Motorola Nexus 6
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 this week said the Nexus 6 smartphone from Motorola should receive the Android 7.1.1 update in the days ahead. The updated system software installs the new app shortcuts, round app icons, the image-enabled keyboard with new emoji, and various bug fixes. The Nexus 6 does not get some of the best features available to the new Pixel phones, such as Google Assistant. Knowledgable users can manually install 7.1.1 using the factory images available from Google's web site, but the update will be distributed over the air soon.
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 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 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 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 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.
Google today said it has begun distributing Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 smartphones, as well as the Nexus 7 and Nexus 9 tablets, and the Nexus Player. The update, which will be pushed out in waves, is available as an over-the-air download. Google today also posted the factory images of Android 6.0 Marshmallow for Nexus devices to its web site. The factory images are for flashing manually onto the Nexus devices. The factory images are for knowledgable users who know how to side load the operating system from a PC; they are not meant for most consumers. The Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X, which are available for pre-order and will ship later this month, will have Android 6.0 Marshmallow preinstalled. Android 6.0 adds revised permissions, Google Now On Tap, Nexus Imprint fingerprint security, and better battery management.
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.
Google today said it plans to push security patches to Nexus-branded Android devices on a monthly basis to make sure they remain protected from potential and developing threats. Google is delivering the first security update today to the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7, Nexus 9, Nexus 10, smartphones and tablets, and the Nexus Player. Google says the update contains fixes for the StageFright vulnerability and other issues submitted over the last few weeks by its carrier and handset partners. Google will simultaneously release security fixes to the public via the Android Open Source Project. Google committed to updating Nexus devices with major operating system versions for a period of two years, and security patches for a period of three years or 18 months from the date on which the phone is discontinued for sale.
Sharp has engineered a 4K (Ultra HD) screen for smartphones. The prototype measures 5.5 inches across the diagonal and includes 3860 x 2160 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 806 pixels per inch. By way of comparison, the iPhone 6 Plus's 5.5-inch screen has 1920 x 1080 pixels, or 401 pixels per inch. The prototype LCD relies on Sharp's IGZO technology, but the company is not sure if the prototype will ever be used. "Currently there are no driver ICs for small 4K panels, so the panel is not ready for mass production at this point," said Sharp spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama in an email to Computerworld. Some of today's flagship devices (LG G4, Motorola Nexus 6, Samsung Galaxy S6) have jumped from full HD to quad HD, or 2560 x 1440 pixels. The majority of high-end phones still use full HD screens, while mid-range phones have moved to 720p screens. Entry-level phones generally offer 800 x 480 or 960 x 540 resolution displays.
Verizon Wireless today said the Motorola Nexus 6 will be available for preorder March 12 and should reach stores March 19. It will cost $250 with a contract or $27 per month with a Verizon Edge plan. Google, Motorola, and others have been selling the Nexus 6 since last year.
T-Mobile plans to make some of its handsets compatible with its 700MHz spectrum through a software update. Today, only the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge can use LTE on T-Mobile's 700MHz spectrum. T-Mobile said it will provide the system update to the Motorola Nexus 6 in the early part of 2015, followed by the Sony Xperia Z3 and Samsung Galaxy Avant in May, and the ZTE Max later this year. Two tablets and T-Mobile's Z915 LTE 4G Hotspot also support the 700MHz airwaves. T-Mobile is supplementing its AWS-based LTE network with its 700MHz holdings in select markets around the country. The company is still in the process of deploying LTE to all its 700MHz spectrum.
Yahoo today updated its Aviate launcher for Android devices and made it easier to perform searches. According to Yahoo, Aviate users can now search through apps, people, and the web directly from the home screen without requiring them to open a new window first. Aviate gains new compatibility with the Motorola Nexus 6 and adds support for live wallpapers, too. Last, Aviate received several performance improvements and bug fixes. The Aviate launcher is free to download from the Google Play Store. It is compatible with devices running Android 4.0 and up.
Motorola today said it will replace a few hundred Nexus 6 handsets sent to some AT&T customers. "We delivered a small number of Nexus 6 smartphones with incorrect software to AT&T customers who pre-ordered," said Motorola in a statement. "The incorrect software prevents the phone from starting up properly. We will provide replacements for consumers whose phones are affected. The problem has been corrected and the phones currently shipping are fine." When asked, Motorola denied that shipments were halted or recalled because of the bug. The issue appears to only affect the AT&T variant of the Nexus 6. "If a consumer sees the 'welcome' after the first time they turn on the phone, then their device isn't affected and they should use it as normal," said Motorola in an email to Phone Scoop. "People can call [Motorola's] customer service if they have questions."
Sprint today said the Nexus 6 smartphone will reach its retail stores, web site, and telesales channels on November 14. Sprint is offering the Nexus 6 through its Easy Pay program for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $29. Alternately, Sprint customers can pay full price for the Nexus 6, which is $696. The Nexus 6 can be used with a number of Sprint's service plans, including the Sprint Family Share Pack and Sprint Unlimited $60 plan.
AT&T today announced that it will begin accepting preorders for the Nexus 6 smartphone on November 12. AT&T is offering the device through several payment avenues. The full retail price of the phone is $683, but customers who sign a two-year agreement can pick up the Nexus 6 for $250. The device is also available via AT&T Next monthly installment plans. It costs $22.77 with Next 24, $28.46 with Next 18, and $34.15 with Next 12. For a limited time, AT&T is offering new and existing customers a $50 discount on the Moto 360 smartwatch when purchased with the Nexus 6. AT&T didn't say when the Nexus 6 will actually ship or reach stores.
Motorola recently began accepting preorders for the Nexus 6 on its U.S. web site. Both the white and blue models are available in 32GB and 64GB variants for $649 and $699, respectively. Motorola is selling the unlocked GSM model at the moment. Google is also selling the Nexus 6, though its supply is currently exhausted. The Nexus 6 will be made available from wireless network operators, including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, later this month. Shipping times have yet to be announced.
Google has completed its sale of Motorola to Lenovo. Google first announced plans to sell Motorola in January. The deal was valued at about $2.9 billion. Google purchased Motorola in 2012 for more than $12 billion, in part for its treasure trove of 17,000 patents. Since then, Google has retooled Motorola's products and released innovative devices such as the Moto X, Moto G, and Moto E in 2013. During the last several months Motorola delivered a range of new handsets, including the second-generation Moto X and Moto G, the Droid Turbo, and the Nexus 6. Motorola's devices all feature stock Android operating systems with unique and helpful additions, such as Active Display and Moto Voice. Lenovo plans to keep the Motorola brand intact and will use it to grow its own presence in the market. According to Motorola chief Risk Osterloh, Motorola will remain headquartered in Chicago and will continue to develop its Moto and Droid lines of hardware with a focus on quick OS upgrades and technology that solves real-world problems. "In Lenovo we have a partner that shares our mission and that brings global scale, a diverse product portfolio and a track record of seizing strategic opportunities and making the most of them," said Osterloh in a blog post. "Together we will go farther, faster. With an impressive portfolio of smartphones, wearables and PCs, our two companies will be uniquely positioned to push the boundaries of choice and value, and bring exciting new experiences to people everywhere."
The Google Nexus 6 is essentially a Moto X on steroids. It's huge, well-made, and has an appealing design. This full-sized phablet may impress, but it's not for everyone. Here are our initial impressions about Google's newest Nexus.
Google today began accepting preorders for the Nexus 6 smartphone via the Google Play Store. However, Google almost immediately sold through its initial supply of the phone. Google says it is "out of inventory" and interested consumers should "check back soon." The phone, made by Motorola, comes in indigo blue or white, and either 32GB or 64GB variants. None of the four models is available. Google didn't say when it will replenish its inventory. Google only offers the unlocked model, which starts at $649. The phone will be sold by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless in the weeks ahead. The carriers will offer the phone with contract and monthly installment pricing.
Google today offered some insight into the steps it has taken to protect users through changes made to Android 5.0 Lollipop. For starters, Lollipop uses encryption by default. All the key communications tools (calls, messages) are encrypted and can't be accessed by others. Second, Google has improved the lock screen in order to encourage more people to use it. In addition to PIN codes and passwords, users can make use of trusted Bluetooth or NFC devices to unlock their device, or even smile at the user-facing camera. Last, Android 5.0 Lollipop works harder to sandbox apps from one another. With Android 5.0, Security Enhanced Linux Enforcing mode is required for all applications on all devices. This means apps can't share information with other apps without the user's permission. Android 5.0 will first ship on the Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet. It will reach older Nexus devices in November.
Google today made available several significant tools for developers ahead of the general release of Android 5.0 Lollipop. First, Google released updated developer images for the Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (2013), ADT-1, and the Android emulator. Developers can install these near-final builds of Android 5.0 on their hardware and use them for testing purposes. Google also updated the software developers kit for Android 5.0. The Android 5.0 SDK includes improved tools that allow app writers to develop against the latest Android platform using API level 21. It also lets developers take advantage of the updated support library to implement Material Design on smartphones and tablets, as well as the leanback user interface for Android TV apps. The preview images and SDK can be downloaded through Google's Android developer portal.
Google today announced Android 5.0 Lollipop and with it the first few devices to run the new operating system, the Nexus 6 and the Nexus 9. The Nexus 6 is a large-screened smartphone made by Motorola. It has an aluminum frame and a 6-inch quad HD display with a 13-megapixel main camera. The camera includes optical image stabilization and HDR+ for improved low-light shots. The device has stereo-speakers with high-fidelity sound and comes with a turbo charger for fast charging. Google claims the device can get up to six hours of battery time after plugging it in for just 15 minutes. The Nexus 6 will be available for pre-order in late October and in stores in November. Google will sell an unlocked version through the Play Store, and the Nexus 6 will also be sold by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. The device costs $649 at full retail, which is $200 more than the Nexus 5. The Nexus 9 tablet is made by HTC and features an 8.9-inch 2048 x 1536 screen with a brushed aluminum design. It is run by a dual-core Tegra K1 64-bit processor with each core clocked at 2.3GHz. Other features include an 8.0-/1.6-megapixel camera configuration; BoomSound speakers; dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and LTE; and a 6,700mAh battery. The Nexus 9 will be available for pre-order on October 17 and in stores starting November 3. The Wi-Fi model starts at $399.
Google today said the next version of Android, which it has so far referred to only as Release L, will be called Android 5.0 Lollipop. Google previewed Lollipop earlier this year and has offered it in beta form to developers for several months. It includes a refreshed look and feel that Google calls Material Design. Google has been slowly updating the core Android apps with Material Design over the last few weeks. In Lollipop, Google has re-envisioned the lock screen to incorporate more of the notifications, as well as the ability to automatically unlock the device when a trusted wearable is nearby. Lollipop will also offer a new keyboard design. Moving forward, Lollipop will rely on the ART runtime engine instead of Dalvik, which has served for several years. Google says ART offers a two-times improvement in app performance across the platform. ART is also more memory efficient, and is optimized 64-bit processing. The platform includes the Android Extension Pack to improve graphics performance. Google took time to improve the platform's efficiency, too. Project Volta, for example, took aim at helping OEMs and developers improve battery life by more optimizing their apps. Further, Lollipop adds its own Battery Saver tool to help extend the life of a battery when it reaches critical levels. Lollipop builds in more malware protection and ways for Android users to secure their device and make sure apps are scanned for safety. For example, Google is adding a kill switch to Lollipop, which allows device owners to remotely disable their handset if it is lost or stolen. Android 5.0 Lollipop will be available on the Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet when they debut later this year.