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Android L is for Lockdown

Posted by egzthunder1 October - 21 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

lockdown

Root is, without a doubt, the (un)holy grail of the Android world. Those wonderful permissions that allow you as the user to pretty much do as you please with your device are certainly a major delight, and really one of the top reasons why Android devices have gained as much popularity as they have–not just among end users but among developers as well. There is yet another aspect of the OS that keeps people coming back for more, and that is the fresh, constant stream of updates and new OS versions. However, these two can hardly coexist with one another. Normally, whenever a new update for … well… anything comes out, it does so with features, bug fixes, and plugged holes. The latter are the ones that are normally required to obtain things such as root level access on our devices. This means that if you update, for the most part, you can kiss root goodbye. Granted, there are apps that will help root survive even an OTA upgrade but still companies making these OS and devices always are on the look out to ensure that the holes and exploits are plugged.

The latest and greatest installment of our beloved Android OS is Lollipop (Android 5), which is something that has been on pretty much everyone’s mouth in the tech world for the last week or so as it became available in the latest and most functional Developer Preview. The latest Lollipop installment is build version LPX13D, and aside from being one step closer to the final release, this one also brings the kiss of death for root, which pretty much is the case with all updates as we mentioned earlier. No biggie, right? We simply root again and be done with it, right? Or we simply use a root survival app and we keep going, right?? Nah, not exactly. There are several changes in device security, prompted in part by people and companies seeking the security and sanctuary of their precious data and nude pics. So, with that in mind, Google came to the rescue.

XDA Senior Recognized Developer and Senior Moderator Chainfire has been warning us of all the upcoming changes in the Android world for quite some time now, especially since the newer Jelly Bean and KitKat updates hit the shelves. Well, so far, we can officially say that he has been dead on target on everything he has said regarding the increased security on new versions of Android. The newest Lollipop update, LPX13D, seems to break root, like most updates do. However, it seems to do more than just break it because with the correct combination of factors, a device can become unrootable. Chainfire goes on to explain that the reason why root gets “broken” is mainly because the script required to grant root is no longer allowed to run at boot time from init.d, but rather it is forced to run from a SELinux dedicated context instead. This, apparently, is a new requirement for all apps and services running at boot.

The solution that Chainfire provides is to enable root at kernel level. In other words, you need a custom kernel in order to obtain root. However, many times, you need root in order to flash a custom kernel. Fine, some of you might say that by flashing via custom recovery, that the kernel can be flashed with ease. What if the bootloader is locked? Better yet, what if the bootloader cannot be unlocked? Yup, you got yourself a stock device forever (or until someone gets past the security measures). Essentially, Google is giving manufacturers a golden opportunity to put root access to rest for good. They will not do it to their devices, as the Nexus line has an unlockable bootloader, but no one can guarantee the case will be the same for other manufacturers.

The question then becomes, would the OEMs be willing to close off the devices for good, particularly considering that a large chunk of the sales come from word of mouth? Once Lollipop starts rolling out in its final form, it will be mighty interesting to see which OEMs go in what direction. One thing is for sure, these are trying times for people who enjoy their devices because of the freedom they have with root level access. Once you face the crossroad, which direction will you take?

If you are interested in the full explanation by Chainfire, you can head on to his Google+ page and read his entire take on this issue.

The post Android L is for Lockdown appeared first on xda-developers.

Some of Our Favorite Features in Android 5.0 Lollipop

Posted by wicked October - 20 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

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Android 5.0 Lollipop is the latest major revision to Google’s mobile operating system. The Mountain View company waited a long time to bump the version to 5.0.

With Android Lollipop’s upcoming final release, we will see many under-the-hood changes that will make this OS even more complete than it is today. Google made efforts to reduce the fragmentation and implement some exciting features.

Unbundling of WebView from the OS

One of the most important new features that has been spotted so far is that WebView is now a separate package, which can be updated straight from Google. This means that a larger number of users will have access to an up-to-date WebView, leading to greater security that the built-in variant. WebView is a component that is used by third party applications to display Web content without launching the browser. Unbundling WebView makes the update process independent from OEMs update schedule. This is definitely good news to all users of devices whose OEMs aren’t the best with updates.

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 Multi-User Support for Phones

Multi-user support has been available in Android ever since Android 4.2. Unfortunately, it was historically available only for tablet users. Bringing this feature to phones has been highly demanded by the community, and Google finally decided to give the users what we want. The core functionality is pretty much the same. The first user is considered the owner of the device and controls who else can use the device. Every profile has its own welcome screen, application settings, wallpapers, and such. Profiles can be switched by pressing the head button into top right corner of the screen. Now, you can stop worrying about your kids and friends seeing private content on your phone.

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Application Pinning

Speaking of children and friends… Starting with Android 5.0 Lollipop, users can now pin to lock the currently running application. If your device has some kind of protection (PIN, pattern, etc), any other potential user will have to breach its security in order to access other applications once pinning has been enabled. This is a very convenient way of protecting your data. Now, not everybody has to check your browser history or gallery before handing off the phone.

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Google Search in Recent Apps

nexus2cee_searchscreen-390x625Google also added its Search prowess to the Recent Apps screen. Android developers are really trying to make Google Search accessible from every screen. As such, you are now just one tap of your Recent Apps menu away from search at any time. Furthermore, even the “OK Google” function can be used from that screen (if you haven’t already enabled it from all other screens). The motivation behind this feature addition is clears, as the Search engine was Google’s original claim to fame and still one of its major revenue sources

 

Backed Up Preferences, Applications, and More

If you are purchasing a new Android device, you likely already have your own favorite set of apps and more. Google has for a long time backed up your list of applications and WiFi networks, but importing this has never quite worked as it should. For example, some applications are automatically downloaded even when you haven’t used them for ages. With Lollipop, Google refined the system considerably. You can now transfer all relevant settings and applications (even Google Now Launcher settings) through NFC at the time of initial login or selectively through the Internet connection. While unavailable, applications that are to be downloaded will be shown as gray icons that launch their Play Store listing when clicked. After they are restored, they will look and behave like they did before. Furthermore, since Android has offered cloud backup of app data for some time, applications that are coded to use this feature will behave just like they did on the previous device or installation, without the need for third party app data backup and restore apps!

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Two Factor Authentication from Initial Login

nexus2cee_1_thumb10If you use two-factor authentication (and you really should following all these nasty leaks), you are probably familiar with how the account login screen opens up a browser window in order to enter your time-sensitive security code. Android Lollipop changes this, as you can now enter the code right from the login screen itself, which will undoubtedly make security-conscious users happier.

 

Application Hierarchy Changes

Now for something a bit more behind the scenes… Unlike before, system applications are now placed in folders, where the APK and odex (if it exists) have their dedicated place. Applications are still divided into apps and priv-apps folders, so the OS is getting a little more complicated than it was before. We hope that this is just a small change that won’t affect app porting in any way.

Flappy Android Easter Egg

Last but not the least, we have a brand new Easter Egg. The funky folks over at Google have once again proven that they have a pretty good sense of humor. Do you remember the Nyan Cat Easter Egg back in Ice Cream Sandwich? If you don’t, you can brush up here. With Android 5.0, Google decided to make its own version of the immortal Flappy Bird. This time, you have a chance to tap your screen like crazy to control the bugdroid to squeeze it between two giant lollipops. Be aware: Lollipops are sticky, so your small flapping buddy can easily lose its flying abilities. We wish you all good scores!

Android 5.0 Lollipop is a pretty exciting revision, and we are (im)patiently awaiting the day when we can get our grubby little hands on the source code. Hopefully this version of Android will be up and running on many older devices through the third party development scene. This may be difficult due to ART and storage issues, but the XDA community has quite often shown that limitations can be blasted into oblivion.

[via Android Police]

The post Some of Our Favorite Features in Android 5.0 Lollipop appeared first on xda-developers.

Google Announces Nexus 6, 9, and Player, Alongside Android 5.0 Lollipop

Posted by Will Verduzco October - 15 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

Google Nexus 6, 9, and Player

Folks, the day that we Android fans across the globe have been waiting for is finally here! Google has just now formally announced the highly anticipated (and heavily rumored) Google Nexus 6 and Google Nexus 9, as well as the official name of Android 5.0 “Lollipop” and the new Nexus Player device.

Google Nexus 6

Google Nexus 6First up, we have Google’s new phlagship flagship smartphone, the Google Nexus 6. This phablet features pretty much everything we expected from past rumors such as a 6-inch Quad-HD AMOLED display (2560×1440 at 493 ppi), a 13 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization and 4k video capture at 30 fps, 3 gigs of RAM, 32 or 64 gigs of internal storage, and a 2.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 CPU. All this will be packed into a frame that comes in at 82.98mm wide x 159.26mm tall x 10.06mm thick and weighing just 184g.

In addition to sheer specs, the device also packs stereo speakers and a rather ginormous 3220 mAh battery and a new Turbo Charging mode that will charge your device with 6 hours of battery life in just 15 minutes when using the provided charger.

The Google Nexus 6, which will be sold alongside the existing Nexus 5, will be available in Midnight Blue and Cloud White. According to Motorola, it will be available for $649 later this month (preorder on the 17th) via the Google Play Store, Motorola.com, and through regional carriers in 28 countries.

Google Nexus 9

Google Nexus 9Next, we have Google’s newest tablet, the Google Nexus 9. Similar to the Nexus 6, the HTC-built Google Nexus 9 remains quite true to the previous rumors. The Google Nexus 9 will feature an 8.9″ QXGA (2048×1536) display with a 4:3 aspect ratio and double-tap to wake, the 64-bit Nvidia Tegra K1 processor (Kepler GPU) running at a yet unknown speed, 2 gigs of RAM, 16 or 32 gigs of internal storage, an 8 MP rear camera, and a 1.6 MP front camera.

All this horsepower will be packed into a shell with design aesthetics similar to the outgoing Nexus 7-2013, but with HTC-inspired flair such as brushed metal sides. The shell will come in at 153.68mm wide x 228.25mm tall x 7.95mm thick. It will weigh 425g for the WiFi-only variant and 436g for the LTE model.

Unlike the Nexus 6, the Nexus 9 will not live alongside its predecessor. Rather, the Nexus 9 will replace both the Nexus 7-2013 and the Nexus 10. The device will  launch in three colors: Indigo Black, Lunar White, and Sand, but availability and pricing is not yet known. However, preorders will open on the 17th.

Google Nexus Player

Google Nexus PlayerFinally, we have the new Google Nexus Player. This device is Google’s newest attempt at conquering your living room. Building upon the success of the Chromecast, the Google Nexus Player is billed as an easy and convienient way of getting apps, games, and media content to your TV. It comes in the form of a sleek and streamlined console unit, a remote with voice search, and a precision gamepad with dual-analog thumbsticks (available separately) for gaming fun.

The device’s modified Android interface will feature personalized content recommendations, will support Google Cast, and it will respond to voice searches with the press of a button. Those wondering about the device’s gaming capabilities will be glad to learn that it features a 1.8 GHz quad-core Intel Atom CPU with an Imagination PowerVR Series 6 GPU. It only packs 1 gig of RAM and 8 gigs of internal storage, but perhaps the lightweight games geared to the console don’t require much in the way of memory demands.

The console itself will come in at just 120 mm x 120 mm x 20 mm thick, and it will weigh just 235g. Availability and pricing are not yet known, but preorders, like for the Nexus 6 and 9, will open up on the 17th.

Android 5.0 Lollipop

Android 5.0 LollipopWhile new devices are cool–and the Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player are certainly quite exciting–the real star of the show here is Android 5.0 Lollipop. As we’ve seen in the two developer previews released thus far, Android L is a massive departure from what we saw in KitKat. And now, we’re on the verge of its final release.

As expected, Lollipop will premiere first on the new Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player. But as stated by Google, Android 5.0 will also make its way to older Google Play edition and Nexus devices such as the Nexus 4, 5, 7 (presumably both models), and 10.

Android 5.0 Lollipop, which comes on Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player, will also be available on Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10 and Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks.

Finally, developers can rejoice as well, as the full Android 5.0 Lollipop SDK will be available in two days, alongside the release of updated Android L Developer Preview images for the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7. You can learn more and read the full announcement over on the official Android blog and Android Developers G+ post.

Are you more excited about the new software or new hardware? Let us know in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to go visit our newly created forums below:

The post Google Announces Nexus 6, 9, and Player, Alongside Android 5.0 Lollipop appeared first on xda-developers.

Device Review: Blackphone BP1

Posted by wicked October - 8 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

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When you hear about a phone that is secure and has the means to be give you control over your personal data, an Android device might not the first thing that comes to mind. Two companies, Geeksphone and Silent Circle, are working together to get you to associate PrivatOS (a customized version of Android 4.4.2) with security features. These are security features that you normally have to root your device in order to have.

It will be exciting to see what makes this phone more secure than a Nexus device.

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The Blackphone has a nice designed and is easy to hold in your hand.  There are no markings on the device other than the logo next to the Speaker on the back. I like the understated look of the Phone. The phone is only available in Black as the name would indicate.

Be used to using 5.5 and 5.7 inch devices on a daily basis made using the BP1 for this review a bit of an adjustment. Of course, after the first day I got used to the design. It works well and fits the pocket just fine.

Display

The display is a 4.7 inch display with a resolution of 720p. At first I was surprised that they would release a phone in 2014 with a 720p display with a quad core CPU under the hood.  Just wait until we talk about the battery to understand why the display is the perfect fit.

The formula that Blackphone used was simplicity, a device that looks good and performs great and still be able to last the day on a single charge. Personally, I agree with philosophy. All in all the display looks good and has decent viewing angles for your media consumption.

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Hardware

The quad core CPU is an NVidia T4i processor clocked at 2 GHz and 1GB of RAM help this device run all the apps that you need and most that you want. It would have been nice to have 2GB of RAM on to handle the services that you need to keep running in the background. For example, the phone and messaging apps.

The Blackphone comes with 16GB of internal storage available for consumption and you can expand the storage with a microSD card if your appetite for spaces gets too large. This is another area where more storage built in would be desirable. In today’s market apps have higher requirements for internal storage and 16GB is often not enough.

The back is removable and behind the Blackphone’s black back reveals the 2000 mAh removable battery, the microSD Card and SIM Card slots. Of course, the Device does come with your standard array of sensors including light sensors, and accelerometer.

Battery

As mentioned the battery is a 2000 mAh removable, and it helps this device last throughout the day on a single charge. The device is configured in such a way that you do not need a big battery to handle the hardware. From the screen to the CPU and the installed applications, you can see that the BP1 has considered the battery and the specs when they envision how the user will use the Blackphone.

Since we don’t get the power hungry systems installed, like Google Play Services nor any Google Apps, you have a device that has very good standby and screen on time. The fact that screen is not a 1080p or 2k display means the battery is just right for this device.

In my tests I was able to last 2 days on a single charge just using email and browsing the web. When I installed some apps and used navigation, I was still able to make it through the day with no issues

Camera

The Blackphone’s camera options include the main shooter at 8-megapixels with a LED flash. The front camera is 5-megapixels. The software for the camera is similar to, or is, the old stock Android camera. That means the camera app is functional but it would have been nice to add some software to help the camera performance.

The camera is just ok. If you use it in good light, the pictures come out acceptable, but the moment you lose the light, you get a lot of noise. The fact is, it will take ok pictures.  After all you would not get this phone for the camera you would for the security features.

Speakers

The speaker on this device is not very loud by at all. If you are in a quiet environment, the speaker will work just fine. The moment you get into a car or any kind of noisy pace you better use the earpiece.

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Software

The software is the raison d’etre of this device. The software is what makes it special.  The security modifications to the Android Open Source Project’s Android 4.4.2 KitKat is what makes the OS a ‘PrivatOS.’ From PrivatOS to the suite of apps installed, you get more control over your data.

PrivatOS  is Android 4.4.2 KitKat at its core but with some mods that lets the user control all information. You have Security Center, a tool similar to Xposed modules we have reviewed here on xda called Donkeyguard, installed into the OS. There are other changes, like there are no developer options to turn on USB Debugging.

The BP1 comes with the suite of applications listed below:

  • Silent Circle Apps
    • Silent Phone (A Secure VOIP Phone)
    • Silent Text (A Secure PGP messaging)
    • Silent Contacts (A Secure Contact manager for the other Silent Circle apps)
  • Blackphone-built OS Integrated Apps
    • Blackphone Firewall
    • Blackphone Activation Wizard (for setting up the device with Silent Circle apps)
    • Blackphone Remote Wipe
  • 3rd-party Apps
    • Disconnect Secure Wireless (A VPN wireless connection)
    • SpiderOak Blackphone Edition (A Secure Online Storage Option)
    • Kismet Smart Wi-Fi Manager (Location based WiFi Connection Manager)

As you can see it’s a very nice suite of apps that work together to give you control. You will find no trace of Google services on this device. Yet another layer the BP1 uses to keep you in control. During the review I installed the Amazon Appstore to test out games, navigation apps and other things.

Hackability

Here at XDA we like to assess the hackability of a phone when we review it. From that standpoint this device is limited. While root was achieved during a hackathon, the method for that is not available for public use to test.

Additionally, you’ve got to realized that rooting your device uses exploits, and exploits inhibit security. So a phone that dances in the streets screaming about security, would be impaired if you could hack it.

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Conclusion

The Blackphone BP1 is a device that has your security in the number 1 spot. From the moment you turn on the device to the point you finish setting it up, you see how many steps they add into the process to make sure that your information is secure.

Both Silent Circle and Geeksphone have done a great job in providing customizations on the operating system level as well as the great suite of security centric communication apps.

Initially I was not very impressed with the hardware specs for this device, but after using it, it started to make sense. They had to marry the right set of hardware and software with the right user experience for what they’re trying to do.

I would recommend this device if security is what you need from your phone. And you feel that Android today is not at the level you need. You get a good battery life, a decent camera and you’re able to expand the storage with a micro SD card. This package is well rounded and would be a really good daily driver for anybody looking for a simple phone that helps protect them.

[Thanks to GSMNation for providing us with the Blackphone BP1 to review. To get this device from GSMNation or check out their entire selection of phones, please go to GSMNation.com.]

The post Device Review: Blackphone BP1 appeared first on xda-developers.

XDA:DevCon ’14 Recap

Posted by wicked October - 8 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

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It seems like just yesterday we were picking Manchester, UK as the location for xda:devcon ’14, and like only hours ago we all arrived to begin setting up. Now with almost a week gone from the event, I thought it time to reflect on the great time we had.

Friday was a flurry of activity as we arrived at the hotel and started getting the Sponsors sorted with their locations, and the early registrations hooked up with their badges and loot bags (with a few of them ending up quite full by the end of the weekend). In the evening we had a great time with all the attendees at the Welcome Reception. The word on the street was that a lot of fun was had by members of the Community into the wee hours of the morning, so I am sure if you check you’ll find some pictures to that fact.

Saturday morning had us all up and ready to hear a great lineup of speakers including Jan Wildeboer from RedHat (he really does wear a red fedora all the time), Alin Jerpelea and Troed Sångberg from Sony Mobile, Adam Mosolygo from Oppo, Shane Francis, Andreas Göransson, Zachary Powell, Pablo Sun from MediaTek Labs, Daniel Holbach from Ubuntu, and Asa Dotzler from Mozilla. The After Hours sponsored by NVIDIA saw some great food and drinks followed by an inspiring panel discussion on “Wearables, Mobile Security, and Alternative OS’s” with Alan Pope from Ubuntu, Mimmis Cleeren from MediaTek, Asa Dotzler, Dario Incalza, Troed Sångberg, and David Greaves from Jolla.

Sunday morning saw plenty of sleepy eyes, but the main auditorium was full as everyone packed in to see MediaTek’s presentation on LinkIt One and their entrance into open source (look for more information on this in the weeks ahead). Following that we had Shane Francis, Alan Pope, David Greaves, MaR-V-iN, Alex Boag-Munroe, Dario Incalza, Ondrej Kubik from Ubuntu, and Greig all rounded out a informative and developer-centric conference.

Note: many of these sessions were recorded and will be posted on XDATV in the coming weeks.

None of this event, and the over £20,000 in giveaways, free food and open bar, wouldn’t be possible without our sponsors:

 

We are extremely thankful for each one showing their commitment to the Community, and we look forward to future endeavors, event, and partnerships to come.

Make sure to add any photos you took while at xda:devcon to our Google+ Event and check out the Twitter account and hashtag for all that was happening during xda:devcon.

The post XDA:DevCon ’14 Recap appeared first on xda-developers.

Device Review: Moto 360

Posted by wicked October - 5 - 2014 - Sunday Comments Off

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This year at I/O, Google announced its wearable effort, uniquely named Android Wear.  To help show they were serious they announced three Android Wear devices, but only two were immediately available.

The last of the three announced devices was the Moto 360. Motorola, formerly Google owned, entered the game of wearables with a round smartwatch. This is truly the first circular display available to the public. This new form factor for wearable devices has had people from the Tech community holding their breath for months now.

So is the round smartwatch the one you want to wear a-round town?

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My experience with wearing Android Wear is with the Samsung Gear Live. Personally, I chose the Gear Live mostly because of the aesthetics. The Samsung Gear Live’s design looks better than the LG G Watch that was available at the time. Is the moto 360 pretty enough to change my mind?

The circular display married with an amazingly well designed stainless steel body and power button make this device the most attractive Smartwatch running Android Wear today, by far. The watch that I received is the silver watch with a grey strap. Optionally, you can purchase the black watch mated with a black strap.

The moto 360 comes with leather straps. If you are not into leather, you can exchange them for metal straps. My recommendation would be to go to your local jewelry shop and find your ideal watch band and have them install it.
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Display

The Display is 320 x 290 pixels, which gives you a ppi of 205. The circular form factor of the watch is reminiscent to our normal everyday watch form factor. Since non-smart watches are typically round, it’s no surprise that the 360 looks and feels more natural on our wrist and in the use of the smartwatch.

The inclusion of an ambient light sensor also adds to the functionality of this watch, brightening and darkening as appropriate.

Hardware

When it comes to internal hardware, we find a TI OMAP 3 processor with 4 Gigabytes of internal storage and 512 Megabytes of RAM. As far as connectivity we only have Bluetooth 4.0 Low Emission and for charging we have wireless Qi charging. This is a very nice addition and is compatible with any standard Qi wireless charger. Also, you will find a pedometer, ambient light sensor and optical heart rate monitor to keep tabs on your health.
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Battery

The battery is a 320 mAh non-Removable battery. When it comes to battery life, Motorola claims a full day with “standard usage.” Initial reviewers claim that you needed to charge this device once or twice a day with “standard usage.” It’s not all that surprising to see an OEMs definition of “standard usage” not jive with others. Honestly, initially I was worried about purchasing this device because of the potential battery drain.

The reality of the matter is most of reviewers were doing benchmark tests with very high usage. That is not really how you and I use our watches. So with that in mind I decided to make the purchase.

After 4 days of running daily battery tests and normal watch usage observations on my multiple Android Wear devices, I’ve found that battery will last a day. Personally my settings include turning off the ambient sensor and keeping the brightness low, around 2-3, and this has not caused any problems. All notifications still come through from Hangouts and GMail and I am still able to get through the entire day. I am definitely happy with this battery life. You should expect to charge the device daily.

 

Software
Google decided on to take control of the updates to the Android Wear. The current version on this device is Android Wear 4.4W.1. I received an update after I turned on the device for the first time. What makes this device unique is not the Software that’s on it, but the companion application that’s helps you pair your phone to the device and load Android Wear apps.

 

Hackability

Connectivity on the smartwatch is limited to a Bluetooth connection and wireless charging. All we can do at this point is initiate ADB over Bluetooth but the ability to flash is only starting to become possible.

My recommendation would be is to keep an eye out for the XDA threads and I’m sure with in the near future will get more and more customization on this device.

Almost all of the applications that I demoed on the Gear Live Watch, will work on the moto 360. This is mostly because a lot of app updates have been pushed out after the release of the moto 360. The Development community has embraced Android Wear and every day you will find more apps that bring new functionality to this new wearable form factor.
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Conclusion

The moto 360 was a device that I was expecting not to like. All the reviews that I saw prior to my purchase were negative. Once you get the device and you actually put it on, you notice that is different than all the devices that are currently available for Android Wear. This option by far feels more natural when it comes to wearing a watch.

When I did my review of the Gear Live, I told you guys you should wait and see what the moto 360 offers before you make a decision whether or not Android Wear is something for you. I have to say the device itself is well designed and it has a good solid battery that will last you the entire day. There is a great set of watch faces built in that look excellent.

Android Wear is here to stay and we’re only going to see more innovation and more options for this ecosystem as time goes on. The device is currently sold directly on the Google Play Store, Best Buy and directly from Motorola. While this is technically the most expensive Android Wear on the, it’s definitely worth it.

So based on what’s available right now to purchase, I would recommend the moto 360. If you’re have a spare $250 for a watch, get the moto 360. By far of the three watches currently available it’s the one with the best user experience. If you’re tight on money then right now the LG G watch is $179 at Best Buy and the Google Play Store. So those two are definitely a great entry level watch.

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The post Device Review: Moto 360 appeared first on xda-developers.

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

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

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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.

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

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

Ballmer

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.

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Schedule is up for xda:devcon ’14

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

XDA_Articles-devcon

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.

 

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