Android Devices to Soon Have Less Google Bloatware

Google has been blamed for being harsh to its Android OEM partners in the past for restricting their bloatware and instead mandating its own. However, things have started to change with Google’s latest guidelines for Android OEMs which now has four apps removed from the mandatory list of apps that were earlier required to be preloaded in the device.

According to the updated guidelines from Google (via Android Central), Android OEM partners will be no longer required to preload Google+, Google Play Games, Google Play Books, and Google Newsstand apps. It’s worth noting that Google previously removed Google Earth and Google Keep as apps that were not required to be part of the Google applications package. The four apps will be available via Google Play and can be downloaded for free if a user wishes. Until now, every Android user who didn’t even wish to use these apps had to keep the apps taking up the internal storage space, and sometimes even data. Users only had the option to disable the app from the device’s settings page.

One of the possible reasons to remove Google+ from the mandatory app list is said to be Google’s efforts to revamp the service completely.

Lately, Google has been refreshing the app policy in Android with the introduction of App Permissions in its latest Android M or Android Marshmallow. One of the biggest additions to the latest Android build was the revamped app permissions. The new feature changes how apps handle permissions, with apps prompting requests for permissions when running which means popups, would flash in the right context and let users grant permissions for specific features. Additionally, users can manage all their app permissions in settings.

Android Wear 1.3 Update Brings Interactive Watch Faces

Google has finally started rolling out an Android Wear 1.3 update, bringing a much-anticipated feature – interactive watch faces. It will arrive for users over-the-air (OTA) in the coming weeks, with the Android Wear LCA43 build.

Interactive watch faces mean that Android Wear users will be able to access widgets within individual watch faces that would give access to various functions or information of one or more app without opening it.

Google has introduced a new section called ‘Interactive Watch Faces’ in Google Play, which for now has over 20 watch faces, both paid and free.

To give an idea of what interactive watch faced can do, Google describes a few new watch faces in its blog post. The Bits watch face lets users see weather, unread mail, and upcoming meetings. The Together watch face on the other hand lets Android Wear users communicate with each other by “turning the entire watch face into a space for sharing” emoji, images when using the same watch face. Android Police earlier this month performed an apk tear down of the feature and revealed some more details, which Google for now has not yet revealed officially.

pujie_interactive_watch_face_google_play.jpgGoogle separately also announced that the same Android Wear version 1.3 would be reaching users in the coming weeks, and would additionally bring Google Translate to Android Wear. The feature would let users have bilingual conversations using their smartwatches. Initially, the Android Wear update would come with support for 44 languages.

All users would have to do is to flip their wrists to show the translation to the other user, and when they respond, flip the wrist back and see the translated version.

The search giant has also provided the Interactive Watch Face API for developers. However it says developers would need to upgrade their build.gradle to version 1.3.0 before they can build interactive watch faces. The details steps have also been mentioned on the Google’s Android Developers blog post. “Now, with just a tap, your watch face can change its design, reveal more information, or even launch a specific app,” adds the blog.

The new Interactive Watch Face API would let developers recognise whenever a user taps on the watch face of the device and views information without opening the actual app. This feature could be used for changing background colour, sending a message, starting a workout, or launching tools like Tasker.

Along with an update for developers, Google also revealed that it has finally brought Wi-Fi support to the LG G Watch R. This would let the G Watch R users receive notifications and stay connected to the Internet without the support of the connected smartphone.

Lenovo Zuk Z1 International Version With Cyanogen OS 12.1

Lenovo’s Zuk Z1 smartphone, which debuted in China earlier this month, would be running the Cyanogen OS 12.1 for its international variant. The smartphone in China was launched with the firm’s own ZIUI skin running atop Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out-of-the-box.

“Cyanogen is excited to be the OS for ZUK’s Z1 international version!” posted the firm on its Google+ post on Friday. It also gave the launch month of the international version of the Z1. “Be on the lookout for the Z1 in mid-October!” Zuk Z1, as per the post, is said to have become an ‘instant success’ in China as over 2 million users have already pre-ordered the smartphone within one week.

The partnership marks the third major partnership for Cyanogen’s commercial OS offering, after OnePlus and Micromax. Cyanogen however broke off its partnership earlier this year, after exclusivity issues in India following the OnePlus One’s launch late last year. OnePlus has since shifted to its own Android-based custom ROM, OxygenOS, currently available for the OnePlus One and OnePlus 2.

Besides the change in the software front, the international Zuk Z1 version is expected to come with similar hardware specifications like seen in its China version.

To recall, the Zuk Z1 features a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display and sports a physical home button on the front panel. Notably, the home button on the Z1 smartphone also embeds the fingerprint scanner. Much like recently launched flagship smartphones, Lenovo’s Zuk Z1 features the USB Type-C 3.0 port. Under the hood, the new smartphone packs a dated Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5GHZ coupled with 3GB of RAM and Adreno 330 GPU. The handset supports dual Nano-SIM cards and packs 64GB of inbuilt storage.

The smartphone sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with Sony sensor (IMX214) and optical image stabilization (OIS), another feature that’s found in high-end smartphones. There is an 8-megapixel front-facing camera also on board. It packs a large 4100mAh battery and will be available in White and Grey colours. The Zuk Z1 smartphone measures 155.7×77.3×8.9mm and weighs 175 grams. The model launched in China supports both 4G LTE bands in India (FDD-LTE Band 3 1800MHz and TDD-LTE Band 40 2300MHz).

The firm also showcased a smartphone prototype, the highlight of which is a transparent display. the prototype smartphone is seen featuring a near bezel-less frame on the transparent glass-like display.