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First, they came for your phone's headphone jack—is the USB port next?

When Apple released the first iPhone without a headphone jack two years ago, many - critics, consumers, and competitors alike - were quick to cry foul. The decision was widely derided arrogant and unfriendly, and CMO Phil Schiller took a well-deserved beating in the court of public opinion for calling the removal of the 3.5mm jack “courageous.”

Imagine, then, what would happen if Apple was to remove the charging and data port from the iPhone entirely.

It's not as wild as it sounds. A report from trusted Apple leaker Mark Gurman recently revealed that the company had considered doing just that with the iPhone X.

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Xiaomi wants to come to America, but it feels more stuck in China than ever

For all the traction China’s many smartphone brands have gained globally in the past decade, it’s in China itself where they remain most popular. And for good reason: because Chinese consumers don’t have access to many Western products or services. Xiaomi is one of the most popular smartphone brands in China, and while the unique market in that country has encouraged the company to think differently than its more global rivals in some ways, its latest smartphone strikes me as one built by China, for China. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but it makes me question just what Xiaomi’s pitch to the rest of the world will be, or if the company’s phones will ever matter outside a few, select regions.

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Opinion: Google AMP is still confusing, and it's not getting any better

The mobile web can be frustrating. Smartphones and tablets are becoming faster every year, but modern sites usually outpace them by becoming more complicated. While there are efforts to improve site load times, smartphones have to deal with other obstacles as well. Cellular network connections can become congested, especially in densely-populated areas, and budget phones often aren't speedy enough for a good browsing experience.

There have been many different products and technologies designed to speed up mobile browsing. Some browsers, like Opera Mini and Amazon Silk, render most of the page on a server and send the result to the user's device.

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Smartphone addiction is worth talking about, but it probably isn't a social crisis

"Smartphone addiction" is a term that entered our cultural lexicon relatively recently - you could say it's A Thing. And it's a thing increasingly cited by techno-skeptics and self-help authors looking to capitalize on our natural desire to purge "unhealthy" habits from our lives (historically, a very American kind of fad). Not to mention: the ever-popular fear that we're all being spied on. Some people are even switching back to dumphones to avoid all the awfulness smartphones have brought into our lives. In short, the smartphone's ubiquity has made it The Next Big Source of All Your ProblemsTM. And I think, in spite of the best intentions - being more in the moment, having more meaningful interactions, and sleeping better - we've all kind of jumped the gun here.

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Android needs to adopt gesture navigation sooner rather than later

It hardly seems that long, but nearly ten years ago, the world’s first Android smartphone was announced. Android in 2008 really was barely recognizable as the operating system we know and love today, and the way we navigated that operating system was pretty different, too.

The HTC G1, or Dream as it was known in some markets, was equipped with a slew of hard buttons and even a trackball (yes, a trackball), though it also offered a full touchscreen and a slide-out keyboard. At the time, Android didn’t have a standardized system navigation layout; the G1 had buttons for opening the dialer, ending a call, going home, a menu key, and a back key, along with the clickable trackball to use as a confirmation input.

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Android Auto wish list: Five things Google's infotainment system is still missing

Google unveiled Android Auto way back at I/O in 2014, but it didn't reach vehicles until May of 2015 when Hyundai added it to the Sonata. If you looked at Android Auto from 2015 and compared it to the current version, you'd see precious few differences. Google has been slow to improve Auto, but at least we got wireless projection. That tells us Google is still working on Android Auto, but it's still missing some features we've wanted ever since we got our first glimpse at Google's infotainment platform. Here are four features we still want to see in Android Auto.

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Opinion: Essential could learn a lot from OnePlus - specifically, its mistakes

Since Essential launched the PH-1 last year, the phone has gained a cult following. Although the phone isn't without its faults, there aren't many other choices for a Snapdragon 835 below $500, and many people took advantage of last fall's Sprint and Amazon sales that saw the price fall lower, under $400. Essential also pioneered the "notch," which (like it or hate it) is only just now coming into vogue. The company and its products aren't perfect by any means, but one might even call Essential disruptive.

For better or worse, I’m reminded of another company that pioneered disruption in the flagship space: OnePlus.

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Motorola is more at risk of becoming irrelevant than ever - can it be saved?

Motorola is in trouble. As it has been, frankly, for much of the past five-plus years. The Lenovo-owned smartphone brand once known for its positively prodigious portfolio hasn't announced a new phone in well over six months. That was the Moto X4, which got a mixed reception and has gone on discount so frequently of late that it seems poor sales are probably a given (granted, it's horrendously overpriced). But the X4 was never really competitive in its segment, and its reason for existence remains something of a mystery to me.

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The Galaxy S9 is supposed to be boring

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ are upon us, and if there's one thing we already can safely say, it's that they'll be the best-selling premium Android smartphones of 2018. And we can also safely say that they'll hold that title by a very wide margin. This despite the fact that they look, feel, and function remarkably similar to the Galaxy S phones Samsung launched in 2017. You might even say the Galaxy S9 is kind of boring - a sentiment I've seen widely expressed in comments and across the web since its announcement yesterday.

But before we dive in to that topic, let's get back to the numbers.

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The US smartphone market is devolving into a Samsung and Apple market - and that's bad for Android

If you live in the United States and walk into a Verizon store, you have essentially four options when it comes to choosing a premium smartphone brand: Apple, Samsung, LG, and Google. Yesterday, we learned that continuing to expect LG will be one of these options probably isn't the best bet.

While there may yet be a premium LG phone that launches on Verizon, the Korean conglomerate looks poised to join Motorola as one of Verizon's when-it's-convenient handset partners, and is quite possibly on its way to the Verizon graveyard with the likes of HTC, Sony, and BlackBerry.

The same can generally be said of AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

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