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Party Time–The HTC Dream G1 is Six Years Old!

Posted by wicked September - 25 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off


unnamedA few interesting events took place six years ago. In the USA, the biggest chart-topping song was “Whatever You Like” by T.I., while in the UK people were enjoying Kings of Leon’s “Sex On Fire”. The weather was nice as well in September, but probably the most exciting event took place in the city of New York where HTC announced their first smartphone running Android OS. The HTC Dream on T-Mobile was officially presented to public. Today, the G1 is six years old and we would like to wish it a happy sixth birthday!

It all began back in 2005 when Andy Rubin, the CEO of Android Inc., got an astonishing offer from Google, which at the time was most well known for its search engine. Our dear friends from Mountain View were looking to enter the mobile phone market and Rubin’s company seemed to be a nice option for them. They made an offer that Rubin et al. accepted, and three years later, on Septemeber 22nd 2008, the first Google phone has been released in an association with T-Mobile. After just six months, the G1 became one of the most popular devices in USA. It landed in fifth place in terms of numbers of devices sold.

At the time, the Android Open Source Project was something new in the mobile world. It was one of the first major open source mobile operating systems. The Android Market, known today as the Google Play Store, also debuted with G1. It had 50 free applications at the time of launch. Google certainly didn’t expect such explosive popularity at launch. The OS was the most interesting and fun part of the G1. Users could (and did) contribute to the project making it exactly what we know and love today. Of course, most of the features have been developed by Google employees, but many crucial contributions were developed by users. But let’s talk about its roots.

Android wasn’t Andy Rubin’s first project. The current SVP of mobile and digital content at Google had a pretty successful campaign with the Hiptop smartphone, which was rebranded as the Sidekick by T-Mobile. Some similarities in the overall look and feel can be found between Hiptop and the G1–namely the pop-out keyboard and screen design. HTC’s phone was pretty good alternative to the BlackBerry and iPhone 3G, which were the most popular devices back then. As you can see, the war between Apple and Google has started a long time ago. Of course we can still see those two brands stretching their muscles. However, BlackBerry seems to have lost the battle long ago, and once the main contender in the business world has become a small company with just a few devices in its stable.

Back then, a physical keyboard was nothing abnormal. The same could be said for trackballs. Even Android itself had no support for virtual keyboards at the time. Now, it’s virtually impossible to find a modern device as chunky as the G1 and featuring a physical keyboard. Maybe they will be popular one day again? A few years back, we wanted our devices to be as small as possible, and now we can buy phones that we must keep in our bags, because our pockets are too small.

HTC-Dream_39668_1With the HTC Dream’s release, Google introduced many interesting functions that we know and can’t live without. Among them we found multitasking, copy and paste, pull-down notifications and home screen widgets. Gmail and Google Maps had their premiere as well. Back in those days, Google had no music application, so they asked Amazon to provide an application for them.

Google were very responsive to bug reports and addressed some issues shortly. The virtual keyboard support and video recording were quickly added, and the device has also received two big updates, to Cupcake and Donut, which was the final version this phone has received.

The T-Mobile G1 is a very important milestone in Google’s history. After a few short years, Android became the most popular mobile operating system in the world with numerous users around the world. Google can now compete with (and reign supreme over) Apple, and they have now established new standards in the mobile world. Companies like HTC and LG decided to commit their future to Android and released multiple great devices, and have since become leaders in the mobile industry (though they are somewhat dwarfed by an 800 lbs. gorilla named Samsung). Needless to say that Samsung is the dominant force in the mobile market thanks to Android and great devices like Samsung Galaxy S and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Today, we are waiting to see another Nexus devices, likely produced by HTC (Nexus 9) and Motorola (Nexus 6 aka Shamu). Will they make Google and Android even stronger like the G1 once did? Or perhaps this platform will slowly die and will be forgotten, only to be replaced by an even better option?

Do you still own your old Dream/G1? How do you like it after so many years? Is it the best or most important Android device (relative to its time) in history or is it just one of many that weren’t functional at all and Google just got lucky? Share your opinion in the comment section below.

The post Party Time–The HTC Dream G1 is Six Years Old! appeared first on xda-developers.

MediaTek Continues Steps Towards Being Developer-Friendly

Posted by wicked September - 22 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

MediaTek Labs

Not too long ago MediaTek was very closed off towards the mobile developer community, especially sites like XDA. They saw no value in working with independent developers who live, breathe and sleep mobile. That has begun to change as of late, and MediaTek is even sponsoring xda:devcon ’14 in Manchester, UK on Sept 26-28. They also recently partnered with Google on the Android One project and are continuing to submit kernel source code to the upstream projects with Google.

One of their recent initiatives has been to embrace the Maker community and plunge headlong into Internet of Things through their MediaTek Labs which is officially launching today. This new program is geared towards developers from across the spectrum to begin to explore IoT and wearables and hopefully integrate them into their daily lives. Marc Naddell, VP of MediaTek Labs said of their new initiative:

With the launch of MediaTek Labs we’re opening up a new world of possibilities for everyone – from hobbyists and students through to professional developers and designers – to unleash their creativity and innovation. We believe that the innovation enabled by MediaTek Labs will drive the next wave of consumer gadgets and apps that will connect billions of things and people around the world.”

Their new initiative also features their LinkIt Development Platform, a reference platform based on the MediaTek Aster (MT2502) chipset. With this new platform, anyone can create wearable and IoT devices easily and with minimal expense. The platform is controlled by LinkIt OS, a new operating system based on Nucleus, and the device functionality itself may be implemented in C/C++ with the variety of APIs provided by MTK for the Aster platform. In addition MediaTek has also provided LinkIt SDK (for Arduino) which allows those familiar with the Arduino platform to integrate their ideas.

With their HW Dev Kit they are making the Hardware Reference Design free to use and alter, and it includes the PCB layout and board schematics, pin-out diagram, Aster GPIO table, and the Aster, Wi-Fi and GPS chipset datasheets. Through a partnership with Seeed Studios, MediaTek is making available their LinkIt ONE device for purchase with all the tools necessary to jumpstart your project.

For more information, and to read the full announcement from MediaTek, visit the MediaTek Labs website. Through a partnership with You can also visit our LinkIt ONE forum to discuss the platform and begin sharing the things you are creating.

We are extremely excited to see MediaTek continue to open up as a company, but we will continue to call on them to honor their usage of the Linux Kernel (and the GPLv2 licensing it requires). We know it doesn’t happen overnight, and so we will be the voice of support for them and engage them in a continual effort to support the community.

The post MediaTek Continues Steps Towards Being Developer-Friendly appeared first on xda-developers.

Windows Developers Rejoice! Dev Program’s $99 Yearly Fee is No More!

Posted by egzthunder1 September - 18 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off


Microsoft rule in the mobile market, much like the giant dinosaurs that once roamed the Earth several millions of years ago, is nothing but a distant memory with remnants of fossils scattered across the globe (for those of us who still have working Windows Mobile devices). At some point, Microsoft decided to try and avoid extinction by trying to evolve alongside a new set of species that were more fit to survive on this new era of mobile tech, and thus Windows Phone was born. Faster, heavier, and overall healthier than its dying predecessor, the new OS tried to expand across the globe to retake the kingdom that was supposedly its birth right. Fate as it is, does not believe in such things and its two biggest rivals (Android and iOS) were flourishing in what once was Microsoft’s playground. The reason for this slow and nearly null level of evolution and growth is not surprising. Every single living organism on this planet requires one thing to survive and thrive: food. In the case of mobile technology, the food is analogous to mobile applications. Android and iOS both have lots and lots of food available for them whereas Microsoft does not. Why? Developers, that’s why.

Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, once said “Developers, developers, developers, developers…. AAAAAHHHHRGG”. In his ever famous sweaty rant regarding the company’s desire to gain this support for their up and coming platform, we all thought it was pretty clear that the company needed the support from the developer community. However, actions tend to speak louder than words (yes, even louder than Mr. Ballmer’s) and Microsoft’s lack of support for the community has been parallel only to Apple’s efforts in trying to keep people out of their work (with the only difference being that Apple does a far better job at marketing, hence they sell more). For those of us who have been with Microsoft for the early part of Windows Phone’s life (anything before Tango), we still remember the meteoric rise (and equally fast demise) of a tool called ChevronWP7, which basically allowed one type of device unlocking which enabled the user to sideload third party apps onto the device without having to go through the Windows Store, essentially simulating the ability that developers have. There are two other types of locks in Windows Phone devices: Interop unlock, which basically is root but for Windows Phone, and SIM unlock. The ChevronWP7 tool did not touch either of the aforementioned, but it helped. This is but one of the many things that developers got fed up with. The ChevronWP7 tool was later discontinued and the token that allowed for the sideloading of apps became invalid. Back to square one… however, Microsoft waived a year of their $99/ year fee for developers who had purchased Chevron (regular pricing thereafter).

Fast forward to today. Android and iOS are still kings of the mountain, with developers pouring in day and night. Microsoft, on the other hand, keeps on releasing update after update to WP (currently on 8.1) but it is not only the OS that makes up the platform. All main players require developers to have accounts (developer accounts that is) established before being allowed to push apps into the market(s). These have costs associated with them. Apple’s is $99 per year (again, you gain from Apple’s immense popularity and large user base, so you recover the investment rather quickly); Android’s developer program is a mere $25 for the lifetime of the account (this is by far a much better deal considering that many developers are young students. This model does great for catching new people who are getting into programming and app development); and lastly, Microsoft charges developers, just like Apple, $99 per year in order to push apps into the Windows Store. So, overall hatred against Microsoft, added to a small user base, and an exorbitant yearly fee seems to be the perfect formula to drive developers away. Having (finally) understood this trend, it seems that Microsoft did something about it and slashed the $99 fee into a one time $19 set up fee, thus making it more affordable for developers to get into Windows Phone development.

I have to admit that Microsoft did the right thing, particularly now that we know that Windows 9 is looming in the horizon. After the massive integration of both Windows Phone and Windows platforms (starting with Windows 8), it seems that the Seattle company will try to start off with the right foot with their new operating system and want to have as many developers supporting it. It would be interesting to see development for Windows starting up once again. Hopefully, Mr Ballmer will take on John Legere’s example and release not one, or two incentives to attract people, but a whole slew of them. Shake their ground, make them think positively about Microsoft and not like the money hungry (and developer unfriendly) company that they are famous for. Who knows? With enough developers, Microsoft could once again become king of the mountain.

Good move Microsoft…. good move….

You can find more information in Pocket Now’s original article.

The post Windows Developers Rejoice! Dev Program’s $99 Yearly Fee is No More! appeared first on xda-developers.

Schedule is up for xda:devcon ’14

Posted by wicked September - 18 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off


With xda:devcon ’14 just around the corner, and the venue close to selling out, there is a lot of excitement building here at XDA. We have some amazing things lined up, from over $10,000 in giveaways to an amazing group of sponsors. Add to that a fantastic line up of speakers presenting on everything from Wearables and IoT to Android OS Development to Alternative OS’s (like Jolla, Firefox and Ubuntu Touch), and WOW do have we a lot in store for you!

Our event staff have been working tirelessly to make sure that those attending get the most out of the event. With that in mind, we wanted to unveil our schedule for xda:devcon ’14.

Check-in at the Conference Center is available early on Friday, September 26 from 3PM to 5PM, or 8AM to 10AM on Saturday. Friday evening there will be a Welcome Reception from 7PM to 9PM in the hotel lobby. The sessions on Saturday begin at 10AM and will run until 6PM, and will be capped off with an After Hours event and panel discussion sponsored by NVIDIA. Sunday’s sessions begin at 9AM and end at 3:30PM, with final giveaways ending an excellent weekend.

If you have not got your ticket for xda:devcon ’14, and you don’t want to miss out on all of the fun, just head over to the site (first come, first served, limited availability). The conference takes place September 26-28 at the Park Inn Manchester City Centre.


The post Schedule is up for xda:devcon ’14 appeared first on xda-developers.

It’s Coming! Windows 9 Screenshots Surface

Posted by egzthunder1 September - 12 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Windows 9

We have lots of Linux people in our audience who will likely go “meh” at this, but for those of you who still use Windows and are not up to date on the latest happenings from our beloved Microsoft, you will be happy to read that the successor of Windows 8.1 is coming sometime soon. For the time being, due to lack of a better option, the outside media has decided to dub this new version known as Windows 9. It seems that several companies have gotten a hold of an early version of its Developer Preview, which should be out within the next month or so. Out of those previews, it seems that a couple of German sites (namely ComputerBase and WinFuture) have managed to snatch more than a few screenshots of this new OS. The Verge created a nice compilation of said screenshots, which paints a picture of what the future of desktop will be all about.

If you were expecting that Microsoft would go back to basics and maybe try to get away from the Metro design, Windows 9 will do nothing more than disappoint you beyond your wildest dreams. Not only have they kept the UI but they decided to expand it into other areas of the Desktop experience. Having said that, this is not a terrible thing because the overall feel seems to be more unified with some rather essential elements from the MetroUI blended into the new Start Menu. And yes, the Start menu is officially back in Windows 9 (slow rolling clap). There are several other elements present that seem to have made their way into the first row. For instance, the Search icon is now present right by the Start menu (no more having to look for it through the side bar). Over the years, it seems that Microsoft has played quite a bit with the location of this ever important tool. Yes, there are mods to stick this elsewhere, but having it where it should be out-of-the-box is always a nice feeling.

Another familiar feature (for Linux enthusiasts) now present in Windows 9, is the fact that you have the ability to have multiple desktop environments and easily switch between them. Ever since the golden years of Windows XP, there have always been tools to simulate this feature, but nothing has ever been built in into the OS.  Always useful for those in need of extra room, or for those who need to quickly hide their solitaire screens and jump to a somewhat pseudo productive, cluttered screen filled with Excel spreadsheets (simulate a productive work situation).

Last but not least, the UI now seems to offer a feature that saw its birth in Android which has slowly made its way into virtually every other OS (mobile or otherwise). Ladies and gentlemen, Windows 9 proudly presents…. Notification Center! This is a neat feature as the old taskbar can get cluttered thanks to the never ending notifications from Adobe and Java requesting your permission to update themselves. It looks like Microsoft accepted the fact that using things that people use is, after all, a good idea.

The leaks don’t seem to suggest much else other than an even flatter UI than what is currently present in Windows 8.1. However, it seems that Microsoft developers and designers seem to be quite content with the Windows 8 overall feel and look and Windows 9 represents a bit of a minor upgrade (visually and almost functionality wise) over it. One thing worth noting is that if the Longhorn preview of 2006 has taught us anything, is that you should never rely on the early preview to know exactly how the new version will look like. There is still a long time before the release of Windows 9 is even announced, but as stated, the sole return of the Start menu should be enough to keep Windows enthusiasts happy enough.

What is your take on the new Windows? What elements would you have scrapped altogether or what would you improve over what you see here? Please share your thoughts.

You can find all the screenshots in the original article by The Verge.

The post It’s Coming! Windows 9 Screenshots Surface appeared first on xda-developers.

Latest Android Platform Stats: KitKat Nearly 25%, 2.x Down to 12%

Posted by Will Verduzco September - 11 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Android September 2014 Pie Chart

Android September 2014 Pie ChartAs we’ve by now become accustomed, the beginning of the month marks when Google updates its Android Developer Dashboard website with updated Platform Distribution Stats. These numbers, which show the current state of Android ecosystem fragmentation both in terms of version/API adoption and graphics capabilities, become an incredibly valuable resource for Android application developers looking to better target their development efforts.

When we took a look at the Android Platform Stats back in August, we were pleased to see that KitKat was finally over 20% market share. Android 4.4.x KitKat was up to 20.9% from 17.9% the month before, resulting in a 16.8% relative growth. Just like what we’ve seen in previous months, Android 2.x had been hovering in at over 10% of end user devices. However, for the first time in recent memory, this number has dropped somewhat significantly to 12.1%. Perhaps we can finally conclude that (some of) these people who are still running extremely old devices are no longer seemingly as content with slow and outdated devices.


Now, we are continuing to see a positive growth in KitKat market share. And for the first time in several months, the rate of adoption has actually grown (slightly) from the previous month. This is likely due to a last, final push by OEMs and carriers to roll out KitKat updates before Android L is officially released in the coming month or so. This month, Android 4.4.x KitKat saw a 17.2% relative growth, leading to a total of 24.5% of active installs. And as we mentioned before, Android 2.x is hanging strong at 12.1%. This is down from 14.3% last month, and it represents a 15.4% relative drop. And for those who remember last month’s anomaly where 2.x actually “grew,” this is more than welcome progress in the right direction.

Now that we’ve been watching KitKat’s adoption grow over time, we can safely conclude that as always, KitKat is on the rise. We first saw a rather meteoric rise, which tempered off for a few months as a higher percentage of devices that would receive the update actually received it. Now, that decline in growth rate has leveled off, leaving us with slightly higher relative growth this month than last month. Android 2.x is still holding strong, but for the first time in quite a long time, we actually see a noticeable 15.4% relative drop in adoption down to 12.1%. Hopefully this trend continues and this is not some kind of sampling artifact. Android 4.x Ice Cream Sandwich and 4.1-4.3 Jelly Bean saw somewhat noticeable declines as well.

In addition to version stats, the Android Developer Dashboard also reports information regarding screen size and resolution, as well as max supported OpenGL version. This can be seen below:


This month, we are happy to report progress both in terms of Android 4.4 growth and Android 2.x decline. It’s great to see the latest (official) versions of Android make their way to more and more devices. But folks, remember that we are just a month or two away from the official release of Android L, when this cycle will undoubtedly repeat once again.

Do you think Android L adoption will mirror what we’ve seen in the past, or will Google’s focus on optimizing resources help it reach older devices? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!

[Source: Android Developer Dashboard]

The post Latest Android Platform Stats: KitKat Nearly 25%, 2.x Down to 12% appeared first on xda-developers.

Samsung vs Google: A New War in Mobile?

Posted by wicked September - 5 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off


Samsung-vs-GoogleIt appears that the long standing marriage between Samsung and Google may be coming to an end. According to Forbes, the Galaxy line creators will allow its users to download a beta version of Nokia Here Maps in October 2014, when the rounded Samsung Galaxy Gear S hits store shelves, and this might be the beginning of the end for Google’s OS on Samsung devices.

Samsung is pushing hard to replace Android with Tizen, their own, Linux-based operating system, which is as much Google-free as only possible. The adoption of Here Maps is the cherry on top of this rather turbulent relationship. It’s obvious that the whole story between the two companies is about money. Google is pushing OEMs to use its own sets of instructions regarding applications, and its really hard to imagine a situation where a Samsung, Sony, or any other phone is sold without Gmail, Chrome, or Hangouts present. To access Google Services, OEMs must create their own firmware with Google’s influence. The position of Google Search, Gmail, Hangouts is fixed, so companies like Samsung can’t move them. What hurts Samsung the most is not being able to put on their own search engine, ads, and other commercial software–and we know how much OEMs love bloatware.

A few weeks ago, Amazon released their very first smartphone, the Fire Phone. FireOS is nothing more than a skinned Android 4.0.3 without Google services. AOSP is a great thing and we all know how many things can be done with its source code. Good things. The majority of ROMs we see here on XDA are built from source, and some corporations have decided to do the same thing. Google may be a victim of their own strategy, but to be honest, it will never happen. Google is simply too big, too powerful, too greedy, and has the best managers in the world to fall into oblivion and leave the field for other companies.

This leads us to another question: What will happen with Samsung and other OEMs that try to release themselves from Mountain View’s clutches? An answer seems to be interesting. CNN reported that Xiaomi overtook the Samsung’s position in China, the biggest mobile market in the world. This fact may lead to conclusion that Samsung is slowly losing its position as a mobile world leader. We ca182208-samsungzblackn already see devices from OEMs like Oppo, OnePlus, and other Asian OEMs that play a fair game (*knock, knock Mediatek…*) and find many thousands of buyers. It’s only a matter of time to find these devices in carrier deals–not just in North America, but also other continents. Samsung might be forced to reduce the price of their devices or simply look for another sector of the market to make big money. Leaving Android to Tizen is a reflection of the bad situation the OEM is currently in.

Tizen is a good OS for smartwatches, maybe even better than Android Wear, because it doesn’t require so much energy. Samsung has been working hard to push the Samsung Z, the first Tizen-based phone, to the Russian market. The company didn’t manage to make it yet and we are seeing pretty much the same Bada OS story in new guise. Tizen is much more user friendly than Bada, but this OS is not a threat to Android in any kind. Android will remain as a major force in mobile ecosystem for a long time, because Google will do everything to keep their OS on top.

HTC is having the same problem, as they decided to focus only on premium devices by abandoning the low-end device market. This could also be considered a mistake, because despite their lower profit margin, cheap devices can be sold by the millions. Look what Sony did with Xperia X8 or LG with their L3 models. Samsung is putting too much attention on premium devices, while the Asian market is getting some cheaper alternatives from rising competitors.

It remains unknown whether the decision of pushing the Nokia Maps to Android is a good or a bad move. Google may feel threatened and exclude Samsung from its other programs. But overall, this is simply a shame, because the Samsung Galaxy Nexus was a decent device. The upcoming months should be very interesting and provide us lots of topics to discuss.

What do you think about Samsung and Google’s growing relationship tension? Will they remain pals after all, or will their paths never again cross? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The post Samsung vs Google: A New War in Mobile? appeared first on xda-developers.

Device Review: Nvidia SHIELD Tablet

Posted by wicked August - 16 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off


A little over a year ago, Nvidia decided to change the game–literally. The Nvidia SHIELD Portable was announced, released, and was very well received. Here we are, shortly following the announcement of a new, and epic, generation of mobile device processors, and Nvidia has officially released their next SHIELD installment, the Nvidia SHIELD Tablet.


One of the chief complaints we saw with the original SHIELD Portable was the screen size and resolution. A 5” screen with 720p resolution was usable for most tasks, but could get to be a bit of a strain on the eyes after a while. Nvidia has attempted to address this with an 8”, 1920 x 1200 display (which is, by the way, quite nice).

Check out Jordan’s Video Review:

Hardware specifications:

Processor NVIDIA® Tegra® K1 192 core Kepler GPU,2.2 GHz ARM Cortex A15 CPU
Display 8-inch 1920×1200 multi-touch Full HD display
Audio Front facing stereo speakers, dual bass reflex port with built-in microphone
Storage 32 GB (WiFi+4G LTE) / 16 GB (WiFi-only)
Wireless 802.11n 2×2 Mimo 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-FiBluetooth 4.0 LE, GPS / GLONASS
Connectivity WiFi+4G LTE or WiFi-only, Mini-HDMI, Micro-USB 2.0, MicroSD slot, 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack with microphone
Camera Front: 5MP HDR;Back: 5MP auto focus HDR
Stylus DirectStylus 2 with 3D Paint (Included)
Battery 19.75 Watt Hours


As you can probably imagine, with the Tegra K1 and 2GB of RAM, this thing eats up games for breakfast.


As this latest SHIELD is a standalone tablet, if you want to interact with your games like you did on the SHIELD portable, you’ll need a controller. With most other devices, this means pairing a Bluetooth controller. This usually introduces a bit of latency, which could mean the difference between getting a headshot and BEING headshot.

With the SHIELD Tablet, Nvidia released the SHIELD controller, a WiFi-direct solution that promises lower latency and easier pairing. In practice, both of these claims appear to be true.

Additionally, a magnetic tablet cover is available that makes it simple to stand the tablet up on a flat surface so you can keep right on gaming with the wireless controller.


As with the SHIELD Portable, the tablet comes with a version of Android KitKat (specifically, version 4.4.2) that is only minimally customized, adding in pieces and parts to make the controller and stylus work appropriately, as well as whatever’s necessary for game streaming and recording. This means that updates can, and should, come frequently, as they have with the original SHIELD.

This also means that rooting the device is quite painless, as you can see in the following video:


Sound is one place where the SHIELD Tablet really shines. With most Android devices, and especially most tablets, speakers come in the form of one or two small, tinny speakers at the bottom, or the back, of the device.

The SHIELD Tablet has front facing stereo speakers as well as bass reflex ports on the side, which makes for some truly decent sound quality. I rarely found myself bumping the volume over about 50%, because the speakers were just that loud, clear, and crisp sounding.


This is another area where the SHIELD Tablet shines. It’s easy to throw around numbers like 8” and 1920×1200, but it doesn’t do it justice. The colors are vivid, and the viewing angles are excellent.

Game Recording / Streaming

One new feature introduced with the SHIELD Tablet is the ability to record screencasts directly from the device, including the built-in camera and microphone. This really makes this device a unique experience, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve only tested this functionality a few times, and it seems to be a bit hit-or-miss. It records at a strange resolution, 1728×1080, presumably because the native screen resolution is 1920×1200 instead of 1920×1080. Additionally, the audio can sometimes go wildly out of sync from the video. Rebooting the device seems to take care of that issue, but you don’t know about it until after the recording, so it’s safest to just reboot before you’re going to record anything.

The built-in microphone really isn’t all that bad. My initial tests made me think it might be, but as it turns out, if you’re using the wireless controller, it attempts to use the microphone in it instead, which IS a pretty rough microphone.

Built-in streaming to is also supported, which is absolutely awesome. You have to turn the quality down before attempting it, but still, it’s an all-in-one game streaming solution.

The downside of all of this, as I hinted earlier, is some glitchiness in the software. I attempted to record gameplay of games like Half-Life 2, but if I tried to leave the camera turned on while doing so, the game would immediately crash. I believe most of these things will be fixed, in due time, with software upgrades.


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This is a tablet. Please don’t use it as a camera.

That said, the pictures I took with the rear-facing camera were… well, not great. 5MP doesn’t go quite as far as it used to, so they were blurry and grainy. However, for the front-facing camera, while it’s still a bit grainy, it’s leaps and bounds better than a lot of other front-facing cameras, and given that its primary intention is to be used while streaming or recording games, it works extremely well for that!


A stylus is not something you’d normally talk about with a tablet, but this is a bit of an exception. The stylus of the original Tegra Note has been revamped a bit for the SHIELD tablet, with excellent results. I’m no artist, but the stylus has been extremely easy to use and feels very sturdy and solid in the hand, allowing for fine-grained control.

Unfortunately, the stylus doesn’t appear to work with all other devices, though it DID work with the HP Slate 7 Extreme, which also uses Nvidia DirectStylus technology.

Battery Life

According to Nvidia, the battery in the tablet is 19.75 Watt hours. That should equate to about 5200 mAh, which is just above average for a tablet of this size. In practice, I usually don’t find myself sitting down with a device like this for more than a couple of hours at a time, so I regularly saw several days of battery life, but my gaming was probably lighter than average. With heavier usage, of course you’d be able to drain the battery in just a few hours, but that can be said of just about any device with any battery size.


As a “next step” in the SHIELD family, the new SHIELD tablet is definitely a very worthwhile addition. Excellent performance, interesting software additions, amazing sound quality make it a powerful combo, not just for gaming, but for everyday tasks, media consumption, and even a bit of artistry. With a price tag of $299/$399 (and even more if you want the wireless controller and magnetic device cover) it’s a bit on the steep side, but if you’re looking for a good all-around tablet, and an especially good gaming tablet, this is the one.

The post Device Review: Nvidia SHIELD Tablet appeared first on xda-developers.

Blackphone Gets Root Access in MORE Than Five Minutes

Posted by egzthunder1 August - 13 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

root blackphone jcase

Security is a rather paramount issue in this day and age where sensitive technology is handed to people who probably should not have it until they are old enough to drive. People are as widely, overtly inappropriate on the Internet as they humanly can be, yet they have the audacity to reach out for web outlets whenever their “stuff” leaks out into the Internet. Then, these same people are the ones who complain that hackers and the government are after them because of all the important (eye of the beholder) text messages that are stored in their devices are gone. After all, nothing screams “national security threat” like a message from your mom asking if you want meatloaf for dinner. That is one side of the coin, while the other side involves people who truly need to have some sanctuary from the horrors of the likes of hackers, root, or even the government. They can, and probably are, holding onto important information on their e-mail accounts and whatnot that could jeopardize something worth going after. So, how do the latter deal with such a sword of Damocles dangling on top of their heads? The answer is to get a phone that is secure enough to hold all their stuff. Enter the Blackphone.

The Blackphone is a device made by a joint venture between Silent Circle and Geeksphone, which is now known as SGP Technologies. The device is an Android phone unlike many others out there. The main difference between this and your [enter your device name here] lies mainly in the software make up of the phone. Yes, it still runs on Android, but with a modified version of the OS (read: custom ROM) known as PrivatOS. This ROM has been loaded with several “secure” applications that should make you feel more secure while going about your daily routine. Also, the phone’s security has been boasted by the company to be parallel to none as the PrivatOS is more mature than most OEM options currently out there and therefore, most (if not all) vulnerabilities are nothing but a thing of the past. So much was their confidence that the company decided to take their product into one of the largest hacker expos, Def Con. Now, as you are aware, there are various types of hackers, all with very different motivations to do what they do, but one thing that they do have in common: They sure do love a challenge when presented with one, and XDA Senior Recognized Developer and Forum Moderator jcase is no exception.

According to jcase, the device was rooted but it was not an easy task as reported by many, many, many other blogs (several of these pro Blackberry blogs taking this opportunity to take a few stabs at their new competitor, which is a fight that equates Android users and iOS users to a certain extent). Most of them reported that the entire ordeal lasted a whopping 5 minutes, which is factually incorrect (and in fact, many have either withdrawn the articles or amended them with the proper information). Jcase goes on to state that there were 3 different vulnerabilities found in the device at the time, and that root was achieved without the need to unlock the device’s bootloader.

The first vulnerability found was a way to re-enable ADB on the device, which is disabled by default. The company went a few steps further than simply disabling ADB and decided to do away with Developer Menu altogether. The company came back stating that this was not done as a security measure but rather as a temporary fix due to USB ADB connectivity creating stability and performance issues on the device (when ADB was on and encryption was turned on, the device was said to go into a bootloop). Due to a pressing and rather tight schedule, instead of trying to quickly work out a patch to see where the issue was, they simply swept it under the rug until they could find what was causing the problem with hopes to push an OTA update to re-enable the missing dev options and ADB with it. In any case, this vulnerability (regardless of whether the company admits it or not) was required to get the root method to work.

The second part of the root process involved a lot of tinkering with the actual device. First and foremost, you needed to get USB ADB going on it (hence, the previously mentioned vulnerability). Next, you pretty much need to flat out ignore any and all recommendations by the manufacturer during set up. Next up, device encryption needed to remain off and you needed to grant permission to “unknown sources” for installing apks. And last but not least, you needed to either disable or at the very least know the PIN to the device in question. There was a third part in the whole exploit process but jcase has decided not to disclose this part to the general public and instead reported it to the company.

The entire affair was not exactly short lived, despite what other blogs may state and jcase walked out of this one with nothing but bragging rights and a custom made t-shirt, effectively letting the company know what he thought about the “reward” for his efforts. This, however, was really nothing but a joke as jcase holds no ill will against the company and in fact, has gone on to say that he appreciates the professionalism displayed by their CSO and CEO regarding the entire ordeal. Yes, the device was rooted but it is far from being the insecure junk that Blackberry users make it seem. This device is an alternative to those who own BB devices and cannot justify giving up the security perks of the device for a brand new and shinny Android phone. Yes, the device may have obtained root access but that does not make it any less secure. So, to all the people out there who brag about BB’s security, lets just say that you may be picking attention from the very people your “security” is meant to drive away. Just remember, in the words of JFK

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. – John F. Kennedy

Just replace “go to the moon” with “hacking BB10″. You can find more information in the original (and actually accurate) article from Ars Technica.

The post Blackphone Gets Root Access in MORE Than Five Minutes appeared first on xda-developers.

Latest Android Platform Stats: KitKat Nearly 21%, 2.x Hovers Around 14%

Posted by Will Verduzco August - 13 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

August 2014 android platform stats

August 2014 android platform statsNear the beginning of every month, just like clockwork, Google updates its Developer Dashboard website with updated Android Platform Stats. As we’ve said many times in the past, these numbers show the current state of Android ecosystem fragmentation–both in terms of version/API adoption, as well as screen size and density, and OpenGL support. As such, this is all incredibly valuable information for developers looking to better target their application development efforts.

The last time we took a look at the Android Platform Stats just one month ago, we were pleased to see quite a bit of continued growth in the right direction. Android 4.4.x KitKat was up to 17.9% from 13.6% the month before, resulting in a 32% relative growth. But just as we’ve seen in previous months, Android 2.x still was hanging around at 14.6% of devices last month.

August 2014 stats 2

This month, we’ve continued the positive trend in KitKat adoption, but just as was the case last time around, the rate of adoption is slowing as more and more flagship and former flagships receive KitKat. This month, Android 4.4.x KitKat saw a 16.8% relative growth, which resulted in a total of 20.9% of active installs. Surprisingly, Android 2.x is actually up one tenth of one percent to 14.3%, and this is due to Gingerbread going from 13.5% to 13.6%. We shouldn’t be too concerned with the increase per se, as this is likely a stats collection artifact, but the lack of a decrease could signal that the platform’s Gingerbread problem will remain for quite some time.

Another way of looking at the user adoption data is that KitKat is on the rise, but the pace of this formerly meteoric rise has now tempered off for two months, as more and more devices that will get eventually KitKat have already gotten it. 2.x is still holding strong, and perhaps that number will stay this way until those users who are still clinging to their archaic devices are forced to upgrade due to malfunction or growing minimum app requirements. While the growth trends in this month’s adoption stats aren’t quite as rosy as we’ve seen in previous updates, this is still good news given KitKat’s continual rise.

In addition to version stats, the Android Developer Dashboard also reports information regarding screen size and resolution, as well as max supported OpenGL version. This can be seen below:

open gl stats aug 2014

It’s certainly encouraging to see continual progress in bringing the latest Android versions to more and more devices. Now that we’re just a few short months away from the official release of Android L, only time will tell if future Android version update adoption improves upon what we’ve seen in the past. Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!

[Source: Android Developer Dashboard]

The post Latest Android Platform Stats: KitKat Nearly 21%, 2.x Hovers Around 14% appeared first on xda-developers.

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