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Nintendo Seeking New Android Game Partnerships: Report

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We need to talk about Android’s upgrade problem

Android and iOS have been doing battle ever since 2008, and in that time, there have been some long-running problems with both operating systems. The iPhone’s notification system is a mess, Android took way too long to put a battery percentage on the status bar — oh, and Android’s upgrade system is a complete and utter mess.

While most of the problems that blighted both OSes at launch have been fixed by now, Android’s “fragmentation” issue — the fact that most Android phones are running different versions of Android, and new updates are incredibly slow to roll out — has only become worse with time.

Google released new data Monday on the state of the Android union, and simply put, it’s not pretty. Android 8.0, the latest version released on August 21st, is currently installed on 0.5 percent of all Android devices. Current flagships like the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 won’t be getting Android 8.0 until 2018, and the vast majority of Android devices currently in circulation won’t get the update at all.

Things get even worse when you look at the rest of the Android field. It’s not like there’s a bunch of devices sitting on Android 7.0, waiting to be updated: Android 7.0 and 7.1 has a combined share of 23.3 percent, 6.0 has 29.7 percent, and Android 5.0 is at 26.3 percent.

21efd_android-stats We need to talk about Android's upgrade problem

To put all this in perspective, iOS 11 was released on September 19th, nearly a full month after Android 8.0. As of December 4th, 59% of all iOS devices were running iOS 11, 33% are on iOS 10, and just 8% of devices are on something older.

This isn’t for a lack of trying on Google’s part. Google kicks updates out to its own Pixel and Nexus phones as fast as it can. But for everyone else, there’s too many links in the chain: Google releases an update, the  the manufacturer has to tweak it and fix all the unique bugs it creates on every single device, and then mobile carriers has to make sure that the new update works on its network. Often, manufacturers and carriers won’t both to spend the time and money doing all this, because the lack of software support creates a reason for customers to upgrade and get the new features.

So, not specifically Google’s fault, but absolutely Google’s problem. Unfortunately, there’s no solution on the horizon, and at least based on the data for Android 8.0, things are getting worse, not better.

Huawei MediaPad M4 with Android Oreo is Likely Coming Soon

When it comes to Android tablets, there aren’t that many high-end options to choose from. Even now, it’s not uncommon to see folks opt for older tablets like the three-year-old Nexus 9. But Huawei is one of the companies trying to turn things around, and rumor has it it’s working on a high-end Android tablet to rule them all: A successor to the MediaPad M3, the MediaPad M4.

The Huawei MediaPad M3 came out in September of last year, sporting Huawei’s latest HiSilicon Kirin processor, along with a 1600 x 2560 screen and Android 6.0 Marshmallow (later updated to Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5). With 4GB RAM, up to 64GB of storage, and lots of expandable storage, it’s a decent device for folks who watch a lot of movies, read plenty of ebooks, or play some decently demanding games. Now, thanks to some people over at the Dutch technology site Mobielkopen, some new information about its sequel — the upcoming Huawei MediaPad M4 — has been revealed.

A User Agent Profile (UAProf) on Huawei’s site mentions the MediaPad M4. That’s telling in and of itself — a user agent basically tells websites what kind of browser, device, and operating system is connecting to it, so that the website serves the correct version of the web page. The user agent for a mobile device for example, might prompt the website to serve the mobile version of a page rather than the desktop one. Obviously, web page developers need to account for these, and so they embed information like device type and screen resolution in UAPs.

The Huawei MediaPad M4’s UAP, for example, describes a tablet with Android 8.0 Oreo according to the and a model number “SHT-AL09”. It’ll retain the same screen resolution as its predecessor, 1600×2560, and potentially launch with one of Huawei’s high-end processors, either the Kirin 960 or Kirin 970.

You can check out the report from Mobielkopen below, or check out the user agent profile XML file yourself.


Source: Huawei
Via: Mobielkopen

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Hop Fastpass to be available in Android Pay

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — TriMet Hop Fastpass will be available with Android Pay starting early next year.

TriMet and Google teamed up to make making the Hop Fastpass™ the first virtual transit card available in Android Pay. The move also marks the first mobile wallet partnership for TriMet.

Users will be able to tap their phones to pay for their fares and receive all the benefits of a physical Hop card.

Get more information here.

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1926f_generic-max-trimet-convention-center-05252015 Hop Fastpass to be available in Android Pay

1926f_generic-max-trimet-convention-center-05252015 Hop Fastpass to be available in Android Pay

1926f_generic-max-trimet-convention-center-05252015 Hop Fastpass to be available in Android Pay

1926f_generic-max-trimet-convention-center-05252015 Hop Fastpass to be available in Android Pay

Android Oreo 8.1 brings AR Stickers to Pixel 2 and Pixel phones

Google’s is finally bringing its augmented reality (AR) stickers supported through its ARCore to Android and the Play Store, providing you have a Pixel phone.

Revealed at the same time as the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL handsets, Google’s ARCore provides the framework for supporting AR images on Android devices without the need for dual camera arrays and depth sensors.

The framework supports AR Stickers, a feature and app that allows users to superimpose images of virtual animated objects and characters, including an anamorphic pizza and Google’s own Android robot, over whatever is being view by a phone’s camera.

Providing you have one of the Pixel 2 phones or an original Pixel handset, you can simply download the update to Android 8.1 being currently rolled out by Google, and the AR Stickers feature will appear in the settings on the Pixel phones’ camera app. From there its simply a case of selecting a character and placing them into whatever environment you’re viewing through you phone’s camera.

Android Oreo 8.1 has not rolled out to our Pixel 2 XL at the time of writing, so we couldn’t see the AR Stickers in action for ourselves, but various reports paint AR Stickers in a positive light, with the AR characters fitting nicely into scenes and matching the lighting of the environment.

However, the AR effects breakdown when someone walks in front of the camera causing a character to be superimposed onto them not the target object. This could be down to ARCore shunning the need for a depth sensor, or simply indicate that the underlying AR framework is in its early days.

Both the ARCore framework and the AR Stickers are available to download from the Play Store, which would suggest that other Android phones will soon get support for the Google AR features.

More handsets with access to an AR framework would certainly help the rather niche area of tech have more of an impact beyond the Pixel handsets and hit semi-AR game Pokemon Go.

Related: Best Android phones of 2017

Does AR appeal to you or is it too much of a gimmick? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook. 

iMessage (Unofficially) Comes to Android with This Clever Mac App

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of using both iOS and Android. While each OS captures my interest in its own unique way, I must concede that I’ve always had a slight favoritism of iOS — mainly because of its stellar performance, seamless UI, continuity features, and of course, iMessage.

Truthfully, for a long time I’ve dreamed of being able to send and receive iMessages on my Galaxy, Droid or Nexus phone — however, the protocol being an Apple exclusive, that’s obviously never been an option despite the rumors and speculation.Until now.

Enter the all-new cross-platform weMessage app for Android and macOS, which effectively (but unofficially) brings Apple’s iMessage to devices running Android 5.0 Lollipop or newer.

What Is weMessage?

weMessage is a combination app and server solution, designed by 16-year-old developer, Roman Scott, to facilitate Apple’s closed messaging platform on Android — using a macOS computer as the “server” to relay messages.

“weMessage is composed of two pieces of software: the Android app itself and a messaging server that I called the weServer,” Scott says in the official release notes, going on to explain that “In order to use weMessage, you need to install the weServer on a Mac computer. The weServer acts as a ‘bridge’ between the Mac computer and your Android device. The weServer is a messaging server that processes and relays iMessages to and from the Android device.”

An Apple computer is the only viable option, Scott says, because the iMessages have to be routed through an Apple device, using an Apple ID email address via one of the company’s mega servers in order to be delivered. He portends “if the weServer supported Windows or Linux, I would not only be violating several EULAs but would be relying on an exploitation that would likely be fixed in the future.”

Are There Any Caveats?

I personally installed weMessage on my Galaxy Note 8 and iMac over the weekend — and while the process of getting it up and running on both devices wasn’t exactly simple, Scott provides a very thorough, step-by-step installation and maintenance walk-through on the official weMessage website.

The app itself works extremely well so far. It’s certainly not the first of such ‘iMessage on Android’ solutions that ever existed — however it’s arguably one of the most seamless and intuitive among them.

Scott promises that he’ll try to succeed where previous developers have failed — in that he’ll work to stay ahead of the curve, continuing support and updates for weMessage in the sad but plausible event Apple finds and moves to block it. This was a major problem for past developers, Scott noted, as Apple would simply block their solutions from functioning via routine OS X or macOS updates.

That won’t be the case with weMessage, Scott insists; however whether the dev actually sticks to his promise remains to be seen.

In the interim, you can learn more about Roman Scott’s $2.99 weMessage app, how to download, install, configure and operate it over on the official weMessage website.

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Just 0.5 Percent of Android Devices Run the Latest Version

3256f_Android-Oreo-Statue-640x354 Just 0.5 Percent of Android Devices Run the Latest Version

There are billions of Android phones and tablets out there, but only a vanishingly small number of them are running Google’s latest Android release, known as Oreo. Google has released updated platform distribution numbers, which show that a mere 0.5 percent of Android devices are on Oreo, and the latest 8.1 build hasn’t even hit the necessary 0.1 percent cutoff to be included. This sounds bad, but the news is actually better than it was last year.

As things currently stand, Android 7.0 and 7.1 (Nougat) have a combined share of 23.3 percent, but Marshmallow is still the biggest chunk of all Android devices with 29.7 percent market share. That version of Android was launched over two years ago, so many of these devices are no longer getting security updates. Lollipop, which came out the year before that, is also larger than Nougat with 26.3 percent of active devices.

The remainder of Android phones and tablets are running older versions of the OS like KitKat, and Gingerbread. Yes, there are still 0.4 percent of devices (less than Oreo!) running Gingerbread. That version of Android launched just over seven years ago on the Nexus S. This OS is so clunky and slow by today’s standards, I can only assume it’s running on modded tablets or smartphones in some far-flung corner of the world.

Android’s sluggish update timeline is thanks to the way it’s deployed on devices. Google makes the operating system and releases the open source code. Device makers take than, optimize for their hardware with the help of vendors like Qualcomm and MediaTek, and sell phones. It’s the smartphone maker that’s responsible for pushing updates, and sometimes there’s not a compelling business reason for them to do so quickly or at all. If you purchase a cheap phone, there’s little incentive for the maker to spend resources pushing more than a few small updates.

3256f_Android-Oreo-Statue-640x354 Just 0.5 Percent of Android Devices Run the Latest Version

It’s not all bad news, though. Nougat’s rise last year was actually slower than Oreo this year. So, we should see better results as the big 2018 flagship phones start dropping in a few months. Going forward, all phones that launch with Oreo will have support for Project Treble. This is a modular version of the Android platform that separates the low-level vendor code like hardware drivers from the user-facing stuff. This change should make updates faster because OEMs don’t need to wait for updated drivers from Qualcomm and others.

For the time being, Oreo users are in the extreme minority. Hopefully, that won’t be the case for future updates.

Now read: 25 Best Android Tips

Google Launches New Experimental iOS and Android Apps

Google Research has launched three new photography-based mobile apps showcasing the company’s latest experimental technologies.

Available variously for Android and iOS, the new apps are the first in an ongoing series of what it calls photography ‘appsperiments’ which the company defines as “usable and useful mobile photography experiences built on experimental technology.’’

These technologies include object recognition, person segmentation (think ‘portrait mode’), stylization algorithms (think ‘Prisma’), and efficient image encoding and decoding techniques. More importantly, they’re quite a lot of fun.

Google Research

Storyboard transforms your videos into single-page comic book layouts.

Storyboard (available on Android) takes existing video clips from your phone and converts them automatically into stylized comic-book layouts. The app searches for the most interesting moments in the video and lays them out before applying one of six built-in styles. You can’t edit the results (this app is about fun and experimentation, not professional comic book production), but a single downward swipe on the screen will generate a new comic strip. Just keep swiping down until you get one you like.

The results are quite effective but can, despite Google’s claim of ‘up to 1.6 trillion different possibilities’, become repetitive rather quickly. The ability to add text and tweak layouts would improve the app immeasurably. Maybe they’ll add that one day.

Google Research

Selfissimo! Is Google’s automated selfie photographer.

Selfissimo! (available for Android and iOS) creates a selection black and white selfies in the form of an automated photoshoot, complete with encouraging words from the ‘photographer’.

A tap on the screen begins the photo shoot which encourages you to strike poses, automatically taking a photo every time you stop moving. Between shots, it occasionally displays messages such as  “Strike a Pose!”, “Hot!” or “You’re magical!” before finally presenting you with a contact sheet of images you can share as a collection or individually.

This app is sure to raise a few laughs but is ultimately rather gimmicky. It does, however, serve as a demonstration of Google’s considerable prowess in image processing and stone-cold sarcasm.

Personally, I can see this concept developing further into something more useful. For example, using machine learning to detect bad posing techniques and offer meaningful direction to the model (you) such as “chin down a bit”. “Turn to face the light” or “wipe that stupid pout your face.”

Google Research

Scrubbies lets you ‘remix’ videos with a DJ-style ‘scratching’ interface.

Finally, Scrubbies (currently available for iOS only) lets you create video loops from the most interesting bits of your video clips. Google suggests that you might like to ‘highlight actions, capture funny faces, and replay moments’ – and who wouldn’t!

The app works by swiping left and right on a video clip with one finger to play the video or with two fingers to capture playback so you can save it.

The result is something like a ‘Boomerang’ clip but with more sophisticated control over the motion in the video. Unfortunately, this app suffers from its inability to use pre-existing footage. You can only create a ‘Scrubbie’ from footage shot within the app.

It remains to be seen whether any of these new ‘appsperiments’ will replicate the viral success of apps like Prisma or Meitu, but it really doesn’t matter either way. What we have here are simply early glimpses of Google’s latest ideas which may or may not find their way into mainstream products. For now, they’re just a bit of fun.

___

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Google is launching 3 new experimental apps on both Android and the iPhone

f33d2_sundarclose Google is launching 3 new experimental apps on both Android and the iPhoneGoogle CEO Sundar Pichai.Justin Sullivan / Getty Staff

  • Google is launching a new research project to develop so-called “appsperiments.”
  • Appsperiments are new apps that use some of Google’s experimental technologies.
  • The company is releasing three new apps today, on both Android and Apple’s iOS.

Google is launching three new experimental apps, named Storyboard, Selfissimo!, and Scrubbies, on iOS and Android (we first saw the news via The Verge).

The first will come just to Android, while Scrubbies is an iOS exclusive; Selfissimo!, on the other hand, will be released on both platforms.

The three apps are parts of a first round of products inside the Google’s new, so-called “appsperiment” program. More apps will come, but the current lineup focuses on photography.

The apps are all built on experimental technologies — a bit like Motion Still, the iOS app that transforms Apple’s Live Photos into universally shareable gifs.

“[The apps] rely on object recognition, person segmentation, stylization algorithms, efficient image encoding and decoding technologies, and perhaps most importantly, fun!” reads Google’s blog post.

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Storyboard is a nifty app that asks users to upload a video, and then automatically extrapolates six frames out of the clip from which it creates a comic-book like panel.

There are six visual styles, Google says, and up to 1.6 trillion different combinations for its algorithms to churn out.

Scrubbies, iOS’ exclusive apps, lets you use your fingers to scroll through a video’s timeline, DJ style, and record the movement to create a video loop that emphasises movement and action.

Animated GIF – Find Share on GIPHY

Discover share this Animated GIF with everyone you know. GIPHY is how you search, share, discover, and create GIFs.

The weirdly named Selfissimo! will make its way to the iPhone and Android phones, and is the simplest app out of this first appsperiments’ wave.

A simple tap on the screen will make your phone start recording (with the front-facing camera), and ask you to strike a few different poses.

The end result is a lot like a photobooth’s, with Google’s app snapping a shot every time you move and giving you back black and white pictures to save and share on social media or elsewhere.

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What was the best Android smartphone of 2017? [Poll of the Week]

38bed_best-of-android-2017-header-imp-840x630 What was the best Android smartphone of 2017? [Poll of the Week]

Looking back at 2017, it seems like just about every phone manufacturer brought its ‘A’ game to the smartphone world. That makes it difficult to figure out which phone really is the best of the year, but we’re sure going to try. Yet again, we’re pitting the best Android smartphones against each other in hopes to find the best one out there.

We’ll be giving out around 30 awards this year to various OEMs for different categories, and we’ll crown an overall winner this Friday, December 15. Those awards are given out based on the results of rigorous display, audio, camera, and performance testing. You can learn more about our Best of Android 2017 series at the link below.

Don’t miss: Best of Android 2017 – Which smartphone really is the best?

But we want to know what you think. In your opinion, what was the best Android smartphone of 2017? Cast your vote in the poll attached below, and speak up in the comments if there’s anything you’d like to add. Results of this poll will be published on Sunday, December 17.

Honor CEO Confirms Android Oreo Update for the Honor 8 & Honor 8 Pro, Explains why Honor 7X Launched with Nougat

Just recently, the Chinese variant of the Honor 8 Pro, the Honor V9, received a beta upgrade to Android Oreo alongside EMUI 8. Honor brought Project Treble support along to the device, which makes porting AOSP-based Android Oreo ROMs much easier for developers. Users who own the Honor 8 Pro can upgrade to the Android 8.0 Oreo beta after rebranding their phones unofficially through services such as FunkyHuawei, but it seems that won’t be necessary for much longer. The company’s CEO George Zhao, in an interview with technology site mondo, confirmed that both the Honor 8 and Honor 8 Pro will be receiving the upgrade to Android Oreo.

The Honor 8 Pro receiving the upgrade is not surprising news, because as mentioned before the Chinese variant has already received a beta upgrade that runs perfectly fine on the western version of the device, although after some unofficial software rebranding. EMUI 8 is a fairly incremental upgrade in terms of user-facing features, but all of the 8.0 specific goodies such as the Autofill Framework and picture-in-picture mode make it an update to look forward to. It remains to be seen if software support will continue past Android Oreo for the Honor 8 considering it launched with Android Marshmallow, but the Honor 8 Pro launched this year with Android Nougat on board so we hope software support extends past Oreo.

The interview also touches upon why the Honor 7X launched with Android Nougat instead of Android Oreo. Zhao stated in the interview that the Honor 7X launched with Android Nougat simply because Android Oreo was not ready yet when the device went into mass production. What’s more, apparently the Honor 7X will be receiving the upgrade to Android Oreo very soon. There is currently no time period given for the Android Oreo release on any other devices yet, however.


Source: Mondo
Via: The Android Soul

5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

Google Chrome comes as a default browser installed on most Android phones. It is fast, responsive and comes with all the basic features. The only thing it lacks is extensions which are available on Mozilla Firefox Android app.

Android app of Google Chrome has few hidden tricks up its sleeve that can enhance user experience. These are accessible from Settings within the app and through Chrome Flags.

Chrome Flags are hidden experimental settings in Android that will allow you to fine-tune your browser. You can try new features in Chrome while they are still in development or are unstable. It opens up a lot of possibilities both in desktop and mobile browsers by allowing you to change default settings.

However, Chrome wiki mentions that these experimental features may change, disappear or stop working at any time. Also, tweaking with unknown settings may compromise your device’s security.

If you find that your browser is crashing down or showing unexpected behavior after you have tempered with Flags, just go to app settings and clear data for Chrome. This will reset Chrome to its earlier state.

Also read: 8 Google Easter Eggs And Fun Tricks That You’d Love to Know

5 Hidden Tips And Tricks for Chrome On Android

1. Move the Address Bar to bottom

Are you not finding it convenient to access the Chrome address bar on your large screen device? Did you know you can change it? This hidden Google Chrome feature can be tweaked easily.

  • In your address bar type “chrome://flags” without the quotes.

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

 

  • Tap on the 3-dot-menu on the upper right corner of your browser and tap on Find in page.

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

  • In the search bar that appears, type “Chrome Home.”

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

  • You’ll notice that Chrome Home is highlighted in red.
  • Tap on the tab marked Default below it and set it to Enabled.

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

  • You will see a “Relaunch Now” pop-up. Tap on it. You may have to manually relaunch once again for changes to take effect.

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

After you relaunch, you will notice that the address bar is now shown on the bottom of the screen.

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

2. Experience faster browsing speeds.

You can speed up Chrome on Android by enabling QUIC protocol. ‘QUIC’ stands for Quick UDP Internet Connection and is an experimental process. QUIC operates over UDP and is much lower latency than TCP.

  • Type “chrome://flags” without the quotes in your address bar.
  • Search or scroll down to Experimental QUIC protocol.

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

  • Set it to Enabled.

With QUIC, Google says that mean page load times improve by about 3%. Also, users who used Youtube via QUIC reported having suffered from 30% fewer rebuffers.

3. Always ON Reader Mode

Websites loaded with ads and many banners can distract you and make it inconvenient to read content. That’s when Chrome’s Reader Mode comes into play. It strips off all other elements from a page except the content. Typically, a “Make page mobile-friendly” button is shown on some websites and clicking on it will highlight the content.

  • On the flags screen, search or scroll down to Reader Mode triggering.

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

  • Change it to Always, if you want to force every website to display content in Reader Mode.

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

4. Switch tabs in a compact way

There is a nifty trick for Chrome on Android to switch tabs. Chrome displays tabs like cards stacked over each other. In a scenario when many tabs are open, you may need a considerable amount of time in finding and switching to a tab. “Accessibility Tab Switcher” flag allows a user to switch tabs compactly by displaying only the names of tabs organized as a list.

  • Search or scroll down to Accessibility Tab Switcher and tap on Enable beneath it.

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

  • Then tap Relaunch Now.

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

You will notice that you can now visualize tabs more clearly without a preview of the content.

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

5. Enable Zooming on any website

Not all websites allow you to zoom in on their content. This can be frustrating when you have to tap on links or copy some text. Thankfully, Chrome on Android has a hidden trick to override this problem.

  • Tap on the 3-dot menu and tap on Settings from the drop-down menu.
  • Tap on Accessibility.

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

  • Check the option Force Enable Zoom.

27f12_a-min-576x1024 5 Hidden Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome On Android

Did you find these hidden tips and tricks for Google Chrome on Android to be useful? Share your reviews in the comments.

Also read: Amazing Google Chrome Tips And Tricks You Must Know

Sentio Desktop Is A Free Phone-To-PC Solution For Android

48e49_4 Sentio Desktop Is A Free Phone-To-PC Solution For Android

Best of Android 2017 – Which phone has the best Audio?

c5672_Boa-2017-Audio-840x473 Best of Android 2017 – Which phone has the best Audio?

As part of our in-depth Best of Android 2017 edition, we’re taking a closer look at the capabilities of 10 of the best Android flagships to see which comes out on top. Today we’re dealing with audio, a very important quality to look out for, whether you’re streaming your music online, porting around a Hi-Res FLAC library, or looking to listen to movies on the go.

We’ve broken down our testing into three major parts, looking at both the loudspeaker volume, built-in DAC capabilities, and Bluetooth codec support. When it comes to the DAC, we’re looking at the noise level to assess how clean the phone’s signal chain is. The lower the noise floor, the more detail you can pick out from higher resolution files. We’re also taking a look at Total Harmonic Distortion, as this reveals how much, if any, extra distortion information is added to your music. In other words, it’s a good judge of how close the phone is to perfectly reproducing the original source.

The loudest loudspeakers

Let’s start with the loudspeaker. It’s a pretty simply test, we max out the volume of the speaker to get an idea of how easy the phone is to hear while playing back movies and music, etc. This is particularly useful to know if you want to hear a hands-free call in a noisy environment or want to watch a movie while your family chatter away in the living room.

The key thing to remember here is that for every 6 to 10 dB of difference between two sources, the perceived volume doubles. So going from 60 to 70 dB doubles the perceived volume of the source. Decibels are a logarithmic rather than linear scale.

c5672_Boa-2017-Audio-840x473 Best of Android 2017 – Which phone has the best Audio?

The result above produces two clear winners and one notable disappointment, with the rest of the handsets fielding results that would be difficult to tell apart with your ear. The Nokia 8 and the Google Pixel 2 XL are the loudest phones at 74 dB peak volume, while the Moto Z2 Force will sound almost only half as loud at a mediocre 67 dB peak volume.

For reference, heavy rainfall or a normal conversation clock in at around 60 dB of volume, so all these phones can surpass this marker. Freeway traffic and most household appliances have a volume of around 70 dB, meaning that most handsets will struggle to standout in these environments, with the arguable exception of the two winners. And none of them can compete with the 90 dB volume of a typical subway train.

Listening with headphones

On to the internal DAC and amp, which is the component connected up to your 3.5 mm headphone jack or USB Type-C side-pin ports if your phone doesn’t have a 3.5 mm jack. Again the 6 dB rule applies here, reducing the amount of noise by half. The key marker to look out for is -96 dB, as this is the noise floor that you’ll get from a 16-bit CD file and provides a very clear listening experience. A result below this has potential benefits for Hi-Res or properly dithered CD files, while anything better than -90 dB is perfectly fine for compressed streaming services.

c5672_Boa-2017-Audio-840x473 Best of Android 2017 – Which phone has the best Audio?

The noise results provide one standout winner, the Razer Phone with -106 dB, which really pushes close to the limits of our testing suite. Other notable mentions include the Galaxy Note 8, Nokia 8, LG V30, and the Pixel 2 XL, which all achieve -100 dB or better, suggesting they’ll benefit somewhat from Hi-Res 24-bit audio. The Mate 10 Pro, BlackBerry KEYone, and Xperia XZ1 fall below the -96 dB market for CD quality, meaning no potential benefits from 24-bit files when listening over wired headphones.

c5672_Boa-2017-Audio-840x473 Best of Android 2017 – Which phone has the best Audio?

The Total Harmonic Distortion data shakes up the results further though, with a different handset taking a clear lead and two which perform much more poorly. The LG V30 is the winner here at 0.0009%, providing an incredibly clean signal path. The Note 8, KEYone, and Mate 10 Pro are also very close performers with just 0.0013% each. None of the other phones will sound notably distorted, but the results for the Xperia Z1 and more so the Razer phone are below what we would expect from top-tier products. Distortion won’t be horrendous, but those with sensitive ears will definitely be able to hear some undesirable coloration to their music on these phones at louder volumes.

Bluetooth codec support

Finally, with wireless speakers becoming increasingly popular and cableless headphones closing in on the quality of wired models, support for matching Bluetooth codecs is increasingly important. Furthermore, those passionate about music quality might want to take advantage of higher resolution Bluetooth codecs like Qualcomm’s aptX HD and Sony’s LDAC. The table below shows which handsets, according to their spec sheets, are compatible with each major Bluetooth codec.

It’s worth remembering that even though Android Oreo now introduces software support for all of these codecs out of the box, it’s still up to OEMs to enable the hardware and pay the correct licenses. As you can see from the table, not every phone supports every codec, even if they’re running Oreo. If you’re looking for phones that support all the codecs, the Pixel 2 XL, Mate 10 Pro, and Xperia XZ1 are your best Bluetooth audio options. That being said, aptX HD support is beginning to reach more and more flagship handsets too, including the LG V30 and OnePlus 5T.

And the winner is…

c5672_Boa-2017-Audio-840x473 Best of Android 2017 – Which phone has the best Audio?

c5672_Boa-2017-Audio-840x473 Best of Android 2017 – Which phone has the best Audio?

c5672_Boa-2017-Audio-840x473 Best of Android 2017 – Which phone has the best Audio?

Across all of our testing, it’s the LG V30 that just pips the Google Pixel 2 XL to the post for best in class audio quality. LG certainly hyped up its “Quad DAC” solution and it fortunately sounds just as good as the promises. The phone’s speaker is acceptable too, and you’re also getting aptx HD support for your wireless headphones too.

The Google Pixel XL 2 comes in a very close second, scoring exceptionally well on the speaker test and providing a top-notch listening experience over its USB Type-C port too. If you don’t want to live the dongle life, there’s LDAC and aptX HD support for Hi-Res Bluetooth headphones too.

Third place goes to the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. It might not score the best on the headphone output rankings, but an impressively power speaker and support for high quality Bluetooth options make this a compelling choice too. The Galaxy Note 8 and notably lower cost Nokia 8 also score well across the board, and are worthy of honorable mentions.

There you have it, the LG V30, Google Pixel XL 2, and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro are your best of 2017 choices if you’re looking for a smartphone with the best audio setups. If you’re looking for some other key attribute for the best smartphone, be sure to check out the other entries in the Best of Android 2017 series.

Which phone do you think is Phone of the year? Vote in our poll below, as the winner will be crowned People’s Choice Smartphone Of The Year 2017!

Remember, we’re giving away the three smartphones that come placed first, second and third in Best of Android! To enter, check out all the details in the widget below and for five extra entries, use this unique code: BOAA17.

Best of Android 2017 3 Phone Mega Giveaway!


Credits

Series Contributors: Rob TriggsGary Sims, Edgar Cervantes, Sam Moore, Oliver Cragg, David Imel
Series Editors: Nirave Gondhia, Bogdan Petrovan, Chris Thomas

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is an RPG coming to Android in 2018

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Deal: Buy 3 Months, Get 3 Free. Unlimited Talk, Text.
Plans from $15/month

‘HQ Trivia’ isn’t on Android yet, but a similar game called ‘The Q’ is …

If you’re one of the millions of people with an iPhone, chances are you’re playing “HQ Trivia,” the outrageously popular iPhone game that pairs a live host with a daily trivia show where players can win real money.

But if you’re an Android user like me, you’re looking on with jealousy from the sidelines. I’ve got a Google Pixel, and that means I can’t play “HQ Trivia” until it arrives on Android on December 25. What’s an Android user to do with the weeks between now and then?

The answer is “The Q,” a very similar live-trivia game show that’s available right now on Android.

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...

After playing a few games of “The Q” last week, I’m here to tell you what it is and what it isn’t.


“The Q” is not “HQ Trivia.”

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...

Despite the naming convention, there is no connection between “HQ Trivia” and “The Q.” They are otherwise very similar games.

When I first opened the app, it asked that I sign in with my existing Facebook login. I obliged, and it pushed me to the next screen. There, I was able to select my own username so that my Facebook name didn’t show up.


Unfortunately, this name was a bit too long.

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...

Since “The Q” has fewer players than “HQ Trivia,” I was able to easily secure “bengilbert.”

This past weekend, for instance, “HQ Trivia” hit an all-time high of around 470,000 concurrent players in a single game. “The Q” never topped 1,000 concurrent players in any of the games I played.


The prize payouts are significantly lower than “HQ Trivia,” but it’s logical given the smaller userbase.

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...

The biggest prize available in a single game of “HQ Trivia,” thus far, has been $10,000. That prize was split between 102 players, with each winner actually winning about $98.

In “The Q,” prizes are in the $1,000 range – and often are lower. With only 500 or 600 people tuning in to a game, the prizes are logical. In so many words, there’s a much lower chance of lots of people completing the usual round of questions because the overall group of players is far smaller.

That’s good news for you: You’ve got a much better chance of winning the entire payout, statistically speaking.


Like with “HQ Trivia,” “The Q” warns players ahead of a game with phone notifications.

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...

I started getting notifications well ahead of the first game I played. Of course, you can turn them off if you don’t like being bothered, but it’s not overly insistent.


The suspense builds!

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...


Okay, here we go!

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...


One of several hosts I encountered was this pleasant woman with a charming accent.

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...

A major part of “HQ Trivia” being so good is its main host, Scott Rogowsky. He’s charming, and able to riff on the script he’s reading. He knows what to do if there’s a technical glitch that keeps the game from progressing, which there inevitably will be.

“The Q” hosts don’t come across as comfortable – especially when compared to Rogowsky, the figurehead of “HQ Trivia.”


“The Q” follows the same green screen format that “HQ Trivia” does.

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...

At the heart of both “HQ Trivia” and “The Q” is a simple format: one person (the host) standing in front of a green screen reading a script that progresses along a set of timed questions. Players have a short period of time to answer questions, and if you get one wrong, you’re out.

What “The Q” lacks is the charm – the soul, if you will – that “HQ Trivia” has.

The game isn’t just a phenomenon because it’s a great concept. That’s certainly part of the appeal, but the other piece of that equation is the cult of personality that’s developed around the main host of “HQ Trivia.” There’s a jargon that “HQ Trivia” players take on (“HQties,” as they’re known). That jargon is largely derived from Rogowsky, who fans tune in for.


There’s a lack of genuine enthusiasm in “The Q.”

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...

Something crucial about hosting a trivia show is riffing on the questions.

Ahead of the question above, for instance, a reference was made to long-time “Dragon Ball Z” fans. It sounded like ad copy – the kind of on-the-nose stuff that stands out as disingenuous.


Mechanically speaking, the question isn’t out of the host’s mouth before time is up.

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...

I lost at “The Q” at least once because I didn’t answer fast enough. Silly me: I was waiting for the question to finish being read. What I should’ve done is read the question as fast as possible and immediately answer.

That’s because “The Q” has an issue where the brief timer starts running and completes before the host can finish getting the question out. That resulted in me attempting to read the question and all the answers while the host was speaking, thus making it more difficult to focus. It’s something that could be easily fixed, but was tremendously frustrating at first blush.


Like “HQ Trivia,” “The Q” lets you see a constantly updating breakdown of how many players answered correctly.

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...


Since this is general trivia, the questions are all over the place — from history to geology to pop culture.

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...


It’s clear that “The Q” is a clone — it came out months after “HQ Trivia” was already established — but it’s a perfectly serviceable app, at least for the next few weeks.

ab3ef_ba955a3a587617a4c1b401e1eb98a98fb31b7165-800x400 'HQ Trivia' isn't on Android yet, but a similar game called 'The Q' is ...

I’m pretty much only okay with playing “The Q” because I can’t yet play “HQ Trivia.” I am, admittedly, a sucker for this kinda thing – I was an avid “1 vs 100” player back on Xbox 360 (the spiritual predecessor to stuff like this), and I grew up on “You Don’t Know Jack (YDKJ).”

That said, what all those games share beyond being trivia games is personality.

What made “1 vs 100” so special wasn’t just that it was a massive shared experience (like “HQ Trivia”), but that its host Chris Cashman was ridiculous. The same thing can be said for “YDKJ,” a game that was entirely driven by its insane personality – admittedly, “YDKJ” is also a really great trivia game.

“HQ Trivia” shares that same mix of accessible trivia-show concept with a zany host. “The Q” does not – it’s all the structure of “HQ Trivia” with none of the guts. That said, it’s a reasonable stand-in for a few weeks until “HQ Trivia” launches on Android.

Check out the game on Google Play right here.

And maybe you want to play it on iPhone? That’s also an option right here.

Google launches three experimental photo apps for iOS and Android

GOOGLE RESEARCH has launched three new photo apps across iOS and Android.

The “appsperimental” triptych consists of three apps for Apple users and two for Android, spurred on by the success of Motion Stills (Android iOS), an app released over the summer which uses AI to stabilise and animate short films.

Storyboard (Android iOS) takes your video and turns it into a comic strip by intelligently selecting the best frames to tell the story, before turning it into one of six stylised layouts.

If you don’t like what you get, pull to refresh and it’ll try a new one. Soon you could be able to make your own Dear Deirdre problems. All you need is a head-mounted camera, a woman in a negligee and to be the sort of person that has speech bubbles coming out of their head when they talk.

Selfissimo! (Android iOS) allows you to strike a pose and get a selfie every time you stop moving. The selfies are always in black and white (always lets you look your best) and at the end of a ‘session’ you can choose to save selected shots or the whole lot. The idea is to show off your “best self”. Blue Steel everyone!

Scrubbies (iOS only) is a video manipulator – think of it like record scratching, but for video. You can swipe to go forward, backwards, freeze, capture, replay individual moments and see parts of the action that you’d never have managed to get with a still camera.

It’s not known if Scrubbies will come to Android, but we’d assume so.

Google bought AI Photo company AIMatter back in August and doubtless, this is, in parts, the fruits of that. 

Alex Kauffman, Interaction Researcher at Google Research explains: “Each of the world’s approximately two billion smartphone owners is carrying a camera capable of capturing photos and video of a tonal richness and quality unimaginable even five years ago. Until recently, those cameras behaved mostly as optical sensors, capturing light and operating on the resulting image’s pixels.

“The next generation of cameras, however, will have the capability to blend hardware and computer vision algorithms that operate as well on an image’s semantic content, enabling radically new creative mobile photo and video applications.”

These apps are designed to be the first in a series that will embrace the potential that these two billion eyes on the world will bring, and use Google’s AI skills to make the most of them.

Other photo experiments from Google have included the zoom and enhance technique from Bladerunner, µ

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Less than 1 percent of Android phones are running Oreo

Android 7.0 and 7.1 have a combined share of 23.3 percent. Respectable, but still behind 6.0 Marshmallow (29.7 percent) and Android Lollipop (26.3 percent). The figures are hardly surprising, though, given Android’s messy ecosystem of carriers, phone manufacturers and chipset providers. The sheer number of models, combined with their ageing hardware, makes it difficult for companies to keep everything up to date. Most flagships get an upgrade or two, but the bulk of mid range and low-end handsets are abandoned as soon as they leave the factory. It’s this lack of support that ultimately slows firmware adoption and increases fragmentation.

Which is a shame, because Android Oreo (now on 8.1) is a solid update. Notifications are much improved and the picture-in-picture mode is useful if your phone has a large screen. There’s also “Project Treble,” a behind the scenes push to accelerate Android updates. It’s not a huge leap over Android Nougat, but it’s one everyone deserves to have when they buy a new phone. Fingers crossed more devices start shipping with it soon.

Google is launching 3 new experimental apps on both Android and the iPhone

6a584_sundarclose Google is launching 3 new experimental apps on both Android and the iPhoneGoogle CEO Sundar Pichai.Justin Sullivan / Getty Staff

  • Google is launching a new research project to develop so-called “appsperiments.”
  • Appsperiments are new apps that use some of Google’s experimental technologies.
  • The company is releasing three new apps today, on both Android and Apple’s iOS.

Google is launching three new experimental apps, named Storyboard, Selfissimo!, and Scrubbies, on iOS and Android (we first saw the news via The Verge).

The first will come just to Android, while Scrubbies is an iOS exclusive; Selfissimo!, on the other hand, will be released on both platforms.

The three apps are parts of a first round of products inside the Google’s new, so-called “appsperiment” program. More apps will come, but the current lineup focuses on photography.

The apps are all built on experimental technologies — a bit like Motion Still, the iOS app that transforms Apple’s Live Photos into universally shareable gifs.

“[The apps] rely on object recognition, person segmentation, stylization algorithms, efficient image encoding and decoding technologies, and perhaps most importantly, fun!” reads Google’s blog post.

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Storyboard is a nifty app that asks users to upload a video, and then automatically extrapolates six frames out of the clip from which it creates a comic-book like panel.

There are six visual styles, Google says, and up to 1.6 trillion different combinations for its algorithms to churn out.

Scrubbies, iOS’ exclusive apps, lets you use your fingers to scroll through a video’s timeline, DJ style, and record the movement to create a video loop that emphasises movement and action.

Animated GIF – Find Share on GIPHY

Discover share this Animated GIF with everyone you know. GIPHY is how you search, share, discover, and create GIFs.

The weirdly named Selfissimo! will make its way to the iPhone and Android phones, and is the simplest app out of this first appsperiments’ wave.

A simple tap on the screen will make your phone start recording (with the front-facing camera), and ask you to strike a few different poses.

The end result is a lot like a photobooth’s, with Google’s app snapping a shot every time you move and giving you back black and white pictures to save and share on social media or elsewhere.

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