Android Security Update for June Released

Google Pixel XL

As expected with it being the first Monday of the month, Google has released the Android Security Update patches for June today.  Like the past few updates, this month’s patch consists of two patches, one dated June 1st and the other June 5th.  The first patch deals with broader issues with Android in general while the second patch is more driver or component specific.

Perhaps the best news in this month’s update is the fix of a long standing Bluetooth vulnerability within Android.  There are three specific fixes that are in this update which squelch the ability of malicious apps to elevate permissions.  This issue has actually be in Android since the KitKat days.  Yeah, a long time coming.

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AT&T Just Now Rolling Out The February Android Security Update to Some Devices

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

With the March Android Security Update rolling out, February’s update is just now being rolled out by AT&T to some Samsung devices.  The update for the Galaxy Note 4, Note 5 and S5 Active are just now hitting customers. The updates themselves are quite small, under 200MB, and only contain the security update changes & fixes.  To put things into perspective, T-Mobile released the February Android Security Update for the Note 5 on their network on February 1st, the day the patch was released.

The challenge of upgrades and security patches is a well trodden road that we don’t need to visit yet again.  But it speaks volumes of the problem facing the platform when one carrier is releasing a security patch some 5 weeks after it was originally released.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Samsung Galaxy Note 5

The update for these devices shouldn’t take long to download given their size.  Once you have the download completed, your will need to reboot your device to apply the update which, all in, should take about 20 minutes to get done.  For reference, the build numbers for the updates are as follows:

  • Galaxy Note 4 – MMB29M.N910AUCS2EPK4
  • Galaxy Note 5 – MMB29K.N920AUCS4CQB2
  • Galaxy S5 Active  – MMB29M.G870AUCS2DPK5

Unless you just absolutely have to do so, I strongly encourage readers to avoid carrier locked devices from any carrier.  Updates tend to be much slower from carriers while unlocked devices from manufactures, as a general rule, will get updates faster.  That doesn’t always hold 100% true but close enough.  Obviously devices from Google like the Pixel and Nexus phones get updates the quickest.

Android Nougat Coming to Chrome OS 58 or 59

Chromebook Pixel

While the ability to run Android apps on Chrome OS continues to roll out, the question for many is when or if it will be updated.  The answer is yes and pretty soon.  This week while attending Google Cloud Next in San Francisco, I posed the question to Chrome OS product management in a breakout session and it was confirmed that Android Nougat will be coming to the platform build 58 or 59.  Given that it is already in the beta channel, I suspect that it is likely 58.

As readers may know, Android Framework in Chrome OS currently is based on Android Marshmallow.  So, in theory, if an app will run in Marshmallow, it will run on Chrome.  The tricky bit has been that some apps can’t go full screen in 6.0 and features like multi-window support for apps is not something that is supported at all in Marshmallow.  All of that changes under 7.0 obviously as the framework allows for it.

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Google Assistant Coming to Android Phones Running Marshmallow and Nougat

Google Assistant in Google Allo

After being exclusive to the Google Pixel phone lineup, Google Assistant is making its way to Android Marshmallow and Nougat devices starting this week.  The news is certainly welcome.  Google Assistant has expanded to being in Google Home, Android Wear 2.0 and Google Allo but for adoption to really take off, it needs to be on phones and not just the latest Google flagship.  Google made it pretty clear which devices are going to see Assistant.  First, it has to be running Android Marshmallow or Android Nougat.  If you are running Lollipop or earlier, you are not going to get the update.  Second, your phone has to be running Google Play Services.  The vast majority of devices out there do run Play Services but you can check on your phone by going to Settings>Apps then tap the Show Systems option in the menu then scroll down and it (they are in alphabetical order).

Assuming your phone meets these two criteria, Google Assistant will automatically be pushed to your phone via Play Services.

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Android Install Base Report Shows Nougat at Over 1%

Android Nougat

Google has released the latest Android Platform version report which sees Android Nougat finally break through the 1% install base level.  The report is based on devices that visited the Play Store for a 7-day period ending February 6, 2017.  While it is not the ultimate report of which versions of Android are in use, it is nevertheless a good resource to get a picture of what is out in the wild.  For Nougat, across versions 7.0 and 7.1, the devices coming to the Play Store topped out at 1.2%, nearly double that of the .7% from the January report.  This number should continue to increase as new devices hit the market as well as updates to Nougat from HTC, Sony, Moto and others that have been happening over the course of the past few weeks.  It’s still a low number but it is heading in the right direction.

Android Marshmallow was the only version of those in the report besides Nougat to see an increase in usage.  Marshmallow jumped 1.1% to 30.7% of the total while Lollipop, KitKat and Jelly Bean all saw drops.  Lollipop fell .5% to 32.9 while KitKat saw a .7% decrease and Jelly Bean was down .3%.  Android Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich just made the report with a 1% total each.

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Android Install Base Report Sees Froyo Disappear

January 2017 Android Install Base Report

Let’s all have a moment of silence for a dearly departed friend, Android Froyo.

(silence)

Google has just released the latest Android Platform Report and the nearly 6 year old Froyo is no longer on the report.  The report is based on devices that came to the Google Play Store for the week ending January 9, 2017.  While certainly not a definitive resource when it comes to the Android install base, it is a solid resource that gives some great insights to just what versions of Android are out there and in use.  The news for Nougat is that installs still remain low.  The latest version of Android only accounted for .7% of the devices hitting the store, miles behind Marshmallow at 29.6% and even further behind leader Lollipop, which sits at 33.4% of visitors.  Still, that Nougat number is a .3% increase over last month but equally, Marshmallow jumped up 3.3% for the report.  For the rest of the versions, numbers declined.

Android Lollipop dropped .6% to 33.4% while KitKat had the biggest drop of 1.4% to 22.6%.  Jelly Bean dropped to 11.6%, down from 12.8%, Ice Cream Sandwich dropped .1% to 1.1% and finally, the now quite crusty Gingerbread release dropped to 1%.

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Today’s Deal – BLU Life One X2 with 4GB Ram and 64GB Storage for $199

BLU Life One X2

Today’s Deal is on the powerful BLU Life One X2, a solid 5.2″ Android phone with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage built in.  Right now you can pick one up either in Grey or in Rose Gold for $199 on Amazon.  The phone is very well equipped for one in this price range, featuring a 5.2″ curved glass Full HD display and is powered by the octa-core Snapdragon 430 processor running at 1.4GHz.  As mentioned, it has 4GB of RAM which is almost unheard of in the sub-$200 range as is the 64GB of built-in storage.  That storage can be expanded an additional 64GB thanks to the MicroSD slot.

Camera wise, the BLU Life One X2 has a 16MP Phase Detection Auto Focus shooter while the front camera is an 8MP unit that has a front facing flash for improved selfie quality.

As with other deals I post on, the Life One X2 is sold unlocked and works with GSM carriers.  If you are on Sprint or Verizon, sadly it won’t work for you.  Here are the GSM frequencies and LTE bands in this phone:

  • 4G HSPA+ (850/1700/1900/2100)
  • LTE (2/4/7/12/17)

Finally, the Life One X2 is running Android Marshmallow so you are getting a solid and secure Android build on the phone.  One thing to note is that BLU is no clear on when or if there will be a Nougat update for this phone so if that is a big deal to you, be aware.

To get all the details or to order your BLU Life One X2 in Grey or Rose Gold, head over to Amazon.