I used to do news round-ups for the Dark Android Blog in the past, but for the past few months, each story has had so much to cover that it has been a while since there were stories that could all come together and be short enough for a joint write-up, but today…well…today is a very different day, as Londo Molari would say. Let’s break right into this latest Dark Android Round-Up…
Telegram Updated to v3.6
The Telegram app just keeps on adding more and more features. It’s mind-boggling the pace at which they are added, too. Version 3.6 of the app has put in more features, including an important one for any kind of social media: message editing, allowing you to fix errors and typos. Here’s the version’s change log:
- Edit messages in channels and supergroups.
- Share links for posts in channels (in the Quick Share menu).
- Option to add admin signatures to messages in channels.
- Silent messages in channels that will not notify members.
- Quick Share button for bots (works for messages with links, photos or videos).
- Tap and hold to view stickers in full size without sending. Now works everywhere, including emoji suggestions and the ‘Add stickers’ screen.
The concentration on Telegram as a group messaging service in recent months has been a welcome one. While in regards to the Dark Android Project itself, Telegram is the only widely-used “encrypted” messaging app available in the F-Droid app repository(with over 100 million users, according to Telegram), there have been multiple reports in recent months that put Telegram’s encryption in to question, and I’ve had my own concerns with it, too. But I think, especially with the concentration on group messaging and channels, the importance of using Telegram is clear: Whether or not it’s encrypted, giving people a completely open communications platform alternative to Facebook is key. Also, giving people an alternative to Facebook-owned WhatsApp is important, as well. Forget the encryption, just treat it as an alternative platform to Facebook/others that is totally open source and can be built upon. Of course, I have the Dark Android Telegram Channel set up: https://telegram.me/darkandroid. And remember, this app is anarchist-run. Like I said, I still see utility in it (you can find me on there at: https://telegram.me/sovryn).
Sony Xperia X-series Replacing the Z-series
Recently at MWC 2016 it was announced by Sony that there would be no Sony Z6-line of devices, as the Z-series has been discontinued, and is now wholly replaced by the X-series. This is unfortunate since the Xperia Z-line has been a Dark Android favorite, with Sony offering AOSP versions of Android for the Z devices, as well as source codes (so open, in fact, that Canonical has made Ubuntu Phone with Convergence abilities available to the Xperia Z1).
As is well known, Sony hasn’t been very successful in the US and much of the world with their Z-line of phones and tablets despite how well done they were, and so getting away from that naming convention is likely a marketing push, and may work well for Sony. Whether or not the X-series will continue the Z-series impressive privacy and security-concerning feature sets for consumers is up in the air, but the Z-series was a truly great run of devices, particularly for Dark Android. It will be missed.
2nd Edition LG Watch Urbane LTE Returning in 2016
This is a damned odd one. Back in the Fall of 2015, an Android Wear watch that I was actually pretty excited about (because it didn’t need you to carry your phone with you to use it, and it could potentially function completely on its own as a mobile device, calls, texting, GPS, and all) was supposed to be released: The LG Watch Urbane LTE 2nd Edition. That’s a mouthful of a name for a watch, but that’s not what was weird about it. What was weird about it was that it had been fully produced, had even been shipped out for review (and was reviewed by some bloggers), but then about a week before it was to hit official release, LG pulled the device. It was crazy, because even Google was touting the device as a reference platform for then new Android Wear 6.0. The Urbane LTE 2nd Edition was clearly meant to be a big deal, but only to be mysteriously pulled.
On my tech podcast, Sovryn Tech, I was asked what I thought was the reason behind the recall, and I really had no clue. Reports have since suggested that the canning of the Urbane LTE 2nd Edition was due to a defect in the display. LG now says it plans to have the watch back on sale in the second half of 2016. However, with that much time, I expect this will be a distinct piece of hardware with the same name as the last one. That’s plenty of time to rollout a completely new piece of hardware. As far as the specifications for this, likely there will be a change, and no one has any idea what that will be. With any luck, though, it will still have its “independence” by having its own SIM card, GPS, etc., which could lead to it become a smartphone killer in the future (even though its present plan is to have to sync-up with a smartphone at first). But it’s also very likely, with the lineup of accessories LG is building around their new flagship phone, the G5, the Urbane LTE 2nd Edition may have some exclusivity with the G5 (and may actually explain the real delay behind its release).
Again, I love the idea of Android Wear devices, but they really only matter to me if they can actually replace my phone, not just give me something else I have to buy. I’ll definitely keep you posted on any developments with the LG Watch Urbane LTE 2nd Edition.