Project Ara. Build Your Own Device.

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So the basic concept of Googles Project Ara is modules. Camera modules, battery modules, RAM, modules, processor modules, display modules etc. All of these modules will be held together by the so called “endo” or metal frame. You slide the all of the necessary modules into place and presto! You’ve got yourself a smartphone built by who the hell ever and assembled by you. This is not an in depth “how to assemble a Project Ara smartphone” or a complete breakdown of the hardware and their manufacturers. That’s not what this article is about. So let’s move on.

It’s launch date has been set to Q1 2015, some time soon, and will be first available to mobile users in Puerto Rico, as some 75% of their population accesses the internet from their mobile devices.

That may be all well and good, and it may even catch on in Puerto Rico, but what average consumer here in the US is going to want to sit down and assemble their own phone? I can hear it now.

Sales Rep- “With Ara Modules you can pick and choose which features you want on your device and which you don’t. If you need a larger battery you can choose this one. If you want a top of the line camera and display, have a look at these modules.”

Average Consumer- “Shouldn’t Samsung be building my smartphone for me?”

Sales rep- “Normally, yes, but this way…”

Average Consumer- “No, I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to build my own phone. I have lunch, a meeting, a lunch meeting and a meeting after lunch. I’ll just take the Galaxy Note 5 that’s already assembled.”

Also consider the resell value of third party modules. You’ll buy a carrier branded network module complete with an imei/meid depending on your carrier, and all the others will be modules manufactured and branded by big names Like HTC, Sony and Samsung, or Joe Shmoe from Arkansas. From what I’ve read, though, the primary manufacturer of Ara Modules will be Toshiba. Not too To-shabby…

Maybe I’m a cynic, but then again, maybe I’m being realistic. The only positive side to it I see is the possibility of basically naming the price for your device.

Don’t get me wrong, there will be a niche of consumers for Project Ara. People like you and I, teenagers and young adults. But the people who are putting billions of dollars in Samsung’s pockets won’t be building their own smart phones any time soon. Unless of course Samsung buys into it. And by buys into it, I mean brands a few modules.

I can see Project Ara doing well in emerging markets such as India and in other markets as a niche consumer area, tech junkies and enthusiasts.

This is just my opinion, and I could be wrong. But as I say, time will tell. I’d also like to give a huge thanks to Roberto Correa for his input, adding some much needed depth to this article.

Anything you’d like to add? Use the comment section below and be heard!

Posted By A Living, Breathing, Android Enthusiast.

Android. AL(L) Grown Up.

To preface this article I’m going to do a brief overview of Google’s first Android device, and continue on to explain how Android is now officially all grown up.

It was an (HTC) Dream come true for techies the nation over. The first ever Android smart device launched on the 29th of June, 2009 on T-Mobile. Featuring a slide out qwerty keyboard, trackball navigation system and a 3.2″ touch screen display (180 ppi) the device was ahead of it’s time, by 2009 standards anyways.

Under the hood, The HTC Dream rocked a Qualcomm 7201A clocked at 528 MHz and was paired with an Adreno© 130. A mere 192 MB of RAM and 256 MB of ROM powered the devices memory. A 3.15 megapixel snapper adorned the front of the device and supported only auto focus and video recording, no selfie cam. Insert sad face here. Or happy face. Whatever.

The device ran stock Android 1.6 (Donut) and featured HTML browsing, a couple sensors, SMS, MMS, Email, Instant Messaging and java support. There was no support for multi touch, no funky, fresh color schemes or buttery animations. There were no heads up notifications or quick tiles, just plain old Android in it’s infancy.

Fast forward nearly six years to the date and Android 5.0 is taking a piece of Google’s  fragmentation pie, and damn is it good. Material Design is the future of Android.

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Even as I’m typing this, what would normally be a transparent or solid black status bar has taken on a blue shade coinciding with the WordPress app. It’s quite impressive, actually.

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Android 5.0's status ba matching wordpress' own color scheme.

The default AOSP keyboard no longer houses clunky and rectangular keys akin to something you’d see on an 80’s SciFi flick. It’s been streamlined, if you could call it that, and most definitely improved upon. Everything is still in the same place, still featuring voice and swype texting; it’s just smarter and damned pretty.

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Android 5.0's keyboard. Damn Pretty.

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Android 4.x keyboard. No comment. Photo courtesy of Droid-Life®

The notification system has also been vastly improved. Rather than a single icon in your status bar that can simply be expanded and dismissed, you receive a “Heads Up Notification”. It is not persistent and can be swiped away in a single, buttery motion. Have a look (You may not see video, as I couldn’t view it myself. But I’m going to leave it in hopes that you guys can see it)

The notifications also appear on the lock screen. In settings you can choose your preferences as to privacy, what’s displayed in your notifications and so forth.

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Android 5.0's Lockscreen Notifications.

What’s next would be the use of fluid, and more importantly, consistent transition animations across the board. Do a Google search for your favorite local Chinese restaurant, click and watch the businesses’ information expand in a way that could only be described as butter smooth.

Google’s own Google app has taken leaps and bounds as well. It’s all cohesive and consistent. These consistency can be found through out the entire OS and all of Google’s applications. Even independent developers have started implementing their own material design elements to their apps. To me, it is a breath of fresh air.

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FX File Explorer's own material design.

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We can see it here as well.

I’ve also taken a great shine to Googles newer Recent App feature. Clear them all at once with push of a button or swipe them away one by one. As far as function goes it’s not much different than earlier versions of Android, but it sure is easier on the eyes providing depth of field and dimension (It has been brought to my attention that the recent app feature doesn’t exist in like this in stock Android. More reason to man up and flash your device)

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Android 5.0's recent apps.

From Google’s Gmail, to Translate, to Calendar and even the damned Calculator, the search engine giant has taken great lengths to provide Android users with a fresh, colorful, fun, consistent and beautiful user interface that anyone can enjoy.

I could quite literally continue for days on the new improvements of Android 5.0, but I’m already blue in the face. Did I leave something out? What’s your favorite feature? Voice your opinions in the comment section below.

Posted By A Living, Breathing, Android Enthusiast.

Android Where?

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Moto 360. Photo courtesy of Phandroid©

Android Wearables. We see them at retailers, we see them advertised, and we see them online, but seldom do we see them adorn the wrists of consumers. Is it because the technology is in it’s infancy, or is it because wearables are at such early stages of development and simply aren’t practical? Even Google abandoned it’s very own Google Glass Project. Though word has it they’ve moved to a new stage of development. Maybe more on that at a later date. I’d actually put my money on that $249 price tag. To even take full advantage of your wearable device you still must carry your phone with you. Yes, I realize Samsung has released a 3g capable wearable, but c’mon… It’s Samsung, and we at AndroidOs4u are enthusiasts, not consumers (No offense to anyone here who shelled out $350 for a Samsung Gear S)

I believe the technology is a means to an end, to what end we can only speculate. I see it as a way to prepare the global populace for bio technological integration. Already the Moto 360 and similar devices monitor your heart rate and activity level, and this is only in early stages of development. Before long wearables may be able to tap into your nervous system, monitor brain waves, and control things such as mood, food cravings and thought patterns. Again, this is simply speculation. But ask yourself, is it really such an unrealistic possibility? The technology already exists. Sleep pattern studies are conducted by medical institutions. There is even wearable technology that can read your brain waves. To what extent I do not know. Maybe I’ll give it a read shortly after publishing this write up. Or maybe I’ll catch some zzz’s.

Apples own smart watch (Here at Androidos4u we do not endorse Apple products) has implemented a system of pulses that allow the user to feel as though the device has become a part of them. Again, this is early bio technological integration, and quite frankly it can be a frightening concept. Does the phrase “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Dave” ring any bells. Or even “Blade Runner” comes to mind. *cough* Nexus 6 (series replicant) *cough*

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Blade Runner Nexus 6. This is copy written material of which I have no rights. All rights belong to their respective owners. That being said, Google may have something big planned come January 8, 2016.

Android Wear is simply a launch platform for something much bigger, and it hasn’t quite caught on yet. Maybe when HTC unveils it’s wearable device capable of telling you when to sleep, eat, shower, brush your teeth and have breakfast, lunch and dinner, will consumers be ready to delve out their hard earned money for such technology. Like I always say, time will tell.

How do you guys feel about wearable Android technology? Is it a useless gimmick, a smart innovation, or like I said, a launch platform for something else entirely? Voice your questions and concerns in the comment section below!

Posted By A Living, Breathing, Android Enthusiast.

CM 12 Nightlies available for Sprint and T-Mobile Variant Galaxy Note 4’s

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Photo courtesy of xda-developers©

Have you T-Mobile/Sprint Galaxy Note 4 owners no patience to wait for the super sweet goodness that is Android Lollipop? Then wait no longer. Official nightlies have begun rolling out for said Galaxy Note 4’s.

Make no mistake. Nightlies can be dangerous territory, riddled with bugs, and sometimes unusable; but then again it is nice to be ahead of the curve. A few weeks back I flashed an Unofficial CM12 for my device, and while it was usable it lacked a few useful features such as data connectivity and over all stability, all of this at no fault to the developer. Again this was a few weeks back. I’m sure there have been many changes to the source since then that have squashed any existing bugs but at the same time may have introduced new ones. Ah, the process of development. Hey, at least they’ve gone official! That can only mean stability has greatly increased and bugs have been squashed to a minimum.

Also beware that these nightlies are device specific. Flashing one or the other on the wrong variant could cause some serious damage to your device thus rendering your $800 phone a fancy as all get out paper weight.

And as always, proceed with caution.

Grab the official nightlies here.

Note: You’re going to need your device codename in order to download the proper. Zip package.

HAPPY FLASHING!

Posted By An HTC Desire 816

BrokenOs. A Custom ROM Far From Broken.

Years ago I decided I was no longer happy with the stock firmware that came packaged along with my device. Samsung’s very own Touchwiz. Not to mention it was layered on top of Android Gingerbread. Has it really been that long? I shutter at the thought of it. Anyways, I decided to take the plunge and root my device. With USB in hand and Odin fired up, I placed my .pit and .tar files in the CORRECT places and fired away with a single right click. A couple grueling minutes and an “oh shit I think I bricked my phone” later I was greeted with a PASS, and I was well on my way to device modification.

Custom ROMs have become all the rage amongst die hard Android enthusiasts like myself and countless others. They provide the user with numerous options for personalization,  performance upgrades and sometimes even more stability than stock Android. If you have the salt to root your device, times that by 100 and you’ve got what it takes to flash some fresh baked custom firmware.

DISCLAIMER: Modifying your device will void your warranty.

The golden standard is, of course, Cyanogenmod, but this doesn’t mean you have nothing else to choose from. In fact, the choices are all but few and far between. Today I’ll be doing an in depth review of one of my personal favorites: BrokenOs.

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BrokenOs. This ROM is rated M for mature.

On the surface BrokenOs seems pretty standard (Aside from it’s slick usage of a default blacked out and transparent theme.) And it keeps in line with the corresponding version of Android it’s built upon (KitKat or Lollipop)

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BrokenOs - Blacked out and transparent notification drawer.

But here I will explain where BrokenOs sets itself apart and above the competition. First off Nova Launcher is installed as a system app and is your default launcher. This is welcome news as it’s the most polished and efficient custom launcher on the market. Go ahead and upgrade to prime while you’re at it. Now, to see what all of the fuss is about you’re going to need to do a little digging through your settings.

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BrokenOs - Settings.

You’ll notice first off a section dedicated to “Modifications”. This is where you can personalize and enhance the Android experience to your very own liking.

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” Visuals” refers to aesthetics, your icons, color preferences and so forth, what you want to see when your eyes are on the display. From here you can change your battery indicator icon, color, animation speed and so forth, choose to display weather information in your notification drawer, show network details, add, remove and reorder your customer tiles and much more. Let’s have a look.

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BrokenOs allows for visual and aesthetic modifications to the users likings.

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BrokenOs - From here you can change the look and feel of your notification drawer.

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BrokenOs - Status bar customizations.

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BrokenOs - The gesture anywhere feature makes launching apps a breeze to do on the fly.

I’d like to take a minute and briefly breakdown the Gesture anywhere feature found in BrokenOs. With this tool you can assign and customize as many different gestures as you like to open whichever apps you please, like a big C for Chrome, or an H for Hangouts. It can come in handy for one handed operation or if you’re too lazy to dig through your enormous and ever growing app drawer.

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BrokenOs - App circle bar is more or less a lazy Susan for apps and fun to use.

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BrokenOs - App circle.

That’s about as deep as customizations go, but do not forget that BrokenOs is in Beta stages, version 1.2 to be exact. So in the near future expect to see tons more goodies.

From here I would like to move on to the technical side of BrokenOs. The side that isn’t so pretty, but sets itself apart from stock Android.

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BrokenOs -- System Tweaks

In the “Tweaks” section is where you’ll be able to tune your device’s performance to suit your needs. Or brick your device, depending on your level of knowledge. I, nor the developer of BrokenOs assume any responsibility should you turn your purdy new phone into a $600 paperweight.

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BrokenOs - Kernel tweaker. Proceed with caution.

Kernel Tweaker: Should your device support kernel modification this is where you’d find it. It would prove most useful had you flashed a custom kernel. On stock kernels it is more or less away to view GPU/CPU stats and make some build.prop/init.d modifications. As always, proceed with caution.

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BrokenOs - init.d modifications. Proceed with caution.

Init.d: This section of the ROM provides some incredibly useful tweaks, running the respective scripts at boot. You can use this to clear application tasks at boot, set read ahead values, enable SD boost and battery tweaks etc. As always, proceed with caution.

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BrokenOs - Wakelock Blocker. Proceed with caution.

Wake Lock Blocking: Wake lock blocking is more or less an experimental feature that can improve battery life and consumption. Use with extreme caution. Don’t just go ticking each and every block with the intention of saving battery. You could do more harm than good. I recommend installing a wake lock detector, letting it run for a battery cycle or two, then use that as a reference as to which wakelocks should be blocked. As always, proceed with caution.

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BrokenOs - Viper audio engine.

ViPER4Androidfx: For you audiophiles with relatively high end devices, Viper Audio Engine comes standard courtesy of Lead Developer Ken Greenwood. This is a powerful engine that, unfortunately is not compatible with all devices. There is an option to force Viper Audio on your device, but this could lead to excessive battery drain. Doesn’t hurt to try, though. Also let it be known that it will ask root permission to install Viper drivers. Root is required.

Now that we have covered the basic what you see is what you get aspects of the ROM, let’s talk about what is under the hood. BrokenOs is compiled with Stock, Linaro and sabermod toolchains as opposed to GCC which is arguably slower than Linaro and the above mentioned toolchains. What this means for the user is enhanced stability and performance.

To learn more about tool chains refer to these links:

http://http://elinux.org/Toolchains

http://http://www.xda-developers.com/xda-myth-busters-linaro-4-7-4-vs-gcc-4-7/
BrokenOs comes with a lot of personality as well which I personally appreciate.

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BrokenOs - Broken Center.

As you can see here, your update… “It ain’t done yet.” I personally got a kick out of this.

I’ve flashed many ROM’s in my day that claimed stability, battery life and so on and so forth. None have even come close to BrokenOs. It is polished, snappy, efficient, stable, professional and butter smooth. If I could find one thing about this ROM I didn’t like I would exploit the shit out of it simply because the lead developer is a real dick (I am only kidding, of course)

In all seriousness, BrokenPop is in its infancy and has a long way to go. So sit back, relax, and enjoy everything BrokenOs has planned for the future. Rest assured that it will only get better from here. So if you haven’t yet treated yourself to a BrokenPop, now is the time to do so. Once you go Broken (insert witty comment here)

BrokenOs Google+ community. Contains download links.

Posted By An HTC Desire 816

HTC May have Taken Us For Fools. New Design Scheme Imminent.

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HTC Desire 826. HTC's new flagship design scheme may replicate this look. Photo courtesy of androidcentral ©

As it turns out, the Taiwanese manufacturer has been using body replicas of the M8, with slight adjustments and passing them off as M9’s. Tricky, tricky. As far as design goes, I expect to see a Desire 826 type setup fashioned from metal in one tone, and a plastic bumper fashioned in an accent tone. This gives the device more appeal to the consumer. Let us here at Androidos4u coin the term “Device Peacocking”. The bezels will be next to nothing, and the speaker grills will either be hidden or more resemble the 800 series Desire lineups circle grill configuration. Which I personally think is pretty damned attractive. Under the hood, though, expect to see the same hardware as any 2015 flagship device. Any comments about HTC’s Tom foolery? Voice it in the comment section below!

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810. A Brief Overview Of Facts.

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The power of Qualcomm. Photo courtesy of androidpolice©

Let’s be honest here, your average “Android enthusiast” will only drop the phrase “It should sport a Snapdragon 810” because it’s the latest and greatest and bears a higher number than the Snapdragon 800 and even the Snapdragon 801. My question being, is their collective support for the latest chipset based on fact or is it all just a numbers game? My guess, sadly, is the latter.

But let’s face it. The Snapdragon 810 will be one beast of a processor.

Today we’re going to delve into the
nitty gritty, the facts, the real reason’s why the Snapdragon 810 is a superior chipset to any other 800 series Qualcomm offering. Step aside, Exynos. This one isn’t for you.

Let’s start with the basics. First and foremost the premium Snapdragon 810 processor supports 64 bit technology, thus taking advantage of Android Lollipops new founded 64 bit architecture (The 810 will also be paired with an Adreno© 430 GPU for ultimate gaming experiences) This isn’t to say that Snapdragon has released only one chipset compatible with 64 bit architecture (Snapdragon’s 615 and 410 both support 64 bit, though both are geared mostly towards  lowrange to upper midrange devices such as HTC’s 600 and 800 series lineup. Aside from the 816 of course, which is still rocking a Snapdragon 400 series)

Now onto the not so basic. The 810 processor houses an octacore setup, that being four ARM® Cortex™ A57 cores and four ARM® Cortex™ A53 cores. The A57’s will power processor heavy tasks such as gaming and computing, while the remaining A53’s will handle lower assignments such as texting, web surfing, email etc, basically the tasks that aren’t devastatingly power hungry. 

Now let’s talk support and chip enhancements. The Snapdragon 810 will be capable of 4k resolution support. For smart phones this means 4k video recording and playback, possibly streaming should the device support it.Who’s to say that the likes of OPPO and LG won’t churn out a 4k display by years end? With the technology for it well within their grasp’s I think it a likely possibility. Time will tell.

Also supported by the 810 are enhancements regarding battery consumption due to more demanding displays, which I assume will be welcome news to those sporting QHD display’s backed by Snapdragon’s 801 chip.

As far as snappers go, the 810 will support lenses up to 55 megapixels. 20.7 megapixel camera’s be damned!

And last but not least, every bodies favorite excess, RAM, and lots of it. With support for LPDDR4 technology, the Snapdragon 810 could easily and seamlessly support 4 gigs of ram. Not that you need it. But it is a specs race after all

I’m not gonna lie, there is much more to the Snapdragon 810 than what I’ve covered here today, but it is surely to be a one hell of a chipset, capable of many, many things (quick charging and better network/wifi connectivity to name a couple) But I feel as though I touched on some fairly important details. Is there anything I missed? Anything you’d like to add? Make use of the comment section below and voice your opinions!!