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Editorials

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How does Project Treble impact Android and the custom ROM community?

Project Treble, something that you might read in some of our reviews and comment sections, is an important shift in Android as we know it. One of the pieces of Oreo, Treble was Google's attempt to improve the terrible update situation we see on many third-party phones, especially from Samsung, Asus, and Huawei. So far, only a few manufacturers have implemented it to any noticeable degree, with others outright ignoring it until the last possible minute.

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Android P's gesture navigation is bad, Google

When I used the iPhone X for a month, one of the things I most loved about the experience was Apple's gesture navigation model. It was simple and, once I'd become accustomed to it, extremely quick and natural to use. The bonus to Apple's approach is that it completely obviated the need for anything like software navigation keys, opening up more of the screen for content. The iPhone X also looks striking as a result - the edge-to-edge screen displays content from top to bottom - and it allowed Apple to keep the phone a more manageable size.

Google has now entered the gesture navigation fray, along with OEMs like Huawei, Motorola, OnePlus, and others that have been experimenting with alternative nav models for years now.

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A brief history of Android tablets: From galaxies to gravestones

The year was 2010, and Apple made good on the rumor mill's predictions when it unveiled the iPad. This device was, essentially, a bigger iPhone without the phone part. It turns out that consumers were into that sort of thing, and the first modern tablet sold in huge numbers. Not to be outdone, Android OEMs began launching Android-powered slates. For a time, it seemed like Android tablets would be a thing, but sales slumped, and most current Android tablets are ultra-low-cost junk. With the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to see how we got here.

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Google, please fix Android's slow, bloated share UI

Sharing from one app to another has been a mainstay of Android for years and years. It was one of the features that first drew me to Android: no more copying and pasting, no more having to open Twitter or WhatsApp to send a picture I just saw in my Gallery. Apps could talk to each other and the experience felt cohesive and seamless.

But with time, the Share UI in Android has languished, stuck with the same features and problems. It switched from a vertical list to a grid, it added direct share in Android 6.0 and app pinning in Android 7.0, yet these felt like putting lipstick on a pig: the Share UI remains slow, bloated, convoluted, and if you pay close attention to it, one of the most inconsistent experiences on Android to date.

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What the new Gmail gets wrong: Annoyances, broken features, and things we wish were left unchanged

The mobile world thrives on change, and we're always waiting expectantly for the next big OS update, next hot phone, or next service that changes our lives for the better. But that ceaseless hunt for improvement can also backfire on users when something they've loved and relied on is suddenly upended in the name of progress.

A good number of us are feeling that kind of frustration right now, as we get to know Google's latest Gmail redesign. We shared with you the news of its launch last week, and while there's a whole lot it does well, including the introduction of some powerful new features, we've also been putting together a not-so-insubstantial list of gripes.

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This is what it's like using only open-source software on Android

Technically speaking, Android is open-source. This means anyone can look at the operating system's code, or change it - this is how OEMs like HTC and Samsung add their own tweaks. That openness has often been a rallying cry for hardcore Android enthusiasts. Why use a closed platform like iOS, when you can have a free and open-source platform?

But even from the beginning, there were components of Android that were closed-source. The Gmail app, Maps, Google Talk, and the Play Store were some of the earliest examples. To combat the always-present fragmentation of Android, Google offers many APIs through the Play Services Framework.

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When does it make sense to buy last year's smartphone?

Smartphone prices have been getting ridiculous. Granted, they've been high for the better part of forever, and to an extent, with good reason — these devices exist at the intersection between advanced performance and miniaturization that's always going to be expensive. But while we all got used to the idea of spending several hundred dollars on a new handset, we're starting to get into the era of the $1000 smartphone, and that's at least a psychological barrier that can be tough to work through. Is there any good way to still buy a nice smartphone without spending all your rent money?

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Gmail wish list: 10 features we (still) want

Email remains the linchpin of online communication, and while we heavily rely on everything from instant messaging to video chat in order to stay in touch with the people we need to in our lives, we always find ourselves turning back to tried-and-true email. Of course, even for something so utilitarian as email, there are still a million companies putting their own spin on it, and for so many Android users around the globe, Gmail is their email service of choice.

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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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Allo, is anybody out there? A brief history of Google's ill-fated messenger

Two days ago it was revealed that development for Allo was temporarily suspended while Google redoubles its efforts at spreading the gospel of RCS under the more marketable name "Chat." Even so, the company has reassured consumers that it is still committed to supporting Allo. But the news makes it hard not to visualize Allo being sent to the same "still supported" farm where other Google services like Hangouts reside.

While Allo's fate hangs in limbo, let's take a look back at the service since its announcement, and speculate a bit on how it got there. 

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