So why are you getting this one early? Because it's my party and I'll do what I want to, do what I want to, do what I want to. You would too if... shit. I can't figure out how to work that out correctly and keep it reasonably close to the lyrics of the song.
So there be news afoot and I'm getting it out of the way for reasons which I'll share shortly.
Android 5.1 is official!
So what's new this time around? "Stability and performance", have I mentioned Google is notorious for crappy changelogs? It's something that's been getting discussed and joked about quite a bit recently. Although in this case that's a pretty apt description based on what I've read so far from people who've flashed the factory images.
Beyond that some new features have been reported by Google. Namely support for multiple SIM cards, Device Protection and HD Voice support on compatible phones.
Device Protection is really the big one here, basically someone could previously steal your phone and factory reset it and that was that. You were screwed. Now though they can do that same thing but it'll remain locked until you sign in with your Google account. Suck it, thieves! This feature will be coming to most Android phones that ship with 5.1, which will include the Nexus 6 and 9. Note that I said "ship with", as in "comes with 5.1 out of the box". If your phone doesn't/didn't come with 5.1 out of the box you might not get that feature. I'll report back on it when I do my Android 5.1 review here soon. (Yes, I'm getting my hands on the latest version pretty soon. Don't ask how. Note: I do not currently have personal access to a Nexus device as a daily driver.)
The HD Voice aspect is also pretty interesting, this will be high-def voice calls from compatible carriers that support it. At present Verizon and T-Mobile are the only confirmed ones I've read about that support this.;
Another "new" feature is the ability t join/control both Bluetooth and WiFi connections from the Quick Settings panel. Sounds to me like you'll be able to make additional choices solely from the Quick Settings panel, as opposed to being taken to the respective Settings pages for each.
Like I said though, this just dropped and was made official yesterday. So there's likely a lot I'm not including simply because we currently don't know much more. I'll report back on anything additional I find out once I read further that's worth sharing or I get my hands on it officially on my Moto X. (It is fair to say I'll have it sometime this week hopefully.)
On a much related note though, if you are so inclined as to want to look at a proper changelog then by all means feel free to check out this link for everything 5.1 addresses. It's a beauty.
EDIT. Oh yeah, LEDs are working in Priority Mode now. So basically the one thing people bitched about has been addressed. You can use Priority Mode as "silent mode", without having to set anyone as a starred/favorite, and still get LED notifications. (This wouldn't be a problem if everyone used a Moto X with Active Display though. Hint hint. Lol.) Of course it's likely still possible for unscrupulous apps/developers to not properly honor Priority Mode and make their notifications "alert" via the music audio, which was an issue that also had some in a a real tizzy. (But then again, what doesn't piss people off online? You could give them everything they want and they'd still find something to complain about.)
Android 5.1 factory images are up!
At present they're only up for a handful of devices.
I've previously written about how to sideload OTA updates, but not about how to flash factory images. If you're going to do that then it's safe for me to assume you already know how. If you want to do it but don't know how then I recommend checking out Droid Life's guide on how to do so.
Whenever OTA updates go live and the links are captured I'll update this post to reflect as much and/or do a new post about it. Although that might not be for at least a week I figure.
Remember if you own a Nexus then there's almost no way to brick it as long as you can get into the bootloader, which means you're mostly safe screwing around with flashing a factory image. From personal experience I can say the process is far simpler than it might appear to be. Honestly, I did it myself not even two weeks ago and after not having done it for over a year and it took me less than ten minutes to complete. That's doing it entirely manually at that, no script was used. I flashed every .img file separately. (Whether or not it can be described as "sad" with how much fun I had doing that is up for debate. I felt like George Bluth as I did it. "I'm having the time of my life!")
If it hasn't been made obvious by now then let me state it flat out, if an opportunity to work an Arrested Development clip/quote/reference into one of these posts is possible then I'm going to do it. That show is hilarious!
Hey, T-Bone! [high fives T-Bone]
Speaking of Droid Life...
To save you all the trouble let me give you the highlights of the post.
They're looking for a couple of part-time writers. One at minimum, probably more than one. The positions will be paid and some experience is preferred, since they don't want to train noobs on WordPress and what have you.
Location does not matter, just as long as you own a decent computer and having a camera that isn't built-in on your phone would be a plus (although not necessarily required).
Naturally you'll need to like Android and know all about it and that's a generalization on my part on their part. [looks at what he wrote momentarily and gets a confused look on his face] Yeah, that makes sense. Basically, just know about Android in general and try to have your Android interests be all over the place, not limited to one thing.
Oh, you'll also have to be interested in attending a press event here and there and not acting like an idiot when you do so.
I am inclined to post a Patrick pic with him asking something ridiculous, but I am better than that. Just barely though.
So what do you need to do to apply?
Well, prove you're serious about writing for them by submitting "two practice/test posts as attachments on current subjects that you think would make the cut on Droid Life". Or in normal terms, "two posts that you think would be seen on Droid Life in any given week".
Oh and the following is an additional exact quote from their hiring post, "Feel free to show that personality, snark, knowledge, or anything else you think would make you a good fit for DL. You know who we are. Let us know who you are and what would make you a great addition to the team."
If you're interested in applying drop them a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, emphasis on including attachments. No attachments = they're not gonna even bother with your email. So not joking about that.
On a related note, I'll be applying because why the heck not? A chance to write about this stuff and get paid for it? Fuck yeah!
Speaking of hiring...
io9 is seeking a science writer, who can cover breaking science news on a daily basis, in a fun, engaging fashion.
Gizmodo is seeking (1) a science/tech reporter to cover breaking news and write thoroughly researched explainers; and (2) an internet culture reporter who can cover everything from Netflix and YouTubers, to weird stuff on obscure message boards and social networks.
There's more info to be found at the link I included, so be sure to check it out.
A part of me wants to apply for the Giz gig in addition to the DL one, because at worst all I'll get is to "no thanks" replies. Can't win if you don't play and all or however the saying goes.
Moving on to other things, new Moto E has received a custom recovery already.
I recently wrote about the new Moto E, mostly of the "hey, there's a new Moto E and it's not bad based on the announced stuff" nature.
Goddamn do I love those geniuses/madmen and madwomen on the XDA forums! There is never a dull moment over there and stuff like that is why.
It's worth pointing out that per that specific thread there are several versions of the Moto E (one being the LTE version and one being a 3G version) and that that recovery is definitely not for the 3G version and it is not recommended that anyone flash it to said version of the device. If it explodes or something you're on your own for doing that. You were warned not to.
You can see what the toolkit is purported to do in the attached pic you see on the left there.
Although I find it a little curious that in the thread it specifically states "one click unlock/relock bootloader" and yet we also see "flash recovery" in the pic. I believe though that that is flashing a stock recovery, as in the one the device comes with out of the box. Don't quote me on that though. I've not read much of the thread, mostly because I only just now discovered it. Also because I don't have the device yet. I got a check burning a hole in my pocket though and I'd love a new device to tinker with.
In semi-related Motorola news, you can now customize the Moto 360 via Moto Maker
A quick visit to the Moto 360 product page shows the following.
EDIT: The page is officially live and this is what you'll see should you decide to "build yours".
Now rumor early on had it that some of those Dodo leather bands would be an option via the Moto Maker page, but at present time it seems like that is not the case.
HBO Now is now a thing.
So yesterday Apple did their thing and released some new things like the Apple Watch (I am not at all shocked to see a number of websites saying effectively that "Apple has invented the smartwatch, the first with notifications you can interact with", for those unaware I've been rocking an Android Wear device for fucking months now and that clearly means Apple did not in fact invent the smartwatch, nor were they the first with a smartwatch that gave you notifications you could interact with) and other items. None of which are worth discussing in my opinion. Why? Because this is the Wednesday ANDROID Update post. Duh!
One thing of note though was HBO Now and I've seen only a handful of sites report properly on it.
First off, like I called it yesterday, this isn't an Apple only thing. It is an Apple exclusive launch only thing though. What do I mean by that? I mean HBO basically let Apple call dibs on HBO Now for three months. Yes, three months. During that time you'll be able to install the app on Apple devices and sign up from there. However, internet and pay TV providers will be able to announce and launch their own HBO Now deals within that time. At present though none have, although given that this was announced officially just yesterday that's not exactly surprising.
So what is it? It is basically HBO as a standalone streaming service for around $15 a month. So say you want to watch Game of Thrones but don't want to pay the ridiculous amount for a cable or satellite package that includes junk you don't want (which all do) to see it then you can get this instead. At $15 a month it's not a bad price.
For additional reading I suggest checking out gigaom's piece on HBO Now, as it really seems to be one of the only ones that actually discusses how this isn't truly an Apple exclusive service.
And now, a new app called Sloth Launcher
So I discovered a new app over the weekend which I quickly realized was incredibly useful in such a simple way.
The app itself is called Sloth Launcher (free with a premium in-app purchase of currently $0.99 for the full version).
This app isn't a launcher replacement per se, it's a launcher that works on top of your launcher (whichever you may use) and the part about it that I really liked is the contextual awareness aspect of it.
[insert "yo dawg we heard you like launchers so we made a launcher for your launcher" pic using your imagination here] I just couldn't bring myself to post that pic, that's why I'm saying use your imagination.
So basically this lets you access your "favorite" apps from your notifications shade and you set it up per your preference as to location, WiFi connection, Bluetooth device, etc etc etc.
Once you've done that you can then set it to activate/deactivate certain toggles (like WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.) or launch certain apps.
Per a quick example of one of my setups, that being when I'm in my car, see the following screenshots.
So per my preference, to explain the screenshots, I am usually connected via Bluetooth to the stereo setup in my car. I don't listen to the radio because of the seemingly endless commercials.
So I set it up to launch when specifically connected to my car's Bluetooth and per my preference the moment I'm in or out of my car I want to be able to deactivate said Bluetooth connection on my phone. I also want quick access to the apps I mostly use to listen to stuff in the car. Those being iHeartRadio, Infinitracks (an 8-tracks music app that's better than the official app), Google Play Music (thanks to my All Access subscription) and Pocket Casts.
This is perfect for a few reasons. Namely, the moment I'm in the car I can quickly fire up what I want to listen to. Also, the moment I pick up a friend they can quickly change things if they want to listen to something else without having to dive into my app drawer. They all know my basic "music" apps, but now they can quickly access them from the notification shade. The moment I turn off the car or deactivate Bluetooth the notification disappears.
It's beyond easy to setup and use.
At home I have a setup that recognizes when I'm within 100 meters of my house and for that I get the ability to toggle WiFi and Bluetooth and quick access to my most used apps at home: Netflix, Google Play Books, and Unified Remote.
And so on and so forth.
Give the app a try. If you want to know what "triggers" are dependent based on whether you use the Free or Premium version then see the additional screenshots.
The app is currently discounted by 50% and will be so til Friday I believe, so you can get the full version for $0.99 (as opposed to the normal price of $1.99). It's worth it, trust me.
Beyond that, anything else newsworthy going on?
Cause as far as I'm aware that's about it, of course I may have missed something somehow. I should add that between last evening and this morning my life has gotten even more ridiculous than usual and that's saying something. I got the insurance settlement for my accident last year yesterday when I got home and this morning a lightning strike hit an electrical transformer seconds after I passed it in my car. The resulting light show and hair raising aspect of the strike was both fucking awesome (have I mentioned I'm a pyro?) and also freaking weird (I am not a fan of my hair going all frizzy and it did that for both my arms and on my head). I've never seen a lightning strike before, it was sweet! I mean minus the insane part of it and all.
Also it's cold and raining where I'm at and that's just got me in such a mellow mood. I like this weather, it is perfect for sweater wearing (and also reading and sleeping).
If I overlooked any news of note be sure to say so in the comments and I'll add it to the post!
EDIT. On a completely unrelated note, just to share the news, Time Warner has officially come into my neighborhood as of this past week. And when I say come into my neighborhood I mean "they're likely going to steal all of AT&T's business". The "top" DSL package offered by AT&T in my neighborhood is 6 Mbps down. (Between only 3 Mbps down, since they claim 6 Mbps down isn't offered in my neighborhood despite their website saying it is, and the home phone line which we need for our security system we pay something like $100 a month. Our satellite package on top of that from DirecTV is something like $150 a month. So $250 a month total on satellite, internet, and phone service.)
The top Time Warner cable package offered in my neighborhood is 50 Mbps down. That plus a phone line and a cable TV package (with the "preferred Cable package of 200+ channels) can be had for $155. Yeah, AT&T can go right to hell. We're making the call to switch before the end of the week.
I showed the plan to my family earlier this morning and they basically went full Rafi on me.
And yes, I just really wanted to somehow work things related to The League into this post. Have you watched that show? I mean I am so not a fan of American football and thought I would hate the show, but it's pretty fucking funny. Assuming you're at all familiar with the kind of nonsense that goes on in that show, it's like watching my bestie and I hanging out. Violence and insults and conversations that are all over the place. Seriously, watch the show if you aren't already.
Rafi alone is worth it. GATTACA! [runs off screaming "gattaca" wildly over and over]