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Why ARM’s 64-bit architecture is good for developers and good for users

By Gary Sims

linaro_plus_aarch64

The history of 64-bit computing is quite varied and interesting. Companies like Cray started using 64-bit registers in their systems in the mid-1970s, however pure 64-bit computing didn’t really come about until the 1990s. First came the R4000 from MIPS, and then the Alpha processor from DEC. By the mid-1990s Intel and Sun both had 64-bit designs, however the real turning point for consumers came in 2003 when AMD released a 64-bit PC processor that was compatible with Intel’s 32-bit x86 processors.

ARM saw the need for energy-efficient 64-bit processors and started working new designs long before announcing its new ARMv8-A architecture.

Fast forward 10 years, PC sales are in decline and most smartphones and tablets have multi-core processors running at speeds of between 1 and 2GHz. However these devices use a 32-bit architecture and not a 64-bit architecture like modern PCs and servers. Until now that was perfectly acceptable. Smartphones weren’t meant to compete with PCs in terms of performance and the processors needed to be energy efficient to maximize battery life.

However as devices have developed and new technologies like voice recognition, realistic 3D gaming and high resolution displays, have become the norm, the humble 32-bit processor is slowly being pushed towards its limits.

ARM saw the need for energy-efficient 64-bit processors and started working new designs long before announcing its new ARMv8-A architecture, the first ARM architecture to include a 64-bit instruction set. ARM also learnt from the mistakes and successes of other chip designers who moved to 64-bits. ARM’s new 64-bit architecture is fully compatible with its 32-bit architecture. This means that if the processor is running on a 64-bit enabled operating system, the processor is able to run unmodified ARMv7 32-bit binaries. For Android this means that once the kernel has been ported to 64-bits (and it has already thanks to Linaro) then the rest of the OS, from core libraries to apps and games, can be either 32-bit or 64-bit.

Last year Apple shook the mobile world when it announced that the iPhone 5S would use the new 64-bit Apple A7 processor. The A7 includes an Apple designed ARMv8 dual-core CPU, called Cyclone. It uses two 64KB L1 caches (one for each core), a 1MB L2 cache shared by both CPU cores, and a 4 MB L3 cache for the entire SoC. Apple holds an ARM architecture license which means it can design its own processors from scratch, but with the provision that these processors must be ARM compatible. ARM has a series of test suites which is runs against such processors to ensure compatibility.

Over the next few months we are going to see 64-bit ARM based processors coming from companies like Samsung, Qualcomm and MediaTek. When coupled with the 64-bit work being done on Android, it is clear that we will see 64-bit devices running on a 64-bit version of Android before long. But what do 64-bit processors mean to developers and end-users?

Benefits of ARM’s 64-bits

At the heart of every CPU is a set of registers. These are internal storage slots which store numbers and addresses. If you want to add 5 to a number then one way to do it would be to tell the CPU to add 5 to the contents of a register, say register 7 (R7) and place the result in R8. The same applies to other operations like subtract, multiply, shift and so on.

The ARMv8 architecture has 31 general registers, each 64-bits wide.

When the processor is performing complex operations these slots are used and re-used constantly. If all the registers are currently occupied then the only way to proceed is to store one of the registers in memory, use the register for the next task, and then load the previous value back in from memory. In human terms this can all happen at lightning speeds, but for a processor this is actually a time consuming sequence of events and it is not very efficient.

The 32-bit ARMv7 architecture had 15 general purpose registers, each 32-bits wide. The ARMv8 architecture has 31 general registers, each 64-bits wide. This means that optimized code should be able to use the internal registers more often than memory, and that these registers can hold bigger numbers and addresses. The result is that ARM’s 64-bit processors can do things quicker.

In terms of energy efficiency, the use of 64-bit registers doesn’t increase the power usage. In some cases the fact that a 64-bit core can perform certain operations quicker means that it will be more energy efficient than a 32-bit core, simply because it gets the job done faster and can then power down.

ARMv8 AArch64 performance vs. AArch32 fig1

The other aspect of 64-bit processors is the addressing. In the world of PCs and servers the 32-bit barrier was primarily talked about in terms of accessible memory. If you wanted more than 4GB of RAM then you need a 64-bit processor. This isn’t strictly true with ARM processors as some ARMv7 processors can access more than 4GB of memory using its Large Physical Address Extensions (LPAE). With LPAE a Cortex-A15 processor can address 1024GB of memory. Since 64-bits is approximately the number of atoms in a small galaxy, there aren’t going to be any smartphones that need full 64-bit addressing any day soon! Since catering for address space that is never going to be used is futile, the ARMv8 architecture has 48 bit addressing, that is 256 terabytes!

OK, I don’t expect any games that needs terabytes of memory in the immediate future, but back down at the other end of the scale such address capabilities are very important. Modern 3D games often come with huge amounts of resources (assets), these assets can be more easily memory mapped when there is greater than 4GB of address space. This will speed up games and allow for direct access to the games media resources.

ARM AArch64 Performance Improvements

More than just smartphones and tablets

The benefits of 64-bit computing on ARM aren’t limited to …read more

Source:: android authority

    

HTC Desire 610 for Verizon is in the works, FCC documents suggest

By Alex Wagner

htcdesire610fccvzwaam

Following the launch of the HTC One (M8), HTC One remix and HTC One (M8) for Windows, it looks like Verizon may soon be adding another BoomSound-equipped smartphone to its shelves.

An FCC filing has revealed what appears to be a Verizon version of the HTC Desire 610. The device in question features the model number 0P9O300, the SKU HTC331ZLVW and support for CDMA, EV-DO and LTE bands 4 and 13, all of which seems to point toward an eventual release on Ol’ Red.

It’s unclear when this Desire 610 might launch on Verizon, as an FCC filing doesn’t guarantee that a release is near. What does seem likely is that the Desire 610 will be affordable whenever it does hit Verizon: because it’s just $199.99 no-contract on AT&T, I could see Verizon offering the Desire 610 as a free on-contract phone or as an affordable prepaid option.

Have any of you handled the HTC Desire 610? If so, what do you think of it?

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

Android Wear & Apple Watch: what’s good, what could be better?

By Andrew Grush

moto 360 unboxing initial setup (11 of 13)

It’s been an interesting month for wearables, with the release of the Moto 360 and announcement of the Asus ZenWatch, LG G Watch R and Apple’s long-rumored “Apple Watch”. Now that we have a fuller picture of the smartwatch landscape, we decided its time to take a good look at where we are at, what’s good about current smartwatches and what could be better.

For this Friday Debate we look at both the new Apple Watch and the Android Wear family. What works better on AW vs Apple Watch? What did Apple hit out of the park? What could Apple, Google and other OEMs do better? Be sure to check out our team’s responses and then let us know what you think in the comments below.

Jonathan Feist

It has been an interesting, and powerful couple weeks for smartwatches. I wanted to say wearable technology, but I’ve seen nothing but smartwatches of any interest. More on that later.

Android Wear powered smartwatches were announced or launched from a large selection of manufacturers around the IFA conference at the beginning of the month. Perhaps the most significant launch was the Motorola Moto 360, which has been on many people’s wish list for several months now.

Apple came to the table this week with their smartwatch, allowing us to take a good look at what options users will have in the coming months. Let’s start with the good stuff, I think Apple completely screwed up the UI. Don’t get me wrong, I have a bad habit with my developer’s mindset of building images, apps and programs that are cluttered too, but Google’s Android Wear UI offers an interface that is hard to not be attracted to, and has been an inspiration for me.

It is hard to say that Android Wear’s minimalist design offers everything one needs for their computing needs, I’m just saying that Apple’s design brings too much to the screen to offer the ‘quick glance’ experience. We’ll see a lot of comparisons of the Apple smartwatch vs the Android Wear offerings as we go, so I’ll not talk about that too much. What I want to talk about is the smartwatch altogether.

While I am intrigued by smartwatches, I stopped wearing a watch altogether a number of years ago for a reason, it gets in my way. Right now, as I type this, had I a watch on my wrist, it would be digging both into my wrist and this laptop. So a watch doesn’t serve me well at all.

Android Wear has potential beyond the watch, which I think is the clincher here. But what is that other form factor that will work for me? I don’t know. One thing is for sure, Android Wear offers the overall services and features that I think will work best for me. I just need to figure out what wearable form factor should hold my display.

(After all of my anti-watch ramblings, I am really looking forward to seeing the LG G Watch R in action. I might just bite the bullet anyway.)

Joseph Hindy

When I look at a new platform, I try not to look at things the way they are right now but rather what they could be in the future. If you look back, the first iteration of pretty much everything that’s great now wasn’t so great when it was in its first year. We have the Xbox One and PS4 now but in the first year of video games, it required a super computer (at the time) and games were just colored lines on a black background with very basic controls. The first TVs were black and white and were tiny with terrible speakers. The first smartphones were small, slow, and laggy. Was the HTC G1 an iconic device? Yep. Was it also hardware limited, laggy, and slow? Yep. I look at Android Wear and the Apple Watch the same way. Right now is their “colored lines on a black background” era. This first year is essentially the HTC G1 of smartwatches. Is it really cool? Yes. Is it going to be a few years before the platform really takes off and people find better uses for it? You betcha! Just like Android!

That said the pros and cons are the same on both platforms. They’ve gotten the ball rolling which is good and there are some peripheral uses which are really unique and fun (Android Wear has Google Now functionality which is nice and Apple Watch has NFC payments which is equally nice). What few features these devices have are actually pretty awesome and that’s something I genuinely wasn’t expecting in the first year iteration.

The cons, however, outweigh the pros right now in that developers haven’t taken full advantage of the platform. I believe there was a piece on Time.com that talked about this issue really well. They stated that developers were simply trying to migrate tasks from the smartphone screen to the watch screen and it generally had bad results. The Eat24 app is only useful if you want to order the exact same thing you’ve ordered before. Apps that require precise controls are wonky at best thanks to the small touch screen.

I think both platforms will begin to excel and have unique uses when app developers stop looking at it as “just a smaller screen” and start looking at it for what it really is: a companion device. The piece in Time.com mentioned that there will be a point where developers will look at the platform and think “what can I make this watch do that will make looking at the watch faster than using your phone.”

When apps come out that follow that line of thinking, I think we’ll all be more excited about Android Wear and the Apple Watch. Until then, there won’t be many overly interesting or groundbreaking apps or functions.

Oh and they really need to do something about the battery life. Woof!

Kevin Nether

I’ve always enjoyed the …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Spec showdown: Apple iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus versus the Android competition

By Nick Sarafolean

iPhone 6 Spec Comparison Sheet

Apple has unveiled the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus as its flagship devices for the next year. Both devices are completely new designs in the iPhone family and are packed to the gills with new features such as larger screens, new A8 processors, a full aluminum unibody and a vastly improved camera that includes 240fps slo-mo video.

Since we’re an Android-based site, we don’t like to cover too much Apple news. That being said, it’s always a good thing to know how the biggest Android phones stack up against their competitors, so we threw together a comparison chart that pits the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus against the biggest Android opponents. Take a look at it and remember to click for full size.

In your opinion, how does the iPhone 6 fare against its Android rivals?

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

35 of the best Android games (free and paid)

By Joe Hindy

Get it on Google Play

Gaming on Android has been rapidly improving over the last couple of years. Gone are the days where the best of the best are simple puzzle games. Now, there are near-console quality games available on Android that provide more than just a moment of distraction. Those puzzle games have also improved to keep up with the latest trends and graphics. So below are some of the best Android games.

Related:


Angry Birds - best Android gamesAngry Birds (all of them)

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
First is the obligatory hat tip to the first really popular game on Android. With over a billion downloads to date in total and a fairly good rating on the Google Play Store, it’s difficult to find someone who hasn’t played these games. Rovio has more than half a dozen games in the series and they all play pretty much the same way. They have added better graphics, more game play features, and more levels as time goes so the experience has only become more enjoyable. There is also now a racing game, a puzzle game, and an RPG in the mix. Some may say the game series is dated, but you really can’t argue with a billion downloads.

Angry Birds best Android games


Assassin's Creed PIrates best Android gamesAssassin’s Creed Pirates

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Assassin’s Creed Pirates is a great example of how much Android games have progressed in terms of graphics. This is a beautiful naval adventure game where you must be the captain of your own pirate ship and search out buried treasure. It features very good graphics and a fun story line. In battle, you shoot cannons at other ships by doing that side-by-side thing that gives the game a glimmer of realism. It used to cost money but now it’s free with in app purchases.
Get it on Google Play


Another World - best Android gamesAnother World

[Price: $1.99]
Another World was once called Out Of This World and was originally released in 1991. The game was recreated and ported to Android with better graphics and full touch screen support. It’s a fairly difficult 2D shooter/puzzle game where you play a scientist who gets warped into, well, another world. It’s a great game to have if you’re into retro gaming and will remain a gem on Android just like it was a gem back in 1991.
Get it on Google Play
Another World best Android games


Asphalt 8: Airborne best Android gamesAsphalt 8: Airborne

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Gameloft really hit a home run with their Asphalt series. They have increasingly good graphics, fun game play, and each new iteration adds more features. The most current is Asphalt 8: Airborne, which includes Google Play Games achievements and a live multiplayer mode. It used to cost money but recently they switched to a Freemium model (Free to play with in-app purchases). Some like it, some don’t, but it’s still a fun game to play.
Get it on Google Play
Asphalt 8 Airborne best Android games


The Bard's Tale best Android gamesThe Bard’s Tale

[Price: $1.99 with in app purchases]
Like other games on this list, The Bard’s Tale is a port of a much older game. The original Bard’s Tale was released in 1985 and was considered a cult classic. The port is an amazing reproduction that includes updated graphics and optimizations so it can be enjoyed on Android. This witty RPG boasts around 20-30 hours of game play and for an Android game that’s really good. It’s received honors by a number of gaming blogs for being good. There are also two options, a standard definition and high definition package (selectable when you open the app) so if you have the extra space, you can play a better looking game.
Get it on Google Play
Bard's Tale the best Android games


call of duty strike best Android gamesCall of Duty: Strike Team

[Price: $6.99 with in app purchases]
Call of Duty: Strike Team is actually one of the newer games on the list and it’s pretty good. It’s a first person shooter most of the time, but there are scenes and modes where you can play with the third person camera view. Included with Call of Duty: Strike Team is impressive visuals, a campaign mode, a survival mode, and a variety of features in terms of game play. It is a bit pricy like some of the other games on the list but you do get what you pay for. Unfortunately, the only real thing lacking is device support and the developers promise that’s coming soon.
Get it on Google Play
call of duty strike team best Android games


candy crush sagas best Android gamesCandy Crush Saga

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Candy Crush Saga isn’t the most complicated game out there, but a whole bunch of people seem to love it. It’s a simple puzzle game that gets progressively harder but there is a very strong social component that will either have you loving the interaction or hating the constant requests on Facebook. It does boast 400 levels so there is more than enough content to keep you and the hundred million other players going for a long time.
Get it on Google Play
candy crush saga best Android games


clash of clans best Android gamesClash of Clans

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Clash of Clans is one of many MMO-RTS games but it is by far one of the best. In this real time strategy, you play as a clan chief who must build up …read more

Source:: android authority

    

95% off The Ultimate Game Developer Bundle

By AA Deals

The Ultimate Game Developer Bundle

If you’ve been tinkering with an idea for a game, we’ve got just the thing to help you bring it to life. The Ultimate Game Developer Bundle is perfect for beginners who want to learn to code and build their own 2D and 3D games for desktops and mobile devices, at their own pace — and we’ve got an amazing deal on the entire package!

Spanning over 30 hours of content, The Ultimate Game Developer Bundle includes 7 courses for you to learn to craft simple games like Flappy Bird without coding, build logic in a visual interface while creating your own 2D game, create mobile games with HTML5 and Cocos2d, understand the fundamentals of app and game programming for Android, and also build games on the powerful engine like Unity3D.

Originally valued at $989, we’ve got The Ultimate Game Developer Bundle at the Android Authority Deals Store at an amazing price of just $49! Order now and get unlimited access to these courses on Udemy!

Get this deal now


Source: AA Deals; …read more

Source:: android authority

    

CyanogenMod for Galaxy Nexus “won’t survive the jump to L”

By Bogdan Petrovan

Google Galaxy Nexus Logo aa 3 1600

It comes a time in the life of every phone when updating it to the latest version of Android becomes more trouble than it’s worth. For the Galaxy Nexus, that time came when Google announced it wouldn’t receive the upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat. However, a number of custom ROM projects clung on to the aging device, including the popular CyanogenMod.

Now a commit to the CM open source project suggests that support for Galaxy Nexus is going to be dropped. In the commit comments, CM’s Abhisek Devkota explains that the reason for the drop is the lack of ongoing support for the processor powering the Galaxy Nexus. Texas Instruments, the maker of the OMAP 4460 chip inside the Galaxy Nexus, pulled off from the mobile market in 2012 and stopped supporting its chips, which makes it difficult for developers to support devices that feature OMAP processors.

Another problem, Devkota said, is that CM for Galaxy Nexus lacks a full time maintainer that would be able to solve issues with the builds.

Under these conditions, the chances for the Galaxy Nexus to continue receiving new CM builds are slim – in Devkota’s words, “this will not survive the jump to L. R.I.P.” However, support could be resumed if a maintainer is found for the project.

Devices based on other “legacy” processors, including old Tegra and Exynos chips, are probably on the short list for discontinuation as well.

While other custom ROM projects, including Paranoid Android and Omni, are continuing to support Galaxy Nexus, it’s hard to blame CyanogenMod for giving up on an old phone that became very difficult to maintain. Google itself abandoned the Galaxy Nexus after the release of KitKat, and refused to change its stance even when users of the phone started a petition with thousands of signatures.


Via: Reddit;
…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Google acquires Polar polling startup, part of an effort to improve Google+

By Andrew Grush

Android apps

Google+ may not compete on the same level as Facebook when it comes to mainstream popularity (which many of us G+ users prefer that way…), but the company continues to work towards improving the service, even if rumors earlier this year suggested Google was phasing back its plans for the social network.

The latest effort to make Google+ even better apparently involves the purchase of Polar, a startup that focuses on polling mobile device users for their opinions. So what’s that have to do with Google+? While its unclear what Google’s plans are for the Polar team, it seems that Polar’s founder Luke Wroblewski and several of the startup’s employees are joining the Google+ team.

Polar already serves various companies and mobile apps with polls right now, though they will be shutting down this support by the end of the year. Again we don’t know what Polar’s team is doing or how its technology might affect G+, though Google VP of engineering Dave Besris did have this to say about the new team members coming from Polar:

I’m thrilled to welcome +Luke Wroblewski and the talented Polar team to Google! They’ll be joining our team and helping us make G+ even more awesome.

The big takeaway is that, even if Google really is putting less focus on G+ than it has on the past (something we can’t say for sure), at least they aren’t giving up on their social network just yet. What do you think of Google+? For those that don’t regularly use it, what changes would you need to see before you became interested? If you are a fan, what is it about G+ that keeps you coming back for more?


Source: Wall Street Journal Blog, Engadget; …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Unlocked new Moto X will reportedly be called the ‘Pure Edition’

By Evan Selleck

It’s been known since Motorola officially announced their new Moto X that the device would be sold for AT&T and Verizon, as well as offer an unlocked variant for those who prefer that route. Now, a new report states that the unlocked version may actually get its own title to help it stand out even more.

The report comes from The Verge, and states that the unlocked variant of the new Moto X will actually be known as the “Pure Edition,” perhaps in an effort to differentiate it further from the models that will be sold under carrier flags later this year. While each device will technically run the same software, the carrier options will be subject to preloaded software out of the box, and perhaps worse, also be beholden to the update schedule of each respective carrier.

The unlocked variant, as usual, will not suffer the same.

So, will you opt for a carrier variant, or are you planning to pick up an unlocked new Moto X when it launches later this year for $499?

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Google Play Weekly

By Joe Hindy

Hangouts Dialer android apps


Welcome back to Google Play Weekly! It’s been a pretty exciting week in the world of Android apps news so let’s jump right in!

And now here are five Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week!


Hangouts Dialer

[Price: Free]
Clearly the first trending app this week is the Hangouts Dialer. In order to make phone calls on Google Hangouts, you’ll also need this nifty little application. It’s pretty much just a dialer app that’s connected to your Google Hangouts account. It looks nice, it’s totally free, and if you use Google Hangouts, you should have this app.

Android apps


Month android appsMonth: The Calendar Widget

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Next up is Month: The Calendar Widget. This application is a calendar widget and a barebones calendar app that includes an incredible 70 themes across two different widgets. They sell theme packs like SwiftKey does so it’s a system many people are familiar with. It’s a good looking widget and there are a lot of themes to match a lot of styles. It’s free to try so why not?
Get it on Google Play


Angry Birds Stella Android appsAngry Birds Stella

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Angry Birds Stella was released this last week and if you’re a fan of classic Angry Birds, this is going to make you happy. It’s clearly aimed at a more feminine demographic which isn’t a bad thing all and it was actually kind of enjoyable to play but again only if you like Angry Birds. It’s free to play and that cute little pink bird is pretty awesome.
Get it on Google Play


theScore android appstheScore Sports & Scores

[Price: Free]
theScore has updated their application for the upcoming football season. It includes new scoring play visuals, player comparison data, odds movement visualizations, and situational team splits along with some performance improvements, small tweaks, and bug fixes. If you’re looking for your next sports app to make it through the season, this is a really good one to try.
Get it on Google Play
theScore android apps


Expedia Android appsExpedia Hotels & Flights

[Price: Free]
Last up this week is the official Expedia app. It has undergone a huge UI change that puts it more in line with the Android design standard. It also includes some new features and a limited time offer that gives you $25 off your first hotel booking of $100 or more. It looks way nicer than it used to and if you’re planning a trip soon, it’s worth checking this out.
Get it on Google Play
Expedia android apps

Wrap up

If there were any awesome app stories or Android apps we missed this week, let us know in the comments!

…read more

Source:: android authority