerabilities could lead to remote code execution via media files and is thus considered critical. To date, however, none of the vulnerabilities have been exploited. The security update will be delivered to Nexus devices over the air in the days ahead.


Android 6.0.1 Delivers Improved Set of Emoji

Dec 7, 2015, 12:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is making Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow available to Nexus handsets starting today. The minor system update chiefly adds support for Unicode 8.0, which expands the selection of emoji significantly. Some of the emoji include food, hand gestures, sports, and weather. The update also adds a new keyboard, new font, and new code. Google said it gave the updated system code to its handset partners, but it is up to them to choose whether or not to use it. Android 6.0.1 will reach the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P phones in waves.

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LG's Nexus 5X More Widely Available Today

Oct 19, 2015, 7:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 19, 2015, 7:36 AM

LG today said the Nexus 5X smartphone is now available for sale in the U.S, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, India, Korea, and Japan. Google has been accepting pre-orders of the 5X for several weeks, but today marks its launch with U.S. and other carriers. LG said it will be up to individual carriers to announce exact pricing and availability of the handset. (Google charges $379 and is expected to release the Nexus 5X on Oct. 30.) The 5X has a 12-megapixel camera, Snapdragon 808 processor, and 5.2-inch full-HD display. It also supports Android Pay with NFC and includes a fingerprint reader. It is among the first to ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow.


Google Offers Nexus Protect Insurance Program

Sep 29, 2015, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 29, 2015, 12:58 PM

Google today rolled out a new program called Nexus Protect. Nexus Protect offers two years of coverage against breakage (accidental or otherwise) for new Nexus handsets. Users can submit claims any time of day. The program costs $69 for the Nexus 5X and $89 for the Nexus 6P. Nexus Protect is being launched in the U.S. first. Google did not say if it will be available to other Nexus handsets or in other regions. It is similar to Appe's AppleCare and HTC's Uh-Oh Protection.

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Android 6.0 Marshmallow to Arrive 'Next Week'

Sep 29, 2015, 11:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 29, 2015, 12:51 PM

Google today said it will begin pushing Android 6.0 Marshmallow to Nexus devices during the week of Oct. 5. Existing handsets, such as the LG-made Nexus 5 and the Motorola Nexus 6, will be able to install the brand new operating system from Google. The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P will ship with Android 6.0 on board. Android 6.0 Marshmallow brings a number of new features to the platform, including Google Now On Tap. Google's improved voice assistant is more aware of context when users make requests, and will automatically offer up certain types of information. Google Now is also accessible via voice command even when the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P are locked. Marshmallow adds fast scrolling and faster search, as well as new animations and new notification behaviors. Further, the app drawer will learn which apps people use throughout the day and offer suggestions each time they open the drawer. Android 6.0 introduces a new permission model, and allows people to remove more unwanted apps. Marshmallow was first detailed by Google in May. The company did not say exactly when it will be released.


Nexus 5X from LG Rounds Out Google's Smartphone Offering

Sep 29, 2015, 11:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 29, 2015, 12:45 PM

Google today announced the Nexus 5X, a less-costly alternative to the Nexus 6P. Where the 6P is made by Huawei, the 5X is made by LG. Notable features include the Nexus Imprint fingerprint sensor positioned on the back of the phone, which can be used to secure the phone and authenticate Android Pay purchases. The 5X also includes a USB Type-C port, the new connector for phones, tablets, and laptops. The Nexus 5X has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and is powered by a 1.8GHz Snapdragon 808 processor with 2GB of RAM and either 16GB or 32GB of storage. The phone's main Sony camera sensor captures 12.3-megpaixel images and relies on laser-assisted focus. It has an aperture of f/2.0 and a dual-tone flash for more accurate color. The user-facing camera rates 5 megapixels and has an aperture of f/2.2. The Nexus 5X includes a 2,700mAh battery, a wide range of sensors, and comes in white, blue, or black. The Nexus 5X runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and will be sold directly from Google unlocked. The 16GB model costs $379 and the 32GB model costs $429. It is available for pre-order beginning today and will ship in mid-October.


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