Despite Google's late attempts to compartmentalize its mobile operating system, the open source nature of Android remains one of its biggest strengths. Without it we wouldn't have marvelous projects like CM13 on (relatively) ancient Barnes & Noble hardware, or various Android-powered console emulators, or a hundred million $60 Walgreens tablets crowding Craigslist. (OK, that last one isn't marvelous, but you get my point.) And we wouldn't have Jide's Remix OS, an attempt to create a desktop-style operating system on the bones of Android. Remix is now on its third incarnation, and unlike the original I-Can-Certainly-Believe-It's-Not-A-Surface tablet or the recent and lamentably underpowered "desktop," this one is completely free.
We've had a chance to spend some significant time with the Huawei Mate 8 in the last 24 hours, and so I felt an intial impressions post was warranted. The "space gray" (yes, really) 32GB unit I've been using is technically preproduction per Huawei's own disclaimer, though the software feels largely finished and the phone physically feels ready for sale.
The Mate 8, by the way, is not a phone you'll be seeing in America. Huawei has taken a pretty careful approach in regard to its US device launches, and its most expensive handsets generally never make it here through any official channels.
Widgets and pull-down notifications have been a part of Android for a very long time, but what if you combined them? Snap - Widget Drawer is essentially a second notification shade, but instead of notifications, it's populated with widgets. Plus, it's accessible from anywhere, no matter what else you're doing on the phone.
There are two things that are staples in the bag that I carry basically everywhere I go: an external battery pack and charger, because sometimes I'm near a wall, and sometimes I'm not. At least one USB cable comes into the equation somewhere too, because what good is a charger without a cable. None, I'd say. None good.
Anyway, this new Energi 6K from TYLT is pretty neat, because it's both of those things in one thing. It's got a 6,000 mAh battery pack and charger all in one. It's not a Qualcomm-certified Quick Charger like the one I usually carry, but that's OK.
I've been getting to know the Nexus 6P for a few days now, and while I don't feel a few days is enough time to write a complete review, I thought it would at least be helpful to write a review preview with initial impressions and findings from the new Nexus.
The Nexus 6P is undoubtedly the more "premium" of the new Nexus phones this year. While the 5X is meant to carry on the affordable and performant legacy of the original Nexus 5, the 6P has perks like 240fps slowmo video, a higher-specced (if somewhat embattled) processor, true stereo front-facing speakers, a bigger, denser display, and an all-metal body.
Every once in a while, we get a sneak peek into the new technology that companies are creating that will ultimately make something better, faster, or [adjective here]. Swiftkey recently launched the latest project from Swiftkey Greenhouse: Swiftkey Neural Alpha. This is the first keyboard on a smartphone that uses artificial neural networks to fix mistakes and predict words. Swiftkey currently utilizes n-gram technology to do this by looking for patterns and common phrases.
Neural Network Clusters
While n-gram technology does use context to create predictions, this new neural network-based engine goes one step further toward truly understanding what you mean. Swiftkey's blog post has a full rundown of how the technology works, and there are many videos explaining neural networks and machine learning.
People who take online privacy seriously eventually get to the point where they want to experiment with a VPN. Usually this costs money, which puts some people off particularly because the process involves handing over an email address and credit card information. This means that even if you're better protected from prying eyes than you would be if you were VPN-less, the company that supplies the service may still be able to connect the dots.
That's what makes Betternet interesting. Unlike most other options, this service is entirely free to use. That has implications both for your privacy (though you still have to watch out for DNS leaks) and your wallet.
This morning at the Walter Reade theater in NYC, LG (re)announced the dual-display, triple-camera V10 phone, a device we heard all about last night. After today's (short) presentation, we got a few minutes to play with the V10 first-hand.
The phone is made of stainless steel and Duraguard silicone, materials that contribute to what LG says is superior durability, passing drop tests "from 48 inches at various angles." In photos, the textured, segmented back cover looks kind of weird, but in person it feels pretty nice and isn't too visually distracting. The overall device feels weighty and - because of the stainless steel strips along the left and right edges - smooth.
The Nexus 6P is a big, good phone with a slightly better than average price. That's what makes it interesting. The display is good. The build quality seems nice. It supposedly has a pretty good camera. It even has true dual front-facing speakers which the Nexus 5X apparently does not. You can choose between 32, 64 and 128GB of internal strorage ($499, $549, and $649, respectively), too, the most available storage ever on a Nexus phone.
It has an aluminum chassis, a 2K super AMOLED screen that looks quite solid, and a Snapdragon 810 chip that appears to fly through most tasks pretty easily.
The Nexus 5X is, by Google's own admission, a spiritual successor to the very-popular-for-what-it-was Nexus 5. It has a reasonably-sized display at 5.2 inches with a reasonable 1080p resolution, a not too fast, not too slow Snapdragon 808 processor, and comes with a usable if not super-capacious 16 or 32GB of internal storage. At just $379 to start, the Nexus 5X isn't the cheapest "nice" smartphone we've seen, but it is certainly nothing if not cheerful, especially in this light blue shade (which is indeed blue, I promise).
The phone feels fast, as does just about any Nexus running a fresh build of Marshmallow.