If you are still waiting for Google to do something about the WebView vulnerabilities in older Android releases, you may not be a fan of their official response to the matter. Google says they’ve already fixed it, sort of, but at least offered ways that you can protect yourself and your data going forward.
In a recent Google+ post, echoing an older DevBytes video and our own take on the matter, Google has addressed the WebView issues that have been of growing target for complaints of the free and open source Android OS. Android releases prior to KitKat, that is, versions 4.3 and older, have a known code injection flaw in the WebView element.
WebView is broken, don’t use it
WebView is a tool within Android that allows apps to display web content within the app, you’ve all seen these before as ads at the bottom of a free game or an in-app web based help page. Although the Google+ post goes on to describe a few best practices, the underlying message is unforgiving and clear, WebView is broken, so don’t use it.
Perhaps Google’s advice is easier said than done, especially for the casual gamers in the crowd, but disabling the default Android browser and installing Chrome, Dolphin or another full web browser is good advice regardless the issues. Developers, please familiarize yourself with the best practices for your apps, to keep us secure.
Now, didn’t you say that Google fixed the issue? Well, yes, sort of. Google took the time in the Google+ post to explain that they have limited resources for working on older versions of Android. Plainly put, Android 4.4 KitKat included the fix to the WebView bug. Keeping in mind that KitKat is over a year old now itself, having been through versions up to 4.4.4 before giving way to Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is also a couple versions in already. Android 5.0.2 Lollipop is already shipping out to some devices.
Bottom line, users of devices running Jellybean and older are just out of luck. Please take the precautions discussed, or have a look at installing a custom ROM, if one is available for your Android unit.
Is this an acceptable response from Google, or should they dedicate more staff to fixing older Android releases? Before you answer, I might suggest taking a look at the latest Android distribution numbers.
There’s mounting evidence that HP, once the leading PC maker, does not know what it’s doing. After announcing plans to cut up to 5 percent of its work force, the company is basically throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. Recent experiments include a luxury smartwatch, Chromebooks, a $199 Window notebook and now, a laptop running Android. Here’s the sales pitch, and bear with me if this doesn’t make sense: The SlateBook 14, according to HP, is for students and teens who already use Android on their mobile devices. In other words, they already own a Galaxy S5 or what have you, and they should have an Android laptop to match. The idea is that they might choose this over a Chromebook because it has more apps, and because it’s more familiar. Ditto for Windows laptops — except, you know, Windows actually has lots of apps too. Setting aside HP’s flawed logic (they never said Windows users should stick to Windows Phone): Why would you pay $430 for a laptop running an OS that was primarily meant to be used with the fingers?
Take what I say here with a grain of salt: The same way Vogue editor Anna Wintour is allowed to like a dress covered in futuristic space-snails, I’m allowed to like a laptop decked out in Lamborghini yellow. Personally, I kinda dig how the black lid and keyboard deck contrast with the bright hinge and sides. The only place where HP goes too far is the bottom side of the machine. It’s all yellow — right in your face. Ditto for the prominent Beats Audio logo, located on the right side of the hinge, right in your line of sight whenever you’re looking at the screen. In any case, whether you love or hate the yellow accents, I think we can agree on this: It’s insane that in addition to releasing an Android laptop in the first place — a niche product if ever there was one — HP chose the most polarizing design possible, and didn’t even offer any color options. Want that yellow to be cyan instead? Tough noogies, kiddos. You can have a yellow laptop running Android or… something else entirely.
It’s a shame, because this is otherwise a fairly well-made laptop, especially for $430. The lid is made of aluminum, and while the rest is constructed from plastic, those bits still feel solid; the thing never bends when you grab it by the palm rest. The 1080p touchscreen is sharper than almost everything else I’ve seen in this price range, and while the LED-backlit panel doesn’t provide the best viewing angles, the quality is still a big step up over every Chromebook I’ve tested. The keyboard is sturdy too, with well-spaced buttons that provide a decent amount of travel. And of course, Beats Audio offers better sound than what you’ll get on other budget notebooks. Still, I can see where someone might overlook all of that if they couldn’t get past the screaming yellow.
At 3.71 pounds, the laptop is on the heavy side. Not for a 14-inch laptop, mind you, but it’s still much weightier than a smaller Android tablet with a detachable case or keyboard dock. It’s also heavier than most Chromebooks, as well as some budget Windows laptops (I’m talking about the netbook-sized 11-inch models here). Considering Android isn’t that useful on a laptop, I have to question whether owning a relatively heavy notebook is worth it when you could just buy a tablet or Chromebook and call it a day.
It’s also not like you get that many more ports on a machine this big. As on some Chromebooks, there’s a full-sized HDMI socket, a headphone jack and a memory card reader to help offset the rather paltry 16GB of built-in storage. Incidentally, that slot actually takes microSD, not SD, cards — a normal spec for phones and tablets, but an oddity on a 14-inch laptop. All told, the main difference in I/O between this and a Chromebook is that you get three USB ports here instead of two, but I’d hardly call that a selling point.
Performance and battery life
Excuse me while I point out the obvious: Android was not designed to be used with a mouse. Personally, I use the Moto X as my daily driver. I spend more hours a day staring at KitKat than I’d like to admit. And yet, when I opened the SlateBook for the first time, I paused for a moment, unsure of what to do next. After a couple seconds, of course, I came to my senses and did what any reasonable person would do: I reached up and touched the screen. And so it went. Several days into using the SlateBook, and I’ve rarely touched the trackpad. It happens to be a very nice trackpad, and it comes in handy when I’m reading a website and would rather not reach across the keyboard to scroll down the page. Otherwise, though, I use my fingers, just as I would on my phone.
|HP SlateBook 14||NVIDIA Shield Tablet||Tegra Note 7||Samsung Galaxy Tab S|
|3DMark IS Unlimited||16,040||30,970||16,473||12,431|
|SunSpider 1.0 (ms)||685||463||586||1,109|
|SunSpider: Lower scores are better.|
The same way there’s only one color option for the SlateBook, there’s just one spec configuration. That would be the $430 model I tested here, which has 2GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in storage and an NVIDIA Tegra 4 chip — the same one used in the Note 7 tablet. But in a way, the performance is moot. I mean, of course you want the device to run smoothly. And it does. Apps launch quickly. The OS is quick to respond if I want to see a list of my open programs; closing and switching applications is a breeze. Web pages load quickly, albeit not as fast as most Chromebooks. The thing is, the SlateBook’s quad-core Tegra 4 processor can handle even more than that. You know, like games. But on a device like this, why would you even bother? Who wants to cradle a 14-inch, 3.7-pound laptop, all so that they can tilt their way through Need For Speed? Who wants to reach across the keyboard when you could rest a tablet in your lap? And if you’re content to only play browser games, why don’t you use your $430 to buy a proper laptop?
The more I use the SlateBook, the more I think Android users would be better served by a tablet that can pair with either a keyboard case or detachable keyboard dock; you’d get more portability, similar battery life (more on that in a minute) and greater versatility when it comes to gaming. And yet you’d still have that keyboard when you needed it. If you’re the sort of person who does a ton of typing — email, web surfing, office docs — you’d be better off with either a Chromebook or a Windows machine. At least those operating systems were meant to be used with a mouse.
|HP SlateBook 14||9:03|
|ASUS Transformer Book T100||10:40|
|Dell Chromebook 11||8:37|
|ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C||8:26|
|NVIDIA Shield Tablet||8:23|
|Samsung Chromebook 2 (13-inch)||8:22|
|Acer C720 Chromebook (Intel Core i3)||7:53|
|Acer C720 Chromebook (Intel Celeron)||7:49|
|HP Chromebook 11||5:08|
|Chromebook Pixel||4:08 (WiFi)/3:34 (LTE)|
The SlateBook 14′s 32Wh battery is rated for nine hours of runtime and indeed, I got exactly nine hours and three minutes of continuous video playback (that’s with WiFi on, fixed brightness and Facebook and Twitter set to poll periodically). On the one hand, that’s great for a laptop; it’s the sort of longevity you’d expect from a $1,000 Ultrabook, but not necessarily a bargain-basement notebook, especially not one like this with a bigger screen.
On the other hand, nine-hour battery life is only marginally better than what most Chromebooks are capable of, and again, those tend to be more portable than the machine we have here. It’s also on par with Android tablets, like the new NVIDIA Shield tablet or the ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C, which costs $299 with a keyboard dock. Even if you wanted a Windows system, you could find a low-powered laptop or hybrid that delivers long battery life. (There are plenty of options in the 11-inch range.) Have I made my point clearly enough? Long battery life is not a good enough reason to buy this.
Not that it matters — I’m recommending you don’t buy this — but the SlateBook runs Jelly Bean (version 4.3), with an upgrade to KitKat expected to arrive sometime in Q4. Thankfully, HP left Android as is; there are no skins here, no home screen panels that are impossible to remove. Nope, this is Android as Google meant it to be experienced. Really, the only mark HP left on the device is a handful of pre-installed apps. These include ones for Box.com, Evernote, Skitch, Skype, Hulu Plus, Splashtop, NVIDIA TegraZone, Kingsoft Office and CyberLink PowerDirector Mobile. You’ll also find some apps from HP itself, including Connected Drive, Connected Music, Connected Photo, ePrint, Media Player and File Manager. There’s also a “Games” app, which is really just a store for WildTangent titles. In any case, if none of this strikes your fancy, you can always uninstall them in the settings and free up a little bit of space.
The SlateBook is an interesting specimen. That’s why I wanted to review it: because I was curious about the idea of an Android laptop, and thought you might be too. And it is interesting. But by no means should you actually buy one. The SlateBook takes Android, an otherwise intuitive operating system, and manages to make it… cumbersome. It’s a pain to use with a mouse, and yet if you want to use your fingers, you have to reach across the keyboard. Because that keyboard doesn’t detach, the device is far heavier than a standalone tablet, and the battery life isn’t even that much better.
If you love the Android experience, just buy a tablet with a keyboard case. If the typing experience is paramount, there are Windows laptops that are less expensive and more portable. Even a Chromebook would make more sense than the SlateBook; at least Chrome OS was designed to be used with a mouse. Samsung’s 13-inch Chromebook 2, for instance, has just as sharp a display and costs $30 less, and there are loads of options that are even cheaper. Frankly, I’m not sure I’d recommend an Android laptop at any price, but for $430 the answer’s easy: Just don’t do it.
Another month has past, so another platform chart has been released to see who is running what on their devices. We always hope to see the newest versions of Android take most of the pie, and it looks like Android 4.4 KitKat has seen a nice percentage raise to 5.3%. Last month the percentage was roughly 2.5%, so they are doing their best to get that KitKat out there to us. Jelly Bean is still the victor in this pie, by taking 61.4% of devices out there, which is about a 0.6% decrease from last month. A very lovely number indeed, which is what Android is striving to achieve, by making their newest versions easier to get on all the many devices out there. Cut down that fragmentation.
Still makes me laugh that there are still people rocking Froyo out there, but at least that Gingerbread and ICS number has gone down. Let us know what you think about these new numbers.
In typical information cruising we came across a post over at Android Geeks that said the T-Mobile Sony Xperia Z Android 4.3 update was starting to roll out. The page they referred to was the T-Mobile support page for the Xperia Z. That is is all on the up and up, but it seems that shortly after it was published, it was removed.
Priory to its vanishing act, the AndroidGeek guys got a screenshot of the page. It outlined that as of March 3rd, today, there would be an update to Android 4.3 for the Xperia Z. It would be labeled with firmware version 10.4.C.0.797. The improvements sections lists a few niceties though.
- Software Stability Improvements
- UXP Air user interface redesign
- WiFi Calling user interface redesign
- Stock keyboard switched from Nuance XT9 to Swiftkey
- 5 signal bars instead of 4
A few things could have happened that forced it to be pulled back down. One, the publication wasn’t finished. Seriously, there is an extra bullet point with no writing.
Second, while today is March 3rd, they have all day to start the roll out. It is most likely still coming, just not until later this evening. Or third, which we don’t want to have happen, it started its roll out and and failed or screwed up some devices. We didn’t see any reports of issues, or of anyone getting the OTA yet for that matter, so we are going to go with the first two reasons for now.
For those sporting the T-Mobile branded Sony Xperia Z, keep your device charged up and don’t stray to far from a WiFi connection. The file size that was listed comes in at 308 MBs. If you happen to see it pop-up, let us, and the rest of the users, know about it.
Android 4.4 KitKat for the Sprint Galaxy S4. Sony Brings Android 4.3 to Multiple Devices. – Device Updates
Hello Android friends. Time for that time of the week where we talk about those updates that happened this passed week. The Sprint Galaxy S4 should be getting some Android 4.4, and Sony is getting a few of their Xperia devices up to Android 4.3. Other than that, a pretty slow update week.
The Sony Mobiles blog site has announced a fairly aggressive Android 4.3 update today that covers four different models of Xperia devices. Technically only three as the XPeria SP rollout of Android 4.3 began last week. now they are starting the process for the Sony Xperia T, Xperia TX and the Xperia V. Check out what is new and coming for you guys.
- Google’s Android 4.3; Jelly Bean as standard – bringing Project Butter performance & UI response optimisation and a smoother graphical experience
- We’re also uplifting Sony’s entire native app portfolio to the latest versions – bringing tweaked / improved / current experiences for (to name but a few): Messaging, Smart Connect, Small apps, TrackID, Sony Select and
- Sony’s Media apps: WALKMAN, Album and Movies, with Sony Entertainment Network cloud service integration* – a more converged and full Sony entertainment experience – Sony Entertainment Network & PlayMemories integration with a more intuitive UI, offering seamless access to both local and cloud conten
- The launch of our unique custom interface experience: “Xperia Themes”, with downloadable UI packs from Sony Select – more on this soon…
- The latest Android security enhancements, matched with Sony’s mobile enterprise solution: Xperia in Business
- Battery STAMINA Mode – updated version of Sony’s power management app, now with refreshed interface and more smart options for prolonging battery life
While the software is available for the various devices those carrier and market specific versions might be delayed slightly, or might not come at all. Any of our global readers seeing the magical update yet?
Source: Sony Mobile Blog
Sony today announced that the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update has commenced for the Xperia T, Xperia TX, Xperia V smartphones. The actual rollout, of course, depends on markets and carriers, however it’s officially pushed out the door.
In addition to the standard 4.3 stuff, the update includes updated Sony apps and services, Xperia Themes, security enhancements, and more.
The post Sony delivers Android 4.3 to Xperia T, Xperia TX, Xperia V appeared first on AndroidGuys.
It has been rumored for some time that HTC has been working with Mediatek chip-makers on producing a low to mid range 8-core smartphone for global markets. The pictures below are of the supposed development between the two companies, the “HTC Desire”.
The phone is said to boast a 5 inch display, 720p resolution, Android 4.3, 1.5GB of RAM, and HTC Sense 5.5. Now these are only rumors, but this could be HTC’s reaction to the iPhone 5c in order to get in on China’s growing smartphone market.
No availability has been released, but it has been said that the price will be 2000 Yuan or $330 USD. At this price it would be a direct competitor for business in China.
Sony is fast at work on the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update for their Xperia T, TX, V, and SP smartphones. According to a recent tweet, the handset maker plans to have the software push out beginning later this month and into February. Keep in mind that is will be for the unlocked international models and timing will vary depending on carriers and markets. Seeing as how don’t have any of these offered in the U.S. with a wireless provider, the time frame is up in the air for the models you might pick up through channels such as Amazon.
We hear you re: JB 4.3 for #Xperia T, TX, V, SP – we’re making final preps & will start rolling from end Jan / early Feb
— Sony Xperia News (@SonyMobileNews) January 16, 2014
The post Sony hopes to push Android 4.3 to Xperia T, TX, V, SP later this month appeared first on AndroidGuys.
It looks like Android 4.2.2 will be the end of the upgrade roadmap for the HTC One X and X+, two of the company’s primary flagship phones in 2012. The phone maker tweeted out — and later confirmed to the press — that neither handset will be upgraded to Android 4.3 or anything newer. As frustrating as this announcement is, we don’t consider ourselves shocked: the original One X launched nearly two years ago, and we speculate that the 15-month-old X+’s Tegra 3 processor may have been the reason for its fate. Take a look at HTC’s official statement below.
We can confirm that the HTC One X and One X+ will not receive further Android OS updates beyond Android 4.2.2 with Sense 5. We realize this news will be met with disappointment by some, but our customers should feel confident that we have designed both devices to be optimized with our amazing camera and audio experiences.
Via: The Verge
Source: HTC UK (Twitter)