AA Weekly: top Android news of the week, June 16, 2013
New iOS 7 arrives, but it’s not actually that new
Neon colors, Helvetica Neue Ultra Light, and an assortment of features borrowed from other operating systems – that seems to be the recipe followed by Apple under the lead of Jonny Ive, who took over UI design in a bid to rid iOS of skeumorphism and bring it kicking and screaming into 2013.
The internet was ablaze on Monday with angry Android fans pointing out the similarities between iOS 7 and Google’s operating system, ranging from the quick settings drawer, to the lock screen, and the general look and feel of the interface. Others cruelly mocked the retina-searing color scheme and the somehow heavy handed icon design of the new iOS.
But should we, Android fans, feel offended or flattered that Apple has taken more than a few pointers from our favorite operating system?
The new Nexus 7 is upon us
The week brought us an avalanche of more or less credible information related to the second generation Nexus 7. Unlike last year, when the 7-inch tablet’s $199 price tag was the price to beat in the industry, it seems that in 2013, Google won’t be engaging in the race to the bottom – the Nexus 7 II (as some call it), will supposedly start from $229, which is a bit more than last year, and definitely more expensive than the current crop of cheap 7-inch Android tablets, including the Iconia B1 and the Asus Memo Pad HD 7.
Towards the end of the week, what is believed to be the new Nexus 7 made an appearance at the FCC and the Bluetooth SIG, adding weight to rumors suggesting that its launch is imminent.
The One Mini cometh
Two credible leaks this week revealed pretty much everything there is to know about HTC’s new small(ish) One Mini, also known as the M4. The device is set to come with a 4.3-inch display, just like the other famous Mini phone of the moment, the Galaxy S4 Mini.
According to Bloomberg and Engadget, the One Mini should come in Q3, most likely in August. While the phone’s specifications are likely to be less impressive than those of the One, the good news is that popular features like BoomSound, BlinkFeed, and possibly the Ultrapixels camera, are making an appearance. Best of all, the One Mini will have the same sleek aluminum unibody design going on. Sweet!
Galaxy S4 Zoom: a zany camera/smartphone
Another week, another Samsung Galaxy S4 family member announced. This time, we’re talking about a crazy contraption that Samsung sells as a smartphone, but you probably wouldn’t think that judging from its looks alone.
The 208 grams Galaxy S4 Zoom features a 16MP sensor and an impressive, for a smartphone, 10x optical zoom that is a major contributor to its bulky profile. Specs-wise, we’re looking at a good, though not top-notch smartphone, with a dual-core processor and 1.5GB of RAM.
The camera capabilities of the Zoom will probably tingle shutterbugs in all the right places, but we can’t help wonder how many people will be willing to carry what is essentially a point-and-shoot camera around.
Mirrorless + Android? Yes, please
Speaking of cameras, Samsung looks to disrupt the mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera (MILC) market by injecting it with a dose of Android.
After Samsung boss JK Shin confirmed that the June 20 “Premiere” event in London will include the unveiling of Samsung’s first Android MILC, the Galaxy NX (probable name) appeared in a series of credible leaked images. The high-end device will run Android 4.2 and feature a 20.3MP APS-C sensor, and of course, interchangeable lenses.
Xperia Z(U) Ultra
Only days are left until Sony is supposed to lift the veil from what shapes up to be a beast of a smartphone. Known until recently as Togari, the Sony Xperia ZU (or Ultra) is set to be announced on June 25, and, from the looks of it, Samsung should be more than a bit worried for the Note 2.
The ZU will come with a category-stretching 6.4-inch display of Full HD resolution, universal stylus capability, and an amazingly thin profile. Between the Xperia ZU and the rumored HTC One Max, the 5.5-inch+ device range looks to be an increasingly disputed territory. And, as fans of massive screens, we’re excited about it.
Google’s loony balloons
In another example of a starry-eyed, seemingly crazy project emerging from the X Labs, Google revealed its latest moonshot – to bring internet access to the five billion people around the world that are not yet online, using a mesh network supported by high-altitude balloons.
Dubbed Loon, the project aims to bring internet access to some of the most remote areas of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa. In typical Google tradition, the technical achievements are astonishing – the balloons will be powered by solar panels and fly at an altitude of about 20 kilometers, which is twice the cruise altitude of commercial jetliners. To save energy, the devices will hitch a ride on air currents, by using data from NASA and NOAA to pick the optimal altitude to stay on a specific course.
Loon is still an experiment, trialed in New Zealand with a handful of participants. But if it pans out, Project Loon could open the way for a massive and massively beneficial venture to make the internet accessible everywhere.
In your opinion, what were the most important news this week, and why?