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OnePlus One Finally Gets CyanogenMod 12Ss

OnePlus One Finally Gets CyanogenMod 12Ss

It’s been a long time waiting, but the OnePlus One is finally CyanogenMod 12s. It hasn’t officially arrived yet, but the founder Carl Pei announced on Friday that the update will be rolling out in the next few days, as it “just passed certification” according to Pei.

oneplus one

Although the OnePlus One already has a Lollipop variant of its own in OxygenOS, CM 12S is expected to give it a fresh variant to CM fans.  However, CM 12S is said to maintain most of the original features of the OnePlus One, will come with definite advantages like optimized software, battery life and overall lack of bloatware.

Samsung Cuts Down On Bloatware With Its New Galaxy S6

Samsung Cuts Down On Bloatware With Its New Galaxy S6

Samsung just announced its latest flagships, the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, to much acclaim at World Mobile Congress 2015. In a change of pace, Samsung seems to have put design first for the new Galaxy line – continuing its use of premium materials like metal and glass form its Galaxy Alpha series. The S6 features an aluminum chassis with Gorilla Glass 4 on the front and the back. Along with its streamlining of physical features, they have also cut down on its customization of TouchWiz. Samsung have commented on the new Lollipop TouchWiz as being cut down and lighter on system resources – claiming that there are 40 precent less features on the S6 than there was on the S5.

Overall, TouchWiz looks much the same, since most people would just hide the unwanted bloatware in the app drawer anyway, but hopefully the trimming down of features will help with battery life and improve lag. The new TouchWiz is based on Android Lollipop and retains the notifications and crisp animations that come with stock Android. As far as the rest of the phone, it features a 5.1-inch QHD Super AMOLED display that runs on a Samsung octacore Exynos CPU with 3GB RAM and will come in variants of 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. The S6 also features a 16-megapixel front and back cameras, a heart-rate sensor, integrated wireless charging and a new payment feature called Samsung Pay (integrated with LoopPay which was acquired by Samsung recently).

The Galaxy S6 is probably the best designed Samsung phone to date, with its use of premium materials and trimming down of bloatware. Expect this to be a nice comeback to the huge hits that were the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Google Quietly Updates Android To Lollipop 5.1

Google Quietly Updates Android To Lollipop 5.1

Google announced on Feb 4 that the Android One program is expanding to a 5th country – Indonesia – after successful launches in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Google’s partnership with local manufacturers to build optimized devices that are able to run Android has seen a fairly warm reception so far.

However, arguably the bigger news is that these newer devices will be shipping with Android 5.1 Lollipop, coming after Android 5.0 launched in November 2014. It is not known exactly when Google will start pushing the update to current devices, but it does not look like a major release, so it might be over the next few weeks.

  • The unofficial changelog from Android Pit lists the following improvements:
  • Silent mode added
  • General improvements for system stability
  • Improved RAM management
  • Improved battery management
  • Fixes for crashing apps
  • Fixed issues with wireless connections
  • Fixed problems with OK Google functions
  • Fixed problems with Notifications
  • Fixed sounds problems experienced by certain devices
  • Changes in the Material Design color palette
  • Other improvements and changes

 

 

Cyanogen Announces Official Support for Android One Devices

Cyanogen Announces Official Support for Android One Devices

Cyanogen, the popular developer of Android ROMS, has announced official support for Android One devices. The budget handsets now have official support for CM 11 builds based on Android KitKat 4.4 with an official update to Lollipop based CM12 being actively developed.

There have been unofficial ports of CM11 for Android One devices since October 2014, but the ports often had some major bugs, some of which prevented users from using cellular data and the dual-SIM slots. Those issues have since been fixed, but it is always a welcome sign to have official support. This CM11 release should work for all Android One devices, since they all use very similar hardware, Cyanogen has released a unified ROM for all devices.

The Cyanogen team mentioned this in their release:

This release represents a few firsts for us. Not only are these the first Android One devices and first official release of CM for these devices, the Android One device is the first ever officially supported Mediatek device. Mediatek (MTK) devices have been notoriously difficult for the developer community to complete fully functional bring-ups, and this marks a milestone in that effort.

 

Leaked Screenshots of Lollipop running on HTC Sense 6

Leaked Screenshots of Lollipop running on HTC Sense 6

Android Lollipop has been out for just under 2 months now and we’ve already seen it be adapted by LG for its LG G3 (although in limited numbers at the time of writing). HTC made a promise that their phones would get the Android L update within 90 days of launch. It hasn’t been 9 days yet, but back in November we saw a few screenshots of an HTC One M8 running Sense 6 and Android 5.0 with its material design.

HTC-6

 

This time, we have more images of an updated Sense 6 running Android 5.0. The interface is not far removed from that HTC users are used to seeing. It does seem to have a bunch of new animations from the new version of Android and the new quick-access screen to see notifications and multitasking interface. There are also a few screenshots showing a new “easy mode” that seems likely to be a mode for new or less tech-savvy users.  Overall, Sense 6 looks like an a welcome update and is treated with a nice dose of Material Design and animations. HTC’s 90 day promise means that this update should be rolling out to users around February 2015 – here’s hoping!

AT&T Nexus 6 comes with carrier branding

AT&T Nexus 6 comes with carrier branding

There was some confusion last week when there were supposed leaks of an AT&T Nexus 6 with an AT&T logo on the body. No one was quite sure what to make of it since Nexus devices have traditionally come without any carrier branding. The purpose of a Nexus device was to give the user an unmolested experience of Android. That may be changing with the Nexus 6.

att-nexus 6

Some XDA-Developer forum members have reported that they received their AT&T Nexus 6’s with carrier branding on the back panel along with a modified boot animation that shows AT&T’s logo. The rest of the device and its packaging was similar to other Nexus 6 un-boxings.

This could be a turning point in the Nexus lineup of devices, since there is only one Nexus device that works across all five major U.S carriers and, as mentioned before, previous iterations of the Nexus Devices usually came with no carrier branding and factory unlocked. This new trend could mean that the Nexus devices follow other brands into the carrier features and bloatware realm – which is a sad thing to think about. There will probably be ways to rid the Nexus 6 of the extra branding and any bloatware (no confirmation yet), but the beauty of a pure Android device straight from Google seems to be going up in flames.

OnePlus One Pre-Orders will go live at 11am ET on Nov. 17

OnePlus One Pre-Orders will go live at 11am ET on Nov. 17

If you’ve been keeping up with the OnePlus One news over the last year, then you’d know that it is next to impossible to get your hands on one. Between their “invite-only” purchase policy to a server crippling per-order window MONTHS after its official launch, frustrated buyers have been left looking at other phones. If you are one of those buyers, you have another chance to get your hands on of next week.

OnePlus is holding another order event for their flagship on November 17th. As with the last event, the per-order window is only open for 1 hr and will begin at 11 am EST. However, interested buyers can pre-fill all their billing and shipping info ahead of time so that you will simply have to click the pre-order button on the day. Hopefully this will ease the load on servers and will not be a repeat of their last attempt at pre-order.

OnePlus One says”
“If we have the items in stock, we’ll ship immediately. If we don’t, your order will automatically convert to a pre-order. What is a pre-order, exactly? During the ordering process, you’ll receive an estimated shipping time. When you complete your order, we’ll reserve the payment, but you won’t actually be charged until your order ships. So, if you change your mind, you can forfeit your spot in line and cancel your order at any time before it ships. If you get ahold of an invite at any time during this process, you can use it to upgrade your pre-order and receive immediate shipping.”

Billed as a flagship killer, the OnePlus One has impressive specs and a very reasonable price and has seen a lot of chatter and favorable reviews since its launched. Their limited availability and their “invite-only” sales tactics have come under heavy criticism from the tech world. That said, the OnePlus One is still a lot of phone for a reasonable amount of dollars and definitely one of the best for its lack of bloatware. Are you going to pre-order the OnePlus One?

Google is going to fix email with Inbox

Google is going to fix email with Inbox

Google announced Inbox on October 22nd. In its essence, Inbox tires to make your life easier by organizing your emails better and lumping them into groups of similar items – very similar to what Gmail does currently with primary, social, promotional and updates categories. The difference is that Inbox manages to make look really good – you can thank the new Material Design for that. Inbox has got plenty of Material Design going for it.

As with a lot of new Google services, Inbox is invite only for now – good luck trying to hunt one down. It is available as an app for Android and iOS and as an extension for the Chrome browser, which means there is no real web version at the moment. The first thing you notice about Inbox is how good it looks. It really looks amazing, thanks to Material Design, and animations are nice and crisp. Functionality is changed, “archive” is now “done”. You just swipe one way to be “done” with the email (which will archive it).

inbox-inside

Emails are bunched into bundles – think of bundles like the current labels, but better and more flexible. Archiving items will still keep them in the bundle and it is said that Inbox will learn and improve its “bundles” the more you use it. There is also a snooze function – you can swipe the email left to “snooze” the email and have it pop up at a later time if you don’t want to deal with it at this very moment. The quick action button is a nice feature to have – it will give you a “compose email” shortcut to your frequent contacts along with a compose email from scratch option.

There is an element of getting used to the flow of things with Inbox, its not perfect, but its a new and exciting direction that Google is trying. I’m sure it will be refined a lot before it hits the masses. You can try your luck and email inbox@google.com to see if you can score yourself an invite.

Good Luck.

Google Play Newstand gets Android L’s Material Design

Google Play Newstand gets Android L’s Material Design

Google has been pushing its new Material Design language to its existing apps over the past few months since Android L was announced in June. Android L is said to be the biggest upgrade to Android since it came out in 2007. Android L brings a whole new design language called Material and the Google Play store was the first Google App to get the updated style followed by Google Plus, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Chrome. The newest member of the family to join them is the Google Play Newstand app – the online magazine app now displays bigger images, smoother transitions, allows users to explore deeper into topics and the app should run faster overall as well.

Google states that “Today’s redesign brings a new magazine reading experience on your phone. In the past, print magazines have been hard to read on a small screen, zooming in and out to skim an article. But now you’ll see a list of articles from the magazine that you can toggle through and easily read with big images right on your phone.”

Android L will encrypt your data by default

Android L will encrypt your data by default

Data encryption on Android has been offered for the most part since 2011. It was an option in the settings menu that let you lock down your data so that thieves or law enforcement would not be able to get to any of your files. That option will now become the default setting on all phones running Android L.

Google’s statement read “For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement. As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won’t even have to think about turning it on.”

The announcement comes just one day after Apple revealed that users who are running iOS8 are protected by the users passcodes that Apple themselves cannot bypass. Apple came under heavy criticism recently when several private, nude images of celebrities were phished out of Apple iCloud accounts. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has since been very vocal about consumer privacy and how Apple handles customers’ data.

This comes as welcome news after all the “hacking” news over the last year, from leaks by Edward Snowden  about how the NSA collected all communications to private photos of celebrites being hacked from personal accounts. The general public will be happy to know that the biggest players in the smartphone arena are taking active measures to protect consumer privacy and data.

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