Smartphones are, by their nature, iterative products. But if you've felt that this iteration has started to slow a bit in the last few years, you're not alone - and you're probably not wrong, either.
Think about it: smartphones have a pretty set list of characteristics and features we evaluate in order to judge the overall quality of a device. Some are more subjective than others - design, for example - but many are also quite objective, even if quite difficult to measure objectively sometimes. How fast is the phone? How long does the battery last? How good is the camera [at night, for video, in slow motion, etc.]? Read More
The Samsung Galaxy S7 has the best mobile camera according to image and video quality testing firm DxO Labs, with an overall score of 88 points out of 100. It received a 90 in exposure and contrast, an 83 in color, a 94 in autofocus, 91 in texture, 89 in noise, 79 in artifacts, and 86 in flash. This all sounds very official. And we see DxO scores increasingly cited and posted as news around the internet because of that absolute, highly-comparable set of values they provide (Android Police has posted such stories - you'll get no argument from me). We did not, however, post an item about DxO's leaderboard-topping score for the S7. Read More
Apple copying somebody to make something successful then everybody else copying Apple's success is a well-worn narrative path (independent of that narrative's truth in reality). As such, with the unveiling of the surprisingly-powerful iPhone SE today at $399, it's very reasonable to wonder: has Apple started a small-phone renaissance? Are we going to see a flood of small (less than 4.5" display) but powerful and premium Android phones enter the market?
Let's start with some phone size history. The new Apple iPhone SE is the same size as the outgoing 5S - roughly 124mm tall, 59mm wide, and 7.6mm thick. That is a very, very small phone. Read More
There's no denying that the increased performance:power consumption ratio of CPUs has been benefiting laptops and tablets alike of late. Microsoft's Surface Pro series, Apple's new iPad Pro (a product I would also call pretty misguided, to be honest), the new MacBook, and a slew of Chromebooks are all doing things that would have been nigh-unthinkable five years ago in their respective form factors or price points. Also, tablet sales are down and the traditional tablet model doesn't seem to be working so well anymore. So, Google is apparently hip to this now and wants Android to get in on the action with its own mobile-feeling but laptop-grade-ish ultra-portable device. Read More
Google's material design, which I've written about a number of times, has generally been received well by designers, developers, and press alike. We've seen numerous apps adopt it, developers explain and evangelize it, and users react positively to it.
Still, there have been nagging questions about the new design philosophy. A big one, and one that could potentially be a stumbling block for adoption, is the question of branding. Some voice concerns that material design may overshadow existing brands if implemented to Google's spec, or that it's too difficult to brand a "material design app."
Someone recently asked me what I thought about the relationship between branding opportunities and material design, and while I was able to come up with a short version of the answer, there are a few different things packed into this issue that are worth exploring. Read More
It has now been over two months since the Lollipop OTA updates for Nexus devices began rolling out en masse. So far, every Nexus and Google Play Edition device has received the bump to Google's latest sweet treat...except the cellular Nexus 7s. If you own a 2012 3G or 2013 LTE model, you've been left out in the cold, remaining on KitKat unless you want to venture into the world of custom ROMs.
Update delays when you own a Nexus are quite annoying when you consider that bleeding edge versions of Android are the reason most of us buy them in the first place. Read More
It appears Google really doesn't want to leave any stone unturned when it comes to easing its own apps into material design (no matter how long it may take). The latest to get an incremental refresh is Google Opinion Rewards - the app has been updated with a revised launcher icon (seen in the thumbnail for this post), and a new toolbar inside the app. The icon is a bit closer to material, but doesn't carry the exact same use of shadows as Google's other recent updates.
The card structure and every other component of the interface appears to be the same, but the new toolbar/status bar theming is nice to see. Read More
In a turn of events that no one could have predicted, Google introduced, in partnership with HTC and Samsung, two versions of highly anticipated and desirable phones that are stripped of their manufacturer skins entirely and are devoted purely to stock Android. Equally unpredictably, this created a chasm in the Android community as the Nexus Warriors took up arms against the mudblood HTC One and Galaxy S4.
There were no survivors.
Here's the trouble, though: there's absolutely nothing wrong with the Google Play Editions of these phones. Nothing in particular about these devices themselves makes them better or worse than any other handsets aside from personal preferences. Read More
In case you haven't heard (and how could you not?), Google has sold out of pretty much every new Nexus they've launched. If you head to the Play Store as of this writing, you cannot buy a Nexus 4 or Nexus 10. Even the 3G-connected Nexus 7 was unavailable for a while. As if that wasn't enough, customers started receiving emails saying their shiny new Nexus 4s were going to be delayed as much as three weeks.
So, what do we do now? Call up customer service and yell and complain? Vent on the internet and talk about how much Google screwed up this launch? Read More
Uhoh, he's at it again. No, I'm not going to make this a rant that is hugely controversial or upsetting. Seemingly contrary to what I write sometimes, I love Android. And anyone who loves Android can agree: the Android Market kinda-sorta sucks sometimes.
Whoa there, let me qualify that - some aspects of the Market are less than fantastic, and I think every Android user has come to realize this. In fact, I doubt it's a stretch to say that the Market's shortcomings are the single biggest reason Android hasn't eaten the iPhone for breakfast in terms of critical acclaim. Read More