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Editorials

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Car Manufacturers May Finally Be Taking Android Auto Seriously

Android Auto is quite possibly shaping up to be the dark horse in Google's larger Android family. At I/O 2016, Google announced more new Android Auto features than it ever has before, including the much-demanded wireless mode which will finally see Android Auto freed from the tether of a USB cable (if that's something you're into).

The real story from an adoption perspective, though, wasn't really Wi-Fi mode, the standalone phone app, or Waze integration: it was a silly little tire pressure notification in a Honda Civic.

You see, to date, Android Auto's interface has had five tabs - telephony, navigation, media, home, and the mysterious "OEM" tab, which has an icon that looks like a vehicle gauge.

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"Modular" Smartphones Are Now The Official Gadget Gimmick Of 2016 (And Possibly Beyond)

When LG announced the modular G5 at MWC in 2016, we were all taken a bit aback. Admittedly, there was plenty of reason to hold judgment - it seemed possible that LG had actually done something interesting and innovative with a smartphone that hadn't quite been tried before, and gadget-lust is an easy feeling to succumb to in the face of something new and weird. It turns out that the G5's "friends" were basically DOA as a concept, though, and there has been little indication that consumer response to the idea is even existent, let alone positive.

nexus2cee_mod

Proprietary pogo pins: yesterday's technology, tomorrow!

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Rant: Has Android Wear Failed To Make A Case To Normal Users?

Android Wear, and smartwatches at large, were pitched to us with the promise of their becoming the indispensable "second screen" to our smartphones. Notifications, voice communication, smart home integration, highly contextual information and alerts - smartwatches were, in theory, the companion that could give us all the simple things that necessitated taking out our smartphone, but didn't actually require a large screen or access to a keyboard to accomplish.

Android Wear is coming up on its second birthday, and the decreasing number of compelling new Wear apps we see each month that aren't watch faces has actually led to us slowing the regular publication of our "new Wear apps and watch faces" series.

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The One Part Of The EU's Antitrust Suit Against Android I Can Actually Agree With (Opinion)

Today, the EU filed antitrust charges against Google related to the Android mobile operating system. The internet is absolutely alight - both for and against the allegations the European Commission has levied at our favorite search company that also makes our favorite mobile operating system. The key complaints boil down to three core ideas.

  1. Google requires manufacturers to bundle Google Chrome and Google Search, and set Google as the default search provider on their devices if they are GMS (Google Mobile Services) partners. This, allegedly, reduces competition for apps that perform similar or identical functions.
  2. Google does not allow manufacturers to both be GMS partners and produce incompatible "forks" of Android on other, non-GMS devices.
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LG's G5 B&O Hi-Fi DAC: Thoughts From An Audiophile Skeptic

Hi. It's not often I put on my "audiophile skeptic" hat here at Android Police, but, well, I felt compelled today. As you may be aware, LG has a phone called the G5. That phone has an accessory called the Hi-Fi DAC, which is a little black box with a B&O logo on it. I've used the B&O Hi-Fi DAC with our compatible pre-production G5 (this does not affect the "quality" of the DAC). It is, in short, exactly what I expected.

I was not necessarily expecting quite the... loving embrace that I've seen some critics give it. While the G5 itself has seen fairly mixed reviews, the Hi-Fi DAC seems to be getting a pass as the highly-desirable one of two chin modules LG has launched with its new smartphone.

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Opinion: As Smartphone Innovation Slows, Google's Nexus Program Is More Important Than Ever

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.]?

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Editorial: Smartphones And Luxury Brand Partnerships Are Not New, But Are Generally Meaningless

The Huawei P9, the latest flagship from the ascending Chinese brand, has been announced sporting the Leica mark on its camera module. This is because Leica is a well-known luxury camera and optics manufacturer whose products range from around $1000 to upwards of a small German luxury sedan. While Leica's merits in its own field could be debated ad nauseam in their own right, I don't want to get into that - I do want to get into why its name is plastered on a Huawei phone.

The reason, ladies and gentlemen, is value by association. The Leica brand is associated with products that evoke the image of luxury and privilege, of wealth and prestige - at least among some consumers.

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On-Screen Navigation Buttons And Failed Expectations: A Visual Analysis

Honeycomb, the first Android version designed specifically with tablets in mind, was released way back in February 2011. It was built exclusively for large screens and was never meant to reach phones, but it paved the way for Ice Cream Sandwich, arguably one of the most significant updates to ever hit Android. Taking several cues from Honeycomb, Android 4.0 brought about some of the biggest changes to the OS, not the least of which was the advent of virtual or on-screen navigation buttons.

At the time, the use of virtual buttons on phones polarized opinions: some hated the idea while others were quick to sing its praises.

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Maybe It's Time To Stop Letting DxOMark Decide Whose Smartphone Camera Is "Best" (Opinion)

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.

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Editorial: The iPhone SE Is The Good Small Phone That Could Finally Create Good Small Android Phones

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.

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