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.

Android Security Update for June Released

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.

Nextbit Robin Gets Android Nougat 7.1.1 and April Security Update

After a few months in beta testing, the Android Nougat 7.1.1 update for the Nextbit Robin is now available.  The 540MB update is rolling out to all Robins starting today and brings with it the April Android Security Update along with it.  The OTA update to 7.1.1 should automatically be checked for by your Robin but if you want to manually check, go to Settings>About Phone>Check for Update.

As most readers will know by now, Nextbit was acquired by Razer at the end of 2016 and the Robin, the San Francisco startup’s only phone, was discontinued at that point.  The company committed to keeping the device up-to-date through February 2018 but realistically, this will be the last major update for the phone.  It will likely only be security patches from this point forward.

LineageOS Adds The Pixel C and LG V20 Variants to The Portfolio

The team at LineageOS continues to shine with more new devices added to their supported device list this week.  The headliner of those new devices are the Google Pixel C tablet and the GSM unlocked and Sprint variants of the LG V20.  On the latter, with these two added, it means that the company now supports all US-based variants of the V20, a first for them.

The ROM builds for the Pixel C will be available starting on Monday, June 5th while the other ROMs for the other devices are now available.  The new devices include the BQ Aquaris U Plus and the Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus while owners of the Motorola Photon Q and eEco Le Max 2 are now on the Android Nougat based 14.1 train.

New Paranoid Android Wallpapers from Hampus Olsson

Artist Hampus Olsson has released a set of six new wallpapers in support of the latest update to Paranoid Android.  For those who may not know Olsson’s work, he is the artist behind the colorful and creative wallpapers for OnePlus and Paranoid Android.  Chances are you have seen them, you just may not know the creator behind them.

The new wallpapers are available on his site and you can download them directly from there for all your devices, even if you aren’t running Paranoid Android.  He also has other artwork and wallpapers available on his site and a bit of history on his creative works.  You will also see the extensive list of clients he has who use his artwork.

Opinion – As a Site Owner, I’m all in on Google Chrome Ad-Blocking

In a blog post yesterday, Google clearly and carefully outlined their plan for blocking overly aggressive adverts on the web.  At first blush, it would seem odd that Google, a company who primarily makes their money from adverts, would block ads.  Further, it would seem self serving as the types of adverts they want to block in Chrome, they themselves don’t serve up so only their ads would get through the blocker.  That’s not entirely true.

As a site owner who depends on adverts and as a consumer, I’m quite happy with this announcement and planned implementation in 2018.

The short of it is this:  In Google Chrome, starting in 2018, overly intrusive adverts are going to be blocked by the browser.  As Google described them, “it’s far too common that people encounter annoying, intrusive ads on the web–like the kind that blare music unexpectedly, or force you to wait 10 seconds before you can see the content on the page. These frustrating experiences can lead some people to block all ads–taking a big toll on the content creators, journalists, web developers and videographers who depend on ads to fund their content creation.”

We all know examples of sites that use these types of ads and as a consumer, I hate them.  I never block the ads but I just don’t go to those sites any more.  And that hurts me in getting the information I want or need and ultimately, it hurts the site as they don’t get revenue from their ads.

Today’s Deal – Anker 4-Port USB 3.0 Slim Hub for $10

Today’s Deal is on the slim, 4-port USB 3.0 hub from Anker.  This hub supports USB 3.0 on all four ports and right now it is $9.99 on Amazon.  That’s a savings of 50%.  The hub also supports SuperSpeed Data which can give you 5 Gbps throughout for data transfers.

The hub is small and lightweight, weighing less than an ounce, and has a reinforced cable to connect it to your PC or Mac as well as heat-resistant connectors within the hub.

As with all Anker products, you get a 18-month warranty on the hub and as one who personally uses Anker products, I never have a hesitation in recommending them.  They work and they last.

The deal over at Amazon is today and there is no limit to the number you buy.  If you are an Amazon Prime customer, shipping is free for you.

Huawei P10 and P10 Plus Pre-Orders Start at Rogers in Canada

Canada’s largest mobile provider Rogers has begun taking pre-orders for the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus.  The carrier is offering both phones at a variety of different payment options to their customers including the ability to purchase the phones outright.

The 5.1″ P10 is available in Black or in the Rogers exclusive color Prestige Gold for $649 without a contract while it will cost $499 on a 2 year on their Talk & Text Plan.  The 5.5″ P10 Plus is $749 without a contract and $599 on a 2 year Talk & Text plan.  Their are other plans available from the carrier for both phones.

Honor 6X Now Available at Target Stores & Online

Honor, the junior brand of Huawei, have teamed up with Target to start selling the Honor 6X.  The 6X has been in the United States since January but was only really available from Honor directly or through their Amazon store front.  With the phone now becoming available in over 400 Target locations, both companies are expected the $249 phone to sell.

I reviewed the Honor 6X back in March and it is a solid performer at an excellent price point.  That $249 price gets you the 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage configuration of the phone, with that storage expandable thanks to the MicroSD card slot.  Through Target stores, you can get the phone in Silver, Gold and Gray (the Gray is only available in stores, not online).