Android One heads to Indonesia with Android 5.1 out of the box

The latest version of Android, 5.0 Lollipop, may only be on 1.6 percent of devices, but Android 5.1 is already starting to show up on new phones.

On Tuesday, Google announced that its low-cost smartphone program, Android One, is expanding past the Indian subcontinent into Indonesia. Some of the Indonesian Android One Phones, including the Nexian Journey and Evercoss One X, are running Android 5.1 out of the box, according to AndroidPolice and Google. That means that the latest Android update is available on certain Android One devices even before Nexus devices.

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Although an Android 5.1 changelog isn’t available yet, the update will likely bring a slew of performance and stability updates, according to AndroidPit, and may bring back the silent mode setting many have been missing in Android 5.0.

According to Google, there are three Android One devices going on sale in Indonesia from four different retailers. The devices are all similar, packing 4.5-inch, 854 x 480 pixel screens and quad-core processors presumably from MediaTek. Google also has a deal with Telkom Indonesia to “zero-rate” Android update data — so when users update their operating system it won’t cost them money.

When Android One was launched, Google promised those devices — despite costing as little as $120 — would get new versions of Android “soon after they were released” for both security and performance reasons. However, certain Android One devices in India haven’t even received the Android 5.0 update yet. For those with Nexus devices in the United States and Europe, though, Android 5.1 can’t be too far off.

New Android Wear smartwatches may use MediaTek chips

Most Android Wear smartwatches currently on the market are based around Qualcomm chips, but that could change soon if MediaTek has its way: The Taiwainese semiconductor company announced a new chip specially for smartwatches on Wednesday.

The MediaTek MT2601 system-on-a-chip is based around a dual-core processor using ARM’s Cortex-A7 design. It uses an ARM Mali 400 design for its GPU, and MediaTek’s MT6630 modem for Bluetooth. [company]MediaTek[/company] says it works “with a whole host of external sensors” — so hardware makers can add modules for heart-rate monitoring and GPS.

Except for the Motorola Moto 360, which uses a TI chip, all Android Wear smartwatches currently on sale use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC, which also powers a good deal of mid-range phones. The Snapdragon 400 wasn’t designed for wearable computers, and sometimes it shows. For instance, the Snapdragon 400 usually uses four Cortex-A7 cores, but it appears that manufacturers disable three of the cores to conserve battery life.

Most Android Wear buyers aren’t looking for raw computing power, so they’d rather have a smartwatch with a better battery life. Hopefully, MediaTek’s new SoC with a small die size will bring improved battery life, and given MediaTek’s history of driving device prices down, possibly less expensive Android Wear smartwatches as well. The MT2601 is in mass production now, so conceivably it could be in commercial smartwatches before too long.


AMD, ARM, others team up to take on Intel everywhere

AMD, ARM, Texas Instruments and two smaller chip firms have teamed up to create a nonprofit that will try to unseat Intel’s x86 dominance in computing. But this group isn’t just after Intel; it’s taking the CPU — the beating heart of computers today — down a peg.

MediaTek is Gunning for Qualcomm

Qualcomm has much to fear from Intel, which is attempting to gain a foothold in the mobile market even as Qualcomm looks upmarket to computers. However, MediaTek, a Taiwanese baseband provider that today signed an agreement to license LTE technology, should have Qualcomm more worried.