Chrome OS Updated to Chrome 59 with Native Printer Support

Following the updates to the Chrome browser and Chrome for Android updates last week, Chrome OS has now been updated to the Chrome 59 train.  Builds 59.0.3071.91, 59.0.3071.92 (Platform version: 9460.60.0, 9460.60.2) have been released for all devices running the platform with the exception of the Chromebook Pixel 2015 model.  The update is rolling out now and should be hitting devices over the course of the next few days.

Like the Chrome 59 update for Android and the browser, Material Design is now enabled by default on the Settings in Chrome OS.  Native printer support is also available now, not just Google Cloud Printing.  You can now setup a printer via IP address on your network and print directly to it from your Chromebook.

Essential PH-1 To Be Carrier Exclusive to Sprint

While the new Essential PH-1 won’t start shipping until the end of this month, we do know who the carrier deal is going to be with on the company’s first device.  Sprint, according to USA Today, will be the exclusive carrier of the device here in the United States.  The phone is going to receive prominent displays within Sprint stores nationally although it was not announced just how long the exclusive relationship would be on the new phone.

The exclusive on the PH-1 is not the first for Sprint as they are also the exclusive carrier on the HTC U11.

OnePlus Confirms The OnePlus2 Will Not Get Nougat

After months of continued positive statements about Android Nougat coming to the OnePlus 2, the company has announced that it will not be bringing Android 7.0 to the 2015 device.  The news comes from the site Android Authority where the Chinese company confirmed that the update won’t be coming due to changes in the software team structures since the release of the device.

The news isn’t a surprise but it is still very frustrating for OP2 owners who were told as late as May that the update would be coming to the device.  While the update to the OnePlus 3 and 3T is confirmed, it appears that OnePlus has taken the same stance as many other manufactures when it comes to updates:  One, maybe two major updates but that’s generally the end of the road.

Android O is Confirmed as Version 8.0.0

While the marketing name of Android O is still not known, we do at least know the version number.  In Developer Preview 3, which was released yesterday, the version number is clearly listed as 8.0.0 in the System>About page.  While there wasn’t a huge amount of mystery around this, it does finalize it.

The general assumption was that O would be v8 but the v4 train of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean and KitKat) created the confusion.  All of these were v4 but were 4.0, 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3.  Since then, there has always been a lingering thought that the next major version of Android could remain in the Nougat v7 lineup.

Android O Developer Preview 3 Released

The third Developer Preview of Android O has been released by Google and for those who have registered devices in the Android Beta Program, you should start seeing the update hit your devices.  DP3 arrived earlier than expected as Google had slated this for late June.  The early June release signals that the company is overall pretty pleased with where it stands in its development and also gives developers more time to prepare their apps.

A key element of the DP3 release is the finalized APIs for developers.  That means they can get started on updating or adding functionality to their apps based on these APIs, knowing they are not going to change between now and the final release.  That means you can expect over the next few months to see apps start noting updates in the Play Store with support for Android O prior to the release.

Google Further Clarifies End of Support for Nexus & Pixel Devices

Google has once again updated their support matrix for the Nexus and Pixel lineup of devices.  Previously the company had outlined dates of when major updates and minor security updates would cease for the devices.  There is nothing new here in that regard.  What is new is the dates for the end of online and phone support for the devices.  The good news, or at least the non-confusing news, is that online & phone support ends when security updates end on the devices.

Take the Nexus 6 for example.  There are no guaranteed Android updates to the device since October 2016.  No, Android O is not coming to the Nexus 6.  Sorry, I loved it too.  In October 2017, guaranteed security updates end and that is also when online and phone support ends for the device.  Other devices follow this same timing.

Today’s Deal – HTC U11 Unlocked for $649 on Amazon

Today’s Deal is on the all new HTC U11.  The phone was announced a few weeks ago and is available from various carriers locked to them.  Now you can pick one up unlocked for $649 on Amazon.  You have three color options – Sapphire Blue, Amazing Silver or Brilliant Black – and all three colors are the same price.

To be very clear:  This is the unlocked GSM version of the phone.  It will not work with Sprint, who has it available directly from the carrier.  This model will work with carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile however.  Here is a rundown of the supported bands:

  • GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100
  • LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 12(700), 13(700), 17(700), 20(800), 25(1900), 26(850), 28(700), 41(2500), 66(1700/2100)

In case you don’t recall, the specs of the HTC U11 are certainly flagship level.  The 5.5″ Quad-HD phone is powered by the Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor with 4 cores clocked at 2.45GHz and 4 at 1.9GHz.  It is coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage which can be expanded an additional 2TB thanks to the MicroSD slot.

Yahoo Shareholders Approve Sale to Verizon

Yahoo stockholders, in a special meeting held yesterday, have approved the sale of the company to Verizon.  The news came from Yahoo’s Investor Relations site and was a short but important announcement.

Yahoo stockholders approved the previously announced proposed sale to Verizon Communications Inc. (“Verizon”) of the Company’s operating business (the “Sale Transaction”). In addition, Yahoo stockholders voted to approve the advisory vote on the compensation payable to the Company’s named executive officers in connection with the completion of the Sale Transaction.

The announcement goes on to say that the expected close date of the sale is June 13, 2017.  The company will then be named Altaba, inc..  The total cost of the transaction is $4.48 billion and will position Verizon as a significant player in the digital marketing sector, their primary purpose for making the acquisition.

Chrome 59 Update for Android Brings Improved Page Loading Times

Just a few days after Chrome 59 was released for desktops, the latest update to Google’s browser is now starting to roll out for Android.  The update is version Chrome 59 (59.0.3071.92) for those keeping score at home and it has been released to the Play Store.  It should hit your devices over the course of the next several days via an OTA update.

While the release notes were limited, there are two improvements that are in this update.  First, overall loading of pages should be improved with this update.  Unfortunately, the Chromium team within Google didn’t quantify just how much faster the page loading happens.  It’s something that you will have to visually check and estimate yourself.

Hard-to-Track Bug Impacting Pixel Launcher Searches for Some

A hard-to-track and not always an issue bug is impacting many that have the Google Pixel Launcher running on their Pixel phone.  The issue is around searching when you tap the search pill at the top of the launcher.  Some have reported that when they tap it, their search history does not display and suggestions does not load.

The issue does not seem to be universal.  Some users have had no problem (I fall into that category) while others have found that a restart of their phone resolves the issue, others haven’t been able to get it resolved with a reboot.  Equally, it is not clear if the issue is related to the recent update to the Pixel Launcher which rolled out earlier this week.

Android Nougat Still Sub-10% in Latest Distribution Report

Google has released the June Android Distribution Report and it continues to show a picture of challenges.  Android Nougat gained 2.4% over the May report but it still sits below 10% of the total install base of device that hit the Play Store for the week ending June 5, 2017.  That is a very slow adoption rate for a platform that has been out for 8 months and one that its successor, Android O, is already in the beta channels.

Equally as challenging is that Android Marshmallow remained at 31.2% of the install base, the exact same number it has had for three reports running.  Android Lollipop, version 5.x, dropped to 30.8% this month, down from last month’s 32%.  If there is a positive in all of this it is that the last three versions of Android are on 71.5% of all devices hitting the Play Store, but that is covering nearly 3 years of Android builds.

Chrome 59 Released with Settings Now in Material Design

The Chromium team within Google has released Chrome 59, the latest major build of the browser for Windows, MacOS and Linux.  The update is rolling out now and if you have Chrome installed, the update should come to you over the course of the next few days.  If you want to force the issue, just type chrome://help in the browser and it will automatically download the update immediately.

There are two big changes in this update along with the normal raft of bug and security fixes.  The first is the injection of more Material Design.  The Settings page within Chrome is now by default in Material Design.  The ability to turn on this feature manually in Chrome has been there since Chrome 57 but it has required a manual flag change deep within the settings of the browser.  Now it is on by default in Chrome 59.