Smartphone operating systems over the years

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Mobile OS or the operating systems used in smartphones, smartwatches and other mobile devices are the epitome of advancement and progress. These systems are very different from the ones that are found on laptops and desktops. Various companies have different features and different ways of functioning. Android and the iOS are two of the most popular operating systems that are used and preferred. Although Microsoft’s Windows OS had some fans, Android and iOS continue to dominate the markets.

But the market wasn’t always like this. We had multiple operatingsystems with each bringing something unique to the table in terms of functionality, design and features.Today, we look at some of the mobile operating systems that no longer exist.


The many flavours of Linux before Android:

Maemo

At this moment, almost 81% of the world’s smartphones run on Linux OS, Android being one of the most popular ones of all. However, not all the Linux OS have had a good past, some version of Mobile Linux is no longer in use. Maemo OS is one of those OS.

This open source OS was developed by Nokia, for smartphones and tablets. Like many hand-held devices,this OS featured a home screen, which allows the users to access other applications, a Google Search bar and a menu. This OS projects from Linux kernel, Debian, and GNOME and is based on Debian GNU/Linux. Further more, it draws from GUI, frameworks, and libraries from the GNOME project.

The last known version of the OS in any smartphone was called Maemo 5 which was found on Nokia’s N900 smartphone. However, in 2010, Nokia announced that Maemo was being merged with Moblin OS, another Linux OS, to create MeeGo.

Moblin

Moblin stands for Mobile Linux was produced by Intel. However, this OS has been discontinued and only surfaced in one smartphone. This OS first featured in the Acer netbooks.LG Electronics chose to use Moblin OS 2.1 for mobile Internet device class smartphone, the LG GW990.

This OS was known to enhance the power management policy, UI framework and other things.

MeeGo

MeeGo is a discontinued Linux version, hosted by the Linux Foundation. This OS made use of the source code obtained from Moblin produced by Intel and by Maemo produced by Nokia.This OS was developed in order to offer a better operating system to the hardware of various appliances, including smartphones.

The best part about this OS was that it offered various kinds of interface options which were termed as user experiences inside the OS.

Depending on the hardware of the smartphone, the users could find applications for their smartphone by making use of Nokia Ovi digital software distribution systems or the Intel App Up. The MeeGo OS was seen in the Nokia N9and N950 models.

Windows for mobiles and phones:

Windows OS

For some years Nokia had favored the Windows OS for their new line of smartphones. However, Windows Mobile phones and software have been permanently discontinued and are not being manufactured anymore.

Nokia Lumia was the brand face of the OS, which featured a different UI and a totally different look than your regular Android phones. Although the Windows OS was aeons ahead of what Apple and regular Android smartphones were offering in terms of smoothness and design, the fact that it joined the race a bit too late did not fare well for Microsoft.

The biggest aspect to Windows success had been that the phones were well-built and had great features along with being priced affordably. However, players such as Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi killed the game for it. Furthermore, the lack of developer support also had a large part to play in the downfall of the Windows OS. The last version to released was Windows 8.1, which now has been updated to Windows 10. Microsoft has nothing planned for these phones, and there will be no updates in the future.

The other big players:

Palm OS

The Palm OS was one of the most popular OS from the 90s, this OS was found in the PDAs manufactured and marketed by Palm Inc. The now discontinued OS came with an easy to handle OS, which made the use of touchscreens easy. Furthermore, there was a personal suite of applications which allowed the users to manage their personal data.Later versions of the OS were even adapted to work with smartphones.

Although Palm had a lot of things planned, the ideas and the plans simply did not work as they should have. Palm’s marketing for Pre and Pixi were nothing to sneeze at. What’s more is that Palm did not allow developers to develop WebOS applications until too late. So, all in all, Palm’s downfall was just like BlackBerry’s and similar to what happened to Nokia’s Lumia series while they offered great functionality there was always something missing.

BlackBerry OS

There was a time when BlackBerry enjoyed the popularity that Apple’s iPhone enjoys now, but now things have changed, and BlackBerry is a thing of the past now. The BlackBerry OS is a proprietary OS specifically made for the BlackBerry line of smartphones. The OS supported multitasking and was adapted in order to offer away to various features such as trackball, track wheel and touchscreens, as seen more recently.

The success of this giant began with its pagers, seen on the belts of lawyers, doctors and various other kinds of successful people; BlackBerry had made it possible for you to reach just about anybody. Then came BBM, a way to get in touch with everyone.However, when the world was evolving, and Android smartphones along with iPhones began dominating the markets, BlackBerry stuck to what it did. In 2013,BlackBerry did try to enter the game with its touchscreen, BlackBerry 10, butit was already too late.

The BlackBerry name still remains even today but is merely licensed to TCL to making Android-powered devices that are overpriced and just do not have the same appeal as the older BlackBerry’s.

Symbian OS

Once the Symbian OS was the king of all OS’. Used by Samsung, Nokia and Motorola, this OS was one of the most popular ones, at one point. Nokia made use of the Symbian OS the most out of all the other brands and rose to prominence in the smartphone market.

However, right about the time, the iPhone came around, Symbian tech started to fall behind. The main attractive component of this OS was the UI, and iPhone had a better, bolder and slicker interface. However, the death of Nokia’s popularity and Symbian OS came slowly with the popularity of Android and iPhones, which were easier to use and had a ton more apps in their app stores.

Conclusion

Android, today is one of the most popular OS alongside iOS. However, the massive popularity enjoyed by these two does not simply stem from the ease use of the OS but also from the support of the developers.

As we just read about the other kinds OS that came around, and are no more, the only drawback was that they joined the race a bit too late or refused to change themselves quickly to adapt to the new generation. By the time Nokia made its come back with Android, or even brought in Microsoft, which offered top-end features seen in no Android or Apple phone, it was too late.

Furthermore, Palm and BlackBerry also decided to jump in a bit too late. By the time the other OS decided to join in, Android and iPhone had developed by leaps and bounds and was out their reach.

Brain Chips Are Here To Help

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Brain Chips Are Here To Help

As smartphone technology has advanced over the years there have been efforts to make sure no users are left behind.  Android Accessibility features have evolved alongside to help users with disabilities.  These have ranged from voice commands to braille displays.  And now, thanks to BrainGate, even paralyzed users who can’t pick up a phone have the opportunity to use one.

The IBCI unleashed:

Researchers have developed a new brain-computer interface that lets people with paralysis control a tablet fresh out of the box.  In the study, three participants with tetraplegia used the IBCI (intracortical brain-computer interface).  The IBCI was then connected to the tablet with a point-and-click wireless Bluetooth mouse.  The end result being that user were able to move a mouse around on the tablet screen and interact without ever touching the product.

Testers were able to use common apps ranging from web browsing to texting to playing music on a piano app.  Two of the users were able to use the device to “chat” with each other in real time.  Let me again emphasize that all of this was able to happen with a tablet that had no altercations done to it.  Users who were unable to move their arms or legs at all were able to experience the cutting-edge technologies that a lot of us take for granted.

Android Accessibility:

While the research for this achievement has been done by BrainGate, Android has taken steps as well to try making smartphone technology accessible to any and all users.  Android Accessibility’s feature set includes things such as the TalkBack function and Braille display.  TalkBack allows users to interact with their devices using spoken feedback.  The BrailleBack feature lets people connect a refreshable braille display to an android device via Bluetooth.  This way users can read their phone even though they can’t see the screen.

There are other Bluetooth connections that Android thrives on such as switch, keyboard, and mouse.  These help users with limited mobility, and they’re constantly undergoing innovations and improvements.  Fuchsia, proclaimed as Android’s successor, is working heavily on these kinds of integrations.

Taking Tech to The Next Level:

BrainGate’s research is truly amazing, but we also shouldn’t just pigeon hole it into something that can help those with paralysis.  As this technology continues to develop it will likely expand into all of our life’s until we’re eventually at the “Google Glasses” stage.  By this I mean seeing an entire virtual work around us and being able to interact with just our thoughts.

I’m incredibly excited to see this helping people experience what they otherwise couldn’t.  But there’s tons of opportunity for every smartphone user to utilize this tech down the road too.  What are your thoughts on the IBCI?  How far off do you think we are from this being a commodity that we all by at the store?  Let us know in the comments below!

Overriding and Overloading: What’s the Difference?

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Overriding and Overloading: What’s the Difference?

When programming for Android (or anything) writing custom methods isn’t optional. If you don’t know what it means to write a method, then I recommend you check out Phonlab’s video tutorials.  And if you do, then don’t tune out yet!  Methods are like icebergs (90% of their functionality is unseen at first glimpse).  And getting to know the other 90% is what can take you to the next level in your development.  In this post we’re going to explore the ins and outs of overriding and overloading to make development easier.

Methods 101:

If you’re an Android programmer, then you undoubtedly know what a method is.  It’s a block of code that you give a name.  This way every time you call it that block is executed.  I know it’s a fundamental concept of programming, but here’s a sample that we’ll build onto over time.  Let’s say that you’re building a contacts app and can add contacts given a name and phone number.  Here’s the class your app uses:

Great, seems simple enough right?  But any good contacts app is going to do more than just this.  If a user wants, they should be allowed to include other info as well.  What if they want to put one contact on speed dial? Or what if they want to add a contact to a group?  How about this:

Now, there’s no problem with this code.  Each of these three methods will add a contact with the extra information that they included.  But these method names could start turning ugly if we kept adding parameters.  How do you feel about the method name addNewContactWithSpeedDialAndGroupAndPictureAndAgeAndRingtone?  First off, I’d say let’s drop every “And”, but even so that method name is getting long.  This is where overloading can help.

Overloading:

Overloading is the practice of creating new methods with the same name.  But you can’t have two identical method names, right?  If they had different logic how would the computer know which one to execute? Well they actually can as long as the parameters are different.  As long as your methods each differ like this:

then the compiler is able to recognize them each as individual methods.  So now if a user wants to add a contact it doesn’t matter how much information they give!  They can either call addNewContact(Carl, “1112223333”) or addNewContact(“Carl”, 1112223333, “Friends”) and their new contact will be added with that info.

Order counts too, you could have the methods addNewContact(String name, int phoneNumber) and addNewContact(int phoneNumber, String name) as two separate methods in the same class.  This doesn’t open many doors in this specific scenario, but it’s handy to know all the same.

Overriding:

While it sounds almost identical, overriding a method is a somewhat different technique.  This allows us to take a method that exists in a parent class and change its behavior.  As a demonstration let’s say that our contacts app has a page where you can look at individual groups.  When you open the group for “Family” there is a button where you can add contacts to this group.

Our new class named FamilyGroup will extend our NewContact class.  By doing so it now has access to the parent class’ methods.  But we don’t want our user to have to type in the group they are going to use.  That’s a waste of time for them since they’re already in “Family”.  To fix this we’ll override our addNewContact(int phoneNumber, String name) like so:

Now when a user puts in info for a new contact’s name and phone number this method will call NewContact’s addNewContact(int phoneNumber, String name, String group) and pass in “Family” for the group.  Sure, we could have written another function in this class to add the contact, but this way no matter how complicated NewContact’s method is, we get to call it again with only one line of code!

Wrapping up:

Overriding and overloading can make your code a lot neater if used properly, and there’s a tone of cool things you can do with these techniques in the real world.  This contacts app isn’t the most realistic project, but it gets the simple idea across.  When you start getting into more complex inheritance overriding can save you a ton of space.

If you enjoyed this post at all and want to learn more about Android development check out some of our other tutorials such as how to develop augmented reality or more complex apps!

 

Duplex Makes its Debut

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Duplex Makes its Debut

At Google I/O 2018 we saw a breathtaking performance on the center stage.  The world watched as Google Assistant placed a call to a hair salon and booked an appointment.  This new feature known as Duplex has been marketed as your new secretary, but unfortunately up until  now it’s just been an exciting video to watch.  Things are changing though, and Pixel 3’s are about to start seeing Duplex roll out onto their phones.

Duplex:

From a 3rd party view what was so amazing was how lifelike the conversation appeared.  Though the conversation took place between a computer and a real person, it was borderline impossible to tell which was which.  Google Assistant dialed the company’s phone number and then conversed with a receptionist on the other side.  It even went as far as to throw in lifelike “mhmm”’s. 

This was the first peek into Duplex, and since then we’ve seen the Pixel 3 elaborate on the release.  The newest flagship phone users have the option to avoid calls from unknown numbers.  They leave the dirty work of figuring out who is calling to Duplex which talks to callers and displays a transcript of the conversation to users.  The beauty of this is that you’ll never have to talk to a telemarketer again!

The Rollout begins:

Duplex has been big talk recently but that’s been it.  Now Google has announced it’s rolling out the feature to a select number of Pixel owners in select cities.  If you own a pixel and live in Atlanta, New York, Phoenix, or San Francisco then you’ll get to be one of the first beta testers.  As a Pixel 3 owner myself I’m waiting eagerly for the next wave, but it’s good to know progress is being made.

As expected there are initial limitations on the feature such as it only being able to make calls in English.  People using Duplex will be able to use it with commands as simple as “Hey Google, make a restaurant reservation”.  Yes, it would help to specify where, but the concept is that you have to do next to nothing!

Opting Out:

Google has also said that businesses can opt out of the service by toggling an option in their Google My Business account.  Or if a business answers the phone and says, “I don’t want to be recorded” (or something similar) they are opted out.  It seems Google is preparing for the inevitable backlash from businesses and people who don’t want any part of the system.

What are your thoughts on Duplex rolling out to Pixel phones?  Are you counting down the days until you can use it too?  Let us know in the comments below.

Smartphone features lost over the years

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Smartphone features lost over the years

Of all the things in this world, smartphones are one of the most used devices in the world and have seen many changes over the past few years. Only in about 5 years, smartphones went from being only 4 to 5 inches in dimensions to 6 to 7 inches. Furthermore, the OS and other features in these phones have seen drastic changes. Although not all of these changing features have been well-loved and appreciated, there are many other features that we have come to love and use every day.

The various developments and changing scenarios in the smartphone world have not only given us competent phones, but dual cameras, a huge hit with the smartphone using generation, and better batteries. However, when we talk about smartphones, it hasn’t always been merry.

With better phones and better features, we pay the price of losing certain features. Losing the headphone jack in our beloved smartphones has been one of the most recent laments of the smartphone using generation. And it is safe to say that it wasn’t the first, and surely will not be the last.

 

Smartphone features lost over the years that we really loved

Smartphones come with various features and immense power. However, when any company takes their smartphones to the next level, there is always something or the other that gets left behind. Every day smartphone giants chop off some feature or another that they deem useless. Here is a look at the smartphone features that we loved and the lost over the years:

 

No more removable batteries

Somewhere around in 2015, the trend shifted from smartphones with removable batteries to smartphones with non-removable batteries. iPhone was the first ever smartphone to be released with a non-removable battery in 2007. However, over the years, to slim down the phones and to offer a better build to the phone, many companies began to manufacture phones with a non-removable battery.

Surely we love slim phones, but we also loved the fact that we did not have to discard our phones when the batteries began to malfunction and give us a bad output. In today’s time, even if you love your phone dearly, you will have to choose another phone if your phone’s battery does not work properly.

 

No FM Transmitters

Yeah, the world has moved on, and we now have Google Music and Apple Music, even YouTube to help us play the music that we want. However, to all of those people who love nothing better than to listen to the music on air or enjoy a classy session of FM, sadly there is no helping them. With only our cars with FM transmitters, there is hardly any place for FM lovers to hear what they like. Gone are the days when you could plug in your earplugs and blast your favourite FM channel on your smartphone.

 

Physical Keyboards and Trackball

Remember the time when BlackBerry took the world over a storm and enjoyed the popularity that Apple enjoys today? Well, if you do, then you probably know that the best of BlackBerry’s days came with its amazing physical Qwerty keyboard. Although the advent of smartphones did not directly let go of the Qwerty and trackball features, the trend did die down after a while. Furthermore, smartphones like the Motorola Droid, the T-Mobile G1/G2, Sprint Epic 4G Touch tried to keep the Qwerty fever alive, but it did not work out so well.

 

We know that BlackBerry KEYone still exists, but honestly, the phone does not gel with the requirements of today’s time. The phone is nothing but a low-powered phone which will obviously not allow you to do anything.

 

Slideout designs: Best of Smartphones

Before we had iPhone to set the parameters for the best features to look for in a smartphone, Nokia used to make various kinds of strides in that department. The best feature of Nokia phones were the slideout designs. Surely, Samsung was one of the companies that offered good phones with slideout designs, but nobody did it better than Nokia. During that time, somewhere in early 2007, the companies were battling it out creating flip phones with revolving screens, slideouts in two different directions as seen in N9 or a phone that slid open to show the keyboard as seen in Nokia N900, there was no shortage of fun phones to find.

However, with everything becoming an on-screen game these days, it is hard to find a smartphone that comes with a Qwerty keyboard or with slideouts. These features were taken away from smartphones to create a slimmer and better smartphone. But not to fear, as while sliding is out, foldable smartphones may soon be a reality with innovations from Samsung.

 

The Issue of Losing the Headphone Jack


Yes, we know, that the headphone jack is still present on many phones, but the number is dwindling. However, when you look at it closely, there is a number of companies that have already decided to omit the jack from their system. The point is that creating space for a headphone jack takes up space that could be used for other things like beefing up the battery. Furthermore, the new trend of Type-C USB has also led to a decline in the use of headphone jacks in the phones. The Type-C USB is made for only one purpose, and that is to offer you one cable for all kinds of uses.

Although you can still find many kinds of smartphones with headphone jacks, there is a possibility that very soon we would lose the headphone jack. Apple and HTC have already taken the steps of removing the headphone jacks, and it is only a matter of time Samsung, and other companies follow suit.

Surely, we have seen many impressive phones over the past few years, but nothing can beat the features that we have lost over the years, especially the uniqueness that each phone had in the market.

Which feature do you miss please comment below.

 

Unbelievable features on todays flagships

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Unbelievable features on todays flagships

If you head over into your wardrobe and dish out your old favorite smartphone or feature phone you’ll realize that while the basic premise of what makes a phone tick is same (processor, RAM, display and battery), a lot of features have seen massive upgrades. Displays on today’s smartphones are much larger and higher resolution than before, processors can now process a lot more tasks including AI! which manufactures brag about at length and camera sensors have for the first time made it possible for us to leave our bulky cameras and video cameras at home.

 

But despite the huge numbers of smartphones in the market, there are a lot of similarities amongst most of them. But, today we are going to look at some unique features in flagship smartphones.

 

Sliding cameras:

It’s no secret that a lot of people hate notches on their phones, but the reason for the existence of notches was that it wasn’t possible to place camera sensors under the display along with the sensors. But over time we have managed to make ultrasonic sensors and in-display fingerprint scanners but the cameras still take up considerable space and that’s why we have notches. But Chinese smartphone makers Oppo and Vivo have come up with nearly bezel less phones with sliding/ pop-up cameras. While Vivo’s approach is more simple and thoughtful putting only the front camera on the slider, Oppo went all out, putting both the front and rear cameras on the slider. But these are not all, the upcoming Honor Magic 2 and Mi Mix 3 are rumored to have something similar with manual sliders.

 

Multiple cameras

For a long time smartphones were considered inferior to standalone cameras and while the current generation hasn’t surpassed DSLR’s they have certainly come very close. But with people’s obsession with shallow depth of field effects of the DSLR meant smartphones makers had to mimic the same on phones. But with the size of the camera sensor being tiny on phones you’ll need a very wide lens so a secondary sensor is used to get the depth effect. Manufacturers often go berserk when a new feature or trend is created, the same is with multiple cameras. A few of the latest phones have up to 5 cameras on their phones like what LG did with the V40 ThinQ (appalling name, we get it). The ThinQ gets a 12 MPx primary sensor at the back along with a 107 degrees wide-angle sensor and a 50mm equivalent zoom sensor. The story is similar at the front as well with an 8Mpx primary sensor and a 5 MPx wide angle shooter. There are only a handful more phones that use these many sensors like the Huawei P20 Pro which was amongst the first ones to start this trend of triple rear sensors.

 

But hold on if you though three rear facing camera sensors are a lot, look at the world’s first quad rear camera phone, the Samsung A9 with four rear cameras (Mian camera, Wide angle, zoom and depth)

 

High refresh rate display

Razer debuted its first gaming phone the Razer phone almost a year ago and while it wasn’t a standout in terms of design there was one feature that not a single phone in the market at that time (and even today) possessed- a 120Hz refresh rate display. A high refresh rate display is common in gaming monitors that go all the way to 144 Hz and more but what’s the use of it you may ask? Well, for gaming it means a far smoother game play, on your phone you can expect silky smooth animations and ultra smooth scrolling and app openings. Not just that the phone can dynamically adjust the refresh rate so as to conserve power during tasks like reading a web page where it can dial down all the way down to 20Hz.

 

Holographic display

Displays have improved over the years in terms of brightness, resolution, colors, viewing and more but there are few that have had something revolutionary. Way back in 2011 there were a couple of 3D display phones but the technology never caught on and most of them were shelved. But recently iconic camera manufacturer, Red decided to make a smartphone (The Red Hydrogen One) for movie makers that would pack a ton of kit from ergonomic design, high-end cameras, pogo pins for Moto Mods like attachments and a Holographic display. The Holographic display is what caught the fancy of many as it lets you watch 3D content without 3D glasses. From the few people who have had access to private demos of the phones describe it as something similar to R2-D2 projecting an image. While it sounds cool and almost science fiction like, how effective it is only time will tell.

 

Quad DAC and Headphone jack

2018 has been the year when most flagship phones ditched the age-old headphone jack for wireless and wired USB-c connectivity. Apple iPhone, the next generation OnePlus, Razer phone, Pixel 3 all lose out on the headphone jack but one manufacturer is firm about its commitment to the headphone jack and high-quality audio- LG. Long been a favorite of the audiophile community the LG flagship phones come with an excellent 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC (balanced sound signature) with the Stereo Boombox Speaker with DTS:X 3D Surround Sound. Also, this time around the sound is tuned by Meridian Audio This makes it one of the few truly capable phones for great audio quality.

 

Super fast charging

OPPO Find X Automobile Lamborghini Edition is a limited edition version of the Oppo Find X and while it has the usual limited edition features like a high price tag, exotic materials and a lot of accessories, there is one really cool feature that is pretty unbelievable-Super VOOC Flash Charge. Building upon the VOOC charging in current Oppo phones the Super VOOC technology uses a 50W charger and two batteries to deliver an unbelievable charger rate. Taking around 35 minutes to juice up the 3400mAH from dead the Super VOOC is undoubtedly the fastest smartphone charging standard in the world.

 

Reversible wireless charging

While wireless charging is a common feature on most flagships, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro launched recently takes that feature a step forward with something called reversible wireless charging. With this, you can use you Mate 20 Pro to charge your mates iPhone or other devices that can be wireless charged. Despite your phone’s battery being drained, you don’t have to worry as the battery is a large 4200mAh unit which can be charged up to 70% in only 30 minutes.  

 

These are some of the standout features, especially in today’s smartphones. There are still many phones out there with quirky features like the Note 9’s super capacitor powered stylus or the Moto Mods on the Moto Z lineup of phones and more. While phones of today are not as quirky as the phones of yester years, we do occasionally get something with unbelievable features. So, what are the unbelievable features you came across on a smartphone? Do let us know in the comments below.

Android Isn’t Going Anywhere

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Android Isn’t Going Anywhere

There’s been a buzz going around this week that Android is dead.  Well dying actually, but everyone is claiming that Android’s reign is coming to an end and Google is moving forward.  If we take a few moments to look at the bigger picture then we’ll see Android has a long way to go before it’s no more.  The most popular operating system in the world is here to stay for a long time.

The Rumor:

The rumors pertain to the Made by Google 2018 keynote that just took place in New York City.  During this keynote the word “Android” was not said, and many have taken this as a subtle sign that Google is looking to replace the brand.  This coupled with the fact that “Android Messages” was recently renamed to “Messages” on the Play Store, and bloggers everywhere ate it up. 

Many believe that Chrome OS is set to take over Android’s claim as king since that was front and center at the keynote.  Google told a whole story about Chrome OS’s history and why it belongs on tablets. They also marketed it as a great alternative for your desktop instead of Windows and macOS.

Do the rumors stand?

While it may be true that we didn’t hear the word “Android” explicitly said, let’s not forget that there is still Android related tech coming out.  Android Auto is rolling out to a ton of new cars this year, Android Pie was released at the start of this fall, and Google just adopted Kotlin as a new official Android programming language.

Along with all these new developments we have the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL that have just come out running Android Pie.  Sure they would have to run it since that’s the newest version to come out and it’s Google’s flagship phone.  But let’s remember that that’s the newest version to come out and it’s Google’s flagship phone.  People are discussing the death of Android less than a week after a new huge phone dropped running that same software.

Looking Forwards

Sure there are things in the works to improve the user’s experience like Fuschia, but that doesn’t mean that Android is on its way out.  The fact of the matter is Android is going nowhere.  An operating system that covers 75% of smartphones worldwide is too nested into Google’s overarching architecture to instantly remove, and there are too many new Android advancements coming out to argue that Google wants to remove it.

What do you think about the recent talk against Android?  Let us know your predictions in the comments below!

 

The Pixel 3 has been unveiled, and it looks sweet!

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The Pixel 3 has been unveiled, and it looks sweet!

We’ve talked about the Pixel 3 again and again here at RootJunky, and there have been far too many rumors and leaks about it over the past few months.  I’m happy to say that’s all come to a close.  Not because I don’t like writing about it, but because the Pixel 3 has officially been released. Earlier today Google unveiled the new phone, and the preorders have begun rolling in.

The Hype Recap:

Before we get in to what the Pixel 3 and 3XL actually are, let’s take a second to remember how much build up there was about these devices.  There were images leaked on the XDADeveloper forum showing a notched display with two cameras, as well as a glass back for wireless charging.  But hardware leaks aside, what was really interesting about this phone’s build up was the rumors about rumors.

After we’d all sat with the leaked images for a bit the news surfaces that Google was reaching out to popular YouTuber’s asking to use their clips bashing the leaked design.  The result of this was the people began thinking Google had intentionally leaked images so that they could use this footage in their grand reveal of a more impressive phone.  It was a conspiracy theory for sure, but not entirely unbelievable.

Fast-forward to October 9th’s Hardware:

Skipping to today the Pixel actually dropped, and it actually doesn’t look that different from the leaked images.  Despite what some YouTuber’s may have said I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  Starting at $799, the Pixel 3 sticks to the traditional design of a split material back allowing for wireless charging (thank goodness!).  The regular phone measures in at 5.5 inches and for $100 more the XL measures in at 6.3 inches.

Pixel phones have been notorious for having great cameras, and that trend isn’t stopping with the Pixel 3. It is however deciding to avoid the current trend of a dual rear camera.  With a total of 3 cameras, one can be found on the back and two on the front.  And guess what?  For the XL these cameras are nested in a notch.  This trend seems to be sticking around for a while, and even Google’s flagship device has embraced it.  The new cameras seek to take the crown and offer incredible zoom in as well as a wide range selfie mode.

Screening the Spammers:

Remember that ground breaking release from Google I/O earlier this year called Duplex?  It seemed unreal as the Google Assistant called a barber shop, had a conversation with the receptionist, and successfully booked an appointment for its user.
Well the Pixel 3 leverages this technology to make your call screening much more enjoyable.  Using Duplex, you’ll never have to answer the phone for a telemarketer again.

The Pixel 3 can answer itself and provide a real-time transcript to you of whatever the caller says. Duplex prompts them on the other side of the line asking them to identify themselves and let you know if the call is urgent, and as they talk you can see the text appear on your screen.
Then if you want to answer you can, or you can select from premade responses to keep the conversation going and get more details before deciding to pick up or not.  Google Assistant really is becoming a personal secretary.

I’m really excited for the Pixel 3 to be out and will be getting my hands on it as soon as I can. What are your thoughts on the new device?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google Minus And Project Strobe

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Google Minus and Project Strobe

After 7 years of effort Google has decided that enough is enough for Google+.  The tech giant has admitted to failing its entrance into the social media marketplace. As both a business decision and safety concern they’ve decided to take Google+ off the web and focus on other things.

Project Strobe

Security has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds this year as privacy scandal after privacy scandal has surfaced.  Facebook’s Cambridge Analytics scandal made us hyper aware of how much data is exposed to third-parties.  In an attempt to combat privacy issues Google launched Project Strobe.  It’s a root-and-branch review of third-party developer access to Google accounts and Android devices.  Essentially it’s a research project to check up on how secure everyone’s information really is.

The findings: not the best.   Today Google announced four key findings from the project along with steps to remedy each.

1. There are significant challenges in creating and maintain a successful Google+ product that meets consumer’s expectations.

Google+ has a pretty serious bug in it that exposed user data to third-party applications that didn’t have proper access.  Google says that there is no evidence anyone else found this out before they did (hard to be sure).  But combining this with the lack of adoption among users and the end result has been to remove Google+ entirely.  I don’t think anyone is too upset at this move, and it’s probably for the best Google diverts its time towards new innovations.

2. People want fine-grained controls over the data they share with apps

When you download a new app that performs certain functions, it may need permission to do so.  Whether that’s accessing your camera to take a picture or seeing your contacts so that it can share a picture with others, apps can’t do these things until you let them.  This is a big plus for Android security, but unfortunately sometimes it’s not organized well enough.

There are some permissions that are grouped together when presented to a user, and this can potentially be a problem.  If you want an app to do one thing you shouldn’t have to grant it access to 3 permission, yet this is sometimes how things are organized.  Google has announced they’ll be launching more granular account permissions that will show individual dialog boxes for each.  Maybe a little more frustrating for relaxed users, but definitely a win for security.

3. When users grant apps access to their Gmail, they do so with certain user cases in mind

To correct the security issue of third-parties abusing contact information Google is limiting what kinds of apps are allowed to access Gmail data.  The only apps allowed will be those that are “directly enhancing email functionality”.  Basically, if there’s not real reason for your app to need to write an email, it’s banned.

4. When users grant SMS, Contacts and Phone permissions to Android apps they do so with certain use cases in mind.

3 and 4 are pretty similar to one another, but this other finding takes things past email and into the phone/contacts.  Google is limiting how many apps will be allowed to access this information.  In addition to this Contact interaction data will no longer be available vie the Android Contacts API.

The bottom line is that Google did a security sweep and decided a few things needed to change.  It seems that these changes are proactive which is always a good things, but if you’re one of the world’s Google+ user’s then I’m sorry you have to say goodbye.  For everyone else these changes should be nothing but good as security continues to improve.

What are your thoughts on Project Strobe?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

Let Firebase Cover the Basics For You

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Let Firebase Cover the Basics For You

When it comes to writing code, the less you have to do the better.  You want control over how your applications behave, but if you can piggy back off of other developer’s work then that’s generally a good thing.  And if you’re hoping to be an app developer, then one of the best tools for piggy backing is Firebase.

Using others to your advantage:

If you think about it even developing the most basic app takes the work of countless others.  Someone else had to develop the programming language you’re writing in, someone else had to build the IDE (probable Android Studio) that you’re developing on, and someone had to…well you get the point.  Any modern-day invention was not created from nothing, it came about thanks to the ground work being done by something that came first.

This doesn’t mean you can’t be innovative.  It means that there’s nothing wrong with using 3rd party libraries and tools to make your development journey easier.  If you don’t have to worry about the basics then you can focus on what makes your app great.  Ok enough justification, let’s talk about how you should use Firebase to make life easier.

Authentication and Data Management:

How many apps do you have that require you to sign in to fully use features?  Of those how many let you create and account through Facebook?  Users hate having to create sign-in info, a decent percentage won’t even go through the process because of the extra 10 seconds it takes.  So including an option for one-click sign in makes it more likely your app will succeed from the start.  Firebase makes this feature easy to leverage allowing you to create a sign in screen with companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google. 

When users sign up Firebase keeps track of their info and allows user management to be easily configured.  If a user gets a new phone they can log in and Firebase will associate them with the same account.  Firebase also has a database feature allowing you to create and store JSON info, so users can interact with one another and store information easily.  Let’s say you wanted to create that new social media app which lets people post pictures and message one another:  Firebase should be your go to.

Analytics:

When you release an app it’s best to have a game plan for what’s next.  What if users love one part of the app but never use another?  Well if that’s the case then you should aim for a redesign that either brings in new features or directs the users attention to things they are more interested in.  Of course if you release an app and people in other countries start downloading it you can’t exactly track them down and ask them how they’ve been using the app.

This is where analytics come in.  Firebase gives you the capability to monitor user events (anonymously) so you can see which features are getting the most interaction.  If you have a search bar in your app that no one ever clicks on, it’s either time to drop it or move it elsewhere to try again.  Analytics can keep you in know for how your app is behaving and what should change.

Crashlytics:

And on the topic of what should change in app behavior, crashes are about the worst thing a user can experience.  You may be getting 1 star ratings in the app store because your app shuts off randomly for some users and you don’t know why.  Firebase offers Crashlytics to look at the stack trace details for every crashed application.  If there’s one button in your app that is broken and slipped through your checks when publishing, now you’ll be able to see that it’s responsible for the crashes and act accordingly.

Firebase offers a ton of other features that can make development easier and the user experience more fluid.  These are just the tip of the iceberg and features I enjoy using on a daily basis.  If you want to learn how to incorporate Firebase into your apps then checkout Phonlab’s Android Development Course!