Let the tinkering begin – Android One KitKat kernel source released
Android One devices have finally launched in India this week and multiple devices are available. These Android One smartphones are great to have as super affordable devices, even if they do have their flaws. We all know the fun part of Android is that developers and fans can tinker with the hardware and software, though.
After all, we do want to make the best out of these cheap, yet limited smartphones. This is why Google has just released the Android One KitKat kernel source.
Today we pushed the kernel source for the Android One device family. The kernel source can be found on the android-msm-sprout-3.4-kitkat-mr2 branch in the kernel/msm project. It’s also tagged with ‘android-4.4.4_r3′. -Bill Yi
With three devices in the market, we are sure more than a few fellow Indian techies would love to play around with this.
Gotta love this Android One initiative. The software is open sourced and the hardware is amazingly affordable. And now you can start working on them. Enjoy!
Source:: android authority
Samsung said to be working on its own GPU – how far can they get?
Manufacturing GPUs takes massive amounts of talent, research, testing, experience and time. It is really an exhausting market, which is why very few companies embark in the quest to build these. Good GPUs are pivotal for a good experience, which means other manufacturers have to pay licensing fees and use one of these few companies’ video cards.
If the latest reports are to be believed, Samsung could be breaking itself away from this chain and making its very own graphics cards. They have been working on this for years, according to information given by “Silicon Valley and insiders.” The company has also been hiring talent from NVIDIA, AMD and Intel along the way.
The main question here is whether Samsung will be able to become successful in GPU manufacturing. They are (arguably) good with hardware, software and CPUs, but those are completely different worlds compared to graphics cards.
We can assume nothing significant will come soon, but we may very well see Samsung devices with Samsung GPUs coming to the market at some point in the near future. Even if not the best, it would be a significant jump for the mid-range smartphone/tablet market.
Licensing fees can be expensive, not to mention manufacturing hardware in-house will often save large companies money in the long run. Samsung would then be able to transfer at least part of those savings to consumers.
It would also be a great move to avoid lawsuits, like the one NVIDIA has initiated against Samsung and Qualcomm due to GPU patent infringement (which is ultimately Qualcomm’s fault). There is a plethora of reasons why Samsung would want to make its own component. They must make them right, though.
Samsung is a giant in tech, so they may have the resources to get it all worked out. But please do remember not to get your hopes too high. These are still rumors and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Source:: android authority
ZTE ZMAX is a big T-Mobile phablet with a not so big price tag
By Alex Wagner
Phablets are all the rage in the smartphone world as of late. Heck, even Apple has finally jumped on the bandwagon. Today ZTE unveiled its latest phablet effort, a device known as the ZMAX that’s headed to T-Mobile in the US.
The ZTE ZMAX will launch on September 24 for $0 down and 24 monthly payments of $10.50 each. That works out to a total of $252. In exchange for all of those hard-earned pieces of paper, you’ll get a device with the following specs:
- 5.7-inch 1280×720 display
- 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor
- 8-megapixel rear, 1.6-megapixel front cameras
- 16GB storage
- microSD slot with support for cards up to 32GB
- 6.4” x 3.3” x 0.35” (162.56 x 83.82 x 8.89mm)
- 3400mAh battery
- Android 4.4 KitKat
With its big screen and big battery, the ZTE ZMAX is a phablet for folks that want a big phone but also want a device that’ll be easy on the wallet.
What do you think of the ZTE ZMAX? Would you use it as your daily driver?
Google Play Services 6.1 update: Analytics, Drive and Fit enhancements
Google Play Services is getting its seasonal update, which comes about every 6 weeks. This time we are seeing Google’s Android backbone being upgraded to version 6.1, with major improvements coming to Analytics, Drive and the newly-released Google Fit.
The Enhanced Ecommerce analytics extension was introduced in Google Play Services 5.0. It provided great input on pre-purchase behavior and product performance, which is why it has now been included int he Google Tag manager. This will allow developers to easily manage tags within mobile apps.
Google Drive got a significant UI re-design, leaning more towards Material Design. Developers also have some neat features, though, as Completion Events enhancements have been applied to the Google Drive API. This will make it easier for developers to handle conflicts between server and local files.
Google Fit developers can also now test their apps with any Android device. It was only introduced last August, so we can except more changes coming to the APIs soon.
Most of us won’t really notice these changes, as they are not consumer-oriented. One thing is for sure, this update will definitely change your user experience. At the end of the day, that is what makes a good device awesome. It needs to handle all the mundane features like a boss before more gimmicky features are added.
With that said, stay tuned for your update, as it should be coming in a few days. A quick Google Search will also allow you to download it )just in case you are not that patient). This is mostly for developers, so we wouldn’t rush to get the update unless you really want to see the few design improvements.
Source:: android authority
ZTE ZMAX unboxing and first impressions
ZTE unveiled its latest mid-range smartphone offering, the ZMAX, at a press event in New York earlier today, along with announcing the exclusive availability of the device from T-Mobile. Bringing to the table a large display, 4G LTE support, and a big battery, the newest addition to T-Mobile’s smartphone portfolio gives users a great mid-range option at a more than reasonable price point, perfect for those not looking to spend the big bucks on the latest and greatest. Before we dive into a full review, we first take a look at the unboxing, and give you our first impression of the ZTE ZMAX!
Opening the box shows you the phone in all its glory. Underneath, you’ll find the microUSB cable, the AC charger, a pin to open up the SIM tray and the microSD card slot, and the usual paperwork, including the instruction manual, warranty information, and legal notices. Considering that the device will be available exclusively from T-Mobile, a T-Mobile SIM pack is also included in the box.
The ZTE ZMAX comes with a beautiful curved back design with a semi-matte finish, that definitely gives the device a more premium look and feel than its specifications and price tag would suggest. The power button and the microSIM card slot are found the right side, with the volume rocker and the microSD card slot on the left. With its 5.7-inch display, it is no doubt a large device, but the placement of the buttons make them easy to reach. The headphone jack is found up top, with the microUSB port at the bottom. The front of the phone is dominated by the large display, with a set of capacitive keys found just below it. The handling experience is as you’d expect from a device of this size, with the curved back allowing it to sit nicely in your hand but the gripping on the sides isn’t ideal since they aren’t flat.
When it comes to the display, you get a large 5.7-inch screen with a resolution of 1280 x 720, resulting in a pixel density of 258 ppi. It’s not the highest resolution and pixel density we’ve seen on a display of this size, but is par for the course as far as current mid-range offerings are concerned. The LCD display brings with all that you’d expect, including good color reproduction, great brightness, and fantastic viewing angles. Despite its lower pixel count, you’ll still have a good time doing anything on this display.
Under the hood is a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, clocked at 1.2 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 305 GPU. It may not be the fastest processing package out there, but performs well enough to handle day to day tasks with ease, helped along by the near stock-like software experience. Other specifications include 16 GB of internal storage, that is further expandable via microSD, and a large 3,400 mAh battery, that should offer almost two days of battery life with average use.
The camera setup isn’t nearly as impressive as some other mid-range smartphones out there, at least on paper. You get an 8 MP rear camera that should do a decent job, but a more in-depth review of the camera will be required before we jump to any conclusions. the ZTE ZMAX also comes with a 1.6 MP front-facing shooter.
When it comes to the software, you get a near stock-like Android 4.4 Kitkat, which is certainly a pleasant change from the more drastic measures that Chinese OEMs tend to take with their software experiences. One of the few noticeable changes to the stock apps, however, is the camera. While the Zmax might not have the most impressive camera (at least on paper), there’s actually quite a few options when it comes to the camera app including a manual mode that lets you further enhance your photo taking experience.
Overall, the ZTE Zmax is a solid looking device, both on-paper and in terms of aesthetics. On the downside, it’s also a pretty big device, not just because of the display, but also because of the large bezels found around the device. This means the Zmax might have a great price tag and good specs, but it’s also a bit unwieldy.
This concludes our first impression of the ZTE Zmax, though stay tuned for the full review which should be on its way in relatively short order.
Source:: android authority
ZTE ZMax delivers excellent specs in a 5.7-inch package, just $230 through T-Mobile
By Andrew Grush
When the Moto G debuted last year it instantly shattered consumer expectations when it came to budget-oriented devices under the $250 mark. Since then, we’ve seen a number of handsets that aim to give us a similar price/value ratio, and while few live up to the standards set by Motorola, we’ve seen several devices come close. The new ZTE ZMax is one of these handsets.
At a special press event in New York City, ZTE took the veil off the ZMax, a 5.7-inch ‘phablet’ that will be exclusively sold through T-Mobile for just $230 outright or for zero down with 24 monthly payments of $10.50. During the event ZTE promised this is only the beginning, and that the brand is committed to delivering high quality, low cost products. As ZTE put it on stage, “We believe we are well positioned to understand your needs”. In addition to focusing on price/value ratio, ZTE is also committed to larger form factors, believing that such a device is perfect for consumers looking for one device to rule them all — instead of needing both a tablet and a smartphone.
Pricing for the Zmax certainly isn’t bad, but the real question is what’s under the hood. The ZTE ZMax has surprisingly solid specs for its price tag, powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 with a fairly decent 16GB storage with microSD, a 5.7-inch 720p HD display and a massive 3,400 mAh battery that’s said to provide a full two days of life on average with a single charge — at least according to ZTE. No word on RAM, though we imagine we are looking at 1GB, similar to other budget devices these days.
ZTE ZMAX specifications:
- Battery: 3400 mAh
- Dimensions: 6.4” x 3.3” x 0.35”, 6.7 oz.
- Display: 5.7″ TFT LCD HD 1280 x 720
- Memory: 16GB ROM, expandable to 32GB via micro SD
- Network Compatibility: LTE, GSM
- Operating System: Android KitKat 4.4
- Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 400 Quad Core with Adreno 305 GPU at 1.2 GHz
- Camera: 8MP rear, 1.6MP front, 1080p video
For those that are fans of stock Android, you’ll be happy to know that ZTE is opting for a near-stock approach with Android KitKat 4.4, though you’ll find a few custom apps and other minor changes to the UI. As for the handset’s exterior design? In our hands-on first impression we noted that the handset really is quite a looker for the price range with square corners and a rounded back, though it’s also rather bulky.
Overall, the Zmax packs a pretty mean punch that easily compares to or beats out the Moto G (both 1st and 2nd gen) in most ways, and with a price tag that isn’t too much more than Motorola’s popular budget line. On the other hand, a 720p resolution on such a big display isn’t going to look too impressive and the phone is rather unwieldy. Still, for under $250 you get a large-screen phone experience with LTE, a reasonable amount of storage, decent cameras and what appears to be one hell of a battery.
So when can you get your hands on the ZTE Zmax? The handset will arrive on September 24th both online and at select T-Mobile brick-and-mortar locations. MetroPCS will also carry the handset a bit later this year.
Source:: android authority
Chromecast family grows: WATCH Disney, Twitch, iHeart, DramaFever and more
Chromecast has become a smart TV phenomena by now. The $35 dongle has achieved more than some “full” smart TV platforms and it is getting support by developers left and right. It’s not often Google dedicates a blog post to supported apps, but today they are giving us some pretty major ones to check out.
We will go through them right below. You can just click on the title to head to the Google Play Store page if you wish to download these.
First we are taking a look at WATCH Disney Channel, which is divided in three applications. These are WATCH Disney, WATCH Disney Junior and WATCH Disney XD. These allow you to watch Disney shows like Star Wars Rebels, Girl Meets World and Doc McStuffins.
You can also live stream, but that requires a participating TV subscription service.
Love iHeart radio? Whether you prefer customizing your own playlists or enjoying one of the 1500 available ones, the experience is always better when using your living room speakers.
Gamers rejoice! Twitch has been standing as the most popular gaming streaming service and it is now featuring Chromecast support. Join over 60 million gamers and share all your experiences!
Those who prefer watching some good ol’ dramas can now use the DramaFever app to cast their favorite episodes. You get shows from all over the world, so international users will be especially excited about this one.
Source:: android authority
This is what the Play Store looks like with Material Design
Google recently introduced the world to Material Design and a new leak shows us what the Google Play Store looks like with Material Design. We got our first taste of Material Design added to the Play Store in July when content listings received a refresh to include the new style. Now, Android Police has a leak that includes all sorts of screenshots from the fully-updated Play Store.
From the above comparison images, you can clearly see the difference between the old and the new. Material Design takes the clutter out of the Play Store and replaces it with a simpler, cleaner look. This new design adds an air of refinement and cohesiveness that wasn’t previously found in the Play Store. As well as a clean-up, the Play Store is getting a fresh coat of paint. The colors aren’t terribly different, but they do shift more towards the color palette found in Material Design.
Check out the source link below for more images and be sure to drop a comment down below with your thoughts on the redesign.
Android silver said to be on hold, its future uncertain
Android Silver has been making its rounds around the rumor mill for quite some time. This initiative was said to replace the Nexus program and bring the pure Google experience to high end devices from multiple manufacturers. It was to become a Nexus-for-all festival, but it seems the Nexus program is here to stay and suddenly Android Silver’s future is uncertain.
With Android One now launched and plans for future Nexus devices in the works, we are left wondering if there are any chances we will see Android Silver bearing fruits in the near future. If The Information’s sources are correct, it seems rather unlikely.
People “familiar with the matter” claim the program has stalled after chief architect Nikesh Arora’s departure from the company. Arora would oversee Google’s partnerships with manufacturers and carriers, making this a reasonable theory as to why the program has been placed on hold.
In addition, these sources claim the manufacturers were not too eager to join the program, as they would need to give concessions to Google for advertising. Googlers also believed the program would not succeed in mass markets.
This initiative would be great for the tech geeks, but the consumer wouldn’t be as enticed to patronize it. It’s not like Android One, which is expected to get huge support due to its affordable nature. All of these factors turn Android Silver into a big mass of uncertainty, but we do have the Nexus program and Android One to lean on.
Android Silver was a dream come true for all of us Android fans, though. Let’s hope it can be resuscitated soon.
Source:: android authority
Google asks FCC to test drones in New Mexico
As this site has discussed previously, Google has been looking to push forward their plans for balloon-powered Internet access around the world, deemed Project Loon.
Now Google has asked the FCC to use wireless frequencies as part of several tests using drones made by Titan Aerospace. Specifically, Google is asking the FCC for use of the unlicensed 2400 MHz band for transmission from a drone to the ground and use of the 900 MHz for the return transmission.
Google is looking to test their drones for 180 days beginning October 6, 2014 and would occur between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Titan drones are powered by solar energy and can stay aloft for up to five years.
At first glance, this may look as Google trying to expand their idea of drones providing Internet connectivity similar to their balloon-based Project Loon. Google put in their application to the FCC that their drones “may eventually be used to provide Internet connections in remote areas or help monitor environmental damage, such as oil spills or deforestation.”
But as PCWorld notes, Google may be using these tests for reasons other than internet expansion.
“The emission designator they specify for the drone-to-ground transmission is specifically for analog video and not for data transmission. So, on paper, this is not an internet access test,” said Steve Crowley, a wireless engineer.
It’s hard to say why Google would want to transmit analog video. Crowley speculates that Google may in fact want to test ground equipment or some other process where the type of signal transmitted from the drone doesn’t really matter. Perhaps Google really does want to transmit video for a service related to mapping. – PCWorld
Google’s application has yet to be answered by the FCC.
Source:: android authority