Android Pie is Fresh Out Of The Oven

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Android Pie is Fresh Out Of The Oven

Today Google officially dubbed the newest version of the Android operating system as Pie!  Along with this naming they’ve also released the first official version of it to Pixel phones.  Android users around the world are debating whether this was the right dessert name or not, but either way we know that Pie has some great things in store for us.

The Build Up:

Over the past few months we’ve seen a few beta version of Pie released on a series of smartphones, but this official release is only available on Pixel phones.  People who signed up for the Android Beta program will receive the update by the end of this fall though.  Google also said it’s working to launch/upgrade other devices sometime this year.

Those details are pretty vague, and if Pie behaves anything like other Android versions, it could be over a year before it’s adoption rate breaks double digit percentages.  All the same it’s officially available to Pixel users and it has a name.  That’s plenty for now, but let’s also not forget that Pie is available in its beta format on a number of different devices.

A review of Pie:

We’ve talked about Pie and its cool new features a few times here at RootJunky.com.  The new software is designed with predictive analytics and AI for battery power as some of the main features.  The idea is to improve things behind the scene for users.  Pie monitors and adjusts screen brightness as well as what apps are in the background during different times of the day.  It gets used to user’s habits, and then preps itself in advance to recreate that behavior.  AI is definitely a buzz-word, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have some perks.

It also features an official dark mode option in settings, something Android user’s have been asking for for years.  Notifications also offer features such as smart replies for texting and a new feel to them, so the changes in this version are both front and back end.

Aaand the Notch:

Of course when we’re talking about new looks we have to mention the notch.  It’s taken a hold of both the iOS and Android markets so much that Google has actually come out and banned phones with more than 3 notches from getting Google support.  Somewhat crazy to even think more than 3 notches could exist on a phone right now, but you never know!

One more feature that I have to mention that I’m very excited for is the change to rotation.  Instead of just locking your rotation or having it rotate every time you accidentally turn your screen, you now have optional re-orientation.  Android Pie will display a small button when it detects a screen rotation, and if you select this then the phone knows to readjust, and if not then you can continue doing things as you were, undisturbed.

The Pixel 3 will be coming out on October 4th just a few months from now, and it will likely be the first phone to be released with Pie as it’s initial operating system, but Pie is now available to those who are willing to take the steps to get it.  I’m excited to see it grow this year, and I’m also very interested to see what Q is going to be named.

What are your thoughts on Pie’s name?  Could Google have done better?  And if so, do you think it’s new features will make up for it? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Android P Releases Its Final Beta

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Android P Releases Its Final Beta

While Android Oreo is just starting to hit its stride, Android P is making news too.  This week Google released the final beta preview of Android P before it’s official launch.  We’ve seen a few beta previews so far this year, and this one should be even closer to what P will look like when it launches.

According to Android VP Dave Burke this beta includes “final system behaviors” meaning Google’s new gesture-based navigation will be locked in and shipping with Android 9.0.  Of course there’s always room for improvement, and that’s a large reason betas exist, but this should be stable for installation on your main phone.  Google hasn’t mentioned any known bugs, so if you have a phone that can handle it out get the beta and let us know what you think!

What’s new in P?

We’ve talked before about Android P and what features it has to offer.  Spoiler: they’re awesome.  P offers a series of features that revolve around the idea of predictive analytics.

There’s an adaptive battery that takes into account what time of day you typically are running your apps, and if it doesn’t think you’ll be using them any time soon it shuts them off to save energy.  Couple this with the screen brightness which auto adjusts based on what you typically set it to throughout the day, and you’re looking at a much longer lasting battery life.

Apart from performance improvements, we also have completely new features that enable us to experience things differently.  One I’ve talked about before at length is Wi-Fi RTT.  Round Trip Time is a method of really getting to know your exact current location.  It’s accurate within about a meter, and does so by triangulating between multiple Wi-Fi access points nearby.  This improved location methodology offers some cool opportunities that just depend on how creative developers want to get.

Privacy Improvements:

There are also security improvements that come with P, and in an everchanging world of privacy that’s a key improvement.  Have you ever gotten a notification saying an app was running in the background when you didn’t think you’d been using it?  How about having an app crash in the background even though you haven’t opened it in ages?  That’s never a good thing to see.  P will prevent idle apps from performing actions such as accessing your camera (yes this is a thing!!).  P offers a series of security upgrades that limit what apps can do in the background in an effort to help protect user privacy.

How to get P?

First off, I’m so ready to stop calling it P and use it’s actual name. Unfortunately we’ll have to wait a little longer for that.  But if you want to get the beta on your phone today you can check it out on Android’s developer website here.  Give it a try and let us know your thoughts on it!  We’ll be sure to continue writing about developments in the software, so stay tuned for more.

 

 

 

ChromeBook Recovery Hacks and Tricks

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A Chromebook can be a great purchase even if you never step outside of Google’s trusted environment. They are some of the best web machines ever built, require almost no software maintenance, and come in a myriad of different styles and price points. Now that the latest models also come with Google Play Store and support thousands of apps where are some amazing devices.

But like anything electronic, sometimes it’s fun to push the envelope and do things a little outside of the intended use. Sometimes that means hidden features in the software, sometimes it means altering the software, and sometimes it means replacing the software entirely. We’re familiar with people doing just that with Android, but it’s also pretty easy to do with your Chromebook. The best part is that it’s also very easy to go back.

Create a Chromebook recovery image

Before you start doing anything it’s always a good idea to have a path back to a time when everything worked. Luckily, that’s fairly easy when we’re talking about a Chromebook. Google has an official tool that will install the factory-issued software to your Chrome device on a 4GB or larger USB stick or SD card. You can then use this media to restore your Chromebook just like it was fresh out of the box. Thanks Google.

Directions

 

Step 1: Install the Chromebook Recovery Utility app

  1. On the working computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux) and (not the Chromebook with the error), install the recovery app.
  2. Open the app.

  1. In the screen that appears, type in the model number of the Chromebook you want to recover. Note While in recovery your device will display the model see picture below for details.
    You can find this number at the bottom of the error message on your Chromebook.
  2. Click Continue.

Important: All the information on the USB drive or SD card will be deleted. Make sure you’ve backed up those files.

  1. On the working computer, insert your USB drive or SD card into an open port. The recovery app will show all storage devices connected to your computer.
  2. Use the dropdown menu in the app to select the correct storage device.
  3. Click Continue.

To create a recovery image:

  1. Click Create now.
  2. The tool will create the recovery image on your USB drive or SD card. Don’t remove the storage device yet.
  3. When you see a message saying that your recovery media is ready, remove the storage device from your computer.

Open the Chromebook you want to recover.

If you have anything connected to this Chromebook (such as a mouse, SD card, or external hard drive), remove it.

Enter recovery mode:

  • On a Chromebook: Press and hold Esc + Refresh Refresh, then press Power Power. Let go of Power. When a message shows on the screen, let go of the other keys.
  • On a Chromebox: Turn it off. Using a paper clip or similar object, press and hold the recovery button. Press the Power button to turn the Chromebox back on. When you see a message on screen, release the recovery button.
  • On a Chromebit: Unplug it from power. Using a paper clip or similar object, press and hold the recovery button. Plug the Chromebit back in to power. When you see a message on screen, release the recovery button.

You’ll see one of these messages:

  • “Chrome OS is missing or damaged. Please insert a recovery USB stick or SD card.”
  • “Please insert a recovery USB stick or SD card.”

Insert the recovery media you’ve created (SD card or USB drive).

Follow the on-screen instructions.

Reboot and enjoy your factory-fresh software!

STOP WRITE HERE AND CREATE THE RECOVERY IMAGE NOW BEFORE CONTINUING.  

If you are still having problems check out this info HERE

Change to the beta or dev channel

This is really simple and something I recommend. By default, your Chromebook runs on the stable release channel for your model. This means everything has been tested, things run pretty smoothly, and there usually aren’t any critical bugs to trip you up.

That’s absolutely no fun.

The good news is that we all can be testers by switching the software channel in the settings. Click the Chrome OS wrench icon in the lower right and open the settings. Choose About Chrome OS > More Info. Click the Change Channel button and choose between Stable, Beta and Dev – Unstable channels in the popover window that appears.

 

Both the beta and the dev channel give you access to upcoming (both default and experimental settings — see below) features that aren’t in the stable channel just yet. I’ve always found the beta channel to work pretty well, but expect issues and glitches on the dev channel along with the latest features.

If you just want everything to work, switching back to the stable channel is just as easy — choose it from the same list!

Tweaking the settings

Chrome — both the operating system and the stand alone browser for Windows Mac and Linux — has an entire page filled with “experimental” settings. Some will absolutely break things, others might improve your experience. Find them is simple.

Fire up the browser and enter chrome://flags into the Omnibox (a fancy name for the URL bar in Chrome) then hit enter.

You’ll be faced with a huge list of features that you can enable or disable at will. All of them are experimental, some are serious security holes, others are potential oh-crap-I-need-to-reload-EVERYTHING bringers of doom. We don’t recommend you just jump in and start enabling things. Instead, talk to people who are using the same model of Chromebook that you are and find out what works and what doesn’t.

It’s also worth remembering that these experimental flags can disappear at any time. Some may be merged into the OS, others will just up and disappear. If you do enable something, lets say for example, GPU compositing, and it breaks everything (yeah, I’ve been there), you have your recovery media you made earlier to save your bacon.

Install Linux

One of those complicated things that has been made simple by the work of great developers, installing Linux on your Chromebook is a great way expand its capabilities. Chrome OS is a flavor of Linux, but it’s been trimmed down and many features have been removed. We’re going to look at the simple (and in my opinion the best) way to build a dual-boot environment so you have both Chrome OS and Ubuntu LTS using David Schneider’s excellent tool called crouton (Chromium OS Universal Chroot Environment).

You’ll need to enable developer mode on your Chromebook, and the method varies from device to device. You may need to flip a hidden switch, or enter a key combination during boot. You can find exactly how to enable developer mode for your Chromebook on Google, and once you’ve done that everything else is the same no matter which model you use.

Once you’re a developer (or at least in dev mode) you’ll need to head to the crouton project page at github and download the script from the top of the page. Save it to your Downloads folder and you’re ready to get started.

Open a terminal (I told you Chrome OS was Linux) by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T and enter the word shell to open a shell.

Next, run crouton to see all the help text and examples like this:

sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton-master

Read everything you find there, as these are your options and tell crouton what to install. If you don’t understand an option, ask someone. Also, read the help section at the crouton github page for examples and hints.

Once you have crouton set up, you’ll be able to swap between Chrome OS and a full fledged install of Linux (Ubuntu LTS) at will.

While I like the flexibility of having both Chrome OS and Ubuntu on the same machine, you may want to be rid of Chrome OS completely. If you’re interested in replacing Chrome OS with Ubuntu, have a look at the ChrUbuntu project here. If you want to replace Chrome OS on your Pixel with Debian Wheezy, grab a beverage and have a look here.

These are just a few of the neat hackery tricks you can do with your new Chromebook. And like everything else, it may turn out that none of it is for you and you prefer things that just work as intended. That’s cool, and sometimes when I’m staring at the screen of a device that won’t boot, I’m right there with ya.

If you do want to dive in and have a go at Chrome OS, this is how I do it. Tell me how you do it in the comments, I’d love to hear about it!

RootJunky