A little less than one year ago, I called the OnePlus One "the best flagship phone you can't buy" in my initial review. The phone had some impressive hardware at an amazing price, and in many ways it still does, but the system of invitations and qualifications built around actually buying the One made obtaining the device an exercise in frustration. It's taken them eleven months (and what seems like dozens of separate promotions and half-measures), but you can finally order a OnePlus One without an invitation of any kind starting today.
Surprisingly, we haven't asked this one more than once! Actually, I don't think we've ever asked it exactly like this, and it'll be an interesting one to watch. We did, however, ask you about six months ago whether your device was rooted. A full 63% were in the "yes" camp - let's see how this poll's results compare.
So, this week's question: are you running a custom ROM on your phone? For those of you with OnePlus Ones (or Yus, or N1s), if you are running an unmodified Cyanogen OS build or Oxygen OS - be it a nightly or a stable release - please answer "no." The reasoning here is as follows: a custom ROM's generally accepted definition is firmware that your device did not ship with or upgrade to on an officially sanctioned path.
OnePlus tried to assuage fears of a stagnating OS experience a few months ago during the CyanogenOS fallout by announcing it was working on a ROM for the OnePlus One. Eventually dubbed OxygenOS, the company has been working on getting the software out the door for several months. OnePlus promised to have it done by March 27th (today), but that's not happening. Bummer.
Pity the poor Verizon customer, whose options for user-moddable Android phones are more limited than any other US carrier. It's particularly cruel, then, that Verizon tends to get some awesome Motorola exclusives in the DROID line. 2014's entry is the DROID Turbo, which is basically the Nexus 6 crammed down into the 5.2-inch body of the second-gen Moto X, plus the usual DROID Kevlar styling and an enormous 3900mAh battery. Oh, and a locked bootloader that makes root and custom ROMs difficult.
But as often happens with high-profile, locked-down phones, someone has found a way around it. Someone associated with the Disekt computer security team has released a tool called MOFOROOT, which was updated to work with the DROID Turbo yesterday.
It should come as no surprise that Microsoft wants to have a larger footprint in the mobile market. So the company is taking one of its flagship products and having it shipped preloaded on a significantly larger number of phones and tablets. No, silly, not Windows. I'm talking about Office.
Microsoft has announced that it is partnering with a good number of OEMs to have Office shipped out of the box on a plethora of hardware over the next year. When you fire up such a device, look for the likes of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype.
The largest partner is Samsung, who already announced that it was including Office apps on the Galaxy S6.
Sony's recent Xperia phones and tablets have included themable skins for the proprietary Sony UI that runs on top of Android. Now Sony wants you (yes, you!) to make themes for its devices using a custom Java desktop program. The company has released a beta version of the application for aspiring theme makers, available from the Sony Developer site.
The program allows you to apply different colors and graphical elements to the various bits and pieces of Sony's themes. It's basically a streamlined setup process - anyone who's made themes for the CyanogenMod engine or a custom Android launcher will feel pretty comfortable.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei stated on Twitter early this morning that the company's One and only phone will be receiving its CyanogenMod 12S update (read: Lollipop) in "mid to late" March. Pei also implied that a similar timeline was in place for the company's in-house-ish Oxygen OS ROM.
Pei noted - in response to claims that current 12S nightlies seem stable - that "proprietary drivers, code, QA, [and] certifications" were responsible for the company missing its 90-day deadline to update the phone to Android 5.0.
@rajarshi_10 We released an L alpha a while ago, but a more stable build (OxygenOS & CM12S) will need to wait until March.
Just about a week after the public release of the Xposed Framework for Lollipop devices, we are now privy to one of the best and most popular modules, GravityBox. And, like the framework, the developer of GravityBox is calling this version an alpha release. Still, those of you with Nexus devices are going to be very excited about this one.
For the unfamiliar, GravityBox is an Xposed module that offers a wide variety of tweaks for AOSP-ish ROMs. The idea is to make custom ROMs, like CyanogenMod, unnecessary. Even better, the user can have more control over the modifications. You might like one feature of OmniRom but not another.
Android 5.0 has a lot of smart features, and battery saver mode is one of them. When your phone reaches a user-defined low battery level, Lollipop will automatically reduce animations, turn off most background data, cut vibration from alerts, and lower the standard brightness on the screen. It's a smarter implementation of the feature than, say, the ultra power saving modes on recent Samsung or HTC phones, which disable all but a few apps.
Aaaah! It burns!
It also makes the phone's UI switch to a bright orange theme when activated, almost like you just enabled Federal Penitentiary Mode. The nav bar, notification bar, and other elements of the standard AOSP interface are so bright that they seem like they're trying to punch you in the eyeballs.
Before anyone gets their hopes up, OnePlus hasn't provided a launch date just yet. There is a stable build that's still in the testing phase, but various certifications stand between it and release.
OnePlus has brought in a number of people from Paranoid Android to steer its development team, including the custom ROM's co-founders Aaron Gascoigne and Jesús David Gulfo Agudelo. Arz Bhatia, Paranoid Android's lead designer and the creator of many popular themes, will lead the design efforts for OxygenOS.