After announcing the launch of its US Mi Store recently, Xiaomi has flipped the switch and is ready to sell you things. Although, "sell" isn't quite accurate—nothing is in stock at the moment. You still won't be able to buy a Xiaomi phone in the US, but it's something at least.
Samsung has a new activity sharing service for Android, and you can try the beta version right now. Well, actually... you probably can't. Flow Beta requires you to have two newer Samsung devices to send activities between. If you don't the requisite phones or tablets, Flow won't do anything. Even if you do, Flow still doesn't accomplish much in its present form.
In what sounds like a perversion of the crowd-funding concept, Yota has taken to Indiegogo to bring a phone that has existed since early 2014 into existence... in North America. To perform this undertaking, the company wants a paltry $50,000, and it has set a flexible funding goal to get the funds. Fortunately that's irrelevant, because it has already shattered that bar in under three hours with the help of nearly 100 funders.
Following up on its flagship G4 announcement for 2015, LG is now supplementing its lineup as it does every year with more midrange options that can appeal to and target different audiences: a larger phablet with a stylus for a Note-like approach and a smaller less powerful variant of its star player.
Let's start with the G4 Stylus. It comes with a larger 5.7" display than the G4, albeit with a lower 720p resolution that results in a rather average 258ppi. It has drawn the short end of the stick on other specs as well, coming with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage, but there will be two variants: a 3G one and an LTE one.
The Asus ZenFone 2 is one of the more interesting unlocked phones to be announced lately, and you can secure yours right now on Amazon. A few more US retailers have product pages up, but it looks like it's just Amazon taking orders. The first round will ship on May 20th.
You know how it works. The Galaxy S6 is a thing now, so the S5 is now a cheaper thing (depending on where you buy it). As we pointed out last month, you can get one off eBay for just $350. It's AT&T's version and comes with 16GB of storage. You have your choice of black, white, and gold.
Why am I bringing this up again? Well, we've come across a coupon code. If you enter CDTECH10 at checkout, you can knock $35 off the price. For the math averse, that's a 10% discount bringing things down to $315.
Expectations are high for each update to Google's core apps on Android. After all, we know there are going to be a lot of new features announced at I/O in less than 2 weeks. Quite a few apps have recently gone through a Material refresh, and plenty of others have seen smaller changes as they slowly coalesce around the current design guidelines. That appears to be the story with the latest Google App update. The latest version finally enables full screen mode for Google Now on devices using custom launchers.
left: old version, right: new version
Prior to this release, users with the Google Now Launcher set as their default homescreen would see their Now stream with translucent status and navigation bars.
If you've got a Find 7 or Find 7a phone from OPPO and you're itching for an official Lollipop ROM, head on over to the company's user forums. A beta version of Color OS 2.1, running on top of Android 5.0 code, has been posted for you to download. At the moment this edition of the software is not available via an over-the-air update, though that should be coming soon enough.
Asus hasn't had much of a presence in the US phone market aside from a few unpleasant PadFones, but that's about to change with the ZenFone 2. This device was revealed at CES in January, but now the US variant is official. It's coming May 19th for $199-299, and you can pre-order it tomorrow.
If you're a frequent ROM flasher (why does that sound mildly dirty?) and a OnePlus One owner, you might want to grab the latest build of TWRP. A Team Win developer says that it now supports Qualcomm's native encryption scheme in addition to Android's standard AOSP encryption. Why does this matter? According to Ethan "Dees Troy" Yonker and cited benchmarks, Qualcomm's encryption offers better performance when compared to Google's encryption applied to the same hardware.
...for slower encryption methods.
The hardware-based encryption offers an approximate 30% boost to read-write speeds over Android's software encryption, though it's still well below the performance of unencrypted flash storage.