Huawei has announced this morning that the company’s MediaPad M5 lineup is now available in the United States. Coming in both an 8.4″ and 10.8″ with 2D curved glass – a first for tablets, the Huawei MediaPad M5 brings a powerful Android tablet experience that really no other manufacture can match these days. Both tablet sizes are powered by the Kirin 960 SoC built by Huawei, 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM.
Update – The tablet section of the Android.com site has returned. Maybe it was a mistake but tablets are still in trouble I suspect.
It what is the clearest indicator yet that Android on tablets is dead, Google has removed Tablets from the menu on the official site for the platform. Up until yesterday, if you visited Android.com, you would see an option for Tablets where you could get information on the smattering of tablet devices that are out there for purchase. Now that is gone, with the menu reset to include Phones, Wear, TV, Auto and Enterprise.
While the move isn’t completely shocking, it is more-or-less the official final nail in the coffin for tablet form factors running the platform.
A new firmware update is rolling out for the Lenovo Yoga Book that users will want to pick up when they can. The update brings some much needed stability improvements to the ultra thin 2-in-1 Android tablet including fixing some random crash issues.
The new build is version YB1-X90F_171013 for those keeping score at home. It is a 300MB download and takes about 10 minutes to get installed. The Android Security Update patch is incremented up to the August 2017 level which isn’t great but better than nothing I suppose.
The biggest improvements however is overall stability of the device.
One of the most common questions that I get asked, both here on the site, as well as by friends and family has to do with the hardware and software I use every day. It is a fair question and one that people ask out of both curiosity as well as doing a “stare and compare” with their own tech.
I’ve always said that you need to use the right technology that works for you. That may be an Android Phone or an iPhone. That may be a Windows PC or a MacBook Pro. Whatever the technology, it has to get the job done for you and for me, this list of hardware and software, works for me. I encourage readers to look into what I use to see if it fits their needs but at the end of the day, it is a personal use case as to whether it will or will not.
I’ve broken this article into two parts. The first is the primary hardware that I use each day with the second focused on the apps that I use on them. The apps could be on my phone, my tablet or my Chromebook and I’ll note that as I go along. As for hardware, I’ll cover what I use every day as well as other devices I use from time-to-time. You’ll note that very little of what I have is new and that’s on purpose. I tend not to buy the latest and greatest because I, like most of you reading this, are looking for value in my purchases or I use things for a long time before replacing them.
The Google Pixel C, the latest Android-based tablet from Google, has quietly been removed from the Google Store. It signals the end of sales for the 2015 tablet that was met with mix results both from a sales and overall satisfaction perspective. The 10.2″ tablet was released in September 2015 and shipped with Android Marshmallow. It was upgraded last year to Nougat and the latest update to Oreo rolled out in October.
The Pixel C was power packed and from a specifications perspective, was hard to top. But it was released at a time when many were beginning to question the need for a tablet at all. Rumors at the time were pointing to Android apps coming to Chrome OS or, perhaps, a melding of the two (Project Andromeda) which made it curious about releasing a tablet at the time. Indeed rumors persist that the Google Pixel C was actually slated to run Chrome OS but was switched at the last minute to Android.
Today’s Deal is on the powerful and ultra thin Lenovo Yoga Book Android tablet. The 10″ 2-in-1 tablet is on sale right now at Amazon for $299.94 in Gunmetal Gray. That’s a savings of $200.
The Yoga Book has a 10.1″ display that gives Full HD resolution of 1200 x 1920. It is powered by the Intel Atom x5-Z8550 processor, a quad-core processor that is clocked at 2.4GHz. That is coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. That internal storage can be expanded up to an additional 256GB thanks to the MicroSD slot. Also, the Lenovo Yoga Book can take advantage of Adaptive Storage in Android Nougat so once you have a MicroSD card installed, it can act as part of the main storage on the device.
What really makes the Yoga Book stand out is its size. It measure just 6.72 x 10.1 x 0.38 in and weighs 1.52lbs. That’s 256.00 x 170.80 x 9.60mm and 690 grams in new money. When you open it up, it is 4mm thin. It has a beautiful hinge that allows the keyboard to rotate completely around to the back of the tablet to use it in tablet mode. Camera wise, there is an 8MP main camera and 2MP front camera for selfies and video calls. All of this is powered by a whopping 8500mAh battery that gets you 15 hours of use between charges. Charging is done via a MicroUSB connector and it supports Quick Charge 3.0 technology for fast charging.
[Update: Version 3.1 has officially been released!]
The Microsoft Garage team behind Arrow Launcher for Android have had a busy few weeks. Last week they released a major update, version 3.0, to the public channel which brought a significant number of changes to it. While performance and stability improvements were the hallmark of the release, the new Utility page which shows your frequent contacts, apps and recent documents on one page was the big new feature. Right on the heels of that 3.0 release, the 3.1 build has hit those in the beta program with further refinements. The big news though is support for tablets.
Arrow Launcher on tablets works the same way as it does on phones with the ability to customize the launcher as far as icon size, rows and columns and some included widgets. It also supports app notifications (for apps that support it) and works in both landscape and portrait viewing. It is also incredibly stable. Those who visit often know that I generally shy readers away from betas because of bugs and stability issues. This beta of Arrow Launcher however is pretty rock solid in the couple of days I’ve been running it on my Nexus 9. Obviously proceed at your own risk but I’m happy with it so far.
While there were a few bright spots, the Android tablet market continued to constrict in the last quarter of 2016 according to Strategy Analytics. The site Q4 2016 report is out and with it, you see that overall, Android tablet sales dropped by 10% year-over-year with Samsung seeing a 10% drop themselves year-over-year. Interestingly, relatively new comer Huawei saw a 49% increase in growth over last year as they made their first significant efforts in the tablet space in 2016. It seems to have paid off – at least for now. Amazon also enjoyed a nice growth rate of 21% thanks to their Fire lineup of Android-powered tablets.
The news on tablet sales didn’t just impact Android. Apple saw a 19% drop in iPad sales year-over-year in Q4 2016.