Nexus 6P

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Nexus 6 P

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What does it mean to be a nexus phone? Is it a cutting edge flagship? Perhaps something meant for developers and enthusiasts? A bang for your buck champion?  It should be easy but it is a hard thing to explain the nexus brand.  Nexus phones have meant a lot of different things to people over the years.  Even Google’s own vision has shifted a little after each year.  Each time trying to adjust, trying to find the perfect vision and never quite getting there.  Knowing that you can’t please all the people all of the time, Google decided to have two phones this year, two visions of perfection. We are going to look at the phone marked with a P, the Nexus 6P.

The one trait that has remained the same about nexus phones; they push the limits.  They try to take what is current and improve it.  They take new technology and implement it.  Has Google succeeded with this year’s vision? Let’s review a few key areas and find out.

 

Look and Feel

The first thing that I actually noticed about this phone was how thin it felt in my hand; then I notice how good it felt, sturdy and well built. That something that told my fingers “this phone needs to have some thickness to it” faded after using it for a while. The phone does have some heft (178g) and I like that.  Huawei has made a solid phone for Google and that is a feeling that has not faded.

 

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The speakers are on the front, the only place for speakers in my opinion, and they blend in very well with the front fascia.  The antenna lines on the four corners works well and I have even started to like the camera visor. Early leaks on the internet made the visor look as if it protruded out like an ugly growth.  Even now pictures don’t do it justice.  In the hand and in person the visor looks to be part of the phone, a natural extension.  The power and volume rocker are located on the right hand side.  They sit just above half way to allow some single handed use.  The SIM card slot can be found on the left side.  Look to the back for a fingerprint sensor.  Perfect placement!  I would like to see the volume and power back there as well.  LG really has something with their “Buttons on the back” phone design. I hope more companies take inspiration from their design. Overall this makes for a very elegant phone and I would like to stop there but I can’t.

On the bottom portion of the back side of the phone is a plastic cover.  The plastic cover is there for antenna signals access and covers a few screws used to keep this thing together. The plastic cover really hurts the phones look.  There is a lot of effort to match the plastic and aluminum but plastic is plastic and aluminum is aluminum. You can’t hide that. Most people will put a case over their phone and that will moot the point but I still find this to be a hard pill to swallow.  80% of the phone is beautiful; the plastic cover is the other 20%.

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Multimedia experience

At 5.7 inches this is a big and beautiful display.  The colours really pop and this is to be expected from an AMOLED screen.  If there is too much colour for your eyes to handle you do have a built in option.  You can use the sRGB colour mode found in the developer settings if you want the screen to pop a little less. The colours tend to be more true to life with the sRGB enabled.  I have used both settings and I have to admit that I prefer the default settings.  The popping colours look really great when playing any game.  It made the experience come alive, even if it looks to bold to be real.  The only fault I have with the display is the blue/purple haze that washes over the screen when viewing it on an angle. This is most evident when you have a complete white background.  The coloured background of various apps and games can make this effect nonexistent. Just make sure that you are viewing straight on when opening gmail.

Viewing angles aside, this phone seems to be made for Netflix.  The visuals come in clear and crisp with the 518 PPI (pixels per inch) screen and the speakers are great.  This combines to produce a fantastic multimedia experience.  Five minutes into any show or movie and you are hooked.  You will forget that you are watching this on a phone and just enjoy the entertainment.

The speakers were so good that I had to compare them with an HTC phone and their Boom Sound speakers.  I assumed the sound would have been closer but you can definitely perceive better sound emanating from the HTC.  I am not an Audiophile but even my dull ears noticed the depth of sound that came from One M9.  Both are great, both are loud, but HTC had a richer and fuller sound.  I hope that more OEMs bring front facing speakers to their designs; it really makes a world of difference to the multimedia experience.

Under the Hooddsc_0055

For those that like specs, the Nexus 6P does not disappoint.  Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 v2.1 is the chipset that powers this unit.  This Octa-core setup is split in two with a Quad-core 1.55 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57 64-bit setup, mated to an Adreno 430 GPU.   Memory comes in at 3 GB of DDR4 RAM and your choice or 32, 64 or 128 Gigabytes of storage.

Does that translate to a fast phone? Yep it sure does!  This phone is like a big block V8 with Android 6.0 Marshmallow at the wheel.  It handled almost anything that I could throw at it.  Even jumping from Clash of Clans to Star Wars Commander and back again, was handled thoroughly.  Marshmallow many not have come with a change in design language but it put a lot of grease in the gears.  Everything is silky smooth. The phone did get a little warm under heavy use but not noticeably warmer than any phone I have played with in the past.  The only thing that made the phone hiccup or stutter was the camera.  It was an odd thing for me; I tried to replicate the stutter but could not get a consistent result.  Sometime is just wanted to be a little slow getting in or out of the camera app.  Thankfully this was the exception and not the rule. Speaking of the camera…….

Camera

When I first read about DxO Labs giving the Nexus 6p a place beside the Galaxy s6 I was impressed.  The new Samsung combination of hardware and software has walked away with all the prices this year.  Even Apple and Microsoft (Nokia) fanboys have been forced to admit that it is the best Camera of 2015.  The new iPhone 6s may change that but early reviews don’t give me that impression.  Either way the 6P had something to prove.

Does it live up to the hype? In my opinion, no.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a very good camera.  I would even say great comparing it to other nexus phones but I personally do not think it can hang with the Galaxy s6 camera.  Over all the pictures come out rather nice, but there is a tendency to overexpose the whites.  It reminds me of the large megapixel camera HTC was pushing.  Both cameras are great in low light but both tend to overexpose or wash out bright whites.  This may be an effect of larger pixels.  The pixels size for the 6P is 1.55 microns which really isn’t that large considering the HTC’s were 2 microns across each length.  It has the ability to record 4k video but the results are not always great.  Too much motion with the camera or the subjects and things get pixelated, fast. It also suffers under poor lighting conditions compared to the 1080p videos.

That is the bad news and the good news is……. there is lots of good news.  The camera has an eloquent and simply designed interface.  Some have said that it is too simple but I disagree.  Most people want to just point and shoot.  If you are a shutterbug you already have a dSLR camera for adjusting exposure and ISO, etc.  If you really want to have the dSLR experience with a smartphone you could always download and app and have your fun.  Personally I really like the simple design, it make it easy.

The 8 megapixel front facing camera is a dream.  The photos are nice and crisp with great low light performance. The camera will focus quickly and keep the colour very true to life.  It is really one of the best selfie cameras that I have used.  It does not have the “beautification” mode that some cameras sport, but I find that a blessing.   I would rather have my ugly mug look crisp and clear than that waxy makeup image that comes from “beautification” mode.

The 12.3 megapixel Sony sensor is for your rear facing photos and even though it does occasionally overexpose like I mentioned earlier, it is still a great camera.  It is generally quick to launch, fast to focus and the colour representation is pretty good.   The AMOLED screen can throw you off a little but set it to sRGB or put you picture on your monitor to show your true colours shining through.  With an aperture of F2.0 you can get some nice effects playing with your depth of field.025024

 

With an aperture of F2.0 you can get some nice effects playing with your depth of field.  Notice the focus on the background and then the for ground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The indoor or low light performance is better than most but still tends to pixelate when there are not enough photons buzzing around.  Optical Image Stabilization would have helped out in this area and could have taken this camera from very good to great.

The video quality is better than most but I recommend sticking to the 1080p resolution settings.  4K sound awesome but the results are for from superior.  It is acceptable for basic scenes with little motion but the camera seems to handle 1080p much cleaner when pushed to the limits.  Try chasing your kids around with the video on you will see lots of pixilation at 4k.  With most TVs and monitor still pushing 1080 I don’t see the need for the 4k video at this time.  I just wish Google would have done it better if they were going to offer it. Even with the nitpicking it is a great camera and great phone.

 

Conclusion

 

When I started to write the conclusion, I was looking at value for your dollar along with what it means to be a Nexus phone.  I am going to leave price off to the side for now and discuss it in a follow up article.  So, that leaves us with the question of what is means to be a nexus phone.  Does this phone push the limits? Is it a cutting edge flagship? Perhaps something meant for developers and enthusiasts?

What I know is the Nexus 6P is the best you can get from Google today.  Does it push limits?  Camera and Battery have never been so good with Nexus phone but others have pushed their limits further. Is it a cutting edge flagship?  Yes, it can run with the flagship crowd but it is part of the pack, not the leader.  Is it meant for developers and enthusiasts?  Despite the e-fuse that will let everyone know this phone’s bootloader has been unlocked, I would say yes.  There are already all kinds of support for this device in the libraries of XDA.  That will only grow over time.

So Google has succeeded? Yes! This is the best Nexus phone to date, as it should be, it the newest.  Is it a perfect phone? No, but it comes close and for the money it may be the best value for your dollar.  This is a phone that you can recommend to anyone, the power users or the casual Facebook viewer will both enjoy this phone.  I comes close to being all things to all people.

 

 

 

Until next time

E. Tuesday

 

P.S.

Well it may be the best value for your dollar unless you are Italian.  Why am I picking on the Italians?  Well I am not but come back to view my next post and find out who is.

 

 

 

 

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Google Cardboard: It’s just a box

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Google Cardboard: It’s just a box

 

Google Cardboard VR is a free open source D.I.Y. project Google started to inspire VR (virtual reality) development and to get it into the hands of the common user. It’s acentually free at worst low cost, by only requiring everyday household items or easily accessible parts from a local crafts store. To save time at the cost of only a few bucks more then building your own, you can order one from Unofficial Cardboard. Google provides a free stencil print out and parts list with a blueprint for assembly that starts with Biconvex Lenses, Neodymium Magnet, Ceramic Magnet, Velcro Strips, Rubber Band and an NFC Tag which is optional. The box itself is specced specifically to work with most devices and screen sizes, just make sure to use plans or purchase the headset that’s designed for your device’s size. Google also designed a special UI to simulate the VR experience, by utilizing all the high end tech your current device has inside it. Since your device is already equipped for VR argo it’s accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer, this seems like a no brainer, at least for Google.

Google wants to immerse you in an interactive virtual reality with nothing more than a piece of cardboard and your current device. Providing free virtual reality apps for 360° video, gaming and interactive educational apps on both Apple and Android platforms, but other than the Google provided Cardboard app some 3rd party apps may vary store to store depending on the developer. With the Google Cardboard app you get a portal to a virtual world that feels bigger than the tiny 5 inch screen it’s being displayed on. Described as a theater experience, with the feeling of looking at a huge screen at a pleasant distance it’s easily fun for everyone of all ages.

It’s just a box, but thanks to your current device’s super high end tech, it’s so much more than just Cardboard. It’s a virtual reality console with endless possibilities for entertainment & educational purposes, for those of all ages.

#360Video:                                             bestcardboard-cardboard-100569399-orig

Watching VR 360° videos is an indescribable experience that can only be understood by participation, spectators will get a good laugh. You don’t necessarily need a VR to watch a 360° video via mono screen, although the side by side VR style with head movement to control the view is incomparable. To watch a 360° movie or music video, simply open YouTube and search #360Video. You can select the viewing options on the player, in the bottom right corner via the goggles icon. There’s a variety to choose from, music videos like live concerts to horror movies and live action adventures that bring the POV into the stories.

 

Star Wars – 360° Virtual Reality

The Star Wars #360Video gives you a short POV of a Droid wheeling along on the Death Star marching floor. While wheeling through the corridors of the infamous destroyer of worlds, the Sith Lords right hand Darth himself makes an appearance. While on the mighty Death Star, you’ll get the unique perspective of a lonely single dorid on its mission to collect data and escape with its batteries intact.

 

360° Horror | “Eat You Alive” with Chris Riedell, Jason Horton and Lauren Reeder

When it comes to virtual reality horror the YouTube Space LA team is winning with its new video. Get that fly on the wall feeling in this zombie apocalyptic stand off between man and monster, which aren’t so different in this story. With headphone and an office chair that rotates for ease of view, you’ll feel as if you’re standing in the room frozen in fear. It’s a highly adult horror short that’ll get your heart pumping damn near outta your chest.

Gaming (Android)

Thanks to Google’s Cardboard project, virtual reality gaming that fully brings a player into its characters world is finally here. The way a game acts and reacting to movements and provides a believable experience. When you add a gaming controller and headphones into the mix you get one h.e.double hockey sticks of an experience that takes your breath away. The games currently available aren’t the best of quality in the sense of graphics and storyline. Think of this as a big beta test to see if there is a market for VR that’s worth the time and effort to develop higher quality more expensive games. In consequence the more users and downloads of VR apps will push the development community to make better games.

House of Terror VR

This is a creepy twist on escape the room that takes place in a virtual world, where you’re trapped in a house of terror with monsters and no way out in sight. Your goal is to survive each room, avoiding giant spiders and lurking evil, while looking for the way out. This app does require a bluetooth gaming controller for moving the character around the room, a VR headset like Google Cardboard and a pair of headphones to really be immersed into the experience. If you want to test your escaping skills as well as you courage, this game is perfect for you.

 

Galaxy VR Cardboard Space FPS

Galaxy VR is a space flight simulator that puts you in the cockpit of a starship fighter. You’ll get to experience a true VR FPS thats multiplayer. This game has it all from amazing graphics to reaction timing with seamless head tracking and it’s an online multiplayer, could you ask for more? You can even look down and see your full body avatar, the controller in your hands and the hands reacting to your button pressing IRL (in real life). With an option to play first person or 3rd person view, there are 3 different camera angles in game play to choose from. Unlock the full app by paying a small fee, for additional gameplay options and modes. Once you get used to the movements and past the motion sickness this app is definitely one of my favorite VR games. Join me in the fight, download the app now and get ready because there is no traditional main menu here. You  start the game in mid flight, sitting in a starfighter with a 3D holo HUD in your lap, and in a fight for your life against other live players from around the world. What are you waiting for? The future is here, go download it!

PS:

You can even play Flappy Bird from the Birds POV with Flappy For Cardboard VR.

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Apps (Cardboard Demo)

The free interactive educational opportunities provided by Google alone are worth the small investment in Cardboard. You can visit and learn about historical places and look around as if you were actually standing in the room. Get a tour of a famous foreign or domestic landmark with your own personal virtual tour guide. Visit the old neighborhood and walk the streets to slight see with Google Street View and be your own tour guide. Visit and learn with Google Cardboard, it’s time to go on an adventure.

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Tour Guide

Let’s go on an adventure, without leaving the comfort of our couch. Learning historical facts about places you’re practically standing in. Very interactive and immersive with the Tour Guide saying “to your right, over to the left you’ll see”, things like that really make you feel like you’re standing in a room with a person whose describing a room as if they were there with you. It makes learning feel fun, I almost forgot it was an based on teaching i found myself spacing out and wandering around looking at the whole surrounding area. This would be a good way to teach the kids about places all over the world and keep their attention while doing it. Only thing I would like to see added to this tour guide app is a LIVE #360Video for a more convincing feel of being there, or at least some sounds of the scenery. Overall, this is an amazing app for learning about our world and the special places some only dream to see like this.

Expeditions

“Expeditions lets teachers take students on field trips to anywhere. Coming to schools worldwide in time for back to school. If you’re an educator, learn more about bringing Expeditions to your school” Click Here to learn more.

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Weeeeeeee, boy Google Earth VR is fuuuuuuun! This is one of those (needs a controller) to really enjoy apps. Just strap in and strap…on? It’s going to be one hella ride. Flying from city to city from a bird’s eye view. Visiting old places, and future old places to be. Checking out New York City and taking a FPV flight around the Statue of Liberty as if you’re an American Eagle. Google Earth was always a blast, but this is a welcomed add-on to the mix. Using the gaming controller to move front, back, side to side and to control which direction you’re moving to and fro simply use your head and look to stear. Go take a look at what’s out there via Google Earth in a whole new virtual reality world, where you feel like a spirit moving with the wind high up in the sky. Go anywhere in the world and feel as if your flying right above your dream vacation spot or old fishing hole, this is a tool only limited by your imagination. Go explore the world, your world.

 

TILT BRUSH GALLERY

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View creations made with Tilt Brush, a painting application made for virtual reality. Load pre-made sketches and watch them draw in as they were originally created.” Click Here to learn more.

 

In A Nutshell:

Google really nailed VR. They got it gaining momentum in the development community, which is good for VR, because without developers there’s no content for users. Using a person’s current device with a simple cheap cardboard box setup, freaking genius! Now for comfort and user friendly ease of use i’d suggest a little modification to the simple setup Google lays out. For example; I use an elastic sweat band to hold the Cardboard device on my head so I can use the gaming controller. Also I added tiny cushions to the nose rest, since it starts to irritate the skin after a few minutes of uses. I’ve also added a few good layers of duct tape to the cardboard as a reinforcement to strengthen its dexterity. In conclusion I enjoy using wireless headphones to enhance the experience with the spatialized audio, which helps fully immerse me in the world i’m playing or exploring in. Once you have your own Cardboard setup, you’ll find your comfort zone and person interests, just give virtual reality a chance.

You can learn in a whole new format. Taking education to a whole new level by taking you from your seat to the venue. Interacting with the student and giving them a personalized experience in a way that was never possible before. Children will never learn the same thanks to Google, and that’s a beautiful evolution in education. Affordable high quality VR in the hands of the masses, that’s Google’s goal. Even Gaming in VR changes game play and how a player interacts with the game world. Looking right, leaning over, falling back, all have a reaction in the virtual world giving players more control than ever. Imagine being able to duck IRL and the enemy in VR misses his killshot. Picture shooting in one direction, steering the character in another all while looking in the other direction for cover without moving the flow of fire. I call this the triple Y axes advantage, that only VR games can provide. Even movies and music videos have to reevaluate their way of production to accommodate this new media and social outlet. Being in the center of the experience is what entertainment strives for, it’s that feeling you get when you tunnel vision into the screen and forget you’re in a theater full of other people experiencing the same sublime euphoria, that is the true goal. With VR and #360Video the future of media entertainment is here, and it’s beautiful.

 

How I Use Google Cardboard VR:(Android)

VR, as we know it right now, is in it’s early beta testing. Slowly but steadily picking up users along the way, as more and more developers create more and more apps. By contributing to the VR “cause” with purchases of apps and leaving good ratings and positive encouraging reviews, I hope to motivate developers to create more and I suggest you do the same.

I like to watch #360Videos, play VR games & take Tour Guides all around the world. With my Beats By Dre PowerBeats2 bluetooth headphones and my Amazon Fire TV gaming controller I can fully immerse myself in a movie and video game. Sitting in the comfort of my office chair I can spin 360 degrees with ease, which takes a lot of the work off the neck when turning 180. Watching movies in 360 with spatialized audio is how I like to enjoy short films. I wouldn’t enjoy long length feature films that are over 15 mins long. After about 15 mins I find myself needing a break from the virtual world, because of motion sickness. So I watch short horror films that bring me into the terror and give me that feeling of fear and excitement that only movie theaters once could deviever. There are some good action films that are good #360Videos but there is something about the horror genre and VR that compliment each other perfectly. Gaming in VR is a whole different ball game, and takes a lot of getting used to. Moving around spinning and flipping in a virtual world, even running in VR for long periods of time can have IRL effects. I only game for about 5 mins at a time, to keep myself from feeling vertigo and getting nauseous. I think this is a graphics and rendering meets head tracking and stitching issue, that money could solve. So again I encourage you to download VR apps, try them and leave some positive reviews and feedback. I prefer to VR with Android, since there are more developers and well Google does Cardboard. That and my bluetooth gaming controller won’t work with my Apple device, but there are VR apps for Apple devices. Personally I like the way my iPhone 6 plus’s bigger screen produces the VR effect in my Cardboard rig over my Samsung S6. So when I using an app like Tour Guide, which doesn’t require any interaction just pure observation, I tend to use my iPhone 6 Plus for the more clear and detailed viewing experience. I love introducing people to VR for the first time and watching their reactions to it. It brings me great joy to see someone smile ear to ear while experiencing something so new and foreign for the very first time.  

So, that’s how I like to do VR. I hope this was informative and motivated you to at very least give Google Cardboard or any form of new age VR a try.

 

Kenn Bosak

Writer/Dev./Tech

Google Cardboard VR

November 1, 2015

Android Launchers Part 3

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Android Launchers Part 3 – conclusion

Welcome to part 3 of our look at Android launchers. In this post we will discuss launchers in general and ask a simple question. Is all of this choice worth it?

To use a launcher or not to use a launcher – That is the question! Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the conformity of apple or take arms against the colours of touchwiz, and by opposing end them.

Publication1William Shakespeare wrote that, or at least something very, very close to that. I don’t want to make this post remind you to much of high-school English class but what was William trying to say? This is my opinion…….
We have heard the arguments before, people who enjoy conformity and more communistic viewpoint should buy an Apple phone. This is not a bad thing. They are great phones, and all comrades are considered equal. All use imessage, all use facetime, and with this comes the ability to streamline services and production. Apple is the icon of conformity and Android OEMs would love to have that level of success with their own apps and services. Samsung has tried to push its services in a wide variety of ways, HTC has Zoe and LG follows along with this approach but non can compare with Apple’s magical ability to glorify conformity. Are they wrong? Why does it matter if i don’t have a choice? If the correct and best option is already laid out in front of me why would i need to look elsewhere? As parents do we not lay out the best choices for our children and tell them what to choose? This is done with love and for the greater good. Apple has spent countless manhours creating the best icon for you, the best app for your needs and the best layout for your information. I am not saying this to be sarcastic. Many people, about 20% globally and about 50% in North america prefer the option of a ready made choice. And why not? It’s easy. The rub with this viewpoint is that the whole is more important than the parts. Your individual identity is lost.
Android is the choice for those that like choice or so it is said. “Be together, not the same” as the slogan says. But is android the choice of freedom? Yes and no. Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC and the rest have tried to get you to enjoy their premade choices. They have each failed at their version of communism so they allowed more choice as the years have moved along. A little more colour in the pristine white of conformity. Is it enough? Sony’s themes have always been gratifying and improved over the years. Samsung has done wonders with the new touchwiz theme engine but again, is it enough? Is this preset amount of easy change something to Shakespeare would write about? Are these the choices of freedom, the ones that are truly noble in the mind?Publication1
Well they work and they work really well. Anyone can open the Sony theme engine on their Xperia and in a few taps have a new look on their phone. Samsung has also done amazing things in 2015 to allow colour into our lives. All the OEM have given in to bits and pieces of personal choice. This is good for us all. Even Apple has opened up little but little.
So why do we need launchers? They can muck up processors and slow our phones down. They can be difficult to work with. If you really want to make a launcher your own it can take hours of time and adjustment to get it just write. Why bother?

Shakespeare also said
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to your smart phone.”

That is what Shakespeare said or at least it was really close to that. This is the point i am trying to make; launchers allow you to be true to yourself. When my phone rings the Knight Rider theme plays. KITT even talks to me when I get a notification, sure he calls me Michael but i am OK with that. The point is that i feel like myself with the phone. And the best part is I can have a multiple personalities. So many different launchers, with so many different strengths, the possibilities are endless. I can change who am from day to day. We can all express our individualizam.
So go out and be true to who you are. If that means an iphone or sticking to touchwiz, great be happy with who you are. If you have a taste for colour in your life, if you need to push away from the ordinary, then go for the customization that launchers can give. It does not matter which one you start with, what matter is that you start to explore. There is an odd kind of spark that happens when you see someone with a heavily modded layout. You know that they also dream in colour, and that they are true to themselves.

Perhaps i am making much ado about nothing, a phone after all, is just a device. A piece of overpriced glass and metal. It has no soul. Thing is, not all of us are artists, not all of us can sing or paint. For some our phones are our canvases. The device may not have a soul but we all do. So let your colours shine.

E. Tuesday.

Android Launchers

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One of the best things about Android, it gives you the ability to be different, to separate yourself from the rest and it does not matter who you are.  You could be a global juggernaut bent on touchwizing the planet or a lonely Star Trek loving geek, living in your parent’s basement. It does not matter because the Android Open Source Project lets you “be together, not the same.”

This will be part one of three, in a series about Android launchers. We will look at the good, the bad and the ugly and try to be as honest as we can be about a very subjective topic – personal taste.  Although i really like Android’s new slogan,  “be together, not the same”  and it is my preferred platform, I  want to end the series with a simple question…. Is all this choice worth it?

Let’s find out……

In this post I would like to look at two of the very best launchers.  They are Nova Launcher and Action Launcher 3. There are a lot of launchers out there and even more debate on which are the best launchers.  I have tried a number of them and the Screenshot_20151011-210528reason i see these two as the best is customizations and stability.   I have installed a number of launchers that slow my phone down and that i just can’t accept.  An unstable launcher just leaves you hanging. Literally, you are left hanging waiting for your processor to work through the math.

Action launcher 3

Action launcher 3 (AL3)is clean yet customizable.  It sticks to a stock android feel but adds some really beep modifications.  One of AL3 key features are the icon Covers and Shutters.   

From AL3’s webpage:

Covers: an innovative take on traditional folders. Tapping a Cover loads an app, swiping a Cover opens a hidden folder which you have customized.

Shutters: swipe a shortcut to reveal an app’s widget. Allows you to say preview your inbox or Facebook feed without opening the app.

Screenshot_20151011-210544

Have a look at the screenshot.  You can see that Games, Fitness and Google are covers, marked with a square, and contain apps within.  Hangouts is a shutter, marked with two horizontal lines, and previews the app with swipe.  If you look closely you may notice something about the Covers and Shutters.  They are automatically coloured to matched your app!  This is a small feature but it speaks to why i like action launcher.  The developer wanted to do his best and it shows.  When a developer takes time for the small things they gain my respect, It does not matter if you like another launcher over this one, you can’t help but respect the effort put into it and it does not stop there.

 

There are two other things that i want you to notice about this screenshot.  Look at the yellow of the google search bar and the blue of folder(Cover) background.  It all matches with the wallpaper!  AL3 calls it Quick Theme and it quickly impresses.  This feature can modify the status bar, search box, all apps background, quickdrawer and folder background all to match with your wallpaper.   You can play with it in the setting but every time i use it i really like the chosen colour scheme.  It’s not the biggest change a launcher can do but it is well thought out and the extra touches to make it complete.

There are lots of other customization and short cuts that AL3 can do but most are common to other launchers.  I should mention that the search bar can be a powerful tool for someone
using this launcher.  However, what really separates it from the pack is its stability and small touches like the quick theme.  This is a launcher that will take care of you, it will let you pick a wallpaper and then make everything look good for you.   That is why it is my second favorite launcher.  

 

NOVA Launcher

 

There are things that other launchers can do that Nova can’t but Nova is invisible and totally customization.  I can get lost in the infinite settings and options.  Nova does not coddle you like AL3 does.  You can see on this screenshot that Games, Fitness and Google are not marked as folders.  You need to remember how you have set yourself up with Nova.  You can see that the google search bar is white.  It has not been modified to match the colours of your screen.  All of these things are not negatives to me because you are actually free to modify anything and everything.  I could list what you can modify but that would make this article boring, just know that whatever it is, it can be modified on Nova.  Is your notification bar hard to see with your white Screenshot_20151011-210945wallpaper?  Change them to a dark icon theme.   Don’t like unread icon badges? That’s ok, don’t use them or if you do, place them in any corner you wish. This is the tinker’s launcher but that is not why it is my launcher of choice.  

Once you are done playing with the setting and options it works and works.  I sometimes even forget that i am using a launcher.  I will jump onto my wife’s Nexus 5 and only then do i realize “Ohh this is stock android, i forgot”.  

Not sure what kind of pixie dust they are putting in the programming.  What i do know is that it works well.  My trusty Nexus 5 is not a slouch but it can stumble if it has too many graphic heavy games thrown at it.  I notice the lag with other launchers and to a lesser degree with Action Launcher 3 but it runs like stock with Nova.  You can’t notice that is it there, it becomes completely invisible and that is why it earns my spot as top launcher.  

 

Nova may be my top launcher but it is not the most fun. Next week, in part two we will review two of the funnest launchers around.  Until then let me know your thoughts in the comment section.  Do you use either of these launchers?  Do you have a launcher that you think kicks ass, let me know.   Disagree with my opinion?  What are your thoughts?

 

Both of these launchers took time to develop.  If you have a few bucks kicking around and if you like the launcher, why not support the developer?  It can only lead to more development of new and better launchers.

 

Until next time

E. Tuesday

Google’s New Nexus devices

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Google’s New Nexus devices where announced today at an event in San FranciscoGoogle’s event begian at 12PM ET / 9AM PT and there unveiled new hardware and software to the world. Lets start with the devices first you have the Nexus 6P from Huawei and the Nexus 5X from LG. Both are awesome devices with some great specs. Next we have the second gen chromecast that brings some new features and improvements to the table along with a Chromecast audio device that could turn into be something awesome or really flop its hard to say at this point. Of course there is also the long awaited new version or android 6.0 Marshmallow that will be coming on these new devices and also released to the other Nexus devices on October the 5th.

Chromecast 2015

chromecast 2

The New 2015 Chromecast is redesigned as you can see in the picture above and has some greatly improve wifi technology for better connection and streaming over your home network. The new design also just looks really cool. you can pick up the new Chromecast from the Google store today for just $35.00 and other retailers will have the device soon.

Chromecast Audio

chromecast audio

Chromecast Audio looks just like the new chromecast with the same design but has a couple different audio ports instead of a HDMI port. these ports include 3.5 mm jack with analog and optical digital audio output plus a Micro-USB for power. chromecast audio will allow you to covert any speaker you have in your house into a streaming cast connected device and Google will be adding multi device streaming later this year. You can pick up the new Chromecast Audio from the Google store today for just $35.00 and other retailers will have the device soon.

Huawei Nexus 6P

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Huawei has joined the Nexus world with there new device the Nexus 6P. I have recently picked up some Huawei devices like the Huawei Watch and the P8 lite and have been really impressed with there hardware so i am sure that this Nexus device will be more of the same. probably the biggest change that i am hoping to see with the 6P is the improved camera. Nexus devices have always had bad i mean bad cameras and i am hoping that this year Google finally figured it out. check the specs below they are looking pretty awesome. If you are interested in the Nexus 6p you can pick up the new Huawei Nexus 6p from the Google store today $499.00 – $649.00 and other retailers will have the device soon.

LG Nexus 5X

nexus5x-2.0

LG has taken another crack at there Nexus 5 with the new Nexus 5X. This is Google’s attempt at making a budget friendly device and I think they did a pretty good job at it. when you look at other devices at this price point you find things like the OnePlus 2 and the Motorola Moto X Pure Edition which i think are both pretty comparable. It will be interesting to see once i have the phone in hand and can compare all three. I have to say that the fingerprint technology in both of these devices and many other flag ship devices is awesome and i love this feature for security. If you are interested in the Nexus 5X you can pick up the new LG Nexus 5X from the Google store today $379.00 – $429.00 and other retailers will have the device soon.

Nexus device comparison and specs

                             Huawei Nexus 6P                       LG Nexus 5X

NETWORK Technology GSM / HSPA / LTE GSM / HSPA / LTE
2G bands GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1800 / 1900 / 2100 HSDPA B1/2/4/5/8
4G Network LTE B2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/25/26/29/30 LTE B1/2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/20/25/26/29
Speed HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE Cat6 300/50 Mbps HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE Cat6 300/50 Mbps
GPRS Yes Yes
EDGE Yes Yes
LAUNCH Announced Exp. announcement 2015, September 29 Exp. announcement 2015, September 29
Status Rumored. Exp. release 2015, November Rumored. Exp. release 2015, October
BODY
– Fingerprint sensor – Fingerprint sensor
DISPLAY Type AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors Capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 5.7 inches 5.2 inches (~69.8% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution 1440 x 2560 pixels (~515 ppi pixel density) 1080 x 1920 pixels (~424 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes Yes
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 4 Corning Gorilla Glass 3
PLATFORM OS Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow) Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810 Qualcomm MSM8992 Snapdragon 808
CPU Quad-core 1.56 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 1.82 GHz Cortex-A57 Quad-core 1.44 GHz Cortex-A53 & dual-core 1.82 GHz Cortex-A57
GPU Adreno 430 Adreno 418
MEMORY Card slot No No
Internal 32/64/128 GB, 3 GB RAM 16/32 GB, 2 GB RAM
CAMERA Primary 12.3 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, optical image stabilization, dual-LED (ring) flash 12.3 MP, 4608 x 2592 pixels, optical image stabilization, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
Features Dual recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, photo sphere, panorama, HDR Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, photo sphere, HDR, dual recording
Video 2160p@30fps, optical stabilization 2160p@30fps
Secondary 8 MP 5 MP
SOUND Alert types Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes, with stereo speakers Yes, with stereo speakers
3.5mm jack Yes Yes
COMMS WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot
Bluetooth v4.1, A2DP, LE v4.1, A2DP
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS
NFC Yes Yes
Infrared port No No
Radio No No
USB Type-C 1.0 reversible connector Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
BATTERY
  • 3,450 mAh battery
  • Fast charging: up to 7 hours of use from only 10 minutes of charging
Non-removable Li-Po 2700 mAh battery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon Fire 7 budget friendly Tablet

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Amazon Fire 7 budget friendly Tablet

 

Amazon Fire 7 is a budget friendly Tablet that was released today at one amazing price of just $49.99. at this price you could buy a couple of them or even one for every person in your family or for christmas presents for the anyone. Amazon has created a special offer just for this idea which is you can get 6 Fire 7 devices for just $250.00 with code FIRE6PACK at check out. oprah

This would be a great tablet for your kids, a great entry level device. check out the specs below and as soon as i get one in hand i will have a review video on the Fire 7 for you to watch and see my impressions of this budget friendly device. I think that this is the year of affordable tech.

SPECS

  • Beautiful 7″ IPS display (171 ppi / 1024 x 600)
  • fast 1.3 GHz quad-core processor.
  • 1GB Ram
  • Rear 2mp and front-facing VGA cameras.
  • All-new Amazon Underground, a one-of-a-kind app store experience where over $10,000 in apps, games and even in-app items are actually free – including extra lives, unlocked levels, unlimited add-on packs and more
  • 8 GB of internal storage, only 5GB usable.
  • Free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with Fire devices.
  • Add a microSD card for up to 128 GB of additional storage.
  • Updated user interface – Fire OS 5 designed for quick access to your apps and content plus personalized recommendations that make it easy to discover new favorites
  • Up to 7 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching videos, and listening to music
  • WiFi B,G,N

Link to Fire 7 Tablet

 

OnePlus 2 Specs

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The OnePlus 2 is sporting some amazing specs and great features as well. If you missed the unvailing event that was in VR, which i have to say was a fun experience then you should check out this live show me and some friends did on it. HERE  Looking over app the specs listed below there are a couple little features missing like NFC, wireless charge/ turbo charging, SDcard slot, and a IR blaster. If you really dont need these features and love the price point of $389.99 like i do then this will be a great phone for you. I will for sure be picking on a OnePlus 2 as soon as i can get a Invite.

pixel-perfect-img

 

One of the Features that i am really drawn to on this OnePlus 2 is the theme. I think that all device should come with a built in theme engine and from what i am seeing I think that it will be built into stock Android at some point. For now i am willing to settle for what OnePlus has to offer. If you would like to see more on the OnePlus 2 then check out the OFFICIAL SITE HERE release date looks to be set for August 11th 2015 

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OnePlus 2 Specs

Basic Parameters

Color:
Sandstone Black
Dimensions:
151.8 x 74.9 x 9.85 mm
Weight:
6.17 ounces (175 g)
Operating System:
OxygenOS based on Android 5.1
CPU:
64-bit Qualcomm© Snapdragon™ 810 processor with 1.8GHz Octa-core CPUs
GPU:
Adreno™ 430
RAM:
4 GB/3 GB LPDDR4
Storage:
64 GB/16 GB eMMC v5.0 (available capacity varies)
Sensors:
Fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity and Ambient Light
Battery:
Embedded rechargeable 3,300 mAh LiPo battery
Max. SAR:
Head: 0.795 W/kg, Body: 1.447 W/kg

Connectivity

Connectivity:
GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz
WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/8
FDD-LTE: Bands: 1/2/4/5/7/8/12/17
Wi-Fi:
Dual-band Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n and 5GHz 802.11a/n/ac
Bluetooth:
Bluetooth 4.1
Positioning:
Internal GPS antenna + GLONASS
Digital Compass

Audio

Speakers:
Bottom-facing speaker
Microphones:
Dual-microphone with noise cancellation

Camera

Sensor:
13 Megapixel (1.3um)
Lenses:
6 lenses to avoid distortion and color aberration
OIS:
Yes
Laser Focus:
Yes
Flash:
Dual-LED
Aperture:
f/2.0
Front Camera:
5 Megapixel – Distortion free
Video:
4K resolution video, Slow Motion: 720p video at 120fps

Display

Size:
5.5 inch
Resolution:
1080p Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), 401 PPI
Type:
LCD In-cell
Protection:
Corning© Gorilla© Glass

Ports, Slots, Buttons & Indicators

Ports:
Data & Charging: USB Type-C
Audio: Jack 3.5mm
Buttons:
Power Button
Volume Rockers
Alert Slider
Capacitive / On-screen buttons
SIM:
2 slots – Nano SIM (DSDS)
Indicators:
1 LED notification light (multicolored)

Huawei P8 Lite Android Phone

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Huawei is a newer phone company here in the US. I am really looking forward to what they will bring to the table. Rumors around the Android community say that Huawei may be making the next Nexus device. For this reason, and the fact that I have never owned a Huawei product, I decided to check out the Huawei P8 Lite. Hopefully it will come soon and I can do a review on it and you can join in my journey to discover all the Huawei has to offer. Check out all the specs on this bad boy below and if you are interested in the Huawei P8 Lite.  Gearbest has a great price on them right now CLICK HERE

Display: 5.0 Inch HD 720 Screen
CPU: Octo Core Hisilicon Kirin 620 1.2GHz
RAM+ROM: 2GB RAM + 16GB ROM
Cameras: 13MP rear camera + 5MP front camera
OS: HUAWEI EMUI 3.1 compatible with Android 5.0 system
GPS: GPS/AGPS/Glonass
Bluetooth: 4.0
Networks:
2G GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G WCDMA 900/2100MHz
4G FDD-LTE 1800/2100MHz

Battery Capacity (mAh): 2200mAh

Micro SD Card Slot

 

 

Unlocked for Worldwide use.

Google Now competition Cortana and Hound beta

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Screenshot_20150719-115337Screenshot_20150719-113156

Google Now competition Cortana and Hound beta

I am sure that all of you have used Google Now and its awesome search features and cards.  Recently two new android apps have come to market that match up very well against Google Now.  The First is from the creators of Sound Hound and is call Hound Beta – Voice Search+ and works really really well with a major focus on returning a voice based answer to your questions.  The Second app was just release a couple days ago or maybe leaked 🙂 its called Cortana and is created by Microsoft. Since Microsoft made Cortana of course it uses Bing as its search engine and normal comes with windows phones.

Screenshot_20150719-115345Screenshot_2015-07-19-11-48-57Screenshot_20150719-113209

 

All three apps have a nice menu for customizing the cards that show up and your search results. In my experience Hound is great at answering long questions with many parameters while Cortana is much better at answering fun and simple questions like tell me a joke. 🙂 see below

Screenshot_2015-07-19-13-17-35Screenshot_20150719-092700Screenshot_20150719-093135Screenshot_20150719-093202

So if you would like to try out a new voice search application then download these and check them out probably the best part about voice search apps is finding all the Easter Eggs hidden inside :-). Please let me know if you fine anything really funny or just plain awesome.

 

RootJunky out!!

Whats your dream Android device?

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Whats your dream Android device?

 

IMG_5182

Since we are talking about dream android devices we have to start with specs and hardware then we can move on to features. So here is my list of specs that would keep me using a phone for more then the 3 months i do now.

Screen Size:  I am the kind of person that watches lots of youtube on my phone so for me the sweet spots is a 5.5 screen like on the LG G4. I am also fine with 1080p but 4K would be awesome. Must have unbreakable glass.

Battery Life:  Super important to me because i am away from chargers most of me day so the battery on the Motorola Droid Turbo with 2 day battery life should soot my needs just fine. It of course must have turbo and wireless QI charging. Must have a removable battery.

Speakers:  For me the HTC One M9 with stereo front facing speakers is a true winner. This is the only way to go and I am super tired of cupping my hand behind the phone to be able to hear.

Camera:  For sure the winner in this section with the best camera is the Samsung Galaxy S6. I love this camera it shoots the best and fastest pictures and video in auto mode i have ever seen.

CPU: octo core snap dragon at 3.2Ghz with 4GB of ram. plus a 128GB internal storage.

 

SD Card: Must have a SD Card Slot so that i can increase my storage if i want to.

 

Features

1. Twist or double tap home to launcher camera. Really and camera short cut is fine with me but i like both of these

2. Finger print scanner to unlock the phone.

3. Motion gestures for screen shots. I love this feature on my Samsung devices.

4. Stock Android software from Google not skins

5. Built in theme engine that is also open for anyone to theme on.

6. No bloat ware only apps needed for the device to boot up. I can install any other app i want from google play store.

7. Knock on to turn on your screen with a double tap.

8. On screen home back and recent buttons.

9. Has to have flash light and tether toggles from the notification drop down.

10. works on all radio bands and carriers.

11. The reason i would want a unlocked bootloader is that it will make the longevity of the device last much longer and keep development happening.

12. Open Source will keep development coming with all the source code public.

samsun-bendable-phone-537x298

I think with these specs I would be happen with my device for at least a year maybe 2. What would a device like this cost you may ask, well i dont really now but i would be willing to pay around $1200.00 for one. What would you pay for the ultimate smart phone and what features and specs would you absolutely have to get?

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