Google added two new Play Edition Android devices to its Play Store this week, one tablet and one smartphone. You could argue that both are tablets though: Sony’s $649 Z Ultra smartphone has a whopping 6.4-inch display. That’s not much smaller than a traditional 7-inch tablet but no worries if you need something larger; LG’s $349 G Pad 8.3 has nearly two more inches of diagonal display space.
Both devices come with a pure Android experience so there’s no carrier bloatware or other third-party applications pre-installed. Each should receive Android software updates soon after availability as well.
I took a quick look at the G Pad as a review unit arrived late in the week. Stay tuned for more, but my first impressions are favorable; those looking for a tablet in between the relatively standard 7- and 10-inch sizes will find much to like here as the slate is a pretty snappy performer and has a high resolution display that rivals Google’s own Nexus 7.
Since the G Pad is a tablet, it can take advantage of the latest feature in Skype for Android 4.5. This new version includes unique support for picture in picture. That means you can continue a Skype video call and see the conversation even if you start using another Android application. The floating window won’t work on phones; at least not for now.
So it won’t work on any Nokia Android phones. What, what?
While Nokia moved to Windows Phone as its primary platform in 2011, reports suggest that Nokia has devoted some resources to creating at least one Android phone, codenamed “Normandy”. It may seem impossible that the company ever bring the device to market, but I think the idea of doing so has some merit.
Nokia could use the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code for such a phone and Google would see no benefit at all. Without Google services or support for the Play Store, Google wouldn’t get any user data. The approach would be mirror that of Amazon which uses its own customer user interface on top of the AOSP code. Nokia’s interface could look have the look and feel of Windows Phone; after all Live Tiles are similar in functionality to Android widgets.
The benefit here would be that Nokia has an alternative to its low-end Asha platform and every Android-powered Nokia phone sold is one less true Android device that helps Google’s market domination. Of course, this may never happen although I’ll be honest: I’ve wanted to see Android software on Nokia’s well-designed hardware for a long time.