The notifications shade is no stranger to change, and it seems to undergo tweaks and modifications with just about every major update to Android. In a leaked image discovered by Android Police, we get our first glimpse at what changes it can expect when Android N rolls around. As you can see, the notifications shade looks like it’ll provide quite a bit more info per notifications, and the height of each notification has been stretched to accommodate this. In Lollipop, notifications on the shade have a card-like feel with gaps of negative space between each one. N looks like it’s filling up these gaps. While both have a very sleek, Material Design look, N opts for a lengthy sheet of contiguous paper over the card layout. We assume they will still be swipe-able. See also: (Update: no app drawer) Android N features: everything confirmed, rumored and expected155 Moreover, the quick settings panel seems to be one tap quicker than it is on Lollipop. What appear to be quick toggle buttons ride atop the shade so that major tools and services, like wifi connectivity and your flashlight, can be accessed immediately rather than in a larger pull-down menu. It seems that the full quick options menu is available if you pull down once more, but this is a way to provide valuable utility to a part of the screen that wasn’t used this efficiently before. Granted, this is a very early shot of Android N, and we wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this tossed out, revamped, or overhauled completely by the time the Android version officially starts hitting devices. Nevertheless, it’s a tasty peek into what Google is currently cooking up with the operating system’s ongoing evolution. What do you think of N’s new notifications shade and quick settings […]

Google’s self driving car initiative is one of the most ambitious and controversial projects currently under the scrutiny of the public eye. Although the search giant has had six years of experience under their belt with only 17 minor accidents occurring across over two million miles of test driving, this month marks the first time that a self-driving vehicle bore any culpability in a traffic incident. On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2016, a self-driving Lexus RX450h attempted to navigate around some sandbags placed in a wide lane. A bus traveling at 15 mph approached the Google car from behind, occupying same wide lane as the smart car. The Lexus attempted to re-enter the center of the lane while moving at a speed of 2 mph. See also: Google partners with car manufacturers to create self driving cars3 Google reported in a statement last week that the smart car anticipated that the bus would slow down to allow the self driving car to continue, but the bus did not. When the smart car re-entered the center of the lane, it struck the side of the bus causing minor damage to the front left fender, front wheel, and a sensor. There were no injuries, and no police report was filed. In spite of the lack of police involvement, which usually determines culpability, Google says they are at least partially responsible for the incident. Their traffic algorithms take into account the common practice of vehicles slowing down to accommodate the merging of others. It would appear that buses and similar large vehicles are less likely to slow down in these situations, and Google says they are making adjustments based on this and “thousands of variations on it in our simulator,” to make their vehicles “more deeply understand that buses (and other large vehicles) […]

What sets the Android ecosystem apart from the iOS is, among other things, the sheer diversity of devices running the operating system. It’s true that this can lead to problems, like the ever-increasing fragmentation of the Android ecosystem, and there are clearly merits to Apple’s methodology that Google is looking to adopt for their operating system. Nevertheless, the fact that different manufacturers with wildly different device designs can all run the same operating system means that users have a broad array of options to choose from if they want to pick a device that’s just right for them. In the spirit of this individualism linking hand in hand with community, Google has been running a marketing campaign under the slogan, “Be together, not the same.” That last part is something of a jab at iPhones. The latest addition to this marketing parade is pretty cute little commercial that involves a googly-eye adorned scrap of paper attempting to find its place in a school full of scissors. See also: Cats and Wrestlers advertise Google Photos4 Although the piece of paper initially attempts to fit in with a paper niche, it soon finds a real friend in a pair of scissors. To the tune of the classic eighties power anthem “St. Elmo’s Fire,” the two go on to save a down-on-his-luck rock from a band of stony ruffians, and the piece of paper undergoes a full character arc in the span of sixty seconds. Ultimately, the group’s strength comes from their diversity, which enables them to tackle any obstacles they meet. It’s one of those metaphors that doesn’t really hold up well if you push on it too hard, but it’s adorable and uplifting nevertheless and definitely worth a watch. After viewing, let us know what you think of Android’s newest advertising […]

Now that an increasing amount of smartphone manufacturers are selling their phones at cheaper price points, it’s much easier for consumers to afford an off-contract device rather than purchasing one with a two-year contract. At least in the United States, the way smartphones are priced has changed dramatically, and that’s a good thing. Best Android phones Best cheap Android phones So, what are the best smartphones out there for those who’d like to forgo the standard contract and buy unlocked? We’re here to take you through the best unlocked Android smartphones for under $250, under $500 and over $500. As always, if you have anything you’d like to suggest, be sure to speak up in the comment section at the bottom of the post. Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list regularly as new devices launch. It’s also worth noting that this article is written for a U.S.-centric point of view, though (since they are unlocked) pretty much all of these devices are available outside of the U.S., at least in some capacity.  Update, February 2016: This month we removed the ASUS ZenFone 2 from our list. Best phones under $250 OnePlus X The OnePlus X is one of the best budget devices you can purchase right now. It’s compact, extremely fast, and boasts many of the same software features that come with its older brother, the OnePlus 2. It has an impressive 5.0-inch AMOLED display, a perfectly capable Snapdragon 801 processor, 3 gigabytes of RAM, microSD card expansion up to 128GB and two SIM card slots. There are a few things to watch out for, though. If you want to activate the device on AT&T or T-Mobile’s networks, you may not have great 4G LTE coverage, as the device is missing the appropriate bands. It also comes with no NFC on board, so you won’t […]

After paying less interest in bleeding edge performance with its G4, the LG G5 marks the company’s return to the very highest performance segment of the mobile market, with the inclusion of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. However this now won’t be the case across the entire globe. Cristián Correa, LG’s sales manager for Chile, has stated that there will be a slightly different LG G5 model heading out to customers in the Latin American markets, which packs a Snapdragon 652 SoC instead. Consumers shouldn’t be too alarmed by the misleadingly large disparity that Qualcomm’s naming scheme hints at. The Snapdragon 652 is a big.LITTLE octa-core SoC that is built from four high performance Cortex-A72 cores and four more energy efficient Cortex-A53 cores, making it fairly comparable to last year’s high-end Snapdragon 810 chip. Consumers certainly shouldn’t have cause to complain about CPU performance, as there’s enough power here for your day to day tasks and more. The chip also retains Quick Chare 3.0, 4K video capture, and LTE-Advanced networking features, albeit at Cat 7 rather than Cat 12 speeds. See also: Qualcomm renaming Snapdragon 618 and 620 processors… but why?13 However, the Snapdragon 652 is built on a 28nm HPm manufacturing process, rather than Samsung’s power efficient 14nm FinFET technology, and the SoC features a lower performance Adreno 510 GPU that will certainly lower the handset’s gaming performance. Reference to a lower specced LG G5 variant had been spotted in benchmarks earlier in the month, and the handset will carry the LG H840 model number and 3GB rather than 4GB of RAM as well. Although this shouldn’t have too much of an impact on performance. LG G5 vs Nexus 6P Quick Look… LG G5 and LG G5 modules firs… The same announcement indicates that the new LG 360 virtual […]

It was four years ago that the Raspberry Pi foundation launched the original 256 MB Raspberry Pi Model B. In the intervening years the foundation, led by Eben Upton, has released lots of interesting variants of the original concept, including the quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 based Raspberry Pi 2 and the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero. Now, Eben and gang have made the jump to 64-bits with the new Raspberry Pi 3. Maintaining the exact same  form factor as the Pi 2 (and Pi 1 Model B+), the new Raspberry Pi 3 uses a 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core Cortex-A53 ARMv8 based CPU from Broadcom. That in itself is a huge (and welcome) leap, however there is more. For the first time the Pi 3 also includes built-in Wi-Fi and built-in Bluetooth. The exact same binary files for commands like ping, bash, tar, vi and grep run on all the Pi boards, from ARMv6 to ARMv8. The new processor from Broadcom is the BCM2837, which keeps the same basic architecture as its predecessors, the BCM2835 and the BCM2836, so all those projects and tutorials which rely on the precise details of the Raspberry Pi hardware will continue to work. The BCM2835 found in the Raspberry Pi 1 and the Raspberry Pi Zero contains a single core ARMv6 (i.e. and ARM1176) CPU and a VideoCore IV CPU. The BCM2836 keeps the same GPU core but replaces the ARMv6 CPU with a quad-core ARMv7 Cortex-A7 CPU. The new BCM2837 remains essentially the same as the BCM2836 but replaces the four 32-bit Cortex-A7 cores with four 64-bit Cortex-A53 cores. In terms of performance the Raspberry Pi 3 is clocked at 1.2GHz compared to the 900MHz of the Pi 2, so that is a 33% increase from the start. However with the new CPU cores plus other  architectural enhancements, the Pi 3 should be around 50-60% faster than the Raspberry Pi […]

With the Nexus 6P, Google offers the purest Android experience possible with a flagship device. In the other camp, is the latest and greatest from Samsung. Unveiled only a few days ago at MWC 2016, the Galaxy S7 certainly packs in all the bells and whistles when it comes to hardware, though Samsung further toned it down on the software side. How do these phones compare? We find out in this quick look at the Samsung Galaxy S7 vs Nexus 6P! Don’t miss: Nexus 6P review Samsung Galaxy S7 hands on Design The Galaxy S7 doesn’t feature a major overhaul in design, but that’s not a bad thing, considering that Samsung did get a lot right with its predecessor. As expected, the Galaxy S7 comes with a premium metal and glass unibody construction, but there are some key refinements made that help with the handling experience. The corners and sides are more rounded off, and the backing now has curves along the sides, similar to what was seen with the Galaxy Note 5, which helps the device nestle nicely in the palm. The camera protrusion has also been significantly reduced, making it more aesthetically pleasing, and also less worrisome when handling the phone. On the other hand is the Nexus 6P, and with different OEMs given the opportunity to make the Nexus smartphone year from year, the Huawei-made device obviously comes with a fresh design compared to predecessors. The Nexus 6P is the most premium Google smartphone yet, featuring a full metal unibody design, with a black bar on the back housing the camera setup, that actually looks really good when you see the phone in person. Featuring a large 5.7-inch display, the Nexus 6P is a touch unwieldy, and outside the realm of comfortable one-handed use for most people. Choosing between two smartphones […]

Samsung’s semiconductor division has become an increasingly important part of its mobile strategy in the past couple of years, and market research firm Strategy Analytics has revealed that the strategy has boosted the company’s share significantly lately. Samsung’s Exynos is now the fourth largest processor brand in the smartphone industry. Shipments of Samsung’s in-house Exynos chips grew to 50 million units last year, according to DRAMeXchange, although only 15 percent of the phones that Samsung sold in 2015 packed one of its own processors. Exynos chips are most commonly found in Samsung’s flagship smartphone range, but the company recently announced a new 14nm mid-range chip as well. Interestingly, the data doesn’t take into account the actual manufacturing of processors, as the numbers look at the shares held by Apple and Qualcomm too. Unsurprisingly, Qualcomm retained its top spot in the smartphone market, with a 42 percent share. This was followed by Apple, which also designs but doesn’t manufacture its own processors for its iPhone, with a 21 percent share, followed very closely by MediaTek on 19 percent. Samsung enters the top five for the first time by leapfrogging Speadtrum into fourth position, meaning that the company is catching up with the major industry players. “Samsung LSI, Leadcore and Rockchip registered a triple-digit growth in their AP shipments in 2015 while MediaTek, HiSilicon and Intel registered a double-digit growth. HiSilicon and Samsung LSI, in particular, capitalized on their design-wins at their respective in-house customers.” – Stuart Robinson, Executive Director of the Strategy Analytics Handset Component Technologies Samsung’s foundries manufacture processors for both Apple and Qualcomm too, and the company’s semiconductor company noted a boost to sales and operating profits in the most recent quarter. This seems to have been despite the fact that the smartphone processor market shank by four percent last year, […]

Last month, Facebook introduced the live streaming feature on its iPhone app, allowing users to broadcast their activities, and now the company is rolling out the functionality to its Android app. Read more…

In case this is your first time tuning in over the past week, Mobile World Congress (MWC) has finally come to a close. The trade show took place in Barcelona, Spain from February 22nd to February 25th, and our team is just now arriving back at home. It’s certainly been a crazy week, with Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, Sony and others unveiling their new flagship products. We’ve managed to go hands-on with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, LG G5, Xiaomi Mi 5, Xperia X series, and much, much more. There are a ton of other videos you should check out too, including Joe’s latest episode of Android Apps Weekly and Gary’s great review of the Vivo X6Plus. Without anymore delay, here are the Android-related videos you don’t want to miss this week! Related: Best of MWC 2016: the most impressive products from the show!13 Hands-on with the new flagships Samsung Galaxy S7 hands-on Samsung’s Galaxy S7 doesn’t look too much different from last year’s S6, but this new flagship does in fact have a few tricks up its sleeve. Don’t miss our hands-on with the new Samsung Galaxy S7! Samsung Galaxy S7 hands-on Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge hands-on The Galaxy S7 Edge is more closely related to the S6 Edge+ from last year, rather than the standard S6 Edge. It has a bigger display, better edge features and an improved design — what more could you want? Check out our hands-on with the new S7 Edge! Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge hands-on LG G5 hands-on LG decided to go the experimental route with the G5, boasting a dual-camera setup, metal chassis and, oh yeah, a modular design. Wondering what this phone is all about? Don’t miss Josh’s hands-on with the new LG G5. LG G5 hands-on Xiaomi Mi 5 hands-on Xiaomi wowed a lot of […]

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