Jon Brodkin, ArsTechnica, 3/29/15
The long-promised Android version hasn’t been forgotten, either.
Development of LibreOffice Online was first revealed in late 2011, but the software was never released, despite progress improving the desktop versions of the open source competitor to Microsoft Office and Google Docs.
But now two companies have joined the effort to develop a Web-based version of the productivity software, bringing hope that a release will really happen. IceWarp and Collabora said today they “will work alongside over a thousand existing LibreOffice contributors to implement the whole online editing portion of the software, including the server-side provided by LibreOffice, and the client front-end based on HTML5 technology. The result will be a fully mature server solution, which any other provider, individual, or project in the community can utilize for their applications and services.”
There’s still no release date. “The availability of LibreOffice Online will be communicated at a later stage,” The Document Foundation, which oversees LibreOffice development, said in an announcement. IceWarp said to expect a release by the end of this year.
“Development of LibreOffice Online started back in 2011, with the availability of a proof of concept of the client front end, based on HTML5 technology,” The Document Foundation wrote. “That proof of concept will be developed into a state of the art cloud application, which will become the free alternative to proprietary solutions such as Google Docs and Office 365, and the first to natively support the Open Document Format (ODF) standard.”
LibreOffice developer Michael Meeks, who works for Collabora, wrote that enabling collaborative editing across multiple platforms is a challenging problem, but one the development team believes it can solve.
A mobile version of LibreOffice is also still in the works. The Documentation Foundation announcement said a version of LibreOffice “is currently under development for Android.” That version has also been under development since 2011 and was said to be “frustratingly close” to release two years ago. There was no update on plans for a native LibreOffice application for iOS.
In: Android, iPhone, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: HTML5, Linux
Anne Morris, FierceWireless, 3/29/15
The spectrum requirements of future 5G networks and services are expected to be broad and varied, and mobile operators continue to stress that exclusive licence regimes remain the preferred solution and should be extended further.
Speaking at the NGMN Industry Conference & Exhibition 2015, here, Alain Maloberti, SVP at Orange Labs Network, said it is very important that 5G is integrated under the IMT umbrella–the International Mobile Telecommunication system of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)–in order to manage the systems in the best frequency bands as efficiently as possible.
Maloberti also emphasised that the industry will require access to more bands than are currently available. While sub-6 GHz bands will continue to be required for wide network coverage in areas where it is not economical to build fibre networks, some expected uses of 5G will require portions of spectrum ranging from 500 MHz to 1 GHz in order to support very high bit-rates as well as wireless backhaul requirements.
“It will be difficult to get [these blocks] in low-frequency bands,” said Maloberti. “So we need access to high-frequency bands above 6 GHz.”
While other ways of assigning spectrum are likely to come into play–such as spectrum refarming for 5G as well as spectrum trading–Maloberti said the licensed regime is the only one that guarantees quality of service by reducing the possibility of interference.
At the same time, Maloberti said other models would complement licensed regimes, noting that licensed assisted access (LAA) is one way to extend spectrum assets by making use of unlicensed spectrum. Indeed, LTE-U (LTE Advanced deployments in unlicensed spectrum) is already being considered for LTE.
“All this has to be considered and studied with 5G,” he said, adding that the expanded use of spectrum bands will also bring an even greater need for the harmonization.
Stefan Apetrei, deputy director in the spectrum strategy and international planning team at Orange, reiterated that the industry will require increasingly larger portions of continuous spectrum and the ITU will take the lead in identifying global harmonized spectrum by 2020.
“The race for new spectrum will start in 2015 at the [World Radiocommunication Conference, WRC],” he said.
Indeed, WRC-15 will look at spectrum allocations up to 6 GHz and also set the agenda for WRC-19, when allocations above 6 GHz are likely to be considered.
“It’s a critical step,” said Apetrei, noting that five years is a very short time in spectrum assignment. “It’s a slow process,” he added.
Simon Wilson, head of spectrum technology at Telefonica, stressed that it will be very important to define the new agenda to prepare for the next study period from 2016 to 2019.
He commented that it will also be important to achieve a balance in the number of bands that will be available for 5G. While there is a need to identify new allocations for 5G that are wide enough to support multiple networks in frequencies above 6 GHz, he wants to ensure that the number of bands is minimized for 5G.
“There are more than 40 bands for 4G,” he said. “I want to get away from that fragmented approach.”
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: 5G, LTE
Russell Brandom, The Verge, 3/23/15
What if instead of connecting to the phone company, we connected directly to each other’s phones? Called “mesh networking,” the idea has been kicked around for years in hacker circles, but it got a major boost with iOS 8. Thanks to the new “Multipeer Connectivity Framework,” iPhones were able to connect to each other directly over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, a minor software update with potentially major consequences.
Firechat was one of the first apps to seize on the new feature, building a mesh-enabled chat app that drew a surprisingly large user base. Less than a year after iOS 8’s release, the app has chalked up 5 million users, popping up at music festivals and protests around the world. For protests, it was a way to communicate without routing through potentially hostile carriers, holding out even in the face of an internet blackout. For everyone else, it was just a fun way to jump off the grid.
But as the system has grown, it’s run up against a serious range problem. The iPhone has a lot less Wi-Fi strength you’d get from a router, and can’t reach nearly as far. Android phones are still stuck with Bluetooth for multipeer connections, which is even more limited. Firechat has found the most success in dense crowds — particularly music festivals — but most of the users end up reverting to standard networks as soon as the crowd breaks up. If mesh messaging is ever going to be more than a software flash mob, it’s going to need a way to reach farther. But how?
Now, we’re getting a look at Firechat’s answer. The company is developing a new hardware widget called Greenstone, designed to sit between phones, fill holes in the network, and go places that phones can’t go. When Firechat founder Micha Benoliel first showed me the prototype, he was wearing one around his neck, an easy midpoint between the phone in his pocket and my phone, which I’d left on the other side of the table. The device also bridges over time, storing up to a thousand messages at once. If you need to send a message to a chat room that’s out of range, the Greenstone will store it locally until it can be delivered.
That failsafe is important because the underlying network is so choppy. Greenstone is built entirely on Bluetooth, which has limited range and relies heavily on line of sight. If the device is in a crowd of moving people (like a concert), the device will be constantly hopping between connections, moving in and out of dead zones. You can wake the Greenstone up by shaking it (you’ll see a few lights go off), which is meant to make service interruptions more manageable. You’d never want to stream video over this kind of network, but for something asynchronous and relatively low-bandwidth like a chatroom, it could work just fine.
This kind of impromptu network is such a new idea that there isn’t really a word for what Greenstone is. (“Hub” doesn’t quite capture it, since the whole point of mesh is to avoid hubs.) It’s also still a prototype, and a long way from being ready for prime time. Triggering the shake-to-activate feature is still a little tricky, and connecting is a lot harder than it should be — but those are exactly the kind of kinks that get ironed out as a product moves to market.
You won’t be able to buy a Greenstone any time soon, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see one in the wild. Benoliel has been testing the devices out at events — most recently at SXSW — and he’s toying with the idea of blanketing college campuses with them as a way to promote the Firechat app. It will be a while before Greenstone is ready for store shelves, but in the meantime, it’s an interesting prototype that makes the shaggy ideas of mesh networking seem an awful lot more viable.
In: iPhone, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: Bluetooth, WiFi
Joab Jackson, PC World, 3/23/15
Red Hat understands that developing a mobile application is not the same as building one for the desktop, which is why the company has augmented its software stack with new technologies for mobile development.
“The whole Web architecture is giving way to an emerging mobile architecture,” said Cathal McGloin, Red Hat vice president of mobile platforms.
Like IBM and Oracle, Red Hat has been working to extend its enterprise software portfolio so it can support mobile applications as well, particularly those that its customers develop in house.
The company said Tuesday that it has completed integrating into its own software portfolio the mobile platform it acquired when it purchased FeedHenry last October. It has outlined how enterprises could use these technologies to build mobile applications.
About 51 percent of organizations surveyed by IT analyst firm 451 Research are increasing their budgets for mobile development this year. Many face challenges, given that traditional software development methods don’t work well for the rapidly evolving world of mobile development.
Different mobile devices demand different user interfaces. Users are expecting mobile applications to be easier to use. Mobile apps must also evolve more quickly to stay abreast with the competition.
For enterprises, developing mobile applications for either customers or employees can be a demanding task, especially when the programs need to be seamlessly connected with complex back-end systems.
Red Hat wants to help bridge the worlds of mobile apps and back-end systems of record.
“The role of IT is to introduce new agile development technologies to complement the ability to run existing systems,” said McGloin, who is also the former CEO of FeedHenry.
The FeedHenry mobile platform is designed to reduce the work needed to maintain mobile applications, including tasks around data synchronization, caching and security.
For mobile-based cloud services, the company has established a single architecture based on a set of REST (Representational State Transfer) APIs (application programming interfaces), allowing different applications to communicate with one another.
Red Hat’s integrated development environment (IDE), JBoss Developer Studio, can be used to create apps that run on FeedHenry.
The FeedHenry platform has been augmented with additional tools for mobile Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and collaboration, allowing software development teams to rapidly iterate through new releases of a mobile app.
Red Hat has also teamed the FeedHenry software with its own set of platform services, OpenShift, allowing organizations to run their mobile apps within a cloud service.
This integration also allows enterprise customers to run mobile apps from their own private clouds.
A portion of Red Hat’s customers are already using the mobile technology to build mobile applications, McGloin said, including companies in the industries of manufacturing, transportation and workforce management.
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: API, Cloud
Jon Russel, TechCrunch, 3/23/15
Microsoft dropped an interesting piece of information today amid its confirmation that Windows 10 will go on sale this summer.
Near the end of its announcement, the Redmond-based company casually revealed that it is testing Windows 10 with “power users” of Xiaomi’s flagship Mi 4 Android smartphone. The initiative, which Xiaomi stressed is not a partnership but merely assistance with the trial, is an interesting one because it again shows Microsoft’s new ‘platform agnostic’ approach.
Neither Microsoft nor Xiaomi provided specific details of the Windows 10 software being trialled, but TechCrunch understands from sources that it effectively overrides Android, turning the Xiaomi phone into a Windows 10 device complete with Microsoft services. (Which the company hopes will dazzle Android owners into making the switch.)
That’s to say that the software doesn’t offer a dual boot option, which Microsoft has pushed in the past in India. This is a ROM, based on Windows, that operates much like software from Cyanogen — a company Microsoft was incorrectly linked with an investment in — and other custom ROMs developed by the likes of Tencent and Baidu in China.
The ROM is thus designed to go beyond Microsoft’s Android apps and offer a native-like Windows experience on Android phones.
That’s a pretty powerful concept, and it is no surprise to see Microsoft testing it in China, where consumers are more inclined to install ROMs. There’s a greater spirit of customization in China, particularly for Android users since third-party app stores are the norm as Google Play is severely restricted there.
Microsoft, of course, has big plans to make this software available on more devices in time. The company told The Next Web that full availability will be announced soon (update: full statement below), but it is starting out with Xiaomi — almost certainly because it has a strong community of users who provide feedback on the company’s weekly software updates. Xiaomi’s receptive audience is ideal for such a pilot.
A good idea though it may be, getting adoption for an Android ROM in China is no easy thing. Just ask Baidu, which recently shuttered its Android software efforts due to low interest — that’s despite the company’s vast reach and distribution potential as ‘China’s Google’.
As for Xiaomi, people are often quick to rush to the idea that it is at odds with Google since it doesn’t offer the U.S. company’s services on its MIUI platform in China. Xiaomi’s emphatic comment that its involvement in Windows 10 is not a partnership — coupled with Hugo Barra’s recent explanation that it is not pushing its suite of services to users outside of China — suggests that this is not tactical; Xiaomi is just giving it users another ROM to tinker with.
The news could be taken in a cynical way in the U.S. — where what’s good for the users is often convenient because it’s good for the business too — but Xiaomi really has cultivated a sizable and trusted community, so we’re inclined to believe its rhetoric on this occasion.
Update: Microsoft has reworded its original statement to “keep things concise” so we’ve switched the quote below. (Two things worth noting about its initial comment though: it confirmed Mi 4 owners can “flash their phones with the new Windows 10 OS” and that “availability will be announced in the months to come.”)
Through a new program with Xiaomi Inc., one of the top smartphone distributors in the world, a select group of Xiaomi Mi 4 power users will be invited to help test Windows 10 and contribute to its future release later this year. They will have the opportunity to download the Windows 10 Technical Preview, install it and provide their feedback to Microsoft.
In: Android, Mobile Technology
Mikael Ricknäs, Computer World, 3/19/15
The next-generation technology has to be developed in a more inclusive way than in the past
For 5G to be successful, the whole telecom industry has to re-evaluate how networks work and are developed. Multiple challenges, both political and technical, have to be overcome before the technology can become a reality.
“Availability of spectrum is obviously a big thing,” said Gerhard Fettweis, who heads a Vodafone-sponsored program at the Dresden University of Technology.
The amount of spectrum allocated to 5G will determine how fast networks based on the technology will eventually become. If they are to reach multiple gigabits per second, which proponents are already promising, operators are going to need a lot more bandwidth than they have today. A first step in securing that will hopefully be taken at the World Radiocommunication Conference in Geneva in November, according to Fettweis.
Network equipment makers and operators are hoping that the conference, organized by the International Telecommunications Union, will set aside at least 100MHz chunks of spectrum below 6GHz for 5G, Fettweis said.
That compares to the latest version of LTE, which offers download speeds at up to 450Mbps using 60MHz of spectrum. But the 100MHz chunks won’t be enough, and researchers are therefore looking at so-called millimeter waves, which use spectrum even higher than 6GHz.
The use of higher-frequency bands is something of a necessary evil the operators and equipment vendors. It’s the only way to get the spectrum they need, but also means the area each base station can cover becomes smaller.
Otherwise, getting spectrum and developing networks and devices that can take advantage of it aren’t the only potential stumbling blocks. For 5G to be a success, the specifications that drive how the technology works has to be developed in a way that’s more inclusive than how other protocols were established in the past, according to Eric Kuisch, technology director at Vodafone Germany.
LTE wasn’t developed to handle all the traffic types that networks carry today. For example, because of the growing popularity of connected wearables, smart meters and vehicles, the telecom industry has had to rethink LTE specifications to make them a better fit for related applications. The goal with 5G is to get more of that right from day one.
“We have to talk with industries, including the car industry and manufacturing, to really understand what their needs are. That’s new for us,” Kuisch said.
But what has Kuisch really worried is how 5G networks will be monitored and managed, which nobody is talking about at the moment. Getting this right will be extremely challenging, and it’s something mobile operators hasn’t done a good enough job steering the vendors, according to the Vodafone executive.
“You don’t want to be too late to understand that some part of the network is breaking down when all the cars in Germany are depending on it,” Kuisch said
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: 5G, LTE
Stephen Shankland, CNET, 3/16/15
While mobile-app developers are concentrating their efforts on supporting Apple’s and Google’s mobile operating systems, one group hopes to make the Web a place for apps too.
Dominique Hazaël-Massieux is on the front lines of a struggle that will determine whether you’ll get your next app by visiting a website or by heading to an Apple or Google app store.
Hazaël-Massieux comes down on the Web side of the divide. For the last seven years he’s led mobile-Web work at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an organization that Web founder Tim Berners-Lee established to chart the Web’s future.
You might not care about where your smartphone’s software comes from as long as it works well. But it matters: the better the Web fares, the easier it is for programmers to write software that’s not locked down to a particular operating system and its associated services. That, in turn, makes it easier for you to switch between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile software or to move to whatever alternative arises down the line.
The problem for Hazaël-Massieux is that he’s mostly been on the losing side: The Web has lagged when it comes to convenience, features and performance, and programmers have instead leaned toward building native iOS and Android apps. He’s not discouraged, though. He’s seen the mobile Web grow from awful to workable as browsers embraced new Web standards, and now he’s working on the next step, making Web technology competitive.
“Seven years ago, the challenge was having it work at all,” Hazaël-Massieux said. “The experience was so bad nobody wanted to use it at all. Now everybody does — but not as much as I wish they would.”
The Web is hardly in danger of being squeezed out of people’s digital lives. But the explosive success of mobile devices has hobbled the Web’s prospects by shifting power toward Google and Apple. When new abilities like electronic payments arrive in the mobile world, these two companies often hold control over how it happens.
There are about 1.5 million iOS apps and 1.8 million Android apps available today, said Sameer Singh, senior industry analysis manager with app analytics firm App Annie. That’s a formidable presence — and downloads are increasing every year. It’s no wonder programmers are concentrating there given that 1.2 billion smartphones shipped in 2014, about quadruple the number of PCs. The centerpiece of Hazaël-Massieux’s work at the W3C is a project called Application Foundations to endow Web apps with the abilities of native apps.
“The goal is to put in place a framework that makes [the technologies] more understandable to developers and to drive the technology based on developers’ needs,” he said in an interview here earlier in March at Mobile World Congress, a mammoth technology show where smartphones hold center stage.
Loss of universality
The World Wide Web, now 26 years old, transformed the computing industry. Every operating system requires a browser, so the Web lets programmers bridge across previously separate realms. When Facebook was getting started, its developers didn’t have to worry whether its members were on Windows or Mac computers, and updating the service happened automatically when users loaded Facebook’s page in their browser.
But the rise of iOS and Android has reversed some of that trend toward universality. Apps written for one don’t work with the other. If you want to buy a phone using a nondominant operating system — Windows Phone, Firefox OS, Tizen, Sailfish, BlackBerry OS and Ubuntu to name some of today’s struggling contenders — you’ll likely struggle to get all the apps you want.
The clout of Apple and Google also let them extend their power to new domains — iCloud and Google Drive for storing files, for example, or Facetime and Hangouts for communication. It’s enough to make Microsoft’s dominance with Windows and Office in the 1990s pale in comparison.
There are reasons programmers yielded control — and 30 percent of their sales revenue — to Google and Apple. Programming tools for iOS and Android are better than they are for the Web, apps are faster and can use more smartphone features, a payment system is in place when it’s time to sell an app, and innovation is faster than with the multicompany cooperative process that produces Web standards. Even Web-first companies like Facebook opted instead to write apps that run natively on iOS and Android.
Web allies are working to make up for lost time. The Application Foundations effort, announced in October 2014, adds new heft to existing work to improve standards. It emphasizes a collection of priorities like video chat, cryptography, typography, responsiveness and streaming media.
“There are challenges around performance, around making apps work offline and outside the browser,” Hazaël-Massieux said. One big part of the fixes is a standard called Service Workers that dramatically remakes Web apps’ deeper workings. Service Workers are programs that run in the background, letting Web apps work even if there’s no network connection and enabling things like push notifications. With Service Workers and other software components, those notifications could come through even if a person is using another app.
“A component provided by the browser registers itself with the operating system. When the OS receives a notification, it knows it should wake up the browser, and the browser wakes up the Web application,” Hazaël-Massieux said. “Service Workers are about getting the Web to live also outside the browser. That opens up interesting opportunities.”
Another feature he’s excited about is payments provided with an interface that would take Apple and Google out of the loop, letting the programmer choose what payment mechanisms to offer. That could help when somebody wants to embrace something new like the Bitcoin electronic currency or offer payments that are put on phone bills in countries where credit cards aren’t common.
“The way the Web has disintermediated so many — we think the Web can do that for payments, too,” he said.
When industry standards work, hardware and software engineers can concentrate on higher-level innovation rather than grinding low-level details. But creating standards everyone likes is slow work.
Web apps can use smartphones’ accelerometers to orient a screen properly, the GPS system to find location, the camera for taking photos, and buzzers so phones will vibrate for typing feedback. Video and audio chat with a technology called WebRTC is arriving, and hardware-accelerated 3D graphics for games is a possibility with WebGL. On the other hand, work to allow use of near-field communications (NFC), the technology that Apple has embraced for its mobile payment system, has only begun, and phones’ barometers remain off limits for those who’d like to gauge a user’s altitude.
Pointer Events pain
One current example covers what might seem to be among the most basic parts of using a smartphone or tablet: people’s use of touch screens.
One interface, called Touch Events, got an early start here, but Microsoft — with a rekindled interest in Web standards — offered another, called Pointer Events. Microsoft’s standard offered a broader perspective based on its Windows experience, handling not just touch screens but also mice and styli. That means programmers would have an easier time writing websites and apps that spanned multiple devices, and the W3C was pleased when it completed the last stage of standardization in February.
“We think it’s the right technology for the Web and brings new advantages,” Hazaël-Massieux said, mentioning not only the range of input types but also features like pressure sensitivity.
One problem, though: Apple, whose Safari browser on iOS helped kick the modern mobile Web into gear, has expressed no enthusiasm. That had a ripple effect when, in 2014, Google Chrome team member Rick Byers said Google therefore didn’t plan to support Pointer Events, either. “Since Touch Events are here to stay, supporting another largely redundant input model has a high long-term complexity cost on the Web platform,” Byers said.
After Pointer Events was standardized, Apple faced the wrath of those who wanted it to succeed. “We need to stop letting Apple stifle the work of browser vendors and standards bodies,” said Scott Gonzalez of the influential jQuery project whose software is widely used in building Web apps and pages. Peter-Paul Koch, who has worked for years helping programmers grapple with browser differences, piled on as well, urging developers to pressure Google to support Pointer Events and thereby force Apple to make the same change. Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Google’s Byers in March said the issue isn’t settled: “We’re still watching this space.”
Hazaël-Massieux knows the process can be grueling. But in the end, it lets programmers reach any device, and he’s optimistic the Web will succeed for mobile devices.
“It could be used as an alternative replacing most native apps,” he said. “All the advantages that come with the Web — sharability, addressability, openness, a completely nonproprietary system — all these are available to mobile app developers.”
In: Android, iPhone, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: NFC, Push
, Engadget, 3/16/15
Android 5.1 has been available to Nexus devices for a little while now, and it looks like one of its neatest features – sorry HD Voice and Device Protection – isn’t quite ready for public consumption yet. Thanks to a little bit of sleuthing by Pocketables editor-in-chief John Freml, it looks like you’ll eventually be able to log into a Google VPN when you connect to one of those potentially sketchy open WiFI networks out there.
To be clear, it takes a bit of work to even get the service responsible for that secure surfing running, and even then it doesn’t yet work the way it’s supposed to — all Freml could coax out of it was a dialog box touting the feature and a link to a still-inactive Google support page. Still, considering just temperamental (not to mention potentially tricky) some of those wireless networks can be, Google’s onto something really, really important here.
The inclusion of a system-level VPN is a great idea on its own, but it takes on even more significance in light of Google’s recently confirmed MVNO plans. Google SVP Sundar Pichai noted in an interview at this year’s Mobile World Congress that it’ll eventually roll out the “Nexus” of wireless services; that is, it won’t necessarily compete with the industry’s lumbering giants for customers. Still, it’s clear that WiFi is going to play a crucial role in Google’s newest mobile push – the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that it’ll essentially combine T-Mobile and Sprint service with available WiFi networks for phone and data connectivity, and you can bet the search juggernaut has a vested interest in keeping its users’ information safe from ne’er-do-wells.
In: Android, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: HD Voice, WiFi
Jamal Eason, Android Developers Blog, 3/12/15
Yesterday we announced Android 5.1, an updated version of the Android Lollipop platform that improves stability, provides better control of notifications, and increases performance. As a part of the Lollipop update, we are releasing the Android 5.1 SDK (API Level 22) which supports the new platform and lets you get started with developing and testing.
What’s new in Android 5.1?
For developers, Android 5.1 introduces a small set of new APIs. A key API addition is support for multiple SIM cards, which is important for many regions where Android One phones are being adopted. Consumers of Android One devices will have more flexibility to switch between carriers and manage their network activities in the way that works best for them. Therefore you, as a developer, can create new app experiences that take advantage of this new feature.
Android 5.1 supports multiple SIM cards on compatible devices like Android One.
Updates for the Android SDK
To get you started with Android 5.1, we have updated the Android SDK tools to support the new platform and its new APIs. The SDK now includes Android 5.1 emulator system images that you can use to test your apps and develop using the latest capabilities and APIs. You can update your SDK through the Android SDK Manager in Android Studio.
For details on the new developer APIs, take a look at the API Overview.
In: Android, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: API, SDK
, Engadget, 3/10/15
After weeks of teasing, it’s here: Google has officially unveiled Android 5.1 Lollipop. The new release focuses on support for features that usually depend on extra software to work, such as multiple SIM cards (handy for prepaid service in countries like China and India) and higher-quality HD voice calls on networks like T-Mobile or Verizon. You can control your WiFi networks and Bluetooth devices from the quick settings area, too.
However, the biggest deal may be something you’ll hopefully never have to use: Device Protection. Android 5.1 will let you require a Google account sign-in if your device is stolen, even if it’s reset to factory settings. In other words, a thief can’t simply wipe the storage on your phone and pawn it off. The feature will only be available on hardware shipping with Android 5.1 as well as the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, but it could reduce the incentives to swipe your stuff in the long run.
So, when can you get Android 5.1? You might see it quickly, depending on the gadgets you’re using. T-Mobile USA has already hinted that the Nexus 4, 5 and 7 (2013) could get their 5.1 upgrades as early as today. It’s reasonable to presume that the Nexus 6 and 9 will be part of this first wave as well. As for everyone else? Be prepared to wait — HTC, Samsung and many other vendors are still finishing their 5.0 rollouts, so it could be a while longer before they catch up.