samedi 31 décembre 2016

XDA-Developers Wishes You a Happy New Year!

2016 is finally coming to a close – in fact, it might already be over for you – and it was definitely an exciting year for smartphones, Android and our development community. We saw amazing new devices and gadgets, the massive Android Nougat update and useful modifications and apps come from our forums.

For us at the XDA Portal, this year was one of change, where we further strengthened the content model we embraced in 2015. We published more technical analyses, in-depth explanations of important topics and issues, we dug deeper and deeper with our reviews and our editorials managed to start a few neat conversations as well. The site has grown and our readerbase has expanded, with insightful comments and discussions developing under every major feature — we enjoy all of it, even the trolls, and it’s that interaction what ultimately makes writing lengthy articles and reviews so rewarding.

We’d like to thank everyone who reads our articles, follows our writers and helps us improve our content through feedback and discussion. Personally, I am grateful to engage in conversation with all of the frequent readers that follow my work and send messages to me on XDA or social media. XDA is, at its core, a community of developers and enthusiasts, so we want the Portal to represent that as well.

We wish you a very happy 2017, and hope that you start the year with the right foot to find success in your endeavors! Thank you for reading the XDA Portal and/or contributing to the community through our forums. If you want to contribute to the XDA Portal and write analysis, editorials and phone reviews, you can apply for a position by submitting this form.

Stay tuned for an even better year of all things XDA!

  • Mario Serrafero, XDA Portal Editor-in-Chief

from xda-developers

2016 in Review: What was the Biggest Disappointment this year?

As we enter the final days of the year, it’s time to get your opinion on all the events, news, releases and controversies that we witnessed so far in 2016.

We witnessed plenty of OEMs try out something new this year. Some succeeded, but others failed. In some cases, marketing departments of some companies went into overdrive and puffed up mediocrity in an attempt to attract customers towards otherwise bland products. People were holding their breath too often, only to find out that it was not really worth it.

So, our question to you is,

What was the biggest disappointment of 2016? Which mobile OEM, product, or service were you initially excited for, only to be disappointed in the end? Did you purchase/try the product and come to the conclusion, or were your expectations dashed based on something else? What should have been improved in the product or service, to make it worthy of your money and time?

Let us know in the comments below!

from xda-developers

Editorial: Bezels in 2016, and the Trends that Will Shape Smartphone Designs in 2017

This past year has been quite experimental in the realm of smartphone design: smartphone OEMs attempted to push the envelope and find new ways to differentiate their products and push the industry forward. Many tried, plenty failed, but some were able to steal the spotlight.

One of those success stories is the Xiaomi Mi MIX. Xiaomi confesses that the Mi MIX is a “Concept Phone”, as it was an experimental release that aimed to push smartphone design boundaries, and test whether consumers would come to accept something rather unconventional, a specific design others had attempted before with little fanfare and success. The first Mi MIX flash sale only had a limited quantity (estimated at 10,000) that sold out in just 10 seconds, so the “concept phone” certainly had some appeal to it.

Its popularity originates mainly from its “bezel-less” design. Xiaomi’s Mi MIX claims a screen-to-body ratio of 91.3% officially, albeit GSMArena found the number to be a bit of a stretch as the actual number from their measurements came in at a lesser, but still very impressive, 83.6%. The phone only has a thin chin and minimal bezels on the other three sides, an approach that was preceded by phones like the Aquos Crystal and others from Sharp.

Xiaomi Mi MIX

Incidentally, the display panel on the Xiaomi Mi MIX is supplied by Sharp. Sharp’s own lineup of bezel-less devices, by comparison, was not as well received. The bezel-less Sharp family started off with the Aquos Crystal in August 2014 with a screen-to-body ratio of 78.5% and a 5” display. The company then released the Aquos Crystal 2 in May 2015 with a screen-to-body ratio of 77.2% and a 5.2” display, while the Aquos Xx was released at the same time with a screen-to-body ratio of 77.7% but with a larger 5.7” display. The Sharp Aquos Xx2 was released in October 2015, but the display was trimmed to 5.3”. Perhaps Sharp was displeased with the sales numbers of the so-called bezel-less smartphones in their lineup, as the company later released the Sharp Aquos Xx3 which completely shied away from this design language.

Sharp Aquos Crystal Sharp Aquos Crystal 2 Sharp Aquos Xx Sharp Aquos Xx2 Sharp Aquos Xx3

Despite Sharp seeing little success and eventually discontinuing the key distinguishing feature of their lineup, other OEMs have taken lessons from Sharp’s foray into bezel-less design. The earpiece-less Aquos Crystal used a technology similar to bone conduction for sound transmission — the entire phone is vibrated by a direct wave receiver to produce and transmit sound. The Xiaomi Mi MIX employs a similar technology, as it makes use of a piezoelectric ceramic lever that hits the metallic frame of the device to transmit sound via vibrations. The Mi MIX also employed a few other technologies to achieve its grand vision, like using an ultrasonic proximity sensor instead of an infrared sensor, and reducing the front camera size by half and placing it at the bottom bezel.

All three of these features combined grant Xiaomi the freedom to free the Mi MIX from the massive chin that was a staple feature of the previously-mentioned Sharp devices. Granted, the Xiaomi Mi MIX still has a thin chin and minimal bezels on the other sides, but the device is as bezel-less as a smartphone could feasibly be in the year 2016.

A few other OEMs are approaching thin bezel designs too. The Lenovo ZUK Edge comes with a 5.5” 1080p display with a 78.3% screen-to-body ratio. Though, there is no curved screen at play here (despite the name), so the figure seems a lot more impressive.


Samsung’s ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 was also an improvement when it comes to the screen-to-body ratio. Compared to its predecessor, the Note 5 with a 5.7” display clocking in at at 75.9% screen-to-body ratio, the Note 7 reduced the bezel size thanks to the dual curved display. For reference, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge with its 5.5” display came up to 76.1% in its bezel ratio, while the non-curved Galaxy S7 managed a 72.1%. Had the Note 7 not suffered an explosive fate, it would have been an impressive display benchmark for other flagships to compare to.

Other smartphones from Xiaomi are also in the race for the thinnest bezels, even after you discount the Mi MIX concept phone. The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 and the Mi 5 are also rather screen efficient, with a screen-to-body ratio of 74.2% and 73.1% respectively. The Mi Note 2 also adopts the curved screen approach, while the Mi 5 achieves its impressive minimal bezel design using a traditional flat display.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2

Even Huawei seem to be continuing an impressive streak. The Huawei Mate 9 comes with a bezel ratio of 77.5% for its 5.9” screen, compared to the Mate 8 with its 78% ratio on a 6” display. The Huawei P9 improves on the Huawei P8 with its 72.9% ratio versus the 71.4% on the predecessor.

With all of these devices, what we can remain assured of is that a few OEMs will continue to try and cram as big of a display as they reasonably can place into comfortably-sized bodies. Experimental phones aside, none of the other mentioned phones have had complaints for being too sparse on bezels. Some of these OEMs will also take it even further in 2017.

On the other hand, there are OEMs who completely disregarded these apparent trends. Some manufacturers even abandoned what their own flagships of the past have put forth as a benchmark.

A clear example is LG, who seemingly have completely moved away from what the LG G3 once stood for in the G-series lineup. The G3 was a champion of minimal bezels with its 75.3% bezel ratio, but the LG G4 and LG G5 got progressively worse in that regard with ratios of 72.5% and 70.1% respectively. Even on the V series which comprised of a large display and a secondary screen, the V20 bore an unimpressive 72.4% screen-to-body ratio, which is in contrast to the various other OEMs who manage to get better ratios on larger phones. Larger displays allow for bigger bodies to house the various components, thus reducing the dependence on the forehead and chin for housing hardware elements.

Finally, we can consider the Google Pixel and the Google Pixel XL. Since these phones have been made on Google’s specifications and are the first of the new Google Pixel smartphone lineup, there are no “true” predecessors to compare them to. With screen-to-body ratios of 69% and 71.2% on the Pixel and Pixel XL respectively, the numbers are comparatively unimpressive, and the physical appearance suffers as a result. This was one of the particularly common criticisms aimed at the device soon after its announcement and release.

So where does all of this leave us for the coming year?

There’s one thing that we can say with confidence: OEMs will continue pushing design boundaries and reducing bezels. Concept products such as the Mi MIX garnered a lot of media attention, so we can look forward to seeing other OEMs approach more minimal bezel designs. ZUK’s Edge barely squeezed its way into 2016 in the last few days – perhaps other Chinese OEMs will try similar approaches in 2017.

The trend won’t be limited to China either. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is also a phone to look forward in this regard. Their alleged decision to ditch the physical home button will play well in helping the company reduce the bottom chin too, as it seeks to replace more of the frame with screen to make up for the screen real estate loss that a navigation bar would bring. Assuming Samsung continues implementing curved displays (which they will in all likelihood), the S8’s lack of bezels will likely impress, especially if the rumors regarding the removal of Samsung’s traditional home button happen to be true.

LG is also seemingly dumping its modular approach with the G6, so there are expectations that the G6 might be closer to the G3 than say the V10 in terms of bezels. As more leaks and renders for the device arrive, we’re starting a see a clearer picture on LG’s design standing.

Expected renders of upcoming LG G6

Expected renders of upcoming LG G6

Even a device like the Pixel gives us hope. Google has set a low baseline with their first release, so we can expect to see improvements made with the next Pixel successor. Whether the ratio will be impressive or not is something that we will have to decide when the device is released, but it’s likely they’ll manage to make their next Pixel even sleeker.

Why don’t more OEMs go for more screen and less body?

There are valid reasons why OEMs hold back on bezel-less designs. Bezels are necessary to provide structural support and integrity to the device. They also provide shock absorption (as much as a bezel can), mitigating the damage a direct drop would do to a glass display. More bezel also means more room for components, and in case of smartphones, every millimeter matters. They also provide area to aid in gripping our phones, a task that is becoming ever more arduous in times of glass and metal back phones. Adding on top and bottom bezels also helps in positioning the display in more favorable position relative to your hand and fingers, while the side bezels help in reducing palm and other accidental touches (like when you hold your phone in landscape for clicking pictures).

Hardware advantages aside, Android as an OS is also biased towards right-handed users. Think fast scrollbars, Floating-Action-Buttons, even your navigation bar in landscape mode — all usually come out on the right edge of the display. This caters to the majority of the population who hold and use phones with their right hand. Thin bezels would mean that the software would need to adapt for better palm and accidental touch rejection. It’s on the OEM to work on software to reject erroneous taps and swipes should they go for an implementation as specific as Samsung’s curved displays.

A proposition that comes up often is adopting AMOLED displays and then displaying black borders via software to mimic a bezel. This would give the user flexibility to choose their preferred bezel thickness for appropriate one-handed use, and still make a large display available for media consumption. While the idea seems practical, we have to go back on the hardware need for bezels to realize that we still need some of it.

For better or worse, OEMs will continue to try packing as much screen as possible into increasingly smaller bodies for sleeker devices. While outliers will continue to exist, 2017 gives thin bezel lovers plenty to look forward to.

Credits: GSMArena for Screen-to-body ratios, MySmartPrice for LG G6 renders.

from xda-developers

Galaxy S7 Vs. Clone

Smartphone clones have always been around and always will be. For this video, Harris compare a Galaxy S7 to a clone of the same device. Let’s see how it holds up.


Unless you know what to look for, one could easily be fooled into thinking the packaging of the clone is legitimate. The Galaxy logo looks identical to the real product. The only places where the packaging differs is on the back where the information is listen, and on the bottom where the IMEI and S/N would be shown.

clonepackage1 clonepackage2

Build Quality

This is where the differences become immediately obvious. The cheap plastic on the clone device is an instant giveaway that this is not a premium smartphone. The display has a very grey color compared to the S7. The camera module sticks out slightly higher than the real S7 does. When it comes to the buttons, ports and speakers, everything looks the same across both devices. Lastly, there is no fingerprint scanner or water resistance to be found on the clone device.

build1 build2


The software on the clone runs very slow due to the weak processor. The clone does look and feel just like the touchwiz setup you’d find on an official Galaxy phone. The clone wasn’t able to complete any benchmarks, so you can imagine that it’s probably not going to run very in general.

soft1 soft2

Check out the video to see this clone device in action.

from xda-developers

Win an UMi Z: The First Phone with Helio X27

We’re excited to be giving away the UMi Z (contest is open to all countries!), the company’s latest premium phone that happens to be one of the first (if not the first) phone on the market with the MediaTek Helio X27 decacore flagship CPU. This new chipset features a tri-cluster configuration to better manage performance and efficiency. You can read more about it here.

The UMi Z is an all-metal phone that comes in at $279.99. Here’s a look at the specs:

  • Helio X27 at 2.6GHz, 4GB RAM
  • Samsung 13MP + 13MP Front and Rear Camera with dual focus
  • 3780mAh battery with USB Type-C
  • Full metal unibody
  • Pure Android 7.0

Use the below contest widget to enter to win a Z.

Win an UMi Z!

from xda-developers

Stable Nougat for OnePlus 3 and Nougat Open Beta 1 for OnePlus 3T Are Here

OnePlus promised we’d see Android Nougat hit the OnePlus 3 before the end of the year, and that the OnePlus 3T would see an Android Nougat beta when the OnePlus 3 received its stable release. With just a few hours left on the clock and barely two days after the last beta release, OnePlus delivered.

Carl Pei took to twitter to announce that they’d be releasing the Open Beta 1 for the OnePlus 3T, which is already live on their forums, and the Android N stable OTA for the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T, surprisingly. Carl Pei also claimed that many members of their R&D are not taking time off to celebrate New Year.

If you are interested in the OxygenOS Open Beta 1 for the OnePlus 3T, you should visit this thread on the official OnePlus forums. If you want to jump right in, here is a direct link to the ROM — you need to sideload this through ADB. The list of changes are what you’d expect:

  • Upgraded to Android 7.0 Nougat
    • New Notifications Design
    • New Settings Menu Design
    • Multi-Window View
    • Notification Direct Reply
    • Custom DPI Support
  • Added Status Bar Icon Options
  • Added Quick Launch For 3rd Party Applications
  • Improved Shelf Customization

Keep in mind that flashing the Open Beta will allow you to receive Open Beta OTA updates, but you will need to manually flash the stable release should you decide to change. If you are wanting to check out the stable releases for both the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T, you will have to wait for the OTA to hit your device. It’s an incremental rollout, but it’s likely that the OTA will be captured by someone in our forums, so stay tuned!

We must commend OnePlus for staying true to their promise once again; by waiting until the very last day, hype levels went through the roof among OnePlus users, but negativity was also abound as many thought it’d be odd for them to release both the stable OnePlus 3 Nougat update and the beta on the same day. Luckily, OnePlus 3 and 3T owners get to wrap up 2016 with a neat new update, or at the very least, knowledge that it’ll hit their devices very shortly.

What do you think about Android Nougat for the OnePlus 3 and 3T? Let us know your thoughts below!

from xda-developers

vendredi 30 décembre 2016

2016 in Review: What was the Best New Feature Introduced in Android this year?

As we enter the final days of the year, it’s time to get your opinion on all the events, news, releases and controversies that we witnessed so far in 2016.

Google’s latest big thing for the world of Android was Nougat-y flavored. Android 7.0 Nougat incorporated many new quality of life enhancements for the end user, ranging from multi-window support to notification panel redesigns. On a system level, Nougat also introduced support for the Vulkan Graphics API as well as to seamless system updates based on Chrome OS.

So, our question to you is,

What was the best new feature introduced in Android 7.0 Nougat? What about features introduced in OEM specific user interfaces? How has this feature influenced your daily smartphone use?

Let us know in the comments below!

from xda-developers

Android 7.0/EMUI 5 is Available For The Huawei Nova Without Unlocking the Bootloader

Using EMUI’s download mode you can update your European Huawei Nova to EMUI 5/Android 7.0 Nougat without the need to unlock your bootloader. Senior Member Jozinek has gathered the files and created a quick guide explaining the update process over in the thread.

from xda-developers

Wileyfox to Issue Update to Migrate Away from CyanogenOS

Wileyfox is not a well-known global brand, but for its humble beginnings, it has its own loyal customers in the European Union and U.K. The company is known for its affordable smartphones ship with decent specifications and, most notably, close to stock Android software in the form of Cyanogen OS.

But, as we all know by now, Cyanogen Inc. now plans to refocus their efforts onto the Cyanogen OS Modular program. This means that devices that ran on Cyanogen OS, such as those from Wileyfox, are unlikely to see further software support from the company. Users of devices which ran Cyanogen OS were anxious that this meant their devices would no longer receive any updates, but Wileyfox has reassured its customers that they will not be forgotten.

In a post on their official Facebook page, Wileyfox has informed its customers that the company plans to provide an OTA update to migrate away from Cyanogen OS on to a “purer Android experience.” Wileyfox was expecting these recent developments, and the company is confident that the transition will be smoothly executed via an upcoming OTA for the entire Wileyfox product range.

We have been ruthlessly testing this and planning a distribution for this update, with a rollout to be released beginning today with immediate effect. Once this transition is implemented and users accept this upcoming update, our first order of business is to focus on delivering Android Nougat 7.0 across the portfolio beginning as early as February, and the entire portfolio by end of Q1 2017.

The migration update has already begun seeding, so users are recommended to download and install the transition update immediately upon receiving the update. Wileyfox is assuming full and direct control on all upgrades across all of its devices, and not just current flagships. They still maintain that they are committed to a bloatware-free OS and continuous security and Android updates for their entire user base. We hope they remain true to their word.

Do you own a Wileyfox device? How has your experience been, for both software and hardware? Let us know in the comments below!

from xda-developers

XDA Forums Dedicated to LineageOS Now Live!

Ever since Cyanogen Inc. announced that they will be discontinuing all Cyanogen OS related services, many users wondered what would happen to CyanogenMod. Unfortunately, the worst scenario played out this past weekend, and CyanogenMod was declared officially dead.

We’ve covered all of this in a separate article on how the death of CyanogenMod might affect development, so we recommend you check that out. While it is heartbreaking to see CyanogenMod meet such a fate, the beauty of open source means that it will not completely die — it will simply change form. This is where LineageOS comes in.

LineageOS in its current form is the re-branding of CyanogenMod. While developers and maintainers work to smoothly migrate all of their resources, custom ROM users have been looking for a place to discuss the new distribution. We at XDA-Developers would like to expand our forums to such users and developers alike.

The core objective on which XDA-Developers was launched in 2003 was to provide a common area for developers around the world to come together to modify, tweak, and generally improve the usability of their chosen devices. While the XDA forums were initially created with PDAs in mind, the advent of Windows Mobile OS and later Android made the website accessible to more users who were looking to get the most out of their devices.

cyanogenmod-boot-animationThus, CyanogenMod was born. The Android distribution traces its first steps on similar objectives — to modify, tweak, and improve the usability of Android devices. CyanogenMod started off rather humbly in the HTC Dream (G1) forum under the care of Steve ‘Cyanogen’ Kondik. With version after version and release after release, the ROM exploded in popularity and later expanded onto other, newer devices with more developers contributing to the project. The rest, as they say, is history.

The need of the hour is cooperation and collaboration, as the custom ROM community tries to revive perhaps the biggest contributor of development of any device to its former glory. In such times, we extend our forums as a place for developers and users alike to come together and work for the combined, greater good.

>>> Join the LineageOS forum!

from xda-developers

An Unofficial Build of TWRP is Available for the ZenWatch 3

Yesterday, XDA Recognized Developer Maxr1998 published his own build of TWRP for the ASUS ZenWatch 3. This build was made possible thanks to joeykrim and T10NAZ, as Maxr1998 used their guide for the ZenWatch 2 to compile the kernel and recovery.

from xda-developers

Report Says Flexible AMOLED Shipments Could Triple in 2017

We’ve been watching the trend of preferred smartphone displays shift from LCD to AMOLED over the last year or two. Samsung is the company who showed their dedication to the technology even when it was more expensive than an LCD panel. Some people have been put off due to burn in issues when the technology wasn’t mature, but this issue has improved lately and most don’t have problems with it anymore. This isn’t to say that burn ins aren’t still happening because they are, but we’re just seeing less reports about it with typical smartphone use. The biggest change in AMOLED panel adoption rates though, happened when prices were dropped so they could compete with LCD panels. No matter how much better a piece of technology is, most companies will not look into using it if the price is too high.

So as AMOLED panels are becoming more affordable, we’re starting to see more companies use in them in their products. A new report says shipments of flexible AMOLED panels are expected to hit 150 million next year in 2017. In a market where smartphone shipments exceed 1.4 billion, 150 million doesn’t sound like a lot. However, this will be an important milestone for the technology as this estimate is actually three times the number we saw shipped this year.

Samsung has dominated the flexible AMOLED panel shipments for years, but there are other companies like EverDisplay Optronics and Visionox who are able to manufacture a small number of these types of panels. This is actually an interesting point for the technology as we’re seeing the demand for these panels outweigh the rate in which they can be produced.

So, do you prefer a smartphone that has an AMOLED panel, or do you still opt for devices that are using the matured LCD panels?

Source: DigiTimes

from xda-developers

Leaked Render Could Reveal an Unannounced Motorola Device for 2017

OnLeaks, in collaboration with Android Authority, has been able to show us what an upcoming Motorola smartphone could look like. As with most of OnLeaks’ reveals, this render is based on factory CADs and have had its details filled in by the artist. This device was originally reported as being the 2017 Moto X, however a new tweet from the man behind OnLeaks suggests it could actually be a phone called the Moto C.

One of the biggest takeaways from these renders is the absence of the pogo pins. It’s these pogo pins on the lower back of the recent Motorola phones that has enabled the company’s Moto Mods modules. So while there are aspects of this phone that resemble the Moto Z (like the size and shape of the camera), this leak suggests that it will not support the company’s modules in any way, shape, or form.

It’s not guaranteed that Motorola will be using the company’s Moto Mods for all of their products, it would make sense to have them on their premium phones. The Moto X has never been known for its top of the line specs, but it was considered an upper mid-range/lower high-end device. So this, along with the use of microUSB instead of USB Type-C adds even more credence that this is the Moto C that OnLeaks mentions in his tweet.

We don’t see the sensors in all four corners of the phone like they used in the 2015 Moto X, and this could be yet another sign that it is not the 2017 Moto X.  Still, the phone looks rather solid; it has a slight curve to the back of the device that makes it seem like it would be comfortable in the hand. As with all rumors though, we should take this one with a grain of salt and wait to see what Motorola comes out with next year.

Source: Android Authority

from xda-developers

Report: Chinese OEMs are Expecting Lower Sales in Q1 2017

There have been a lot of eyes on some of the bigger smartphone OEMs from China due to their incredible growth over the last couple of years. Companies like Huawei, LeEco and Xiaomi have become common names around the Android enthusiast community, and for good reason. We’re seeing an expansion coming from these companies that can only be compared to the likes of Samsung in certain cases.

Incidentally, this type of growth is difficult to maintain because at some point you just reach a saturation point. Xiaomi broke company sales records in 2014, and had originally projected to hit 100 million in 2015 before they were forced to lower those estimates. We’ve talked about LeEco’s financtial issues over the last couple of months now, and while Huawei is currently doing good, they too cannot expect to continue growing at the rate they have been.

So it makes sense that we’re now seeing reports that Chinese OEMs like Huawei, Xiaomi and LeEco are reducing the number of component orders for the first quarter of next year. The report says Xiaomi wasn’t able to perform as well as it had hoped during the third and fourth quarter of this year. So they’re expecting this trend to continue into the first quarter of 2017 and this has resulted in them ordering fewer components as well.

With LeEco being less aggressive than before, it just makes sense that they will be more conservative with their component orders than normal. This isn’t to say that these three smartphone OEMs aren’t making a profit anymore. Instead, it just seems to indicate that they’re unable to continue growing at the rate they have been lately. What will be interesting is seeing if these companies can keep their current customers, and maintain their current sales numbers, rather than losing them to other competitors in the region.

Source: DigiTimes

from xda-developers

jeudi 29 décembre 2016

2016 in Review: What was the Worst OEM Decision of 2016?

As we enter the final days of the year, it’s time to get your opinion on all the events, news, releases and controversies that we witnessed so far in 2016.

In the name of change and “courage”, we were treated by OEMs with what will likely go down in history as a failed experiment or as a pivotal point in smartphone evolution, depending on how the future shapes up. As has been a recurrent theme this year, Android OEMs took some rather controversial steps in an effort to distinguish themselves from the competition.

So, our question to you is,

What was the worst OEM decision of 2016? How does this decision affect you and your smartphone usage? How did the decision affect the OEM and its short term sales and reputation? Did other OEMs follow suit and adopt the decision, or are they playing it safer?

Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image Credit: /u/RainieDay

from xda-developers

XDA Subforums Now Live for Honor 6X!

The Honor 6X comes in with a 5.5″ FHD and the Kirin 655 SoC, offering great value at affordable prices. Now, XDA subforums for the Honor 6X are live, giving users a common area for talking about the device and development!

from xda-developers

Android N-ify Development Ceased by MrWasdennnoch and Main Contributors

Developer MrWasdennnoch and the two main contributors paphonb and Maxr1998 have announced that they will no longer be developing the popular Xposed module Android N-ify.

MrWasdennnoch reminded users that updates have been sparse over the last few weeks with his last commit being over a month ago, and he gave several reasons as to why he was ending development including that he has lost interest in the module since developing the notification design and animations. He has also recently flashed a Nougat ROM, meaning he has no need for the module anymore, coupled with the fact that his role in development is “boring and repetitive”.

“I basically have to decompile every SystemUI, find the issue and try to fix it or work around it. Fixing such an issue can take up multiple days because you have to install the new version, reboot, test it and report back. Different time zones can slow it down even more. And with every new feature, there comes a flood of new bugs and incompatibilities which want to be resolved. People posting duplicates or insufficient information (or just completely stop responding) don’t help either. Then, as I just mentioned, there’s the “problem” with Xposed that you have to reboot the phone every time you test a change, and if I’m not sure how something works or how to fix it it takes up multiple hours in which I basically just wait for my device to boot up” – MrWasdennnoch

There is good news however: he will not be shutting down the build server meaning that if anybody else wishes to make changes to the module everybody will be able to get them. Moving on from N-ify, the module is not his only app/module and with his newfound free time, he can spend more energy developing other projects.

Go to the thread

from xda-developers

Nougat’s Open Beta 10 for the OnePlus 3 is Available

OnePlus has been plowing through these open betas for its Nougat update on the OnePlus 3 lately. We saw the 8th open beta released toward the end of November, and now we’re already up to number 10. This could very well be the last open beta update we see for the OnePlus 3 before the official Nougat OTA begins to roll out. Remember, OnePlus told us that they had plans to release Nougat for the OnePlus 3 before the end of the year.

Since we’re two days away, this 10th open beta will either be very short, or they will decide to delay the official rollout. We are betting on the latter happening, but it really is anyone’s guess at this time. The 10th open beta for the OnePlus 3 can be downloaded and installed right now though, and the majority of the changes coming with this update seems to be optimizations. This is actually a good sign as it shows they are winding down the development of the update and are making the software as stable as possible.

So as far as optimizations goes, we’re told this update improves both system performance as well as battery consumption. So if you felt the device was sluggish, or used more battery life than it should have in the last update, then this one could solve those issues for you. The 10th open beta update also optimizes WiFi performance, and the fingerprint unlocking speed as well. Lastly, we’re told they have optimized the quality of the Expanded Screenshot feature as well.

Some people were experiencing a bug when reverting back to the default theme after a reboot, and this issue has been fixed in the latest update. There was also a bug with the lock screen clock in portrait mode, and that has been fixed too. The last thing in the change log says they have added a Data Saver feature to the core OS for those who have expensive data plans. OnePlus asks that you use this form to provide feedback on the UI/UX of the update, and you can discuss the update right here in our own OnePlus 3 forum.

Source: OnePlus

from xda-developers

mercredi 28 décembre 2016

2016 in Review: Which OEM Improved the Most in 2016?

As we enter the final days of the year, it’s time to get your opinion on all the events, news, releases and controversies that we witnessed so far in 2016.

The year saw some heavy performances, and some duds, from all OEMs – big or small. We’re looking for the OEM that deserves the most praise for trying their best this year and bouncing back from whatever lows it had in the past. Improvement in the year 2016, and not actual performance, is what we ask your opinion about.

So, our question to you is,

Which OEM improved the most in 2016? Which OEM had a disappointing 2015 but came back with a bang in 2016? What contributed to their leap forward? What do you think they should do to maintain momentum in 2017?

Let us know in the comments below!

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The VisionTek BTi65 Speaker: Impressive Sound at an Impressive Price

A few months ago VisionTek Products shared word that they were coming out with a new Bluetooth speaker. The BTi65 was IP65 waterproof rated, could remain connected up to 30 feet and play for 10 hours. Over several months I have tested this, thinking I may have missed a problem with it.

But what originally turned to suspicion that I was missing something seems to be a gem in the market. So what was it about the VisionTek BTi65 that impressed me so much?


First Impressions

Out of the box the speaker is pretty straight forward. The package contained a USB to Micro-USB charge cable, 3.5 mm cable (to plug in directly versus Bluetooth) and then of course, the speaker itself. The initial charge took about 3 hours which was within their listed 3-4 hours for a full charge. After that it was turn the power on, then press and hold to begin pairing.

I tested this with my Samsung Galaxy Note7 and then with its replacement, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. In both cases the pairing was pain-free, as was the ability to answer the phone and end a call. The play/pause button thankfully acts as a way to pick up and end a call on the phone. This was tremendously helpful during the multiple trips to different offices that I made during the fall. Turning the volume up and down was self-explanatory as was turning it off or unpairing. A side rubber panel protects the 3.5 mm and USB power connections to avoid dirt and water getting in when not occupied with a cable in those ports.

Sound & Water Testing

Sound quality was impressive, though I found without any tuning/equalizer tools that it was easy to have distorted audio at higher volumes. With an equalizer it’s easy enough to correct this issue when it popped up, but it was rare when it did anyway. The speaker can clearly serve up the sound at a great volume, which can be seen in a linked demonstration below. The IP65 rating does not suggest it can withstand being submerged under water for prolonged periods of time. A test drop into a sink and quick removal didn’t affect the speaker. Nor did extended spraying or splashing of water.

Distance Testing

What perhaps surprised me the most about this speaker was the range. For a device that is listed to only remain connected for up to 30 feet this device far exceeded its listing – and my expectations. During an office network setup there was sufficient time to test this. I placed my phone in the telephone room with a constant music source and started walking. When it held the connection at not just 30 feet but well over 100 feet away I went back to the phone in disbelief. Then I grabbed my Nexus 6P and started recording to prove it.

It’s likely that with additional barriers this distance would be shortened. But even then it seems VisionTek was clearly conservative on paper with this estimate. Based on what I saw it should easily be able to handle well over 30 feet with the right signal and environment.

Battery Life

The other place that it seems they were perhaps too conservative was with the battery life. VisionTek boasts a solid 10 hour play time but didn’t mention anything about a standby time. It’s a shame too — there were periods where I would keep this in my laptop bag for weeks in between uses and I could easily pull it out and put it right back to use without another charge.  For someone that would use this casually this has the right battery life to serve that need – as would someone else that can charge it from time to time during the day.


The VisionTek BTi65 is one of those speakers that I think may be a diamond in the rough. With the right settings and use this speaker could easily play with some of the mid-to-high range speakers in this segment, but with it listed at $39.99 on VisionTek’s website it comes at a much lower price point than many that it would compete against. The IP65 rating, while not waterproof, means it can certainly hold its own in outdoors and in wet venues so long as it is not submerged. And the distance means that you could easily extend the party far to 30 feet and beyond from the sound source. It certainly raised the bar of expectations for a Bluetooth speaker for me — and should, at the least, merit consideration if you’re looking for a speaker like this.

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Worst Apps of 2016

We had a bunch of great apps in 2016. So many fun and exciting apps made their way to your homescreen. This year was not without fails though. Google launched two massively hyped apps that didn’t last more than a day before they were irrelevant. We also saw old favorites become cluttered and terrible. These are the worst apps of 2016.

Google Allo

Google Allo promised to revolutionize the way we chat with each other from our smartphones. The app was to deliver a more expressive way to communicate through the use of art, emojis, text size and other features. The app ultimately fell flat when it couldn’t be used to talk to anyone on hangouts. The thought of getting everyone to change messaging services just to use the new features was too much. The app didn’t last 24 hours before the buzz was completely gone.

Google Duo

Launched side by side with Allo, Duo is a bare-bones video chat service that had little to offer. Hangouts, Skype, Snapchat, Facebook messenger and many other apps that you probably already use, have video chat options. Even though this app has over ten million downloads, it was never able to take off.


Snapchat’s Discover section has become a vessel for the Kardashian family to violate you with their boobies and butts. Mixed in with the stories from your friends, these articles often contain nudity and borderline adult material fed right to the phones of children of all ages. Fantastic.


Remember Facebook? Neither do I. This app has been the center of a heated debate of the fake news epidemic. Often featuring news stories that are highly inaccurate or just flat out lies, this app has the ability to spread false information on a massive scale. This activity going unchecked by Facebook has earn this app the title of one of the worst apps of the year.

Let us know what your list is for the worst app of the year, in the comments below.

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Full ADB Root, System Read/Write, and dm-verity Off Achieved for All LG G5 Variants

Expanding on their previous guide, XDA Senior Member Honestly Annoying has demonstrated how to get full ADB root access, system read/write permissions, and disabling dm-verity protection for all variants of the LG G5. This was previously released only for the Sprint model, but is now available for all variants.

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Qualcomm Accused of Antitrust Violations in South Korea, Faces a $853 Million Fine

Qualcomm has faced antitrust accusations in multiple countries over the last few years. The company recently settled a big one within the country of China, and they were accused of similar allegations in the EU back in 2015 as well. Today, it’s been announced that a regulator within South Korea wants to fine Qualcomm $853 million over its own patent-licensing business. This announcement comes after a 3-year investigation completed by the Korea Fair Trade Commission.

The Korea Fair Trade Commission feels that Qualcomm has violated the country’s antitrust laws by limiting competing chip makers’ access to its patents. The commission also feels that Qualcomm ended up forcing smartphone OEMs into unfair license agreements by refusing to supply important chips for phones to companies who didn’t agree with their terms (which includes purchasing licenses the OEM didn’t need). Lastly, they’re accused of using their market position as a leveraging tool in an attempt to force smartphone OEMs into accepting unfair terms.

As mentioned, we’ve seen these accusations come up before in regards to Qualcomm, as other countries have come to the same conclusion as well. In previous cases, Qualcomm has gone ahead and paid the fine so they could continue doing business in the country. However, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Qualcomm will contest the decision. Qualcomm doesn’t feel they have hindered other chip makers from selling their own products within the country.

Qualcomm also says their licensing deals have existed in South Korea, and all over the world, for decades. Since South Korea hadn’t felt the need to complain about their business practices before, they question the legitimacy about this recent accusation. This recent ruling won’t go into effect until the commission issues a formal written order, which is said to take anywhere from weeks to months to put together. It’s at this point where Qualcomm will have 60 days to either pay the fine or initiate the appeal process.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Rumor Suggests Samsung is Integrating Bixby in the Galaxy S8’s Native Apps

Back in October, Samsung announced they were acquiring Viv Labs and their entire AI platform. For those who are unaware, the founders of Viv Labs were the same group of people who worked on Siri (before Apple acquired them back in 2010). The big product from Viv Labs is an AI-powered voice assistant known as Viv. This voice assistant AI excels in natural language processing and is said to be more powerful than Siri is today.

It’s no surprise that Viv Labs was on Samsung’s radar, as we’ve been seeing a lot of companies wanting to get into this market. Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant has found success in the company’s Echo products, Google dove into the market with Google Home, and even Apple has started focusing on expanding the capabilities of Siri lately. Since the original announcement, it’s been rumored that Samsung will replace S Voice with this new tech from Viv Labs, and it will debut with the launch of the Galaxy S8.

It’s believed that Samsung will call their new personal assistant Bixby, thanks to a trademark that was filed in their home country of South Korea. As we’ve seen with the success of Amazon’s Alexa assistant, the more things it can do the better experience the user will have with the service. Google Home has been struggling in this area, but Google has launched Actions on Google that open up the platform to 3rd-party developers.

Yesterday, SamMobile’s sources have told them that Samsung is working hard to make sure most of their native applications will support this Bixby personal assistant feature. The article didn’t go into much detail about how powerful it will be, but uses the Gallery application as an example, saying we can ask Bixby to show us photos or videos that match a particular criteria. We’ll likely have to wait until Samsung’s official launch event before we learn more details about Bixby, though.

Source: SamMobile

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mardi 27 décembre 2016

2016 in Review: What did you think of the Tablets Released in 2016?

As we enter the final days of the year, it’s time to get your opinion on all the events, news, releases and controversies that we witnessed so far in 2016.

While all price points of the smartphone market saw fierce competition, one segment which was once hotly contested barely saw any attention this year. We’re talking about tablets, a segment that stayed out of the limelight for the most part. Few OEMs seem willing to dip their toes back into the tablet market, and stock-Android tablet enthusiasts have to contend with just rumors of an Huawei-made “Nexus” tablet coming in 2017.

Our question to you is,

What did you think of the tablets released this year? Why do you think tablets saw such little attention? Why are OEMs unwilling to release tablets? Have our use cases for tablets vanished, or have OEMs grown wary of investing into the tablet space? How big of a contribution did software have in their decline? Is there hope for tablets to make a comeback in 2017?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Unofficial CM14.1 ROM for Honor 8

In this video, TK takes us through an unofficial CM14.1 ROM for the Honor 8. This ROM is currently in the beta stages, so not everything is working yet.

Currently Working:

  • Touchscreen * Charger ( not Off Mode )
  • MTP & ADB * Internal/External Storage
  • Screenrecorder
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • Network & data connecting ( LTE/3G/2G )
  • Audio
  • All Sensors
  • Lights
  • NFC
  • Power profiles
  • Root already included like always into CM !

Currently Not Working:

  • Camera
  • GPS
  • FPS
  • Encryption

Follow the development of this ROM in the XDA thread here.

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Snapprefs Gets Updated to 2.1.0, Adds Support for

XDA Senior Member MaaarZ has just announced a new update to Snapprefs. This update adds support for Snapchat version, adds a Now Playing filter, a fling to save feature, a way to disable auto-advance, and more.

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Alleged LG G6 Render Shows a Similar Design to the LG G5

Details about the LG G6 have been pretty scarce this year. A rumor earlier this year claimed that LG would be ditching the metal build material next year for a glass one. Even though the LG G5 was built with metal, it received a lot of complaints in reviews for not feeling as premium as other devices on the market. We even just heard about the possibility of LG releasing the G6 earlier than usual so they won’t have to deal with certain competitors at launch.

Other than that, we’ve heard the LG G6 would adopt MST technology for their mobile payments system and another rumor claiming they’re ditching the modular design (even though they have come out and said otherwise). With a bunch of reports and rumors going around the community, the only thing that is clear is that LG wasn’t happy with how the LG G5 sold. Oddly enough, a new rumor suggests the LG G6 will have a similar design to the LG G5.

This rumor comes to us thanks to a collaboration between Android Authority and @ShaiMizrachi. The leak suggests the LG G6 will be 149.4mm tall, 72.4mm wide, and then says that while they’re unable to “confirm exact numbers,” we can expect it to be a little thinner than the LG G5. We’re not sure if the LG G6 will have the modular design, or even a removable battery (like we saw in the LG V20), but the wide camera cut out suggests it will have 2 rear cameras.

The cutouts also suggest they will likely stick with a metal build with the LG G6, unlike we heard with previous rumors. Technically, they could use a rear panel of glass with this design, but the cutouts being so close together would likely make the glass very brittle. As with all rumors, we should take this with a grain of salt, but we could be looking at the design of LG’s upcoming flagship.

Source: Android Authority

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The Official Gerrit for LineageOS is Now Up

With the departure of Steve Kondik from Cyanogen Inc, we knew there would be a big shakeup with the way CyanogenMod was handled. An official blog post announced the servers and funds that were keeping CM up and running would be discontinued on December 31st. Then seemingly out of nowhere, CyanogenMod’s website, wiki, forums, Gerrit, and download servers were all shut down thanks to a change in their DNS.

As mentioned, this was expected to happen on December 31st, but it actually came 6 days earlier as a surprising Christmas gift to the community. Thankfully, people didn’t wait until the last minute to start archiving the stuff that was available. You can find an archive of CM’s wiki here, and an archive of the latest snapshot build here. A the time, this left other resources like forums, Gerrit and website servers down.

While LineageOS is still trying to get on its feet, they have been able to bring up their own Gerrit server now. For those who are unaware, Gerrit enables a team of developers to announce changes they would like to make to a code base. These changes can be viewed by other members of the team, and they can all comment on it as well. So before a bug is fixed, or a new feature is implemented, other developers can look at it and decide whether or not they feel it would create a conflict. This also gives people who are outside of the development team a way to see which type of changes are happening (assuming it has been made public). So you or I can go through the latest changes that are happening with LineageOS right now. We can see which commits are still open, which ones have been merged, and which ones have been abandoned. So while CyanogenMod as a whole may have hit a snag over the holidays, there are still a number of people still working on the new code base for LineageOS.

Source: LineageOS

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December Prizes Awarded for Honor Incentive Program

It’s time again to give out prizes to the most active members of our Honor forums through our community incentive program (as a result of a partnership we have with Honor). As a reminder, we have a special script running that looks at everyone that participates in any Honor forums and assigns points, each day, based on post and thread quality, plus other factors. Then, we apply a ranking to those with the top points, and give out prizes. The program applies to all Honor forums on XDA (that’s the Honor MagicHonor 8, Honor 5X, Honor 7, Honor 6/6X, Honor 5C, Honor 4X, Honor 4C, and Honor 3C).

Honor 8:


Honor 5X:


Honor Band Z1:


Engine Earphones:


Selfie Stick:


These members will be contacted via XDA PM to arrange shipping for their prizes. And for everyone else: stay active in the Honor forums, because in another month, we’ll be back with more prizes!

from xda-developers

lundi 26 décembre 2016

2016 in Review: What was the Best Smartwatch of 2016?

As we enter the final days of the year, it’s time to get your opinion on all the events, news, releases and controversies that we witnessed so far in 2016.

Moving on from flagships, midrange and budget smartphones, we move our discussion over to smartwatches. We didn’t see too many smartwatches this year as users re-evaluated their needs, but there were some new additions to the short list of Android Wear’s lineup. Even within the notable releases, Android Wear went head-to-head to against several other watch OS’s to fight for a place on our wrists.

Smartwatches released this year include:

So, our question to you is,

What was the best smartwatch released in 2016? What set this smartwatch apart from the rest of the competition? Do you consider this smartwatch a luxury product? What should its successor include or improve upon?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Report: LG Plans to Make LG G6 Available Earlier to Avoid Competition

LG failed to excite consumers with the LG G5 despite the massive push made towards (pseudo-)modularity. Furthermore, the LG V20 failed to shoulder the responsibility of carrying LG this fiscal year. Despite the failure of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, LG has thus far not been able to effectively capitalize on Samsung’s misfortunes.

With the new year approaching, however, LG is looking to shake things up. LG has surely abandoned the idea of “modularity” since the company’s experiment with the LG G5, so we’re watching with great interest to see what approach LG will take with the G6. Smartphone innovation has been largely stagnant this year, but next year could bring a few surprises.

Though a new report from the South Korean technology blogs suggests that LG may surprise us with more than the new phone itself. ETNews is reporting that LG is planning to move up the availability of the LG G6 by as much as a month compared to the release of the earlier this year.

To recap, the LG G5 was released right before Mobile World Congress 2016 on February 21st. However, consumers looking forward to getting their hands on the device had to wait until April to make any purchases. An LG spokesperson mentioned in the report that the G5 was originally meant to be unveiled in April, but the event had to be moved earlier near MWC. The early excitement over the modular novelty wore off as the days passed between the device reveal and actual availability, and reviewers started getting their hands on competing smartphones. The shortcomings of LG’s pseudo-modularity and practical approach of some of its competitors made it very difficult for the G5 to gain any ground.

But with the LG G6, LG is hoping to avoid their availability mistakes with the G5. The G6 will be made available for purchase a month earlier than usual. This should put the availability of the device closer towards the end of February or possibly early March, thus sales of the device should be included in the first quarter of 2017. LG has moved forward the mass production schedule of the device by a month as it seeks to start manufacturing in February. LG has informed component manufacturers that it will require components in January, which will then enable it to mass produce the device in February and make it available in early March. Upcoming features on the G6 as mentioned in the report include mobile payment services, wireless charging, and waterproofing.

The reason behind LG’s decision is to reportedly increase the sales volume of the G6. As the company’s flagship product of the first half of 2017, the device must stand against the plethora of flagship offerings from competing OEMs. With reports stating that Samsung could postpone the launch of the Galaxy S8 by a month, the LG G6 might actually have a chance (and two months) to dominate in the absence of one of its strongest competitors. The discontinuation of the Galaxy Note 7 paves a clear road ahead for the South Korean company.

Here’s hoping that the LG G6 packs enough heat to excite users, while not replicating the Note 7’s explosiveness.

Source: ETNews

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Opinion: The Problem with Default Launchers and Why OEMs Should Take Pointers from Alternatives like Nova

On my desk, I have a multitude of devices from different manufacturers, with different price tags and some running vastly different software. They all have one thing in common, and that’s their homescreen setup.

The homescreen is undoubtedly one of the most essential components of the Android experience; from the most casual of users to the most knowledgeable tinkerers, we all interact with it daily and almost all Android users customize it to some degree — even if it’s something as simple as ordering the icons around. Android’s approach to software has enabled both OEMs and clever app developers to come up with all sorts of alternatives to the Android homescreen, too, and popular launchers like Nova can allow for radical, unconventional setups thanks to a wealth of customization options. Launchers are the window to our applications, and even Google seems to increasingly focus on the launcher as a means to get somewhere: as Allo developer Justin Uberti said “[the] homescreen removed the need for all in one apps (…) [its] easier to navigate between apps than within them”. They’ve also been improving the Pixel launcher and introducing launcher shortcuts on Android Nougat — these leverage the launcher to further bypass barriers in order to get to a particular app’s activity; and, as shown with Allo, Google is moving away from multi-purpose apps and instead focusing on providing more applications better suited to doing one thing efficiently (at least in theory)… the launcher and stronger multi-tasking allow this design strategy to succeed.

So what’s wrong with all those stock launchers that I replaced? All of my Android devices eventually swap the launcher precisely because I hold that UX component in such high-regard — it’s not to say that the launchers that OEMs design and include as default on their devices are bad (many of them are), but rather that I prefer a cohesive, smooth launcher with the features that I need and without the clutter I don’t care for. Given you are reading this on XDA of all places, chances are you agree with me, as we aren’t strangers to custom launchers. What’s worse, I can see that launchers are an important focus point for many, many OEMs — chances are that, whenever you upgrade your phone to a new flagship by the same manufacturer, the launcher will have “improved” as well. OEMs are constantly trying to add features to their launchers, or redesign their icon packs and widget styles; it can be argued that much of this is merely to keep the experience fresh, but I also believe that manufacturers are, in fact, trying to improve their devices’ user interface and its functionality to gain a competitive advantage.

A Contested Battleground

An example I like to bring up is HTC — while the M9 brought better theming and a widget to more-intelligently organize your apps based on context, it was the HTC 10 that focused heavily on offer an alternative but nevertheless heavily-marketed new launcher experience: Freestyle homescreen. This was a set of colorful and customizable backgrounds with icon packs that matched the background, as to make them “part” of the scene to mask the fact that you were actually looking at icons and widgets. Moreover, Freestyle allowed you to put these icons whenever you pleased and without being confined to rigid grids; HTC even took it a step further by allowing users to create and share these themes, leading to a variety of alternatives including some inspired by popular movies and videogames. Alas, this feature was largely lauded by reviewers and many users either stuck with the traditional Sense launcher or, once more, opted for a third-party option.

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And it’s perhaps the popularity of those third-party options that’s most revealing: there are several well-known and polished alternatives, some with tens of millions of downloads, and some like Nova Launcher even date back to Android’s days of growing pains. The popularity and success of Nova, Action Launcher and other usual suspects should be enough to suggest that launcher alternatives can be extremely successful, and the fact that tech giants like Microsoft and Facebook often feel the need to create more launchers further solidifies the homescreen as a key battleground for OEMs, software companies and independent app developers. The homescreen allows all of them to either market their products or integrate into other services – or an ecosystem – with ease, but it’s OEMs who ultimately hold the advantage, an advantage that is strongest with the least-involved or less-savvy Android users:

It’s likely that an enormous subset of smartphone users just never bother to change their launcher, or even their stock wallpaper for that matter. In the words of Brandon Miniman, co-founder of the popular launcher Themer, “How do you explain to your mom that an Android phone can change launchers? And that you can put widgets on it,  or adjust animations… she’ll get lost!”. Themer itself tried to address many of those problems by offering a one-tap approach to homescreen theming, allowing you to select from a multitude of beautiful homescreens created by users. In many ways, Themer was like the HTC’s Freestyle approach, but both found themselves facing an important obstacle.


“People don’t like to change their homescreen,” Brandon Miniman says, “it’s nice from afar to see how cool it can be, but people rarely want change”. A problem he recognized was the friction created in the user experience by selection a largely pre-determined, often-rigid themed homescreen with the user’s favorite applications disparately distributed all over the place. Sometimes, the homescreen is best when it’s personal and tuned to the user’s liking, or when it allows the user to slowly and progressively get to know and learn where everything is. While popular launchers have millions of downloads, Android runs on billions of devices, and here lies the advantage OEMs have, and a prime incentive driving so many of their launcher UX decisions.



The left-most homescreen is an interesting example of a place where OEMs have attempted to bring their own exclusive features and services in the past couple of years. For the most part, their implementations don’t hold up to that of the Google Now Launcher or a user-customized screen with finely-tuned widgets. There are two examples that I think encapsulate my views on these panels as implemented by OEMs… First we have TouchWiz’s infamous Flipboard integration, which Samsung hasn’t managed to optimize after more than a year — it’s a laggy mess that makes for a frustrating experience, and adds a service that is arguably best relegated to an app. Another example is the OnePlus 3’s “Shelf” feature: first introduced with the OnePlus 2, this left-most homescreen shows you the weather, your most recent/used applications, personal notes and you can add a few widgets as well…

For the most part, all of this functionality is done better with user implementations — and whereas Samsung’s target demographic would likely be less prone (proportionally speaking) to manually implement a better solution to Flipboard, OnePlus’ largely-savvier userbase likely can add widgets that do the job better, or install a Launcher that also displays the same application shortcuts, etc. Both Samsung and OnePlus have continuously improved their launcher, and while I’d argue Oxygen OS’ launcher is miles ahead of Samsung’s and even a keeper, it still shows that there is room to improve in the launcher.

OEMs have been experimenting with their launchers quite a bit in the past couple of years, from offering smart widgets and theme engines to removing the app drawer — a move that was met with backlash by much of the enthusiast community, even if the end result is not that bad. For all their efforts, I have yet to see a launcher that’s compelling enough to make me not switch it out after the review period has ended. Sometimes, I personally cannot last that long — Chinese phones, in particular, tend to displease those who always long for a Stock Android experience. Some manufacturers deserve credit for their efforts: OnePlus, for example, offers a largely-stock launcher with icon packs; LG has typically allowed for all sorts of customizations as well, from animations to icons/themes; Motorola has kept things largely stock and simple. In fact, I find myself going back to simpler homescreens more often than complicated setups, and I believe this is testament to the efficiency of the traditional homescreen. The typical 4 to 5 icon wide setup with an app drawer is a staple of Android, and I think it’s ultimately is simpler than what Themer or other experimental launchers offer. The latter are bound to fit perfectly with many users, but the power of a simple, no frills but also flexible homescreen is undeniable.

Stock or Not?

On one hand, we see OEMs constantly build upon their stock launchers with each flagship iteration; I believe this is for offering a specific, unique experience tied to the manufacturer’s services or ecosystem as much as it is a way to continuously improve upon an experience that is often unsatisfactory; sub-par performance, divisive aesthetics, a lack of customization or peddling of hardly useful features are some of the reasons why people opt for third party launchers. Moreover, these alternatives are not only for tinkerers and customization fiends — the Google Now and Pixel Launcher, for example, are rather inflexible by default and still manage to achieve a decent level of popularity and positive feedback. Nova Launcher, Action Launcher, and Google’s solutions have thrived whereas some of the more experimental alternatives like Themer or Microsoft’s Arrow haven’t — either in terms of net downloads or lasting fanfare.

Phone makers could keep it simple and offer something akin to a Stock Android Launcher, or add the customization of something like Nova… the brilliance of this last option is that the casual user need not know or care about the extra settings, just like Nova or Action perform like a traditional homescreen if the user doesn’t fidget with the additional settings. At the end of the day, though, OEMs do want to offer us their take on Android, for better or worse, and this means their aesthetics and choice of icons and animations (or glass and blur, as we see lately) and whatever service they device to tack onto the leftmost screen. They have an advantage in which they will be the unconscious choice of large proportions of their users — either because they are complacent, they don’t know how to access alternatives (or that there are any at all), or because the process of setting up a new homescreen is too much of a hassle. This is an advantage that encourages them to improve their launcher experience, and iterate upon it with every release, even if they really don’t have anything worthwhile to tack onto it that cycle.

In my opinion, OEMs should carefully inspect the third-party launcher market to see what kind of features ultimately drive users to those alternatives, and what advantages they have over their stock offerings. It might be a wish falling on deaf ears, but I’ve seen some companies itch closer and closer to that Holy Grail of a built-in launcher, sometimes even turning around and backpedalling on some of the changes and progress they’ve made. This is, of course, my take on things, but I do think that there is a lot of potential and room for improvement in most of popular flagship’s stock homescreens. They could, for example, borrow Nova’s customization, Action Launcher’s accessibility/navigation features, and gestures or customization options that attract so many of us. They could very well pick and choose and, with their millionaire resources, outcompete the competition — other OEMs, software companies and independent app developers. This could very well be nothing more than a pipedream, but just like I long to see more phones running aesthetic and functionally-balanced user interfaces by default, I also think it’d be interesting to stick with a default launcher that further complements that UI, with no incentive to do otherwise. It’s not rare, after all, to see suggestions towards Galaxy or Huawei phone users regarding Nova launcher or other options to mask the meddling of the phonemakers upon Android. OEMs have many incentives to nail a great launcher, and they are clearly altering theirs year after year… ideally, they’d take a long and hard look at their competition – particularly that on the Play Store – and incorporate so much of what makes Nova and Action Launchers such legendary applications among enthusiasts.

What do you think of OEM Launchers? Do you often look for an alternative? Let us know in the comments below!

from xda-developers

dimanche 25 décembre 2016

Some Nexus 6P Users are now Experiencing Random Bootloops

The Google Nexus 6P, to the dismay of many Android enthusiasts, is the last device in the Nexus lineup. With some of the most impressive specifications at the time of its launch, the device was able to hold its own against 2016 flagships especially among those who prefer running the latest version of stock Android.

However, though many fans are still holding on to the last remnant of the Nexus lineage, hardware issues are making this task impossible for some users. For some, the Nexus 6P does not seem to be aging very well, with issues like the recently reported early shutdown at random battery levels crippling the usability of the barely year old device.

Although this battery issue has only recently become more publicized, we already have some more bad news to share. A few Nexus 6P users are now reporting that their devices are entering into a bootloop state. The phone will boot to the Google Logo, but will never enter the boot animation stage. This issue reportedly repeats itself until the battery is depleted.

Unfortunately for the owners who experience this bootloop, there doesn’t appear to be any remedy. No amount of data wiping or re-flashing factory images seems to solve the problem, which would indicate that the issue is perhaps hardware related.

Indeed it was, as a Google representative confirmed on Reddit a few months back when the final Nougat Developer Preview was rolling out:

We understand that a very small number of users are experiencing a bootloop issue on your device. We are continuing to investigate the situation, but can confirm that this is strictly a hardware related issue. For those of you that are currently experiencing this, please contact your place of purchase for warranty or repair options.

The only action a user whose device is afflicted by this bootloop of death can take is to RMA the device. Google has not given a clear explanation as to what causes this issue, but some users who have experienced this issue all state that only devices running Android Nougat 7.1 have succumbed to bootloops. Of course, that could just be entirely coincidental, and it’s far more likely that this is indeed an undisclosed hardware related issue as cited by the Google community representative.

If you own a Nexus 6P and you would like to bring more attention to the issue, head on over to the AOSP Issue Tracker.

from xda-developers

samedi 24 décembre 2016

2016 in Review: What was the Best Budget Smartphone of 2016?

As we enter the final days of the year, it’s time to get your opinion on all the events, news, releases and controversies that we witnessed so far in 2016.

Our first discussion was regarding your opinion on the best flagship of the year, followed by your opinion on the best midrange smartphone. Now we will shift focus on to the other end of the spectrum: budget smartphones.

Budget smartphones have a lot riding on them, as even though they may not bring the most profit to the OEM, they do play a vital role in brand building. With limited resources at hand, budget smartphones have to deliver an adequate experience to customers on limited resources.

So, our question to you is,

What was the best budget smartphone in 2016? What was the major highlight of this budget device: was it the price, the build, the performance on the budget, or its overall usability? What was the obvious compromise on the device, which other OEMs did better? Why does this smartphone deserve to be called the best in the budget segment? What improvements should a successor to this phone bring?

Let us know in the comments below!

from xda-developers

China’s Fluctuating Mobile Market And Future Trends

China’s mobile market is by a comfortable margin the largest in the world, with over 1.3 billion monthly mobile subscribers across the three carriers. It is understandable then that short term trends and fashions can have a huge effect on the incomes of OEMs and the market as a whole.

This year has seen a dramatic shift in the Chinese market, BBK Electronics who owns brands such as OnePlus, Oppo and Vivo managed to capture just under a third of the Chinese smartphone market. For the first time ever the top two spots for OEM mobile device shipments were replaced in the same quarter as Vivo took second place with 16% of the market in Q3 after seeing an impressive increase in shipments of 114% annually. More impressively Oppo was able to capture first place with 17%, thanks to the success of the Oppo R9 which rapidly became the top selling handset in China in Q3 aiding in shipments for Oppo devices increasing 82% annually.    

% Smartphone Shipments By OEMs in Q3 2016

If are unfamiliar with the Oppo R9, the 5.5″ device was launched back in March and ships with a Mediatek Helio P10, Android 5.1, 64GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM for around $425. The phone rapidly became popular and by mid-June had sold over 7 million units, an equivalent of one every 1.1 seconds.

Huawei, Xiaomi and Apple were pushed down to third, fourth, and fifth place respectively, the latter two taking a heavy hit and being knocked down an alarming 4% annually. Huawei is likely to bounce back as the OEM will undoubtedly be launching devices early into the year which will help bolster their lineup and see them return to the top spot over the course of the first half of 2017. A similar increase in shipments was seen this year and unless Oppo can replicate the success of the R9 again they could be knocked in the rankings once again.

China’s mobile industry is not just limited to handsets of course. While smartphone shipments in China still account for a third of global shipments, the stabilizing of the Chinese economy during Q2 led to increased growth across the industry including carriers. The country has just three carriers, China Mobile, Unicom and Telecom which as mentioned above service over 1.3 billion subscribers.

Name (English) Name (Chinese) Mobile Subscribers
China Mobile 中国联通 845,824,000
China Unicom 中国移动 262,990,000
China Telecom 中国电信 213,910,000

All three carriers have seen healthy growth over the course of the year, with China Mobile seeing an incredible increase of just under 19 million mobile subscribers, which for a point of reference is close to the total population of Romania. At the end of 2013, prepaid SIMs accounted for 85% of connections in China… however, two years later this figure had dropped to just 78% as more users began opting for monthly subscriptions. If this trend is shown to have continued when the 2016 Q4 figures are released we could be seeing the beginning of a shift to a more evenly split market such as the UK’s which has an almost 50/50 split between prepaid and postpaid SIMs.

Chinese Carrier stats

(In thousands)

ZUK Z1 Piracy store 
China’s app distribution is an incredible example of severe fragmentation with most Chinese OEMs offering their own app store as well as the hundreds of alternatives such as those offered by Baidu and Tencent. This can make app distribution difficult and is one of the key reasons behind app piracy being so commonplace inside the country. Piracy is seen quite differently in China and is even encouraged by some OEMs. Upon being given a new Chinese variant ZUK Z1 by Lenovo at its launch in Shenzhen, I immediately noticed a second app store on the device dedicated to pirated, modified and cracked apps. Upon asking a spokesman about the cracked store they made it painfully obvious that they considered this an achievement to be proud of.

Despite this piracy problem China’s app market is still seeing considerable growth and in 2020 is estimated to generate $31 billion in revenue, $21 billion of this is predicted to be from third party app stores. Likewise, app downloads are set to increase from 49 billion this year to over 90 billion in 2020, of which only 10 billion of these will be from Google Play. That being said if you are an app developer who only publishes their work to the Play Store you could be missing out on some serious traffic. If your app is popular then it may well be available in numerous pirate friendly stores already.

This is something each developer will have to investigate themselves and come to their own decision as to whether they should spread to other platforms and target the valuable but tricky Chinese demographic. While many people are talking about the next billion users and focussing on make their apps better for emerging markets, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that there is an entire market out there that is often forgotten about by western developers.

app annie China Data

The Chinese market is changing rapidly, new marketing strategies and fierce competition continue to ensure that the top OEMs do not become stagnant. Growth across all three carriers has greatly aided growth in app downloads and revenue and if the forecasts prove to be accurate, then developers could see dramatic increase in profitability if opportunities are taken advantage of the right way.

from xda-developers