"Smartwatch. Reinvented." declares the title on the Neptune Pine's Kickstarter page. Did we need them to be reinvented? Have smartwatches been around long enough to need a complete reboot? Simon Ian and his team think that they do, and at least 404 people agree with him - they've pledged a total of $118,245 CAD towards the smartwatch in just over one day.
The project's title is also strange in that it's a bit of throwback: instead of being a companion device a la the Galaxy Gear, Sony Smartwatch, or Pebble, the Pine is more like a tiny, full-fledged smartphone that lives on your wrist.
Recently there's been arumor that Sony is planning on releasing stock AOSP ROMs (clean, Nexus-style builds of Android) for some of its high-end phones and tablets. It's easy to understand why Sony in particular might attract that kind of attention: the company has better support for aftermarket development than most, promptly releasing binaries and source code on the company's own GitHub and even some developer-grade AOSP builds. But as for consumer-ready, finished and fully supported AOSP ROMs?
It would appear that AOSPA isn't just back, it's here to stay. Today the developers for the project have announced a new release with a handful of new features, bug fixes, and support for six new devices, including the OnePlus One, Nexus 6, and one of our favorite new-old phones, the Nextbit Robin. New features include an Accidental Touch mode, Pocket Lock, and a new collaboration with Shuttle+.
Samsung has been muddying the waters of the Galaxy brand ever since it launched, and the Galaxy S4 has been sent to new depths, with no less than three "S4" variants following the original's release by only a few months. But the Galaxy S4 Active - the sporty, tough, waterproof version of Samsung's flagship - is the first of the company's myriad extended line that actually deserves the same name as its more mainstream brother. With specifications that match the US version of the S4 in nearly every category, plus a design that's both "ruggedized" and appealing, the S4 Active is worth a look for AT&T customers who want a top-of-the-line smartphone that they won't have to treat like a delicate flower.
Who says that Nexus owners get to have all the fun? Yesterday an innocuous XDA thread claimed to have a beta version of an Android 7.0 build, ready and waiting for Huawei's dual-camera phone, the P9. Usually that sort of post when we're still weeks or months away from a full AOSP release of a new Android version is, to put it bluntly, bunk. But in this case, users who have flashed the ROM say that it's functional and apparently legitimate - Huawei's proprietary EMUI skin, marked as version 5, is running on top of Nougat. It's working on the EVA-L09 model; others may not be compatible.
After numerous nightly and monthly builds, CyanogenMod 10 is finally ready for its stable release. The custom ROM is already available to download for the Samsung Galaxy S II LTE, LG Optimus Black, and the Samsung Galaxy S III (both Verizon and Sprint models).
If you can't see a stable build of CyanogenMod 10 for your device just yet, hang tight, as some builds have been failing. Hopefully, the issue will be addressed soon, but we aren't sure how long this might take.
The good news keeps piling up for owner of Sony's latest badass-est flagship, the Xperia XZ Premium. Not only did they discover it's one of Sony's most durable phones to date, but they can also benefit from better AOSP ROM development on it thanks to the Open Devices program, and now they'll also be able to watch Netflix content in HDR on its beautiful display.
Sony is ahead of most other OEMs when it comes to its support of open source. It contributes significantly to AOSP and even releases binaries for many of its devices so developers can build AOSP ROMs for them. Today, Sony is announcing support for the first three 64-bit devices in the Open Device project.
It's no secret that Bluetooth has been a problem child for Android, plagued with poor audio quality and connectivity issues. I've already covered a handful of common problems in a previous post, but another issue has been emerging in the last few months that threatens to virtually kill all Bluetooth operation on a device in the right conditions. The culprit is a nasty little oversight in the Bluetooth Low-Energy code added with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Once a device has been within range of enough BLE devices, the entire Bluetooth service will begin crashing.
There is only one truly obvious symptom, but it's incredibly unhelpful for diagnosing the issue.
Sony announced its new Xperia Z2 Tablet here at Mobile World Congress, so we swung by their booth on the show floor to get a hands-on with the next tablet flagship. This is the successor to the Tablet Z, now more fully aligned with the leading Sony phone in both name and hardware.
The first thing you notice when you pick up the Z2 Tablet is that it is thin. Crazy thin - 6.4mm, in fact, thinner than the previous tablet, thinner than any phone you're likely to get your hands on in the United States, thinner than the iPad Air by more than a millimeter, and lighter as well at only 425 grams.