The first monthly Android security updates start rolling out for Nexus devices

Google has delivered on its promise to release monthly security updates today, with the first of said updates now rolling out to nearly all Nexus devices released in the past three years.

The updates haven’t been given their own Android version number, with Google instead opting to simply change the build number. The builds in question are ‘LMY48M’ for the Nexus 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10, and ‘LMY48N’ for the Nexus Player, both of which are based on Android 5.1.1.

The update is mostly concerned with addressing memory overflow issues that could potentially lead to exploitation. There’s also a fix for a “moderate severity vulnerability” that allowed apps to bypass SMS short code notifications that informed users when a text message could cost them money.

Stagefright, a collection of dangerous Android vulnerabilities that can now be exploited by attackers, has already been patched in the latest version of Android. Nexus owners shouldn’t have to worry about becoming victim to any Stagefright exploits.

The attention now squarely turns on other Android OEMs to implement these security fixes in their devices. Google has done a pretty decent job of patching devices as old as the Nexus 4 from 2012, but some OEMs have many more models to update, some of which will, unfortunately, be left unpatched.

Samsung and LG have already promised monthly updates for some of their devices, so hopefully we’ll see these two companies release patches for their smartphones in the near future. It’s unclear whether other companies, especially those notoriously slow at releasing software updates (such as Sony), will even patch their devices at all.

Source: The first monthly Android security updates start rolling out for Nexus devices – TechSpot

Rumor: New Google Nexus 8 tablet to launch in April 2014

Some new rumors are suggesting Google’s next Nexus tablet will launch at the end of April. Dubbed the Nexus 8, this new tablet will be an evolution off the Nexus 7 tablets from the previous two years.

This story comes via unnamed suppliers in Asia, which claim Google is slightly re-focusing its tablet efforts. The Nexus 8, as the name suggests, will feature an 8-inch screen a small bump from the previous 7-inch versions. This version supposedly comes due to increased competition in the 7-inch form-factor market, as well as ever increasing numbers of phablet-type devices in the 5 and 6-inch range.

Google’s switch to an 8-inch format would better differentiate it from other products and put it in the same class as Apple’s iPad Mini. It would also set its rumoured device in the mid-range of tablet sizes, giving credence to other rumours that suggest Google may be dropping the Nexus 10 line altogether, the bigger premium version of the Nexus 7.

There isn’t much info on what the Nexus 8 tablet may feature under the hood, but it’s valid to assume we’ll see the latest and most powerful CPUs, increased RAM size and better screens. It will, of course, also be running the latest version of Android. As for whose manufacturing this new device, Asus seems like the strongest contender, having manufactured the previous Nexus 7 tablets, but LG and even HTC are rumored to also be candidates.

If this rumor turns out to be true and the Nexus 8 does indeed launch in April, we’ll likely see many more leaks in the coming weeks as we draw nearer to the launch announcement.

via Rumor: New Google Nexus 8 tablet to launch in April 2014 – Neowin.

LG won't be making the Nexus 5

According to a recent interview with LG Mobile’s European VP, Kim Wong, LG won’t be making the next Nexus phone, claiming that while the device was a “great success” for the company, they don’t need to repeat that success again. LG is also weary of releasing a new phone without their own custom skin, with Won saying there is “no added value for us” in going with vanilla Android.
When a senior LG official clarified this statement to The Verge, it seems that the partnership with Google has not abruptly ended: LG hasn’t got a Nexus 5 in production, but they would still work with the company in the future if given the opportunity.
Only Samsung has made consecutive Nexus devices, producing the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus, with LG taking the reigns for the last model (the Nexus 4) and HTC producing the original Nexus One. While the Nexus 4 was widely praised for including an up-to-date chipset and being very cheap to purchase outright, the camera was heavily criticized, while availability problems plagued many users wanting to buy the device.
LG also has a new Android tablet in the works, according to Wong, although the tablet market is “fairly segmented” at the moment. The last Google-powered tablet the Korean company produced was the Optimus Pad LTE, an 8.9-inch Android 3.2 tablet released in early 2012, with Windows tablets also largely ignored outside Korea.
Finally, Wong stated that LG is looking to producing smartphones using an OS other than Android, as the “current duopoly of Google and Apple is not healthy for the market.” If you thought this might mean LG will return to making Windows Phones, think again, as Wong said that Microsoft’s mobile OS is a “low priority” at this stage; this means we’ll likely see a Firefox OS device or an entirely different OS on an LG phone sometime in the future.
via LG won’t be making the Nexus 5 – Neowin.

Being entertained and going social: The Ultimate Smartphone Guide, part II

Smartphones are just as commonplace as our wallet and keys these days—we can’t leave the house without them and we certainly freak out if they go missing. Our phones are packed with powerful CPUs and GPUs; the Snapdragon SOC with its Adreno GPU is the most powerful combo the Android and Windows Phone 8 platforms have seen, and Apple’s extra-speedy A6 improves on the already-quick A5 it replaces. Whichever platform we’re on, we use that power to document our daily happenings, to check in to see how our friends are family are doing, to communicate verbally and textually, and even to read a book before bed. We use our phones to order food or make reservations, tag ourselves with others while out having a good time, and catch up on our favorite television shows on the long train ride home.
So in our second installment of the Ultimate Smartphone Guide, we’ve rounded up some of the best apps for doing all of these things. This guide should save you from scrolling endlessly through all the different app stores, looking for the right app to do that one thing. One note going in: we’re focusing on picking out apps—we’re not looking at the app stores themselves and what the app discovery and purchase process is like.
Also, there’s one important category you won’t see below: apps for listening to or making music. Music is incredibly important—so important, in fact, that we’re giving it its own separate feature next week. Don’t worry, music lovers, you won’t be left behind.
As with our first feature in the series, we’re focusing on iPhones, Android phones, and Windows Phone 8 phones. BlackBerry fans will have to sit this series out—RIM is poised to launch all new handsets and a new operating system early next year, and we’ll wait on them until then. But if you’re using an iPhone, Android device, or Windows Phone 8 handset, take a gander at our picks for the best entertainment apps and see if there’s something you’ve been missing out on.
Full Story: Being entertained and going social: The Ultimate Smartphone Guide, part II | Ars Technica.

The State of Smartphones in 2012: Part I of our Ultimate Guide

The last six months or so has seen a veritable storm of high-end smartphones. While you can generally count on new hardware being released year-round, this holiday season is particularly busy. Between the iPhone 5, iOS 6, the Nexus 4, Android 4.2, and Windows Phone 8, things have changed quite a bit since the summer.
Even more exciting, the smartphone wars aren’t just a two-horse race anymore. Apple and Samsung continue to be the giants in the field, but we’re seeing attractive handsets from a newly competitive LG, a Google that seems more eager than ever to show its Android partners how it’s done, an HTC that’s eager to thin out its product portfolio and reverse its ill fortunes, and a Nokia that really wants its bet on Windows Phone to pay off.
We know all this new hardware and software can be hard to keep straight. To that end, we’ll be taking some time over the next few weeks to go in-depth on the state of the smartphone: we’ll be examining not just the available hardware and software, but also which hardware and software will work best for particular uses. More than ever, smartphones are powerful devices that can handle an increasingly large amount of the work formerly unique to full-fledged computers. But just like the PC market, the hardware and software you buy is going to depend on what kind of things you need to use it for.
For the purposes of this overview, we’re going to be focusing on current, high-end iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8 handsets. These aren’t the only players in the field, but they’re certainly the most consequential: smaller platforms like Tizen, Open WebOS, and Firefox OS are either still in development or not widely available commercially. As for BlackBerry, RIM seems to be all but begging users, developers, and the press alike to wait for BlackBerry 10 to come out before writing it off… so that’s what we’ll do. Expect more coverage of RIM’s latest as its projected March 2013 launch date approaches, but BlackBerry won’t factor into today’s discussion.
To kick off this series, we’ll examine each platform’s major strengths and weaknesses, then dive into specific phones and use cases.
Full Story: The State of Smartphones in 2012: Part I of our Ultimate Guide | Ars Technica.