Top Android news of the week, August 4, 2013

August 4, 2013
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In the AA Weekly, we recap the most significant events in the past seven days in the world of Android. We look at new devices, major news, leaks, and everything else you should know to stay on top of everything Android.

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This week, we had some good news for owners of bogged down Nexus 7s (2012), Samsung got caught red-handed, MS Office hit Android, the Moto X has landed (finally), and Google has your back if you lose your phone. Let’s kick it!

The 2012 Nexus 7 gets another chance at life with Android 4.3

Many users reported that the Nexus 7 2012 was snappy when it was new, but once they used it for a while performance began to drop. In extreme cases, the 7-inch device made by Asus became all but unusable. This week brought us two great news on this front – first, the new Nexus 7 will not suffer from this problem, and second, the Android 4.3 update will make the first generation Nexus 7 usable again.

nexus 7 2013 aa 16

All thanks to a little software command called TRIM, that is now implemented in Android 4.3. Huzzah! So, how does TRIM work? Simply put, the command wipes clean all unused data blocks from the storage space, throwing out all the “garbage” that amassed in a few months of usage.

Red-handed Samsung

If you follow tech sites, you probably know that benchmarks, those apps that gauge how fast a device is, are pretty important for us hardware geeks. That’s because benchmarks let us compare two devices in an objective way. Or do they?

Massive improvement in AnTuTu benchmark scores

Samsung found itself in an embarrassing situation this week, when a close look at the Galaxy S4 revealed that some benchmarks are given access to higher GPU speeds than regular apps. And it was no accident – AnandTech found references to code named BenchmarkBooster in the Galaxy S4 firmware, along with a list of hardcoded benchmark apps that get preferential speeds.

Sammy offered a feeble explanation for the situation, but failed to address all the issues raised by AnandTech. The moral of the story: don’t trust benchmarks.

Better late than never: MS launches Office for Android (sort of)

Ask a few people what apps they would need in order to give up their laptops for a tablet, and there’s a good chance one common answer will be Microsoft Word and the other apps in the Office suite.

After hitting iOS a while ago, Office is now finally available to Android users.

Office Mobile for Android

That’s the good news. The bad news is the limitations that Microsoft imposed on the app. You will require a license to Office 365, your device must run Android 4.0 or higher, and tablets are not supported. The app is only available in some countries, but the biggest restriction is probably the limited functionality of the app.

Microsoft is obviously trying to protect its cash cow, without missing out on the mobile boom. Luckily for users, there are already several better productivity suites available for Android.

The hype train derails: Moto X

For the last month or so, we had a section dedicated to leaks and rumors about the Moto X in every AA Weekly edition. So it feels very good for us to finally report on the real deal.

The Moto X was announced on August 1, with a few interesting specs and features and rather disappointing price and availability. To summarize, all the leaks were spot on, except for the low price, which turned out to be just wishful thinking.

moto x motorola broll (7)

As you’d expect after an intense rumor buildup campaign, there was a bit of a backlash against the Moto X, from fans that were hoping for… well, more. Check out our full coverage for all the details, but our Derek Ross made some good points on why the Moto X disappointed people.

Android Device Manager: dude, where’s my phone?

It may not be as flashy as the Moto X, but the final topic in our roundup is probably more important to many users. Remember how we asked ourselves why Android doesn’t a have built-in “lost phone” tool, like some other platforms have? Such a tool used to be available for business Google Apps users only, but not anymore.

Android Device Manager

On Friday, Google announced Android Device Manager, a tool that will let users locate, ring, and wipe a lost Android device. The app will be part of Google Play Services, so it will be automatically deployed to most devices running Android 2.2 and higher. In order to use it you’ll just need to be signed in your Google account. Finally, a universal, easy to use app for locating and managing lost devices – we think that’s great news!

Video roundup

What’s your take?

In your opinion, what were the most important news this week, and why?

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