Android this week: Galaxy Alpha peeks; Google Fit previewed; HP SlateBook 14 arrives

android-this-week

The supposed quiet time of summer isn’t all that quiet this year. Although we had major phone launches this spring there are likely more to come soon as sales for some companies are on the down-swing. Samsung is a perfect example: Its sales growth has sputtered so it may need a product that breaks from the past.

I’m not sure if switching from a plastic to a metal case is much of a break, but it appears that’s at least one strategy Samsung will soon take. Images of the supposed mid-range Galaxy Alpha handset leaked out this week and line up with an FCC filing here in the U.S. Having the Galaxy name is a pretty strong indicator the phone will run Google Android and there are reports of a 4.7-inch 720p display on the phone.

Galaxy Alpha right

It’s the sides that could win folks over though: After years of many complaints on the plastic parts found in the Galaxy S line, alleged pics of the Alpha show a metal side with chamfered edges. I expect we’ll find out everything about this phone during the first week of September as Samsung has a scheduled press event coinciding with the IFA show in Berlin.

While we wait for the Alpha, we’re also waiting for the first Google Fit applications to arrive on Android. However, we’re a step closer: This week, Google released a preview SDK for Google Fit so that developers and hardware makers could being tinkering on the platform. Google took the same preview approach with its¬†Android Wear SDK, giving us a glimpse at some of the features in advance, so I expect the same here.

Google Fit is akin to Apple’s HealthKit platform for iOS, helping to gather, record and aggregate sensor data from activity such as exercise. Watches that run Android Wear are already Fit compatible so Fit apps can work with them as well as Android phones and even the web, according to Google. I anticipate the latter of those to be a place where you’d see detailed graphs and charts of fitness activity.

Android isn’t all about watches and phones though. It’s about notebook computers too, right? There aren’t too many of such beasts but they’ve been around since 2011 or so. And the latest comes from HP which just started to ship its SlateBook 14 notebook this week with a price of $429.

Slatebook

For those who prefer a mobile-oriented operating system on their laptop, the SlateBook 14 looks quite capable. It runs Android 4.3 on Nvidia’s Tegra 4 processor, has 2 GB of memory, 16 GB of internal flash storage, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, a trio of USB ports and an HDMI-out interface. The 14-inch display shows off Android in full-HD resolution and the laptop supports Beats Audio with four speakers.

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