jeudi 30 avril 2015

ASUS ZenFone 2 Launch Event

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Asus has announced that the ZenFone 2 will be launched in New York on May 18th. They are also offering a chance to win 1 of 50 tickets to the event and one of the handsets. Check back nearer the time for a live stream link and head over to their Google+ page for the opportunity to enter the competition.

The post ASUS ZenFone 2 Launch Event appeared first on xda-developers.



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LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga Hits Google Play

Lego Star Wars TCS

The PC hits of LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game and its sequel have made their way to Android in this  $6.99 combo pack. Hit up the link if you have 1.44GB free (only 735MB via PC), and may the bricks be with you!

The post LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga Hits Google Play appeared first on xda-developers.



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Do You Agree with the Verge’s Best Keyboard Choices?

timnkeyboards5_2040.0

The Verge did some testing of all the major Android keyboards and came to the conclusion that Google Keyboard is the best of them all. Swiftkey came in as a close second with the rest of the bunch falling behind. However, we’d like to know what our community here at XDA thinks. Do you agree with the Verge that Google Keyboard is the best keyboard on Android? Why or why not?

The post Do You Agree with the Verge’s Best Keyboard Choices? appeared first on xda-developers.



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Third Party Voice Actions for Google Now Rolling Out

Ok-Google-Voice-Search

Google Now’s “Okay Google” voice recognition turned out to be a runaway success and starting today, Google is expanding the service’s frontiers and strengthening its core by allowing third party apps to tap into it and register voice triggers of their own, one official example being “Ok Google, Shazam this song.”

The post Third Party Voice Actions for Google Now Rolling Out appeared first on xda-developers.



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Samsung Galaxy Tab A Hits USA, but Is It Cheap Enough?

taba

Samsung’s tablet repertoire keeps growing, this time abandoning the S for an A. The Korean giant had stated that they would be trimming and focusing their smartphone and tablet lineups by reducing the number of devices and making them more cost-effective for consumer (read, cheaper). While we still see many Samsung phones, critics agree that they do indeed feel more polished and with a clearer purpose. This is how Samsung’s Galaxy A line-up came to be, a spiritual successor to last year’s Galaxy Alpha that didn’t quite buzz around as expected, but still offered a solid package with surprising performance for a non-flagship.

The Galaxy Tab A attempts to bring a tablet to this new philosophy. It was recently announced for South Korea and Taiwan, to come out next month in Wi-Fi and LTE with an optional S-pen stylus. There are 9.7 inch and 8 inch variants , but the latter was only confirmed for Taiwan back then. What is good about the Tab A? While the Galaxy Tab S featured a vibrant and crisp AMOLED display that wowed critics and users alike, it disappointed in terms of UI responsiveness and for many it was simply not worth the exorbitant price tag. The Tab A seeks to fix that by offering a more balanced product at a very cheap price. We received an anonymous tip that showed us early pictures of this device:

unnamed (1) unnamed (7) unnamed (11) unnamed (5) unnamed (9) unnamed (10) unnamed (6) unnamed (8) unnamed (3)

 

The Galaxy Tab A contains a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and 1.5GB of RAM, which should be enough for a Lollipop tablet. These pictures show devices for the American market, and you can already see the tablets in Best Buy’s product listing. The tablets are priced at $229.99 for the one with an 8 inch display, and $299.99 for the 9.7 inch version. All variants come with 16GB of storage with a microSD slot, and the displays used are neither Samsung’s AMOLED nor IPS LCD panels, but rather 1024 x 768 resolution TFT screens. This seems like an odd move, as IPS is generally preferable to TFT displays, but it was probably a needed move to save costs. Sadly, these tablets also come with Kids Mode (ugh).

So, is this tablet going to blow anyone’s socks off? No, not at all. But for the price, it remains a decent Samsung offering. Considering the Asus-made Nexus 7 was recently discontinued, the market is in dire need of strong budget alternatives. Samsung’s new solution might be a little too pricey still, but with features like multi-window the tablet gets a lot more use out of that big display that others out there can’t match. If you wanted this tablet to hit the United States, you should be pleased. For the rest of us, this is just another Samsung product we might never hear much about again.

What do you think of the Tab A? Is it affordable enough? Let us know your opinion!

The post Samsung Galaxy Tab A Hits USA, but Is It Cheap Enough? appeared first on xda-developers.



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One M9 Camera App Adds RAW Support

htc-camera

Not to be outdone by LG, HTC is rolling out RAW image capture to the One M9 via an update to the camera app. Grab the new version on Google Play now, then hit the streets to finally test your sensor against the G4, Nexus 6, and other RAW-toting flagships.

The post One M9 Camera App Adds RAW Support appeared first on xda-developers.



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Chromecast Now Available In Malaysia

chromecast

Google Malaysia has announced that the popular thumb-sized media streaming device, Chromecast, is now making its way to Malaysia. Priced at MYR170 (~$47), Chromecast is available at select Maxis carrier stores from today, with availability extending to all Maxis stores from May 5th 2015.

The post Chromecast Now Available In Malaysia appeared first on xda-developers.



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Asus Zenfone 2 128GB Gets Listed On Flipkart

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The Asus Zenfone 2 was initially released with 4 variants with different specs as far as processors, storage and RAM are considered. Asus has now added a 5th variant in the mix, with the 128GB storage variant. Priced at Rs. 29,999 ($470), it comes with a 2.3GHz processor and 4GB RAM, and is listed as coming soon on Flipkart.

The post Asus Zenfone 2 128GB Gets Listed On Flipkart appeared first on xda-developers.



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Android Auto: A Better Choice

Android Auto Logo

Google’s latest foray into making Android run every facet of our daily lives is their push into the car with the Android Auto initiative. While certainly not a new idea, Android Auto attempts to leave behind the wild west of previous vehicle implementations in favor of a simpler, streamlined approach. Gone are the multitude of car docks, messes of cables, shoddy Bluetooth connections, and difficult to operate software while driving, in favor of a single USB connection to your device, which can then be tossed into a center console and forgotten about. When reading about the features and implementation of Android Auto, one might consider how it’s any different from grabbing a Nexus 7 or similar device and having it permanently installed into the dashboard, or if that approach would be even more preferable to a system built around Android Auto. Exploring the key differences between these two approaches leads to the belief that the Android Auto implementation is ultimately the way to go.

Android Auto's Overview Screen

Android Auto’s Overview Screen

The basic operation of Android Auto is simple to explain: download the Android Auto app to a compatible device, connect the device to a compatible car or aftermarket car radio using a USB cable, review some terms and conditions before the first use, and you’re set. Your car or aftermarket stereo displays the content, so you are free to place the phone out of sight while traveling. Delving a bit further into the process reveals a lot of smart choices on Google’s part. The phone you have connected provides the processing power, internet connection, and telephony functions of Android Auto…your car or aftermarket stereo system simply outputs the UI as well as handles the other sources you have available to you (CD playback, AM/FM/Sirius XM sources, etc.). Your device automatically substantiates a Bluetooth connection to handle phone call audio, contact management, and text message functionality, while the music audio from sources such as Google Play Music and Spotify is passed over the USB connection. Navigation is handled via Google Maps, and Google Now acts as the “home screen” on your car dashboard. All of these features work seamlessly together to provide the most relevant content.

Google Maps Navigation with Lane Assistance

Google Maps Navigation with Lane Assistance

There are some clear, front-and-center benefits to this setup versus retrofitting a dedicated tablet into your car’s dashboard. Since the phone you have connected to Android Auto is providing the processing power and functionality, upgrading your phone can potentially provide functionality improvements as well as introduce new features down the line. This makes a lot more sense, as a car is generally kept in service a lot longer than a phone. And since Google has standardized the UI of Android Auto regardless of which app is providing content, everything is laid out to provide the driver an infotainment system with minimal visual distractions. On-screen buttons are big and function the same regardless of what you’re doing, and the driver is given a lot of voice command functionality, which can be accessed via steering wheel controls.

Android Auto's Voice Command System

Android Auto’s Voice Command System

In terms of audio processing, routing, and quality, the benefits of this system are enormous, but yet often go understated. Your car stereo or any aftermarket stereo system will contain much higher-grade audio circuitry than what is commonly put into consumer devices such as tablets and smartphones, simply due to the nature of the product category. In an Android Auto system, the audio is carried as digital information over the USB connection, but the sound processing, D/A conversion, channel routing, and crossover points are handled by the stereo system itself, and then outputted to your car’s speakers. This is an important distinction: fitting a Nexus 7 or other consumer device into your dash means that, no matter how you choose to output the audio of that device, the audio quality will be comparatively compromised. Using the headphone output of the tablet into an AUX line-in port on your car means that you are instead using the cheap A/D and D/A converters and preamps built in to the tablet. Using the device’s Bluetooth connection to stream the audio to your car compromises the audio output of that system as well, as Bluetooth streaming in and of itself simply degrades the quality of audio. It is even more important to have the car stereo itself handle the audio processing when dealing with systems that have external, dedicated amplifiers to power subwoofers, or when bypassing the built-in amp of the car stereo in favor of an external amp to power the speakers. Simply put, getting the audio information out of your device as unprocessed as possible, and letting the car stereo itself handle all of that is always preferable, and necessary for the best sounding audio possible.

Google Play Music on Android Auto

Google Play Music UI on Android Auto

An additional consideration that needs to be made is the longevity of the components. A factory car stereo or aftermarket stereo system is built to both handle and operate in conditions that a consumer tablet is not. Conditions such as temperature extremes and changes, humidity levels, dust, dirt, sunlight, and vibrations will all wear on the components of any system over time. A tablet is simply not meant to be subjected to these conditions for long periods of time. Fitting a tablet into a dashboard as a permanent installation is unwise in this manner; the various components inside of that tablet will not survive being left inside of a car for as many years as one usually plans to own that car. That’s not to mention the other risks of device failure in general, such as software corruption from system updates, file system slowdowns over time, or touch precision on the screen degrading…all problems which have arisen on consumer devices in the past. Additionally, some general considerations, such as having to supply a separate internet connection to the device, as well as device syncing, maintenance and upkeep, need to be made when fitting a tablet, and is simply unneeded in an Android Auto setup.

When taking all of these drawbacks into consideration, an Android Auto setup is simply the best way to go in terms of getting Android into the car. It is simpler to set up, far more intuitive to operate, leads to less road distractions, and will provide much higher audio quality to boot. While seemingly more expensive than custom-fitting a tablet into a car’s dashboard, it is truly designed to last as long as the car is on the road, and functions at a level far greater than previous ways to shape Android into a road-worthy infotainment system. It is also a very new initiative; as time moves forward, the cost of entry into the world of Android Auto will drop, and the car manufacturers of the Open Automative Alliance will be including this functionality in newer models right off of the lot. Google has indeed come a long way in this venture, and what Android Auto is now is only going to improve over time. You can read more about Android Auto on Google’s Android Auto Portal.

Do you have an Android Auto system, or do you plan on getting one installed soon? Let us know your impressions of Android Auto in the comments!

The post Android Auto: A Better Choice appeared first on xda-developers.



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Sony Forecasts Xperia Shipments To Fall 23% In 2015-16

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Sony Corporation has released its report for the financial year 2014-15, and the mobile situation looks pretty grim. Smartphone shipments are forecasted to be around 30 million units, ~23% lower than the previous year. This is “due to a reduction in mid-range smartphone unit sales”, hence bringing down volume.

The post Sony Forecasts Xperia Shipments To Fall 23% In 2015-16 appeared first on xda-developers.



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LG G4’s Evolution: Abandoning Trends, or Starting Them?

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The LG G4 has met a lot of positive feedback since its unveiling at this past Tuesday’s event. The new device represents a lot of advancements for LG in key areas, but it also leaves behind some of the things that made their device so special in the first place. LG’s approach towards a fashionable smartphone could make for one of the most surprising releases of this year – if the cards play out right. The G3 was a marvelous device, going as far as winning Best Smartphone at the Global Mobile Awards 2015. Can the G4 live up to the hype and expectations?

The LG G3 was not particularly amazing in any regard when compared to the best of 2014: it didn’t have the absolute best camera, nor screen, nor the fastest processor nor the best battery. Its bezels grew bigger, but the device still remained rather small. Its faux metal plastic back didn’t fool anyone either, and the UI still makes Android purists cringe. Why was it so popular? The answer is the holistic panorama of the experience. A great smartphone doesn’t need to excel, and the G3’s consistency in every category made it a perfect fit for those that just want a darn good smartphone.

The G2 before it was also an amazing phone, and in many regards it was a trendsetter for 2013. It packed the mighty Snapdragon 800 (which remains speedy even by today’s standards), a very capable camera and minimal bezels that set a new trend ablaze. Since that phone was introduced, manufacturers have been paying more and more attention to screen-to-body ratios, and flagship lines have been shrinking their bezels in the past couple of years. LG’s UI was not the prettiest nor the fastest out there – especially pre-KitKat – but the SD800 managed to run it quite well on a gorgeous yet very saturated 1080p display. Two cycles from that device, how has LG’s flagship evolved?

Life’s Good…

When LG began the “See the Great, Feel the Great” campaign, we didn’t know that  the company would establish the motto as a literal Ethos for their next phone. The catchphrase fits the G4 very well indeed – it looks and feels great, at least the leather version. And if not great, at least different. Motorola has leather backings available, and Samsung has been experimenting with fake ones since the Note 3, but LG’s leather solution actually looks much more impressive than these last two. LG said they wanted us to “feel the craftsmanship”, but we can see it. My personal first opinion of the device was that it looked somewhat tacky in the leaked pictures (especially due to the stitching), but after seeing it in videos being rotated in a 3D space with the lighting hitting the surface, I completely changed my mind.

When it comes to “design inspiration”, companies have always been rather stale. Take the Galaxy S3, for example: “inspired by Nature” was the campaign slogan, and it only ended up annoying users all over the world with the silly water sounds and the chirping bird notification tone. In this sense, TouchWiz is a disgrace – nature is more beautiful than those ugly colors (which, by the way, you’d be hard-pressed to find in nature) and cheesy sounds. LG’s inspiration and goal for the G4 is not only providing value, but also having a device that grows with you. This is something I don’t see many people discuss, but it is engraved into the core of the design and UX of this device on every level.

The leather back of the phone is the first indicative. Leather changes over time with use and stress, most of the time becoming more beautiful and personal. The genuine leather in the G4 will grow with you, and whatever tiny little scratches you make will not be a reason to change the backplate, but rather admire it. We’ve seen leather in technology change this way in the Moto X and Wear watches like the Moto 360, and ultimately it gives the device a lot more personality and one that reflects your personal history with the device. Whereas the G Flex 2 aimed to self-regenerate any signs of wear, the G4 turns it into a subtle feature.

The screen of the G4 is where LG truly needed to improve. If you look at display analysis of LG phones such as those of AnandTech you will find that LG’s displays suffer from mediocre contrast and terrible saturation. The G3 was, in fact, more saturated than the ultra-colorful AMOLED display of the Note 3, and the 1440p pioneer panel was shadowed by obnoxious software sharpening and constrained brightness. The G2 was no champion either. The new Quantum Display of the G4 seeks to remedy that, however, and promises excellent color reproduction, amazing brightness and great battery efficiency. The new liquid crystal structure and quantum dots allow for true-color calibration, and that with the GRAM introduced in the G2, power consumption should be dramatically reduced. Given how Samsung has gained the Display Crown twice in a row with the Note 4 and S6, competitive advancements on this front are a must.

Then there is the camera. Oh, the camera! This looks to be the most promising aspect of the G4: instead of lazily bumping megapixels like HTC or focusing on the software post-processing like Samsung, LG once again shows their innovation by introducing a color spectrum sensor that adjusts the white balance and allows for more realistic color reproduction in images. There is also an improved OIS 2.0 that adds a new Z axis of stabilization, meaning that pictures should look crisper. Then you’ve got a bigger image sensor and F1.8 aperture that allow more light in and lead to a better depth of field and improved low-light performance. And on top of that, you’ve got the laser auto-focus and a refined camera app with a manual mode designed for professional use. You can adjust parameters such as the shutter speed for creative shots, and you’ve got RAW image support to get the purest quality. This camera is a serious powerhouse, and pros love it. What else do you want?

… Sometimes

g4vsg3finalBut there are worrying aspects too. LG abandoned a trend that set their device apart and kick-started the G line love: small bezels. The G2 had a ~75.9% screen-to-body ratio, and the G3 dropped that number to ~75.3% which is still very respectable. The G4, however, increased the bezels significantly and now has a ~72.5% screen-to-body ratio (rough comparison to the left)… when they had shown an almost bezel-free display not long ago! Let’s put this into perspective: that is worse than several popular flagships of today, such as the Note 4, Nexus 6, Mi Note, Find 7, Sharp Aquos Crystal, Meizu MX4 Pro and others. LG had raised the bar in this regard, and it made for one of the most attractive devices in the market. Now they had a retrograde movement towards mediocrity again. Luckily, the device will still feel great in the hand due to a curved back… but the days of saying that LG phones don’t feel like phablets might be over.

Then there is the processor found inside: early benchmarks (courtesy of gsmarena) already show that it is far behind the competition, and in many ways it is behind 2014 devices at that. The Snapdragon 808 does have 64-bit support, but its hexacore arrangement only has 2 high-power cores in the performance cluster as opposed to 4 in the Snapdragon 810 and Exynos 7420. The Adreno 418 GPU is also worse than what is found in the Snapdragon 805, and this leads to worse game performance on the 1440p screen. Luckily, Qualcomm and LG have been focusing on optimizing the UX and they claim the phone is faster than the competition in many regards. We will have to wait and see, but I can’t help but feel that our predictions came true in the most crushing way. Hopefully the refinements in Android 5.1, particularly the kernel improvements that allow for better use of multiple cores in the UI, have a tangible effect. Smart use of Global Task Scheduling can go a long way.

Finally, the UI is still very much an LG UI. Many of the features like the smart widgets that inform you of events align with the theme of a more personal phone, but how useful they really are remains to be seen. The fact is that a lot of LG’s new functionality is better handled through Google Now, which comes built into the phone. We talked about this redundancy before and while LG wants to lure more users with features like these, many might not end up using or liking them. It would have been nice to see them focus on things like multi-window (as LG’s system is seriously lacking in comparison to Samsung’s) or the actual UI design, which is still quite offensive for those that love Google’s pure Android and Material Design.

Life Gets Better

The LG G4 looks very, very compelling. Their inspiration is, for the first time in an Android phone, completely tangible in every aspect of the phone. LG claims that they have been designing this phone before the G3 came to be, and in some ways this sounds honest. The G4 tries to move away from simple machinery into a more personal product, a fashion statement of sorts. The many color variations, back options and ever-changing leather in the premium alternative allow for a level of personal expression not found in many other phones. The removable battery and microSD slot show that LG still listens to power users, and the emphasis on hardware innovation is just what the company needs to combat Samsung.

20150430043723154LG fixed what was broken with a new screen that looks to be as promising as an IPS LCD display can get, and I personally cannot wait to see what a monstrous advancement from the G3 it must be. The camera simply sounds stellar – if there is such a thing as “overpowered” camera hardware, LG’s might be it. This is not to say that it will be the best, though, as Samsung’s DXO score just topped the mobile game. This is mostly due to the amazing software Samsung put in this time around, given that other than the F1.9 aperture of the S6, the module is similar to the Note 4’s. LG’s approach to a hardware powerhouse for the camera might be enough to take Samsung’s crown, and if their display also surpasses Samsung’s, a lot of praise will ensue.

Sure, the processor might be underpowered compared to the Exynos 7 or even last year’s Snapdragon 805, but with good optimization that will not be a problem for most use-cases. LG claimed battery life of “over a day”, which is odd considering that the G3 could break a day and a half and the G2 could top two days… we hope they are simply understating this, as good battery life was also an LG staple. The bezel growth is a huge shame, and we would have liked to see a more refined UI. But like the G3 proved, these complaints can be overlooked: the weaker processor, decreased battery life, bigger bezels and LG UI didn’t stop the G3 from becoming a fan-favorite. Can this device pull off the big fame again? We have to wait and see.

 

LG plans on selling 12 million LG G4 handsets in total. Will you be helping them reach that number? Let us know below!

The post LG G4’s Evolution: Abandoning Trends, or Starting Them? appeared first on xda-developers.



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Android 5.1.1 Rolling Out to T-Mobile S6 Edge Users

Android-Lollipop

Yesterday we learned that the Android 5.1 update would finally bring Guest Mode to Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, and despite Samsung’s update reputation being less than formidable, it looks like that’s taking a turn for the better as an XDA member has reportedly received the 5.1.1 OTA on a T-Mobile S6 Edge.

The post Android 5.1.1 Rolling Out to T-Mobile S6 Edge Users appeared first on xda-developers.



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[THEME] Metalz

Screenshot 2015-04-30 at 1.43.06 AM

There are lots of good looking dark themes for CyanogenMod Theme Engine, but Metalz by XDA Senior Member deuce_biggins is, by all means, one of the best. Over 10 themed applications including ROM-specific OTAs are just a small sample of what this theme has to offer.

The post [THEME] Metalz appeared first on xda-developers.



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Quantum Bounce Game

quantum

In this game by member Degineth, you aim is to fire a ball from A to B using platforms and walls to avoid a series of moving traps. It’s a great way to burn through vast amounts of free time without realizing. You have been warned.

The post Quantum Bounce Game appeared first on xda-developers.



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Launcher 10 for Your Enjoyment – XDA App Review

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Many people say that the best thing about Android is the ability to have custom launchers. Custom Launchers let you configure your device to be exactly how you want it. Do you want a sea of icons or a simple desktop with only one or two icons and the time? It doesn’t matter you can do whatever you want!

XDA Forum Member junaid558 offers up the latest version of custom launchers. In this video, XDA TV Producer TK reviews Launcher 10. TK shows off the application and shares his thoughts, so check out this app review.



Be sure to check out other great XDA TV Videos

The post Launcher 10 for Your Enjoyment – XDA App Review appeared first on xda-developers.



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mercredi 29 avril 2015

Chrome Dev APK Download

Download-Google-Chrome-Beta-for-Android-26-0-1410-35-2

Google released a developer version of the Chrome browser. Chrome Dev is the bleeding edge release that shows what will be implemented in the next two releases. Download it to get familiar with new features.

The post Chrome Dev APK Download appeared first on xda-developers.



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Android 5.1 To Bring Guest Mode To Galaxy S6 & S6 Edge

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Samsung’s 5.1 update may finally add multi-user support to the company’s latest flagships. There is no word yet about which other devices will include the feature, but Sam Mobile’s early reporting does bring us stills of Guest Mode in the wild; check them out after the jump.

The post Android 5.1 To Bring Guest Mode To Galaxy S6 & S6 Edge appeared first on xda-developers.



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Windows 10 to Run Android & iOS Apps

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Microsoft has now revealed that their upcoming Windows 10 OS will be able to run iOS and Android apps. While iOS will need to be compiled with a special tool that requires minimal code modifications from the developers, Android APKs will run normally through an included Android runtime. Who called that?

The post Windows 10 to Run Android & iOS Apps appeared first on xda-developers.



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Would You Ever Buy a Phone from Xiaomi?

xiaomi-mi-note

Despite Xiaomi’s many glaring issues, the Chinese manufacturer has managed to become the third largest smartphone maker in the world.  Our main issue with Xiaomi at XDA has always been about the company’s GPL infringements, but it’s clear that the manufacturer obviously still has a lot of appeal around the world. So, we want to hear from the community: Would you ever buy a phone from Xiaomi? Why or why not?

The post Would You Ever Buy a Phone from Xiaomi? appeared first on xda-developers.



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Tag Heuer To Launch $1,400 Android Wear Smartwatch

tag-heuer-carrera-calibre-1887_ceramic-bezel_43mm_car2a10-fc6235

Tag Heuer’s attempt to create its own smartwatch in partnership with Google and Intel will be a digital replica of the original Tag Heuer Black Carrera. The device will be powered by Android Wear and will reportedly feature a 40-hour battery life. It is expected to launch around October with an estimated tag of $ 1400.

The post Tag Heuer To Launch $1,400 Android Wear Smartwatch appeared first on xda-developers.



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Cyanogen OS 12 and Transparency

oneplus-cyanogen-micromax

Steve Kondik has explained some of the issues and successes they have had whilst rolling out Cyanogen OS 12. Believing it to possibly be the most troublesome OTA they’ve done yet, this is the second time they have started over using a clean AOSP.

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Chipset Aftermath: Real World UX, Strengths & Weaknesses

chipbattle

The one debate that we often find discussed on Android forums and websites at every new superphone release is “do benchmarks matter?” The response is usually something that implies that benchmarks don’t have a correlation with the resulting user-experience. Believing any of both extremist notions – that is, that benchmarks are an absolute indicator or that they do not correlate to real world UX – is a myopic practice that often leads to disinformation in whichever discussion is taking place. With both the Galaxy S6 and the One M9, the debate took place once more.

First, let’s remember the context: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 was reported to have overheating issues way before its prime time, and these were followed by rumors that, for this very reason, Samsung would opt for their inhouse Exynos 7420 SoC instead. This is what ended up happening, and the Snapdragon 810 suffered from intense throttling that resulted in some issues for consumers. We originally took a look at early benchmarks that indicated that the Snapdragon 810 was behind the Exynos 7420 by a landslide in a variety of ways. But, like we predicted, the Snapdragon 810 actually featured very good real-world performance.

So, what is the aftermath? Which device won? How does the Snapdragon 810 really compare to the Exynos 7420, and its predecessors too, in the real world and in that of synthetic benchmarks? Are there differences when gaming, multi-tasking or simply launching apps? And why? In this feature we will begin exploring these questions, and hopefully come up with some answers.

Res Cogitans – Synthetic Look

CPU Performance

The Snapdragon 810 was first analyzed in the MDP/T model where it showed extremely promising CPU performance. In many ways, it matched the astoundingly powerful Tegra K1 processor found in the Nexus 9, but at the time it was expected that this chipset would circumvent heat and battery constraints (something Nvidia couldn’t do, and thus the K1 is strictly a tablet chipset) to deliver that kind of performance. Sadly, the Snapdragon 810’s overheating reports were true, and in both the G Flex 2 and M9 we see a significant drop in CPU performance due to system throttling. Now that a thorough analysis of the M9 has been conducted, we can piece together what is truly happening to HTC’s flagship and its overheating Snapdragon.

According to AnandTech, the CPU of the SoC has clear throttle constraints, and the processor’s listed frequency of 2.0GHz is actually limited to a maximum of around 1.6GHz for regular use. It is only when HTC’s systems detect a benchmark that this cap is lifted, to allow for enhanced scores that, due to
the nature of the downgrade, can not represent real-world performance. This is something that some apologists called “a non-issue” – and claimed it was so as long as the real-world performance didn’t suffer. The SD810 here shows remarkably worse performance in virtually every metric than what the reference MDP/T model featured, but we don’t know the exact reason for this. Looking at the benchmarks is enough to tell that the device under-performed in this regard.

bench1 bench2 bench3 bench4

 

When it comes to the Exynos, its CPU and system performance is simply excellent. If you head over to this benchmark breakdown and analysis, you will see that it consistently makes it to the top spots, in most cases outclassing all other smartphones. The only room for improvement is in GPU system performance, and that’s something we’ll touch on below.

GPU Performance

The Adreno 430 in the Snapdragon 810 was expected to be a “beast” of a graphics processor, and it indeed was at release. Unlike the CPU, the GPU still features good performance and is more or less in-line with expectations. As a result, the graphics output of the M9 is actually rather excellent, and unlike many thought, things like video games or GPU-intensive tasks perform excellently on the M9. In fact, when you compare the graphics-intensive benchmark scores to those of the S6, you see that the S6 falls in behind in many tests. The reason should be obvious to many, but we’ll touch on it shortly nonetheless.

The fact 20150427214727123that the GPU is powerful and doesn’t suffer from the throttling constraints of the CPU is a great benefit for the M9, but the Exynos S6 also features very good graphics performance. In fact, in off-screen tests the device typically surpasses the M9, but not on on-screen tests. The Mali T760 MP8 inside the S6 is more powerful than the Adreno 430, which is quite a surprising outcome considering the history of both GPU lines, but the M9 is powering a 1080p panel, and not a 1440p one. This is a very important difference to take into account when looking at benchmarks – particularly on-screen results – as the S6 has to push 78% more pixels than the M9. When you take this into account, the S6 is doing a remarkable job. But what does this all mean?

Throttling

Snapdragon-810-throttling-2.006-980x735ArsTechnica ran tests to get a better look at the throttling situation of these newer chipsets, and see just how bad the throttling constraints of the Snapdragon 810 were. Their results are very enlightening, and show that the Exynos 7420 features a much tamer throttling than the Snapdragon 810. In fact, the Snapdragon 810 throttles itself nearly instantly in the G Flex 2. The Exynos in the S6 can actually sustain its maximum frequency for quite a while, and once the throttling kicks in it still runs at higher frequencies than the G Flex 2 (keep in mind, the S6 only has a 100MHz advantage when it comes to maximum frequency). While the G Flex gets throttled before the minute mark, the S6 lasts close to 2 minutes at high frequencies and then drops to a clockspeed that still remains higher than the G Flex (~1700MHz to ~1450MHz). The SD810 lowers its frequency even lower while the Exynos sustains it at 1.7GHz for quite some time. The story is in the graphs, and they quantify just how bad of an issue it can be. After just a few minutes of continuous use, the probability of encountering slowdowns increases dramatically.

 

Res Extensa – Real-world Look

Real-world Performance

The devices are out and we’ve gotten plenty of comparison articles and videos, as well as deeper look at the benchmarks of these devices. It turns out that the M9 has very good performance for real world use, particularly due to its light software. The Sense UI in the M8 made for one of the smoothest and speediest experiences on any Android flagship of 2014, and the trend remains in the M9. Reviewers have reported some stutters in certain areas of the UI – some more consistent than others – but when it comes to getting things done, the M9 does the trick just fine. There are many text and video comparisons that tell the story, but we’ll limit this article to two that we think are worth dissecting:

This video shows the strengths and weaknesses of each device flawlessly. As it turns out, however, the weaknesses of the S6 have little to do with its hardware and more with its software. In the first “lap” of the video, we see that the S6 greatly outspeeds the competition at opening apps and games The faster memory solutions for storage and RAM as well as the processor show off in this segment. On the second lap, the S6’s weakness kicks in: its memory management is atrocious, and despite having the same amount of RAM, many of its apps had to be reloaded. This allowed the M9 to overtake the S6 and “win the race”. On a superficial level, it would appear that the S6 is indeed faster, but the M9 has better/more reliable multitasking. Both devices are still very fast and speedy enough to satisfy any user.

There is something that I want to note here, and that is that I too have noticed that Samsung devices have terrible memory management, specially on Lollipop. This is apparent when leaving apps unused for long – even without opening many more – as they have to be reloaded anyway. On a personal note, when the Note 3 launched with 3GB of RAM I was enticed to get it to enjoy better multi-tasking, but we all know how Android’s memory manager is. When I upgraded to Lollipop, the problem became much worse and apps would disappear simply by idling for too long. The Note 4 on Lollipop suffers from a similar problem when I directly compare it to AOSP devices, and shows similar behavior to my Note 3. In fact, this problem is something that I frequently ran into when doing a side-by-side comparison of my Note 3 and my Nexus 5 for the Note 3’s Lollipop performance analysis… 1GB differential and all. Sammobile reported on this problem in the S6, but it is not limited to Samsung’s latest hardware, just the software (Lollipop) as I do not have this problem on 5.1 AOSP ROMs. We do not know if it has to do with Lollipop’s memory leaks, but nevertheless it is quite annoying.

In this test we see the S6 put against the M9 using Gamebench, an application that records metrics during videogames such as frames-per-second, a processor frequency log and battery drain. Here you can see that the S6 actually performs worse than the M9 in games like Asphalt 8. In this particular game, the S6 shows around 29 frames per second while the M9 surpasses it with 41 frames per second. Further testing might reveal variations in these numbers, but is this really surprising? I would argue that, in many ways, it is not. For all the flak that the Snapdragon 810 received, its Adreno 430 GPU remains excellent for graphics-intensive tasks such as games. But the biggest difference is the resolution, which is the last thing I want to touch on.

Resolution

Resolution is by far one of the determining factors in this comparison. As we’ve seen earlier, the off-screen benchmarks show that the S6 actually surpasses the M9 in raw GPU output, but when it needs to put graphics on the 1440p screen, the performance is lowered dramatically. When you consider that the M9 is powering up a 1080p screen, you also run into the surprise that the GPU is not substantially more powerful than what was found in the Snapdragon 805. I want to demonstrate this with my own device:

My Note 4 has a default resolution of 1440p, but I used a terminal emulator on it to reduce the resolution to 1080p. As far as UI fluidity goes, the changes were minimal if not placebo. But I can attest that GPU-intensive tasks such as gaming and synthetic benchmarks showed quite the increase in performance and stability. While Gamebench is seemingly not compatible with my build of TouchWiz, the framerate on Asphalt 8 has improved from 28 FPS (on KitKat) to what I can only describe as ultra smooth. I will do a full feature where I will quantify the difference that the lower resolution made, but for now I think these benchmarks will give you a general idea of the kind of improvements I’ve seen.

1080p Note 4 vs 1440p Note 4 1080p Note 4 vs 1080p M9 1080p Note 4 vs 1440p S6

Conclusion

Both chipsets can offer good performance, and the S6, G Flex 2 and M9 all flex a good amount of muscle. When it comes to the hardware winner, the S6 is undoubtedly superior. But the software of the S6 holds it back from achieving the real-world UX that we all wanted from Samsung – that is, one that is as good as the hardware can muster. Sadly, there are still clear issues with the memory management, even despite Samsung’s efforts to trim and debloat their TouchWiz ROM. The device is fast, but as the video showed, having to reload an application from scratch can ultimately cost you the race.

When it comes to the M9, however, we see something that is even more worrying: lack of solid progress. As seen in the comparison of the 1080p Snapdragon 805 benchmark, the jump to the Adreno 430 didn’t amount to nearly as much as one would expect from a generational jump like that. In many ways, the M9 would have been better off by simply going for a Snapdragon 805. Not only is the CPU more stable, but the GPU jump in off-screen tests is also quite close in terms of performance, and the chipset suffers from very little throttling in comparison… because of this, in the real world, the Adreno 430 is not quite what the 30% increase (and 100% increase for GPGPU) in performance that Qualcomm suggested once implied.

When it comes to future-proofing, the S6 has a severe edge (heh): the memory management can be improved through software updates to truly exploit the faster RAM, and you can manually lower the resolution of the display for better graphics performance (I really don’t think anyone needs 1440p in a 5.1 inch display anyway). The M9’s chipset will eventually show its age, but luckily its GPU is strong enough to handle current games with such a surplus that you might find yourself gaming on HTC’s latest for quite a while. Both feature a great real-world user experience as far as performance goes, but it would still have been nice to see the Snapdragon 810 live to its full potential. The upcoming Samsung custom cores and their new factory (which Qualcomm might end up fabbing in) coupled against the Snapdragon 820’s Kyro custom cores might make for quite the chipset battle. Manufacturers are now going for the Snapdragon 808, which might not even fare as well as the 805 either. This semiconductor war might not determine which approach is right, but it could certainly determine which competitor is left. May the best chip win!

The post Chipset Aftermath: Real World UX, Strengths & Weaknesses appeared first on xda-developers.



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