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AA Weekly: top Android news of the week, September 1, 2013
This week debuted with controversy around the Chromecast, continued with a bevy of pre-IFA leaks and teasers, and some great Nexus news. But the event that got everyone talking was Hugo Barra’s surprise move to Xiaomi.
The Chromecast blues
Controversy irrupted at the beginning of the week around the work of developer Koushik Dutta, whom you may know as a major CyanogenMod contributor and the creator of AllCast, an app that allowed users to stream local content to their Chromecast.
We used the past tense because a firmware update for the Chromecast effectively broke AllCast, prompting the dev to accuse Google of intentionally breaking AllCast in order to appease big content partners.
Following the backlash, Google denied it purposely disabled AllCast and said future versions of the Chromecast SDK will bring back the ability to play local content.
Note 3 and Gear rumor festival
The Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear smartwatch will be introduced to the world next week at IFA, and, with their release so close, a variety of leaks involving the two devices emerged this week.
To start with the bad news, it seems probable that the Galaxy Note 3’s camera won’t feature optical image stabilization, as it was previously rumored. The Note 3, however, may come with 4K video recording and 24-bit 192 KHz music playback, similarly to the LG G2.
For those who wonder what the newest Note will look like, we have some more or less credible images of the Note 3’s front panel. The phone preserves the general appearance of the Galaxy family, though with a slightly more angular design, similar to the original Note.
Moving on to the Gear, the smartwatch’s specifications are mostly known at this point, thanks to several reports from trusted sources. We just hope that the report about the 10 hours battery life isn’t accurate.
Hugo Barra says goodbye to Google
Hugo Barra, one of the public faces of the Android team, announced this week his surprise departure from Google. After five years with Google, the executive will move to Xiaomi, the rising star of the Chinese mobile industry.
Barra’s leave sparked a whole lot of commentary about the future of Android, the rise of Xiaomi and other Chinese phone makers, but also about alleged personal issues that are causing friction within Google.
More Xperia Z1 leaks
Sony has a press event scheduled for next week when we all expect to see the much-rumored Xperia Z1 (also known as the Honami) take the spotlight. Over the past few days, the Honami appeared in several batches of leaked images, and Sony itself didn’t leave much for the imagination in this video teaser from Tuesday:
We also heard gossip about the clip-on lens attachments that Sony is rumored to show along the Xperia Z1. The gizmos could be marketed as EspressOn or Smart Shot, depending on which rumor you believe, but one thing is almost certain: they won’t come cheap.
G Pad 8.3 is official
LG is another manufacturer that we expected to show something new and snazzy at IFA next week, but it seems that the Korean manufacturer jumped the gun a bit.
After releasing a teaser video for the LG G Pad on Monday, LG made the 8.3-inch device official just hours before this post was written. We now know all the official specs and features of the LG G Pad 8.3, which will be available starting in October. We’ll get to spend some time with the G Pad at IFA, so come back for hands-on videos and first impressions next week.
Good news from the Nexus front
Some very good news for Nexus fans came our way, starting with a massive, some would say unbelievable, price cut of $100 for the Nexus 4. Customers fortunate enough to live in a country where Google sells the Nexus 4 directly can now get the phone unlocked for the price that other people pay for a phone on contract. For instance, the US 8GB version of the Nexus 4 now goes for just $199.
Also this week, the Nexus 7 (2013) became available in several new markets: UK, Germany, France, Spain, and Japan. That leaves just three more markets for Google to start selling its attractive 7-inch device – Australia, South Korea, and India.
Galaxy S5: so it begins
It’s never too early to begin to speculate about the hottest Android device out there, right? Well, some might disagree, but for the rest of you, here’s what we heard about the Galaxy S5. Yes, the S5!
The Galaxy S5 might be the first Samsung phone to come with optical image stabilization, Korean media would have us believe. The 2014 Samsung flagship could also be the first to ditch the infamous plastic build in favor of a sleeker metal shell.
Samsung is reportedly going to set up a fabrication line for aluminum and alloy smartphone casings by the end of the year.
What’s your take?
What do you think were the biggest news this week, and why?