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Pokemon Go no-go: the latest chapter in Intel's Android drama

As Intel drifts away from smartphones and tablets, users with Android devices are starting to feel the pinch.

The hot Pokemon Go app won't work on Android devices with Intel Atom processors, and that's an issue for some users.

A petition to make the popular augmented reality game compatible with Atom chips attracted close to 22,000 signers by Monday. The app isn't working on devices like Asus' Zenfone 2, which runs on an Atom CPU. Pokemon Go maker Niantic Labs didn't respond to questions about whether they would release an Atom-compatible version of the game.

The issue arises as Intel pulls back from the smartphone chip market, after failing to catch up with ARM, whose processor designs are in most handsets. Atom chips for mobile devices are already being phased out. 

Meanwhile, Dell has stopped selling its Android-based Venue devices that ran on Intel chips. It also won't deliver Android OS upgrades to its existing Venue tablet users.

If you have an Android tablet or smartphone with an Intel Atom chip, things may not get better. Other issues will likely arise with as the number of apps and OS upgrades for Android on Intel Atom decline. Device makers usually work on Android upgrades with Intel, which is scaling back Android development.

There may be exceptions. While Dell has suspended OS updates, Asus has said it will deliver upgrades to Android 6.0 for its Zenfone 2 handsets. But it's not known whether devices will get upgrades to Android 7.0, code-named Nougat.

As it exits the mobile phone market, Intel is also moving away from slate-style tablets, which are experiencing a decline in shipments. Intel will focus on 2-in-1 devices, which can be used as either laptops or tablets.

Intel is still offering a tablet chip code-named Cherry Trail, but the successor to that chip will be Pentium and Celeron chips code-named Apollo Lake, which will be aimed more at PCs and 2-in-1s.

The wholesale changes in Intel's mobile strategy came after the chip maker in April said it would lay off 12,000 people. It is now focusing on areas like connectivity, IoT and data center technologies.

While Intel's Android development has scaled back, the company is continuing to work with Google "on supporting their OS for different product lines including Chromebooks, tablets and IOT products," a spokeswoman said last week.

Intel will focus on Google's Brillo IoT OS, which has the underpinnings of Android. A lot of development will also go into Chrome OS, which is in Chromebooks.

IDG Insider

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