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Bq Introduces More Android Devices, But Still No Ubuntu Phones

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Android
Ubuntu

Bq held a media event today where many were hoping the first Ubuntu Phone would be officially unveiled, but that was not the case with Ubuntu receiving no mentions during the event.

Bq is one of Canonical's first two Ubuntu Phone partners and they had plans to ship the first Ubuntu Phone by the end of 2014. The other phone partner, Meizu, has previously said the MX4 with Ubuntu Touch would come in December.

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Android Auto is great, but automakers are holding it back

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Android

At the LA Auto Show this week, I spent time with a recent pre-release build of Android Auto using a Nexus 5 connected to a 2015 Hyundai Sonata. It's mostly the same as the version we were shown at Google I/O in June, apart from some minor refinements. For instance, the green, circular "a" logo that appears on the phone when it's jacked into the car now reads "Android Auto," and voice-based searches no longer cause a full-screen "listening" window to pop up — you just get a little pulsing "g" in the corner. The underlying concept, though, is unchanged: it's Material Design-infused Android for your dashboard, boiled down to the basics with copious use of speech output and voice recognition so that driver distraction is kept to a bare minimum. You're also locked out of using your actual phone when Android Auto is in use, another stab at limiting distraction by keeping eyes off screens and on the road.

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Get Android 5.0's trusted places feature on any Android phone

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Android

Locking your phone with a password or PIN code is a necessity when you're out and about, but when you're in the safety of your own home or office, it can be a real pain to unlock the thing every time you look at it. As noted by my colleague Vlad, Android 5.0 Lollipop has a super useful feature to address this: you can set your home or office as a "trusted place" and Android will automatically disable your lock screen when you are there, reactivating it when you leave.

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Android 5.0 Lollipop embraces the enterprise

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Android

Finally, Google has included EMM/MDM APIs to allow a standard approach to the management and security of Android mobile devices. No longer will EMM vendors like MobileIron have to make different versions for the devices of different OEMs. (Of course they will need to continue to do so for as long as they support pre-Lollipop Android devices.)

Google has also moved to harden the base operating system, strengthen data security by default, improve the security update process and authentication and much more. There are thousands of new APIs, many of which help enterprises.

Of course there are Lollipop features, such as Material Design, which is intended to make user interfaces more consistent, and Battery Saver, which benefit enterprises as much as anyone, but they are not enterprise-specific.

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Lollipop's Encryption Takes a Hefty Toll

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Android
Security

The new full-disk encryption feature that's enabled by default in Android 5.0 Lollipop comes at a hefty price in terms of performance, according to a recent benchmark report.

In fact, when full-disk encryption is enabled, random read performance drops by 62.9 percent, while random write performance falls by 50.5 percent, AnandTech reported late last week. Sequential read performance, meanwhile, drops by a whopping 80.7 percent.

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Android game console runs on quad-core Cortex-A17

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Android

Ugoos announced a “micro game console” spin-off of its Android-based quad-core Cortex-A17 UT3 media player, and released an Ubuntu 14.10 build for the UT3.

The Ugoos “G-box” micro game console appears to use the same design as the company’s Android-based, 4Kx4K ready UT3 media player, which sells for as low as $130. The G-box follows another similar, but OEM-focused UG-CX-998 media player with 4Kx2K resolution announced in September (see farther below).

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Android drone tracks you by computer vision

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Android

Kickstarter is showing an $899, Android-based “Mind4″ follow-me drone that tracks you entirely by computer vision, and interprets full-body gestures.

Like fellow Kickstarter drone projects AirDog and Hexo+, as well as 3D Robotics’s Iris+, AirMind’s Mind4 quadcopter is designed as a “follow-me” drone for recording videos of a moving target. Unlike these products, however, which don’t run Android or Linux, the Mind4 runs Android on a quad-core, 2GHz ARM processor, giving it the brainpower to run advanced vision recognition algorithms. As a result, Mind4 can track you solely via computer vision via its VAPS (vision augmented piloting system) engine rather than depending on less reliable GPS or tricky manual controls.

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Dirt-cheap laptops might be this year's stocking stuffer

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Android
GNU
Linux
Google

Chromebooks, the low-cost compute devices that run Google’s Chrome OS, haven’t necessarily been showcased in Black Friday circulars, but they’re making an impression nonetheless. Although prices vary, Chromebooks generally range from $200 to $350 or so, and now come loaded with up to 1TB of Google Drive storage, too.

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Counterclockwise: Jolla, Nokia N1, Nexus and HTC One GPE

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Android
Linux

The end of the year is coming and we've seen pretty much all devices that will be unveiled this year. Let's go back in time with Counterclockwise, our (almost) weekly trip back memory lane, and see what announcements late November has seen over the years.

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Several Linux distros borrow Google’s Material Design ideas

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Android
GNU
Linux

Google introduced a new design language with Android 5.0 called Material Design. It relies on vivid colors, a lot of white space, and animations designed to make different on-screen elements feel like real materials.

For instance, switching between two screens in an app is meant to feel like sliding one sheet of paper over another.

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Also: Material Design hits the desktop with Quantum OS Linux distro

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