I'm pretty sure something was lost in translation between the different reviews of ASUS' more recent generations of phones and the company's software development team. Everyone has lamented the high customization of ZenUI, the software layer that ASUS has slapped on top of Android, and its endless list of pre-installed and useless apps. On our own team, different writers unanimously pointed to the software as the major drawback for the Zenfone 2, Zenfone 2E, Zenpad S 8.0, Zenfone Selfie, and Zenfone 2 Laser. So what's ASUS to do to fix that?
Add more bloat. For realsies. That's what's happening with the latest update to the Zenfone Selfie, as if the phone wasn't full of preloaded crapware already. Read More
Since Google still only reveals a tiny portion of the file system to Android end users, most intermediate and "power" users have a go-to file manager that they use on a regular basis. ES File Explorer was, at least until recently, one of the most popular options on the Play Store - it offers a simple interface, a robust set of tools, and it's been available for years. But recent changes have made long-time fans of the app wary; now ES File Explorer includes a built-in web browser, "junk cleaner" notifications, and "recommended apps" (read: advertisements), among other bells and whistles that no one really asked for in a file manager. Read More
From its announcement at Google I/O to today, we keep uncovering new information and subtle details regarding the new permission system in Android 6.0. What we weren't able to know, however, was how OEMs were going to treat (or be forced to treat) this new feature. Would they be able to remove it completely? Circumvent it for their own apps? Could they abuse it to grant permissions to bloatware? Well, we now have our answers thanks to the updated Marshmallow Compatibility Definition Document.
In it, Google explains that apps that target API level 23 will have to request permissions to access certain protected features. Read More
Even budget phones are pretty good these days, but most of them suffer from an unfortunate lack of storage. 8GB seems to be the standard (with some going as low as 4GB), and that isn't helped by manufacturers' habit of including a ton of apps you might not need or want. Sony got some negative feedback for the Xperia M4 Aqua's 8GB on the base model, but it looks like they've taken it to heart: the latest update to the phone removes quite a few previously standard apps, freeing up some much-needed storage.
Xperia Blog did a pretty great breakdown on the phone's original storage situation, which left just 1.25GB of free space for users after Android 5.0 and all the included apps. Read More
Cyanogen Inc. has forged an alliance with Playphone to bring its exciting
bloatware social game store to Cyanogen OS in multiple international markets. It's not clear when or where the Playphone store will be bundled with Cyanogen OS phones, but it should start happening before long. I'm sure no one will be annoyed by this.
The AT&T crapware on the carrier's LTE-equipped Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is playing a game of musical chairs today. An OTA update rolling out to the device moves around some icons and basically just does weird stuff, but leaves it on Android 4.4.2. Read More
Update: We've heard from a source close to Digital Turbine that the software is not supposed to re-install bloat apps after they have been removed by the user. Once they're gone, they should stay gone, barring a factory reset of the phone (at which point they will reinstall, but again, only once). Digital Turbine was also not able to reproduce this behavior in its own testing on the T-Mobile Note 4, so it's not clear what went wrong for this particular user. The source also made clear that data used by Digital Turbine does not count against user data caps.
Welcome to the latest edition of "What the hell is wrong with carriers?" In this installment, we discuss the newest carrier attempt to further monetize customers (that's us) with a service called Digital Turbine Ignite. Read More
Now that the Nexus 6 has launched on three of the five announced carriers, it's time to do a little comparison. Nexus hardcores like their device pure, unlocked, and free of all carrier intervention and bloatware. The problem is, Google Play and Motorola both only sell the device at full price, which starts at $649 USD for a 32 GB model. A lot of people will no-doubt find it difficult to come up with that kind of cash all at once.
This is one of the big reasons why someone would instead choose to buy their Nexus 6 from a carrier. Read More
Buried in the press release announcing the Sharp Aquos Crystal on Sprint was the first official mention of Sprint App Pass. It's a subscription-based app store the carrier plans to pre-load on all its Android devices, and we have the full scoop on features thanks to some information we've been given. The gist of it is that you pay a monthly fee and get access to all the stuff offered by App Pass, but only for as long as you keep paying.
Verizon is just not letting up on the updates. Which is kind of a crazy thing to say about the carrier. Today's is an oddity, though, as the Droid Charge will be getting a mild upgrade. Yes, really. It's not a huge change, though. Unfortunately, it's not Jelly Bean (or even Ice Cream Sandwich), but it does bring a couple of the features from those platforms, including face unlock and a photo editor.
Since it's not coming with Ice Cream Sandwich, we have to assume that either Verizon or Samsung (more likely the latter) added the features in themselves. Read More