Rumors, hoaxes, and the next Nexus

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Last week, a number of new rumors surfaced about the next Nexus device from Google. Some rumors have been slowly flowing for quite some time, but with the possible release date looming sometime in the near future, everyone was ready for something sensational to be revealed. That is exactly what they got when Android and Me posted a now retracted article with quite a hefty disclaimer, which included a number of supposed details from a source on the upcoming Nexus device.

Most notably, the rumors included information about a new Customization Centre to manage OEM skins, icon templates, post filters, optional OEM skins, a new Hardware Abstraction Layer that would help with updates, extra battery life, enhanced video apps, and media streaming and game programming. These were all said to be part of Android 4.2, which the tipster claimed to be familiar with. All of the supposed features sounded at least moderately reasonable, and once reported by a reputable source, began to take off online with or without disclaimers about the nature of the rumors.

Now, it appears that the con man behind all of these rumors has decided to inform everyone of his experiment, if a lengthy comment on an Android Police article is to be believed. According to the commenter who calls himself “Hoaxer,” he wasn’t trying to do Google any harm, but simply “testing” the Android rumor mill. Of course, there is the question of whether the poster is telling the truth even now, but a few Android blogs have now come forward saying that they also received fabricated information from the person, but did not publish it. Android Police also confirmed that the comment appears to come from the same computer that sent them a set of rumors before the fiasco began.

After apologizing for causing such a fuss (but not for causing Android and Me trouble), the poster went on to detail the list of features that were rumored, and break down why they wouldn’t be feasible to add in one version. This doesn’t have much to do with the false rumor situation, but makes for some interesting reading on the state of Android and why certain features may be harder to add than others.

Overall, this seems to me to be an interesting experiment,  and one that reveals some flaws in the Android rumor mill. Rumors like this come up all the time, and are usually ignored without at least a Digitimes source. Even informants’ exclusive information is posted with a disclaimer, and isn’t claimed to be completely factual. However, once one site picks up on the rumor and runs the story as facts, others may base their story on that site’s take, and then the unsubstantiated rumor begins spreading as fact.

When the information was circulating last Friday, I personally considered writing it up with a hefty disclaimer about the source of the information, but after tracing the story back to its source, decided against it. None of the claims seemed extremely outlandish, but the combined list just didn’t seem quite right. Anyway, I decided to wait for the story to develop further, and now I’m glad that I did.

So, since all those interesting rumors turned out to be untrue, what do we think we know about the next Nexus that is a bit more reliable? Well, CNET has confirmed that LG and Google will likely be releasing a Nexus by the end of this month, and that device will probably be a lot like the Optimus G. It also remains quite reasonable to think that the next Android version will be called 4.2, and that the new Nexus will continue to lack an SD card slot. I’m not as sure about the multiple Nexus device, but the story did come from the Wall Street Journal some time ago, and may at least be part of Google’s future plans.

Anyhow, I’m sure that the new Nexus phone Google announces will be plenty exciting, even if it doesn’t quite have all the rumored features. Hopefully the announcement does occur this month as well, because as we have now seen, it can be a bit dangerous to get to eager when speculating about any big name device.

 

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Aaron Orquia

Aaron Orquia is an associate editor at Pocketables. He has been using Android and Linux since he bought his first computer years ago, and his interest in technology, software, and tweaking both to work just right has only grown stronger since then. His current gadgets include a OnePlus One, a Pebble smartwatch, and an Acer C720 Chromebook.

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