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Android

The startup that promised a better version of Android will stop updating its OS on December 31 as part of an ongoing “consolidation.”

If Android had a second name, it had to be CyanogenMod. An aftermarket custom ROM that offered all the good stuff of Android topped with additional features saw some odd organizational shakeup lately, seeing its CEO being ousted and losing its original founder, Steve Kondik, from the team. That shakeup led to all sorts of odd choices, eventually leading up to this day where Cyanogen has announced that it will shut down its services on the 31st of December 2016.

As part of the ongoing consolidation of Cyanogen, all services and Cyanogen-supported nightly builds will be discontinued no later than 12/31/16. The open source project and source code will remain available for anyone who wants to build CyanogenMod personally.

While this is bad news for the community, the good news is that Cyanogen is leaving an open-source initiative behind called Lineage. Using this, developers will be able to pick up the latest CyanogenMod code, and continue developing on a personal level if they so desire. This is the only way the ROM will live on. But do not expect any breakthrough in the time to come.
While Cyanogen and CyanogenMod are both saying goodbye, the spirit of CM will continue to live on in LineageOS. This is just the beginning. A website is being developed, and were sure to hear much more about Lineage in the upcoming days and weeks.

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Android, Apps

If there’s a regular bane in Android phone owners’ existence, it’s the never-ending stream of app updates. Even though they’re smaller than full downloads, they still chew up a lot of data — just ask anyone who has sucked down hundreds of megabytes updating a new phone. Google’s engineers have a better solution, though.

They’re introducing a new approach to app updates that promises to radically shrink the size of updates with “file-by-file” patching. The resulting patches tend to be about 65 percent smaller than the app itself, and are sometimes over 90 percent smaller. In the right circumstances, that could make the difference between updating while you’re on cellular versus waiting until you find WiFi.

The technique revolves around spotting changes in the uncompressed files (that is, when they’re not squeezed into a typical app package). Google first decompresses the old and new app versions to determine the changes between files and create a patch. After that, updating is just a matter of unpacking the app on your device, applying changes and compressing it again.

Don’t expect to see this when you tap the “update” button, at least not yet. Google is currently limiting the new patching approach to automatic updates, since it needs extra processing power and might take additional time on older hardware. Your brand new Pixel XL should blaze through it, but someone’s aging Moto G might take longer. Performance will improve over time, however, so you might well see this expand to all updates once baseline performance is high enough.

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