The Fire TV comes to the UK – does it deserve a place in your home?
The Fire TV is about more than just a device. It, the Kindle, Fire tablets and Fire phone are intended to draw you into the Amazon ecosystem and away from Google. With that in mind, the Fire TV is a bit different.
Yes, it runs Android – this is Android Magazine after all – and it’s built on AOSP, the Open Source core that underpins all Android devices, but instead of having the Google services available – Play Store, Play Music, Play Movies & TV etc. – it instead runs Amazon’s ‘Mojito’ version of FireOS, which adds Amazon Appstore, Amazon MP3, Amazon Instant Video and a number of other Amazon services.
The net result is that when you fire up the Fire TV, it doesn’t feel like an Android device. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – Android traditionally doesn’t run very well on TVs, although whether this will change with the release of Android TV and the Nexus Player remains to be seen.
Create a kernel specifically for your Android device in just 10 steps
One of the reasons Android has been able to do so well in the mobile markets is thanks to the open source, Linux base for the system. Because it has this open system, it means that the development and licensing is a lot cheaper for phone and tablet manufacturers and Google still gets to make its money via advertising revenue and the Google Play store.
While the business model is interesting in itself, it’s the core kernel, though, that we’re focussing on today. This is the element that bridges the gap between the software and the hardware, which also includes drivers and modules for specific chips in the device. On full-blown Linux distributions, you can get busy changing what modules are compiled along with the kernel, making it smaller and faster to create a speed boost on your system.
When it comes to an Android system, the kernels are quite well optimised for individual devices, however there’s always a little bit more you can do to optimise it for the way you use your phone. Removing the bluetooth module or various input drivers are a couple of examples, however you can also add elements to the kernel for if you think you are going to do some physical hacks to the device.
Update your Nexus device to Android Lollipop right now!
Lets face it, Lollipop has far from been a smooth update. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel, as Google has made it official that the factory images for the Nexus 5, Nexus 10 and both versions of the Nexus 7 are now available. This means that all you budding hackers out there can now get your hands on the update by downloading the factory images and updating your phone via root.
For those less technically inclined, this also means that the rollout of Lollipop has begun, but it could take anywhere up to a couple of weeks for the update to hit your device. As reported yesterday, the Moto G is set to be the first device to get the Lollipop treatment.
The factory images for the Nexus devices can be downloaded here.
Do you own a Moto G? If so, the Android Lollipop update may just be waiting for you.
After numerous delays, the gradual rollout of Android Lollipop has finally started – but probably not with the device you’d have initially thought. The budget-friendly Moto G is the first phone to get the update, with users now available to download the 386MB update right now.
It’s important to note that the update will gradually reach every Moto G, so don’t despair if your device is yet to receive the update.
There’s no news on when we can expect other devices to finally get the bump up to Android Lollipop.
Vodafone takes another shot at the budget connected tablet market – but have they got it right this time?
The Vodafone Smart Tab 4G isn’t Vodafone’s first connected tablet. In fact, the Vodafone Smart Tab 4 (note the subtle naming difference) was released earlier this year and while it wasn’t awful, its Mediatek processor was a little underpowered, spoiling an otherwise pretty decent device.
The Smart Tab 4G then is effectively its successor. One of the key changes is clearly indicated by the name – this tablet has LTE connectivity. The other major change is that the CPU has been swapped out for a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, a much more capable processor.
With those tweaks, there is a lot to like about the device. It has a 8” 1280×800 IPS screen which, while not a particularly high resolution, looks sharp and clear. It’s under 8mm (7.99mm to be precise) thick and is considerably smaller than the 8.3” screened Hudl 2. 8GB of ROM is backed up by 1GB RAM and thankfully the storage space is expandable courtesy of a microSD slot. On the back sits a surprisingly capable (for a tablet) 5 Megapixel auto-focus camera without flash, complemented by a 2 Megapixel unit on the front for selfies.
The Nexus 6 won’t be as cheap as the Nexus 5 when it initially launches.
Google has finally broken the silence over the Nexus 6, with the phone now available through the UK version of the Google Play store. However, where most will be accustomed to the smaller price tag of previous Nexus devices, this time around, Google has launched themselves at the high-end market with a £499 price tag. That’s still cheaper than many of the latest high-end phones on the market, however.
Although stock is currently unavailable, you can check out the official listing right here.